Wednesday, November 22, 2017

UGLY SWEATERS FOR DOLLS



Almost any “quick” project I undertake turns out to be another protracted, unfinished project. I suffer setbacks, or interruptions occur, or I am otherwise sidetracked. So, when I determined that Hazel, the American Girl doll who is enjoying her first holiday season with my great-grandniece, needed some outfits for the holidays, I knew that I had to keep it simple and go for quantity over quality. I settled on some “ugly sweaters” made from holiday socks as “just the thing.” For quick tips and how-tos, I turned to YouTube, where girls have posted very amateur video tutorials for each other on “no sew” doll clothes from socks.

My favorite -- from fuzzy socks
In theory, it should work to cut the foot off a woman’s sock and with a couple of snips for armholes make a sweater or dress for an 18-inch doll. However, I have found that it’s asking a lot for a sock to stretch over the AG doll’s body, and then it’s not very attractive. The little girl demonstrating this technique came to the same conclusion. Stretching the leg of a sock over her doll “Katherine” – and none too gently, I might add – she surveyed the result and said, “Hmmm. I am not a fan of this,” proving what I already knew – flimsy little socks just aren’t going to work. The little girl enthusiastically continued her tutorial anyway: “Don’t throw any part of the sock away,” she said. “Be creative. Make a hat or a headband. Be creative!”

So, with her encouragement and some ideas of my own, I pulled a couple pairs of holiday socks from my drawer. I love holiday socks and I used to wear them, but eventually I heeded the wisdom shared by my mother-in-law: such socks constrict the flow of blood in our legs and should not be worn.  Anyway, I had socks to donate for experimentation and an idea on how to make a sweater that might work, so I set out to be creative.

Two sock tops
I cut the foot off of each of a pair of socks. Next, I cut the legs vertically according to the design on the sock. (Well, okay, I muffed that on the first sock.) Then I opened each section flat and matched them up, right sides together. (The band will be the neck opening.) Then I sewed the two sections together at the sides, leaving an opening of at least 1 ½ inches for the armhole. (A fairly wide armhole is necessary to accommodate the doll’s open hand.) That’s pretty much all there is to it, except that I shaped the shoulder a little better and hemmed the armholes and the bottom.

It’s a quick way to make some doll clothes, but once you cut the sock, I’m afraid it might continue to stretch and lose shape. But then, it’s okay if these little ugly sweaters don’t last forever. One thing leads to another. Today I’ll finish the project by “quickly” stitching up some stretch pants. KW





Monday, November 20, 2017

IMAGINARY CELEBRATIONS


Just before the rain storm -- about 12:30 p.m.

Mike watches a lot of football – a LOT of football – and while I don’t watch, I don’t care if he does. I’ve learned to pursue other activities while he is thus occupied, including listening to programs on my iPad while I crochet, armchair shopping, or – maybe just falling asleep. Whatever – I’m not bored. (Well, maybe a little bored.)

At 3:30 p.m.
This time of year is difficult, though. As soon as it turns cold and the days grow shorter, Mike seems to have time on his hands. However, in November and December, I’m busy with holiday plans and preparations, most of which support an imaginary celebration on this blog. I don’t talk much about it because it has only the importance I assign to it, but my imaginary people want to do more than I can possibly accomplish before Christmas. You say Christmas is only five weeks away? I’m already wondering if the 57 weeks until Christmas 2018 would be enough.

At 4:30 p.m.
But – it’s still too early for Mike to worry about Christmas. “I was thinking we could go geocaching this afternoon,” he might casually suggest, all nice and relaxed-like. Meanwhile, my whole afternoon, tomorrow, next week and the week after are planned in my head. Still, if he asks, “What are you going to do tomorrow,” I just can’t bring myself to say, “Ina has to bake gingerbread cookies for the kids at the one-room schoolhouse, and she has to finish Shirley Anne's apron before she gets home from school." Yes, that's not real, but experiencing as much as I can is important to me. This imaginary celebration replaces Christmas Past. KW


Friday, November 17, 2017

A LOVELY GIFT



So, as I mentioned on yesterday’s post, Tuesday I packed up my embroidery machine and thread, fabric, stabilizers, etc., and headed to my friend Chris’ house. You may recall that we each bought a Brother PE-770 in September (here). For Chris, the new machine replaced a beloved favorite which was worn out, but I caught her enthusiasm and wanted one, too. She volunteered to provide training for me, but it took us a while to find a mutually satisfactory date. (You know how it is when you’re retired.) We finally settled on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

I left Clarkston in fog and halfway up the Lewiston Hill, it became so dense that I nearly panicked. But just beyond that point I drove right out of the fog and into a beautiful day. Chris was waiting for me when I arrived at her house. After a brief overview to be sure I understood the machine’s functions, we commenced to embroider. I stitched on a tea towel and she made the cutest gingerbread coaster, the first of a set she’s making. Besides operating our machines, we talked non-stop for four hours. I can’t tell you how many subjects we started and didn’t finish. When I left, Chris probably collapsed on her sofa for a nice nap before my tail lights disappeared around the corner.

