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Honour the Child

Blog Archive

BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Thursday, 22 January 2015
This week's feature is a shop that will capture your imagination (and your heart) with its lovely handmade Waldorf inspired dolls~ elves, fairies, knight, boys and girls... and gorgeous hand dyed accessories for dolls!
{{Read on for GIVEAWAY details... you are gonna love it!}}
I have had the privilege of knowing Joyce, the Hillcountry Dollmaker, for a number of years, and more than that, having her warm and lovely creations in my home.  When I went looking for a Waldorf doll for my then-2 year old daughter, Joyce made our beautiful, button-jointed, weighted, red headed Sarah. Later, Sunny joined us to help model doll clothes. I can speak from experience to Joyce's skills and service!

Sunny & Sarah
Joyce lives in Texas with her four children.  As a homeschooling family, they make creativity a part of their every day learning and family time. Surrounded by the beautiful hill country which gives the shop its name, they have lots of nature to explore with good friends.
It is in this creative life and landscape that Joyce is inspired to make her toys.  Having begun making dolls for her own children, she has continued making toys with the special joy of the toymaker in bringing so much happiness to little ones near and far with her creations.
Attention to Detail

Joyce works exclusively in natural materials, with a special place in her heart for wool. Having raised sheep and angora goats in the past, she has a real love for wool's excellent qualities and versatility.  Her work with organic bamboo velour is outstanding, too~ be sure to check out her animals and doll clothing made with OBV!

The guiding principle for her shop is the motto "faces you can't resist"~ and looking at her dolls and fantasy creatures, you can see why.  Joyce's faces have a very distinct gentleness and appeal~ and she recognizes the importance of these faces in making connections with children and igniting their imaginative spark.

In this new year, Hillcountry Dollmaker hopes to offer more storybook themed dolls and creatures to help connect kids with the wonder of literature and reading. They will be welcome additions to the stand out line up of Waldorf inspired dolls and accessories in the shop ... take a peek at the dolly boat beds and the horses for the Waldorf dolls!
••• The Giveaway •••
Hillcountry Dollmaker is generously offering a 6" Medieval Fairy
to one winner (worldwide shipping included) chosen from the comments made on this blog post.
The winner will be chosen at 10 pm EST, Wednesday, January 28.
 {{The fairy is 6" tall (without vine), made of organic cotton, stuffed with wool, jointed body, mohair lock wig, silk skirt and pants, wool felt wings, hat and flower top, with antique button and loop closure. Clothes are removable, hat and wings are attached}}
••• How to Enter •••
You may leave one comment as an entry for each one of the three following tasks:
{that means you can leave 3 distinct comments/ entries!}
3) Follow Beneath the Rowan Tree on Facebook and/or here on the blog

Thursday, 15 January 2015
With their adorable faces, excellent workmanship and touchable, warm, wool bodies these handmade toys appeal to all ages.
This week's guest (and giveaway sponsor) is Eve's Little Earthlings
{{Congratulations to winner of the Giveaway~ 'Calliope'}}

Snails, chipmunks, sawfish, cows and skunks...
Eve creates a menagerie of amazing animals ~ and what is even more amazing is that every one of them is created using repurposed wool sweaters.  Stuffed with wool, every toy at ELE is completely natural and biodegradable~ a commitment that arose from Eve's 10 years of providing Waldorf inspired home daycare and the many toys created for her little charges.  All natural, her toys warm in the child's hands and last through years of play.
Eve's first handmade toy was a little bunny from a pattern in a book.  Using this as a starting point she began to modify the pattern and make a wide variety of creatures. When she made the decision to give up day care and start her business, she pictured herself working as a bit of a hobbyist, sewing for 2-3 hours every day and selling just enough toys to stay busy and keep her Etsy shop running. Little did she know she had launched herself into being a full time toymaker!
Running a handmade business is challenging, and Eve stays inspired by the feedback from her customers~ knowing her work is appreciated makes it worthwhile, even with early mornings or repetitive work.  And finishing up the sweet little faces is fulfilling!
To stay healthy and well in mind and body, Eve (who is the mom of two university students) enjoys her time walking the dog and seeing the seasons change in the trees and sky of beautiful downtown Guelph, Ontario. She keeps her back and shoulders stretched and toned through exercise to manage the strains of so much handwork. Travelling with her husband of 25 years also brings rest and renewal~ they have a 10 day trip to the Southwest US this spring.
What's next for Eve's Little Earthlings? 
Patterns and online tutorials are in the offing for this new year~ a great way for Eve to share the skills she has developed and her passion for toymaking with others.

