KIts to make yarn dolls of Mark Twain characters and early American children are available at Hannibal stores, after being designed by Kristie Darley and her granddaughter, 9-year-old Avion Scott. They are marketed as “Maw-Maw and Me Crafts.”
A lifelong Hannibal crafter, Darley said “this craft has brought together everything I enjoy - writing, photography (for the packages), creativity, American history and teaching.
“I have always heard to be successful in business, you have to find a need and fill it,” she continued. “My husband (Don), granddaughter, Avion, and I visited Springfield, Illinois, a couple of summers ago to see the Lincoln sites.” When Avion saw children with yarn dolls, she wanted one, but none could be found in gift shops.
“After we returned home, I looked in all the shops here, but I didn’t find any,” Darley explained. “Given the historical setting of all of the tourist attractions here, it just seemed like a natural market for yarn doll kits.”
Makes her own patterns,
“I went on the internet and found directions for different yarn dolls, then kind of tweaked the directions until I had made one I really liked,” Darley said. “Avion helped me experiment, too. When she was able to make one just like mine in under an hour with very little help from me, I knew I had what I wanted. ... I did my own patterns and my own instructions. All the clothing is made from the kits,” with only Tom Sawyer’s straw hat purchased. “These kits are pretty simple, but they are really intended as an activity that promotes togetherness for a child and adult.
“People ask why they do not have faces,” Darley said. This is because the original yarn dolls did not have faces.
She named Avion her business partner “because she was the inspiration that got me started. I use her picture on the packaging, and she served as my guinea pig. Also, my daughters, Tess and Amy, and my husband have all helped me get the packages ready to sell when I had a big order. My husband has also helped with winding and unwinding the yarn.”
Dolls have different
“All of the dolls have their own separate story in my mind about who they are and what kind of personalities they have,” Darley said. Two African-American girls are fraternal twins, Darley said. “One is Ruth. She’s shy and quiet, but her sister Ruby is just the opposite. Ruth wears a faded flower-sack outfit, but Ruby’s is bright red.”
Page 2 of 2 - Dolls currently for sale in local shops are two pioneer girls, Rachel and Ruth; the local characters, Molly, Tom, and Becky; and two colonial kids, Emma and Ethan.
Rachel, a pioneer girl Darley made first, is her favorite. Avion chose Molly Brown.
The doll kits are currently sold at Mark Twain Cave’s gift shop, the Becky Thatcher House, the Hannibal History Museum and Paw-Paw’s Country Patch on Mark Twain Avenue. “Certain dolls are only sold in certain stores, with the cave being the only place that has them all,” Darley said.
She plans to take the dolls to Springfield, Ill., and is designing Abe and Mary dolls for museums there. “I have sketches of dolls I have planned for various museums all over the country, from Pilgrims in Massachusetts, to Pocahontas in Jamestown, Virginia, to a cowboy for shops out west,” she said. “I think of more and more all the time and plan to have dolls representing every person of color.”
For more information, see her website, mawmawandme.com or email her at email@example.com.