Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The String Family

I thought I'd write something a little different today. Scroll down for pictures, and of course as usual, any submissions are gratefully received.

When most people talk about books that got them into dollhouses, they talk about The Borrowers. I liked several other books as well. I'm not sure if they got me into dollhouses, or if I liked them because I was already inclining in that direction of interest.

The book series I want to talk about today is "The String Family" by Patricia Cleveland-Peck. I wish I could find a copy in a library in this city. When I have a little extra money I might try and find it online, someone must have it. I'm not sure how many books were in the series, I think there were at least three of them: The String Family, The String Family at Home and The String Family in Summer. There may have been more that I can't remember or find a mention of online.

I was constantly borrowing these books from my school library.

The String Family was about a family of people made from string. When they were 'alive' they were plaited into the shape of a person. When they were observed, they could unravel themselves. I think one of the characters had a job tying up vegetables in the garden. I know that for a while they lived in a potting shed, but I think there was also a time that they lived behind a couch. The daughter's name was Flax.

They had various adventures.

It was quite creative, and it caught my imagination. I was more interested in them than The Borrowers for a while, because The String Family was aimed at younger people than The Borrowers, and also... I thought that I didn't need to play Borrowers, because that would defeat the whole idea of them being real. Playing Borrowers involved me leaving stuff out for them to find and take away, or imagining them within the walls. The String Family, on the other hand, I felt in control of.

In the back of one of the books were instructions on how to make a String Person. So I made six of them, and they lived in one of my drawers. While cleaning my room the other day (pulling everything out of the room) I found them. And you bet I kept them. And I discovered that at the bottom of the drawer I'd chalked 'room divisions' into it. So, lines, dividing up the areas of their home. I made them seats out of corks with a few sewing pins in it as a back support, and the cushion was a scrap of fabric. They'd 'eat' seeds that I'd 'steal' from my pet rat's food bin.

I made them a chest of drawers from three matchboxes stuck together. The handles were beads on a wire, and I covered the chest of drawers with a piece of fabric.

The String Family could talk to one certain human girl.

I just managed to find an actual summary!

"The miniature world of the String family - Mr and Mrs String, their children, Hemp, Flax, Twine and baby Skein all come alive and share their adventures with Sally in Miss Floribunda's cottage in the country. Sally is the only human child to be introduced to the String family and friends..."

I'd love to see these books reprinted so that more children can find something else miniature related!

Once I even got my whole class to make string people.


The Carolina Quilter said...

I'd never heard of this series and if I did read The Borrowers, I don't remember much about it although I can still recall the basics of it. I have wanted to go back and read it again. One of my favorite books from childhood, not about miniatures specifically but filled with fairies and little people, was a collection of poems illustrated by Garth Williams, The Tall Book of Make Believe. I have the copy I had as a child and found a reprint in a bookstore years ago when my children were small. I sometimes search for copies on eBay and they can go from around $35 to over $100 if you can find them. One of my favorite stories was about a little old man whose house was in a tree. It remains my favorite childhood book.

Debbie said...

There is an award for you over on my blog.

One Creative Queen said...

Now you've given me yet something else I need to hunt down. Thankyouverymuch! lol

The String Family sounds wonderful - my daughter would love to read those. I think it's so cute how you described finding your Family - chalk outlines and all. Those would be great pictures to post!

It's so great to remember back to the things we created as kids! Hang onto your Family - for the memories they bring you, and the fun you can share with your own kids one day. :)

And btw, thank you for commenting on my blog. It gave me the opportunity to find your adorable blog. Thank you!

Also, I don't know if you're familiar with City-O-Clay, but it's a Yahoo group focusing on clay miniatures. If you aren't in it and want more information, let me know and I'll give you the link. There are loads of extremely talented people in that group - from all over the world. (And all ages.)

Thanks again!

Living said...

Hey One Creative Queen!

It was definitely for young readers, I was probably in year 3 when I was obsessed with these books.

I could take photos of my string family, but they're very definitely made by a childish hand, and the chalk outlines now have clothes on top of them. :P

The only reason I remembered the seeds was because I found one or two in the drawer and the memories came flooding back. I think I also used to have 'acorn' bowls for them (they weren't acorns, as I'm Australian, acorns aren't exactly abundant. They'd have been some sort of gumnut).

City-O-Clay could be good! I'll head over to your blog now to make sure you see this.

One Creative Queen said...

Thanks for the heads up about your return comment. :) I still think they sound cute - I love finding my old "art", even if it was made when you were 3-4. (That's the cutest!)

The City-O-Clay group can be found here: It's an active group of clayers. The focus is on miniatures but they talk about all aspects of claying. I'm betting you would get a lot out of the group - and could also help some of the newbies. :)

Nicola said...

I loved this book so much!! I used to make string people as there were instructions in the back of the book. I'd love to get a copy if I ever found one.

Steve & Ainslee said...

Hi, I was just cleaning out my garage and found two of the books that you are talking about (I was googling to find out if they are worth anything). I would be happy to sell them to you or one of your followers if you are interested. I have the The String Family and The String Family in Summer.

I will be putting them on Ebay within the next week, so if you are interested, then please let me know. The are in good condition for their age, as they are from 1983. I am in Australia, but would be happy to post internationally. Thanks Ainslee

Living said...

Steve and Ainslee, I can't get to your profile to reply on your own blog about this. I'd love to buy them, how much would you be selling them for?

Steve & Ainslee said...


I was thinking of putting them on ebay for AUD $10 each. If you are still interested, please let me know. I am not sure where you are located, but would be happy to include postage in that price.

Ainslee (please contact me via my email address: )

Patricia Cleveland-Peck said...

I am the author of the String Family series and I was so amazed and delighted to come across your blog and the comments and even to see an image of the books! It has in fact been mooted quite recently that the books should be re issued and your kind comments have inspired me to try to make this happen.
I'd love to hear from any of you Patricia

Patricia C-P said...

I am the author of The String Family series. I was amazed and delighted to read your blog and the comments.It was in fact mooted quite recently that the books be re-issued and inspired by your interest I am going to try to make this happen.
If anyone would like to get in touch with me I'd be happy to reply.Patricia

Patricia Cleveland-Peck said...

Hi It was so nice to read all your comments,I am the author of The String Family series, Patricia Cleveland-Peck, I am encouaged to try and get my books re-issued after reading your thoughts. I live in England and am so happy that The String Family touched people so far away.
I know this is an old blog but would be nice to be in touch with you all for more, so please comment further.

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