Monday 21 October 2013

NEW doll pattern

Greetings friends. I have some good news for all you dolly knitters out there. My new pattern is finished at last. Phew! To tell you the truth I never thought I'd complete it as its been on the go for several months. 

The cosy fireside chair where I do much of my pattern testing and writing has been surrounded by little heaps of children's picture books which I have dipped into for inspiration. Many of you know I'm especially fond of the plump, rosy cheeked and happy little children illustrated by Mabel Lucie Attwell and I have to confess the new dollies (yes there are two) do resemble some MLA characters.

Meet the twins, Jasmine and Violet, the latest little girls to be welcomed into our playroom. They might look a bit similar to their other Dollytime cousins but are different in several ways. Let me explain . . . . . 

These little cuties are 38cm (15in) tall and made to withstand a lot of love, cuddles and boisterous play. When I started the pattern all those months ago I experimented and knitted with two strands of yarn as I wanted the knitted fabric to be thicker, more robust and less likely to have areas where stuffing could be visible though the stitches. To my delight it worked really well and as a result each of these dolls is knitted from two strands of double knitting (DK) yarn. (In the US I suggest using worsted and in Australia 8 ply). The various clothes are knitted from a single strand of yarn in the usual way. If you wanted to use the same yarn as me you will find details of the brands and colours used plus the web site of an excellent British company that posts yarn worldwide.

As I have already mentioned, I wanted the dolls to be robust but also fun to play with. Knowing that all little girls love to style a doll's hair my next task was create hair that could be regularly and easily re-styled in different ways. And so I chose a lovely golden yellow chunky yarn which is stitched on firmly but can be tied, lifted and pinned in order to create several cute styles. No brushing allowed of course, you use your fingers as a comb (details in the pattern).

The hair is quite long and below Jasmine demonstrates how easy it is to tie it into bunches on either side.

Now she has tied the bunches high on her head for a different look

Or how about some plaits (braids)

Below is Violet, the little dancing doll. She has only plaited the front of her hair and then tied the plaits on top with a bow. The hair at the back is left long.

This little rascal also likes to tie all her hair on top which she is demonstrating here. All the styles and how to create them are described in the pattern.

Finally of course I knew these dollies would require a variety of clothing that would be easy to put on and take off. There are patterns for two dresses, two cardigans (long and short), shoes with socks attached and panties. For Violet the dancing doll I have created some leggings. Hopefully I will be designing some extra clothing for the twins sometime next year. If you posess the basic knitting skills then you will find the dolls and their clothing are very easy to knit. There are lots of pictures, hints and tips to assist you and as a result the pattern extents to a lengthy 26 pages.

Well  . . . After that detailed description I hope you can appreciate why it has taken me quite a while to get to the end of this particular project! I've had great fun doing it and I hope those of you who decide to knit one or both of the dollies will enjoy creating your own cute little characters.

You can find the new pattern in my shops below. Click on the one you wish to go to.

ETSY SHOP - (instant download within 10 minutes)
UK SHOP - (NOT an instant download as I email the patterns to customers myself)
RAVELRY SHOP - (instant download pattern)

I think it's time to give my needles a rest for while!  

Until next time.
Eli  x

Sunday 6 October 2013

Pinning and stitching

Greetings friends. I've just popped in to let you know I'm still here and have been busy sewing for the past few weeks. I'm still in love with freestyle machine embroidery so there has been plenty of that going on.

My days of stitching have resulted in a number of pretty pin cushions being created. Some round and mushroom-shaped and others like small plump pillows.

Not content with making pin cushions I decided to make some decorative beaded pins to accompany them.

I'm rarely without a pin cushion by my side these days as I always seem to be pinning or stitching something.

Above is one of my small rounded pin cushions. A pretty occasional cushion to keep on the dressing table perhaps.

Below is a what I would call a working pin cushion. I keep one like this beside the sofa where I knit and have filled it with all the bits and pieces I use regularly when designing patterns.

The linen pillow below is just as useful and together with my other pin cushions can be found in my Flutterby Stitch Etsy shop. Every pin cushion comes with beaded pins that I've carefully chosen to co-ordinate with each design.

By the end of the week I'd completed my cushions and decided I should make some greetings cards in a similar stitched style.

Of course I couldn't resist putting a cute little face popping out of this pink striped pram.

The knitters amongst you will be pleased to know I'm  plodding on with the new dolly pattern. It seems to be taking forever (possibly because I'm making two dolls). It's turned into quite a sizable project but I'm determined to get it finished in the next couple of weeks as I know many of you are keen to get your dollies knitted and ready for Christmas.

