Sunday, 21 December 2014

Liebster Award!

Hope you are well and still enjoying the run-up to Christmas-it's almost here...are you ready?
How time has flown these last weeks and due to general 'busyness' which I'm sure many of you will share at this time, I'm disappointed not to have been able to catch up on my blog and visiting others-will be catching up as soon as I can! 

A couple of weeks ago I was absolutely delighted to have been nominated for a Liebster Award by my lovely friend Anne of Crochet between Worlds. If you haven't seen this blog do pop over -it is run by both Anne and Michelle who live on other sides of the world-Anne in Germany and Michelle in Australia! They post the most gorgeous crochet work and information along with snippets of life from both countries.

'Liebster' means 'favourite in German, and being nominated gives you the chance to answer a few questions about yourself to help others get to know each other, then nominate your favourites to do the same. Here are my answers and I am looking forward to nominating and finding out a bit more about others!

1. What is the name of your blog? And what does the name mean? 
I am fortunate to live in a Cornish farmhouse built in 1750. The house is full of character and reminders of times gone by when people lived a simpler life. I like to think of all the traditions that went on here over the centuries, particularly seasonal traditions and crafts. 

2. How many blogs do you follow?
Probably about 40 but I tend to concentrate on far fewer than that so I can keep in touch with my favourites on a more regular basis. One of the aspects of blogging I really value is the shared friendships that have come my way this year which I wrote about in a previous post here.
3. Do you have a creative soul? 
Very. I just have to create-I am only fulfilled when I have made something and will try out and modify something many times before I am truly happy with it. I like to think I am creative in all aspects of life as well-there are always other, more exciting ways of seeing and doing things-everything evolves.

4. At what age did you learn to crochet or knit?
I wrote a post about how I came to crochet here, being inspired by the 70s craze when at school and a shared love of crafting with my mother. I can knit but for me crochet is easier and a lot more fun but I do admire those who knit so brilliantly and wish I could!

5. What are your future projects?
The list is just too enormous!-I absolutely love making and have a lot of projects on the go all the time. Having re-developed my crochet this year I am working on improving my skills and have lots of plans for accessories, I just love the feel of wearing something I have crocheted myself and am making for friends and family too.  I also love paper crafting, altered art and rubber stamping -I like designing tags so there are some of those on the go. Sewing has probably been my favourite craft of all and the one I do most so lots of plans there for clothes, gifts and accessories.

6. Why do you blog?
Something I had wanted to do for a very long time- to record my makes, share snippets about life in Cornwall and learn from like-minded people.   The catalyst was when a lovely lady Dorothy of Dorothy's Room encouraged me to go for it.

7. What will your Christmas look like this year?
Hand crafted as much as possible with evergreens gathered from the garden, hand sewn and crocheted items for my daughters and friends which I will share with you in the New Year.

I love period drama. My Christmas afternoon treat will be a back to back DVD 'Downton-fest'. I always disallow myself from watching this on TV as to wait for it it is a real treat -with chocolate!

8. What are your plans for 2015?
I always wish for safety, health and happiness for my family and others. The first two we can aim to protect and the third is for us to realise. I already craft until my hands almost drop off but more of that, more of my family's company, embracing as much beauty as possible and of course many more walks with my beloved dogs! The simple life, really.

9. If you could travel anywhere, which 3 places would you visit and why? 
Paris. I just love, love love the City of Light. History, culture, fashion, design, the French language, literature, vintage romance-what's not to love? 
America. I always dreamt of the 'Green grass of Wyoming' -anywhere that horses are a feature -I would love to stay on a horse ranch.
Scotland. It's my heritage and I have been many times-my father was from the North East coast and it's really in my blood. He was a Gordon Highlander. My mother thought that was why I ended up living in Cornwall-the Celtic influence.
Can I add another one as it's Christmas? Lapland- I want to dash through the snow in in a 'one horse open sleigh' and feed a reindeer.
My father Charlie was born here in 1915, overlooking Cullen Bay, in a tiny cottage just up to the right of the photo.
My father Charlie was born here in Cullen on the Moray coast, in a little cottage at top right of photo.

