A belated but very happy Hinamatsuri to you all! I love Hinamatsuri and decided, now my daughter is a bit older, to make her a Kokeshi doll. Not quite as intricate as the stunning Hina (traditional dolls placed on the altar for Hinamatsuri) dolls from Japan but very adorable nonetheless. Keep reading to learn more about this fun festival.
I loved learning about all the different festivals from my Japanese friend whilst at university. The rich colours, beautiful fabric and ancient traditions seemed so far from my rather bland life (which, ironically, for my friend were fascinating). However, it wasn’t until we lived in Japan that I got to experience some of these festivals first hand.
Hinamatsuri (Girl’s Day)
One of my favourites was the Hinamatsuri, or Girl’s Day, festival which is celebrated on 3rd March. I loved seeing all the traditional alters, covered in red cloth with the Hina dolls placed with precision. Some of my students kindly showed me how to make some origami dolls (see below), which were certainly more practical when travelling!
A set of Hina dolls can be very expensive. We saw sets in Kyoto which were priced at well over £2,000 but other sets can be bought for less than £50 from Amazon. Many sets my students had were family heirlooms, carefully used by generations of girls.
I decided I wanted to make a Kokeshi Doll for my daughtervas a way to mark Hinamatsuri. Kokeshi dolls are a traditional doll, historically made from wood and with minimal features. They used to have straight bodies, with a round head but more recently they have been made more rounded.
There’s are loads on patterns online but I really liked the one by La Calle de la Abuela. However, I wanted to ensure she was a similar size to my other dolls. I tweaked the pattern in several places so my final doll was the same size as Medusa and the Wicked Witch. I chose a pale green wool because green is often associated with youth and vitality – in short, perfect for an energetic toddler!
The doll came together quickly and I loved the way a few adjustments or adornments give her her own personality. She’s one of the few crochet projects that I’ve finished and immediately want to make another, normally I like to move on to a new challenge but I’m planning on making more and will hopefully include some in my online shop.
What do you think? Have you got or made a Kokeshi Doll? Do you celebrate Hinamatsuri? Let me know in the comments below.
As promised, here’s my origami ‘dolls’.
They’re very easy to make and a fun way to introduce little people to the art of paper folding.
For more information on the different styles of Hina dolls and the alters, check out this fascinating piece from the Kyoto Museum.
I remember seeing Medusa for the first time. It was a Sunday afternoon and ‘Clash of the Titans‘ was on. In his quest to save Andromeda, Perseus had to face the vicious Medusa. She was brought so beautifully to ‘life’ by the highly talented Ray Harryhausen. With her snake hair and highly accurate archery skills, along with her ability to turn anyone who looked upon her to stone, I was transfixed.
I read all I could about Greek myths and whilst I was interested in the different gods and goddesses, it was the ‘monsters’ which always appealed to me – probably a precursor for my future as a writer (certainly, the Guardian from my short story in the Fox Pockets book ‘Guardians’ could be right out of mythology).
Medusa the Icon
As part of my celebration for Women in Horror Month, I wanted to celebrate my love of Medusa. With the current ‘Me Too’ movement she seemed a good embodiment of both a victim (one retelling of her story has her raped by Poisoiden) and as a protector, with her visage being placed on Gorgoneion amulets. Assorted myths suggest that once Perseus beheaded her, Pegasus was born and that the snakes in the Sahara were created from drops of her blood. Even in death, she created life. More contemporary writers have suggested she’s a feminist symbol and the idea of Medusa continues to spark debate and research, such as this piece from The Dangerous Woman Project. Plus, she looks pretty cool!
To create my Medusa, I used my all-in-one dolls base to create her head and the top of her body. In ‘Clash of the Titans’ Medusa lives in a dark temple and I wanted to pay homage to that so I used overly large eyes, to allow her to see in the dark. Hubby bought me ‘Edwards Imaginarium‘ for Christmas and I’ve been desperate to create some of the monsters in it so I used the ‘horn’ pattern for her tail. I inserted a short piece of wire so that her tail can move, but also stay in position. Her snake hair was a simple chain followed by a slip stitch back and I added some red thread for the snake’s tongues. The finishing touch was a skull bead necklace – perhaps the head of one of her victims?
