Sunday, 14 May 2017

Of Shawls, and Things.

Hello All, and I hope life has been giving you lemonade! Although some Lemons are sweet too. 😄

Just popping in for all you Hooksters who haven't "hooked" up with me ( yet ) on the Facebook HooksnTales page. It's a lot more lively there than here on my Blog, which I use more as a collection site for Crochet Resources and/or a pick-up point for new patterns I release. One of the reasons I am not on Instagram is the time it takes to administer Social Media accounts! This, I can tell you, takes time, and therefore time away from the Hook! And we can't have that now, can we? 😃

There has also been quite a bit of action regarding The Pondoland Square and almost daily I am adding new Pondo's to the FB Albums ( pop over to the FB page for a further looky? ). These are from my patient and talented Testers.

Credit: Cindy Van Der Schee 💕

Credit: Judy Stamnes 💚💝

Credit: Lucia Martins 🙌

And then I made all those video tutorials which was going waaaahaaay out of my comfort zone! The Pondo has also been featured on quite a few websites too! Here and here, Not to mention getting a lot of action on FB crochet groups. I've been dishing out buckets and buckets of grateful THANK YOU's. I'm always ( pleasantly ) surprised that my squares do make other crocheters happy! I feel very encouraged by all our sisters in yarn. Having never had an actual sister I can tell you it's a brand new experience for me to be the recipient of so much positivity and kindness from other women. Our crochet community is an incredibly warm and nurturing one, and I feel very grateful and honoured to be part of it all. 💓

And The Pondo was #1 on the Ravelry Hit Parade for a week! Showeee, I was SO excited! 🙌

Then there has been a mini-CAL, as well as a bigger CAL hosted by the Colourful CAL's/KAL's Group Projects on Ravelry. This CAL runs until August and involves all the squares. It's " open-project too" You can join anytime, make whatever you like, and no pressure to stick to a specific timeframe.

I've been creating "squary" Albums on FB as a way of providing a database of all the squares and their colourways, and honestly, I am awestruck at some of the AMAAAZING colourways clever crocheters have come up with. I used to think I was quite good with my own colourways but no, I see I have still so much to learn. Which is wonderful, challenging and inspiring! Thank you!

In spite of all sorts of personal interruptions to my hooky life ( my eldest son stayed with us for 3 weeks 💓 en route to a new job in New York, I had Flu, there were all those public holidays too with The Man at home! ) I have been deep in designing, redesigning, frogging, and generally faffing over the new BIG square. This one will be a paid pattern so I am excited to see what sort of results will come of my attempt to extort hard cash ( for YARN of course ) from y'all in exchange for an awesome pattern? Tee hee! I will still continue offering beautiful FREE patterns, so don't panic. But from time to time, to keep my yarn basket in action, I will charge for a pattern. Sounds fair? Or not? Let me know in the comments. You may have noticed that a while ago I added a PAY FAST button in the hopes a few pennies would be deposited to help with that ever dwindling yarn basket. And so 💕 THANK YOU VERY, VERY MUCH  💕 to those who have popped in some spare change. A little goes a long way here in South Africa. 💖

The other thing is...I have suddenly been struck with the Shawl virus. I began making one, just off the top of my head, to see if I could actually do it and then BAM I was hooked. I am only half way through and just feeling my way through the design. Of course, it has been named * The Flamingo Feathered Shawl *. If it works out as I hope, then I will attempt to replicate it and share the pattern.

I was wanting to do an easy side project that would involve an almost "brainless" amount of hooky. Also, using one skein ( or two ) in one variegated colour and a large Hook ( 5.5 ). I had a new 100g skein of Elle Yarn Pullskein DK acrylic in "Rosily". I managed 17 rounds with one 100g skein and I have a 50g skein in a similar colour ( more purply ). 9 more rounds to go, not counting the border, to make it approximately 52" ( across ) and 26" ( down the centre ). There will be tassels involved. 😄

 I'm not even a "shawl person" so who knew! 😃 Watch this space because there WILL be shawls! With patterns!

Keep your Hooks close and wishing you a wonderful yarny fun-filled week!
 💕 Jen

Thursday, 30 March 2017

The Pondoland Square is here!

Hello, Everyone! I'm really so happy to be able to squeeze in this square before April is upon us. I can't believe it has taken me all of the entire month of March to finish this block. Ok, it is quite a few more rounds than I am used to, but I wanted so much to make a piece that was big enough for a cushion cover, that when all was done, only the tails needed working in. Well, let me tell was CHALLENGING alright! Whew!!

