I've been getting ready to make a couple new dolls so I've been thinking about doll hair.
I happen to really like Little Jenny Wren Dolls and the way she would make curly hair on her dolls. I adore curly hair on little girls and Little Jenny Wren does quite the job of creating the essences of little curly girl goodness. When I began creating my own dolls I wanted to make curly hair on my dolls. So I laboriously knitted doll hair several times for dolls and most of the time I discovered I didn't knit enough so had to knit more. It was a trial to me because at the time I was a slow, beginning knitter and I also knit English which is slower yet than the Continental style of knitting. Needless to say, curly hair was quite the project for me.
A swatch of knitting for doll hair might looks like this.....It is knitted, wet down or "blocked" as it is called, dried and then unraveled.
This is one skein of black yarn minus the cap/wig that has been crocheted for stitching to the dolls head. I wanted tight, kinky black curls for a doll so I knit this yarn, which is a DK weight on size 4 needles. I've been working on it when I sit and listen to the children read or when I have a few minutes here or there. It didn't take long for me to knit. I've gotten faster at knitting. That is what happens...the more I knit the faster I get.
Anyway, back in the day, I couldn't justify taking the time to knit doll hair. It just took me too long! So I had to devise a way to make curly doll hair. It didn't occur to me at the time to search the internet. I wish it had. It would have saved me time and yarn with troubleshooting how to make a curly yarn quicker.
I laid in bed one night thinking about it. In bed at night is where I do my best thinking. I lay in bed and solve whatever problem I'm having. Lots of times I pray about whatever is rolling around my pea brain and try to figure out a solution. I've done this for years with sewing and then with knitting and then with doll hair. And just FYI this method of problem solving also works for husband troubles, children troubles, family troubles and life troubles in general.
I decided to try wrapping my yarn around pencils. That made nice curls but they were big and it was easy to see that they needed to be tighter. Also the type of yarn made a difference. I found that a 100% wool will hold the curl really good while a wool/mohair blend doesn't hold as well even when its blocked.
I began looking around my house for something small and round and thought of my old metal knitting needles that I had given up in favor of wood needles. (the yarn does not slip off the wood needles as easily as it does metal) I wrapped yarn around the needles and Viola I had found what works for a nice corkscrew type curl. A small dowel would work well too but it didn't occurred to me until a commenter said something about it once.
Any yarn that has been blocked and unraveled will lose its curl if it wet down again. It doesn't matter if its been knit or wound on needles. When I mail out a doll, I attach a card that tells how to care for/clean a doll and on the card I give instructions to not wet a curly haired dolls hair or it will lose its curl.
A cap/wig is sewn onto the dolls head and I cut my yarn to the desired length and hook the hair into the cap. Its a sturdy method of attaching the hair and works well.
I also wanted to show this book. I bought it several months ago and wish I had bought it a couple of years ago when I started to make dolls. It would have saved me a lot of time and failed attempts at what I was trying to accomplish.
The book has simple pencil drawings through out that for me make it easier to understand the construction of a doll. There are lots of ideas for making doll hair in this book, including knitting the yarn and unraveling for curly hair. In the coming months I'm going to be trying some different ways to make hair and see if I like it. I almost exclusively do the cap and hook method because that is what I know and what I'm comfortable with. But its good to expand and stretch and reach beyond our comfort zone.