Toy Stories

Written by Lucinda

Knitting a jumper or cardigan is a major undertaking for the beginner, just as it is for an old hand, but if the idea of spending weeks on a garment puts you off, try scaling things down a bit.  A teeny outfit for teddy involves all the techniques you’d use for a big woolly, so it’s a great way to practise ribbing for cuffs and hems, making buttonholes, picking up stitches for collars and facings, mattress seaming, shaping sleeves and blocking.

Sourcing patterns

Ask your aunties and grannies if they have any old leaflets or magazines stashed away, or look online for free patterns. Check out eBay, which always has a range of originals, photocopies and re-drafted designs in all sizes, for every miniature body, from Barbie to the Cabbage Patch dolls.

Barefoot on the lawn

Vintage dolls’ patterns have a period charm of their own, lovingly illustrated with photographs that are little glimpses of social history.  These curly-permed sixties housewives pose casually in front of their modernist house, oblivious to the threat of a giant robin on the roof behind them. Their casual outfits reflect the suburban fashions of the day, when many women wore jaunty knitted hats to go out shopping.

Storming the embassy

This 28cm Action Man is fully prepared for a 1980s SAS operation, as he crashes into a classically decorated room with a smoking, glass-strewn floor. Knitting such a tiny jumper, trousers or balaclava would perfect your detailed knitting skills.

Let’s twist again

Sindy’s sixties boyfriend, Paul, was far less gender stereotyped than Action Man. He appears equally at home dressed in a tight pair of swimming trunks beside his ski instructor as he does in a ‘baker boy’ cap and knitted slacks, happily dancing The Twist with his female friends. Notice how the dark-haired Sindy on the far left is wearing a sparkly lurex catsuit reminiscent of Emma Peel in The Avengers and has kicked off her white sneakers to follow the barefoot trend.