Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas and last minute gifts

Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas, and a New Year filled with Joy!

It is the 23rd of December, and I've just finished my last minutes gifts;  I wasn't going to do this, but I found this charming pattern for a little fox, and just had to make three of them as stocking stuffers for my nephews :-)


The pattern can be found at this link:  Genuine Mudpie Squinty Fox .  The pattern is quick, simple, and very well written.  I made three of them last night!  I plan to add a little beaded lanyard to the top so the boys can clip them to a zipper pull or backpack.  They stand about 2 3/4 inches tall from the base to the tip of their ears.

And, as a Christmas gift, I have a pattern for a small wardrobe of tiny knit outfits for small (5 1/2 inch) dolls.  I used my tiny Simply Ami dolls for models; they are a little over 5 inches when worked with fingering weight yarn and a size 1 steel hook.  These knits should also fit Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls, and BJD's in the 12 to 16 cm size range.



Tiny Knits for Tiny Dolls

The outfits are knit with fingering weight yarn and size 0 (2.00mm) double point needles.  The pattern includes pull over sweaters, pants, pinafore dress and rompers.  The elf hat the girls are wearing is from my Pocket Spirit Christmas Hat pattern (found on the left sidebar of this blog) worked in fingering weight yarn and a size 1 steel crochet hook.

However you celebrate the holiday season, I hope it is filled with love of family, and childlike joy!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Finished Christmas Cabin

The Crochet Christmas Cabin is complete!  This project has pretty much consumed me for the last three or four weeks.  I have had so much fun thinking up and making all the details, and I am really pleased with the results.

This is a play-able doll house, as long as you are gentle with it (remember, the walls are cardboard).  Five inch dolls are perfectly at home here, we even managed to get two beds in the sleeping loft, with room left over for a tiny chest :-)

Some of the patterns, like the stockings, wreaths, and beds, are my own designs.  The Christmas Tree is from The NeedleCraft Shoppe entitled 'Snow Folks.'   The chairs are from an Annie's Attic Fashion Doll furniture series.  Both patterns I have had for ages.  The chairs were crocheted with fingering weight yarn, instead of worsted, and a size 1 steel hook instead of a G hook.

The coverlets on the beds are blocks from '200 Crochet Blocks,' by Jan Eaton.  I worked them in fingering weight yarn and a size F hook to give a bit more drape.

The gifts under the tree are Hitty Printables, just click on this link to take you there.

And the ornaments on the tree are glass beads threaded on a head pin.  The pin is turned down at the top to create a hook, then hooked onto the tree 'branches.'

Decorated Christmas tree and packages

Stockings hung by the chimney with care

A cozy place to sleep!


Winifred fits very snuggly here :-)

Now I better get busy and finish my Christmas list!

Friday, November 27, 2015

White Friday 2015

Hard to believe that Christmas is less than a month away!  Today is our traditional White Friday, where instead of standing in long lines for the latest gift that will be forgotten shortly after it is unwrapped, we fix ourselves a hot beverage, get out the hooks or needles, and make something special for those we love.

It could be a scarf, a shawl, a doll, a toy...a piece of jewelry crocheted in fingering weight yarns, a cowl knit in bulky weight yarns, anything made with love.

There are literally thousands of free crochet and knit patterns available on the Internet.  You can find many toy and doll patterns right here on my blog; just scroll down the left sidebar until you find a pattern that speaks to you.  Other great toy patterns can be found in the 'Links I Love' section toward the bottom of the blog on the left sidebar.

For great free wearable patterns, there is Ravelry.com, Lionbrand.com, and RedHeart.com...all have extensive free pattern libraries.   I think they all require registration, but it is free and well worth it.

And to set the mood, here is a crochet pattern for making tiny Hellebore flowers (the Christmas Rose), Ivy leaves, and a tiny wreath.  You can use the wreath for Christmas tree ornaments, to decorate your doll house, or to wear as a brooch.






