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Friday, 23 June 2017

A waistcoat wonder

Dear Diary,

Hans:  Mein Vati has knitted some colourful waistcoats for me.

Made with Peruvian Alpaca yarn.

Made with NZ Merino wool.

Made with Peruvian Baby Alpaca.

Made with NZ Merino wool.
Made with unknown knitting wool purchased at a charity shop.

Made with unknown knitting wool purchased at a charity shop.
"Look, Daddy, I'll knit while you sew."

And yet, still no new trousers!  I'm going to hide the knitting needles in the hope he finds the sewing machine while searching for the needles.  

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Mechanised motoring

Dear Diary,

Armand:  Everyone knows by now that I've had a severe accident and I'll never walk again unaided.  I'm an active kind of boy and this doesn't sit very well with me.  I asked Pops for a motorised chair so I can get around.  I had this in mind:

But, I was more than willing to settle for something like this:

And, this is what Pops bought for me:

Not exactly what I had in mind.  But, never mind, it does come motorised:

"Push faster, Adam!  Faster!"

And, it's far preferable to this option:

"I feel like a trundler of groceries!"

Friday, 9 June 2017

Katzenjammer kids

Dear Diary,

Jesse:  Beware of temptation - it's always waiting around the corner to ambush a person.  No matter how strong the resolve to not buy another doll, here it goes again!

While cruising on Pinterest where I thought I'd be safe, looking at Kathe Kruse dolls, I found one which interested me a lot. When I looked into it, I discovered that it was from an auction house and the doll was going up for auction in 30 days.  It seemed harmless enough and the opening bid was low enough, so I decided to watch it along with three other Kathe Kruse Deutsche Kind boy dolls.  Naturally, I thought that if he went at a reasonable price I'd bid and maybe win him.  I should have determined then what a "reasonable price" meant; the day of the auction I kept raising my reserve bid.  In the end, I won this doll for far more than I had ever planned to pay. That's ok because I liked him then and I really like him now. I'll come clean and confess that I have to fight the urge to collect all-original KK 50 cm Deutsche Kind boy dolls.  I slipped but I'm back on the wagon now.

Does anyone remember the Katzenjammer Kids, a comic strip in the funny papers?  It  debuted in 1897 and then ran from 1912 to 1942 in US newspapers.  It was the story of two German brothers, Hans and Fritz, who were always rebelling against authority.

It may interest you to know that Hans has been living here with me incognito, having changed the colour of his hair from black to blonde.  Although I didn't know it at the time of bidding, Fritz, a natural blonde, was the boy in the auction; now, he has joined his brother, Hans.

Auction listing photo.

Auction listing photo

Auction listing photo

Auction listing photo

This doll wears an original onesie and a one piece outer outfit; the shoes are maybe KK but new and the socks are replaced. In examining him, I am convinced he has never been played with. He has no wear marks or soiling and the outfit is still crisp.  There are some small stains on the body but these are definitely from poor storage.  

I didn't realise his age at the time when I bid and it was not given in the auction listing, which makes me conclude that the seller isn't an expert on KK dolls (and, neither am I for that matter).  Since Hans' arrival, I have purchased all the available printed materials in English on KK doll.  Now, after reading and studying them, in addition to other internet sources, I have a passable knowledge of the Deutsche Kind dolls.  I have come to the conclusion that Fritz is from the earliest manufacture of this type of doll, either 1929 or 1930. I compared him to Hans and Friedebald.  They are both the same size but the body has two remarkable differences.  First, the mouths are not painted the same.  Fritz has the early heart-shaped mouth which was replaced by the oval mouth (what I call "bee-stung lips) in 1930.  Both Hans and Friedebald have the oval lips which was the style used after 1930. Second, on the earliest dolls, the elbow of the left arm is bent at an angle and the knees are slightly bent.  By the end of 1930, the knees and elbow were straightened.    Fritz has the bent joints.  Fritz is heavier than either Friedebald or Hans and can stand on his own. The facial painting is in-line with the earlier style, having a more delicate paintwork; the eyes are beautifully done.

This doll's face was made from a sculpture of Kathe Kruse's younger son's (Friedebald) head.  These dolls were begun to be manufactured in 1929.  As I compare the facial painting of Fritz with my Friedebald and Hans (date-stamped 15.1.1943) I can see the later painting differs from the earlier.  It makes me wonder if the earlier is a more accurate representation of how Friedebald himself looked.  He would have been young in 1929-30 and would have been known at the doll factory.  My Friedebald and Hans were manufactured later and the boy Friedebald would have looked older which may account for the differences in the look of the face.  There is always the difference in painting styles of the various artists employed by KK to take into account.

