Monday, December 28, 2009

A-line Dresses for Mini Free Spirit


Here is a pattern for the Mini Free Spirit for an A-line dress. Actually, three dresses, each one with a different pattern stitch for the dress and different sleeve and neck treatment. All made with size 10 crochet cotton and a size 5 steel hook.

The link to the pattern is here:

http://sites.google.com/site/designbybethann/home/links/FSMiniALineDress.pdf?attredirects=0&d=1

And also on the left side of the blog page.

Have a safe and joy filled New Year, hopefully also filled with plenty of time to crochet :-)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas!


Finally the mini's are all dressed, just in time for Christmas. We are all wishing you a very Merry Christmas and blessed New Year. Hopefully the New Year will bring joy to all of us, and plenty of time to crochet :-)

These little outfits were made from an Annie Potter Presents pattern leaflet designed for Fibre Craft's 'Cindy' doll. Sadly, this particular pattern set is out of print, but my next project is to design a cute little A-line dress for Mini Free Spirit that can be accessorized with collars and sleeve options.

Below are Emily and Sarah, with their Labrador pup Cody, also wishing you the very best for the holidays and the year to come.

Enjoy the crochet!

Crochet Abbreviations

Someone just asked about how to read crochet abbreviations. I found a site that lists the most common US crochet abbreviations and what they stand for. The link is here:

http://www.needlepointers.com/displaypage.aspx?ArticleID=29065&URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.karpstyles.com%2fcrochet%2fcrochet-abbreviations.html

And I have also placed it in the 'Links I Love' listing.

Once you know what the abbreviation stands for, you can go to this link from Crochet Pattern Central (also in 'Links I Love') to see how the stitch is made:

http://www.crochetpatterncentral.com/directory/stitches.php


Happy crocheting to all of you, beginners and experienced alike. And, Merry Christmas :-)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Do you read Russian?

If you can read Russian, you are in luck. Here is a link (which can also be found in 'Links I Love') to a Russian crochet forum with lovely crochet toys and dolls. One of the members graciously translated the Free Spirit pattern to Russian and posted it on the forum.

http://www.supersadovnik.ru/hmforum/post.aspx?id=433107&pg=3#433107

Enjoy the crochet!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Good Hair Day


I really do love making wigs for my dolls :-) As you can see above, I decided to make three different wigs for my warm brown Mini Free Spirit. She could not decide if she wanted to be a blond or a brunette, or how she wanted to wear her hair. So, I made a dark golden blond long-haired wig, a strawberry blond wig with two ponytails, and a brunette wig with one ponytail.

These wigs really are easy to make. The yarn does all the work; for these I used a very hairy worsted weight yarn. I also used a mohair laceweight yarn held with the worsted weight to add highlights to the hair, but this is not necessary. The hairy yarn give a wig cap that really doesn't need to be covered with yarn strands, so I didn't. For various ponytails or pigtails I just hooked a few strands of yarn in the appropriate places and pulled the yarn together with little hair clips.

I have not had any luck finding these yarns locally, so my best advice is to try A Child's Dream Come True, Magic Cabin Dolls, or Weir Dolls and Crafts, all on the web.

Below you can see how she looks in her different wigs.


Enjoy the holidays, and enjoy the crochet!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Seasons of Joy

The Christmas holiday, Holy Day, season has begun. For many of us who make our gifts, it probably began several weeks ago :-) It has been several years since I actually pounded the pavement shopping for gifts. Between the internet (let your fingers do the walking) and crocheting (more of the same) I've avoided most of this mayhem.

I say mayhem, and so it seems to me as people wait in line for hours for Target or Toys R Us or WalMart to open their doors so the latest 'must have' toy can be grabbed. This seems so strange to me, since most folks, and children, probably have trouble remembering what they received for Christmas last year. What are the things that stick in your mind?

