Monday 28 February 2011

Fishing for fairies

Here at Flutterby Patch we all love reading Mabel Lucie Attwell annuals and my little dolls especially like the pictures of the tiny fairy folk. One of their favourite stories is this one where a little girl catches a fairy in her fishing net. But when she lifts the net the rascally fairy flies away.

My two dolls Tilly and Kate long to catch a fairy but the weather outside today was cold and damp and so Tilly decided she would open the playroom window and she and Kate would take turns to hold the fishing net ready to catch any little fairy that popped in for a look around. They waited.....and waited........

..........then suddenly..........Plop! Something tiny landed on the window sill and Kate was quick to catch the 'something' in her net. Could it possibly be a fairy?

Kate held tightly to the net whilst Tilly closed the window.

Then Kate removed the net and picked up the little 'something'.....

........... and much to her delight it was indeed a tiny fairy.

 Measuring just 15cm (6in) he was the sweetest little fellow dressed from head to toe in scarlet and green.

He showed no sign of wanting to escape.

He even danced a little jig, much to the amusement of the two girls.

I think he might have come to stay for a while and the dolls will spoil him of course. If he should get lonely he'll find plenty of companions in our Lucie Attwell Annuals.

A BIG thank you to those of you who left thoughtful comments with my previous post (A skip down Memory Lane). It was good to see Milly Molly Mandy is such a great favourite worldwide. It seems the books never fail to stir happy childhood memories.

Several of you asked about the little dolly I featured. You quite rightly presumed she was inspired by Waldorf dolls. Her head, which is roughly the size of a conker (horse chestnut), is made using the Waldorf method. It was quite a fiddly process working on something so small but I've always loved making miniature items and so persevered. She measures 15cm (6in). Her arms and legs are covered pipe cleaners, her hair is mohair knitting yarn, her dress is Liberty lawn and her cardigan is knitted with 4 ply Shetland wool. The head and features of the little fairy found by Tilly and Kate is also Waldorf inspired.

Before I started blogging three years ago I knew very little about Waldorf dolls and their history and hadn't a clue how one was put together. Creating the head and features is a fascinating procedure and the resulting dollies are just the sweetest little characters. I've seen many of these dolls featured in blogland but the blog that has always been in my favourites list is Little Jenny Wren. Jenny never fails to amaze me with the little people she creates. She never seems to run out of ideas and as a result every doll is different. Jenny's lucky little dollies regularly travel to new homes around the world. Do pop over and take a look.

Meanwhile, if you'd like to know more about making Waldorf dolls you'll find plenty of information online and there are several good books (with patterns) available. Another blogging friend of mine has just completed her first doll and what a pretty little girl she is. You'll find her at Mary Jane's Tearoom.

Time to visit Tilly and Kate and check their new found friend with his mischievous grin isn't wreaking havoc in the playroom.

Friday 25 February 2011

A skip down Memory Lane

I went for a happy skip down Memory Lane this week. It all started when I read a few Milly Molly Mandy stories and it ended with the making of this little dolly. . . . . . But more of her later, first the books.

I'm sure these delightful stories will be familiar to most of you. They were written and illustrated by Joyce Lankester Brisley. The first tale was published in the 1920s and more appeared on a regular basis until the 1960s.

Milly Molly Mandy lives in an English village in a nice white cottage with a thatched roof. You can see it in the top left hand corner of the map (click on map to enlarge). Across the lane lives her little friend Susan. Wouldn't you love to have a home here and be part of this happy village community?

Milly Molly Mandy lives with what today would be referred to as an 'extended family'. There's father, mother, grandpa, grandma, uncle and aunty and happy family meals are always taken at the kitchen table. When this story was written there was no TV so there were no 'unmissable programmes' to lure anyone away from the table.

Little girls who wanted to look 'grown up' would try on mummy's old clothes and grandma's hat. Cosmetics for children were unheard of in those days and applying real lipstick was not encouraged. So youngsters would rely on sweets like Smarties. The red sweets when licked and smeared on the lips would obligingly deposit a rich scarlet stain (needless to say the tongue was also stained scarlet but that didn't matter).

Toys were few and so treated with care. But who needed toys when the 'bestest fun' could be had from building tents from old table cloths and counterpanes draped over chairs and broom handles.

