Another Pair of Alaska Mittens

Last week, I shared a pair of mittens knit from a free pattern, Alaska Mittens. It’s not a free pattern anymore, btw. I had started a second pair and since they’re done, I’ll show them off today.

Alaska Mittens knitted in Sirdar Tweedie Chunky by Deborah Cooke

This time, I used two yarns together – a strand of that same Sirdar Tweedie Chunky and a strand of Rowan Kidsilk Haze. The KSH makes the knitted fabric softer and gives it a bit of fuzz. It might prove to be warmer, as well. I incorporated my changes from last time, and started the thumb gusset four rows later – that took out two increases, which made the thumb smaller. They fit perfectly!

Alaska Mittens knitted in Sirdar Tweedie Chunky by Deborah Cooke

My only quibble is that since I started the thumb gusset later, I should have kept working the stitches on the palm side in ribbing, instead of changing to stockinette. See?

Alaska Mittens knitted in Sirdar Tweedie Chunky by Deborah Cooke

This pair took 77 grams of the Tweedie Chunky and 17 grams of the Kidsilk Haze. I made the M size, with the modifications discussed last week.

You can guess what this means. I’ve cast on a third pair, in the green Sirdar Tweedie Chunky again with a strand of a yarn similar to KSH. This pair will be perfect. 🙂

I have some other projects moving closer to completion and hope to be able to show you something more than mittens soon! Happy knitting!

Alaska Mittens

I knit some mittens this past week—even though it was a zillion degrees outside. This pattern was free and it looked intriguing. I had some yarn in my stash so away I went.

The pattern is called Alaska Mittens by Anna Zhuravleva—here’s a Ravelry link—and it’s still free as I write this. It calls for aran weight yarn, and I had some Sirdar Tweedie Chunky in my stash—that’s a Ravelry link, too—it’s discontinued so I’d found it on sale once upon a time and just liked it. I have three colourways but used the dark green, which is #285.

Here are the mittens, knit in the M size:

Alaska Mittens knitted in Sirdar Tweedie Chunky by Deborah Cooke

I found this pattern a bit confusing and ended up writing all over my chart while knitting the first one. The second one went more smoothly as a result. You work Row 2 fifteen times, and since the next row is labelled R3, I missed that the first time – I changed it to be R17 and renumbered the rest of the chart. I also added a G on the rows that I was to add a gusset stitch and drew a line across the chart where the palm changes from ribbing to stockinette. I think there is one mistake in R13 of the original labelling of the chart – the two knit stitches should be purls.

The chart for the fingertips really confused me, so I drew it out again. I wanted the decreases to be one stitch in from the edges, so there are two stitches that run up to the top of the mitten. The chart shows it that way, but if there are two knit stitches, you can’t K1, SSK without taking up the third stitch. I also had to work two additional rows in the middle before doing the middle twist, as it occurs every 4 rows, not every 2.

I also found the thumb a bit too wide for me at 16 stitches and took it down to 12. I had added four extra rows of ribbing to make a longer cuff on this pair. These mittens weigh 73g and I have 76g left of the green. I’m hoping I can knit another pair with just the specified cuff length.

I cast on another pair in another colourway of the Tweedie Chunky and am working it along with a strand of Kidsilk Haze. The result is very squishy and soft:

Alaska Mittens knitted in Sirdar Tweedie Chunky by Deborah Cooke

This one has the cuff in the specified length. I also started the gusset increases four rows later, so I’ll have two less stitches for the thumb—instead of having to decrease twice, I’ll just have to decrease once to get the thumb the right width.

You have to pay a bit of attention with this pattern, but the mittens are really nice. I particularly like that the cables mirror each other on the left and right mittens. They fit well, too.

New Socks for Me

This isn’t a hugely exciting project, but it’s one I’m glad to have off the needles. Once upon a time, I decided to make myself a pair of knee socks in this great Fleece Artist Trail Socks colourway called Hercules. The first one looked like this:

knee sock knit in Fleece Artist Trail Sock by Deborah Cooke

I had bought two skeins and FA yarns don’t have dye lots. They looked the same, but the second one striped like this…

knee socks knit in Fleece Artist Trail Socks

Hmm. This did not give me joy. I thought maybe I’d started at a different point in the repeat, but one skein seemed to be more saturated than the other. I frogged the cuff of the second sock and made a pair of socks for the mister:

socks knit in Fleece Artist Trail Socks by Deborah Cooke

I finished those socks for him three years ago. Meanwhile, the lonely knee sock sat in my basket. I seem to need to do that with things that have to be frogged. Maybe it’s a mourning period for the lost work. (?) This summer, I pulled out that sock, frogged it, and knit a pair of regular socks for myself. Here they are:

Socks for me in Fleece Artist Trail Socks

So, that’s a project FINALLY out of the basket AND off the needles! I’m glad to have it done.

