Just Because I Can’t…

So, just because I can’t have a sheep or two here in town doesn’t mean other members of the household can’t start a flock. The Friendship Hittys, not surprisingly, have been interested in spinning, knitting, and weaving for quite a while now, and today was the first step toward them being less dependent on my provisions for their fiber adventures.

Miss Woolly was adopted from UpperRoomCreations on Etsy. As is mandatory with livestock shipments, she arrived very quickly, and is a happy, healthy ewe. Now the girls want to know where to find sheep shears. Help!!!

Published in: on June 6, 2011 at 11:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Rescue

So, we’ve been making regular trips to my in-law’s home, sorting through an amazing amount of chattel, in preparation to sell the house. I will say straight off that much of this has been extremely challenging and difficult work. I can’t imagine they ever threw away much of anything, and when my mother-in-law’s mother died, they brought home half of her things to add to the already jam packed house. Since my husband is an only child, that makes for a whole lot of work for the two of us to do.

The last few weeks, we’ve been working in the upstairs. Although it was a finished room, it’s served as an attic for quite a long while. Once we thought we had sorted through pretty much everything, we discovered that there were four doors leading to large storage areas in the eaves. I wanted to cry when I saw them, heaped as they were with unidentifiable clutter. However, we’ve persevered, and so far, it’s turned out to be some of the best digging we’ve done. 🙂 A good 80% of what we are pulling out of those areas are just plain trash – old drop cloths, empty boxes, sacks and sacks of used Christmas ribbon and more. We really need a dumpster with as much as we’ve found.

However, the bit by bit sorting has paid off every so often. The last time we’d been up, I discovered a very old and worn handbag jammed full of doll clothes. My mother-in-law had given me her doll years ago, but looking at these items I started having some questions. There were several sizes of clothing, and none of it would fit Phyllis. Had there been another doll or two at some point? She’d acted as if Phyllis was her one and only, but… well… there was no one who would be able to give me any answers. How depressing!

Today my husband was pulling out one brittle paper shopping bag after another, and I was checking and chucking boxes by the dozen, bag after bag of Easter grass, and wads of yellowed, used tissue paper, stacking all sorts of very vintage Christmas lights and unused wedding gifts from the early 1950’s  in the sell pile, and pretending like my nose wasn’t clogging shut from who knows what I was breathing. Reaching into the next bag for the next wad of tissue, I felt something of substance. Pulling back the paper a bit, I had a bit of a start. There were two eyes peering back at me! I’m laughing now, but at the moment, I froze! Looking a second time, I finally decided it was safe, as it hadn’t moved, and much to my delight, this is what came out of the paper. 🙂

He’s Teddy Kuddles, a Knickerbocker toy. Based on where he was found and what was with him, he dates from the late 1920’s. He’s 13″ tall, plush, and has been well loved, but he’s still a sweetie. There’s a short zipper in his back which opens to a fully lined pocket. My guess is that he may have had a growler or music box, but that’s definitely just a guess. It’s much too little for him to have been a pajama bear. I’d love to hear from you if you know more about him. I enjoy teddy bears, but I’m not educated about them. Nor am I sure how to clean him or if I safely can. Seems he’s had some of the stuffing loved out of him, too. I’m really hoping that when I look throw the mounds of family photos we’ve salvaged, I can find a picture of my mother-in-law cuddling him when she was little. That would just make my day!

So, there was another bundle of disintegrating tissue paper under Teddy Kuddles, and now I was excited to see what else I might find. Sure enough, the next bundle felt like it also held a body, and I didn’t hesitate this time. Out of the shreds came a chubby dolly, painted cloth face, 14″ tall. Ah HAH! Certainly the owner of some of the clothes in the handbag!

I wish I knew more about comic strips of the 1920’s and 1930’s. She almost has to be a comic strip character with that face and the starfish style, four finger hands. Does anyone recognize her?

So then I noticed that the bag still has some weight to it, and there’s still more tissue paper. I’d gone from “happy surprise” state to making wishes, which I suppose is always a bad idea. I didn’t get my wish (want to guess what it was?), but on the other hand, I didn’t do too badly, either. 🙂 As found, here is the last treasure in the bag…

She’s unmarked, 15″ tall, and she is in simply amazing condition, particularly when you consider that she’s been wrapped in tissue paper and stored in a non-climate-controlled eaves storage area for decades. Based on my mother-in-law having been born in 1926, I’m going to say this little gal is from the mid 1930’s, which meshes well with her style. I’m very glad she has the painted tin eyes, as they hold up better than the plastic ones. I’m equally pleased that they are brown with her blonde hair – a combination one doesn’t see so often on dolls.

She has what looks to be an original hair ribbon, though her mohair wig was flattened by spending many years under a baby doll bonnet. The wig is also shedding, so it’s questionable how much styling I could actually do safely. She’s wearing her original socks and oilcloth shoes. And she obviously needs a bath and restringing.

