Thursday, 20 October 2016

Cécile Rey Doll makeover

I was very surprised to see an American Girl doll on Italian Ebay. They are rarely on there and usually cost a lot. At 20 euro it was a bargain for me although not in good condition. I just couldn't leave that poor little waif all alone in Rome with the risk she would be thrown out!  So I bid for her and as there were no other offers home she came! I think the poor mottled photo put some people off! 

She is Cécile who is one of the historical dolls I wanted. 

So Spa treatment. Her clothes were washed and hung to dry. I was very pleased that the colours didn't run when I washed her original dress. 

Next her hair. I didn't have any wig shampoo available but used dish soap and fabric conditioner. I have heard that AG salons don't approve this but as the chance that I ever send her for treatment is less than nil, that didn't bother me. 

Wash, rinse and re-wash. Amazing how dirty her hair was! Then a fabric conditioner rinse. It is important to avoid wetting the body or getting water in her eyes which can cause silver-eye or rust, so she was wrapped up in towels. 
Cecile American girl doll

Then the hair. A lot of patience to find the central parting and to carefully detangle. Never pulling! 

I rolled the curls carefully first onto a knitting needle and then rolled them onto a straw and fixed with bobby-pins. Left to dry overnight. 

Today I carefully pulled out the straws, tied her hair with two white ribbons and she was ready to be dressed in her clean clothes and new boots! 

She seems happy to join my clan here!

American Girl Cecile

Doll hair recurled

A big difference from when she arrived!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

How does your garden grow?: part 2!

I should have shared photos of my garden but got totally sidetracked. A few days ago there was a horrible hailstorm so I thought it was totally destroyed but strangely things are surviving and we even have zucca flowers once more! 

big zucca

It has been wonderful having fresh tomatoes and zucchini and zucca flowers all summer.
fresh tomatoes

 Fresh figs!
 Great big zucche!
 3 different types.

 Hailstones I thought would ruin all!

 See how big those leaves are now!

Flowers still grow!

Nature's fruits

Well it is porcini mushroom time again. DH has dutifully paid the tax and can go and collect them! 
Everytime he goes he finds a few, even one is enough to make him happy but usually it is far more.

Porcini mushroom

This afternoon after we got back from picking up DD from school he went to find some. I thought it was too late but he brought back this beauty: 500 grams!

porcino mushroom

and not a single maggot! 

2016 mushrooms

Some others he brought the other day.

Funghi freschi

Rositi and porcini here.


rositi funghi

DH suggested taking a photo with my dolls:

This is the school uniform I am making sans cardi!

Doll school uniform

Here with her cardigan!

18 inch doll uniform

So risotto or fettucini? 

Sunday, 11 September 2016


How can it be?
Life is so strange:
I feel like my daughter inside my brain.
Yet I looked in the mirror
And what did I see?
There was my mother
Looking at me!

I wonder what happened? Where have all the years gone?
I am Grandma Renwick now yet the dreaming teenager is still there somewhere inside!

Thursday, 18 August 2016

American Girl School Sweater

American Girl Doll School Sweater:

Free doll knitting pattern


Yarn: Fingering yarn.
Fili&Fili Baby Cachemire, 80% merino wool, 20% cachemire.1 ball= 50gm. 250m.
USA 1 / 2.5mm needles
(Or those required to get gauge)
A small size cable needle. (a short DP or darning needle can substitute)
8 sts x 10 rows = 1” in Stockinette.

Co: cast on. (I used a cable cast on but any desired method is OK)
Bo: Bind off (cast off)
R: row
Rs: right side of work.
Ws: wrong side of work.
K: knit.
P: purl.
Ssk: Slip 2 sts knitwise and knit as one through back loop.
K2tog: Knit 2 sts together as one.
P2tog: Purl 2 stitches together as one.
C5f: Put 3 sts on cable needle and hold in front, knit two sts and then knit the 3 sts on holder.
Ss: Stocking or stockinette stitch. ( Right side, knit 1 row ; wrong side, purl 1 row; repeat for as many rows indicated. )  

Knitting Instructions.

Cast on 104 sts.
1-2: *K1, p1; repeat from * to end.
3: K1, p1, ssk, yo, *k1, p1; repeat from * to end.
4-6: As rows 1-2.

Start body:
1: K1, p1, k1, p1, k96, p1, k1, p1, k1.
2: P1, k1, p1, k1, p96, k1, p1, k1, p1.
3-24: As rows 1-2.
Adjust length here if you like.

Divide work:
1: K1, p1, k1, p1, k22, bo 3 sts, k46 sts, bo 3sts, k22, p1, k1, p1, k1.
Continue working on front and backs separately.

Right Back.
2: P1, k1, p1, k1, p22.
3: K1, ssk, knit to last 4sts, p1, k1, p1, k1.
4: P1, k1, p1, k1, purl to end.
5-24: As rows 3-4.
Continue making decreases as before at arm on right side to row 25. (15sts)
25: K1, ssk, k8, p1, k1, p1, k1.
26: Bo 5 sts, p9.
27: K1, ssk, K4, K2 tog.
28: Purl.
Bind off all sts.
Left Back.
2: P22, K1, p1, k1, p1.
3: K1, p1, k1, p1, knit to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1.
4: Purl to last 4sts, k1, p1, k1, p1.
5-24: As rows 3-4. (Add buttonholes on rows 11 and 23)
25: K1, p1, k1, p1, k8, k2tog, k1.
26: Purl to last 4sts, k1, p1, k1, p1.
27: Bo 5, k6, k2tog, k1.
28: P6, P2tog.
Bind off all sts.

