Thursday, 27 February 2020

Anyone for Green Tea?

Hello, Lovelies!

I'm going to say what everyone is saying...February was two-weeks long! It absolutely whizzed by! I know it's a leap year February, so we have that one extra day but, February was still two-weeks short!

I hope you are all well in Crochetland?

Before I launch into this post I want to say a heartfelt THANK YOU to all of you who commented on the last post about boundaries. I'm still working on replying to each and every one of you Lovelies. I know how hard boundaries are to impose, and I know how much self-discipline and soul-searching has to happen before we make those decisions to draw a line in the sand. I loved reading through your comments, which made me feel that our world is indeed a small place and that we are all fighting the same battles no matter where we live.
We are all connected through our common experiences. ๐Ÿ’—

I've been slogging through the Green Tea Block, which you may remember I said I was NOT going to begin in the heat of Summer...yet, here we are. Clearly a crochet addict, right? I must be, as I've proven to myself that I will literally crochet anytime, any place, through any weather! In between rounds I have forced myself to do " something nice " for myself. I set up a little rewards system as a way of motivating myself to stop crocheting and get outside. Step 1: Go to the Theatre! So Mr HooksnTales and I visited "the front side of Table  Mountain" ( we live behind this iconic chunk of rock ) to see one of our funniest local comedic talents, Alan Committie at Theatre on The Bay  As always, his show was hilarious BUT what really got me tingly all over was the incredible view over the Bay as we stepped out at intermission. To be honest, I did not want to go back into the Theatre, no matter how funny Alan Committie was.

The mist was rolling in from the Atlantic ocean across the fancy-schmancy apartments along the edge of Clifton Beach, up and over the Twelve Apostles mountain range, which is where Table Mountain tapers off. And the light was positively celestial.

I reminded myself too, to take those afternoon naps and it wasn't difficult to do, seeing as the heat and high humidity, to begin with, makes me incredibly limp and tired. One afternoon, I napped on the couch with my darling Augusta and woke up to this. Which made me want to lie there forever. Somehow she has turned sleep into an art form. Nisha, for example, still curls up tightly or sleeps in a jackknife position, like someone about to make an elegant swan dive into a crystal pool. Augusta, on the other hand, lolls ( no, she doesn't laugh...ok, maybe inside )...she spreads out, lies on her back and just, well... lolls about, as relaxed and at ease, as ever a Cat was who knows it is madly loved, and safe. She is a constant reminder to me to lower my shoulders and exhale.

I don't know about you but I am a Magpie. Yesterday, when Roxy and I were galavanting about our local forest, I found these on the edge of the road. Seed pods from? Can you guess? This might be a fun question for today? In the comments section below leave a comment and let me know if you can guess, or if you positively know, which Tree belongs to these seed pods. Don't forget to also leave your Ravelry name to win a free copy of this lovely pattern. by Rachel Beth.

And lastly...tadaaaaaa! The Green Tea Block, done and dusted! You can find the pattern HERE! I had lots of fun digitally changing the colourways. Initially, I wasn't going to share the results but then I thought, oh wait, these could be very useful to help everyone connect with their colour creativity and choose different colourways. I'm looking forward to working on the Extension for this Block as the weather begins to cool down. The Throw will be ready just as Winter kicks in for us "southerners". I can't wait for the coolth!๐Ÿ˜Š

I've listed all the yarn and colours I used in the NOTES section on the Ravelry pattern page for Green Tea. The colourway that initially inspired me was this. But I've sort of toned down the palette and ended up with nothing like my original inspiration. That's how the designing dice rolls I guess?

This is the original colourway. The next four are digitally coloured.

Today, I will be sending out 10 x copies of the Green Tea Block to ten randomly chosen recipients of our last Giveaway, so do watch your Ravelry inbox!

And on that colourful note, I am going to say byeeeeee and see you in Crochetland!
Happy Friday and Happy Weekend to you all! Don't forget to nap.
๐Ÿ’— Jen

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Be your own Valentine!