I knew without a doubt that some of the clothes in the bag were hers, and she was happy to be reunited with them!This is just part of the clothing stash I found – mostly her things, with the other sizes stacked in the front.This is the biggest trial to me, though.

Quite a few of the clothes I found have this green gunk on them. It’s hard, and it’s tightly adhered to the fabric, some places looking almost melted into it. Several of the pieces are stuck together. I wish I could figure out what it is and how to safely remove it. I’m sort of nervous about messing with it, but I’d love to be able to put her back into her own clothes. If I wash this little dress and the green doesn’t come out, I’ll have no way to iron it. Looking for suggestions from people with more experience with this sort of thing!

And there was one knitted wool outfit for her, plus a pair of baby booties also of wool. Some little critters found these garments at some point in the last 60 years and reduced them to swiss cheese. I’m thinking that perhaps when things slow down a bit for me, there might be enough of the fabric left for me to copy the outfit for her. For now, I’m thinking it might be best to stick it in a bag in the freezer, though, just to be on the safe side…

So, that was my big excitement of the day. Not one of these fits into the category of my normal collections, but I’ve always fantasized about being one of those people who finds a doll in the attic of an old house. Now, I suppose I’ve actually done that, even if it wasn’t a doll of my dreams sort of find. Besides, it’s pretty cool that these aren’t just anybody’s childhood friends; they were part of the family many years before I joined it, so they have history. I’m just the caretaker, and I’m honored to have that privilege!

Buried Treasure

Surprise! No, this isn’t what I thought my next blog post would be either! 😉 I’ve been so busy the past few days that I’ve not done any “real” carding yet, just practicing with my “junk” wool, if there is such a thing. I’ve learned some things I needed to know, and am looking forward to some clear time to do something for keeps soon!

Meanwhile, as I said, I’ve been really busy. As my mobility is increasing, I’m gradually getting into some of the projects and cleaning that has been rather neglected lately. Now at this point, I’m going to start a story that has two ends coming together in the middle, so bear with me here!

A few years ago, I was working on restoring an antique doll. In addition to the work she needed, she made a very intriguing rattle when she moved, and with some effort, I was finally able to extricate a small brown object from her insides. I was disappointed to see that it was a small metal button, totally corroded, and identifiable only by the two holes in the shallow shank on the back. Now a logical person would have tossed it in the trash can, but it was the first treasure I’d ever found in a doll, and I’m not always logical. 😉 That button has laid on my bathroom counter for several years now.

Skipping to the other end of this tale, I decided if I was going to clean up several months worth of ick in the bathroom, I may as well do it as a fall cleaning sort of project. Despite our water softener, the water in this town is so hard that we still have lime deposits to deal with, so I got out the vinegar to soak them off. What I didn’t notice was that I splashed a puddle of it on that silly button. If I’d seen it, I’d have quickly rinsed it off… and if I’d done that, I wouldn’t be writing this post!

Going back to check on the progress of the soaking an hour or so later, I saw the button, laying in a now brown puddle. “Great,” I’m thinking. “I just ruined it even worse.” But when I picked it up and turned it over, I was startled to find the vinegar had only ruined the corrosion, and I was left with a sparkly button! I sure wish I knew what metal this was and why the vinegar didn’t hurt the button – and for that matter, how it is that the button was so bright under the rust.

I can’t seem to get a photo that shows the glimmer, but this one came close. Needless to say, I’m very pleased with the result of this happy accident, and one of these days, this tiny treasure will have to grace an  outfit on one of my dolls. It’s a diminutive 3/8″ and sits very flat, despite the shallow shank on the back, so it’s perfect for dolly clothes, and I have to wonder if it may have come off an outfit the doll I was working on once owned. I really wish I knew the vintage. Isn’t it fun how something so tiny can just make the day sparkle? 🙂

Published in: on September 25, 2010 at 7:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Christmas 2009 – Part 3

Before I start, the kitchen ceiling is still hanging in there – literally! Newest update is that DH claims to have caulked several days ago, but since the worst of the damage and the leak appeared after he says he did it, I’d say that there was definitely something lacking in his technique. 😉 The dripping stopped briefly this morning, but a couple hours after his shower it started up again, so obviously, it’s not cured…

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How do I know I’m too busy? I’m just now starting to put away my Christmas gifts – a month after Christmas Eve! It’s hard to believe that as I’m writing this, a month ago at this moment, we were just starting on the final leg of our “adventure” trying to get to our daughter’s house for Christmas… The reason I’m squeezing this task of putting gifts away in right now, is that I need the box in which I toted my gifts home. It’s the perfect size to gather the parcels coming in for the 2010 Bleuette Stash Swap. (There’s still time to join!) Otherwise I fear it would have continued the way it has up until now with me grabbing something from the box when I want/need it for something, and I might have still been putting things away at my birthday in June!