The things I remember are the year my siblings and I decided to make our parents Christmas stockings; or the year we all pooled our resources and got our Dad a class ring from his college Alma Mater. One year Larry and I each recieved a collage of our favorite things, made for us by two young friends. We both still have ours...mine is on the refrigerator door.

I hope all of you can make lasting memories for yourself and your families this Holy Day season. It is a time to rejoice in family, life, light in the darkeness, and the birth of a special child. Celebrate, and find the joy.

And enjoy the crochet!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Yarn Skin Tones

Above, from the left, Red Heart Classic in Lt. Peach, Red Heart Super Saver in Aran, Buff, and Warm Brown, and Red Heart Classic in Mid Brown.

I'm always on the lookout for good yarn colors to use for my crochet dolls. I have used a lot of yarns over the years, and I do have some decided favorites. In worsted weight yarns for many years my favorite has been Red Heart Classic and Red Heart Super Saver. These are resilient, non-stretchy, inexpensive yarns that make a very strong and sturdy three dimensional fabric.

I would love to use natural fibers for my doll bodies, but when I do the stitches seem thin and the stuffing shows easily between the stitches. I've tried cotton, 100% wool, and wool blends, but none of them satisfy me like the acrylic Red Heart yarns. I've also tried the new 'soft' acrylic yarns, but again, I felt the stitches were thin and too much stuffing showed through.

Vanna's Choice yarn by Lionbrand is another good choice for doll bodies. It is slightly softer in feel than the Red Heart Yarns, and works up slightly smaller, but the stitches are firm and close up nicely. Beige and Honey are great body colors.

The toughest color to find is a pleasing light peach tone. Most are either too pink or too bright. The Red Hear yarn above is a little on the bright side, but it does make up to a cute doll . If you have any suggestions for good peach tones, please share them :-)


While waiting for some clear acrylic eyes to arrive from CR's Crafts, so I can paint my own eyes, I used the Aran body to create Cathay Rose, a little Asian girl. She is a Mini Free Spirit; her outfit is a modification of the nightgown pattern for her tunic, and the underwear pattern for her pants. I used a lovely Tencel/Wool blend yarn for her hair that is very shiny and very black.

Maybe you could think of other Nationalities to create for Mini Free Spirit :-)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Good Thing Come in Small Packages


Of all types of dolls, small dolls are my favorites. The kind that fit snuggly in your hand; that you can put in your pocket or carry in their own little bag. Shortly after Free Spirit was born, I was thinking about making a mini version. Meet Jenny and Carina, the first Mini Free Spirits. She stands a little over seven inches tall, and is crocheted from worsted weight yarn.

I used Fibre Crafts 'Cindy' doll as the body model; there have been some really cute crochet patterns published for this doll, a couple of them are shown above. There are still a couple in print (unfortunately, the ones above are not). So, if you are fortunate enough to have collected some of these patterns, great! If not, I have several patterns for clothing for this new doll.


As I was making this doll, I got a bit carried away with accessories. The little bed is made from a broken picture frame, wooden spools, and some twigs from the back yard. The bench and chair are from a very old pattern for clothespin furniture, that has managed to stay with me through several moves. I did have to search frantically for it after our last move :-) The coverlet and afghan are block patterns from the book "200 Crochet Blocks" worked in sportweight yarn.

The patterns for the doll and clothing are located here and on the left sidebar:

Doll pattern: http://sites.google.com/site/designbybethann/home/links/FreeSpiritMiniDoll.pdf?attredirects=0&d=1

Nightgown: http://sites.google.com/site/designbybethann/home/links/FSMiniNightgown.pdf?attredirects=0&d=1

Underwear: http://sites.google.com/site/designbybethann/home/links/FSMiniPantaloons.pdf?attredirects=0&d=1

Dress and Sunsuit: http://sites.google.com/site/designbybethann/home/links/FSMiniSideToSideBodiceDress%26SunSuit.pdf?attredirects=0&d=1

Mohair Sweater: http://sites.google.com/site/designbybethann/home/links/FSMiniMohairSweater.pdf?attredirects=0&d=1

Below is Carina, in the dark braids, and Jenny, with the curly red hair. Carina is wearing a dress from the pattern that comes with the Cindy doll; made without any alterations :-) The Mini Free Spirit Doll pattern includes instructions for both hair styles below, plus several others that are very easy.

