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.


Now...to 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.

πŸ’—Jen

🌷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˜‚



Friday, 28 May 2021

A little bit of this and that!

 Happy Friday, Lovelies!

Last things first:

1. If you commented on the last blog post you already know that you stood a chance of winning a sweet pattern? Please check your email notifications and/or your Ravelry Library to see if you're one of the 5 recipients?

2. I'm so sorry I have not managed to answer all of your lovely comments! I have read through them all, as I often say, keep them coming! I absolutely love reading about snippets of your lives. It's always interesting to me and makes me feel that when I make my videos we are sitting together chatting over a cuppa and crocheting.

3. Many of you are probably aware that there was a wee bit of trouble over in my patch of Crochetland? Sometimes what looks good on the outside is a bit rotten at the core, and it's not visible to everyone which makes it so much harder to put a stop to sooner. Long story short. I have set up a brand new sparkly Group with a Lucky 13 band of Moderators, who have been doing an amazing job of making the transition from old to new seamless. The new Group will remain so much smaller and thus we are capping Membership. We all feel that a smaller group is a lot more fun, we can give everyone far more attention. The Moderators will have an easier time of Moderating and zapping Trolls ( you'd be amazed ) with their super Troll Zapping eyes. All is well! You can join our new group HERE, we'd love to see you there! On a personal note, I honestly feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Unfortunately, there was backlash toward me in the form of very hateful emails, super nasty private FB messages and the like, which I was expecting! Luckily, I live by this Paul Coelho quote.πŸ˜‚



 

In other news...finally, Chrysalis is complete, corners and all! It's been an amazing journey in 3D crochet and I can't wait to begin another Throw! I went ahead and bought all the yarn I think I might want for the new project. 38 x 100g balls of Stylecraft Special DK. Maybe went a little overboard? Lol!! I keep going back to this premium acrylic yarn because it's absolutely fab to work with and doesn't cost the earth. So that was the first phase done and dusted.

 


The second phase in all this " preparation for new design " was sorting out the workspace. There's a company close by that make stunning, rustic furniture using recycled wooden pallets, so I sketched up a basic design which Mr Hooks'nTales modelled out on his computer ( he's a designer in marine engineering equipment so this was a piece of cake for him ) and we sent it off to the carpenter. Tadaaa! I'm pleased as punch! I also bought a pure wool woven matt. It was either that or rip out and replace the 50-years-old wall to wall carpeting ( I'll eventually get around to doing that ).



About the weather, because what's anything I say worth if I don't include a weather report? πŸ˜‚ Cool and rainy with a generous sprinkle of snow wafted in by gentle winds. All made more enjoyable next to a crackling fire accompanied by hot chocolate, popcorn, a good Netflix series and of course, crochet! I'm in my element.

All is well! πŸ’™

There's a lot more I could prattle on about, but I'm sure you're not here to read a novella! Please be aware that due to the recent hacking ( yes, I was hacked and bombarded with spam and all sorts of other mischievous Gremlins ), I have had to adjust the comments section. Now, or at least until the "haters" recede back to the dark holes they emerged from, I will have to moderate all comments before they are published. Which I will diligently do!

Don't forget to leave your Ravelry name next to your comment ( I'd love to hear from you! ) to stand a chance of being one ( of 5 ) recipients of this fun and gorgeous mosaic pattern HERE by Marissa Tetmyer.

Until next time, Lovelies!

Wishing you a peaceful, happy, creative and fun weekend.

Take care, stay safe!

πŸ’—Jen 

PS: I caught Miss Augusta having a deeply profound philosophical experience. πŸ˜†






Friday, 14 May 2021

Time flies when you're having fun.

Good grief, this month is really galloping along at breakneck speed! I cannot keep up! When Mr Hooks'nTales said he'd be home at 1pm today, I was genuinely confused, staring at him while blinking like a dungeon dweller who'd just seen the light of day! Why? I asked. It's FRIDAY, he said, looking at me as if I'd left my brains in the 'fridge. 

Hello, Lovelies!

Let me say this first: SORRY!! PART 6 of the Chrysalis is not quite finished yet! To be precise, it is finished but not ready to meet the public. The pattern is about to be sent off to my wonderful eagle-eyed Testers for a thorough going over. They are super speedy... so not long now! I was hoping to make a SUPER GRAND ANNOUNCEMENT today. I can reveal, though...I think you are going to love, love, love the corners. I do and it's not often that I like what I make. You know how it is when you're a Perfectionist with a capital "P"? You always think you can improve. Which is great news for you Lovelies because it means I'll always be chasing that mythical "perfect" design.

