Friday, 20 November 2020

Days of my life, and Chrysalis!

Hello, Lovelies! 

Happy Friday and Happy Weekend. I hope you are all well and staying safe?

Since our unpleasant visitation from a certain Crown Virus, a visitor that insists on overstaying it's welcome, days have begun to blend together. From what I'm reading on media platforms, it's becoming the norm to hear people say " what day is it? ". To help get me through these challenging times has been to create specific rituals for each day. Let me explain:

MONDAY: is mending day. Not only sewing on the odd button or taking up a hem but also bits and pieces of kitchenalia or garden-related paraphernalia ( fixing a fence pole, oiling the clippers, replacing a dodgy plug on the weedeater ). Also, I sort out what to keep and what to give away or repurpose. This is over and above the usual chores of the day. So that's Monday!

TUESDAY: I bake...cookies, muffins, bread...whatever! I know it's Tuesday because otherwise there are no cookies for the rest of the week to enjoy with my coffee! And that's never a good situation.

WEDNESDAY: Wash Roxy and Lally. As soon as I collect their towels they BOTH step meekly into the shower. Yep, they know there are cookie treats waiting for "good girls". Then it's a blowdry with the hairdryer. Immediately afterward,  they run back into the garden to roll around in the sand and grass... and that's why I have to wash them every Wednesday.

THURSDAY: Garden Day. All. The. Things. are snipped and clipped. Leaves are swept, Roses are dead-headed and fed. If it's not too hot, I have been known to climb a ladder and clean out the gutters.

FRIDAY: Call my beloved 88yr young Aunt who lives 1000 kilometres away. This is our Friday thing. If we don't chat then it's not Friday!

SATURDAY: Mr. HooksnTales is home. I get coffee in bed! HA!

SUNDAY: is always Kalk Bay day. We head out early before 9am to our favourite deli, the iconic Olympia Cafe HERE. There is a side entrance bakery to the restaurant which opens at 6am. We stock up for the week on fresh sourdough and ciabatta bread, spinach and feta filled croissants ( for the Mr ), and Mushroom and Lentil Pies for the Mrs. We order excellent coffee and walk to the harbour wall where we watch fishing boats bob on the waves and feed seagulls our crumbs. We spend some time chatting and making plans...good coffee makes you very chatty! πŸ˜†


Of course, there's always lots of crochet and designing going on in between trying to keep track of the days. Especially when you are the very fortunate recipient of a large box of super-yummy, deliciously squishy yarn from WECROCHET. Xmas arrived early! Honestly, Lovelies this is not a commercial plug for a Yarny know I'm not into that! But up until I was contacted by WECROCHET, I'd never heard of them! I must point you to their lovely Podcasts HERE, which I have listened my way through... at the rate of knots! As you can tell, I'm not very good at plugging! Just go visit their website. It's LOVELY!! Of course, I immediately dived in and made a thing with the gorgeous City Tweed. Find out more HERE. I wish you could smell this divine yarn through your computer. Someone needs to bottle the City Tweed fragrance!

In other crochet-related news, I am working on a " secret thing " which I can't really show you right now. But soon! HOWEVER, there is one " secret thing " out of the bag! TADAAAAA, we're going to be embarking on another Hooks 'n Tales crochet Throw Mystery Make-Along adventure! I've called this one " Chrysalis ". The idea for the name came from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows HERE.  The name for the new Throw is derived from Chrysalism: n. the obscure feeling you have when a storm is raging outside. There is thunder and lightning, you feel the air crackle with tension, rain pelts against the window panes. You enjoy the amniotic tranquility of being cosy and safe indoors.


Today I am releasing the Prelude to the Chrysalis Throw on Ravelry HERE. This will give you a little time to decide on your own colourway and purchase yarn if need be. I also added the stitches we'll be playing with plus other maybe useful information. The Chrysalis Throw is a MYSTERY MAKE-ALONG, explored in 3-Parts: The Square ( 30cm x 30cm/12" x 12" ), The Block ( 50cm x 50cm/20" x 20"), The Throw ( 1.20m x 1.20m/ 48" x 48" ). Again, expect a romantic, vintage-feel, floral-themed, richly- textured and decorative end result. Crochet, Yarn, Florals, Texture...yummy, right? Part 1-The Square will be available on Ravelry Friday 27 November. And Monday 30 November on Lovecraft.

