Thursday, 5 August 2021

Midwinter break!

   Lovelies, I'm on a mid-winter break ( JOKING! You know I'm crocheting up a new pattern and designing the extension for Harvest Moon! ). 

  August is my birthday month and since way back, I've ritualised this month to do all sorts of  "taking stock" exercises. For example, clearing out my clothing cupboard and sorting through all the bits and bobs that accumulate over the year. You know, drawers, the tops of shelves, book stacks, the sock nook, sewing baskets, mending, make-up bag, unused or half-used toiletries, and so on. All of that wants a going-through! The good stuff is parcelled up and set aside for our gardener's wife. I know that sounds posh but Archie comes around twice a month to beat our garden into submission and without him, Mr H&T and I would have long ago been gobbled up and absorbed into the foliage never to be found again! And then who would make the patterns some of you have told me you're addicted to?

  I've always loved the month of August. Summer turns to face its demise, Winter puts up less of a fight and graciously allows sneak-peeks of what's ahead. It's a month of harvest, dusting off abandoned cobwebs and opening an optimistic window. Whether you're in the Northern or Southern hemisphere, August brings relief in the form of quiet promise. Have you noticed how the light changes in August? ANYWAY...let's move on to important things!πŸ˜† PART 2 of the Harvest Moon Block ( HERE ) is done and dusted! For those of you Lovelies who already have the pattern, you'll find PART 2 in your Ravelry Library today. PART 3, the Extension will be available in September. Through August, GIVEAWAYS here will be on hold. HOWEVER, if you're a Member of our FAB pattern workshop group ( HERE ) then you'll know we're running bi-weekly  "Buy 1 Get 1 Free" pattern combos! These will continue through the month of August, so do scoot on over and join in the fun?

So, without further ado...I have drawers to tidy up and now that I think of it, Mr H&T sauntered out into the garden this morning and I haven't seen him since. Better ring up Archie!😁

Lovelies, it's still pretty wild out there so please do take extra care and stay safe!

Wishing everyone a relaxing, peaceful, creative weekend.

πŸ’— Jen

Friday, 23 July 2021

Reality bites!

 Happy Friday, Lovelies! 🌸

Tadaa, today is the release of the new pattern Harvest Moon Block! Yep, I've just launched straight into my "big" news before asking " how are you ?"  HOW ARE YOU!!? Once again thank you for all your lovely comments. I absolutely love reading through them even though I quickly run out of typing finger strength to reply to all of you Lovelies.

It's been a bit mad here in the H&T studio. Also, things got very real, as they say. If you're wondering howso, let me explain one of life's two certainties. Death and Taxes! Seeing as I'm writing this I'm sure you can guess what I've had to deal with recently? I mean, seriously now, not even in my most daydreamy daydreams did I EVER think my little crochet corner of the entire world would be fingered for taxes! 

Ok, that was a bit dramatic but how it happened was that I was happily daydreaming, while washing dishes. As one does. You know, just gazing over the rooftop of the neighbouring house at a tall Eucalyptus tree waving it's branches about, like an artists paintbrush, imagining that it was painting the clouds scudding across the stormy sky when suddenly this faint Gollum sounding voice began floating up from a darker corner of my daydream ( maybe the shelves under the kitchen sink that badly need sorting? ). It whispered,  " taxes, you will have to pay taaaxessss noooow "! Good grief, I kid you not; I stopped washing those fertile dishes, headed straight to my computer, typed in "local Accountants ", immediately sent out an email SOS to a few names that looked legitimate and accountanty. I won't bore you with the sordid details of what next transpired. Tears were involved. At one point I was seriously discussing with Mr H&T my plan to divorce him, dye my hair ( or purchase a blonde wig! ) and move to the tax haven of Mauritius!

