Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Let Freedom Ring

Back in 1776 the early American colonist were fairly tired of being oppressed by a king who lived a whole sea away. Tired of oppressive laws and taxes, our founding fathers declared our great nations Independence and were not only willing, but many did, sacrifice their homes, their wealth and even their lives to be a free people. That their children and grandchildren might be a free and independent people.

I love my country. I am thankful to be an American. I am thankful to still have what freedoms I have and hopeful that WE the PEOPLE will realize that freedom isn't free and it doesn't mean we can do what we want. Freedom is being able to govern ourselves to do what is right based on the authority of God's Holy Word.

All that to say, my blog will be quiet for a couple of weeks. I'm off to sell fireworks and I may or may not have Internet access. Our family has been selling fireworks for 8 years over the 4th of July and sometimes we travel to the deep southern regions of Louisiana to sell them over Christmas and New Years too. It is a good way to pay for school curriculum, a beef in the freezer and the many shoes and jeans all these boys always seem to need by May. :)

So long until after the 4th.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Meet Maggie and Jenna

This last week has been a nice hum of living life and creating dolls. In between taking care of children, hanging out the laundry and cleaning here and there, I worked here and there on making these two dollies.

The first is Maggie. I call her carrots. She is very loving and sweet so she needed a cardigan that said something about Love.

I spent a couple of late evenings after the children were in bed working on her hair. I wanted braids but sometimes a doll in the making does something else in its creators hand and out she came with curlyish red hair.

Jenna is like my friend Jenny. She LOVES purple and has a cute crooked grin.

She is even sporting purple Mary Jane shoes, which she is showing off in the picture below.

Both dolls are in the shop.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Long Days of Summer.

When my parents separated and divorced, my mother took us back to Byesville Ohio. It was a smallish town and we lived on the outskirts of town in an old, old house that my grandfathers family had built and he had acquired or inherited along the way. The house had started with two rooms and was old enough that in the door frames of the original rooms, wooden nails could be seen.

I'm not really sure of the time frame of everything. One day my mother said we were going to visit grandma and grandpa and off we went to never return home again. My grandfather had had some renters in the old house that had wrecked it some, so he spent some time putting up paneling and laying linoleum and fixing the busted water lines.

We had already started school, I was in kindergarten. I LOVED kindergarten. I had a wonderful teacher and I was sorry to see the school year end.

Summer came and we children roamed the neighborhood, the woods, the town. It was nothing for us to be 3-4 miles from home. I think my mother was depressed. She wasn't real available at that time. I don't remember much about her excepting that she laid in bed a lot and read a book. The house was in a state of chaos most of the time with dirty dishes piled up around the old kitchen sink, the small counter and the chest freezer that resided in the kitchen. It would be depressing to go through an abusive marriage and find yourself a single parent to 3 lively children at the age of 30.

That summer I discovered a creek in the woods that was bubbly with the just the right amount of water in it. Some places could be crossed with ease and others could be crossed but I would get pretty wet in the process...something my mother frowned on. I spent a lot of time there alone playing and puttering around. I liked to watch the water bugs skate on the surface of the water. There were all manner of wild weeds and flowers that grew around the creek. I liked to make little boats out of sticks of wood with a flower for a sail and send them down stream. I would find sticks and tie them together into a lattice of sorts with the tougher grasses that grew along the creek and decorate it with flowers and leaves. They were so pretty!

One summer evening, I stopped in at our house to see that mother was laying on the couch but was glad to discover that she had made oatmeal cookies. I helped myself to a couple of cookies and off I went again out into the evening. The sun was starting to make its decent and fireflies were lighting up the evening. While walking along I happened across a neighbor lady that I had not met before. She greeted me and as she told me many years later....I offered her my other cookie from a very dirty hand. She accepted my cookie and visited with me for awhile.

I learned her name was Mrs. Harper and she had 2 little girls who were not old enough to go to school yet. Pretty soon some of the other neighbor children wandered into her yard and she began to tell us all about Jesus, Heaven, Hell, God, Angels, Creation and The Tribulation. I'd never heard anything about Jesus before and I found it all quite fascinating. She held me on her lap and answered all my 5 year old questions. Where were God's angels? Why can't we see them? When is Jesus coming? and so on.

