Blythe and thoughts about the world

Well! It’s been awhile since I rambled here, so let’s have at it. I’ve been thinking about how so many aspects of the life I lead center Whiteness. Most of the TV and movies I watch, many of the books I read, most of the news I see/read/hear, most of my colleagues, most of my profession, most of the people I know, even: they’re White and/or White people are at the center. This isn’t reflective of the world in general and yet it’s one of the ways in which I experience the world. This is something I think about a lot as I do my work – it’s a current topic of discussion for many librarians as we realize the many ways in which our collections and spaces are promoting a White-centered (and able- and cis- and male-centered, and on and on) worldview.

Thinking about this has led me to another area in my life that centers Whiteness, which is Blythe. Not getting into the collectors (most of those I personally know in the hobby are White, but I’ve not done the research to know generally in the hobby. I know there are many folks in Japan in the hobby, but that’s a generalization and I don’t have any numbers to back it up), the Blythes themselves made by Takara are mostly White. There are a few with skin tones that are slightly darker and maybe designed to be Asian? (I’ve never seen this specifically called out in a doll description – if it has and I missed it, please say so in the comments!), but no stock dolls are Black or overtly non-White. This has been weighing on my mind for awhile and I’ve been searching ebay and etsy and Dolly adoption looking for customs but there are so very few available and many are (rightfully, because they’re amazing) out of my price range. I would love to buy one of the gorgeous custom art dolls from My Delicious Bliss, but they are way out of the price range that I could convince myself to be in. So for now I’m monitoring the custom dolls that I could afford, most of which are going to be customs made from fake/TBL/factory Blythes (or a factory doll actually made with Black skin tone). I’m a little conflicted on that angle as well, as I generally don’t feel great about the factory girls, but if it’s the only way I can add a Black Blythe to my collection, then I it’s a compromise I’m probably willing to make. The knitting patterns I write and publish for Blythe all feature my own dolls as models – and right now, they’re all White. This needs to change, so I’m making a commitment to change it. If any of you spot any dolls available, please let me know! In the meantime I’ll continue to haunt the online sales places and set aside some knitting pattern money for this specific purpose.


FOs for a friend

This weekend I attended a friend’s wedding shower and was so happy to present to her a gift that I mostly made myself.

dishcloths for Sarah

I created these four dishcloths using two patterns available on Ravelry. I picked colors that go with the kitchen items that were on their registry. Personally, I always appreciate a gift I can use, and I find these dishcloths so handy to have around the house myself (I use them for almost any cleaning purpose).

Dishcloths and organic detergent

I packaged them in a basket along with some earth-friendly detergent made with aromatic herbs – who doesn’t love the fresh scent of lemon verbena! You can’t see it in this photo but the second bottle has a green label that also matches the dishcloths. I hope that she and her soon-to-be husband find them useful!



So recently K found this note that our neighbor kids wrote to the fairies, and I sort of fell in love with it!

How adorbs is that?! I decided almost immediately that I wanted to put together a basket for these kids and deliver it to their house as from the fairies.

Fairy basket

K and I went to Target and found all the things they were looking for! We had a few moments of quick googling when we realized we had no idea what sizes were appropriate for the shirts, but got it sorted. We also felt like Total Olds while trying to determine what the exact type of Shopkins requested were. We finally just picked a couple that looked different from each other and called it good.

Fairy basket

I put it all together with some natural-looking raffia and a basket from Goodwill, and wrote up a letter from the fairies. I bet fairies would use Gwen Frostic stationery, wouldn’t they? I wish I would have had some more variety in the flowers I had at hand, but you know, I also bet fairies would not be judgmental about dandelions. I snuck it over early in the morning on Sunday and waited, checking the window to see if it had been picked up yet. Mid-morning it was gone! I had a sudden series of fears that the parents would be upset with it – maybe they don’t want to encourage a belief in fairies! Maybe they would just take the stuff out of the basket and give it to the kids without the letter! Maybe they would be annoyed that their kids’ every whim was indulged by an unidentified person and donate it all to Goodwill! Later in the afternoon, though, I saw one of the kids running around outside wearing the TMNT shirt! And it looked like it fit perfectly! So perhaps it all turned out just fine. šŸ™‚ Regardless, it was a fun thing to do and I hope the kids all enjoy their goodies.


estate sale cuteness

This weekend I ventured out to a few estate and yard sales and found a couple of cute things for barely any bucks.

