Thursday, December 20, 2012

The gift of handmade love

Three years ago my good friend Bev asked me to make three Free Spirit dolls for her Grandgirls.  It was a fun project, and even now the girls still play with their Free Spirit dolls (which is the very highest complement a dollmaker can get!).

This year, Bev asked me to make some tops for the girl's Free Spirit dolls, that she could pair up with some skirts that she would make, to give them for Christmas.  Pictured above is the wonderful gift that Bev will give her Grandgirls this year.  The skirts are all separate, so they can be mixed and matched with the tops.  And then, Bev knit each doll a sweater/cap/mitten set! 

I love everything about this gift, and I wanted to share it with you.

 The Grandgirls Free Spirit dolls

If you are interested in making the mittens for your own dolls, the pattern is a freebie from the WEB's yarn site.  Here is a link:  doll size mittens

One last picture to share.   One of my little Bleue's went to live with Bev, and what a lucky little Bleue she is!  Bev has knit her several sweaters, caps, mittens, and the sweetest little bear muff.

 Bev's Bleue, little Beth Jane, with her snuggly knits made by Bev





Friday, November 23, 2012

Black or White?

After I finish this blog post, I am going to fix myself a cup of coffee, get out my hooks, and make a little mouse (Neville the Nibbler) for one of my nephews for Christmas.   You can see him up in the left hand corner of the collage above; his pattern is under "Crochet an Outdoor Setting."  

Patterns for all of the dolls and toys pictured here are freely available on this blog.    Along the top are a mouse and turtle, a Free Spirit doll, a Crochet Bleuette, and a Basic Amigurumi Doll.  Next row is a Beagle from " Links to my Animal Patterns," and a Knit Waldorf Style Doll.  Next row is a Prairie Flower Cloth Doll and a Pocket Spirit with a simple bed made from a picture frame and wood turnings.  Along the bottom row is a Free Spirit, Mini Free Spirit, and Labrador puppy (around the Christmas tree), two Teacup Spirits, a Prairie Flower cloth doll, and a littler of Kitties.

You can find all the patterns by scrolling down the left sidebar, looking for the header, or a picture of the type of doll or toy you want to make.  Links to all of the patterns are listed there.

We can all make this Friday a White Friday, and give the gift of handmade love.  It just takes a little time, and a little yarn.

However your day, have a good one!

UPDATE: Saturday 11/24/2012

Meet Neville, Ernie, and Trevor :-)

 My White Friday Mice!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Delightful Cloth Dolls

Here is an enchanting book by Jill Hamor, filled with wonderful cloth dolls and toys.  I made Virginia about a year ago, testing Jill's pattern, which made up beautifully.  The doll has a baseball-style head, which was very popular back in the 40's and 50's, and gives a lovely shape to the face; she is 16 inches tall.  The instructions are easy to follow, and you can see the results; a perfect companion for any child.  You can find Jill's book at Amazon.

Jill's book has several patterns for both dolls and toys.  She has a simpler doll pattern, that is really dear, and a pattern for marionettes and topsy/turvey dolls.  For toys, there is a perfect Velveteen rabbit, a precious pony, and a sleepy puppy.  Something here for every child in your life (including yourself!).

Jill has a unique way of making hair for her dolls.  I've never tried it, but always loved the result she gets.  You can find Jill on her blog Bybido.  Check it out! 

Here is another great dollmaking book, available through Dover Publications, for a 14 inch storybook doll

I have to admit, I have not made a doll from this book, but the patterns look simple, and there are lots of pictures of the doll construction.  And, several color plates of finished dolls, like this:

 The author includes many accessories for this doll, including the sweet pets you see pictured here.  

So, come Black Friday, turn it into a White Friday and make the child in your life a handmade gift that they will cherish forever.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Simple knit jacket for Little Darling Jennifer

Jennifer has a new wig, thanks to my dear friend Tomi :-)  And she is sporting a new dress and knit jacket.  The pattern for the jacket is here:

Little Darling Knit Jacket

This is the simplest of knit pieces, just rectangles for the body of the jacket and the sleeves.  I used a mid weight sport yarn, so it worked up a bit bulky, like a jacket.  Use a slightly finer yarn and this would look more like a sweater.

