Monday, March 27, 2017

Major FO: I'm So Crafty I Made A Baby!

Guys - this project has been 2 years in the making, so I warn you ... there are a lot of photos, lol. According to Ravelry, I started this on May 26, 2015, and I finished it March 5, 2017. I just kept setting it aside for other more pressing makes, but this past month I really got the itch to just finish it up, so I did :)
I started this at a pretty difficult time in my life. Things were not going well and I needed a project to really get involved in to occupy my brain. I've loved the Baby Doll Set pattern from Itty-Bitty Toys by Susan B. Anderson ever since I bought the book as a newbie knitter years ago. My first project (and reason for buying the book) was for the (Not So) Itty-Bitty Giraffe pattern that I made up in 2013 along with the Craftsy class. This was a huge project for me at the time, definitely my biggest up to that point, and it really improved my knitting. I made that giraffe as a "for my future children"" project, and he still sits on my étagère in my sewing room. Way back when I made that giraffe, I thought how cute it would be to make the baby doll set when I have a kid to play with it. This thought sat in my mind for all those years, and then in May of 2015 I decided to hell with waiting to have a kid - I want to make that baby now! lol So I started knitting. I think I made the head and half the body before I stopped to make other things (I believe it was for the Outfit Along). I would pick it up occasionally, but never really got very far. Isn't it funny how some projects just feel like they can be set aside like that and others just want to be worked on until they are finished? I had finished up all my other WIPs earlier this year, and this one was majorly taunting me. So after finishing a few gifts and whatnot, and being that I was on a real toy making kick, I decided to pick this up. I started in February and had the head, body, ears, and arms (with thumbs) done. So I had to make the legs, hair, nose, belly button, clothes, hat, and face to finish. I worked on it little by little and finished a few weeks later :) Anyway, let's look at this cute baby.
The baby itself is really a clever design. The head and body are just round and oval, but the body has a nylon stocking filled with poly pellets inside plus poly fill stuffing, which gives the body a nice weight and she is able to sit up like this unaided. The arms and legs have cute shaping for the hands. I love her little thumbs (even though I kind of sewed them on upside down without noticing and it was so long ago that I didn't want to undo it now, lol, I don't think anyone will notice but me) as well as the little belly button and nose details. They're tiny pieces, but they really make such a cute difference. It was a bit of a challenge to get the legs sewn on at a good angle - the pattern tells you to make them angle, but that's all the instruction it gives and you just have to rely on the few pictures it gives. I got there in the end, but there was much seaming and then unpicking before I was happy.
She also has knees and ankles! Which I think is adorable, and they help her sit like a real baby would. And look at the toes! They turned out much better then I thought they would, I'll be honest. They are actually just embroidered on and cinched in with yarn, but it's a great effect.
Next came her diaper, which sadly ended up a little big, but I wasn't about to redo it, lol. This was odd since I used all the same yarn and needles for everything on this baby. Everything is made in Vanna's Choice yarn. The body is in beige, white for the diaper, chocolate for the hair, wild berry and mustard for the clothes. I remember I picked Vanna's Choice because it was the skin color I liked best out of my stash, so I just followed suit all this time later and kept with the same brand for consistency. The diaper is seamed at the sides and even has darts for the tush. The pattern includes a ruffle as well, but I left that off. I may go back in the future and add it though - we'll see.
Next came her dress. I started out following the pattern, but I made changes as I went. I wanted the dress to be long enough to cover her diaper, so I made it 2 stripes longer. I also was afraid it was going to be enormous after the incident with the diaper, so I decided to start decreasing after the first few stripes. At first I just decreased at the sides, but that wasn't doing much so I started decreasing every 10 stitches every other row, then every few stitches, etc. until I liked the width, then I did the ribbing at the top. I also knew I wanted the straps to be shorter than the pattern, so I just knitted until they looked right - I think mine are 38 rows if I remember right.

I'll admit - my changes might not have been for the best, lol. She looks cute, to be sure, but it's a tight fit in the bodice. It's a bit of a challenge to get the dress on her, but once it's on everything is fine. I'll just have to make sure my kid leaves her dressed, ha ha , when I have a kid, that is.
Next came the hat. Here was another mistake, lol. I started knitting thinking that it seemed like an awful lot of stitches to cast on for a doll's hat, but I kept going. Then when it looked about deep enough for the doll, I looked to see when to start the decreases only to read I needed to knit several more inches... Ok? So I kept going. Finally I knew that any longer and the rolled brim would start to look ridiculously thick, so I started the decreases. It wasn't until I had almost finished the hat that I realized I was reading the pattern for the child sized hat. See, the set includes instructions for the doll's hat, then on the page adjacent there are instructions for a toddler sized hat to match the doll. I accidentally read the child hat instead of the doll, meaning the entire thing was too big - like 30 extra stitches around too big according to the patterns. I was not about to rip out all that work at that point, and the hat still looked cute - just with a more slouchy look to the top, which I could live with. I just finished it off with the child sized loop on the top in the mustard color for contrast and called it good :) I also made the braids a bit longer than the pattern said - I measured 10" strands.
Next I went back and made the hair - again making it longer than the pattern says. I started off with the patterned length, but they just looked too short. I can't remember how long I cut though, lol, I just played with it until I liked the length. This brought back memories of the loop stitch on Spud the Sheep (and my pointer finger gets sore just thinking about it, lol). It is an adorable way to make hair thought. I love this little touch, by the way. I think she is cutest with the braids on the hat, but I love that she's got some baby hair when the hat is removed so she's never bald :)
I left her face until the very end. A big part of what I love about the pattern example is the pretty embroidered face that Susan made, and to be honest I was afraid of messing it up. Looking at the other finished baby dolls on Ravelry, the face could really make or break your finished doll. Some of them are knit beautifully but have really strange faces, which just seems like such a shame after all that work in knitting the doll and putting in the time only to have an odd looking baby in the end. I wanted to make sure I got all her features in the right places, so put on the hat and studied Susan's photo intently. I had to pull the eye out a few times because I would start too high or too wide. In the end, I grabbed a pair of 12 mm safety eyes and put them in place like Susan's were, then just made sure to embroider in the same spots that the safety eyes filled. This way I was able to make sure everything was even on both sides because I knew the exact point to start from. The eyes are done with a spider web stitch, which I had never done before, but I really like them. Her eyebrows aren't perfectly even, but I didn't see that until looking at these pictures, so it doesn't bother me in real life. I think her cute little face is really what makes this doll so adorable :)
I love everything about this doll. She is surprisingly real baby sized and with the poly pellets inside she has some heft too, making her really hug-able. I may sound like a creeper, but I like to just give her a squeeze and set her around. I still haven't given her a name. I'll leave that for later when she needs one. Right now she's just called Baby. I'm glad I decided to make her even though I have no practical reason for her. She makes my sewing room a little more fun. She also would be a great doll to make a whole set of clothes for, and if I have a daughter who likes baby dolls someday then I probably will make her more things. In the meantime she will just keep me company :)

I can't recommend this pattern enough! If you don't mind a big project, she's very much worth the effort. Thanks, Susan, for another great design :)

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