Anne of Green Gables Doll

Knitted Anne of Green Gables- complete with crochet straw hat and little basket of flowers!

Knitted Anne of Green Gables- complete with crochet straw hat and little basket of flowers!

It’s been ages since I last wrote here, because life and work (mainly work actually) has kept getting in the way of my crafty endeavors! In a departure from the usual theme of the blog, I thought I would share a photo of a doll I knitted for my Mum on her birthday. The character is Anne of Green Gables, the charming Canadian orphan girl from the books by L.M.Montgomery. She is a girl with a beautiful imagination, who likes to dream, make up stories, and enjoy nature. My Mum loved the books as a girl, and she encouraged me to read them, although I have to say I didn’t listen to her until I was at college and looking for some gentle reading to relax with while I was taking my finals. I fell in love with them and ended up reading the whole series in the space of a few months (there are 8 of them plus two books of short stories).

Having recently taught myself to crochet, I had a go at making not only a little hat for Anne, but also a cute little basket of flowers too. I can’t believe I didn’t learn to crochet sooner, it’s so easy, and less fiddly than knitting! But knitting is better for making small objects with a smooth texture, so I think I will stick to it for making the main parts of stuffed toys. I really like trying out different textures with knitting- for example, the little flowers on Anne’s dress are not sewn onto the fabric after knitting, they are actually knitted into the fabric, row by row. The head of the flower is formed by the sweetly-named “peeping purl” stitch, which creates a little star-shaped bobble that slightly protrudes from the fabric. It’s very useful for avoiding lots of sewing later!

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Germany

Hier ist eine Puppe, die ein Dirndl trägt

German costume doll next to Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria

German costume doll next to Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria

As you can see from the picture, I had some fun with this doll- she is a bit like a Brother’s Grimm fairytale heroine next to the original “Disney castle”, Neuschwanstein (Neuschwanstein Castle was inspired by medieval myths and legends and was the inspiration for the castle in the film “Sleeping Beauty”). The characters Snow White and Rapunzel both wear cute Dirndl-like costumes in the Disney films.

I am quite a fan of the Dirndl, a traditional women’s costume of Germany and Austria, having recently been on holiday to Austria and enjoyed looking at the beautiful dresses on display in shop windows, and also modelled by lots of women at the local Strudelfest.

The summer Dirndl, shown here, has a short sleeved white blouse, with a bodice, skirt and apron. Traditionally, the bodice is lace-up and the bodice and skirt are two-toned. The original Dirndls would have been hard-wearing outfits worn by servants and working women in the 19th century. They were later adopted by the upper classes as high fashion. The word “Dirndl” is a shortening of “Dirndlgewand” (“young women’s/girl’s dress”).

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Iceland

Langt síðan við höfum sést…

 

Icelandic costume doll next to some Grassodenhäuser

Icelandic costume doll next to a traditional turf house

…long time no see! I haven’t been updating this blog much this summer as I’ve been taking a break from doing crafty things. This icelandic doll is pretty much the only thing I’ve made for the past couple of months, apart from a couple of baby things and, excitingly, a few things to put in shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child (hopefully I’ll be able to put some free patterns for charity knits up here soon!).

Anyway, back to Iceland, and their beautiful national costume, called Þjóðbúningurinn. My doll is wearing one of the female versions known as Upphlutur, which is based on the traditional clothes that would have been worn every day in olden times. A black, red or blue bodice is worn with a long black skirt and apron, and a tasselled black cap (Skotthufa). Traditionally the shoes could sometimes be made from fish (just the skin, I assume)! In the 20th century, the costume became more for show as it was no longer worn everyday, and embroidery and fancy metalwork decorations were added.

Unlike most of Europe, Iceland was not settled until the 9th century A.D. It was ruled by Norway, and later Denmark, and didn’t become independent until 1918. There is a similarity between Danish, Norweigian and Icelandic traditional costumes, presumably because their histories are so intertwined. In the  background of the picture above are traditional icelandic turf houses (Grassodenhäuser), which are similar to some found in Norway. In fact, they were originally very similar to Viking longhouses in their construction.

 

 

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Nigeria

Bawoni Oremi!

Nigerian costume doll at a palm tree farm

Nigerian costume doll at a palm tree farm

This week we take a trip to sunny Nigeria on the West cost of Africa. The greeting above means “hello friend” in Yoruba, one of the hundreds of languages spoken in Nigeria.