She works up faster than Free Spirit, and is just a lot of fun to make. I hope you enjoy her!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

When every surface is covered....

I've been housecleaning. And as we all know, housecleaning if done right, can kill you. I take this very seriously. I don't want my epitaph to read "She was a fine housecleaner."

However, when nearly every flat surface in your home has a doll (or two or three) on it, action must be taken. Sadly, our walls are pretty full too. So, what do you do when you have more dolls that must be adequately displayed than there are places to display them? What I did was to remove most of the china from my china cabinet and turn it over to the Free Spirits :-)

What do you do? I'd love to know how you display dolls, and what you do with overcrowding conditions. Many of my dolls go to charity, or become gifts. How about you? Please share your ideas on how to display our lovely handwork.

As you can see, Gabrielle is right at home with the Blue Willow and her puppies :-)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Kitties for Adoption

Free to a good home! The Free Spirit girls are now awash in kitties, as well as puppies. The pattern for the above kitties is available here:

http://sites.google.com/site/designbybethann/home/links/BasicKittyPattern.pdf?attredirects=0&d=1

And also along the left side of the blog page along with the puppy patterns. The kitty body was interesting to work out. I was aiming for that prim look that cats and kittens all have, as they ponder what mayhem they can get into next (the trash can? the toilet paper role? Mom's yarn??) I hope you enjoy making these as much as Gabrielle, below, is enjoying her new pets.

By making some minor adjustments, other breeds can be created. A Scottish Fold would be easy by simply folding down the ear tips. A Devon or Cornish Rex by making the ears bigger (take a look at some pictures of these Cats...Wild!), and if you have the patience, a long haired kitty could be created by hooking strands of yarn around the body and head. Or, use a Mohair yarn and brush it. Lots of possibilities :-)

Well, its Time to do some serious housecleaning. If I survive, I hope to work out a 'mini' Free Spirit doll, still using worsted yarn and an E hook. Until then, enjoy the crochet!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Puppy Love

My Free Spirit girls wanted some pets, so I decided to apply hook and yarn to making them some puppy companions. So far there is a German Shepherd, Border Collie, Beagle, Labrador, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. They all have the same basic body and legs. The puppy heart and soul is in the face...ears, eyes, and muzzle.

Here are the patterns to share with all of you. These would also be fun gifts or stocking stuffers, for both boys and girls.

Enjoy the crochet!

Beagle Pattern: http://sites.google.com/site/designbybethann/home/links/BeaglePuppyPattern.pdf?attredirects=0&d=1

Border Collie Pattern: http://sites.google.com/site/designbybethann/home/links/BorderColliePuppyPattern.pdf?attredirects=0&d=1

Cavalier King Charles Pattern: http://sites.google.com/site/designbybethann/home/links/CavalierKingCharlesPuppyPattern.pdf?attredirects=0&d=1

German Shepherd Pattern: http://sites.google.com/site/designbybethann/home/links/GermanShepherdPuppyPattern.pdf?attredirects=0&d=1

Labrador Pattern: http://sites.google.com/site/designbybethann/home/links/LabradorPuppyPattern.pdf?attredirects=0&d=1



You can see the girls are enjoying their new companions. Of course, now they are clamoring for some kitties....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Latest Steam Punk Free Spirit


My latest Steam Punk Free Spirit is Samarkand Artemis Lewis, younger sister of Istanbul Athena. She is dressed in a split skirt for bicycle riding, and standing next to her beloved bicycle. Her dream is to circumnavigate the globe by bike, and in the process hopefully find her Mother; lost in Africa these last 10 years.


