Monday, 31 January 2022

 Good morning, Lovelies!

Welcome to the Chinese Year of the Tiger...which means it's still OK to wish you all a VeRy HApPY NeW YeAr, right?! Mr Floral Hook is a Tiger so I'm expecting great things from him this Tiger Year.😁

🌸 Some of you Lovelies may recall my last blog post... which was in October last year. I simply ran out of fuel after that. You can say and do only so much before a pitstop is in order. I went through quite an odd phase though. Definitely had something to do with all our lockdowns where I became hooked on the bad habit of bingeing on Podcasts and the point where it didn't feel healthy anymore. What I mean is, and you might disagree, but watching so much of what other people are doing, is weird? LOL! It struck me, suddenly, as incredibly weird and dare I say...voyeuristic? To boot, and this is no critique on Vloggers and Podcasters...but seriously, why was I watching someone chat endlessly about themselves, sometimes day in and day out ( even if it was about crochet, or whatever ) I literally watched a Vlog of someone cleaning their shabby ( but charming ) kitchen and it wasn't even a lesson in cleaning or renovation! At that point, I knew I was waaaaaay too far down the wormhole. The only way out was to immediately, without another thought, go cold turkey. Crikey, easier said than done! I've definitely developed a new understanding of Voyeurs! And also, for those who feel the necessity to be constantly seen and heard, lest they disappear into a perfectly normal and largely uneventful existence. It's been 122days since I watched a Vlog. I should get a medal or something?πŸ˜†

🌸 So, that was the conclusion of my first set of thinky-thoughts. The next set of thinky-thoughts ( now that I was a recovering Vlog voyeur with TIME on my hands ) involved crochet and my obsessive compulsion to always be busy with hook, yarn and notebook while simultaneously, and with so much longing, daydreaming about watercolour florals, drawing, botanical-inspired walks, ocean wave and/or cloud gazing and other similar delightful escapes into the realms of forbidden pleasures. I say "forbidden pleasures" because the "work ethic" has been well and truly branded into my hardworking backside! Ordering a new watercolour paint set, a clutch of deliciously rounded paintbrushes and a cold-pressed watercolour A5 pad felt absolutely illicit! I could just as well have been ordering a plain brown- paper wrapped package ( nudge, nudge, wink, wink )

Some of you may know that my real job was once helping people get their heads shrunk. So I'm not totally rubbish at self-therapy. To cut a long story short...that's where I am at the moment...on the beach with Roxy and Lally, or crouched under cooling tree canopies watching Ants drag bits of insect carcass into their sandy parlours ( oh, lawdy, am I an Ant voyeur? ), or frequently traipsing around the green belts of our beautiful Cape, or on a cool morning, sat quietly by the garden fishpond sketching and painting dragonflies and wildflowers ( ok, the garden weeds if you must ). In short, I am having a wonderful time. I highly recommend shutting off all your devices for a meaningful period of time and looking up, or down. It's amazing what's going on while we think we're engaging with "real stuff" via our social media accounts.

🌸 I'm not entirely away with the fairies. I am crocheting, but vicariously through our Group members. I can't see myself picking up a hook until April ( at least ) when the weather turns squarely to face late Autumn. All that thinking made me acknowledge ( and accept ) that my brain really only works properly, for crochet that is, at 23 degrees Celcius, and lower. I'm dead serious! Must be all that Northern European and Finnish DNA, right? You'd think six or so generations of life under the African sun would have made a difference to how I adapt to heat. But no. In the immortal words of Monty Python's famous Parrot skit; I pine for the Fjords ( still )

🌸 The background to all this thinky-thought stuff, the traipsing, the sweeping leaves, the watercolour floral flow, and gazing at nothing, in particular, is that I am quietly percolating new ideas. It happens naturally when you let yourself off the "busyness train". I highly recommend it! In fact, stop reading this right now and go find yourself an Ant to observe.πŸ˜„

( Our very old Gumtree at the bottom of the garden sheds like a shaggy dog! I'm endlessly captivated by the gorgeous colours of the dried leaves which I sometimes sweep into a pile but then allow the wind to blow them around again )

( Be as happy as Roxy on the beach, covered in sand )

( Will sun-gazing through the branches of a tree EVER get old? )

( Or watching Miss Augusta dreaming that she's a super-cat flying through space? )

( Lally, our Beach Diva...LOVES the ocean, and knows how to strike a pose for the Puppyrazzi too )

( Mr Floral Hook promised me a yacht for Xmas...oh, well, paddle-boats are good for the legs, right? )

( Up and down mountains )

( These two! Up, and down, for anything! )

( An attempt to become one with the foliage. Our day trip to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens )

( Come for a's only a number! )

( Playing with your fur-babies is the best free therapy )

( Mind-less enjoyment with paint and brushes. Just do it. It's SO GOOD for the soul )

Lovelies, take special care of your precious selves. Don't forget to stop and smell the Roses. These beauties opened in a day because of the heat. I can't stop looking at them each time I pass by. I've placed them in the parlour ( entrance hall? ) so they are hard to miss. Make sure that wherever your eye stops, there is something gorgeous there that lightens your day.

