Thursday 25 November 2010

My miniature world

Greetings friends. After spending several weeks concentrating on my knitting I decided to take time off and do something completely different. So sit down for a while and I will explain.

I love dolls (as I think you know) and it has always been my ambition to create a tiny family to reside in their own miniature world. Several years ago I made the family but never got round to giving them anywhere to live.

However, for the past couple of weeks I've been busy building a dolls house from a kit I acquired. I want everything to be as historically accurate as possible and have chosen the early Georgian period.

Here is the front of the house waiting to be painted.

The children are very excited and can't wait to move in.

But moving day is some way off as the stairs have yet to be fixed in place.

I'm fascinated by antique miniature houses. The one below dates from the 1730s and is on display at Nostell Priory in Yorkshire. It is early Georgian so is giving me lots of ideas and inspiration.

Of course my house won't be anything like this one!

Lots more inspiration is comng from the dolls house books I've collected over the years. This one is a great favourite

My tiny family will want to fill their rooms with early Georgian furniture so the book below is proving very useful.

and fireplaces, lighting and other period details must look just right throughout the house.

Meanwhile, Squire Danville, head of my household, is happily going about his daily business and ignoring the building work going on all around him.....typical!

I'll keep you updated on my progress, but now I have some stairs to fix.

Friday 12 November 2010

Tiny Topsy the tooth fairy

Just straight knitting, no shaping, no strange abbreviations and easy to follow instructions with lots of pictures to guide you. This is what you'll find in the FREE PATTERN for Tiny Topsy, the doll that I promised to design for new knitters. She's just the right size for a doll house and little girls will love her so I hope you'll be tempted to give her a go. Before I give you the pattern details I thought you'd like to see Tiny Topsy at home.

Tiny Topsy lives in a tiny house with lots of other dolls, but Topsy is special. The little girl who owns the house knows that when a wobbly tooth falls out she must leave it on Topsy's tiny table.

When the little girl is fast asleep Tiny Topsy works her magic and becomes a tiny tooth fairy. Her little pearl button brooch turns into a pretty pearl necklace and her knitted apron becomes lace. She has pink ribbons in her hair and a golden crown. But best of all, her fluffy duster changes into a magic wand.

The fairy waves her wand and the little girl's tooth magically becomes a shiny silver coin.

In the morning when the little girl wakes up she remembers the tooth and runs to Tiny Topsy's table. The tooth has gone and in it's place she finds the silver coin.

Tiny Topsy smiles because only she knows the secret of the tooth fairy's magic.

* * * * * *

If you know a little girl who'd love to own a Tiny Topsy tooth fairy why knit one for her. She's an upside down (topsy turvy) doll and very easy to make.

I have produced a PDF pattern which you can download onto your computer and print out. You might find downloading the pattern takes a few seconds.

Click for TINY TOPSY - FREE PATTERN - Have fun and happy knitting.

The little video links below should prove useful for people who are very new to the craft.
1). How to CAST ON - (easy method for beginners)
2). How to KNIT
3). How to PURL
4). How to knit STOCKING STITCH also known as STOCKINETTE STITCH - (this is simply one row of knit stitches alternated with one row of purl stitches ...... easy).

Tuesday 9 November 2010

Would you like to knit?

"I wish I could knit" is something I often hear people say. I know many of you have tried knitting but quickly given up. So, because I think knitting is such a great hobby and I'd like to see many more of you enjoying it, I thought I'd design something small and cute that requires only basic knitting skills. I'll be putting the pattern on my blog at the end of the week and hope you'll join me and give it a go. To find out a bit more please read on.

Firstly I'd like to tell you about Lynn in America who recently sent me this photograph of the sweet dolly she knitted using my Polly and Kate pattern. Isn't she just the cutest little thing? Lynn is relatively new to knitting and had been concerned that she wouldn't be able to follow my pattern but by following my step by step instructions and pictures she had no problems.

What I find especially pleasing is the way she has added her own ideas and personal touches. She hasn't made an exact copy of my dolls but has made one that is uniquely hers. The little skirt is made from an old napkin and amazingly the pretty brown hair was added by Lynn's six year old daughter which proves you are never too young to start crafting.

Between the ages of six and ten I attended a small village school here in England where there were only two elderly teachers and they had very fixed ideas about education. These ideas would seem old fashioned by today's standards but looking back I reckon they were pretty sound. Apart from reading, writing and arithmetic the girls were all taught to knit and sew. When I was seven years old I knitted this little shoulder bag. Made from cotton yarn I well remember the frustration as stitches dropped off my sticky needles.

In time I finished my bag (complete with buttonhole) and then stitched on a big blue bead for a button. The strap followed and once that was attached my teacher reckoned I was ready to make the next item (fabric oven mitts which were lined). I was eight years old by then.

Although my mum and granny were both keen knitters I didn't take up the craft again until my teenage years. Happily learning to knit is like learning to ride a bicycle or learning to swim, once you know how to do it you never forget.

