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,

💗 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.
💗 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.





💗 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!😃


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

Warm Hugs and Best Wishes,

Jen xx







Thursday, 31 December 2020

Happy 2021!

 Dear Hooks 'n Tales Friends,

   I'm so thankful to you all for making 2020 bearable for me. I've really enjoyed reading the comments and stories that you have shared. We truly are a connected community of crocheters. It's no small achievement we survived 2020 without losing our marbles. Perhaps we have lost a few but no matter. If you're reading this, and feeling a little dejected, a little hopeless, worried, or fearful BUT you're still up every day, taking that shower, dressing for the day ahead, making beds, preparing meals, boiling a kettle for a fresh pot of coffee or tea, feeding your fur-babies or human babies, doing laundry, watering your garden or not killing your house plants, working full time or part-time, taking care of elderly family members, planning school-lessons or any number of mundane yet necessary daily tasks...then you are a bright and shining STAR! If you're not managing even the basics, I completely get the struggle and I want you to know that you are beloved and appreciated no matter how you show up for each day. Keep in mind that a star still twinkles no matter how close or far it is. Shine on.💗





  2021 will bring unique challenges still. This horrible Pandemic isn't going away anytime soon. Regardless, hang in there and shine your light. Last year I asked what your New Year's Resolutions were for 2020? Many of you Lovelies replied that you never make them! In retrospect, just as well, because all good plans made by mice and men definitely did go asunder in 2020. I'm big on planning but what 2020 taught me is that it's good to plan but even better to adapt. I'm training myself to take each day as it comes then see whether I can get through it without having a hissy fit if things slide sideways. I feel too that we are all shedding old skins. There was us pre-2020 and then us post 2020. We have all changed, I think? I am sad for what we have lost; our pre-2020 lives, for some of us our jobs, our health, and dearly loved family members and friends. I have had to dig deep to scrape up some courage so that I can welcome 2021 as a wonderful opportunity, a rebirth, filled with budding possibilities and fresher perspectives. For me, The Chrysalis Throw will always be representative of this historic time.



  This short poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson has been a daily encouragement for me. Perhaps more of a war-cry! I've printed this out in large type then taped it to the wall in front of my work table. That way, every time I look up I'll be reminded to not sweat the small stuff. To worry less about what the future may bring and take care of each day as the gift it really is. This too: " You normally have to be bashed about a bit by life to see the point of daffodils, sunsets and uneventful nice days" - Alain de Botton. 

2020 has made a bit of a Philosopher of us all, right?😊


" Write it on your heart

that every day is the best day of the year,

He is rich who owns the day, and no one 

owns the day who allows it to be invaded

with fret and anxiety.

Finish each day and be done with it.

You have done what you could.

Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt 

crept in.

Forget them as soon as you can, 

tomorrow is a new day;

begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit

to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

This day is too dear,

with its hopes and invitations,

to waste a moment on yesterdays "



Please stay safe, take care of yourself, and don't forget deep, deep breaths.💗




💗 Much love and warm HUGS!

Jen

PS: Lovelies, let me know what you will take and what you'll leave behind from your journey through 2020? What are your wishes for 2021? Don't forget to leave your Ravelry name. I'm giving away 20 copies of The Chrysalis Throw today! 









Monday, 14 December 2020

Silly Season Ramblings....

Happy Monday, Lovelies ( before I forget...THANK YOU SO MUCH for all your comments on the previous post. I love reading them all and only wish I had four more hands to reply to everyone! ).

I hope you are all keeping calm and sane while we wearily continue navigating our little boats of Life through the swells and troughs of 2020?  It feels very much like we're battling through something, doesn't it? Last night I was lying in bed and that movie with Robert Redford popped into my mind. The one where he's solo in a sinking yacht? I was thinking about how we're all, in some way or another, finding ways to survive these unsettling times. Podcasts and Vlogs have been a lifeline for me and really stepped up to provide much-needed daily entertainment and inspiration. Here's my shortlist of favourites. Do you have much-loved Podcasts or Vlogs that you could recommend?