I thought I’d take a few quick pictures and share what everybody got for me, because I think I received some neat stuff, even if it is somewhat lacking in fiber… 😉

For paper crafting, hubby bought me a Bind It All (neglecting to get me any accessories whatsoever, so I’ve not been able to try it yet) and a new design card for my Slice machine. He didn’t understand that there were different cards and just bought one off ebay. Thankfully he got one I didn’t have already – and now I don’t need to re-prioritize when I make my birthday list. 😉 If you don’t know, the Slice is a compact design cutter with hundreds of shapes and fonts in a multitude of sizes. The design cards are very well priced and contain clever and useful designs and a themed font. I’m not sure where those folks at Making Memories get their ideas, but they think like I do – and it’s an affordable system if you shop smart. 🙂 The Bind It All is a Zutter creation – again a compact machine. It slots pages and covers, then installs wire bindings, turning anything you wish into a book. In addition to the paper crafting applications, I’m thinking it will be nice to be able to bind such things as my Queen Susan Shawl print outs and other ebook downloads, so I can easily put them on my bookshelf with my other knitting books.

I received a nice assortment of doll related items this year, including a lovely Bleuette dress, china paints, and the complete Re-ment Bread and Butter set, which thrilled the Hitty gang. I wish I knew who had made the dress, but he bought it on ebay, and it didn’t come with a tag or sewn in label. It’s very nicely made, and I’m sorry I don’t know who to praise for the workmanship. We haven’t decided who gets to wear it yet (After all, it IS short sleeved and not seasonable right now.), but there is going to be a clamor among the early girls when they see it!

My younger daughter condescended to walk through the door of an antique shop and found an adorable baby tintype for me, which contrasted amusingly with the “purrfect” pet cat mannequin she picked up for me elsewhere. I love both of these surprise gifts, which just goes to show what an eclectic nut I am!

And last, but very certainly not least, is this wonderful mobile! When I was in Honduras the last time, I fell in love with it, but I’d spent my money by the time I saw it, so I had to leave it behind. My older daughter told DH how fond I was of it, so he had her bring it home when she was up on furlough. What a surprise it was to find it among my gifts! Other than just being an attractive sculpture, when the ball at the bottom is tugged and released, the bird begins a slow, graceful flapping that is utterly enchanting – very peaceful and rather addictive! I’m trying to figure out where he will be best hung now. The wingspan is rather wide, and he really argues with my somewhat Victorian decor. That’s not going to stop me from having him somewhere that I see him often, though. I just need to work on finding the perfect long term location – and that is NOT hanging from the ceiling fan chain! :))

Goals Post – Forward to 2010!

Perhaps this post should be titled “Living in Dreamland.” 😉 It’s unquestionably the most ambitious list of goals I’ve ever set out at the beginning of the year, and I’ve not ever completed my shorter lists, but my philosophy of goals remains that having a higher target means I hit more, even if I don’t complete them all. The most important factor for me is to remain realistic in that I remember it IS an overly ambitious list, and that anything I do accomplish is a victory; it’s not a defeat to not do all of it. These are goals to help me stay on track, not requirements that identify whether I’m a worthwhile person!

That said, here are my goals for 2010:

My online miniatures group is doing a goals based project, and we were asked to spell out five mini goals, so I will start with those:

  1. Finish the interior and/or exterior of Friendship Cabin, a Real Good Toys Adirondack Cabin that we started several years ago, but which has languished untouched since sometime before the beginning of 2009. Here’s the album where I chronicled our first days working on the project.
  2. Finish my Gail Wilson Hitty, which was started with enthusiasm during the online class, worked on for three nights, and now has the rest of the girls giving me “the look” for not getting their sister done. I have a little glitch in the painting, and since this is a challenging project for me anyway, the moment I encountered a problem, I put her away for a time when I could really feel relaxed. ‘Nuff said? :S
  3. Finish my Teresa Layman Cottage By the Sea project – actually barely started, and a massive project for someone who really doesn’t like embroidery or French knots. This will be a rug for Friendship Cabin.
  4. Finish my Boat Sampler – stitched on silk gauze – lots to go on it, but most of the hardest part is completed. Like the Layman project, I started this on our last cruise. Unlike the Layman project, I loved working on this one, so I did quite a bit more of it. Also belongs in Friendship Cabin, and perhaps will be finished on another cruise…
  5. Knit something tiny – size 4/0 needles or smaller – probably something for my future miniature yarn shop

Fiber Goals:

