Category Archives: doll making

Seraphina’s 7th Birthday

Can you spot the frog??

There aren’t words for how much I love her little scrunched up face in this picture.

A few weeks before her birthday we had a conversation where it occurred to her that I’d made far more dolls for her siblings than I had for her.  I believe that this doll is the only one that I’ve made for her (she got a little update here).  And it’s true that I’ve made two or three dolls, or more, for each of the other kids (some of which can be seen here if you scroll through).  It’s also true that I’ve made her other toys and that I’ve bought her two dolls, which I never did with the other kids.  None of this was intentional, it just kind of worked out that way.  I think part of it is that I’ve been quite ill for the vast majority of her life, resulting in far fewer little side projects like that, but also, she took an interest in the kinds of dolls that I can’t make at a much younger age than the others.  I told her that I didn’t realize that she was now interested in the kind of doll I make (Waldorf dolls) and she assured me that she very much was.  So, of course, I offered to make her a doll and had her describe to me what she would like….a mermaid with rainbow hair.

Instead of pushing myself to try to make it as a surprise (the truth is that these days, I’m in bed for as many hours as she is, if not more) I told her we would make it together.  Mairi was intrigued and asked if she could make one as well.  In the picture of the three mermaids side by side, Mairi’s is the first, the second was drawn by Seraphina, and the third was the one that I made for her.

It’s been a tradition in our house to read The Seven Year Old Wonder Book aloud to children approaching their 7th birthdays.  It’s a conflicting sort of thing for me because that book really speaks to children at this age and there are elements of it that hold great beauty, but it’s also racist.  There is simply no way around it.  I’m not sure when it was written, but the author was born in 1901, which is not an excuse, but it does start to explain why some of the imagery used comes across as inappropriate to the modern sensibility, which is hopefully more in tune with social justice.  My compromise, and I’m not really sure if it’s a good one or not (!), is that I’m the only one who reads the book and I change the objectionable parts.

The book reading was very different this time, as my voice is still limited.  I would read her a couple of pages a night, sometimes less.  It took us a long time to get through that little book, but it was our special time together and every night she thanked me for reading because she knew it was a struggle.  I got her Snow and Rose for her birthday and we’re reading it in the same slow, patient, quiet way now.

As is also tradition, she had a wonder book of her own as well and people (okay, mostly me, but I talked some other people in the house into contributing too) volunteered to be “rhyme elves” for her, adding in pictures and poems for the two weeks leading up to her birthday.  Her beautiful wonder book came from EllieBeeCrafts on Etsy.  She was really sweet and customized some things for me so that it was exactly what I was looking for.  It’s magical.  Seraphina was so pleased!

She wanted a cat cake, only the cat’s ears where supposed to actually be mountains and the mountains were to have a whole forest on them and there were supposed to be gnome houses in the forest (?!?). I’ve got to be honest with you, I haven’t even managed to picture that, much less figure out how to make it! In the end, she settled for a pink kitty vanilla bean cake with raspberry jam between the layers, white chocolate-strawberry buttercream icing, and marshmallow fondant details.

I own a small collection of vintage baby knitting patterns…but of course I no longer have babies to knit for!  Because my brain works in mysterious ways, despite the fact that there are probably thousands of patterns that come in her size, I decided to adapt a pattern meant for a six month old.  Not only that, but I liked certain elements of another pattern so opted to combine the two.  It was quite an adventure (in knitting terms anyway), but I will spare you the details.  The yarn is Snuggle Puff in ‘Hatchling’ and ‘Lamb’.  I expected and wished for a much softer shade with the hatchling, my face fell when I opened the box of yarn, but I’ve learned to live with the disappointment.

We went for a walk in the afternoon and our neighbor spotted us and sent over clumps of snowdrops and a crocus as very apt birthday gifts for my sweet, little, spring babe.


Waldorf Inspired Mermaid Doll by ThimbleGarden

Slightly modified Sweet Dreams Vintage Bloomers by RabbitRabbitCreation

Angel Top #1 from Fairytale Baby Book by Susan Bates, with edging from the Two Color Angel #14



Christmas 2017

Seraphina’s Christmas Wish List: Eggnog, jelly beans, chocolate cake, candy, bananas, oranges, clementines, grapefruits.  My mother asked, “don’t you want any baby dolls or toys or books?”  Nope. Just sweets.

Elijah watches old episodes of Bob Ross, Galen watches Elijah, I try to figure out which walls can still fit more paintings.  The northern lights one was my Christmas present from Elijah.  Galen is an extremely prolific painter, but I tend to get fewer pictures of his as he tends to paint at night.

