Random Bits of Projects

August 1, 2008

Charity Knitting-Comfort Dolls

My first comfort doll.

My first comfort doll.

(Most recent update: March 8, 2010: Near the end are pictures of dolls made by a reader. Hers are going to Haiti!)

I recently ran across this site asking for people to knit these simple dolls for African AIDS orphans. What they do is use these dolls in place of packing material around supplies that get shipped over there. When the supplies are unpacked, the dolls are given out to the kids. They strongly suggest using brown yarn, rather than pink btw.

You can crochet or knit these dolls very fast. You can use up left over yarn since they are not that big (about 5″). The main mailing site is to Canada but they do offer options. I intend to knit one between projects and hopefully have a pile by the end of the year to send off. If I can get friends to do it as well, even better. If you would rather knit something else, they are fine with that too. You can also adjust this pattern as much as you wish. I do not follow it exact either. They are happy and tickled to get anything. The pattern and further details are located at this link: (below picture. Having troubles with wordpress today)

My second comfort doll. Its a boy!!

http://www.squidoo.com/african-knit-dolls This site also mentions where to mail these directly (Canada). I will be adding a few more adresses (US) of people volunteering to mail any you send to them. When these people get enough, they send them on to Canada. Let me know if you would like to seriously add yourself to the list.

Another pattern is located here:  http://www.creativestitchonline.com/pattern.html Feel free to change things in these patterns. I base my dolls on this pattern.

Let me know if you knit any of these! Here are a few from a reader below. Thank you Charlotte!

More Charity Knits:

If you would like a more complicated toy to knit with a specific charity attached see Hococo the Lemur listed on my knitting links page (that I am slowly building). This one is for Madagascar children. They request at least one be used to raise money for them or you can send a direct donation. It is an Alan Dart pattern which is fantastic so it is only fair to donate for this.

Charity Doll for Uthando Project: http://www.uthandoproject.org/how-to-participate/one-piece-knitted-doll.php This pattern may also be used for the charity listed up top with the other doll as well. The Uthando project is also for orphins in Africa.

Be sure to check out my main site for more things to do. Some are knitting related, some are not. I try to keep a variety. Continuously adding as I have time and ideas. 🙂 https://virtuallyamy.wordpress.com


  1. you found my squidoo 🙂 Thank you so much for passing this on in your blog… its my hope to eventually make a website and have as many knitters listed as possible, as well as places to send the finished dolls.. i’m finding more people knitting in far away places these days.

    and i love your doll! its cute.

    Comment by dm13 — August 5, 2008 @ 6:02 am | Reply

  2. —-you found my squidoo Thank you so much for passing this on in your blog… its my hope to eventually make a website and —– from DM13

    In response to above:
    Thank you!!! I really have fun knitting these! I think it is a fantastic idea and I hope I can get more people to try it.

    Comment by virtuallyamy — August 5, 2008 @ 5:38 pm | Reply

  3. I found that website today and have already started making one doll! It’s so exciting to be knitting and also helping out a good cause… How did you make yours with arms showing? And I see that you have ankles & waistline too! Thank you for sharing pictures, it’s inspiring me to embellish my dolls too!