πŸ’— Jen

PS: The REAL reason I'm not crocheting at the moment.

PPS: If you'd like to win a surprise FREE pattern from an amazingly wonderful crocheter ( NOT ME, lol ), then don't forget to leave your Ravelry name in the comments section below. I'll pick 5 winners in a random draw and send your prize to you on Friday 11 Feb.😁


Friday, 8 October 2021

Blogtober... post#2!

 Happy Friday, Lovelies!🌸

As many of you already know...we have our lovely group back on FB. It took eight days and countless protest forms to FB from so many of you Lovelies ( THANK YOU x millions )! Finally, the powers that be ruled in our favour. You know that feeling when you've had a close call with some random nasty event? That feeling afterwards of GREAT relief? The feeling of joy, appreciation and gratitude to have what seemed lost forever, come back to you? Ok, well all those feelings descended on me in bucketloads. It felt like I'd won the Lottery and simultaneously found the item I was looking for in the supermarket after they had changed all of the shelves around!


It's sooooo silly I know, and Mr H&T's keeps sayings "it's ONLY the internet" but to me, each and every person I interact with in Internetland is a very real flesh and blood person ( no, not YOU, Trolls!! ) with lives being lived, heartbreaks being experienced, illness being fought, families being nurtured, furry-kids being walked and pampered, trials and tribulations being met and overcome...or not. In my mind's eye, I see you on the other end of our communication. Our lovely Group is "home" to 1000's of real people and losing it, even for only eight days, was devastating to us ( the Admining Team + me ). Judging from all the emails and messages... to so many of you too! We all need a GROUP HUUUUUG!πŸ˜†


Anyway....before I start getting way too mushy let's chat crochet! It's been a month since I have been without yarn to continue with the Extension for the Harvest Moon Throw. Finally, my yarn arrived! Yippeeeee! All the lockdowns and restrictions meant that Styecraft Special DK was having to labour through MANY hiccups to get to our local South African yarn suppliers. For some odd reason...EVERYONE loves the same colours as I do for whichever design I'm currently working on. Murphies Law? But * happy dance * I'm finally back at " work " and hope to have the Throw done and dusted ASAP! Keep those hooks warm!

The weather has warmed up gradually over the past week. It's still fresh and crisp in the mornings, which is lovely. I've been walking the girls early before "work" and seeing as we're fortunate to live within spitting distance of several lush "greenbelts", it's been an absolute delight! The rivers are still gurgling, the wildflowers are still twinkling... little pops and stars of joy amongst the still-green foliage. But, I can already feel the dry edge on the wind. Our Cape Doctor is good for blowing away colds and flu but does nothing for the landscape. In a few short weeks, we'll be parched. And HOT ( not in a good way though ). I'm trying to not think about that and live in the moment.

While we're still betwixt seasons indoor sun patches are fought over. 

Miss Augusta won this one and is making sure she takes up ALL the space.

Tadaa! GIVEAWAY time ( finally! ): I just loved this festive throw HERE and of course, who doesn't love a man in a kilt. It's also a bit of a nod to my Scots DNA ( my paternal grandmother was a, NOT the crisps! The Pringles originated from the southern parts of Scotland and have their own tartan. Blue and Green just happen to be my favourite colour combo. I should design something, right? πŸ˜†

Should you feel inclined to comment, don't forget to leave your RAVELRY NAME if you'd like a chance to be the one to win the fabulous Sholach Throw.

And on that clannish note...please do everything you can to have a fabulous weekend!
In Yarn,
πŸ’› Jen

PS: Just look at this gorgeous Delft blue bag made by Johanna Cornelia using the Chrysalis Block HERE for the frontispiece and the Chrysalis Square for the sides! 

Sunday, 3 October 2021

Blogtober...a bit of a late start!

 Dearest Lovelies,

As usual, I'm unfashionably late to the Blogtober party. To compensate, this will be a three-day's worth blog post and then I'll be all caught up, right? So grab a cup or a glass of your fav beverage, curl up in a comfortable spot and let's catch up?

