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How to Knit a Reindeer Doll (With Pattern)

I have been knitting for over 50 years and love to share this wonderful, relaxing and therapeutic craft with others.

This is my completed reindeer doll.

This is my completed reindeer doll.

This reindeer doll design is probably my favourite of all my Christmas Doll designs. There's just something about that cheeky pompom nose, not to mention his tail.

My design ethos is to make these designs as beginner friendly as possible—so very little shaping is needed and a large part of the sewing up is completed on the outside of the dolls. However, my designs are quirky enough to keep the imaginations of the more advanced knitter captivated.

My handmade dolls would make excellent decorations and/or gifts.

Materials You Will Need

  • Approx. 25 g medium brown chunky knit yarn (Yarn A)
  • Small amount of dark brown chunky knit yarn (Yarn B)
  • Small amount of black chunky knit yarn
  • Small amount of cream chunky knit yarn
  • Small pompom for nose or small amount of bright red chunky knit yarn
  • One pair of 4.5 mm knitting needles
  • 2 x 4.5 mm double-pointed needles (DPNs)
  • Toy filling
  • A darning needle

Before You Begin

  • If you haven’t got chunky yarn, then double knit used doubled throughout will suffice.
  • Remember to leave long enough tails on all the knitted pieces, as these are best for sewing up.
  • Stocking stitch is always started with a knit row unless otherwise stated.
  • When sewing in the eyes, nose and mouth, tie a single knot into the end of a length of yarn, leaving about a 2 cm tail. Starting at the back of the head, push the needle through to the front at the point where you want to place the features, pull until the knot and tail disappear and sew as required. If a little of the tail still shows, then pull it gently and carefully snip with scissors close to the body.
  • Frequently check your reindeer doll picture to check for placement tips.

Special Abbreviations

  • Make 1 (m1): Pick up the strand of yarn that lays between the stitch you have just knitted and the next stitch to be knitted on the left hand needle and knit into the back of it. You have just made an extra stitch.

Step 1: Knit the Body and the Head

  1. Using 4.5 mm knitting needles and colour A, cast on 25 stitches.
  2. Stocking stitch 30 rows.
  3. Cast off.
  4. With right sides together and making sure the seam is on the centre back, pin and sew the side seam together using back stitch. Or you could do ladder/mattress stitch (with wrong sides together), whatever is your usual preference. Then keeping the seam still on the centre back, sew along the bottom edge (see photo 2).
  5. Turn right-side out and fill with toy filling. These toys are meant to be plump, so you don’t have to spare the toy filling.
  6. Oversew top end together. You now have a small pillow shape ready to add the character (see photo 3).

Step 2: Knit the Feet

  1. With 4.5 mm knitting needles and colour B, cast on 4 stitches.
  2. Stocking stitch 13 rows.
  3. Row 14. Knit.
  4. Row 15 to 23. Stocking stitch.
  5. Cast off.
  6. With wrong sides together, fold the cast on edge of the foot up to the knit row at row 14. Oversew the side seams.
  7. Stuff very lightly in the toe.
  8. Starting at the cast off edge of the same foot, roll tightly under the foot until you reach the same point, the knitted row at row 14 (see photo 4). Sew tightly in place (see photo 5). Take your needle and yarn through to the front of the foot and oversew to the bottom of the reindeer body.This forms the heel of the foot and makes your doll free standing (see photo 6).
  9. Sew one foot on each side of the bottom of the body, leaving the plump toe piece protruding at the front (see photo 7).

Step 3: Knit the Arms

  1. With colour A, cast on 4 stitches.
  2. Socking stitch 4 rows. Do not break off the yarn yet.
  3. Change to yarn B and stocking stitch 8 rows carrying yarn A up at the beginning of each knit row by twisting it over yarn B.
  4. Change back to yarn A and stocking stitch 5 rows.
  5. Cast off.
  6. With wrong sides together and with the cast on row not quite meeting the cast off row, fold the arm in half and oversew the side seams—changing the colours from medium brown to dark brown where necessary (see photo 8). Stuff lightly in the hand and with the longest side of the arm to the back, sew securely to the body. Take your needle and yarn through to the front of the arm and sew securely in place. Use your picture as a placement guide (see photo 9).

