So Kelli invited a group of us to craft unique dolls for a group of little girls in Cascalheira, Brazil. Her friend Jessica does aid work in this town, assisting families with building homes, and feeding and clothing their kids.
My friend Jessica, who has done amazing work in Brazil for years, recently brought toys to the children living in impoverished communities. The photos struck me; there were many gorgeous little Brazilian girls and boys carrying around very Anglo baby dolls. They were tickled to have their own toy. But it got me thinking.
And so the call was to make dolls in which the kids could better see themselves. Dolls that looked more like them.
I think the last doll I made was in elementary school (let’s not do the math!), and it’s quite likely that I only knitted the first few rows and that my mom finished her off at 2:00 a.m. the morning she was due for housecraft class!
I like to think I’ve come a ways since then when it comes to sewing and knitting.
The pattern I chose was from Zoe Mellor’s Knitted Toys: 25 Fresh and Fabulous Designs, a wonderful book that I’ve used for quite a few projects recently — this ball and this mobile, for instance. The doll in Zoe’s book is very much caucasian, though, and so I chose what looked like a warm brown skin-tone yarn instead and planned to use up yarn stash for the rest of the project. Turns out, the skin yarn was not as dark as I thought, so hopefully there is a little girl in Cascalheira that is either coffee skinned or color blind!
I wanted my doll to be a fairy or a dancer — someone a little girl could tell her dreams and secrets to but still hug and fall asleep with.
Beatriz knitted up fairly quickly. And since little girls are little girls the world over, I gave her pink and purple leggings, a purple halter leotard top, and the pinky-purpliest-sparkliest chiffon skirt I could find in my fabric stash basket.
I also decided she should have the funkiest of hair and so gave her brown shag some pink highlights.
As a final touch, I wanted her to have a name, and chose Beatriz, one of the Portuguese meanings of which is “brings joy.”
I also wanted to send a personal message, which translated roughly goes:
Hello. My name is Beatriz.
I am a fairy dancer and your new friend!
I was created for you by a woman called Sue Walsh
in San Diego, CA, USA.
I dearly hope the random online translator I found did an OK job on that because clearly I don’t speak Portuguese!
There is a Flickr group showing all the other dolls made for the project, and I am astounded at how lovely and different they all are! I hope Kelli hosts this drive again next year — I’d like to sew my dollies next time around so I can make and send more than just one!