Monday, 27 April 2015

Shoes, Shoes, Shoes

Can a girl ever have too many shoes? Even if she is only a few weeks old?

In my last post I mentioned shoes, specifically a pair of baby Mary Janes. When I heard my friend had a new grand-daughter I wanted to make a little something for her but didn't want to do yet another car seat blanket. I couldn't think of anything more different than shoes. If I'm honest I love the baby Mary Jane patterns I've seen, they are pretty, they are cute and oh so girly but I haven't had a little girl to make any for until now. The only other baby girl doesn't live in the UK and would have outgrown them before they reached her so I was really quite excited at finally getting a chance to make a pair.

Off upstairs to the bookcase I went and pulled out all my crochet books. I had three different patterns to try -  ballet shoes, lacy slippers and Mary Janes from the books Cute and Easy Crochet, Crocheted Gifts in a Weekend and Easy Crochet.

 I tried them all however in the end I decided to use the pattern I found in the January issue of Love Crochet magazine, it's the one with  Liz Ward's incredibly cute and colourful monkey on the front.

The Mary Jane pattern is by Nicki Trench, aren't these tiny shoes adorable?

 They are worked all in one piece too, hardly any sewing, need I say more?

I had originally planned to use Sirdar Snuggly 4 ply yarn in a very soft, pale lilac however the pattern in the magazine used 3 ply mercerised cotton in white which I just happened to have in three colours - white, lemon and red. Instead of pink and green embroidery floss for the leaves and flowers I planned to substitute lilac and purple for the pink. Not quite white and lilac are they?

Somewhere between the sole and upper of the first shoe I changed my mind, perhaps influenced by the summery weather we had been having and started again using lemon for the main colour of the shoe. Once both shoes had been completed in lemon it was time to crochet the contrasting trim around the edges. The white yarn I had planned to use didn't look quite right, I felt it was a little wishy-washy so I tried the red. Now I'll be honest, red and yellow on a baby shoe? I wasn't too sure about that at all. I edged the first shoe with trepidation, fully expecting to find it too harsh and rip it out again...but... it looked good. It was cheerful. It was summery. It worked!

Next up were the flowers to decorate the front of the Mary Jane, with the new colours I favoured daisies. I like daisies but...they didn't go, just didn't look right so it was back to the drawing board. I tried a few different colours of embroidery floss, they weren't right either. Having run out of options I had the red cotton left but I thought would that be too much red? Overpowering? As the local wool shop is in the next town popping over there wasn't a quick option so I tried the red, making a small flower for each shoe. It worked, it actually looked okay, so I carried on and made the leaves using green embroidery floss and stitched them on to the shoes.

The pattern in the magazine used velcro to fasten the straps on the shoes and two little buttons to decorate so I added some velcro then spent a happy hour going through the button box at my Mum's house, coming home with two tiny red buttons to try and two little white buttons. When I tried the buttons on the shoes though, it didn't look good, it was too much, too fussy, so I left them off.

Finally, they were ready to block and go to their little owner, but first I just had to admire them for a little longer.

The shoes I've made are a little smaller than the ones in the pattern as those are to fit a baby 6-9 months old and the baby I've made these shoes for will only be a couple of months old by summer. I lined a pretty gift bag with white tissue, nestled the bright, summery little shoes inside and delivered them to Grandma's house.

Have you made Mary Janes or other styles of baby shoes? What pattern and colours did you use? I'd love to know.


Sunday, 19 April 2015

A Highland Fling

Hello, I'm back after a taking a break for the Easter hols and as you may have guessed, we went North this year and spent a few days in the Scottish Highlands. This is something of a departure for us, we usually head south of the border if we stay in the UK with the Lakes, Yorkshire and Cornwall some of our favourite destinations however there were a couple of places I wanted to visit so north we went. We stayed in the popular town of Fort William situated at the foot of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain, it marks the end of the West Highland Way long distance walking route.

We had a beautiful drive north passing Loch Lomond in glorious sunshine on the way up the Great Western Road (or A82) with a break at Glencoe for a bit of a potter about and to admire the majestic mountains.

These photos were taken on the walk from the car park just before the National Trust Visitor centre to An Torr and Signal Rock, where the signal to start the Glencoe Massacre was given.

It was much hotter than we expected at this time of year which made for a lovely ramble. We returned to the car to move just a little along the road to the  NTS Visitor Centre  which made an ideal stop for a late lunch before visiting the exhibition and having another wander, this time round the waymarked path outside the visitor centre. I enjoyed the exhibition here, brushing up on the history and geology of the area and seeing how hardy the climbers of old were, I certainly wouldn't fancy walking in hob nailed boots and even shorts as they did.