Eve's Little Earthlings is offering to giveaway 
to the winner of this week's contest.
The giveaway is open to entrants worldwide.
1) You must visit Eve's Little Earthlings and come back here to COMMENT on THIS post with your favourite item in the shop.
And for a second entry (optional):
2) Follow Beneath the Rowan Tree on FACEBOOK and/or HERE on the blog (Google connect widget on upper left hand column) and comment on this post indicating where you follow BTRT.

The winner will be chosen randomly from all eligible comments on 
Wednesday, January 21 after 10 pm EST.

Sunday, 11 January 2015
 Embrace winter in all of its beauty and challenges! These handmade, natural items will help you celebrate snowy days, long evenings and the beauty of warmth.

Today's Waldorf inspired finds are gathered up from some of the talented artisans who gather as part of the Waldorf Tag Sale & Waldorf Life groups on Facebook. I put out the call and these lovely items were offered up for playing on wintery days!

{{Be sure to come back to the blog on Thursday this week for a great natural toy giveaway!}}
1.  Cozy Winter Campfire, by Fire & Mice.
2. Wooden Stand for Nature Table, by Crafty Works Cornwall
3. Wool coat, granny hat & scarf, by Reggie's Dolls.
4. Ice Skaters and Sled, by The Magic Fairy Lady.
5. Silk & Organic Flannel Blanket, by The  Gypsy Forest.
6. Floppy Lovey Doll, by Willow Bubs.
7. Waldorf Doll Sleep Sack, by Tansy Dolls.

To the best of my knowledge, each of these toys has been crafted from natural materials by the artisan. You won't find any plastic, eco- or poly-felt (which are acrylic) or harmful finishes. Making these treasures safe for the kids, warm in their hands and biodegradable when their work is done.

Be sure to visit these shops  AND to check out our years of Waldorf features here on the BTRT blog  (see the list of labels on the right hand side column) to connect with talented and conscientious artisans of wonder-full things!
Enjoy ♥♥
Saturday, 10 January 2015
One of the real joys of blogging at Beneath the Rowan Tree is sharing the amazing, creative work of other working artisans making natural, handmade items for children and families.

This month we are launching a new sponsorship program to bring readers and artisans together {interested? drop us a line!}.  I hope that you will enjoy meeting, perhaps for the first time, the artisans that are lined up for January & February.  And each of them has generously offered to give away a great prize to BTRT readers (yay!).

We welcome the following creative folks to BTRT:
{note: these are not the giveaway items, just samples of the artisan's work}

Eve at Eve's Little Earthlings home of engaging handmade creatures made from repurposed wool sweaters, and stuffed with wool for imaginative play.

(giveaway begins January 15)

Deborah at Carys Organics offering beautiful beeswax candles and ornaments, along with artisan teas, bath teas and more from her mountain home.
(giveaway begins January 22)
Joyce at Hillcountry Dollmaker makes gorgeous, high quality Waldorf inspired dolls and animals.  Her doll accessories are amazing, and everything she makes features natural materials, often hand dyed.  
(giveaway begins January 29)

Tania at Fairyshadow has the sweetest little pocket dolls and other Waldorf inspired dollies handmade with upcycled natural fibers and stuffed with natural wool. You are going to want one in every colour... and with wings! 
(giveaway begins February 5)
I'm pretty excited!

Be sure to check back all month long~ follow the blog, and if you really want to be in the loop, hop on over to our Facebook page for the latest news! ♥♥

In the interest of full disclosure~ each artisan applied for a spot on the roster and was chosen for their wonderful work and positive feedback history. Each paid a fee which covers: ad design, feature article writing/ editing, giveaway setup and administration and promotion on social media. They have not paid for a review (positive or otherwise).  As ever, BTRT does not request or require freebies for review, and all giveaway items will be sent to winners directly from the shop offering the prize. If you are interested in being featured in the upcoming months, please send an email along. ♥
We are *two* sales away from reaching 9000 sales at Beneath the Rowan Tree.
We *did* reach 1 million hits on the blog over the holidays.
And this May we will be celebrating 8 years in business.

I'm pretty stoked (and I love round numbers).
Combine these stats with a new year, and I am finding myself thinking about "what's next" ~ how will I continue to challenge myself, creatively and as a business owner?

