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Friday, 17 February 2017

Advice from sasha morgenthaler

Dear Diary,

"It is better a child have one doll to enjoy, keep and play with for many years, than many dolls used briefly and discarded.  A single doll is then treated as people should be treated, with loyalty, consideration and love."  

Sasha Morgenthaler, Look, 1964

Jesse:  Dear readers - What do you think? Do you agree with Sasha? Do you have one most special  doll?  Please take a moment and share your thoughts in the comment section!

Friday, 10 February 2017


Dear Diary,

Armand:  It was time to do the first cutting of the rhubarb and did we ever have a lot!  We decided to make up rhubarb pie filling and to bottle it for use during the winter.  We made 14 quarts.

It's very colourful.

Then, using the left-over rhubarb pie filling, we made a pie.

Rhubarb pie with political attitude.

Adam:  That pie didn't last long and there was still some pie filling to be used-up so we made a delicious cake.  It is kept refrigerated and served cold.

The top is so bright and colourful even though the photo doesn't show it well.

It looked so good that Adam had some with afternoon tea.

Jesse: For those of us who have Queen Elizabeth as our Head of State (instead of a barbarian fascist), you may recognise the china.  It is by the Paragon China Company, commissioned by HRH Duchess of York (the late Queen Mother) to commemorate the birth of her daughter Princess Margaret Rose (the late sister of the Queen) on August 21, 1930.  It is a lovely pattern of budgerigars.

The pattern comes in other styles of china pieces, most more formal than this style.  We have them all!

Friday, 3 February 2017

When sheep meets possum

Dear Diary,

Jesse: I love to knit for the boys which is a good thing since I'm not great at sewing.  In the past, when I would see an old doll with a wardrobe of only knitted clothing, I wondered why. Now, I assume it's because the (grand)parent responsible for outfitting the doll couldn't sew! I have recently been knitting jumpers for Hans; I can finish one in about 3 days of interrupted knitting.  I've been using a wonderful New Zealand knitting wool named 'Amuri'.  It is made of 75% Merino wool + 25% possum hair.

In New Zealand, we raise some of the finest Merino sheep in the world.  These sheep have without a doubt the softest and finest wool of any breed.

Then, we have possums which are incredibly horrible and destructive pests. Don't be fooled by this cute photo:

Here is their true nature: 

They are New Zealand's greatest threat to our natural environment and there's absolutely nothing cute about them.  

They do have only one good aspect: when their fur is spun with Merino wool, it produces the loveliest and softest knitting wools imaginable.  I would like to knit something for myself with this yarn but it's very expensive and it would take many skeins to cover me!

The following photos show garments I knitted using this knitting wool.

A while back I knitted this for Armand and he has worn it in a photo on an earlier posting.

Cardigan side

Jumper side

Over the Christmas and New Year holidays, I knitted these for Hans.

Cardigan side with cables

Jumper side with cables

Jumper side

Cardigan with vintage buttons and tussy mussy

Front of jumper with cables down the centre and along the sleeves

Cardigan side

The top-down raglan sleeve pattern is very popular because it is so easy to make.  The only fiddly part is the sewing-up of the arm seams.  I vary the collar sometimes so that the front-to-back has a turtleneck.  I never pull a garment over the head of a doll so the back must always open up, allowing the garment to be slipped on up the arms.  This works out well as it provides 2 garments in one - a jumper and a cardigan.

My apologies that some of the photos are a bit dark.  The colourway is heathered with black which at times makes it difficult to get the light to bounce off the fabric.  It can also obscure the cables which is why Aran patterns are done in light colours. I noticed that the clarity of the photos depends on which monitor I view them.  I hope your monitor shows clearly!

Friday, 27 January 2017

Attention! Nini studio boy doll under construction

Dear Diary,
Jesse:  Sometime last year, my friend Daddy Steve at Gregoropolis sent me the link to the website for Nini Dolls (see 'Recommended Sites' at the left).  I opened the site and when I saw the dolls my jaw dropped to the floor!  I couldn't believe the stunning studio dolls I was looking at.  Immediately, I said to myself "I must have one of them!"  I couldn't get the dolls out of my mind and I kept returning to look at them.  Not long afterward, another friend, Henry's Mum, Lorraine at Friends of Rose Cottage and Holidays with Henry, sent me photos and told me about her great pleasure with her newly acquired Nini doll.  It was then that I started to follow Nini Dolls on Facebook (I don't have my own account so I had to hack my husband's).  I followed the progress of each doll, from inception to completion. 

Last week a sketch of a boy titled 'Chilly Day' was posted on the Facebook page and I assumed it would become a doll.  I studied the picture many times during that day.

Chilly Day xxi

Finally, I couldn't wait any longer - this was the Nini doll I was waiting for. I wrote to Jonny at Nini with the request of a commission of such a doll.  Jonny takes only a few commissions each year in addition to his regular doll making. I was determined and I pushed my request forward.  To my great delight, Johnny agreed to my request!

Needless to say, I'm over the moon about this.  I consider having a Nini doll an honour.  Not wanting to gush here, Jonny is truly an exceptionally talented artist and craftsman.  He doesn't claim any relationship to Sasha Morgenthaler or her dolls but for those who admire Sasha's studio dolls, there seems to be a connection.  Yet, his dolls stand alone as his own work, inspired by his own vision.  The dolls straddle the line, at one time being a perfect collector's doll while at the same time being the perfect play doll for any age. Every detail has been painstakingly thought out and attention has been given to very aspect of the doll.  But, don't take my word for it, check out his website as well as his internet sites like Facebook, Twitter and etc.  You'll be amazed at his work. Here are some examples.  Hold on - you're about to be amazed and impressed!

