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 ). πŸ˜†

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

πŸ’› 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!
πŸ’— Jen

Thursday, 30 April 2020

Of Lumps and Wishes.

Dear Lovelies, and here we are at day one hundred and eleventy of lockdown in South Africa!

 How are you all doing? I've been reading through all your comments and very happy to hear that so many of you are simply appreciating all the lovely little things: clouds, sunlight through overhead branches and leaves, weeding the garden, growing veggies, watching flowers bloom, baking, ironing ( stop that at once! πŸ˜† ), the children and furbabies, birds in hedgerows or at their feeders, a quiet predawn coffee... regardless of where in the world you are experiencing the restrictions placed upon you and your loved ones during these surreal times. The human spirit is a beautiful thing that appears to show itself fully under duress.

 We all seem to be going back to basics. Strangely, I feel that we have all had a massive collective wish granted! It's that wish we generally keep in the back of our minds as we beaver away through our incredibly busy "normal" lives, that if we could complete this, or finish that, then eventually we could grant ourselves some downtime to enjoy all the things we are doing now under our enforced quarantine! I'm not suggesting our collective consciousness created a pandemic but sometimes if you can't stop the treadmill then something comes along to put, as they say, a spanner in the works. On the big plus side, I'm sure our natural world is heaving an earthy sigh of relief that we are, albeit enforced, giving ourselves and our beloved home Earth, a long-overdue break.
Food for thought ( seeing as we're all baking again! )?

 Here at number 6, you'd think that living in what is effectively sanitised hibernation nothing much would be going on in our daily lives that anyone could call dramatic. After all, the drama is "out there" not in our fairly predictable and controlled personal environments. But no. It found us nevertheless!

1. Exactly 16 days ago I woke up feeling off and by the end of the day had a mild temperature and upset tum. Later in the day, the lymph nodes under my right ear swell to golf ball size...painful much! Every time I chew on that side it sends a shock of pain through my cheek and jaw ( hurriedly googles *that which we shall not name* symptoms ). Slight headache. I put it down to a blocked salivary gland and drink litres of water.

2. Then, 2 days later Mr HooksnTales begins with exactly the same symptoms but slightly worse. He has chills and both lymph nodes swell. We panic and call our lovely GP who examines us both telephonically ( she compliments me on doing such a sterling examination πŸ˜€ ). She reassures us that it's highly unlikely we have contracted * that which we shall not name * but cannot pinpoint what it is seeing as our symptoms do not match mumps, lupus, mono or any other viral infection she can think of. Although later I read that Influenza viruses including Para-Influenzas can infect the salivary glands too!

3. After exactly 14 days we both fully recover.

4. The very next day, my youngest son, who lives next door, develops a very high fever ( 41c ). We all panic. He's perfectly fine 2 days later. MY NERVES by this stage, are shot to pieces!

 I would like to know how any virus could make its way through all the sanitising protocols and barriers we created! In "normal" times we avoid seasonal flu and colds without taking any special precautions. Life is full of mystery... which is very annoying!

 Through the worst of Lumparella, as we now call our mysterious viral infection, I happened upon this lovely young duo who call themselves Emerger. They are local, as in Capetonians, and their latest composition Urban Wilderness has been playing itself in my head all day long ( and literally in my first waking thoughts too). As always, in tough times, we turn to the arts for solace and strength. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

 However, besides all the uncalled-for drama of Lumparella, we did have some fun even though it was vicariously through Roxy! We sent her on an outing with Super Woof to a farm in picture-postcard pretty, Franschhoek.  This super-affordable service was impressive, especially considering they collected and dropped off as well ( Franschoek is at least an hours drive away ). An added bonus was sending us pics and videos throughout the day! To say the least, Roxy had a ball and came home bright-eyed and bushy-tailed then flaked out completely and slept for 6 hours straight!

 I'm sure you're wondering if I am ever going to talk crochet? Yes, I am, but it's not good news so I'm prattling on about other things. First, Part 4 of the Green Tea Extension is slightly delayed seeing as I simply could not concentrate while I panicked over Lumparella. I'm all over it now but I did lose a few days. Keep those hooks warm. Secondly, I did a poll a few months back on our Group. and asked about which methods you preferred I use when making the extensions. I think the least favourite was making lots of squares and then having to attach them. Guess what? SORRRYYYY, but I can't help what my mind is forcing me to do! It will be worth all the work, and besides, we're all in lockdown to one degree or the other. I'm just making sure you keep those hands and hooks busy. It's a public service, you can thank me later. πŸ˜†

 By now, those of you randomly picked to receive last weeks free pattern giveaway will find your gift in your Ravelry library! Tadaaa! Enjoy! Today's Freebie Pattern is the SAFE AT HOME BLANKET by Margaret Holzmann. This is the crochet version of her knitted design. I think it's brilliant and such a fun stash-busting project. If you don't already know, our HooksnTales Workshop Group is running a fab competition. We're making crochet houses ( any format! ) and there are CASH prizes to be won so head on still have four weeks to make your crochet house! We've had the most fabulously creative entries so far! Here's a little peek at some of them. If you'd like to win a free pattern leave a comment below about your favourite spot at home. Is it your bathtub, your bed, a favourite chair or couch, or spot in the garden? Don't forget to include your Ravelry name!

