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08 March 2016

Spring Has Sprung!

Yes, I know, I may be jinxing myself by saying it ... but I saw daffodils blooming this weekend, as well as a Japanese weeping cherry tree in bud!  Keeping my fingers crossed that we've seen the last of winter, and that spring truly has sprung here on the farm -- the thermometer on the porch reads almost 80°F (27°C), which is a bit warmer than normal for this time of year!

Winter brings colds, spring brings allergies, and the crossover point between the two brought me ... another sinus infection. :(  So I spent Friday making a trip to the doctor, and brought home various prescriptions to put me back in fighting trim.  Does anyone else dislike nasal sprays as much as I do??  I can't deny that it has done much good in reducing my congestion.  But I still don't like them.

Unfortunately, I didn't feel much like being creative.  (When I don't want to play with string, you can bet I'm sick.)  However, I did get four new kokeshi dolls done, and here they are:

Four more -- I've made a total of 15 so far!
Now let's meet them individually, starting with #12 .... I call her the Empress.

Kokeshi #12, the Empress
The Empress is the third doll I've made in my Chinese Royal Family sub-collection.  All of her is made with Knit Picks's Palette yarn (my favorite), except for her hair.  I wanted her hair to be salt-and-pepper gray, reflecting her age and the stress of so much responsibility.  So I used Knit Picks's Alpaca Cloud in Fingering weight, color Carson. Believe me, this yarn is almost sinfully soft to the touch.  You can see in the photo that it's "woolly", but those fibers are so, so soft.  I can easily imagine an exquisite baby garment or pair of luxury socks being crafted from this yarn.  Doing the Empress's hair was fun!  I made a wig cap and a small bun, and then attached braids to form her court-style coiffure. Her hairpiece, kimono ornament, and earrings are beads from JoAnn and Michaels, and her bows are Offray, from JoAnn.  Here's a photo of three "generations" of the royal family:

L-R: Dowager Empress, Empress, and Crown Princess
For #13, I added another friend to my "portrait series".  Meet Grace!

Kokeshi #13, Grace
Grace is modeled after a former coworker.  The real-life Grace has coppery red hair, snapping brown eyes, and is so full of creativity.  I honestly don't believe there's any kind of crafty goodness that she can't do (including cooking ..... oh, how that woman can cook!).  She was, for years, a dedicated scrapbooker; but when last we spoke, she'd been taking classes to learn how to draft sewing patterns. I understand that a grandbaby has come along since we retired, so I know she's up to her ears in baby projects.

For #14, I returned to an Asian theme.  Perhaps this one is a lady-in-waiting in the court of the Empress!

Kokeshi #14
The blue flowers are Offray, from JoAnn; the beads are all from Michaels or JoAnn.  One of my favorite color combinations is yellow + royal blue + white.  You often see it on chinoiserie porcelain from the 18th and 19th centuries.  It really works well on this little doll, and there's something about the set of her head that is a bit coquettish.  In fact, something I've noticed ... although I make all the doll bodies and heads by the same pattern, although I set the eyes in exactly the same spaces on each one, although I try to be consistent in how much stuffing I use, each one comes out with her own "personality".  Perhaps as in humans, where a gene here or a chromosome there can make a difference, so a loose thread here or a tight thread there creates individuality in my little dolls.

Now, #15 is something really special.  I was looking at photos of kimonos online, and I came across this photo of a modern-day Japanese bride:

Source: Wikipedia. Licensed for reuse
under Creative Commons license.
I was really surprised to find an Asian bride wearing white, because white is the color of mourning in many Asian cultures.  And that hat! There appears to be a miniature landscape on it.  I was immediately keen to make a Japanese bride kokeshi -- with the hat, but without the miniature landscape!  Fortunately, I found some little beads at Michaels that look like cherry blossoms, and things just grew from there (pardon the pun!).

Kokeshi #15, Japanese bride
As always, I was seeking interpretation, not reproduction/recreation.  The little bride sports a hairstyle similar to her photogenic inspiration.  The bows are Offray (from JoAnn), the beads are from JoAnn and Michaels.  The hat was fun to create from scratch, as I had no pattern to guide me.  I simply made 6 sc in a magic ring, then evenly increased 6 stitches every round for 7 rounds.  On round 8, I worked 48 sc in the back loop only.  Rounds 9 and 10, I decreased 4 stitches evenly each round.  My tension was not as tight as I would have liked; you can't see it, but there's a white pipe cleaner/chenille stick on the inside of the hat, creating the "peak" at the top.  I think if I'd gotten my tension tight enough, I wouldn't have needed that.  Oddly enough, the evening I made this doll, I wasn't sure I liked her as much as the others.  I think I missed doing the embroidered flowers.  But it could also be because that's when I was getting sick.

Where to from here?  Well, I have to put aside my kokeshi for a bit.  Do you remember Dalarna, the Dala horse I made several weeks ago?  My new friend, Jayne, who has a farm with sheep (and new baby lambs!), has asked if I would be interested in a barter.  She would like a crocheted Dalarna of her very own, and in return, she'll send me a surprise treat.  I've never bartered before, so I'm looking forward to this experience!  Come to think of it, we crafters should barter more often!  How many of us have things in our yarn/craft/fabric stashes that we no longer want?  A crafty  "swap meet" sounds like a great idea to me.  We get rid of things we don't want or no longer need, in exchange for things other crafters are getting rid of that we find interesting.  Just a thought.  Anyway, Knit Picks finally has Palette in White back in stock, and my shipment should be here today!!!  So as soon as I get that backorder unpacked and organized, I'll be starting on Jayne's Dala horse.

I'm also working on a wedding gift for a couple who will be married in a few weeks.  I found a discontinued oak box by Sudberry for sale on eBay (it has a recessed area on the lid for you to insert needlework, photos, etc.), and then I discovered this pattern on Etsy:

Photo credit: ©SimpleSmart @
This charted design is perfect.  It will fit exactly in the rectangular recessed opening of the box, and the subject matter is ideal for my friends, who live on a farm (a real, working farm, with crops, fields, and large animals).  I already have the design stitched up on 32 count linen, and am just waiting for the box to arrive so I can put it all together.

Before I go, I have one more photo to share with you:

The more, the merrier!
The fingers holding the photo belong to three of our grandchildren, and the ultrasound photo is of their little brother or sister!  Grandbaby #7 will make his/her appearance sometime in September!  Sounds like I'll be making baby things this summer ... maybe I should order some of that wonderful alpaca yarn .... ?

Thanks for stopping by!  Leave your comments and questions below.  Know a friend who would like to join us for our visits?  Feel free to share a link to this website with them!  With friends, as with grandchildren, "The more, the merrier!" :D

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