Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Mermaid summer

Such a long time since I posted-it has been a glorious summer with much fun with holidays and family and friends. 

My lovely great-niece Isla and her little brother Ollie kept me busy when they spent some weeks in Cornwall. We played all sorts of games, did crafts and told stories, particularly about Cornish ghosts, in which Ollie has the typical ghoulish fascination of an 8 year old. His imagination ran riot here at the old farmhouse!  

Isla adores mermaids -she is in and out of the sea like one herself so I set my mind to making her a mermaid princess in crochet. I have only just discovered amirugumi and the first ever attempt was earlier in the summer when in Wales I made a tiny rabbit for my baby grandaughter (now due in 4 weeks time).  

I used this pattern from  Zan Crochet - such cute bunnies! It worked out perfectly for the size I wanted by using Patons 4 ply cotton and a 2.75mm hook. She is just the right size for little hands to hold. 

Feeling empowered by the creation of 'Lexie rabbit' I was determined to make a mermaid doll. I looked at so many different pictures and patterns but somehow could not seem to find anything that fulfilled my vision of 'Isla the mermaid princess'. In the end I decided to make the head as the rabbit head, and just see where it went from there!! 

After much trial and error...Isla the mermaid princess took shape!

I wanted her to have more of a top than the usual shells so just crocheted it in pale lilac and added a neckline using a vintage edging pattern. The tiara was from a vintage edging design as well then edged with Anchor metallic thread. 
The hair had to be very long like the little girl herself and I did watch a couple of tutorials on the 'wig' method for amirugumi dolls for that. It must have taken longer to make than the whole doll itself but was worth it! I finished off the hair with a few threads of silver metallic chains. 
The little girl in question adored her own little replica Isla! 

The yarn used-Baby Rooster- was left over from a blanket project for the coming baby:

Oh my goodness-discovered Rooster baby Rooster when I found this delicious pattern in Nicki Trench's Cute and easy crochet. Just couldn't resist the delicious colours, and the feel of the yarn is just pure pleasure to work with. 

Having a little of the yarn left and purple being Isla's favourite colour, it was just crying put to be used for the mermaid. The shade Cornish seemed the perfect milky shade for her skin - must have been named especially for her! The shade is just like the delicious clotted cream ice cream the county is famous for-

 Well summer's almost over-hope you have enjoyed some lovely sunny days, warmth and fun. Will be catching up on those lovely blogs very soon!

Best wishes

Alison xx 

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

One lovely Spring time

It's been a wonderful Spring time for me-such  a busy few weeks though with family events and much to do. Just to take time to write here is truly a pleasure! 

A few weeks ago my lovely friend Christine of http://patchworkallsorts.blogspot.co.uk/ was kind enough to nominate me for the 'Lovely blog' award. Thanks so much Christine, I feel very honoured!

It is always uplifting to see Christine's cheerful posts and beautiful needlework. Christine and I have so many things in common, similar little dogs and speaking French to name but two!

To fulfil the award, bloggers nominate others that they think 'lovely'. You need to link back to the person who nominated you in your post, share 7 facts about yourself, then nominate 10 other bloggers for the award. I do find the last bit quite hard because there really are so many truly 'lovely' blogs out there!

So here are my 7 facts:

  1. May is my favourite month. It has my birthday in it and is all about the celebration of Spring and new life. 
  2. My father was a Scot and my mum an 'English rose'.   Just found these pics taken  just after they met in 1941. I love the way he's smiling in the second one -his true character. After Burma, he looked very different.
  3. I adore the 1930s and 40s especially Fred and Ginger! Here's a new pic to frame for my little wall collection.

  4. I've had a teaching career and now am a part-time lecturer in education to new secondary teachers - I hope I inspire them!

    Well said, Oscar Wilde!

  5. I have a little French dog, Oscar. He is a bichon frise but he gets called anything from a 'Little lamb' to a 'Teddy bear in woolly pyjamas' ! 
6. I adore period dramas and a handsome, proper English gentleman with a cut glass accent -   Dan Stevens (Downton)  will do very nicely, thank you!

7.  I'm going to be a Grandma! My lovely daughter who got married last year is having a baby girl in October -I am over the moon with excitement!! All that lovely crochet and sewing! Have already been practising for two gorgeous baby girls of friends and family born recently-all that lovely pink...

Shells blanket

Candy pink floral edge cardigan

Finished with a cute vintage button

I agree totally, Pooh!