💙 Arne and Carlos.

Oh my hat, these two, besides talented, generous, and full of incredibly informative snippets, are unintentionally incredibly funny too!




💙 The Last Homely House.

Hosted by Kate who lives on a farm in Northumberland with her four Cats, Hens, and a Goose.



💙 Paul Cooper's, the Fall of Civilisations.

Fascinating, informative, and brilliantly detailed narrative. Highly recommended if you're into History.



💙 Eight Miles From Home.

I never miss a Vlog detailing the nomadic life of this amazing couple Jay and Sascha and their adorable little "Moana" in the flesh called Story Ember. They restore my faith in Humanity.



Routines and rituals have also helped keep me grounded. When my boys were much younger their Dad was shot and paralyzed in a botched car-jacking. As you can imagine, it was a deeply distressing time for us all. What helped most were our daily routines which, even though internally I was buckling, kept us going! Simple disciplines of waking up and immediately heading to the kitchen to boil the kettle for our morning beverages, laying the breakfast table, stirring a pot of oatmeal, feeding the Dogs and Cats, filling the washing machine with laundry, and preparing the morning lessons for my homeschooled brood. These rituals forced me to stay in the moment rather than crumble into a soggy ball of despair and fear. Over time these routines became deeply ingrained survival tools, which I'm thankful for now. I'm reminded too that there are no mistakes, only lessons.

These days, without the distraction of small children, I'm still up at 4am! I make a lovely cup of coffee and get back into bed to read the daily online newspapers on my tablet. At 5am it's snack time for the furry-brood. By 6am I am at my desk answering emails and checking for messages on social media. At 7am it's breakfast then a walk about the garden to check on "everyone". This morning I noticed that an ailing banana plant I moved a year ago into a sunnier position, has finally flowered! 







My day continues in this more or less orderly fashion. In a way, repeating the same routines each day is like living and breathing a Mantra. There is calm to be found. And if you are easily amused as am I, humour in spades too.😆




Our weekend visits to Kalk Bay still satisfies in so many ways. It's a ritual that rewards the effort of getting up early on a Sunday! The bakery had just opened, the bread was still warm, the coffee excellent ( oh, the joys of consistency! ), the staff predictably jovial and welcoming. Their routines raise my routines and make me want to do better! We've been frequenting this bakery for 18 years! They have yet to disappoint. A pleasant, slow amble along the harbour wall jutting into a sparkling seascape would have been enough but then this... three large seals dropped in for a visit. They are so like Dogs!





As usual, I'm off on a tangent! Let's chat crochet. If you've purchased Part 1 of the Chrysalis Mystery Make-Along then, as we speak, you'll find Part 2 in your Ravelry Library! I am having so much fun designing this Mystery-Along so I hope you'll have fun too and that it will keep your mind away from more troubling thoughts? I'm completely second-guessing my colourway of course. I'm not feeling so blue these days, more golden orange and salmon pink! Luckily many of you are amazing colourists and I've added a few images to the Ravelry pics album. So, if anyone is stuck for a colourway do head on over HERE. 



Noelene and I are running a Festive 12 Day Advent Quiz Competition over at the Workshop. There are prizes for answering simple and fun questions so if you're keen for a laugh and maybe winning a little prize, do head on over HERE.

I hope those of you Lovelies who commented on the last Blog Post and were picked by the random picks generator have received your free copy of the Chrysalis Throw Mystery-Makealong? Today, there are another 5 copies up for grabs, so don't forget to leave your Ravelry name if you comment. Good Luck! 💗

It's 9am now and that means shower and make myself presentable ( to the grocery delivery person and the fur-kids). Who else? I have barely left the house since April! 😆


Wishing you all a lovely calm week ahead! Avoid drama and demagogues, which will only make you feel worse. Stay safe, wear your mask and shine on!

HUGS,
Jen 💗