Dovegray Dolls Coming Soon

comments: 41










Well, hello there! How are you? It is raining here this morning and I am well. It's been a busy, exciting, intense couple of weeks since school started. All is well and we are each getting used to our new routines, together and on our own. Kids are so dang brave. It's really incredible to watch, isn't it? It's beautiful. I'm constantly in awe of their abilities to do things they've never done before, go places they've never gone, walk into rooms filled with people they don't know, and basically figure it all out within days. If that. It's so inspiring.

Andy is back at work today after a few days and an entire weekend off, which was so nice. He was home for three weeks on vacation in August and I got used to that. I was antsy to clean the house while he was home. But once he had gone back to work and I had done that, I really missed him and Meems and the long, lazy days of summer, and all the summer things that I've never missed until this, the Summer of Perfect Weather. Suddenly I'm having the summer's-over emotions that most normal people have. I'm looking longingly at the sodden cushions on my front-yard chair, where I sat and read for countless hours, Mimi swinging from the branches of the tree beside me, and I will miss those afternoons. I'm usually just so ready for fall to start that I don't care what's gone. But this time it's a little different, and I am feeling all of the changes.

Thank you so much for all of the Leaves by Hundreds Came orders! They are sold out now. I am busy trying to get my dolls finished and photographed and ready to launch, probably next week. Andy has been in the office during his days off, cutting fabrics for me and generally helping out. We are hoping to have them available for pre-order next week. I first started working on these dolls a couple of years ago. They are based on the animal-doll patterns, and they all share the same body and construction. They can all wear the same clothes. There will be ten different combinations of three skin colors (dark, medium, light) and five hair colors (blond, dark brown, red, auburn, black) you can choose from. Each doll kit comes with a pattern for the doll and her muslin camisole and bloomers and many of the supplies needed to make those things (I'll share full lists of contents at the launch).

There will also be a separate kit (with pattern) available for a calico peasant dress, embroidered pinafore in solid-colored cotton, and knitted wool lace stockings. I'll show you the dress next week. All of the calico fabrics we are including in these kits are vintage calicos from the '70s and '80s, mostly Peter Pan and Joan Kessler that I've spent the last several years collecting either from eBay or estates. It's been such a labor of love and I really have no words to tell you how excited I am to be able to share all of these things with you soon. This is going to be such a cool collection. We will take pre-orders next week and are planning to ship doll kits and dress kits at the same time, by mid-November. We aren't sure how many orders we will get for what skin/hair combos, so we will order supplies on our end after we get the pre-order numbers and begin putting kits together and shipping as fast as we can.

I'm naming the collection the Dovegray Dolls. I wasn't sure what I was going to call them until earlier this summer, when I was starting to work on them a lot. And one night, Mimi and I were sitting in the front yard and we heard a mourning dove.

The sound of the mourning dove is one of the sounds (along with freight trains and thunder) that I miss so much from my childhood. We had them in River Forest (a western suburb of Chicago where I grew up) but we do not have them here in my neighborhood in Portland. (My sister regularly hears mourning doves right across the river in Lake Oswego, but we don't have them here.) If you don't know what they sound like, here is a sample. It's a pretty unmistakable sound.

When I heard it, I couldn't believe it. Mimi cocked her head and listened, too. After just a few calls, she could imitate the dove perfectly, much better than I could. We went and got Gretchen, our next-door neighbor, who also grew up in River Forest (I know, crazy right? Total awesome coincidence. We both graduated from Oak Park River Forest High School in the same year, too, though we didn't know each other. [The high school had almost four thousand people in it, and she and I had gone to different grade schools.]) We all listened. I texted Andy (at work) to tell him what we were hearing. I was excited. It had been decades since I'd heard a mourning dove. We sat out there for a long time, but eventually he stopped cooing and it got dark.