10.What made you smile today?
My little dog Oscar. He is just the cutest little creature ever-I never knew little dogs could have so much character and be so much fun. I only have to look at his little face and can't help but smile. He devises ways to run off with my ball of wool or latest bit of crochet all the time.

11. What do you do on a rainy Sunday?
Rainy Sundays are made for crafting, reading and soggy dog walks- -we get plenty in Cornwall-bring them on!

If you read all that lot well done and many, many thanks!

I would like to nominate the following 8 super blogs -do pop over and visit! Bloggers please answer the 8 questions in a post and post the 'Liebster' logo to your blog, then nominate your favourites!

Ellie at
Christine at
Deborah at
Helen at
Jacqui at
Maria at
Rita at

Your questions:

1. What is your favourite craft?
2. What is your home area like?
3. What's your favourite childhood memory?
4. Do you have a day job and if so what is it?
5. What is your favourite animal and do you have any pets?
6. How are your happiest days spent?
7. What are your dreams for the future?
8. What is your favourite quotation?

Thanks again Anne and Michelle-looking forward to exploring your nominated blogs over the holiday.

Have a great week of Christmas preparations everyone!
Best wishes
Alison xx

Monday, 17 November 2014

Season of mists and Christmas craftiness...

The wedding is beginning to seem a while ago now but fond recollections of a marvellous day continue. Thank you all so very much for the wonderful comments left -it was truly heart warming to feel that the day was shared with new friends far and wide!  

 Autumn walks

...and so to Autumn  and apologies Keats for changing your memorable line in my title today!

                                   'Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
                                   Close bosomed friend of the maturing sun...'
                                                                                                'Ode to Autumn'  John Keats

   We certainly have Autumn mists here in Cornwall, but the damp and huge amount of rain can be offset by some bright sunny November days when the light is so clear. On such days it's such a pleasure to walk with the dogs and enjoy the beauty of Autumn. Often I pass through our main town of Truro - actually a city, known for its cathedral and a favourite walk is along the Truro river. There is a lovely spot to sit awhile with a coffee looking across to the cathedral.

As the river is tidal, there are many wading birds, ducks, gulls and swans to be seen.  I love to see the bright little boats moored up alongside, resting and waiting. almost like the dogs, to be taken out!

Autumn is only just beginning to show its true colours, with trees losing their leaves a little later than in counties further north.

It's lovely to stop and enjoy the views but Bonnie and Oscar are always ready to get going again!

Season of Christmas craftiness...

October, November and December-the 'golden quarter' of crafting! There is just so much scope for the handmade at this time -who doesn't love a uniquely crafted gift for Christmas? I also find this a frustrating time because I have so many ideas of all the items I am going to make but find that time is  seems to fly and we're charging headlong into December before I'm even started!
It took me a while to pack away all the wedding materials and get my mind onto something new. First I treated myself to these sparkly metallic crochet cottons. Aren't they gorgeous? Can't wait to use them!

Then I fancied doing something with felt so collected lots of Christmassy bits and pieces together and die-cut some festive shapes.

The wedding 'favours' were tiny jars containing 'Bonbons de Paris'. Some guests left the jars behind after consuming the contents! They are the perfect size for storing buttons and trims. It was quite therapeutic sorting out my reds and greens!

I sewed the shapes together simply on the machine.

I love this cute snowman shape:

In fact I liked him so much I went and made a card of him as well! Possibly an idea for my daughter's  primary class as I know she will be after me for Christmas project ideas soon! 

Do you like his tartan scarf? I could play with paper cutting and sticking for hours! Hopefully I may have some finished 'felties' to show you soon, and some Christmas crochet!

Hope you are having a good week,

Best wishes

Alison xx

Friday, 31 October 2014

Wedding reflections...

