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Life is...



Well, we didn't get a bowl of cherries, but we did get more than this. These, however, lasted long enough to get their photos taken together on a piece of fabric I had on the ironing board. After that they promptly followed their comrades into the afterlife. Actually, I did get one other photo of the cherries, because Jolena, in her innocence, thought they were little apples.




Mandy has been out of her box almost exactly a year longer than Jolena, so she was able to explain how we planted the trees when we moved into this home 15 years ago, and every year, there have only been a few cherries, but that those cherries were eaten before they were ripe by the local birds. Either the trees decided to produce more (and they did) because it was our last summer here or the birdies decided to leave us some for the same reason or because there were finally enough for everyone.


Lots of things were going on this week. Monday we met with our former veterinarian and his wife for lunch, which lasted three hours, a long goodbye. I wish we were taking these people with us, because we never run out of things to talk about.

Then on Tuesday, the local pet psychic came to communicate with our dogs. We found out a lot of interesting things. For one thing, we learned that Dusty is our late Sunny in a new body. I'm not sure how that works, but we had suspected for a long time that Sunny was influencing Dusty somehow. Dusty has so many quirks and personality traits that Sunny had, and many of them are unusual for dogs. I could write pages about the things we learned, but I have other things to write about this week. But...hello, Sunny!


We had our house inspection on Wednesday. We're still waiting to hear the report. Thursday, we had a visit with the moving company to talk about our move. We will finish the packing ourselves, and they will come and take everything and put it into storage until we have a house.


Thursday was also my BIL's birthday. He turned 80. He is DH's brother. It was a sad birthday, because he lost his companion dog, Onslow, who was 15 and had been failing for some time. Onslow was a red heeler/Jack Russel mix. Here's Onslow in a photo taken in 2010 during a camping trip to the Uinta Mountains. 





That's Rocky and Sunny, sharing a stick, as they came out of the water. Rocky will be 14 the end of August. I dread losing him, but that's how life is.


 Friday the latest story in The Doll's Storybook came out. It's called Insomnia. It's about a doll who can't sleep because her eyes don't close. I'm starting to get new readers, some of them children, based on people who have reported back to be through Facebook, Ravelry or by sending me an email or leaving a message on the blog. I was delighted that three different readers, all in the UK, have asked to give to a different charity for childhood cancer. Of course that's OK! It's the only way I know that anyone is giving, as it's totally voluntary and anonymous. I do hope people donate, though, because I like to think of my little hobby as volunteering.


Speaking of the girls...a delivery from Lovvbugg brought Lotte a violin. There's a future story where Lotte and her violin will be required. (She also has a case for it.)




The same delivery brought Jolena some ballet slippers. They are very tight, but I can get them onto her bare feet. If they stretch, she will be able to wear them with tights.




I made the leotard out of a sock. It was much harder than the bathing suits. I think I'll have to scrap my original plan of using a sock and make the next one out of regular knit fabric. I was hoping to avoid the underarm seams, but sewing the fold-over-elastic into the tiny armholes was a chore, and then I didn't get the fit right and had to cut the shoulders off and put in a new shoulder seam. I'm still learning to work with stretchy fabrics, and there are so many different kinds, all slightly different.


For instance, I made Mandy some lace leggings to go with her new checkered shirt. Stretched lace was a new experience. I have published the free pattern for the shirt in a blog post here.  I cut of a piece of a bandana and hemmed the cut edge. This is so much better than the full-size version she wore when she hiked in the woods.



The skirt pattern is Liberty Jane's Denim Mini Skirt pattern, but with simplified topstitching and made from the same fabric (oxford cloth, I think) I used for Jolena's shorts. I added a doubled over strip of the gingham cut on the bias, just as easy as making a hem, and Mandy has long legs. I added a little detail that doesn't show in the photo above, but will show up if Mandy wears a crop top blouse. On her left side, there's a button with a little faux drawstring bow.



I've been working on a dress for Jolena to wear. The Götz Doll Lovers' group on Ravelry is have a "Sweetgrass Style" JAL (join along, so not just knitting, but also crochet, weaving, sewing, etc.) with the inspiration being "a ‘little bit country’, a ‘little bit vintage’ and a lot of sweet cuteness." Suggestions to include were any of these: gingham, linen, denim, lace, embroidery, patchwork, braids, frills, flowers and bows. I find these activities help get my mind going for "The Doll's Storybook." The outfits I work on for this JAL will show up in future stories.


You can see that I made a lot of buttonholes over the last two weeks. I'm finding them easy to do with my Sparrow 15 machine. The button fits into the buttonhole foot, so it can gauge how big to make the buttonhole. Isn't that clever?



The feet on this machine are very easy to take off and on. It's like magic. There's a lever behind the shank you push, and the presser foot falls off. Like this:




Well, that's good design and gravity, but not magic. The magic comes when you put on the buttonhole (or any other) foot. You put the attachment into position, lower the shank the way you do when you're lowering the presser foot, and when you raise it again, the foot is attached.




Buttonholes are easy after you get to this point, assuming you've marked where you want them to go. You put your project in position, keeping in mind that the machine will start the buttonhole with the end that's closest to you and work away from you before returning to where it started. After you lower the buttonhole foot, you locate the lever you can see in this photo. It has an icon that looks like a buttonhole on it. It also has a down arrow and the command "push." You do them in that order: pull down on it, then push away from you. 



I've found that you need to push it away after each buttonhole, because it goes back into place when you raise the shank with buttonhole attachment to reposition your project. If you forget, it will just sew all in one place, and you will have to get out your seam ripper. (Voice of experience.) 