Now I need to find more FA Trail Socks since I’ve used up all of mine. I really like this yarn for socks – it has a firm twist and wears really well, plus the colours are awesome.

Two Doll Dresses

It’s been quiet here for a couple of weeks, partly because I’ve been pushing to finish a book and partly because I have a lot of projects on the go. I’ve had new project disease this summer, both in my writing and my crafting, but finally some things are getting finished up.

Today, I have two doll dresses to share with you. I like to sew and knit for dolls and Astro-Jen is a fellow enthusiast. She has different dolls than I do, though, so I picked up these two at the thrift store to check the fit of things. One is an EverAfterHigh doll – Briar Rose – and one is a Monster High doll – Clawdeen. They were both naked with tangled hair when they came home with me, but otherwise in good shape. I cleaned them up and untangled their hair, then bought them some shoes online. They’ve been sitting naked (except for their shoes) on my bookshelf for a while, and when I found this pattern, I knew it was time to do something about that.

Yet Another Monster High Dress knit by Deborah Cooke

I don’t know much about the body molds for these dolls, but many patterns suggest that they are the same. MIne aren’t. My MH doll is longer and thinner. The issue may be year of manufacturer: like all Mattel dolls, these have a copyright date on their back waists for the body mold. The EAH doll is 2012 and the MH doll is 2009.

And here’s a better look at those new dresses:

Yet Another Monster High Dress knit by Deborah Cooke

The pattern I used is Yet Another Monster High Dress by Samira Jessica. It’s a free download at Ravelry (that’s a Ravelry link) and an irresistibly cute pattern as well as an easy knit. The first one (turquoise) is knit of Koigu KPPPM without a contrast colour. I used Sugar Bush Drizzle for the underskirt, and just picked up the stitches at the waist to knit it in. Drizzle is a lot like KSH – it has the same content but I think the colours are cleaner. I like the muted and sometimes smoky colours of KSH for myself but for dolls, the bolder hues work well. I added a line of eyelets before the hem for a ribbon, then KFB again to create a ruffle at the hem. Because of the fullness of the underskirt, I had to undo the garter stitch hem of the main dress and add a similar ruffle to that hem.

Yet Another Monster High Dress knit by Deborah Cooke

My Ravelry project page with more details is here.

The purple one is knit of Shibui Knits Sock with contrast in Lichen and Lace 80/20 sock. For this one, I worked back and forth at the neck until the arms were cast off, leaving a back slit, then joined in the round and continued. I knit the body a little longer than the first one, added two rows of contrast garter stitch at the hem and ruffled the hem, too. Because this dress is a bit longer, I didn’t knit an underskirt. I added a button at the back neck, which is a bit big but exactly the right colour, and made a loop to close it.

Now they can sit on my shelf in their dresses and boots.

Two Japanese Sewing Books for Barbie

I love Japanese sewing books so was pretty excited to find these two for vintage Barbie dolls.

The first one is called Stylebook of Doll’s Dress by Kate Mitsubachi. The second is Barbie Mode: Dresses for Classic Barbie Dolls, also by Kate Mitsubachi.

Stylebook of Doll's Dress for Barbie by Katie Mitsubachi
Barbie Mode: Dresses for Classic Barbie Dolls by Kate Mitsubachi

These books are both out of print and unavailable new. There are some vendors selling PDF scans of them on Etsy, but this made me uneasy – as a writer myself, I know that “unavailable new” isn’t the same as “in the public domain”. They’re probably still copyrighted material, and since I intend to use the patterns, I hunted down used copies of both books. They weren’t cheap, but they are beautiful. Most of the text is in Japanese, except for titles.

First there are photographs of the garments, as you’d expect. The next section is one I particularly like – it identifies the model of doll wearing each garment, and one book includes a picture of that doll as originally sold.

double page spread from Kate Mitsubachi book

Then there are the patterns and instructions, again, all in Japanese. It’s a bit of a drag to be unable to read the specified notions or recommended fabric, but the illustrations are pretty easy to follow if you know how to sew. (It’s interesting that one book has the seam allowances included on the pattern pieces and one doesn’t.)