Her dress is adapted from a crochet Bleuette design; you can find it here:

Simple Bleuette Dresses

 I added six rows to the bodice (it is worked side to side) for a better fit, and altered the armhole row accordingly.  The bodice is easy, and the dress makes up quickly with the fabric skirt.

Have a lovely day, and maybe consider making something special on Black Friday, and let the shopping mania pass you by this year :-)

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Little Darling

Sometimes, a doll just touches your heart and won't let go.  Dianna Effner's Little Darling dolls have done just that to me, and thanks to my dear friend Tomi, I have one I can call my own.

This doll is 13 inches tall, and has a beautifully proportioned and balanced body.  The faces capture the innocence and wonder of childhood.  Jennifer, my Little Darling, was painted by Helen Skinner.

And the other delightful thing about this doll is, she can wear many of the outfits already available on this blog!  
Here she is wearing a nightgown, bed jacket, T-shirt and jumper designed for the Prairie Flower cloth doll.

And here she is wearing undies, hankie dress, and crochet collar designed for Bleuette.

Look on the left sidebar for Crochet Bleuette and Prairie Flower Cloth Dolls for simple patterns you can make for your Little Darling.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Crochet Collars for Bleuette

A couple of crochet collars for your Bleuette, crochet Bleuette, or any other similarly sized 11 to 13 inch doll (think Kish Bethany or Effner Little Darlings!).

These collars are detachable, and button up the back.  They are made from size 10 crochet cotton using a size 6 steel hook.  They are an easy way to add a touch of old time elegance to any dress.

Bleuette detachable collars

Enjoy the crochet!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Knit Shawl by Lionbrand












Took a bit of a break from dollmaking to knit this lovely shawl.  The pattern is free on the Lionbrand site: it is the Rosy Glen shawl.  You need to register to access the patterns on their site, but this is free, and the patterns are well worth it.

The yarn for this shawl is Lionbrand Amazing, and it is!  It self-stripes beautifully and has a lovely halo.  The yarn is 53% wool/ 47% acrylic.  Blocking is important to achieve the stated size.  I wanted a shawl slightly larger, so worked an extra set of repeats.

The lovely shawl pin I purchased from Kedikekik on Etsy.   She has many styles, and all of them are beautiful and affordabley priced.  So much so that I purchased one for my sister, and one for my sister-in-law for Christmas :-)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Simple Bleuette fashions from hankies

A simple 12 inch square of fabric can become quite a wardrobe for your Bleuette or crochet Bleuette.  These three hankies on the left were turned into a simple pleated dress, panties, nightgown, and sundress.  Each one took less than an hour to complete, and the hankie does all the fashion work for you!

Here are the patterns:

 Basic pleated hankie dress  dress with the purple flowers


 Simple hankie panties and nightie nightgown with red roses


Simple hankie sundress/pinafore sundress with blue roses

I hope you enjoy making these sweet little outfits, and hunting for hankies to turn into Bleuette frocks :-)


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A gift from Victoria

These two wonderful wigs for crochet Bleuette were made by Victoria DiPietro, a most talented dollmaker and generous friend.  She is sharing her technique for making these wigs, from Tibetan lambskin, with us.  If you want your crochet Bleuette to be a truly heirloom doll, this is the wig for her.

Tibetan lambskin wigs for Bleuette

Victoria's tutorial is full of pictures and easy to follow.  The process is a bit time consuming, but well worth the effort, as you can see!  Thank you so very much, Victoria; this is a wonderful way to make realistic wigs for cloth or crochet dolls.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Heads Up!

I've been wanting to play around with faces on dolls, so I made up several heads to work with.  For me, on crochet, the simplest faces seem to work the best.  I wasn't real happy with the face on the peach head (the one with the dark red curls) so I picked out the embroidery and reworked it.