Many thanks to all of you for your kind wishes for my daughter's wedding. I just can't tell you how wonderful a day it was. Everything from start to finish went just as we had hoped - it was such a memorable day full of love, joy and beauty.

Vintage inspiration.

For my 'Mother of the Bride' outfit I wanted to celebrate my mother's wedding in November, 1944 as it is almost 70 years from that day. She wore a navy dress and bolero jacket with tilt hat, three carnation cream corsage and cream gloves:

I took inspiration from Pinterest and put together a board- vintage corsages. Eventually I decided to crochet three basic roses in the gorgeous  Bergere de France 'Froment' which was the same as the butterflies I made for the table centrepieces, described in my last post here

Roses crocheted in 'Froment' using a 3.00mm hook.

I made up the roses and placed a mix of vintage buttons in creams and ivory, some little sparkly seed beads and some of my favourite Japanese toho beads in the centre.  

The 'leaves' were made from Laura Ashley 'Lucille' a deep rich cream silk. They are a simple square folded over and gathered at the long edge. I applied the whole piece to a backing strip and attached to my jacket with stitches which kept it in place much better.

I was delighted to find, incredibly, a jacket almost the same as the one Mum wore.  I remember her navy crepe dress and jacket so well as, decades ago, I found her outfit it in the bottom of her wardrobe. I was too tall for the dress but she let me wear the jacket to go out. I found an almost identical one by Havren. I am amazed by how styles seem to come back around!

Glove challenge!

I was on a roll with 'Froment' and challenged myself to make my own gloves in vintage 'fishnet' filet crochet. The actual crochet is basically simple trebles, but first the thumb shaping then the fingers sent me into a bit of a twist! Seeing the effect take shape though I was determined to see it through. At one point, about a week before the wedding I had just one glove completed-thought I'd end up looking like Michael Jackson. 

 I kept going with my favourite Aristotle quote : 

Practice then, I thought. Sort those fingers!


Loved finally doing the edging-so pretty!

Now all they needed was a vintage button at the wrist...

Through the generations.

With a navy dress to match, the search for 'the hat' had been on for some time. Have you ever seen something you really like but then searched around trying everything else, before coming back to that original piece you saw first? It seemed nothing was as fitting as this cute pillbox in navy silk with an oversized bow-uncannily like Mum's. 

Hat's off Mum! You always said you loved me in navy and cream, in a hat, and with my hair 'done up'. I  so wished you could have been there, but I could feel your love running through the generations as I saw my lovely daughter married. Hope I made you proud!

What a wonderful day-thank you for sharing it with me.

Best wishes
Alison xx

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Butterfly crochet and almost there...

I can't believe that the wedding is almost upon us! Less than two weeks away now ....these events when announced always seem so far in the distant future but the months and weeks have a way of slipping by so fast. I wanted to share with you a little more about my hand makes...

The table decorations are built around shabby chic birdcages in ivory- I had seen a few inspiring pics added to my pinboard and we managed to get ten gorgeous cages. They are quite tall and have silver candle holders, so I planned to add red velvet roses, trail ivy up the sides and light up the centrepiece with tiny warm ivory LED lights.  I really wanted a little butterfly to 'alight' on each cage and visualised they would be in vintage-look crochet.

I browsed at lots of patterns for butterflies but none seemed quite delicate enough/vintage enough until I came across this pattern on  Etsy-the pattern is available as an instant download for just £1.25.
Designed as a brooch, the butterfly looks like it has a double set of wings, giving it a 3D effect.
It is first created from a circle motif:
First I tried it as suggested using DMC Petra crochet cotton in natural. When the circle is made it is simply folded over-it looked so complicated at first but then made perfect sense!
The butterfly measures about 4 in across-lovely but definitely too large for the effect I was looking for. Nevertheless, I popped on the centre as suggested in the brooch pattern:
So cute! For me, this would be a little large for a brooch, but I think it would look great maybe on a headband. How would you use them?

