The Knitivity Story

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[b] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

Luke 1:26-38 (NIV)

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.

Luke 2:1-5 (NIV)

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Luke 2:6-7 (NIV)

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Luke 2:8-14 (NIV)

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Luke 2:14-20 (NIV)

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’[b]
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

Matthew 2:1-8

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Matthew 2:9-12 (NIV)

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”[a] (which means “God with us”).

Matthew 1:22-23 (NIV)

That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.
And this is what the Knitivity is all about:

This is not at all the usual sort of knitting I do, but this turned into a very special project. Using handspun made it my own. I don’t often have the sense that I’m making something that will outlive me, but I hope these little dolls – and the story they represent – are an heirloom of my house.

The patterns were all from the book Knitivity by Fiona Goble. I admit to not thinking the doll shapes were the cutest, but they grew on me, and they were mercifully easy to knit. The projects were repetitive enough that I felt I could church out the pieces methodically, but had enough individual touches that they all stand out. The book came with the large fold-out background you see above, and a manger you can assemble. The manger might not last very long in our house, but I think we’ll salvage the background.

One thing that mystifies me a bit about these patterns is that everything – and I do mean everything – is knit flat, in separate pieces. I think there was like one thing that involved picking up from a selvedge and adding out, saving a seam. So there was a lot of making up.

I tried to circumvent a little of it, but most of it ended up being necessary. For example, I tried using I-cord to make the arms instead of knitting them flat and sewing them up with mattress stitch. But, it turns out, sewing these tiny tubes means the bulky seam stuffs the arm for you, so the arms are more substantial. Joseph has I-cord arms, and they’re a little floppy. In the dolls especially, the seams add structure. The dresses could all have been knit in the round, but when you’re already sewing 30 seams in a sitting, what’s one more?

I also wish that I had put wire in these dolls before sewing them up. It’s going to be difficult to make them real standing dolls now that they are finished. I did manage to insert some copper wire in the donkey’s legs, so he can stand up, and in Mary’s legs, so I can pose her a bit. The rest are more leaning than standing dolls. They might all get backbone surgery next year.

My kids love them, and surprise me by being… proud of them. They will adorn our side table for the 12 days of Christmas, then be carefully packed away until next Advent. When we tell his story again.

4 thoughts on “The Knitivity Story

  1. This turned out so very beautiful!

    I haveong wanted to make a nativity scene, but not enough to actually do it yet.

    I’d love a MochiMochi version. ( Do you know if this? Did you ever scene the contest when someone actually did a nativity?), but I bought Knitty McPurly’s pattern. I’d make it tiny, out of fingering. I also dream of making it out if super bulky so it could be played with.
    Maybe if I ever have grandchildren .

    Your handspun make it ever so special. I especiaIlly love the wise men


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