My heartfelt deepest thanks go to my Testers, Cindy van der Schee ( Holland ), Judy Stamnes ( US of A ) and Lucia Martins ( Brazil ). I can tell you from hard experience now, that pattern writing is a Lady Dog! If you're a Virgo you'll know then that we are pretty good with the details, and finer print, but make no mistake, pattern-writing tests the limits! Imagine, EVERY single stitch must be accounted for! Anyhow, as you know, I could talk Crochetnease ALL DAY, every day, but I do want to get this square to you before the weekend. 😍

So, let me tell you a bit about the magical Kingdom of Pondoland. To be sure, until recently, I kind of vaguely knew it was in the general eastern area of South Africa. This area is also known as The Wild Coast because of its pristine natural beauty, as well as an awe-inspiring coastline. If you've ever wondered about herds of cattle on the beach, then you have to see the beach loving Bulls! of Pondoland!

No surprise where I got my colourways from! 😄

That coastline, like all the coastlines hugging the southern tip of Africa, is famous, or should I say infamous, for its hundreds of shipwrecks and dozens of Castaways!  Half of all these shipwrecks saw all souls drowned or eaten by sharks ( I mention this in The Birkenhead Square ). However, groups of sailors, officers and civilians sometimes made it to shore. Survival depended on where exactly they found themselves. The shoreline then was dotted along the way with "rest and replenish" stations but considering the distances, as well as the wild terrain between them, even landing halfway between these way-stations drastically reduced your chances of being saved. In many cases, survivors seeking sanctuary sickened and died along the way. If luck was on their side, they were rescued by peaceful tribes living along these shores.There is ample documentation of survivors integrating into local tribes, and of course, legends abound about these pale-faced people and their descendants.

Some years ago I came across a book in our local thrift shop called The Sunburnt Queen. This is a tale based on scatterings of information, about a White, or possibly a Malay girl-child, a survivor and castaway from around the mid-1700's, who was rescued and integrated into one such tribe, later becoming a Queen of Pondoland! This was a fascinating read!

Not so long ago my husband worked for a company that designed and made signage. One of their clients was a large Petroleum group. Anyhow, as luck would have it, just after a new design was implemented they asked if anyone would volunteer to take a road trip into these wild eastern hinterlands! The task: visit ALL related gas stations and check on how well the signage was displayed.

It is truly wild country still, and most people are fairly sane, so no hands went up. At lunchtime, my husband skyped me and in conversation mentioned this. Two days later we were on the road!! He didn't stand a chance! I mean come on, a FREE road trip, all expenses paid, to a part of South Africa neither of us was familiar with!? What's not to volunteer!

I won't go into the entirety of this ofttimes beserk, one-week car trip that covered a few thousand miles, but let me just say that at one point, we crawled along national roads so as not to collide with Cows, Calfs, Bulls, Sheep, Goats, Pigs, Piglets, Chickens with Chicks in tow, Roosters and Geese. At another point we were surrounded by wildfires and once we were stopped to have the car sprayed against Foot and Mouth disease!? Being Vegan ( me ) and Vegetarian ( husband ) we also pretty much starved! Mind you, the Backpackers we mostly stayed at were incredible. Really beautiful, well kitted out, almost luxurious. Our car-sore bodies were most grateful at the end of each day. And if all else failed, the views were worth it all!

South Africa, so wildly diverse, spine-tingling wonderful, full of raw energy, and colour and light... all underpinned by deep, deep soulfulness. 💗 A never-ending well of inspiration 💗

Until next time. Or as we say in Afrikaans, Tot Siens!!


I've also made a video tutorial:

Part One: Rounds 1-7

Part Two: Rounds 8-12

Part Three: Rounds 13-17

Part Four: Rounds 18 - 23

Part Five: Rounds 24 - 30

 The Final Rounds! Yippeeee!

Take care, have fun!
Jen xxx

Monday, 20 February 2017

The Birkenhead Beach Comber Bag!

Hi, Everyone! Wow, it's been so crazy (in a lovely way) all the interest in my little squares! It's a thrilling feeling to LOVE what you do, and then find out others love them too! Thank you!

I have some exciting news! The Colourful CAL's /KAL's projects Group on Ravelry have organised a CAL...for my squares! I confess that this has made me in equal parts VERY excited, yet terrified! Suddenly my squares will be scrutinised from all angles to see exactly how "useful" they are in various projects. Well. I did design them for "projects" in mind. I'm not sure what sort of projects, but you know. PROJECTS! I am 100% confident that everyone who has ( and will still ) join the CAL are going to surprise my socks off! I CAN'T WAIT! I'M SO EXCITED. Yes. I know I keep saying that but 1 MAY does seem so far away when you're anticipating surprises and pleasant ones at that.

