Monday, December 4, 2017

The Adventures of Columbine Duskywing

On the trail of Giant Rainbow Snails is Columbine Duskywing, fearless freelance Malacologist for Hanover College, along the banks of the Ohio river.

Columbine is the daughter of Professor Horace S. Duskywing, head of the department of Invertebrate Studies at Hanover, an eminent Lepidopterist, and in 1869 elected chairman of the Society of Kentucky Lepidopterists.

Columbine's mother is the Lady Acadia Hairstreak, a woman of wealth and a notorious social butterfly of the lower Ohio river.  A longstanding question among the society of the Ohio river is how the dusty Professor Duskywing ever managed to beguile the lovely  Lady Acadia to be his bride.  Maybe Columbine being a seven month child had something to do with it...

Not having strong maternal instincts,  Lady Acadia left most of the childrearing to her husband;  a gentle academic with a vague fondness for this unexpected daughter.  He provided few rules of behavior, a shocking oversight in Victorian society.  He expected obedience, respect, and curiosity; he gave affection, and unlimited use of the university libraries.

From an early age, Columbine could be found sitting, crosslegged as often as not, on the dusty floor of the library, nose buried in some book of natural history or exploration.  Marco Polo! Amerigo VespucciJames Cook! Charles Darwin! Great stories of discovery, but no women.

Dust motes shimmered in the pale light of the one window in the library, but Columbine did not see them dancing.  No women.  Couldn't women discover a continent, or a new species, or sail around the world?  There was Ida Laura Pfeiffer, the Austrian woman who had traveled (twice!) around the world, documenting plants, minerals, and mollusks as she traveled, but no other woman on these library shelves.

What might she discover, Columbine mused.  The Giant Rat of Sumatra, Kraken of the Arctic ocean, Blue Mountains Panthers in the Australian Blue mountains?  Maybe the famed Rainbow Snails of Yellowwood Forest...

Quite unexpectedly, Columbine's mother realized that at 18, Columbine was quite a lovely girl, in spite of her shockingly unconventional behavior.  The only interest that Lady Acadia ever bestowed on her offspring was to plan her coming out season and ball, much to Columbine's dismay.  Columbine simply could not bear to be squeezed into a corset, and paraded to polite society like a prize broodmare.  Ugh!

So quietly, on a clear but moonless night, Columbine packed a small rucksack with her precious books on invertebrate zoology, journal, magnifiers, a spare shirt and a bar of soap, and some jewelry she would never wear.  Dressed as a laborer, she climbed out her bedroom window with the false dawn, and headed North.  Looking for Rainbow Snails and Adventure!

Looks like she found them!

Check out the links throughout the post :-)

Saturday, November 11, 2017


My dear friend and kindred spirit, Joyce, coined this word.

Frankensteining: verb; to create a doll from elements of several other doll patterns.

Which is what I've been doing lately, and like the good doctor for which this verb is cognated (probably also not a word), I am well pleased with my final version.

This doll is a combination of the freely available Eva doll (available on Ravelry), the purchased Jane doll (available on Etsy), and my own Simply Ami doll, (available here on this blog), plus a bit of body tweaking.

The point is, if you have been making dolls for a while, you probably have a nice collection of patterns, and certain attributes of each doll that you particularly like.  Don't be shy about combining the bits you like to make a doll uniquely your own.  But keep in mind that this is not pattern design, and that credit to the original designers should be given.

So thank you, Jessica Doering, for the Eva doll that provided the size; Kelly DeSandro for the Jane doll that provided the shoulders, head, and dainty feet; Simply Amis, for the swing legs, and my own tinkering for the body shape and wig.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Isobel and Moira

Moira and Isobel in their knit finery

Moira, in the navy blue knit, and Isobel, with her fox ears, and the latest two Eva dolls I've made.  I love little knits, so there is now a knit pattern to share for their sweater, cap, and dress:

Eva Knits

Also included is Isobel's fox-ear headband, in crochet :-)


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

What Eva has inspired

The Eva doll pattern, freely available on Ravelry, continues to inspire my dollmaking.  So does Suzanne Woolcott's Gorjuss Girls :-)

So here is a little Fox pattern, that makes a perfect companion for my foxy Eva girl, Isobel:

Foxy Friend 

And for your crochet dolls, how about a remove-able wig?  Once you've made the basic pattern, you can vary it to a short bob, long curls, even braids if you want.

