The Incredible Work of Salley Mavor

I have followed Salley Mavor’s work for a very long time. I think the first time I saw it was in Fiberarts Magazine’s annual book. I was blown away by her tiny people/dolls and all the amazing details that I could see. Happily, she has a show at The Upcountry History Museum in Greenville and I was finally able to see her work up close and personal! I’m not sure where to start with all the pictures that I took…

The show was called A Pocketfull of Posies, the title of a book that she wrote and illustrated. Thus the tags by her work were about the Nursery Rhymes and not how she did what she did and it was billed as a children’s exhibit… Let’s start with two very familiar Nursery Rhymes, Old Mother Hubbard and Hickory Dickory Dock. Her dolls are all about 4″ tall! Look at all the wonderful details from Mother’s cutwork apron to the wooden pieces for the furniture. Salley has written several books about how to recreate her work and I read that the heads are wooden beads and the armature is usually pipe cleaners!

Valley Mavor Old Mother Hubbard

All the arms and legs are wrapped and the figures have shoes. I should have brought my reading glasses to see even closer, but it looked like the dolls even have finger nails!!! I believe this part of the piece is Daffy-Down- Dilly. I took this close-up so you could see the embellishments that she used. I found myself examining the leaves in all Salley’s work. The stitch is button-hole and she usually has several layers of color.

Salley Mavor Daffy-Down-Dilly

What a charming sense of humor! Do you see the Old Woman’s house? (Perhaps it’s not such a joke since Salley is a New Englander after all.)

Valley Mavor Old Mother Hubbard

The sheep lover in me was entranced by the next two photographs. Here is Baa Baa Black Sheep and you can really see the lovely felt she used. In perusing her website, I discovered that she did purchase hand-dyed (and perhaps hand felted) felt. The colors were soft and uneven, adding more depth to the work.

Salley MavorBaa Baa Black Sheep

And here is Little Bo Peep. This piece was interesting in that the girl has a felt face, rather than a bead. Notice her apron…

Salley Mavor Little Bo Peep

What exquisite chain stitching; so tiny and so precise. I wondered what this was doing in the show, but then realized that it was for the frontispiece of the book. (Or perhaps not called the frontispiece but the pages when you open the book?) Her work is framed in lovely shadowbox frames made by her husband. I tried to get out of the way when I was photographing.

Salley Mavor frontispiece

I believe that this show is done traveling, but if you look at Salley’s website, there are other shows to look for. Salley’s website and blog have a wealth of information, should you be interested. She has many videos which I am looking froward to watching, as I think I must make a doll! In the latest blog post, Salley announced that she is selling these pieces! I would love to have one…

Crocheting Granny Squares

I am not ashamed to admit it; I love Granny Squares, but they give crocheting a bad rap, I’m told.

When I took the crochet class a year ago, I thought I knew how to crochet and had just forgotten. As I worked along, having so much trouble managing the yarn and making stitches, I realized that I didn’t! Many, many years ago both my mother and her mother began crocheting granny square afghans for a nursing home that had just opened. Mom went to our wonderful 5 & 10 cents store in town and bought every color of Red Heart polyester wool they had. She would pick and choose what color to use in each row; some were pretty; others not so much, but when the whole afghan was crocheted together, it was wonderful. I wanted to know how to do everything she did, so soon I was playing with the colors myself. And now I realize that Mom taught me how to make a granny square, not how to crochet.

When I mentioned in the crochet class that I wanted to make granny squares, my teacher proceeded to bring out samples and patterns for other projects I might do. She did divert me with the potato chip scarf, but I was determined to make granny squares. I had another private lesson with her last week and discovered that she really dislikes granny squares, so now I know why she keeps trying to lead me in another direction! I get it; they can be crude looking, but I love them. Here’s my thinking:

Granny Squares = crochet     as    Grandmother’s Flower Garden = quilting

Granny squares are an easy take along project that can be lovely and sublime or dreadfully garish. I have a (subdued) selection of wools that I know I will enjoy playing with. It’s a wonderful color plan; all these soft heathers with a dark purple to lace them together. Making granny squares with my mother was probably my first exposure to playing with color!