While I am no longer working in ministry, I am finding my daughter's homeschool and special needs more time (and energy) consuming than I expected~ which means finding ways to continue to working at BTRT while honouring this time and place in our family life. For the first time, I am scheduling our schoolwork like any other commitment, to ensure that we are placing a priority on learning as Rowan enters into 5th grade work in the next few months.

My mantra from day one with BTRT has been to "only do what I love".
And right now, while I love dyeing silk, I am challenged by its rising costs, particularly as they affect us as Canadians.  At the moment, silk costs 3x what it did when I started in 1997 and I am paying at least 30% more for every piece of silk than my (growing in number) American counterparts (taxes, shipping, duties, brokerage)~ and my prices have neither tripled, nor do they reflect my considerably higher costs! So I need to either find a more cost effective way to source silk and/or find ways to apply my experience and skills to silk in new ways.  I am working on both.

I am also working towards the creation of a studio space in our home ~ for my work and for teaching fiber arts for adults and kids in our local area. So... there are a few irons in the fire, along with hopes of adding more hand painted silk, hand dyed yarn and custom Waldorf-inspired crowns to the shop lineup!

At the moment, I am taking the new year as a challenge to continue to develop my skills as a dyer.  I have been playing with snow dyeing (love it on cotton, not so hot about results on silk) and delving into the rich world of shibori (the Japanese art of dyeing with resists).

I will be offering a selection of these one of a kind silks on a regular basis in the shop.  Created on a variety of higher end silks and cottons, these scarves will be for the grownups who like to sneak and wear their kid's playsilks, or who are looking for something natural and beautiful to wear.
{There are a few cotton jersey infinity scarves and chiffon silk scarves in stock at BTRT}}
That's a little of what is rumbling around in my brain as we enter into this new year.
Thanks for taking the time to read (I think best when I can say it/ write it out loud!) and for all of your support over the years!  It has been a joyful journey with so many great companions on the way~ here's to another year! ♥♥

{Please share your goals and ideas in the comment, if you like! I'd love to know what is going on in your head!}
Monday, 5 January 2015
A fun, easy project with so many perks... 
make your own Christmas Eve pillowcases for the whole family!
We celebrate Christmas each year with my family by gathering together at someone else's house.
Really, it is ideal!  Every year we rent a place with room enough for everyone and lots of outdoor activity potential (depending on snow!). Sharing the costs makes it very affordable, and it makes it a real holiday for each of us~ no one has to clean their house or do all the cooking or hosting. And as we are spread throughout Ontario, we choose a central location.
This year we changed it up and went to a gorgeous log cabin in the woods. I use 'cabin' loosely, it was a beautiful A-frame home in the country, set in a stand of silver and yellow birches. There was plenty of room for the ten of us that came together (Rowan is the only child) and many happy hours were spent in the kitchen, playing crokinole and ping pong, reading and catching up.  The owners even left us a little Christmas tree which we decorated with bits and pieces each of us brought along.
It was the first Christmas in 20 years (at least) that I did not have a Christmas Eve service to lead, which was both disconcerting and a welcome change.  For our little family of three, this is the one holiday we can count on in the year and we make the most of the time away and together.

But I am supposed to be talking about pillowcases!
Every year, Rowan and I make gifts for the family.
This year we made everyone a pillowcase to open and use on Christmas Eve (and hopefully in the years to come!).
I introduced Rowan to the sweet joy that is fabric shopping (woot!) and we had fun mixing and matching our choices to suit the personalities of our family.  As if that wasn't bonus enough, Rowan, at 9, was able to operate the sewing machine independently by the time we made it through 10 pillowcases. She learned a lot about the machine, seaming and she even steam pressed all of her work. {And she is chomping at the bit to do more sewing! woot! woot!}.
We used several tutorials we dug up on Pinterest ~ I highly recommend the 'burrito' method of stacking and turning your cuffs and edgings! {Bad blogger that I am, I deleted my pins when the project was done so you'll have to do your own search on this one!}
Everyone was delighted with their Christmas Eve gift, and no one more so than Rowan who felt the deep satisfaction of making and giving her handwork to others.

I'm going to chalk this one up in 'win' column ~ not for all the sweet sugarplum dreams we may have promoted, but for the benefits of sharing time and effort with my daughter, watching her grow in skill and independence, and experiencing the real joy of Christmas to be found in the giving.

What family traditions have you started? Please share in the comments, I'd love to know! ♥♥

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