Sunday, February 28, 2010

More Tiny Knitting and Crocheting

Inspired by Alice's Megipupu sweater (top) and Daisy's green mohair sweater jacket by DollyDressUp, I have been trying to learn to knit. Had a second lesson yesterday, in fact. Although I had crocheted for many years, knitting is a totally different process.

During the past week when I was supposed to be doing my knitting homework, though, I squeezed in some crochet time, making the sweater for Alice (third from top) and another tiny Momoko hat.

Not only was I pretty pleased with my first tiny sweater effort, although it is a bit bulky, but I was practically shocked when it actually started resembling a sweater. It was crocheted in four squares: front, back and two sleeves and then attached by crocheting the yoke around all four. It was a mess for a minute but the, suddenly, it was a butterfly.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Welcome Urban Cowgirl Charlotte

I realized in all my frenzied blogging, knitting, crocheting and Blythe-meeting that I did not properly introduce Charlotte. She is a slight custom Urban Cowgirl who came with eggplant eyechips and a slightly sanded face. Since the eggplant/purple eyechips look almost brown, I also added a pair of rainbow eyechips with purple pupils. I have more eyechips coming from Cool Cat, so we'll see if she needs any more.

Charlotte has absolutely gorgeous silky hair. In the top photo she is wearing a secondhand dress, originally by La boutique de Lupi along with red vinyl bunny boots. The dress has a felt bunny on it, so the boots are just perfect with it. And I think Charlotte is pretty perfect, too.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Batty for Hats and Hooks vs. Needles

I am just so crazy about the knitted hats and sweaters directly above by Megan a.k.a. Megipupu from Finland. She is just so talented, has a huge international following, and sells out of stock in her Etsy shop faster than you can click "commit to buy." Literally. Bunny models the green set I was able to get second-hand on Plastic Paradise. Yes, it has come to this. Blythe clothing is a hot commodity in tiny, virtual re-sale shops.

I like to crochet hats, like the fuzzy lavender one Alice is wearing. I added the store-bought felted wool flower for a jaunty look. But my hats are always sort of big and floppy as opposed to detailed and tight like Megan's. I knew I'd have to take up knitting if I wanted to achieve that look.

The mint green hat on Barbie is still crochet, but I started working with finer yarn and smaller hooks after seeing Theo's Momoko hats, boots and mittens at our recent Blythe meet. This pattern is from Crochet Today! magazine, January-February 2010, and was adapted from a 1964 pattern for Barbie.

But beyond the reduction in size, I have also started a knitting class and have my second session this weekend. I learned to knit once, the same time I learned to crochet, early in college, and haven't knitted since. At the first class it was clear I remembered nothing. And, learning to use two hands and two needles and moving the yarn with one's dominant hand is a lot different than one hook, one hand, and using one's other hand primarily. I felt like a duck out of water, but I'm enjoying our homework so far. We'll see what creations develop.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

All Modern Dolls Evolved from Miss Thing

I've blogged before about how much I enjoy finding vintage Skipper and Francie outfits again, that I once had in childhood, for my Blythes to wear, like Gwyneth above in "Town Togs" from 1965. Experts and amateurs all seem to disagree on the proper number of years which define an antique or qualify something as vintage. Collectors and appraisers even disagree among themselves. And Google is little help; it depends on whether one is talking about furniture, cars, glassware, etc.

If the star of author Jennie D’Amato’s book is vintage, then I’m perilously close. However, D’Amato’s subject looks great for her age and doesn’t seem a bit shook up about being 50. Even Time columnist Nancy Gibbs referenced the first anniversary of her 49th birthday in a recent column.

Only Barbie has it easy. Turning 50 recently was the source of much hoopla, and cause for a coffee table book, a beautiful hardcover: Barbie All Dolled Up, Celebrating 50 Years of Barbie, (2009, Running Press Book Publishers, 128 pp., $29.95). I was interested in the book, not just because I collect dolls and doll clothes but mostly because I grew up with Barbie & Friends, as Mattel called “them”: the tall, skinny, tanned, extremely gorgeous girls and guys with fabulous wardrobes, no responsibilities, no homework, no parents, and no worries.