Step 4: Knit the Ears

With colour A, cast on 2 stitches. Then follow this pattern:

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  • Row 1. Knit.
  • Row 2. K1, m1, k1 = 3 stitches.
  • Row 3. Knit.
  • Row 4. K2, m1, k1 = 4 stitches.
  • Row 5. Knit.
  • Row 6. K1, m1, k3 = 5 stitches.
  • Row 7. Knit.
  • Row 8. K4, m1, k1 = 6 stitches.
  • Rows 9 and 10. Knit.
  • Row 11. K1, k2tog, k3 = 5 stitches.
  • Row 12. Knit.
  • Row 13. K2, k2tog, k1 = 4 stitches.
  • Row 14. Knit.
  • Row 15. K2tog, k2tog = 2 stitches.

Cut yarn and pull through remaining 2 stitches (see photo 10).

Using your picture as a guide, sew securely to the top of the reindeer's head.

Photo 10. Reindeer ears.

Photo 10. Reindeer ears.

Step 5: Knit the Antlers

You'll use an I-Cord technique here..

  1. Using your 2 x 4.5 mm DPNs, cast on 3 stitches in yarn B.
  2. Row 1. Knit 3 stitches. Do not turn your needle, but push the 3 stitches to the other end of your DPN.
  3. Row 2. Pull yarn firmly and knit 3 stitches. Push the 3 stitches to the end of the needle. Note how the yarn carries across the back of you work. That’s good, it’s supposed to, and it’s what gives it its tubular shape.
  4. Remember to pull the yarn firmly at the beginning of each row. Repeat rows 1 and 2 until your I-Cord measures 2.25 inches. Make another I-Cord 1 inch long.
  5. Attach the 1 inch I-Cord to the 2.25 inch piece to form antlers (see photo 11).
  6. Repeat from the beginning for the second antler.
  7. The antlers can be strengthened If you run one of your yarn tails back and forth through each I-cord piece (see photo 12).
  8. Using your picture as a placement guide, attach firmly and securely to your reindeer’s head (see photo 13).

Step 6: Knit the Tail

  1. Using yarn A, knit rows 1 to 10 of the reindeer ears.
  2. Cast off.
  3. Knit another piece exactly the same in cream yarn (see photo 14).
  4. With the cream side facing outwards, sew pieces together and attach to the bottom of your reindeer’s back with the point of the tail facing upwards, towards the reindeer’s head (see photo 15).

Step 7: Knit the Heart (Swiss Darn or Duplicate Stitch)

I have attached a video to the bottom of this tutorial to show you how to do the Swiss darned (duplicate stitch) heart required for the reindeer's tummy.

Please note, however: you should darn two stitches, miss a stitch, then darn another two stitches on the top row of the heart.

Once you have completed the Swiss darning (duplicate stitch), work your yarn invisibly through the body a couple of times and cut (see photo 16).

I have also given detailed Swiss darning (duplicate stitch) photo instructions in my How to Knit a Robin Doll (With Pattern) tutorial.

Photo 16. Reindeer with his Swiss darned heart

Photo 16. Reindeer with his Swiss darned heart

Step 8: Knit the Face

Before sewing the details of the reindeer's facial features, I usually use glass head beads to mark it out first. This can save a lot of unpicking and possibly messing up the look of your doll (see photo 17). I also suggest reviewing the Before You Begin section near the top of this article.

Using a small amount of black yarn and using your picture as a guide, sew on eyes and mouth using straight stitches and/or French knots.

I purchased a bag of pompoms from a famous pound shop and glued a sparkly red one for the reindeer’s nose. I couldn’t resist the sparkle. However, you could stitch a nose using some bright red chunky yarn (see photo 18).

My Christmas Knitted Doll Family

As I promised at the top of this article, here are the links to my other knitted doll patterns/tutorials on FeltMagnet.

Photo 19. Here is my Christmas knitted doll family—all of these patterns/tutorials are on FeltMagnet.

Photo 19. Here is my Christmas knitted doll family—all of these patterns/tutorials are on FeltMagnet.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Sue Creftor