Archives for category: Dolls

merrrily wl little doll


Anyone who knows me knows of my love for dolls. I have a large collection and Ted and I once had a doll shop. I still buy and sell dolls at shows and online. But my favorite part of doll collecting is the doll collecting friends I have made over the years.

One such friend is Melissa, who collects dolls but is also a miniaturist, she creates and recreates costumes for dolls, often based on famous illustrations and including accessories. See her blog here.   I was thrilled when she told me, after reading my recent blog, that she wanted to make a little “Merrily” doll that would represent the Merrily doll in the illustration of the cartoon character that gave me my name. I found a doll in my collection that I thought looked like the picture of “Merrily” and sent her to Melissa to recreate.

Melissa said, “As with all my creations, they take time and careful study of the subject matter.  For Merrily it was the shape of the sleeves on the dress, the stripe in the socks, the French braids in her hair, her little Jap doll.  I’d been looking at the illustration time and again since you posted it.  One of the things I knew might be a challenge, was blending, or concealing her wooden leg color.  I chose a pair child’s ballet pink tights to create leg covers, so the deep yellow undertone of the wood might blend with the pink for a more natural look.”

Melissa thinks of every detail. This doll has a wooden body, arms and legs, which allow her to be posed but creates a bit of a problem when the doll wears a short skirt as Melissa mentioned.   And I love it that the little red band on the socks in the illustration matches the band on the dolls socks.

This doll is a special treasure and I am placing her by my desk where I can see her and enjoy the pleasure of her company.

Internet groups are a popular way for doll collectors to get to know each other and to share information about their dolls. One such group, known as the is for collectors of dolls made by Wendy Lawton, and members from across the country have become friends as a result of their love of these special dolls.   See some of my favorite Wendy Lawton dolls below.

Melissa and I met in this internet  group “on-line” but it was later that we first met in person. I had a booth at a doll show and one of the items I had for sale was a rare and much sought after doll called Mignonette and her Malle du Voyage.   Melissa came into my booth and spotted the doll and I thought she was going to go into shock she was so excited. I was asking a fair price and we quickly sealed the deal, and Mignonette went home with Melissa.

Be sure to see some of Melissa’s other creations, check her blog at House of Missy Mouse.

A special friend and a special doll, I am so lucky!


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Mignonette, this is my doll but similar to the one Melissa bought from me years ago.




Here are  of my favorite dolls by Wendy Lawton.   “Merrily” was originally a Wendy Lawton doll, redressed by Melissa.                    we african safarie - Copy

African Safari comes with a trunk full of clothing



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wl little women

Little Women


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Two more favorites


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Three of these dolls represent illustrations from children’s books








My grandmother used to tease me, saying I was named for a character in a comic strip.   I remember asking my dad about it and he confirmed, saying there was a cute little girl with brown pigtails that appeared for a short time in a popular strip at the time I was born. It was called Terry and the Pirates.

I have met only a few women who share the name “Merrily.” In talking with them I have learned that we are all about the same age and most were aware that they too had been named after this fictional little girl.

I did some research, but was never able to find pictures of the little girl, she appeared for only a short time in the strip.

Last week there was a new member at our quilt club and I was excited when I was told that her name is “Merrily.” We greeted each other like long lost friends and soon learned that we had been born in the same month two days apart and were both born in Seattle. When we began discussing where our name came from, she told me that her parents had written to the creator of the comic strip, Milton Caniff, shortly after she was born. He was so touched that he wrote a letter back and send a drawing of “Merrily.”

She has it framed and hanging in her home and she sent me a photo of the drawing. So, now I can see the cute little girl that my parents envisioned.

It is very exciting to find this new friend and we share many things in common, it is almost like finding a long lost sister!

The drawing is extra special for me because, the little girl is holds a rag doll with an Asian face. During my career in adoption I helped hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Asian children from Korea, China, and Vietnam join adoptive parents here in the U.S. I traveled extensively in those countries and love being in Asia. That this drawing has a tie to Asia makes it even more special to me. I never did have brown pigtails though, my mom always kept my hair short.



