March 17, 2014

Tillie's Frocks and Fashions at Teatime!

Winter Teatime Conversations!
Tillie Tinkham, the seamstress mouse at Corgyncombe, is ironing the pinafore that she made for Hitty, after finishing the hem.

At "Tillie Tinkham's Frocks and Fashions"
with Millinery and Tea Room at 863 Park Avenue,
Hitty tries on the pinny.
Tillie, balancing on her rose tuffet, asks Hitty "Would you like some tea?"
Hitty says she would love some!

Whilst having tea, Tillie asks Hitty if she had heard that the Corgyncombe Groundhog had been seen on March 11th sunning herself on a log and moving about in quite an active fashion. Prior to that, she had only been seen on February 22nd when she came out in the sunshine, saw her shadow and acted very stunned by the bright light! Since March 11th, she hasn't been seen at all and it isn't surprising with very cold weather!

Tillie asks Hitty if she would like another cup of tea.
Hitty pours herself another cup and Tillie speaks of the long, hard, cold and blustery winter. She thinks that winter is probably not o'er yet! Tillie remembers hearing, from her cousins on the Tinkham side,  about the Linn tractor snowplow roaring through The Hollow with Diane's Grandfather Shepard on board!

Diane's Grandfather Shepard was a Tinkham descendant himself.
The Tinkhams came from Rhode Island to settle in The Hollow.

The winter of 1939 in The Hollow.

Tillie says, "Alas, spring can be a long time coming at Corgyncombe, and even when you think it has arrived, you might be surprised by a snowstorm in May!

In other happenings at "Tillie Tinkham's Frocks and Fashions"
with Millinery and Tea Room at 863 Park Avenue,
Tillie is making a green vest for Sweet Hitty Sue.
Sweet Hitty Sue tries the vest on so that Tillie can see if any adjustments need to be made.
What a perfect colour for St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all our Dear Readers!

My (Diane's) own great great grandmother Bridget Mulhall emigrated from Ireland in the mid-1800s.
Tonight at supper we will have some Corgyncombe potatoes and give thought to Bridget and our Irish ancestors.

Tillie Tinkham's Sewing Circle Emblem!
copyright © 2014 Diane Shepard Johnson and Sarah E. Johnson

February 26, 2014

Tillie Tinkham's Sewing Circle with Sewing Bird!

A New Pinny for Hitty!
Hitty tries on Tillie Tinkham's latest creation so that Tillie can pin the hem. Tillie has made Hitty a pinafore using a Gail Wilson pattern. Hitty was carved by Judy Brown, also a wonderful seamstress who made her lovely brown frock.

Fit for a Lively Sewing Mouse and Sewing Bird.

 The book "Hitty, Her First Hundred Years" written by Rachel Field and illustrated by Dorothy P. Lathrop. The story follows the wooden doll Hitty's many exciting adventures throughout the years.

On the walls in "Tillie Tinkham's Frocks and Fashions" shoppe with Millinery and Tea Room at 863 Park Avenue are blue and silver scenes that are like diamond shaped windows looking out to fashionable folk walking about on cobbled streets. In one of the windows is a lady wearing a bonnet who reminds us of Hitty on the cover of the book "Hitty, Her First Hundred Years".

In her shoppe at 863 Park Avenue, Tillie steps back to see how the hem looks after pinning.

 "The Mary Frances Sewing Book, or Adventures Among the Thimble People" published in 1913, written by Jane Eayre Fryer and illustrated by Jane Allen Boyer.

In the book Sewing Bird tells the little girl Mary Frances about the sewing lessons and all the things that she can make for her doll:

"Why, certainly, dear little Miss,
You can learn to make all this:
A pin-a-fore, some under-clothes,
A little 'kerchief for her nose;
Kimono, bloomers, little cap,
a nightie for her little nap;
A dress for morn, for afternoon,
A dress for parties, not too soon;
A little cape, a little bonnet --
perhaps with roses fastened on it; --
A nice warm coat to keep from chill,
A dainty sack, in case she's ill:
All this and more we'll gladly teach,
If you will do and follow each--
will you?"

The book has patterns for all these things
for a bigger doll than Hitty.

863 Park Avenue, the smaller apartment dollhouse that we found after reading about it on Susan Branch's blog. The dollhouse, with its two large opening doors, reminds us of Beatrix Potter's doll's house at Hill Top.

A lovely sewing bird holds Tillie's pins.
Sewing birds were used for hand sewing.

In "The Mary Frances Sewing Book" sewing bird's beak held your work whilst hemming and sewing. Mary Frances' Grandmother says about sewing bird: "The first time she ever helped me was with my wedding dress. Yes, I love her, too, dear." Working with the sewing bird allowed you to sit up straighter whilst sewing.