HOWEVER! While searching for a nondescript suitcase I discovered my big girl panties ( ok fine, tummy tuckers! ), pulled them on, all the way up to my chin, made a pot of calming Rooibos tea, then sat down at my desk to begin daydreaming about knocking this challenge on the head. No way out but through it, right? If you're on our lovely, friendly, helpful group you'll have noticed me posting several " buy 1 get 1 free " specials? Seeing as I've never done that before, having the proclivity to rather give patterns away for free, perhaps you may have been a little surprised? Also, a brand new pattern appeared without warning? Well, now you know!πŸ˜†

This brings me to the next part. YOU, and YOU, YOU, YOU, YOU and YOU x 100's and 100's of YOU, helped me knock this tax boogeyman smartly on the head! All of you Lovelies have contributed towards making me a Designer who now pays taxes BUT, you all contributed towards helping me pay those taxes! And I cannot THANK YOU enough for your ongoing kind encouragement and generous support. None of this, good and bad, would be possible without all of you. So saying...don't forget to check out the new " buy 1 get 1 free weekend special "! πŸ˜‚

Honestly, my heart was in my throat the whole time seeing as I've never had debt! Being raised by super old fashioned working class stock, nothing could be a worse than the day-nightmare of owing the Taxman! Or anyone, for that matter. So, this is my life now, making sure I never do! LOL! Sigh...I did say life got very real, very quickly! But enough about "real life"...let's talk crochet! As many of you may already know, I ran a "special" for the Harvest Moon Block? As in, "buy the block get the extension for free"?  Many of you may already have the Block? I'm going to randomly pick winners from the last comments section and if you have already purchased the Block...please let me know and I will send you any other pattern you like. Deal?

If you don't yet have the Harvest Moon Block in your collection, you can find it HERE. The Harvest Moon pattern is a Throw pattern in 3 x PARTS. Let me explain.

🌸PART 1 ( The Square 12" x 12"/ 30cm x 30cm ).

🌸PART 2 ( The Block 20" x 20" / 50cm x 50cm ). The Square is upsized to the Block size.

PART 1 and PART 2 are included in one price. If you already have PART 1 you'll automatically receive PART 2.

🌸PART 3 ( The Extension ). The Block is upsized to a Throw size ( 47" x 47" / 1.20m x 1.20m ). The Extension is a separate pattern that can be used to upsize any of my other Blocks ( eg: the "Tea" series ). The Extension will be available in September. For those of you who grabbed the launch special, you'll automatically receive the Extension.

In between all this madness I did manage a few soul repairing walks with the Girls and Mr H&T who is working from home while we plough through yet another heavy lockdown. Oh, nature, how you nurture! 😊

Today our GIVEAWAY is a gorgeous pattern called Letitia's Garden by one of my favourite designers, Rosina Plane. Five lucky Lovelies will receive a copy in our draw on Friday 6 September. Don't forget to leave your Ravelry name if you do comment. Ten Lovelies will be today's lucky recipients of the Harvest Moon Block ( check your Ravelry notifications ).

And that's me for now! Hope your weekend is warm and cosy if you're in the southern-hemisphere and cool and breezy if you're further north. Anyway, stay hydrated Friends! 😁

Take care and stay safe!

πŸ’› Jen xx

PS: on the plus side...Princess Nisha makes sure I never get to make the bed. She's taken to burrowing into the blankets every morning until lunchtime.

PPS: For those of you shivering in your booties this winter, I discovered a great hot chocolate recipe!

πŸ’— Add a cup of milk to a saucepan ( I used almond milk ).

πŸ’—To your milk add: 2-3 heaped tsps raw cocoa powder, 1 level tsp turmeric powder, 1 level tsp ground cinnamon, 1 level tsp ground ginger, a twist of ground black pepper. Bring your milk to a gentle simmer while whisking in your other ingredients.

πŸ’— Pour your hot chocolate into a mug, stir in sweetener of your choice ( I used Vegan Honey made from apples ).

SOOOOOOOO delicious, oh, my word!

Friday, 9 July 2021

Let's catch up!