Rough housing


The blog I had planned for today isn’t ready. So instead I am going to fill you in on a little of what is happening here.

s and R on the Elwha

Seneca and Raven at Olympic Hot Springs with friends


For some reason I don’t completely understand, we now have 8 kids here. Seneca and Raven of course, and the 17 year old who has her baby. The baby is now a year old and walking and the girl will turn 18 this week and is moving to independence.   She is packing her things and will be saying good bye very soon.

The four year old who has been with us for 6 months or so remains in our home. She is a sweetie most of the time and if finally speaking some words. Yea!!

A gentle 11 year old girl has been with us for a couple of weeks. She had an aunt that she will probably be going to live with soon.

Then, last week we got a call about a sister and brother 10 and 13 in need of a place for “just one night.” We knew the children, we had cared for their older sister a year or so ago. They were a welcome addition, very nice children and when we were asked to keep them until after school is out, we agreed.

All this means taking two cars for deliver everyone to school in the morning.  We sit shoulder to shoulder at our little dining room table, and kids are all enjoying each other.

We had planned a camping trip for the weekend and decided we could do it, and the kids had a great time playing in the silt deposited along the banks of the Elwha River. As we sat around the camp fire and talked and laughed I marveled again how new kids could seem like family so quickly.

So, I’ll write my planned blog for next time, meanwhile I am enjoying the children as they come and go.


Anna with Joy

Holding one of my precious dolls.


quilt finds a new ho,e

Each foster child gets a quilt and she loves hers as you can see.


Niyama with her quilt

Nyima (Andrea) with a baby quilt she hand stitched in India. A quilter will know how complicated it would be to set this many small blocks in a quilt like this.

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She stitches a label in a quilt

When I asked my friend Nyima for some words of wisdom for living a good life, she replied:

Have courage.

See the humor

Be useful.

Be kind.

Nyima Lhamo  is a Buddhist nun living simple life in Mongoo, a village high in the Himalayan mountains near Darjeeling in India. Until 12 years ago she was Andrea Balosky, quilter and good friend living at Camp Sherman near Sisters, Oregon. While there she made the decision to begin to learn about Tibetan Buddhism and she needed to be closer to those who practiced it to do that, she sold everything and moved to India. She says she has never looked back. Recently she was in the U.S. to attend to her visa and she stayed with our family last week. We spent the time talking about life in the remote mountains, and about our kids, and about quilting.

andrea with anna

Andrea plays with our little foster daughter

Andrea Balosky was a well-known quilter, and is the author of the book “Transitions.”   This is my “go to” book I need an inspiration for a new quilt. I met her when I was looking for someone to hand quilt a Hawaiian quilt top I had purchased. Andrea was born in Hawaii and her first quilt was in the Hawaiian style, done for her mother. She said she loved to hand quilt while watching sports on TV on the long snowy evenings in Camp Sherman. She estimated would take her until Christmas to finish, and actually it took her a couple of years but the result is spectacular.

andrea with hawaiian quilt

Andres stands behind the Hawaiian quilt she hand quilted for Ted and me.

hand quilting

An example of Andrea’s fine quilting.

She is famous for her small quilts, which she calls “doll quilts” and an exhibit of 100 of them was displayed at the Latimer Quilt Museum in Tillamook Oregon.

quilt show

Latimer Quilt Museum display

dolls and  quilts

The museum displayed my dolls with Andrea’s quilts

doll quilt

One of the Small Wonders collection

When she left the U.S. she sold her collection of small quilts and Ted and I purchased this charming collection. They can be seen in this book, “Small Wonders.”   We don’t receive income from the sale of the book, only have satisfaction of sharing them. She doesn’t quilt much now, she doesn’t have access to good fabric or batting in India, but in preparation for her trip, she made 50 small potholders which will be sold by the Pine Needler quilt group in Camp Sherman to raise money to purchase a defibulator. And she made one for me! pot holder

And her additional words of wisdom, for me were:
Learn what is enough.
Learn what is essential

Oh my. What am I doing with all of the “stuff” in this house?