  1. See #5 in the miniatures
  2. Publish at least 4 knitting patterns – should actually be more than this, as I have 3 projects that just need the paperwork part of this goal in order to be ready. The paperwork is the hard part of course… I’m knitting my next shawl design right now, and I’ve promised another KAL for the spring, so I’m going to be busy with this!
  3. Finish my spinning wheel – I can’t believe this sat untouched for an entire year. Where on earth did the time go??? The staining is about half done, but it’s an involved project. Once that’s done, I need to finish and assemble it.
  4. Learn to use said wheel
  5. Knit a project from wool I’ve cleaned and spun, using a pattern I’ve designed – I have a bit of a jumpstart on this, as I’ve cleaned a goodly pile and picked some of it already.
  6. Stash all my yarn on Ravelry – yes, maybe I’ll get it completed this year… – Starting with 550
  7. Get competent purling continental. I think I need to have a dedicated project for this… maybe a washcloth. 🙂
  8. Make another 2 pairs of socks for myself (maybe I’ll get the next done before I wear holes in what I have?) This was one pair until a friend twisted my arm and said I should try for two – and one pair has to be top down, to boot! Bad thing here is that I also promised a pair to my daughter, so this means three pair this year, when I’ve never done more than one. Gulp!
  9. Finish at least 3 of the projects currently languishing in my WIP/UFO tubs – items started before July 1, 2009. This one will also be a challenge. I love the stuff in my UFO tub, even though it’s all pretty good at inducing guilt. I’ve found that designing really slows down the knitting, though, especially on other people’s patterns!

Other Creative Goals:

  1. Finish at least one of the remodeling projects… sigh… Acceptable candidates are the kitchen (which is in the impossible dream category), painting the door to my future studio (easy), or finishing the nook, laundry room, or my sewing room. Nook and laundry room both depend on hubby – most especially the nook – though I have a load of work to do in those two areas, too.
  2. Organize my computer photos, then print and label as I think necessary. I’m rereading this and laughing at the thought of actually getting it done, but…
  3. Spend at least a few minutes every week making music – LOVE doing this, but I’ve really ignored this part of my life for the last few years. Looking for a flute – like I need more instruments around here?
  4. Learn my new camera – for starters, needing to know why I can’t take a decent close up with a camera that cost this much!
  5. Make up a Gail Wilson kit – see mini goal #2
  6. Finish Reba – poor thing! Her sisters were finished in 2006 (pix in this album) but my teacher suddenly stopped classes with Reba just one firing away from being done. Every attempt I’ve made to get her fired since then has ended in failure. Need to get a kiln up and going here so I don’t have to depend on anyone else.
  7. Make a pair of socks on my CSM – This could be anything from amazingly easy to a terrible headache, based on things I’ve heard. First task is getting the new needles and such that I need.
  8. Probably crazy, but I joined a Navajo style weaving Yahoo group, and now I have the bug to weave something, even if it’s small. I’m torn between tri-loom and Navajo style, but would adore trying both. One item is enough to qualify.
  9. Move one of my dolls from hospital patient status to display status – maybe Aaron, so he can show off his adorable knitted romper? He is on this page.

Personal Goals – and these tend to have a very familiar ring to them:

  1. End the year 25 pounds lighter than I started it. Why is this so hard?!
  2. Read 100 books
  3. End the year debt free – both money and promises made
  4. Go somewhere new – state or country. I have a life goal of visiting all 50 states and all 7 continents, and I need to keep at it if I’m going to succeed!
  5. Clean out one of my email accounts – frighteningly big project, but I’ve made a lot of progress already in the first two days of the year. It’s amazing how quickly this can fall behind again, though.
  6. I have a challenge with a friend to blog at least once each week
  7. Solidly memorize the scripture verses on my calendar
  8. Get the treadmill inside – Sounds like no big deal, but it’s going to need cleaned up, and the area where it belongs is packed solid with things that don’t belong where they are – which aren’t where they belong because their spots are filled with stuff that doesn’t belong where it is, which… well… you get the idea!

It’s About Time!

I think I’m back in business here… There I was happily floating on a little cloud, enjoying my perfectly fantastic month, and all the sudden I got kicked hard in the backs of my knees… but more on that later. Today I want to share my fun and somewhat naughty excursion to a new-to-me antique shop last week while I was having my car serviced. (Whereas it’s fine for people to have hiccups, it’s not such a good thing in a car…) I drive 90 minutes to get to a mechanic I trust, then borrow a car for the day and try to find something interesting to do. This time my sister suggested an antique store in a town I’d never visited. I had TOO much fun, but after the past couple of weeks, I sort of felt like I deserved it.

