Knitted Pirates, Princesses, Witches, Wizards and Fairies

Knitted Pirates, Princesses, Witches, Wizards and Fairies is a book of 45cm (18in) dolls which took me about 3 years to design. The dolls, the first being Elizabeth Witch, were a delight to knit and I was pleased to have Search Press UK agree to publish the book (2009). The title was chosen by Search Press to suit their needs. It becomes awkward to fit into small menu tabs, but with abbreviations it works ok.

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Let me introduce you to one of the characters which I am sure you will love as much as I do.

Elizabeth – Witch
To be a witch is not so hard, that is if you like wearing dark coloured clothes all of the time and if you can manage to perch a hat on your head that is almost as tall as the stars, and which has a big wide floppy brim. It’s wider than your front door so that you have to either take off your hat or bend your head sideways so that it doesn’t get knocked off; the hat that is, not your head.

You would, naturally, have to be reasonably good at making spells and potions, not to mention having some expertise on flying a wonky old broomstick, that your Great, great, great grandmother Gertrude had presented to you on your fifteenth birthday, with the proviso that it had to be ridden every day, otherwise the broomstick’s powers of flight would diminish and eventually all it could be used for, would be to sweep the flagstones on the cottage floor or maybe a few autumn leaves on the garden path. And then Elizabeth might hear the poor old broomstick weeping into its brush, lamenting its neglected existence. Elizabeth had not heard the broomstick lament but Great, great, great grandmother Gertrude had, and never wanted to hear it again. It was so sad. Once sad, could the broomstick be made happy again, you might ask? Well, I do not know, but Elizabeth is thinking about it and hopes to have a special spell for witches ready just in case she forgets to ride the wonky old thing.

Fortunately for Elizabeth, she did like black, as most witches do, and was used to wearing clothes made in dark coloured fabrics.witches img_0480 Well, she couldn’t remember having worn any other colour in all her many years of being a witch. She also just loved her big floppy hat and wore it whenever she went out into the forest or shopping in the village. It covered her beautiful mass of unruly auburn hair and was so big she didn’t have to take an umbrella with her if it was raining.

The wonky old broomstick was another matter altogether. For such an old stick it looked smart enough. Elizabeth had looked after it well. A few twigs around the brush part had broken off over the years probably from numerous bumpy landings but, all in all, it was almost as it was when Geeeez (that is short for Great, great, great grandmother Gertrude) gave it to Elizabeth. As for its powerfulness, well, that was another matter. Elizabeth was not too keen on heights and using a wonky old broomstick was not her most favourite exercise of the day. witches broomBut ride it she did. Every day. And you might even have heard her muttering “Geeeez! This is the hardest part of being a witch,” as she did a few practice swoops across the town, over the tall trees in the forest and landing always wonkily (to match the broomstick) in her broomstick landing pad, just outside the back door of her cottage. Elizabeth would park her wonky broomstick next to her other broomsticks which, being of a more modern design, did not need to be ridden as much as the wonky one. She would then, grab the brim of her beautiful hat, bend her head sideways and enter her back kitchen. I often wondered why she called it her “back” kitchen, when the one room stretched the full width of the cottage and had windows at the front of the cottage as well. That part of the room was called the parlour. A very comfortable part of the big room where Elizabeth spent time in her deluxe rocking chair, reading and learning about new magic, and talking with her many customers. This would be where, if you peaked through her front window, you might see a flash or a sparkle as she arranged her petticoats to sit by the fire because Elizabeth always wore special pantaloons. Pantaloons that had pockets of all sizes sewn into each voluminous leg. And on the odd occasion when it was very chilly weather, it was rumoured that Elizabeth’switches images cat Rosie, poked her nose under Elizabeth’s skirts and cuddled down inside the lowest of her pantaloon pockets. Every now and again, you might catch a glimpse of little eyes flashing in the fire light as Elizabeth moved her skirts.

Just in front of the cottage, Elizabeth had placed a shingle. It reads, “Elizabeth Witch” in big silver writing and underneath, it reads “Spells and Potions”. Elizabeth was proud of this shingle. If she was at home, it shone with a beautiful yellow light and would attract small pink butterflies and tiny little bluebirds and when Elizabeth was out shopping or gathering herbs in the forest, it turned a hazy grey and was surrounded by a swirling mist of pale lilac fairy dust. It was a pretty shingle whether Elizabeth was at home or not.

As witches go, Elizabeth was a happy, contented witch. She spent many mornings in the forest collecting things, putting them in her pantaloon pockets or herb satchel. She spent many afternoons making spells and selling her potions to the village folk. The days rolled into a never ending life of doing the things she liked to do and about which she was very comfortable. Changes, not of her making, gave her a bit of a jolt. Like the time the chimney pot fell over in a high wind and came crashing through the conservatory windows. Wow! that was some noise. Even Rosie stopped her morning meal and scooted across the flagstone floor to hide under Elizabeth’s petticoats. It took some time to clean up all the smoke and puffs of soot that fell down the chimney breast.

Today, Elizabeth is peaking out of her parlour window to see a bright glow coming from her letterbox. That told her that she had mail. She popped on her shawl and went outside. Inside witches envnloadthe letter box was an envelope of satiny white and it was tied with a royal blue ribbon. “Oh! my,” said Elizabeth, “this looks really grand.” She walked back into the parlour, half looking at the envelope and half looking where she was going. She had a puzzled look on her face and she placed the envelope in the middle of her kitchen table. Slowly she walked around it. “Hmmm, looks important,” she said to Rosie who had front paws on the edge of the table but ears very alert just in case the paper ‘thing’ moved without warning. Elizabeth read the envelope. It had gold and curly writing and was decorated with gold crowns and flourishes. It definitely had her name written on it.

Elizabeth was curious and excited because she had seen an envelope like this one before. She continued walking quietly around the table, watching and waiting patiently for the envelope to open which envelopes usually did all by themselves. The envelope flap started to lift and Elizabeth’s hands rose with it as if she were opening the letter herself. Which, of course, she was not. This was 1st Class Royal mail and it opened with a puff of golden glitter. The letter lifted out and floated onto the table. “Oh! my,” repeated Elizabeth. The words came out as a whisper. “It’s an invitation, Rosie. Whatever next?” Rosie lost interest in the envelope. It didn’t move enough to catch her curiosity and although she had a good sniff of the air, it didn’t entice her to lose her table manners and jump up on the table to play. So Rosie rubbed against Elizabeth’s skirt and wondered off.

Elizabeth, however, sat slowly down onto a stool which was fortunately just behind her, because her knees were wobbling a bit. She stared at the invitation. Princess Nerida was having a party and Elizabeth was invited to come along and join in the dancing and festivities. Elizabeth picked up the invitation and held it out to show Rosie. “Just look at this!” she said. Rosie sniffed again but apart from a front paw pushing the paper away, Rosie could have been wondering what all the fuss was about.

Not only was it 1st class mail but it was a first for Elizabeth. Never before had she been invited to any party. Witches are not famous for party going but Elizabeth enjoyed being visited by Princess Nerida and she would like to visit the Castle on such a grand occasion. Thinking of the dancing, she slowly twirled over the flagstones. She was excited and nervous at the same time. It all sounded like great fun until Elizabeth realised that she did not have anything to wear that resembled a party dress. How could she possibly go to a Princesses party, dressed in black. She went up to her bedroom with anticipation. She looked into her wardrobe. Black. She rushed down the stairs and looked through the washing pile. Black. Back up stairs, she pulled out the trunk by the window and opened it. Black. Everything, every dress, every piece of fabric. Black. What was she to do?





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