To sum up, I am over the moon to get a Deutsche Kind from the first 2 years of their manufacture.  One of the other DK boy doll in the auction went for about $800 USD more than I paid for Fritz.  He was all-original and in great shape but I don't think he was as old.

Below are photos of the three boys to show comparisons.  This posting is really just an indulgence of my residual doll collecting fervour.  Enjoy!

At home in New Zealand

Friedebald, Fritz and Hans

Boys lying down to show comparison

Friedebald and Fritz to show difference in facial colour painting and lips.

Fritz and Hans to show similarities and differences.  Although Fritz's head looks larger than the others', they all measure the same.  Note the difference in the painting of the lips.

Friedebald and Hans showing the similarities of the eye painting which is different from Fritz.  Both have the oval mouths.

Hans and Fritz showing the difference in the elbow, bent for Fritz, straight for Hans.

This shoe is like the pair Hans wore when he arrived.  I need to do more research on original KK shoes.
A change of clothes to give Fritz a different look.   



"OK.  So, now what do we do?"
I should end by saying that I am not an expert, only an enthusiast who knows how to research and apply the knowledge to the dolls.  I can only go by what the authors of books on Kathe Kruse dolls have published.  I make no claims of infallibility.

You are probably wondering why I would purchase another Deutsche Kind doll.  I'll answer with Emory's famous line from the movie The Boys in the Band: "Oh Mary, don't ask!"

Friday, 2 June 2017

Keeping faithful to the original style

Dear Diary,

Jesse:  I have had the intention of keeping Hans' clothing more traditional and in keeping with the original outfits produced by Kathe Kruse.  I search the internet regularly, mostly Pinterest, to look for photos of original dolls.  Not long ago, I found this photo:

Kathe Kruse made the dolls' clothing both in her factory and out-sourced it to the cottage industry.  For this reason, there are wide variations in the original clothing but the  high quality of the fabrics and their manufacture is consistent.  It is impossible to be 100% certain that this outfit is all original but given its overall look and feel, I would say it is.  

Then, I happened on a pattern on Etsy for a very similar jacket, except it is done in a plain knit.  Naturally, I had to knit it for Hans' wardrobe.

The pattern is easy to follow and the garment makes up quickly.  It is actually a combination of stockinette stitch plus garter stitch.  The collar is made with short-row shaping. I don't like a seam along the back of the neck so I do a provisional cast-on, providing live stitches when I begin the collar.  this is the only change I made to the actual knitting pattern.

However, I did notice that the number of buttons change the look of the garment pretty dramatically. I have listed the jackets in order of the number of buttons.

1 Button - Celery Green
The last of the roses for this year.

The knitting wool used for this is a Merino, hand-spun and dyed with natural products.  It was a pleasure to work with.  The colour has an old-fashioned look to it.

2 Button - Chartreuse
These are beautiful buttons.
This is a Merino + Possum yarn.  I've knitted 6 garments with this same brand of wool; 5 of them came out at gauge at 3.25 mm needles; this one did not, requiring 3.75 mm.  Sometimes, as knitters know, colour can effect the knitting gauge.

3 Button - Red
My own version of the original.
My initial plan was to knit a red version to match up with the original cardigan in the photo.  This is a Merino + Alpaca + Possum + Nylon blend.  Frighteningly, when I washed it, the water turned blood red!  I was able to sort it; I think it was not rinsed prior to skeining at the factory.

3 Button - Plum
Beautiful plum colour.
After red, I wanted this jacket in a plum colour.  I couldn't find the satisfactory shade until I'd knitted all the others.  This is 80% Alpaca + 20% Merino.  Very soft and a beautiful shade of colour.

4 Button - Blue
Blue matches my eyes.
Another Merino + Possum wool yarn (the same brand as the chartreuse above).  I like the shade of blue.

Hans:  I need some berets like in the photo.  We just need a pattern which will fit me.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Two squirrels or going nuts

Dear Diary,

Adam:  Over the road from our house are several old walnut trees.  We don't have one because it takes about 10 years to produce and Jesse says he'll most likely be dead by then so why bother?  Anyway, we do love walnuts in the baking and they are so expensive.  We have permission from the property owners to collect the nuts each year.  It's a big job because it's best to collect them after they've fallen to the ground and the grass is always tall and wet.  But this doesn't deter us.  