You can make the hair strands longer or shorter.  If you want braids, make them thinner (use sl sts instead of hdc sts).  A whole wardrobe of remove-able wigs can be made for your doll :-)

And again, once you understand the basic pattern, the wig can be sized for any doll, or use any yarn.  How nice to have lovely, long hair that won't get tangled!

Remove-able Wig

Have a lovely day, and enjoy the crochet!

Monday, September 25, 2017

A lovely new doll pattern

Suzanne, Zoe, Audrey, Autumn, Evangeline, Bess

All of these dolls were crocheted from the basic Eva pattern, which is freely available on Ravelry, by Jessica Doering, aka Neogurumi.  The pattern is very well written and easy to follow.  And, there are no seams with this doll!  Legs and arms are crocheted in as the body is worked, making the doll very easy to complete.

Jessica has clothing patterns for Eva; some are free and others inexpensive.  She also has patterns for other dolls, so check out her store on Ravelry:

Neogurumi Patterns

Isn't this an adorable body?!

Eva is a great doll platform; you can create several different hairstyles once you've tried the hairstyle that comes with the pattern.  You can also crochet on her undies, if you like :-)

My dolls ended up being about 7 1/2 inches tall, crocheted with wool worsted yarn (Knit Picks Wool of the Andes and Berocco Vintage) and a size D, or 3mm,  crochet hook.  I did choose to make the dolls head move-able.  You can find this technique in most all of my doll patterns.  Check out this post:

Magdelena's Secret

Basically, you make a head with a hole at the neck end, and the body with a firmly stuffed neck stub.  The stub is jointed into the hole in the neck.  You can do this with any doll pattern, and the results are a lot of fun :-)

I hope you enjoy making this adorable doll!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Hurricane Irma; open our hearts again

***Update 9/20/2017***

Hurricane Maria pounding her way across the Caribbean.  Nasa GOES image

Mother Nature has been showing her darker side to us the past few weeks.  It is hard to talk about dolls when so many are threatened by natural disaster.  Not only three Catagory 5 hurricanes in the Caribbean, but two deadly earthquakes in Mexico.  

Please keep those in harms way, wherever they may be, in your hearts and prayers.  And if possible, donate to those on the frontline of helping.


Irma after raking Cuba; gaining strength to hit Florida.  Satellite image by NASA

We probably all know someone battered by Hurricane Irma; I have relatives and dear friends looking to put the pieces of their lives back together.

The fact that it could have been so much worse in Florida does not change the devastation that has been left there, and the islands of the Caribbean were literally ripped apart.  So, if you can, help as you can the people of the Caribbean and Florida rebuild their lives.

American Red Cross

The Humane Society of the United States

Thank you.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Alphabet Girls: Kitty, Ursula, and Ann

Kitty, Ursula, and Ann!

Three more Alphabet girls, and some tips on sewing and stuffing your doll :-)

Using the best quality fabrics for your doll's body will make a big difference in how well you can stuff the doll.  For a doll that will be played with, sew it up with a sewing machine on a small stitch length.  Take extra care in the corners, and sew slowly.

When finished sewing, do NOT clip the outward curves of the head.  Instead, trim the seam allowance to 1/8 inch.  Clipping will cause little 'points' to form when you turn the doll right side out and start to stuff.

DO clip inside curves, as at the neck and inner curve of the leg. 

The best tip I ever learned when stuffing the doll is to dampen the doll slightly before stuffing.  This causes the material to stretch a bit, and also will let you work the wrinkles and creases out of the seams.  Use a bottle mister and spray the doll, but not to soaking.  The damp fabric will 'grab' the stuffing, making it easer to keep it in place.  You will find that neck creases disappear if you dampen the doll before you stuff it.

I like to use wool roving for stuffing.  Yes, it is more expensive than polyfill, but I love the weight it gives to a doll, the way you can smoothly feed it into the doll body, the warmth it gives a doll, and the fact that, for dark skinned dolls, you can find brown wool roving!