Closeup of Samarkand's jewelry and facial embroidery. More pictures on my flickr site.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Steam Punk Free Spirit

Meet Istanbul Athena Lewis, a steam punk Free Spirit :-) To make her, I modified her body slightly by giving her a bit of a bosom and more almond shaped eyes (see my flickr photostream for Free Spirit Steam Punk Variations: http://www.flickr.com/photos/29184580@N04/sets/72157622509269234/ for some instructions on the modifications)

I used the side-to-side basic bodice for her corset dress bodice, and simply crocheted a full skirt to the bottom of the bodice, using a stitch pattern from "The Harmony Guides, 220 More Crochet Stitches." I was curious if hammered-on eyelets would work with crochet, for the lacing of her bodice, and they do!

I purchased inexpensive charms from Michaels for her punky jewely and the charms on her gauntlets. Her earrings and necklace are removable.


Closeup of the bodice; I also did a little bead crochet work here, which gives a neat effect, and you can also get a close look at her earrings and her right gauntlet.

If you are interested in finding inspiration for this fashion statement, try this flickr photosite:

http://www.flickr.com/groups/steampunkfashion/

Enjoy the crochet!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Comparisons and new work

So, today I received my first Blythe! And like most little girls that get a new doll, I had to undress her :-) Of course, I couldn't resist a photo comparison of Blythe and the crochet doll that she inspired, Free spirit, so here they are.

This Free Spirit is a slight variation on the basic doll pattern. This doll is my Steam Punk variation, and for her I wanted a more adult figure. So I nipped in her waist by one stitch, and added a more developed bosom. She isn't of Barbie proportion, but her soon to be made corset dress should look very sexy on her :-)

I also modified the eyewhites to try to give a more almond shape, instead of the 'Blythe' look to her eyes. I have a new set on my flickr photostream for the Steam Punk variation, where I will put the directions for the new eye whites and modified body.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

How Many?


Well, I was curious how many different outfits I could make from one basic Edwardian dress pattern. As of today, my count stands at five (the latest is the cranberry red dress on the right, and on Emily below). Not to mention several pair of bloomers, three collars, and two nightgowns. These outfits have been a lot of fun to dream up, and to share with you.

Now I want to try something different with Free Spirit. For some reason I got the idea of Steam Punk in my head, so I'm going to give this a try. With Steam Punk, think over-the-top Victorians achieving our level of technology with...steam engines!

Sherlock Holmes, Jules Verne, and H.G. Wells would have all been comfortable in this reality :-)

I've enjoyed the Edwardians, and hope you have too.



Crochet

Silver hook in hand;
A web of lace takes shape
Beneath flashing fingers.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Edwardian Nightgowns


Well, the Edwardian Free Spirit's trousseau is almost complete. The girls now have their choice of nightgowns. The nightgown on the left is done with a love knot stitch. Once you get the hang of it, it isn't difficult, but it can be a bit tough to visualize. If you want to try this stitch, I recommend heading to Crochet Pattern Central to their stitch dictionary and take a look at the stitch there. Their site is listed in 'Links I Love.'

The nightgown on the right is done with a chain and picot stitch. Easy stitches, and gives a nice, lacy effect. Both of these nightgowns were stitched with Aunt Lydia's Bamboo Crochet Thread. It was the first time I had used this thread, and it is lovely. It has a matte finish and a wonderful drape.

The patterns for the nightgowns can be found here:

http://sites.google.com/site/designbybethann/home/links/FSEdwardianNightgowns.pdf?attredirects=0

Or on the left hand side of the blog page under Free Spirit Patterns.


Now we can snuggle in to bed in our cozy nightgowns :-) Enjoy the stitching!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Another Edwardian Variation

I have two new patterns to share, plus a new girl to model them! Emily is another Edwardian Free Spirit. She has peachy skin (Red Heart Classic light peach) and blond streaked hair (Lionbrand Imagine, which they discontinued...drat them! and a laceweight mohair). She also has gold Suncatcher eyes.

