Friday, 18 September 2020

Duchess, another cosy cowl!

 First things first...THANK YOU SO MUCH for all the comments on last week's Nomad Cosy Cowl post. I really tried to answer each one of you but ran out of steam! I love it so much that you all are so keen to participate in the Friday Giveaways! Instead of 5 Winners, I picked 12! It's always a lot of fun.

Lovelies, I made another cowl! I'm hooked, I'm addicted, I'm already making another one and have a few more sketched out! Help!

Why didn't anyone tell me that cowls are a fun quick project and that they look fabulous worn? Roxy agrees, and can you tell that she was definitely a supermodel in a previous life? That look! I was laughing so hard I couldn't keep the camera perfectly still. πŸ˜„

If you remember, last week I was a bit short of images for the Nomad Cosy Cowl HERE as seen in situ because the lovely Tanya was otherwise occupied? Well, here it is, on a neck so that you can get an idea of sizing on an adult human being. Although Roxy is humanlike in so many ways, and I treat her as such, she's not quite the model I'm looking for.

Today is a special one in the Hooks 'n Tales household. Mr Hooks'nTales has returned to the office after six months of enforced work-from-home due to you-know-what. The house is unusually quiet, the furry-kids are fast asleep on the couch. I can hear the comforting hum of the washing machine and soon I'll make a salad for lunch and enjoy it out in the garden, followed by a spot of crochet in a warm patch and possibly a leisurely walk at my favourite green belt. On the way back I may even stop at the local coffee station for a takeout almond milk cappuccino. Can you tell I love having " my space " back?

I've released the Duchess Cosy Cowl pattern HERE on Ravelry this morning! It's a quick and fairly simple design which, like Nomad, can be easily adapted for all sorts of other makes! I wanted to keep the pattern fairly basic leaving the options to bling it up, to the scope of your imagination! I've added pom-poms but I also wanted to add little flowers, leaves or bees...or tassels! I've just binge-watched the entire first season of The Duchess on Netflix HERE Can you tell I'm a huge Katherine Ryan fan? She is adorably outrageous ( albeit not everyone's cup of tea ). This cowl is a tribute to her. 

The weather here in Cape Town has not been Springy at all. It's rained every second day making thick socks, boots, woolly jumpers and hot chocolate very much the order of the day, so far. I'm not complaining. Ok, maybe a teeny bit. It would be nice to have a nice, warm, sunny day. Just to warm up the old, old, old, bones. Once a week would be fine.πŸ˜„ 

Other than the weather report...nothing much happening in my world ( a good sign ) other than crocheting cowls, typing out patterns, ORDERING YARN ONLINE ( teehee, as if I need more, which I don't! )... and everyday walks in splendid, magical Nature. Interspersed, however, with the homely duties that come with having a work-from-home husband chained to his desk up until yesterday! Oh, speaking of magical Nature, have you watched My Octopus Teacher on Netflix!? If you haven't really must! It's BEAUTIFUL!

This week I'll be giving away 5 x Duchess Cosy Cowls,  picked randomly from the Lucky WinnerS Hat. Winners from last week's Giveaway will find their Nomad Cosy Cowl pattern in their Ravelry inbox! Enjoy!

So, with hot chocolate in mind, also the washing machine tune just released to tell me I can remove the washload, this is a good time to wish you all a VERY lovely and relaxing weekend! I hope you are all staying safe and sane and crocheting yourselves through what has been an incredibly challenging year so far. Keep it up!

πŸ’— Jen xx

Friday, 11 September 2020

Nomad: a cosy cowl!

 Happy Friday, Lovely Yarnarinnas!

