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  • Writer's pictureClaire Fairall

Introducing Lilly and May knitted dolls

Please let me introduce you to Lilly and May, I’ve grown to know them very well since I first started sketching new doll ideas in March last year. At that time I had a general notion of the size and “feel” of the new doll I wanted to create.

My notebook is full of scrawl and little sketches, snippets from magazines , post cards, sometimes poems- anything which inspires me at that moment and which I don’t want to forget.

I had however one design problem to overcome. I love knitted dolls but I don’t love working with stranded yarn to make their hair.

I’ve seen so many amazing dolls with beautiful hair- curled, braided, up-do’s and bunches. You only have to visit Ravelry to see some fantastic doll patterns, and if you check out the projects attached to those patterns, you can see that the issue is with me, not the instructions,- because so many folk get great results. Yet somehow, try as I might, I just can’t get my dolls hair to look as I want them to. As I was thinking and scrolling through my older patterns I remembered Aimee doll, I created her a couple of years ago, she’s a smallish teen style doll and her bright pink hair always makes me smile.

Taking my inspiration from her I played around with the garter stitch hair cap, and over a day or so Lilly and May had a side parting and hair bobbles.

I’m so pleased with this style because it’s so easy and quick. It works every time and If I recall the scraggly haired dolls of my youth it always looks tidy!

When I came to design their clothes, I knew I wanted them to be easy to dress and undress. I once had a doll with sewn on clothes and to say the least – it was not a favourite toy.

Both dolls have knitted in knickers and May has a knitted in t-shirt under her pinafore dress. Most importantly both dresses are easy to take off and put on!

I thought maybe a bit of pattern detail could be incorporated. I work mainly with simple techniques to create my cuddly characters, so it was fun to stretch my knitting muscles and play with some simple patterns.

May’s pinafore is knitted from the hem up, as this makes the shaping for the bib and braces easier. Lilly’s dress is knitted from the top down, I use simple increases to create the sleeves. This is a traditional method, and one I enjoy using as it’s fairly simple to get the sizing right. This time for the skirt section I was a little bolder in the stitches for my pattern choice. This knotted pattern looks far more difficult than it is.

I love the subtle texture it adds to the dress, and I must confess that I lose interest if there is a lot of stocking stitch without shaping etc. To this day I have never knitted a full size garment not even a babies cardigan! Anyway, I digress. I’ve included full stitch instructions in the pattern, ( I won’t fib though, it is a little bit tricky for a new or intermediate knitter, until you get the hang of it) however one of the lovely ladies who test knits for me suggested that a plain stocking stitch version might be a good idea to give choice to folk knitting the dolls.

I’ve done the same for May’s pinafore. And I really love this colour combination of purple and sage too!! If you are wondering how I coped with knitting the plain dress versions, it involved 3 evenings of more tv than I’m accustomed to watching!

Lastly and by no means least! I want to share these images with you, they are the little beauties knitted by my wonderful test knitters. without whom there would be typos and oddities sprinkled liberally throughout Lilly and May's knitting pattern.

So after nearly 18 months of development, from idea to sketches, and with huge thanks and appreciation for the wonderful ladies who test knitted Lilly and May, and of course the lovely lady who edited all their feedback, I am now delighted for you to say hello to my latest little knitted friends.

Welcome to the world Lilly and May!!

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