We had a dog’s weather yesterday. That is what we say when it is raining hard. This dog’s weather gave me a good excuse to stay inside. I was not afraid of getting wet, but all the surfaces turned to nasty thick and slippery and dangerous ice.
I have had such a good time thinking about the Dollhouse and the life within and I have been adding on to the story. I will want to focus on the various textiles and clothes in the house but then I am sure I will enjoy making the furniture and, hopefully in the summer after the bookbinding course, some books too.
“The Making of the Bog Jacket
Amanda’s and Martta’s mother is an actress which means that the girls have an opportunity to meet fascinating artists and famous actors and that they get to play endless hours in the theatre but it also means that their mother is away a lot. Their father works in the university. If you asked the girls what their father is doing they’d answer that he is a bookworrm with the stress on the r. Literature is his field.”
Can you see why I added this? Yes, for the sake of books and small-scale fancy costumes. And this picture is from the family album...
“Grandma M is mother’s mother. She does not live in the house because she and her daughter could not reside under the same roof for various reasons and Grandma M must have her piece and quiet but she lives close enough to be a frequent visitor and to come to rescue when needed. The little girls have become the centre of her being. She is a widow. She usually baby-sits during the performance nights and she always comes over with her knitting. She sits in a comfortable arm chair with clicking needles - after the girls’ father has read them bedtime stories and left for the theatre - until the girls fall asleep and long after that. She used to knit in a rocking chair that was kept in the girls’ room after their mother had used it for nursing but just recently the chair was removed from there (knitting in a rocking chair made hear head dizzy) and replaced by a good armchair where she can find a good posture for knitting. She chose the chair and had it brought over to the house of which her daughter was not too happy about.”
I would love to make that knitting chair. And it is obvious why I made the grandmother the knitter and why she bought that chair, sitting on a floor does look a bit uncomfortable. She seems to have a good straight back though, but she does excercises regularly. Maybe she will show them some day.
“Grandma M belongs to this long chain of women who had to learn to knit and sew and spin and embroider and weave and cook and clean. Her daughter on the other hand belongs to the generation who broke that chain but that generation has done so much good for women’s lives in general that this lack of various handcraft skills should not be held against them. She is very proud of her daughter and always goes to see her new roles but sometimes she can’t help wondering what went wrong with her endless pursuits in teaching her a few simple household chores. Her daughter is clever and capable but she does not even know how to sew a button. But then sewing a button is an art in itself. Martta occasionally shows signs of interest towards knitting and sewing but she has her very own creative approach towards them.
Grandma M enjoys knitting for her little girls. She occasionally knits for her daughter too but not very often because she is so very hard to please. The collar might be a bit tight, or the sleeves a bit wide, or the wool after all might not have been a good choice or on some rare and lucky occasion she might claim that the knit is absolutely perfect but end up never wearing it.”
Now I can try out some patterns that interest me but I don’t need to knit them in big scale, like this bog jacket.
“At the moment Grandma M is making a Bog Jacket for Amanda. The knitting part of the jacket is done; it is only missing sewing and some detailing. Some time ago she found this interesting book by Elizabeth Zimmermann called “Knitting around” where Mrs Zimmermann introduces the Knitter’s Bog Jacket. She knows this pattern from her weaving endeavours and even though she has seen how very clever the pattern is in turning a square piece of cloth into a jacket, the appearance of the jacket has never appealed to her being a bit too rustic to her taste. But after reading from this book of the knitter's version she had to try it and all the clever tricks in the making.
The choice of yarn was absolutely crucial since the jacket is done in garter stitch. When garter stitch is done in plain factory dyed colours (colours that look more or less dead on the surface) it looks a bit tasteless, so she really wanted to knit the jacket with tweed or heathered or hand dyed yarn that has a bit of variegation in it (white or off white thin cotton might have been good a good choice too). She has never liked the garter stitch much but lately she has seen beautiful examples of lovely garter stitch garments done by delightful Mr Flood. She has a huge stash and she insisted on using this time what she had on hand and chose this hand dyed yellow wool. The yarn is a souvenir from her trip to Iceland. The dyeing has some depth and the feel is just about right so it should work with this pattern. It is not too heavy so the end result would not be too bulky and stiff for a little body that needs to be able to wiggle a bit.
She makes serious attempts to knit the accurate size by doing meticulous swatching beforehand but there have been times when the baby size jacket did not fit until the girls were three years old or when the two year old size ended up being for an infant. But such can happen even to the most experienced knitters at times. And yarns are all different, one has to know them by heart, and she refers to the best of them as good and trusty companions.
The bog coat has few very interesting little details. She added a little bit of shaping for the waist, just a tiny bit, really to showcase only the phoney seams in the sides - this was recommended by Mrs Zimmermann and short rows for the back to make it little longer than the fronts. She made the long sleeve version but instead of doing something that Mrs Zimmermann calls a thumb trick method she took the stitches on a spare yarn and cast on with invisible cast on the stitches for the fronts and the sleeves. With age she has had to think up ways to make up for the not so good eyesight and the thumb trick with thin yarn can be too hard on the eyes. What she found the cleverest course of action is the instructions how to add some shaping to the sleeve heads. The pattern advises to increase and decrease stitches in the shoulder line and that trick was truly priceless.
She can’t wait to put the piece together to see how all these little tricks worked in the end.”
This is more or less how my mind has gone on with the process. And the little bog jacket is so cute that I might want to have one too. Only the pockets are missing from the human size coat.
PS. I thought for a long time before I sent this. I am not sure if it is a good idea to let anyone know how deep inside this Dollhouse I am. But it is such a great place to escape to and everyone should have a hideaway spot somewhere. Do you remember what it was like to play when you were a child? And did you have a secret place, a closet or a place under a table that was covered by a huge tablecloth? And can you remember what you felt when you were hiding there and the things you could imagine?
I am sure you have often felt that if only I could eg knit that or wear that or do that but because of this and that - various reasons in life - you are not able to. Just for a second make up this imaginary knitter or traveller or crafter and dream about all the various things she/he could do... What would that person do? And I am not saying that I don't enjoy my life as it is, but once in a while dreaming is good.