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Dolls House sized Travel Home

Well, it seems quite a while since I made anything or wrote on this blog, but here’s a fantastic little free make in the hope that you’ll forgive my non-posting.

I’ve spent a long time making dolls and trying to ‘up my game’ I figured I’d like a nice way to package dolls I sold. I’ve been looking for boxes for quite a while, then I came up with this little idea.

A little traveling home for my mini crochet dolls. It fits dolls just under 6″, so that’s dolls house dolls and some of Beth Webbers smaller dolls, plus some of the ball-jointed dolls that I’ve been looking longingly at recently.

It’s a long set of instructions and all the items I used were bought at my local Hobbycraft (I think that might be Hobby Lobby in the USA)

Firstly, you will need:

1 x A6 craft essentials storage box

12″ x 12″ scrapbook paper (for wallpaper, so look for small patterns)

A4 sized foam board

Piece of 1/8″ diameter wooden dowel

Bead with a large eye

Thin piece of ribbon or embroidery thread

sewing needle with an eye large enough for the ribbon or thread and thin enough to fit through the bead. I used a cross stitch needle.

Pritstick, Tacky Glue, double sided tape

Sellotape

Pencil

Scalpel

Cutting mat

Ruler

Pliers

Gorilla Glue

Small bit of water.

Step 1 – The Wallpaper

Cut a piece of 12″x12″ scrapbook paper to 16.5cm x 22cm

Along the 22cm edge measure in 5cm from each side and fold in, this should make a folded piece that fits perfectly into the A6 box.

Use Tacky glue, Prit-stick or Double sided tape to stick into place.

Make sure you add glue to the corners, no one likes the peeling wallpaper look!fullsizeoutput_198b.jpeg

Step 2 – The Bed

With Foam Board, cut the following pieces:

1 x 7cm x 16cm piece for the top

2 x 4cm x 7cm pieces for the bed ends

2 x 4cm x 15cm pieces for the sidesfullsizeoutput_198a.jpeg

Glue the short ends to the bed first, then the long sides. Glue the sides to the front of the bed, not the edges. Secure with sellotape.fullsizeoutput_1989.jpeg

SAFETY WARNING! 

When using scalpels and glues, remove kids and pets from the working area, keep scalpels closed and glue lids on. My cat recently sat on a mould filled with epoxy and ended up with a plastic butt!fullsizeoutput_1988.jpeg

The bed cover. Cut a piece of 12″x12″ scrapbook paper to 25cm x 16cmfullsizeoutput_1987.jpeg

Then cut a 4.5cm corner out of each corner of that piece. fullsizeoutput_1986.jpegFold the sides over and glue into place. Secure the edge with clear sellotape if you think you need to.fullsizeoutput_1985.jpegfullsizeoutput_1984.jpeg

Step 3 – The Centre Panel

Cut a piece of Foam Board 17cm x 5cm

Cut a piece of the scrapbook paper 17cm x 10.5cm.fullsizeoutput_1983.jpeg

Along the 10.5cm edge mark 5cm from both edges and fold in, this leaves 1/2 a centimetre space for the edge of the foam board.fullsizeoutput_1982.jpeg

Fold the paper over the foam board and glue in place.fullsizeoutput_1981.jpeg

Place the bed into the box then slide in the panel making sure the bed has a comfortable fit to pull in and out once the panel has been glued in place. fullsizeoutput_1980.jpegMark the panel position with a pencil then remove the bed and panel, fullsizeoutput_197f.jpegGlue between the panel markings and glue the panel in place. Check the bed still fits, but remove the bed until the glue has dried.

fullsizeoutput_1978.jpegLEAVE TO DRYfullsizeoutput_197a.jpeg

Step 4 – The Wardrobe

Using a 1/8″ diameter piece of wooden dowel you need to cut a piece that will fit across the wardrobe space. For me the size was 4.3cm, but you need to measure your own dowel, however, it should be around the same size.fullsizeoutput_197b.jpeg

I cut the dowel with a scalpel knife, then snapped the piece off with pliers.fullsizeoutput_1979.jpeg

Use a good glue to fix the dowel in place. I use Gorilla Glue and am beginning to swear by Gorilla Glue products. fullsizeoutput_197d.jpegThis glue activates with water. fullsizeoutput_197e.jpegSo I dipped the dowel in water, then added a tiny drop to each end of the dowel. The glue expands when dry, so you only need a tiny amount.fullsizeoutput_197c.jpeg

Push the dowel in place. If you’ve measured it long enough it should fit snuggly and not need holding in place.