Granny squares yarn

If you’ve looked at patterns for them, Granny Squares run the gamut from the basic square to designs with really cool 3D flower middles. My plan for this afghan is to make a bunch of the basic squares and then sprinkle in the fancy ones. I am using this book to give me ideas.

The Granny Squares Book

I have been working away and in this week’s private lesson, I will learn how to make some flowery middles!

First Granny Square

Nancy Drew, who knew?

Peter and I took a road trip last Fall to the Champagne-Urbana area of Illinois. We were in a hurry to get there, but on the way home, took a meandering a less traveled route. We came across some interesting small towns. Danville, Illinois, where we ate breakfast, has banners hanging from the street lamps naming the famous people who had lived there. Dick Van Dyke and his brother were two. Another one was one of the ghost writers for the Nancy Drew series!

As we drove along, I filled him in about Nancy Drew and all her friends, who were all favorites of mine. Since I had an older brother and sister, there were lots of books around the house and I can’t remember what I age I might have been when Mom suggested I start reading Nancy. We had the old ones; it turns out in the 1970’s, I think, someone thought the books and Nancy should be updated and there has been a lot of criticism about the re-do. I loved reading about Nancy’s “frocks” and her “roadster” and her “plump” friend Bess. I think it’s too bad to update an old book…

Nancy is related to The Hardy Boys series, which my brother read so I did as well. The boys were first published in 1927 and were so popular that Edward Statemeyer, publisher, thought that girls ought to have a positive role model as well. Nancy Drew debuted in 1930 and interestingly enough, Mr. Statemeyer thought that Nancy, as written by the first ghost writer, was way too precocious and audacious for a young lady! The books were selling so well that no changes were made. I found a book and read a bit – I had forgotten what a know-it-all she was…. at such a young age…. ;- D But I adored reading her books, which were often delightfully scary.

When I looked up Nancy and her publishing history, I found references to other books that I enjoyed, such as The Happy Hollisters and Trixie Beldon. Another series popped into my head, Cherry Ames, Student Nurse ! She was published by another firm. Cherry was a later book (1943) but certainly in the “inspire young girls” vein.


All the links will tell you more interesting tidbits about these great series. Books starring Nancy are still being written, though I believe they have an updated title, something more appealing to today’s girls.

If you are in my age bracket, I hope you enjoyed this walk down memory lane. What I’d like to know is what young adult series were you hooked on?

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Here is my February Great Read, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

I came across this book in the library when I was searching for something else. The cover looked interesting. The book was highly recommended by the author of Eat,Pray,Love, which I haven’t read but mean to. Since I wasn’t sure the books I had chosen would hit the spot, I took this one out as well and I really, really enjoyed it!

The book is written by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows. It is a series of letters written between the main character (and what a character she is!) Juliet and a series of friends, relatives and new friends that she makes. It’s set in 1946 London and Guernsey and deals with how both places are recovering in the aftermath of the war. I really know so little about the war in Europe and even less so about the Channel Islands and I quite enjoyed learning, for instance, that Guernsey is so close to France that they could see the Germans invading there…yowie… and knew that they would be next! Both Juliet and her new friends from Guernsey remember the war years in quite different ways. Juliet talks about the horrors of the nightly bombings. The Channel Islanders were occupied by Germany and watched as the bombers flew to London each night.

I enjoyed the book so much that when I was getting close to the end of it, I saved it until I had time to savor the ending. I was interested to note on the Amazon site, that people who liked this book also liked The Help, which I talked about in a December posting.

There is one very sad thing about the book; there will be no more from Mary Ann Shaffer. Evidently after she completed the book she became ill. Her niece, Annie Barrows worked on it before it was published and her aunt is now dead.

I read someone else’s review and they said they’d like to book a trip to Guernsey and I must admit I feel that way too! Has anyone else read it?