There are so many 'lovely blogs' that it is really difficult to pass on these awards...any of the ones on my sidebar are great and many, many others! I'll just suggest the following ones more recently discovered, if you have a moment do pop over and take a look-

Vicky at http://craftingclare.blogspot.co.uk/
 Chel at  http://sweetbriardreams.blogspot.co.uk/
Anne at http://crochetbetweentwoworlds.blogspot.co.uk/
Linda at http://www.theroadtooklahoma.com/
Monica at http://lunamondesign.blogspot.co.uk/
Sayjai at http://kandjdolls.blogspot.co.uk/
Inspiration at http://countryviewcrafts.blogspot.co.uk/
Inspiration at http://artisticoutpost.blogspot.co.uk/

Crafting, gardening, and beach visits for me in June I hope- what are you doing in June's beautiful weather?

Best wishes

Alison xx

Monday, 27 April 2015

(Hang) Spring cleaning.

'Hang Spring cleaning!' (said the mole in the Wind in the Willows), after working very hard all morning cleaning his little home. This line always comes to me whenever I attempt a bit of Spring cleaning, because my cleaning efforts never last very long...just like mole I'm ready to throw down the duster and brush and bolt out into the sunshine, without even putting on my coat!

Cornwall's bright gorse calls me away to bright coastal walks...
 Unfortunately,  the first rays of sunshine do like to highlight the incredible amount of clutter and cobweb that the old farmhouse seems to attract like a magnet. So nothing for it but to  attempt to clean bit by bit, starting small, I thought. A quick tidy of my little sewing room then I could intersperse the cleaning with some sewing as an incentive. Shock- I realised that if I was ever to sew anything again this year, it would require a major Spring clean! 

There are no 'before' pics!

After several bursts of sorting-in we go!

At last I could see the wood for the trees...or at least actually walk in! The chair is from my mother, from my grandmother's set of four with table, given at her marriage in 1900. It's a little creaky but at 115 years old it's not surprising! 

Sorted my little 'Quartier des bonnes affaires' ('Bargain corner' in French). I've placed one of my daughter's wedding centre pieces in the corner so I can remember the day whenever I'm in there. The 'Good needlework' picture is the front of a 1930s magazine that belonged to my mother. 

Little wall storage cupboards sorted-East of India gingham ribbon and vintage thread reels from my mother's collection.

Buttons finally sorted, bottled and shelved...

Love this pin cushion storage jar made for me by a crafty friend.

Cleaning up your sewing room it's inevitable you will unearth a whole load of WIPs! 

At last-a clean sewing room, all ready to begin!  Really should start by finishing those left projects but got waylaid by some cute Cath Kidston hexies:

 ...and soon found lots more!

Hexies are so addictive-I love playing around with all the variations you can make with simple 'Grandmother's flower garden'

Summer cushions are coming to mind...what would you make?

So finally a clean sewing room and lots of projects to begin. Lots more Spring cleaning still to be done, but for now, just like mole, it won't take much to tempt me away out into the sunshine!

Have a lovely week,
Best wishes
Alison xx

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Winning crochet!

I could not contain my excitement when I heard I was the winner of the Stitch Craft Create crochet motifs competition. I feel so honoured to have been chosen as winner with my Spring hens motifs!

It was wonderful to receive this fabulous bundle as my prize!

The competition was organised by Stitch Craft Create to celebrate the publication of 'Hooked!' a fabulous new book all about crochet motifs. The designs are whimsical and original -can't wait to get going on them.
Think I'll start with this really cute hedgehog!

It was so lovely to receive the yarn bundle as well as the book, such lovely colours all ready to be crocheted up. I can't thank the judges enough for choosing my little hens, especially as there were other lovely designs as well-if you have a moment do watch the video displaying the winning entries-see it here: 

 Stitch Craft Create crochet motifs competition 

If you are crafty you may know Stitch Craft Create ; I use it often especially for inspiration-many crafts are covered with fabulous ideas, a plethora of patterns, ideas and projects as well as free downloads! The site covers sewing, knitting, crochet and other crafts and has an extensive shop. 

Of course I was delighted to win and it is rare for me to enter any kind of contest- I've never been much interested in competition...who wins is not important.  We should empower each other to develop our individual skills,  this does not have to be against each other. So proud  then that since last summer when I set out  to 'Get back to crochet'   I have proved to myself once again that we can develop our skills by practice, getting a little 'further down the road' of what we are choosing to do. 

The greatest reward is that it has really inspired me to enable others to share this wonderful craft. My plans therefore, for the yarn bundle are to save it for a new project I have in mind...teaching crochet classes. A couple of groups of lovely ladies have already asked if I will do this and although I've been a teacher for all my career I was waiting to build my confidence with crochet a little more before diving in! I would also like to introduce the wonderful primary children to whom I teach beading to the delights of crochet...we may be able to add crochet techniques to our beading repertoire!

Beading Club

So thanks again to my little hens-lots of projects planned to use them for but I think I may just frame them to remember the moment!