So, now I watch and wait.  Jonny says he thinks he will be able to commence making my doll sometime during the first part of March.  Doll making is an avocation for Jonny and he has limited time to spend on it.  I know this isn't a mail order purchase, coming from a factory warehouse somewhere.  I am revelling in the knowledge that he is making a doll just for me - and what a doll it will be! 

Jonny & "Garden Party" Nini Doll XIV
I will keep everyone updated here on the doll's progress but it will also be available on the Nini Doll sites.  I encourage you all to watch Jonny work.  Be sure to have a good look at

Ok, enough said. Now, get to work, Jonny!  (Just kidding...)

[photos used by permission]

Friday, 20 January 2017

More about boys playing with their dolls

Dear Diary,

I love this photo!

Jesse:  The arrival of Hans has triggered a deluge of childhood memories inside my head and has got me thinking overtime about the entire 'boys playing with dolls' debate.  I just celebrated (in a big way!) my 65th birthday which, if you count backwards, will tell you that I was brought up in the toxic 1950s and early 1960s.  I can find nothing nostalgic about those times; re-naming them "mid-last century" doesn't make anything about them attractive.  I don't blame my parents for how they raised me; they, like us today, were victims of their times.  This video tells my story. It has been staged to look like the 1950s; I recognise the clothes, the truck and even the doll:

For years I worked to get over the scars of being different. Now, I capitalise on my age and I no longer care what anyone thinks. 

I wasn't as fortunate as some boys, like my friend Steve who, when he was a boy, was given a Sasha Gregor and encouraged to play with it (lucky lad!).  My situation was 100% opposite; while Steve was allowed to have a doll, I could only wish for the same. It wasn't until I was in my early 40's that I overrode my programming and started to collect and play with dolls. I am so glad that I did. Today, I'm having all the fun playing with dolls which I was denied as a child.

Using this humble blog as my medium, I do my own very tiny part to encourage men and boys to play openly with their dolls and for parents to discard gender-specific toys and play.  

The next video is from Stuff Mom Never Told You - How Stuff Works, the Ask Cristin file.  She's a bit loud but makes good points.

The next two videos are by Mikki Willis, a mult-award winning filmmaker.  Not long ago, he posted a video about his son playing with a Littlest Mermaid doll. The video went viral many times over and unleashed a storm of controversy.  


The debate, which aired on American national television, can be watched on YouTube if you're interested.

This video is an older and very cute animated cartoon with music and singing:

The final video is a short film titled Barbie Boy.  It excellently done and has a poignant message for those who know the violence of gender stereotypes.  Please watch it:

I hope that the messages in these videos have been received by my readers.  The number of reads of this diary have increased steadily over the past 18 months and I value all my readers, both men and women, young and old.  I hope that among the readers are men who find here the encouragement to go ahead and play with dolls. 

Friday, 13 January 2017

Armchair travels

Dear Diary,

Jesse:  It's not easy to find the proper size chair for my boys so when I saw this chair on Etsy, I knew it was for us. 

It's not the usual run-of-the-mill furniture for 18" dolls.  This is handmade, old and very unique.  I was certain that it would fit the boys perfectly and so I couldn't pass it up.

Its journey to New Zealand was an interesting one.  It spent 5 days moving across Florida before departing the USA on 13 December.  It then travelled 4,315 miles, reaching Santiago Chile a day later. 

Rock ledge, Florida USA to Santiago, Chile: 4,315 miles

Why it went to Chile is anyone's guess but a day later it left Chile and headed for New Zealand.  I was worried that the parcel had been strapped to the back of a burro and it was coming across the Andes.  However, 4 days and 9,664 miles later, it arrived in Auckland, finally reaching me on 20 December. 

Santiago Chile to Auckland, New Zealand: 9,664 miles

This voyage covered a total of 13,979 miles; if the parcel had gone from Florida to Los Angeles and then to Auckland, the total miles would have been 9,077, 4,902 fewer miles!

Who can know the mind of the postal service?

All these miles are wearing me out and giving me jetlag - I think I'll have to sit down!

"I'll climb up here and try this chair on for size."
"A perfect fit!"

Saturday, 7 January 2017

A doll poem

Dear Diary,

Angelo:  I think you'll enjoy this lovely poem by a man about his doll.  

The Little Doll
~Charles Kingsley
I once had a sweet little doll, dears,
The prettiest doll in the world;
Her cheeks were so red and so white; dears,
And her hair was so charmingly curled.
But I lost my poor little doll, dears,
As I played in the heath one day;
And I cried for her more than a week, dears;
But I never could find where she lay.
I found my poor little doll, dears,
As I played in the heath one day:
Folks say she is terrible changed, dears,
For her paint is all washed away,
And her arm trodden off by the cows, dears,
And her hair not the least bit curled:
Yet for old sakes' sake she is still, dears,
The prettiest doll in the world.

 It was written by Charles Kingsley (12 June 1819 – 23 January 1875), a broad church priest of the Church of England, a university professor, social reformer, historian and novelist.  I cannot find anywhere an explanation of why he wrote this poem.  Perhaps, it was a reminiscence of something which happened to him in his youth.  I find it to be a mystery: how did a man who was known in his time for promoting "muscular Christianity" and the hyper-masculinity it espoused, come to write a poem on his childhood girl doll?

"I'd like to dedicate this posting to my dear friend, Peggy Sue, the prettiest doll I know."