Sunday, 10 December 2017

Ouma's Vintage Bunting.

As I was making this I couldn't help thinking back to a very loooong time ago, when I was a little girl of five. who had just lost her Mom. My Ouma and my Moms sisters took me in and the five years I spent with them before my Father remarried were, until I had children of my own, the happiest times of my life. I could write a book about my Ouma, Katerina Johanna Derksen. Perhaps one day I might.

Although she never taught me to crochet, she did teach me to knit and cook. She had a little step-up made so that I could reach the stove, and also a special shelf was set aside for all my little pots and pans and cooking utensils. I owe it to her that my love for cooking led me to run a very successful vegan cafe! Although, I'm not sure she would have approved of my "otherworldly" vegan offerings! She was old-fashioned to a T! Meat, potatoes, a good daily dose of Epsom salts and Bible verse built character and intellect!! There was no alternative way other than a straight to Hell card! 😄 Questioning her rule was unthinkable seeing as she was unfailingly staunch in her beliefs and she never learned to properly speak English. She was a proud Afrikaner with a capital A!

I was her first grandchild and she was also my Godmother! In her eyes, I could do no wrong. I loved her dearly! Her house, I think, stamped a blueprint in my young brain for every future home I would either desire, live in or own. Oregon pine floors, ornate pressed ceilings, a proper pantry always fully stocked with mason jars of syrupy peaches, guavas, and figs. On the bottom shelves, homemade ginger beer fizzled away in their corked bottles.The bay windows and their ornament laden sills, a wide verandah with overstuffed comfy chairs, screen doors to keep out flies and mosquitos, a large black coal stove with it's never ending pot of apricot konfyt bubbling away. Large homemade loaves in the oven, every morning, like clockwork. Her backyard veggie garden and fruit trees were her pride and joy. My love for all these down-to-earth old-fashioned things comes directly from my Ouma. She always had her sewing machine out, or her knitting needles or crochet hook and yarn! Ironically, she was a crochet addict, and yet she never got around to teaching me!

Of course, this Bunting, with it's 50's vintagey vibe would have been right up her alley! I can almost see it hanging across the bay window in her cosy living-room, the Christmas tree in the corner, bedecked with twinkling lights, her old cat, Ounooi, curled up on her lap, a tall Brandy and Coke on the little side table, along with her Rothmans cigarettes ( she smoked until she was 85! ) and Bing Crosby on the old gramophone singing "I'm dreaming of a White Christmas".

My Ouma passed on at the grand old age of 96, still listening to "politics" on her little radio, as witty, strong-minded and devout as ever! I'm honoured to have known her, and I definitely feel her affection and influence in my life every day.

This sweet old-fashioned Bunting works up really quickly and is also a FREE PDF DOWNLOAD pattern! Again, just to say thank you for all the support that has come my way this year. It's been AMAAAAAZING!

There is also a full video guide. So you can't go wrong!

I will be officially on Holiday from Dec 12 - Jan 16 2018! Yippee! But if you really do need to get hold of me please do not hesitate to send an email. I am always here to help.

Big hugs and see you in the New Year! 

Ps: apologies for the poor image quality... that Red freaked out my little camera and all the photographs came out weird looking!😁

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

The Sutherland Starflake.

Photo credit (click the link )

I've never been to Sutherland so I have no idea what I'm writing about. It's a magical faraway place that apparently has big open skies and the coldest temperatures, mid-winter than any other town in South Africa (clearly whoever wrote THAT has never visited Clarens in The Free State) !

Photo Credit: Amy Marx-Clarens 2016

But this is not the reason I want to visit so badly, rather, it's the fact that Sutherland is home to the largest telescope ( in the world? ). This gigantic telescope is housed at the South African Astronomical Observatory near Sutherland! And we know that big sky country is top of the list if you're a stargazer like me.

