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16 February 2016

Crazy for Kokeshi!

Winter is hanging on, here on the farm.  We saw snow Saturday night, Sunday, and Sunday night.  Now we have fog and rain.  This crazy weather!  I wish Mother Nature would make up her mind, if we're having winter or spring -- and my sinuses concur.  Last night, in the middle of a pouring rain, this little fellow/lady (couldn't tell which) took refuge on the porch, and found Steve's uneaten kitty kibble!

I've been so eager to sit down with you and chat about what I've been doing!  Last week we talked about kokeshi dolls, and about finding the pattern by Giodina on Ravelry.  If you follow me on Facebook, you've seen the photos I've posted of my first two efforts:

My first two kokeshi, shared last week on Facebook.
Since posting that, I've taken the hair off and redone it twice.  I've never been a big fan of wig caps (where you crochet a "cap" in the hair color), and this pattern uses a wig cap as an integral part of the hair.  Plus, to be honest, I think the hair as written in Giodina's pattern ends up looking like a cross between a storm trooper from Star Wars and a PEZ® dispenser.  It's very authentic to the shape of the carved kokeshi, but I was striving for interpretation over authentic.  So I took off all the hair on these two and experimented with hooking individual strands through the stitches on the head.  It didn't turn out badly, but there was too much hair.  My little kokeshi were so top-heavy, they couldn't stand up.  I took photos along the way, and after comparing the photos, I realized just how much the wig cap contributed to the look of this pattern.  So I went back to the wig cap, picked up a few more patterns to see how they did their hair, and have been having a very jolly time since!!

So, without further ado ..... drum roll, please ...... here are the "girls" I've made so far!

My kokeshi so far, in order of creation!
You'll recognize the first two, from the Facebook post, and I have ideas for many more in my head!  All the yarn used in every doll is my old standby, "Palette" by Knit Picks (100% wool, fingering weight).  The eyes (except for the red one) are 6 mm safety eyes from JoAnn Fabrics. The various beads, buttons, etc. that I used for embellishment came from JoAnn or Michaels. (Remember that sale I told you about last week?  I stocked up!!)  And the cheeks are blushed using my palette of Pebbles Kandee Pearlescent Jewel Tone craft chalk.  Now that we've met the girls as a group, let's meet them individually.

Kokeshi Girl #1
Because she was the first one I made, she's also -- in my opinion -- the most flawed.  After a couple of days (literally) of undoing and redoing and experimenting, I crocheted a wig cap from Giodina's pattern, and made the pony-tails following the directions in the pattern "Hattie" by Susan Morishita (adjusting for size).  Susan's directions were easy, and yielded a much better (and more proportionate) hairstyle than my initial off-the-cuff try. She's also the only doll in the group who has bead eyes, instead of safety eyes.

Kokeshi Girl #2
You'll also recognize #2 from Facebook.  Her dress embellishment remained the same, but her hairstyle changed drastically!  I read through Susan Morishita's pattern "Mei Mei" to see how she made the bun on top of the head, and then I added a looped strand of chain stitches on either side.  I don't like how the strands turned out, but I'm leaving them.  I retained the idea of the embroidered flowers on either side of the head, and added a hair ornament made of yarn and beads for the bun. 

Kokeshi Girl #3
Another Susan Morishita pattern, "Chibi", inspired this little lady's "honeybun hairdo".  Again I had to adjust for size, because the dolls in Giodina's pattern are just a bit larger in some dimensions than the ones in Susan's patterns.  Seed pearls, a rhinestone-like purple flower button, and some sheer ribbon bows by Offray complement her Princess Elsa-like colors.  (What can I say?  I know the soundtrack to Frozen almost as well as the grandgirls do!)

The only one so far to have a name -- I call her the Empress.
When I saw that metal button with the large, rectangular buttonholes, I was immediately reminded of old Chinese currency.  I knew I wanted to do a doll in black kimono, with that button and white hair -- and so the Empress was born!  I wove red yarn through the button, then passed it through a silvertone metal bead and a clear glass bead to create the kind of ornament popular in imperial China and imperial Japan. Her kimono is edged in Gosling, a sweet neutral gray, and some clear beads and a rhinestone-like red flower button became her hair ornament.  Speaking of her hair, I took 9 strands of Palette and crocheted two chains to create the braids wound around her head.  I didn't photograph the back of her head, but the braids terminate in a low, braided bun at the nape of her neck.

Kokeshi Girl #5
I finished this little girl just minutes before sitting down to chat with you.  All this crazy weather has me wishing for spring -- real spring, with green buds on the lilac bush and the smell of the earth waking up.  As a nod to my mood, I dressed this little one in green, and gave her daisies and a ladybug (or "ladybird" to my UK friends).  I have to confess, I'm not nearly as fond of ladybugs now as I was when I was a child.  Every winter, they move indoors and drive us nuts. But this button is so cute, I couldn't resist.  The flowers in her hair are very, very simple -- I made them up as I went along, but I'm probably not the only one to make eensy weensy flowers this way!  Here's the pattern for you:
  • US:  Make a magic circle. In the circle, *sl st, ch 1, sc, ch 1*, repeat between ** 4 times.  Pull magic circle closed and fasten off.
  • UK:  Make a magic circle. *In the circle, sl st, ch 1, dc, ch 1*, repeat between ** 4 times.  Pull magic circle closed and fasten off.
I used a yellow bead as the center for both crocheted flowers. The one on the end of her braid is tied on using the "tails" left from crocheting the flower.

In embellishing these dolls, I've used only three embroidery stitches, chiefly because they're the only ones I can do -- straight/satin stitch, lazy daisy stitch, and French knot.  While seeking to expand my embroidery repertoire, I came across a fantastic blog post that tells you, in detail, what you need to know about embroidering on crocheted items.  

So now you've met the first five!  I can't wait to do more.  In fact, I'm planning one right now in my head!  I'm glad you stopped by today.  If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below in the Comments section.  Know any knitters or crocheters who would like to come along to our visits?  Send them a link!  The more, the merrier!

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