Saturday, 28 January 2017

Video Tutorial for * Snowdrops and Butterflies * !

Nadia Fuad, from YARNutopia has made a great video tutorial of my " Snowdrops and Butterflies" Square, for her 365 Days of Granny Squares! She's done a fantastic job of this complex pattern, walking ( or is that crocheting? ) you carefully through every step. I'm thrilled! It makes my πŸ’– so happy to see other crocheters enjoying my Squares!

Have a wonderfully peaceful weekend, and wishing you many contented hours of crochet! 😊

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

My very first Youtube attempt!

I finally did it! My youngest son, Blue, has on quite a few occasions suggested I try my hand at making a Youtube tutorial. So I did! Mind you, it's taken a while to get the hang of it. First I read up on how other crafters have managed this and to be sure, I cannot imagine putting an entire photoshoot thingy together with all the correct equipment, lighting, and other paraphernalia. For a few reasons: I can't afford the hardware, where would I set up a dedicated space, my cat would have a field day with this arrangement. 😼 This, however, was a very useful tutorial. 

Since forever ( yes, I often feel that old 😊 ) my devise de la vie has been " Necessity is the Mother of Invention ". Honestly, it's my bottom-line for almost every situation. I was sure we had a tripod " somewhere" and after only two nags my husband went hunting and found it, shrouded in cobwebs but after a good clean came up looking like new. Then I screwed on my little Kodak point and shoot camera, but after figuring out the precise angle to show "hands only" I saw that the feet of the tripod insisted on staying in the frame! Ok, so next "invention"! A small box filled with squishy yarn, the camera on its tripod, like some small alien robot balanced across the yarn box.  Next, I gathered together some materials and began recording. After only a few tries ( ok, it was nine! ) I managed a little video where almost most of the time my hands were actually IN the frame.

That was the easier part. I had to learn a new skill too, figuring out how Movie Maker works. So that took a while. Finally, onwards to Youtube. I will say, loading up a video clip takes AGES but if you've figured out how to reduce the size of your file then you're looking at an hour or so. Luckily, I am patient, it's my saving grace I tell you, or I would have given up out of sheer irritation! An important thing I learned was that all those crochet tutorials I take for granted, took an incredible amount of work in the background and now I am triply grateful to the Ladies ( and some Gents ) who have the inclination to make them! All in all, if I take anything away from this it's that learning a new skill is never a waste of time. πŸ˜ƒ

Have a great day further!
πŸ’– Jen

Sunday, 22 January 2017

A little change of Heart.

I often play around with my designs after releasing the pattern. Also, before I release a pattern I make up to 5, sometimes 10 variations of the design. πŸ’Ÿ Then I choose one! It's always a confusing choice because I love them all! One day I shall have to publish a little e-Book with all the patterns. πŸ˜„

Here is a variation on The Meiringspoort Heart design. If you like fiddling about with design, then you can see that it's fairly easy to add bits here and there. I thought to do Puffs where the dc's and tr's are atm. Also, I eliminated the fillers around the Heart, rather joining the dcfp spokes to the triangular shape ( if that makes sense? ).

Do the first 3 rounds of the Meiringspoort Heart pattern. Instead of making 4dc's into the ch2 spaces, jump straight to the dcfront post "spokes" part. Instead of making a sc into the BL of the next 4 stitches ( there are no stitches here to do that now ), begin with 6x chains around the top of the first Popcorn, this = 1dc + 3ch.Thn 1xdcfp around the top of the next Popcorn, ch3, 1dcfp around the next Popcorn, ch3. Then continue the sequence.  = 8 x dcfp's and 8 x ch3 spaces. Slip stitch into top of 3rd chain. Ch1 and make 4sc around ch3 space, Ch1 and 4sc around next ch3 space, ch1 and 4 sc around the next ch3 space...continue this sequence. Change yarn colour, into any ch1 space make 1 x mini-Puff ( y/o x 3 ), ch2, 1x mini-Puff, ch2, 1x mini-Puff, ch2 then 1sc into next 8 stitches, ch2 and repeat the mini-Puffs sequence into ch1 space. Then 1sc into next 13 stitches, ch2 and repeat the mini-Puff sequence into the ch1 space, continue with 1sc into the next 13 stitches. Ch2 and slip stitch closed into the top of your 1st Puff.