The Christmas Cabin is coming along beautifully.  I have the outside decorated, as can be seen in the image at the top of the page.  The Christmas Tree is done and decorated, and now I am working on chairs for the living room :-)  But today, I will make three wreath brooches for my sister and sister-in-law, and be thankful for quiet time and the skills my Grandmother taught me when she taught me to crochet.

Have a lovely White Friday!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Crochet a Christmas Cabin

When it comes to making dollhouses, my favorite power tool is my crochet hook!  I cannot saw a straight line, and hammers mash my fingers as often as they hit the nails.  But a crochet hook is a marvelous tool, and you really can make a dollhouse with one!

Here is a picture tutorial on Flickr on how to construct your own.  It is mostly guidelines, so you can make a house any shape you want, as long as you can cut cardboard and cover it with crochet.

The Christmas Cottage is made with acrylic worsted yarn and a size H hook.  Sturdy cardboard is used to stiffen the walls and floors.

This house is sized sweetly for Nancy Ann, or my Forget-Me-Knot kids, or a downsized version of Simply Ami.  I've finished the basic house, now all it wants is decorating for Christmas (trees, wreaths, stockings, etc...) and some furnishings (sleeping palettes, chairs, etc...).


Make plan for your dollhouse, stitch and block the blocks, cut the cardboard (about a 1/4 inch larger than your blocks), and stitch the house together!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Peace for Paris; peace for us all.


"The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater"    ...J.R.R. Tolkien.  

Image by Jean Jullien

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

More dolls, more fun!

Jeanette is a hard plastic Nancy Ann with a painted face and jointed arms and legs.  I'm always amazed at how beautifully these dolls are constructed and painted.  All they need is a little cleaning, most times a new wig, and some pretty outfits to make them special indeed.

Jeanette's dress and hat are another outfit designed by Helga Kraft for Kelly dolls.  I end up adding two or three stitches to the waist line, to better fit Nancy Ann, and make the dresses a bit longer.  Otherwise, the fit is quite good.

Jeanette's shoes are from an Annie Potter Presents leaflet entitled Victorian Darlings.  I've used this leaflet for many outfits for these dolls.  I crochet the dresses using size 20 crochet cotton (or size 8 perle) and a size 9 hook.  However, for the shoes I crochet them with the thread and hook recommended.

Jeanette's raglan sweater is my own design, which I am happy to share!

Nancy Ann Raglan Sweater

And remember, most of the outfits I designed for the Forget-Me-Knot kids, here on this blog, will fit Nancy Ann as well.

Nancy Ann projects in the wings include these three Nancy Ann's from the 50's, with hard plastic bodies and sleep eyes:

I've removed their wigs and cleaned and blushed them.  All ready for new wigs and outfits!


For a real treat, check out Carolyn's blog and see what she has done with her rescued Nancy Ann's:

Carolyn's Creative Workshop

Her face painting is extraordinary!  And if you look around, you will be amazed at this dollmakers creativity and generosity. 

I hope you are enjoying the day.  Only 23 more days until White Friday!  Are you ready to knit, crochet, sew, or otherwise hand make someone a special gift for Christmas?  This is what White Friday is all about :-)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Happy Halloween!!

Minerva Wormwood is my latest Nancy Ann remake, one of the dear dolls sent to me by my good friend Tomi :-)  The time of the year just begged for a Halloween doll, so Minerva was born.

Minerva's outfit is a purchased pattern written for Mattel's Kelly doll (Barbie's very little sister), from Helga Kraft.  I tweaked it ever so slightly to fit a slightly taller and slightly pudgier doll.  However, I can share with you Minerva's Halloween mask, which should fit similarly sized dolls like small BJD's, Riley, and others.