We left Glencoe in a happy mood, refreshed by the fresh air, food and sunshine and carried on to our destination in Fort William where we were staying the night in the friendly Myrtle Bank  B&B overlooking Loch Linnhe. This guesthouse has a great location with fantastic views across the loch to the hills opposite and with a friendly welcome and very high standards of accommodation I felt very lucky to wake up to the stunning view of an early sunny morning with the mist coming down over the loch.

It is so beautiful I remarked to N that I'd like to wake up to this view every morning. By the time we went downstairs for breakfast the view was completely obscured by the mist and it was very grey however it soon cleared up and as we left to make the short drive to Glenfinnan it was sunny again.

I had wanted to climb the monument at Glenfinnan  for a while, we had planned to go last autumn but circumstances prevented it so I was pleased to be there at last.

There are only six people allowed to go up the monument at a time as there is very little space up there. I happily went in to ascend the spiral stairway and oh my, that was a little hair raising. It is so very narrow, steep, dark and has trip steps. N and I were last to go up in the group, with so little light (the others were blocking what light there was) I was in pitch black holding on to the grab rope with N behind me thinking I needed some help and trying to give me a push upwards! Not being the bravest (or should that be foolhardy?) of souls I opted for patience and waited for the others to ascend so I could see before continuing myself.

Once at the top there was a scramble up through a small hatch to be met with this view, isn't it stunning?

Loch Shiel from the head of the loch on one side

 and the 21 arch viaduct in the other.

Those who are Harry Potter fans may recognise it as both it and the Jacobite steam train were used in the films, sadly it was too early in the year for a trip on the "Hogwarts Express".

After lunch we headed out to follow the Road to the Small Isles. We got a good clear view of the island of Eigg

and a hazier view of Rum, I hope you can see it.

We passed the silver sands of Morar, which looked very white in the bright sunshine before arriving in the fishing village of Mallaig mid-afternoon where we enjoyed a wander around the village before watching the ferry leave for the island of Skye. We then returned to Fort William and our B&B for our last night. The next morning we had a last wander around the town before having a loch-side picnic to make the most of the beautiful weather and returned home.

It's safe to say that my crochet has been sadly neglected over the last couple of weeks, the baby Mary Janes which I decided to make in a summery yellow and red for my friend's grand-daughter are still awaiting completion. As the holidays are now at an end with school going back tomorrow normal life has returned and I will be aiming to get several WIPs finished very soon. I'd love to hear what you have all been doing.


Saturday, 4 April 2015

Accessorising With Flowers

A few weeks ago I posted a pic of some spring flowers but hadn't decided what to do with them back then.  Various ideas flitted through my head over the following weeks, including a suggestion by Josie (Sew for Soul) for a Spring wreath. Ooh, choices, choices, how to make my mind up!  In the end I went with my first idea of a tissue box cover as I thought it would be nice to have them on view all the time to brighten up our living room so off I went with some cream DK, a 3mm hook and a box of tissues. A few attempts later, as I didn't have a pattern for the cover and was sizing and shaping as I went, I had this.

I already had the flowers but no leaves so once again it was my yarn stash to the rescue yielding some dark green DK yarn. A spring green would have been better but it as it was alternating between snow showers and hail at the time I didn't feel like going out and made do with the darker green. I didn't have a pattern for the leaves, I just made it up as I went along using double crochet, half treble and treble stitches to shape them. As those who know me are aware, I'm not a fan of making up and like to keep sewing to a minimum  so this cover, flowers and leaves have all been worked in the round. 

Then I had to decide where these little flowers would live so it was time to move it around. The windowsill was nice and bright but I didn't want it there,

 so I moved it to here.

 It now resides in full view on my lamp table to add a touch of bright Spring colour to my home.

Whilst working on the tissue box cover last week I got a surprise call from an old friend to tell me she has a new granddaughter, a big surprise as it was a little earlier than I expected and....we thought she was going to be a boy! Now, little girls are definitely thin on the ground around here, it's mostly boys, so I was delighted to be able to think in terms of pink and lilac instead of blue. Out went the baby converse boot pattern and in came pretty pastel bootees and Mary Janes. Oh the joy, the boys are lovely but I feel so happy to be making something pretty for a little girl. I'll show you the finished article once it has been safely delivered to the recipient.

On another note, I love Easter, love that it is less commercial than Christmas, more time for family with the holidays, the signs of new growth all around, the traditions we have started such as making Easter Bread for Sunday breakfast and Hot Cross Buns for tea, it's the only time we have them. What are your traditions? Wishing you all a lovely, Happy Easter.

H x