Saturday, June 2, 2012

52 Weeks of Fairy Tales Week #22 - Rip Van Winkle

This week I thought I would head over to the library and see if I could find any interesting books to look at.  I perused the garden section, as well as the craft and recipe section, then decided to make my way up and down the various aisles and browse.  I came across a small section of folktales, and found an interesting book on American fairy tales.  The first story in the book was Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving, so I decided it would be the perfect tale for this week's fairy tale.

I remember hearing the story of Rip Van Winkle when I was a child, and I used to love thinking what it would be like to fall asleep like Rip Van Winkle and wake up 20 years later, and wonder what changes would have happened in the world.  Today I took the time to read the story online here, I love the way Washington Irving writes in such a descriptive fashion, it really paints a picture of the story.  The original version is better suited to being read by older children or adults, a younger child would not follow the older fashioned way of writing and it would probably be best to tell younger children an abridged version.

Here is a quick summary of Rip Van Winkle.

A man named Rip Van Winkle lived in a small village at the foot of the Catskill Mountains with his wife, son and daughter, at a time before the Revolutionary War.  Rip was a kind man and everyone in the village liked him, he was friendly to the village children who all enjoyed him very much, and even the dogs in the village liked him.  Although Rip would help out his neighbors if needed, and was a very patient man, he was on the lazy side.  His home and garden were run down, and he didn't really care to fix things up.  His wife, Dame Van Winkle, was a constant nagging wife, and would nag and complain to Rip quite often, she also did not like Rip's dog, Wolf, who she felt was just like Rip.

To escape his wife's nagging, Rip would visit a pub in the village and have all sorts of interesting discussions with the men in town, but his wife would yell for him at the pub as well.  So one day, when Rip was tired of his wife's nagging, he and his dog took a walk into the mountains, he had his gun with him just in case he wanted to hunt.  Before he knew it, he was way up in the mountains.  He then spotted a strange man, who was dressed in old Dutch style clothing, the man was making his way up the mountain carrying what looked to be a keg.  The strange man asked Rip for help, and so Rip helped the strange man carry the keg up the mountain.

The two didn't speak much, and Rip kept hearing what sounded like loud thunder booms as they made their way up the mountain.  Soon they came to an amphitheater shaped hollow, and Rip saw the source of the loud noises he had heard, it was a group of very strange looking men, dressed in old time Dutch clothing, just like the man with the keg.  They were loudly playing nine pins, and they told Rip that he was to serve them drinks from the keg.  Rip was a bit nervous about these strange men, so he did as he was told and served them their drink.  After awhile he became comfortable, and decided to sample some of the drink.  He kept going back for more and more, and became rather dizzy, and fell asleep.

The next morning Rip woke up, and he was back where he first saw the man carrying the keg up the hill.  He looked down to find his gun, and all he could find was an old rusty one, he thought the strange men must have played a trick on him. He reached up to his face, and found that his beard had grown a foot. He stood up and called for his dog, who must have run off, and eventually made his way back down to the village.

When he arrived in the village, he didn't recognize anyone, which was strange because he knew most of the people in the village.  Everyone was dressed in different style clothing, and the town looked different.  People took notice of him, and began questioning who he was, when he said he was a subject of King George it didn't go over too well, because the Revolutionary War had already happened.  The town's people thought he was a spy, or a crazy person, then finally an old man recognized him.  He was reunited with his children, his son was the spitting image of Rip as an adult, his daughter was married to a kind farmer.  Dame Van Winkle, Rip's wife, had passed away.  Rip went to live with his daughter's family, and was happy to spend time in the village, where he became popular once again.  He was lucky to have slept through the war, and was no longer troubled by a nagging wife (many future Dutch settlers with nagging wives wished they could have the luck of Rip Van Winkle).  He lived happily ever after.


The original tale by Irving goes into more detail about who the mystery men are, and is told in very nice detail, I really enjoyed reading the original version.  

For my craft this week I decided to make a wire framed doll of Rip Van Winkle.

I had fun making his long gray beard with a mix of gray, black and white wool roving blended together, and needle felted a bit to keep the beard together.

He is dressed in a wool felt outfit, I enjoyed sewing his little jacket.

I look forward to sharing this story with Sarah and Joseph this week, as they only had a small idea as to who Rip Van Winkle is.  

Now Rip is napping happily on the bookshelf. :)

Patterns for making similar wire framed dolls can be found in Felt Wee Folks written by Salley Mavor, here is my Amazon Link below.


  1. Love your Rip Van Winkle, April, and the trees behind him are cute too. I love Washington Irving because he writes of the area that my family helped settle. I couldn't even imagine what changes we would find if we fell asleep for 20 years these days. Everything changes so quickly!

  2. A little slumber and a little sleep and a little folding of the hands to rest; and your poverty comes on you like a thief... proverbs 6:10

    Wonder why it is that he lived happily ever after,don't you?
    Maybe he was remorseful and repentant of his slothful ways...:)

    I like your craft and your story-- I can't believe you're doing this for 52 weeks...and I'm just now seeing this for the first time. I must come back and read the others sometime!


  3. Jane~ Washington Irving is a wonderful writer, Nathaniel Hawthorne is also a favorite of mine. I would love to visit that part of the country, such rich history! Things sure would be different in 20 years, things change so fast these days. :)

    Pat~ Love that Proverb! I have been enjoying going through all of the classic fairy tales, as well as all of the crafting, it has been a fun project! Thanks for stopping by. :)


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