Today my hubby received a box in the mail from two of his "girl cousins," Mavis and Phoebe. Inside was this adorable handmade Aiti doll. It was one of MANY made by my husband's paternal grandmother, Venla (Kyt) Frobom. Venla was born in Finland, immigrated to Hecla, SD, married and moved to southwestern North Dakota. After being widowed at a young age with 7 children, she moved to Ottertail County, MN. She was known by her grandchildren as Iso Aiti (which is Finnish for big mom -- grandmother), or Aiti for short.
In 1974, at the age of 53, she wrote this reminiscence for her grandchildren:
Now I tell you a story. When I was a little girl, I used to be
alone. Always. Because I had no playmates. My sister pushed me
out. I bother her, she shouts.
My brothers always out of sight: my Ma thinks I get along all
right. But, so lonely I feel -- and downhearted all the time.
So my sister makes me a rag doll. She takes a lump of cotton
and covers it with some white cloth. She takes a rag and rolls it,
making Dolly-Molly hands. She rolls more rag, so Dolly-Molly gets
two feet. She sews a pretty dress and cap. Now Dolly-Molly’s ready
-- indeed. But she has no face. No eyes. No nose. She has no mouth.
No lips. How can I give her a kiss?
Then came my uncle Matt. He thinks that my Dolly-Molly
needs a cradle. So he thinks he is able, and makes Dolly-Molly’s
But I was angry with my uncle Matt.
Because he paints my Dolly-Molly’s cradle BLACK!
Written by Venla Frobom during the winter of 1975. Computer file entry by John Meyers on
May 27, 1994.
In her later years, Aiti hand stitched rag dolls for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. My hubby doesn't recall her ever using a sewing machine. Each doll was unique. And they all had embroidered faces - eyes, noses, and lips to kiss!
And under the fancy coat and hat was a cute little dress with buttons and bows:
And under the cute little dress was a slip with lace trim and muslin underwear:
The dolls often had buttons from Aiti's button box. This little doll has a gold colored shamrock button sewn on the top of her cute little leopard print hat. Aiti's granddaughter Phoebe is a water color artist, quilter, and talented maker of 18" doll costumes. Aiti would be proud!
LeAnn aka pasqueflower