Mrs. Harper invited me to church with her. My mother, probably glad to have me occupied under someones supervision, gladly let me go. I went to church with Mrs Harper for the next 4-5 years. I wasn't a christian back then but Mrs. Harper laid a foundation in my life. Going through life I always had a basic knowledge of sin, right, wrong, Jesus etc. Back in the 70's and 80's evolution was beginning to be pushed in the government schools and because of Mrs. Harper I never believed in evolution. I always knew that God had created me and the world that I lived in.

Mrs. Harper was a seed sower. It took 20+ years for the seed she sowed in my life to grow up and bear fruit. I'm thankful for her.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today
June 15, 2011

Outside my window...warm and sunny. Just the way I like it.

I am thinking...about my children.

I am thankful for...grace, mercy and the promises of God.

From the learning rooms....I'm learning how to make the "brushed" hair on a doll. Its a bit time consuming and will require some more practice on my part before I perfect it.

From the kitchen....chicken and cabbage stir fry for dinner tonight.

I am excited...about fireworks this year. (we sell fireworks usually twice a year..its sort of like camping out in the city)

I am wearing...JAMMIES! Must get dressed soon.

I am creating...the cutest doll right now. I took my own advice and decided to give some different color combinations a try with my dolls. This dolly has sun tanned skin and carrot orange/red hair with green eyes. So cute.

I am going...to church tonight and I have to also go to the store at some point this week.

I am reading...Millie, Molly, Mandy. A sweet book.

I am hoping...That I get some fabric in the mail today.

I am hearing...a very quiet house. I let the little children stay up later last night while we watched a nature video. They are all still sleeping.

Things I want to accomplish today...Laundry for sure. I need to finish the hair on 2 dolls and dress them. I also have an idea for knitted doll boots I want to try out. Get Livia working on knitting the sleeves on her doll dress. Work on training my younger children with some issues we are having.

Around the house...my bathroom needs cleaned. Other than picking up and putting away it looks pretty good in here.

One of my favorite things...when Silas askes me to tell him a story. His expressions are so cute. He really listens and I can see his expressions changing with what I'm saying. Fun!

A few plans for the rest of the week...finish up dolls and make a few doll outfits. Work on training issues. Clean my bathroom. Go shopping...bleh! Clean out my knitting basket.

A picture thought I am sharing...my husband and my daughter, Autumn on her wedding day.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Me and My Mary Janes

When I was a child, Mary Jane's and Converse were what I wore...oh and saddle shoes, I had saddle shoes too. Now that I'm a grown up, I've left off with the Converse and the saddle shoes but still have a couple of pair of Mary Janes that I wear a lot.

My current, favorite pair of Marys to wear are my Doc Martins. Love these shoes. They are so comfortable.

My feet :) My feet again :)

Mary Janes have taken quite the turn when I was a child. Back then Mary Janes could be found in 2 styles that I recollect. The classic one strap over the top of the foot and the "T"strap, Mary Jane. I had both but liked the single strap better. Now days Mary Janes have become quite the rage and WOW can they be trendy. I've compliled some different pictures of Mary Janes for your viewing pleasure.

Camo Mary Janes. For the fashionable hunter.
Ethreal Mary Janes...These shoes should be on faries. They make me think of the green moss of England, bubbling brooks and sheltering trees. I'm loving the purple and green together.

Sporty Mary Janes. One can jog and be fashionable at the same time. Love these shoes and their color.

Funky. Almost disturbing, not quite.

Cute and sassy.
More funkiness. I actually like these and spent some time day as I was cooking supper, envisioning the perfect 40's outfit to go with them.

And these? Well they are sort of like a Mary Jane but sort of cloggish too. I like them well enough to have put them in my Amazon Wish List.

