Felt doll #2: Doe

In the first week of March, I started work designing and making a 2nd felt figure. After my first one, I was on a bit of a felt-doll kick and decided to run with it.

The Idea

The idea for this doll came unexpectedly, but once it arrived, it didn’t let go. One night, while looking aimlessly at the faux-marble designs on our kitchen floor tiles, I saw the face and figure of a little doe in the marble-y striations (my childhood habit of cloud-gazing, it seems, is following me into adulthood). This little doe caught my imagination. I knew then and there that she would be the next doll.

On reflecting further, there was good reason for my little deer vision. My partner and I live near a forest preserve. Last summer, we regularly went on hikes through the more heavily wooded areas, off the path. There, one encounters many little worlds. There was, for instance, the place we called “Frog Central,” which was just that: a nutrient-rich pond covered entirely by luminous green, seed-sized duckweed leaves; its busy banks were always a favourite frog and turtle hangout. What I still remember vividly, though, were the encounters with deer: spotting a lone and roaming stag, twice and, several other times, crossing literal paths with a doe and her fawn, trailing behind. The city makes it easy to forget that we share our world with other creatures who, like us, are simply trying to go about their lives, undisturbed.

Sewing Up

On March 4th, I started to draw out different paper templates. By the 5th, I was cutting out my pieces and threading my needles. I was driven by a lot of curiosity and helped by making a lot of mistakes (some which I kept on the FO, like the different stitch patterns on the doe’s arms, as a reminder for future dolls).

 

deer 3-2.JPG

deer 4
Button joints lend moving limbs.
deer 6
Close scrutiny of an offered ear (after several tries, this one passed the test and was deer-approved).

 

A Dress for Spring

By the following week, the deer was sitting for a dress-fitting. Coraline’s miniature-knits were still fresh in my memory (this dress is huge by comparison, of course).

deer 7.jpg

I generated a very minimal design and, after knitting up the dress, I was reminded of the advice given by the instructor who taught my college class on painting fundamentals. She was a professional landscape artist who had an irreverent and humorous teaching style (and inducted us into painting by having us build and stretch numerous 16 sq ft canvases in the studio). Early in the course, she told us “When you find yourself ‘decorating’ your work, stop!”

I have never been good at following this advice. At my core, you’ll find an inveterate “decorator.” I learned this early on: in another art class, we were asked to make a simple “fetish object”; while the other students’ works were nearly all very interesting conceptual objects, I arrived to our critique with a glass bottle that I had fully bedazzledΒ with multi-colored rhinestones and acrylic paint. I felt like I’d missed the point of the assignment! (and discovered, in that encounter, the presumed and often discouraging hierarchy between “art” and “craft”).

I’m recovering my love of embellishment, however, so I had to add a little something extra to this tiny dress. I tried to practice some restraint, though (no rhinestones!). The X’s and O’s on the yoke are my take on Fair Isle patterning. The dress is knit from bamboo yarn; I added sequins to complement the bamboo’s natural luster. The dress is designed to catch those Spring-time rays.

 

deer hold 1deer side

deer standing 3

I hope that this week finds you like this doe – basking in the glow of a long-missed sunbeam.

To Spring! (and to unseasonable, un-Spring-like weather here in the Midwest. I’ll take the sun any day).

32 thoughts on “Felt doll #2: Doe

    1. Thank you, Robin! This one was lots of fun to do (lots of winging it). And in case you’re interested, the doll-making books on the Books I Love page are, I found, great for patterns and ideas! (all library-loaned, too!) πŸ™‚

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  1. Amazing! First – I have the same habit of cloud gazing! I knew there was something I inherently liked about you fellow cloud gazer πŸ™‚
    Next – wow wow wow – I love the deer in a sweater! I think this is your new thing! You (and Helen of Beastiesland) are influencing me and I actually picked up a couple books and a magazine about making “Softies”. As I am a basic knitter my softies would need sewn clothes. I am so amazed you can make little sweaters/sweater dresses. Okay now I will return to look at the photos in your post again πŸ™‚

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    1. Thanks, Tierney, for your kind and supportive comments. πŸ™‚ Nice to know you’re a fellow cloud-watcher, too! (your region of the US is such a *beautiful* place to do some serious cloud-gazing, as well!). I’m so happy to know you’re looking into making Softies!! (yay!). Learning about your quilting process has been a large part of getting me back to needle and thread, and I reckon your sewn clothes would be amazing! (btw, if it helps, the pattern books I’ve been leafing through are listed on the ‘Books I Love’ page. I hope to add more as I read more, lol (all library loans, too!). πŸ™‚

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  2. Well. That might be the most charming thing I’ve ever seen. I adore this doe. Every little detail is wonderful – especially the ears, green eyes, and adorable dress!!! Was the original marble in that lovely green colour? Your photos are also amazing as usual. Haha I love your bedazzled bottle story…live and learn!