I do climb the tree to shake it so the nuts which are ready to fall drop to the ground.

Up a tree
Angelo:  I stay on the ground and collect the nuts.  Since I'm shorter than anyone else in our household, I can spot the nuts more quickly and easily than anyone else.

"I'm sure I saw a nut somewhere around here."

"Ah - here it is!"

"My first basket-full.  How many more to go?"

Adam:  Obviously, many more baskets! Here are the final results of our walnut collecting.


Jesse: Obviously, the boys have been busy as beavers - er, squirrels.  And, by the way, we don't have any squirrels in New Zealand.  Now, these baskets will be hung from the ceiling to keep away the mice and also to dry the nuts.  

"Let's get cracking!"
Armand: This year we are cracking last year's nuts.  Being crippled, I couldn't help gather the nuts but I did most of the cracking and shelling.  There are a total of 23 kgs (51 pounds) of nuts.  We filled 3 very large rubbish bins with the shells; they will make great firewood this winter to keep us warm!

Friday, 19 May 2017

Wrapped up for autumn

Dear Diary,

Jesse:  Autumn is here and there's a chill in the air.  Hans needed something warm to wear but not heavy like a coat.  I made him three cardigan wraps to keep out the cold.

#1  Green

Just another pumpkin head.
This pattern was purchased off Etsy.  Now, I don't claim to be the sharpest knife in the drawer nor to be the world's most proficient knitter, but I can get by. However, I struggled with this pattern, trying to understand it.  After three garments and multiple attempts, I have come to the conclusion that there are errors in it.  The biggest issue is the way it is written; I found it confusing and not according to the standard style of writing knitting patterns.  Gratefully, the garments came out  satisfactorily, made from up-cycled knitting wool from a local op shop.  I think it's New Zealand wool.  It was the first one I made and it has the look I was after.  The belt is a 6 stitch knitted I-cord.

#2 Black with Speckles

The harvest is almost done.
This is actually outside the vision I have for Hans' clothes, more modern and less traditional.  I modified my plan when I found this yarn because it really does look nice on him.  I call it the 'confetti cardigan'.  Somehow, it reminds me of the 1980s and discos.  The belt is made with a Knitting Nancy by a knitting Nancy [joke].Sometimes it's called French knitting or spool knitting. I have an automated one with a crank handle which churns them out at the speed of light.

#3 Multi-coloured Melange

The end of the strawberry season.
I found this sock yarn stashed with my other sock yarns and for the life of me, I couldn't remember where or when I'd purchased it.  It is an Italian knitting wool called "Signac" by Borgo de' Pazzi.  Italians have some of the most beautiful knitting wools anywhere!  As I came to the sleeves, it became abundantly apparent that I was not going to be able to finish this with only one skien unless I made some modifications.  I made the sleeves three-quarter length and just had enough to bind-off.  I needed some yarn for the belt so I went to a haberdashery I don't often frequent and sure enough, she carries this yarn so I must have purchased it here.  We discussed finding a complimentary colour when she suddenly remembered that she had some of the same colour in the back room.  What were the chances that it would be the same colour and dye lot?  Well, she had a bag of 12 skeins of it! What luck! Back at home, I took out the bind-off and ripped back a bit and then knitted the sleeves to be full length.  The pattern in this yarn is tiny variegation which keeps the colours changing very frequently.  It is called 'melange', something I didn't know before.  The belt is made on my Kreinik Custom Corder.  It makes wonderful cording.

For you knitters, this pattern had two interesting techniques.  First, it is done with a provisional cast-on so the initial part of the collar is attached to the body. Second, the edging of the collar is done with the Swiss edging.  This was the first time I'd ever used this technique and now I always use it for neat and tidy edges. Beginning with these garments, I began to knit the sleeves in the round and thereby eliminate all sewn seams.  This is always how I do people-size garments and I don't know why I stopped doing it this way when I began knitting for the dolls.  I really dislike sewing seams!

Now, on to another pattern and more knitting.

Hans:  I really appreciate all the knitting mein Vati does for me but I wish he'd sew me another pair of short pants or even a pair of trousers.  My legs are getting cold!