Thursday, September 29, 2011

Nature Bracelets

I was looking through a friends magazine and came across a fun idea. Nature Bracelets. They are simple and fun and everyone who cares to, can participate.

Duct Tape
Anything from nature, preferably from the plant kingdom.

Cut the duct tape to the size of the wearers wrist with enough room to overlap a little. Wrap the duct tape around the wrist with the sticky side out. Over lap duct tape on to close up the "bracelet."

Go outside and collect all manner of nature.

Silas is 2.8 years old and he had no trouble figuring out what to do by watching myself and his siblings.

He was creative and found some old poke berries and mushed them onto his bracelet. A very pretty fuchsia color was the result.

Livia was a cautious collector. She looked everything over twice to make sure she wanted it on her bracelet. She went with understated elegance and I think her bracelet suits her.
Jonah tried again and again to catch a cricket to put on his bracelet. He didn't have much luck with the cricket by he did catch some sort of black bug.
Note the black bug there on Jonah's nature bracelet.

I, on the other hand put everything I could find on my bracelet. I thought it would be good to do that to give the children the idea that they could fit a lot on their bracelet and cover all the duct tape.

The was a fun way to spend an hour outside plundering around with the children. They all had a great time and were excited over their cool bracelets. When I first went out, I figured we wouldn't find much because of the early fall season, but when I got to looking there were plenty of pretty little things to pick and use. We just had to be observant and notice the little things.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Wonderful World of Waldorf Dolls

I love babies. I love little children. Sometimes its easy to forget that they are experiencing everything for the first time with eyes of wonder.

Sometimes if I'm working on a doll wondering if she is going to come out like the idea I had in my head, my daughter, Livia or my little Silas will walk by and with a voice fraught with excitement, will say "Oh mommy, she is so pretty" or "I like your baby, momma" and suddenly it doesn't matter if she comes out like the picture I had in my head.

I made a few dolls for my children and they loved them, bless their hearts. They have played with them and drug them hither, thither and yonder.

My husband is the type of husband that while he encourages me in every way as a mother and home maker he likes for me to have a little bit of industry. For several years I sold tamales on Saturdays at a local farmers market. That was a lot of fun. I met lots of interesting folks and made a some extra money. For different reasons, farmers market became not doable anymore and I was looking for something different to do.

I had been learning to knit and could already sew and somehow or another I got the idea in my head to open an Etsy store to sell dolls and doll clothes. I still remember the feeling of selling my first item....

I sold another doll outfit and was super excited. Then I sold my first doll.

This is Gracie and I've made her two more times....excepting that I find it literally impossible to make an exact replica of a handmade doll. Once she had brown hair and flew with her grandma to Japan to meet a sweet little girl.

Gracie the Brown

And once she was supposed to be a totally different doll with curly hair but on looking through my sold orders on Etsy, the Little Miss decided she wanted a doll like Gracie and I didn't mind because Gracie the First is my most favorite doll ever.

Gracie the Third
I took off most of 2010 off. My husband was gone for a total of 6 months working with the BP Oil Spill way down south in Louisiana. During that time my oldest daughter met a wonderful man and within a 6 month span was courted, fell in love, got engaged and was married in January of 2011. They are now expecting their first baby in February of 2012 and I can hardly wait.

Back in February I was itching to get back into doll making so I started with a new dolly, Missy.
Since starting back to doll making I've sold 13 dolls and many doll outfits. I'm not looking to be a huge business. My dolls are made by me using my hands, sewing machine, crochet hook and knitting needles. I can't mass produce dolls and have no desire too. I enjoy the process of making a doll. If I felt I had to make a bunch or in a manner of speaking "keep up with the Jones" doll making wouldn't be any fun.

There is a verse in the bible that reads: 1 Thessalonians 4:11 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands , as we commanded you;

I think of this verse when making dolls and when working around the house. I've often quoted it to my children who, at times have been too chatty or rambunctious during our work times.

I felt a bit melancholy today. When I first started making dolls I had no idea there could be contention, hurt feelings, accusations and in general, plain ill will in the doll community. Actually, I had no idea there was a doll community. I was ignorant and it was bliss. I'd been making dollies, expecting little girls and boys to play with them till they were dirty and worn from lots of love and fun.

I think my fellow doll maker  Little Jenny Wren said it best when she said in this blog post...

...thinking about how very strange this on line world can be
and that it is so much better to live most of your life in the real world and make real things
than live in a virtual world and not make much at all.

Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today
September 28, 2011

Outside my window...Beautiful September morning. The birds and sings and I can hear the crickets.

I am thinking...of the day ahead.

I am thankful for...the sweet/cute/funny things little children say.

From the learning rooms....Only one child to do book work with today. Most of the boys are working with dad today.

