scrappystickyinkymess

Still here. A bit about Dementia Dolls…

19 Comments

Settle in. This is a long one.

I am still here, just not up to much blogging.  Still sending out book folding templates, still knitting, not scrapbooking or doing much papercraft at all really.  Spent a day in A&E After Maddie shoved a pitchfork right thru her foot at the garden centre of her college. Fun.

But for my little bit of social interaction I pop over to the local Library every Friday morning for a couple of hours.  Mostly I knit there, and chat.  Jack is coming over from LA for a visit and he wants socks, so I worked out a way to knit 2 pairs of socks at the same time, at first on two circulars and then all four on one, once I no longer had to wrangle the 4 balls of yarn.  No photos, sorry, but I’ll probably do it again.

As part of the craft club, we had a presentation from the local Dementia UK group.  They needed Twiddle Muffs and we made lots of them.  The also showed a large, floppy doll and said that they would like a few of them as well, if anyone was so inclined.  No one really was but I like a challenge so I decided to make one.  The first one was done in the normal way, although I did abandon the complicated and all-in-bits pattern and adapted it to an in-the-round version.  She was sweet, but she’s gone now – again no photo. Again, sorry.

The Dementia lady came back the next week to find me.  She told me a lovely story about a woman in one of the care homes who has never been responsive, or engaged, and who has never spoken, since they have been visiting.  Apparently when she saw the doll she gasped and dashed right for it.  She grabbed it, hugged and cuddled it, then started singing it a lullaby while she rocked it.  She is much more engaged in the … meetings? Sessions, maybe, now that she has the doll.  I was asked very nicely if I could make another.

About this time I had gotten a couple of knitting machines.  Circular ones, that I thought would be helpful for twiddle muff making.

Finally, a photo!

I started with the toy one, then got the proper Addi, and at the same time ordered the Sentro via Amazon, but I suspect from China.  It was cheap, versus the Addi Kingsize (£30 vs £115!) None of them are EASY to use to make flat panels (the Sentro is best) but they all make pretty reasonable tubes. And fast. My plan had been to use up all my scraps of yarn to make the boring inside of the Twiddle Muffs then shift to needles to complete them with special stitches, odd yarn, beads, etc. Here are a few samples of the ones I’ve done.

I have a whole PDF on those which I may share at some point.

But then I thought I could possible use them to make Dementia Dolls if I took a minute to think about it.

These dolls are meant to be quite long-limbed and quite floppy.  I think they are more of a suggestion of a child than a real depiction of one.  Not at ALL like the last doll I made.  Anyone here remember Jasmine?

She was a LOT more complicated.  I am …. doll parts ….

Basically, the dolls are made of five tubes: one tube for the head and body, two for the legs and two for the arms. The head & body is 65 rounds on the 48-stitch machine and the legs are 65 rounds on the 22 stitch machine.  The arms are 28 rounds on the 22 stitch machine.  Sometimes I think more length on the arms would be better but when I have made them longer, 30 or 35 rounds, they look weird.

That yarn is aran weight (equal to worsted in the USA and what the machines like best) and much more beige than the weird grey it seems here.

I gather the top of the head&body tube

Then stuff the head and do a running stitch around to gather again for a neck.  It varies but generally I do between 25 and 30 stitches down from the gather.

I usually do the nose so I don’t lose track of where the face goes while I position the arms and attach the legs! I just build it up with stitches on top of stitches.

The head&body is 48 stitches around and the legs are 22 – that is determined by the machines.  There is some variation in the larger ones (there is a 40 stitch, a couple of 46 stitch ones and this 48) but all the small ones are, I believe, 22 stitches.  To attach the legs in the easiest way possible, I load 11 stitches from each leg tube onto a needle, then load 24 stitches from the front of the body onto another.

I do  a 3-needle bind-off to join those with a neat edge.  I decrease away the extra stitches from the body side by doing one from the leg and two from the body on the last stitch of the first leg and the first stitch of the second

This gives me a nice neat join. Make sure you put a locking stitch marker on the last stitch from your bind off, as you will load that back on the needle when you do the back half join to the back of the legs!