    Comment by Nina — July 18, 2009 @ 12:03 am | Reply

    • FUN!!!
      For the arms I planned ahead of time to change colors in each row for flesh color about there. I cannot remember how many stitches I did in that color but remember it will be folded in half about there so you have a front and back side. So it will seem like you are knitting the arms too wide at first. After sewing up the back and stuffing the doll I went back with yarn and threaded the yarn from front to back to front again over and over along the length of the arm to outline the arm and create the indention you see so it looks like they are separate from the body. Oh I don’t think I explained this well. I did the same for the ankles. Let me know if I need to clarify this better. I should go back and see about adding this to the post. Been so busy lately.
      For the waist I threaded another bit of yarn all the way around like a belt only through the stitches. Leave long ends at the back so you can then pull on them to gather in the waist and then tie off.
      It bugged me not to have arms so that was my solution ha! I have also seen dolls where people knitted kind of scarf that can be wrapped around the waist and attached to make a skirt. Also you can do something similar around the head (smaller version) to make a rim of a hat. Just knit the hair in hat color and add the rim in the same color. You can really have fun with it. It is a nice quick knit too. I plan to do a version where the arms and legs are free from the body too soon. This group I mentioned does not care how you do them (though they do prefer dark flesh tone), glad to get anything for the kids. Some groups are more picky which seems odd.
      Join Ravelry.com (free!) and you will find a group dedicated to making these. They post them up for everyone to see and there are some really clever ones.
      If you think of it, I would love to see one of your dolls if you would not mind sending a picture! 🙂

      Comment by virtuallyamy — July 18, 2009 @ 9:45 am | Reply

      • Thanks for the tips! Hands are hard to make…I didn’t knit the flesh color wide enough so the dolls came out with only hands on the front @_@ But I have 2 made so far and one more in the works!

        Comment by Nina — July 23, 2009 @ 12:55 pm | Reply

        • Great!! I am sure the arms still look great! No rules on how to make them. 🙂

          Comment by virtuallyamy — July 23, 2009 @ 1:00 pm | Reply

      • HA! No problem. If you have time, email me. Thanks for trying! Its all fun.

        Comment by virtuallyamy — July 23, 2009 @ 8:10 pm | Reply

  4. found another comfort doll pattern by Gwen Merrill/Little knitted dolls is name of pattern

    Comment by deborah — December 29, 2009 @ 6:21 pm | Reply

  5. I’ve just knitted 4 dolls- with each one, I add more details. I got the website address for ICross from the back of a knitting book by Nicky Epstein. There is a list of charities that take knitted/crocheted stuff. I wrote to ICross asking if they were sending dolls to Haiti- Billy himself wrote back right away and said they’d already sent 4000- and they were going down to help on the 27th. More dolls are going early March.

    Comment by Charlotte Freeman — January 26, 2010 @ 1:38 pm | Reply

    • Hello Charlotte,

      Do you have the address where we can send the dolls to ICross? Is it just the address on their website?

      Many thanks!

      Comment by Nina — February 10, 2010 @ 12:04 pm | Reply

      • Hi there, the address at the site is the one. Here it is from there:

        BC, CANADA
        V8M 2C3

        You may want to make it in attention to William Willabond

        Comment by virtuallyamy — February 10, 2010 @ 3:37 pm | Reply

        • Thanks Amy. I wanted to make sure this was still an ongoing effort. So many links on the internet are outdated. I will keep on making dolls (finished the first one today) and send them to the ICross address.

          Comment by btwilson — February 15, 2010 @ 4:22 am | Reply

          • You are welcome! This site has been updated regularly and they have contacted me a few months ago when they found I linked them so I feel pretty good about this one being active. I need to get cracking on more dolls to send!

            Comment by virtuallyamy — February 15, 2010 @ 8:51 am

  6. Hi;
    I’ve got about 4 completed; a bunch more knitted, that still have to be stitched/stuffed. I’m going to try and send them at the end of this week to make sure they get there in time.

    Comment by Charlotte — February 15, 2010 @ 10:01 am | Reply

    • I have a couple I need to get out. I keep thinking I will get one more to add. I have been stretching myself thin between projects and should just send what I have. Argh!

      Comment by virtuallyamy — February 18, 2010 @ 1:44 pm | Reply

  7. Any patterns for crochet that would be appropriate? Thanks

    Comment by Carol — February 18, 2010 @ 1:12 am | Reply

    • I do not have any on hand but they will take any doll knitted or crocheted. For a good source of good, free (or inexpensive) patterns join Ravelry.com for free. It might take a few days before you can get your page but once in, there are many resources for you. I love the site. You can even “meet” others doing charity knitting and show off your work. If you do not like meeting people online, you do not have to do any of that. Just dig around and enjoy.