Made by Iman Van Der Kraan

Made by Sonya Holland and the House Mandala below.

Steam Punk Housie made by Dona Lock.

Interactive Chicken Coop made by Sam Austin.

Adorable Snail House by Catherine Pousserot

Hansel and Gretel Masterpiece made by Katerina Russo Efthimiadu.


 In conclusion: It's a Public Holiday here today. HAPPY WORKERS DAY to all our incredible frontline Hero's and Heroines. Words fail me how to express my gratitude for their ongoing service. The pennies I am earning during lockdown via pattern sales have been channelled to food banks and supporting small businesses through vouchers and donations. Every time you support me, please rest assured that I am paying it forward. We are all in this together! THANK YOU SO MUCH! πŸ’—

Dear Friends, I hope you are all staying safe as houses, staying well, staying calm and shining on!
Happy weekend!
πŸ’— Jen

Friday, 24 April 2020

It's the Little Things.

Hello, Lovelies!

Thank you to all of you Lovelies who commented on the last blog post. I loved reading through all your comments. It really was like visiting with old and new Friends!

It's a beautiful sunny, cool breezy Friday morning here in Cape Town, South Africa! 4am sharp, I'm woken by the adorable Cape Robin-Chat... a very chatty fellow mimicking over 40 other birdsong. Which it does at the top of its voice. No need for alarm clocks here. Mary Walker and her husband, William are super talented local photographers and Mary shares a daily post of the local birds in her Cape garden. Cape Robin-Chats are back in town!

I've completed all the usual household chores in record time ( before 9am ), had a lovely hot shower and made a fresh pot of coffee. One of our local supermarkets has a brilliantly user-friendly APP called Sixty60, where you get your groceries delivered to your door in an hour, so I don't need to leave the house at all. A route through the house and around the garden has been plotted and this is where Roxy and I take our daily 40minute walk. Surprisingly, I'm not bored yet with this!

For ages, I mean literally years, I've been off cooking. If meal prep is over 20minutes I don't do it. Guess what, my cooking mojo is back! I'm baking a loaf of quick soda bread every day too. Crikey, I hope this doesn't stick or I might very well open a restaurant again and abandon crochet ( hahaha...not going to happen! ). But I have enjoyed being in that headspace for a change. Chopping and sauteing things is very, very meditative which of course is relaxing. I'm grateful for these little moments and counting my blessings every day.

🌼RECIPE for my version:

Heat oven to 180c or 360f
Prepare a loaf tin.


3     cups wholewheat all-purpose flour.
1/2  cup chickpea flour ( or any other flour of your choice ).
1t    salt
1.5t baking soda ( bicarbonate of soda ).
2     cups buttermilk ( I made vegan buttermilk using 2 cups cashew nut milk, add juice of 1 lemon, allow to stand for 15minutes).
Nuts, seeds or raisins optional.


Mix all dry ingredients together using a whisk.
Add "buttermilk".
Mix lightly into a soft dough ( no kneading required ).

Place your dough into the loaf tin.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until your crust is golden and sounds hollow when tapped with a spoon.

Aaaaand it's Day 29 of our national lockdown... but there is light at the end of the tunnel in that next Friday we can resume some activities ( under strict guidelines ). Most importantly, we can go for walks again! I can't wait!! Masks are compulsory wearing though, especially in public spaces. I don't mind at all seeing as I've been wearing them since the first cases appeared in Cape Town. Initially, I ordered 100 masks from a local Maker and after handing out to Fam I've been handing them out to anyone I see who isn't wearing one. They are plain 2-layer in basic navy blue so I thought of making some snazzy ones for myself. Unfortunately for me, I was decluttering a while back and gave away bags of fabric I've not used in years...Murphy's Law, in my face! Luckily, Mox and Louise ( who usually make gorgeous little dolls and other lovely things )  started making them, using beautiful washable cotton floral prints, three- layered with a filter fabric insert and darted in various spots to fit perfectly. Of course, I bought six ...I mean who doesn't want flowers on their face? Not me! πŸ˜€

Some little things that made me happy this week:

A new visitor to our garden who is trying to court Augusta ( she's not interested ). We've called him Mr Big. He's not a stray but belongs to a new noisy Fam who moved in two houses down from us.