I stuff a little bit of toy stuffing in the bottom of each leg and gather them about 8-10 stitches up, to make a bit of a foot. The SUGGESTION of a foot anyway. Stuffing first means you don’t have to push the stuffing all the way down that long leg.

I load the leftover stitches on to the needles the same, 22 from each leg, 24 from the back of the body.

and slip on that last held stitch where I will start the 3-needle bind-off

This is the tricky part.  Now you have to stuff the legs and the body, pretty full.

It is impossible to get right-sides-together to do the same sort of 3-needle bind-off so I simply do it as you see it.  There is usually a gap where the extra stitches from the body are and that allows you to stuff it a bit more if need be.  The join looks fine for this doll’s purpose.

The arms are made by gathering each end of the arms and folding the tubes lengthwise.  I do a mattress stitch along the edges and stuff the tube lightly.

Sew the arms on and done.  I made this doll in about three hours.  With that kind of speed I can make many more dolls and hopefully help many more people.

I tend to dress them in whatever I have doll-clothes wise or what I can get in the charity shop from the baby clothes section.  3-6 month sizes work best.  I always do a simple face, just half-circle eyes and a half-circle mouth.  Like I said, they only need to be the suggestion of a child. I am experimenting with hair, trying to balance looks against speed.

Well, that is what I have been doing. Oh and I am finally knitting a summer top with some yarn I bought when Jack was a baby, from John Lewis in London.  It came back to me with our shipment of house stuff that had been stored back in the States for decades.  I guess maybe that is why I don’t blog much – my followers really aren’t knitters, primarily, so I feel they might be a bit bored.  If you made it all the way to the end, well done you.

Maybe I’ll be back sooner than my once every month or so schedule.

19 thoughts on “Still here. A bit about Dementia Dolls…

  1. Hi, Im in need of a book folding template of the name Kevin do you think you could send it through email?

  2. Glad you are back. Thanks!

  3. You are amazing, a true inspiration! Thank you for sharing such an amazing story.

  4. You are so talented MA. Thank you for sharing your time and gifts xo

  5. You are so talented!! I am always amazed at the wonderful things you create and how much you do for others. Awesome about the dementia dolls and how much impact one on the lady from the center. Keep up the great work! I know your efforts are very much appreciated. Still wish we lived closer so I could see all your creations in person but reading the blog and seeing the pictures helps. Love ya, sister!

  6. What a lovely person you are, so inspirational. I love following your blogs

  7. You are an amazingly talented person ! I love your posts whatever crafts you are doing, but scrapbooking is how I first came across you in the Scrapbooking Inspirations magazine. The dolls are wonderful, keep up the good work! Xx

  8. What a wonderful thing to do for dementia patients. Your dolls are wonderful.🥰 I love your posts and read them all. I cross-stitch and knit and do a stamping monthly calendar for my daughter and a few of my friends. I love your calendars and have requested some small ones from you a couple times. Glad to see your blogging again.

  9. I am just about to start on my first Twiddle Muff. Up till now I have been knitting prem. hats and Fish & Chips jumpers for charity. Both quite easy.
    Nice to have you back.

  10. Thank you for sharing your dolls. They are lovely! I am a quilter and thinking I can adapt your dolls into fabric dolls.

  11. I really enjoyed your post, thanks for sharing that. Well done with the dementia dolls.

  12. You are brilliant as are your dolls. My father died from Alzheimer’s in 2006. It warms my heart to know there are such caring people out there as you are. Best regards from Canada.
    Sandra

    • I have always tried to find way to do charity work and this one is particularly rewarding – my grandmother had Alzheimer’s too and it was so sad watching her decline. Thanks for the comment.

  13. What a sweet thing to do for dementia patients! ❤ You have been very busy!

  14. I loved your post. I believe you have a good heart. Thanks for always sharing and for the lovely ideas! You’re an inspiration to me!

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