Saturday 14 September 2013

Garden days and needle cases

Today is one of those golden September days that make you want to amble round your garden to take a last look at the fading summer blooms. So why, you might wonder, am I showing you a picture of a festive cutie that is snugly wrapped for winter? All will be revealed later!

First I'll take you into the garden and onto our terrace where growth has been prolific during the recent rainy spell. Weeds manage to spring up from all the cracks and crevices on the paving and keeping them in check is a never ending job. However, there seems little point attacking them now as they are nearing the end of their growing season so those that remain will stay there until next spring.

If we turn and look the other way we'll see my little stone rabbits. They can often be found wearing hairy coats of green moss but they were brushed down recently and today are looking quite presentable. They stand on the corner of an old stone wall that edges the terrace.

And here they are on their corner. The gap between each of the stone provides a home for tiny ferns and ivy-leaved toadflax that seeds itself everywhere and is awash with pretty mauve flowers throughout the summer. Now let me show you what is happening to this lovely wall !!!!!!!

Hubby is knocking it down!!

And what a dreadful mess it looks. But fear not, there is method in this madness. We are soon having a window in our breakfast room replaced by a patio door which will look out onto this stone wall. The wall is very pretty and colourful in summer but can be depressingly grey throughout the winter. And so the length of wall in front of the window is being removed and we will be able to look into a small area of garden which will be a nice place to sit once the jungle has been cleared. A low wall will be built on the far side to prevent people falling into the garden below which wouldn't be a fun thing to do. If we walk towards the tree you will see what I mean. . . . . . . . take care crossing the lumps of rock.

Here we are beside the tree and as you can see the garden is many feet below us so a tumble would not be advisable. I'll invite you back once the project is complete but it might take a while!

But that's enough about stone walls and gardens, let's get back to the stitching I've been doing recently. In the last post I showed you three little needles cases with dollies on the front that I'd put in my Etsy shop. When two of the girls were chosen to go and live and Australia I suddenly felt very sorry for the little one that remained as she had no one to chat to!! Being rather soft-hearted where dollies are concerned I knew I'd have to provide her with a few friends and so here they are.

I used linen and a pretty Liberty lawn for the needle case on the left and pink and white candy stripe and blue cotton strewn with summer daisies for the one on the right.

Knowing these little girls would definitely not want to be hidden away in a drawer or cupboard when not in use I have given each needle case a tiny handle which means it can be hung on a hook or knob so that each little girl can smile at anyone passing by.

I'll finish with the little girl in festive colours that I showed you at the start of this post. I hate thinking about Christmas at this time of year but the weeks are quickly slipping by and anyone keeping an eye open for a small, easy to pack gift in festive reds and greens might be wanting a needle case. To add extra sparkle I've attached to the hat a tiny silver charm in the shape of a holly leaf. The needle cases can be found in my Etsy Flutterby Stitch shop.

Today is Saturday and the weather is lovely but it is due to take a turn for the worse overnight and tomorrow we are promised gales and torrential rain. . . . As we live in a wood a tree will probably fall on the power line (again) and we shall have a power cut. On the positive side this would mean I could get on with my new knitted dolly as the sewing machine won't be working!!!

I hope you are all enjoying your weekends
Eli x

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Keep smiling

I couldn't resist buying this new book when I spotted it recently. All the postcards that Mabel Lucie Attwell created during the two world wars are illustrated inside. What a prolific artist she was.

The little knitting girl below appeared on a card in 1916 and is very typical of MLA's early work.

The knitting girls below are from the early 1940s and by then the style had changed considerably.

As Mabel Lucie Attwell grew older her daughter painted the illustrations for all the books. The two annuals below are typical of her work and date from the early 1970s. Just look at those tots dressed in 70s flowery shirt, tank top and flares! Happy days!!

Whether painted by Mabel Lucie or her daughter the sweet faces of the little children have always been favourites of mine.

I took a break from knitting this week and designed three little needle cases. On the front of each I appliqued a little girl with rosie cheeks and smiling face. No prizes for guessing where my inspiration came from.

If you'd like to take a closer look you'll find these needle cases in my Etsy sewing shop 'Flutterby Stitch'.

Thanks for popping by.
Eli x

Friday 23 August 2013

A Fine Romance by Susan Branch

Greetings friends. This week I've been reading 'A Fine Romance' by Susan Branch. My American friends will of course be well acquainted with Susan's many books which are all beautifully hand written and illustrated in her own joyously inimitable style.

As soon as I jumped into the pages of a 'A Fine Romance' I was whisked away with Susan and her husband Joe on the trip they made in 2012 across the Atlantic on board the magnificent liner Queen Mary 2. Once in England I met their friends, stayed with them in some wonderful cottages and ventured along country highways and byways on a journey of enchanting discovery.

