As a fairly new grandmother I didn’t know anything about knitted or any other kind of Waldorf Dolls. I kept coming across the reference of Waldorf Dolls and finally looked it up in Wikipedia. Their definition was; ” A Waldorf doll (also called Steiner doll) is a form of doll used in Waldorf education. Made of wool and cotton, using techniques drawing on traditional European doll making, its appearance is intentionally simple in order to allow the child playing with it to improve or strengthen imagination and creativity”
Once I read about it, I loved the idea and started researching buying a boy Waldorf Doll. Once I saw the prices I started researching making a doll. I was a little intimidated by making the head of a traditional Waldorf doll and came across great instructions at Wee Folk Art for a knitted Waldorf doll, knitted in the round. The instructions are very complete but they called for worsted wool. I had some wonderful 4 ply or fingering wool that was calling me but the gauge was all wrong. I also liked the idea of a finer knit doll. I went on the internet and found a great site that explained how to convert a pattern for different weight wool. Yarn Rhapsody has some very simple formulas for conversion.
The original pattern in Wee Folk Art for a 12″ doll called for worsted wool and double pointed needles (dpn) in size 6 or needles that fit the gauge.
22 stitches and 28 rows = 4″ square in stockinette stitch
My gauge using size 3 (3.25mm) needles was 9 stitches=1 inch and 9 rows = 1 inch in stockinette stitch.
Instructions for a Knitted Waldorf Doll using Fingering yarn
In the spirit of keeping this as natural as possible I used 1 1/2 skeins of 4 ply or fingering wool, and size 3 double pointed needles. I used natural wool for stuffing. I wanted fairly wild hair so I used 1 skein of a worsted wool/mohair blend. Reggie’s Dolls also has some great doll supplies and wonderful mohair yarn for hair.
I also purchased some long upholstery needles to be able to go through the dolls head. If you order doll hair from Reggie’s Dolls you can also get a doll needle from her.
To create a crochet cap for hair, I used a size F crochet hook and used a latch hook for attaching the individual strands of yarn for hair.
Gauge using size 3 (3.25mm) needles is 9 stitches=1 inch and 9 rows = 1 inch in stockinette stitch. Use whatever size needles you need to get the same gauge.
Directions for Head, Body and Legs of 12″ Knitted Waldorf Doll
Important: Leave long yarn tails (12″-18″) when you cast on or when you cut yarn. These will be used for sewing up the dolls.
Beginning at head and using dpn, cast on 82 stitches.
Divide on 3 needles, join in circle and place marker (pm)
Knit for 4″. This makes up the head. Using a contrasting yarn, mark this row.
For the body, continue knitting for 6″ more, ending at marker.
You will be working 1 leg at a time.
Place 41 stitches on a holder.
Divide the remaining 41 stitches on 3 dpns and join.
Knit for 4″.
Do not bind off. Cut yarn leaving a long tail.
Thread the tail through a yarn needle. Slide the needle through each stitch as you remove them from the knitting needle. Later, this will be pulled tight to gather the stitches for the bottom of the foot.
Divide the remaining 41 stitches that are on a holder on 3 dpns. Knit the other leg in the same manner.
You will be working one arm at a time.
Cast on 32 stitches.
Divide on 3 needles, join in circle and place marker.
Knit for 4 1/4″.
Do not bind off. Cut thread leaving a long tail. Thread the tail through a yarn needles. Slide the needles through each stitch as you remove them from the knitting needle. Later, this will be pulled tight to gather the stitches for the bottom of the hand.
Knit the other arm in the same manner.
Sewing up the Doll
Pull the yarn tails at the end of the feet and arms where you slipped the yarn needle through the stitches. By pulling the thread tightly, you will close in the holes at the end of the arms and legs. Tie off on the inside.
There will be a small opening at the crotch that will need to be sewn closed. Do this from the inside.
Stuffing the Doll
Use matching yarn to sew a running stitch at the neck line going in and out of every stitch. Leave long ends and remove the contrasting yarn marker.
Stuff the doll beginning with the feet. Since this is a baby doll, I added extra padding in the tummy.
For the head I wanted to try and get as much as a Waldorf Doll feel as possible so I used the wool stuffing to create a ball of wall about 11″ in diameter. I then put the ball in the toe of a knee high stocking, cut off the stocking, and tied a string around the middle of the ball. I used this to stuff the head of the doll.
When you are satisfied with the amount of stuffing, thread the yarn tail at the head and sew a close running stitch around the head opening.
Pull the yarn tail at the top of the head closing the hole. By pulling it tightly, you will gather the top of the dolls head. The knit head should be mostly wrinkle free. If you have wrinkles around the top of the head, try adding a little more stuffing. When satisfied, tie it off. Note: there might be a hole in the top of the head. If so simply sew the hole closed by making little stitches across the hole as if darning.
Stuff the arms but do not attach yet.
Forming the head:
Pull the yarn that you sewed around the neck firmly to create a neck. When you are pleased with the shape of the head and neck, tie off the yarn and work the thread ends into the doll so they are not visible.
Attach the arms:
Attach the arms at the side of the doll. The arms should be placed 1/2 – 3/4 below neck. Note: You may choose to wait until after you have embroidered a face and added hair so the arms do not get in your way.
The knitted Waldorf doll was complete at this point but I found a post by Beth Webber on how to make the legs move-able by taking stabbing stitches at the point where the leg meets the body and moving the filling around a little. Now Jake can sit.
Creating a Face:
I loved the way the doll looked at this point and was really afraid of messing it up by creating eyes and a mouth that weren’t great. There is a terrific tutorial at Fig and Me on making doll eyes. Since all of the dolls I have seen on her site are absolutely gorgeous, I figured these were the directions to follow. I also loved the suggestion of creating a small pattern for the eyes, drawing around it on one eye and flipping it over for the other eye. I used disappearing marker to draw on the doll. (also available at Joann’s fabrics). I used the suggestion of creating a small crater in the eye by taking a stitch with my long upholstery needles from the back to the front and to the back again and pulling tight to indent the eye before beginning the embroidery. That is also in keeping with the Waldorf doll look. I used six strands of embroidery thread instead of the recommended two in the tutorial because the knitted fabric is coarser than the fabric ones in the tutorial. I also just did vertical stitches, then horizontal ones. The eyes didn’t come out exactly even but they are close enough. I drew the mouth with the disappearing marker and just used a simple back stitch to create it.
Giving Jake hair
I looked at all different ways to make hair for the doll. I didn’t love the idea of hooking hair directly into the knitted stitches because when I tried that, I could see the knitted scalp through the hair yarn. I decided to create a crochet cap for the hair. An album on Flickr created by Beth gives very complete written and photo illustrations on how to do this. I attached the crochet cap to the dolls head with a yarn needle and the same yarn I used to crochet the cap. I then cut 4 inch strands of yarn by wrapping them around my crochet case and cutting the loops at both ends. I started to put the dolls hair on with my crochet hook but I found it too cumbersome and used a latch hook instead. I used two strands of yarn in each single crochet stitch to create the hair.
Once the doll was done I created some clothes for it. I found a jacket, pants and a onesie in preemie size that fit pretty well. I also made a diaper, sleeper and overalls for Jake. Here are some more pictures of Jake with clothes.
If you are interested in patterns for the diaper, sleeper or overalls, click here and I will be happy to send them to you!