From the kitchen....Need to make yogurt. Chili for supper.

I am excited...about a knitting group I visited last week.

I am wearing...girly camo tiered skirt, pink shirt, socks and sneakers

I am creating...aprons, dolls and doll clothes. 2 new dolls and this next upload will include some 15-16" doll clothes.

I am wash laundry today, knit and work on a pattern for doll clothes.

I am bible and a knitting book I checked out of the library.

I am lose some weight.

I am hearing...the crickets outside. They are loud this morning.

Things I want to accomplish, knitting for a dolly, laundry finished, and hopefully a nap will be tucked in there somewhere.

Around the looks pretty good. It needs a little attention here and those things will get attention.

One of my favorite things...Little girls with long hair.

A few plans for the rest of the week...knitting, dolls, school, and cleaning my sewing area!

A picture thought I am sharing...Silas, my youngest child. He is such a little man.
My daughter, Autumn took the picture.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Life in General

Its been a good week for me. Busy, full and fun. School has went well, I lived through the first few driving lessons with my 16 year old, and solved a couple of problems I've been challenged with lately. My daughter in law spent the day with us yesterday so we had fun visiting with her and Patrick. Although I think some of my children held him more than I did. :)

I was thinking yesterday of the seasons of motherhood.
Back when I was a "young mom" my days consisted largely of nursing a baby, changing diapers, reading to young children, watching the television and keeping everyone fed, bathed and the laundry kept up. We didn't go much. We stayed at home mostly. There were times I felt it was get out and go somewhere or go crazy. We were doing good to get to church on time. Good times but sort of lonely times too.

Back when I was a "middle mom" my life was consisting largely of the same things except we added real school (home education style) and the television became a thing of the past. We added home school group to our activities and went on field trips, art classes, gym class and roller skating. We got out way more and met more people outside of our church group. I made more of an effort to sew and improve my skills. I was still always nursing a baby and changing diapers but it was a little easier because my once little children were now children who could bathe themselves and get dressed on their own. They could also wash breakfast dishes!

One day during this time, I laid the littles down for a nap and I, myself laid on the couch to catch a doze. I was pregnant and tired. Some where through the fog my oldest son asked me if he could have a snack and I agreed, telling him there were some crackers in the cupboard and that he could look for something to go on them. I dozed off again. I woke a little while later to him eating crackers at the table with mustard, pickle relish and mushrooms on them while his younger sister and brother watched in awe. Good times. (we never ate crackers with mustard, pickle relish and mushrooms before and never have since either)

Now days as an "older mom", there is no nursing baby although Silas was loathe to give it up and would probably still give it a go if would let him and there are no diapers to change. We still home school. We go a lot more! Now, I long to stay at home more. My teens are energetic, active and have a variety of interests...some to my the dirt bikes my husband and boys have recently been working on and riding around. I only have one child...ONE CHILD that needs help getting dressed. I have married children. I have grand babies. Still good times.

One day (Lord willing) I will be an "old mom" and all the children will be grown and leading their own lives. I hope that my life will be filled with adult children, lots of grand children and more time to spend holding my husband's hand.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Autumn Dresses

This little dolly has been fun to make.

She started in my yarn pile. Stranger things have happened. We had company for supper a week ago. My friend Angie, looking into my yarn stash picked up the yarn for Autumn's hair and commented that she thought it would make pretty hair with all the highlights in it. I had bought the yarn to make some bib overalls for a boy doll but the more I looked at it, the more I thought that it would be pretty used as doll hair.
The yarn is Madeline Tosh Vintage. Gorgeous stuff and currently my favorite yarn to knit up. The little cardigan is also Madeline Tosh (aka Madtosh). Soft to knit with and the colorways are beautiful.
I'm fairly pleased with her clothing. I made the pattern for her overalls. I'm not much of a wiz at pattern drafting but I've made enough simple doll dresses and pants that I can draw those without much fiddling. I'd been wanting a overall pattern but hadn't seen one that I could use so I came up with this one.
Miss Autumn is a bit of a tomboy. Her momma endevours to girly her up a bit with a pink cardigan and sturdy Mary Janes. Her hair is a wild mass of curls that are hard to tame. Autumn prefers the "shake and go" method of doing her hair. :)

I've sewn tons of doll clothes lately.

Dresses and pinafores by the bunches.

Sleeveless dresses.

Shirts and pants.

I have a big upload scheduled for my shop today. All my new items will be in my shop at 6pm.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cinnamon Sugar

My oldest daughter was the cutest, little, freckled girl with hair that curled when it was short or she was hot.

Her daddy, because of her freckles, affectionately dubbed her "Cinnamon Sugar."

I miss that little girl.