The very next day, the weirdest thing happened: We got a postcard (pictured above) from our local bird shop with a mourning dove on it! (It was a coupon for bird seed.) Andy came home from work that night and saw the post card on the table and said, "OH my gosh, you got a really good picture of the mourning dove!" I started laughing and told him I hadn't taken it, that it was a postcard that had just happened to arrive, etc. We continued to hear the mourning dove for a few days. Mimi and I took the coupon and went to the Backyard Bird Shop and got some special bird seed that mourning doves supposedly like. (She also broke a glass thing while we were there and the ladies at the shop were so incredibly kind and generally cool about it that we will be customers for life.) We put the new seed (I think it was millet?) in the flat feeder right away. Naturally, the minute we did that, we never heard the mourning dove again! Granted, he was never actually in our yard, just somewhere near. The bird shop said that sometimes they sort of find their ways over to this side of the river, but they don't often stay very long. Sad face. I'm still hopeful! I love them.

Anyway, in honor of the summer days we spent listening to the sweet cooing of our mourning dove, I named my little dolls the Dovegray Dolls. The one pictured above is Bridie.

***By the way, that picture above with all the little white dots on it? Does anyone want to take a guess what’s going on there? :)


I love the story of how you came to name your dolls.
We live in Philadelphia and mourning doves are frequent visitors. My daughter's nickname is Dovey because when she was two she sounded like a mourning dove when she whined!

My goodness, Oak Park River Forest HS--did you catch the documentary that was filmed over the course of a school year at OPRF on Starz last year? "America to Me." I found it fascinating as a parent of a teen in a diverse public school in Nashville, but it would have a whole different angle for you as a graduate of the school where it was filmed! Worth checking out for sure. Love the dolls too, of course!

Dana Laviano says: September 17, 2019 at 12:50 PM

Dear Alicia,
I live in New England and we have plenty of mourning doves here. Their call is so haunting. I used to imagine all the birds at my feeder through the lens of my Catholic faith (just for fun). For instance, the Juncos were the Grey Nuns, the sparrows the Franciscans, the chickadees the Dominicans, etc. The mourning doves were always the Holy Father (a.k.a. the Pope) because at that time it was Pope Benedict and he wore red shoes as Popes traditionally do. (Mourning doves have red feet, that's where I made the connection.) Anyway, I'd forgotten all about that until reading your post! Isn't it wonderful all the gentle graces in the world?
Blessings to you and yours.

I so love mourning doves! Their eyes are so soulful and their cooing touches me deeply.

My son graduated from OPRF last year! Small world! :)

Alicia, I share your feelings over the end of summer. It has been a hot, dry summer here in Ontario, and I have missed having bonfires as there was a fire ban on all summer. I always get melancholy over the end of summer, as it seems so long until it will be here again. I so miss being outside in the sunshine, and swimming, and the long hours of daylight. Here's my mourning dove story. They are usually in pairs, and my niece named the two that came to their bird feeder Lovey and Dovey. I now call all mourning doves Lovey and Dovey in their honour. I had many of them at my feeder last winter. The first time I heard them cooing, I thought it was an owl.

We had morning doves and owls by our old house(none near us in our new house). I think I often confused their sounds with the owls. I would see the owls late afternoon and listen to them hoot, and the doves during the day. I guess I never realized they can sound similar. It's a beautiful sound! The owls I had to be careful with our small dogs at night and the morning doves would come to the bird feeder during the day, they can be very messy;-)

Daphne Phillips says: September 17, 2019 at 05:10 PM

I live down in Corvallis and I totally know what you mean about this summer; wasn't it lovely?! I grew up here and this was like summers I remember -- mild and beautiful and soft and only a few hot spells so you could go swimming. I, too, am mourning this year's summer passing, although I usually love the fall. But, now that it's here, I'm looking forward to what promises to be an early and deep winter? Snow!? Let's hope. Thanks for being such a stalwart blogger, I love your posts so much.

Daphne Phillips says: September 17, 2019 at 05:11 PM

PS: I know what you mean about the mourning doves; I first remember hearing them when we lived near a pool in Alameda, CA -- I adored that sound. Now I have them at my house all the time! So lucky.