      Comment by virtuallyamy — February 18, 2010 @ 1:43 pm | Reply

  8. The crochet pattern can be found on this page, beneath the knitted pattern. http://www.squidoo.com/african-knit-dolls

    Comment by btwilson — February 18, 2010 @ 11:39 pm | Reply

    • Thank you! I totally forgot about that! (I do not know how to crochet yet-oops)

      Comment by virtuallyamy — February 19, 2010 @ 8:54 am | Reply

  9. I’m making some scotty dogs too- they are so easy; I’ll call them comfort puppies 🙂

    Comment by Charlotte — February 19, 2010 @ 11:10 am | Reply

    • I like!

      Comment by virtuallyamy — February 19, 2010 @ 11:15 am | Reply

  10. I sent 14 last week; hopefully they went to Haitithis week 🙂 I bought some new, bright yarn at Zellers. Its those roll end bags, that are cheap? I thought I’d try making some dolls with a skirt, with a little top. So I knitted brown at about where her waist would be- its so cute! When I did the arms, it looks like she has short sleeves:) I use the same yarn to make ties in her braids.

    Comment by Charlotte — March 4, 2010 @ 11:36 pm | Reply

    • Sounds adorable! I may have to try! 🙂

      Comment by virtuallyamy — March 5, 2010 @ 11:04 am | Reply

    • Sounds great! Can you post a pic?

      Comment by btwilson — March 5, 2010 @ 12:05 pm | Reply

      • I took some pics- of the 14 I sent & the new one; how do I post them on here?

        Comment by Charlotte — March 5, 2010 @ 10:09 pm | Reply

        • Not sure how you can through the comments. But if you send to me, I will post them in the post and maybe those interested will see. virtuallyamy@gmail.com I will give you full credit. The only other way is to post them to an external site such as flikr and post the link to those here.

          Comment by virtuallyamy — March 5, 2010 @ 10:39 pm | Reply

          • I emailed the pics to you, thanks:)
            Today I was talking to the owner of a used books store(she has lots of flyers for charities); after looking through her craft books I told her about the Comfort Dolls, and asked if she knew any knitters/crocheters that would be interested. She said she knew a guy that was just learning how to knit. So, the end result is I’m printing up the pattern,doing up a little flyer and will be dropping of that, plus a doll. She’s also going to be getting some Help Haiti bracelets that were made in Haiti.
            So there will be quite a display in this little store. Wouldn’t it be great if other stores did the same thing?

            Comment by Charlotte — March 6, 2010 @ 2:15 pm

          • That is fantastic! I have heard of some stores doing a knit-alongs where they have groups of customers meeting and knitting these together. I need to remind our local yarn store about it and see if they do it. Good idea!! Pictures will be up soon. They look great!

            Comment by virtuallyamy — March 8, 2010 @ 3:52 pm

          • What I do sometimes for hands- stitch brown yarn over the stitches that are already there. I find that easier- and you can put the hands where you want.You just use a yarn needle and stitch the way the knit stitch goes.
            As for the boys knitting- when I was in the Pan Am Games ( I roller speedskated for Canada) I met a heavy weight Canadian boxer who knits. I spotted him sitting on the front porch of his apartment in the athletes village. I said to him ” I bet nobody teases you about that!” he said “you’re right!” he told me he knits because it keeps his hands from stiffening up, plus its relaxing.

