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!
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...
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.
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...
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?
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!
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.
Yes, I still sell them! In my shop!