Little Things 2:

My little roses bloomed! I was stupidly happy!

In between all the usual Life-In-Lockdown...hahaha... joking, it's freaking surreal most times, nothing normal about it, I have been in Crochetland. Part 4 of Green Tea will be ready next Friday. There will definitely be a Part 5. I'm itching to get this Throw completed because my mind has a backlog piling up of ideas in lockdown, nagging to see the light of day. Also, my new yarn which arrived just before lockdown has teased me mercilessly. I feel another Throw coming on!

So saying, I better get on with it, right?

I would love to hear about the little things you are grateful for during these VERY challenging times? Let me know? I've picked five random winners from last week's GIVEAWAY so you should find your FREE pattern in your Ravelry library by now. Enjoy! πŸ’—

Today our GIVEAWAY is: the Sarin Lace Shawl by Sylwia Kawczynska ( there is a free version available on her blog but I'm sure you'd prefer an ad-free printable pattern? ).

Lovelies, I hope you have a super enjoyable weekend!
Stay safe 🌼 Stay calm 🌼 and Crochet on!

πŸ’— Jen

Friday, 17 April 2020

Safely Home.

Hello, dear Lovelies!🌷

It's Friday ( not so easy remembering which day is which these days! ) and today is day 21 of our 21-Day ( Very Strict ) Lockdown, isn't! It's Day 1 of our NEXT 14-Day Lockdown!! I'm not complaining ( I am, quietly, inside ) because I know it's for The Common Good... but shooowee, even for a homebody like me, this is hard on the emotions. I feel I've been forced onto one of those carousel ponies, going around and around but through all the stages of Grief, instead of a manic fun ride!

I think it's fair to say, we are all grieving our "before" lives? Even if it seems as if your life hasn't changed much, on a day to day basis, everything out there has changed forever. We are literally living through an epic historical moment which will become part of our children's or grandchildren's History syllabus! That is, to coin a 70's phrase, blowing my mind!

I've spent this week disciplining my emotions so that Gratitude overrides overwhelming Uncertainty, Fear and Grief. Not easy for me who's a classic Fixer. I can't fix this but I can fix how I respond.

Safely Home. I repeat those two simple words much like a Mantra every time the word lockdown pops up. We are asked to stay safely Home. How bad can that be? Instead of Home being an option now ( in the recent past I could sell my house, move, or become a caravanning gipsy ) for now, it has become a necessity. Prison or Haven? Choice makes all the difference. I've been appreciating every little aspect of my Home. And feeling so much gratitude. Little things, little moments!

I thought I'd share a few snaps of my Home and Garden, which is my entire world right now. I am so grateful for the privilege of having a comfortable home, a little garden, food in the 'fridge, running water, electricity... and a well-stocked larder.πŸ’— I'm grateful the streets are quiet and that our hedges are filled with happy birds. The air is definitely sweeter. Even the neighbours are ( sort of ) behaving themselves.

The Lounge in the morning.

Where we eat all our meals these days ( as opposed to in front of the Telly or in the Kitchen ).

My old Piano where I make up melodies to please Roxy and the Cats. 

My recently renovated bathroom ( which I did singlehandedly! ). It used to look like this...

And my favourite room, the bedroom where five of us manage to squeeze into every night!
Yep...Augusta, Nisha and Roxy!

As some of you may already know, our house is 118 years old. It's more of a cottage than a house. It's one of two semi-detached houses which many houses in our area are. In effect, we have two houses. My youngest son and his wife live in the "other house". Both houses have their own address although they are on one erf. Old houses are lovely but need lots of ongoing TLC!

Our small front garden got Palletized! I've been battling for years to make anything grow in the sandy soil. Eventually, after much slog... I gave up and then, tadaaaa, an idea popped into my mind to lay pallets on top of the sand and make a container garden!

I made this around the same time that I "palletized" the front verandah!

I am having so much fun each day in these little spaces...tweaking this and moving that and snipping things, watering pots, laying down more stones. One day I'll show you the other side but for now, it's still a work in progress.

Most of my days end with this view and a Netflix documentary or Series. We're working our way through Mad Men!

Time for a GIVEAWAY!!
Let me know how you're working your way through these strange times?

Leave your comment below and stand a chance of winning an adorable Butterfly Shawl pattern by Wilma Westenberg. I loved this sweet, summery, light butterfly design. Butterflies are a symbol of freedom. A little of that would go a long way right now!

Lovelies, stay safely Home and enjoy a happy weekend,

PS: for those of you who are working through the Green Tea Extension...Part 3 is live!