 Happy Friday, Lovelies!🌸

Before anything else...! I finally got my first Pfizer jab! It doesn't seem like such a big thing but for someone who has High anxiety ( with a capital "H" ) I had to overcome an international Gymkhana's worth of anxiety generated hurdles. If you're in the same basket of over-thinkers as I am, you'll know exactly what I mean. Endless spiralling, repetitive thoughts ( the OCD part of anxiety ), all the bells and whistles, trumpets and foghorns of imagination, on full blast. It's exhausting, right? Actually, I got sick and tired of my own fearfulness. Also, my youngest son insisted on accompanying me on this vax journey, even standing outside the window of the vaccination room ( only the vaxee and vaxer allowed ), pulling faces and waving to keep my morale from flagging. Also, this gentleman sitting next to me with a classic Scandinavian knitted beanie, exactly the day after I received my copy of 150 Scandinavian Knitting Designs by Mary Jane Mucklestone. A welcome sign of sorts?πŸ˜†

Mr Hooks'nTales is really inspired when it comes to afterwards there were chocolates, dinner in bed, a happy movie as well as a tiny cute plush bunny, as a reward you know? Mind you...I didn't feel so great...a REALLY sore arm and tiredness for about 24hrs, so it's not like I was taking advantage or anything, right? My second jab is coming up in August and I have my eye on an adorable vintage teddy bear.πŸ˜‚

The weather has kept us all indoors most days but when the Sun peeps out for a few hours we head to the greenbelt for walks. or the beach! If you turn your sound up you can hear the wind whistling through the window gaps in my little studio! These days I'm a bit nervous about walking in the forest when there are high winds, especially after a falling branch missed me by inches a few weeks ago! 

So far, on our daily walk, we've been caught out with a random shower each time and ended up soaked through! The Dogs couldn't care less about rain. They LOVE the water...rivers, streams, ponds, the's all a playground to those two. Because Mr Hooks'nTales and I are both working from home ( seeing as we're back to Level 4 Lockdown restrictions ) AND because walking in mud and pouring rain isn't our most favourite activity, we hired a dog-walker for the worst days. Makes us sound posh but no...we found an unbeatable "winter special". The dog walker, Carl, has a dog called Paul Anka...and our Girls are IN LOVE. Carl takes the three of them on a madcap trail 2 x a week ( he sends short video clips to the Dog moms and dads ). When he drops the Girls back home...they run after his car a little way! So much for loyalty towards the hands that feed them!

Ok, let's chat crochet! 😁

I'm working on a brand new Throw design! It's all pretty much between me and the yarn at the moment but I'm hoping to have Part 1 ( The Block ) ready sometime in August! It's the most exciting thing ever, beginning a new design. It's really the only time I feel completely myself if I have returned home. Everything in-between feels like a waiting room. Do you know what I mean? After Chrysalis, for a few days, I wondered where inspiration would come from for another Throw. Not in a worried way but more a curiosity. I never really plan things out. Between loading the washing machine, and preparing a meal I'll just suddenly sit down and begin. The process seems random but I was thinking that it's a bit like being a Surfer, I imagine? The way they sit on the beach, gazing out over the ocean towards the horizon, or on their board bobbing on the water, waiting, waiting, waiting patiently...and suddenly...SURF'S UP! 

The divine chaos

On our most recent visit to our favourite little beach, there was this. It did feel a bit like a sign to begin a new design. I mean, it was as if the Universe was sending me a colourway? πŸ˜† I'm one of those people who see signs everywhere.

As always, I like to end things off on a party note! Yep, another GIVEAWAY! So don't forget to leave your Ravelry name if you do decide to comment. You could be one of 5 Lovelies ( bi-monthly and randomly generated ), so please do check your notifications to see if you are a lucky recipient of our last GIVEAWAY? For the next draw, 5 Lovelies will get a copy of my latest block pattern ( it might not be exactly in two weeks time, but very close! ). I DO have a name for it, but for now, it's still under yarny wraps. πŸ˜‰

Wishing you a marvellous and magical Friday and Weekend with lots of self-care, a happy yarn basket and fun projects to hook. THANK YOU as always for all your lovely comments ( I read them all! ) as well as your ongoing kindness, encouragement and support.

Take care, please stay safe!
πŸ’— Jen

Friday, 25 June 2021

The paths less travelled!