Her dress is another variation of the basic Edwardian dress, this time with a lower neckline and puffed upper sleeves that gather into tight fitting lower sleeves. This way, she can wear a variety of collars that are detachable and button in the back. The pattern for the dress is here:

http://sites.google.com/site/designbybethann/home/links/FSEdwardianLowNeckline.pdf?attredirects=0

And the collar patterns are here:

http://sites.google.com/site/designbybethann/home/links/FSDetatchableCollars.pdf?attredirects=0

Also, they are listed on the left hand side of the blog page under Free Spirit Patterns.

I hope you enjoy making these as much as I have :-)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Edwardian Variations

One of my favorite places to find inspiration when designing vintage clothing is from Dover Publications. Above are three of the resource books I have from them, one of which is a paper doll book! (the one on the right). Dover easily has hundreds of paper doll books and other books, including books of old photographs, that are perfect for jump-starting the creative juices.

I based the 'basic' Edwardian dress on several of the styles from 'Childrens Fashions 1860-1912.' The pattern is now available here:

http://sites.google.com/site/designbybethann/home/links/FSBasicEdwardianDress.pdf?attredirects=0

Included are instructions for both the bretelles (fancy shoulder straps) and a deep bodice collar. Two sleeve variations, and two different pattern stitches for the skirt. The basic bodice is simply the side-to-side bodice.

So please, have fun making these outfits, and coming up with variations of your own!


Friday, September 11, 2009

The Edwardians


For several weeks I have been wanting to make an Edwardian Free Spirit. The Edwardian era can be loosely defined as the period of time from the death of Queen Victoria (1901) through the end of WWI (1918).

It is an historically interesting time period, especially for women. Crinolines, hoops, and bustles were gone, and corsets began to loosen up. Women were just beginning to experience more freedom in their lives, from transportation via bicycle to entry into the workplace. And by 1920 they had achieved the right to vote in America.

Children also benefited. They were no longer being dressed as miniature versions of their mothers. The clothing they now wore actually allowed them to play, and some of them even had the leisure to do so.



Both of my Grandmothers were born in the Edwardian period; my Mother's mother in 1903 (she is the one at the top of the page), and my Father's mother in 1904 (here to the right). Imagine the incredible changes these women saw in the course of their very long lives, both of them living into the 21st century. My great-grandfather delivered dry good via horse and carriage; my Grandmothers saw men walk on the moon.




So for me, making a doll to represent the Edwardian period is like very lightly touching my own family history. Gabrielle and Caroline, my Edwardian Free Spirits, are meant to represent two young girls, around 12 or so, of this era. My Mother's mother taught me to crochet, and my Father's mother was an artistic needlewoman. Thanks in a large part to them I am able to create the dolls I do, and happily share them with you.

Coming soon; a basic Edwardian dress pattern for Free Spirit, and some embellishment ideas.



Gabrielle, in the curls, and Caroline, with the French Braid. The lovely fabric covered box, for their Edwardian finery, is from my dear friend Bev.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A new Flickr group




Here are a couple more wonderful dolls made from the Free Spirit Amigurumi doll pattern. The lively red-head was made by Ellen, and all the colors here are just wonderful. Her pink bear is also a free pattern available on this blog, as Better Bear. Who doesn't adore a redhead :-)








This blue-haired beauty was made by Maria, and I love her combinations! Both dolls are such excellently executed crochet work. I love seeing all of the different dolls created from this pattern.

To that end, it was suggested by a couple folks that I create a flickr photo group for the dolls made from the Free Spirit pattern, and so I have. The group is:

http://www.flickr.com/groups/freespiritamidolls/

So if you have made a doll with this pattern, please consider posting a picture on this photo site. I'd love to see your dolls, their clothing, and any variations you may come up with!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Christmas Crochet



This darling gang of Owlishly patterns (and a small snail from Ana Paula Rimoli) are Christmas gifts for my nieces and nephews. I usually start crocheting for Christmas in July, so I don't have to rush at the end of the year. Kids get toys, and adults get scarves and ponchos. Of course, if I'm in the mood, adults get toys too :-)




Almost all of the Christmas crocheting is done, which means that now I can turn my attention back to making more Free Spirit dolls.