All I can offer today are a few images that I hastily captured during the ( busy ) week. Believe me when I say I do not in any way glorify busyness. I'm FAN #1 of Slow Living. It's everyone else's busyness that pulls me into the vortex of never-ending to-do lists. I rebel, but next thing I know, I'm bowling along, head over you-know-what, with the rest. I always thought that when I reached my 40's things would slow down, by 50 and beyond I'd be as chilled as an ice-cold Margarita, for sure...but NO. If you know how to slow time right down, give me a shout?

Miss Augusta was definitely sending me subtle messages: nap. smell the roses, get out into nature!




Next on the agenda. Lol!

Our GIVEAWAY WINNERS: I don't like to make a public announcement about this because I feel bad then for the not-winners. Thus...if you commented on last Friday's post and left your Ravelry name then please do check your Ravelry today to see if you have received a lovely surprise pattern? Also, if you're not a Member of our FAB workshop group over on FB you might not know that we are running a fun competition there called " MAKE AN ALIEN FLOWER ". You still have time to join, submit your entry and stand a chance to win a cash prize! Hope to see you there!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Keep those hooks warm!

Stay safe, take care and big hugs,

πŸ’— Jen

PS: If you'd like to win a copy of Noelene's latest tassel design ( to be released next week, so my lips are sealed... but Noelene shared a sneak peek with me so I can tell you it's absolutely amazingly beautiful ), then don't forget to leave your Ravelry name with your comment.






Friday, 30 April 2021

A little catch-up!

Happy Friday, Lovelies!

It's been a while since I last visited Blogland but as some of you may have noticed, I've popped into Instagram regularly. I think I'm starting to feel a little less uncomfortable there. It's still sort of scary! Somehow, though, blogging feels more hidden. It's as if you're living in a cosy stone and wood writer's cottage, overlooking a vast shimmering lake, and in the distance, tree-covered mountains with snowy peaks make for a dramatic rising- sun backdrop. Surprisingly, you're not entirely alone. Occasionally someone stumbles across your writers hideaway by accident, because they've wandered too far from their picnic in the woods. Some stay a night, others a few days. A few become permanent guests! Blogging feels more like that for me. So, after almost three months, I have a few lost picnickers sitting at my kitchen table and we are sharing a pot of coffee and a plate of freshly baked scones. I relate my news ( or no news! ) and you, I hope, will fill me in with what's been going on in your world?


News 1. Hahaha...no news. I am STILL working on the Chrysalis Throw Mystery Make-Along! HOWEVER, I am finalising  "the corners" and hopefully, the last bits PART 6, will be released next week. Here are a few stunningly gorgeous colourways. I hope they inspire you to tackle this design. It looks complicated but as always there are detailed video instructions and advice from our wonderfully helpful group Members over at our Workshop HERE. If you don't already have this pattern you can find it HERE.


                                                      CREDIT: Katherina Wolff


                                                
                                                        CREDIT: Rene van der Westhuizen



                                                        CREDIT: Maria Simonetta



                                                         CREDIT: Yunita Puspa Wiriani



                                                      CREDIT: Marjolijn Zweeren


News 2. Spontaneously, one Saturday morning a few weeks ago, I rolled up the pool cover and tossed it into the recycling. Well not exactly "tossed"...more like huffed and puffed and luged! Next, I scooped into a small bucket, our 3 x Goldfish ( Jaws, Nemo, and Dory ) who'd resided happily in a blue plastic kiddies pool for several years. I transferred the three to our 4m diameter x 1.2m deep pool ( unused for two years! ). Following this; the purchase of 20 x Goldfish in varying sizes and colours ( unnamed thus far ). Next came 3 x Water Lillies ( white ) and 1 x Dwarf Papyrus plant. All got plonked into the former "Swimming Hole", which now goes by the name of "Fishy Pond". Coffee breaks and lunch are now enjoyed at Fishy Pond. The Goldfish are thriving. All is well. I bought a special coffee mug to celebrate!


                                                                  



News 3. Winter has finally arrived! I hear that snow is on the way too. So there's been a lot of lazing about in pyjamas, reading books and generally telling everyone that I'm hibernating even though the weather is still sunny and hot most days. Laia, Roxy and the Cats definitely feel the chill in the morning air and don't surface until 10am. This makes for lovely quiet and peaceful mornings. Does anyone know a good spell to hasten Winter's speed?





New 4. We discovered a historical park, called Arderne Gardens, just 15 minutes from our front door! Mr HooksnTales has lived in Cape Town almost his entire life and did not know about this inner-city jewel. I teased him about that but it was really lovely to discover something new, together! Especially after spending MONTHS isolated in each other's company during our first and second lockdowns. We made a point then of exploring green spaces where we could walk the dogs and somehow missed this treasure. If you click on the link you can read more about the fascinating story of Arderne Gardens, its 175yr-old history, and the garden's connection to Hiroshima.