Two books that are perfect for around the time of the Winter Solstice:

Little Snow Bear by Hazel Lincoln has been a family favorite for years.  I believe Elijah received it for his 4th Christmas.  The illustrations are divine and I think they were the inspiration for the painting in this post.  It’s a very sweet and gentle story in which little snow bear goes out in search of the missing sun.  Our copy is worn and battered and greatly beloved.

Lucia and the Light by Phyllis Root was a happenstance library find and entirely new to us this year.  The story is modeled off of Nordic lore, but more modern in tone and appearance.  It had me from the opening page, “Lucia and her mother and baby brother lived with a velvet brown cow and a milk-white cat in a little house at the foot of a mountain in the Far North.  The cow gave milk, the cat slept by the fire, and the baby cooed and grew fat by the hearth.”  When the sun disappears one day Lucia’s mother tells her that they will, “be each other’s sun until the real sun returns”.  The sweet story turns into an adventure when Lucia sneaks out to find the sun only to discover it’s been stolen by trolls!  The trolls, admittedly, were too much for sensitive, three-year-old Miss Seraphina, but I will keep this one in mind for next year.

Life with teens: I have one who walks about draped in home-made whips and another who randomly wears boxing gloves as some sort of bizarre fashion statement.

The baby doll Juliette has been in a somewhat horrifying state for about a year now.  She never really recovered from that time when Galen decided to give her “troll hair”.  And beyond which was getting rather grubby with two years of loving.  When two days before Christmas my neighbor dropped by with some brown mohair yarn I decided the time was ripe for an impromptu surprise makeover.  I do not adore the highlights.  They are what was salvageable of her original hair, plus the little bit of that yarn that I had leftover.  I was afraid that if I used an entirely new hair color she might be too different, so I tried to blend the two.  It’s ok-ish I guess.  I also cleaned her up, refreshed her rosy cheeks and donned her in her new Christmas nightie (of course) she made her grand reappearance on Christmas Eve.

Elijah helped with the Christmas pajamas again this year.  Thank goodness.  It’s too daunting for me alone.  It took 16 yards of fabric to cover those boys of mine!  Sixteen!  We hated the pattern (Simplicity 2771) so much that by the time we got to Galen’s we decided to switch to another pattern entirely (Kwik Sew K3945).  Elijah made that complete set on his own in probably a quarter of the time it would have taken us with the other pattern.  And probably half the size- the others were HUGE!

For the girls I used old standbys.  My favorite Kwik Sew 3423 and it’s bigger sister Kwik Sew 3105.  I used the latter for Mairi Rose’s first Christmas and have turned to them both regularly ever since.  I made them each a pair of pink organic cotton velour leggins for underneath.  And they are terribly sweet and soft and toasty and cuddly in them.

Oh, I almost forgot!  Seraphina’s romper….I was rushing out the door headed for a long car ride and trying to quickly pull together everything I needed for the day’s knitting.  I had every intention of sizing up the Lady from the North Cabled Romper, but something went amiss with my paypal and it decided to treat my payment as a check requiring three days to clear.  Are you kidding me??  So I grabbed a stitch dictionary instead and designed my own as I went along.  I was already well into it when the pattern arrived several days later.

And the chickadee!  I love him so.  It was a little project just for pleasure, started with some friends, mostly crafted on Christmas day, finished a day or two later.  I think I might have to make a tradition of it and make a new bird each year to add to the tree.



baby love

These two little darlings are the best of friends.  I’ve never known a baby of her age to be so attached to a doll.   She gets so excited when she spots her little dolly, I sometimes worry she might hyperventilate!  And if you do not realize right away what it is she’s wanting or if for some reason she must be separated from her beloved, say while putting arms into shirt sleeves, the crying is most pitiful.  I’ve taken to hiding her at meal times.  Waldorf dolls and yam covered hands do not mix!  When they are reunited she says, “ahh-ah beh-beh! (baby)” and kisses and cuddles her up.  Every once in a while she will thrust baby into someone else’s arms while making kissing sounds on the understanding that the recipient is to kiss and cuddle baby before promptly returning her to her wee mistress.  If she wakes from a nap and baby is not there, she cries.  It baby is there, she sits, with baby in her lap, babbling her little secrets and patiently waiting for someone to come and fetch them both.

Baby has a little bonnet and dress set, but as you can see, they are often discarded.  Seraphina likes to take them off, but try as she might, she has yet to manage getting them back on, at least in any manner which they are likely to stay on.

