Monthly Archives: January 2015

Meet Peri

Peri is complete! The beloved companion of the fifth and sixth Doctors has been added to the dolls for Barbie Who? I started working on this doll in early January, so she has taken much less time than Cofelia. I am estatic to have finished so quickly, and hopefully this will be a good sign for things to come.

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Peri was created from a Flower Power Teresa doll that I purchased at a thrift store for $1. I chose this doll because she came with her hair bobbed off. The short hair struck me as Peri from the first day I saw her, so in a way the doll chose the character instead of the other way around. To transform her from Teresa to Peri, I cleaned her up, trimmed her hair, and dressed her in new clothes. The final piece of the puzzle was a fun accessory, and like any good botany student she now has some plants to study. Here is a rundown of everything done for Peri.

Cleaning

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Outfit

Peri's Outfit Finished

Accessories

Peri's Complete Outfit

Plants

Three Plastic Canvas Plants

Bring it all together and you get one awesome companion.

Peri with plants.

Just for fun, I had to break out Cofelia and the adipose to see how they look together. I think the adipose go perfectly with the plants. It is nice to have somebody around to keep Cofelia and her charges in line.

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I had a lot of fun making Peri! I enjoyed knitting an outfit for her. They take much less time than crochet, so I may knit more pieces for the blog. I plan on buying a new pair of 2 mm knitting needles so that I can create patterns with the proper sized needles. That may very well be my next big adventure; I plan on buying them when I go into town this week. I can’t wait to start the third entry for the blog!

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Peri’s Plants

Ever since deciding to do a Peri doll, I was hard pressed to find a fun accessory to go with her. Cofelia has her Adipose, so I had to find something similarly iconic for Peri. My biggest problem was finding something that is not a piece of clothing. Nothing really stood out, even after watching a few episodes, so I decided to look at her entry on the Doctor Who Wiki to see if that would spark anything. Thankfully it did! I read that she was an American botany student. Botany is all about the study of plants, so I decided to make a few plants to go along with the Peri doll.

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To create the plants, I searched Pinterest for plastic canvas plant patterns. I am not keen on buying fake plastic plants from craft stores because I am going for a different aesthetic. I like to think of fake plants as being in the uncanny valley of plants – they look kinda real but not quite, so it makes me uneasy. I briefly considered using something dried, but it would be much too fragile for a child to play with. A big part of Barbie Who? is to create something that my daughter can play with, and I do my best to keep that goal present when creating items. Another aspect I considered when looking for plant options was how I wanted to make something myself. After searching Pinterest for inspiration, I was lucky enough to find some plant patterns in plastic canvas. It took several hours of searching to find the free patterns I used to create these plants. The website that hosts the scanned pages is not in English (Spanish or Portuguese, maybe?), and that made it a challenge to search through their blog posts. Luckily, the scanned pages are in English, so I was able to make them with little trouble. The first pattern I created is a cactus in a round planter.

This pattern comes from the Labores de Esther todo para Barbie blog. This blogger has posted many awesome vintage patterns, including this one for a condo and snowmobile set you can create in 7 count plastic canvas. One part of this set is a plastic canvas cactus. I used the pictures template to create my cactus, but I ad-libbed the flowers. When drawing the outline of the cactus on the plastic canvas, I tried a new tip that I read about on Pinterest. I used a dry erase marker to trace the outline on the plastic before I did any actual cutting. It worked great! I didn’t make any cutting mistakes for either side of the cactus. I remember making mistakes when I was cutting things out of plastic canvas as a child, and I wish I had known this trick back then. I did have to run the canvas under running water to get all of the marker off afterwards (a wet cloth didn’t get the bits in the holes), but it was a small price to pay for the perfect cut. Little things like this are why I love Pinterest.

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Once they were cut out, I used some leftover worsted weight yarn to fill it in. The green yarn was some wool that I purchased at a thrift store. I used about half of what I had bought on a baby hat, and the rest was in my remnant yarn bag. I felt a bit weird using wool for a plastic canvas project, but the only other shade of green I had available was a bright, neon color that would look rather unnatural for a cactus. They’re desert plants, and in my mind they are a darker shade of green. In the end, using the green wool worked out very well on all counts. I added a few pink flowers at the end before whip stitching the two sides together. When I finished, I asked my husband how it looked. He just looked at me like I was crazy and said it looked okay for a weird cactus thing. It was recognizable, so I took that as a win and started on its planter.

