Friday, January 23, 2009

Poetry Friday: Dandelion, the golden summer queen

I've created three summer-themed nature table figures for my daughter's school auction. Here is the description I've submitted:

Chances are that as a child, you enjoyed blowing dandelion “clocks” and couldn’t understand why grownups looked askance as the multitudes of seeds parachuted over their lawns and gardens. Now, you can enjoy the beauty of dandelions without the drawbacks by way of your summer nature table. Lady Dandelion is created out of wool and cotton plus metal pipe-cleaners for the arms and staff. She is dressed in gold, green and white with embroidered details and stands 5 inches tall. Her flower staff is guaranteed not to go to seed.

This dandelion doll was inspired by a poem in the out-of-print poetry book The Winds that Come From Far Away, by Else Holmelund Minarik (the author of the Little Bear books). Not too long ago, I found the poem in my collection of clippings and scribblings from my New York Public Library days. Here is the poem:

I am the sun in sky of green
I am the golden summer queen.
I’m the friend to every child
Because I’m strong and bright and wild!

Grown-ups cut me when they mow—
forget they loved me long ago.
But when I’m gone, then don’t you sorrow.
I’ll be back again tomorrow!

Here is Lady Dandelion with her summer nature table companions, Lady Forget-Me-Not and Lady Fuchsia:

And now, I'm off to dig some spiky-leafed weeds out of my flower-beds.

P.S. I cannot recommend highly enough Mary Thomas's Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches. I've given you the Amazon link because it has the most information out of all the online bookstore links I've seen. I work with the book in my lap, as most of the techniques are new to me. As I mentioned in the comments, the basic stitches I used for these dolls were:

Blanket stitch-- for sewing felt pieces together with the raw sides out-- no seam allowance needed.

Chain stitch-- a simple loop stitch that allows one to make lines and curves easily.

French knot-- for dots. Sometimes my French knots don't get tucked in all the way, and I just anchor the knot with a few tiny regular "in and out" stitches

Daisy stitch-- these are the loops for flower petals. Once you learn the chain stitch, you'll have the "aha!" moment with the daisy stitch.

I used a wheatear stitch for the dandelion hem, and added green French knots to it. Wheatear is quite accessible, but I recommend that you be familiar with the chain stitch first.

This week's Poetry Friday Roundup is at Laura Salas: Writing the World For Kids.


jama said...

I love those dolls! Sweet poem. :)

Anonymous said...

I love the dolls, too. The embroidery details are wonderful--how long have you been embroidering?

Anonymous said...

(Part of the question above is me wondering exactly how much embroidering I'd have to do to be able to embroider like that myself, knowing full well it may be beyond my ability to embroider *quite* that well. I'd be happy with close. I am envisioning things like adding little details along the pockets of my jeans.)

Saints and Spinners said...

Jama: Thanks! I am glad you liked the poem.

Adrienne: My great-auntie had me do cross-stitch when I was a little girl, and I was abysmal at it. A few years ago, my mom recommended Mary Thomas's Book of Embroidery Stitches, and it's EXCELLENT. I work with it in my lap. This particular kind of embroidery I've been doing for 3-4 weeks. Some of the stitches in the book are beyond my skill level at this point in time, but you would be amazed by how simple some of these stitches are with just a smidgen of practice. As far as I'm concerned, all the basic stitches one really needs to learn are the blanket stitch (for sewing the felt raw side out, making buttonholes, etc.), the chain stitch (you can follow lines or curves easily with it) and the French knot. Then, add the daisy stitch for all of those petals,and that's really all you need. I recently discovered the wheat-ear stitch, which adorns the hem of the dandelion doll. It's shiny!

I originally had the embroidery book linked, but took it off. I'm amending the post to put it back in.

tanita✿davis said...

I am abysmal at cross-stitch as well, though I'm really good at free-handing. I'm bad at reading any instructions whatsoever, which is sad, sad, sad. Someday I'm going to crash on you in Portland and ply you with sweet words and spanakopita until you teach me how to make my own. (And also possibly ply you with those disgusting bacon maple doughnuts we have Adrienne on tape eating!!)

I am wishing I could come to your daughter's auction, because I'm SURE I NEED the fuchsia dolly, and the forget-me-not, but I'm also fairly certain I need dolls like I need a hole in my head.

