I have struggled with creating curly hair styles for the doll's for years.. I tried everything under the sun to get yarn to curl permanently, but nothing seemed to work long term..
At one point, I was using a stiffening product intended for ribbon and then rolling a few strands at a time with perm rods.. This process was very, very time consuming and MESSY... It required the doll to sit in front of a fan for days so that all the yarn could dry... But worse than that, the curls didn't stay indefinitely...Sometimes I'd get all done, dry their hair style only to take out the perm rods and discover the "perm" hadn't taken, so I'd have to start all over.. To top it off, the product I used has been discontinued...So there went the only way I'd found to curl yarn..
I've been determined to figure out a good way to create curly hair styles.. After all, I'm a curly head!! I wanted my dolls to have the choice to be curly heads, too..
Finally, this past December, while recuperating from Christmas orders (lol), I finally found a tutorial on "boiled yarn".. I don't even remember if it was a tutorial for doll hair, all I remember is that it gave a way to curl yarn.. I tried it, it worked, I was amazed, started boiling yarn left and right and have created a whole bunch of ready made Lil Kids with cute curly hairdo's.
It's such an easy process, I'm wondering why I never figured this out before now!! The yarn is wound around something like a metal knitting needle, or small wooden dowels.. It's best to wrap it tightly and scrunch it up so you can get as much as you can on each needle or dowel.. The end is then slipped through the last ring of yarn and pulled tight to keep it from unraveling.. From experience, I can tell you the knitting needles are a bit easier to deal with.. When scrunching the yarn up on the wooden dowels, I ended up getting a couple of slivers..ouch...
You then take boiling water and pour it over the wound yarn... I line all my dowels of yarn up in the kitchen sink and then douse them with boiled water from my tea kettle...I let them sit for a few minutes so the extra water drips away, I squeeze any excess out (which has cooled enough by now to touch), then I place them on a cookie sheet or pizza pan.. I use the pizza pan pictured below because it has little holes in the bottom of the pan which seems to speed up the drying process..
I then place the dowels of yarn in a preheated oven (185 degrees) and set the timer for 40 minutes.. When it goes off, I turn the oven off but leave the yarn in the oven while it cools off... After an hour or so, you can remove the knitting needles or dowels of yarn and start pulling it loose.. You'll have a bundle of curly yarn!! I've found that it takes about a dozen needles worth of yarn for each head of hair..
This seems to work with pretty much any kind of yarn, however, I have discovered that mohair yarns or yarn with a mohair mix in it seem to curl really well and are super soft. However, I think the curls turned out pretty with all the yarns I tried..