Have any of you ever watched ‘Parks and Recreation’? There are a lot of things I love about this show but mostly The depiction of female friendships. Yes, Leslie Knoppe, played by the stunning Amy Poehler, is insanely positive but the support and kindness she shows her girlfriends is more reflective of the relationships I have with my dearest friends than that shown in other TV shows. One thing I really loved in Parks and Rec was the episode where Knoppe and her girlfriends celebrate ‘Galentine’s Day’, a day to celebrate the love you have for your friends just before you celebrate the love you have for your Valentine.
Poehler, along with her friend Meridith Walker, started a foundation ‘Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls’ and there are loads of fun experiments and things to do on there (the Lamb and I recently did the ‘geodes in an eggshell’ experiment but more on that another day) as well as loads of Galentine’s Day cards.
I’m blessed to have some fantastic friends who have supported me through the good & bad. For some, I wanted to create something a little elegant, so bought some laser cut flowers and birds which I coloured using gel pens. I then pulled out my calligraphy pens and attempted to whip my normally atrocious handwriting into something respectable. They turned out quite well I think and certainly, the girls all loved them.
However, I had some very geeky friends for whom birds and flowers just won’t cut it so I created some more tongue-in-cheek cards, more in keeping with the ideas of ‘Women in Horror Month‘.
I’ve always loved witches, as you can see in my Witch Wednesday post and truly believe that god friends create magic when they’re together. We have the ability to build each other up, and in doing so empower ourselves and others. If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is. I was pleased with how the hat on this card turned up and will attempt this calligraphy style again.
I felt I needed a ‘Frankenstein‘ style card to honour Mary Shelley, but obviously with a Galentine’s twist. I didn’t want to use ‘Frankenstein’s monster so even though Shelley didn’t write the ‘Bride‘ character, I hope she would forgive me for using her here. I’ve also been working to create a little ‘girl’ character I can transfer to a few other projects and so was really pleased with how Frankenstein’s Bride turned out. I’m sure she’ll be making an appearance on assorted other creations of mine.
This was a really fun card to make. So many of my friends support my creative endeavours: through sharing my work, buying it, leaving reviews, or even just telling me its good on those days I ‘wobble’ and question my skills. I’ve long been a fan of ‘Red Sonja‘ and have had a number of conversations about the impracticality of her ‘armour’ so knew I had to feature it. I have a number of friends who LARP so I’m sure they’ll appreciate this card.
Did you send any Galentine’s Day cards? How did you celebrate? Let me know in the comments below.
I have always loved witches. Probably my first was the ‘Wicked Witch of the West’ from ‘The Wizard of Oz’. I was terrified by completely absorbed at the same time. I still remember the feeling of watching her on the TV, screetching ‘I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog too!’
From there, I started reading ‘The Worst Witch’ and I still remember the mishaps poor Mildred Hubble got in to. I was obsessed with those books (though never really got into the TV shows) and remember being constantly in trouble with my teachers because I refused to do up my shoelaces like my favourite heroine.
I was then terrified by the witches in Roald Dahl’s ‘The Witches’. The way they peeled off their ‘human’ forms still gives me the shivers and of course, their penchant for eating children! It did cause me to look at women, specifically those wearing gloves, very suspiciously for a long time after.
I think it was around this time that I discovered the Addams Family. They were either a Sunday morning show or something I’d watch after Blue Peter, I can’t remember but I adored Morticia and her outlook on life. It was equal measure realistic and also depressing. I have loved the assorted actresses who have played her by my personal favourite is Anjelica Huston. Whilst Morticia is never explicitly referred to as a witch, her mother is, so I always assumed she was too, she’d certainly put a spell on Gomez!
These were three of my favourite witches but I could have mentioned so many more, including the girls from ‘The Craft‘, ‘Sabrina‘ or the very scary series of comics by Cullen Bunn ‘Harrow County‘ published by Dark Horse Comics.
