Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fall Impressions / Herbstimpressionen


I cannot believe I took these pictures last weekend. It was a nice sunny day and the kids were helping with raking the leaves. They had so much fun plaing in them.
Ich kann es kaum glauben dass ich diese Fotos letztes Wochenende gemacht habe. Es war ein schoener sonniger Tag, und die Kinder halfen beim Sammeln der Blaetter. Sie hatten so viel Spass beim Spielen im Laub.
Two days later it snowed on us. A snowstorm dumped about 3 inches of snow on us...
Zwei Tage spaeter schneite es. Ein Schneesturm schuettete ca 10 centimeter Schnee auf uns herab..
I guess it is Good-Bye Fall already! Welcome winter!
Es scheint zu heissen: Auf Wiedersehen Herbst! Wilkommen Winter!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Dolls for Boys and for the Imagination

I think it is so important for boys to have dolls to play with when they are little. Unfortunately a lot of people seem to think that boys won't enjoy them or it would be an "unmanly" gift to give to a young fellow. Why so? Little boys grow up to be fathers. Hopefully when they do, they will have practiced with a soft, warm ,wool-stuffed Waldorf style doll like the one shown in the pictures.

Waldorf style dolls are usually gender neutral. The only way to tell a boy from a girl doll is by the clothes the doll is wearing. I once received an email from a customer who had bought a boy doll, asking where the doll's "you-know-what" was. Blush...What was I to say? It had never even occurred to me to make a doll that was realistic in that respect. I have never seen a pattern that included genitalia indicating the gender of the doll.

Though made of plastic, I fondly remember the Ken-Doll I received one Christmas Eve in the 1970s. My sisters and I always thought it was kind of curious how Ken did not have any genitals. But did it make us doubt his manliness? Not really. All it took was a bit of imagination.

A lot of commercial toys these days don't leave room for a child's imagination. For example, coloring books, where the child fills in the blanks, but there is no room for his or her own drawings... I'd rather buy my child an empty sketchbook! After all, that is what Waldorf dolls are all about. Waldorf dolls, in their purest form, have intentionally no features at all or very simple ones. Dots for eyes and a line for a mouth. Some artists will put a nose. I usually don't. I am always amazed at how much expression you get from this simplest of faces. I enjoy the pure an simple beauty of these doll.

I don't like clutter. It makes life so complicated. I like wide open spaces. I like an empty canvas or empty piece of ruled paper. Oh the possibilities...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What became of the heads/ Was aus den Koepfen wurde...

Last weekend I made heads. Here is one of the dolls that came to life with one of the heads I made. I named her Jenny. I think she turned out so cute! I love her coloring. The golden mohair yarn looks so nice with the lavender bow and nightgown.


Letztes Wochenende habe ich Koepfe gebastelt. Diese Woche wurde einer der Koepfe in klein Jenny eingebaut. Ist sie nicht suess? Ich find ihr goldenes Haar passt wirklich gut zur lila Schleife und dem lila Kleidchen.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Some thoughts on making doll heads...

In my opinion the most important part of a Waldorf style doll is the head. The head needs to be the perfect size for your doll. If it is too big or too small your doll will not look right. In order to achieve a successful doll you must get the proportions right! I guess being trained as a painter and taking lots of "life" drawing classes, has helped me immensely with this aspect of doll making. After all, dolls are just imitations of the human body, usually the child sized body. When you look at a painting with human figures, you'll probably find the one with the right proportions more beautiful and pleasing to the eye. I believe the same is true for dolls.

If you have ever made a Waldorf doll you probably know how much work it is to make a doll head from scratch. The ingredients and tools used are rather simple: a strong kind of thread or string, floss, cleaned carded sheep's wool, a piece of stretchy cotton tubing, scissors,doll maker's needle.
It takes me about an hour to make a good head. I admit it is not my favorite part of doll making. In fact I like to make heads only about once every couple months. I call it my head making day or fest. I will make between 8-10 heads in a session - usually spread out over two days. I find that making a number of heads at a time improves the quality. With each head I get more into the grove until they finally become effortless and perfectly even.
Here are some pictures of my latest "headfest". I had fun arranging them in different ways.






















Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A book review of sorts/ Advice on buying a sewing machine

About a year ago my sewing machine broke. It was a cheap hand-me-down machine from a friend. I had been fighting with this cheap department store bought machine for quite a while. I was so tired of constantly running to the repair shop and paying the little bills for getting the tension adjusted and resolving other issues. You can ask my family - they still remember the days BEFORE THE BERNINA entered my life. To say the least, I was not a happy camper or seamstress...The emphasis mostly being on STRESS.