Put the bed into its space to stop the dowel from pushing the panel out.fullsizeoutput_196d.jpeg

LEAVE TO SET

Step 5 – The Bed Pull (Optional Step)

I used a glass bead with a medium sized hole and a cross stitch needle.

Thread the ribbon (or embroidery thread) through the needle, then thread the needle through the bead eye. If it’s a tight fit you could use pliers to help pull the needle through, but don’t break the bead doing this.fullsizeoutput_196a.jpeg

Tie a knot on the ribbon to stop the bead falling off and cut the ribbon long enough to hang nicely from the underside of the bed (about 2inches).fullsizeoutput_196e.jpeg

Glue in place under the bed, add some clear sellotape to keep in place while it dries.fullsizeoutput_1969.jpeg

Step 6 – The Shelves

Cut two pieces of foam board 4cm x 4.5cm

Cut two pieces of scrapbook paper 4.5cm x 8.5cm

Measure along the 8.5cm edge and mark 4cm from each edge, leaving the 1/2cm gap.

fullsizeoutput_1968.jpegFold in and glue around the foam board shelves.

fullsizeoutput_196c.jpegAgain, you need a nice tight fit, so you will most likely need to trim a slither from the edge of the shelves to fit.

fullsizeoutput_196b.jpegOnce they fit nicely, glue in place.

fullsizeoutput_1966.jpegDecorate as required.

I made some coat hangers from Polymer Clay and jewellery wire to hang the dolls spare dresses on and she has a shelf for spare underwear and shoes.

fullsizeoutput_1967.jpeg

I’m also making a quilt and pillow for the bed but as you can see, she’s going to have a great time in her little travel house.

Hope you enjoy this little tutorial.

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As I said, I bought all of the supplies from Hobbycraft. I’ll be at my local store on the 13th September running a six week quilting and patchwork workshop. At the time of writing this there are a few spaces left, it’s a small group and if anyone has been to one of my workshops you know that I make sure everyone has a great time and makes something wonderful. No experience necessary but if you’ve got experience still consider coming and see what new things you can learn.

Other news, I went to London in July for the New Designers exhibition, that was really great. I also got accepted for the craft council website and of course, I graduated with a BA(hons) in textile art and crafts. By far though the best news was coming winning first prize for wool innovation from the Worshipful Company of Woolmen. Good things must be ahead!

Let me know in the comments how you are all doing, send some crafting and doll making love and let me know what you’ve been making.fullsizeoutput_1964.jpeg

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And now the real work begins…

I know.

I haven’t posted in a while.

It’s been a crazy few weeks, but oh so wonderful!

On Thursday I finally get to wear that cap and gown I’ve worked so hard for, my degree finished. I’ve still got library books to hand in (typical) and being so last minute I still don’t know what time I have to be at the university. But I’m a few days away from not being a full time student.

Here’s a wee photo of my final project (and me).

As well as the degree I won an award…

And I was one of 11 students chosen to take my exhibition to London to the New Designers show

I met some people with potential opportunities and, well, it’s all been a crazy busy few weeks.

And then it all stopped.

Now I have to earn a living. I’ve applied for a couple of part time jobs to keep the money coming in, and the little I have left after exhibiting in London I’m putting into adding a shop onto this website, so excuse the next few weeks as I try out various looks and slowly add items, I’m still trying to figure out how to add postage to the listings.

Have a gander at the shop, let me know what you like and what you don’t like. Give me a few suggestions if you have them. And wish me luck trying to make it in the real world!

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Meet the Dolls 2 – The Clog Maker

My second doll is Frank the clog maker.

clog013b.jpg

He’s connected to Walkleys clog shop in Mythramoyd, West Yorkshire www.clogs.co.uk

Walkleys is a true must visit place if you’re ever in the area, but if not, they deliver. Imagine having an amazing pair of shoes made just for your feet for the cost of a pair of trainers. But having a pair of locally made shoes from the Craftsmen and women at Walkleys is perhaps one of the highlights of this project, the doll is named after Frank Walkley who started the company in 1946. Yes, I am a big fan!