I had to come back and add that I did a search on Flickr and found a flicker group just for Mary Jane Shoes! Flickr group for Mary Jane Shoes.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

A year or so ago my goal was to make several of Livie's church dresses from vintage patterns. I've gotten one dress made since that time using a vintage pattern from my stash. What have I learned? Patterns have been dumbed down since the 50's. I literally sweat my way through this pattern. Not that it was really complicated but there was definately way more detail work that took time and precision, which did make for a nicely fitted dress.

The picture is not the best...the flash kept making her blink. The bodice has 6 darts. The bottom of the bodice flared a little to come down over the hips with a fully pleated skirt. There is a nice wide sash that was supposed to be sewn on to the outside of the dress, but I just cannot bring myself to do that so I sewed the sash into the side seam. Simplicity 1496. One of the nicest, tailored dresses I've ever made for Livia. If I were to make this dress again, I think I would do it in a small print blue gingham and sew red buttons onto the chest and waist where those embellishments go. Very cute pattern. Now that I've made it once it should be easier the next time.

I used fabric from from the line Doll Dresses by Holly Holderman of Lakehouse fabrics. Beautiful stuff that Doll Dresses fabric. It makes up around a third of my fabric stash for dressing my own dolls.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Livia turns 10

10 years ago today I was laying on my bed feeling sorry for myself. I was in labor and for reasons I never figured out or comprehended, my husband decided to get up and go to work, leaving me at home with 6 children. Fortunately, he got home 5 minutes before Livia was born and now we have a LIVELY, LOVELY LIVIA!!! who is 10 years old and brown as a berry.

This picture is the epitome of what home education is all about. Perhaps you'd have to be in the trenches to understand but with home education, nobody cares if you eat your lunch or do your school work with goggles on and spaghetti on your face. This is one of my favorite pictures of Livie who is also affectionately dubbed, Livie, Luvie, Luvie Lou and Luv Bug. I made the dress she is wearing. Bright, wild, large pink paisleys. It was Livie's favorite dress for a long time and she was loathe to give it up.

Her older sister, Autumn made her the skirt last year and gave her the hat for her birthday. This is also one of my favorite pictures of Livie because if you look closely you might see that she is missing a lot of teeth. She was the cutest little girl EVER with all those missing teeth.
Livie has style. She puts together the most unlikely pieces of clothing and it comes out looking great. Today for example she is sporting a denim skirt with felt flowers along the bottom, purplish paisley shirt and an old, long ribbon that I think came from the handle of a suitcase that was my mothers, tied up in her hair with a big floppy bow, skewered to the side of her head.

Yesterday as I was cooking dinner, Livia nonchalantly began telling me about how she had killed a snake outside earlier in the day. I had to work to keep my composure and talk to her about it in a matter of fact sort of way. Its not every 10 year old girly girl who will kill a snake by smashing it with a rock...several times...until even your brothers are looking on in disgust at the carnage before them.

Happy Birthday to my favorite, Livia EVER!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Life and Dolls

I woke up this morning and turned on my computer to find my computer isn't working. I used a good part of my day delivering my computer to the Geek Squad.

I'm now using my husbands computer. He uses IE and I use Firefox so I'm having to adjust myself to IE and all the ads I never see. I uploaded three new dolls to the my Etsy store today. Two of my dolls are sporting wool cardigans made from wool sweaters that I felted. I hand embroidered the cardigans and am pleased with the results. I like to free hand embroidery and these little cardigan are the perfect canvas for such handwork. These little cardigans will be making regular appearances on my dolls, each with their own unique, one of a kind design.While I was cropping, resizing and editing the pictures, I thought I'd try my hand at making a collage.

When I first started making dolls to sell my older daughter, who has a fancy shmancy camera, did all my pictures for me...including the editing. It saved me lots of time...and she is good at it. Now that she is married, I've had to learn to take my own pictures and do my own editing. I've been thinking about more creative ways to take pictures and tried to stage some different areas in my house to take cute pictures of my dolls. But on my little camera which is neither fancy or shmancy but does do a nice job, outdoor pictures always come out the best and need little editing as far as color or light goes. For now I'll stick with the "outside on the front porch" pictures.

