FO: Dolls and Diversity

While I was in Chicago I got the chance to finally meet up with an online friend in person. I’ve known my girlfriend Pem since back in my old blogging days. She worked for a brand I loved and we just clicked so we’ve always emailed and kept in touch via social media. She has two children and one day I saw a picture of her daughter holding a doll that looked nothing like her and I said to myself that I needed to make Leia a doll that mirrored what she saw in herself.
Little Leia
I made what is now affectionately known as Little Leia. This is the same doll pattern from the Susan B. Anderson Mary, Millie and Morgan doll I made previously for Maddie. I ordered the Knit Picks Brava Sport in the color almond to get a skin color close to Leia’s and when I did her hair I decided to cut it in a choppy little bob to mimick her own haircut.
Little Leia
For the record, growing up all the dolls in our home were black. These are my sister’s Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls (my sister’s name is Anne so clearly she had to have an Ann doll).
Durham
I didn’t even know Raggedy Ann and Andy were white until I saw a cartoon version of them and I thought, well that’s odd because our Ann and Andy are brown at home. That’s also how I felt about non-black Santa Clauses LOL. My mother believed that the dolls you play with should look like you and they should. I’ve taken that to heart and love making dolls when I can for friends. Seeing yourself in everyday things makes you feel more like you belong, like you’re the norm. And sadly in 2017 we still don’t have as much diversity in our products and mainstream culture as we should.
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So here’s Leia with the death grip on her doll. She was so excited. And here’s the great thing about when I gave her the doll, she looked at it and said, ‘that’s me!’ with such excitement and joy it made my heart want to explode. She pointed everything out to me and said, ‘that’s my hair, those are my eyes, that’s my button nose…’ She knew that doll was meant for her and Pem told me that when we left and they went to a museum later she told everyone that was her little Leia and fell asleep clutching her doll.

I can’t make a doll for everyone but I’m happy that I can make some of the little girls in my life dolls that show them how beautiful and special they really are in this world. Diversity matters. Representation in the world matters. And sometimes all it takes is seeing the joy in giving a little girl a doll to realize it.

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Stitching Status: Lots of Pieces

Happy Friday! I’m currently working on a couple of things right now that are taking up a lot of my time and brain power. I realize that once August hits, I typically spend a lot of time preparing for school to start: emailing possible speakers, reworking my syllabus, updating PowerPoints and even rereading my text book. And since that’s mainly my weekend and evening work I have to get in as much fun as I can before that all starts. So we’re thinking of popping up to Chicago to visit my cousin. And if I go to Chicago that means I have to bring her something I knit, I feel like it’s an unspoken rule.
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I decided on the Lucia Hoodie from the Madder Anthology 2: Simple Pleasures. This will be the 7th time I’ve made a project from this book. SEVEN. I really do love this book of patterns. So far I’ve made Lila Top Down (and I photographed it while I was in Chicago), Lila Winter (for Safia), Lillian (once for Safia and once for myself), Liv and Louise Top Down. Now of course I don’t just stick with a simple solid color palette like in the pictures. I’m going bold and fun.
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You work this pattern from the bottom up and create pockets. So for the bottom garter I’m using a hot pink, the pockets and a little garter ridge I’m inserting are in teal and then the main body of the sweater is in Safia’s favorite shade of purple. All of these are with the Lion Brand Heartland yarn that works up into a nice soft garment (I used the teal for my Lila Top Down and the tweed version for my Mountain High ) and it will be easy for her to care for and not have to worry about air drying. Plus since it’s always kind of chilly in Chicago she can wear this piece all year round and I think she’ll appreciate that I’m making her a hoodie to hold up again that wind. I love the cute little pockets and I’m about 10 inches into the 14 1/2 inches for the body already. I’ll be taking a break from the body to work on the sleeves this weekend and I intend on doing them two at a time on a long needle so they’re both the same. In addition to seeing Safia, I have a long time internet friend whose daughter I’m making a doll for to give to her in person.
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I ordered the almond colorway of the Knit Picks Bravo Sport that I used for Maddie’s doll to match her skin tone and I’m adding in black hair and cutting it into a cute bob cut like her daughter. I just love making something that can resemble a little girl. Working on these small projects is so fun but adding in the hair is the most tedious task out of the entire project. You have to do lots of strands and you want to make sure it’s secure so it holds up to washes but it’s totally worth all the work. I’ve got super colorful yarn with peach, purple and turquoise to make a dress and tie in all the colors on the body. I love creating stuff like this.
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And finally I’m working on a Yards of Happiness podcast. Thanks for the feedback in comments and via Instagram! I’m going to play around with the equipment I have and see if I can pull together a video podcast because if we’re talking about knitting and yarn I think you want to actually SEE what I’m talking about. Plus it may give me a chance to show what I’m working on while I’m in progress. I don’t know where all I will make it available or how often I’ll do it but I’m going to give it a shot and see how it goes because, why not?

So that’s everything that’s got me busy, what are you working on?

FO: Double the Dogs

I’ve been on a bit of a toy kick lately. Once I start something and gain momentum I like to keep riding that train (perhaps why I just keep on knitting sweaters…). Since I made Wasabi the Whale I decided to make my friend’s son Jacob a stuffed dog toy. We are hoping to visit them and he likes pictures of my dogs but isn’t 100% comfortable around dogs so I thought why not give him his own? And then once I made one I said, well I can’t leave out his little sister…
Seeing double dogs
So we’ve now had a family of four dogs in our house. Jellybean has been utterly fascinated by them. I don’t know if she wants to snuggle them or thinks they’re a toy for her to play with, so I’ve been keeping them away from her.
Seeing double dogs
Jacob’s favorite color is purple so I pulled out this really dark purple from my stash of Caron Simply Soft and decided to whip up the first dog. I didn’t stuff his head as much as I think I could have so after I washed him he’s become much more of a floppy dog. Which is super cute. His ears fall down more like Cher’s do, which I love. And I added in a little green bow tie because I felt like he was just too naked. And once I did that, Cher wanted to snuggle him. Perhaps she thought I was making her a boo?
Seeing double dogs
For his little sister Leah (you’ll remember her from this post) I dug into my stash and pulled out this super bright hot fuchsia yarn from Deborah Norville that I’ve had forever. I used one skein to make a hat and I loved the vividness of the color and how soft it was but never found something to use it with until now. I also haven’t seen this colorway ever again – why does this always happen to me? It was perfect for this project and her dog has stiffer ears because the yarn is a bit heavier. And I added a scarf to hers as an accessory. I matched their accessories to the eyes of the other dog as a fun little detail.
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The entire time I was making both of these I felt like they looked so much like Jellybean since she is a chihuahua (Cher is half pug) and the dolls were even matching up in terms of size too!
Pup in progress
And since my girlfriend Rachel knows how to knit she asked me when I made the second doll to show her the progress as it was made. So I actually have a kind of step-by-step as I went along. I’m hoping these become beloved toys that they play with and love on for years to come. And I have a feeling I’ll be making a few more toys before the year is up!
Seeing double dogs
So have any of you made toys before? What are your favorite patterns?