If all that sounds silly, I don’t worry. I know I am not alone in personifying Barbie, Ken, Midge, Alan, PJ, Stacey, Skipper, Scooter, Francie, Casey and their ilk. I know my friends did, too, and it’s verified by the great quotes and stories in this book. Even Barbie’s creator, Ruth Handler, made her from a living, breathing model, daughter Barbara. Ruth’s husband was one of the two co-founders of Mattel, Inc., and the couple and his partner debuted Barbie in 1959.

For those who don’t know it, the history is fun to read in the book. For those who do, seeing that parade of dolls and fashions again from one’s childhood is well worth the price of the book. In fact, that was the main attraction to me—having recently started collecting Skipper and Francie fashions from the early 1960s, I wanted a visual reference—to sort the originals or vintage from the reproductions. This becomes extremely important, not only because Mattel has re-issued many of its classic Barbie fashions but also because so many of the outfits, happily played with by children all over the world, have been scarce to find still MIP (mint, in package) that collectors resort to acquiring the outfits piece by piece, shoe by tiny shoe on on-line auctions, at garage sales, flea markets and more. Knowing whether a white or black plastic flat skimmer shoe (or “flat”) was supposed to go with an outfit called “Tea Time” is helpful, and knowing whether the shoe was supposed to be marked “Japan” or some other designation is, too.

Unfortunately, the book does not have one comprehensive photo or list, but is it a full-color compendium of the best of the best, from the first issues in 1959 of an all-business, imperious looking Barbie (I can’t believe I used to think she looked liked a fun playmate; she looks like a mean boss!) to those over-the-top Bob Mackie ball gowns of the excessive 1980s and on to the famous designers of today who have created an outfit or lent their names for Barbie: Versace, Kate Spade, Anna Sui, Todd Oldham, Juice Couture, Dooney and Bourke and of course, Disney, Hello Kitty, Warner Brothers, Harley Davidson, Hard Rock CafĂ© and many more.

Another fun and innovative feature of this book, perhaps especially for us who “lived it once” already, is the many pull-out, fold-out and/or removable souvenirs inside, like the Barbie fan club card and newsletter, reproduction package inserts and even not one, but three frame-worthy prints of sketches by famed Barbie designer Robert Best. Those also make the book a collector’s edition that is well worth its price.

You can debate all you want whether age 50 makes Barbie an antique, but it would be hard to disagree that she’s collectible. Just take a look at the many on-line auction sites with Barbie items, the numerous fan clubs around the world, collectors’ conventions, museum exhibits (The Indianapolis Children’s Museum has Barbie: The Fashion Experience through February 2011) and more. Unopened fashions from the 1960’s are selling in some cases for hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

I’m too much of a bargain-hunter and novice collector for that, but I do take special pleasure in buying and handling (again) the outfits I remember so well from my childhood. Although I choose to use these fashions in my Blythe hobby now, they produce vivid, living color memories even though those memories are, ahem, nearly 50 years old. You don’t have to be a Barbie collector to enjoy this book. If you collect dolls of any sort or simply appreciate or follow pop culture, the 1960s-1970s, fashion, graphic design, even business and marketing, you’ll appreciate this resource.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Weekend Mini Blythe Meet!

First off, you can click on this awesome mosaic for a larger view. These are some shots from a Dolly gathering this past weekend with Maggie Stimson, Theo Malloy and myself in Columbia, MD. Everyone had incredible dolls and fashions. We had some swapping, selling and gifting, and Maggie showed me how to change eye chips with the hot glue stick and hot cotton ball method.

Theo showed us all her Momokos, Azones and Fashion Royalty and their massive wardrobe. We talked about Blythecon, Fashion Royalty Convention and the International Fashion Doll Convention. And our theme was Alice in Wonderland. A great time was had by all (three).