Who are your favourite witches? Let me know in the comments below. Don’t forget to follow all my Women in Horror Month posts, right here on my blog.
Saint Brigid is one of the patron saints of Ireland. There is speculation that she’s a continuation of the pagan goddess for spring and certainly, she is now associated with the protection of animals and her feast day falls on Imbolc, the start of spring. She is also the patron saint of poetry, arts and crafts which is one of the reasons I was interested in marking her feast day and making a Saint Brigid’s Cross.
The cross itself is traditionally made from straw, but because we didn’t have any we used paper raffia, which worked fairly well, although next time we would glue the pieces together once they were in place to stop them moving around so much.
We measured 30cm pieces of raffia and the toddler was very excited that she was able to cut them. I then folded the strands in half, leaving us with sixteen strands of raffia measuring 15cm. Then it was on to weaving! This proved rather more fiddly than I had anticipated, probably due to the raffia not being as stiff as straw would be and the pieces kept moving. I found it helped if I placed the cross on the table and held the centre, twisting it as I added more layers. Unfortunately, because it was a little fiddly, the toddler did lose interest and I was left to weave on my own.
Most of the instructions I looked at were the same, with the central four straws woven together to form a square, then additional straws added to build up the cross. You can add as many ‘layers’ as you want, but I chose four, one for each member of the house. Here’s the link to Colorful Crafts whose instructions I used. I found them very clear and there were lots of photographs to follow. There are loads of different shapes which can be woven and next year we may try a triangle or star.
Did you celebrate Imbolc or make a St Brigid’s Cross? Let me know in the comments below.
How beautiful is this Rowanalpaca wool? I bought a ball with my first royalty payment from Fox Spirit Books and if you can fall In love with wool, well that’s what happened. I decided I needed to find the perfect knitting project for such a pretty wool. However, I couldn’t settle on just one pattern and ended up trying several before finally creating my own pattern. Keep scrolling to see my different attempts and my final scarf.
The First Attempt
I was relatively new to knitting so started with this simple stitch (knit one, yarn over, knit two together, repeat) in order to make a scarf. But quickly realised one ball of wool would produce a very small scarf. Back to the drawing board!
This is easily one of my favourite knitting patterns. From Kris Basta the Gallatin Scarf is fairly simple and quick to knit, I’ve even made some for gifts. Armed with my needles, I bought another ball of the alpaca wool and set to work. I was pleased with the final result as the detailing at the bottom was really pretty. However, unlike the pattern which uses a fine wool, the alpaca wool is chunky which meant it didn’t drop as nicely as the others I made. So I ripped it out and looked for a new pattern.
Learning to Knit Hearts
Apologies for the photo from my Instagram feed (@bluebeaglebaby) but the house ghosts have moved the original. I kept seeing this heart scarf pattern and was very keen to try it. It’s a lovely pattern and I made a version in a chunky red wool for a friend but as you can see from the photo, the alpaca wool curled at the sides and refused to lay flat so it was once again ripped out.
Things Get Frilly
This was my first attempt at writing my own pattern. Still relatively new to knitting so it was a very simple pattern but I wanted to try a new edging technique and create ‘waves’. I was pleased with the final result, although the edges curled in, as frequently happens with stockinette stitch and I also really liked the frilled bottom: it will be a technique I use again in future patterns. However, the finished scarf was shorter than I’d hoped which I was surprised about as it’s 150metres of wool! Due to the length and the curled edges, I decided to keep looking for another pattern and ripped it out again.
If you’d like to try the pattern, here it is:
Using your chosen wool and appropriate needles, cast on 60 stitches
Stockinette stitch ten rows
Stitch two stitches together for the entire row, leaving 30 stitches
Stockinette stitch ten rows
Knit one, yarn over, knit two together for the entire row
Stockinette stitch ten rows
Repeat to desired length
After your last set of knit one, yarn over, knit two together and ten rows of stockinette knit one, make one using your chosen method (I like the knit front to back method but yarn over would also work). You should now have 60 stitches
Stockinette stitch ten rows
Cast off and weave in all the ends.