Minerva's Halloween Mask

The nifty doll stand is a brilliant design by my friend Joyce, who has an easy to follow visual tutorial for it here:

Small doll stand


Have a frightfully fun Halloween!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Playing with dolls

For the last several weeks I have been engrossed in buying and re-making distressesd Nancy Ann dolls.  These are vintage dolls that were made from the late 1930's through the 1960's.  The earlier dolls were bisque; in 1948 production shifted to hard plastic dolls.  They are small and endearing, and a great way to play with dolls :-)

I also love, absolutely love, presentation boxes for dolls.  So I scrounged around in my work room for some cigar boxes I had purchased many moons ago, and they looked to be a nice size to present these dear dolls.  With scrap book papers I had on hand (for another project that never materialized), and cardboard that I save like it is going out of production, I made the little box above for one of my Nancy Ann's. 

The scrapbook paper was easy to work with...generally I am a mess when it comes to gluing anything!  I just sort of winged it with measurements, using the box mostly and creasing the paper to make the cutting lines. 

I cut two seperate pieces of cardboard to fit the top of the box, with the ribbon wrapped around it to hold various outfits for the doll, and for the bottom of the box, to thread the ribbon through to hold the doll in place.  These covered pieces of cardboard also make a nice finish to the box and hide the edges of the scrap book papers that line the outside and inside of the box.

Another great box to use for this purpose are the photo storage boxes that Michael's carries.  That will be my next project :-)


I am also still restoring Nancy Ann's.  This darling girl came to me from a dear friend, who rescued several disheveled dolls and sweetly thought to send them to me!  They have been so much fun to re-create.  This is Jane Ann, named not only for my cousin (of the same name) but for my friend and also myself.  Her outfit is crocheted in perle cotton 8 with a size 9 steel hook, from the Annie's Attic leaflet Victorian Darlings.  Except for the length of sleeve and skirt, the outfit was crocheted to the pattern, with the finer thread and smaller needle.


Three more dolls waiting to be!  A hard plastic, frozen leg bisque, and jointed bisque with legs borrowed from a headless doll.  We can't wait!

Friday, September 25, 2015

New life for distressed dolls

I've always been drawn to the old Nancy Ann Storybook dolls; several years ago I bought a plastic one and used her for a template to create the Forget-Me-Knot crochet dolls.  Produced in bisque from 1936 to 1948, and in plastic from 1948 to the 1960's, they are small (4 1/2 inches to 7 inches) and have simple and endearing faces.

But, I like making dolls more than buying them!  So here is the neat part: my friend Joyce started re-making distressed Nancy Ann's.  Dolls that had been loved very nearly to death, and looked it.  These are not collectibles, and can be found fairly inexpensively on Etsy or Ebay.  Joyce hooked me (literally!) into the world of re-make for these sweet dolls.

So above you have a 7 inch Nancy Ann, who came to me with a broken hip and competely unstrung.  I mended her hip with glue and fabric, and restrung her with stretchy beading cord, as below:

The idea to use glue-soaked fabric to strengthen the break at the hip came from another Flickr friend.  It appears to work quite well.

I removed what little hair she had left and crocheted her a wig cap from boucle mohair yarn, available here:

Weir Craft Boucle Yarn

And crocheted her undies with size 20 crochet cotton, size 8 perle cotton, and a size 9 steel hook.  The pattern is a slight modification to the undies pattern for the Forget-Me-Knot kids.

I now have nearly a dozen urchins waiting patiently for a new life, and a new opportunity to bring joy to someone special.

The two on the left are bisque, the three on the right are hard plastic, and all are charming.

Before leaving, let me introduce you to Charlotte, a very special Southern Belle made especially for me by Joyce :-)  I couldn't ask for a better friend, or a sweeter gift.  Joyce's crochet skills, and her imagination, are amazing!

Charlotte, by Joyce Yearsly

Monday, September 7, 2015

Field Of Flags 2015

Field of Flags installation at the Minnetrista center in Muncie, Indiana.  Honoring Veterans the week of Labor day.  Our family, and especially my Dad, are all involved in this tribute.