Or how about a game of 'horses' played by galloping astride a sturdy stick.

Perhaps the picture I find most poignant is this one showing the two little girls heading off alone into the open countryside in search of blackberries. With so many of today's children confined to their gardens for reasons of security I can't help wondering when and why childhood became so very different. 

My own childhood spanned the 50's and 60s. We were free to roam in the surrounding countryside and the simple games we played were very similar to those described in the stories. My early years were spent at a village school that had just 50 pupils which was considered large compared to other village schools in the area.

After my nostalgic journey through these lovely books I decided to make a tiny doll that would resemble the little friends I once had at my village school. I trawled my memory for the way we looked in those days and this is the little character that evolved. She's 15cm (6in) tall and wire framed which enables me to pose her (something I like to do with dollies).

Girl's hair was often short and tied with a ribbon at one side. Long hair was never worn loose but always plaited (braided). Cheeks were rosie from much outdoor activity including the walk to and from school in all weathers (mums with cars were rare).

Cardigans and jumpers were usually hand knitted in 3 ply or 4 ply wool. DK yarn was only just putting in an appearance as were synthetics. Dresses were short and had full skirts and were often handmade by mum or granny. A petticoat was usually worn under the dress.

White ankle socks were worn in summer and grey or beige knee length ones in winter. Fashionable and trendy shoes were not an issue as little girls (and boys) wore the same style of summer sandal with a ‘T’ bar. These were brown leather although occasionally girls wore red in the Mary Jane style.

I hope you've enjoyed skipping down Memory Lane with me. Perhaps some of you have similar memories to my own . . . . . happy days indeed.

Have an enjoyable weekend, wherever you are.

Tuesday 22 February 2011

FREE PATTERN - Owl egg cosies

There have been some very worried little mice at Flutterby Patch this week. It all started when little mouse Pip came across three wise owls.

He looked straight into their large shining eyes and quickly remembered that owls enjoy a tasty mouse meal when they can find one.

The thought of becoming a tasty meal for an owl sent poor Pip hurrying home as fast his little legs would carry him.

When he told the story to his friend Darcy she was very curious and wanted to see the owls for herself. So the two mice bravely went in search of the birds. But they had disappeared and in their place the mice found three large eggs.

Of course you won't be surprised to hear that Pip and Darcy told everyone they had discovered owls' nests and I'm sure they were a bit disappointed when I explained that the owls were actually egg cosies.

However, when they realised the birds weren't looking for a tasty meal the two mice soon made friends with the new arrivals.
These owl egg cosies are quick and easy to knit from thick yarn

Each side is a different colour

Owl egg cosy - free pattern

I used oddments of chunky yarn that I had in my stash. I also used two strands of double knitting (DK) yarn which when knitted together made an attractive chunky.

Create a tweed effect by knitting two different shades of DK yarn together.
Each owl cosy is made from two squares measuring 8cm (3in) so they make perfect projects for children who are learning to knit. Both squares can be the same colour or make them both different as I have done.

I used 4.5mm needles (US size 7) but the needle size you choose will depend on which yarn you use. The important thing is to knit 8cm (3in) squares.

K - knit
K2tog – knit 2 stitches together

Cast on 12 stitches and knit (garter stitch) the first 2 or 3 rows to prevent the bottom edge curling. Now work in stocking stitch (knit one row and purl the next) until your knitting measures the same length as the cast on edge (you should now have a square). Cast off (bind off). Make a second square in a contrasting colour.

Making up
Weave the long tails of yarn into the wrong side of the work.
With right sides facing outwards, use DK or a finer yarn to over sew (or blanket stitch) round 3 sides. Leave the bottom edge open. 

Ear tufts
Pinch the two corners on each side to create ears and bind round with yarn to hold in place.

Wings - knit 2
Cast on 5 stitches
Row 1. knit
Row 2. K2tog, k3 (4 stitches remaining )
Row 3.  K2tog, k2 (3 stitches remaining)
Cast off (bind off)

Weave in the yarn ends and then stitch the cast on edge of each wing to the sides of the owl.

You’ll need 2 buttons for each owl face. I used 1cm buttons and cut circles of felt fractionally larger to go behind the buttons. Stitch the eyes to the felt and then stitch these to the owl.

