After the wonderful response I got from my knitting friends, I knew that I had to provide my fellow crocheters with patters and contact links for a crocheted version of the Comfort Doll. As I noted in my knitting version of my artical, these small dolls are distributed in wartorn countires and disaster sites where children have few possessions, let alone a doll to hug and give comfort. One of the original campaigns to provide "Izzy Dolls" was started in memory of a Canadian solier, Master Corporal Mark Isfeld. His mother Carold made these dolls so that her solider son would have something to give children he met while serving as a peacekeeper. After my article was posted I learned from a wonderful reader that the organization that distributes these dolls is still in existence and going strong. Canada's Health Partners International packs humanitarian kits of essentail medicines and supplies for primary care that Doctors and Healthcare professionals take to these sites. Instead of packing materials, wach box contains 122 dolls that cushion the medical supplies. The dolls are given to the young patients. The Izzy Dollis frequently that child's first toy. My first experiences were with the knitted versions. Using different bands of color that marked off the features of the doll, I knitted a square. I made a closed end tube , stuffed it, closed the tube, and used strategic stitching to separated the arms, legs, and head of the doll. Complete directions are available on the website (hpicanada.ca) What I did not know at that time was that crocheted versions are also available.
Another organizaiton that distributes these comfort dolls is Knitting4Peace. This group distributes shawels, sleeping mats, hats, and mittens, but the dolls are the most requested items. Individuals and groups called Peace Pods made the dolls. Creative possibilities are limitless.
After reading patterns from these organizations and from other online sources, I realized that there are several ways to make your crocheted doll.
As with the knitted version, you will crochet a striped square with bands of different widths to denote the different parts of the body. Chain 27 stitches and sc into the send stitch from the hook. Continue to sc 26 stitches. Most directions call for a G hook. When you have completed the square fasten off, and fold the square in half and make a running stitch along the hat/hair rows at the top of the doll. Pull your yarn tight and run through several times to secure the stitching. Close a seam down the back of the doll. The seam should be at the the mid back of the doll. After you stuff the doll with fiberfill, you will close the bottom. If you have placed the seams correctly, you will see how to stitch perpendicularly to the bottom (shoes) to make the legs. See photos for stitching stitching arms and neck.
A second version has you crocheting in the round so that you avoid the bulky seam. Follw directions as noted above for constructing the doll.
A third version (from Knitting for Peace Pattern) has the crocheter make a small dark cap at the top of the doll. The instructions suggest that you use textured or eyelas yaarn to look like hair. I found this difficult and just used black yarn. The pattern provides specific directions for the face, clothes and shoes. As with the other dolls, stuff when complete and sew up bottom so that the feet are placed next to one another. Follow directions to make legs, arms, and neck. This was the last doll that I tried to execute to see which method worked best. Of the three dolls, I prefer to make a tube in the round and sew up the top. This alternative allows me to make hair or a cap before I secure it closed.
Please make your dolls with medium brown or dark brown faces as many of these dolls go to Central and South America, Haiti, and various countries in Africa. My first comfort dolls had black eyes with no additional features. I did find some black yarn that had a thread of silver running through. I sewed several times over a crocheted stitch to make the eye. Then I noticed that I could make an eye by using 2 stands of white yarn, stitched 4 times across 2 stitches. I followed this with 2 strands of black yarn stitched vertically. This eye was more expressive. I added a simple nose and mouth.
You can even embroider a motif on the shirt. Please note that other than the face color, the dolls should have three colors.
Whether you create dolls as an individual or in a group, you can mail your creative comfort dollies to collection points for the two organizations. The dolls should not be longer than 7 inches so that they can easily be sent on to their destinations. Please include your name and email so that the organizations can acknowledge the receipt of the dolls.
2600 Leyden Street
Denver, CO 80207
2907 Portland Drive
Oakville, ON LGH5S4
Your good wishes, hopes, and prayers go with your doll that you created with love into the open arms needy child.