I have fond remembrances of visiting a favorite elderly relative. My great grandmum's cousin Lena (who was more the age of my Grandmum) excelled at domestic skills such as pickling, breadmaking, sewing, and many others. She always won prizes for her domestic abilities at the county fair. My family used to visit them often and I would usually take a doll with me. One time she surprised me with a handmade dolly wardrobe in an old basket.

Lena had a sewing bird. I remember her sewing bird clamped on a table near her sewing machine. She was a professional seamstress and had her sewing shop in her house. Her sewing machine was in her bright cheerful yellow kitchen near an old fashioned bay window. In the window she had all kinds of plants and a canary that sang.

In "The Mary Frances Sewing Book" there is also a canary who lives in the sewing room.

Lena also quilted and made hooked and braided rugs and always had many projects ongoing.

The Sewing Bird in
"The Mary Frances Sewing Book" sings:
"I love to sit
And sing and sing --
But lesson time
Is on the wing:
Miss Never-Try
Never can-do;
Miss Never-Begin
Never gets thru."

Elizabeth, who works with Tillie Tinkham the seamstress mouse at Corgyncombe, especially likes Tasha Tudor's Mouse Mills' motto:
"Good, Better, Best, Never rest,
'Til Good be Better, And Better, Best."

Tillie Tinkham helps Elizabeth turn the wheel to make the sewing machine sew.

The photograph above was featured in our calendar "The Days Until Christmas: Amelia's Favorite Things" on our web site "Our Favorite Things" in 2008 and on our blog the Corgyncombe Courant in 2011.

My Grandmum's treadle sewing machine.

The Sewing Bird holds a tiny woven heart that Sarah made. The little heart can be used as a pocket purse to carry things, perhaps buttons or little notes!

In "Drawn from New England" written by Bethany Tudor, she speaks of how her mother Tasha Tudor made woven hearts at Christmas.

A Hitty friend gifted our "Pumpkin House" Hittys with a sewing basket of tiny buttons, hooks and eyes, scissors, and spools of thread.

Looking out one of the "windows" in Tillie's shoppe at 863 Park Avenue.

A view from the mirror of the back of Hitty's pinafore.

Whilst Sewing Bird and one of the Tweet Sweet Birdies hold the pinafore Tillie makes tiny stitches to hem the pinafore. Tillie is daintily perched atop the rose tuffet to reach her work.

The Sewing Bird in
"The Mary Frances Sewing Book".

A certificate in our old "Mary Frances Sewing Book" showing the emblem of "The Mary Frances Sewing Circle".

Tillie Tinkham's Sewing Circle
copyright © 2014 Diane Shepard Johnson and Sarah E. Johnson

February 11, 2014

Valentine's Day Sweetness!

Jerusha and Myrtle Mae Made by Martha Bishop!
Jerusha holding little Myrtle Mae
Lovely Jerusha, an Izannah Walker inspired doll, made by talented artist Martha Bishop, recently came to join the dolls at Corgyncombe! After she came, Jerusha told us about her sweet little sister back at Martha's, named Myrtle Mae. Straight away, we sent for little Myrtle Mae. They are thrilled to be together again and all the other dolls just love them!

Martha made all their beautiful clothes and Jerusha's delightful shoes! When I saw Jerusha's pretty red frock, I thought of Valentine's Day. In the photograph above they are each holding a Valentine.

Myrtle Mae holds the Valentine she received from Jerusha. It says "To One I Love". Little Myrtle Mae picked out a Valentine with a basket of flowers on it for Jerusha. Jerusha and Myrtle Mae were so happy to sit to have their portraits taken with their Valentines by the Christmas tree. We still have our Christmas tree up, it's so festive and still holding its needles why take it down!

Happy Valentine's Day
to our Dear Readers!

Here is a link to:

Martha Bishop is also a talented painter. She sent us a card of a delightful Noah's Ark painting she did.
Here is a link to:
copyright © 2014 Diane Shepard Johnson and Sarah E. Johnson

January 14, 2014

Hitty Celebrates Christmas at Pumpkin House!

Christmas in the Parlour!
 Nanny Nettie-Kin sits by the parlour fire in "Pumpkin House" with little St. Nicholas on her lap.

We wanted to wait until Christmas to show the parlour because we were acquiring some wonderful upholstered chairs from Gail Wilson. We also got several Hitty kits from Gail Wilson for making a bonnet, a rug, and a little doll with a bed and chair.

"Little Dear One" is just thrilled to have friends to share "Pumpkin House" with! Sweet Hitty Sue stands by the warm fire while "Little Dear One" sits snugly in the chair, holding little Hitty.