Of course, our GIVEAWAY today is 5 copies of The Chrysalis Throw Mystery Make -Along!  Don't forget to add your Ravelry name to your comment below to stand a chance of winning a copy! 


There were a lot more things I wanted to share with you, Lovelies but who has time to read a book these days...oh, hang on, we do! πŸ˜† Wishing you all a very calm, peaceful ( yet fun! ) Yarny weekend! I hope that all the little things will bring you much joy! 

HUGS as always!


Thursday, 29 October 2020

Holiday? What holiday?

 Hello, Lovelies!

I hope you are all keeping safe and well out there? I know many of you ( myself included ) are feeling Covid fatigue, wondering when, or if, life as we knew it will ever return. It will, but just a little differently I'm sure. For one, I think my perception about being around large groups of people has forever changed. I'll always feel a little uneasy, wondering when the next tiny invisible enemy will pounce! Naturally, I already tend to be a bit germaphobic, and anxious but my down-time over the past few weeks gave me a moment to take a breath and recalibrate my position in relation to everything that has transpired. 

It was a lot to take in. The enormity of this global pandemic is overwhelming and I realised it would only be at some point in the future, perhaps two or three years down the line, that we'd properly be able to integrate this experience. My conclusion for the time being: it is what it is. In the meantime, I am trying to live through this time consciously ( otherwise known as WOKE! πŸ˜† ). Taking each day in both hands and doing the best with what I have, creating order, beauty, and joy. For me: fresh flowers, lighting candles, tidying clutter, listening to music ( not news channels ), using the good china, making healthy food, freshly painted walls, cleaning the roof gutters, skyping my kids, having fun on social media sharing funny memes and videos, zooming with a friend across the big pond, indoor air-cleansing plants, mucking around in the garden, taking many, many, many long walks in the woodlands of Cape Town. Like a mantra I chant under my breath; be grateful, be thankful, be kind. Practise makes perfect and the practice of appreciation and gratitude is ALSO so much harder to feel than to say. Especially when things spiral downwards rather than the opposite way. I happened upon this beautiful poem which moved me and made so much sense right now. Just watching Miss Augusta sleep peacefully in a sun-patch brings me a feeling of peace and contentment.

My grandmother once gave me a tip:

In difficult times, you move forward in small steps.
Do what you have to do, but little by little.
Don't think about the future, or what may happen tomorrow.
Wash the dishes.
Remove the dust.
Write a letter.
Make a soup.
You see?
You are advancing step by step.
Take a step and stop.
Rest a little.
Praise yourself.
Take another step.
Then another.
You won't notice, but your steps will grow more and more.
And the time will come when you can think about the future without crying."
- Elena Mikhalkova

One of my surprise revelations is that I am unable to " holiday ". I'm incapable of truly incorporating the concept of "holiday" into a workable situation without becoming antsy! Then I remembered ( since teenhood ) that I dreamed of doing what I love so that I would never have to work a day in my life, and that home would/should be where all of this happened. Like in the old days. My Scottish Granny had a fish and chip shop. She and my Grandfather lived upstairs and the shop was downstairs. Honestly, it does make sense, don't you think? Of course, that brings me to my latest ( and final ) cowl pattern which I have called Woodland. Homage to my beloved woodlands and the many walks I take there but also, to my little studio space, at home, which is an enormous luxury I am SO VERY grateful for.

The Woodland Cowl is a "holiday" make, haha. Also, it's Tapestry crochet in teeny sc's! Definitely not my forte if you've made any of my other patterns. But what a fun and absorbing technique! I learned quite a few tricks along the way about how to Tapestry crochet in the round which, of course, I share with you in the pattern. ALSO, it's definitely doable for an Adventurous Beginner. There are detailed video instructions throughout ( as always ) you cannot go wrong! The things we do and learn on HOLIDAY, right? πŸ˜† PS: I made the cowl longer in height so that it can comfortably fit over your mouth and nose ( best over a mask! ).

Our GIVEAWAY today is the Woodland Cosy Cowl. I'll be giving away 10 copies of the pattern! All you need to do is remember to add your Ravelry name if you do comment below. BUT THERE'S MORE! Three of our winners will also get a copy of Noelene's gorgeously cute Sweet Strawberry Tassel pattern!