2: P46.
3: K1, ssk, knit to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1.
4: Purl.
5: Repeat row 3.
6: Repeat row 4.
Continue repeating rows 3 and 4 to row 20. (28 sts on needle)
21: K1,ssk, k6, Bo 10sts, k6, k2tog, k1.

Continue separately on both sides of neck:
22: Purl.
23: Ssk, k3, k2tog, k1.
24: P6.
25: K1, ssk, k1, k2tog, k1.
26: P4.
27: K1, k2tog, k1.
28: Purl.
Bind off.

Other side of neck.
22: Purl.
23: K1, ssk, k3, k2tog.
24: P6.
25: K1, ssk, k1, k2tog.
26: P4.
27: K1, ssk, k1
28: Purl.
Bind off.

Cast on 30 sts.
1: *K1, p1; repeat from * to end.
2-6: As row 1

Start increases:
1: Kfb, Knit to last stitch, kfb.
2: P32.
3: Knit.
4: Purl.
5: Kfb, Knit to last stitch, kfb.
6: P34.
7: Knit.
8: Purl.
9: Kfb, Knit to last stitch, kfb.
10: P36.
11: Knit.
12: Purl.
13: Kfb, Knit to last stitch, kfb.
14: P38
15: Knit.
16: Purl.
17-32: As rows 15-16.

Start decreasing:
1: K1, ssk, knit to last 3 stitches, knit 2 tog, k1.
2: Purl.
3-28: As rows 1-2. (10sts).
Bind off.

  Cable collar.
Cast on 34 stitches.
1: S1, k2, p2, k10, p3, k16.
2: P16, k3, p10, k2, p3.
3-8: As rows 1-2.
9: S1, k2, p2, C5f, k5, p3, C5f, k11.
10: P16, k3, p10, k2, p3.
11-12: As rows 1-2.
13: S1, k2, p2, k5, C5f, p3, k5, C5f, k6.
14: P16, k3, p10, k2, p3.
15-16: As rows 1-2.
17: S1, k2, p2, k10, p3; turn work.
18: K3, p10, k2, p3.

 19-20: As rows 1-2.
21-22: As rows 9-10.
23-24: As rows 1-2.
25-26: As rows 13-14.
27-28: As rows 1-2.
Repeat rows 9-28 for 5 times or to length necessary to stitch around neck. Bind off all stitches.
Sew collar to neck edge. Collar is sewn to the top back edge, sleeve top, front, second sleeve top and other back edge. The sleeve tops are included in the neckline count. Sew all seams and sew on buttons.

Patricia Renwick © Copyright 2013.
All rights reserved. You may sell items made from this pattern but not the pattern. Please respect my design rights. 

I have updated and revived my school sweater pattern. This is available as a PDF download free on Ravelry.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

How does your garden grow?

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

No silver bells and cockles shells here but some zucchini and tomatoes!

Not my garden either but the tiny piece of land which belongs to the house across the road. No-one lives there and as we have had the the key for many years, this year when DH cleaned it I finally persuaded him to plant something useful instead of leaving it empty. 

It just grows wild otherwise and there were often adders there so it is far better to keep it cleared. The old man gave us the key originally and his sons have changed locks and given us the new keys after he passed a few years ago. 

Last year the owners didn't even come down here at all, the year before just for a week in October to get some olive oil. They would like to sell the house but there is no market and it is in really bad shape, so it is just sitting there eating money in taxes since the old man died. The usual village story. The old folks pass, there are no jobs and the young people have nearly all emigrated. 
As the children grow they prefer more interesting seaside resorts so parents no longer come here on holiday. This is not a tourist place.

Anyway, we planted just a few zucchini and tomato plants and have been blessed with a great yield. I still have the flowers everyday for the "frittelle" (I have a photo recipe here on my blog)
It is amusing as it is now no longer the season so I am the only one on the street who still has some.

Today I made some sauce again with our very own tomatoes. I know we have the ones DH grows with my inlaws, but somehow to actually go into the garden and pick them is so much more satisfying! There is nothing sprayed on them and the only work is to take down a couple of pails of water. I save water when rinsing etc so it is also ecological, water is precious here.

It was amusing that the other day I actually gave my Mil some tomatoes as she didn't have any and was going to buy some! 

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

What's Cooking?: Yarn!

As some of you know I do not like the local homemade wine. Although many enthuse about it I tend to think it tastes like vinegar...far better to drink a nice glass of ice-cold lemon tea!

So here I was one morning with a bottle of wine. So what did I do? Threw it into a pan, added a skein of yarn and cooked it! Lol!

Dyeing with wine

DD came downstairs. What's cooking? Yarn!

Experiments! At worst a skein of yarn gets thrown out!

I brought it up to a boil and then left it till it cooled down.

Rinse well under running water. No need to add vinegar here! Lol!

Surprise surprise it actually came out quite nicely! It is more of a dusky rose colour than the brown the photo shows. Difficult to show a true colour.

Now I need to design something to knit with it!