* Prices may differ from that shown
When I was a little girl I learned to knit, but realised from a very young age that sitting there with a ball of wool and a pair of knitting needles wasn't really my kinda thing. I've never been one for arts and crafts, but remember one day when I was around seven years old I saw my friend using a Furench knitting doll. She'd created a long multi-coloured snake and I thought it was fascinating watching the different colours come out of the bottom of the doll as she flicked the wool over the pegs. It never occurred to me that this was the type of thing I could try, but a few days later (on my birthday) I unwrapped my very own knitting doll which I cherished and used for years.
Then I forgot about it until last Crimbo, when I spotted this Tobar French Knitting Doll in a charity shop and bought it as a stocking filler for my eleven year old. When I realised she wasn't very impressed with it I decided to start using it myself, I was in the process of quitting smoking and needed something to do with my hands so this seemed ideal.
In the box you will received the Doll itself, a wooden pick designed to help you move the stitches over one another and several skeins of wool. It could quite conceivably come in a box a quarter of the size, but this isn't a review about over packaging.
I must say, this is far better quality than the knitting doll I owned as a child. The doll measures around 9cm in height and is made of the type of wood you would usually find making up the handles of a skipping rope, the face is clearly marked into the surface of the doll and even after several months of use there has been no fading of the features. The prongs at the top are made of metal and they have been attached to the doll securely, none are wobbly and the fact that they have been angled at the top makes it easier for small (and bigger!) fingers to pull the stitches over them.
You use this (or any other French knitting doll) by winding the wool around the prongs, then going around each one in turn and flipping the wool over the top. This will eventually create a long hollow knitted sausage, completely useless maybe but huge fun to make. Actually not completely useless, but I'll get to that in a minute.
As I have mentioned, the doll itself is excellent. It could perhaps be made slightly shorter as it takes quite a lot of knitting before the sausage begins poking out of the bottom, this doesn't worry me but considering this is designed for children from four years of age it doesn't make a lot of sense. This is due to the fact that children are obviously more impatient than adults, and I'd suggest that if you're giving this doll to a child you might want to get it started yourself so that the first few rounds of their stitches will start the knitted sausage coming through. Otherwise your child is likely to discard it, as Alice did when she realised it wasn't going to knit itself.
The wooden stitch pick is useless, it's too flimsy and shiny to get a good enough grip on the wool to pull it over the prongs. Only moderately thicker than a cocktail stick, you're much better off getting hold of a thin metal crochet hook as this will make picking up the stitches much easier for smaller hands.
There's just enough wool in the package to get you started. The colours aren't very inspired and personally I would have rather seen brighter shades than the green, brown and blue wool provided. Obviously you can use your own wool and you will have to once the initial skeins run out, I actually used my own wool from the beginning anyway as the skeins are very short and would have needed more knotted on much too quickly to be practical.
Now, you've knitted your sausage. What are you going to do with it? I've no idea what most of you will do (teddy bear scarves, draught excluders for dolls houses?) but I'm in the process of making a small floor rug. I decided I wanted to do this when I first found out I was pregnant, and now with less than a month to go I have a 12 foot sausage (steady boys, put those green eyes away!) which needs roughly another foot added to it. When finished I am going to stitch it in a coil and attach some non-slip backing to create a rug for next to my new baby's cot. It won't be the largest rug, and definitely won't be the prettiest, but I don't care about that as I'm not the type to knit booties so at least I've put my efforts into creating something for baby.
£5.99 from Amazon.