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I created my own design for the planter. I used the same dimensions as the one pictured on the original pattern, but I created my own pattern for the outside of it using Microsoft Excel. I just used simple shapes to create stitches of different lengths, and I played around with it until I found something I liked. I decided that using the colors of the TARDIS would be the most appropriate thing for this planter, and I tried to make a pattern vaguely reminiscent of a police box. This is what my finished pattern looked like in Excel.

Circular Planter

From there, I just stitched it onto the plastic canvas. It stitched very quickly; the planter only took a few hours to finish. After finishing the design, I whip stitched the sides together to create the round shape. For the bottom, I used a piece of circular plastic canvas I bought at the hobby shop. I cut it down to the proper length, put a few dummy stitches around the edge to keep it evenly spaced, and stitched everything together. It is a bit hard to see the black stripe in the finished planter, but I don’t mind that too much. It is the price you pay when you work with rich colors. Overall, I am very happy with how the design turned out! It fits the cactus very well.

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The second and third plants come from the same blog: Labores de Esther todo para Barbie. On this post, she has scans from a patio set that includes two leafy plants. I really fell in love with this pattern, but it did pose more problems than the first. The pattern called for green 10 count plastic canvas. Finding 10 count canvas isn’t hard, but finding 10 count in a green color is nearly impossible. I couldn’t even find the stuff online! It was so, so frustrating. I had two options: I can either use a Sharpie to color some clear plastic canvas the color I need or buy 7 count plastic canvas and call it a giant species. I went with the latter. It looked to be within the proper scale after outlining the patterns, so I roll on with making these giant plants.

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2015/01/img_7483.jpgCutting these plants out was harder than the cactus. Both were much more intricate, and it had multiple thin areas between the leaves. Luckily, plastic canvas is fairly durable and I was able to get through it without cutting myself or ruining the piece. I also chose to deviate from the pattern by sewing the edges with green crochet thread. I used the deep, emerald green thread I bought at a thrift store a few weeks ago for one plant and a lighter green that I purchased from a thrift store ages ago for the second. I like how the thread edging softens up the edges, but it took about an hour to sew around each leaf. I really prefer the more polished look, so it was worth the extra effort. The crochet thread I used looks like size 10, and it took three to seven stitches in each square of plastic canvas to get good coverage around the edges.

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For their planters, I decided that I wanted to do something different. The pattern on the website called for another circular planter, but for visual appeal I decided to create my a square planter of my own design. I went with TARDIS colors once again, and these are the patterns I created in Excel for them. In addition to these four sides, I cut out a fifth side for the bottom that I filled in with simple diagonal stitches. I whip stitched the edges together, and added the plants.

PlanterPattern2

I know that you can design patterns for plastic canvas in paper or with other software, but I find that this helps me visually see how to stitch the plastic canvas. I am very visual when I am doing these patterns, and sometimes the square-based patterns are hard for me to work with. Each design took about an hour for me to create. Much of that time was researching different stitches and textures; each side of the second square planter has a different texture. The first one also has a small tribute to the two doctors who had Peri as a companion with by using roman numerals. I thought it would be a fun touch to an otherwise simple design.

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The planters took two to three hours to stitch and assemble. I used worsted weight yarn leftover from a Doctor Who themed commissioned hat I made last year. The worsted weight yarn was much easier to work with than the size 10 crochet thread. It tangled much less than the thread, and it was easier to work in the ends once I had finished using a piece of it. Still, it was interesting to work with different yarns while making these. I now have a better grasp of the limitations different yarns have when I work with plastic canvas in the future.

With all three plants, I anchored them in their planters with a square of brown felt. I had originally planned on using rice or a small rock to anchor the plants into the planters, but the felt was able to keep the plants in place without needing the extra weight. I took a standard sheet of felt and quartered it. I put one quarter into each planter, then folded the extra bits in on itself. This left the perfect spot in the middle to place the plants. It was an easy way to simulate dirt without making a giant mess. Win-Win!

