For over twenty years, knitters have been making 6″ dolls using leftover bits and pieces of yarn. These dolls are known across the globe as ‘Izzy Dolls’, and they are sent with soldiers and medical aids overseas to be distributed amongst children in areas that have been affected by war.
Izzy Dolls are used in lieu of packing supplies when shipping medical equipment overseas, and they are small enough to fit into the pocket of a soldier or aid person, so that they can be ready to hand them out to a child in need at any given moment.
A whopping 1.3 million Izzy Dolls have been distributed over the past two decades around the world. The idea came from, and continues to be inspired by Canadian solider Master Cpl. Mark Isfeld of No. 1 Combat Engineer Regiment (the name ‘Izzy’ coming from his last name of Isfeld). Isfeld was stationed in Croatia and Kuwait in the early 1990s and encountered many families and children who no longer had any toys or personal possessions.
His mother, Carol Isfeld, started knitting these little dolls and sending them over with her son to hand out to the families and children who could use them, and the idea caught on.
Shirley O’Connell and a basket of Izzy Dolls – Photo courtesy of The National Post
Isfeld was killed in Croatia in 1994 while removing landmines, and his mother has since passed away- but the legacy of the Izzy dolls lives on. Recently, the RCMP took over 800 Izzy Dolls with them to Haiti.
There has been a recent call to knitters for more Izzy dolls to be made, as Syrian refugees begin their journey to Canada, and will be in urgent need of anything and everything- Izzy Dolls included. Ottawa-based Shirley O’Connell is working hard to make sure that Izzy dolls get to where they need to be, and she is happy to help you and your knitting group do much the same. Shirley can be contacted at email@example.com.
What better way to use up scraps of left-over yarn? The more colourful- the better! Washable yarn is preferred. So cast on and get knitting a few Izzy Dolls.
Happy Knitting everyone!