I had no intention of making a Cowl. I blame it on my wayward hook! My lovely model Tanya ( youngest son's longtime GF ) is unfortunately away at the moment assisting at her sister-in-law's birth so we'll just have to imagine this cosy cowl around a cold neck. However, she did model the first sample I made which I will share even though the patterns are not entirely the same. Also, it's upside down...but no matter. πŸ˜†

We're moving towards our very windy season here in Cape Town. It's also not quite Spring yet so the breezes have a certain chill to them, just enough so that a cosy cowl becomes a useful item of walking gear. As you know, I am BIG on walking and if I do happen to miss a day my body berates me until I pull on a pair of boots, leash up those naughty girls, Roxy and Lally, and head for the woods. I don't know if any of you Lovelies have read Walking In This World HERE by Julia Cameron ( who wrote The Artists Way ) but if you haven't, please do!

Recently, one of my new favourite authors, Tom Cox HERE  shared some background information and inspiration behind his new book 21-Century Yokel HERE  about walking the length and breadth of the UK! Humans love to walk and run, and I imagine it's because, at heart and soul, we are Nomadic. And so it was, with all these walks and thoughts swirling about in my mind, that a crochet hook jumped into my hand, a few balls of yarn rolled closer and this cosy little cowl happened HERE.

The other thing about this cowl, other than being cosy that is, is that it's an incredibly easy pattern to just keep replicating until you have a larger wraparound cowl, or worked flat ( mine is made in the round ), a ginormous blanket! I like patterns that are versatile and this one definitely is.

Of course, our GIVEAWAY today is ...yep, you guessed it! πŸ˜€ I'll pick 5 names out of our LUCKY GIVEAWAY HAT next week Friday! Don't forget to leave your Ravelry name. 

Wishing you all a very happy, relaxed and peace-filled weekend.

πŸ’— Jen

Friday, 4 September 2020

Hello, September!

Happy Friday, Lovelies!🌼

I hope you are all keeping well in your corner of crochetland? It's been a very wild and unsettling six months, hasn't it? For one thing, I am exhausted! We've been bombarded with new information and a different crisis, daily! I don't know about you but I'm struggling to absorb it all. At the moment my brain feels as if all tabs are open. I am bookmarking ( in my mind ) like crazy so that at some point ( when life takes on some semblance of normality again ) I can attempt to properly process 2020. This might take years and sometimes I think that the best way forward would be to forget 2020 altogether. But your body doesn't lie, does it? We will all need to find some way to make sense of it all. I know many of my American friends are on tenterhooks for other reasons too, and to you, I send massive hugs and buckets of courage. To all of you who may have lost beloved family or friends, I am lost for words but my heart is with you. A beautifully written article HERE landed in my email this week. It's heart-wrenchingly poignant, profound, yet gently empowering too.

On my side of the world, hibernating in my little craft room while it's stormed and blustered outside seems the sanest thing to do. Although I do love Winter so some point, it does get a BIT MUCH, right? 😊

Even so, every day I've pulled on boots around noon and with two VERY excited doggies in tow, headed out for our daily walk. Princess Laie is now an experienced water baby ( thanks to Roxy's encouraging example ). Everything is green and lush and as we head closer to Spring, wildflowers, especially the wild arum lily are popping up. For some reason, they remind me of ballerinas! This still delights me so much because where I grew up, much further north, you'd only ever see these in suburban gardens or florists! 

With record rainfall this season there is water, water everywhere! I could happily sit here all day watching Roxy and Leia play. I'd need my iPad though because I've recently become addicted to Pinterest. For years I resisted going down that glorious wormhole. Why, Jen, I ask myself? It's a tonic! If you feel like it, you can follow my addiction HERE. My boards are not crochet related, but they are crochet related if you know what I mean?

