The History of The Doll House: The Izzy

Dear Editor,

I was very interested to see a description of the Izzy doll movement in the Nov. 3 edition of The Capital - Izzy or Comfort Dolls.

When you see the appalling conditions of children in countries ravaged by war or by natural forces, you realize children lose ordinary childhoods as well as their lives. While most of us can’t be on the ground providing aid, we can give our time in one simple way.

One way knitters and crocheters make a contribution is by making ‘comfort’ or “Izzy” dolls. Hundreds of thousands of these dolls have been sent world-wide to suffering children since 1994. Since I joined the movement in 2007 I have co-ordinated knitters and crocheters in the Trochu area and later from my home in Red Deer. It would be interesting for me to create another group in Fort Saskatchewan as my brother has recently moved there.

History of the Doll Project

The doll project began in the early 1990’s when a peacemaker, Master Corporal Mark Isfield, saw the young children in the countries where he served without toys of any kind. He sent a photo to his mother, Carol, of a doll on a pile of rubbish telling her that “a little doll had lost its child, and a child had lost its doll” He wrote, “These children have lost their childhood.” Mark asked his mother to knit and send him some dolls for distribution. So the project began. In 1994 Mark Isfield was killed by a land mine explosion in Croatia. His legacy, the distribution of the comfort dolls, which had been named Izzy dolls in his memory, was first continued by his regiment. His parents spearheaded it and continued the project until their deaths. With Carol’s permission Billy Willbond (1941-2014) continued to distribute dolls.

How many dolls have been distributed? Several years ago I read 1 and ½ million! What an outcome for a simple humanitarian effort which began with a caring son and his mother!

Author Phyllis Wheaton dedicates her book written about these dolls ( In the Mood for Peace: The Story of the Izzy Doll), to “ mothers and grandmothers, great-grandmothers, knitters groups and students and others who have as of July 2011, created over one million Izzy Dolls for the children of war and the poorest of the poor.”

This disjointed army of caring people continues!

The Pattern - Knitting

You can obtain both the crochet and knitting patterns for Izzy dolls either by googling or by contacting me. To an average knitter the 1,488 stitches in a doll take two hours. The finishing which includes decorating the face, stitching the rectangle together, stuffing, defining the arms and legs by stitching and stuffing takes approximately another two hours.

My main part in the project is to ensure dolls arrive at the first stop in their journey in Victoria.

Brenda Dowell

Red Deer, Ab