Friday, February 19, 2010

Hats Off for Friday Fashion Finds

I finally crocheted a bunch of hats for Blythe to put in my Etsy shop, something I've been planning to do for ages. But every time I'd make a couple, I'd either want to keep them or give them away.

It was also way past time to photograph Charlotte, the newest addition, an Urban Cowgirl with slight changes. She has one new set of eye chips (eggplant) and has been slightly sanded. Her hair is gorgeous, a brunette version of Star Dancer, nice and silky.

And we're way behind in trying on goodies that we've acquired from sundries sales on Plastic Paradise and other similar spots. Plus, we've got to gear up for a mini-Blythe meet Sunday (photos to come) by making some treats and dressing everyone just so. Stay tuned!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hair, hair down to there

And you thought it was the big eyes to see you with, my dear,
that interest me so much about Blythe. As for my first Blythe,
Lilly, I'm pretty sure it was her long blond hair that I admired. Here's me, looking not nearly as fashionable as Lilly, in the 1980s before Big Hair kicked in. This was probably my one and only good hair day ever, having just returned from two weeks in Florida. Up until this point, I'd never had a perm or a highlight or any professional service. Sometimes, I'd experiment with lemon juice or Sun-In, but other than that I knew nothing about high maintenance yet. Most of the time, in college, I'd wear it in a braided bun or pigtails- yikes. I pine for my long hair back often, not to mention the other trappings of youth. Lilly will just have to carry on for me.

I Moo, Do You?

I love MOO! I guess that makes it a noun and not a verb, and I have no idea why the company is called that. But Moo, Inc., is a printing company that I found on Flickr, and one of their specialties is the approximate 1" x 3" Moo cards shown above.

Moo cards have almost a cult following and are immensely popular as an alternate to business cards as you can have your pertinent info printed on the back. The best part is the front, which are slices you select from your Flickr photostream. Or, you can choose stock art, but it's so much fun to see your photos brought to life in tiny pieces.

I keep my Moos on ball and chain. I simply punch a tiny hole with my Crop-O-Dile and string them on. I have three chains: my art Moos, my Blythe Moos and Moos from friends. Moos are popular to trade at both art retreats and Blythe meets, and a lot of people enclose a Moo with Ebay and Etsy purchases.

If you'd like to swap Moos with me, just leave me a comment or send me a message. Mooooooo.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Meet Virginia. Finally.

I've found my Red Queen, and she comes in the form of this lovely mohair customized by Tamilla in Perth, Western Australia. I found her on Plastic Paradise in late January, and thanks to a couple blizzards and other things that are not supposed to deter mail carriers, she sat at the post office for nine whole days! Eek. I didn't even know she was here.

But she is, and for her photo shoot I kept trying all sorts of things but nothing looked right. Her hair is an interesting shade of red, between orange and strawberry blond. Her eye chips are light brown, dark brown, yellow and orange. I think she's perfect!

I've been saving a Barbie Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland for almost a year, planning to de-box her at some point for an All-Alice All-the-Time photoshoot, which I've yet to do. But knowing I was finally picking up Virginia today, I decided to "de-box the queen" (off with her head!) last night. That became even more true than I'd planned as the dress was sewn right on to Barbie! No snaps, buttons, velcro, nothing. And this Barbie had a permantly bent arm, so getting the dress off was a real challenge.

But it was well worth it, I think. She looks pretty perfect in the dress. We'll try it again when I do the Alice shoot, but for now Virginia is relaxing in jeans and a sweater. Perfect when there's still four feet of unwelcome and unexpected snow on the ground.

When I was searching on line late one night, the song "Meet Virginia" was playing. And my late mother's name is Virginia. So I didn't really have a choice. This one named herself. And my mom was always collecting something, up for a run to a flea market or gararge sale and always interested in various collectibles, so it's all good.

