Pestalotiopsis microspora

Sunday, May 2nd, 2021

Pestalotiopsis is a genus of fungus that seems to be found, ya’ know, everywhere. As fungus is. Blights caused by varying species of this fungus are exacerbated by climate change.


For example, Pestalotiopsis microspora causes a wide range of symptoms on cedars and other conifers. It begins in the low dense shady area of the canopy in the warm parts of summer then will spread upward through the tree over a few years. Leaves and stems die. Trees are less vigorous. In addition, Pestalotiopsis microspora discovered in rubber plantations the early 1900s has recently reached epidemic proportions. Leaves get spots. Trees are less juicy and vigorous. No one likes a fungal infection.


Well, that’s not true. Pestalotiopsis microspora also eats polyurethane. That’s nice, isn’t it? In honor of its plastic-digesting prowess, I named the monster I sewed Akiva for his birthday after it. Akiva just calls him Pest.


Hymie’s Nose

Saturday, February 27th, 2021

This is Hymie. Hymie is nearly four, which is young for a doll, but he has had a rough life. He spent two years in a bed that was right next to a very large window with direct southern sun. The sun shone through the window on him all day. The fabric on his body and clothing (and the fabric on the bed linens) faded immensely and began to break down. I have never seen such rapid fabric breakdown! The part of Hymie that was under his clothing stayed in good condition, but his clothing went from a deep, rich green to an old, faded green. The nose, always a tender spot, got a small hole made worse by intense rubbing.




At my Akiva’s school, in kindergarten, they have a doll-party day each March. Hymie is really quite shy. He does not want to go, especially in such an embarrassing condition.​ Akiva said that he would rather borrow a strange doll than bring Hymie! I had promised to re-do Hymie by Akiva’s birthday, but will not have my son borrowing a strange doll for the party. Hymie will have new skin within the week.

The Tea Party Doll Dress

Saturday, February 15th, 2020

I don’t make many dolls anymore. Despite this, I got the itch to make a new style of doll dress. The pattern company Oliver + S has a cute little dress pattern for 18-inch dolls called “The Tea Party Doll Dress.” My dolls are neither 18 inches nor do they have the proportions of an 18-inch doll, but the style is adorable! I decided to alter the pattern to fit my dolls.




The problem with my dolls is that, unlike a factory-produced doll, they are all a bit different. I therefore have to make a dress for the largest potential doll I might make using my current pattern & let it have more wiggle-room on the smaller dolls. To alter the pattern correctly, I used my favorite method: trial & error.




The first dress I made, using the very last scraps of some lovely polka-dot fabric and a few tiny scraps of batik, turned out to be to small for any of my current, chubbier dolls, but it fits Iris’s doll Peggy quite nicely. Peggy is a beloved doll with a shock of orange hair. She accompanied Iris through the trauma of kindergarten and will forever be the doll I hold closest to my heart.




The second dress I made uses the very last scraps of an aqua batik that I used on a dress I designed for Iris, plus some scraps of an orange batik that I found in my large bin of tiny batik scraps. It fits my current, more full-bodied dolls quite well.




After a few weeks of agonizing over design and fabrics, sewing into the wee hours of the night, and ignoring my children in the name of entertaining them (don’t ponder the conflict of interest: art should not be reasoned out too much), I ended up with two lovely little dresses.




Most likely, I will never make this dress again. The true art is in the design. Production is mere craft.




Akiva was jealous that I was taking a lot of photos of Iris. Here’s one of you, too, Akiva!



Making Arms

Sunday, June 14th, 2015

I use eight-inch forceps to stuff wool into the arms and bodies of my dolls.

Iris borrows my forceps to stuff wool into her socks.

“I’m making arms,” she says.





Dyed Yarn Cakes

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Dying is fun!

I like when the yarn has variation to it.


Dyed Yarn Cakes-8177




Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

“How to niddy-noddy,” says Iris, taking apart the device and putting it together.

“How to niddy-noddy,” and I don’t know whether it is a question or a statement.





My previous dye technique involved putting yarn in a pot, dying it,

then spending an extraordinary amount of time untying tangles.

So I* made a niddy-noddy for looping nice hanks.


Yarn Hanks-8163


Nice hanks!




*NOTE: Martin made the niddy-noddy. I told him where to cut the PVC & after he cut it he accidentally put it together. It took all of three seconds. But I took it apart & put it together, so I made it, too. Then I suppose because Iris took it apart & put it together, she made it, too.

Assembly Line Heads

Saturday, April 4th, 2015

I’m working on making a score of dollies. All their homes have been accounted for in advance. Although I am supposed to be making one per week, I have opted to try the assembly-line method of production. It’s really helpful, because I can refine my technique immediately when I did something I realize I can do better. It’s sort-of like lettering drills that elementary school teachers give their students: practice one thing lots and lots, move on to the next, then string it all together.



“I’ve got all my heads in a row—”

ten doll heads-8120

—I think that stems from a duck-hunting metaphor, which is rather morbid when one thinks about it.



“Don’t put all your heads in one basket—”

ten doll heads-8117

— I don’t know if that one’s any better.

The Backwards, Forwards, Inside-Out Dress

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Megan's Dress-8006


I made a dress for Megan! It’s a simple A-line dress that looks good backwards, forwards, & inside out. The shoulders fasten with hook & loop fasteners. I got the cute patterned fabrics from raiding Ari’s awesome fabric stash (Ari: anytime you want to go shopping for cute patterned fabrics because you have nothing better to do, I trust your taste entirely). Mom, purveyor of fine ric-racs and other sundries (happy birthday, Mom!), will be happy to know I finally found an appreciation for the notion. The ric-rac I used is rather large. Because of the way I attach it & do the bottom hem of the dress, I don’t think I could use ric-rac any smaller, which is a shame, as most of her ric-rac is quite a bit smaller. There’s some fine stitching detail on the green side that is not on the colorful side, which I’m proud of. The greatest difficulty in sewing the dress came in getting the correct tension on my Bernina, which is odd, because it was supposed to have been set by a professional. I just can’t seem to get the bobbin tension tight enough.


Megan's Dress-8009


Saturday, March 21st, 2015

I have been spending a lot of time working on dolls & very little time photographing my family. So here we are. I really like this doll. She’s all my own design. She sits & stands & holds a paintbrush. I’m working on designing a very simple upscale doll for the toddler set. This shouldn’t be too hard, as there are plenty out there, but I want it to look as good naked as it does dressed. I was having issues with shoulder design and issues getting a nice tight seamless neck & chin, both which I’ve solved here. Her body is a very thick cotton knit & she’s stuffed with organic wool & her hair is all sorts of wool. I have some tweaking to do with the pattern— I think I want to make her legs get wider toward the bottom— but I’m pretty happy.


Megan Doll-7947


I’m really horrid at clothing design. I designed this little reversible A-line dress for her. This one is just made out of an old sheet, for which reason she looks like she’s wearing an old sheet, but it turned out nicer than it looks in the photos. Although I’m tempted to make it slightly more form-fitting, I think it would make it too hard for little hands to dress her. The dress will attach at the shoulders with velcro and it will look good forwards, backwards, and inside out.