Merry Knitmas!

Yesterday was a bit of a cliffhanger, but I feel like it was obvious enough. We’ve got new patterns!

I decided to make a line of Dress Up Dolls patterns. Say you are a knitter and love our items, but they just aren’t in the budget. Well now, you can make one for yourself! They are a more simplified version of my shrunken wool rabbits that I’ve been creating lately, but they still have hips and feet and shoulders and beautiful heads! Another bonus: they are knitted in the round! Makes knitting a breeze. No mountain of body parts waiting for their seams to be sewn up and attached. They look beautiful dressed and undressed.

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The pattern is a standard deer: one color, no muss no fuss. So if you’re still a kind-of new knitter, you can do this! If you would like to venture out, you can change colors like I did. I simply knitted the muzzle a different color (tip included in pattern), added antlers (also included in pattern), embroidered on some spots and ‘hairs’ in the ears and voila! Rudolph! My daughter went nuts over him.

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I also bought a skein of a mohair lace weight and knitted it together with my wool to create a fuzzier doe:

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ALSO, You can see they have little sweaters on–that is also available as a pattern! It was so easy to make; I foresee a boatload of beautifully detailed sweaters in the future! The pattern is for a simple, single-colored sweater. However, as you can see, it makes a great base for being creative. I double-knit in a nordic design on one. I embroidered little holly cluster polka dots onto another. I made Rudolph’s sweater striped! Details for the stripes  included in pattern. I can’t wait to see all of the different finishes!

***Please note, I created this pattern as just to be knitted, not shrunken as well. If you do decide to shrink it, it will look completely different than this! I do not use these designs for my shrunken wool dolls. I merely created a pattern to look similar to those. ***

I wasn’t really sure of when I was going to offer these patterns, but I figured no better time than the present! It may be a little bit like offering in the eleventh hour, but they don’t need to be holiday deer. There’s always New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, Easter, birthdays, nightly toy knitting, or just ’cause! So grab these patterns at our Etsy shop; more are already in the works!

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Some kind of segue

You know, it’s been a while. This year, for us, has been a period of  trying to ‘figure ourselves out’ in a business-focused aspect. For me, I previously wasn’t as drawn to shrinking up my dolls after knitting them because I saw the incredible amount of tedious work it took for my mom to perfect the technique. However, the finished product is unlike any other doll I’ve ever held.  To me, it is the highest form of doll making that aims at the longevity of the life of the doll, also allowing for daily use, and holding up to even the most brutal play my young daughter has had to offer. This year, I was drawn to work in that avenue of art. I mean, look at the finished product! No seams, no loose stitches, no misshaping.

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For those who are new here, this technique requires that you create the entire doll out of wool yarn by crocheting or knitting, then agitate it with water and soap and pressure over and over until it shrinks and is thick and firm but fluffy and springy.  This incredible form of art takes a lot of time, as I’ve stated over and over previously. So here’s the deal. I worked tirelessly with my mom’s guidance and I was able to create many dolls this year. Here’s a few:

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Yes, those are knitted-then-shrunken dolls wearing tiny skirts and tiny knitted cabled and fair isle sweaters, wearing hand-stitched boots and Maryjanes. I loved holding each one in my hands when I was finished with them. Each unique in their own way! So I decided, I would like to switch gears and offer something that allows other knitters to become creative and make their own unique items using a sort-of template. I’ll just leave it at that and share more very soon! Thanks for checking in!

XO, Rhonda

What the fuzz?

Felting? Fulling? What is it?!? We decided to put together a little ‘infomercial’ on what sets our products apart and what it is that we actually do.

I believe it should also be noted that that some folks may have been attempting to confuse what we do with wet felting. Wet felting is basically using the raw, unspun wool and turning it into a felt sheet. This is nothing like our process. If it does not say fulled or seamless shrunken wool then it is not created the same.

No rain, no flowers.

