Saturday, 21 December 2013

Craft Resolutions 2013


I have achieved this year's craft resolution, which was to follow a crochet pattern chart & make more crochet items to improve my skills in this area and to show that there's more to crochet than simply making Afghan throw squares. 
I just discovered that Amigurumi  is the term for the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting stuff toys. The word being derived from the Japanese words ami meaning crocheted /knitted, and nuigurumi, meaning stuffed doll.

I need to continue practicing applying crochet charts in 2014, and make raised and motif crochet  items

Last year I achieved the goal of successfully making in-the-round socks and gloves.

I have another 2014 craft resolution, which for now I am keeping under my hat!

How about you?

Monday, 9 December 2013

Christmas decorations ~ Home Made

Ho Ho Ho...How many of you have made your own Christmas decorations?

I made this appliqué tree skirt many years ago to go around the pot we always put our small potted real tree in.

I also made a wall hanging based on a Christmas card I just adore!

How about you?

Christmas wishes

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The Mile of Mice Challenge ~ Wednesday 30th Oct

Goodness it's almost upon us the great Guinness Book of records attempt to have knitted a mile of mice (OVER 7,000 mice needed for this challenge) 

AND there will be a knitted Pied Piper leading them. How cool is that?
Knitted by Brenda adapting an Alan Dart pattern, which will be raffled on the measure day 30th October 2013 

The Mile of Mice Challenge sponsor money  raised goes to the Alzheimer's Society
Why not go along and see if they have achieved their goal and buy some mice or bid for the Piper himself...

MILE OF MICE Measurement day
Wednesday 30th October 2013
At Altrincham Football Club 
WA15 8AP Tel: 0161-928-1045

Starting at 11am 
Lunch will be provided

This will be an opportunity for all the knitters to see the whole mile of mice laid out and to witness it being measured.

The Alzheimer’s Society is going to be present and hopefully we will get the chance to sell some of the wonderful mice!

UPDATE: On the day, They ended up with 1.9 miles and the money now raised for Alzheimer's stands at £8,917.16 which is absolutely wonderful!

Friday, 18 October 2013

Rag Dolls

Rag dolls
Everyone recognises the rag doll as a children's toy, so named because it was traditionally home-made from spare scraps of material and was often stuffed with scraps of material, too.  For many the term rag doll  conjures up an image of security, comfort, love and hugs.
Traditionally home-made from spare scraps of material and was often stuffed with scraps of material, too, there remains the stigma that these are unsophisticated toys.

More modern rag dolls were commercially produced to simulate the features of the original home-made dolls, such as simple features, soft cloth bodies, and patchwork clothing, though they are stuffed with polyester filling which has flame retardant and hypoallergenic, machine washable properties.  

The term rag doll, therefore seems to diminish the perception of the quality and workmanship involved in using this medium in today's doll making.  

Due to the perishable nature of cloth, there are few rag dolls that have survived the ravages of time over the centuries and throughout the cultures. They are one of the most ancient children's toys in existence a Roman rag doll, found in a child's grave dating from 300 BC can be found at the British Museum.

When asked to describe a rag doll, most people are likely to convey an image that is quite simple and traditional. 
Traditional Rag dolls often had their hair in braids or tied in bunches and were dressed in long frocks with pantaloons and petticoats. 
However, other dolls that do not follow this conventional description quite happily fall into the ‘rag doll’ category. So, perhaps a better definition for them would be that they are ‘dolls made for children entirely from cloth with textile embellishments’.

In the past, rag dolls have been greatly under-valued and largely ignored by the so-called serious collectors in favour of porcelain, china, bisque and wooden dolls. Even teddy bears seem to have a greater kudos. Sadly this still seems to be largely the case in the UK today, whilst attitudes in other countries have thankfully changed. Linda Edward in her book 'Cloth Dolls from Ancient to Modern' states that the term rag doll is an ancient and honourable title and I agree that it should be used and regarded as such. After all, most seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth century doll manufacturers referred to their cloth products as rag babiesMany Interior Designers use rag dolls as accents to add a touch of whimsy to a home.