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Overall, this was a fun way for me to work with plastic canvas. It is an interesting medium to work with, and I hope to use more of it as I continue crafting for the blog. The hardest part of using plastic canvas was finding the perfect length of yarn/thread to use when stitching. I found 18″ was a good length for worsted weight yarn. Any longer and the yarn would unwind and be more frayed towards the end, and anything shorter wouldn’t last very long (it is frustrating when you feel like you’re changing yarn every three minutes). The thread was a but hardier; it tended to be hardier than the yarn, but it would tangle more if it was too long. I used 24″ lengths without running into big problems, and I had to change string about four times for each leaf.

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With these plants, Peri is complete! I will do a quick write-up for her and then choose a new subject over the next few entries. This should be an eventful week! I hope this little project was worth the wait, and I will see you all shortly.

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Peri’s Accessories

For today’s post, I am going to focus on several finishing touches to Peri’s overall look. This includes picking out a pair of shoes, making a bracelet, and doing her hair. These little details are what make the biggest difference when recreating a character. I am sorry this post took so long to publish, but we came down with a virus and the entire family was miserable for the better part of this week. This severely reduced the amount of time I had to work on crafting and the blog, and I apologize for the delay.

Anyways, back to the accessories! Peri always had a bracelet on that matched her belt. I wanted to create a similar bracelet, while keeping it simple. I could have gone a few different directions with it. I briefly considered braiding the bracelet so it would be very thin and dainty, but I soon realized that I am terrible at braiding evenly with crochet thread. I considered knitting it, but the sizing would have been too tricky and I believed it would wind up too bulky. To get a good balance of size and quality, I went with crochet. I decided to create it using the foundation single crochet stitch. I chose the foundation stitch because, for me, it comes out more even than chaining and then doing a row of single crochets.

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Bracelet Pattern

Supplies:

– Size 6 (1.80 mm) crochet hook

– Size 10 crochet thread

– Embroidery needle

Pattern:

Foundation chain 12 stitches

Cast off, leaving a 7″ tail

Sew the two ends together using the embroidery needle and tail

I made the bracelet big enough that it could slip on and off of her wrist; I wanted to be able to remove it if needed. I could have made it smaller and sewed it onto the wrist, but I chose the removable route in case it gets dirty and needs to be cleaned. This size is large enough that I can remove it but small enough that it won’t fall off on its own.

For Peri’s shoes, I first looked at the bag of shoes I bought from China last year. There were many pink pairs of shoes, but most of them were open toed and the wrong shade of pink – Peri sports a pastel pink pair of shoes for most episodes and most of the shoes in my cache were hot pink. I was looking for more of a closed toed high heel to go with her outfit. Frustrated, I rummaged through the bag of naked dolls in the toy area to see if any of them had pink shoes. Luck smiled upon me and I found a pair that is exactly what I had in mind. I was ecstatic that they fit! No giant-foot problems with this doll.

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Lastly, I had to touch up Peri’s hair. A few weeks ago, I cleaned Peri. I rinsed and brushed her hair, and this brought out a few strays. I simply trimmed the uneven hairs and used a bit of heat to smooth everything out. Using a blowdryer on low setting, I just put her head under it for 20 second bursts and then moved the hair to where I wanted it. After doing this three or four times, I was able to get her hair to cooperate and sit the way I wanted. I brushed it one last time and it looks fairly better. I did before and after pictures, but the stray hairs didn’t photograph very well. Still, you can see some improvement.

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That is it! These are the last few touches for Peri’s outfit. I just need to create some plants as accessories for her and her entry on the blog will be complete. I hope to have everything wrapped up shortly. Again, I apologize for this post taking so long to publish. One silver lining about the delay and being sick is that it gave me some time to scout patterns and possibilities for the next doll I will be doing for Barbie Who? I haven’t made a definitive decision about what I will do just yet, so stay tuned!

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Peri’s Outfit

I finished Peri’s outfit! I am both pleased and surprised with how quickly it came together. Knitting this outfit went infinitely smoother than knitting the practice pants for Ken. I was able to cast on properly on the first try, and I was able to knit even rows. It looks much more polished than my previous attempt. Plus it took less time than crochet outfits. I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.