Like most antique stores with a collection of vendors, some things were priced far too high, many just right, and with a little bit of time, there were some lovely deals to be found. My “bestest” stuff came from a booth offering an additional 10% off of everything – a quick way for me to get into trouble, but at least it’s fun trouble! In that booth, I adopted a clock that is unlike anything else I had to this point. I don’t NEED another clock, but with this one being so different and priced nicely, it sort of had to come home with me. It has some lightly dinged corners, and the pendulum needs to see a jeweler to have the hook repaired, but it has a lovely cathedral gong and runs fine, so it’s mine. 🙂 A little bit of quick sleuthing tells me it’s a Junghan’s clock, and that, too, is new to me, so I’m very happy with it.

The other thing I found in that booth was something else I desperately don’t need, but he was just irresistible. From working on my family tree, I suspect I have more than a few ancestors who looked very much like this guy, and truth be told, because of where I bought it, he could actually be one of them! Isn’t this great?

In another booth, I found this little sweetheart. She is simply wonderful, but she’s not the sort of doll I collect, so I told her I’d bring her home and play adoption agent. I have her listed in my doll store (link in sidebar). She’s a Nancy Ann Storybook Doll #184 Friday’s Child. She’s exquisitely perfect, and her box is nearly perfect (slight stain on the bottom). The neat thing is that I borrowed a Nancy Ann book from the library, and the brochure in her box isn’t pictured in the book. It falls between the single one listed 1946 and the “early 1947” version, so I guess she has the late 1946 brochure. Wonder if it’s rare, perhaps? Just a bit surprising to see such a thick and well researched book not have the one Nancy Ann brochure I’ve ever seen in my life!

Isn’t she a sweetheart?

I got a few other odds and ends – a few bells, a couple photos, and a sewing box stocked with crochet stuff and some odd lace pieces I’ll have to share one of these days. I was just especially excited to share these three things. They really perked up my day quite nicely – and I needed some perking!

Real Estate Boom!

I made a sudden and very unexpected real estate acquisition this week! How big of an acquisition it is would be purely in the eye of the beholder, though. 😉 I’ve been a member of the local Freecycle group for a few years, but nearly all my activity has been getting rid of things. However, when someone posted a partially built dollhouse kit a few days ago, I couldn’t resist pouncing on the opportunity to get a nice sized house. Next problem is finding a good spot for this new treasure.

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It’s the Vermont Farmhouse Jr. kit from Real Good Toys, and it’s very much a handyman’s special. It was started by a little girl of about 10 years of age – about 10 years ago. She abandoned the project, and the house has been sitting in the basement for a good while. Over the course of time, the windows, doors, and stairs disappeared. The shingling is half done and needs to be removed entirely.

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The porch appears to have been in place at one point in time, but it’s reverted to pieces in a box.

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And there was what appears to be a toxic waste spill in the attic…

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But just look at the potential! The shell is intact and solid, and there is no redecorating to do! Both of the lower floors divide into two rooms, and the attic can be sectioned as well.

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Having not planned on having such a nice big house to play with at this point in time, my mind is spinning with options of how to dress it out, but for now, I’ve not arrived at any definite plan of action – except that I know the woman of the house is a creative lady, so there will have to be some sort of sewing, knitting, and/or art area in here somewhere. 😉

And speaking of miniatures and sewing… I just finished a little tutorial on making realistic looking sewing patterns “in use” for miniature scenes. You can access it through a direct link in my sidebar or click here. Have fun! And let me know if you try it. I’d love to see your finished projects!

Published in: on August 31, 2009 at 2:31 am  Leave a Comment  

Running Away From Home

(As always, please excuse these stupid out of focus pictures. I’ve still not managed to get my camera problems resolved – too much going on! Also, at least as of this moment, I’m finding the photos to be showing up somewhat sporadically. If you see a big blank spot with the word “Atlanta” and a number, it means a picture is supposed to be there. Try clicking on the title of this post. For some reason, I’m seeing different photos when I do that.)

So, last week, on rather short notice, I ran away from home. A friend wrote in the middle of June, asking if I’d like to go to Atlanta for the UFDC Convention. I had next to no money, but I couldn’t resist the draw of some time away from home, so as crazy as the idea was, I said yes. 🙂 I knew I could scratch together enough for my flight and my share of the room (which wasn’t inexpensive!), but past that, I would have to depend on peanut butter crackers, potential birthday money, and whatever sales I could stimulate in the few weeks before the trip. Happily, I came up with enough that I could eat one cheap meal out each day and have something to spend in the sales rooms, and a last minute addition of another roommate made it even a bit better. Still, I have to say that it was really tough being in such a fantastic sea of awesome dolls and accessories with so very little money, and there were a couple of wonderful dolls I lost out on because they were just a little beyond what I had in my pocket. But I didn’t come home empty handed –  and now that it’s a week after the event, I don’t even mind having eaten so much peanut butter. 😉

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Hotels that look like this inside don’t come with cheap rooms…

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View out our window – see the capitol building?