Rag dolls have become celebrities in their own right, being featured in a number of children's stories, most notably Raggedy Ann in the 1918 book by Johnny Gruelle and British children's television series such as Play Days, Play School, Bagpuss, Rosie & Jim, Andy Pandy and Ragdolly Anna
Certainly when you think of examples of rag dolls in children’s literature and the media such as Jemima from Play School, Madeleine from Bagpuss, Raggedy Ann created by Johnny Gruelle, Rosie and Jim and so on; each one is as individual and diverse as the other. Demonstrating the wealth of variety, imagination, workmanship and love that goes into each and every doll made. 

Amish dolls also fit into the rag doll category. These dolls have no facial features or hair in keeping with the Old Testament Commandment which warns against making graven images. They have a full set of clothes including a white under-bonnet for the girl doll. Rag dolls have a unique quality and charm and fulfill a child's deep-rooted need to be comforted. Safety, washability and softness are of paramount importance in their production, whilst the end result provides a child with emotional security as well as an awareness of the world around them through play and socialisation. 

Today’s EEC regulations require us in the UK to be even more safety conscious when making toys for children. Nevertheless, rag dolls would seem to be the perfect embodiment of care, safety, love and security and these childhood treasures from bygone days have evolved over time to become a true art form.

Edith Flack Ackley was well known for her rag doll designs in 1920s and 1930s and still has a popular following today. 

These Ada Lum style dolls, bought via USA in 2007, are very clean and new looking and possibly not originals from the 1950's and they have no makers stamp on them either. Indeed, the fabric used for their heads, hands and legs seem more modern. They have cute little embroidered faces, removable shoes and traditional style clothes. Ada Lum and her fellow missionaries made and sold such handmade dolls in traditional costume to make money for refugees who were trying to flee from post-revolutionary China.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Primitives ~ Cloth Dolls and Figures

Primitive cloth dolls have a definite timeworn, well-loved, homely appearance that is so appealing.  Indeed, these dolls share features characteristic of Naive Art, a term applied to work produced by untrained artists in which charmingly simplistic awkward looking representations are created by unsophisticated drawing techniques, inaccurate use of perspective and unsubtle use of colour. 

The simplicity and uninhibited charm of Primitives seems the embodiment of children’s unpretentious drawings and is undoubtedly part of their enormous charm.

This style of cloth doll, which are also known as Folk Art dolls, dates back to the first American settlers and Native Americans,
who used any suitable materials that were available to them to produce dolls for their children. Since store produced dolls were considered a luxury and women loved to sew, redundant sugar and flour sacks were transformed by mothers, aunts and grandmothers together with scraps of material from their sewing baskets to make dolls for their children.  

Primitive Dolls remain a popular and recognizable style in modern doll making. Yet despite their ordinary, rustic look, the primitive cloth doll is believed to be one of the most difficult to achieve. Enormous attention to detail is important to give them an authentic old, worn and grubby appearance, whilst others are given the classic appearance without too much aging and wearing embellishment. Today antique, tribal and whimsical folk dolls all fall into this 'primitives' category.
So how is the look achieved? Well, the self-sufficient, 'make do and mend' aspect of these dolls is recreated in various ways. Making the dolls in homespun wool and other natural materials in muted colours and by giving them simple, often asymmetrical heads and features. Some have no facial features. 

Their heads tend to be bald or fairly bald. Also using mismatched fabrics/ buttons (often large sized buttons) and applying crooked stitching to their bodies and clothes contributes to their characteristic look. 

Some Primitive dolls have cinnamon stick arms and legs and nuts for heads and sometimes the dolls hold flags, teddies, bird houses, garlands, sewing notions, or miniature quilts. 

The clothes are often embroidered with sayings, verses and decorative stitches. 

Red white and blue, 'stars and banners' often seem to be a theme in colour schemes for the doll's clothes, although rustic, autumn colours are also very popular.

Plantation Dolls are replicas of dolls made during the American Revolutionary War. Church services lasted all day and dolls helped occupy the children and if they were dropped the church service would not be disrupted. Plantation Dolls were revived during the American Civil War.  Mothers would also make handkerchief dolls (made from men's cloth handkerchiefs) and put sugar cubes or candy into the doll's head  for the children to suck on during church service.

