Monday, April 6, 2015

A matryoshka in return


Over the spring break last week, I kept busy with a crochet project. I tend to pick up smaller crochet projects in spring and summer, fun things like toys and decorative household items. I made this matryoshka pillow last week, from a pattern I bought a while ago on Etsy, from the designer-blogger behind Annaboo's House. Annaboo has a lovely blog with lots of creative crochet products and helpful tutorials. I was drawn to the matryoshka doll. You know how much I like matryoshkas.

I made this pillow for my husband's aunt Jill. She is a businesswoman, owner of an aircraft company. She builds custom airplanes for collectors. She is also a pilot and she used to be a wing walker. Have you ever seen a wing walker? I have, and it's terrifying. Jill is a very special woman. Her aircraft company relies heavily on parts manufactured in Russia and she travels there frequently to meet with business contacts and make purchases. She learned to speak Russian for her business. She often brings back interesting souvenirs from her travels in Russia and has given me two beautiful, handpainted matryoshkas, which I keep in my china hutch with other treasures. Jill likes matryoshkas too; her office (inside her airplane hangar) is full of them.




We visited Jill and the Bear's uncle in December, when we went to Arizona. They were wonderful hosts, taking us to see the London Bridge in Lake Havasu. Jill took us on a tour of the regional airport where they work (and live, in an apartment above their hangar). She led the small Bears on a scavenger hunt, helping them find interesting artifacts lying on the airfield since World War II. They filled boxes with old glass and metal bits, screws, wires and rocks.


Jill even let the small Bears help with simple tasks in her hangar (yes, that's Vladimir Putin on the bulletin board). Here, she had made a treat for them after our morning on the airfield, hot chocolate with whipped cream. They were in heaven - airplanes, a hunt for junk, "work" in the hangar and now cocoa! Jill doesn't have children of her own but she has many nieces and nephews and she's an amazing aunt. After our trip, I decided to make her a matryoshka pillow, just because we love her so much.



I really enjoyed making this pillow. The pattern calls for two identical crocheted pieces, which were easy to make. I did a better job with the second piece, the one on the right. My tension was better and I had mastered the two-single-crochet-together stitch used for decreasing. I'd only done a 2dctog before this project and I'm glad to know how to do both now.


The face and embellishments were really fun. Like Annaboo, I made the face from felt, cutting out one large circle for the face and two smaller ones for cheeks, along with a shaped piece to look like the doll's hair. I made the "dress" from a small piece of rosy fabric. I pinked the edges, as suggested by Annaboo, to help prevent fraying, stitching the dress onto the crochet with small overhand stitches all the way around. I also glued a bit of pink polka-dotted ribbon along the top edge of the "dress" fabric, sort of like a belt.


Initially, I glued the face onto the crochet, as suggested in the pattern, but my glue must not be sticky enough. Or maybe it would have been if I'd used cotton yarn instead of acrylic. In any case, it didn't stick. I stitched it onto the crochet instead, with small running stitches. Annaboo suggested using a marker to draw on eyes (I also added a mouth), but this is something I'd do differently next time. My markers bled into the felt and it looked a little sloppy. So I stitched those too, right over the marker eyes and mouth. I did the eyes in satin stitch and just outlined the mouth with back-stitching. It looked neater, though you could still see a bit of marker. I liked doing the stitching, actually; I've been interested lately in improving my embroidery skills beyond cross-stitch, so this ended up being a good opportunity for me.


I stuffed my pillow and slip-stitched the edges. Here she is on the GB's bed (the light is always good in her room). I'm happy with my pillow. Her neck seems a little long, but it's part of her charm. I really like her face and the dress. I also added red heart-shaped buttons at each end of the ribbon; I thought it needed a little more finishing. It looks cute, I think. I like her!


I'll send the pillow to Jill soon. Here, she poses with the matryoshkas given to me by Jill. I adore them both. The one on the right has nicer painted designs but the one on the left has a huge number of dolls inside, all the way down to the smallest at about half an inch tall. My children, especially the GB, are fascinated with that tiny innermost doll, which has a hand-painted face just like the others. The GB says, "This doll just keeps on going!" She really does, and it's wonderful.