And her final word—

“Do the difficult while it is easy.” — Lao Tzu

Andrea with Merrily


jerry's garden

“Cross Currents #2” by Andrea and now belonging to Bill Volkening

salute to the Sun
“Salute to the Sun” a small quilt done by hand in India for the Alzheimer’s Quilt Project.[/caption]

Some of the photos in this blog are by  William Volkening

“Go for it” said Ted, and I knew he was right, the family could get along without me very nicely for five days.   Right?

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St. Andrews on Hood Canal


A chance to sew all day, get to know some new people and relax in a beautiful setting was too much to pass up.

Set at the foot of Hood Canal, the setting is magical. The log “mansion” called St. Andrew’s was built by a wealthy Seattle family who came here for the summer in the 1920’s and it was fun to think about that family with kids running up and down the stairs to the balcony and sitting in front of the fireplace. It was tempting to walk on the beach, but I was focused on sewing.

I decided to start in something new, fresh fabric from my stash and a new but simple pattern, something I could finish in a couple of days. Ted helped me cut the fabric before I left so when I got there I was ready to sew.

apples full

Apple quilt


apples up close

Apple quilt up close


I drew the lucky seat, the best view for sewing. There were beautiful views in every direction, however.

view from my seat

View from my sewing table


quilting room

The quilting room, this had been added to the original house.


The cook was amazing. He is a priest whose mission is to feed folks local, healthy and nutritious food, and that he did. Vegetables, herbs, cheese, ice cream, yoghurt, meat, and seafood were all grown or produced locally. He created his own salsa, granola, and special herb tea which he served cold. We feasted at every meal.

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Lining up for a wonderful meal


Our room was tucked under the rafters, set up with bunk beds, though there were only two of us so no one had to climb. Each bed was made with a homemade quilt, made by a previous quilter.

For fun, I made a cloth paper doll for each of the 13 other women attending and we had fun choosing outfits for each of them. Then they got creative and began making quilts for their dollies.

paper doll 4

Playing with paperdolls, this one was doing a dance


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This paper doll now decorates a sewing machine


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Brenda with her paper doll

I am an early riser and I enjoyed sitting by the fireplace and doing some hand sewing as folks assembled each morning.

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Early morning quilter


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A view of the fireplace


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An experiment

Many beautiful quilts were sewed during the week.

Each of us also made a “Joy Quilt” a small quilt to be wrapped around a stuffed animal and given to a child in a time of crisis. Some of our foster children have arrived with animals wrapped in “joy quilts” so this was a project I was committed to doing!

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Some of the cheerful joy quilts.


anna with joy quilt

A foster child received a stuffed elephant wrapped in a joy quilt.


The joy of sharing with other women, creating beautiful things while being fed tasty and healthy food, in a beautiful setting, it can hardly get better than that!


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Ten Ping, a tiny favorite



Dolls on display from our shop, Apple Tree Dolls and Bears


girls in booth

Young customers


My doll club held its annual doll show last weekend and Seneca enjoyed herself as usual. The doll show is the  place she can get new outfits for her dolls and she brought her American Girl doll along for fittings. She was right in line to have herdoll’s hair styled by one of our members.