Fabric deteriorates with age and is affected by strong daylight, which can bleach and discolour the fibres, whilst dust and dirt can also rot the fibres. Fabric also responds poorly to excessive handling. So these factors are borne in mind when reproducing authentic looking Primitives. The dolls can be intentionally 'aged' by giving the fabrics a deliberately distressed and worn look, through techniques such as: dyeing, fading, tearing & mending, adding roughly sewn on frayed patches and using paint effects: varnished and crackled finishes.
Hand made is definitely the desired look and these dolls are usually regarded as 'homely', whilst some might even call them ugly. 
'Good Friends are always together in spirit' This Prim is dedicated to my late friend Sue Rogers, PEI Canada, a wonderful caring person who adored bunnies

It may be a case of you either love them or you hate them. Well, in that case I love them!   

< Goth Prim and Goth Raggedy by Madeleine Sara Maddocks

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Ornamental Cloth Figures

As the name suggests, these are not toys, but designed as Soft Sculpture Cloth Art Figures or Decorative Textile Figures, rather than dolls. They are created purely for aesthetic expression, communication and contemplation and not as play things.

They encompass a wonderfully diverse range of textile art techniques including portraiture; caricature; characterisation; fabric manipulation; quilting/needle sculpture; beading; embroidery; painting; dyeing and printing; knitting; weaving; crochet; fashion/costume design and all sorts of other textile embellishment.

They are made to adorn a mantle-piece or a shelf, or be admired through the glass of a cabinet.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Needle Sculpted Cloth Figures

NEEDLE SCULPTURE, also known as needle modelling, involves placing stitches into the doll head and body to hold the shape of the filling material to create more sophisticated, 'sculptured' features. 

A little like quilting, the stitches provide shape and texture, holding the stuffing in position to create a raised nose and defined mouth, eye sockets, chin, belly button, ankles, dimples etc.<head sculpted on stretch fabric

Profile head sculpted on woven fabric, which has less stretch.>

by Patti Medaris Culea(left),
& Madeleine Sara Maddocks (right)

This needle modelling technique is also used in conjunction with the  cloth over technique.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Controversial Gollies

Without wishing to cause offence or disrespect to those who have strong views against them,  I have included Gollies in my doll styles pages, since these toys predate Raggedy Ann and the Teddy Bear as a named character doll. 

Gollies, originally termed Golliwogs, understandably became controversial toys and are still frowned upon today by some as being non-politically correct, unacceptable caricatures. 
Indeed, the name wog is still used today as an offensive term given to someone of coloured skin. There are still many black people today who have strong associations between these types of doll and the bigoted treatment they endured simply as a result of the colour of their skin.

Indeed, when I made a black rag doll boy, I was asked "Is he a Golliwog or the token black?" 
As you can imagine I was appalled by the stereotype and the implied racism. Why shouldn't I make cloth dolls and figures of ethnic origin?

When I made Oliver rag doll, in the 1990's, I was appalled by people referring to him as 'the token black' or the 'Golliwog', both of which he was not

Clearly people still had much to learn about respecting different cultures and races. Indeed, there is more to black cloth doll making and black people than Gollies and Mammy dolls

As far as I understand it, GOLLY HISTORY  reflects the changing attitudes and times in which they were created, compared to those in which they continue to survive today. I would like to think that they serve to remind us of the past and the progress that we have made.

Many people nowadays appreciate Gollies simply as a particular style of cloth doll, with a certain charm of their own. Those who own them today, do so with great affection and adoration, without the associated prejudices/ stigma of previous generations. 

In 1895, Florence K.Upton created the character for her first children's book The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls and a Golliwog.Although American, she moved with her British parents to England, where the book was published when she was 22 years old. Thirteen books were published between 1895 and 1909 and proved very popular in the
1920s. Patterns for them were published in popular magazines. 

Florence K Upton failed to copyright her character and versions of the character appeared on plates, clocks, cards, aprons, adverts etc and in numerous other stories. In the first book the Dutch Peg dolls initially find Golly frightful and later learn to love him for his loyalty, charm and warmth.

Gollies also appear in paintings by Mabel Lucie Attwell, in their original design having a long nose. 

There were also Gollies in Enid Blyton’s original ‘Noddy’ books. I suspect these were very stereotypical, unflattering portrayals. Consequently, in the 2oth Century, they were deemed improper and offensive and the character of the Golly was changed accordingly.
James Robertson & Sons jam manufacturers adopted the Golly as their trademark in 1910. The Golly label on jars could be traded for badges. Over 20 million badges have been issued and the Golly appeared on the jam and fruit preserve jars until September 2001 when Robertson issued its last ever Golly badge. A 9ct. gold plated 'Farewell Golly' badge in presentation box with certificate.

