Fern · Waldorf Dolls

Baby Swaby


Dear Beetle,

I’m so glad that you, your family, and your craft supplies made it all the way to Spokane, safe and sound. Durham is feeling that much emptier though, and I’m burying my loneliness in doll making and yarn hoarding. I’m working on some variations of the Winterberry Doll pattern, both for the shop and for my just-turned-one-year-old baby boy. Do you remember the prototype – my middle boy’s beloved Baby Swaby? He fell in love with that doll as soon as he saw me sewing it up, and when he asked, his voice full of wonder, “Is that for me?” I couldn’t possibly say otherwise. While my son gained a buddy, I unexpectedly gained the opportunity to watch one of my dolls grow into something so much more than the cloth and wool I sewed up.

Baby Swaby has been swung by his arms, bumped up and down the stairs, squeezed into backpacks, twirled in the air. He’s been in forts and tree houses and tea parties. Nightly snuggles have softened his belly, and running up and down the hallway has stretched his arms a bit. But you’ll be happy to hear that all his seams are strong and sturdy.


This past weekend, we decided to give him his first bath. I always include instructions to gently hand wash my Waldorf-style dolls with a good quality wool wash. But surrendering a beloved handmade doll to a full soak always comes with some trepidation, and I was careful to be extra, extra gentle with this guy. We filled up our sink with lukewarm water and added a few teaspoons of Eucalan. After diving right in, Baby Swaby got a soft facial scrub with a baby toothbrush and a very gentle belly rub to brighten up his bunting.

Then I very gently squeezed out some excess water, rolled him in a towel, and squeezed a tiny bit more. He stayed out in the sun for the rest of the day, which freshened him up some more and helped with any residual stains. Since my boy was unwilling to wait for overnight drying, Baby Swaby then went on a drying rack in the dryer on the “ultra-low” setting. After two cycles, we crossed our fingers and opened it up. Thankfully, he was clean, dry, and ready for snuggles, with no signs of felting or shrinkage! Phew!

Meanwhile, your lunch bag is amazing! I love that linen! And I do remember that trip to the quilt store. I remember that you had to explain to them the definition of a “shot cotton”. It was actually on that same trip that I bought the alpaca yarn used to knit Baby Swaby’s hat. The guy who sold it to me kept following us around the fiber festival, if I recall. We never did manage to visit his alpaca farm…

And yes, I too have Autumn knits swirling around in my head. Hopefully I’ll have some finished objects to share with you soon.

Your Sister-in-Craft,



Fern · Waldorf Dolls

Cloudberry Babies

Dear Beetle,

Ever since those early days of planning our Beetle and Fern Etsy shop, I’ve wanted to make some cuddly, velour Waldorf dolls. I’ve made several in the past, but none of them were quite right. They were too big or too firm, oddly shaped or oddly proportioned. I wanted a doll that was the perfect size for the littlest ones to cuddle while still being a sweet elfin friend for an older child. After a few false starts and a still-not-quite-right prototype, Cloudberry Babies were born and I am thoroughly in love with these dolls!

Their chubby middles are stuffed with the perfect amount of wool for snuggling and their plump hands are free to dangle about on delightfully floppy arms. Can’t you imagine a sweet little toddler holding those hands? Of course, I added a jaunty gnome hat and simple embroidered features to nurture those growing imaginations.

It’s quite possible that I’m giving myself some sort of carpal tunnel syndrome hand-sewing these little guys, but I’m hooked. In fact, I never managed to change out of my pajamas today which is why this post is missing that dollmaker-in-action photo that I promised you. One of these days. I’ll probably make a few more little Cloudberries before moving on to that Waldorf baby doll that I started, oh I don’t know, two months ago.

Warmest wishes,

Your Craft-Twin, Fern