Yarns: Stylecraft Special DK, in Aster and Pomegranate
Hook: Clover G/6 aluminum
Fabric is from the Lecien Flower Sugar line

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I have exciting news - the Bear and I have begun recording our own podcast! It's called Thistle and the Bear. We're having a lot of fun with it and we're ready to share it with the world! We'll be talking (and talking...) about topics of interest to us - hobbies, parenting, family life, etc. Our podcasts will be available on the Bear's own website, Ink of Park, and we'll add more as we record them. Our first podcast is about bread-baking. If you'd like to listen, just click the button on my sidebar, near the top.

42 comments:

  1. I enjoyed listening to you and your husband's podcast. I learned so much - now I feel ready to bake a loaf of bread! I was so nice to put a voice with a face - you have a very nice, sweet voice, Jennifer! I look forward to following along and listening again! I love the pillow you made - it's so cute! I know your husband's aunt will treasure it.

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  2. I love the pillow! And the matryoshkas are gorgeous.

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  3. what a lovely gift it will make xxx

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  4. Fabulous and what a great gift for a matryoshka collector!! I think that the colours look good don't they and the sewn face is much nicer too! xx

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  5. Hey Jennifer,
    I love, love, love this matryoshka! What a fascinating woman Jill is. And I am now going post haste to your pod cast. I want to hear your voice!
    Leanne xx

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  6. Back again!
    It was so fab to hear your voice! You both sound like such a great couple. You sound so American ;)) and so lovely. My voice is quite deep with a slight Bristolian accent, which I hate. It just makes me want to meet you even more. xxxxx

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    1. Thank you, Leanne! Hee hee, just a couple of Americans. :) I lived in New York most of my life but I've just about lost all of my New York accent by now. It could be from living with a westerner all these years. :)

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  7. What an appropriate gift for a kind and interesting aunt, Jennifer.

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  8. What an amazing aunt to have! I love the present you have made her. I am off to check out your podcast now........

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  9. Your doll is absolutely charming! How exciting to have a podcast, I am going to listen to it right now! X

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  10. She's fantastic, clever you. Aunt Jill sounds wonderful, a really interesting and kind person. I can see what a fantastic time your little bears had with her. CJ xx

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  11. She's beautiful. Wing walking - just the thought of it makes me dizzy! It's getting a bit late here so, in the absence of headphones, I'll have to listen to your podcast tomorrow; I'm really looking forward to it. xx

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  12. Your matryoshka doll is lovely. It sounds like she's going to a very special home with a very special lady. I've been having to catch up on a quite a few posts here this evening. I've read back as far as your jays, and thought I better add a comment here before I go any further. Life always seems so good here on your blog Jennifer. Enjoy the rest of your week! Wendy

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  13. I have 2 nieces who were adopted from Russia. My sister brought back Matryoshka's for me with both trips. They are a neat thing, but have added value to me because of my nieces heritage. I like yours and I know Jill will too. I'm going to check out your podcast next!

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  14. What a lovely gift made with love. I will check out the podcast when I have a little more time.

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  15. It is so interesting to learn about Aunt Jill and the sweet Matryoshka you made for her, Jennifer. I had wanted a Matryoshka for a very long time and was sent one from a friend who was visiting Russia. She had no idea I wanted one. Like GB I appreciate that "This doll just keeps on going!" :) I love your kindness and creativity in making Aunt Jill a special pillow I am sure she will treasure. Now I want to go check out your podcast...another fun way to get to enjoy our long distance friendship! Thanks. xx

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  16. What a thoughtful gift, and I'm sure Aunt Jill will love it. x

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  17. Your matryoshka pillow is great !! Aunt Jill will be very happy with it !!
    PS would auntie Jill be interested is an extra niece from Belgium ?!? I think she is the kind of aunt évery kid dreams about !! (Even I would now, and I'm not really a kid anymore... Well, in age, that is ;-))
    A pilot, airplanes, Russia connections, hunting for treasures on her domaine, oh my, even I would have the time of my life there with her !
    Xxx

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  18. Hello Jennifer,

    What an interesting account of Aunt Jill. She sounds to be an incredible woman, quite out of the ordinary and, no doubt, exceedingly focussed and determined. And, what a perfect gift you have made for her. These painted wooden dolls are so intriguing, containing so many tiny versions of themselves one inside the other one marvels at the skill and patience which must be required to make them.