Change yarn colour, and begin with a ch4 into the ch2 space before your 1st of 3 Puffs. Then into that same ch2 space, do 2 x tr's, ch3.
3tr's into next ch2 space after 1st Puff, ch3,
3tr's into next ch2 space after 2nd Puff, ch3
3tr's into ch2 space after 3rd Puff
= 12 trebles + 3 x ch3 spaces.

Make a hdcfp around the dcfp "spoke " and then start with a treble into the first ch2 space after last sc from previous round. You'll be mirroring the first trebles sequence. After the last 3 trebles, do 1sc into the back loops of the next 10 stitches, ch over the Puff, sc into ch2 space, ch2 over next Puff, sc into ch2 space, ch1 over next Puff,then 1sc into BL of the next 10 stitches. Slip stitch into the top of those beginning chains of the previous round  Finish off the Heart with this sequence. Begin with a sc just before the 1st treble.1x Puff into space between the trebles, ch2, 1xPuff into next space after 2nd treble, ch3, 1 x Puff into space after next treble, ch2, 1xPuff into space after 2nd tr, ch3...continue until your last Puff stitch, then sc into BL of the next 12 stitches, ch1 at the point of the Heart, then sc into BL of next 12 stitches, then you should be back at your Trebles, do your Puffs and Chains sequence in those Trebles, ending with a sc into space after the last treble, slip stitch into the 1st sc on the other side of the hdcfp, , pull tight , fasten off, You can make a loop here for hanging your Heart.

Please be sure to let me know if I've made some bloopers in this pattern! 😊

πŸ’– Jen

The Meiringspoort Heart

I know * The Meiringspoort Heart * is a mouthful for this little Heart. But, in its defense, there is special significance attached to the inspiration for using a Heart shape here. In fact, I did square it up then decided against this. Clearly, I LOVE heart shapes ( who doesn’t?! ).

Ever since I was a young child I noticed how often Nature mimics Heart shapes. This is not so unusual. Yet for me, they pop up unusually frequently in unlikely places, like the foam in my cappuccino! πŸ’—When I was a little girl, living with my Grandmother after my Mothers death, I’d ask my Ouma about this and her reply was always “ God is reminding you to love”. Well, since those innocent childhood days my faith has been deeply eroded, yet my Ouma’s words ring loudly in my ears still whenever a Heart shape appears in an unlikely place.

The second reason I chose to crochet a heart, is, of course, the sequel to our short adventure into the wilderness...well, The Karoo. Which I love! πŸ’ž I shared a bit about our eventful get-a-way in my previous post about De Rust. Meiringspoort is a spectacular pass, a gorge really, linking De Rust to Prince Albert ( another delightful Karoo village ). I mentioned then that my husband has a fear of driving on high passes. I have the opposite phobia, the fear of looming mountainous overhangs! We decided to have lunch in Prince Albert on our second day in De Rust. You know, a quick uneventful dash through a gorge, as one does.

As we entered this historic pass, Meiringspoort, I rolled down the car window to distract myself from the looming overhead boulders, like giants leaning over a tasty morsel ( me! ) by videoing the gorge as we passed through. A river wound its way like a shed snakeskin through the sunbaked pebbles below, bone dry no thanks to the ongoing drought.

Also, seeing as the summer holidays were drawing to an end, it was busy! Cars, trucks, caravans all whizzing through, appearing oblivious to the awe-inspiring beauty. We took it slowly, admiring the earthy colours, a desert palette of beiges, browns, russet, and ochre. Small bouquets of wildflowers, miraculously defying the drought, sprouted between rocks, adding bursts of colour to this picture of stark loveliness.

We arrived in Prince Albert, deciding on a short walk around this Victorian village before lunch. It was blazingly hot. The heat from the pavements burned through the soles of my flip flops! Over lunch, we chatted with the cafΓ© owners and played with their little dog, Buksie. An adorable rescued Terrier- mix who was now comfortably retired in the lap of luxury. In the meantime, the horizon darkened ominously. As we ate, the wind suddenly whipped up, seeming to drag the impending storm ever closer.

Nervously eyeing the darkening sky, we hurriedly paid up and decided to head back immediately to De Rust, confident we’d beat the storm. I insisted we stop at the entrance to the pass. Those billowing black clouds marching over The Swartberg ( The Black Mountains ) was too good a scene not to capture. On a lofty ridge, three mountain goats, silhouetted sentinels heralding in the storm. No sooner had we got back into the car when the clouds opened their sluice gates! It felt as if a ginormous bucket of water filled with ice-cubes was upended over the parched Earth. Marble-sized hails stones pelted our windows with such ferocious force I was sure the glass would shatter!

