Monday, April 23, 2012

Voodoo and Lily Yarn

I sold this little fella last year to a very wonderful customer. His name, I believe, is Voodoodie. He was one of my favorites because he was inspired by my great friend, M. We used to sit together and "play" with Sculpey. He had started a little fella then decided to scrap him. I thought it was a cutie so I had M. show me how to make little stitches like the ones on the arm. I mimicked the eyes a few times until I got them right. It took a bit of time to fiddle with the body to get it just right. The tilt of the head or the fall of an arm can say so much. I love Voodoodie's expression. I have made several of these since that night but Voo is my favorite since he was my first AND I learned something from my good friend. :-)

Voodoodie's new owner has asked for a larger version of Voo. I have started a crochet version. I am using Lily Sugar 'n Cream Yarn in warm brown. It has more of a chocolate color than red clay, but the redder yarn was too orange red. It didn't translate well for me. (Fingers crossed that my customer agrees.) I have made the head and I am halfway through the body shaping. I think I will send my customer a picture of the progress to make sure she agrees with my color choice. If not, I will still finish my original version and let him hang out on MY shelf. That's the fun thing about being an artist: I get to keep all the mishaps for myself. I usually treasure them most of all anyway.

I adapted my doll pattern from a toy pattern on the Lily website. The pattern was easy to use and written quite simply. (Every yarn artist has seen at least one pattern that seems to be written in code with too many abbreviations jumbled together. Whew! They can be disheartening.) This site is really nicely organized. I appreciate the yarn details listed with each yarn Lily offers such as recommended knitting needle or crochet hook size, washing instructions, length/ounce count, as well as color swatches and how to buy online. See what I mean by clicking here. There are a number of free patterns in each category and it is hard to settle on one project after you spend time browsing. The skill level and yarns used for each project are listed immediately under each picture so you know, before you fall in love with a project, if it is within your skill range. A log in is required but it is free and quite easy to sign up. You have a choice to sign up for newsletters and notifications from the website, but I chose neither. The "Learn How" tabs were a great help when I was learning how to crochet (again). Learn crochet stitches here. The pictures are descriptive without being confusing and the definition of each stitch term included the universal abbreviation used in most patterns. The Sugar n' Cream yarns are cotton which makes them a great yarn to use for wash clothes and any project used for cleaning up. The natural absorbency is wonderful. I like the durability. Even though my wash clothes have softened and the fibers have spread a bit after multiple uses and washings, they are still quite strong and look wonderful. I like using the yarns for baby toys, too. Cotton holds up to washer and dryer very well so it is easy for mom or dad to launder after it has been chewed or spit up on.

Lily Sugar n' Cream yarn, a Bernat product, is usually between $1.50 (on sale) to $2.50 (online) for about 95 yards and can be found almost anywhere yarn is sold. I have found it most recently at Michael's Art Stores where, if it isn't on sale already, you can use a coupon. It is a very economical choice for learning to crochet... which I recommend everyone learn.


EDIT: The little guy turned out amazingly sweet. I finished the crochet and carried him in the crook of my arm for a bit. After talking myself out of keeping him and make a second for the customer, I added the details that make him who he is. The above photo was taken by Sara Tavenner (of She is the new owner of this little guy and, amazingly talented photographer that she is, had quite a photo shoot with him.
((This photo made me proud to do what I do.))

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Little Voice of Inspiration

"A stitch in time saves nine."

That phrase was taught to me to remind me to fix small tears before they become large holes. I hope I have decided to come back to DDOF in time to keep riding the building wave we were on. Maybe I have chosen to return quickly enough. I took some time away, though not as much as I originally thought I would. I made what I thought was a certain and clean break. I posted a note on my facebook page to inform my fans and customers. I cancelled my commitment to a couple of events. I thought I had done all I needed to do to stop being the Dolly Mama.

I forgot something, though. I never covered my sewing machine. There she sat (yes, my machine is a girl though her front is emblazoned "Brother") quiet and contemplative. Each time I walked by, she grabbed my attention. Did she move? No. Speak? No. But somehow, she called out to remind me of possibilities. I started noticing an emptiness that opens up when there are no pricked fingers, no piles of thread ends, no stray thimble found here and there because it stowed away in a pocket. But, I wasn't the only one she whispered to.

The funny thing about this little vacation was so that I could create more for and with my daughter. We spent crafty time with a number of materials. We have played with clay, made paper, painted, colored, drawn together, and spent time cooking. But she turned to me, one day after seeing the machine on the table, with a serene yet contemplative face that stops all the world from turning and kind of takes my breath away, and asked me why I don't make dolls anymore. Mind you, I had only stopped for a short while at this point. I told her it was so that we could spend more time making things for each other. She thought for only a second before she said, "But, Mommy, people really like your dolls. They make people happy. You should make them some more." We talked about it a bit more and I saw that she didn't simply like to receive my dolly creations, she enjoyed watching me create them. She likes to tell others what I do. I had thought that working in the studio a great deal was taking me away from her. I was wrong. It was giving her something. I can't quite define what my work means to her, but she is excited to know that I will be back at the sewing table again.

So, I have dusted off my machine, apologized to her for the abandonment, re threaded and inserted a full bobbin, and placed my scissors close. Dolly plans are in the works, sketches on the table, and cloth waiting to be cut. I wonder if my kiddo will ever know how expertly she has wrapped me around her finger and how quickly her small voice can stop me in my tracks or spur me on my way.