Well, that is all I can think of for now.  I'm feeling the call of crochet, so will give the alphabet girls a bit of a rest for now.

Keep the folks in Southeast Texas, the Caribbean, and Florida in your hearts and prayers.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Hurricane Harvey: How we can help

 image attribution NASA/NOAA GOES satellite

 Images from the devastating rains of Hurricane Harvey bring the story of human and animal suffering into our homes.  What can we do to help?

An article in our daily paper lists several organizations that are bringing relief and comfort to the Southeast coast of Texas:

Indy Star How you can help

And here are some direct links:

The Salvation Army

The American Red Cross

Austin Pets Alive!

If you can, please consider helping.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Alphabet Girls: really simple clothing

Violet, Charlotte, and Hannah

V is for Violet, very Victorian
C is for Charlotte, who crochets charmingly, and
H is for Hannah, happy for hours :-)

Violet is wearing a bit of crochet lace as a collar, and a simple gathered skirt.  Charlotte is sporting pants and a crochet poncho, and Hannah wears a very simple pillowcase dress.

All seams are 1/4 ".   My dolls are about 10" tall, so you may need to adjust the size of the pattern for your own doll.  But, as you can see, these are just squares and rectangles, and the fit is loose and forgiving.

The skirt and the pants are a simple rectangle, as shown by the upper left and upper middle images. 

To make the pants, cut two rectangles 5 1/2" wide by 5 3/4 " long.   Mark the casing line at the waist 3/4 " from the top, and the hem for the pants 1/2 " from the bottom. 

Find the midpoint between the legs and mark the crotch cutting line 3" from the bottom of the pants, shown in the upper right image.  Don't cut this line yet; sew the crotch seam as in the lower middle image, then sew the side seams.  When sewing the crotch seam, as you get close to the turning point, change your stitch length to a very short one and take it slow around the corner.

Carefully cut along the crotch cutting line, and clip the corners of the crotch seam close to the seam.  This will let you turn the pants right side out and smooth the wrinkles out of the seam.  Lightly ironing this also helps.

Press down the casing line at the waist and press up the hemline at the bottom of each leg.  Sew the casing by machine 1/2" from the folded edge, leaving an opening at one of the side seams to insert the elastic. 

Use 1/4" or 3/8" elastic and wrap it around the doll's waist, with about 1/2" overlap.  Insert the elastic into the casing with a safety pin and work it around the waist.  Sew the overlapped ends of the elastic so it lays flat in the casing, then handstitch the casing opening closed.

Hand sew the hem with matching or contrasting floss.  Done!

The skirt is even simpler.  Cut your fabric 12" by 4 1/4", sew up the center back seam, press under the casing at the waist and the hemline, then sew up the casing as in the pants, insert the elastic, then hem the skirt.

The pillowcase style dress has to be the simplest dress in the world to make. 

Cut two pieces of fabric 6" by 6".  Sew the side seams up to 2 1/4 " from the top, then press the seam open, pressing open the unstitched 2 1/4 inches to make finished armhole openings.  Press the casing at the neckline down 3/4 " and stitch the casing in place 1/2" from the folded edge.  Do this on both the front and the back of the dress.

Insert ribbon into the casing with a large tapestry needle and run it all around the neck edge.  You can use one piece of ribbon, like I did, or use two pieces and make bows on both shoulders.

Turn up the hem and handstitch in place with embroidery floss, and you're done!

You can use the pillowcase dress pattern to make a very simple top to go with the pants and skirt, or make rompers out of it by lengthening the pattern a bit and making a crotch seam as for the pants.

Charlotte's poncho was very simple to make, using fingering weight yarn and a size 2 steel crochet hook:

Chain 48, join to form a ring.  In the ring work (3dc, ch1)eight times, (3dc, ch2, 3dc, ch1) once (front point made), (3dc, ch1) eight times, (3dc, ch2, 3dc, ch1) once (back point made).  Join to the first dc. 

Slip stitch in the first two dc, then work (3dc, ch1) in each ch1 space, and (3dc, ch2, 3dc, ch1) in each ch2 space.  this will create a point at the front and the back of the poncho.  Work until it is as long as you want; I think I worked 10 rows.

Sneak Peak!  Ann, Kitty, and Ursula :-)