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25 January 2016

Snow, Sewing, Sunshine ... Svanhild!

Well, it certainly was a frosty weekend here on the farm!  It snowed from Thursday night through Saturday morning, leaving behind 12 inches (30 cm) on the ground, and a delightful cake-frosting coating on the trees.  We welcomed Saturday's sunshine, and the red light of sunset on the trees Saturday evening was lovely.

Late evening sun and snow on the oak tree.
Red sunset light gilds our frozen garden.

I do believe we would have had more accumulation, but a steady westerly wind with gusts up to 35 mph (about 55 kph) swept the snow into dunes and drifts.

The wind sculpted this snow dune on the railing of the back porch.
We experienced only two inconveniences during the storm.  The first was that we were without Internet access from Thursday until Sunday.  The man of the place has an emergency hotspot that he used to check his work email; whilst he did that, I hopped on Facebook to let friends and family know we were still among the living.  The second inconvenience (which affected the husband not at all) was the delay of my yarn order.  It was to have been delivered Friday, but UPS rescheduled it to today.  I was so hoping it would arrive before the weekend, because Angharad's hair is in that order!  But I couldn't in good conscience expect the UPS man to venture where we dared not go, namely a snow-covered driveway whose true path was lost in a sea of frozen white, so I put away my disappointment and began looking through my downloaded patterns for something to do.

Early last week, I discovered Beth Webber's blog, By Hook, By Hand, and it is a genuine treasure trove!  Whether you are a knitter, a crocheter, or both, you will find something to spark your delight on Beth's blog.  During my visit, I had downloaded her free PDF pattern for a knit Waldorf-style doll (there's also a photo tutorial for this project).  That looked like a fun thing to undertake while waiting for the snow to subside.  I'm delighted to report that the pattern is very easy!  It's knit flat and then sewn, a boon for those who dislike double-pointed needles and circular knitting.  The hardest part for me was the hair.  It took me 4 tries to get a result that I liked; but that was my own fault, not the pattern's, because I haven't had a lot of practice making yarn hair for dolls.  This was definitely a learning experience.

When I had the doll finished (and I apologize, I didn't take any photos except one of the final result), I turned my mind to her clothing.  Beth offers clothing patterns for the dolls on her website, and I toyed with the idea of making a little sweater and skirt.  But I went in an entirely different direction.  My very first needlework was making doll clothes.  My mother would hand me a needle, thread, and a few scraps of fabric, and I would turn it into a dress (or cape or hat) for my Barbies.  Even as a child I was interested in history, and loved reading books set in earlier times.  With great glee, I turned a scrap of blue jacket lining into the blue silk dress Meg wore to her first ball in Little Women.  Those are very pleasant memories for me -- my mother's big cardboard box of scraps yielded many a ball gown and wedding gown.  So I decided to give in to a bit of nostalgia, and create my little doll's garments by hand, just as I did when I was seven years old.  I dug out some scraps of quilt fabric, ribbon and lace -- and Svanhild was born!

Meet Svanhild! (Photo-bombed by Moses Mouse.)
Why "Svanhild"?  That's a good question.  I've been doing genealogical research for years.  About six or seven years ago, I discovered that I am descended, in part, from 9th-century Norwegian and Swedish Vikings.  (One of my ancestors was the Swedish king Ingjald Onundsson, known in his time as "Braut the Wicked".  He was a few lingonberries short of a smorgasbord.)  My 35th great-grandmother, Ascrid, bore a daughter named Svanhild.  Since the fabric scraps and beads I'd put together reminded me of Scandinavian sweater designs, I decided to name this little doll after my 34th great-aunt.

Now for the particulars.  Svanhild is knit using Beth Webber's pattern, referenced above, with Knit Picks's Palette yarn in color Oyster Heather.  Her eyes are buttons from JoAnn fabrics.  Her hair is Knit Picks's Wool of the Andes Sport yarn in color Chocolate.  Her mouth is embroidered with a scrap of Palette yarn in Lingonberry Heather (how appropriate!), and her cheeks are chalked.

Her clothes are all hand-sewn.  I have no pattern, because I simply cut bits of fabric and stitched them together, as I did for my childhood projects.  Her underdress is white cotton with lace edging.  Her skirt is red cotton.  Her apron is actually attached to her skirt, and is a tiny scrap of Christmas fabric I bought a few years ago, edged in Offray red satin ribbon.  Her vest is black felt (leftover from the Pikachu project), edged with blanket stitch in a scrap of Palette yarn in Sky.  The beads that form the latch for her vest are from Michael's.  When it came to her headscarf, I was disappointed to find that I had nary a scrap of voile, organza, lawn, batiste -- not even a bit of sew-in sheer interfacing.  So, until I can get to the fabric store to buy a teensy bit of organza, her headscarf is a used fabric softener sheet.  How's that for upcycling?

Svanhild isn't safe for small children, because I didn't use safety eyes, and her headscarf is held on with straight pins.  But I could easily make another one using safety eyes, with a stitched in place headscarf.

I really encourage you to visit Beth's blog.  I'm in love with the pine trees pictured in her most recent post!  While I was visiting, I saw a book mentioned that sounded interesting.  My Crochet Doll by Isabelle Kessdjian offers patterns for a crocheted doll with wardrobe and accessories.  I bought the Kindle version of the book, and am in the process of making the doll.  My biggest difficulty is in remembering to count my rows and use a marker at the beginning of each round.  I ended up having to undo the torso last night for that very reason.  I plan to make this doll safe for children, with safety eyes, but I haven't decided yet if I will knit, crochet, or sew her clothes.  I'll keep you posted!

How did you survive winter storm Jonas?  Leave me a comment and/or a picture below.  Thanks for stopping by!

PS.  UPS says my yarn is out for delivery!  YAY!

PPS.  Had a visit from Miss K, the 5 year old granddaughter who's my "mini me".  I ended up giving her a mushroom, acorn, and pine cone .... guess I'll be making more! :)

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