Lovelies, as always, I wish you well, I wish you love and joy and peace!

Take care,

πŸ’“ Jen

And as usual, Roxy insists on having the last pic. πŸ˜†

Thursday, 1 October 2020

Hello October!

 Lovelies, I bet you didn't expect a Thursday blog post, right? But I had to catch the first day of October! Not like in August and September where I couldn't seem to catch up with the days. I feel very accomplished now! πŸ˜†

It's a funny thing, but we are experiencing just about the same weather here in Cape Town as in the Autumnal northern hemisphere right now. It's still blinkin' cold, there is snow on the mountain tops and the wind is blowing things about! I love it. Although only this morning I did complain to Noelene that it's "getting a bit much" and "I'm tired of feeling cold". Of course, if you don't know, Noelene lives in Western Australia and she complains that there isn't enough rain. Our dams are already 100% capacity, and that's worth a celebration! But I'm hoping the rains will veer towards Noelene's patch of crochetland soon and allow me to hang the laundry outdoors for a change. 

But enough about the weather! I have been very productive ( to keep warm! ). I made another cosy cowl, because, let's face it Winter is NOT yet over from where I am sitting. I'm still making comfort food most nights. Waterblommetjie Bredie ( little water flower stew ) is an absolute down to earth traditional food here in Cape Town. It's basically a hearty stew made with meat, and the " waterblommetjies " are added in abundance. They are known as "pondweed" or more romantically, " water hawthorn ". In the past, they'd form part of a foraging expedition but these days you can buy them from vendors or in stores. 

THANKFULLY, for me, there are vegetarian and vegan recipe versions.

1. Vegetarian Version of Waterblommetjie Bredie HERE.

2. Vegan Version ( add veg stock ) HERE

2. Non-Vegetarian Version HERE

But I digress....πŸ˜†

These little cowls are quick and easy to make and I've got so much pleasure seeing all the colourways used for the Nomad Cowl and the Duchess Cowl. They work up quickly and can be upsized or downsized very easily. As always, there are video instructions, so even if you are a beginner crocheter you should be able to manage. You can find the pattern HERE!

Also ( and I am so relieved ), I finally organised a Tester Group! Hooks 'n Tales officially has proper Testers! I'm very excited about working with these wonderful crocheters and it's going to relieve a lot of the angst I experience every time I put a pattern together. Especially since I am incubating another blanket idea.

The lovely Tanya is away again to help take care of her newborn Nephew so supermodel Roxy has once again agreed to take the gig. She is a total natural at this, don't you think? She stays absolutely still and gives me side views and front views without any prompting either. What a little poser!

Our Giveaway this week is another one of Noelene's adorable Tassels! This time it's the intricate and beautiful Clematis Cottage Tassel HERE
To stand a chance of having your name drawn from the Lucky Winners Hat, don't forget to add your Ravelry name to your comment.

I know things are still very crazy out there so I'm sending you all lots of good vibes, in buckets!
Stay calm, stay safe, and crochet on.

Happy weekend ( soon! ).
πŸ’— Jen

Friday, 25 September 2020

Incubation time again!

 Happy Friday, Lovelies!

Miss Augusta has the right idea this chilly morning! 

It's absolutely bucketing down here in Cape Town today. Winter is lingering. I'm trying not to complain. I know how much I will miss these cool, moody, cloudy days once the African Sun is blazing down on us again, drying out all the lovely lush greenery and sending the Winter birds away to cooler climes. I will miss them so! I absolutely love the Cape in the Winter months. The colours, the wind, the clouds, the ocean...sigh.

I'm working on two more cosy cowl designs. I need to get those out of my system but also, working these simple, quick cowl patterns helps me to unravel all the ideas incubating in my head for a new blanket design! As the ideas swirl about the challenge then is to get them into some sort of order that makes it possible to manifest into something tangible. Usually, I like to picture the completed design in my head. It's simultaneously exciting but nervewracking! 

By the way, I'm loving some of the beautiful colourways you Lovelies have chosen for your Nomad cowls!