Hello, Lovelies!๐ŸŒน

Happy Valentine's Day to all of you who celebrate this Saint's day. Although... * reality check *...he did get his head chopped off for being an all 'round nice guy. There's a moral there somewhere but I'll leave that up to you to interpret?๐Ÿ˜Š

This year is my big SELF-LOVE year, so every day is treated as a Very Special Occasion and I am, at every opportunity, reminding EVERYONE to practise some much-needed self-loving. Believe me, it's so much, much, much harder than it sounds. I don't know why so many of us don't feel deserving of self-love? I realised too, many of us don't really know what it means " to love yourself " beyond what we see in commercial media who, let's face it, are usually trying to sell us "things", or products or more services. Sure, self-love is also ( most definitely ) bubble baths, mani/pedicures, regular visits to a good hairstylist! However, and more importantly, it's about creating healthy habits that promote a sense of authentic, longlasting well being.

I've touched on various examples of this in previous posts but one I did leave out and it's the one many of us find EXTREMELY difficult to create ( and then enforce ) ...and that is...BOUNDARIES!!
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this? Have you created some healthy-for-you boundaries? What were some situations that required Boundaries? How hard or easy were they to enforce, especially if it involved people close to you? You can also email me privately if you'd like to share your story but feel reluctant to expose your private boundary-enforcing experience. These are the sort of things we'd share in a Knit/Crochet Natter Group, right?

Creating boundaries doesn't have to involve people though ( although it usually does! ). It can also be how you self-negotiate your eating habits, or chores, family obligations, visitors, over-time at work, holiday destinations or staycations, spending/budgeting and so on. For example, I created a boundary between me and the 'fridge. I do not allow myself to step over that boundary to eat the last slice of Tiramisu, after 6pm. See? That is self-love at it's best!

What the above is, is a love letter to you, to remind yourself that it's nice to get Valentine's Day gifts from your SO but it's SO MUCH nicer to learn to unconditionally love your Self. There's isn't anyone out there quite like you. You are an original work. Own it, 'kay?

That's enough thinky thoughts for today! ๐Ÿ˜Š Moving on to crochet! I promised a sneak peek of the in-progress Green Tea Block but at the last moment I chickened out. I weighed up the sneak peek and the !! SURPRISE !! factors and the SURPRISE factor outweighed the Sneak Peek. I can tell you though, that the pattern for Part 1: The Block is very, very close to being released. So do keep those hooks warm. I will definitely share a little preview post about the colourway I used.

I won't keep you much longer but before I go I'd like to share a FREE pattern by Julia Hart called Sweetheart Soiree. I love all her patterns but this one is so very cute and clever.

๐Ÿ’›Congratulations to the three lucky Winners of our last fab GIVEAWAY! ๐Ÿ’›
You'll find your lovely pattern gift in your Ravelry Library. 

Today's GIVEAWAY is 10 x copies of the upcoming Green Tea Block pattern!!! Eeeek! All you need to do to stand a chance of being one of the ten lucky recipients of this GIVEAWAY is tell me about one important boundary you created that worked out for the best. Leave your comment below in the comments section and don't forget to add your Ravelry name!

Wishing you a truly lovely weekend and enjoy spoiling yourself!

Friday, 31 January 2020

January, done and dusted!

Hello lovely, Lovelies and Happy Friday!

Can someone please tell me where January went? Were we not just celebrating the Silly Season and galavanting about the countryside enjoying our holiday festivities? On social media I see loads of memes joking about January being 12 months long and I guess if you're skint after all the gifting then it can feel that way, right? However, for me at least, it seems as if time is flying by uncomfortably quickly! I've been deliberately trying to sloooooooow right down and that helps but I've identified one time stealer, aaargh and it's CROCHET!

For example: when I read a book or even a magazine, especially if it's all-absorbing I'll look at the clock and see that time has barely moved forward. Much like dreaming, when you're pulled into a compelling narrative, time expands. When I crochet, I may have completed a few short rows which to my mind took " only a few minutes " yet, the clock has whizzed forward two hours! Time is tricky, that's for sure.

