Knit Storybook Dolls: my Inspiration
As a young girl, and even a young teenager (long after my age demanded I stop being interested in dolls) I loved creating paper dolls. Each of my dolls had a name, a personality, a daily school schedule, and bazillions of paper outfits, beautifully patterned and colored in a myriad of colored-pencil tones.
It’s funny, because I’ve never been into fashion or clothes shopping for myself. In fact, fashion typically bores me, and a day shopping for clothes is my definition of a terrible day. (My shoes -my only real pair- bust a zipper, split a seam and grew a hole in the sole all at the same time this winter, and I have yet to drag myself out to buy another pair. I’m living in ratty tennis shoes.) But I adored imagining and creating clothes for my dozens of paper dolls. I guess it’s the act of creating that inspired tingles inside me. Manipulating color and materials with my own hands.
Maybe it was also the dolls’ imaginary personalities that made creating for them so fun. They were my children. I felt like I knew them.
(Now that I’ve admitted these embarrassing feelings for dolls, I’m desperately curious: can you relate? Do I just sound crazy, or do you have some sort of a similar obsession?)
All those feelings I had for my paper dolls as a kid are coming back to me in creating my Simple Storybook Dolls. I’m getting excited about the idea of creating dozens of dolls, each a different character (some from literature, some from my imagination). I can make a couple of outfits for each doll. Both a blue dress and a yellow dress for Pippi (in the German version of Pippi Longstocking that I checked out from the library, her dress is yellow). Of course, knit dolls do take a bit more time to make than paper dolls do, but they’re also cuter and cuddlier, and totally worth it.
This excitement is something I want to share with the world. I want the Simple Storybook Doll pattern (currently in testing) to inspire knitters and doll lovers everywhere to go crazy. I want people to modify the heck out of the pattern, making dolls with different hats and dresses and faces and skin colors.
But I’m running into a challenge: how do I write a pattern that’s not meant to be followed precisely, but rather is meant to give the knitter skills, confidence and a thorough understanding of constructing a doll? It’s a whole different philosophy than that which goes into most knitting patterns. Most patterns strive to be clear and fun, however, but don’t concern themselves too much with explaining how the finished object is constructed. We usually just have to follow each row’s instructions exactly, trusting in the designer, until an amazing toy (or sweater, shawl, sock etc.) appears on our needles at the end like magic. Of course, this usually works (and can be a fun way to knit too), but it doesn’t allow the knitter to modify the pattern too easily unless she’s extremely experienced.
Writing a knitting pattern based on this different philosophy is still a work-in-progress for me. And the finished patterns won’t be for everyone. But, in my opinion, it’s a work that is worth it, because the knits that are the most wonderful are those where we express our inner quirks, joys and creativities. Even if I have to be revising and reworking the pattern for the next two months, I’m determined that the Simple Storybook Dolls will be a pattern that inspires knitters to do just that.