 Happy Friday, from a freezing, blustery and wet Cape Town, Lovelies!😊

My favourite weather has arrived! Finally, I am in my element. I don't know about you but as soon as the temperature drops my energy levels rise. Because of this, I'm hyper-active through the Winter months...things get done! Not Throws though. I had an epiphany recently about that, realising that Mystery Make-Alongs were best reserved for the summer months when I felt lethargic and grounded. It's a conundrum really, doesn't make ANY sense at all. HOWEVER, it works out beautifully for all you Lovelies who live in the Northern climes and who want to squirrel away your snowy months with a solid crochet project to get you through the darkest, coldest days. So, in the end, we all get what we want, right? 

With all this renewed energy I decided a few weeks back to promptly get stuck into properly re-writing all of my "retired" patterns ( with additional rounds to make them all 20cm x 20cm/ 8" x 8" ) and then, make them available FOR FREE over on our sparkly new group HERE! It's a project that will see me through the Winter months seeing as I have a few extra surprises up my sleeve ( or is my yarn basket? ). You probably suspect this already, but crochet designers don't often get swathes of time to make other designers patterns. In a way, rewriting these older patterns is like doing this and it's truly been relaxing and fun! If you're not into being a Groupie I have made the patterns available on Lovecraft's HERE

Remember in my last blog post I was all excited about my little weekend getaway with Mr. HooksnTales and the Girls?  I thought I'd take you along on the road trip to get there. It's a noisy, bumpy ride and the video is a bit long (10mins). Perhaps a good time to make a cup of your favourite beverage and put your feet up?😁 As always we hit the road less travelled, which doubles our travelling time but makes the weekend seem a lot longer. The fun starts immediately after we shut the front door of our city house. As soon as we arrive at "Almond Cottage" we take ourselves and the doggie girls, Roxy and Lally, for a long walk around the neighbouring vineyards which ring the small village ( we still haven't settled on a name for this off-grid abode but there are six and a half ancient Almond trees on the property... one seems to be giving up the ghost ).

Almond Cottage is set up for easy off-grid living ( thank you, Sun! ). We have all the modern conveniences there but we make a point of eating out at small local restaurants. Sadly, no thanks to Covid, some favourites have not survived. Tiny villages like this rely almost 100% on tourism so we eat all our meals in the village and shop at the quaint shops for things we absolutely don't need but feel our money is well spent if it helps to keep the doors open of a Mom and Pop store. 

The Village was unusually quiet and the weather was perfect....broody clouds, wind and rain!πŸ˜†

We never miss a visit to this gorgeous Garden Center which is within walking distance from our cottage. I made a little video of the inside space ( which includes a cosy eatery ). It's all soooooo pretty!

The views are always dramatic!

We arrived back in the City late on Sunday afternoon and immediately took the Girls to the beach. They were amped for a walk after the two and a half hour trip home. And guess what we saw? On the beach! On a pink lead. Her name is iThombi.πŸ˜† I can't even begin to tell you just how absolutely confused the Girls were!

In closing:

🌸THANK YOU so so so much for all your lovely comments! I got around to replying to about half and then ran out of steam! I always, always LOVE your comments and I thank you again for sharing bits and pieces of your life with me. πŸ’—

🌸Please check your notifications to see if you're one of our randomly chosen winners of Sandra's gorgeous Babylon Square pattern?

🌸Our next GIVEAWAY is another ( the crochet fairies made me do it! ) beautiful square, The Morocco Square, by Sandra Salas. You can view the pattern HERE. 
Don't forget to leave your Ravelry name if you comment!

The rain has set in for the weekend here in Cape Town so it's all hot chocolate, candles, Netflix and crochet for me. I finally caved and bought a brand new sewing machine ( nothing fancy, very basic )! Somehow I lost the foot pedal of my VERY old and totally dodgy Janome machine. Incredibly strange seeing as I'm a neat freak! There's a strong possibility that it was spirited away by Sewing Elves who'd had enough of me cussing every time I did some mending! I have 4m of pink owl-printed flannel cloth and my aim this weekend is to make two pairs of pyjama bottoms! I'm expecting no resistance from the Empisal. Wish me luck! 

Hope you enjoy an absolutely fab and creative weekend!

Thursday, 10 June 2021

Some chit-chat!