As a recovering Chronically Very Busy Person with the Attention Span of a Fruit Fly, I've identified a few things that definitely help to slow down my perception of time flying by:

๐Ÿ’šDo one thing at a time and do it until it's completed ( SO MUCH harder than it sounds especially for Multitaskers ).
๐Ÿ’šPrioritise Tasks. Feeling overwhelmed and rushed for time...steals time. Learn to delegate. This lesson is hard but very important, especially for us Women who often feel that we need to do everything or it will never get done. If no one will help, lower your standards.๐Ÿ˜„
๐Ÿ’šIf possible, take an afternoon nap ( this gifts you an extra few hours into the night, which extends your day tadaaaaa! ).
๐Ÿ’šWeather and shelter permitting, eat breakfast, lunch or dinner al fresco ( savour and enjoy your meals outside...NO CELLPHONES, unless you're a Doctor ).
๐Ÿ’šStep away from social media, especially if you're not purposefully engaging. Mindless scrolling is a time stealer!
๐Ÿ’šCreate pleasant daily rituals. I like to light candles and tea lights, even in Summer.
HERE are 127 Ideas if you can't think of any.
๐Ÿ’šAdopt or participate in a physically engaging exercise ( gardening counts! ). Have you noticed how it takes three whole hours to get through a gruelling half-hour routine? But you don't have to suffer. I walk every day and my hour-long walk stretches out like a rubber band because I'm fully engaged with and exploring the environment. Back in my car, driving home, my rubber-band time warp snaps back to reality. I realise only an hour has passed by. Walking for the win!

I want to say "Stop Crocheting" because time whizzzzzzzes by when you do ( I can't count the number of pots of burnt rice that attest to this )...but ...well, that's never going to happen, right? All the more reason to cut back on time stealers and adopt time makers.

On this topic of slow life, if you worked through The Artist's Way then you will love this book by Julia Cameron called Walking in This World. Both books changed my life so they come Highly Recommended.

Taking a few moments to appreciate our walk. A time slowing sound bite.

Stopped and spotted, on our walk, this extraordinarily beautiful exotic trumpet-like flower! I wouldn't have noticed it if I was hurriedly marching along. 
Can anyone identify it? 

Some of you Lovelies may have seen my little post on Instagram about painted stones? I especially choose places to "hide" them on our walks, places that are not terribly easy to spot. It must feel like a  ๐Ÿ’ฅBig Surprise๐Ÿ’ฅ to find one or it's no fun for the Finder, right? Making these slowed time.

I forgot to take a pic of the first one I hid ( it's been claimed! ). Today I'll see whether STAND TALL found a home. If it has, then I'll hide another. You probably think I'm bonkers but I am getting an inordinate amount of fun and pleasure from doing this!

On another floral note, I made a garden nook on my verandah using a pallet. I kill houseplants so my personal challenge is to not murder ( with love ) these shade-loving beauties. Wish me luck. Making this little nook and taking care of it, is a time- slowing mindful practice. I still need to get some pretty pots! Then delegate the task to Mr HooksnTales of attaching the pallet to the wall seeing as I'm not sure my late Father-In-Laws walking cane will last as a prop. But having known the stoic man, it will probably last forever!

The Flowers I Chose.
Bottom Left: 1 x Alstroemeria ( aka Lily of the Incas or Peruvian Lily ). Second and Top Shelf Left: 2 x White + 1 x Pink Begonias, Right: 2 x Fuschias. The rest are recovering- almost- murdered indoor plants which I am willing back to life.

Then I added a few little bits of kitchenalia and other thingies to the display.

You're probably wondering if I'm ever going to talk Crochet? In a sense, my floral world is all about crochet and crochet is about the floral world seeing as Flowers are always what inspires me most.

If you've been on other social media you'll have seen my post about the Scheepjes Secret Garden yarn? Oh my, I absolutely loved working with this yarn while hooking up a simple Granny Square blanket. It's a cotton-silk-polyester blend in gorgeously romantic colours! Sadly, it's only available here in South Africa from Be Inspired and way too expensive for my purse. But I was gifted one ball of each colour which made me feel terribly lucky and rich inside. ๐Ÿ˜Š

And on that note, our new GIVEAWAY is this pretty and interesting pattern by Jane Crowfoot called The Janis Floral Wrap. All you need to do to participate is leave a comment below in the comments section, with your Ravelry name! Easy peasy!