My next project is two Free Spirits from Edwardian times. The plan is to create a basic dress pattern, then see how many different looks can be created from this. I will share the pattern, then hope for some neat variations from all of you.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Helene's Free Spirit


Helene has made a wonderful Free Spirit doll; I love her pink combinations and blue hair. Helene did not have any acrylic eyes, so she embroidered hers; lovely work :-)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Enid and her Snail


Joyce has done it again. I think Enid is irresistible, especially with her escargot!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wonderful Fabric-Covered Boxes


My dear friend Bev commissioned these three dolls for her Granddaughters for Christmas. After she received them, she went to work making each doll a wonderful box in which to keep all her gear, and the doll as well.

With bright fabrics and pockets for flowers or little owls, these fabric covered boxes are an absolute delight. The child in me (never far from the surface) claps her hands with joy :-)

The girls are, from left to right, Rose, Iris, and Lavender. Such lucky dolls, and such lucky Granddaughters!

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Better Bear



I have a crochet pattern I would like to share with you; it is my 'Better Bear' pattern, because it took so many iterations to get it just the way I wanted it. In the picture above, the larger bears are about 3 1/2" tall; the smaller bears are about 1 1/4 " tall. I've had this pattern around for several years. I love to make these little bears as gifts, or as toys for other dolls, as with Lavender to the rigtht here :-)

The tiny bears may make you go blind trying to crochet them; they are made from size 10 crochet cotton and a size 7 hook. I only made three...that was enough for me! The larger bears are from sportweight, and are really quite easy. Of course, you can use any weight yarn with the appropriate hook. Crochet nice and tight so none of the stuffing shows.

Enjoy the bears! The pattern is here:
http://sites.google.com/site/designbybethann/home/links/Better_Bear.pdf?attredirects=0

Friday, August 21, 2009

Annabelle



Here is another wonderful Free Spirit, made by Diane, named Annabelle. Diane designed her dress, and even made little slippers to go with it. I love the yarn she used for hair, and the colors are great!

And check out her wonderful underwear; isn't this just lovely?!

You can see more pictures of Annabelle, and her neat slippers, and other lovely crochet work, at Diane's photostream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/23868323@N06/

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More Free Spirits!


Aren't they wonderful?! This trio of Free Spirits were made by Joyce, and I just love them. Showing off their bendy legs and sassy attitudes, and their terrific hairstyles :-)

I am so loving seeing this pattern interpreted by other wonderful dollmakers. If you make a doll from the pattern, please let me know and, as you can tell, I will happily post her (or them!) here.

You can see more pictures of the girls, and other great crochet and embroidery, at Joyce's photostream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/41627508@N06/

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Look What You Can Do!

This wonderful interpretation of the Free Spirit was done by Ellen Haytas. She crocheted the doll with size 3 crochet cotton and a size 1 steel hook. Azure by name, turned out to be about 7 inches tall. Her hair is Tibetan lambswool, isn't it simply amazing!

This demonstrates the wonderful versatility of any doll pattern. Free Spirit can be just about any doll you want her to be. A little boy, a fairy, a Raggedy Ann (I've seen one of those!), a crochet Blythe, whatever! With yarn and a hook you can soon have a roomful of inspiration.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Another Free Spirit!


Here is another darling doll made from the free Free Spirit Amigurumi doll pattern. The pattern is available on this site; scroll down or find in it July posts.

This lovely girl was made by Cathy (Marycat at Crochetville). Don't you love the ponytails?! I think she is just precious. Thank-you Cathy, for letting me share her with everyone.