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I mashed together two patterns from Sticka till Barbie and one pattern of my own to create this outfit. I did the shorts and belt from pattern number 96 (gray green jumpsuit) and the top from pattern number 62 (two color glitter dress). Then I went back in and crocheted the arms from my Peacoat Pattern into the appropriate area, stopping a few rows early because Peri’s blouse has shorter sleeves than my coat (I go into more detail on the sleeves below).

I used my size US 1 (2-1/4 mm) knitting needles and size 10 crochet thread to create the body of the outfit. Casting on and knitting this pattern was a breeze. The belt was trickier. I did a slip stitch pearl-wise incorrectly. I did the pearl motion, but I forgot to move the thread behind the stitch – this caused the working end of the yarn to be in front of a stitches for the belt loops. I had to unravel three rows of knitting to correct my mistake. Otherwise, I didn’t make any other big mistakes while making this.

Another knitting lesson I learned with this item is that I have been doing a knit two together (k2tog) stitch wrong. I was looking at a YouTube video when I realized that I was orienting the loops on the hook the wrong way. It isn’t a big deal, but I find it funny. I don’t think it makes much of a difference in the pants or this outfit, luckily. I keep assuming that I know how to do basic knitting techniques, and yet I have been doing it wrong all along. Much of this is because I learned to knit from books and YouTube videos. I have never had another knitter sit with me and show me how to do things. My mother taught me to crochet, and she was always there to correct me when I did things the wrong way. I never had that coddling with knitting, so I make mistakes when my hubris gets the best of me.

The top was a bit trickier because the pattern has a misprint. It says to k2tog when you should ssk (slip slip knit). You want the decreases in each side of the neck opening to complement the side it is moving, and if you follow the pattern exactly it will look weird – just trust me on this. I had to unravel several rows when I realized the sides didn’t match up, and upon examination I remembered that there are left leaning decreases and right leaning decreases. It may have been a while since I’ve knit, but at least I retained that helpful bit of information. This is out the outfit turned out after I finished the knitting portion.

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Sewing the body together was very easy and went quickly. Because the knit ribbing gives some stretch, I did not use any snaps, hooks, or buttons on the outfit. At first I was afraid that it was too small for the doll, but the knit stitches give it enough stretch that it fits her body perfectly. It slips on and off of the doll quite easily, even if the yarn does somewhat stick to the legs. Once sewn together, I took a break from this piece for a few days. I hurt my wrist after a slip down the stairs, and I just couldn’t pick up a hook.

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Once I was better, I crocheted in the arms. I considered a few different ways to do it. Originally, I wanted to knit the arms into the piece, but the process that Sticka till Barbie used for long sleeves was confusing to me. I couldn’t visualize it, so I decided to go with something I am more proficient at. I started by crocheting 5 single crochets to the top of each arm hole. Then, I increased by one single crochet each row until I had 16 total single crochets across the arm hole of the outfit – this gave it the drop down from the shoulder it needs not to have fabric pile up at the shoulder or pull the top in weird ways. From there, I used my sleeve pattern from the Peacoat Pattern, starting at row 2 and stopping at row 23. Peri on the show didn’t have a full length sleeve, and I felt this length was a good approximation of what she wore on the show. From there, I cast off and worked in all the loose ends. It was difficult to do it in the sleeve area because it was so tight, but I managed to get it finished. I had a slight delay because my tapestry needles were misplaced. I’m so sorry! I believe my daughter got ahold of the bag they are kept in and threw it behind the couch. Either that or the cat took his passive-aggressive antics to a whole new level. Either way, they spent a few days behind the couch. Once I found the needles and worked in the loose ends, I tried it on the doll.  Thankfully, it fits!

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It took me about ten-twelve hours of crafting time to create this outfit from start to finish. It was slow going at times, but I am so pleased with how it looks. The colors and design really came together to create something special. One thing about this pattern that I like is how it is all one piece. I especially like how the belt is built-in. I feel like that makes it much easier to dress her, and it makes her overall outfit much less bulky than if it had been three separate pieces. It also stops the problem of fabric curling that can happen. The tight fit is what I believe stops that problem from manifesting.

