Thursday, 28 November 2013

Modern Dolls Houses for Girls and Boys

This post has been in my head for almost a year but with one thing and another it just didn't happen. But now in the run-up to Christmas it seems like a great time to talk about dolls houses. I'm sure Santa will have been asked for one or two already!

I loved my dolls house when I was little; I 'wallpapered' the inside with football stickers but I played with it for years. And now with my job as a modelmaker, I get to build little houses all the time! Maybe because of this, and maybe because I cannot stand all the expensive, very pink dolls houses that seem to be everywhere, I started to think slightly differently when choosing one for our son Wiss.

There are some truly amazing ones on Pinterest (of course!) My board This is Dolls House Heaven has lots of inspiration to get started with. I really like the ones that have been made out of other things - boxes piled up together to make tower blocks, or houses in bookcases or sideboards. And I love that they are not gendered - a house is a house, and can be enjoyed by both boys and girls. Simple.

I bought a Componibili storage unit when we bought our first home. I persuaded my husband that the expensive price tag was worth it because it's a 'design classic'. Stylish and retro yet modern - I soon came to find out that it is actually completely useless too! It is impossible to put anything at the back of the compartments as you can't get to them from the front. Aargh! But it looks so damn cool though.

It found it's way into Wiss's room when we moved house and he started to play with it. Genius! It makes a brilliant 3 storey dolls house with a roof garden too. I printed out images of flooring I found on the internet - tiles, carpet and parquet - and some grass and water to make the garden. I glued them on to card and then stuck them place to make the kitchen, lounge and bedroom/bathroom. We already had lots of Happyland people, and I bought the wooden furniture on eBay.

I love the way that Wiss involves lots of different toys when he plays; we often have the Brio train taking people from their dolls house to work and back, and even Lightening McQueen has popped in for a cup of tea and some cake. You can see some tiny figures that have made themselves comfortable on the roof terrace - scale is not important round here!


If you want even more inspiration then why not ask an architect to design one for you? I'm not sure that all the houses would be popular with kids but there's definitely some interesting ideas in this article from the Guardian.

As always, I'd love to see what you (or even your kids) have made. Where do the dolls in your life live? You can leave me a comment below or tweet me your pictures @thisiswiss.

Thanks for reading! Angela

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

I Found My Knitting Mojo Again!

A couple of weekends ago I had the treat to spend a few hours in the West End, alone. Well, obviously there were other people around (although it was so early on Saturday morning that it wasn't that busy.) But importantly there was no little person to dictate how long I was able to shop or linger. Heaven!

I was actually buying supplies for This is Wiss production, but I slipped in a little shoe shopping too, as you do. Anyway, when I was in John Lewis haberdashery department I saw this yarn and I knew I had to buy it. I haven't knitted anything for over a year, and to be honest my 'To Do' list is busy enough without adding new projects but I just loved the grey and the neon pops, so I bought it.
Wiss and I had a trip to visit my oldest school friend in Paris this weekend so actually I was able to find lots of time for knitting - on the Eurostar, on the train, in the evenings when the kids were in bed, even just over coffee! It seems that knitting is considered pretty unusual in France and we attracted some funny looks but I managed to finish a scarf for Wiss in two days.

This wool is super-chunky so I only had to cast on 14 stitches. I wanted to make some little 'pockets' at the end of the scarf to keep Wiss's hands warm when he doesn't have his mittens on. Which is most of the time! The pockets are a 2 stitch rib for 16 rows, then simply garter stitch for as much as possible, before repeating the ribbing for the other pocket. This is not a real pattern, I completely winged it, and ideally I'd like it to be a bit longer, but I only bought 2 balls of yarn. Perhaps it would work better as a wrap over scarf rather than being tied?

Wiss has agreed to wear it (bonus) and I found a hat from Hennes with neon piping on it too. So winter, we are ready for you!

I'm itching to get something else on my needles now - I'd forgotten what a great activity it is for when you're on the move, or how perfect it is for cosying up on the sofa. But what to knit??? Any ideas gratefully received!