Crafty Carol

Why haven’t I taken photos of all the American Girl doll clothes I made this year?  I was in Olympia visiting my grandchildren, who all have AG dolls, two of whom still play with them.  Over the years, I’ve made lots of clothes for the little critters — sewn, knit, crocheted; bedding, painted chests, even a closet made out of a crate. 

Last fall I was looking for a knit skirt pattern for Emma’s doll Kirsten, to go with a Norwegian ski sweater I made some years ago.  I found a little book with patterns of knit sweaters and hats for 18″ dolls for several holidays — Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, Easter, Independence Day, Halloween, Chanukah, Christmas.  I made most of them before Christmas 2009, but just finished the last of them this week.

Making the sweaters led to sewing skirts for them, which led to making some dresses for them, which led to my granddaughters’ request for “fancy” dresses.  Seems the oldest sister (of three) has outgrown playing with dolls but still protects the fancy dresses I made when she was little.

So I took the girls and a fancy dress pattern to the fabric store and spent hours picking out the right fancy fabrics, decorations and notions.  By the time I was finished with those, I’d put in a good deal of time and money…but, I thought, wouldn’t it be nice for them to have WEDDING dresses, too?  Don’t little girls still love wedding dresses?  With a birthday coming up, it seemed like a perfect addition.

Now, I don’t think I’ve ever bought fabric at $25/yd, certainly not for doll clothes.  But I had a coupon that brought the cost down, and the birthday girl’s doll now has a very extravagant trousseau.  Of course, I also had make veils and bouquets,  to go online and order shoes and purses, decoupage boxes for trousseau chests…can any other crafters identify with this?  I’ll bet there are lots who can!

Crafts Council Display

Crafts Council Display

Registration will open soon at  for “Creating A New Craft Culture Conference 2009,” in Minneapolis October 15-17. The American Craft Council is the premier US Crafts organization, and describes its annual conference theme this way:

“Is craft creating a new culture? The goal of this conference is to investigate the inherent contradictions between craft as a lifestyle and craft as a business. These contradictions are not new to craft. For many, making is a meaningful way of life, but the question is—How can the core values of craft play a role in future marketplace models?

“Are we in a crisis? Or in a moment of transition to a new sustainable model that combines lifestyle and business? The whole world is changing—what is craft’s role in it? “Creating a New Craft Culture” will seek to pinpoint craft and the handmade in our constantly changing world.

“Featured presenters include:

  • Dr. Richard Sennett, professor and author, The Craftsman
  • Rob Walker, columnist for the New York Times Magazine and author of Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are
  • Garth Clark esteemed curator, historian, scholar, and owner Garth Clark Gallery
  • Dr. Sandra Alfoldy, Associate Professor, Craft History, NSCAD University
  • Tom Patti, glass artist
  • Julie Lasky, Editor-in-Chief, I.D. Magazine
Sailor Hat

Sailor Hat

Just received the Lion Brand Yarns enewsletter with another article about charity crafts.  This photo is from The Ships Project, which sends warm knit or crocheted hats, gloves, slippers, wristlets and socks to troops serving worldwide in the War on Terror.  Lion Brand also features the Handmade Afghans Project, which collects knit and crocheted 7″x9″ rectangles to join into afghans to send  our wounded troops.

I’m moved by the sentiment put into these afghans.  The leaders insist craftspeople send them the rectangles, not whole afghans, so that many people can be involved in each finished product, and the recipient can be “surrounded” and healed by the caring of the many.  Brings a tear to the eye.

Warm Up AmericaI used to contribute 8″ x 8″ knit and crocheted squares to Warm Up America, another charity that makes afghans, and contributes them to homeless shelters throughout America. 

I even organized a Charity Knitting Group at a senior highrise one year.  We made afghan squares, warm caps and mittens for the public schools, infant blankets and caps for neonatal nurseries, ChemoCaps for cancer patients, teddy bears for African children, vests for Armenia, and I don’t know what else. 

We found a book, Knitting for Charity, that I still use sometimes, but these days my charity crafts time allotment is mainly recruited for Prayer Shawls, the newest fad in “crocharity.”

Of course, charity still begins at home.  Especially after you have grandchildren.

Nancy Berland Pink

Nancy's Fancy SweaterGoing Green, Nancy?


 Today I received my subscription ezine from best-selling romance writer Debbie Macomber, and look what I found on her website under “projects,” part of her Knitting Club!

Debbie lives in Port Orchard, Washington, and apparently shops at the same Shelton WA store I do, Fancy Image Yarn.  She also writes romance novels that use the students in knitting classes at a Seattle yarn shop as central characters in stories that read like Tolstoy’s many interweaving subplots. 

I loved The Shop on Blossom Street and A Good Yarn, the first two.  I believe there was a third, although I can’t recall the title right now, and I know there’s a fourth coming out this summer.  I think this one will be Summer on Blossom Street.  For more on that, check her website.

Someone — probably not Debbie herself — has developed pattern books based on Nancy’s books and projects.  The public libraries here have copies, and I’ve seen them in the yarn sections at Joann’s and Michael’s stores.

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Sadie's Knit Sweater

Sadie's Knit Sweater

This blog is my opportunity to share my crafts and craftiness with y’all. 

I was born in a small town in Southern Minnesota where – yes indeedy – all the women were strong, the men were good looking, and all the children were above average.  Yep; you betcha! 

A lot of  people in this town were Norwegian Lutherans (pronounced LUTE-WRENS there) who believed that idle hands do the Devil’s work.  During baseball season, the women crocheted and the men whittled away as they cheered on the local farm league team from the bleachers.  And it was incumbent on both men and women to make sure children’s hands had busywork.

By the time I was ten, I could sew, tat, knit, crochet, macrame, bake, do counted cross stitch and crewel embroidery.  We made scrapbooks and Christmas decorations, canned tomatoes and other vegetables from Gramps’ Victory Garden (left over from WWII), spent hours making cakes fancy with frosting and gifts fancy with ribbons and wraps.

My mother’s high school English teacher, Sybil Yates, lived down the block and frequently organized an impromptu holiday crafts shop for little kids in the neighborhood.  We made Santas out of old coffee cans and cotton balls, Easter baskets out of cut-off milk cartons, woven colored-paper flags for Independence Day, and paper-plate turkeys at Thanksgiving.  Stuff like that.

The townspeople turned out so many crafts some enterprising entrepreneur opened a charming shop, The Heart of the Artichoke, to provide an outlet.  I remember being there one day when an elderly gentleman brought in a beautiful and very BIG dollhouse to consign so he’d have room to build another.  Keep those hands busy…

For many years after my family moved to the big city, I returned to The Heart of the Artichoke for hand-made gifts I could buy for barely the cost of the materials.  Beautiful baby quilts, hand-painted bowls, embroidered pillow cases, crocheted dishcloths, hand-knit mittens, handmade cards, and more could be had for a fraction of the price one would pay in the cities.

Besides, it was a good deed. 

It helped keep the Devil out of town.

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