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I finished the big project for Peri! Horray! I just need to create a few outfit accessories and some props for Peri to complete her entry in the blog. I am excited with how quickly she is coming together! I am also glad that I was able to to find some patterns to frankenstein together instead of having to create my own. I know that creating those patterns for Cofelia really set me back several weeks and caused more headaches than I care to admit. I will keep pushing on this project, so hopefully I will have the next post up in a day or two and have her finished within the next week.

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Post-Holiday Shopping

I finally managed to dig my car out of the snowdrift it has been encased in this last two weeks, and to celebrate we drove into the city! Yay! We mainly went there so that my husband could go to the library, but I did manage to stop at a few thrift stores and the local craft shop while we were out. It was a very long and productive day.

Remember that mismatched doll from last post? The one that was packaged with a Merida doll who had vinyl head and plastic body? Well, her head may have been meant for that weird, hollow body after all. I found seven more dolls just like her at the same thrift store (sorry that I didn’t have the presence of mind to take a picture). Well, not just like her; each one was dressed as a different Disney princess. There were variations on hair, but the head molds and face paint were identical on all of them. To steal a Simpsons joke, we’ll call them Diz-Nee Princesses. They are dolls, they vaguely look like Disney Princesses, and they are much lower quality than the real thing. I was tempted to buy one of them for her dress, but I decided that I really shouldn’t buy a doll just for its clothes. Even if I just donate the doll back afterwards, the dress is likely the same quality as the doll and not worth my money. I will leave them for whomever thought that cruddy Aladdin doll was worth buying. Seriously. He was gone, so somebody mush have bought him in all of his broken, sharpie-covered glory. I can only imagine why they thought he was worth buying.

Anyways, as I was looking at the Diz-Nee Princess dolls, an employee at the store brought a new bin of toys out from the sorting area. I was excited to see a few more dolls in it. One was another pack of Diz-Nee dolls, but the other was an awesome bag with three Barbie dolls in it. They cost only $3.00!

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The first doll is Jewel Hair Mermaid Barbie from 1995. She is missing her hair jewels and her fin, but her hair is in remarkable condition. She also has her top, crown, earrings, and ring. She is a really fantastic find! I remember this doll from when I was young. I believe my friend Katie owned this one. I remember that the hair jewels never stuck very well to her hair, but they always managed to get stuck to our clothes. Overall, she is a cool and nostalgic doll to add to the mix. I doubt she will be used for Barbie Who? because I am already quite attached to her as-is. I put her with the Dance Club Kayla doll where they can do their own thing.

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The other two dolls are Wedding Day Midge and Alan from 1990. Neither has their wedding attire (neither had any clothes; I put them in what I had on hand), which is a shame because those outfits are awesome. Check out those links above; I just love the polkadots on Midge’s dress. Alan needs some touch-up paint on his hair, but otherwise both are in very good condition. Midge even has rings on both fingers! She also has a earrings and a nail in her head (I assume it is where her veil attaches). Because of the wedding connection and her lovely red hair, Midge may have to become Donna Noble. Donna is one of my favorite companions, and this doll strikes me as her Barbie Who? counterpart. I also think that she and Cofelia would make a wicked pair together. I am already scouting out tasteful wedding attire if I decide to go that route for the next doll I create for the blog.

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I am excited that the knit pants also fit Alan well; his legs are a bit bulkier than Ken’s, but the pants have more than enough stretch to fit comfortably. Alan is much different than the previous Fashionista Cutie Ken doll I found. Ken’s body is much less substantial and isn’t nearly as muscular as the Alan doll. Ken’s body also seems to be hollow. I like the overall look of Alan more than that of Ken. However, Alan doesn’t strike me as anybody from the Whoniverse. This bothers me somewhat, but I am sure that I will watch an episode and the lightbulb will come on. I just need a bit of time to mull it over. Until then, I have plenty of dolls and inspiration to keep me busy.

