Friday, October 24, 2014

Book Review: Soul Mate Dolls ~ Dollmaking as a Healing Art by Noreen Crone-Findlay


Soul Mate Dolls ~ Dollmaking as a Healing Art
Sparked by a recent trip to  American Girl Place (AG)  in Chicago with my granddaughter, Chloe, I’ve moved into “doll mode.”  My own AG doll has lived with me for at least ten years and I possess life-long love dolls!

The joy of crocheting fashions in miniature, made it necessary to have someone to wear the fruits of my labor. My granddaughter, Chloe, has enjoyed playing with my doll when she visits; and now, as she approaches the age of five influenced by an older friend, she has begun to want her own. Two years ago I put “dibs” on a plan to be the special one to buy her first A G doll since I am the one who loves dolls, unlike my daughters who were never very caught up in doll play.

On the calendar for two months, our special “Girls’ Day Out” finally arrived! I tried my best to contain my excitement to an acceptable level. It was a great outing for all of us, including high tea at the store with the newly purchased Sarah. What fun!

Matching Nightgowns I made for Chloe and Sarah
My love affair with dolls dates back to my childhood and I don’t know if it was more my love of my grandmother, Myrtle, who fashioned my first Ginny Doll clothes or the doll herself that held the allure for me. I’ve written about dolls and I’ve written about the healing properties of the needle arts.

Perusing my crochet book shelf this week, I came upon Noreen’s book, published in 2000. The subtitle, Doll Making as a Healing Art, and the cover endorsements by authors of books in similar genres, Christine Northrup  and Sherrill Miller caught my attention. Noreen’s words, “Turn your stumbling blocks into stepping stones, and open doors to creativity, healing and wholeness, by making dolls that express your feelings, desires and wholeness,” inspired me to revisit this treasured book, jump inside the pages to let Noreen “lead me on a mystical journey, filled with metaphors, magic and special friends that will reshape and restore my soul.”

Noreen oozes with creativity and it plays out in doll imagery. She is an artist, dollmaker and professional puppeteer. Her workshops help women to enrich their lives by inspiring an expanding their creativity. If this book is already on your crochet library shelves, I highly recommend you grab hold and seriously read the text. It is comforting and brings joy to the heart as Noreen addresses everyday concerns that we all have. If this book is new to you, run to buy it!

Grandmother Tree Soul Mate Doll
Not intended as medical advice, the goal of the book is to inspire us to pay attention to images and metaphors with feelings of wholeness as we observe how the procesess works on a deeper level. Noreen's generous instructions in topics such as crochet, emroidery, weaving on a square loom, sewing, knitting and lap loom work, makes it easy to launch from her basic "flat soulmate doll" templates onto creative paths that inspire the reader to personalize the doll as her/his own.

Now let’s launch back to present day and take a look at what the ever-creative Noreen Crone-Findlay is up to now. Stackpole books will be publishing her latest book, Peg and Stick Loom Weaving, in 2015.


Congratulations, Noreen, and I will look forward to reviewing the new book when it comes out!

Noreen Crone-Findlay

Noreen and I go way back. We became fast friends with so much in common when we both taught at Crochet Guild Conferences. We've shared ideas an traded treasures. Two of Noreen's hand-made crochet hooks shall be forever treasured as they are no longer avaialble.

Prin came along to a CGOA conference and met a friend, Woomie
Noreen gifted me this incredible "Queen Hook."



Thursday, October 16, 2014

Make the World Better with a Sweater

Thursday, October 16, 2014


"Make the World Better with a Sweater is a woolly wonderful way to do both. On National Sweater Day (Friday, December 12), ask your friends and family to wear their most festive holiday sweaters, donate $5 to Save the Children and spread the holiday joy! Together, with sweaters, we can make the world a better place – transforming children's lives and the future we all share."
For years after my husband and I served as Peace Corps Volunteers in Honduras we supported Save the Children with pennies-a-day donations to support a child in a third world country. We went through more than one child because when they turn 18, the support is suspended. It was gratifying to receive actual letters from the children we "adopted."

We crocheters share the ultimate enthusiasm for sweaters and this is a fun and easy way to make a difference. Find out how you can hold a sweater party, donate or spread the word through social media. 


Friday, October 10, 2014

Sewing Forgiveness

As if it was not exciting enough to be traversing along Ravenswood Avenue during the neighborhood Art Walk in the crisp air and warm sun of autumn last Sunday! Add to that the pleasure of running into the display of Cathi Schwalbe outside the Lill Street Art Center (Chicago)!

Cathi Schwalbe: Sewing Forgiveness
Named as one of the featured artists during Chicago Artists Month (October 2014), Cathi's performance piece, "Sewing Forgiveness: City of Chicago" will appear in a number of venues around the city. What a delight she is...taking in everything in her environment with her generous and child-like enthusiasm, offering to sew a button on anyone who passes by!

Sewing a button on  this gentleman
I was immediately taken by her ~ the title of her exhibit, the display of old suitcases filled with vintage buttons.

Button supply in vintage suitcases
It didn't hurt that she was super-complimentary about my unique purse from Mexico and admired my jewelry!

My Mexican leather purse-fall colors!
The button I chose for Cathi to sew on.
A native of semi-rural Wisconsin, Cathi is a long-time recreational therapist, she was first drawn to art by "the beauty in agricultural building-I liked barns and bins and cribs-and the sculptural landscape. Social practice and art making equal a response to commodity and object making; social engagement much like the other half of my life as a recreation therapist, aims to engage for engagement's sake." ...and engage she does with fun, sharing and caring!

Photography by Brian Eaves
On her blog, Cathi describes her art work: "My art explores aging, agriculture, nature and science, the concepts of plenty and want, reuse, food systems, and being human through a variety of media including high-fired clay, artist books, events, growing, installation, found objects, fiber and cast metal.

Potable:  Feilds Progject, Rock Springs, Wisconsin 2013

Teosenite, Zea, Maiz, Corn, 2006
Teosinte...was a Fields Project Art Residency in Oregon, IL over 12 acres!

"Why corn? It is solidly Midwestern, like I am. I have found through the deep exploration of corn, more than its history and imagery, but the fundamentals of humanity itself."


Harvest Dinner: Lill Street Art Center, 2010. Each diner received a plate after dining! Photo by Schwalbe.
I am well aware of the healing aspects of crochet; and Cathi is on the same path with her intereactive performance pieces. She offers tranquility as she sews her gift of buttons onto strangers!