Anyhow, because I have an excitement Ants in my Pants sort of energy. I decided to just get stuck in and "create" an actual useful object from one of my squares. For ages, I've been wanting to make a little bag I can take to the beach because, in reality, I am a Magpie. Oh, my hooks, I can't stop myself! I have COLLECTIONS, people! Twigs, sea glass, crockery shards, small stones, large stones, river stones, mountain top stones, stones from places we've visited. Then there's old bottles and shells, and bits of lace, dried petals and teacups, biscuit tins...! 😃

I thought I'd use The Birkenhead Square to make this little Beach Combers bag because of its suitable nautical theme.

  1.  I added an extra round of DC's to increase it's size a little. 
  2. Then I used a Flat Braid technique to join 2 ends together.
  3. Laying out the 2 joined squares, I hand-sewed in a polyester waterproof lining. I added an inner pouch to the lining as well, for smaller collectables. I left two small sections open to add the rope handle.
  4. Then I joined the sides together using the Flat Braid technique.
  5. Then the rope strap was attached. I hand-sewed it in, between the square and the lining, making sure to go through the rope as well as around it to make sure it was well secured.
  6. I made 2 little Puff flowers ( 6 x Puffs into a Magic Ring ) and attached them to the outside spot where the rope strap was sewn in. Just to finish off this part neatly.
  7. Finally, I made tassels ( 6 x strands of yarn measuring 8" or 21cm, doubled over and attached slip knot style to the bottom Braids. 12 in all. ). 
  8. Then I trimmed the tassels and went to the beach to collect something! 😎

I might add that trying to take a pic of this bag, on my person was challenging! 😃

I hope you join our fun CAL, and that my little bag has given you some big inspiration? 

See you there! 
💓 Jen

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

The Birkenhead Square

Hello All, and I hope this finds you in good spirits! 😊 Last week was quite a rough one for me, seeing as our ongoing renovations seem to never end. It's becoming a tad tedious I must say. Thankfully, amidst all this tedium there is always a bit of hooky to look forward to. This latest piece has, in part, been staring at me since I published The Darling Dahlia Square last year. I really am in love with the central flower and every time I look at it, my mind begins ravelling out all sorts of designs.

The trouble is, how do you pick just one? One of the designs that came from this was the extended version of the Dahlia square which was the Dahlia Mandala.  So many have asked about a pattern and in fact, I do have one written down and will shortly begin work on it. Here I am waffling on again...I could speak Crochetnease all day long given the chance.😃

Onto The Birkenhead. Many of you may already know about the famous story of  HMS Birkenhead?And about its ill-fated sinking just off the coast of Gansbaai, South Africa. I don't think it was called Gansbaai ( Goose Bay ) then, seeing as this happened in February 1852. What has captured my imagination about this event is the incredibly gallant behaviour of all the men on board. I've read that the phrase " women and children first" was first uttered on this beleaguered vessel!

I wanted to create a square in honour of these valiant men. Almost all of them died at sea that day, either drowned or eaten by sharks which, it is reported, swarmed in their hundreds around the helpless Officers and Sailors. At the subsequent investigation into the sinking of HMS Birkenhead, survivors spoke of the incredible calm, and quiet discipline displayed by the entire crew who probably knew already that their fate was sealed. Such courage!

Also, a little nod at the name, is that our house is 116 years old, and it's called The Birkenhead Cottages ( there are two attached cottages, a large one and a smaller one ). We have a framed limited edition print of an artist's rendition of The Birkenhead. on our wall! I can see it from my tiny craft room, and the colours are the ones I chose for one of the colourways. Although this is a tragic story, it is also one that garners much admiration and respect for the best qualities in human beings often displayed under incredibly trying times.

In a way, I see this also as a metaphor for our lives.We are all in our little ships, chartering our courses through life's storms, doldrums, or clear and sparkling seas, yet even our best course sometimes hits a hidden rock and we learn so much about ourselves by the way we cope with these unforseen pitfalls. I like to think that like the flower in the centre of this square, surrounded by churning waves,  somehow our spirit shines through, even in the darkest of times. 
Oh, look at me, waxing all philosophical now! 😃

I made a video for rounds 1 and 2 because a few people found these rounds a bit tricky! I hope it helps. 

Hope your day is filled with all sorts of good things. 😍

💖 Jen

Monday, 6 February 2017

Frida's Flowers Colourway Video

Hi Everyone, I hope this post finds you well after the weekend! Hopefully, you managed to find some time to play a little hooky?

Last year after the Frida's Flowers CAL, designed by the amazingly talented Jane Crowfoot, and hosted by Stylecraft Yarns, I posted my version to social media along with all the other spectacular Frida's and for some reason, my Frida, with its soft vintage colours, was a big hit! Since then I still get asked about the colours I used and which colours replaced the CAL's suggested colours. I used about half the colours recommended. Well, I had a brainwave this morning and decided a good way to answer everyone's questions would be to make a video. So I did!

Hope this answers all the queries. I have no idea how many skeins I used because I never thought there would be so much interest in this version. A bit of each about an accurate guesstimate. 😄