Monday, March 29, 2010

A change of pace

I had the good fortune to be able to take a dollmaking class from Gail Wilson a couple of weeks ago. The doll we made was a cloth bodied doll with papier mache head, arms, and legs, inspired by Jane Austen. The papier mache pieces were poured and cast by Gail. We students got to paint the papier mache pieces, including the face detailing, and assemble and dress the doll.

Oh yes, there was also a wonderful wide brimmed bonnet that Gail showed us how to make from needlepoint canvas. Truly creative and the perfect touch for Jane.

It was a wonderful class. We worked from 10:oo am until 5:3opm, with a break for a delicious lunch served at the class. By the end of the day I think all of us had painted a lovely doll. Assembly was left as an excersize for the student at home :-) The bodies had been pre-sewn, so all that needed to be done was stuff the body and attach the head plate, arms and legs.

Instead of sewing for my doll, I decided to crochet her a sweet set of underwear and camisole, and a Regency gown, and trim her bonnet with crochet lace.

Here is Jane in her crochet underwear. I almost hate to put a dress over it all :-)

Closeup of Jane's crochet trimmed bonnet and crochet camisole. You may recognize the style of the camisole, I love the way the side-to-side crochet fits the body, especially when worked in the back loops only.

And finally, Jane in her Regency gown. It took a little while to crochet this, using size 20 crochet cotton and a size 8 steel hook. It amazes me that with Gail's guidance a person who is paint-brush challenged (like me) can produce a very credible painted doll. Gail has a way of inspiring confidence in the most timid :-) She is a natural teacher and a wonderfully gifted dollmaker. It was a great class.

To find out all of the neat things that Gail is up to, visit her web site at:

Monday, March 22, 2010

A quick post

Someone asked how much yarn it takes to make one of the Free Spirit dolls, both the original 12 inch doll and the seven inch Mini.

I can get at least two of the larger dolls out of a 3 oz skein of worsted weight yarn, and three mini's out of the same.

Hope this information is helpful, and enjoy the crochet :-)

Friday, March 19, 2010

My BJD Doppleganger

I don't know how many of you have been bitten by the ABJD (Asian Ball Jointed doll) bug, but I have. These dolls are made of resin, and have joints in the ankles, knees, hips, wrists, elbow, shoulder, and neck. They are amazingly pose-able, and the joints also make them surprisingly easy to dress.

The lovely BJD above is 16 cm (6.3 inches) tall, which is shorter than the Mini Free Spirit. Since what I really love doing is making dolls, I wanted to make a doll about the same size; at least, the same body dimensions as the BJD (her name is Sidney, by the way). The crochet doll next to Sidney is a Little Mini (her name is Violet); she was crocheted with sportweight yarn (Patons Astra) and a size C crochet hook. She's a little taller than Sidney, but her torso, legs, and arms are closely the same size.

This is Sidney in her lacy Camisole and Pantaloons. They were made from the Mini Free Spirit pattern, but I used a finer thread, (size 20 crochet cotton, instead of size 10), and a smaller hook (size 8 steel hook)

This is Sidney's crochet doppleganger, Violet, wearing the same Camisole and Pantaloons. So, Little Mini can wear clothing made from the Mini Free Spirit pattern using the finer thread and smaller hook. I also love her elf ears :-)

A trousseau of clothing made for Sidney, and shared with Violet.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Mini Nature Spirits

I was playing around on Wikipedia the other day, and came across this entry:

It is a list of names of legendary creatures, from all different cultures; Asian, American Indian, European, you get the idea. It also gave me the idea to use the Mini Free Spirit pattern as a base for a collection of Nature Spirits, or in this case, Mini Nature Spirits :-)

Some of the modifications are very simple, like changing the ears to Elf ears or using a different shape and color for the eye surround, like these two. In warm colors is the Fire Spirit, Phoenix, from the Phoenician firebird, and in green is the Tree Spirit Canotila, from the Lakota (American Indian). I also love the effect of beads, so these two have beaded faces and beading on their clothing.

Other modifications take a little longer. These are not hard, but they are a bit more involved. Meet Melusine the Mermaid (from Medieval England) and Adhene the Centaur (from the Island of Man). In both of these cases, the Mini Free Spirit body was crocheted without the legs, and the Mermaid tail or Centaur body crocheted separately and then sewn or crocheted to the body.

I have created a pattern that has these modifications to the mini Free Spirit pattern as a series of separate changes, so you might want to use the Centaur ears and make a Cat person, or use Elf ears for a Mermaid and so on. The pattern is here, and also on the left sidebar of the blog page under the Mini Free Spirit patterns:

Mini Nature Spirits Pattern: 

This PDF has more pictures in it, so it is a bit larger than most.

Enjoy the crochet!