Next I tried using this gorgeous Bergere de France 'Froment' crochet cotton. 'Froment' means 'wheat' but it is a very pale wheat, much more like the ivory of my daughter's wedding dress.

This time I used a 2.50. hook.

The results were much more delicate and just the right size! I then worked out a more sparkly 'body' by using craft wire and some of my favourite Japanese toho beads. I used silver lined crystal ones-I love these seed beads as they come in a larger size perfect for threading and more dramatic effects. 

A few evenings were spent creating several more. I love the feeling when you have practised a pattern so much you can do it without constantly checking the directions!

All ready to be popped on the centrepieces. 
Here's one I tried out:

Hope you like them!

Best wishes
Alison xx

Monday, 6 October 2014

Getting to the heart of wedding craft!

I really need to thank you all so very much for taking the time to leave such kind and thoughtful messages on my last post about the loss of our lovely dog Kate-  your kindness is truly appreciated-thank you. 

I have begun to crack on with the wedding crafts with a vengeance-less than three weeks to go now!

As part of the decorations and gifts my daughter wanted me to incorporate some of the little hearts I usually make using Cath Kidston fabrics. Generally I work to a simple idea using two fabrics and decorating with a ribbon message:

This time I wanted something a little more fitting for the vintage Paris theme. It was the perfect excuse to browse Pinterest and put together a board of ideas: 'Heirloom Wedding'. At last I could put to use some of that gorgeous vintage lace I have and seek out more Paris themed fabrics! 

I love fabrics which incorporate vintage photographs. 

I have some wonderful vintage laces, some left to me by my mother and wanted to include them as much as possible. I put them together with buttons, rosettes and a few fabric flower shapes made from scraps of Laura Ashley vintage fabrics.

I liked the idea of hand stamping motifs onto linen as well. I used  Versacraft ink as it seems to have much more depth when hand stamping on fabric. 

I tried out some ideas-the personalised label was made using a custom stamp: 

I used a little blue French toile linen for this one. The tiny rosette is a scrap of Laura Ashley vintage 'Wild Clematis'.

I planned to make these ones as special keepsakes for the main bridal party and thought it would be more special to make each one a little different. 

It was pure pleasure selecting vintage buttons and working with the gorgeous lace! 

A little touch of vintage Paris and lace from a vintage wedding gown went into this one,

I do hope the recipients will enjoy them and keep as a memento of the day.

Do you like vintage lace? How do you use it? It always makes me think of those beautiful weddings of the 1920s and 30s before wartime shortages set in! 

Ah... a vintage wedding in the city of light. Hopefully I will be able to create just a little flavour of this era for Laura and Adam on their special day! 

Have a lovely week
Best wishes

Alison xx

Monday, 29 September 2014

Farewell to a loyal companion

I'm afraid that I have not posted for a few weeks, or managed to keep up with your lovely news. It has been a sad September for us as we  lost our lovely oldest dog, the beautiful Kate, earlier in the month. She was 14 and had recently become rapidly unwell. An operation was planned for the second week in September, but things overtook and the vet had to do an emergency operation.  Although he did everything he could to save her, unfortunately the outcome was not good and we had to let her go on the operating table.
I know many of you will understand as you have beloved pets-the heartbreak it brings when you have to say goodbye. Yet we would do it all again for the joy and companionship Kate brought to us.
Kate was our little 'Millennium' puppy-born in August 2000. Rescued at only five weeks from a squalid flat, the mother gone, I knew all the rules said I should not have taken her but after she climbed on my daughter's then 6 year old lap and looked into her eyes-of course we took her. She had not been treated well and was highly nervous and fearful of threat, thus we worked so hard over a long time to gain her trust. She became the most loyal and loving companion and fiercely protective.  What fun she brought over many shared adventures; she read every emotion and always knew when to offer comfort. 
When my husband first saw her all those years ago he remarked, 'What a pretty face!' and the final words said by a stranger were 'Isn't she just beautiful?'  A fitting tribute to a wonderful friend, beautiful inside and out, who will remain on our hearts forever. 
We are gradually getting used to her not being here. She loved the two younger dogs and they are lifting us up with their unique, funny characters and loving ways.

