Monday, 23 January 2012

Kiki in the Meadow (shop update)

Early in the morning 
When the robin sings 
And the squirrel climbs 
Up the old beech tree 

Kiki opens her eyes 
Moves her toes 
And wiggles her ears 
(left one first, always) 
Then she makes herself
A cup of cocoa
Snuggles under the blanket
And counts snowflakes

After she has had  
A cup of cocoa 
Kiki puts on 
A warm woolen cape
She walks down the path 
Across the snowy meadow 
To fill the wicker basket  
With firewood and pine cones   

And soon you can see 
Three little clouds of smoke 
Dancing above the chimney 
Of Kiki´s tiny cottage

Two Kiki in the Meadow dolls for the webshop.

Each of them is 34cm/ 13.5" tall, stuffed with organic wool, made with cotton interlock and woolfelt (wig). They come with the clothes as shown, in a tote bag, together with a lavender sachet and a little first aid box (with extra beads for the eyes, sewing thread, embroidery floss, a beeswax crayon and a soft cloth for rosy cheeks.

I have been asked whether Kiki in the Meadow would be the same as the one I shared for a doll making series in Handmade Living magazine some time ago. While the overall appearance is still the same, Kiki in the Meadow dolls made for sale have a slightly modified (= more advanced) body pattern. Except from the wee neck seam, all other seams are machine sewn, including the attachment of the limbs, the feet have a sole. Each doll has with a wee tag sewn on to prove that it has been made by me.

Both dolls can be found here.

Have a warm and cozy evening!

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Friday, 13 January 2012

My Summer Jar

 Do you want to know a secret?

I have a magic jar
Filled with summer
When winter is cold and grey
And the snowstorm is blowing
I open the jar

And hear the summer sing

It is not so difficult
To fill such a jar

But you have to do it 
On a warm late summer afternoon

First you take
A little bit
Dark soil from the flowerbeds

Add three drops
Of glittery water
From the bird bath

Pick fifteen golden buttons
From the tansy
Behind the fence

 Then you´ll have to find
A yellow leaf
Under the plum tree

Find a dead brimstone butterfly
One that only flapped its wings
Three happy weeks in August

Add six pumpkin seeds
A mosquito bite
And thirteen little freckles

A handful of hay
You will need
For your jar filled with summer

Add an apple
That the deer didn´t eat
Last night in the meadow

Don´t forget the little song
Of the Goldhammer bird
(But close the lid quickly)

Shake well
And keep the summer jar
On the third shelf of your bookcase

When winter is cold and grey
And the snowstorm is howling
Carefully open the lid

And hear the summer sing

This 50cm custom doll travelled to Italy. Giulia wanted me to make her a girl called Sunny, the only detail I was given. It was a pleasure to make her (and that summery jar truly is the best remedy against a winter blues).

Have a nice weekend!

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Thursday, 12 January 2012

Mohair Pleasures (Dolly Mo Yarn)

Dear readers,
A couple of days ago I made several Little Mi and Little Mo dolls for my webshop, a whole bunch of lovely little people.

My personal favourite this time has been a little redhead.
I have tried a new sort of mohair yarn and love the colour.
It is that sort of red that calls for freckles, that sort of red that makes you smile when you see it. 
For several years I have been looking for a natural looking red for my dolls. What a wonderful surprise when I received a skein of the softest mohair before Christmas, which I immidiately had to try out for my Little Mi Sets. As a dollmaker, I find it difficult to source good quality material, especially doll mohair. I seldom add extra strands to my doll wigs, therefore it is of importance for me that the mohair fibers are long enough. Most of the usual mohair yarns (from the yarn store) either don´t work for the special crochet technique I use for my wigs or the yarn comes in unnatural colours.