๐Ÿ’—To the three Lucky Winners of our last Giveaway, CONGRATULATIONS! ๐Ÿ’—

In my next blog post, I will be able to share some more information on the upcoming Green Tea Throw ( yarn + colourway...and a sneak peek! ) which will be released, in full, on 1 May 2020.

Lovelies, I wish you a wonderfully slow and luxurious weekend.
If it starts getting hectic, take a deep breath, say NO, make yourself your favourite beverage and remind yourself that self-care is just as important as any other care required to preserve something precious.

๐Ÿ’— Jen

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Happy January, Happy New Year, Happy New Decade!

Hello, Lovelies!

I know, I did already do all my Happy New Year social media posts so I KNOW you know I wish you all, dear Yarny Friends, a VERY Happy, Healthy, Prosperous, Joyous and Contented 2020! Can't say it too many times these days... we need all the good luck, good thoughts, good words and good deeds we can get, right? I, for one, am launching myself into this new decade... well "launching" may be a bit exaggerated ( my dodgy knee ) feeling determined to make every day count for something.

For me, this means:
๐Ÿ’™ Not wasting time worrying about things I cannot change (my default setting is dialled high on Worry).
๐Ÿ’™ Making healthy choices every day (not just occasionally). This means, getting enough sleep, cutting down on social media, walking EVERY DAY, eating even more sustainably (plant-power whoohoooo!), cutting out plastic from my life ( a huge task, right? ).
๐Ÿ’™ Reading "world" News only once a week ( I need to know if an asteroid or tsunami is headed my way )!
๐Ÿ’™ Reading a good fiction book at least once a month (suggestions welcome).
๐Ÿ’™ Drinking top-notch coffee (life is too short to waste on instant nonsense ever again).
๐Ÿ’™ Turning my frown upside down (so much harder than you'd expect considering what's going on in our poor old world).
๐Ÿ’™Journal regularly (it's either that or a Therapist). To get myself motivated, I bought an inexpensive journal and made Nisha witness my good intentions. Anyways, those Owl Eyes will guilt trip me into doing what I said I'd do!

It's been very hot and humid over the last few days and Roxy and I have headed out to our beloved tree-lined Alphen Trail every day. Read more about this LOVELY walk HERE. The river looks like a skinny snake now as it wends its way towards the ocean. We begin our walk at Quince where they make the best coffee I have tasted in a long while. I'm not a snob on any level but have conceded that I am indeed a Coffee Snob. Quince has spoiled me and now I can never move house seeing as they're my Coffee Dealer and only 73 steps from my front door. Roxy is becoming a Very Good Girl at restaurants. Believe me when I say that in the past she was NOT a Very Good Girl but rather a little Monster on the lead and would try and pinch people's carrot cake right off their cake forks!

There are a number of these swings placed along the river bank and you can't see it in the image above but some of these swing out over a 10metre drop! Roxy and I like to climb up and down these steep embankments looking for treasure. Usually, it's just some pretty dried wild grasses, a colourful leaf or some interesting branches but yesterday.....oh, my! I literally yelled out loud "I'M SO LUCKY!", like an excited child! I found this painted stone and when I turned it over there was this! It's a thing. I never knew. I love this idea and if you like, you can join the CT Rocks! Group and start planting your own stones. I'm definitely going to paint a few stones and leave a pleasant surprise for someone else.

Finally, you're probably wondering when I'm going to get around to talking Crochet! This year I'll be releasing the Green Tea Block and Extension in May. MAAAAY I can hear you shouting, that's sooo faaar awaaaay! Thing is, I am admitting defeat...I simply cannot function in full crochet mode through our hot and humid Cape Town summer months. I've tried. I was even pregnant through three Summers just to prove I could do it. It must be age creeping up on me, or global warming, but my capacity to tolerate extreme heat has diminished year on year and it's now at 0%.

HOWEVER, I can manage smaller projects and as many of you may have already noted, Bloemfontein Rose is out of retirement, rewritten, resized and accompanied by a full Video tutorial!
I think last year I mentioned that bringing the older patterns out of retirement was on my project radar and now I'm going at them, all hooks blazing!