Hope you are having a lovely Easter. Here's a little card I made to send to a French friend of many years:

'Joyeuses Paques' is the French for Happy Easter-Paques comes from the Latin 'pace' meaning 'peace', a lovely thought.

Best wishes
Alison xx

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Mother's Day crochet flowers

I have been working on creating a crochet flower corsage over the last couple of weeks. There is an abundance of patterns for this purpose-the crochet flower is more than well documented! However, I wanted something that was exactly right as I wanted a special flower for today- Mother's Day. 

I no longer have my Mum to give flowers to,  as she passed away three years ago now. Mother's Day was always such a special time for her-I think this went back to when her own mother was a parlour maid in service in the late 1890s-servants would be given the day off to go 'a-mothering'. Whenever we would journey anywhere on Mother's Day and traffic was busy, Mum would declare, 'Oh they're all off a-mothering!'.

Above is one of my favourite vintage photographs-my mother as May Queen, in 1932 aged 14, the year she left school. She always said the roses were so heavy she remembered almost dropping them!

I wrote a few months ago about how my mother of the bride outfit for my daughter's wedding was a tribute to Mum's wartime bridal outfit with  three carnation corsage. Mum loved flowers- her father had been a keen gardener and she too was green-fingered. Once when I was at primary school I came home and could not find her anywhere in the house. Finally I went out into the garden and located her in the greenhouse potting and planting, having completely lost track of time, like an artist deep 'in flow'! 

Roses were her favourite and she had the complexion of an English rose, so my Mother's Day tribute is a pretty rose corsage. The basic pattern I used can be found here. As I used 4 ply cotton and a 2.75mm hook with the measurements suggested the rose would come out a little small so I adjusted it starting with 75 chain-this gave me 36 delicate petals. When assembled the flower measures about 3in across, just right for a corsage.

My daughter spotted them and asked for one each for her Mother-in law and Grandmother-in-law. She chose the candy pink and lilac ones and I made a little gift box for each:

The gift boxes were made from the new Sizzix Bigz XL gift box die -it makes a cute box perfect for jewellery items etc. I decorated each with the birthday cards I made earlier in the year.

Finished off with a hand stamped tag and organza ribbon they were all ready to go:

Hope the two lovely ladies they are intended for enjoy them!

I always miss my own Mum but I am blessed in being a Mum myself and have had a lovely day being spoiled with flowers and books-my only dilemma is which to dive into first?

Hope you have had a lovely day!

Best wishes
Alison xx 

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Spring crochet motifs

Thank you all so much for such kind comments about my crochet makings for the family. Their accessories have still been well worn but we have had some milder weather this week and definitely the beginnings of Spring! 

Along with rabbits, chicks, flowers and eggs,  in Spring we often think of hens strutting around in verdant pastures. It has been a while since hens pecked around our old farmhouse but my kitchen has plenty of reminders of times when they did:

I'd love to put this board outside but sadly wouldn't have any to offer these days!

A shabby old chicken who looks like she has been there since the 30s! With French pottery bowls.

I like this proud strutting rooster-he is a fabric print.

With thoughts of Spring in mind I had the urge to create some cute Easter crochet motifs. 

 So my first fun make was some cute hens:

Here they are, strutting among the tulips.

To make them I used Patons 4 ply 100% cotton-I really like this for motifs. It has a lovely feel and  lustrous sheen to it, I used a 2.75 mm hook as I crochet fairly loosely; the gauge doesn't really matter but for an applique the crochet fabric needs to be fairly firm. Her legs were a bit tricky but once I got the hang of them I couldn't stop making them! 

Her wing shape is embroidered on and her eye is a French knot.

Well having begun with hens I had to follow with chicks... I wasn't happy with the shade of yellow in my favourite Patons though, I just had to have something brighter, more of a chick coloured yellow! My search led me to Susan Crawford vintage cotton. There I found 'Canary' the perfect shade-as yellow as an egg yolk! Oh Susan though you now have me hooked on the quality of this gorgeous yarn and I want to make all your vintage designs in those mesmerising colours!

The chicks were easy to make but again, beaks and feet are a bit fiddly...a bit of practice to get them uniform but on the other hand each does seem to have its own character!

These designs were from the fabulous book' How to make 100 Crochet appliques' by Deborah Burger. The book uses American crochet terminology but I have now learned this by heart as I could no longer miss out on the fantastic patterns that come from our American friends! Now I know it it actually makes perfect sense!

The author has designed a plethora of fun motifs in themed sections-something for every occasion; I really want to make them all!

So how shall I use my hens and chicks? I had the intention of using them for Easter cards but my daughters suggested they would look cute on a tea towel or teapot cosy! Any suggestions? I'd love to hear them!

So like my chicks, Spring is springing in Cornwall...some sweet primroses on my rockery. 

Have a lovely week,
Best wishes
Alison xx