            Comment by Charlotte — March 14, 2010 @ 12:11 pm

          • How very neat! I have a dear friend in Canada! Wonderful! Love the idea about the hands. Gives you more options on where to place them. I can see going a step further and having them hold things. Maybe cup a heart together in the middle or something. Have to check to see if a heart means the same thing to them as to us probably first.
            Love the story about the gentleman who knits. Thank you! I am always trying to convince men it used to be normal and no reason cant now. Just another craft. I am glad my husband is open minded.
            I too find it relaxing as does he. Just go into a zone.
            The skating is wonderful. Something I have always wanted to do but have to get back into shape before considering. ha. Fencing used to be my thing but no way now! I am a larger, slower target than I used to be. ha (stupid desk job)

            Comment by virtuallyamy — March 15, 2010 @ 8:55 pm

          • The way you cover the knit stitches for the hands is the way I do the eyes. Cover with white in a V shape, then put 2 black stitches in the center. Even doing it this way on several dolls at once, it usually varies enough that they have differing expressions! How do all of you do the mouth? I find that harder than the eyes.

            I like stitching over for the hands too. Easier placement that way. I was thinking of having the hand holding a flower or a ball. It would be fun to crochet an actual ball or something like a teddy and sew it on.

            I keep telling myself to just get on with it and churn out a high number of dolls, but I like doing them individually and making them all different. After all, they are going to be so meaningful to the child who receives them.

            Comment by btwilson — March 15, 2010 @ 9:21 pm

          • I agree! A little extra time here and there gives it the meaning that a child will love. Not just a cranked out doll, though I am sure they love them all. And it really does not throw you off of a “quota” that much if you think about it. Wonderful! Do it! I have seen some others that people have sent and it is not uncommon to add a little extra but I think it needs to be more common than there is. I do not know…
            The mouth, I backstitch. Sometimes I go back over it a few times, depending on how it turns out on the larger knitting stitches. Many options this way. Many I have talked to do the face with backstitch.

            Comment by virtuallyamy — March 15, 2010 @ 10:45 pm

          • I couldn’t make them all the same if I tried, lol! The heads always turn out different- so that makes the faces different too 🙂
            For the mouth, I just use two stitches- a bigger V than one knitstitch.I stitch at different angles, depending on the face; and if its a boy or girl.

            Comment by Charlotte — March 15, 2010 @ 10:53 pm

          • Neat! I will try that

            Comment by virtuallyamy — March 17, 2010 @ 4:35 pm

  11. Thanks:)
    We used to have a knitting shop- but it closed down. It wasn’t big enough to have anything like that though. I’ll mention it to the bookshop owner; maybe after the end of the month when she moves to a new store.She’s going to put a little bin on the counter for anybody who doesn’t knit or crochet that would like to donate yarn.

    Comment by Charlotte — March 8, 2010 @ 9:54 pm | Reply

  12. Hi
    I thought you might be able to help me. I am having a hard time with the eyes. How did you do them?
    I have my grade ten students knitting these and have about ten of them that have been completed – except for the embroidery and the sewing.
    thanks so much!

    Comment by Beth — March 9, 2010 @ 8:54 am | Reply

    • HI! There is not right way to do it. I just looped narrow white yarn up and down to form a white disk. I do not know the embroidery stitch name for it. But insert up top, come out below, bring up to top and insert next to where the previous insertion was and repeat over and over. So you have strands side by side over and over. Then I took black and did a few of these in the middle over the white. You can also do a large french knot too.
      Another way is to backstitch an outline and fill in that way but I found that to be more difficult doing this on knitting.
      Or back stitch ar “U”, one for each eye. The doll will look like its eyes or closed or and upside down “U” for eyes closed in a happy expression. Or backstich a vertical line for simple eyes. Draw the face ahead of time on paper to see if you like an idea you have.
      The mouth is backstitched on mine.

      Comment by virtuallyamy — March 9, 2010 @ 10:08 am | Reply

  13. thanks for your reply. I goolged backstitch on youtube and have just learned how to do that! It made the mouth easier. I was trying to fake something like that but going forward and it didn’t work. I also checked out french knots and found them really easy to do. Now my dolls look great!
    Have you ever added hair? I tried on one doll…just by knotting pieces of wool (a cool wavy wool) onto the head. However, my doll looks like a voodoo doll now. I don’t want to scare some poor kid. Maybe I did too many. I will experiment.
    Another question. I would like to add a skirt. I guess if I didn’t sew up the legs, it would look like a skirt. I am wondering about adding another layer….from the waist. Have you tried this?

