Saturday, 12 March 2011

Its a Wonderful Small Stitching World - Roche Dolls

The joy of my life is never knowing which amazing person I shall meet next. I am always shaking my head and saying, What a small world! This morning I had the pleasure of emailing Lynne Roche and we talked about a shared love of early stumpwork and since she had popped in her own web address, with my cup of tea in hand, I went off for a peek. Nothing prepared me for what I saw next. In fact, you can share it here. My first gasp was because I felt I had been transported back to my childhood, looking at the sort of fabulous dolls I coveted as a child, cold nose pressed up against lit shop window pane. And then I saw the loving and dedicated stitching that went into the production of each and was left simply breathless. Above you can see Mirabelle. She wears a delightful embroidered apron over her dress, it is made from the lightest weight antique wool fabric. She has a beautiful little wooden painted workbox and seat with all sorts of goodies inside the workbox including fabrics, buttons, hand embroidered pin cushion, needle case and threads. Alongside her sits Little Cecile - she comes with a copy of the storybook bound in brown.
Lynne and her husband, Micheal, always make all of their own dolls: Micheal carves the bodies and Lynne paints them. Together they make about 80 wood bodied dolls a year and maybe 50 to 100 other dolls, with soft bodies or all-bisque bodies. Lynne says: To us our dolls are still very much dolls that can be played with, undressed and dressed. Now I try to make the ultimate doll friend - hoping people will respond to the doll in the same way that I respond to the dolls I feel really drawn to. The clothing has always been very important, I have often gone towards the 50's look, harking back to my own childhood. I like the clothes to be very much in proportion to the dolls, and have a feeling of reality, not overpowering the doll, so I often use knitteds, wool and cotton rather than heavier fabrics. Also, much of the fabric and yarns are dyed for us using natural dyes which give beautiful soft but rich colouring. For detailing I love embroidery and appliqués and of course the knitting can also enable details in the right scale. We are very fortunate in having a small team of wonderful knitters and sewers who work at home for us, also a shoemaker, who mostly makes full size shoes for museums and film.

The above dolls are illustrated in a beautiful book A Celebration of Enchantment This hard cover book has 120 pages in full colour, forming a complete volume covering all the dolls made to 2005 and provides a fascinating insight into the development of the unique Roche collection. The book is £30 and is available directly from Lynne and Michael Roche


  1. Oh, thank you, thank you for sharing this!
    I will try to make it to the Bath Spring Doll Fair in June, what a day out that will be:))

  2. I would love to find someone who could make an outfit for my 22 inch Sophy. She likes her knit romper, but would love a dress and sweater.