May the Lord bless you and keep you and make his face to shine upon you. God is good all the time.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Simple Woman's Daybook

June 8, 2011

Outside my window...warm and sunny already! Thankful for the kiddie pool and upcoming water fight today.

I am thinking...dolls. doll shoes to be specific.

I am thankful for...my clothesline. I would be buried under a mountain of laundry without it.

From the learning rooms...I'm learning how to do more embroidery stitches.

From the kitchen...chicken for dinner.

I am excited about..going to visit my daughter next month. Going to stay a couple of days with her.

I am wearing...culottes, blue Vneck tee and sneakers. Ready to get a lot accomplished.

I am creating..dolls. I am also working on perfecting a doll shoe pattern I drew up on Monday.

I am going...to church tonight. The little people are excited because it is also VBS night. Our church does VBS on Wednesday evenings through out the month of June. Makes it easier with the price of gas being so high.

I am reading...my bible.

I am hoping...to get somewhat organized before fireworks. Lots of things to remember and I want to get a bunch of doll clothes cut out so I can sew, sew, sew during the long days of down time.

I am hearing...Silas and Jonah playing with their trucks.

Around the house...it needs a good cleaning. It probably won't happen on a grand scale until Friday but we will do a thorough general pick up today. OH and my sewing area is in a complete disarray. I MUST clean it today.

One of my favorite things...late night calls from my husband.

A few plans for the rest of the week...hanging at the house mostly. Children, laundry, kiddie pool, sewing and a bit of knitting. Already planning the next round of dolls.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing: My husband and I going out on a date. I had attempted to curl my hair with one of those super hot curling irons and my married daughter wanted to see it. So I actually took this picture on my cell phone and texted it to her.

Monday, June 6, 2011

What Lurks Under the Bed

I have 2 brothers. One older and a younger brother that came along after my dad remarried my step mom and is 12.5 years my junior.

My older brother and I were friends as children. We played a lot together as we were closer in age. He is 3 years and 1 week older than me.

Usually he was a fairly level kid. But every now and then he would pull one off on our mother that made us all roar with laughter.

After we were settled into our home with mother, we started back to school. I entered kindergarten and my brother entered 3rd grade, that would have made him around 9 years old.

At that time my mother did not work outside the home and looking back now it was nice to have her there to see us off to school and nice for her to be there when we jumped off the school bus in the afternoons.

Early one morning my mother came into our room to wake my sister and I up for school and left our room, crossed the living room and went into my brothers room to wake him up. We heard her tussle around on his bed and say his name several times in a questioning manner. Mother came out of his room with a questioning look on her face and asked my sister and I if we had seen our brother. She began to look around the house, half calling his name. She checked the bathroom, the back porch and finally went outside calling his name.

Back into the house she came with a concerned but irritated look on her face. Hmmmm. Where could he have gotten too. Back to his room she went. Going over to the bed she threw back the covers to make sure she hadn't missed him somehow in the wadded up blankets on his bed. As she leaned over to shake them out, calling his name again.....

out from under the bed came two hands grabbing her ankles like a vice.


She let out a blood curdling scream and sorta fell onto my brothers bed. In the next instant my brother was out from under the bed, holding his stomach and doubling over with laughter.
I think she did fairly well. She wanted to clobber him but keeping herself in check ordered him to stop laughing.

From that time on she woke him up from his bedroom doorway. I'm sure she also had to resist the urge to jump onto her bed at night for fear of the monster under her bed.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Confessions of a Pattern Junkie

I confess that patterns from the 40's are among my favorite to drool over. They are usually simple in their construction and it is the simplicity that makes them sweet and eye catching.

I saw this pattern on Ebay and liked the lines and the potential for smocking the front and back of the dress. All it would take is to make the fabric pieces wider, where the gathers are at the yoke, to support more pleats for smocking across. Very simple to convert. I pulled this pattern out the other day so I could look at the pieces and attempt to draw a doll pattern from it that could be smocked. It would be cute done up in pink gingham with white, dark pink and green smocking across the pleats.