Susan's love and admiration for all things Beatrix Potter inevitably meant a trip to Beatrix's Lake District home. Hill Top cottage is world famous and open to the public and needless to say the cottage and it's garden were explored in intimate detail!

Below is a picture from the book showing Castle Cottage where Beatrix Potter lived after she married William Heelis. This was the final view Susan had of the area and she said her tearful 'goodbye' as rain fell from leaden skies.

Castle Cottage isn't too far from my own home so it was fascinating to read Susan's journal and I have to confess when she said goodbye to Beatrix Potter's world I shared her sadness with a tear in my eye. I was certain Beatrix would love reading the book.

As I reached the last page I was truly sorry the journey was over as it had been such fun. It has rained here in the Lake District all week but as I closed the book I noticed the sun had popped out and so I hatched a plan. . . . . . We ate a hasty supper and at 7 o'clock jumped into the car and sped off to join the queue waiting for the arrival of the small ferry that transports people across Windermere lake. And here comes the ferry; we'd better get ready to drive on board.

Whether you speak the English language or not I think this sign would leave you in no doubt about the danger of driving too close to the water before the ferry has properly docked!

We buy a ticket. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . and we are on our way. The late August sun will soon have disappeared behind the hills so I hope I can reach my intended destination before it does.

It's a lovely evening to cross the lake but the clouds are gathering and it looks as if rain could return tomorrow.

A few minutes later we drive off the ferry and head for a small village. And here it is. A sleepy little collection of old cottages enjoying the last of the evening sun. The village is Near Sawrey.

It is the picture below of Beatrix Potter's old home, Castle Cottage, that I have come to capture by way of a thank you to Susan whose fascinating journey I have been allowed to share. . . . .

Apart from their supreme talent, Susan and Beatrix have many things in common and I know if Miss Potter happened to see me pop the book on her old stone wall she would have loved to take a peek and be full of admiration for the detailed work she found inside. As Susan lives too far away to take a quick after-supper trip to the village I decided her book should make the trip in her place.

During her visit last year Susan noticed lots of Beatrix Potter figurines for sale in local shops but no sheep and so I thought I'd bring along my own little flock to say 'Hello!' I'm sure several of you will recognise them (see free knitting pattern in the sidebar).

Time to leave. Pick up the book and tuck it safely into my bag. Remove the sheep before they tumble off the wall and then say 'goodbye' to Castle Cottage.

Finally, let me show you one more thing. Beatrix Potter painted the picture below over 100 years ago and it can be found in the Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck. The building in the background is in the village and in Beatrix's day was known as the Tower Bank Arms (you can see the name on the front). Below the name is a clock. And guess what ? . . . . . .

The Tower Bank Arms is still open for business and the clock still tells the correct time.

If you haven't already discovered Susan's blog then do pay her visit, but I warn you, you won't want leave. Enjoy your weekends everyone.

Friday 16 August 2013

Inspirational craft book

Greetings friends. I tracked down a red squirrel this week and it was very close to where I live so I managed to photograph it (see my other blog Sheltered by Trees). As you'll have realised by now I'm currently dividing my time between red squirrels and dollies and I'm afraid the squirrels have recently been winning. However, a trip to a lovely craft gallery got my creative juices flowing and I returned home with this delightful book.

Belle and Boo are the creation of talented British artist Mandy Sutcliffe. Whilst spending time in France and sketching Parisian children in the park Belle and Boo slowly evolved and have very quickly become a British lifestyle brand. I'll give you a link to their web site at the end of this post.

Meanwhile here are a few sample pages from this beautiful book.

Don't you just love the little pull-along elephant (pattern in the book).

The clever mix of photographs and tiny painted characters is a delightful idea don't you think?

This is Belle. Her bobbed hair takes me straight back to my own childhood when many of us had this style. Sadly it isn't often seen in the UK these days as most little girls want to grow their hair long. I love the bobbed look.

And here is Boo. What a little sweetheart. (Pattern in the book).

You'll be pleased to hear all these delightful ideas have inspired me to get my knitting needles out again and I have made a start on a new doll. I never begin with a fixed idea but just experiment and hope for inspiration and so far all I can confirm is that the next dolly will be slightly bigger than most of the others. Two funny felt eyes are pinned in place and I have a tangled bundle of yarn that I position on top of her head to give her a bit more character! It doesn't sound very promising does it but I can assure this is the way I always work so hopefully something cute will eventually emerge. Meanwhile I'll leave you with a link to the Bell and Boo website. You'll find it by clicking HERE.

Wishing you all a happy weekend.