Martine and Hitty Darlene went along with me, so they did a bit of looking around for treasures. Hitty D. found little in her price range that she liked, but she was quite pleased with the pretzel, which reminded her very much of the huge German pretzels one can purchase at Englischer Gartens in Munich.

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She really wished she had money to purchase the great bobbin lace pillow, but it was definitely out of her price range,

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and the horse was fun to ride, but she couldn’t imagine paying $200 for it!

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Martine, with some judicious bargaining and her sweet smile, brought home all sorts of goodies for her brothers and sisters, and a pair of Joyce Nicholsen’s espadrilles for herself. The little doll in the trunk is one of Alison Harwood’s fantastic creations. Jean-Paul apparently already ran off with his little wooden floor puzzle. Martine has promised to teach Gayelle to knit with the dress kit she bought for her. The purse is “so Malloree” that I chipped in a little bit of my money when Martine found herself a bit short at the end of the day.

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We also picked out a few pieces of fabric.

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And I bought a little something for my sewing room…

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I really had a strong desire to bring home a new doll this year, but on my budget, the only things I was finding I could afford were the mundane – which I really don’t need. I’m definitely sufficiently stocked with those. If money were no object (That will be the day!), this is the one doll I’d have had to have owned. She wasn’t the most expensive doll there by a long shot, but she’s the one who stole my heart most completely.

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This beautiful Kestner pink tint, covered wagon, china I thought was going to be mine. She wasn’t priced too badly, but still out of my range, but since it was the end of the last day of the show when I found her, I took the info and intended to contact the seller in a few weeks. However, I went back a half hour later and she was gone – sold. I embarrassed myself by crying. I’d so wanted her! However, she was $25 more than every penny I’d brought along, so…

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I did find someone to come home with me, though, and she’s a pretty little gal who is unlike anyone else I have, so a nice addition to the family. And I could actually afford to adopt her, which was a big plus. 😉 She’s an ABG Dolly Madison china doll, from the early 1870’s, about 25″ tall. Clothes are not original, nor do they come remotely close to fitting her. In fact, they are so small that it’s going to be a trick getting the dress off of her. Her seller was a bit of a sourpuss, too, so she was more than happy to come home with me. I’m looking forward to having some time to dress her more appropriately, and I’m hoping I happen to have at least some underthings to fit her – though I’m not holding my breath on that count.

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On Friday, we went to the Atlanta History Center. We saw some wonderful stuff there, but sadly weren’t allowed to bring any of it home in pictures, making it hard to retain what we saw and learned during our visit. These are two of the period homes which we toured – the Swan House and the Tulley Smith Plantation, two totally different types of homes, and each utterly charming in its own way.

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And our trip through town netted me one of my favorite styles of city pix. 🙂

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And in addition to the touring and shopping, there was all sorts of great fun, meeting a number of people I’d only known online until now, room parties, aching feet, and the pride of conquering the public transit system in Atlanta… All in all a very nice week!

There Wasn’t A Parade…

So, it rained where I was on Independence Day, but at least there wasn’t a parade scheduled. I guess it could have been worse, right? 🙂 The traditional picnic moved indoors and bore a distinctly different flavor, but the silver lining was that there weren’t any flies or mosquitos to swat, and the food was as good as ever, if not better. However, one tradition that was upheld would make me just as  happy to not continue. Even though my order was taken for a hamburger on the grill, by the time I got through the foodline, there wasn’t a single burger left, and only two hotdogs. I seriously dislike hotdogs, and there were two people behind me of a different opinion, so after I made a few bitter complaints, I resignedly grabbed a burger bun (there were LOTS of those left…) and heaped it with sauteed onions and pickle relish. I’d never had an onion sandwich before, but it actually wasn’t half bad so long as I didn’t think a lot about the burger I’d been eagerly anticipating. Besides, not wanting to risk a further shut out, I went through the dessert line without waiting to politely eat first, so I was looking at a double helping of Aunt Joyce’s Black Raspberry Cobbler. That little delicacy made it tough to keep pouting. 😉

My sister and I both have June birthdays, and we live far enough apart now that we’ve begun waiting to exchange gifts on the Fourth. I’ve been bothered in recent years by the fact that no matter what I get her, it seems as if I end up with the better present. This year I was sure I’d done well – until I saw what she’d found for me!

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Is this special or what?! I was nearly speechless! I don’t know how she finds things like this – or lets me have them instead of keeping them for herself – but she’s good at it! I was so overwhelmed, though, that I was suddenly very much afraid that she wouldn’t like her own gift. All that assurance blew right out the door!

So what did I get for her?