NOMAD πŸ’—Made by Urooj Umar

NOMAD πŸ’—Made by Marilyn Warczak

THANK YOU, so much to all of you Lovelies who left a comment on last week's post. I just want you to know that even if I don't reply I do read through them all and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE all your comments and snippets of news from your patch of Crochetland. Our Giveaway last week was the Duchess Cowl...and then I forgot...and made both the Nomad and the Duchess Cowl freebies for our Heritage Day! I hope you all took advantage of that? If not, let me know?

Today, our Giveaway is another of Noelene's adorable tassel designs. This time, the Passionflower Tassel HERE! Don't forget to leave your Ravelry name if you do comment.

Wishing you a fun and leisurely weekend filled with all good things!

πŸ’— Jen

PS: this made me laugh so much. Nisha completely fixated on my current screen saver! πŸ˜†

Friday, 18 September 2020

Duchess, another cosy cowl!

 First things first...THANK YOU SO MUCH for all the comments on last week's Nomad Cosy Cowl post. I really tried to answer each one of you but ran out of steam! I love it so much that you all are so keen to participate in the Friday Giveaways! Instead of 5 Winners, I picked 12! It's always a lot of fun.

Lovelies, I made another cowl! I'm hooked, I'm addicted, I'm already making another one and have a few more sketched out! Help!

Why didn't anyone tell me that cowls are a fun quick project and that they look fabulous worn? Roxy agrees, and can you tell that she was definitely a supermodel in a previous life? That look! I was laughing so hard I couldn't keep the camera perfectly still. πŸ˜„

If you remember, last week I was a bit short of images for the Nomad Cosy Cowl HERE as seen in situ because the lovely Tanya was otherwise occupied? Well, here it is, on a neck so that you can get an idea of sizing on an adult human being. Although Roxy is humanlike in so many ways, and I treat her as such, she's not quite the model I'm looking for.

Today is a special one in the Hooks 'n Tales household. Mr Hooks'nTales has returned to the office after six months of enforced work-from-home due to you-know-what. The house is unusually quiet, the furry-kids are fast asleep on the couch. I can hear the comforting hum of the washing machine and soon I'll make a salad for lunch and enjoy it out in the garden, followed by a spot of crochet in a warm patch and possibly a leisurely walk at my favourite green belt. On the way back I may even stop at the local coffee station for a takeout almond milk cappuccino. Can you tell I love having " my space " back?

I've released the Duchess Cosy Cowl pattern HERE on Ravelry this morning! It's a quick and fairly simple design which, like Nomad, can be easily adapted for all sorts of other makes! I wanted to keep the pattern fairly basic leaving the options to bling it up, to the scope of your imagination! I've added pom-poms but I also wanted to add little flowers, leaves or bees...or tassels! I've just binge-watched the entire first season of The Duchess on Netflix HERE Can you tell I'm a huge Katherine Ryan fan? She is adorably outrageous ( albeit not everyone's cup of tea ). This cowl is a tribute to her. 

The weather here in Cape Town has not been Springy at all. It's rained every second day making thick socks, boots, woolly jumpers and hot chocolate very much the order of the day, so far. I'm not complaining. Ok, maybe a teeny bit. It would be nice to have a nice, warm, sunny day. Just to warm up the old, old, old, bones. Once a week would be fine.πŸ˜„ 

Other than the weather report...nothing much happening in my world ( a good sign ) other than crocheting cowls, typing out patterns, ORDERING YARN ONLINE ( teehee, as if I need more, which I don't! )... and everyday walks in splendid, magical Nature. Interspersed, however, with the homely duties that come with having a work-from-home husband chained to his desk up until yesterday! Oh, speaking of magical Nature, have you watched My Octopus Teacher on Netflix!? If you haven't really must! It's BEAUTIFUL!

This week I'll be giving away 5 x Duchess Cosy Cowls,  picked randomly from the Lucky WinnerS Hat. Winners from last week's Giveaway will find their Nomad Cosy Cowl pattern in their Ravelry inbox! Enjoy!

So, with hot chocolate in mind, also the washing machine tune just released to tell me I can remove the washload, this is a good time to wish you all a VERY lovely and relaxing weekend! I hope you are all staying safe and sane and crocheting yourselves through what has been an incredibly challenging year so far. Keep it up!

πŸ’— Jen xx