After those amazing finds, I went to my favorite thrift store for happy hour. I didn’t find any cool dolls or toys, but I did find some yarn. I bought three skeins of size 10 yarn – blue, green, and gold. I bought the blue and green because I absolutely love the bright, vibrant color of them. It may not be sparkly, but it certainly is eye catching. I bought the gold because of the Jewel Hair Mermaid Barbie I found above. I can use it to make a tail that matches her top. I can also use the gold to create a belt and crown for the Merida doll (if I can ever find the time). It is nice to have a plan for the yarn I bought. The three skeins of yarn cost $2.00 total, which is a great because they have so much yarn on them.

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After that adventure, we made our final stop at the craft store. I spent way too much time browsing all of their cool stuff, but in the end I only bought a single sheet of green plastic canvas. Why? Great question! I want to create an accessory for Peri, and this sheet of plastic canvas is the key to my plans. I want to make some plants to be Peri’s accessory. It will be fun to see how it turns out. I haven’t use plastic canvas for crafting since I was a child. I have fond memories of making Loony Tunes coasters with my mom from a book she bought for us. It was always fun, and it taught me how to read patterns and use a needle. I look forward to working with it.

Well, that is everything for today. Peri’s outfit is coming alone quite well! I am almost finished with the body of it. If it fits the doll, I will just need to knit or crochet arms onto it and it will be finished. I wish I had more time to dedicate to it and knock it out, but sometimes life just gets in the way. This isn’t entirely a bad thing; my wrists aren’t complaining about the breaks. I am getting slightly better at working with the tiny needles, but I still need breaks every half hour to prevent wrist pain. I also realized that I spend more time working on these projects than I registered. I have already spent six hours working on this suit, and I’m sure that the sleeves will take an hour each to create. For my next big project, I may have to use the stop-watch function on my phone to get a more accurate number. Regardless, I will carry on and finish Peri’s outfit.

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Knitting Practice

Just as I did with crochet before, I needed to do a test garment to help sort out my knitting skills. I am very happy that I took the time to do this because knitting for dolls in crochet thread is tedious and vastly different than knitting with worsted weight yarn. I did knit my own Doctor Who Scarf (I worked on it off and on for years – I will post a picture and talk about it when I post about the Dalek dress), and it was much easier to work with than these pants. As with crochet, the smaller scale ramps up the skill level needed to be successful.

I started off by finding a pattern. I am using a pattern from Sticka till Barbie because I will be using two more of their patterns for Peri’s outfit. Their style of pattern deals with knitting a specific length instead of a specific number of rows, and I wanted to get used to this type of pattern. Basically, I’m killing two birds with one stone. I chose a pattern for a pair of pants to fit a Ken doll (pattern number 602). The pattern seemed straightforward; it didn’t include any fancy stitches or terms I am not familiar with. It seemed like a good primer in knitting for small dolls, so I went into it with gusto. Oh, how optimistic of me….

I started out with brown crochet thread I purchased at a thrift store ages ago. It had a little project attached to it; if I had I venture a guess, it was an owl eye. They had doubled up on the yarn to give it more bulk, so untangling it was a challenge. I took what I could work with and threw the rest in the bin. It feels like size 10 crochet thread in cotton. I picked out a pair of knitting needles from the lot I had purchased at the newer thrift store the last time I went shopping and began knitting. I chose the needles that said 2 because the pattern called for 2 mm needles.

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I did a long-tail cast on, and it didn’t turn out so great. The yarn kept tangling and somehow I kept getting extra loops on the needle. I did it again. Then a third time. Finally, after a fourth cast on, I had something I could work with. Unfortunately, the cast on wasn’t the only problem I had with this first attempt. The first row was too loose and filled with holes. I did a few more rows before I scrapped it entirely for being too loose. These two pictures really don’t do justice to the hot mess that this first attempt was before I unraveled it. Sheesh!

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Things just didn’t look at all like the pictures on the Sticka till Barbie website. Then I realized… the 2 on my knitting needles probably didn’t mean 2 mm.  They probably meant US 2 and US 2 were probably a different size. I got out a measuring gauge, and sure enough they were size US 2, which is equivalent to 2-3/4 mm needles. They were 3/4 mm too big, and I felt like a total dolt for not double checking the size on my gauge before starting. Not one to give up easily, I switched to the pair of US 1 (2-1/4 mm) needles I bought last week because they are the smallest pair of needles I currently own. I really hoped that the 1/2 mm smaller needles would work for the patterns. Thanks to my practice earlier, the cast on went much smoother; I managed to get it on the first try. The first row also was much tighter and looked like previous pieces I’ve knit in sport weight yarn. It was a much nicer look overall for the yarn I was using. The smaller needles worked! Yay!