Make two or three straight stitches for the beak in a contrasting DK yarn.


If you would like to knit the little mice you will patterns for these in my Dollytime Etsy shop and my UK Dollytime shop.

Before I go I must tell you of a lovely blog I found this week Ruttu-nuttu where I found a beautiful sweater decorated with my owl design shown below. Do pop over and take a look.

The owl design is one of the free patterns you'll find in my sidebar. If you'd like to knit this owl you'll find a graph here

Saturday 19 February 2011

Rainbow Rascals are finished

If you've popped into Flutterby Patch recently you'll have seen me doing battle with these little Rainbow Rascals. I began by telling myself I'd knit just one, then two, but eventually I made four, and here they are.

The fun part has been playing with so much colour, both yarn and fabric. I selected the fabric first and then matched the colours in the fabric to DK yarn that I had in my stash. The dolls are all made from the same basic pattern.

When I'm creating a new pattern I prefer to keep things simple so that people who have only basic knitting skills will be able to make a dolly. These little characters are VERY easy to make. If you can cast on, cast off (bind off), knit, purl and knit two stitches together then you'll be able to make a doll and her knitted clothing. The little cotton skirts require a short length of fabric so patchwork cotton remnants are ideal. Only basic sewing skills are required to make a fabric skirt.


The knitted skirts, waistcoats and fabric skirts are all easy to put on and take off and when the little dollies have decided which clothes they are going to wear they can choose a little bag to carry. The buttons are an added extra and can be omitted if a doll is being given to a baby or very young child.
You'll find the Rainbow Rascals pattern in my Etsy shop. UK knitters who would prefer to pay in pounds sterling will find it in my UK Dollytime shop.

Thursday 17 February 2011

Dolly progress

Last time you saw us we looked like this. I think you'll agree we look a lot prettier with hair.

Our knitting pattern should be in the Dollytime Etsy shop in a day or two so we look forward to seeing you there. Meanwhile we are off to be measured for pretty floral skirts. What fun it is being dollies!!

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Looking for treasure

A short trip this afternoon took me to the coast and nearby Morecambe Bay. Being an estuary there is no golden sand but the place has its own stark beauty.

In winter the wind-whipped tree branches are covered in lichen and the dry grasses cling to the gravely shoreline

I crunched my way along the shingle determined to find treasure.

I confess this place is not a treasure seeker's paradise but I kept on looking

A lone feather caught my eye but it could hardly be called treasure.
But then I struck gold! Well not quite gold but it was good enough for me on this blustery February day.

This small piece of green sea glass sat twinkling in the sunshine. My birthstone is emerald so I had found treasure indeed.

Sunday 13 February 2011

Happy faces

After I opened my Dollytime Etsy shop in September 2009 I was thrilled when I sold my first pattern after only two days. I never imagined for one moment that my little dollies would prove popular with knitters around the world so a very big thank you to all of you who have purchased a pattern from my Etsy shop over the past 18 months.

Living in the UK I've always felt guilty that buyers from my own country have been required to purchase patterns in American dollars. Happily I'm able to tell you that I have created a little shop where my PDF email patterns are available for purchase in Pounds Sterling for anyone with a Paypal account.

To view the patterns and purchase them in Pounds Sterling (GBP) please go to where you will find this little dolly waiting to welcome you.

So, what else have I been doing this week?......... I hadn't planned to design any more patterns for a while but the weather here in northern England has been so dark and dismal that I couldn't resist playing around with pretty fabrics and brightly coloured yarn from my stash.

And here is the result.... a collection of little cuties with enormous smiles, each dressed in a different colour. I admit that in their bald state they don't look very promising but I'm hoping to give them hair later in the week when their clothes are finished. Don't you just love bright colours when skies are grey?

Hoping you have all had an enjoyable weekend, wherever you are.

Tuesday 8 February 2011

First snowdrops

I love to think
That long ago,
There fell to earth
Some flakes of snow

Which loved this cold,
Grey world of ours
So much, they stayed
As snowdrop flowers.

Isn't that just the sweetest poem. It was written by Mary Vivian.
 Thank goodness these brave little blooms will thrive in freezing conditions.