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!
💛 Jen

Friday, 17 July 2020


Hello, Lovelies!

Honestly, I have been feeling a bit down in the dumps ( as I'm sure many of you have too!). It definitely has nothing to do with Winter. I'd live in the arctic north if I could! Another lifetime ago, when I travelled and lived in Europe I was waved off with dire warnings about European winters and how I'd be back in South Africa as soon as I couldn't wear flip-flops all year 'round. I bought my first EVER pair of winter lace-up boots, blue Sketches, in Amsterdam. My new friends taught me that snow, sleet and icy rain was " just weather " and no excuse for not bundling up and going out in -10C. I adapted and thrived! What a shock for a 6th generation African! Must be my Scots-Dutch-Danish-French ancestry? Mongrels are always hardier than purebreds, right?

The first thing I saw this morning, through the steam of a 5am coffee and after feeding 2 x Cats + 2 x Dogs + 3 x Apple Platys + 1 x Neon Tetra + 4 x Phantoms + 3 x Algae Eaters + 3 x Goldfish, and after I fired up my computer, was Noelene's version of the Arcadia Floral Square! Oh my, Noelene does have a fabulous way with colour placing!

To clear away the stormy clouds in my head I've been taking advantage of every sunny day so far, which haven't been many. I don't wish for sunny days though ever since we experienced that awful drought in 2017 where Cape Town City almost ran out of drinkable water! Last year, our Winter rainfall was above average but still, the entire month of July 2019 saw not a drop of rain which makes "rain in July" very welcome! Anyhow, my point is...the front steps of our cottage make a perfect spot for some winter-sunbathing and crochet. You'll find me here if you stop by, listening to The Fall of Civilisations Podcast by Paul Cooper...just to cheer myself up you know?

We've been watching the skies of late! Combine smoke from chimneys and rain clouds and you're in for a spectacular show. I snapped this with my lowly cellphone one early morning from the steps of the cottage, looking East.

This coming weekend Mr HooksnTales and I, plus the two Dogs ( did you notice I said TWO? ) are heading West to our off-grid Housie to see if it's still standing after last weeks epic storm. Next FriYAY, I will post some pics as we hope to see snow on the mountain peaks. Also, I'll introduce you to our new rescue called Leia ( as in Princess from Star Wars ). If you want to see our little Housie just click on the OFF-GRID LIFE tab under the cover pic above.

I'll be working on a new pattern, sat on a blanket under the Almond trees, while Mr HooksnTales mows the lawn and makes me cups of coffee ( just kidding!! I'll make coffee as long as he makes dinner! ).

Reading Material already packed:

1. Latest IDEAS magazine.
2. The Litte Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking.
3. The Art of Making Memories also by Meik Wiking.
4. Making Winter by Emma Mitchell

But before I wrap up ( heehee ), THANK YOU all, so much, for your lovely comments on the previous post! I've randomly chosen ( the old names-in-a-hat method ) 3 x recipients for the gorgeous Jasmine Sweater by Ana D  so please check your Ravelry inbox if you left a comment. This week, our GIVEAWAY is Spring Posy by Rosina Plane . If you do comment, don't forget to add your Ravelry name!

I hope you all have a lovely, peaceful and productive weekend.
Stay safe, stay calm and crochet on!
💙 Jen

PS: It's been bitterly cold and our old girl, Roxy spends most mornings wrapped up like a little sausage.

Sunday, 12 July 2020

In search of Arcadia.

Dearest Lovelies, hope you are all well and staying safe and sane in Crochetland?

I'm typing this from my little studio as icy rain lashes the garden, windows rattle and gusty gale-force wind apparently wants to pry the roof off the cottage! I've been awake since midnight unable to settle down with car alarms being set off and strange thumps and bangings going on outside. I'm dreading going out into my garden later! The kitties and I have been cowering under the warm bedclothes while Mr HooksnTales took to the spare bedroom room with two very nervous doggies ( our bed is not big enough for the six of us! ). You know I bow to the mighty Stormbringer. I'm a Pluviophile through and through. But this is unnerving! I think we're all a little unnerved these days, right? Dramatic weather or not.

THANKFULLY, in all sincerity, so very thankful that we who craft have a creative outlet to help us process and traverse these very troubled times. We can make all. the. things while the sun doesn't figuratively shine. We can create silver linings around dark clouds with actual silver thread. We can construct where there is destruction and I'm reminded once again how creative souls continue to create, in myriad ways, through the worst of times. We create our own Arcadian idyl if we can. Oh, look at me going all mushy on you all! But you get my drift?

It's still dark outside but I can imagine for now that all the flowering plants and bushes have been stripped of their winter blooms. The garden will look as if a stormy wedding party whirled by shredding every blossom and leaf for confetti. There is some terrible beauty in that too. Anyhoooooooo...before I make you all cry into your chilled Chardonnay or steaming hot chocolate ( depending on which hemisphere you call home ) let me take a jump to the left and announce ARCADIAAAAA ( drum roll ). So, it seems Helen Shrimpton also released an "Arcadia " pattern but honestly, I live under a rock and had no idea until Noelene told me after the fact! I'm going to stick with the name because now more than ever I want to imagine that sometime in our near future we can enjoy a more arcadian reality. Let's raise our glasses to that!

