Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Special Request: Madeline on the Arbat

Our first winter in Moscow, I couldn't get Katya to wear a scarf. Shealso didn't have much use for hats. (Natalia wouldn't keep her boots on, either... But that's another story I wrote about in my Russian superstitions post). Desperate to keep her warm enough--and to keep the angry babushkas from attacking me en masse, I came up with the idea of having this old lady on Starii Arbat Street custom-make a hat for Katya. I've since learned that you can have just about anything made on commission here; you just have to bring your designs and possibly an interpreter with you. I still plan to have a matrioshka doll artist custom-make some dolls for us... Maybe a set with all the grandchildren's faces on the bellies for my in-laws... Maybe a set with my girls playing with my mom's dachshunds for her... You can also get portraits done--in a range of prices, from rough sketches to fancy oil paintings.

I photocopied some Madeline illustrations and sketched what I wanted the hat to look like. For 400 rubles (about $15 back then--ah, the falling dollar is yet another story...), she created this yellow and black hat! I then added the hair and an attached red scarf (I knit the red scarf part with a cashmere yarn hoping that Katya wouldn't complain about the feel of it). Katya looked so darn cute... And the hat was splendidly warm... Unfortunately, none of the Russians "got" the hat and they thought it was quite weird that we dressed our daughter to look like a clown (the orange yarn hair). Never a people to keep their comments to themselves, they asked me many a question...

Katya was quite proud for the first few days. Here are some other views:

Unfortunately, Katya's extra-sensitive skin ended up itching from the wool. And so the hat was relegated to the bins in our entryway. I can't bear to part with it, though...


Rachael said...

It needs a Madeline costume/dress to go with it and you can hang it with your little dress-up collection.

Tina in CT said...

They have Madeline's coat. I have Madeline's dollhouse (with furniture) at my house and it's no longer played with. Once Katya decided that she was too mature for Madeline, Natalia stopped playing with it too (saddly). I miss seeing the Madeline videos too. I'll be posting it all on eBay for holiday shoppers next fall.

Anonymous said...

Ebay will get a good amount for it I am sure...but wait till you are ready to part with is dern adorable. DebiP

Tina in CT said...

I am holding off posting on eBay until the Xmas shopping season as Tamara said that I'll get much, much more money for it since it's discontinued and the holiday shopping season. I have lots of furniture and accessories too - even a metal beach/sand bucket. I want to clear out all of this stuff that is in my house.

I have saved the beautiful wooden dollhouse that Tamara's father made her when she was 5 for Xmas. It's coming out this summer for Katya and Natalia to play with at my house. I've held off as the furniture is delicate and I wanted to wait until Natalia was the same age as Tamara when she got it.

Melissa Q. said...

i just caught up on your blog entries while kids are sleeping. you do such a great job with them. your creativity is such a gift to those kids. Thanks for the pictures, too. I love getting a sense of your life there.

Tina, I hope you are doing better. I'm so sorry to hear about your dog.


If you are reading this I just wanted to tell you I lived in east Africa for three years in TZ in a district called Ngara. I was there with the Anglican Church working with refugee affected communities after the Civil war in Rwanda. i was following the Kenyan elections issues closely and am glad you are all doing fine. I'd love to know what you are doing there.

Tam, so glad Katya still has that book. I just sent her an Easter card, but not a book because I thought she might be too old, but it looks like she might still enjoy them. I'll look for somemore.

love to all.

garnet said...

Once again, I'm just amazed with the creativity. I would never in a million years have thought of the possibility of a hat like that.

All I can dream up is a standard Madeline hat.

I did make my daughter a Madeline hat cake for her birthday last year -- but of course I copied it from something I saw online. No original thought there!