I had it with that cheap machine and was anxious to buy a new machine for my little business. So I went to library to do some research . I found this neat little book at my local library by John Giordano. I don't know too many guys who sew, but does this guy know his stuff! The book's title is:

The Sewing Machine Guide: Tips on Choosing, Buying, and Refurbishing.

I really learned so much from it. So if you are in the market for a new sewing machine you may want to read it!

After lots of research I ended up purchasing a Bernina 1008. I solemnly swear, they are not paying me to say this! This machine is just great. It is a mechanical sewing machine - not one of those fancy schmancy computerized machines. But boy, does it work well! I have worked with it for over a year now and it has NEVER let me down. It sews through all kinds of materials.

I guess the part that really killed me, was the easily accessibility of the bobbin case. The old machine was as inconvenient as it could get. Whenever the thing got jammed with lint (which happens a lot with those cheap machines) or there was a tension problem - I had to take a little screwdriver and open it up. Sooo much time wasted!



I also highly recommend Giordano's book because not only did it help me make a decision buying the right machine - it also had a great deal of information on how to care for my machine after I bought it!

One tip I found really helpful was the Giordano's recommendation to purchase a small vacuuming device! You know, like the type people use for their computer keyboards. Whenever lint collects in the bobbin case, I just take my little vacuum out and voila - all clean in seconds! It is so much better than blowing the lint into the machine - like it did before.

I hope this post of mine helps someone who needs a new sewing machine. I am also glad I listened to my husband's words. He told me to NOT buy a used machine but get a new one. I had played with the idea for buying a used model over the Internet. DH said: Why would you buy someone else's problem? When buying for your business you should buy the best NEW machine you can afford.
I am so happy I followed his advice. I am totally happy with my machine and how it has enabled to me make lots of cute doll clothes.

Happy sewing to all of you!

Ulla

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I love Fall / Ich liebe den Herbst


I love fall with all it's pretty colors: the bright yellows, warm oranges and reds, shades of ocre and brown. After a long hot summer the crisp cool Octoberdays make me want to go outside and take deep breaths. Ahh! The smell of fall.
Ich liebe den Herbst mit all seinen schoenen Farben: leuchtende Gelbtoene, warme Orange und Rottoene, Ocker und Braun. Nach einem langen heissen Sommer draengen mich die frischen kalten Oktobertage nach draussen zu gehen und tief durchzuatmen. Ahh! Es riecht nacht Herbst.



The children have been asking us to make fires in the fireplace, in anticipation of cups of hot chocolate and freshly baked apples consumed in front of it. The changing season is cause for joy. Unfortunately we always end up with various sicknesses in this time of transition. It never seems to fail. Once school starts, so does a cycle of colds and illnesses. We have to remind ourselves that it is important to dress warmly and rest once in a while.
In der Vorfreude auf heisse Schokolade und Brataepfel verlangen die Kinder taeglich das wir ein Feuer im Kamin machen. Der Jahreszeitenwechsel ist Grund fuer grosse Freude. Leider fuehrt diese Uebergangszeit immer zu Krankheiten. Die Schule faengt an und gleichzeitig beginnt der Teufelskreis von Erkaeltungen und anderen Krankheiten. Wir muesse und daran erinnern uns warm anzuziehen und auch mal eine Pause einzulegen.
What can one do to boost one's immunesystem? What, besides eating lots of fruit and fresh vegetables? Do you take vitamins? Is there a tea you can recommend? Having recovered from the first "round" of sickness I would like to hear from you about natural ways to boost your immunesystem.
Was kann man tun, um das Immunsystem zu staerken? Ausserdem. dass man viel Obst und frisches Gemuese konsumiert?Nehmen Sie Vitamine? Koenne Sie einen Tee empfehlen? Nachdem wir die erste Krankheitsrunde ueberstanden haben, wuerde ich gerne ein paar Tips von Ihnen hoeren. I'll leave you with pictures of some fall treasures I made for my etsy shop celebrating the gorgeous colors of fall that I love so much. Happy Fall!
Ansonsten verbleibe ich mit Bildern von ein paar Herbstschaetzen in meinen Lieblingsfarben, die ich fuer meinen Etsyladen hergestellt habe. Froehlichen Herbst!