I named this doll "Autumn" after my daughter and gave her a sprinkling of "Cinnamon Sugar."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Simple Womans Daybook

For Today
September 14, 2011

Outside my window...Not real sunny. Overcast and sort of gray.

I am thinking...of my married children.

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

From the learning rooms....Learning some new math concepts today.

From the kitchen....Yogurt is in the warmer. Supper is half made. Thinking its time to make lunch for a pack of hungry children.

I am daughter is having an ultrasound soon and we are hoping to find out if the baby is a boy or a girl.

I am wearing...khaki skirt and black tee shirt and sneakers.

I am creating...aprons, dolls and doll clothes.

I am get milk today. We buy from a family who milks a cow or two. Love that good raw milk!

I am reading...Wives and Daughters by Elisabeth Gaskill.

I am lose some weight.

I am hearing...Stephen hum. Jonah talking about his poison ivy. Silas playing with the doll house.

Things I want to accomplish, knitting for a dolly, laundry finished, and try try try to remember to take the yogurt out of the warmer at the right time.

Around the house...making a detailed list for Saturday morning house cleaning. Several windows need cleaned and the wall going down the stairs is DIRTY.

One of my favorite things...getting along with my husband. It is a very nice thing to be so close that most of the time I don't have to explain and neither does he.

A few plans for the rest of the, laundry, feeding the children. Having company over on Saturday evening. And I'm hoping beyond hope to have 3 dolls ready for my shop upload next Wednesday.

A picture thought I am sharing... From one of my favorite artists Mary Engelbreit.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Curly Girl Goodness For Dolls

I've been getting ready to make a couple new dolls so I've been thinking about doll hair.

I happen to really like Little Jenny Wren Dolls and the way she would make curly hair on her dolls. I adore curly hair on little girls and Little Jenny Wren does quite the job of creating the essences of little curly girl goodness. When I began creating my own dolls I wanted to make curly hair on my dolls. So I laboriously knitted doll hair several times for dolls and most of the time I discovered I didn't knit enough so had to knit more. It was a trial to me because at the time I was a slow, beginning knitter and I also knit English which is slower yet than the Continental style of knitting. Needless to say, curly hair was quite the project for me.

A swatch of knitting for doll hair might looks like this.....It is knitted, wet down or "blocked" as it is called, dried and then unraveled.

This is one skein of black yarn minus the cap/wig that has been crocheted for stitching to the dolls head. I wanted tight, kinky black curls for a doll so I knit this yarn, which is a DK weight on size 4 needles. I've been working on it when I sit and listen to the children read or when I have a few minutes here or there. It didn't take long for me to knit. I've gotten faster at knitting. That is what happens...the more I knit the faster I get.

Anyway, back in the day, I couldn't justify taking the time to knit doll hair. It just took me too long! So I had to devise a way to make curly doll hair. It didn't occur to me at the time to search the internet. I wish it had. It would have saved me time and yarn with troubleshooting how to make a curly yarn quicker.

I laid in bed one night thinking about it. In bed at night is where I do my best thinking. I lay in bed and solve whatever problem I'm having. Lots of times I pray about whatever is rolling around my pea brain and try to figure out a solution. I've done this for years with sewing and then with knitting and then with doll hair. And just FYI this method of problem solving also works for husband troubles, children troubles, family troubles and life troubles in general.

I decided to try wrapping my yarn around pencils. That made nice curls but they were big and it was easy to see that they needed to be tighter. Also the type of yarn made a difference. I found that a 100% wool will hold the curl really good while a wool/mohair blend doesn't hold as well even when its blocked.

I began looking around my house for something small and round and thought of my old metal knitting needles that I had given up in favor of wood needles. (the yarn does not slip off the wood needles as easily as it does metal) I wrapped yarn around the needles and Viola I had found what works for a nice corkscrew type curl. A small dowel would work well too but it didn't occurred to me until a commenter said something about it once.

Any yarn that has been blocked and unraveled will lose its curl if it wet down again. It doesn't matter if its been knit or wound on needles. When I mail out a doll, I attach a card that tells how to care for/clean a doll and on the card I give instructions to not wet a curly haired dolls hair or it will lose its curl.

A cap/wig is sewn onto the dolls head and I cut my yarn to the desired length and hook the hair into the cap. Its a sturdy method of attaching the hair and works well.
I also wanted to show this book. I bought it several months ago and wish I had bought it a couple of years ago when I started to make dolls. It would have saved me a lot of time and failed attempts at what I was trying to accomplish.