McCalls 6265 Copyright 1945. Size 1.

If I were to make this for a little girl the only change I would make to the pattern (aside from adding enough fabric to the width to be able to smock it) would be to lengthen the dress. Bloomer could be added in a coordinating fabric and would be cute especially with a bit of trim on the legs to match some trim on the dress. I don't think I would do lace or eyelet down the sides of the button panels. I would probably put in piping instead. Depending on the fabric maybe some rick rack. There are a lot of possibilities that make thinking about this dress fun.

Friday, June 3, 2011

My Best Girl, Rosie

I love blogging about my older sister. She is still so true to who she has always been. When I mentioned to her that I had blogged about us Charging our mother before I could even tell her that I had said she still denied coming up with the scheme...she denied coming up with the scheme. She makes me laugh.

After my parents divorced (I was 4 when they seperated) it was mostly my sister, brother and I together. They looked after and out for me and we were loyal to each other.

Soon after we were situated in an old family house with our mother, our neighbors dog had puppies. We three children found any and every excuse to visit the neighbors back porch where the puppies were housed. Some how or another my sister talked our mother into letting us get puppy.

My mother was not a dog person. She liked cats quite well because they kept themselves clean and could be litter box trained. But dogs? She had a strong dislike for them and their doggy smell. For my mother to agree to a puppy was huge.

Rosie, as our puppy was was named was originally supposed to be my sisters dog. My sister however quickly lost interest in the dog. The task of feeding the dog became my chore and I have to say, I loved her and I liked taking care of her. Rosie was a Sheltie mix of some sort. She looked just like a collie, only with short legs. She provided me with lots of entertainment. She was a sweet dog with a good, playful nature.

I have to say that she endured a lot to keep me happy. As a child I would get one idea and from there it would rabbit trail several different directions. Once I had the bright idea to climb a tree with Rosie. I could see us sitting together in the top of a tree we climbed a lot as children. I couldn't climb the tree and hold Rosie at the same time so I devised a plan to hoist her up into the tree.

Going into the house I secured my brothers school belt and a piece of clothes line rope. I cinched buckled the belt around Rosie's waist and tied the rope onto the buckle. Tossing the rope over the lowest limb, I tested the strength of the rope a few times by hoisting Rosie up and down. I feel the need to insert here that a cat would have NEVER been so patient with me as Rosie was.

After hoisting her up and down for awhile, I remembered my original plan to climb the tree with her. Up I went and managed to get Rosie up to the top with me. Rosie was not as happy about being way up there as I was. I hollered to some of the neighbor children and felt pretty big sitting up in the tree with my dog.

After a while sitting there got old and Rosie could not get comfortable. It was when I started to try to get down that I realized it was going to be a chore getting Rosie and I both down safely. I stayed awhile longer. I hollered several times for my mom and she came out of the house looking up to find me in the tree. With the dog.

I think I was one of those children that leavetheir parent(s) wondering how they end up in such spots. My mother said my name in an exasperated tone a lot when I was a child. I think she couldn't figure out my thought processes. We were in the same boat as I couldn't either.

The look on her face as she took in the scene of me in the tree with the dog said it all. Whose kid was I anyway? I always seemed to be in a scrap...yet it didn't seem like a scrap to me. It seem perfectly logical to want to sit up in the tree with my dog. My poor mother...after two normal children she got me. :)

Mother hollered a few times, to no avail, for my brother and sister. She ended up climbing up the tree. I managed to hand Rosie down to her. I then climbed down below her and she handed Rosie back to me. We tag teamed this way until Mother reached the ground and I handed Rosie down for the last time.

Once on the ground, Rosie was instantly herself again and licked my hands and face. My mother on the other hand, in no uncertain terms let me know that I was NOT to climb the tree with the dog again and I was to leave my brother school belt alone.

Anatomy of my Waldorf Style Dolls

There has been a little bit of hoopla in the doll making world about what a Waldorf doll looks like under the clothes. Apparently some are unhappy with the quality of the doll and feel they have been deceived by a pretty dress that hides a poorly made doll.