And – she gave me the nicest gift: Ann Estelle from the Robert Tonner Doll Company, still new in the box. Chris had originally gifted this doll to someone else, but then she had the privilege of gifting her again so she entrusted her to me. I am so honored to have her. By mutual agreement between Ann Estelle and myself, she is now out of the box.



Ann Estelle comes from designer Mary Englebreit’s brightly colorful world, and I am in the process of determining Ann’s character in my world. She’s charming and whimsical. It’s clear that her family has wherewithal and her grandmother does heirloom sewing. No "make-do" in that family. She reminds me of pictures of my sister Harriet in the '30s, but I can’t quite bring myself to call her "Harriet." She IS like Harriet, though. Harriet was bright and imaginative, and so is Ann Estelle. I think she'll live in the china cabinet with the dishes and lovely things. Yes, I think that suits her personality. KW

Thursday, November 16, 2017

A FINE DAY



This promises to be a fine day. We’ve had a really lovely mild fall so far. The lawn and lot are as green as spring and fall grain coloring the hills beautifully. – Ina Dobson (Nov. 21, 1934)

Monday in town -- sun's reflection to the north at sunset
I’ve been busy the last few days. Monday I organized my embroidery supplies, and Tuesday I packed up my new Brother PE-770 embroidery machine and the aforesaid supplies, loaded them into the car, and drove the 30 miles north to visit my friend, Chris, who is my machine embroidery mentor. But – more about that in the next post.

Farm -- to the south
Yesterday, (Wednesday, Nov. 15), Mike and I loaded the dogs into the back of the Dakota and headed for the farm, towing the old trailer and pond boat. Such travel makes me nervous, but we did it, and now the boat and the trailer are back where they belong -- and that's a good thing.

It was 38 outside and 45 in the farmhouse when we arrived about 9:30. Mike had laid wood for a good fire before we left last time, but we opted not to burn it since our stay would be short. Instead we turned on the wall furnace. We both gathered things we wanted to take to town, and then Mike and Bess hiked to the north. They didn’t see a single game bird and only one white-tail.

Distant snow
Although we accomplished what we had planned, the whole trip felt a little lackluster. I didn't find the landscape as beautiful a Grandma Ina described it, and I left there knowing that I still have a lot to do. I carried Halloween decorations to the spare bed, which means they still need to be put away. And the garden, now long past, needs to be winterized. But, oh well – some years it just doesn’t happen and I take care of it in the spring. The maple tree has lost its leaves and while many remain on the ground, it was obvious that the wind has carried many more away.

To the north
We left soon after lunch. The clouds had given way to sunshine and the trip along the Clearwater River was beautiful with the trees glowing gold in the sun’s light. We didn’t stop to take pictures, though. Once we were back at the town house, Mike hopped on his bicycle for an exercise ride and I walked the dogs. Mike came back complaining about the early darkness.

Let’s visit again soon. KW

Sunday, November 12, 2017

LIGHTED BOAT PARADE




From the Clarkston side of the Southway Bridge, looking toward Lewiston
 “Darkness sneaks up this time of year,” Mike commented as he came in late from an afternoon bicycle ride. He’d had a flat tire and other challenges, but he was home safe and sound as daylight was waning. Two of my children complain that the early evening darkness affects their mood. I’ve never minded. In fact, I find it comforting to begin the evening routine early.



For some reason the “Lighted Boat Parade” on the Snake River between Lewiston and Clarkston, what used to be a December event, was held last night – Saturday, Nov. 11 (Veterans’ Day). Frankly, I could have passed, but Mike thought we ought to go, so we did. There were four boats. Do four boats make a parade?  I appreciate the efforts of those who participated, but it just felt too early -- too early in the evening and too early in the year. KW

[I was disappointed in the pictures. They are what they are.]