The technical problem with my first try were solved, but it was weird working with the smaller needles because they’re made from fairly bendable plastic. It was very hard on my wrists after a dozen or so rows. I had to take many breaks while creating this piece. This turned out to be a good thing because of my next big mistake. You see, I forgot the difference between garter stitch (knit each row) and stockinette stitch (knit a row, pearl a row). I worked the fist 4.5 cm of the first leg in garter stitch when the pattern called for stockinette. If I had stuck it out and done more, I probably would have finished the first leg before discovering my mistake. Luckily that wasn’t the case. I unraveled it, cast back on, and started knitting the first leg for a third time. This time I was able to do the pattern as written with only minor complications. At one point, I dropped a stitch and had to weave it back into three rows of the fabric, and twice I knit an entire row when I should have pearled that row. Luckily the piece held together well, so I was able to pick the stitches back up after unraveling the incorrect stitches. Neither is something I haven’t done before, but correcting it on the tiny doll scale was a challenge. It also made a few of the rows on the finished piece look a bit warped. These problems embody every single reason why I do practice pieces.

To help with the pattern, I used some cool old marking rings to mark stitches. I did this so that I could make notes about the number of rows on each pant leg. (if nothing else, I wanted the legs to be even). I also used a point protector – both were in a grab bag I bought at a thrift store. I love the design on their boxes! I just had to share these awesome finds. I love retro/vintage packaging. Some of the new stuff from Yarnology and Stitchology have some neat designs that remind me of these, but it just isn’t the same.

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As for the pattern itself, I had some minor problems understanding it at times. I like patterns that hold my hand and spell everything out. These patterns do not do that, so I had to interpret them and adjust them as I saw fit. I think some of this has to do with the fact it was translated from Swedish to English. This isn’t the biggest problem in the world, but it did cause me to have to pull out a few rows at one point because I misunderstood what the pattern needed me to do. One big advantage to this type of pattern is how easy it is to adapt to different sized materials and dolls. It is an amazing website, but make sure that you know your terms or have YouTube pulled up to show you how to do things before you assume you know how to do something. All of that aside, here are the results of my first knit piece.

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I finished it by sewing up the entire sides. The ribbing at the top of the pants gave them enough stretch that I didn’t need to sew on a snap or button. The hardest part was figuring out how to sew up the crotch; it took a few tries, but I did get it to fit properly. It was really awkward to work with the small size of them, but that is par for the course anytime you create something for dolls this size. It took me about 8 hours to create this from start to finish, but about half of that was due to my own mistakes. A more competent knitter could probably knock these out in an hour or two.

The pants work very well for Ken, but they don’t come anywhere close to fitting Arachnid Guy. His large, muscular legs are just too big for these pants. I am happy that Ken now has something to wear besides the G.I. Joe vest thing he came with. Which reminds me, this Ken is a Fashionista Cutie Ken. I am not sure what year he was or exactly which box/set he came with. He has unarticulated arms, and every search I have done only comes up with the regular articulated dolls. I did find another blog that had one with unarticulated arms, but she didn’t say anything about that specific doll besides the fact he was a Fashionista Cutie Ken doll with unarticulated arms. I am guessing it was an earlier version, or perhaps a cheaper version of the doll that they rolled out at some point.

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I recommend these patterns to anybody who is a patient knitter. As inept as I am at times, I managed to make a nice pair of pants. This means you can do it, too! I have a great amount of respect for the person who made these patterns because the sheer number of them is mind boggling and they all look amazing. Hopefully I will make more as time goes on. Well, I know I will make at least two more in the near future….

I learned so much from this. Just like the few outfits I crocheted, knitting with tiny needles and tiny thread is fairly different than with larger fare. Now that I am more familiar with the techniques needed, I can make items at the quality needed for Barbie Who? I will begin on Peri’s outfit and post an update as soon as I have something to show for it.