Don't be afraid to rework your doll; they are really quite patient and both of you will be happier :-)

All of the heads were crocheted with Vanna's Choice yarn with the exception of the peach complexion, which is Red Heart Classic in light peach.

I worked up the dark toffee colored doll first, as a little cat girl with Lionbrand Fun Fur for hair.  She has furry underwear that her tail is attached to, and little ears peeking out of her shaggy hair.  I love this rich colored skin tone, and gave her gold eyes, the better to see in the dark :-)

This is Mehitabel.  If you recognize the name, can you tell me who her best friend is? 

Here is the pattern for her simple knit sweater.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Something simple

I felt like working on something simple last week, so I made this shrug for my sister for Christmas.  Nothing like the good old single crochet, worked in back loops only :-)  The pattern for this shrug is available free on the Lionbrand website.  I think you have to register, but registration is free, and Lionbrand's free pattern library is awesome!  This shrug is called the Sequoia Shrug and it was simple and looks great (there is a MUCH better picture of this with the pattern).

Thank you all for your warm thoughts and comfort over the last few days.  Here is a poem from the funeral service that I want to share with you all:

God has not promised
  Skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways,
  All our lives through.
God has not promised
  Sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow,
  Peace without pain.

But God has promised
  Strength for the day,
Rest for the labor,
  Light for the way;
Grace for the trials,
  Help from above,
Unfailing sympathy
  Undying love.

Again, thank you.
 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Grief


It has been a tough week.  I lost a friend today to cancer.

The final days were long, and hard. On my friend, on her family, and on all who cared for and loved her.  Finally, she is free of the prison of her body; and whether she is in the arms of God, or sweet oblivion, she is free of pain.

And we are free to grieve.

Obituary


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Neil Armstrong: 1930-2012

 photo courtesy NASA

Neil Armstrong; the first person to walk on a planet other than our own.  A Navy fighter pilot in the Korean War, an engineer, an astronaut, a professor, a father, a husband.  A man that every child of my generation watched in breathless wonder as he took those first steps on the moon, that hot July night in 1969.

He has inspired generations of children to dream beyond their horizons.  "Don't tell me the sky is the limit when there are footprints on the moon." - Paul Brandt

Godspeed, Neil Armstrong.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Crochet Mock Smocked bodice and Mary Jane shoes for Bleuette

I love the look of smocking, but I've never been very good at it.  Too cheap to buy a pleater, and too impatient to mark all those little dots on the fabric :-)  As W.C. Fields put it so eloquently "A thing worth having is worth cheating for!"  So here is a crochet version of smocking, that I call mock smocking.  It is achieved with triple crochet post stitches and a bit of embroidery after the crochet is complete.

Mock Smocked Bodice 

Here is what the smocking looks like before and after embroidering:

You could also use this pattern to make an Aran sweater in crochet.  Post stitches are extremely versatile, and add wonderful texture to your crochet pieces.  They are not hard to do, just a bit different and take a little practice.

I also have a pair of shoes for you to crochet for Bleuette.  They are made with size 3 crochet cotton and a size C crochet hook.  They fit over the crochet socks.  The pattern is for Mary Janes, but once you have the right fit for the foot, you can modify them for boots, slip-ons, and embellish them as you wish.

Crochet Mary Jane Shoes

Enjoy making these new patterns for your Bleuette or Crochet Bleuette!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Simple Wigs, and other Bleuette goodness

Making wigs and hair for my dolls is my favorite part of the dollmaking process.  Once the doll has a wig, that is when her (or his) personality comes alive.

Simple Bleuette Wigs

These four wigs are very simple to make, based on the basic crochet wig cap.  In this instance, the wig cap is also part of the hair.  By using mohair yarn, you don't really need to cover the wig cap with strands of yarn.  This saves on yarn, saves on time, and is great for a play-able doll for a child.  These wigs will fit any doll with a seven inch circumference head, and can be adapted to fit any doll at all.

You can make these wigs with any yarn, really; but the fuzzier it is (higher mohair content) the more it will look like those pictured above.  Brushed nylon will also work, and the many 'fun fur' eyelash yarns as well.

