Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thankful Thursday

1-I am Thankful for the rain. Lots of rain. Days and days of rain. Honestly, I'd rather have snow, which to my mind is more fun, but rain is what we've got right now, so I may as well be thankful for it. Just keepin' it real.

2--I am Thankful our workshop weekend is over. There's nothing like having a visiting artist and a house full of strangers for a few days to make a girl appreciate the blessing of solitude. Somehow I think better without a crowd.

3--I am Thankful for paper towels. Lately Silly Dog has taken to eating things that are not meant to be digested by mammals. Bits of plastic, chewed up sticks, assorted things we can't identify when they return in a semi-digested state. The grossness factor of this would be much worse if I had to clean it up with a cloth towel and then also clean the towel. I think I do not exaggerate too fiercely when I declare trees were invented to make paper towels as nature's way of apologizing for the stupidity of young dogs.

4--I am Thankful for my daddy's old shirts.  One of which I've successfully turned into a chemisette.  Or as Tiniest Child said, a Grandpa Dick Dickey.  The 70's shirting was soft and nice to work with, and I think it'll be fun to wear when it gets a little chillier around here. I'm glad I've got a few more to play with.

5--I am Thankful  for Greystone's Creative Hands


      My dear Mama bought this 22 volume set in the early '70's. We lived in Michigan then, in the country 45 minutes south of Detroit. Our Creative Hands books arrived one by one in the mail. I think it was one a month for the whole 22 months.
     They're of British origin, and are a complete set of lessons in sewing, knitting, crochet, tatting, and all types of needlework. There are patterns on graphs that you can trace out.  All the lessons start in volume 1 and continue through the series, so even if you live in the absolute middle of nowhere as we did, and as I do now, you can teach yourself not only basic needlework skills but even alterations and advanced tailoring with these books. Here are a few pages to give you an idea:

Drapery making, lace making. darning and mending, macrame, anything you can do to adorn the body or feather the nest, Greystone's Creative Hands has got it covered.  The styles in the pictures are charmingly late 60's to early 70's, but the techniques can be applied to any style of clothing and any era. There's even good information on historical costuming.

6--I am Thankful for  Hex, Daisy and Rosevile (on the bed) and for Poppy, Eleanor, Willow, and Portland.  I got my first Susie Sad Eyes when I was around 12 years old. Of the zillion or so dolls I've had in my life she was the first I bought myself (with my lunch money) and is my favorite. I have no idea what happened to my first SSE, she got lost when we moved to Michigan I think, I don't remember ever seeing her after that  move.
    Fast forward couple of decades. Shortly after she and her dear husband moved here from the west I described this quirky little doll I used to have to Oldest Child, and she said "I have a doll like that. She doesn't have clothes, but her face and hair are like you describe, I bought her at a garage sale in Texas for a quarter. Do you want her?"
    Bless her heart, Oldest Child wouldn't even let me pay for the dolly. "You're my mom," she said, "I think you're worth at least a quarter!"
      This specific doll is Portland*, lower right hand corner in the above picture. I brought her home and started making clothes for her, and when that turned out to be a fun project I started building her a home on a bookshelf. My rule for her home was that she could only have things she could "borrow" from the big people in the house, so she has chairs made from butter cartons, a bed made of a cigar box, rulers and clothes pins, and a little dresser of matchboxes.

  Eventually I discovered EBay, and Portland got some sisters. They're in their almost identical nighties for the picture, but they do all have their own highly individual clothes too.

7--I am Thankful for all my Berry Good Friends.  My kids had Strawberry Shortcake dolls back in the 80's, and they were adorable. They smelled good too, which means if you leave them on the swing set ovenight a raccoon will chew their cute little faces off. Because  I think the new version of Strawberry Shortcake dolls are ghastly looking a few years ago I decided to get some vintage ones. Even 30 years old they smell pretty good.
    EBay sellers are a highly variable bunch of folks. Some value their wares very highly, others are just looking to clean out the attic.  When I was shopping for vintage Shortcakes I found undressed or incompletely dressed ones to be cheapest, which is logical. In my search to replace some missing shoes I also found some sellers listing 'lots' of clothes and dolls. It was cheaper to buy a 'lot' of three dolls with a pile of little clothes than to buy a single replacement shoe. That is how I ended up with um... 14 dolls and a big strawberry case full of clothes and shoes when the original plan had been just to replace the 4 dolls my 4 kids once had. 
     The seven big dolls have moved into in the downstairs of the "girls house" and the baby ones are on a shelf by my big green bed.  It makes me smile to look at them.
    Fourteen people in a 2 room house. Wow. I should do something about that.
8--I am Thankful for Lucy Sky.  She's charming, she's huggable, and she has big eyes. My life drawing prof used to tell me I always drew everyone's eyes bigger than eyes really are. He was right, I did. I have no idea why he saw this as a problem, if I wanted an accurate look I'd use a camera.