Estate sale haul

This is most of what I got – I also picked up two bushel baskets which I didn’t bring inside yet. This is in hope that we will have fruit to store in the basement!

I will likely make this scarf into Blythe clothing, and stacked are a bunch of brand new in plastic greeting cards.

Estate sale haul

And check out this wee basket and thread spools! The spools are a bit out of scale for Blythe but super cute and were in with the basket so I got them as a package deal.

Estate sale haul

Finally, this adorbs embroidered brooch. I often use a brooch to hold a handknit scarf in place, and this is perfect for that. I think it’s just so sweet!


jumble gems

Last week, I mentioned that we hit up some sales as part of the Maple Syrup Festival. I finally snapped some photos of the goodies I picked up!

Jumble sale haul

This lovely wool scarf looks like it’s never been worn. It’s a bit late in the season to wear it this year, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy it next winter.

This tiny wooden mouse is actually from the craft show sale at the festival – it’s the tiniest little thing! Perfect for Blythe. I found the little sewing basket at the jumble sale. It is also perfect scale for Blythe – I love the little drop spindle and knitting needles as well as the yarn. So cute!

Next is a bag of tiny autumn leaves, which are also in scale for Blythe. Finally, there’s a Kelly set that includes a pair of shoes and a dress.

Jumble sale Kelly set

The shoes fit Middie, though they’re slightly tight. They’re also not as thick/as high quality as most of the Kelly shoes I’ve seen before. The dress is great for a petite, though! I also picked up a small obelisk-style trellis for the garden. One of my friends who was with me at the festival asked, “do you usually find this many miniature things?” and I had to say that I definitely do not! I feel like it’s unusual for me to find even one thing, let alone several. The other miracle moment was that K found an object he’s been looking for for some time. The weekend before, we went to a few garage sales and he remarked to me that he wished he could find an old TMNT play set that would make a good back drop for photographing many of his figures. Just one week later at this festival, he actually found one! They are not that common, so this was really a stroke of luck. It’s not quite as unlikely as me finding a Blythe at a sale (I *wish*!!), but not far off! I’m excited to do more sale-ing this summer and hopefully our luck will continue.


2016 Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival Quilt Show

Saturday we spent most of the day over in Shepherd at the Maple Syrup Festival. It was a friend’s birthday on Friday, so we treated the day as a celebration for her as well!

There are a lot of activities going on in Shepherd every year during this festival. We walked all around the village – the weather was glorious! It was sunny but not too warm and with a nice cool breeze.

Of course one of my favorite events was the Festival of Quilts. I was pretty disappointed that they apparently lost my registration information so none of my information was listed (except my name, misspelled, boo!) for my feature quilt, Modern Venus:

Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival Quilt Show 2016

My Fall Frolic challenge quilt was also on display and several people mentioned to me that they liked it, so that was cool:

Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival Quilt Show 2016

I also enjoyed this feature quilt by Sharon Jarczynski:

Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival Quilt Show 2016

Most of the other quilts on display were family heirlooms or quilts that were created from published patterns/kits, so I was pleased to see another representational quilt.

We also enjoyed the pancake and sausage dinner, bingo, the craft show, the classic car show, the carnival, yard and jumble sales, and of course the petting zoo, where we met this adorbs goat:

Met this goat at the maple syrup festival today. A++

It was a lovely day!


field trip! Lavender Fleece Farm

Last weekend I took a field trip with the Isabella Fiber Arts Guild to Lavender Fleece Farm, which is located just outside Midland, MI (about an hour from home).

It was a gorgeous day – the first really lovely weekend day we’ve had in April this year. Lavender Fleece Farm‘s proprietor showed us around despite the fact that she was also helping a ewe through a difficult birth that morning! We saw lots of adorbs sheep and lambs, perused the farm shop, and learned a lot about both sheep and lavender. We also went down the road to the Heritage Flock Fiber Mill and learned about the services available there. I also happened to run into one of Midwest Boston Terrier Rescue’s amazing volunteers (who was there as a customer of the Fiber Mill) and we had a lovely chat about our pooches. More pics on flickr!