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Cleaning Dolls

One of my main goals with Barbie Who? is to only use dolls that I have found at thrift stores. I have been very lucky with my finds thus far, but most of the dolls I buy do need some cleaning before they are ready to be used. I had to do some minor cleaning to the Flower Power Teresa doll, and I will detail my method here.

The main thing to remember when cleaning a doll is that you should use the smallest amount of effort and chemicals possible to get it clean. Yes, I may be able to use mega cleaner X to remove grime on the doll quickly, but it could cause discoloration of the vinyl or removal of paint from the doll’s face. Therefore, I start with water and a mild soap and work my way up to more abrasive measures only as a last resort.

Today, I will be cleaning up the doll I am using for Peri. The main concerns are some green and black paint marks throughout her body and a black permanent marker stain on her foot. There is also some dirt and general grime on her, but that is par for the course anytime you buy a used doll. The hardest part will be removing anything on her face without ruining her makeup.

I like to start cleaning with dish soap. I usually buy original blue Dawn, but I also use citrus Ajax sometimes. It just depends on which one I am using to wash dishes with at the time. Some people say to avoid anything with citrus, but I have never had a problem because I always thoroughly rinse the dolls in water after cleaning them. If you don’t fully rinse off a citrus cleaner, it may cause issues, so you should always use caution with them. Anyways, I started cleaning her with warm water and a few drops of soap. I used a microfiber cloth for the first round of cleaning, a cotton dishcloth for a second scrubbing round, and a Q-tip for the nooks and crannies of her face. I made sure to be extra gentle around her face paint so as not to rub any away. Much to my surprise, everything came off with just soap and elbow grease. Here are the results!

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Her face cleaned up beautifully. It took a few minutes for me to get a green splotch near her eye, but otherwise I didn’t have any trouble. Q-tips are very helpful when doing work in oddly shaped areas. The microfiber cloth also did a good job of getting in right spaces.

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I am not sure what the black marks on her body are from. They weren’t marker (thank goodness), and they rubbed off relatively easily. It reminded me somewhat of stuff marks.

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Although small, these marks took a few minutes to clean off. The larger marks were actually easier to clean than the tiny ones.

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Here are some before and after pictures for the front and back sides of Peri’s legs. As you can tell from the before pictures, she was well loved by her previous owner.

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After dealing with the general grime, I turned my attention to the permanent marker stain on her foot. It faded slightly after I washed it, but it was a barely noticeable difference. I did three treatments of the foot with a benzoyl peroxide cream. I used Clean & Clear acne cream, but anything with 10% benzoyl peroxide will work for this application. The treatments didn’t make a real difference, which puzzled me since I have successfully used it before. I asked a friend who restores dolls, and she said that the benzoyl peroxide doesn’t work as well when it is cold. She suggested that I try again when the weather gets hot and miserable. It is frustrating that I can’t do anything more for her foot at the moment, so we may touch base again on cleaning Peri once the weather warms up.

**Update** I forgot to link to my source for the benzoyl peroxide cleaning method to get marker off of dolls. Oops! Here is the link; she has some great pictures with her tutorial. I hope to have similar results once things warm up around here.

I finished the cleaning by gently rinsing her hair and body with water. Since nothing was stuck in the hair, I didn’t use any soaps or conditioners on it. I also rinsed her entire body thoroughly to get rid of any soap left on her skin. Next I brushed her hair and left her in a well ventilated area to dry overnight. I think she looks refreshed after all the cleaning.

Overall, I am very happy with how the doll looks right now. She is much cleaner than she was when I bought her, and I didn’t have to use anything abrasive to clean her face. Wins all around! For the craftier side if things, I have started knitting a practice piece – a pair of pants for the Ken doll. It is much more challenging than I expected – it is even harder to knit on this scale than it is to crochet. I keep dropping stitches and making silly mistakes. Hopefully I will have something to show for it very soon, and something much nicer for Peri to wear in the near future. I am hoping I can get all the mistakes out with these pants. Keep your eye out for the next post and you can hear all about my first Barbie knitting adventure.

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