I think many people are put off knitting by the wide variety of yarn and needles that are available but these are something you need not consider until you are more experienced.

Here are three yarns which you might have heard about. 4 ply is quite fine, chunky is thick and double knitting (DK) is somewhere in between. The yarn I and many others recommend for toy making is DK (in the US it is often called light-worsted and in Australia 8 ply).

What about needles? I like to use metal ones but I know several knitters prefer plastic or bamboo. The choice is up to you.

For fine yarn you use thin needles, for chunky yarn thick needles and for DK yarn you would use something in between. For my knitted toys I recommend 3.25mm needles (Size 3 in the US). New knitting needles can be expensive so try to find the size you want in a thrift shop (charity shop). In the UK if you can't find 3.25mm try looking for size 10 which is the number used before we went metric, they are both the same size.

So we've established the needle size you'll require for the doll pattern now we'll take a look at what else is needed.

Toy filler for stuffing a toy is obviously essential, pins with coloured ends are useful for marking the position of a doll's features, embroidery floss for stitching eyes and mouth, a red pencil crayon to create rosie cheeks, a tapestry needle for stitching pieces together (with a large eye big enough for yarn to past through) and last but not least, scissors.

I'm hoping by now I will have encouraged a few people to pick up their needles (or acquire some) and give knitting a go. If so then you will want to know what yarn you might need for the little project I'm planning.

The free pattern will be for a tiny doll but she will be a bit special. I won't tell you why at the moment. She could become an extra Christmas gift for a little girl or even a decoration on the Christmas tree.

As she is very small you will only need small amounts of yarn. Firstly flesh colour for her head and hands. I recommend using cream rather than pink (see below).

Yellow, orange, brown, black or beige for hair (very small amount).

Finally you'll need two pretty colours to stripe her skirt. I'll be using the pink and aqua shown below as I know it is a combination many little girls love at the moment. Alternatively you could try lemon, lavender, sky blue, peach, or white.

To make the little doll you only need to be able to cast on, knit and purl. Many of you will have learnt how to do these but might need a bit of practice. If so take a look at the video links below.

If you have never tried knitting then these videos should help you to learn. It's very easy once you know how.

1). How to CAST ON - easy method for beginners
2). How to KNIT
3). How to PURL
4). How to knit STOCKING STITCH also known as STOCKINETTE STITCH. This is simply one row of knit stitches alternated with one row of purl stitches..... easy.

And that is all you need to know. I haven't mentioned casting off (also known as binding off) because we won't be using that.

I shall now work on a pattern for my little doll and hopefully have it ready for the weekend. If you've often wished you could knit why not join me next time and have a go at making a little doll for yourself.

See you next time.

Saturday 6 November 2010

Cute bird feeders

I bought these little bird feeders several years ago but they are so cute I've never used them.

I'm having an autumn clear out and tidy-up at the moment and reckon its time I gave the birds a treat.

On each little feeder the roof is hinged and lifts up so that bird seed can be popped inside.

When full the roof is lowered and the bird seed tumbles out of the hole at the bottom and into the tray.

We've counted 47 different bird species around the garden over the years so there shouldn't be any shortage of customers at the general store!

Friday 5 November 2010

Bonfire night

For 400 years bonfires have been lit around England on 5th November. We call it Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes Night and children often make an effigy of Guy Fawkes to sit on their bonfire. Fireworks are lit and a jolly good time is had by all.

If you don't live in Britain you might wonder what it is all in aid of so I'll try to explain.

In 1605 a man named Guy Fawkes designed a plot to blow up King James I and the English Parliament. Mr Fawkes and some friends (see below) loaded barrels of gunpowder into the cellar below the king's meeting room, but they were discovered just in time and their attempt to kill the king failed. People around the country lit bonfires to celebrate their king's survival and they've been celebrating on 5th November ever since (it makes the perfect excuse for a bit of a party on a dull November evening!).

Wishing everyone in Britain a happy Bonfire Night and a good weekend to you all.

Tuesday 2 November 2010

Rainbow tools of the trade

I felt the need to feast my eyes on bright colours today. So in a flurry of activity I went to my craft room and gave myself 20 minutes to find 'tools of the trade' in rainbow shades. I was tempted to use beads and fancy ribbons but that would have exceeded the 20 minute deadline. Below is my 20 minute rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet).




And why the urgent need for colour you might ask. Well, just look at my view from the window today.

But happily we are keeping snug and warm indoors and I'm spending the afternoon working on winter coats for Polly and Kate. Several knitters who bought the pattern for these dolls have asked about winter clothing for them and I'm happy to say that thanks to the wet weather things are beginning to take shape.

The poor little dollies have to keep trying the coat on for size (with and without cardigan) so I reckon its time we all had a nice cup of tea to warm ourselves up.

Hoping your weather is better than ours today.