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I’ve gone from avid ebayer investing hours searching for special deals to checking in once a week or so for literally a couple of minutes. They’ve so managed to ruin everything that was good about that site… but that’s beside the point. A couple months ago, I DID check in for a minute, and someone had listed this little doll for sale on a BIN just minutes earlier. Now my sister collects Victorian and Edwardian wedding memorabilia and has a definite soft spot for dolls. This is the first time I’d ever seen one of the older German all-bisques dressed as a bride, and I didn’t even hesitate. That doll was bought and paid for in moments. Never mind the fact she came bald… or rather, never mind that fact until I was faced with the fact that she still needed hair the day before she was to go to her new home. I’d just not been sure how I was going to managed such a delicate operation. She’s only about 3.5″ tall (forgot to measure!), and her veil and crepe paper gown are most definitely fragile – not to mention her headpiece was still firmly glued in place. Finally, my spinning experience proved the solution. After I cleaned her (which was also not so easy to do without damaging her finery),  I took a tiny tuft of merino that  matched her eyebrows to perfection… and stopped dead. I couldn’t just glue a hunk of merino on her head. She needed some sort of a part or something to create a tiny bit of style, but I had no matching thread. Hmmm… go knit for a while… VOILA! Thread! It’s a spun substance! 🙂 I fingerspun enough of the merino to tie around the tuft, and I was back in business! I found my sewing up needle to be far better than a toothpick for placing the hair, as it didn’t stick and pull, so all in all, it was my spinning and knitting that were the basis for restoring this little sweetie. I loved the irony of that!

And – if you are actually holding your breath in suspense, my sister absolutely loved her doll, and like me, despite the many hours she’s perused the antique wedding stuff, she’d also never seen a doll of her type, so as the saying goes, I done good! We were both very happy people. 🙂 I’m trying hard not to worry about what I’m going to find for next year, though…

One other happening of note on the Fourth… My little niece had eyed my knitting on several occasions, but she also lives at a distance from me, so I’d not had the opportunity to sneak knitting needles into her hands yet. Having seen the weather forecast, though, I’d slyly slipped my beginner kits into my basket when I was packing Saturday morning. Sure enough, the weather cooperated with me, and shortly after supper, I had a six-year-old on my lap, intently wrangling knitting needles and lavender wool, cheerfully announcing and displaying every single completed stitch. Now THAT is what I call fun – and a super end to the evening!

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Oh… and she dropped some very  strong hints that perhaps someday I might make her something… GRIN! 🙂

Today’s Guest Blogger

I’d like to introduce you to today’s guest blogger, a charming gal I just found out about a couple of weeks ago. She was born in Hong Kong and has just recently moved to the United States, and I’m very happy to say that this young lady is going to be living here in our home for the foreseeable future. I’ll add a few words in closing, but for now, I’d like to turn the computer over to Miss Melodie Pascaline.

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Hello, Everybody!

Wow! This is really exciting! I never dreamed I’d be blogging, especially so soon after my arrival here in the States. It’s been a very exciting day for me, and I hardly know where to begin! I guess the best thing is for me to just tell you about myself.

As Maman just told you, I was born in Hong Kong, and my first memories are from Ruby Red Galleria, where I lived temporarily with quite a few of my sisters. We were told that we were very special girls, as we are the first ever resin Bleuettes, and we would have the important job of being ambassadors to everyone we met, so they could see just how special we are. About two weeks ago, I learned that I had been assigned a forever home in Ohio, so I snuggled down into my satin travel blanket for the 2 week long trip halfway around the world, and arrived safe and sound Monday morning, the day after Easter. (That’s why my middle name is Pascaline.) At the same time she adopted me, my wise maman also bought several pairs of shoes, some undies and a sailor dress for me, and a couple of extra wigs, which I understood I was taking to America for some of my new sisters.

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I really think Maman likes me very much! She keeps saying that I’m much cuter than my photographs, and she loves my silky smooth skin. She’s also impressed with what she calls my range of movement, a term which I don’t quite understand, but I do know she asked me to do all sorts of things while she took lots of pictures. I don’t want to talk too much (Everyone says I do that all the time.), so I’m going to let you see the pictures instead, if you don’t mind too much.

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See my pretty little ears? Maman says that if I write a very nice post, she will get me some earrings, too!

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I really impressed her with the way I sit so prettily, and she was amazed that I can hold my hands so neatly in front of me.

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I can rub my belly and pat my head perfectly! Can you?

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Holding items in my hands is very easy for me, which is good, because I don’t want to let go of my Ruby Red Galleria shoes. They fit absolutely perfectly over the pretty hand knit socks Maman found in the accessory tub here, and I think some of the other girls are a little bit jealous, as they say their shoes pinch their toes and some even have to go entirely without socks. Not me! I get to wear the special socks and really pretty shoes both!

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This is my  sailor suit from Ruby Red Galleria. It’s really nice! The jacket is fully lined with slippery fabric that just glides right on and feels great against my skin. The trims are fine and just right for my size, and it fits perfectly – even the hat! See how well I can salute? And I can stand all by myself quite easily, even in my shoes!

