Thursday, 31 January 2013

Knitting Miniature Animals using full-sized patterns

I love knitting tiny critters, but finding good miniature patterns is a perpetual problem. The obvious answer is to design my own...but with two young children running me ragged, I haven't quite got around to doing it. Even if I knew where to start! I did try one idea that I had and found that it is far from being as simple as it looks...but more on that later. In the meantime, I found myself wondering whether it would be possible to knit full-size patterns up as written, but using tiny needles and thread.

Here are some of the results using patterns by Jean Greenhowe, Alan Dart and from amongst my burgeoning collection of knitting books: (but who's counting? Not me!)


I used sequins as scales on dino's back to add interest.

This bunny's arms and legs are fully articulated so she can sit or stand, as required.

I used tiny goggly eyes to add character to this little fella

I was pleased that the patterns translated so well into miniature; this isn't always the case. Of course the toys still turned out pretty large in miniature terms - as a general rule, a pattern which produces a 6 inch toy in full size (using size 14 needles and double-knitting yarn) will produce a toy approximately one third of the size when knitted on size 21 needles and using DMC 80 tatting thread. But as I tend to knit my critters for their own sake, rather than for inclusion in a miniature scene, I don't lose any sleep over it!

But it is possible to find patterns that knit up small enough to satisfy the more purist amongst us:

Knitting chicken feet in 1/12th scale didn't really work so the chicken's feet are pieces of yellow pipecleaner.

The following critters were knitted using patterns designed specifically for the miniaturist so you can see how the results compare:

I have made all these pieces up using the traditional technique of stitching pieces together on the wrong side, turning and stuffing them. This is far from easy with tiny knitted pieces, even with the help of tweezers and haemostats (scary scissor-type clamps used in the medical profession). These days I am rather less purist about it and tend to make pieces up right sides out. Sooo much easier and you can see immediately whether your seam is as neat as you would wish. I have even been known to glue some really teeny tiny parts in place, but don't tell anyone.

Finally, as I mentioned, I did try designing a tiny critter of my very own. Just one. And, even though he is a simple little soul, I'm proud to call him All My Own Work.

Until next time, happy knitting!
Kathryn x

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

More Tiny Dressed Dolls

Last time, I showed you some of the tiny porcelain dolls that I've dressed using my own patterns. I was pleased with the results but, since porcelain dolls can be rather expensive, I needed a rather more economical option if I was to fill a whole shop. I collected a whole pile of, frankly, rather nasty plastic dolls from various sources. The cheapest were just £0.20; the dearest £0.50. I set to work to make them look rather more attractive than they did in their birthday suits.

Once dressed, these dolls looked much more acceptable, and less like the sort of baby only its mother could love. A useful feature of these dolls was the tendency for their (jointed) arms and legs to pop out of their sockets, which made dressing them so much easier. I think that as a means of displaying baby clothes in a shop (as mannequins) they work pretty well. All the clothes they are wearing were knitted using my 1/12 scale patterns as written; no tweaking was required, which is always a good thing!

Next came these rigid plastic dolls whose arms and legs did not move and which were not quite so accommodating when it came to getting dressed. I wigged them using bunka and knitted their clothes using my existing 1/12 scale patterns but instead using pure silk thread and tiny needles. The clothes came out pretty much the right size.

Finally, I moved onto some truly awful dolls. My friend had bought some and sawed their arms and heads and legs off to make "body parts" for the miniature Doll's Hospital she was working on. Frankly, I thought that was the best thing to do with them! But I persevered, gave them the bunka treatment and got knitting.

In fact, they turned out better than expected and are great for filling space in toyshops or for putting into a tiny doll's pram or bed (where you're not really going to look at them too closely!).

I've only shown a small number of the dolls I actually dressed, but the whole lot cost me less than £10.00 to buy - far less than just one of the porcelain dolls I featured last time. And, if I'm honest, I like them even more for that!

Until next time
Kathryn x

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Tiny Dressed Dolls

One of my many 'phases' over the years was to knit lace edgings taken from vintage patterns on size 21 needles and using silk thread. All very pretty and enormously satisfying, but then what was I to do with them?  It occurred to me one day that some of them might just lend themselves for use as miniature clothing. So I got busy adapting them as necessary to dress some 1/24 scale porcelain dolls that I bought many years ago from Meadowcroft Miniatures. Here are the results; I'm pretty pleased with them!

And so began my next 'phase': dressing 1/24 scale porcelain dolls! I think my skills as a knitter far exceed my skills as a wig-maker. I just CANNOT get on with viscose hair fibre! The last time I attempted viscose fibre ringlets, my cat knocked them off the windowsill into the toaster, which was on at the time...and they melted onto Ian's breakfast toast -  which did nothing to improve either my mood or marital relations.... So I used bunka (unravelled fringing of the type you get on lampshades) to wig them and I think it works quite well on these tiny dolls. Here are some more pictures, with a standard stainless steel thimble to show the scale:

Of course, once I'd exhausted my supply of these expensive porcelain dolls, I rather fancied the idea of making a miniature doll shop. But for that I would need a LOT more dolls. I needed a cheaper option! Next time, I'll show you that even if you can't "get owt for nowt", as we say in Yorkshire, you can at least get quite a lot for not very much.

Until next time
Kathryn x