My plan here is to do a Julie & Julia thing and make all of the garments in both books. Here’s my first candidate:

Soirée and Cape from Stylebook of Doll's Dress for Barbie by Katie Mitsubachi

I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

Papillon Done

Papillon is a garter stitch short-row shawl worked in two colours, which I started in May. That link will take you to my first post. I used Noro Silk Garden Sock and a local black alpaca yarn from my stash. There’s a lot of counting with this one, and a lot of turning, but it’s a pretty easy knit otherwise. Here’s my finished shawl:

Papillon shawl knit in Noro Silk Garden Sock by Deborah Cooke

This is a big shawl! Mine probably feels more substantial because both yarns are a little heavier than a fingering weight, maybe closer to sport. It took all of the black that I had, and just over 2 balls of the Noro Silk Garden Sock.

This was an addictive knit, but then, it often works out that way for me with self-striping yarns.

I knit the shawl just as the directions instructed, but added some beads at the hem.

Papillon shawl knit in Noro Silk Garden Sock by Deborah Cooke

You can just see them in the black border. (I like how they nestle in there and are a bit subtle.) You knit four rows of garter stitch before casting off, and I added the beads in the third row. They’re 2/0 beads and I used the crochet hook method, putting a bead on every fifth stitch. It took about 100 beads, which was just about all I had left of those. (I used them before, on another Noro shawl and these were left over. Hmm. Can I find it? This one! Noro spider web fichu. Ha!)

What do you think?

The Final Navelli

I finally finished my teal Navelli, and it’s actually the season I could wear it!

You might remember that this top (which has been a cursed project) was a bit too short for my liking. Here it is alongside the red version of Navelli that I knit (and love):

Two Navelli knit by Deborah Cooke

I had knit the teal one first, in a larger size. I thought it was done and blogged about it here. For the red one, I went down a size, then discovered that I’d measured incorrectly while knitting the teal one. Here’s the post on the red one. I wasn’t really looking forward to ripping out the sleeves, neck and top of the sweater to fix it. It sat for a while, then I had an idea.

I picked out a row below the split for the sleeves at the underarm, putting the live stitches from the lower part of the sweater on one needle and the bottom loops from the live stitches on the top of the sweater on another. I knit two more inches onto the bottom of the sweater, then grafted the two pieces back together. The grafting took ages because of the number of stitches, but I kept reminding myself that I hadn’t had to reknit the top of the sweater.

Here’s the result:

Finished Navelli by Deborah Cooke

In this picture, you can see the newly knitted band. I wasn’t sure whether there was a difference in colour between skeins (it’s all the same dye lot, but Koigu sometimes varies anyway) or whether it would vanish when the sweater is washed. Those stitches look crisper and more tightly twisted than the rest. It turned out to be a bit of both – the stitches relaxed so they look like the ones that had already been washed, but there is a teensy bit of colour difference due to variation within the dye lot. There are a couple of lighter zones on the back and the front, but overall, I’m happy.

This one is FINALLY done!

A Knit Messenger Bag for Barbie

This pattern is from the website of free knitting patterns for Barbie called Sticka till Barbie that I mentioned before. Here’s the designer page on Ravelry.

This purse is A-1 (the first pattern under Accessories/Accessoarer) which is orange on the pattern. It’s a clever little pattern, mostly knit in stockinette with the bag seams in reverse stockinette and the flap in garter stitch. Instead of crocheting the shoulder strap as specified, I knit mine. I used sock yarn—the purple one is that Mad Tosh Twist Light that I used for the Timely Twin Set (still more left! LOL) and the red is some Diamond Yarn sock yarn. Here they are:

messsenger bags knit for Barbie by Deborah Cooke

Size-wise, it’s more of a messenger bag than a purse, but I like the results a lot. The purple one is for my EverAfter Briar Rose doll, so it got a rose button for a clasp.

DIY Barbie Carrying Case

Thanks to Astro-Jen, I’ve rediscovered my Barbie dolls and how much I like crafting for them. I’ve also added a few new dolls to my collection, including the 1993 Reproduction that I’ve been using as a model, and two Silkstone lingerie Barbies. They’re glamorous girls.

The increase in Barbie “stuff” – clothes and dolls – had me looking for better Barbie storage. I really like the Silkstone Signature Carrying Case, but it’s discontinued now and the NIB ones I found on eBay were at least $300US plus shipping to Canada. (Here it is on the Mattel site.) I needed a more economical solution, which meant it was time to get creative.