We turned on our hazard lights and crept ahead. Some cars had managed to pull into tiny spaces to the side of the road, sheltering from the hail under precarious looking rock overhangs! Waterfalls began to appear, some seemed to be shooting horizontally from the peaks such was the force of the water! We stopped, as did the vehicles behind us, the wind flinging the rain and hail around our car like a large grey coat. It was impossible to see any further.

It was pointless trying to capture the waterfalls at this point! I was also TERRIFIED! But if you look closely you'll see a few cascading down the rock face.

After what seemed an eternity the storm eased up to a manageable level and we all cautiously started our motors. The scene was like nothing I’d experienced before. Waterfalls, large and small, were gushing down every crevice gouged into those ancient rocks. Only a few hours before the wind had happily whipped up dust dragons in this very same place! Cars began to move slowly forward. No sooner had we got back on the road when we were forced to stop again. The road now completely blocked with debris, rocks, and sand, washed down the rock face, was impassable. I thanked our lucky stars we were not in the path of this when it happened. “The Men” got out of their cars and trucks ( by now the traffic was looking like a car conga line! ) and began moving rocks and branches away, eventually creating a narrow space for vehicles to nervously move through. Finally, it’s our turn. My husband is soaked, his boots and pants drenched! Some Men had stripped down to their shorts only! A bit of comic relief! The sound of water rushing madly between and over the bleached pebbles of the river bed was almost deafening.

Sadly, at this point, my camera gave up the ghost!

A precarious path cleared, everyone was confident the rest of the journey would be trouble free. For a minute it was, for around the next bend, a scene far more dramatic dashed our hopes. Here, an ample river, dotted with massive boulders, heaved furiously OVER a small bridge, meeting the rest of the deluge rumbling beneath it. And there we remained for the next few hours, waiting for the Over-The -Bridge waters to subside. Finally, to cut this long story short, we arrived back safely, albeit damp and filthy ( did I mention the soot-blackened waters, created from wildfires a week before? ) only to be met by our excited Hosts, with a “ you won’t believe what just happened!?” 

Apparently, the river running through the bottom of their property was now in full flash flood. Mmmm….we know where THAT came from! 😊  Our bathwater ran black, so a bath was out of the question. I managed to clean up as best as I could, got into bed without dinner and slept for 10 hours! In all, it was a perfect getaway! πŸ˜ƒ


Jen xxx

Thursday, 19 January 2017

A little update on The De Rust Square

I wanted to share the lovely versions done of The De Rust Square, shared on Ravelry. I was happy to note two things important to me. That the square can be easily upsized, also that using a 3mm, 3.5mm or a 5mm hook doesn't seem to affect the integrity of the pattern. THANK YOU to all who have given this square a try and made such a great job of it too! xxx

Monday, 16 January 2017

Thank you very much!

Goodness me, what an exciting day it was for me yesterday! For a day I was  HOT! :D The only time ever I was pleased with the compliment. :D Thanks so much, Ravelers!
And then a friend alerted me to this too, so I was getting Hotter by the hour! :D

Well, all this HOTness was getting me hot under the collar. Yes, the BIG-M and I are friends, not very good friends I might add, seeing as this friend won't let me sleep at night! But all the excitement did cause quite a few hot flashes, or flushes as we call them here in South Africa. 

I'm so pleased there are a few of you who like my designs. I am TOTALLY in love with this craft! I LOVE IT!! Colour, yarn, hooks, needles and finally a little space I can call my very own. I was thinking recently, that if my husband asked me to choose between him or crochet, well, um... he hasn't, for very good reason! :D This is my "office" at 6 AM. It's where I have my first cup of coffee, and look out the window ( at the strip of sky above my neighbour's roof  :D )

Every day I wake up excited, filled with motivation, itching to get out the way all the  ( many, many, way too many ) household tasks...wash dishes, pop washing in washing machine, feed three dogs, one cat, three goldfish, water all plants and trees outside with bucket ( drought = no hoses! ), sweep tiles, mop tiles, do the daily shopping, prepare meals, fold washing, dust ( oh lordy. the wind brings sand and dust into every nook and cranny )! Then, there are still various DIY jobs (here and in our little rental cottage next door! ). To boot, I was never a night owl. I might toss and turn but I can barely make it past 9 PM. And my day begins at 5 AM! Still not nearly enough hours in the day for everything on my list! Then when you do get around to a spot of hooky **someone** decides it's nap time!