Simple! Hope you like the pattern. It’s not been tested so if you have any queries, comment below and make sure you post photos here or tag me on Instagram (@bluebeaglebaby)
Then I Learned to Crochet
Over the summer I learned to crochet. For some reason, crochet was a skill which I struggled to learn, with most of my attempts looking like weirdly shaped clumps of wool or sort-of triangles. Luckily I found some really useful YouTube channels and the very helpful Planet June website which has helped me enormously.
I’ve quickly fallen in love with crochet and find the range of things I can make very inspiring, from appliqué which I use in creating greeting cards, hats and scarves (I made a Sarah and Duck inspired set for my daughter) and assorted Amigurumi. My daughter loves my creations and keeps asking me to make her different creatures, from a sea cow (another Sarah and Duck inspiration) to a wolf. I’m hoping to perfect my pattern, then more of my amigurami creatures will be offered for sale in my shop.
But back to the scarf. It’s worked completely in half double crochet stitch and you just need to know how to increase and decrease. As with my other patterns, it simple, quick to make and easily customisable. Below is the pattern for the headband but to make the scarf, simply add twenty stitches. Use chunky wool and a 6mm crochet hook.
HDC in second stitch from hook (9)
Chain 1 and turn. HDC increase in first and last stitches (11)
Chain 1 and turn. HDC increase in first and last stitches (13)
Chain 2. HDC into second stitch from the edge of your work, creating a gap. Chain one, then skip a stitch and HDC into the next stitch. Continue to the end of the row. You should have a row with 6 spaces
Chain two and HDC into the first space (ie. through the hole, not into the stitch). Chain 1 then HDC into the next space. Continue to the end of the row
Continue until the piece measures approximately 45cm but try the headband on and adjust to fit your head accordingly
When the piece of long enough, Chain 1 then HDC in each of the stitches (not the spaces this time) (13)
Chain 1 and turn. HDC decrease in first and last stitches (11)
Chain 1 and turn. HDC decrease in first and last stitches (9)
Bind off and leave a long tail for sewing the ends together
Sew the edges together and decorate with your favourite buttons.
For the scarf, the pattern is the same except the row after the increase or decreases I did a row of HDC. Hope you like the pattern. It’s untested but if you do make it, leave a photo below or tag me in on Instagram (@bluebeaglebaby)
I’m really enjoying learning to crochet. For some reason my brain didn’t ‘get it’ for ages, despite being shown by friends and associates, all I could make was uneven triangles.
I recently spent some time learning (thanks to a charity shop crochet kit and YouTube!) and have been experimenting a lot, writing my own patterns and learning to make appliqué as well as amigurami characters. I’ll be showcasing my makes here and welcome commissions. This little shark was made for my husband, a huge shark enthusiast. What do you think?
Comment below or email bluebeaglebaby (at) gmail.com for more info or follow me on Instagram @bluebeaglebaby
One of my favourite things to do on a lazy day with the Lamb is to look briefly at my ‘Toddler Craft’ board on Pintrest & see what project she chooses.
Last week she was really taken with this photo of ‘tissue box monsters’ (apologies, I’ve looked to see if there’s a link to a website but can’t see one).
It was super simple and it was lovely to see the Lamb’s imagination run wild. Firstly we gathered our materials, and we were very lucky that it was the day before the recycling was collected so we had plenty of egg boxes and tissue boxes to use, plus some pipe cleaners, felt balls, paint, paper and glue.
The Lamb kept referring back to the original photo but her imagination really ran wild as she painted the mouth black, added fuzzy balls inside, wanted yellow horn and chose bobbly eyes for him. It was really fun, messy and creative. I was surprised at how long it took as the Lamb took a lot of care painting and considering what to add next.
And now her monster is pride of place on the mantelpiece.
Have you made a tissue box monster? What decorations are you making for Halloween?
This is a demo store for testing purposes — no orders shall be fulfilled. Dismiss