My guess: looks like the fairies got toothpaste spray all over your lens. They're impish like that.

i had no idea that's what a mourning dove sounded like and now i realize that i've been hearing them my whole life! they must be everywhere where i live- i probably hear them daily! thanks for sharing that video- now i know what i'm hearing!

Hello Alicia, Andy and Mimi! I will be ordering a doll kit. I'm looking forward to picking out the colors of hair and all. I have my Featherweight Singer that I'll have to get out when it comes to sewing the clothes. I bought it to do the bunny I made of yours! I still love my bunny and she has her own twig chair. She will enjoy a sister. :-)

Enjoy the Autumn. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

The first time I heard a mourning dove was at my grandpa's house, so I've always associated that cooing sound with him. Here, years later, we live where there are lots of mourning doves that feed at our bird feeders. They really are aggressive birds. One will sit in the feeder and not allow any other dove to enter. It's funny. We say they are a sign of peace, but they really aren't all that peaceful when they are in groups. But I'm so glad we have them.

Hail! I think it’s hail. If it was, the stones look fairly large. Last July, here in Colorado, we had billiard ball size hail stones. It looked like a war zone after that storm passed through. Many, many totaled cars and lots of roof replacements.

Did you take a photo with your lens behind a dewy/rainy spiders web? You have me stumped!

Kulturschnepfe says: September 17, 2019 at 09:42 PM

Good morning from Europe,
did you catch the rain at the perfect moment with that picture? It's what I thought it was at first glance. It's an amazing picture!
Love K.

Orbs? Wouldn't that be wonderful! All those lovely sprites dancing outside your window :)

LOVE the dolls and will be ordering one as soon as they are available for a sweet Christmas gift. ☺ We have mourning doves here in Indiana and yes, they do have a unique haunting call don't they? I am going to take a stab at the white dots photo. I am not a photographer so.....did you (heaven forbid) leave your camera out all nite and condensation formed on the lens? That is what it looks like to me ☺.

Hi Alicia, we have Mourning Doves here in Albuquerque, NM. Go figure, but they are numerous and quite vocal at times. My guess for the white dot picture is you are shooting through a sprinkler. I hope you give the answer in your next post. Love the dolls as well.

We have a few species of mourning doves in Tucson. One kind is big--the White Winged Mourning Doves that spend part of the year here and part down in Mexico. Then there is a smaller kind too. I love them all so much. The Mexican ones have a different kind of call, that is not quite as mournful though you can tell it is in the same family. It sounds like those doves say, "Whooo cooks for youuuuu?" So funny.

I was in Corvallis all summer, helping my daughter with her new baby. It truly was a glorious summer of perfect weather. I miss it now too!

Close up of a spider web??

I grew up in Northern California and there were plenty of mourning doves. One built a nest in a bush at the side or our house. She laid a few eggs and they hatched. We had the pleasure of watching the babies learn to fly. Now I live in New England and don't hear as many.

Nancy Mosley says: September 18, 2019 at 10:39 AM

Oh how exciting for the doll collection! Love the name and the story that inspired it! My oldest son, age 20, is pursing a career in ornithology and so birds are his passion and we love them. I do hope you get the opportunity to have them come again.

I’m not sure about the photo. I hope it wasn’t a hail storm because that would be a lot of hail. It also looks like you took the photo through a screen that had water droplets on it. I’m not sure. I’m interested to find out the answer.

Love the flowers. Zinnias are a favorite. Is that what the first photo is?

Bonnie Schulte says: September 18, 2019 at 11:13 AM

All of your favorite sounds are mine also, plus I love the who..who..of the owl we hear often in our back yard.
I don't imagine the picture above is snow (grin) maybe the the dampness of a foggy day?

We had mourning doves nest our on rowhome porch a few years ago (we are in Washington, DC). It was fun to greet them each morning and say goodnight each night and watch their family grow. We had the porch painted after they left for the season and unfortunately they never returned (though I don't miss the bird poop in my tiny garden if I am honest).

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at