Sunday, 31 July 2016

Miniature knitting for Heather Maciak

When I met Heather Maciak during November 2015 in Vancouver we had an instant connection and didn't stop talking all afternoon.  She gave me a lovely gift of a dress and shoes set for Lexie, which even came with its own miniature stockinette doll.  I didn't have a gift for her as I hadn't imagined we'd be lucky enough to meet, however during our conversation I picked up that Heather had never learned to knit though she is an accomplished seamstress and a NIADA doll artist.  So when I returned to England I set about the enjoyable task of designing and knitting a miniature sweater (cardigan with buttons) for my favourite 8 inch porcelain dolls.

I scaled down a Sasha pattern which is knitted all in one piece from the neck down (originally designed by Lauri Bolland and available on Ravelry).  The Sasha sized pattern is knitted on 4 ply sock wool with 2.75mm knitting needles, the pattern I devised for Jenny and Lexie is knitted on 2 ply lace wool with 1.5mm knitting needles (size 16), which I bought specially for this project.  In fact I ended up buying a set of different sized circular needles as well as 4 double ended needles, as the sleeves are knitted in the round, making the entire sweater seamless.
The partly knitted first sweater on the circular needle, with safety pins holding the sleeve stitches for knitting in the round later
Lexie looks at the knitting progress of the first sweater
Lexie models the partly knitted first sweater, before the sleeves were knitted
First I knitted it in plain off-white 2 ply wool, carefully noting down the details of each row as I went (I had my laptop on my lap as I knitted and the original Sasha pattern to hand).  It was a slow process as sometimes I wasn't happy with how it was working out so unraveled some of the work to adjust it. However once the first little sweater was knitted, I decided I wanted to try miniature fair-isle knitting!  So this time I used an excel spreadsheet to create a grid with coloured squares to work out the entire pattern before knitting it, then worked to the pattern, making a couple of adjustments to it as I went along.

Fortuitously I picked on colours which as it turned out Heather absolutely loved.  She knew I was knitting for her as I sent her a couple of 'in progress' early photos, but didn't know what I was making and knew they would take some time to complete.  However finally I was able to sew in all the ends, stitch on the buttons, block-press them with a cool iron and try them on my Jenny and Lexie for photos.  The first one had been knitted without button holes, the second I knitted button holes but wanted both to do up properly, so I had to use sewing thread to secure the edges of button holes I'd created by pushing wider the gaps between stitches using a thicker knitting needle. It made for slightly tight buttoning of that rainbow buttoned sweater.  I was careful to ensure the placing of button holes in the pattern on the computer as a result.  The buttons were a lucky craft shop find in the card making and decorating section.
Front view of the completed sweaters just before I posted them to Canada
Back view of the completed sweaters just before posting to Canada
I posted them to Heather in February, however at the time she was up to her eyes in dressing over a thousand miniature dolls for the United Federation of Doll Clubs convention souvenir doll and didn't have a moment to spare for taking photos of her Jenny and Lexie opening their package though I received a very happy email from her when the sweaters arrived.

In July, when Heather was all ready for the two back-to-back Doll events she had been working towards for months, she was able to get her girls to show their reaction to the miniature knitting I'd made for them.  The following 12 photos and captions are all published here with the permission of Heather Maciak (previously shared on the Jenny and Lexie Yahoo group).

Jenny, we got mail!
Don't drop it, let me help
Its from our friend DollMum!
Yay!  lets take it home and open it
What's in there Lexie?
Its our new sweaters from DollMum
And she sent us a letter - Winnie the Pooh, my favourite
Lexie, will you please help me!
Jenny, you look adorable!
Now I'll help you Lexie
We love our new sweaters
Thank you, DollMum!
Once I had sent these cardigans to Heather, I set to work to make one for my own Maciak dolls.  I had bought a selection of small balls of 2ply wool via mailorder from Shetland which had enabled me to add colour to the second sweater.  One of these balls of wool was a deep glorious purple and I decided to knit the fair-isle pattern in a combination of purple, red and pale green and blue for Lexie.  I haven't yet knitted for my Jenny, so the commercially made cardigan she wears in the following photos came with my first Patsi doll (Heidi Plusczok).  The girls decided to go and pick some lavender from the garden and it was the perfect foil for Lexie's new sweater.

Lexie picking lavender and wearing her new purple fair-isle sweater with her favourite doll 
A close up of Lexie's purple fair-isle sweater
Jenny was getting right into the lavender picking
Close up of Jenny wearing a commercially made hat and sweater (Boneka) borrowed from Patsi
Jenny was enthralled by the lavender
Lexie loved the scent of the lavender in her borrowed bag
Lexie and her dolly with lavender 
Jenny loves lavender
Jenny and Lexie in the Lavender
I got enormous pleasure from knitting these miniature sweaters for the girls.  I do still want to make one for my Jenny but haven't decided on the colours yet.