    Comment by pianohands — March 10, 2010 @ 2:17 pm | Reply

    • Glad it is working for you! Your comment on the hair cracked me up. ha! I have seen people do that with the hair and looks neat and cute. I am sure yours looks fine. I just added the pigtails so far. No reason on not doing a full head.
      The skirt I have seen people do. A separate knitted bit sewn on. Simplest is to knit a “mini-scarf” that will be long enough to go around the waist. Make it as wide as the skirt you would like. If you can knit a doughnut shaped scarf (?) it will probably hang cuter. Do several of these and you can do layers or ruffles or all kinds of neat things. Even just the one really adds some fun. You can do the same around the forehead as a brim of a hat. Knit the top of the head hat color and the brim that color. Can add a band by starting the hat a different color adding the brim below that. It all depends how much detail you would like to do. Fun! Now I am itching to start these up again. I have been on other projects lately.
      Glad I could help on the mouth, etc!

      Comment by virtuallyamy — March 10, 2010 @ 4:25 pm | Reply

      • I love these dolls. I showed some of them to my grade twelve class today and one of the boys (yes…a 17 year old boy!!) suggested it should be a class project. So amazing to me that boys are eager to knit….or maybe just eager not to do some other kind of work 🙂 Seriously though, I had more boys than girls knitting in my class last semester. (They have a choice of what kind of service project they do in my class). But these students are truly are touched by the plight of the kids in Africa. I found a great book called 28 Stories of AIDS in Africa. It erases all the stereotypes that we might have of the situation in Africa. I am thinking that I may read a few stories out loud to the students as they knit….we’ll see how that works. I am going to play around with skirts and hair. I like your idea of a brim on the hat.
        Do you know if it matters if the dolls are bigger than 5 or 6″? Some of the ones my students made last semester are really big…they neglected to follow the pattern.
        I am so happy to find a place where people are helping each other with these dolls. Thank you!

        Comment by Beth — March 10, 2010 @ 5:32 pm | Reply

        • That is great!
          The size does not matter. They are happy to get anything.
          Tell the boys that sailors in the past had to know how to knit to fix their socks and clothes out on the sea. In the old days, guys knit as well as the girls. It is only recent history that it became more of a “woman’s work”. Many of the major tapestries shown on castle walls were from men.
          I taught my husband to knit and he enjoys it. Does not care if anyone thinks it is odd. He likes it, so who cares what limited minded people think. Good for you AND them! Check out the history, you will be surprised. 🙂

          Comment by virtuallyamy — March 14, 2010 @ 12:16 am | Reply

  14. I did hair on one doll, but it was one that had only 2-3 rows of hair and then a hat over that. I took one long strand of yarn and tied it onto each stitch on the backside, then pulled through a loop on the front. Longer loops in the back, decreasing in size towards the front. It looks really cute.

    I’m so glad to hear that you can do a skirt. I’ve been putting hands on my dolls, which makes it impossible to knit a skirt and attach it along the waistline, because it would go right over the hands. So I’ll go back to not having hands and try a skirt. I have a pattern for a ruffle skirt to try out so I’ll post it here when I’ve adapted it to the dolls. Happy knitting!

    Comment by btwilson — March 10, 2010 @ 5:34 pm | Reply

    • Sounds great! I look forward to it.

      Comment by virtuallyamy — March 14, 2010 @ 12:12 am | Reply

  15. Can someone please give me an address to send the knitted dolls to. I live in Queensland but I can post them in the mail

    Many thanks

    Comment by Bev Bennion — July 31, 2010 @ 10:41 pm | Reply

    • Here you go!

      BC, CANADA
      V8M 2C3

      Comment by virtuallyamy — August 1, 2010 @ 8:01 pm | Reply

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