pegdoll-style swap

photo & dolls :: the chocolate room

The flat-item swap I hosted last month was fun, however, I received several wistful emails asking when I would be hosting another pegdoll swap.  I'm a sucker for wistful. I'm also game to facilitate anything which inspires fun, joy and creativity.

 So, here we go!  A pegdoll swap with a new twist.

photo & dolls :: the chocolate room

For this swap you are welcome to create pegdolls of any style, or anything pegdoll-like.  When looking for ideas, you might find inspiration among crafts based on matryoshka or kokeshi style dolls.

photo & ornament :: my sparkle

In fact, for this swap, you are welcome to create something which is not a pegdoll at all, however which contains pegdoll-like elements.  The most distinctive elements are, of course, a small, round face and a rounded body, usually with no arms or legs (however, it's all negotiable!).

Over the next week, I am planning blog posts with some ideas & inspiration: photos of a few of my favorite pegdolls, plus links to matryoshka & kokeshi influenced projects.  Note -- there are many wonderful matryoshka & kokeshi style projects, and this is why I am highlighting them, however, participants are NOT limited to matryoshka or kokeshi designs.  Choices for decorating the pegdoll-style creations are endless...

kokeshi embroidery :: kristen doran

Why have I broadened the theme beyond traditional pegdolls?  It's the same reason I initiated the flat-item swap: postal rates have climbed so high that the cost of mailing parcels deterred people in certain countries from joining swaps.  By broadening the criteria, participants will have the option to create pegdolls OR to create something which is flat and hence less expensive to send via post.


 -- Sign-ups are open starting today (Monday April 21st.)

-- To sign up, please email me margaret (at) flyingteapot (dot) com with 1) your name 2) mailing address 3) email address 4) blog URL if you have one 5) a few sentences about yourself; you can mention your family, information about where you live, what kind of crafting you like to do, materials you like to use, etc... Even if I have all your information from a previous swap, please send it to me again.  This way I can cut and paste your information from the email instead of hunting through my archives.  Thanks!

-- This swap is open to anyone anywhere in the world and to participants of all crafting levels.

-- Each participant will be matched in a group of three (i.e. you will create a pegdoll or pegdoll-inspired item for each of your two swap mates and you will receive a pegdoll or pegdoll-inspired item from each of them in return.)

-- Sign-ups will close Monday, May 5th at 9 p.m. PST, and information about your swap-matches will be emailed to you by Tuesday May 6th.

-- By signing up for this swap you agree to create, with you own hands, a pegdoll or pegdoll-inspired item for each of your swap-mates and send them off in a timely fashion.

-- Preferably, parcels should be posted to recipients by Friday May 23rd.  If you are delayed in sending your parcels, it will be important to communicate this directly to your swap-mates.

-- Any questions?  Please feel free to send me an email!

dolls & photo :: griottes

P.S. Are you looking for pegdoll making supplies?  You can find some sources here.



A few weeks ago I made some butterfly brooches.  Looking at them, I kept thinking that the little felt wings would also make perfect finger puppets.  And so, of course, I had to make some. 

Wool felt: green, tan and a pretty color for wings
Embroidery needle & floss: green, brown, red and floss to match the wings

To start, cut 2 pieces of wool felt, 1/4 inch wider than your finger all around. You will also need to cut a small oval for the face and a pair of wings.

Embroider eyes and mouth, then stitch the face to the body of your butterfly.

Sew the wings to the back of the butterfly, and if you wish, add some embroidery.  You can also make antennae from embroidery floss, knotted at the ends

A few years ago I made ladybug puppets and we had fun singing ladybug songs, so, after I finished sewing, I went in search of songs to sing with our new butterfly puppets.  Here's what I found:

I love this Spanish song.  The words translate to English as follows: Little butterfly is in the kitchen making hot chocolate for her Godmother. Poti-poti... Some little wooden legs, a glass eye and the beak of a macaw. (This is quite the recipe -- I wonder whether her Godmother appreciated her ingenuity?)

I'm not fond of the animation in this video, but the song is really sweet.

For more butterfly projects, you can have a look here to see how I made flutter-kites, or here to see how these children made fluttering marionettes.  Plus, over at Twig & Toadstool you can find tutorials for both this hanging mobile and this gorgeous finger puppet.

Do you have any favorite butterfly art projects?  Favorite butterfly songs?  If you do, I'd love to know!


japanese tea garden

Some childhood friends of Mr. Bloom's blew into town yesterday for a whirlwind visit.  This morning, suddenly and unexpectedly, I found myself packed into the car with Mr. Bloom & wee Bloom on our way to the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park to meet up with our visitors from Ann Arbor.

The weather was foggy and cold, but the company was good.  The garden was beautiful, the cookies were sweet, the tea was hot and there were many paths down which little feet could run and explore...

A very happy adventure, all around.  Have you been on any unexpected adventures lately?


tiptoes finger puppets

Because my wee Bloom will soon be old enough to start enjoying stories from this book...

I made some finger puppets.

Using these wooden finger puppet bases (purchased here at A Child's Dream True)...

...I created finger puppet versions of Jeremy Mouse and Tiptoes Lightly to accompany us on our reading adventures.

(Sincere apologies to Reg Down. I know Tiptoes doesn't wear a wooly cap, however, my attempts at making a tiny wig for the finger puppet base were unsuccessful.  Attaching her hair beneath a cap was best solution!)