Ewes and lambs at Lavender Fleece Farm

Fleece at Lavender Fleece Farm

In addition to some yarn (which I justified by making plans to use it for knitting gifts) I also picked up a lovely lavender bowl (she also makes pottery!):

Lavender Fleece Farm bowl

Such a lovely, fun day!


a day without cheese is a day without sunshine

This is what I learned when I unpacked my spoils from the estate sale I went to over the weekend.

I was pretty stoked to score the bag of buttons (almost every estate sale has one of these) and when I got home and dumped it out, I was even more stoked.

Estate sale goodies

The button assortment was okay – mostly apparel extras, but some interesting buttons. Worth the few cents I paid for it (I like to go on the last day of the sale when things are all half off). However, nestled inside the bag was this treasure:

Estate sale goodies

Cheeselovers International, people! Did you even know that was a thing? I certainly didn’t, but I am so happy to have learned about it.


wrapping up 2015 and embracing 2016

It’s hard to believe another year has passed. I mean, calendar years are kind of arbitrary, but it does feel a little useful to think about the bigger picture periodically. And it’s a great excuse to crack open some spreadsheets and do a little analysis! (Spreadsheets are my raindrops on roses.) Some of the web services I use also provided me with some fun year-end wrap up, so let’s take a look.

First off, Goodreads. I love this site as a tool for tracking which books I’ve read. As a lover of mystery series and of non-fiction books on specific topics that often have very similar titles, there’s no way I’d be able to remember which ones I’ve read or not without some kind of tool.

Goodreads 2015 summary photo Goodreads_Annersquos_Year_in_Books_-_2016-01-01_09.48.04_zpsc2jx3jxf.png

Wow, almost 10000 pages read (according to this metric)! That is a nice number. Funny that the longest book I read was a YA novel, which sometimes have a rep for being fluffy.

Goodreads 2015 stats comparison photo Goodreads_My_Review_Stats_-_2016-01-01_09.51.31_zps26wyboi5.png

This 29 seems low! Looking at the actual books Goodreads says I’ve read, that only includes the fiction. I read a ton of non-fiction but that doesn’t seem to show up in these metrics (I believe this is because I usually add fiction books to my to-read list first, and then move them to my currently reading list when I start them. NF books I tend to just add after I’ve completed them so they don’t have a span of time covered on the site). I counted up and, to some extent, I read 186 non-fiction books in addition to the 29 fiction. To some extent because that does include some I didn’t read cover to cover, of course, especially cookbooks. Either way, I’m not feeling bad about the 29 being down from last year’s 40.

2015 was a pretty good year for me in terms of blogging consistently – 132 posts throughout the year!

2015 LibrariAnne posting patterns photo posting patterns 2015_zpswaumqmyl.png

My most popular post was eff the shave-triarchy. Eff yeah! Update while I’m at it: I feel like I have saved SO MUCH time since quitting shaving. My showers are super quick and I’m probably saving a bunch of water, too. Feminism wins again!

As ever, I made a whole lot of stuff in 2015. Thanks to the magical tool that is Ravelry, I know that I completed 94 knitting projects this year!

2015 knitting projects pie chart photo 2015 knitting projects pie chart_zpsqqitgrie.png

I kept five of these knitting projects for myself (not including Blythe stuff) and gifted 26 of them to others. The Blythe stuff was a mix of samples and things that have made their way into my Blythe wardrobe.

I also spent a lot of time sewing this year. I sort of slacked on Blythe sewing until the last quarter of the year, but I made up for it by making a bunch of bags and several quilts earlier on. Once we moved into Firefly Cottage, it was a lot easier for me to spend time sewing since I have so much more room now.

Here’s a sample of the Blythe sewing I did:

2015 Blythe sewing sampler photo Blythe Sewing 2015 collage_zps3vose6lc.jpg

I made 11 projects from Dog Under My Desk patterns (actually I did a few more! But I haven’t gotten around to taking photos yet, so I’m only counting these).

2015 DUMD projects photo DUMD 2015 projects collage_zpsulzmibhb.jpg

These patterns, for anyone who is considering making a bag, are THE BEST EVER. Seriously, I never felt like I could accomplish a professional look or a durable-enough-for-actual-use bag until I found Erin’s patterns. They are amazingly detailed and you really feel confident that your project is going to turn out to meet or even exceed your expectations. I use my Take-Off Tote every time I travel, as well as many of the Essential Wristlets. I also use my enlarged Date Night as my everyday purse and it’s still going strong after months of daily use.

Quilts were also a big part of my sewing this year.