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Frank has a crocheted flat cap, another Yorkshire must have accessory (for the Yorkshire working man, not the women or gentrified hipster! – personal opinion!)

clog005b.jpg

I managed to carve some small clogs for the dolls feet and well, not perfectly, but the fit, managed to make a functioning shoe. He’s also holding his next clog in progress.

clog011b.jpg

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Meet the dolls 1 – The Fisherman

You’ve seen pictures of him already but let me officially introduce you to William, the fisherman.

Fisherman 0801.jpg

As with all my dolls in my uni project he’s made from all locally sourced materials. He’s 99% wool (a wee bit of Alpaca and a pipe cleaner). He’s filled with British lambswool and a pipe cleaner (made in Huddersfield, 30mins from my home, but I picked it up on my home from Uni, so technically carbon footprint is as low as it can be.

The pattern for the doll is the My Little Crochet Doll pattern that I wrote some time ago and is available on both Etsy and Ravelry. I searched worldwide for a 100% wool in flesh tones, but couldn’t find any, so I had to dye my own. I used a small dye manufacturer a little less local (Sheffield), about a 45min drive away.

Fisherman 01 copy.jpg

The yarn is Cheviot, a Northern sheep with hard wearing but mid softness, not scratchy, but will stand up to whatever a child puts dolls through. The wool is from British sheep but is spun in Huddersfield.

All the white, greys and brown clothing on the dolls is using a commercial yarn, Illustrious, by West Yorkshire Spinners, I used this to show off wools variety of natural shades. Each doll also has a dyed wool item of clothing.

Fisherman 2301.jpg

William has a blue traditional Gansey and a matching cable hat.  The gansey includes the tradition underarm gusset and a pattern based around the Scarborough and Whitby ganseys.

He is linked to the Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre, a small museum near the seafront in Scarborough but is an amazingly friendly place to visit, They even have a Scarborough Gansey on display and several examples of gansey stitches.

Fisherman 2401.jpg

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The camaraderie of crafting

I’m in Birmingham, a place I’ve only ever passed through (well, okay a very short stay here as a baby). I’m here because tomorrow morning I’m running a workshop on electronics in textiles. 

After a sleep in my hotel room to catch up on several disturbed nights, due to my new neighbours dog trying to settle in back home, I come down to the hotel lobby, it’s almost 7pm, I expect most guests will be in their rooms, out at a theatre or restaurant, but no! The lobby has two sofas, both filled with people, to my right is a small bar area with around 20 more people gathering around tables. 

I find an empty table that seats four and take a seat, then as I do whenever I’m seated I pull out my knitting and… well.. I knit.

Within minutes I’m joined by Barbara, there seems nothing strange about our meeting, I don’t need to ask her name. Barbara is one of the hardworking volunteers at the knitting and crochet archive. We chat for a few minutes before she excuses herself and goes to other tables to chat. 

I turn around and see an older woman sitting just outside of a table group. I ask her to join me even though I’ve never met her. She sits for a moment then says she’s left something in her room and goes off to get it, leaving her bag next to me – a stranger.

By this point the number of people gathering in the lounge has grown to around 30 and growing. Nothing seems odd, no one is looking out of place. People who’ve never met are chatting and sharing almost instantly… and yet, it seems to be the most natural thing in the world.


Of course, I’m at the national Knitting and Crochet guild conference, we’re all knitters and crocheters. 

Yesterday I was at an interview, I was talking about crafting as a business and explaining the benefits of crafting in groups. It’s sometimes hard to put into words the instant friendships that can be created through something so simple as a craft group. 

On Wednesday I started a new knitting and crochet group in my local area, seven of us turned up with more people sitting on the sidelines watching. We talked, laughed and consoled while at the same time learning a new, valuable skill. As we meet regularly we’ll find out more about each other, our similarities and differences, we might find we disagree on religion or politics, but we’ll still meet, still share and still look at each other as friends.

This camaraderie is something I’ve been trying to put into words, with much difficulty. On Friday I sat in front of a panel of 10 business people and tried to get across why a social enterprise based on offering affordable and free craft groups was important. It’s hard to describe, but as I sit here in this lobby, with strangers I consider friends I’m realising this isn’t something that can be put into words.