Although - my nephew blew his first dandelion when I was home, and the utter bewilderment and enchantment on his face as it all came apart -- was hilarious. He's eighteen months old... I hope we never get so old we forget we love dandelions!

Elaine Magliaro said...


I've never read that poem before. Dandelions are definitely tenacious plants! One of my favorite adult poems is "Yellow Sonnet". It was written by Paul Zimmer. It's about a child collecting a bouquet of dandelions as a "love gift" for his mother. I first read it in Paul janeczko's THE PLACE MY WORDS ARE LOOKING FOR.

Have a great weekend!

Anonymous said...

Farida, You make it sound so easy. :)

TadMack, I know, it was shocking behavior. I lose my mind when I come across an entirely new food. My godson is such a picky eater, which I have such a hard time understanding because I cannot see a food I haven't eaten before without wanting to try it.

Saints and Spinners said...

Adrienne: I feel the same way about food (with the exception of items containing organ meat).

Elaine: Thanks so much for the book recommendation. I just requested it from the library. Just so you know, I wouldn't have posted this poem in its entirety had it not been in an out of print book and not anthologized anywhere else (to the best of my knowledge).

TadMack: Minh Le and I are cooking up a contest in which one of the prizes will be a dolly of your foliage choice. Of course you need flower dollies! Everyone needs flower dollies who wants them. :)

Christina said...

What a nice reminder of summer as we here in the Northeast head for another deep freeze. The nature table dolls are beautiful!

Nandini said...

What lovely dolls! I'm sure they'll have many bidders. The poem is pretty too, we love dandelions. I feel like rummaging around for yarn and felt and trying out those stitches.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I love Minarik. This poem is so charming, yet bittersweet--all those things we lose as we get older, including a simple appreciation of dandelions!

Lone Star Ma said...

What wonderful dolls! A beautiful poem also!

BlueMamma said...

Oh my goodness, these dolls are *adorable*!

BookChook said...

I wonder what different customs and associated myths there are in all the countries dandelions grow? I know here in Australia they are still called pee-the-beds, which I guess comes from the French pissenlit, and kids tease each other about the effect touching a dandelion will have. When I was a child, we would count how many puffs it took to blow away all the seeds and say we told the time that way.

Your Lady Dandelion is delightful.

Myth said...

A weed is just a flower in disguise :)

Wombat and I love Dandelions - they are one of my favourite things! We take great delight in spreading their seed at every opportunity - who wants a monoculture lawn??? We also chase Scotch Thistle 'santaclauses' lol...

I am Australian but had not heard them called pee-the-beds! We do use them to tell the time though.

Your dolls are exquisite - I really envy your access to quality felt! You have done a great job on the embroidery and as an experienced handstitcher, I concur - with chain stitch, blanket stitch, lazy daisy and french knots, you can do most anything. Another indispensible and very easy stitch is 'stem stitch'. Have you tried using buttonstitch in a wheel yet? makes a great hollyhock :)

Myth said...

oops - I meant blanket stitch(which is also used for hand-edging buttonholes...)

Saints and Spinners said...

Schelle: I do my buttonholes by hand (it turns out that I'm abysmal with them on the machine), but I've not yet done the wheel. It's on my list, and thanks for giving me the tip about the hollyhock. I recently tried a herringbone stitch, which looks easy enough in the diagram, but didn't turn out pretty when I attempted it. It may be time to start a sampler like little girls had to make in the olden days.

Book Chook: I've never heard of dandelions referred to as "pee-in-the-beds." I'll keep that information from my daughter as long as possible.:) In one of my favorite fantasy books of all time, The Hounds of the Morrigan, the dandelion is the symbol of Aengus, who is a demi-god in the story. The dandelion is a fertility symbol, for obvious reasons. I have a friend who makes dandelion wine. I've never tried it, but I know it takes a lot of sugar.

Thanks to everyone else for checking in and leaving comments. I'm way behind on responses and blog-reading, as you might well guess. If you have links to your blogs, I'll get to them, never fear.

Lady K said...

I LOVE the fuchia doll! One of my favorite frangrant flowers, but still not as pretty as a jonquil or orchid. AND, once again, you are a heroine to me. BIG hugs from here!

Jules at 7-Imp said...

They're beautiful.

Threadblossom said...

Your dolls are sweet! I love having flower dolls out on my table in the early spring. It helps me wait for spring to come outside! Thanks for visiting Buttercup Corner. I'll be checking in again. :)