To start things off, I made a challenge quilt for the Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival Quilt Show. The theme was Spring Fling and my quilt won a gold star for Best Portrayal of Theme.

Best portrayal of Spring Fling theme:gold

SO EXCITING!! I won some maple syrup, which was of course amazing, but the feeling of having my work recognized was mega amazing.

The Figure and Flock quilt I made in 2014 was featured in that same show, as well as in the window of Grey’s Furniture during Art Walk Central in the summer.

Check it out! My piece, "Figure and Flock" is in #artwalkcentral15 at Gray's Furniture! Vote AWC24!

These were some of my first public showings of my art quilts, so it was really exciting for me. I hope to have more opportunities to share with the public in 2016! I haven’t started the challenge quilt for the Maple Syrup Festival yet, but I am mulling ideas already. The theme will be Fall Frolic, so it’ll be interesting to make it during a different season than it is focused on. As autumn is my favorite season, I’m sure it won’t be too challenging.

I’m still working on the very large art quilt I started in 2014. The length of time it’s taking is a lot more than I anticipated, but I did have to put it on hold for much of 2015 until I got a larger workspace, and it is a much larger art piece than I’ve done before. It’s in the home stretch, though, so I hope to have it finished soon!

I also made a couple of quilts for two Skatey-Eight babies who were born in 2015.

First off, this Back to the Future inspired quilt, made for Dan’s new daughter:

Back to the Future Quilt

And second, this Star Wars inspired quilt, made for Michael’s son:

Star Wars Quilt

I also had a pretty productive year in terms of AnneArchy biz!

2015 AnneArchy wrapup photo 2015 annearchy wrapup_zpspuxpn1wq.png

Wow, 31 patterns feels like a lot to have published in one year! I’m also thrilled to have had so many of my patterns faved on Ravelry. That is huge! I appreciate SO MUCH that folks are interested in knitting the patterns I write.

My most popular items this year were half Blythe, half Firefly.

2015 most popular AnneArchy patterns photo most popular annearchy patterns 2015 collage_zpsojgtb7vd.jpg

Last year at the beginning of January, I set a few goals:

  • Blog regularly (keeping this one)
  • Participate as a swapper in the Blythe Swap Group at least a few times (keeping this one again)
  • Find ways to be excellent to others on a regular basis
  • Write up and publish the remainder of the Blythe knitting patterns I have started working on
  • Complete my current art quilt project
  • Spend time with near- and far-flung friends more often

  • How did I do?

  • Blogging – did well (see above)
  • Swapping – did well! I participated in several swaps and am currently signed up for the next one
  • Being excellent – I would like to hope I did this
  • Writing up Blythe knitting patterns – I probably got about half of these done, which leaves me with more to do in 2016!
  • Complete art quilt – NOT DONE YET, but in the home stretch
  • Spend time with friends – somewhat? I am going to continue to strive for this one

    Sooooo, now that I’ve thought about all of these things from 2015, what am I looking forward to in 2016? I’m looking forward to a lot of things!

    Things I want to do and work on include:

    • complete the big WIP art quilt
    • complete the Fall Frolic challenge quilt by the April 23, 2016 deadline
    • learn how to do silk ribbon embroidery (I have the supplies and books in hand!)
    • compose a plan for Firefly Cottage gardens, and get a start on implementing it
    • continue writing and publishing knitting patterns
    • do whatever else strikes my fancy

    All in all, I’m excited for 2016! There are so many things to be made and plants to cultivate and people to enjoy life with. Here’s to kindness, happiness, productivity, and fulfillment in the new year!


  • pupple pants

    So it was my birthday earlier this week, and my awesome sistrah gifted me two new pairs of jimjams!

    The first is made with some adorbs BT fabric. I had seen someone post a pic of this fabric on one of the MWBTR groups on fb awhile ago, and when I sent that pic to Susan, she said, “pretend you never saw that!” I was happy to do so because I knew it meant something cute was coming my way.

    Awesome jimjams made by Susan

    I had also found an amazing Bowie Frenchie fabric, from which she awesomely made me a second pair of jimjams. SO CUTE. Also, look at how great she is – the waistband uses the two accent colors

    Awesome jimjams made by Susan

    as does the top stitching

    Awesome jimjams made by Susan

    and the piping.

    Awesome jimjams made by Susan

    Coordinated af.