Friday, August 28, 2015

LOTR Crochet goodness

A crocheted item with the name Goblin Cleaver was bound to catch my attention!  This pattern is available on Ravelry, and makes a wonderful asymetrical shawl/scarf.  It is crocheted with fingering weight yarn (I used Knit Picks Stroll in Raven colorway) with a G hook, which gives this crochet a wonderful drape.

To go along with this awesome scarf, I used some of the leftover yarn to make Strider's Cuff

The charm with the saying came from Michaels, and I used size 8 seed beads from my stash.  Christmas for my sister, who is every bit as much a Hobbit as I am :-)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Stella Nightshade

Companion to Luna Moonflower is Stella Nightshade :-)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Painting with crochet




 
While making this crochet throw -------->

which took about a week to complete, all I could think about was this doll 
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The Medallion Throw is a free pattern from the Lionbrand yarn website.   I changed most of the colors to be brighter and richer.  The throw is crocheted using Vanna's Choice, a really nice acrylic yarn that washes like a dream.  These were my color choice:

A = Fern
B = Toffee
C = Silver Blue
D = Saphire
E = Mustard
F = Fern
G = White
H = Rust
I = Mustard

I liked  the square shape, and no motifs to sew together.  It was easy to weave in the ends as I worked.





But, it wasn't a doll!  And, I got a bee in my bonnet on making eyes with crochet, after seeing several dolls with lovely crochet eyes.  So all the time I'm working on this afghan, I'm thinking about Luna Moonflower and her crochet eyes :-)

Luna is a Simply Ami doll with eyes crocheted in size 20 crochet cotton and/or size 8 perle cotton.  The idea is not original with me, you can see many great examples of this on Pinterest.  What I did do was create instructions on how I would go about making these eyes.  And here it is:


I also have a sweet little knit shrug for Simply Amis to share.  It was originally intended for Luna, but the color didn't really suit her, and she wanted the moonflowers on her dress instead.  However, Violette loves this color, so she is modeling the shrug for me :-)



Friday, July 31, 2015

Three Easy Pieces


While I was roaming around Pinterest looking for interesting crochet, I found several beautiful cuff bracelets.  I wanted to make something with a Bohemian vibe, so I took a look at Ravely to see what kind of patterns they might have.

These three patterns were all available as Ravelely downloads from Gergely-Santa.  They were pretty easy to make; there are a lot of pictures in the pattern, and a bit of crochet diagraming.  They are not free, but certainly not expensive, and will make wonderful Christmas gifts :-)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Ready to Ride!

From left to right: my brother, nephew #2, Dad, me, nephew #3, nephew #1, beloved husband, sister-in-law

Ready to ride in the Great Greenway Tour!  My sister is the camera-person :-)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

What we saw: 7/12/2015

On our bike ride this morning, up through downtown Indy.  From the top left, "I am Indy" at Fountain Square;   deer sculpture in front of the Eiteljorge Museum of Native American History; Eli Lily rain garden with downtown Indy as a backdrop; and the flooded White River at White River park.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Lillian Hopewell

Lillian Hopewell is a young woman of the 1890's.  Graduated from Wilberforce College in 1893 with a B.S. mathematics, she is about to begin her first day of teaching.  She is nervous, confident, and excited; she knows that to teach is to touch the future.

One way that she personally wants to touch the future is to buy one of the new safety bicycles.  Imagine, being able to travel under your own power at 10 miles per hour!  

Lillian's mother came to Zanesville, OH in 1863 as a teenager, in the company of her aunt and uncle along the Underground Railroad.  In Zaneville she met Lillian's father, who owned a small dry goods store.  After a lengthy courtship, they married, and Lillian was born in 1870.  Their only child, and most beloved.