The only drawback to these yarns is that the stitches can be hard to see.  So, if you are just beginning, I would suggest making light colored wigs at first: blond, gold, peach and light shades.  Also, crochet with a piece of white paper in your lap...it helps to see the stitches.  Don't worry too much about mistakes or missed stitches...they become invisible in this kind of yarn :-)

A couple of other goodies to share:


A mostly knit shrug for Bleuette!  The shrug is knit as a rectangle nine inches long and three inches wide.  Fold it lengthwise and sew up  two and a half inches on either end for the sleeves, then crochet a border around the rest of it.  I like the knit for the body as it gives a soft hand to the fabric, and the crochet edging adds crispness around the edges.


And a Link Stitch Bodice.  This bodice is worked from the neckline down, so you can easily make it any length you want.  It starts with a series of 18 links.  I like working into links better than working into chain stitches; it is easier to get a neat border, and gives a sweet eyelet look to the neckline.

Enjoy the day, and enjoy the crochet!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Love Knot Nightgown for Bleuette

This nightgown pattern was created several years ago, when I was first bitten by the Bleuette bug.  I'm posting the pattern here, but it may be a bit rough.


It will fit both Reproduction and crocheted Bleuette.  If you are not familiar with the Love Knot stitch, I recommend looking it up in a good crochet stitch dictionary, or Google it for instructions.  I can do the stitch, but I'm not the best person to try to explain it!

Enjoy the day, and enjoy the crochet :-)
 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pretty dresses for Bleuette


Here are a couple of very simple dresses you can make for your Bleuette or crochet Bleuette, using the basic camisole as the bodice.  The drop waist dress has a crocheted skirt, and the short waist dress has a fabric skirt.

Simple dresses for Bleuette

With this bodice, you can make any number of outfits for Bleuette.  Shorten it a bit more, add a long fabric skirt, and you have a sweet nightgown.  Or, pair the long waisted bodice with the pantaloons to make cute rompers.  These are some of my favorite outfits to make for dolls.  They are simple, and look sweet :-)



Enjoy the day, and enjoy the crochet!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Basic Crochet Undergarment for Bleuette

I love dolls in dainty undergarments.  Undergarments are the first thing I make for a new doll.  Not only does it get her decent quickly, but it also lets me figure out the basic garment construction; how many stitches around the waist, how long the bodice needs to be, how large to make the armhole openings.

Basic Undergarments

So now your Bleuette, or your crochet Bleuette, can have a camisole, pantaloons, and socks.  The camisole pattern makes a lovely bodice for a sundress, a drop-waist dress or rompers, and the pantaloons can give you a good beginning for shorts or pants.

Enjoy outfitting your Bleuette...more to follow :-)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Meet Bleuette

As mentioned in my last post, I've had the idea of creating a Bleuette doll in crochet for a long time.  Bleuette is a doll with quite a history, and an even more amazing wardrobe :-)

She started life in 1905 as a give-away (thats right!) promotion to little French girls to subscribe to a girl's magazine...La Semaine De Suzette, which translates as 'Suzette's week.'   The magazine's publishers were devout Catholics, and they were worried that the secularization of French public education would be detrimental to the development of young French womanhood.  Thus the magazine, and its aim to help promote their (the publisher's) ideals of what a young Frenchwoman's accomplishments should be.

One of these things was a proficiency with needlework and hand sewing, and Bleuette is the perfect little companion to sew for!  La Semaine De Suzette published hundreds of patterns, from 1905 thru 1960, for their little Frenchwoman, Bleuette.

There is a lot more to Bleuette's history, and her now incredible popularity.  In 1905, 20,000 Bleuettes were initially produced by the French company SFBJ, but 60,000 subscriptions were received before the first issue was even published!  Bleuette continued to be produced until 1960.  Now, many talented doll artist create reproduction Bleuettes.  The doll in the middle of the picture above is one such reproduction, by Jackie Chimpky.

