Diana Wynne Jones Now this edition of Author You Should Be Reading is as much for myself as it is for you, dear reader. This is because, though I’ve read and re-read and re-read HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE (read our review here), THE GAME, and FIRE AND HEMLOCK, I have yet to delve into her other books! Of which there are 40! So may this edition of AYSBR serve as a reminder to all of us to get our butts in gear! First, a bit on Diana Wynne Jones, plucked from her website: Diana Wynne Jones was born in London, where…
“After Chrestomanci, I wanted MORE. Who was this Diana Wynne Jones and what else did she have to offer? Turns out, a lot: she’s written a ton of books and I can’t begin to express how ecstatic I was. I immediately dove into her Derkholm series (GRIFFINS, people!) and the rest is history. I was in love.”
“Othertees dot com has a Howl’s Moving Castle shirt up for sale for approx. 8 more hours. Just thought you guys would like to know.”
Note from sdn: This is not on sale any more — I didn’t get the message until today. I am very sad.
Howl and Sophie Crochet Dolls
From Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Otherwise known as “Red’s Adventures in the Land of Crochet, Part I”.
In November of 2012, I happened to see a photograph of a much smaller crochet Howl doll on the internet that piqued my interest. As Howl’s Moving Castle is my favorite book (ever, in all worlds), and Howl is easily one of my favorite characters of all time, I recall thinking to myself at the time, “I could make that— hey, I could improve on that! And then I can put him on the bookshelf where I keep my collection of DWJ novels!”. So the next chance I got, I went back to my house and gathered all the colors I thought I would need (and ended up having to make a trip to the store to fetch the creme colored yarn for the face)… and I set to work using an online tutorial.
Howl himself, because of all the details I added to him (the ears were actually a last-second decision when I remembered Jones mentioning that he had “blue jewels dangling from his ears” and I wanted to add those for the sake of authenticity), took approximately 24 hours to make over the period of several days. Crocheting all of the little triangles on his jacket and then sewing those together probably took the longest of all the steps… but the end result was well worth it. As one can probably tell, I didn’t make Howl as he is seen in Hayao Miyazaki’s film version, but I rather based him off of the Howl in Diana Wynne Jones’s novel instead (i.e., this Howl has green eyes and blue earrings instead of having blue eyes and green earrings… and his jacket is a bit different. I always imagine that his jacket was made of triangles because *spoiler alert for those who have never read the book* Sophie starts hacking Howl’s blue and silver suit into little triangles to make herself a “patchwork sort of skirt” after he jellies it with green slime); I did, however, obviously draw on Miyazaki’s design a bit for inspiration.
It took me a few weeks until I found the time to make my Sophie doll. After I finished Howl, I kept saying to myself (and telling some of my friends) that I was going to make a Sophie to go with Howl, but I had to get through my Final Exams before I could sit down and crochet again. One of the friends who I told about the Sophie doll asked me if I was going to make her young or old… at the time, I actually had the idea of making her as a reversible/ topsy-turvy doll in my head, but I didn’t want to spoil the surprise! (When I show her to people now, I absolutely love their faces— everyone is always so impressed at the fact that I made two dolls in one, and their reactions make me feel like the 27 hours that I spent on her were worth it!)
As with the Howl Doll, Sophie is based off of her appearance in the novel. As a young woman, she is described as having “red-gold” hair, and as an old woman she is described as having “whispy white hair”. Again, I also drew on Miyazaki’s design to make her (I have always loved her braid!), but I didn’t model her after the movie version exactly.
The dolls stand at about 15-16” tall each. Sophie can actually stand on her own because whichever doll is on the bottom serves as a wide enough base to support her.
I also thought it would be relevant to note that, prior to finding the inspiration to make Howl, I actually had not crocheted for a very, very long time— my grandmother taught me how to crochet when I was a little girl, but I had never successfully made any crochet projects before. I learned how to make the dolls themselves using a video tutorial, but all of the clothes/extra frills and details were things that I figured out how to do on my own.
Howl Jenkins/Pendragon and Sophie Hatter belong to Diana Wynne Jones!
An overview of everyone’s favorite, including a DWJ interview and links.
“DWJ’s plots are puzzle-like, but it always comes together in the end and often leaves the reader blown away.”