Patterns for Lillian's first day at school suit:

China Doll dickey

China Doll Gibson Girl skirt

China Doll Gibson Girl jacket


Lillian Hopewell, from the knit China Doll pattern by Sarah Elizabeth Kellner


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sophia Delphine and her fantasy petticoat

I am still captivated by Sarah Elizabeth Kellner's China Doll pattern, and the wonderful possibilities she presents.  My latest doll is Sophia Delphine, a young lady of 1855.  She is wearing a petticoat with a strapless crochet sweetheart bodice and a lace net skirt, embellished with a bit of Irish crochet.

China Doll Strapless Petticoat

I'm not sure poor Sophia will ever get anything more to wear than her petticoat; it is so pretty I hate to cover it up!

I have another doll in the works, Lillian Hopewell, a young black woman of the 1890's.  Right now she is just a head and shoulder plate:


Lillian has a story to tell; it will be exciting to hear what it is :-)

Friday, June 12, 2015

Anna Celeste; ready for the dance, and sweet dreams.

I spent the week working on Anna's dress for the ball :-)  It reminded me of the scene from the Disney's Cinderella, where the mice and song birds all work to make Cinderella's ball gown.  A little from here, a little from there, and hey, presto!  a lovely dress.

I have a pattern for the bodice, which is a simple adaptation of the camisole pattern.  I was caught up the making process and did not write down specific instructions for the skirt and bodice trims, but there are suggestions in the bodice pattern.  Use some of your lace patterns and create a lovely gown of your very own :-)

Evening Gown Bodice

You may notice that Anna has a different hairstyle for the ball.  With this doll it is so easy to make more than one wig for her to wear :-)  This one has a center part created with double crochet and slip stitches, and numerous long curles caught up at the back of her head, with a couple along the neckline.  White roses decorate her hair.

After the ball, Anna will be very tired, so she will slip into her nightgown and snuggle into bed, dreaming of the wonderful time she had at the dance:

Victorian Nightgown

Sweet dreams, Anna Celeste :-)


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Anna Celeste, China Doll #2

Anna Celeste is the second doll I've made from Sarah Elizabeth Kellner's China Doll pattern, which is available on Ravelry.  The original pattern makes a doll about 14-15 inches tall when worked with sport/dk yarn and 3mm needles.  I wanted a doll slightly smaller, so I knit her with 2.75mm needles,  took out an increase row in the torso, shortened her arms a legs proportionately, and also made her head in the round in one color, so I could add a wig.  Anna Celeste turned out 11 3/4 inches tall, with a 5 1/2 inch waist and hips/bust 7 inches.

This pattern is great!  The resulting doll is an amazing reproduction of the antique china dolls, and becomes a wonderful canvas to create period costumes.  Anna Celeste is wearing a 1850's inspired walking suit, with blouse, belted skirt, and Zouave jacket.  All are separates and removable.

1850's blouse

1850's belted skirt

1850's Zouave jacket

In addition to the walking costume, she also has a simple side-to-side camisole and pantaloons:

1850's Camisole & Pantaloons

This camisole top would be the perfect beginning for an 1850's style evening dress, simply attach a full skirt (like the belted skirt) to the camisole, and add some frothy sleeve and bodice treatment :-)

I would like to make Anna Celeste a trousseau, placed in a keepsake box.  Maybe she is about to go to Europe, and if so, she will need some traveling companions too.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Josephine, an old fashioned girl

Knitting and crochet are amazing; one is only limited by their imagination as to what can be created in these mediums.  How about a China Doll? 

Josephine is a knit China Doll, created from the pattern by Sarah Elizabeth Kellner, available on Ravelry.  This lovely knit China Doll is constructed very much like the antique originals, with swing legs, torso and arms of a contrasting color, and a knitted shoulder plate with head that attaches seperately to the torso.  It is a masterpiece of knit engineering, and produces a sweetly old-fashioned doll that can be your starting point for your own collection of knit China dolls :-)

With DK/Sportweight yarn and 3mm needles, my Josephine stands just at 14.5 inches tall.  Her camisole and pantaloons with the lovely knit lace are part of the pattern, and fit like a dream.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What I saw today...

