Colorado Springs resident Ricky Konshak and her hundreds of hand-crocheted Barbie doll clothes are proof that a little bit of kindness goes a long way.
It started as a way to combat loneliness, said Konshak, 72. But, over the past year, she knitted and sewed more than 1,200 Barbie doll dresses for children at Christmas Unlimited, Springs-based nonprofit that collects Christmas toys for low-income families.
The outfits were showcased for two months in a display at Brookdale Skyline, a senior living home on the west side of Colorado Springs at 2365 Patriot Heights.
Inside the glass display case stood dozens of Barbies, each clothed in a handmade outfit. Some were in elegant evening gowns, others in silk 1920s flapper dresses. At the center stood a newlywed couple with a bride wearing a cathedral-shaped dress. Each doll ensemble was more impressive than the last.
“I’d buy bags of pieces of trim and ribbon,” Konshak recalled. “I’d get that ribbon home and think, ‘Oh if I put this with the green, that would be really cute,’ and, ‘This black with yellow would be nice.’ That’s why there’s such a variety.”
Konshak moved back to Colorado Springs two years ago after living in Arizona. Last year, she donated 250 dresses to Christmas Unlimited. But noticed something: there were hundreds of dolls, but very few clothes for them.
“When I delivered (the dresses) to Toys for Tots/Christmas Unlimited I was told, ‘We get 300-400 dolls donated each year and never any clothes, so, would you use your resources just making clothes?’ Challenge accepted!” Konshak wrote in a description of the display.
She originally planned to make 500 dresses by the end of the year. By the time October rolled around, Konshak had crocheted 1,259 Barbie doll outfits, each with a unique flair.
There were wedding gowns, swimsuits, flapper dresses, even disco outfits. She included little Barbie shoes and handmade jewelry.
It became a community effort, she said. Two friends at Brookdale, Alice VanZante and Ruth Meyers, helped sew buttons onto the finished dresses. Several others offered to help buy supplies.
“I’m excited when I make more because I’m trying to see how many dresses can I get out of this piece of whatever I’ve got,” Konshak said. “It’s just fun.”
Konshak started crocheting for her four daughters when they were young, she said. In November, her apartment at Brookdale Skyline had almost completely been taken over by arts and crafts supplies. Spools of yarn neatly organized by color were tucked away underneath her bed — bags of buttons fell out of her purse. Each spool can supply about five dresses, Konshak said. And each dress takes about two hours to make.
But it’s a small price to pay for the joy each outfit is sure to bring children Christmas morning.
Konshak isn’t sure how many outfits she’ll make next year, but rest assured, she said, she’s already gotten started.
Contact the writer: 636-1623