Juliette, as most of us call her, we have something of a tradition of middle names being taken as dolly names, was a first Christmas gift and her making has a funny story behind it.  I thought I would do something terribly clever and fancy.  I got to looking at all of these techniques that I had never tried before.  I started experimenting with different methods of sculpting the face.  The first head I did was horrifying!  I’m laughing now as I picture it.  I would share a photo, but I’m afraid of frightening you.  I wanted a very sweet, baby-ish little doll and what I created looked like an ugly and disgruntled old man.  Ah, but I forged ahead, telling myself that once I added pretty blue eyes, rosy cheeks and rose petal pink lips it would be totally transformed and all would be well.  And what a transformation it was!  Into what looked like an ugly and disgruntled old man in drag!  After which I started over, sticking to the basics.  Whenever will I learn that simple is better?


a space for her


This is the little changing area that we set up when I was pregnant with Seraphina.  I’m considering moving it and wanted to have some pictures of it as is, for her baby book.  Steve made the changing table when I was pregnant with Mairi Rose.  We left it unfinished and as she got older it was used as a bookshelf and general storage in various places around the house.  We decided to spruce it up a bit for our new baby with a coat of paint leftover from our bathroom project and some fabric drawers.  I vividly remembered how crazy making it was to try to keep everything from dissolving into utter chaos when just stacked on the shelves.

We splurged on the diaper pail as well.  Some people treat themselves to things like luxury cars.  Us?  We go in for the fancy diaper pails.  This one was pricey- you know, for a diaper pail!  But I have to say that I’ve been cloth diapering babies for the better part of 15 years now and this is by far the best system I’ve ever used.

The mobile in process…there were supposed to be more bunnies and flowers and leaves and things twined in with the grapevine wreath and maybe some birds or bees or butterflies?  But the truth is I haven’t added anything to it in a very long time.  I think the only way it’s ever going to get finished is if I just start calling it finished.

And really that’s about it.  Simple and sweet, just the way I like things.  A basket of diapers and a little wooden bowl with odds and ends; a toy for entertainment, some healing balm, baby nail clippers, that kind of thing, rounds everything out.  Lately she’s been excitedly talking to the little picture of herself, so cute!



Oh, Mr. Bear, shouldn’t you be slumbering??  Not lumbering through my garden, clawing at the snow?

clementine candles; star lanterns; borax snowflakes; gingerbread cookies with cinnamon icing

We’ve had so much snow already this year!  Our Solstice celebration was magical.  The music!  There was music everywhere; banjos, mandolins, an accordion, penny whistle, voices singing out into the candle lit night with powdered sugar snow sifting through the clouds.

There have been so many magic moments this holiday season.  Hardships too of course, but so much beauty to compensate.  Last week everyone was invited to watch Galen and Mairi’s ballet class.  Unbeknownst to us, their teacher had invited a violinist to play Christmas carols for them to dance to.  It was marvelous.  Such a simple little thing, but so moving.

Will I ever get over the heart-aching joy of watching Iain perform, just as poignant each and every time?  Somehow I don’t think so.

And now I must be off!  There is still much baking, sewing, wrapping and merry making to be done!


little Rose Cheeks and how need became want

This year, when I started my Christmas gift planning, I was feeling a little scattered.  Some random ideas for random people, but no real cohesive plan.  I’m sure that by now, everyone has seen that “recipe” floating around the internet for holiday gift giving for children; something to wear, something to read, something they want and something they need.  More to just straighten things out in my own head then anything else, I decided to try breaking things up that way to see if it helped.

Something to wear was easy: Christmas pajamas for all.  We had something to read covered as well.  We kind of have a standard stocking formula: a book, a new deck of playing cards, candy canes (depending on the age of the child), some B-fresh gum (again age dependent), and art supplies.  This is generally how we replenish our homeschooling and art supplies each year.

For want, we tracked down a ping pong table on Craig’s List for the older boys to share.  Carrot the Prince was made for Galen.  Dear sweet Galen who always claims that he doesn’t know what it is he wants until he receives a gift, then, as if by magic, it always turns out to be just what he wanted, he just didn’t know it before!  Màiri Rose got a new tea set, as her beloved old one was missing several key pieces at this point, like, you know, a tea pot.

For need we replaced Iain’s old watch, which was to the point of being held together with duct tape and only sometimes actually telling time.  Elijah got a new winter hat (more on that later).  Galen recieved some buckets and boxes to organize the art supplies in his room.  And Màiri, oh Màiri, well Màiri is where things got tricky…

The original plan, that was well under way, was to make her a quilt for her bed.  There came a day where it was just the two of us home alone.  I went to throw in a load of laundry before reading her a book, only to find her poking about in my craft bags.  The canvas bags that I keep tied shut at that time of year, generally each containing a gift project, to be picked up and worked on whenever that particular child is not around.  She was holding the inner head for Galen’s doll.

The conversation that followed went something like this:

“what’s this?”

“that’s none of your business”

“I think it’s a doll.  I think you are making a doll.”

And then my reassuring her repeatedly that whatever it was, it wasn’t for her.  And from that point on, it was very common for her to say in a loud, exaggerated whisper, when I was just within hearing, “Oh, I hope I get a doll for Christmas!“  Right.  Now I had thought about Galen’s getting a doll and her not and how she might react to that and decided that in the excitement of the morning she wouldn’t much mind.  But now that the expectation of the possibility was there, well, that was a whole new ball game.

