Thursday, November 30, 2006

I celebrate my love for you with a pint of beer and a new tattoo

it's quite exciting to be sleeping here in this new room
you're my reason to get out of bed before noon

Her name is Shirley and she's been a long time coming. I first got the Knitted Babes book probably three weeks ago, and dropped everything and started knitting with some brown lamb's pride I had hanging around. Well, I misread one word in the pattern and everything went horribly wrong. I knew the pattern was flawed as I read it, but I thought I would have faith and see it through, but in this case the results were not pretty. I ripped it out and went to bed. The next day I didn't go to the gym at lunch, instead I walked over to the quilt/fine yarn shop and combed through the yarn they have scattered from room to room. The only yarn I found that was remotely acceptible was an oatmeal coloured skein of Silky Wool, a 65% wool/35% silk blend that was heavenly to the touch. That night I knitted the new babe top down and in the round, like a sock, on size 3 addi turbo circular needles. Then I stitched on her hair, the same brown yarn I'd frogged the night before.

I was procrastinating the eyes until I had a good block of time without my daughter around, so I worked on other related projects, making her first a bathing suit, and then working diligently on a hoodie. For being a doll item, the hoodie has been taking far too long and I'm tired of it already, but it still needs one more sleeve and a hood.

On Saturday, my daughter had a guest, and I had time to myself to work on the dolly. I initially cut out the eyes directly from the pattern in the book. Yuck! She looked like a vampiric owl. I trimmed and snipped the eyes down to a better size and sewed them on. I was horrified. She was hideous. I emailed a picture of "frankenbabe" to Ember and bawled to her about my disasterous babe, and how I'd done my very best and it wasn't good enough and I couldn't expect to do any better. I was ready to throw out the entire project.

Then I girded up my loins, oh yes I did, and went back to my room and ripped off not just her face, but her hair, too! I realized that her hair was on crooked, and therefore I couldn't put the face on right. I made several versions of the eye until it finally looked right. I really wanted to use a nice grey/hazel coloured wool felt I had, but those eyes never looked right, so I finally ran downstairs and found some fleece in a good eye colour and used that. Since those eyes looked okay, it turned out that the babe has blue eyes.

Once I had a face on that looked okay, I felt alright about proceeding with the project. Next up I started on the dress, only knitting top down, so I could decide how long it should be. What a fiasco! The pattern was difficult to understand. My first version was knitted according to the pattern, only with a needle 2 sizes larger than what the pattern suggested. It was soon obvious that the dress would never ever fit on the babe. The next night I tried again, knitting a back waist into the dress. After a few rows, it was obvious it was too big and just awkward. That night, lying in bed, I finally had a flash of inspiration that allowed me to understand what the pattern was intending. The next night, I started again, adding some increases into the bodice. By the time the increases got the bodice the right size, the bodice was too long. On the FOURTH night, I frogged back yet again, removing several increase rows, to keep the bodice short, and finally finding the perfect width for the bodice. Finally I was happy and proceeded! Today I had a great deal of knitting time, as I used my comp day to sub for my husband, and I knitted in class all day. I finished the dress, and it turned out fabulous!

Here are the changes I made to the dress pattern: I started top down, and knit each strap in a separate colour, so I didn't need to break and rejoin any yarn. I followed the pattern in reverse until the point where I would have increased to 19 stitches. Instead of casting on 2 and 2 stitches, I created those extra two stitches by knitting into the ends of the straps, making the cap sleeves while adding the stitches. After knitting 4 rows at 19 stitches, i started increasing (knit into the front and back of the stitch) one stitch from both the beginning and end, alternating an increase row with a knitting row. I did this until I had knit 12 rows from the cap sleeves, and then took up with the pattern again, increasing as it said to decrease. I always made sure the increases happened when I was knitting on a right side row. Once the skirt was long enough, I bound it off with a crochet hook, by crocheting one stitch, then * crocheting a 3-stitch chain, then crocheting to the next 2 stitches, repeat from * until the end of the row, ending with a crocheted stitch. It gave it a gorgeous little edge.


Beth said...

I have been dying to make one of those dolls. I've had the book for months store, Christmas knitting, kids, dinner. Thanks for inspiring me to get on the ball. How long did it take you? Not including Frankendoll.

Knitika said...

Hey, thanks! I knitted the body while watching a movie, but I know I sat there for a little longer after the movie ended, but that includes putting on the later-ripped-off hair, too. The arms and legs knit up fast, of course, and were put on during random stolen moments. The eyes, not counting the mistakes, took less than an hour. The hair went on in less than an hour, as well, I rushed to put it on 2 evenings ago because I didn't think I should waste anymore time on her clothes should it turn out that I just couldn't make her cute enough! Then last night I took a half an hour and adorned her with beads and braids... that was fun!

Thanks for your comments, good luck with the new store!

Carol said...

You did a great job! She's just adorable! Thanks for sharing the ups and downs of making her, makes feel better about my boo boos.