The book has simple pencil drawings through out that for me make it easier to understand the construction of a doll. There are lots of ideas for making doll hair in this book, including knitting the yarn and unraveling for curly hair. In the coming months I'm going to be trying some different ways to make hair and see if I like it. I almost exclusively do the cap and hook method because that is what I know and what I'm comfortable with. But its good to expand and stretch and reach beyond our comfort zone.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

All in a Day's Work

Picked out a stack of fabric today and cut. cut. cut.
The end result was 19 doll outfits cut out and ready to sew. More dress/pinafore combos. Some cute sleeveless dresses, baby doll shirts and pants.

Now to sew it all up. I'll be sewing doll clothes until September 13. Then I stop with the doll clothes to work on making a couple of new dolls to go in my shop. I'm planning a big upload on September 21. :)

Simple Womans Daybook

For Today
September 8, 2011

Outside my window...It looks like an early fall morning.

I am good God is to me.

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

From the learning rooms....School is going so well. Reading a good book out loud to the children. Big Smoke Mountain by Louis B. Miller.

From the kitchen....trying a new recipe tomorrow...chocolate chip cookie dough brownies.

I am excited...about some sewing I'm doing for a good practical ministry.

I am wearing...denim skirt and black tee shirt and sneakers.

I am creating...aprons, dolls and doll clothes.

I am stay home today.

I am reading...Little Men and my bible.

I am hoping...things to big to tell.

I am hearing..the hum of happy children as morning chores are getting finished up.

Things I want to accomplish and sew, sew, sew. Oh and dinner. Must feed my family.

Around the needs a good cleaning and picking up which I plan to do this afternoon.

One of my favorite things...holding my grand babies.

A few plans for the rest of the, laundry, sewing and finishing up a knitting project.

A picture thought I am sharing...My daughter in law, Audrey and my grandson, Patrick.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Apron Love

Today is Labor Day. We don't have a whole lot going on. My husband is working and our 3 oldest boys will be working with him today.

My good friend is coming over for lunch. She has three daughters that my children enjoy playing with. On the menu....BBQ meatballs, twice baked potato casserole, corn, salad and biscuits. Watermelon later in the day.

I've been on an apron kick. I've made 2 more this last week.

This apron went to a friend at church. It was kind of hard to part with. I like the blue and brown together. (every apron is kind of hard to part with. much like a doll :) )

This apron is mine :)

I've been sewing up a storm for my Etsy shop. I have a planned upload on September 21. These will be among some of the new items in my shop.

Friday, September 2, 2011


"The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears." John Vance Cheney

Have I ever said that I love rainbows?

As a child, the first bible story I heard, was about Noah's Ark and the rainbow. I was riding in the car with my grandma and grandpa, going to spend the night at their house, and it had been raining. As we rode along we saw a rainbow and my grandma told me the story of Noah, the Ark and how the rainbow was God's promise to never destroy the earth again with water.

Pretty amazing that my grandmother would have told me that story. She was not a Christian and didn't want to be associated with Christianity. She regularly took the Lords name in vain and didn't have a problem with anyone else taking his name in vain, UNLESS it was a child who repeated Grandma taking the Lord's name in vain.....ummm, ya.

There are many beautiful pictures of rainbows on the internet. I typed in "rainbows" on Google and did and image search and came up with many pictures that are gorgeous.

There is a flickr photo group dedicated to rainbow pictures.

I was doing some reading about rainbows this evening and found that it is a common phenomenon for the sky to be lighter under the rainbow and darker over the rainbow. Thats pretty cool.

(yummy rainbow yarns that are in my stash)

Tonight as I was driving home from the city with some of my younger children, we had the pleasure of looking at a rainbow for many miles. For a little while we could see a double rainbow. So I told my children the story of Noah and his Ark and why God set his rainbow in the sky.


Only God can make a rainbow.

A rainbow is a reminder of God's promises. They are still real and still true for today.

(the little Peek-a-boo pots can be purchased from Apple n Amos on Etsy. I just purchased some for my daughter who is planning her first baby's nursery)

To learn more about the scientific aspects of rainbows there is a good article on Wikipedia.

I leave you with an Irish blessing.

*read in my best Irish accent"
May you always have work for your hands to do
May your pockets have always a coin or two
May the sun shine bright on your window pane
May the rainbow be certain to follow each rain
May the hand of a friend always be near you
And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you

Livie Knits 2

Last spring Livia started to knit a doll dress. I did a post on her beginning here. Well after working on it off and on she is finally to knitting the sleeves. Double Pointed needles are interesting to knit with. It took me awhile before I started to enjoy knitting with them. They are a bit fiddly but once I figured out how to hold the needles and knit at the same time it got way easier.

This morning Livie brought her knitting to me and asked me to show her how to knit the sleeves on her dolly dress. So now she is knitting on DPN and she learned a bit about picking up stitches and pulling her yarn up tight on the 2nd stitch of a new needle.

I love watching her knit. She has a real aptitude for knitting and learns new stitches and concepts fast.