Everyday miracles; around the house, on my ride, preparing a meal.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Earth Day 2015

Make every day Earth Day :-)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Where I knit

This morning was the perfect morning to take my coffee and knitting outside.  We have a wonderful south-facing porch, and in the last week I've mangaged to fill most of my containers with flowers.  To top it off, we have a Korean Spice Vibernum next to the porch on the west side were the prevailing breezes blow, and it smells heavenly :-)

We often have a bold little visitor, who likes to bury his peanuts in my flowers, much to my displeasure.  Even though I chase him with a squirt bottle when I see him, he still comes back.

I just finished making a wee fairy for my sister's birthday:

Right now she (the fairy, not my sister!) is living in my fairy garden, but soon, very soon, she will have one of her own.

Next knitting project is Chrystal, a Mary Jane's Tearoom pattern.  I've loved these dolls for a long time, and this pattern is worked in the round.  So far, one leg is finished.

I hope you fill your day with what you love to do!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Swatching...Designing...Knitting


Swatching is one of those things, like sweeping behind the couch, that we know we should do, but don't.  However, if you want to create a design in knit or crochet, it really helps to know such things as:  how many stitches around the waistline of my doll?  the neckline?  around the arms?

So, swatching to the rescue!  I wanted to create some knit designs with finer yarn and needles.  I chose a yarn: Knit Picks Palette, an affordable wool fingering weight yarn, and three different needle sizes:  2.0mm, 2.50mm, and 3.0mm.  Above are the three swatches I worked, 20 sts wide by 24 rows long.  With 2.0mm needles my working gauge was 10 sts= 1 inch in stockinette.  With 2.50mm needles, the gauge was 9 sts = 1 inch in stockinette, and with the 3.0mm needles, 8 sts= 1 inch in stockinette.  This was knitting comfortably for me, as I would knit for clothing.  If I were making a doll, I would knit much tighter.

Having determined gauge for this yarn and these three needles, designing an outfit becomes much easier.  I know my doll has a waistline/chest measurement  of 4 3/4 inches, so this would be 48 sts with 2.00mm needles and fingering weight yarn; 43 sts with 2.5mm needles, and 38 sts with 3.0mm needles.  Dolls don't need the 'ease' that we build into human clothing, so these values will be close to what will work when you design an outfit. 

I wanted to make Kismet a camisole (it turned into a tunic) from a lace pattern from the book 150 Knitted Trims, by Lesley Stanfield.  I wanted this to be close fitting, so I knitted a piece of lace that was five inches long in the dimension that would fit around her waist, using the 2.5mm needles.

This lace was worked from side to side.  To turn it into a tunic, I bound off at the end of five pattern repeats, but did not cut the yarn.  Turning the lace so I worked back across the rows, I placed a pin every one inch across.  This would be the top of the tunic.  I picked up nine stitches between each pin, giving me 45 sts across the top, which is very close to my 43 sts around Kismet's waist.

Since this lace is worked on a background of garter stitches, I knit across the top nine stitches, bound off five stitches, knitted 17 stitches, bound of five stiches, then knitted the last nine stitches. This creates the places where the armholes are (the bound off stitches).  The next row is knit, casting on 12 sts when you come to the bound off stitches.  So, the armholes are 17 sts around, or about two inches in circumference.  A couple more rows of knitting, with some decreases to fit the neckline, and the lace is now a tunic!

I added a ruffle to the bottom, along with a picot bindoff which is also in the Stanfield book.  And here is the finished product!


Details:  from the Stanfield book,  I used lace #123 Garter Stitch Diamonds for the tunic panel, and #8 Picot Bindoff for the bottom ruffle edge.

Kismet is very happy with her tunic :-)


I posted those instructions to show that any bit of knitted lace can be made into doll clothing.  Here are some specific instructions for knitted tops made from lace from the Stanfield book, for both 8.5 inch and 7 inch Simply Amis.