Yet, my love for this craft has me showing up at my little work space, filling in every available minute with yarny joy. When I read Eat Pray Love, I remember something Elizabeth Gilbert said about just showing up at the page (or canvas, or yarn basket) and I'd read it too some years ago in The Artists Way by Julia Cameron. Both times, just this phrase " showing up " profoundly resonated with me because I instinctively know that this is exactly all it takes to get the magic happening, to unblock a flow of creativity. Perfectionism is the block that stops many Creatives from doing what they love, the fear of failing, of not seeming good enough, of making a fool of oneself or seeming arrogant or presumptuous.It does sound like a cliche, but if you have a compulsion to create, just do it. Do what you love even if nobody else cares. Do it for yourself. If you don't, you will pop in many other ways...your nerves, your spirit, your happiness, your peace of mind... it all pops and crackles most unpleasantly if you don't allow it the room it needs to express itself. I know all about that. I guess you could say I am in recovery, a recovering Perfectionist. :D

Again, thank you most kindly for your generous praise. I am encouraged!

Sunday, 15 January 2017

The De Rust Square

Hello All, it’s so good to be back on the page again! Happy New Year!

I’ve missed losing myself in tonnes of crochet daydreaming,  surfing the crochet groups and blog wave... generally just oohing and aaahing over all the crochet gloriousness that abounds in our cyber-world. I always think of the series Modern Family and how at one point all their computers get fried and Haley says despairingly, “ how will I ever know if there’s still beauty in the world!”.  Every day I feel fortunate to log into my accounts and have the opportunity to see the amazing, inspiring works of incredibly talented people. It’s mind-boggling, and life-affirming too!

My husband has been on his annual leave and we promised ourselves that we would make an effort to get away, just as a couple, for a few days ( well, two days to be exact! ). We made all the arrangements well in advance with our kindly neighbours who had on many occasions offered to “babysit” our furry brood.
We packed our “pad kos” aka munchies for the road, kissed our babies goodbye and at 6 am we were off on our adventure! The map looked easy, we had Googled our destination, for all intent and purposes it looked like we’d reach our destination, De Rust ( literally translated means The Rest ) just after teatime at 11 am!

Hahahahaaa…. that’s all I can say about that! The saying  “ the best-laid plans of mice and men often go asunder” was written for situations like this. My husband, who is usually a fearless and competent driver suddenly developed a fear of heights! 75% of our trip was up and down steep mountain passes! I offered to take the wheel, but you know how Men are.  In the meantime, to calm my shaky nerves I began to crochet what has become the De Rust Square.  What should have been approximately a five-hour drive ended when we drove into De Rust, hot,  frazzled, and grumpy ...eight hours later!

De Rust, which had seemed other-worldly tranquil, and described as “restful” on the tourist website,  turned out to be only just beneath the top-end scale of a full-time Trucker Pit-Stop. Make no mistake, it is BEAUTIFUL, but seeing as the National Traffic Authorities have banned large Trucks from “the other road” they have no choice but to come thundering down the one and only road that passes directly through this tiny hamlet, passing too, directly outside our bedroom window, as it turned out.

 Of course, we were disappointed. We had paid for our two “restful “ nights in advance! However, the lovely, charming Guesthouse and the equally lovely and charming  Hosts made up in full, and I do believe we left having made two brand new friends! Not forgetting the nervous crocheting that culminated in this square! Without sounding trite, it really is true that when you look you can see clearly that every cloud has a silver lining. Did I mention we got caught in a terrific thunderstorm, a downpour of hailstones, mud and rock slides and a few hours trapped in a gorge? But that’s another tale altogether! 

Click here to preview all the pattern details as well as some stunning samples!

Until then, Happy Hooky, dear Yarny Friends!

Jen xxx

To purchase the PDF pattern with Video Links, via Ravelry, click the Buy Now button below.

To purchase the PDF pattern with Video Links, via Pay Fast, using EFT or your Credit Card, click the Buy Now button below.