I have friends who belong to a church which celebrates community, I stayed there recently in their community home. If it weren’t for the church my friend and I perhaps would never have met. Her accent often reveals a very privileged background but she met me when I was begging on the streets of London (a very long time ago) and we’ve been friends ever since. Her church often talks about the walls that come down through the church. Rich and poor, old and young… 

Her church experience though isn’t often shown in other churches. I go to a church that I consider friendly, very friendly in fact, but the camaraderie isn’t there. In two years of attending I feel I’ve made one good friend who’s close enough to know me and I her. Two years and still there’s a sense that the majority of people wouldn’t feel safe leaving their bag with me to return to their hotel room. 

It hit home recently when I was down to my last bit of money. I was still a week away from getting any money and I was owed money from the university. I had some food in the cupboard, but not enough to make a meal out of unless that meal was pasta, fish fingers and custard.

My gas and electricity were both down to their last pound and a recent leg ulcer has left me in agony. I was in pain and couldn’t even afford a packet of paracetamol.

Yet, as I sat there, trying to think of a way to get help, going through my list of friends who would console me, there was only one name from church that I could go to. Out of all the 50-60 people at church, there was 1 in two years that had developed a relationship with me enough to be there in my hour of need. That, my friends, is not real church.

It’s a shame, that the crafting community is doing what the churches seem unable to do, but it’s something that is very powerful. 

I see it in the quilting project, where young students begin talking openly about mental health and the effect exam pressure is having on their health. I see it on a Wednesday night when my fellow knitter, Helen, fills her car with folk so no one has to walk home alone, even though it means driving right across town and back again. I saw it on Wednesday as I listened to people begin the process of getting to know each other and I see it here in the hotel lobby.

I’ve been hearing it recently in stories of hospitals taking on a resident knitter to encourage parents to knit whilst their child is in hospital, I’ve heard nurses mention how powerful a neo-natal knitting group has been, and even my friend Helen has shown it by taking her spinning wheel to our hospital.

Where once the church used to be, crafting is coming. 

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The Romance of Pattern Writing

I came across a funny little story recently in the book “No Idle Hands – The social history of American knitting” by Anne L. Macdonald.

The story tells of a well known bag maker from New England back in the 18th Century. Matilda Emerson, who had a bit of a thing for her widowed parson.

Matilda decided the way to snag the vicar was to become best friends with his sister (and housekeeper). She did this by offering one of her treasured knitted bag patterns to the sister in hopes of getting in with the family. The pattern was for a mourning bag, complete with willow tree, grave and urn images.

Well, it turns out Matilda wasn’t the only lady with eyes for the vicar. Her romantic rival, Ann Green, got wind of the situation and managed to get hold of the pattern. She changed some of the pencilled chart markings, enough not to be noticed, but to result in the bag turning into a bit of a mess.

Back then, patterns were highly guarded secrets so sharing the pattern with the ministers sister was a big deal. But when the sister realised the pattern she had was a dud she was annoyed. She went to Matilda and told her off for withholding the pattern. Then she went and told her minister/brother the whole sorry tale.

Eventually Ann’s puritan conscience make her confess what she had done, but it was too late. The minister had met a woman from another town and married her making both women lose out on their man.

If there was a moral to this story it might be to keep your patterns to yourself. 

It shows that for centuries we have considered questions of how open we should be about patterns and craft techniques. Matilda made her living from her knitted bags and was well-known and well-paid. Disclosing the pattern to one of her bags would open her up to copies being made and her livlihood being diminished.

I guess another moral might be that no man is worth your livlihood, but that’s just cynical spinster me talking.

I remember hearing a similar secrecy to patterns from the Irish crochet families, who kept guests waiting on the doorstep until all traces of the crochet was hidden away. 

Even today, I have a friend who writes her patterns in code that only she understands in the fear that someone might get her notebook and be able to steal her pattern ideas.

I don’t know when things changed, and patterns stopped being passed solely through word of mouth and secrecy and began being published, perhaps as I read the book further I may find out.

As a child watching my mum and others knit it seemed to be a different situation where knitters bought patterns from huge folders in  yarn shops and the idea of writing your own pattern was unheard of. If you liked something a fellow knitter had made you asked for the pattern number and went out and bought your own copy.