Do you and your children enjoy the stories about Tiptoes Lightly?  Which are your favorites?

P.S.  Speaking of small, wooden peg dollish things... Are y'all seriously interested in another peg doll swap?  I've had some emails plus a few comments on my previous blog post.  I'm thinking of launching in a week or two, because by next fall, I will hopefully be immersed in other busy-making projects.  So, a peg dollish swap launching by end of this month?  What do you think?


flat-item swap: my contributions

A month ago I launched a craft swap. Because the cost of sending items via post has been steadily climbing, participants were encouraged to create flat items which could be sent at the lowest postal rates.

For the people with whom I swapped, I stitched up brooches.  There is a safety-pin at the back of each brooch which lies flat to conform to the flat item swap criteria.

And in my parcels, I also included paper butterfly ornaments.  When devising these ornaments, I was excited to find tiny butterfly-shaped crystals to hang at the ends; however, because the crystals were made of glass & slightly bulky, they required a small bit of bubble wrap for safe shipment.  oops. I failed to adhere to my own flat-item swap criteria and had to pay slightly higher postal rates!

I've heard rumblings from participants that, although this flat-item swap has been an interesting challenge, what they are really hoping for is another peg doll swap.  I am taking this into consideration and will likely host another peg doll themed swap... sooner? later?  At this point I'm not sure when.  If you are interested in participating in another peg doll themed swap, please check in regularly via my blog or facebook so you don't miss the sign-up deadline. 

Or send me an email with 3 good reasons why I should host another swap and tell me when you would like me to launch it. I'm a sucker for good persuasion.

Another reason to keep your eyes on my blog: it looks like book #2 will be released in October.  This means a blog tour in November with book give-aways and a few other surprises.  I'm usually rotten at keeping quiet about about good surprises, but I've been sitting on some really special ones, brewing since late fall.  All the more reason to stay in touch around here!!



holding hearts

Two weeks ago a friend and her family experienced a sudden, unexpected and devastating loss.  I wanted to reach out to her with words, but felt that anything I said would seem trite & meaningless in the wake of what she was experiencing.  There is always the impulse to want to DO something to help, when truly, there is not much to do beyond being present and giving time and space to grieve.  Friends set up a schedule to bring meals, and so I signed up; but my heart reached to do more.

Then I remembered an essay in a book by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. called My Grandfather's Blessings; in the essay, she discusses the work of an organization in Tacoma, Washington called BRIDGES which offers grief support for children.  As part of their programs, each child and adult who comes in contact with services at BRIDGES could receive a small velvet or velour heart as "something tangible and comforting to hold on to."  Dr. Remen describes the hand-sewn hearts in this way:

Small enough to be put in a little pocket and take to school to hold and rub, these soft little hearts give children permission to hold their own hearts tenderly and to grieve. Children carry them for as long as they need to, finding comfort in the softness when thoughts of their loss might otherwise overwhelm them.

And so I sewed three hearts -- one for my friend and one for each of her children.

If you would like to make a heart for someone you know, the instructions are simple: start by cutting a paper pattern in the shape of a heart, and then, using the pattern, cut out two hearts from a soft velvet or velour fabric.

Sew around the edges by hand or machine, leaving an opening of at least an inch. Use the opening to turn and stuff the heart, and then use small stitches to close.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)
-- e. e. cummings


knitting slippers

Because I was craving something warm for my feet, I made a January resolution to do more knitting. I spent time browsing slipper patterns on Ravelry & found a link to this pattern.  Simple.  Easy.  Love it.


The pattern calls for decorative buttons which sent me trawling through my button collection where I unearthed two small ceramic buttons made by Laura Sheppard.  This is a perfect use for beautiful buttons. (you can find Laura's etsy shop here.)

I knit the blue slippers from stash yarn, but what I really wanted was a pair in red.  Note: kitty photo-bomb.

And here is the photo I had intended to take.  This Malabrigo superwash is as soft as cashmere, and after this pair is done, I think I might knit an oversize pair (from non-superwash) to try felting them...

All this talk of knitting and slippers leads me to confess that what I'm really working towards is trying a pattern from this gorgeous book by Katie Startzman.

The designs in the book are fun & unique, and if you scroll to the end of this blog post, you will find a book-trailer which will make you smile.

Do you knit?  What are you working on right now?


making butterfly brooches

I had been wanting to make some small gifts, and after thinking about it for a few days, I started cutting circles and butterflies from felt... If you would like to make some butterfly brooches, too, please follow along!


Small scraps of felt in at least three colors
Embroidery floss and a needle
Fabric scissors
Safety pins

To start, I cut the larger circles approx. 33 mm (1 1/4 inches) wide and the smaller circles approx. 27 mm (1 1/8 inches) wide.  The butterfly wings are 40 mm (1 1/2 inches) across.  Depending on your preference, you could cut your pieces slightly larger.

The butterflies are attached to the smaller felt circles by the stitches which form their bodies.  To embroider the bodies, I made one long stitch down the center of each butterfly, and then, on either side of the long stitches, I made stitches which were half the length (see photo above).

The heads are large French knots, and the antennae are stitched using a single strand separated from a piece of 6-strand embroidery floss.

After the heads & bodies were embroidered, I used an applique stitch to sew the smaller circles to the larger circles.

The final step is to carefully sew a safety pin to the back of the brooch; or if you are thinking ahead, you could sew the pin to the larger felt circle before you sew together the larger and smaller circles.

And that's it... you're done!  

Happy Spring!