Rainbow Girls to the rescue

Didn't realize until I saw it on Flickr that there are 10" 25th anniversary Rainbow Brite dolls whose boots and shoes fit Blythe so smashingly I had to dash to Target in search of and then crochet a rainbow hat to go along. The mohair girls, Zena and Alice Snow, model.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thursday's Child

Daisy (red hair) is pretty stinkin' cute, but Lilly (blond, above) will always be my fave. I first stumbled on to Blythe about two and a half years ago when I discovered a lot of my art friends had Blythe dolls. I saw them in their photostreams on Flickr, in their artwork, as muses and inspiration, and although I didn't really remember Blythe from the early 70s, I was very intrigued.

I did weeks of studying on Flickr and ebay. I didn't really know what I was doing when I ordered Lilly, a new Star Dancer from Tokyo. I didn't know the difference between "neo" and "petite" Blythes, so I'm lucky I ended up with a full-size one. And I certainly didn't have any idea what RBL or EBL or SBL meant, and I'm not sure I do now!

But, I picked Lilly because of her hair. It reminded me of my daughter's hair, and maybe even my own back in the 70s. And better still, Star Dancer came with not one but two outfits, always a plus, since I didn't know then about the plethora of Blythe clothes available from around the world. And she came with earrings, which few do, so I was smitten.

It took two weeks for her to arrive, and I still remember the excitement of seeing my very first Blythe in person. I know a little bit more now, and I've gotten hooked on customized Blythes, like Daisy, Alice, Bunny, Virginia and Pookie. But Lilly will always be number one.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Eeps! Get me a shovel. Blizzard-based buying binge besets me.

No idea what's up with the alliteration. That used to be considered proper headline-writing back in the day in journalism school. Maybe the 30+ inches of snow here near Washington, DC has left me stir-crazy. Or just crazy.

Having been house-bound since early Friday (my work instructed me to work at home), I've had to resort to my little laptop for entertainment. After updating two out of my three blogs, organizing, photographing and carrying out my own little Blythe virtual garage sale, staying up until 5 a.m. to read a book (see my art blog), watching Julie & Julia (loved it), watching the Puppy Bowl and Kitty half-time show on the Animal Planet channel (did you see the hamsters in the press box and the rabbit cheerleaders? Who are the Colts anyway?), I finally succumbed to internet shopping again.

Virginia isn't even here yet from Down Under, and now this little cotton candy fluff of a Blythe (Pinky? Punky? Pookie?) is en route, also from The Outback. I almost traded Maggy for her, but couldn't do it. Thank goodness I made a little money in my Blythe sale. There's still some goodies left, too.

That's good. Especially since I kinda, sorta, not accidentally bought Urban Cowgirl also. I've been coveting her and Casual Affair for a few months. This one has one set of custom eye chips and a little sand matting. I later saw this one I missed. How pretty is she? Anyway, 'cowgirl' comes without her stock, so I may have to break down and find a Blythe-size cowgirl hat.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Blizzard Boredom is Blythe Bonanza

What else is there to do in 30" of snow besides play dolls, right? Well, some might beg to differ. But hey. I dug out some albums (LPs, records, vinyl) for this shoot. That's "music" to you youngsters. Bunny looked smashing for the Rolling Stones "cover" in turquoise and green while Lilly matched the Go Go's and Daisy went with The Beach Boys.

Meanwhile, Lilly, Zena and Alice (from left) put on their best Fairy Tale duds to duke it out in the Alice and Snow wars. No pun intended, even if my newest is named Alice Snow, and we have a great Snow White dress for Blythe with OMG red vinyl boots from TIB shop, and even if it won't stop snowing where I am (27.9" so far).

Daisy's MOD Mondrian-art dress is from the TIB shop along with her tights. The boots are vintage Barbie. Maggy wears a ladybug dress and "Converse" from TIB with a ladybug hat by Creative Blythe, and Lilly wears vintage Skipper in the Go Go's photo. And I thought just Superbowl Sunday would be a good Blythe day!