And so, a week or so before Christmas, I shifted gears, the quilt was abandoned and a relatively quick little dolly whipped up instead.  When I told Steve that it would go fairly quickly because the doll wouldn’t really have a body, he looked at me in horror and said, “you’re giving our little girl a dismembered head?!?”  I tried to explain, but finally told him he’d just have to wait and see what I meant.

She named her Rose Cheeks.  And yes, many a request for “Rose Cheek stories” have been made.  Turns out she is a cousin of Carrot the Prince.  And goodness, between the two of them this mama has been kept on her toes and needing to think fast.  The children decided that it would be fair if I told one story for each, every other night.  I’m really not sure that my tired brain can pull together 365 unique stories a year!


Carrot the Prince

Once upon a time there was a little boy named Galen who loved to hear stories.  When he was not more then 2 or 3 his mama started to tell him a story.  A story about a prince who’s true name has been long forgotten because as she began her story and introduced the hero, there was a small interruption as the little boy said, “yeah, but everybody called him Carrot”.  His mama laughed and said, “Carrot?  Alright, Carrot the Prince it is!”  And so Carrot the Prince was born and many, many a tale of his adventures have been told.  Sometimes the stories are very royal and magical indeed and sometimes they are a bit more ordinary and eerily similar to things that are happening in our own lives.  Either way Carrot the Prince, along with his father King Turnip and his mother Queen Rutabaga, are quite popular in these parts.

I’ve often thought about making Galen a Carrot the Prince doll.  As he is getting older and maturing rapidly these days, I thought this Christmas might well be my last chance to do something of that sort and have him really and truly appreciate it.  I’m so glad I did.


Meet Rose

Sweet Màiri Rose’s third birthday gift.  I hemmed and hawed about making her, but in the end I’m so glad that I did.  Along with a book, her birthday sweater and one little thing I’ll share later, these were her gifts from us this year.  When I set up her birthday table, I purposely kept Rose aside in a different room.  I don’t like the idea of wrapping dolls.  When I was a little girl my dolls were very real to me and it was upsetting to see them under packaging.  Though in our house it’s a bit different since all the gifts were wrapped in play silks.

After she had finished opening everything else; the little gifts from her brothers, a pretty pair of shoes purchased with the money Grandma sent, and so forth, we told her there was still one more special present.  It was then that I went into the other room, as I was walking back, I heard her exclaim in tiptoe bouncing anticipation, “Oh, I hope it’s a baby!”  And the fact that I actually got to place a baby in her arms, all wrapped up in a blanket that was hers as a newborn, made all of the late night sewing worthwhile.

I used the 16″ Starbright Baby pattern from Sarah’s Dolls.  My machine was still in the shop at the time, so little Rosie was sew entirely by hand.  I triple sewed all of the seams and I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that she holds up well!

So, Rosebud got her new baby, but no clothes for said baby, as I wasn’t about to undertake that by hand as well.  Until I can get around to it, her brothers were kind enough to loan her some old doll clothes of their own.

This was my first button jointed dolly and the first I’ve made with a belly button and sculpted bottom as well.  The novelty was very well received in this house full of simple, mama-made dolls.

They are very happy together.


Fetled Matryoshka

Back to Christmas! (yet again)
nesting dolls

Pattern: Nesting Dolls by Kate Startzman

Yarn: various scraps

Made for: Màiri Rose

This was one of my favorite gifts of the Christmas season, both to make and to give.

When I was a little girl, we used to go to this fancy doll shop, with big wooden cases full of porcelain dolls of every sort; characters from fairy tales, princesses, and life like babies of every sort and style.  And on top of each of those cases were rows of hand painted matryoshka, some very traditional and some not at all.  Some held all the characters of a story, some were of animals, some were ladies from a foreign land, some soldiers, and I was fascinated by all of them.  I knew when I saw this pattern that I just had to make them.

The knitting and felting went very quick and easy, while the embroidery was quick time consuming, but so sweet!

One of Little Rosebud’s favorite games right now is “Where’s the baby?”, where we set them all up and hide the littlest one in one of the others, while she closes her eyes (occasionally peeking just a tiny bit through her fingers).

“Where’s baby??”


“There she is!”


Winter Season’s Round Exchange: Part II

If the first part of my package was a disappointment, I have nothing but love for the second part.

I love everything about it, the whole process of making her, the way she turned out the feeling of giving her and knowing that she would be loved in her new home.

note: my package did actually go out on time, but it was right before me moved and it seems I forgot to post about it. I still have to get some pictures of the package from my partner. It’s wonderful!