Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Rainbow Friends

Rainbow Friend Dolls

I'm not going to get into the politics on why I decided to make these dolls, but I have been working on them for a few months now. I thought I would wait to post a blog entry once I had their clothing made, but I've gotten so busy. Don't worry, these naked cuties will soon have their garments. Likely, they will have received a fair amount of wear and tear and be looking quite raggedy by the time I finally do! So for now, please excuse the nudity! ;-)

These dolls were made using acrylic yarn, but any worsted weight should do fine. As you see, there are two of each color - a brother and a sister. I quite emphasize that fact when my children are playing with them. The kids named them as I made each one, and from left to right there are: Julia, Dannon, Gaga, Roland, Barbara, Arlo, Teena, and Louis. My husband and I did not influence the names at all, I must say, I am quite impressed with the style and variety!

And while I'm at it, I would like to plug in my first book recommendation! "A Rainbow of Friends" by PK Hallinan, just says exactly what I was wanting to say to my kids with these dolls. So when the set was complete and I gave them the dolls, I also gave them this book, and read it to them every night for about the past month. It rhymes, so that made it even more fun and kept it from getting monotonous!
A Rainbow of Friends by PK Hallinan

This pattern is very inexact. In fact, I feel like the emphasis on difference between each doll can be further compounded by making each a different shape. Therefore, I will say approximately or about, often. You can make some slightly shorter, some slightly thinner, some chubbier, some with longer torsos. In fact, you can even give them amputated limbs if you like. I didn't think to do this until after they were finished.


Worsted weight yarn, various skin tones.

5 size 3 double pointed needles.

Yarn scraps for holding stitches.

Various yarns for eyes and hair.

Pillow fluff

Really small crochet hook , size f, I think.


So now, the pattern. On size 3 double ended needles:

Cast on 12 stitches (three onto four needles)

1. - k 1 round.

2. - k1m1 all the way around, doubling the amount stitches so that you have six on each needle for a total of 24 stitches.

3. Knit in the round for approximately 15 rows.

4. Decrease the stitches by half, by knitting 2 together (k2tog).

5. Knit 4 or 5 rows, just to make the neck.

6. Increase your stitches again by double (k1m1).

7. Knit 4 or 5 more rows.

8. Once you've completed another row and come back to your start, knit across the needle and then turn around and purl back.

9. Continue to knit and then purl two more times, so that you have 3 knitted and 3 purled rows that are not connected to the rest of the work. Just hanging down like a little flap. Cut the yarn, leaving a few inches.

10. Onto the other side of the doll, on the opposite needle of your flap, insert your needle into the first stitch and knit across, turn, purl, turn, knit, turn, purl, turn, knit, turn, purl so that you have a second flap to match the one opposite it.

11. Turn the work again and knit across the second flap. Once you come to the end of it, do not turn, but place your needle into the first stitch onto the other flap and knit a few of the stitches.

12. You're going to want to take the two unused needles that are holding your stitches at the shoulders. Use a small crochet hook or a large tapestry needle to place a scrap piece of yarn into these stitches.

13. Take the two needles you just removed from the shoulders and disperse your stitches at the bottom of the work onto all four needles evenly. It doesn't have to be perfect, you're just going to be knitting in the round again.

14. Once all of the stitches at the bottom of the work are back onto all 4 needles, continue to knit across and join the flaps at the other side and just continue to work in the round.

15. You should now have an egg shape that is the head. A neck, chest, two arm holes, and as you continue knitting your rounds, you create a trunk - about 25 to 30 rows should do.

16. Once you have your trunk knitted, there's a couple of things to do. First, take a minute to stuff the head full of fluff. Second, remove the stitches from the needles and place them onto a stitch holder or a scrap piece of yarn, and cut the yarn leaving a few inches.

17. One at a time, make your arms. Start by placing the stitches that you have on hold back onto the needle. If you followed the pattern exactly, you should have 4. Take up your yarn and knit across these. Now you want to place your needles along the sides of the armhole. You can do this by inserting a crochet hook through the front of the work, grabbing the working yarn and pulling it through, then slide your needle through. Do this about 5 times on each side, so that you have a triangle you can begin knitting in the round. Knit in the round for about 20 stitches.

18. Once you have your arm the length that you want it, decrease your stitches by half, and then half again. Cut your yarn leaving a few inches for a tail. Use your crochet hook to pull the tail in through the stitches and slip them off of the needles. Pull the tail tight to cinch the hole closed. Tie the end off the same way you would weave it in, and then use your crochet hook to pull the tail inside of the arm.

19. Do this again to the other arm hole so that you have two arms, head, neck, and trunk.

20. Stuff your arms and torso with fluff.

Now you need to get ready to make the legs.

21. Find the center of the torso from the front. Hopefully, you will have an even number of stitches, and can divide them in half equally. Where you're going to create the split for each leg, insert your needle into the first stitch on one side and take 1/3 of those stitches onto the first needle, 1/3 onto the second needle, and 1/3 onto a third needle. Keep the rest of the stitches on the scrap yarn.

22. You should at this point, have half of your stitches on hold, and the other half divided equally onto 3 needles. Insert your needle into the first needle you place (in the center of the doll), grab your working yarn and knit across all three needles. When you come to the end of your third needle, grab a fourth needle and with your working yarn, cast on a few stitches using the revers, or backwards cast on method. You can add as few as four, or as many as you have on each of your other three needles. Join the new needle to the start of the row and you now have a round to build your leg on.

23. Knit the leg in the round, about 25 rows until you have it as long as you'd like. Stuff it with fluff, and close it up, the same way you did the arms.

24. Begin the second leg in the same way you began the arms, and then knit it in the round until it is as long as the first leg, stuff it, and close it up the same way.

25. Now you should have a plain dollie. Congratulations! Now comes the fun part! Examine the doll to see which side looks more like a front. You can push and bend and shape the head to give one side more of a chin. Use your crochet hook to tie in yarn for the eyes. You can insert your hook into a stitch in the front, pull up a loop of your eye color yarn, and then pull the tails in through the loop. And then insert the hook from the back of the head to grab your tails and pull them through the entire head and out the back. If they show a little, they will be covered by hair. Hair is done the same way, except you don't hide the tails - they are the hair itself.

Whether you make a lot of different dollies or only one or two, allow your child to name him or her and if you're not too busy, make them some clothes. :)