Today though it seems the world is filled with people having a go at writing patterns, me included. Websites like Ravelry allow people to have a go at pattern writing and self-publishing without the need of a magazine editor or a yarn supplier taking their cut. Online shops like Etsy and Folksy let you set up business in the comfort of your own home and even the government seem to be noticing the trend in micro businesses. 

This is a great time to try your hand at self employment or pattern writing and I’ve noticed a couple of books recently published not on pattern designing, but on how to write down the pattern. This might have come about from a frustration from knitters and crocheters at the different styles of writing down your pattern. 

In my local knitting group, during a time when we seemed to hit numerous badly written patterns,  I considered doing my final uni project on knitting mistakes and the strange ways people write patterns down.

None of this even covers the question of whether you should charge for a pattern or give it away for free.

One thing is certain though, thanks to the online resources available, more and more people are trying their hand at writing their own patterns, and this is a great thing.

I wonder, as I attend several knitting/crochet groups on different styles and techniques, will the pattern writing trend move into knitting groups and we’ll soon attend a ‘how to write your first pattern’ event. 

Will we eventually see a pattern writing weekend or a write in public day.

I wonder, if Matilda was around today, would she have got her man? Would the outcome be different?

I imagine the pattern would be on Ravelry at a small cost and the Parsons sister would have already downloaded it and kept a hard copy, free from meddling love rivals. I expect though, the outcome would still be the same, because I suspect the Parson already had his eye on the woman he married.

The moral here might actually be, a fancy bag won’t get your man if he’s looking the other way.

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My Little Crochet Dolls Video Tutorials

Here is the full set of video tutorials for the My Little Crochet Dolls:

  1. Starting the head

2. Changing Colour

3. Adding Safety Eyes

4. Stuffing the head

5. Making the lower legs

6. Making the Ears and Nose

7. Upper legs and body

8. Making the arms

9. Sewing on the head

10. Painting the face

11. Adding the Iris

12. Adding the Pupil

13. Adding the Twinkle

14. Adding hair

15. Finishing the hair

 

Hope you enjoy them.

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The New Improved Crochet Doll

If you’ve bought the My Little Crochet Doll pattern from me, hopefully you’ve made your doll and are happy with the result.

Over the years of making dolls I’ve come up with a few ideas and ways of making dolls better and better. Most recently I’ve been working on updating the pattern, changing a couple of tiny mistakes, cleaning up the hairline of the doll and as new techniques have come about I’ve added them into the doll.

The difference between the first and last dolls are clear to see.

Screen Shot 2016-09-28 at 15.41.21.png

My first doll had a bit of a basin haircut and a pasty skin, his neck was prone to flopping about, but like Bagpuss, we loved him.

Since then I’ve been busy dyeing wool, sourcing as much of the doll as possible from as local a source as possible.

I’ve sourced Bluefaced Leicester fleece from British flocks, washed, carded, cleaned, spun in a Yorkshire mill.

Dyed with a dye manufactured in Sheffield and hand dyed in my kitchen in Leeds.

The lambswool stuffing comes from British sheep.

The pipe cleaners in the arms comes from a Huddersfield textile mill thats been going since 1893.

The buttons come from a small manufacturer in York.

I’m close to my goal of producing a doll made entirely of local products and perhaps in the future made entirely of natural materials.

The latest doll has a much better hairstyle and a painted face, his neck features a little secret that keeps the neck strong enough for the head to not wobble.Screen Shot 2016-09-28 at 15.50.44.png

All in all, the hours spent making and making dolls (and bears) have been well and truly worth while.

So what’s next?

I’ve just finished a series of video tutorials, made in my usual home made style. They’re available on YouTube and the first one starts here:

The Videos take you right through the pattern (you still need to buy the pattern though) and show you all the little techniques I use to make my dolls.

I’ve made some kits for painting the faces and some little packs of the toggle buttons because I only know one other shop that sells them.

The updated pattern should be available very soon then… Wow, what will I do once the doll is finished?

If you want to see the dolls in person I will be at the Pudsey Doll and Bear fair on the 8th October, at Pudsey Civic Hall.

And at some point in the future I will be doing a little workshop at the Leeds branch meeting of the Knitting and Crochet Guild on doll and bear techniques.