Sewing buttons on is easy, too. There's another special foot for that, but first you put down the darning plate, which goes on quickly if you have it facing the right direction. First you thread the bobbin thread up through the hole in the darning plate. Then you just put it in place. It has two little prongs that hold it in position. No screwdriver is needed.




This is the button foot:



It goes on the same way as the other feet. The blue rubber (I think) prongs hold the button in place. In the back is sort of a foot that holds the button foot up, making vertical space for the button. (Again, I think that's what's happening.) Here's the button foot attached:


Again, you mark where you want your button to be attached, put your project in position with the button in that position, lower the button foot so that the needle will go through one of the eyes with the stitch width set to "0". You make a few stitches to lock the stitches, then raise the needle, reset the stitch width to what you think you might need and adjust the position of the button so the needle will go into one hole and then the other without hitting the button when you turn the handwheel. Then you can let her rip! When you've had enough fun sewing the button on, you end the way you started, raising the needle, adjusting the stitch width to "0" and, making sure the needle goes through the second hole, make a few stitches to lock the stitches. 


My only complaint is the handwheel is a bit hard to turn with my lovely rebuilt thumbs, but not impossible. I think if I were even less able, I would keep a piece of rubberized shelf liner handy to grab it with. (I have to do this for unscrewing my interchangeable knitting needles, too.) I haven't had a new machine in many years, so I'm not sure if this is something all newer machines have. The plastic seems more difficult to grip than the metal handwheel.


I have to say, I am very happy I received that copy of Connecting Threads catalog with the Eversewn Sparrow on the back cover. 



What's on my needles: Still the Kisu Cardigan for Jolena. At the BO for the neck. Also the Coastal Skies shawl for me, no progress on either.


What's on my Sparrow 15: More doll clothes. Buttonholes are a snap. Ha-ha!


What's in my hoop: Still the Spring Flowers quilt, no progress this week.


What's on my wheel: Stanzi is set up but waiting patiently. 


What's on my iPad/iPhone: Still listening to The Secret Book & Scone Society by Ellery Adams. Very little time to listen for a bit this week.


What's in my wine glass: Corbett Canyon Merlot. I don't know the vintage. I couldn't find it on the bottle. (Maybe I should look for it before I finish my second glass of wine!) It's very nice.


What's my tip of the week: Coffee filters (new, not used) make great foundation paper or stabilizer for sewing and machine embroidery. You can also use them for that little fabric scrap you start and end your seams with when you aren't chain-piecing. If you're giving up coffee, don't throw out your old filters!



Note: This blog post was produced on the iPad and the MacBook, using the iPhone for some photos and some photo processing. No other computer was used in any stage of composition or posting, and no Windows were opened, waited for, cleaned or broken. No animals or dolls were harmed during the production of this blog post.


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Comment by Peggy Stuart on August 3, 2018 at 11:59am

Rebecca, you’re in for so much fun! Doll clothes are fairly quick projects and don’t take much fabric. You can tell her that story is one of my favorites. I hope she likes the new one. There’s some finger painting in it.

Comment by Rebecca Sundberg on August 3, 2018 at 8:36am

Oops, accidentally deleted my post.  My DiL has downloaded the blog address to her iPad and has now read the stories twice as well.  Sophia requests them by title and really likes the one about what the dolls do when you leave them at home.  I told Sophia, who will be 4 at the end of September, that she needs to be about 6 before she can have one but I think I need to get a doll soon and start making clothes for her. I will start looking soon.

Comment by Peggy Stuart on August 1, 2018 at 12:41pm

Dressing the dolls is more fun now, because I have a purpose.

Update: I just did a row of decorative stitches around the hem of a completed dress, and it worked. I’m really excited now about the possibilities.

Comment by Barbara Graham on August 1, 2018 at 11:59am

It sounds like everything is moving forward. I can tell that you are enjoying your new machine and have not lost your enthusiasm for dressing the dolls.

Comment by Peggy Stuart on August 1, 2018 at 10:01am

Rebecca, how wonderful! It's really encouraging to hear that the stories are a hit with children. I'm hoping to be able to come up with a boy eventually, so the stories will be more interesting for boys who think they might be a little too girlie. I don't know if Gotz USAships to Canada, but I know that My Doll Best Friend in the London, UK, area does. The Hannah dolls are safe from age 3 but more suitable for age 5 and older, because they don't have the cuddly bodies. The Happy Kidz, like three of my girls (Veronika is a Classic Kidz, almost identical) have articulated limbs, and they are more suitable for children age 7 and older, because they take some skill to manipulate. They are also safe from age 3. I don't think I remember finding out how old your granddaughter is, but there are dolls suitable for all ages. I think the Madame Alexander play dolls with the cloth bodies are very nice for younger children who want a cuddle doll. The Hannah dolls and the Happy Kidz have eyes that don't close (the inspiration for "insomnia"), which makes them more realistic. 

Comment by Rebecca Sundberg on August 1, 2018 at 8:55am

I like your detailed descriptions of your new machine.  It sounds like it's perfect for what you want to do with it!  

My granddaughter is visiting this week and I went to the Dolls Storybook and read her all the stories.  And then a day later, she requested that I read them again.  So I did!  Obviously, they were a hit with her! She thought the dolls were beautiful and asked me if I'd get her a doll like one of those.  I told her she needed to be a bit older, but I'd see what I could do when she was about 6 years old!  I've given the blog address to her mother and she is looking forward to reading the new stories as you publish them.  

Comment by Peggy Stuart on July 30, 2018 at 6:54pm

They never listen. You would think with those ears....

Comment by Peggy Stuart on July 30, 2018 at 3:08pm

LOL! Maybe the bunnies are sampling to see which one they want to eat. Are you missing one whole one?

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