News 5: I FINALLY learned how to make Seitan! Vegetarians and Vegans will immediately know what that is but for those of you who think I've spelled ( no pun intended ) the Dark Lord...move on over! Seitan is an ancient food, a pure protein food, originally made by Buddhist Monks. It's basically the process of separating wheat gluten from wheat starch. The gluten is then flavoured and cooked as you would meat. For years I avoided making Seitan because it looked complicated ( sounds familiar seeing as I never learned how to crochet until later in life for the exact same reason! ) but let me tell you, it's easy peasy as anything. My first batch was absolutely delicious! I shared this to FB but I only have a handful of friends on my personal FB page so many of you would have missed the share. Honestly, if you are allergic or sensitive to gluten then avoid this but otherwise, even if you do eat meat, give it a try. It's sort of magic that you can turn flour into (fake) meat!


My recipe:

RECIPE FOR SEITAN: ( not for those who can't tolerate Gluten )

1kg White Flour ( all-purpose, not self-rising ).

METHOD:

Add all flour to a large bowl.
Add enough water to work into a dough ball ( about 2 to 2.5 cups ).
Knead for 2 minutes.
Cover with cold water ( from the tap ).
Allow to stand for 2 hours.

Next:

Transfer your dough ball to a colander and rinse under running water until water runs clear. Takes about 10 minutes. Use your hands to knead and pull the dough ball to help the separation. The water will be very milky to start with as the starch is separated from the gluten.
Your gluten ball should end up about 3rd of the size of the original dough ball. It will have a slightly darker colour and be "sort of rubbery ". This is pure gluten.

Pat gluten-ball into a "patty" shape. Add the "patty" to a pot of simmering stock ( onions, carrots, garlic, herbs, spices, etc + water ) making sure it's just covered by the broth. Allow to simmer for 1.5hrs. Your stock should be reduced to 1/4.

Store your cooked gluten in the broth for up to a week.
Can be diced, sliced, or remain whole ( think Roast Chicken recipes ). 
Slices can be pan-fried, diced seitan can be added to stir-fried dishes.

Super high in protein, no animal fats, so no cholesterol.
100% delicious and Vegan ( of course ).

So that's about all I have to share for now. Most days are " ground-hog " days and I'm sure many of you Lovelies can relate!

Our GIVEAWAY today is a surprise pattern! If you like surprises then don't forget to leave your Ravelry name if you do comment below! I'll be giving away 5 copies of a lovely, useful pattern!

I hope with all my heart that you are well, taking care of yourself but most of all, staying safe!
Hugs as always.
πŸ’— Jen











Friday, 8 January 2021

A little update!

 Happy Friday, Lovelies!

Woweee, what a week it's been worldwide, right? We truly are living through historic times. In the future when people wonder how we got through these times we can safely say " crochet saved our day, everyday! ". To all you lovelies who commented on the last post and shared some of your New Year's thoughts with me, THANK YOU SO MUCH! I really loved reading through each and every comment. You are all such an amazing bunch, really you are.


I wanted to let you all know that the Chrysalis Throw  Mystery-Make Along is in progress. I'm not crocheting at my usual speedy pace and that's because my household is very disruptive at the moment. It's been impossible to get a quiet moment to myself to think and design. However....no worries as I am moving forward even if somewhat at a plod. In the meantime, I'm sharing some absolutely gorgeous colourways for the Throw, so far, and I'm VERY excited anticipating seeing these colours grow into the Throw size! They are all beautiful but some did make my heart beat a little faster!


Beatrice Jaquier



Yunita Puspa Wiriani


Joanne Kinter

Wendy Bourke


Urooj Umar



Also, there's been a bustle of activity going on in the background as some of my lovely Testers have been working through older patterns making sure to straighten out a few gremlins. I can't thank them enough! I know many of you Lovelies have been waiting for ages for the latest update for the Durban Spice Girls. If you purchased this pattern way back, you should find an update in your Ravelry Library. Perhaps your download links have expired? Let me know if they have or you could email Ravelry to request a fresh download link.





πŸ’— Our Giveaway this Friday is 5 copies of the Durban Spice Girls and 5 copies of the Chrysalis Throw Mystery-Make Along. If you do comment, don't forget to leave your Ravelry name and let me know which pattern you would like. Also, don't forget to check your Ravelry to see if you're a winner!πŸ˜ƒ


Lovelies please take care of yourselves, stay safe and crochet on!

Warm Hugs and Best Wishes,

Jen xx