Hey, how are you? It’s been a while. I hope you’re doing well, that things are okay. If you’re not all right, well then, that’s okay too. Truth be told, I think the majority of us aren’t “all right.” We all go through an ebb and flow of difficult situations that are essentially helping us grow up into better versions of ourselves, even though they seem to come in the version of 20-foot waves.

I love (yet also simultaneously despise) the saying “no rain, no flowers.” It’s reassuring that the waves of torrential downpour will guarantee growth, but nobody wants to keep getting dumped on in order to see the bounty of blossoms.

Did you know this business began over 30 years ago? Bet a dime you didn’t, and it’s likely that you may have never even heard of us until recently, or even today. See, shortly after my mom and grandma started this business, it rained. And it didn’t just sprinkle or mist, we’re talking 40 days’ and 40 nights’ worth. Could you imagine essentially being a nobody (sorry ma) that people were still so threatened by? There was wave after wave of people who sought to fight against the productivity, the growth of this little business.

The flood of legal battles have ended all in our favor (thank you God), and so seems the defamation as well. The army we once faced for nearly two decades, many of those jumped ship. However, after the water dissipated, we realized that the time lost on protecting our possessions would never be recouped. In those days of legal paperwork and continuously setting the record straight, we were outrun in the race. We had lost time investing in promoting our products. People who had just begun these crafts were already widely known. We thought the lack of interest was because of the types of products we made, so we invested even more time in design, and even less in advertising and reaching out.

Friends, can I tell you, sometimes it feels like The Great Flood is at your door. You may feel like you are experiencing tumultuous undercurrents from other people, which keep you from your full potential. Don’t look at it that way. It becomes really easy to be dismayed, trust me. To be clear, you’re not a bad person for losing faith over it.  I’ve been there. Sometimes, I didn’t want to be faithful, but I looked at it as a duty. If you focus on the bad that’s happening, you’re only going to drown yourself.

If we hadn’t experienced everything that we did, we may not have grown into creating better products, we may not have grown into becoming wiser in business relations and protecting our intellectual property. We’ve become more bold. We also relate to a lot more people now, sharing struggles. This business may not mean anything to anyone else, except those who wanted it snuffed out. But we’re here, we’re growing, and I think it’s finally showing! We are pretty dang excited with our refined designs (we’ll share more in the next few days).

Recite these, heck, stitch it on your sleeves: no grit, no pearl; no pressure, no diamond; no rain, no flowers. And just remember, you aren’t the only one who gets to enjoy your flowers!

Here’s some florals from around my house to distract you and temporarily drown away your sorrows. I hope your clouds will clear out soon!

Hugs,  Rhonda

What it takes to make.

I may seem like a lucky jerk for being able to work from home. Sure, I know that I am very fortunate to be there for my kids, day in and day out. I’m raising them while working, and I’m so thankful for that. But I really don’t see ‘makers’ talk about the ugly side of this ‘industry’, the sometimes depressing side of it: the roadblocks, the cynicism, the doubts, the time invested, the rip-offs.  You see our nicely finished, hand-made item being held by a freshly-bathed babe on a beautiful antique quilt and you think “their life is so perfect, I hate them.”
Am I wrong? I don’t think I am because I am guilty of thinking the same about other makers.

But it’s far from perfect. Maybe in always putting our best foot forward, we kind of lost that personal connection with others. Maybe we’ve become un-relatable, though we are probably the most laid back, easy-to-get-along-with people.

So yeah, this line of work can be a big bummer at times. Have you ever worked for two years on a design, shown a sneak peek and said “coming soon!” as if you were going to have a stinking parade for yourself, then you find out a few days later that you are finally pregnant and you get sick? Like dead almost. I mean the kind where you lose 30 lbs in a month and are in and out of the hospital to get your fluids replenished because everything made you sick—crackers, water, air, Kleenex, you name it. And then that new pattern you should’ve had done before Valentine’s day is still in limbo come April because you haven’t been able to eat food for two months, much less count stitches.

When you are a ‘maker’ for a living, life can really put a hiatus on things.