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And I’m the best one here for playing peekaboo with the babies!

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You should have heard Jean-Paul giggling!

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Now I ask you this: what is there not to love?

Maman, did I do well? When do I get the earrings???

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Oh dear… What an interesting little gal! You can see by that determined jaw of hers that she’s got character. ;o) And she talks a bleue streak!

There were a few things I wanted to add to her comments, coming from an adult, human perspective. I was slightly hesitant about the thought of a resin “Bleuette,” but I honestly couldn’t pass up the price, and I have to admit the photos on the site stole my heart. I must have looked at them three dozen times or more in the space of two days before I decided I absolutely had to arrange an adoption. I have no regrets!

One thing I would like to address is the concept of a Bleuette in resin, which might seem rather strange. No, she can’t “really” be called a Bleuette, but then the truth is that none of our reproduction girls can legitimately bear that title either; we just call them Bleuettes and love them dearly, even though most of them aren’t antique originals, but rather Bleuettes in heart. It amazes me to see this little girl carrying so much of the Bleuette feeling, while having a look of her very own, and she blends in beautifully sitting with all her new sisters. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Bleuette was always cutting edge in fashion and style of doll, changing from bisque to compo and then finally to hard plastic, and I believe that it’s very likely that if G-L was still manufacturing Bleuette today, 50 years later, she would have an extremely good chance of being very much like this little lady, resin and all. I think it’s fun to see what might have been entirely possible come true.

Melodie is beautifully made. She’s a little startling at first touch, as her skin is flawlessly smooth, and she’s much heavier than a bisque or compo doll of the same size. She’s also much better balanced than a bisque doll, since her body is resin, too, meaning she isn’t top heavy. The body is beautifully engineered. Although it looks very much like the popular bodies we see on our reproduction dolls, it is far more posable, not only achieving more positions more easily and showing more flexibility, but also in that it holds those positions, which are tweakable even in very fine degree. And there is no “restless leg syndrome” here. If you aren’t a dyed in the wool traditionalist, and you love playing with and staging your Bleuettes, but the legs and other posing problems drive you nuts, this just may be the perfect answer for you.

Other things to note: The pate is a removable resin dome that is held in place with an integral resin hook and a strong magnet. I believe this is similar to BJD’s, but might be new to many Bleuette people. The eyes are accessible and are puttied in with some sort of flexible compound that allows them to be readjusted or even changed. I chose to tweak the alignment on Melodie’s, knowing that even the tiniest change can greatly affect the overall appearance of a doll’s expression. I’m not quite sure I’m done tweaking. ;o)

Because of the slickness of the resin, gluing a wig in place isn’t very feasable, but the company recommends attaching the wig with Velcro. I know a lot of people choose to do that on their bisque dolls anyway. Looking inside the wig, I see that all I need do is add the burr side of some Velcro to her head, as there are receiving pads already in place inside the wig. Until I get some thin Velcro, we are using double-sided tape.

I also bought 3 pairs of shoes and three wigs from Ruby Red Galleria, and I’m very impressed with them all. The wigs are an especial pleasure – probably the nicest doll wigs I have ever purchased – and I could not be happier with them! I’ve bought from every single one of the major wig companies and some individuals, from budget models to budget buster, but these stand alone! There is no wig cap showing through skimpy hair, requiring a brush over or constant hat wearing. Instead, there is full, generous coverage of soft and lovely hair. The wigs are scaled perfectly for the doll, and they are trimmed nicely and curled tightly and evenly. The three I bought were ready to go on dolls straight out of the package, which is, in my experience, nearly unheard of. This is really important to me, as I’m severely hair handicapped. If a wig doesn’t start out great, it’s not going to work for me, and I have a pet peeve with paying money for an expensive wig that has to be styled before it can even be worn by a doll. These wigs are quite simply perfect. The only thing I will be changing is that they use the little silicone bands to secure braids and pull backs. Experience has shown me that those bands are fairly short lived, so I will be swapping them out for secure thread wraps, which will stand the test of time, while not doing any damage to the hair. That is one thing I can actually do to hair. ;o)

One last glowing comment about Ruby Red Galleria… Their customer service is fantastic! Communication is prompt and sufficient to let you know you have been well tended. My parcel arrived in just two weeks, which is really not bad at all for the distance it came. My order had one small error in it, which they told me about before it even arrived, and in correcting it, they have gone far above and beyond any company with which I’ve ever dealt. To be quite blunt, I’m absolutely amazed, and it would be wonderful if more companies handled their business in such an honorable and service oriented manner. I’m an extremely happy customer, and I’m looking forward to placing my next order with these great people. Three cheers for Ruby Red Galleria!!!

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