Last of all is our first Giveaway of the roaring 20's! I fell in love with the Norway Spruce Blanket by Rosina Plane. Isn't it lovely? Not to mention it will add to your crochet skills list, right? All you need to do to stand a chance of being one of our 3 x Lucky Winners is find the little clue in the pic below which points us to a future Holiday. If you can guess which one that is, then leave a comment in the comments section below and don't forget to add your Ravelry name! Good Luck! ๐Ÿ€

Thank you so much for stopping by and see you in Crochetland!
๐Ÿ’— Jen

Monday, 30 December 2019

2019, thank you and goodbye!

Hello, Lovelies ( Ladies and Lads alike )!

It's been a year, right? And to be blunt, I'm relieved to close the door on it. I'll take the lessons learned, the love and tears ( darling Alfie! ), the triumphs ( Nisha surviving a vicious dog attack, fostering Freya and Pups ) all liberally peppered with a bit of magic in between but also some trollish moments. Thankfully I am made a bit like an Animal shaking water off its fur,  moving forward regardless, treading as lightly as I can manage on this good Earth. It's all too easy to get bogged down in what if's and should have's. Besides, it takes up space for new design ideas!
And so, here we are at the backdoor of 2019! Hurray, we all made it so far, we all survived 100%, even through the worst days. Congratulations!

I'm not going to do a boring overview of all the Crochet Projects I made this year but suffice it to say it was  A LOT! THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH for your astounding support! You motivate and inspire me to keep going ( not that I could actually stop, at least not yet. My Hook is like the Red Slippers tale but hopefully with a happier ending! ). I'm still hoping I'll wake up one morning and find I've sprouted at least two more pairs of arms!

Anyhow, before I start getting all teary-eyed and sentimental about you lot and gushing about how wonderful you have all been, your encouraging comments, your compliments and positive, constructive advice I'll veer off sharply to a fun weekend I've just had. It was on my Summer Hygge list to spend three days with Mr HooksnTales and Roxy at our off-grid Housie in Riebeek Kasteel. It was SOOOOOO HOT that I spent two days lying in the shade of one of the Almond Trees reading If The Cat Fits by Chrystal Sharp, literally prostrate with heat.

Roxy did this most of the time.

And this. ๐Ÿ˜

5am is the coolest time of the day during our African summer months. 
Roxy and I made the most of this but others were already up!
 Early morning song of my people! ๐Ÿ˜

For the most part, Mr HooksnTales and I napped, drank ice-cold cocktails ( Strawberry Virgin Daquiries for Moi, Margaritas for Mr HooksnTales ) and tried to keep cool at some of the local Eateries.

Bay Leaf and Thyme in Riebeek Kasteel. Lovely!

Krem-A-Tart in Riebeek West. The view!

On the third day, we gave up and drove back to Cape Town. I'm always a bit sad to leave the Valley which is incredibly beautiful. Our drive over the Bosmanskloof Pass feels like mounting the ramparts of a secret fortress back into the bustling world of noisy urban living.

Back in Cape Town, doing what I do best on my Hols: lolling about in my pyjamas, taking snapshots of Roxy,  Augusta and Nisha, drinking Coffee and Crocheting on this last day of 2019, which is, I think, exactly how I started 2019! The bit in between then and now got a bit hectic but that's all in the past already.

I think what I'm trying to say is HAVE A WONDERFUL, relaxing and peace-filled last day of 2019. You made it through this year which has for many of us been turbulent on so many levels. As each year passes I am getting so much better at letting things go that no longer make me feel at peace with myself. I'm also learning to up my game when it comes to seeking out those small joys and quietly happy moments in every day rather than gloss over them in search of the Big Thrills.

Now, for a lovely cup of coffee, a cuddle with the Cats, a tummy tickle for Roxy and a spot of simple Holiday Crochet. Secret Garden granny squares ( Scheepjes Secret Garden ). 

Wishing you, dear Friends, all the Very Best of All Good Things for 2020! 
๐Ÿ’— Jen