The greenbelt where I walk is part of a very long trail that begins at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens HERE, wending its way through incredibly diverse Flora, linking the Brommersvlei Trail and Alphen Trail, along the Diep River which widens into Zandvlei in Muizenberg HERE and flows out into False Bay which of course is on the Indian Ocean side of Cape Town. You're probably wondering why I've turned Tourist Guide but really, all of this beauty on my doorstep, is what fills me with brimming crochet inspiration. I never get tired of or jaded by glorious Nature. And for this, I am eternally grateful. If you ever visit Cape Town, don't forget to look me up so that I can show you all the best spots off the beaten touristy track. 😊

I've been literally under the weather  ( storm clouds, buckets of rain, and snow! ) for a few weeks now. Nothing serious but I'm in my PJ's at 6pm and fast asleep by 8pm! I think I'm an expert hibernator now. When I lived in the Netherlands people there called it " voorjaarsmoeheid ". I'm sure I have the spelling wrong but it's the same words in Afrikaans and means roughly " before the new year tiredness " which I understand as; that the "new year" begins in Spring after a long cold and dark Winter? My Dutch friends will set me right on this. But anyway... it perfectly describes my aches and pains, tiredness, and low enthusiasm. Nothing a few days in the warming Sun can't fix. HOWEVER, there is a new design on my hook which I will share soon! Let me add; I'm absolutely LOVING all the gorgeous Moonflowers popping up in our lovely Hooks 'n Tales Pattern Workshop Group HERE. Keep 'em coming, Lovelies, your adventurous colourways warm me to the bone!

Made by Turkan Usta Turgut

Made by Rebekah Kingston

Now that I've cheered myself up it's time for our Friday GIVEAWAY and this week it's Noelene's adorable Tea Time Tassel! Don't forget to add your Ravelry name if you do comment. I'll pick 3 winners randomly from the Lucky Winners Hat! Best of luck!

Lovelies, as always, stay safe, stay calm, seek joy, and peace and only the best coffee ( or tea ).
May your yarn basket remain full and your hook warm!

πŸ’— Jen

Friday, 21 August 2020

A new Block on the block!

 Good morning, Lovelies, from sunny South Africa. Not in Cape Town though. It's rained for weeks!

I don't know about you but I have been struggling to catch up with August. When I looked up from my crochet it was already into mid-August! There was so much talk during Lockdown of having endless acres of free time to do "stuff " we never have time to do otherwise because, you know, no time, etc, etc. Yet, almost everyone I chat with says that time whizzed by! There was no "learning a new language" or " writing that novel" or " clearing out the cluttered drawers ". Anyhow, I just want to tell you all that I know why this happened. I know where the time whizzed by to. It was crochet, right? Everyone has crocheted like MAD! For the record though.....

Like a good little Virgo, I did declutter my stash though. There's a lovely lady who works at our local plant nursery. Her name is Angelina. I didn't know that she knits and crochets. She asked about my Beanie ( Beanie For Days pattern ) which I happened to be wearing at the time, and suddenly we became sisters-in-the-hook! I gifted her two huge bags of unused yarn ( neon colours I know I will never use unless I go blind, god forbid! ), which she absolutely loved and she's been making beanies and scarves for her Fam that will last them several lifetimes. There's always someone who will love what you've fallen out of love with, right?

Anyhow...enough idle chatter! I have a pattern for you today! I called it Moonflower. Actually based more on the Lavender Moonflower ( aka Lavender Moonvine, Morning Glory ). It's my interpretation of this pretty flower which is in fact not indigenous to South Africa ( but they are prolific in certain areas ). I know Morning Glories are quite invasive but I love them nonetheless.

This new design is a large cushion block size, 50cm x 50cm/ 20" x 20". I've used colours from my dwindling Stylecraft Special DK and Scheepjes Colour Crafter and my trusty 4mm Tulip hook. For those of you not on Facebook, Mr HooksnTales surprised me with an early B'day present. A gorgeous set of Tulip hooks! Finally, he knows what to gift me! And PINK! πŸ’œ

Also, I made sure to make the finishing round of the block 84st so that you can extend it using any of the four extensions I already have available: High Tea, Hibiscus Tea, Golden Tea or Green Tea! I'm still mulling over whether I should extend it but for now, I can't see it in my mind's eye. While we are on the subject of Pink... our six very, very old Almond trees are blossoming! Spring is creeping closer and to be honest, after this particularly damp, stormy, chilly, snowy Winter, I don't mind at all that the weather will be warming soon. I know that in a few months I'll be regretting this sentiment.