I personally think that no one would set out to make a poor quality doll and sell it for a high price to scam a potential customer . Hand made dolls, like all hand made items are in their own right a work of art. There is much joy and satisfaction to be had in the creative process. It is stimulating, productive and tends to feed itself with such good food that the creativity only expands and gets better and more creative.

I know when I look at my first dolls and then look at the dolls I make now, my doll making process has went leaps and bounds and turned several corners. I like those bends in the road when my creative process is changing and I can't quite see what is ahead.

I want to do a show and tell about my dolls. Making a doll is an interesting and captivating process. No two dolls are alike.

I start with the head.
I put the "skin" on the head and sew it shut down the back of the head. This is what the head looks like after the back has been sewn shut and the face has been put on the doll. The hair covers the seam line and embroidery floss.

I pull the top and the bottom of the head closed like this:

I like to sew the head to the body with firm, tiny stitches.

I do the same with the arm/shoulder seam.

When it comes to my dolls legs I hand stitch the seams. I like leg seams because without them it is difficult to get a doll to sit. I like a doll that can sit and be more limber.

And then the feet. The bottom part of the leg is bent up and sewn together. I like my doll feet to actually look like feet and it took me many dolls to figure out a good way to accomplish getting feet the way I wanted them to look.

Little Jenny Wren has been a huge source of inspiration to me when it comes to doll hair and dolls in general. For years she has been making beautiful curly doll hair. This hair is made curly by knitting the yarn and blocking it and then unraveling the yarn. It is beautiful.

Wende, has hair that has been knitted and unraveled.

They say necessity is the mother of invention and I believe it. At the time I started to make dolls, I was a slow, beginning knitter. Knitting doll hair took me a lot of time. It takes a lot of yarn to give a doll curly hair like this especially if long, curly hair is desired. So I played around and devised a way to make "corkscrew" type curls.





And while the next doll does not have curls I could hardly leave her out. She is the doll that started it all. The doll that I finally got my nerve up to start a little store and put her in it. The first doll that I sold. She tells the real story of her maker.

When it comes to my dolls, I like to make them and dress them as I like to see children dressed and made over. I like side parts and bows. I like simple cardigans and sweet dresses. I like rosy cheeks and freckles. I like red heads. I like color. I like black and white checker boards, cherries and polka dots. I like Mary Jane shoes. Notice her feet :) they do not "stand up" like my doll feet do now.

I've been looking at dolls for over 3 years now. I've gotten to where when I see a picture of a child with a doll I can usually guess the maker. Doll makers all have their own flair and style and for some reason their dolls while all are different, are identifiable. One day I hope my dolls will be known for their own flair and style as "Folky Dot Dolls."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Life at the Wilsons

My poor blog has been neglected for a week. I want to blog but life sometimes gets in the way and blogging goes to the wayside. :)

I've been knee deep in school, laundry, keeping a bunch of hungry boys fed, laundry, dolls and doll clothes. My dryer has been broke for a month. My son built me a clothes line. The clothes line is great and works great when the rain holds off. Monday was a sun shiny day and I washed no less than 7 loads of laundry. The laundry was all dried, folded and put away by late afternoon. I know laundry can be boring subject matter, but when one has 8 children at home, 7 of whom are grubby, outside boys, lives in the country with hardly anyone who stops by and pleasantly interrupts the day, laundry being finished AND put away, causes quite the excitement.

We are still plugging along with school. We are almost finished. My two oldest sons went to a formal English Country Dance. So they dressed up real spiffy and danced the night away. (English Country dancing is like the dancing seen in Pride & Prejudice movies...think Jane Austen)



I've went to scheduled uploads for my Etsy shop. Every other Thursday I'm endeavoring to have as many items as possible to upload to my store. Last Thursday I uploaded 16 new doll outfits to the shop which was a lot like having a real job. I edited 55 pictures and set up 16 new listings. Next scheduled upload is Thursday June 9th. I hoping to have 3 new dolls and 5-10 new outfits.

Hopefully I'll be back to my regularly scheduled blogging now. :)