Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Another Boy Doll Joins the Family

A month or so ago, my husband picked up this doll at a thrift store for $0.50. It had clothes on, and he reasoned that the clothes were probably worth that much, at least. Unfortunately, he was wrong. I ended up throwing them away. (And you know I don't throw much away.) BUT the doll itself had some potential for another boy doll, even if it would only provide me some more practice and have to be thrown away in the end.

But before I go into all of that, you really need a better look at just how bad this doll was. You can see that some little girl must have attacked her with scissors.

Even the bangs had been trimmed, since the Springfield dolls' bangs are usually almost down to their eyebrows.

So the first thing I did was try to even out the haircut.

I started with electric hair clippers. Mine have numbered plastic attachments, and I used a #8 so it would cut the longest possible but still appear boyish. (I didn't mess with the bangs. They were more than short enough.)

After that, I took a deep breath and started evening it out with scissors. I'm not that great with cutting real hair with scissors (which is why I have the electric clippers in the first place), so I didn't have high hopes for the doll.

After the haircut
 You might be able to see a bit of "scalp" at the bottom of the haircut. After I took this picture, I went over that section of his scalp with a dark brown Sharpie marker so it would blend in better. (The rest of the scalp under his hair was already colored like this, since it's one way the company can get by with less hair.) It worked great because he has no more skin showing under his haircut.

After the haircut
I worked quite a bit on the transition from the bangs to the rest of the hair, but it was worth the time. It made all the difference.

After the haircut
See? He's looking better already!

But he still has those hideously unnatural bright pink lips and his eyebrows are too thin for a boy. (If I could, I would go back and give Alex boyish eyebrows, but I was terrified of it at the time.)

New eyebrows and lip color
This picture is a bit washed out from the flash, so his eyebrows look a bit too dark. But check out the next few pictures for what he really looks like.

I did the eyebrows and lips with regular acrylic paint. If you make a mistake, you can wipe it off while it's still wet and redo it. I did his eyebrows at least three times before I was happy with them.

Just a little note about the eyebrows: Some people have completely removed the eyebrows with acetone, but I left his on (and just painted over them) to give me a guide for where they should be. It really did help.

For his lips, I mixed about half red paint and half white. It still looked too girly, so I added about two drops of brown, and it was just right.

All done - and dressed!
Here he is, modeling a shirt I refashioned (i.e. upcycled) from a baby boy shirt we found in a thrift store on $1/bag day.

All done!
I really like how he turned out. I'm amazed that he's even cute! :)

He'll be officially joining our doll family on Easter, when he'll be the special guest. (My kids don't know about him yet.)

I hope you enjoyed this peek into the transformation process.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Knitting: Doll Hoodie

I made another doll hoodie from a paid pattern I had purchased and used a year or so ago for the Bitty Twins. This time, I'm making it for a friend's daughter that recently got her much-desired AG doll McKenna.

I did a few things differently this time. First of all, I changed the rolled edges to ribbed edges, since I think it makes the sweater look more "finished".

See how much better the hood lays? You can compare it with the hoodies I made before. It might not be as noticeable in the pictures, but it certainly is in person.

The other change I made was to do a seamless set-in sleeve (top-down) properly. I followed the instructions in this video. It really wasn't as hard or confusing as it might sound at first. It's quite easy, actually, and you get a well-fitting sleeve cap with no seaming.

For more details, you can view my Ravelry project page with more information here.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Knitting: A Smaller "Sampler" Shawl

This is my daughter's size of our matching shawls. I did one less leaf repeat to make it as small as possible. (This one used just one repeat of each lace section.)

It's still big enough that I could wear it, but it doesn't overwhelm her smaller structure. She should be able to wear it for many years to come.

This one took just three days, so it was an entire day quicker just by eliminating that one leaf chart repeat.

Please note that the pictures make it look like there's a stain in the top center of the shawl. There isn't. That's just the colors showing through from my blocking mat underneath.