And, when you’re finally able to eat, you demolish half a bag of tortilla chips with salsa and stare at a half-knitted doll dress and think “What am I doing with my life? I’m thirty-one, I should be knitting trendy chunky blankets or neon pink speckled shawls or something.” But the truth is, I don’t want to make either of those. I want to make dolls and knit sweet little baby sweaters and bonnets. But, I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times I have questioned what I’m doing. Ask my mom, she has about 1,743 text from me of half-finished projects and I’m asking, “is this stupid??”

Then, when you decide that the dolls you spent months making actually look stupid, and ‘who is gonna want that rabbit/grasshopper hybrid…’ (don’t even judge the fabric pile in the corner and the paint-swatch walls. That wall has since been painted and all that fabric has since been hidden from my husband)…


…and you toss that junk into a basket full of others, destined for the Island of Misfit Toys along with those dolls that only have hair stitched on half of their head; the ones who look like they should be named Olga and have a face that only your child will love:


And as if I wasn’t enough of a hindrance to myself, I get the ridiculous emails. You wouldn’t believe the kind of emails from people wanting us to make a whole pattern from an item we made 11 years ago so that they too can make it. Like we can just pull all that from memory… Or people, who have no intention of buying, request a complimentary 1”bear for their blind aunt, I kid you not. Would she tell the difference from the bear and a piece of lint?? Or the emails from people that don’t even care about the product you made but instead ask where they can buy the tea set in the background of your photo. The constant emails alone are enough to make me grey—you don’t earn a dime for your time dealing with that stuff.

I wish that was the worst of it. I think the worst is creating something from nothing, not earning nearly enough for your time, then seeing your design duplicated by someone who is making money off your idea, hand-over-fist.

You may see the perfection of the finished item, but boy does it take a long path to get there. I’m sure more venting will come.

Just know that if you’re a maker enduring these things, hang in there. You’re not alone.

Hugs,

Rhonda

Christmas can stay. 

Sometimes, I feel as though I was destined to live in a little Nordic village surrounded by snowdrifts and wearing intricately knitted mittens, walking down tiny, dark streets that have dozens of little glowing windows lighting the sidewalk. Currently where I live is the opposite. Sunny Arizona. We had roses blooming on Christmas and our Japanese maple had just begun to turn a deep port wine. The tree in the backyard lit up our whole living room to a sunny yellow hue until Christmas Eve. 
“Merry Christmas, it feels like Halloween.” 

As I scrolled through lovely instagram feeds and blogs with blankets of snow and evergreens, I admit I got jealous–however I’m not jealous of traveling in it. Just, otherwise. It was hard to dive into the new season when I felt stuck in the last one. But it’s like God was telling me that there is always something to celebrate, regardless of the season you’re in, regardless of the circumstances. Just when Christmas was almost passed, I finally started celebrating. In fact, we’ve continued to celebrate even after December has ended. I mean, who says you can’t make santa cookies after Christmas? And i feel like Christmas isn’t truly over until you want it to be. Or until the gingerbread cookies are gone. Whichever. I still have my trees and wreaths and lights up. I told my husband, “They’re not coming down ’til February!” He obliged–I think mostly because he won’t have to climb up to the second story roof to take down the exterior wreaths just yet. 

I feel like I’m still hanging onto Christmas because I let my outside circumstances keep me from focusing on the important and it passed me by. Christmas is a time for us to slow down. To celebrate Jesus–not only his birth, but all of his works as well. It’s a time to cuddle, to create, to celebrate. And to eat cookies. The four C’s. Remember that.

I think we collectively, as a whole, are so eager to start on a new year, new us, new life, blah blah… that we rush through The Best Holiday. But if you feel like it passed you by without really saturating yourself in all its goodness, bake some soft gingerbread cookies and let your kids decorate them. Make some hot cocoa and do a Christmas puzzle. Leave up twinkle lights a little longer. Knit stockings and watch Christmas movies. Just enjoy the season if you, like I, missed it.
We hope that you had/have a happy, happy Christmas.

Hugs, Rhonda