I digress, as usual! πŸ˜€Ten randomly chosen Lovelies will receive a free copy of the Moonflower pattern so do check your Ravelry before purchasing. I've struggled for DAYS to get a half-decent pic of the block, but sadly the skies remained grey and unyielding to my pleas. This was the best of 100! 

There was a lot more I wanted to share but I'm sure no one wants to read a small book today. It is Friday after all!

Take care, Lovelies and I wish you all a wonderfully relaxing and peaceful weekend filled with squishy yarn and loads of free time!

πŸ’— Jen xx

Friday, 24 July 2020

Princess Leia, welcome!

Good morning and happy Friday, Lovelies!

How are you all managing so far with your various Lockdown regulations? I know that every time I feel isolated and frustrated it helps to know that we are all in this together, in one way or the other. Troubles shared and all that. And a common thread connects us, which of course, is Crochet!
TGFC ( = Thank Goodness For Crochet/Craft ).

Last time, I promised I'd introduce you all to Princess Leia ( aka Lally ). First, her bandages and stitches had to be removed and some of her scars properly healed. I'm sure she didn't want anyone seeing her not looking her best! She's a rescue who's been through the mill judging by old scars but you wouldn't know it by how sweet, playful and smart she is. We've had so much fun getting to know her little peculiarities of character. She loves playing with her ball ( she's frequently stocked up seeing as they regularly disappear to Ball Heaven ), she ADORES Roxy and Roxy has been an absolute angel with her new sister. It's as if Roxy knows she herself is very privileged and generously shares her time, her toys, blankets, space in the car, walks, river splashes and treats with a very deserving little soul. Leia looks a lot like an Alsation but she's half the size ( if not smaller ) possibly a result of malnutrition in her puppy years. A MAJOR bonus: she loves the Cats ( even if it's not reciprocated...yet ). She has amazing hearing...can you tell?

Also, I promised I'd share images of the snow-capped mountains that enclose the beautiful Riebeek Valley where we have our little off-grid "retirement" cottage on the outskirts of one of the villages. I'll be spending ten days there, in August ( a birthday present to myself ), and will make an effort to snap more gorgeous scenes from this lovely part of South Africa. Thing is, once you arrive, it's as if the air and pastoral scenes of vineyards, olive and fruit groves, surrounded by mountains like a warm and welcoming hug intoxicate you, and you are properly enchanted! A day feels like a week there! It's always a rude awakening to arrive back in fast-paced noisy Cape Town which truly is a city that never sleeps ( not even in lockdown ). And so it happened. I did not capture one single scene on my weekend away but gazed at the clouds drifting overhead while lying on a blanket under the Almond trees. You could say I was away with the Fairies but in a good way.  Thankfully, and no surprise, the Valley is home to artists galore and I've taken advantage ( once again ) of Mary Walker's keen eye and professional skills as a Photographer of the area.

I wish you all a very peaceful and relaxing weekend with lots of fun crochet projects at hand. I'm finishing off another large cushion block pattern! I wonder when I'll ever get tired and/or bored of making them? THANK YOU so much to all of you who have been sharing your gorgeous finished pieces. I never get tired of seeing an Amanzi through new eyes or a new colourway for the Mandalas. I say this often, many of you Lovelies are AMAZING colourists!

                                           Botanica made by Vassiliki-Vicki Geordiadou

Wildflower made by Nieke Ruhulessen

Thank you so much to all of you who commented on the last post. It's always like chatting with old friends. I really enjoy your comments! For those of you whose names were picked out of the Hat for last Friday's GIVEAWAY pattern by Rosina'll find your free pattern at Ravelry! 😊

I'll be giving away 10 x FREE patterns for the new cushion block ( actually not a square but a cushion round ) so be sure to leave your Ravelry name if you do pop in to comment. I'm not exactly sure of the release date but definitely soon!

Take care, stay well, stay safe, stay calm and happy crocheting!
πŸ’› Jen