The Nigerian traditonal Yoruba costume worn by my doll is called a buba and wrapper set (blouse with a wrapper skirt), which is worn with a gele, a wrapped headress. An ipele or iborun (shawl or shoulder shash) is sometimes also worn. It is difficult to do justice to the colourful patterns woven into the cloth used to make these clothes, but I have added some fairisle blossoms around the lower half of the skirt to add a bit of interest to the outfit.

The buba and wrapper are often a bride’s costume of choice for a traditional Nigerian wedding; if you are interested to take a look then this link on pinterest has some very pretty examples. I like the traditional engagement hand fans as well!

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France

Bonjour tout le monde! Deuet Mat

Knitted doll wearing Breton costume

Knitted doll wearing Breton costume

Here is my doll wearing the a traditional costume from Brittany, France. Brittany is a celtic “nation” (like Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Cornwall) in terms of its culture and original language, Breton. The words at the top of this post are in French followed by Breton: a lot of people living in Brittany will have some knowledge of the Breton language, even if it is dying out. Of all the celtic languages, Breton is most closely related to Welsh.

Brittany is famous for its elaborate lacework, which is used to make the large collar and also the eccentric-looking headdress (which is an enlarged version of a traditional coiffe).  I have used lace knitting to give my doll detailed lace embellishments, which are best seen when viewed from the back:

french backDress from Brittany will often contain some dark velvet, with embroidered flowers and other decorations. The doll’s costume is an approximation of the costume worn in Quimper; some other towns have more colourful costumes featuring brightly coloured dresses and aprons. A brilliant photographic summary of the regional costumes of Brittany can be found here.

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China

歡迎光臨!

Chinese doll in front of the Great Wall of China

Chinese doll in front of the Great Wall of China

My next doll takes us back to the Orient, with the traditional costume of the Han Chinese, called “Hanfu”. You may have seen these kinds of clothing in popular Chinese films or soap-operas. There are many different styles of Hanfu from different eras of history- the doll is wearing a version of the late Tang dynasty costume (9th century A.D.).

This was a golden age in Chinese history, an age of scientific and artistic innovation which saw China trading with countries all over the world. This influenced the clothing of the period to become a lot less resistrictive of movement (and a lot more revealing too!) The style is known as yishang zhi, where the Hanfu is made of two pieces- a cross-collar shirt or blouse (Jiao Ling), which is always crossed on the right-hand side of the body, and a long skirt which is tied at the waist with a long belt or sash. An open cross-collar jacket (Shan) may be worn over the top.

Although this costume is historic, ancient Hanfu (especially the Tang dynasty style) has been revived for wear at special occasions, with some people very keen to wear it instead of modern westernised Chinese clothes. Also, Taoist, Confucian and Buddhist monks regularly wear male styles of the clothing for religious ceremonies. One clothing tradition that still survives and is commonplace today is the Chinese art of embroidering clothes with intricate designs in silk. This practice is ancient; some evidence of silk production has been found at neolithic sites 5 or 6 thousand years old!

 

 

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Hungary

Szia! Örülök, hogy megismertelek.

Hungarian costume doll in front of the Castle of Füzér, Northen Hungary

Hungarian costume doll in front of the Castle of Füzér, Northen Hungary

“Hello, pleased to meet you” says my latest costume doll in Hungarian. She is my most ambitious project to date, with lots of embroidery on her costume. I was encouraged to make her by a family friend who lives in Budapest, and was kind enough to take an interest in my knitted dolls 🙂

She is wearing a costume originally from the town of Kalosca, which has a very distinctive style of colourful and detailed floral embroidery. This is on the back as well as the front of her blouse and waistcoat, so I’ve added a picture of the front and back view below to show this:

hungarian front and back

The skirt of this costume is very effective when dancing, as it is pleated and swings outwards. It is made of fabric in bright blue, red, green or lilac colours, with one or two strips of black or white ribbon sewn around the middle. Hair is tied back for dancing, so I made a cute little crocheted plait to go at the back of her head.

As well as its costume, Kalocsa is famous for its paprika cultivation, and for its age – it is thought to be one of the oldest towns in Hungary. It is also close to the Danube River, the longest river in the EU, which flows through ten countries! The Danube Bend in the mountains of Hungary is considered to be one of the most beautiful parts of the river.

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