You can view all the details on my Ravelry project page.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Knitting: A "Sampler' Shawl

Yes, I've been on a lace shawl kick! :) After I found this fantastically soft sweater at a thrift store and recently unraveled it, I had the idea of making my daughter and I matching shawls for our Easter and Mother's Day outfits.

I was inspired by a few things. First of all, my daughter has been twirling around in the other shawls I've made, begging for one of her own. Secondly, I happened to notice that this color perfectly matches last year's Easter/Mother's Day outfits that we both can still fit. (You know I'm all about thriftiness, and updating last year's outfits for a fresh look is very thrifty.) Thirdly, I wanted to use this yarn because it's so soft that I couldn't wait to work with it.

The pattern I used is designed to make a shawl that would come close to fitting Goliath's mother, if she was anywhere near his size. ;) I'm not, and my daughter is even smaller than I am. So I browsed through the projects and found a few people who had scaled back the size a bit, and I followed their lead. This still turned out a lot bigger than I expected, but not too big for me.

This is a closeup of the beginning of the shawl (section 1 is called stars and section 2 is called blossoms) ...

... the middle of the shawl (leaves) ...

... and the edge of the shawl (called owls, but you have to look at them upside-down to see the owl faces; at this angle, they look like fox faces to me).

I can't even begin to tell you how lovely this is in person. It's even nicer than it looks in pictures, and it's so dreamy soft.

This was a pretty fast knit - it took me four days.

You can view my detailed notes on my Ravelry project page.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Knitting: Another Baby Alpaca Shawl

The next shawl I knit was from the same baby alpaca sweater, but the second color - a heathered dark grey. I love it!

I managed to knit this one without dropping any stitches. :) It's really not as difficult as it looks (I finished it in five days), and I thoroughly enjoyed the process.

Here is a closer look at the middle section of the shawl.

This is a better look at the real color of the yarn, as well as the edge details.

And in case you've never knit a lace shawl before, this is what it looks like when you're done knitting, but haven't blocked it yet. Yes, it looks like a puddle of knotted yarn. If you ever delve into lace knitting, don't have a heart attack at this point. It looks beautiful once it's blocked. Blocking is what opens up the lace, and it stays opened up unless/until it's washed again (when you have to repeat the blocking process).

You can take a peek at my detailed notes on my Ravelry project page.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Knitting: Baby Alpaca Shawl

I decided to finally use the baby alpaca yarn that has been sitting in my stash for a year or so. Because it's so fine (fingering weight), I chose to make a shawl.

I love Estonian lace!! The nupps (like bobbles) aren't nearly as difficult as they sound, and the end result is nothing short of stunning.

This is a close-up of the pattern in the body of the shawl.

And here is a closeup of the edging with the nupps.

I did manage to drop two stitches in the process of making this, and I didn't discover them until I was blocking the shawl. (If you look at that first picture, you can see the stitch markers holding them in place until it was dry.) Fortunately, I was able to work them back in and secure them with extra yarn.

I have enough yarn left to make another shawl just like this, but I'll probably choose a different pattern just for variety's sake.

This was a free pattern, if you're interested. I managed to knit it in six days, so it's really not as difficult as it may look. I wouldn't recommend it for a new knitter, but if you're at least an advanced beginner, I think you could manage it.

You can see all the details on my Ravelry project page.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Crochet: Ruffly Fabric Scarf

Here's the scarf that I crocheted from the yarn I picked up on Monday.

I was itching to do it, so I went ahead and finished it that night. It took me about an hour, and I absolutely love the end result.

So does my 8-year-old daughter, as you can tell. She wanted it for herself. I told her I would buy another hank at some point and make her one of her own. Until then, we can share this one.

This is about half of the yardage of a similar yarn put out by Red Heart. Red Heart's retails around $10, so $4 for this scarf is about right. What I especially like is that it creates a shorter scarf, so I only have to pay for the yarn that I use.

I crocheted this one because I wanted to see if it makes any difference in the thickness and "ruffliness" of the finished product. This one turned out very boa-like, which is what I was hoping for. When I do one for my daughter, I may knit hers to see if there is any difference.