I had bought two boxes at Michaels to store my girls, but the dolls were just stacked inside. They’re decorative storage boxes made by Ashland and I’m quite sure I bought them when they were BOGO because I have two exactly the same. They have a handle on each side, a clasp on the lid and are really pretty. They’re the larger ones, roughly 11 by 14 inches and 6 inches deep. I turned one on its side and Eureka! It’s a carrying case!

materials for DIY Barbie wardrobe by Deborah Cooke

First, I removed the handle from the left side, which made the other one a carrying handle and gave the box a vertical instead of horizontal orientation. I then cut the existing ribbon that kept the box from opening more than 90 degrees and began to build interior partitions. There’s room for 3 dolls on the inside of the lid, and I borrowed the idea from that Mattel case of having ribbons to hold them in place. That meant I needed a liner.

Several years ago, I took a bookmaking course, which was fascinating, and I still have some of the supplies. I used the Binder’s Board for this project. This is really really thick acid-free cardboard. I bought a package like this at Curry’s back in the day. It’s been waiting for this project, evidently. I cut one piece to the width of the lid interior and a little more than the height of the dolls (12″) with a flap the depth of the lid. I scored that line and folded it, then cut two squares to go above the “shelf” and hold it in place. Then I cut three pairs of slits (2 cm apart) for the ribbons.

lid liner for DIY Barbie wardrobe made by Deborah Cooke
DIY Wardrobe for Barbie made by Deborah Cooke

This shelf ultimately was a fail, because it was too deep. I hadn’t accommodated the thickness of everything together and ended up cutting it out, which made a mess of my panel. I also didn’t realize at the time that Silkstone Barbie was 1 cm taller, so the ribbon was too low for her. (That’s why she looks a bit drunk.) The ribbons could have been a bit longer, too.

DIY Wardrobe for Barbie made by Deborah Cooke

I took it apart and redid the back panel to fit the entire back, and just hold the three dolls. I ran out of the paper, so used a different one instead. You can see the finished liner on the right. (She still looks a bit drunk, but has no excuse in terms of the ribbon.)

The ribbons were pushed through the slits before I glued that backing in place – I was going to knot them but it was a snug fit. I put a dab of extra glue on them in the back just to make sure they didn’t move.

For the other side of the wardrobe, I created a box the width of the box interior. Again, I scored and folded it – I needed the sides to install the clothing rod. The clothing rods are bamboo skewers, coloured black with a Sharpie marker, and fed through bamboo beads that act as escutcheons. The side panel is notched out, then another side panel sandwiches the end of the rod on each side. I positioned the “closet” so that there was just over 2″ at the bottom and – like the other side, created braces for the shelf at the top. After taking the “before” picture, I decided to split the closet to make it more stable, and add a second clothing rod on the right side.

Here it is wallpapered and with drawers:

closet side of DIY wardrobe for Barbie made by Deborah Cooke
DIY Wardrobe for Barbie made by Deborah Cooke

In the left image, you can see one of the challenges of using these paper boxes – this one isn’t square. (Paper isn’t the most dimensionally-stable material.) It’s narrower at the back of the closet than closer to the opening. So, fitting the board for the back of the closet to the box meant that the shelves bent outward. In the end, I taped it square before covering it, and lived with the small gap that developed around the perimeter. The pattern on the paper disguises a lot! I also didn’t need braces at the top to keep the shelf in place – it was very snugly tucked in there.

I made my first drawer out of the kind of cardboard that is on the back of writing pads, folding it as shown below. Because I decided to use brads for the knobs, I cut an additional panel for the back of each drawer front so the ends of the brads wouldn’t snag anything. Here’s my first attempt at a drawer and the component materials. (That’s the drawer at the top right.)

First attempt at drawers for DIY Barbie wardrobe made by Deborah Cooke

I thought this drawer was too flimsy, so I made two new ones out of the Binder’s Board. I couldn’t fold those, because of the width of the material, so I cut the six sides and taped it all together, then covered each drawer with decorative paper. They’re lined, too.

The blue floral print is decorative paper from the Rifle Paper Company, which I bought online at The Paper Place. (Because of the postage cost, this is my big expenditure on this project. All the other supplies came out of my stash.) For surfaces that I expected to see a lot of wear, I covered the paper with clear Contact vinyl with a matte finish – it’s pretty much invisible but will make the surface more durable. I used it behind the dolls and on the drawers. I used a bookbinder’s glue because I had it – it’s acid-free – but white glue would work, too. If I hadn’t messed up one drawer and the back panel on the front, I would have had enough paper to do it all the same. As it was, I chose to add a second print from my bookmaking stash rather than order more paper.