She helped with our little foster girl who was gifted with a doll and another toy by some kind dealers.

seneca and anna

Seneca with our foster daughter, playing with new dolls


Seneca found a special doll she wanted and luckily she had enough money left from her birthday to make the purchase. On the way home she hugged her new doll along with her old favorite. I love it that she loves dolls!
new doll

A few weeks ago Seneca was talking about wanting to work on a cruise ship someday. She asked me if you must go to college to do such work. I suggested that she write to the cruise people and ask them. A few hours later she had created a very sweet letter to her favorite cruise line, Holland America, asking her question and throwing in a few details.  She mentioned that she has been  on four of their cruises and that she had a birthday coming.

holland america

Two weeks later a FedEx box came for Seneca and inside was a model of a Holland America ship along with a letter. She was advised to go to college if she could, and to apply on-line when she was ready to go to work. She was also wished a Happy Birthday. Nice to have a company with a heart, and the letter certainly created a lot of excitement at our house.

For the past couple of years our family has taken foster children on an emergency basis. This generally means children arrive a few minutes to a couple of hours after we receive the call, and they usually aren’t here for long. Last week, however, we were asked take two little ones with a whole week of notice. I decided it would be a good idea to give myself a few days off to finish some sewing projects and to rest before their arrival.

I finished a doll quilt. I belong to an internet doll club and each month we have a contest and it is mine turn to provide a prize next month. This is a simple red and white quilt and is hand quilted.

Doll quilt for lawton

Doll Quilt, green outline is carpet, not part of the quilt!

Our family is involved in a World Wide Swap and we are preparing packages to send to families in New Zealand, Russia, Alberta, and Kansas. The packages contents must relate to our local area. I sewed little bags decorated with Gold Finches, the state bird of Washington. We are including agates from our beach. We grow lots of strawberries in this area and I decided to create some little strawberries to include in the packages.

gift bags

Gold finch trimmed bag for World Wide Swapn


strawberries to include the swap packages

Raven and Seneca will be drumming, dancing and singing in ceremonies for the Canoe Journey later this month, and I added buttons to Seneca’s regalia.

Regalia buttons

Seneca’s regalia gets some new buttons

I have two new little dolls, 4.5 inches tall and I am making some dresses for them. This one isn’t quite finished.

new doll dresses

Ameila and Izzy get new dresses

I am participating in a block swap where each of the 20 people in the swap creates same shaped block in in their own fabric, with a different color assigned each month. The photo shows a few of the blue blocks, and I have selected the colors for the green swap, which is due the end of August. Eventally we will each have a rainbow of blocks.

blocks selection

Blockes from last month’s swap, and fabric I have chosen for the “green” swap

Fortunately I was nearly finished with another foster child quilt and I had one on hand, so each of the kids will have a new quilt.

Peter rabbit quilt

Peter Rabbit quilt I made for our new foster child, I used scraps given byy friends.

It was great to take some time for sewing and my family was very  cooperative, and now I am ready for the new little ones, come what may!!

Mary Chittenden Catches a Big One on the Elwha River

Mary Chittenden Catches a Big One on the Elwha River

This photo of Mary Chittenden hangs in Ted’s office.    It was taken on a fishing trip on the Elwha River, probably in the 1920s.  Mary was the daughter of Hiram M. Chittenden, engineer for the Army Corp of Engineers, for whom the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks were named.  Also known as the Ballard Locks, they make possible the passage of ships between Lake Washington and Puget Sound.

This photo of Mary is special to us because of being taken on the Elwha River, can you imagine fishing in this clothing?

I belong to an internet group of mostly women, who appreciate and collect dolls of Wendy Lawton.  If you follow my blog this name will be familiar to you.  At the beginning of the year a theme for the year is given, with a more specific theme for each month.   Members then post photos of dolls to fit the theme.  This is called “Adults Playing with Dolls.”   The overall theme this year is “favorite memories” and for June the specific theme is Favorite Summertime Memories.  Creating scenes to represent memories has sometimes been challenging.

I have wonderful childhood memories of fishing.  We grew up on a lake and I would get up early, dig some worms and spend the day on a little raft fishing.   There were other fishing trips too. I remember salmon fishing with Dad and Grandpa in Puget Sound and once (for me) at West Port on the ocean.  In the fall I would go with my grandparents to the Skagit River and we fished from the riverbank.   During the summer we went to Lake Chelan and I fished from the dock there.    Most of my family didn’t like to eat fish but I loved it!