Everyone sang Christmas Carols and Nanny Nettie-Kin recited "'Twas The Night Before Christmas". What fun they all had!

The delightful Hittys and other carved wooden dolls were made by talented Judy Brown.

Ima, a friend of Hitty, stands admiring the Christmas tree with her little baby sister Lilibet on the rocking horse.
The sweet little rocking horse and the tea cupboard were made by Roy Bubbenmoyer.

The front door of "Pumpkin House",
an old New England House.
"Pumpkin House" is the large golden dollhouse that Susan Branch featured on her blog after she saw it at an antique shop.

With a fire in the fireplace on Christmas Eve, Nanny Nettie-Kin has made "Pumpkin House" so cozy!

The parlour of "Pumpkin House" before cleaning the dusty floors and before adding those little touches of home.

In "It's a Wonderful Life", Mary (Hatch) Bailey wanted the run down old Granville house. She knew she could make it into a cozy home for her family!

Under all the dust we found a marble hearth in front of the fireplace.
The floors look so shiny and nice after cleaning!

The newel post is decorated with greenery.

Tillie Tinkham, the seamstress mouse for the dolls at Corgyncombe, working on a warm flannel frock for one of the Hittys who is sitting in an old sewing bag. The old sewing bag has inside pockets going round for keeping spools of thread, thimble, and other sewing necessaries. The old spools of lustrous silken thread gleam softly in the old lamp light.

863 Park Avenue, the smaller apartment dollhouse that we found after reading about it on Susan Branch's blog. The dollhouse, with its two large opening doors, reminds us of Beatrix Potter's doll's house at Hill Top.

Tillie Tinkham has a shop "Tillie Tinkham's Frocks and Fashions" and Tea Room at 863 Park Avenue.
Ima is visiting Tillie at teatime with her baby sister Lilibet.
Tillie is clapping her mouse paws in delight to see the little baby!
Lilibet was named after Queen Elizabeth II.

Christmas cards that I am still working on!

Sweet Hitty Sue is our first Hitty. She came to Corgyncombe before Easter last year. Hitty Sue reminds us of the picture Susan Branch has on her blog of herself as a little girl when she was Brownie.

Sweet Hitty Sue loves to write! Here she sits at her desk using a quill from Phidelia Finch to write with. Phidelia Finch is the Postmistress of Finch Post at Corgyncombe. We were inspired by Tasha Tudor's Sparrow Post to have our own post for the dolls.

Trilly Tweet Sweet flies and delivers for Finch Post.

Hitty is settling in to read to little Hitty, "Hitty, Her First Hundred Years" written by Rachel Field. The book "Hitty" was inspired by an old wooden doll found in an antique shop. The doll was named Mehitabel, "Hitty" for short and the book is about her many adventures. In the book "Hitty" by Rachel Field, Hitty is carved one winter by an old peddler in the old Preble House in Maine.

Nanny Nettie-Kin

Lilibet loves her rocking horse!

When I was six and at home sick in bed with the flu I called my Daddy at work and told him how bad I felt. He asked if there was anything he could bring me and I said "Yes". At Newberry's store there was a toy section and I remembered a little red dress that I wanted for one of my dolls. I tried to describe it to him as best I could, alas the dress was no longer there, but he brought me home a little round suitcase to put my doll clothes in. I still have that little round suitcase!

When I received this Hitty at Christmas time I opened the box and gasped "It's the red dress"! I was six years old again! What a delightful surprise it was to see Hitty in the red dress!!!

This is the suitcase that my Daddy brought me home when I had the flu. It is packed to the brim with some of my doll clothes (and yes, it can shut!).
Perhaps I should pack it with Hitty clothes and go on a Hitty adventure...
copyright © 2014 Diane Shepard Johnson and Sarah E. Johnson

December 24, 2013

Warm on a Snowy, Cold Christmas Eve!

"All Through the Night"

Emma kneels down on her knees to tuck her doll "Little Dear One" in snugly under her cozy wool cover. 'Tis cold outside and the snow is softly falling o'er the ground. Emma wears an antique flannel nightgown. Flannel is so cozy and warm! Emma was made by talented dollmaker Margaret Flavin.

Dolls are so special at Christmastide!

"All Through the Night" by Rachel Field
A sweet little story about Mary and Joseph only finding room to spend the night in a stable. When the Baby Jesus is born all the animals sense how special the Child is and the dog in particular spends all night guarding the little family. When Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus leave the stable in the morn the dog watches them leave and then runs to catch up with them to be a part of this family, too.

Silent Night at Corgyncombe

We at the Corgyncombe Courant
wish all of our Dear Readers a 
Merry and Blessed Christmas!

Be sure not to miss our previous post:
copyright © 2013 Diane Shepard Johnson and Sarah E. Johnson