I’ve been really bad, y’all.
You Know How It Is
One night, you’re sitting on the couch with a loved one, watching television, and you start rubbing your bare arms because the Thermostat Overlord is trying to freeze you to death. Your fingertips pass over one of those little, random bumps or skin flecks or whatever, so you scratch a little, maybe even pick a little. Next thing you know, you’re digging in a dark bathroom closet for a Band-aid.
Remember my girl?
I made this doll when I was in the seventh grade (maybe the sixth). We were assigned projects in Tennessee History class, so I made a sock doll and dressed her up like a Fort Nashborough settler. Sadly, Mr. Chandler was not impressed. Of course, that’s not her ‘settler’ dress; it’s an updated, jazzy, groovy number I made for her (in pity, no doubt) after I brought her home. Poor little thing, I just wanted to adjust her stuffing and maybe make her a new dress. But then . . .
I know. Gruesome, isn’t it? One ridiculous thing just led to another; I could not stop myself. But look at the cool stuff I found inside her:
Alright, alright; it’s cool to me, okay? Pulling things out of old dolls is like emptying the contents of a time capsule. Why? Because, even as a little kid, I loved reusing things. What looks like old socks to you, are, in fact, beloved memories to me. The coolest discovery, here, is the other sock. Now a whole world of reno-doll-vation is open to me.
Socks are one of the most pleasurable, forgiving mediums to work with. You almost can’t ruin it. Almost. And it is so mold-able. The only drawback, and it is a small one, is the fact that most of the sewing should be done by hand. Knit socks–especially from the nineteen-seventies–require a hand stitch, but what fun! It’s basically soft-sculpture.
If a leg is too big, sculpt it down. Knitted material s t r e t c h e s and >condenses<. You can pinch gathers, add curves and dimples, snip things out, and add things in, with little to no drama (you people know how I feel about drama). Everything blends in after squishing it in your hands a few times.
I freaking LOVE it.
It’s easy to cut and easy to fit.
Major Piece of Advice
Don’t let your project intimidate you. NEVER put a limit on Creativity. Here’s the scenario that I have found to be true, over and over, when it comes to soft-sculpture: No matter how bad or weird it looks (it = some idea you had to lengthen, shorten, stuff, or change), just keep going until the ‘it’ is finished. Trust me, guys; see it to the end before becoming discouraged. I’m not sure why, but a good idea will almost always look like a bad idea at the start. Hang with it, work with it, and then decide whether or not to rip it out and start over (which isn’t the worst thing that ever happened in your life).
Also, remember that this is a one-of-a-kind, handmade treasure from your hands to the hands of somebody you care about. The imperfections make the work unique, just like the person who made it. Please don’t get caught up in nit-picking. You’ll never see the end of it or the end of your project.
See how sad she looks at the thought of endless picking? So disappointed . . .
- took her completely apart, every stitch and stuffing
- shortened her torso
- lengthened her arms and legs
- made her head big and round (the Barbie principle*)
- added my customary lentils to bottom, feet, and hands
- shaped a waist and a neck (strengthened by a stuffed drinking straw)
- added buttons just because I like buttons
You get the idea. I didn’t follow any directions, just making things up as I went along. Since I uncovered the rest of the pair of socks I used, originally, the possibilities were endless.
The hair was a thing. Beware of too much yarn on a small head. She was getting a little fancy for a sock doll, and I kept having to remind myself to keep her simple and sweet. Sock dolls are for lovin’ and playin,’ not for sitting around looking aloof and complicated.
I tried to keep the original doll in mind. The outside may change a bit, but she’s still the same girl, like me.
There’s a virtue here, so now I’m thinking of a virtue name for her. Maybe I’ll give her my name, Constance.
Constance means “faithful.” She’s been faithful to stay with me all these years. Each time I have recovered her from a box or basket or tote, she’s always smiling, ready to greet me as though no time had passed, at all. Maybe she represents my faithful love of sewing, writing, and the small joys we share with each other.
I rarely tell people my full name. For all intents and purposes, I’m Connie. When I think back on my life, ‘constance’ is not a virtue that springs to mind, but we almost never consider ourselves kindly. What’s your hidden virtue? I’ll bet it’s the last thing you would think of yourself. If you don’t know, go ask your kids or your parents, really anybody in your family. They can nit-pick you like a boss.
* Barbie’s head is much larger, proportionately, than the rest of her body. This is because cloth weave is rarely fine enough to drape properly on a doll’s small body frame. Therefore, the body upon which the clothing is displayed, is disproportionate to prevent the doll appearing overly-enveloped by its clothing. Is that cool or what?
**This is just an opinion, but lead singer Rob Grill could be one reason mustaches were so popular in the seventies. Unfortunately, not everybody can pull one off as well as he did.