Blythe window shopping

I got some great responses to my last post about Blythe and finding dolls that are not White – thank you to everyone who responded! One awesome person, Deb, let me know that there’s another site kind of like ebay, Ali Express. I’ve heard of the site, but I didn’t realize how many Blythes are available there! Most seem to be factory/TBL/fakes, but as I mentioned in my last post about this, I am willing to make that compromise in order to find what I’m looking for, at least once. Once I get one, we’ll see how I feel about it. For now I’ve been window shopping online, and have found a few cuties!

I also don’t have any Blythes with non-stock bodies at this point, so I’m a bit intrigued by those that have jointed bodies.

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Mellow Myriad

Myriad Hat

Winter in my neck of the woods lasts awhile, and it’s nice to have a few easy hats to hand that you can just grab and put on without thinking about it. I also like a hat that doesn’t have a visual front, so that as I go in and out of buildings throughout the day, I can remove it and put it back on without worrying that I have it on crooked. This hat, Myriad, is perfect for that! It’s stretchy, so it’ll fit over your hair without giving you hat head, and it’s even all the way around, so there’s no wrong way to wear it.

Make your own Myriad using the pattern at Ravelry, Etsy, Craftsy, and LoveKnitting.

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review: Sound and Scent in the Garden

Sound and Scent in the Garden

Sound and Scent in the Garden edited by D. Fairchild Ruggles

This book is a collection of essays (some of which are indistinguishable from full-on journal articles) on the experience of being in an intentionally designed outdoor space, with a specific focus on sound and smell. Most of the contributors are academics, but the essays are not all as dry as you might fear. (They do all include full citation lists as you’d expect.) Many illustrations are included as part of the writing, some of which are photographs of gardens as they currently exist, others of which are historical artwork and diagrams that relate to the subject matter. This isn’t a light read by any means, but works well as a ‘dip in and out’ book – read the essay(s) that suit your interest and move on. If nothing else, gardeners will find inspiration in the illustrations.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from Michigan State University via the MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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review: Stitch, Fabric & Thread

Stitch, Fabric & Thread

Stitch, Fabric & Thread: An inspirational guide for creative stitchers by Elizabeth Healey

This book looks at a variety of techniques and inspiration points and encourages the reader to create unique pieces. Many of the techniques may seem basic, but used in the ways shown, look anything but basic. Most of the techniques will be familiar to crafters. A few of the inspiration points, though, are possibly inappropriate – an African mask is used, but its origin is not given more specificity (Africa is a big continent with many people and one mask cannot possibly be representative of all of them) and a Hula dancer is treated as a pin-up girl, which seems outright disrespectful, for example. It’s a bummer that an otherwise useful book is kind of ruined by these insensitive inclusions.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Kalamazoo Public Library through the MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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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.

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Gifted Ginny

Ginny Scarf

Introducing the Ginny Scarf! It’s a pattern that has a right side, but the wrong side is also attractive, and it’s warm but not heavy. The pattern calls for fingering weight yarn, but you could really make it in just about any weight, so if you want a puffier worsted or bulky weight scarf, just size up the needle along with the yarn and it’ll work! I made this one from Knit Picks Stroll Gradient in Mood Ring (this colorway is actually on sale right now!) – it’s a superwash wool/nylon blend that is super soft and can be machine washed and dried in the dryer, so it’s very easy to care for. You can wear it as an outdoor scarf or an indoor accent to your outfit (it may be a bit on the warm side for this, but many workplaces are not very toasty in the cold months, so maybe not!), however it works best for you.

This Ginny is heading as a gift to Isabella County Restoration House, as part of an effort members of the Isabella Fiber Arts Guild undertook this month to make scarves for guests of ICRH.

Grab Ginny on Etsy, Ravelry, LoveKnitting, and Craftsy.

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Winter Celebration Blythe Swap

In November, we did a Winter Celebration theme for the Blythe Swap Group, and sent our packages by the first of December. I’ve now received mine, as has my partner, so I’m excited to share!

My partner sent me a terrific package! It’s so many lovely things that she clearly picked out or made just for me – perfectly tailored to my taste.

And I made her a bunch of things – as usual I got carried away since I loved her desired color palette so much and made a ton of things. She had mentioned on her blog that one of her favorite colors right now is mustard yellow, and that was all the inspiration I needed!

There are more photos of both what I received and sent on Flickr.

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review: Build a Better Vegetable Garden

Build a Better Vegetable Garden

Build a Better Vegetable Garden: 30 DIY projects to improve your harvest by Joyce Russell, photography by Ben Russell

As I’ve mentioned, my raised bed veg garden has not been my garden priority the last couple of years. I’ve just not been paying as much attention to it, part of the reason is that the trees nearby it have grown and are now shading it more than desired part of the day. I really need to relocate it next summer (although I’m also toying with the idea of trying to grow veggies in among the ornamental plants throughout the garden – I have a feeling that critters will eat more than I will with this approach, though). This book has 30 projects for growing veggies in the garden, ranging from plant supports to planter boxes and raised beds, to tool containers and organizers. Each project is rated for difficulty and includes a complete list of required materials and tools. A series of in-process photos are also shown, though not every step is fully illustrated, so some ability to interpret instructions without a visual is required. Ideas for using each item are also given, such as tips for growing particular crops on a plant support. Several of these have me dreaming about the future – I look forward to the day when our trees bear enough fruit to require the apple storage trays!

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Van Buren District Library via the MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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