Mittens! That's what Charlotte - the Italian rag doll - was still missing in her winter wardrobe, and that's what Rebecca asked to learn how to make. I had to give it some thought, because although Rebecca has been up to the challenge of learning new techniques, I didn't want to her to tackle a project that was too difficult for her skill level or that would take too long to complete for her age (mittens, of course, come in twos!), and give it up in frustration.
However, Rebecca herself helped me with this crafting conundrum by specifying the pattern she wanted to use: felted red mittens with white knitted cuffs, the very same one I'd made for her when she was about three.
I'd been wondering what appealed so much to her about making clothes for the rag doll we'd created together. Was it the straightforward gratification of making things from scratch, or something deeper? Was it the pleasing aesthetic of miniatures? Was she building some sort of self-confidence, by asserting her ability to control her doll's clothes? Was she displaying an inborn mothering instinct? When she asked to make mittens just like the ones she remembers from her infancy, I decided that it was probably all of the above, as well as a connection at some level with her own babyhood.
So, tiny mittens we made. I taught her how to purl stitch, which came to her much more easily than knit stitching had - possibly because she's been knitting for a while now, but also because she's older and her manual dexterity has improved. Then she knitted and purled the cuffs, which we attached to red felt that she blanket stitched together. Of all the tiny items of clothing she's made for Charlotte, these were both the most technically difficult and, surprisingly, also the quickest to make - they turned out to be a perfect combination for this eight-year-old. Now Rebecca's rag-baby keeps her hands warm when she goes out, with handmade mittens modeled on the mittens I made my baby years ago.