Here is the pattern to create you own Bleuette in the medium of crochet.  I used a size D crochet hook and both Vanna's Choice and Red Heart Super Saver to make these dolls ;the Super Saver worked up slightly larger (and was harder on my hands!) than the Vanna's Choice.  This is a very tight gauge for worsted weight yarn; 5 single crochet  to 1 inch; but it creates a very firm fabric for stuffing and jointing.  Crochet Bleuette is 11 1/2 to 11 3/4 inches tall with her wig.

Crochet Bleuette

She is jointed using strong craft thread; two strands doubled (so you are passing four strands through the body...you need this strength).  Other supplies you will need are  a three inch dollmaking needle, 9mm acrylic eyes, and a plastic lid from a yogurt or cottage cheese carton to stiffen the bottom of her feet.


I used purchased wigs for this doll, in size 7, which is the head circumference.  Here are a couple of sources for wigs:

http://dollsupply.com/shop/

http://www.dollspart.com/

There are a number of online sources of information and patterns for Bleuette;  a Google search will turn up many.  Here are some of my favorites:

The Bleu Door  a free repository of many of the patterns published by La Semaine De Suzette, and maintained by Janie Hile

Bleuette Manikin  This is a wonderful free pattern offered by Judi Ward.  It is a simple manikin doll pattern with Bleuette's measurements, but it also makes a very charming, Bleuette size doll (without the joints).

Bleuette in Cloth online class  This is Judi Ward's online class for making a Bleuette in cloth, complete with joints!  It is a great dollmaking class.

Bleuette Sewing Club  This is a yahoo group dedicated to sewing for Bleuette.

Grab a hook and some yarn, and make your very own little piece of doll history; enjoy the day, and enjoy the crochet :-)

Friday, July 6, 2012

A new work in progress

A new work in progress; Bleuette in crochet!  Elbows and knees are jointed in a manner to imitate how Bleuette is jointed, and her head is jointed to move as well.

The body proportions are shaped and similar to Bleuette, even down to her cute little butt :-)

This doll is my first prototype; she's a little long in the torso, and her shoulders belong on a football player.  Mark II should be tweaked to take care of these.  Still, all in all, I'm happy with how she is developing :-)

I've had the idea for this doll in the back of my mind for some time.  I'm fascinated with Bleuette, her history, her wardrobe, and her little-girl look.  When I'm happy with the results, the pattern for her will be freely available here, just in time to celebrate the third birthday of this blog, and over 1000 followers!

More on Bleuette, and the pattern, coming soon :-)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Poppy, a modified Lily Sugar&Cream doll

Poppy, a crochet doll based on the Lily Sugar&Cream free doll pattern.  I used Vanna's Choice for her body, and wool single ply yarn to embroider her short hair; reminiscent of a young Audrey Hepburn :-)

Leg joint technique is courtesy Dutzie, and she (the doll) also has a move-able head.  You can find tutorials for  both these techniques on the left sidebar of this blog, under "Tutorials by Joyce," and 'Tutorials."

I didn't like the directions for the jacket in the Sugar&Cream instructions, so I made up one as I went along.  And, I knit her a sleeveless blouse, instead of crocheting the blouse on her; I've always loved dolls with remove-able clothes :-)

This is a great basic pattern to make as is, or to modify with your own special techniques.  Enjoy the day, and enjoy the crochet!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Primrose joins the Lily Gang :-)

If you think these dolls are fun to make, you're right!  They will make delightful Christmas gifts for the little girls on my list.  Primrose is the latest of the Lily Gang, with her move-able head and nifty knee joints.  Tutorials for both of these techniques are on the blog; look for 'Tutorials,' and 'Tutorials by Joyce.'  The basic doll pattern can be found on the Lily Sugar&Cream website:

http://www.sugarncream.com/

Enjoy the crochet!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pepper!

Pepper is another doll created from the free Lily Sugar&Cream pattern, with some modifications :-)  She has Joyce's great knee joints, and her head is move-able.  You can find both of these techniques on the blog...look along the left sidebar for "Tutorials," and "Tutorials by Joyce."

