The Tomte Adventures

I just sent a box full of tomte dolls to YLE (the national Finnish broadcasting company), they are going to hang out in the BUU-klubben studio (TV show for kids) this Christmas, pretty cool! This made me think of everything my tomte dolls have been up to during the years!

Tomte Evolution

Thanks to flickr I found out that I made the first tomte stuffies 9 years ago. It also made me remember that I had some problems with the placement of the legs, the first ones looked rather like frogs. They were made from brand new Christmas fabrics, but pretty soon I got the idea to combine my passion (or is that obsession...) for vintage textiles with my tomte making, which means that I now collect old Christmas table cloths around the year. This lot was brought home from a garage sale in July... 

Christmas fabric shopping in sandals.

Christmas fabric shopping in sandals.

I've always been concerned about the environment, which is reflected in my products. I like to use new material alongside fabrics that has had a previous life. For the tomte dolls I try to use fleamarket fabrics not only for the dresses, but for the caps and faces too and make the mittens from linen scraps. But I allow myself to shop pretty quilt cottons for the legs, I  enjoy combining the vintage fabrics with the crisp new ones!

In the beginning I used small buttons for eyes, but soon realized the tomte where very much liked by small children so now I stitch the face features by hand, which makes them safe to play with.

Combining new and old.

Combining new and old.

Tomte Pattern and Tomte Travels

I published the pattern for making the tomte in my book Scandinavian Stitches in 2010. I have seen many tomte stuffies made by others from the pattern since and it amazes me how every maker puts her or his own touch to it! I have also sold many tomte dolls online so I know they now live in many corners of the world. Someday I will stitch a map showing the tomte populations around the world...

Ads in local newspaper in Osaka.

Ads in local newspaper in Osaka.

Not only do my tomte dolls travel the world, they have actually taken me quite far! Last Christmas we got to travel to Osaka, Japan, much thank to a picture of my tomte that my Japanese contact had spotted online. I have written about our trip to Japan here. Me and tomte even got to be on local TV with the Norwegian knitting gurus Arne and Carlos! How cool is that?

35 of the 70 tomte dolls that traveled with me to Osaka last Christmas.

35 of the 70 tomte dolls that traveled with me to Osaka last Christmas.

This Christmas will be spent at home, but in early December we are heading to a Christmas fair in Helsinki (Naisten joulumessut), which I very much look forward to. It's been a couple of years since I had my own table at the fair. I never get tired of displaying my tomte dolls in a long happy row with the red top hats making a zig-zag pattern!

Tomte dolls at Hankyu department store in Osaka, Christmas 2015.

Tomte dolls at Hankyu department store in Osaka, Christmas 2015.

Gösta, Knut, and Egon

I've always loved old names. As a child I used to make big families of paper dolls and the best part was giving them lovely old-fashioned names, which I get to do with my tomte boys. Yes, they are all boys, but I've made some bigger ones too, and they are all ladies. The names are an important part of the tomte making because it turns them into individuals. I have had many interesting discussions just based on the name. I had a customer who decided not to buy a particular tomte because it shared names with a not so dear father-in-law. Another time I got a call from a shop-owner friend who humbly asked me if I could write Mauno on a Syko tag and mail it to her shop, since two ladies were very keen on buying the same tomte called Mauno.

Yours truly with tomte babies, or actually ladies, looking rather exhausted the last day of the fair a couple of years ago. 

Yours truly with tomte babies, or actually ladies, looking rather exhausted the last day of the fair a couple of years ago. 

Yes, I still sell them! In my shop!

x Kajsa

 

    

 

 

 

Out with the old and in with the new (aka bye, bye Etsy)

Etsy recently announced some changes that makes it difficult (or impossible) to collect sales tax from buyers in the EU in a way that the tax authorities will be ok with, which, to speak frankly, sucks. But instead of getting annoyed I decided this was the kick in the behind I needed to get this new site rolling. Better run your own place than fighting with bulls. Etsy was a wonderful spot for me when I opened up my shop in October 2006, that's almost ten years ago! It was wonderful to be part of the brand new market place and the sense of community was great. At that time it was still possible to attract customers directly via Etsy, while it is a big challenge today. This was great for my new little business and for me coming from a country with a small population it felt rather fantastic to have the whole world at my feet. Some day I will make a record of how many countries I've sold to!

My Umbrella mini quilt featured on Etsy's front page in April 2008. I'm glad I captured this!

My Umbrella mini quilt featured on Etsy's front page in April 2008. I'm glad I captured this!

Back in the days blogging was quite new and I remember when meeting people irl that I was a bit embarrassed to talk about my blog. At the time blogs were seen as on-line diaries, where young girls talked about their body issues :) But blogging grew big also among quilters and crafty folk, I guess because the blog format is so well suited for visual arts. What I very much appreciate with blogging is how you can show the process and the story behind the finished product. For those of you who want to look back, my old blog is still around (but I stopped paying for it so try to ignore the odd template).

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Flickr was another important place for me, thanks to the many active groups and the lovely community. It still is like a portfolio of nearly everything I've made during the last ten years and I find it very useful to have when I want to go back and look for something I made previously. It is much better organized than the files on my computer! Like many others I have jumped on the Instagram train (I was a bit late) so that is where I am sharing my daily doings now.  

But I do miss blogging and a place to call my own on-line. So that is what I am building here! A place where I have everything under the same roof and that looks like me! 

x Kajsa