To my great joy, Kamrin from Kamrin´s Poppenatelier (Netherlands) and Debbie from Little Oke Dolls (UK) decided to have their own yarn spun and dyed to their own specifications. They have been searching for a long time for the right mill to work with until they found a spinning mill and dyers from the UK to produce a range of the most beautiful and natural looking colours for doll mohair
The Dolly Mo Yarn is made from 84% mohair, 8% wool and 8% nylon and has a much higher mohair share than the Wollknoll mohair that a lot of dollmakers use. The texture is very soft - pure bliss for me as a very haptic person (you could make blind tests with me in a yarn or fabric store, my fingers remember the character of material more than my eyes would do ;-)

With the technique I use for my doll wigs, the hair has about the same length as with the mohair I used before. If your child has been allergic to doll mohair, you could try Dolly Mo as it is so much softer than any other yarn I worked with so far. If you usually crochet a cap first and then brush it, you will probably end up with slightly shorter mohair fibers. Depending on the size of your dolls (mine are between 45-60cm/ 17.5-23.5 inches), you can add extra strands or style pigtails. If your dolls are rather small, you will hardly notice a difference in hair length between Dolly Mo and conventional doll mohair.

I sometimes get the question whether I could use mohair yarn without any nylon and I asked Kamrin about that as well. Mohair needs a binder (a thread around which the mohair is spun) and that binder could be anything - cotton, polyester, nylon etc. Depending on which binder is used, it will reflect on the costs and the dying process. Usually, nylon is used because it keeps the costs low and is ideal for dyeing.

By using nylon as a binder, Kamrin and Debbie could keep the costs low for us as dollmakers (and you as the ones who buy our dolls). Even more important than the costs is the quality of the yarn. It takes me about seven to eight hours to crochet a wig for my 50cm dolls - and after all that labour, I would want a wig to last, and a good binder is a necessity for strength and durability.

The dyes being used for Dolly Mo are not natural dyes and are pre-metallised to give a better result for the composition of the yarn. That is a compromise I gladly make because the colours look very natural and lovely and such a result (with a large range of colours) would be hard to get with only natural colours. At the moment, dark brown is sold out in both Kamrin´s and Debbie´s webshop, but will be stocked up very soon. Another lovely brown shade and black mohair are going to complete the range of colours in February, Kamrin told me.

Summarized, I am very glad to be able to choose from a wider choice of mohair yarn for my dolls. I love the texture and quality of Dolly Mo and I am amazed by the natural looking colours. For a small additional charge, I will offer Dolly Mo as an option for the material kits for my e-class students as well, I often get asked for red shades and I am glad to be able to provide my course participants with such a wide range of colours.

Dolly Mo yarn can be purchased here or here.

For me it is time for a little break now with a cup of tea and with cake (remember, it is one of my New Year´s resolutions to eat at least one piece of cake a day ;-)
...and then I will continue crocheting wigs.



Additional Note:
This product review has not been sponsored or paid for, it mirrors my personal experience as a dollmaker only. All material info was given by Kamrin and Debbie. 
Since I often get questions about good sources for dollmaking supplies, I have set up a small material list for you which can be found here

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Monday, 9 January 2012

New Year´s Resolutions

Dear readers,

It is not only me who has some New Year´s resolutions, I guess.

Some of you want to air the blankets every morning on the balkony
and say hello to the neighbours
(to their surprise)

Some of you want to get up earlier in 2012.
And watch the sunrise every tuesday... 

Others want to start the day
with green tea instead of coffee
and live healthier...

Some want to do morning exercises,
three squats, five press-ups
and a handstand.
Not only on wednesdays...

Some want to read more books 
and go to the theatre twice a week...

Some want to watch the squirrels from the window more often.
And feed the birds...
 I too started the year with some New Year´s resolutions. 
One of them is to start blogging again after almost a year of silence.
Another one is to go to bed before midnight.
Take the weekends off. Play more piano. Have a piece of cake. Every day.

May your 2012 be filled with lots of joy, light and inspiration!


[One of my many New Year´s resolutions is to re-use more fabric when I make dolls. 
 I love all the table linen I inhertited from my grandparents and I use it every day. 
But after so many years of being in use, they show some stains and holes. 
It is lovely to use material that has a story to tell, and that is why Kiki got new bedlinen, made from a vintage napkin] 

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