I used Vanna's Choice yarn in beige for most of her body.  I really like the way this yarn works up for crochet (and knit) dolls.  Her lower legs and her clothing are Sugar&Cream yarn.  Her hair is a dreamy tencel/wool blend from Berroco called Lustra.  It made heavenly ringlets :-)

Enjoy the crochet!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Petunia, another Lily Sugar&Cream doll

Petunia says welcome to summer!  Even though summer is still a week away, it is hot and dry like a perfect summer day.

Petunia is another doll based on the free Lily Sugar&Cream pattern, with jointed neck, and jointed legs courtesy of Joyce (aka Dutzie).  The vivid magenta and lime green of my petunias and sweet-potato vine suggested the colors, and the mis-matched style was inspired by a doll I recently saw (at Michaels) called Little MissMatch. 

There is nothing easier or sweeter than to sit down with a ball of yarn and a hook, and find that a few hours later you've created a companion of your very own. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Inspiration

Larry and I were riding our bicycles in the park a few days ago, and I saw the cutest little girl, on her way to the library (which shares space in our local park).  Her skin was the color of dark chocolate, and her hair was braided into two French braid pigtails.  She was about five, so someone took a loving amount of time to carefully braid the hair of an active and no doubt fidgety little girl :-)

I really wanted to capture this child in a doll!  My creative muse has been on an extended vacation, and I've been a bit aimless without it.  Seeing this child was the spark I've been waiting for, apparently.  That, and a look through Joyce's (that's Dutzie to those of you in the Flickrverse) Lily dolls.  She has taken this free pattern offered by Lily Sugar&Cream and created the most wonderful crochet dolls.  Take a look here:

Joyce's Lily Doll photostream

Thus Kenya was born, from a child glimpsed in the park and the inspiration of a friend.  Kenya has a jointed head, based on this tutorial:

Simple Move-able Neck Jointing

And knee joints based on this tutorial by Joyce:

Ball Jointed Arms and Legs

The basic body is from the Lily Sugar&Cream site, which requires you to register, but this is free.

Lily Sugar&Cream

Kenya is a nice size, just under 12 inches tall, and the Lily site has a number of outfits for this doll, crocheted from Lily Sugar&Cream cotton yarn.  I used Vanna's Choice in chocolate for the doll, and Sugar&Cream for her dress and sweater.

You can see what a sweet handful she is, and how pose-able :-)

Enjoy the day, and enjoy the crochet!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Magdalena's secret

This adorable little amigurumi (about nine inches tall) is from a free pattern offered by Owlishly, which you can get here:

Owlishly Magdalena Pattern

But Magdalena has a secret!  I've been wondering if the same head-jointing technique used in cloth doll making would work for a crochet doll, and the answer is YES!

As you can see from the pictures above, Magdalena can move her head around, and this joint is super-easy.  No need for buttons, acrylic eyes, or teddy bear joints, just a very firmly crocheted and stuffed head and a slight modification to the body in the neck area, and you have it made :-)


Start by making your doll with a separate head.  Leave the bottom of the head open, about the size of a dime, instead of closing it.  Crochet the head very tightly, and stuff very firmly.  This is key to making this technique work.

Make the body starting at the neck, and work two or three narrow rounds that will fit tightly into the head opening when the neck is stuffed.  I start from the neck so that I can stuff it very firmly.  The rest of the body you can follow whatever instructions you have.


Thread a very long dollmaking needle with a double strand of your body yarn.  Starting at the top of the head, insert the needle straight through and come out at the hole in the bottom of the head.  Insert the needle through the neck, and back into the hole at the bottom of the head and exit out the top of the head.

Pull the yarn ends at the top of the head evenly and gently and draw the neck stub into the head opening.  Pull tightly and seat the head firmly on the neck, then tie the yarn ends in a double knot.  Bury the ends in the head.

And now you have a simple, move-able head for your amigurumi!

A more detailed picture tutorial is here:

Simple move-able neck jointing for your Amigurumi

Magdalena says 'Hi!'

For more patterns by Owlishly, visit her Etsy store here:

Owlishly

A link to her store is also on the left sidbar of this blog under 'Links I Love.'

Enjoy the crochet!