Collecting Golly ephemera has become a passionate pastime for Golly enthusiasts.  
The traditional Golly had a blue coat with tails, red or red and white striped trousers, a white waistcoat, red bow-tie, fluffy hair and a  generous red and white smile.
Nevertheless, Gollies today also abound with numerous individual interpretations and even a Golly Girl has appeared.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Cloth Dolls with Moulded Faces

Moulded face dolls are made, as the name suggests, by pressing material over a hard plastic, porcelain or clay mould of a doll face.  

The material might be papier-mâché, or cloth soaked in a glue solution.  It is pressed against the outside of the doll head and secured there until dry.  It is then removed, trimmed and painted, before it is fixed to the front of the sewn and stuffed head of the cloth doll.

Some dolls have cloth (usually Stockinette because of its stretch ability) stuck onto rubber or plastic face moulds which remain there once the face is attached to the head.

In 1873 Izannah obtained a U.S. patent for making rag dolls. Her technique was to place several thicknesses of cotton or other cheap cloth treated with glue or paste so that they will adhere together and hold the shape impressed on them by the dies. When these cloth forms are dry, a layer of cotton batting or other soft filling is carefully laid over them covering the whole or the head and neck portion only and then in turn covered with an external layer of stockinette or similar webbing. The latter is then fastened to the features of the cloth forms by stitches or paste and they are then placed again in the press. They are tightly pressed together and secured by sewing pasting or gluing their edges to each other. Their faces and limbs are painted with oil paints.
Izannah Walker claimed, in her patent, that her dolls were 'easily kept clean' which she considered an important fact. The doll bodies were made of heavy cream sateen, were firmly stuffed and the joints sewn. Some dolls are barefooted and some have painted boots. Consequently, these dolls also have techniques similar to those for Columbian doll creation.

Also Kathe Kruse and Norah Wellings dolls, for example, have moulded faces.

Other techniques involve paperclay or other clay moulds, which are then covered with stockinette material. 

Tudor Lady by Madeleine Sara Maddocks (below /left)

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Cabinet Re-shuffle

My husband managed to get me a glass cabinet for my dolls that someone, in his modelling group, was planning to throw out!

 Now I can display them and keep the dust off. 

However, I do still have others dotted about the house. How about you? 

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Cloth Doll Fingers

Do you have trouble making those separate wired fingers for your cloth figures?

Here are some pointers:
  • Always use high thread count cottons or stretch fabrics such as velour and jersey as
    these will not fray between the tiny stitches.

  • Always use the turning tools recommended for the job.
  • Some well known cloth doll makers suggest using fray check/stop solutions.

Why not share your finger making troubles in the comments below?
I shall be hosting a Giveaway, as this blog is almost one year old, so do tell your friends to watch this space. More details on MONDAY...

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Mile of Mice UK Update

I completed my first metre of mice for the Mile of Mice Knitting Challenge
to raise funds for a very important cause

Have you knitted yours yet?

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Charity Knitting for Alzheimer's Society

Do you knit for charity?
Want to be part of a Guinness World Record?

Please make your donation cheques out to: 
The Alzheimer's Society 

and send with your mice 
before October 2013 


Libby Swindells, 
Mile of Mice, 
3 Wellgreen lodge, 
Wellfield lane, 
WA15 8NW

I discovered this in the new issue of Knitting and Crochet Magazine and started researching it online.

If you're game for challenge, get involved with the Mile of Mice and contribute to the goal of 7000+ knitted mice to raise money (donate online) for the Alzheimer's Society
Get the pattern and more details here
Check out their main Facebook page here with lots of fabulous photos,too.
Do you fancy getting involved with raising money and being part of a UK Guinness Book of Records attempt? The Wellgreen Craft & Create group will be knitting mice (pattern on request) this year to hopefully make A Mile Of Mice. They will need as many people as possible to knit the mice (we need 7,600 approx) and of course people to sponsor the knitters.

My first mice...

For my lovely, beloved Dad;
himself a sufferer of this wretched terminal illness that has robbed him not only of his memories, but also of his speech, his ability to walk; dress; toilet 
and feed himself, his retirement and the things he loves to enjoy.

Ravelry knit-a-long page. if you want to take part you need to send in your mice as soon as you can so the organisers can keep track of how many they have.