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 over....you 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.

🌼INGREDIENTS:

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.

🌼METHOD:

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? ).
If you comment DO NOT FORGET TO ADD YOUR RAVELRY NAME! 😊

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, except....it 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,
πŸ’—Jen

PS: for those of you who are working through the Green Tea Extension...Part 3 is live!
https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/green-tea-extension







Saturday, 11 April 2020

Hello Homies!

Oh, my dear Lovelies...Hello, Homies has never rung so true, right?

THANK YOU ALL so much for your lovely comments on the last blog post. I was answering everyone's comments and then realised we are all on the same page! Sending you all much love and best wishes for happier times to come. πŸ’—

Just last night we learned that our very, very strict 21-Day-Lockdown here in South Africa will be extended until the end of April. Effectively another 3-weeks of:


  •    No dog walking.
  •    No cycling.
  •    No jogging or leisure walks in parks or on beaches ( all beaches are closed ).
  •    No surfing!
  •    No restaurants open and no food deliveries other than essential groceries from registered Supermarkets or online essential suppliers.
  •    No alcohol or cigarettes may be sold.
  •    No travelling unless on essential missions ( collecting medication or groceries ).
  •    No school, college or university.
  •    No online sales of any non-essential items.
  •    No computer shops. electronics, hardware stores or paint shops are open.
  •    No craft shops, fabric shops or yarn shops are open either!
  •    No train or air travel.


Lots of no-no's, that's for sure!

I was thinking of ways to cheer myself up and remembered that a few months ago at one of our local antique shops ( Froggat and Frost ) I'd seen a lovely kitchen island style unit. It was really expensive, at least for my wee money pouch so I admired it deeply, but left the shop with an enamel coffee pot instead while throwing loving glances over my shoulder at the kitchen island.

So today, while I was thinking along those cheering up lines I thought: why not buy that kitchen unit! You want it, right? You know it's going to fit perfectly into your 117-year-old house, right? What are you waiting for? And thus the saving begins! If not now then when? I've calculated that if I save really hard over the next 3-weeks while we are in lockdown...I WILL have my kitchen island! Also, now my mind is totally focussed on this "reward". I was thinking that this is quite a good idea to get oneself through these unsettling times. Imagine something you really want: a lovely weekend away, a fabulous hike, dinner at a fancy restaurant you wouldn't normally go to, snazzy shoes, top-notch yarn, or more books! Then start working out a plan or strategy that will make your wish come true after "this" is behind us. I'd LOVE to hear about what your WISH is?




On a Yarny note: my mind is all over the place these days. I can't seem to settle on one thing and working on the Green Tea Extension Part 3 has been stalled, again and again. I think so many of us are in the same boat right now? It's just impossible to get into a good flow and then stay there for any meaningful length of time! At least that is my experience right now. I'm baking bread, then I'm deep cleaning the fishpond, then it's brushing Roxy or preparing a meal...I'm all over the place, body, mind and soul! As far as I can I am staying away from daily news, but then I worry that I'm missing some important new announcement! Shoooweeee...we are all going to need therapy when "this" is over...or a damn fine pair of shoes! πŸ˜€

Enjoy your long weekend, Lovelies!
Stay safe, stay sane, stay well, stay calm and crochet on!
Chat soon!
πŸ’œ Jen

Friday, 3 April 2020

Love in the Time of Corona.

Dearest Lovelies in Crochetland, happy Friday and Happy New Month! πŸ’—

I'm not even going to try and be upbeat today. I'm not going to lie about how I've been feeling. Even for someone like me who works from home and is the definition of a homebody, this enforced 21-day lockdown we are living with here in South Africa, is getting to me. Not because I am in any way disadvantaged but my thoughts, at 3am, stretch out to our wider, more vulnerable communities, and with a sick feeling of dread in my stomach, I fear for what is still to come.

Rather than bury my head in a squishy pile of colourful yarn balls I am making a point of staying marginally informed about what's been happening in our wider world. Italy. Spain. My heart!! So many countries in Europe where I have lived, worked and travelled and enjoyed unparalleled freedoms are now " locked down ". It's the sharp contrast that affects my emotional equilibrium these days. As a classic overthinker, my biggest challenge has been to keep breathing deeply, still my panicky thoughts and try to get on with, and enjoy my simple daily tasks and crafts.

Some things I have found incredibly useful to keep my mind from wandering to sadder thoughts or very deep anxiety:

πŸ’œ1. Keeping a daily diary where I list everything I need to do on that day. Even the mundane tasks like washing dishes, doing laundry or clipping a hedge. I add it all to the list. Then I work through the list which, at the end of the day, makes me feel I've accomplished something every day rather than just curling up in a ball and fretting.

πŸ’œ2. Keep up regular routines and personal standards. For example: eating meals at the dining room table ( properly laid, with candles for dinner ), not in front of the telly. Shower early, make the bed, get dressed and eat breakfast before 9am on weekdays. Making sure all snacks and meals are what my body needs, not what my body is demanding ( crisps, cookies and chocolate! ). My thinking is that if I allow things to slide, including myself, it's just going to make me feel a whole lot worse when Covid-19 is behind us.

πŸ’œ3. Keeping up social media accounts. This requires discipline because the natural inclination when you're feeling anxious and/or depressed is to withdraw. Keeping in touch with the wider world through social media is a blessing for sure. I've made a point of sharing positive and amusing memes or stories and not latest updates on the spread of Covid-19. Thank you, communications technology!

πŸ’œ4. Stay on track with my Design "work". This requires a certain mindset which is extremely beneficial when you apply it. Fully engaged with designing is definitely a calming meditation.

πŸ’œ5. Accepting that this awful Virus is going to be with us for many, many months has been very hard to do. There is a saying " adapt or die ". I choose to accept that we are entering a phase of a "new normal " and I'm working on adapting. Not easy!!

I know that many of you Lovelies are going through the exact same emotional rollercoaster ride as I am. I'm sending you all a HUGE virtual hug. I know it's scary times right now but you are going to be alright! πŸ’—

And, of course, it's not all doom and gloom, right?
Once again, I'll be making 3 x patterns FREEEE for the weekend starting.....NOW! I've called these weekends " Love in the Time of Corona ", after one of my favourite books, Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

I'm beginning to run out of patterns to give away! LOL!

This weekend, from your list, I've picked:

 πŸŒΉ  https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/midsummer-solstice


 πŸŒΉ  https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/sunrise-beach-square



🌹  https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/the-amanzi-block-throw


Hang on....there's more!

Tadaaaa...PART 2 of the Green Tea Extension is live! As soon as the Extension is completed I will make the Block + Extension FREE for 24 hrs. So keep your peepers peeled for that announcement!

https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/green-tea-extension




Let me know how you are coping with self-isolation in your patch of Crochetland? How are you managing your stress levels and have you found certain things helpful? Please share with us?

Stay safe, stay calm and crochet on, Lovelies!
πŸ’— Jen