The finished inside looks like this:

DIY Wardrobe for Barbie made by Deborah Cooke

The shoe boxes are from a PDF download that I bought on Etsy – you print them out on card stock, then fold them and glue the flaps. I applied a clear gloss Avery label on the lids of the black ones, too. This is the PDF I bought.

I put felt pads on the bottom of the box for feet, as well. In this shot, you can see the two metal rivets from the second handle. I couldn’t get them out, but they’re shorter than the felt pads so all is good. I put felt pads on the lid, too, so the wardrobe isn’t tippity when it’s open.

DIY Wardrobe for Barbie made by Deborah Cooke

The front of the box had an Eiffel Tower which ends up sideways with this orientation, so I covered it over with decorative paper, also covered with Contact vinyl with a matte finish. I added some gold tape on the edges all around. I made a label on Canva, a free online graphics utility, printed it out on parchment paper and edged it in gold, too. The sides of the box still have sideways images, but I can’t repaper them without removing the corners and clasp, which I don’t want to do. I’m going to live with that.

Here’s the front, with my label – and some teeny tiny stickers from the dollar store that look like rivets. (Ha.)

DIY Wardrobe for Barbie made by Deborah Cooke

This wasn’t a very expensive project, but it did take some time. You could, of course, make one for a doll of different size, changing your choice of box and the size of the inserts, and design a different interior to accommodate your collection. If I did another one, I’d look for a patterned Contact vinyl and save the step of putting the film on the paper. I’m thinking of making one for my EverAfter doll out of a decorative box that looks like a book. Since it has a flat lid, I’d make a section for the doll then a wardrobe beside her.

What do you think?

Barbie Measurements Over Time

Last time, we started to talk about Barbie’s evolving dimensions. If you’re going to sew for Barbie, and you’re going to make something fitted, you need to know which Barbie will be wearing the finished garment.

Barbie body styles, photographed by Deborah Cooke

Fortunately for we Barbie dressmakers, each doll has the date of her body mold stamped on her bum. It’s interesting that this can get so mixy-mixy with face sculpts – the middle doll, for example, is a thrift store find who has a Bob Mackie face sculpt. (I’ve yet to fix her hair.) Mattel started making the Bob Mackie faces in the 1990s but she has a 1966 TNT body, by the date on her bum. The Black Label Basic Barbie from 2009 on the far right has a 2003 Model Muse body. The one in between has a 1999 Bellybutton body, but is a much later doll. (Notice also how the hand poses and sculpts change over time. There are lots of variations in this.)

Like good dressmakers everywhere, I got out my measuring tape and made a chart. I don’t have all the dolls to measure, but here are the five above. The measurements are in centimeters:

MeasurementVintageSilkstoneTNTBellybuttonModel Muse
Intro Date19582000196619992003
Bust14131412.512
Waist87897.5
Hip12121213.511
Back Waist66666
Inseam13141313.513.5
Height29.530.529.53030

It’s easy to see why a dress or suit drafted for Bellybutton wouldn’t fit vintage, especially in the bust.

The other thing that changes over time is Barbie’s foot size. I’ve bought mixed bundles of new shoes on eBay and there are always some in the package that don’t fit vintage Barbie. There are fairy boots in the mix, for example, with teeny tiny feet. There are also styles that look like they should fit but don’t, like this one:

Barbie Shoes comparison

I’ve left this image big so you can see. The turquoise shoe on the left is from one of those packages of mixed shoes. The one on the right is a Silkstone Barbie shoe. Not only is the quality of the casting and finishing better, but the dimensions are different: the turquoise one is narrower at the ankle. Vintage, Silkstone, TNT, Bellybutton and Model Muse can wear the shoe on the right. Of the five, only Bellybutton can wear the one on the left. She doesn’t have as high of an arch so her foot is narrower below the ankle.

Here’s another Silkstone shoe compared with a budget version:

Barbie Shoes comparison slingback

The black shoe on the right is a Silkstone shoe. The pink one on the left is from a pack of mixed shoes. Again, you can see that the quality of the mold and finishing is better on the black shoe, but also the heel is higher. For Silkstone, these shoes have left and right as well, with a buckle molded into the slingback strap – you can see it on the back side – while the budget version doesn’t have that detail. These shoes both fit all five dolls, but I always think they look like the toes are too long. Of course, I’ve had shoes with elongated toes like that myself, so it’s a style thing.

So, what’s a dressmaker to do? My first plan is to buy only patterns that are modelled on the kind of doll who will wear the finished garment. More about some of those patterns for vintage Barbie next time.