Read more HERE
Every Winter I promise myself that this is the Winter of my non-discontent about missing another Winter in Sutherland! In the meantime, I daydream about this little town. I imagine the calm and quiet of the night, dampened by snowfall, the magnificent expanse of a diamond-bedecked canopy, a cosy cottage, fire blazing in the hearth. I imagine the road trip up there ( it's a four-hour drive from Cape Town ) and what hooky I'll take along.

If you have never visited South Africa you might imagine our homes and especially guest accommodation, would be decorated in true Afrikana style, you know Leopard skins on the floor, Buck heads on the wall, especially if it's somewhere in or near a game hunting lodge or Safari trail. However, most South Africans avoid the obvious like the plague!

We have developed our own unique eclectic style, from fashion to food, from interior design to textiles and beyond. An aside: did you know South African, Elon Musk invented Pay Pal? Where I live now, in the Western Cape, which is one of our nine Provinces, we have retained our Dutch and French heritage ( our vineyards are world famous ) and there is a definite Dutch-French Provencal influence, a rustic-shabby-chic-country style that is so incongruent with "Africa " yet incorporates enough elements of Afrikana to make it just a little bit special.

The threads of our Dutch-French ancestry are still very much alive and well in Africa and you can experience it at almost every charmingly delightful Guest House, in any charmingly delightful little village. Moreso, the farther away you travel from the city! And that, my lovelies, is ALSO why I want to visit Sutherland!

Of course, there was a new design in here somewhere! Oh, here it is!

A perfect stash-buster project, only eight short rounds. Works up super quick too!

A versatile little Puff-based Hexie that you can join -as -you -go to make any sized project from a sweet baby blanket to a full-sized bedspread! I used Puffs because they reminded me of snowballs.

Omit the last three rounds, make two identical pieces, sew them together ( but leave a little gap ), add a bit of stuffing and a handy loop and you have a frosty-flake hanging ornament for your Christmas Tree! Or a Sutherland Starflake Pincushion! 😃

Change the colours to suit your Holiday theme or your mood! Most of all, have fun!

There is a full Video Guide, so you can’t go wrong!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to one an All!

 Jen xxx


Monday, 4 December 2017

African Summer Snowflake Flower

Believe it or not but we DO have snow in South Africa. Lots of it falls in certain areas during our coldest months ( June to September ).When I first arrived in Cape Town, via a 26hr train journey with my three boys in tow, we passed ( in mid-June ) through the tunnels of the snowbound mountains that flank the   Hex River Valley. Not just frosting atop the jagged peaks of those majestic, looming Hex Mountains, but REAL snow, opaque, lush and folded like the cape hem of a gigantic Snow Witch Queen... trailing into the valley between vineyards, tiny white cottages and rows of Oak trees then stark and barren. Hex, in Afrikaans, means Witch... you can read the entire story here!

Of course, all this Winter Wonderland is completely lost to us during the Traditional Holiday Season which includes Christmas or Yule and of course Hannuka. Mind you, it snowed in The Drakensberg Mountains ( the Dragon Mountains ) in October and again just last last week, technically, Summer!

Our celebrations on these special days:

a) BBQ's
b) Drinking lots of cold Beer ( the Men ), drinking iced Tea and Apple Cider ( the Women ), overindulging on Ice-Cream ( everybody! )
c) Living in the swimming pool
d) Sunblock from head to foot, sunglasses, sunhats while doing a, b, and c.

Mind you, we make an effort...there are bedecked Christmas Trees ( made in China, don't judge! ) surrounded by loads of  I've-been-a good-girl/boy gifts. There are baubles, and multi-coloured tinsel, bowls of "money" chocolates and brightly wrapped candies. We never forget the mistletoe. and traditional Christmas Pudding with pennies inside is pretty much written in stone.  Dads play Father Xmas, Moms play Mommy Xmas, there is always too much food, and dessert, like Sherry Trifle! The leftovers from the Christmas Feast will be served up for the next week as some very odd looking, yet inventive, lunches or light suppers. Once, my late Mom-in-Law served up such a lunch, between Christmas and New Year, and we all came down with mild food poisoning! It was hilarious, and she never lived it down.