 I found her on Ebay as well. Her commercial name is Lonely Lisa, she was made by the Royal Doll Company. She came to me nude and grubby and she was in tres terrible shape. Her cloth body was disintegrating, her wire skeleton (to make her posable) was rusted and broken and her sponge rubber stuffing was crumbled to nasty dust.  I didn't like her body shape, which was very short and squarish. I took her apart, cleaned her up, and drafted a new body for her that has a longer torso and an actual waist. Next up is making her wardrobe. Her yellow checked chemise is from the sleeve of a blouse I got from an old friend.(whom The Middle Child is named after) Her petticoat is from a worn pillowcase embroidered by my maternal grandmother. I've got bloomers cut out for her that I'll sew as soon as my thumb heals, and then I think she needs a good full skirted jumper to go over it all. She's a lovely size to work with, as she's big enough to hug but small enough to dress from the scrap bag.

9--I am Thankful for Peg Bracken.

Her I Hate to Cook Book and her I Hate to Cook Almanack are a delicious blend of practical cookery and whimsical prose.

Her I Hate to Housekeep Book is a delight as well. Bracken's writing may not be as fancy as Shakespeare, but it's come in handy a lot more frequently in my life.

10--I am Thankful for Ongoing Projects.

When you wake up in the middle of nowhere to a murky gray sky and a hungry, hungry wood stove, it's nice to have some creative work to look forward to.  I typically have four or more projects going at once. That way I can stitch on the quilt for awhile upstairs, then go do some lap-sized sewing downstairs to keep the dogs company.  I have a knitting project to work on in the truck when The Manimal is doing the driving, and there are painting projects and such that can only be done outside in good weather (which means not this week).

Above is the beginning of a table runner. The wild canary birds are in honor of The Manimal, who is  bird lover.  Because we have a lot of mismatched restaurant china that we use for parties I'm going to put as many colors and prints as possible in the runner.It should also go nicely with my growing collection of hand stitched cloth napkins.

And here's my most ongoing project, the infamous dragonfly quilt. I got three blocks quilted this past weekend while I was staying out of the way for the workshop. Only 17 blocks to go.

*Although Portland the doll did accompany The Manimal and me on a business trip to Portland the city in Oregon (where she was much photographed and much admired) she is actually named for Portland Avenue where our family house stood for five generations. Willow is named for the street where we lived when I was born. Can you guess who Rosevile is named for?

Ten Thankfuls. There ya go.
I'm in a dolly mood today. Did you have a favorite doll when you were little? Do you have one now?


  1. Greetings, Ms. Mama!

    Does the Grandpa Dick Dickey have a drawstring at the bottom? Ties?

    I loved the Creative Hands books. Peg Bracken, too.

    Your SSE family looks very chic. Berry Good Friends are considerably cuter in person; from here, their heads look extra potato-like. Are your dolls strictly Borrowers, or are doll accessories from outside sources welcome? You can answer honestly, I haven't bought them anything.

    The Canary runner is looking great---- and you're three blocks into the infamous Dragonfly! TOUCHDOWN!

    I know all about Rosevile.

    I'm really not a doll person, and I'm not sure who my favorite doll would be... does Dolly Dingle count? I still have mine! I also have the wooden dolls; the fact that I've kept them since Huntington prove they're my favorites. One is Tiniest Child's, and no matter how many years I possess it I will still think of it as hers.

  2. Hi Sweetie,
    The chemisette has a drawstring, it seemed the easiest way to make it adjustable. I thought it would be important that it adjust to accomodate however many layers I put underneath depending on the weather.
    I never thought of the dolls getting anything from the outside world. I was originally doing it as an art project with just the one doll I had. I was planning to blog the whole creation of her little home, so I was planning to pretty much make and scavenge everything. My technical skills at the time weren't up to it though, so I gave up that lofty plan. Then she began getting sisters....and so far they're all living in a single-person 1 bedroom apartment with seven Berry Good Friends hogging up the whole downstairs. So to answer your question, yes, surprises from the outside world would be welcome! (Hopefully nothing Barbie-looking though.)


If you disagree with me try to keep it clean, or I'll wash your mouth out with homemade soap.