So, I wanted to create a photo with a fishing theme, but, most of my dolls are rather elegantly dressed, which got me to thinking of Mary Chittenden and wondering if I could recreate the scene of her fishing at the Elwha.    This is my entry for this month.


Mary Chittenden, played by Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, catches a big one the Elwha River, about 1920


Ready for the holiday

Today is Memorial Day, the day to honor those who have defended our country.  I cannot agree with all of the things our government has done since I have been old enough to vote but still I am grateful to be where I live without fear and I am very grateful to those men and women who fought to create our country and to those who continue to keep it free.

To celebrate I have created a tribute in patriotic dolls.    The first represents a soldier from Desert Storm.  Created by Madame Alexander.  Note that that this soldier is both a woman and African American.   Freedom for women and African Americans has certainly increased in my life time.  Go little soldier!

Patriotic Desert Storm

Dessert Storm

Betsy Ross is given credit for creating the symbol of our country, the flag.  These dolls, Betsy and her friend The Patriot were created by Wendy Lawton.


Betsy Ross and the Patriot by Wendy Lawton

Patriotic Zaundria is a more modern girl, a BJD or ball jointed doll, she can be posed in many positions and here is wearing a dress originally designed for Ginny.


Zaundria, a BJD

Joy, who is my favorite doll, is wearing the red, white and blue but the style of the “old world.”  For this photo she is pictured with her friend the Annalee mouse. Another Wendy Lawton doll.


Joy by Wendy Lawton

Red Riding Hood is not a doll that would be thought of as being “patriotic” but this version in red, white and blue was given to me by Ted for my last birthday, she begged to be included in this collection of photos. She is from Madame Alexander.


Amelia is the latest addition to my doll collection, just four inches tall, she is sitting on a peanut.  She wears tiny clothing originally made for a doll in the Barbie doll family.


Amelia, 4 inches tall, sits on a peanut.


Patriotic Group

Dolls are more than a hobby for me, I have a doll shop which is now on-line only.  To see other lovely dolls go to Apple Tree Dolls & Bears or

Yesterday Ted and I watched the movie “Lincoln” with our kids who are 8 and 11.  They seemed to understand the story of the Emancipation Proclamation.  It gave us a good opportunity to discuss the evolution of “freedom.”   It shows what people were willing to sacrifice for their country and why change needed to happen.

We have had more than a half inch of gentle rain so far this weekend.  Playing with dolls and watching movies is not a bad way to spend a holiday, with some time left for quilting of course!!

I love to read your comments.

Today I have been photographing dolls for my doll store web site.  Some are new dolls and some are dolls that are being moved from the old web site to the new one.    I love having contact with the dolls, posing them and trying to get them in the best light.  They are dressed so nicely with their hair perfectly arranged.  They never fuss or argue or make a mess.   Here are some of my favorites from this morning.

These two are creations of Wendy Lawton, from California.  Wendy has created many dolls over the years and she took heads, wigs and clothing from 100 of them, mixed them up and created 100 one-of-a-kind dolls.    The dolls are 9 inches tall with detailed clothing and beautiful wigs.

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These two are by Lynne and Michael Roche of England.  She sculpts the heads and works with the clothing while he creates wooden jointed bodies for each doll.  Again, the clothing is detailed and charming.

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This doll is more of a play doll.  She is Betsy McCall, after the paperdoll that appeared in the McCall’s magazine when I was little.   Betsy is vinyl and is also jointed.  She is about 8 inches tall.


I have loved dolls all of my life.  My parents were in the toy business and I sold dolls and toys while in high school and college. It was a natural for Ted and me to develop a doll business in the 1990s.    I miss personal interaction with the customers but get to know many of them through email as they make their selections from our on-line shop.     You can the dolls at Apple Tree Dolls and Bears .