Btw, I just love the story of the Christmas Spider!

But as usual, I digress!
I was in fact, trying to make something else, carefully following the pattern but then veered off somewhere when my concentration failed me. As it does. Everytime. All my designs are a result of not being able to follow patterns. I just don't like people telling me what to do! Ha!

And because we are in the Ho Ho Ho season, it's FREE!

I've called it African Summer Snowflake Flower.
It's a join as you go ( JAYGO ) design, only 6x Rounds, and works up really quickly! Of course, for you lovelies who are experiencing a pukka White Christmas, you can change colours to suit your climate ( or taste ).

I'm using bits and pieces of Stylecraft Special DK and Elle Yarns Family Knit DK.
Hook: 4mm
Terms: US
Skill: Easy peasy (not boring though). Beginners will win at this!

ROUND ONE ( lime -stylecraft special dk )
Work 6 x 2dctog into a Magic Ring. Make sure to close each 2dctog with a ch1. To close, sl st into closing ch1 of first 2dctog ( the 3rd one is the starting ch3 ). Fasten off.

ROUND TWO ( raspberry - stylecraft special dk )
Begin in any space between your 2dctog. *Work 2 x Puffs ( yo x 3, ch1 ), Turn your work, front facing away from you. Work 2 Puffs ( as before ) between the 2 Puffs you have just worked. Turn your work, facing you. Sl st between 2 Puffs, ch6, sl st back between same 2 Puffs. Sl st into top of 2nd Puff ( of the first two ) Ch4. Skip next 2dctog.*
Repeat * to * = 24 Puffs ( yo x 5, ch1 ), 6 ch4's, 6 ch6's. 6sl st ( not counting beg. and end of ch6 loops ) To close sl st into top of beginning Puff. Fasten off.

ROUND THREE ( coral - elle family knit dk )
Work a ch3 (= 1dc ) into any ch4 sp. Work 2 more dc's = 3dc's, into same ch4 sp.
*1dcfp over 2dctog ( rnd1). 3dc's back into same ch4 sp = 6dc's, 1dcfp.
Work a sl st into the top of the "2nd" Puff, and sl st again "over" to the next ch4. Work 3dc's into ch4 sp.*
Repeat * to * = 36 dc's, 6 dcfp's, 12 sl st's.
To close, sl st into beginning ch3. Fasten Off.

ROUND FOUR ( cream - stylecraft special dk )
Begin with a scfp over any dcfp. ch4. Work 1sc from back to front over the sl st at the base of the ch5 (rnd2). Ch4, 1scfp over next dcfp. Continue the sequence. = 12 ch4's, 6 sc's, 6 scfp's.
To close, sl st into 1st ch4. Do not fasten off.

Ch2 (=1 hdc ) into ch4, 3 hdc's into same ch4 = 4 hdc's, *4 hdc's into next ch4. Ch1 behind the 6ch loop (rnd2), 4 hdc's into next ch4*
Repeat * to *. = 12 x 4hdc's, 8 x ch1's.To close, sl st into beginning ch2. Fasten Off.

ROUND SIX ( lime- stylecraft special dk ).
Work a sl st around any ch6 (rnd2), *ch6 and sl st back into ch6 (rnd2). 1sc into the 2 back loops of next 8 stitches. Sl st into next ch6 (rnd2).*
Repeat * to * = 6 x ch6's, 48sc's into the 2 back loops of hdc's  (rnd5).

To join as you go, you will need to cut a length from your working yarn.
The centre is 4 x 3trtog worked into space between the 8sc's in the finishing round and joined together in the centre ( tops of the 4x 3togs ).

The Video will be very useful throughout!


Wishing you all a lovely week with lots of special hooky time!
See you in Crochetland! ❤❤❤

Love, Jen.