    We are certain that Aunt Jill will be thrilled with her Matryoshka cushion. An imaginative and thoughtful present!

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  19. A wonderful gift for a very special aunt, Jennifer. Matryoshka dolls are so intriguing, and how lovely she has brought you some from Russia. You have made a beautiful pillow, with your own unique creative touches. She will love it!

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  20. Fabulous. What a lovely person Jill sounds and what a special gift you've made for her, I'm sure she'll treasure it. I'm going to pop over and listen to your podcast now.

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    1. I've just popped back to say well done with the podcast, it was interesting and I enjoyed hearing you both. I listened to the other one about bad food too. Your husband said that he'd enjoyed watching The Great British Bake Off, Paul Hollywood has a book called Bread which your husband might enjoy. I'm looking forward to the next episode now, do let us know when it's ready.

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    2. Thank you, Jo! Yes, the bad food one was more of a test but it's technically our first one. I've seen the Paul Hollywood book on Amazon and was tempted to buy it. I may get it for Father's Day. He does seem to be a great baker!

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  21. What a precious gift to have made for your husband's aunt, Jennifer. It's beautiful, and I'm sure she will treasure it. And how exciting that you've started your own podcast! I can't wait to hear the first episode!

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  22. It's lovely Jennifer what a fabulous gift, she will love it, A wing walker how very scary! I don't think I could watch it sounds so dangerous. I'm off to watch your podcast.:) xx

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  23. How to draw matryoshka - http://www.drawingforall.net/how-to-draw-a-matryoshka-doll/

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  24. What a lovely gift! She will love it. - And that is some great news about the podcast. I'll be sure to tune in. I absolutely love visiting your blog. I hope you have a beautiful week.

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  25. What a fabulous gift, she will really appreciate that with the russian link and everything. Great post as ever. Glad you liked my dress, I must say I need a bit more of a tan to wear it but when the sun shines in the 2 days we get in July!! I will be wearing it. That's UK weather for you. Jo x

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  26. What a beautiful gift for her my friend! My goodness is she a rock star or what?!?! Love hearing stories of woman who do such incredible things such as her!!! She will love it!!! And how cool that you both are recording together!! I can't wait to check it out!!! Happy week to you!! Nicole xoxo

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  27. What a cute gift! I love visiting your lovely blog...
    Have a happy week, take care!
    Titti

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  28. What a cute gift! I love visiting your lovely blog...
    Have a happy week, take care!
    Titti

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  29. OK, Aunt Jill sounds like an *amazing* woman! I think she will absolutely love the doll that you made her. I have a fascination with nesting dolls, too. I even have a set of cat ones (surprise! lol). I can't wait to listen to your podcast. I will do so later tonight when the husband is in bed and I can quietly concentrate.

    The comment you left on my blog saying that I resemble my cousin...no one has ever said that before! He's actually my 2nd cousin. Must be the fair skin and the reddish hair. His hair was bright red when he was younger. The fair skin and red hair runs in my family. Go back on my blog post and take a look at the photo of my mom that I added. (Bad daughter alert: I had forgotten to put Mom's photo in my original post.)

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  30. What a lovely gift, love it!

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  31. That is so nice of you to make her such a perfect handmade gift in return for her gifts to you. She really sounds amazing.. how nice for you to have such an interesting relative! I bet her stories are so fun to listen to! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  32. What a great gift, such a lovely thought. You sound like such a sweet couple on your podcast! x

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  33. The pillow is a fantastic gift for an amazing woman.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  34. Wow, Jill does sound like an amazing woman. Your pillow turned out great. I crocheted a matryoshka motif before. It turned out rather big so was thinking I need to make a pillow to attach it to. Or maybe I should frame it. Haven't decided yet. Have a great day. Tammy

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  35. What an awesome gift to receive! I am very impressed and I love the colors!

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  36. Jill sounds like a very cool woman indeed. You clearly had so much fun with her and that pillow is so lovely.

    Podcast? Amazing! I'm off to listen... xx

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  37. This is so cool! I really like her! And wow to podcasts! Am very excited now. Off to watch one now! Big hugs, x

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  38. What an amazing experience and a great craft project! I'm already seeing possibilities of making something similar but with quilting fabric scraps. Thank you!

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