I have also returned to my little part-time job as a lecturer -I have some lovely new trainee teachers full of zest for education which is a joy.  Also of course we have the wedding to look forward to which is now in less than four weeks time! 

I have been crafting items for the day and will write about this soon-a list of 10 'to-dos' is still to be tackled-scary thought! The 'designing' is all done but it all needs making/finishing, which includes cutting, sticking, stamping, putting together, arranging, crocheting...eek! I'd better stop here and get going!!

I will be catching up with your lovely blogs and news over the next week and soon be writing about my crafty makes again.
Hope you are having a lovely week,
Alison xx

Saturday, 6 September 2014

The wedding planner...

When my older daughter announced her engagement in February with an October wedding date I thought 'that's eons away'! There was long dark nights, foul weather,  Easter eggs and Springtime all to get through first before the arrival of summer-and long holidays! After the initial excitement I convinced myself there was no need to really think seriously about the fact I was 'designing' the event until nearer the time. How could I overlook that saying about time flying!
To say I am actually planning the wedding is actually a gross misinterpretation of the facts (I do have a tendency to over exaggerate on occasions)!  Actually what I have done is more 'style' it. The happy couple asked me to come up with a theme for them which fitted with their interests and the venue. This is a wonderful art-deco hotel built in 1929, on a cliff top overlooking the sweep of the bay. It is gorgeous, already with a feel of 1920s glamour.

The thinking part didn't take too long...I knew they would like the celebration to reflect their shared love of the city of light and Laura's love of le  français.  With the allure of La belle France and loving all things shabby chic we settled on a vintage Parisian theme with a touch of Gatsby glitz!

I had seen photos of a wedding in Paris which really was the epitome of French glamour and couldn't resist- bride in gorgeous ivory lace with bridesmaids and grooms men in chic navy.  A splash of red roses completed the look-fantastique cherie!   We put together a Pinterest board: Parisian wedding -what a great place Pinterest is to store ideas!
Since then most of the main organisation has been done, invitations are out, responses are being logged, the summer is over and I've finally made a start  on all those crafty bits I'd seen in my mind's eye!

Tag time! 

I thought making tags and labels for the favours and bridal party gifts would be easy...I'd made some simple ones for other weddings using Cath Kidston/Laura Ashley: 
Mais  non! These would not fit with all things vintage Paris!

I love rubber stamping and often make simple tags just with one ink like this:

...mais non- Trop rustic methinks!

Trop simple! Time to inject a little more excitement and I have been getting very enthused by altered art and mixed media lately. I wanted to experiment with distress ink to get a bit more depth and interest. So before any more stress set in I decided to distress! Here's what I did. 

Bridal party gift tags.

I sallied forth with  Tim Holtz distress inks in 'Antique linen' and 'Tattered rose', sweeping over cream card with the brayer. 

Looked a bit of a mess at first I thought but carried on regardless!
The Dogfather (my hubby) had bought me this gorgeous background stamp for my birthday in May. It's quite big though-I didn't need the whole design.
I experimented with Archival ink in Sepia and French ultramarine-the blue looked best or maybe I was swayed by the name! I decided to use only the section of the stamp with the tower.
I wanted to highlight the word 'Paris' in red, so covered it up while I rollered the blue ink on.

I removed the card and dabbed red onto the word.

Voilà! I stamped them on to the base. 

I chose a tag shape which would show most of the tower-this one is Sizzix. 

Ooh là là   -there we are! 

Just need to 'age' them a little more with 'Vintage photo' and sepia inks...
All done! Now for a few extra bits of shabby chicness...some vintage lace and tiny roses.

Finished with vintage navy taffeta ribbon and stamped with vintage typewriter font on reverse.

Job done-and the bride loves them!

Time is gathering apace towards the wedding and more crafty projects to follow!

Hope you have a lovely relaxing weekend

Alison xx