YaY, it's the weekend, Yarnarinnas! Why am I soooo excited? 

Well, I'll tell you why. I'm * going away for the weekend *. I packed my little weekend bag on Wednesday already. That's how keen I am to escape the city for two whole days. As you well know, I LOVE Cape Town winters, but there is a downside...the hot, dry Berg wind. This is the wind that blows in from the tropical north. It heralds rain! Sometimes it's a days warning, other times, it's daaaays warning. As it has been. Boots, tights, socks and scarves get packed away, out come the sandals and T's. The air is tinder dry, and hot. The mosquitoes make an unwelcome appearance ( where DO those little buggers hide! ). Also, the air is foul...there I said it Cape Town! If it doesn't rain, smoke from wood fires burning in homes drapes itself like pale mustard gossamer over the city. It's very depressing really. 

Our weekend getaway is, as usual, home away from home to our little off-grid cottage in the hamlet of Riebeek-Kasteel. Mr HooksnTales has very diligently made the 2hr trip every second weekend to keep the place in ship-shape condition. He takes Roxy and Lally too ( plus enough tools to stock a small hardware store ) which leaves me and the Girls ( Miss Augusta and Princess Nisha ) to our own devices...meaning, crochet, coffee, Netflix, chocolate, dressing gown, slippers and catnaps. I WISH!! Realistically, I am usually catching up on Admin work, writing up a pattern, all this between thoroughly vacuuming every nook and cranny of our "doggy" house ( oh. the. fur ), mopping floors, washing dog bedding, sorting out the recycling for Monday and myriad " I'll catch up on the weekend " tasks that I never "catched" up on! In short....I desperately NEED this little break, to remind myself that beyond the malodorous pall of the city, there is pure, sweet, fresh air. Pity I can't bottle that stuff and bring it home. The doggie Girls will come with us and the kitty Girls will stay behind under the care and loving protection of my youngest son and his GF, who live next door. 

As always, there are silver linings and my back garden is one of them. Everything continues to burst forth blossoms and green leaf buds, bringing droves of Bees and Bumblebees. Birds are nesting and squirrels are squirrelling. The Golden Orb Spiders, who usually make a sudden disappearing act after the first rains, are sitting smugly in their webs. I'm not so happy about that. They are Bee trappers! The weekends are filled with the constant whirring of lawnmowers as grass springs back to life. Our rain storage tanks are bursting at the seams. Split pea vegetable soup with dumplings is back on the menu.

There's also been a lot of just sitting on the steps, or hanging out at Fishy Pond.

Our early Sunday morning fresh-baked croissants and coffee run to Olympia Bakery is now a ritual we genuinely look forward to. Especially in Winter! Nothing like a crisp morning to make you appreciate the good things in life. The doggies get a run ( more like a mad scampering ) on the beach too if the weather plays along. Lally has completely lost her fear of waves! We are so proud of her. business!😁

THANK YOU so much for all your lovely, lovely comments on the previous blog post. I did try my best to answer them all but it's been a very busy two weeks setting up the new Group. I'm thrilled to report that the change-over has been absolutely problem-free, the Group is filling up fast, the Members are as always AB FAB! Our * Lucky 13 * Moderator Team are everything I could wish for. I can't thank them enough for everything they have done. Believe me, over and above their pay grade! πŸ’— For those of you not on the Group HERE but maybe thinking of joining us...we're running an 8-week pattern Freebie. And after that expires, I have something else hidden up my sleeve. But you know how I love surprises so mums the word!πŸ˜‡

Anyhow, I have a weekend away to get to so I'll say....happy weekend to you all, please stay safe, protect your creative spirit, set healthy boundaries, make self-care a priority and may your yarn basket always be full.


🌷PS: I've sent off our previous GIVEAWAY to 5 randomly selected Lovelies, so please do remember to check your Ravelry inbox and/or your email for notification about that!

🌷PPS: our GIVEAWAY today is the Babylon Square by Sandra Salas! Don't forget to add your Ravelry name to your comment.

🌷PPPS: I feel personally called out by my Black-Eyed Susan who is emulating an Alpaca? πŸ˜‚