 But hang on...there's more!😸

I think it's time for another GIVEAWAY from another Designer! I fell head over heels for the adorable Jasmine Sweater by Ana D Designs. Leave a comment below and don't forget to add your Ravelry name.

Until next time Lovelies...stay calm, stay safe and take good care of yourselves!
💜 Jen

PS: the furballs made me laugh! Miss Nisha-Li completely unaware that she's sitting next to her doppelganger! 😹

And sulking in the pot plant because I'm sitting on HER cushion.

Sunday, 21 June 2020

Beanies, for days!

Lovelies, how are you all? How are you bearing up in all this chaos worldwide?

It's still dark outside and very brrrrrrrr! I'm not complaining, I love Winter. A few days ago I was searching for my one and only beanie and realised that yes indeed, I'd given that one away too. I have a bad habit of giving things away that I actually need and it's made me think a lot about charity, or rather charitableness ( if that's a word? ). I'm not writing this for a pat on the back, because giving things away comes naturally to me. It's an affliction of sorts. I do it without thinking. I have literally taken off a jacket, scarf or beanie and given it to a person who looked like they needed it. Once, walking to work in the pouring rain, I saw two people huddled under a tree and yes, you guessed right, I handed over the umbrella and walked the further four blocks in the soaking rain. The next day I was hit with the worst Flu I have ever had which rendered me bed-ridden for two weeks with a further two weeks thrown in for good measure before I was strong enough to return to work. The phrase " a good deed never goes unpunished" springs to mind.

I could write a small book listing food, clothing, household items and even a very handsome crush I gave away to someone else I thought was needier than I was at the time. It's taken me almost my whole life so far to find the sweet spot between taking care of my own needs first, recognising the needs of others, and where ( more importantly how ), I can be of help in a truly productive way that adds to the dignity of the recipient. I've also worked on letting go of what I think people need. It's so easy to project our personal ideals on to a situation or person. We can never truly know what anyone needs unless they tell us, and the conundrum many of us do the internal work of excavating deeply to unearth that information? We often discover that what we want and what we need are entirely two different things, right? It's generally difficult to ask for what we truly need and it's just as difficult to provide the help that is appropriate and profound. These days I ask " how can I be of help? " and without fail, it's always not what I thought I'd hear.

So where was I? Oh, right, my Beanie situation. I made a shortlist of Beanie Requirements.

1. Warm ( but not too warm seeing as Cape Town has four seasons in a day...layers, darling! ).
2. Colours I can match with any outfit.
3. No pom-poms or outrageous colours/patterns.
4. Covers the ears ( those icy south-easters! ).
5. Cannot actually feel it on my head. Heehee.
6. One for each day of the week...Beanies for Days.

I can't promise myself that I'll keep them all ( I've already given two to my beautiful model, Tanya who lives next door and is my youngest sons GF ).

I'd love to hear your thoughts about charity, so do please leave a comment below?
For your trouble, Beanies for Days HERE, is a FREEEEEE pattern ( whether you need it or not ). 😆

Until next time, Lovelies.
Stay well, stay safe, stay calm and crochet on!

💛 Jen

A very big THANK YOU to Tanya who was dragged ( lured with coffee ) out of her warm bed to model the Beanies in the rain! 

Thursday, 4 June 2020

True North

Hello, again dear Lovelies!

It's been a few weeks ( cough, cough a month, cough ) and you'd think in Lockdown, time would slooooow riiiight doooown, but no. The days have been whizzing by in a flurry of mundane household chores, making three meals a day ( ugh, I hates cooking! ), mastering online grocery shopping, finding creative ways to walk Roxy ( and myself ), laundry...seriously, why SO MUCH LAUNDRY!? I haven't done any of the things I thought I might do in a Lockdown. For example: learn a new language, tidy THAT dark, dank hidey-hole of a cupboard under the kitchen sink, experiment with fabulous dessert recipes, alphabetise the bookshelves ( yet ). I did finally complete the Green Tea Throw and now, when I look at the Block it does sort of resemble the actual coronavirus with its spikey circular crown! I'll forever associate this particular Throw with these surreal times.

I'm sure you have all been on a rollercoaster ride of emotions? I know I have. When the world wobbles beneath our feet it's interesting what we reach out for to grab ahold of to steady ourselves, right? In this respect, these strange times have forced me once again to reevaluate my life's path. The father of my sons died suddenly in his sleep during this time. Although we'd been divorced for 20-years we always remained good friends and had spoken just a few days before. More than anything, coping with this unexpected blow which inserted itself into the incredibly complex tangle of Lockdown rules and regulations, and the fear of the virus itself, has forced me to once again find my True North.

After making the Green Tea Throw, I received quite a few messages with "suggestions" of what to make next. That's a very odd thing to deal with. I had a good think about it and what came out of " the good think " was that there are two different camps of designers. Camp 1: commercial designers. That is those who create for yarn houses or their own yarn businesses, and who will make varied items, continually staying on-trend and learning new techniques in the process. Camp 2: the designers who's hooks will not listen to reason. I follow my hooks desire and, for now, I go where my hooks heart goes. This is my True North.

So, without further yada yada! Tadaaaaa!

Wishing you all a very lovely, relaxing and fun weekend!
💗 Jen