 

 

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Face Painting Kits

Some time ago I decided I wasn’t happy with my dolls having plain plastic dots for eyes. I tried painting onto the safety eyes, but the paint peeled off too easily.

The problem with crochet eyes is that the stitches don’t line up squarely as they do in knitting, so counting stitches doesn’t work either.

IMG_1548.JPGAfter a lot of thinking and planning I came up with a really easy was of painting crochet faces. I even threw out the paint brush for a dotting tool which allows paint to be put on the crochet more evenly and precisely.

Screen Shot 2016-09-19 at 12.46.07.pngThis doll you’ve seen many times I expect, she has blue eyes and sparkly pink lips.

 

 

 

 

 

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This doll has blue eyes and a more natural lip colour.

His eyes are slightly closer together, which changes his face altogether.

 

 

 

 

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And this last fellow has green eyes and freckles. His eyes are painted looking to the side.

 

Three different faces from the same (very) easy technique.

 

 

And I’ve finally put together a kit with instructions so you can also paint the faces of your dolls.

The kits are already available in my Etsy shop.

And for those who prefer to watch videos, one will be available very soon.

So here, without further ado, my face painting kit…

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Updating the doll – EPY week 4

This week has been very productive. I’ve been contacting yarn suppliers and mills, spent a whole weekend dyeing wool, applied for a grant to do some market research and finally am near the point of having a finished product.

Well, I say a finished product, but…

I want to re-create the idea of the knitted/crochet doll. Normally made from scraps of yarn, under stuffed and often rather sad looking.

There’s a lot of parents at the moment, choosing handmade dolls over the plastic commercial ones. I’ve also come across a growing number of mothers wanting to make their own dolls for their children. I still have my handmade Cinderella doll from when a was very young, she’s in need of a little repair here and there, but she’s lasted far longer than any of the commercial dolls I had (and I had a lot of dolls).

There is something magical about having a doll specially made just for you, and something magical about a mother making the doll for her own child, whether the child is male or female.

These days we are also aware of the benefits of natural materials, the benefits of supporting local people and keeping out carbon footprint as low as possible.

This is where my plan gets exciting. Can I make a doll using local supplies and natural materials?

So here are two dolls…
The doll on the right is made from Acrylic yarn, spun in Turkey I think, filled with polyester, clothing is made from cotton and acrylic yarns.

The doll on the left is my newest doll, still waiting for some clothes to be finished.

The doll is made from Bluefaced Leicester wool, from UK sheep and spun in Yorkshire. I couldn’t source any light flesh coloured pure wool, hence the weekend spent in my kitchen dyeing wool. He is filled with British Lambswool.

All of his clothes are 100% wool, and even the pipe cleaners in his arms come from a small local factory in Huddersfield.

But why go to all that trouble for a pure wool doll?

Well…

  1. Wool is naturally flame resistant, it’s harder to ignite than many common textile fibres. Even if you hold a flame to the wool it doesn’t melt. Not that you were planning on buying your child a lighter, but it is reassuringly safe.
  2. Wool is biodegradable, and I don’t mean it will disappear in a thousand years. If you bury the doll, he will naturally decompose in a matter of a few years, slowly releasing it’s valuable nutrients back into the earth.
  3. Wool is a renewable fibre, just sun, water, grass and good old mother nature (oh and a sheep or two) and you’ll have another fleece to make another doll.
  4.  

    Bluefaced Leicester Wool is considered one of the finest fibres of British sheep breeds, it’s a long wool fibre which gives a soft smooth feel to the skin.

  5. Wool absorbes moisture, wicking it away from the skin and evaporating into the air, making sleeping with the dolls more comfortable and less prone to clamminess.
  6. Wool is an active fibre that reacts to body temperature, it helps you stay warm when the wether is cold and cool when the weather is hot.
  7.  

    Because of wools moisture absorption ability is doesn’t attract static, making it less likely to attract dust and lint. Wool also has a natural protection that helps prevent stains from being absorbed.

  8.  New scientific research is being done to show the health benefits of wool with amazing results, wool bedding and sleepwear appears to promote a better nights sleep, and new research is showing that wool nightwear is helping people with skin conditions such as dermatitis. A good reason for taking the doll to bed with you.

     

    Add these reasons to the fact that the materials for the doll have all been produced within a 60 mile radius, mostly from small businesses, and you can see the benefits this doll can bring.