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    1. Aw. Thank you, Weekes, for your kind words and comments. πŸ™‚ Strange enough, the marble tiles were a kind of off-tan / beige? πŸ™‚ (hm, I seldom wear or work with the colour, maybe it’s time to try something new). And yes, art class – ’twas not too long after the age of the bedazzler! I’m thankful I didn’t have a jean jacket or a denim vest lying around. I would probably have submitted that as the project, haha. Cheers, Weekes. πŸ™‚

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      1. I mean it!! I can’t express to you how into this little charming object I am! OMG I feel like…. enough time has passed and that I’d actually be super into some bedazzled denim these days. Like, did you actually have that bedazzler gun thingy? I was so jealous of that. Ugh, if I could live exclusively in amazing 80s and early 90s garb, I would. πŸ™‚

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      2. Thank you! I didn’t have the gun, but was pretty jealous, too. And, I understand – there are some pretty memorable 80s/90s looks out there! I appreciate how unafraid that decade was of bold stripes + shimmery stuff. πŸ™‚

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  3. Your doe is beyond cute, she is truly beautiful and has a great style, with a dress that matches her eyes. You are truly an artist, regardless of what your art teacher said. You should totally continue on this path and gather your templates for a felt doll pattern book. You write as well as you craft, it would be a delight.

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    1. Thanks so much, AgnΓ¨s, for such a supportive response – how kind and encouraging (it’s funny how those scholastic experiences can stick with us, no?).Thank you! And, I’m glad you like her style – that means a lot coming from you, and your great eye for knitwear! πŸ™‚ I do hope to give the doe maybe a friend or two. πŸ™‚ Looking forward to more knitting news. Happy making!

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  4. I am absolutely enchanted by your dolls. There is something about them that reaches straight into my heart. Our Chicago (actually Niles) house was right at the edge of the Bunker Hill forest preserve, off Touhy and Harts Rd. We walked and biked there nearly every day when it was warm enough. πŸ™‚

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    1. Thank you, Melinda! I’m touched to hear that. πŸ™‚

      And it’s a small world – those are the exact forest preserves where we go! (and where this doe comes from). My bf works in Niles, and I regularly go to the Niles library. One day, I will have to stop to check out the leaning tower! πŸ˜‰ Aren’t those preserves a beautiful place? What a beautiful spot to have a home, Melinda! Wonderful to know that we could have been neighbors! πŸ™‚

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      1. Oh, my goodness!! What a small world, indeed! We lived on Franks Ave. It’s a one-block street between Hart’s Rd and Touhy. We were also regular patrons of the Niles library. How wonderful to think of you going there too. It’s funny, but in all the years we lived there, I never did go to the leaning tower. My husband used to work out at the YMCA gym connected to it a million years ago when he was growing up in Niles–back in the seventies, I think! I always felt so connected to that section of Forest Preserve. It warms my heart to know that you are there loving it and appreciating it. ❀️

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      2. Ah – we are closer to the preserves near Central, from the Chicago end, but you’ve given me reason to explore the other side! I’ll shoot for it when the nice weather comes around, and think of you! πŸ™‚ And great to know that your husband grew up in Niles; it’s a really wonderful place – a great community! ❀

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  5. Finally I had a moment to come back here and read the post! I like your process of thinking about it and I suppose your self-control paid off because the dress is really cute on your doe and doesn’t look over-done. However, haven’t you ever felt the urge to just decorate the living daylights out of something, leaving it like a Baroque carnival? The temptation is so hard to resist!

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    1. Thanks for reading, Tony! And yes, I have very much felt the urge to decorate the daylights out of something – I find ‘decorating’ has its own momentum, doesn’t it? It’s exactly as you write about the Oreos – it’s hard to have just one. πŸ™‚ You’ve given me a great idea, though. Thank you.

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  6. Oh, she’s beautiful! I’ve been meaning to come by and meet her since I first spotted her on Instagram… The lines of your template really capture the elegance of those real deer you sometimes spot on your walks. And of course it goes without saying that I love her teeny Coraline-inspired dress… Especially the embellishments! I’ve never thought to do that, but I think that’s going to have to change! I reeeeally hope you have another softie in the pipeline now…

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    1. Thank you, Helen. πŸ™‚ I think you put it so well – they do have a natural elegance, don’t they? Thanks for noticing and conveying that! I’m glad you enjoyed the embellishments, too. I was very much inspired by the sparkly ruby red slippers on a recent Beastie of yours – it never hurts to add a little more sparkle to things. πŸ˜‰ Cheers!

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