Tuesday, September 05, 2006

the hobbien mysteries

"Doesn't this kinda look Holly Hobbie?" -- Tim Gunn

Oh, Tim Gunn. You are wise in many ways, but there are some mysteries of which you do not know. Beware Tim Gunn. Do not scoff at a power higher than even your own. You have tread upon the sacred territory of American femininity. The Way of Holly Hobbie takes many forms and wields great power over many worlds. And yes, Tim Gunn, it is even woven (to be more accurate I should say it is quilted) into the fabric of the world of fashion. But more importantly, The Way of Holly Hobbie is a journey of the soul.


the way of holly hobbie: her return

her arrival is welcomed by multitudes.

American Greetings Corporation first introduced Holly Hobbie in 1967. She reached her peak in the late 1970s. Just last year (2005) they brought the "classic" image of HH back into production.

You can find out about the history of Holly Hobbie here:

This site includes information about the new incarnation of HH: her great-granddaughter, who has long blond hair and instead of a bonnet she wears what I call a "Fat Albert" hat (not to be confused with a Mush Mouth hat).

Angela seems to be more into the look of the great-granddaughter rather than the original Holly Hobbie, given her fondness for the Fat Albert Hat:



the way of holly hobbie: rituals and mores

Sewing was a significant aspect of the Holly Hobbie world. Making dolls and quilting were two a popular projects. You could even buy a HH child's toy sewing machine.

"Traditional home crafts" were an important aspect of Holly Hobbie. It was all about the hand-made. These practices instilled the domestic object with the aura of its maker. Objects were created with care -- often made together as a socially bonding activity -- and were usually intended as a gifts. They were endowed with the power to strengthen relationships, especially women's and girls' friendships and mother/daughter bonds.

This is a world without fathers, without adult men. The only males that appear in the imagery are usually younger brothers or non-sexual but romantic boys.


Like "Little House on the Prairie" HH romanticized the time and place and life of early pioneers. (Like that was a great time to be female in America.) The aesthetic was sentimental and nostalgic for the "simple joys of childhood." Puppies and kittens frolicked. All children were well-behaved, rosy-cheeked, productive, and white and pure as the clouds of glory that they trailed.

Of course, this romantic nostalgia for childhood and the idealized past is hardly new.


the way of holly hobbie: wait . . . what?

The renewal of interest in Holly Hobbie is a nostalgia for the already nostalgic. (Note to self: that could be a future topic for kih | letters.) I'm curious about why she is being re-introduced now. What is the current fascination all about?

I also think Holly Hobbie may have also been a reaction to the non-traditional career woman that was voicing itself in American culture. At the same time, and paradoxically, Holly Hobbie was a translation of the seventies, living-with-nature, post-hippy independent natural-woman into an image that appealed to middle American suburban girls.

Laura Ingalls Wilder. Macrame. Fern Bars. Knee Socks. Carol King.

I'm sure it all made sense at the time.



say what? said...

I have to say that my younger sister was (is) the proud owner of one of those Holly Hobbie dolls made from that ONE DOLLAR pattern you have listed (it would be at least $10.95 today). My aunt, Queen of Homemade Holly, Raggedy Ann and sock monkey dolls still makes these to this day! (My son has a sock monkey made by her - and he is 7. My daughter, who is 4, has Rageddy Ann)

They are alive and well.

trixie b said...

That is so sweet! I bet that doll is priceless to your sister. And your daughter may be asking your aunt for a Holly Hobbie doll one of these days!