I can't believe it's been almost two months to the day that I last posted a little catch-up. I rambled on last time about taking a winter break...which I totally did. August was also my B'day month and as always I like to slow right down and take stock of the past year. I do this because, and I'm sure you would agree, THE DAYS WHIZZZZZZ by so quickly. It feels as if nothing of any importance was achieved. Yet, when you sit down and actually have thinky thoughts about the year, it turns out lots and lots of all sorts of things did occur which you can confidently slap a  " progress " label to. I've always been progress-orientated which has historically driven my nearest and dearest MAD! Is there no rest in you, Mother, shout my kids. Oh Lawdy, not another " bright idea ", groans Mr H&T. Sorry ( not really ) it's in my genes!

Speaking of which; I've always wanted to do one of those DNA Ancestry kit thingies and finally a full bells and whistles test became available at an affordable price tag. So, spontaneously, as a B'day prezzie to myself, I purchased the 9-in-One kit, did the early morning mouth swab routine ( first the inside of one cheek then the inside of the other cheek ) with the giant earbuds provided, then popped my questionable DNA into a huge test tube! A short while later a courier arrived to collect the sample then sped off with what felt like a very personal piece of me for analysis at Stellenbosch University. I had flashes of being cloned and got very excited at the thought of having a few extra arms to crochet with. Every crocheters dream, right? After a longish wait ( close to eight weeks ) the results are in! As you know, I'm always banging on about how much I hate the long, hot, humid African summer months? Well, it's all the fault of my DNA! Turns out, 60% of my DNA is a mash-up of Scottish, from the Orkney Islands specifically, Dutch, French and British ancestry ( no surprise there ). The next bit was a surprise though, wait for it....30% FINNISH ( what!? no wonder I pine for the icy tundras and frozen fjords!! ). But here's a laugh; 10% Italian, specifically from the island of Sardinia. Made sense, as anyone can tell by the way I expertly and in record time polish off a bowl of linguine. My oldest son on learning this, quipped, NO surprise there at all, Mumsie ( I have no idea what he's talking about ). My !!!!!! could be a dead giveaway though? Of course, I'm rounding off the %'s here. The remaining 2% DNA involved Northern Pakistan, an ancient nomadic tribe situated in the region between The Black Sea and The Baltic Sea, the bleak vast plains of Siberia and lastly, a horticultural tribe deep in the Amazonian forest of South America ( what WERE my distant ancestors up to? ). The kit went into loads more detail which included a handy meal plan for my specific DNA make-up. In all, fun, revealing and quite helpful.

Mr H&T and I have been escaping the city almost every other weekend for the past eight weeks. Always to our off-grid "pandokkie" ( aka the hovel ) in Riebeek Kasteel. I took full advantage of these escapes while the snow still sparkled on the surrounding mountain ranges and the valley temperatures plummeted to zero degrees Celcius overnight.  Mostly, the little village is quiet throughout the deep Winter months. Even so, because it's only an hour and a half's drive from the centre of Cape Town, there are just enough visitors to keep the Hotel, Bakery and Restaurants open for business. We're early diners so we'd have our usual favourite spot to ourselves ( and the roaring fireplace ) at The Bay Leaf and Thyme. Which felt deliciously luxurious. We've both been twice-vaxxed, but we're still cautious around crowded spaces ( we pointedly avoid them ). Also, just to up the fun-factor on our trips, Mr H&T researched all the scenic back roads, many of them dirt roads, which make our journeys seem longer and definitely more adventurous. With plenty of rain over the season every farm dam, duck pond, winding river and roadside ditch was filled to capacity. Which contributed generously, at the beginning of Spring, to the spectacular display of myriad wildflowers for which the Cape is world famously known. Every now and again we'd get a bit lost but we always seemed to end up at some quaint little eatery that just happened to serve excellent snacks and coffee! It's always a delightful surprise! This prompts us to high-five each other every time, like two weirdos. Two pretty happy weirdos!πŸ˜†

Wild Pear Trees in bloom!

Unspectacular wildflowers in a roadside ditch. 

We always stop along the way so that the doggies can smell the flowers. The fields were covered in yellow canola blooms. My phone camera does this scene no justice.

Inspired by two early morning cappuccinos and icy temperatures, crawling up the side of a mountain above the mist shrouded village. I'm getting too old for these challenges. πŸ˜‚

Oooo'd and aaaaaaa'd over this gorgeous Camelia "tree" blooming on the main street of Riebeek Kasteel.

On another note altogether, but to keep everyone in the loop; recently, in between all the galavanting around the countryside, there's been a bit more drama-related goings-on in my social-media "space ". Remember all the hullabaloo in May around the sudden closure of the original HooksnTales Pattern Workshop Group? Well since then, this Blog has been hacked eight times! Less dramatically, Google blocked eight attempts. Inexplicably, I find this hilarious that anyone would think I'm worth a hack! It's a backhand compliment, right? Heehee. Then a few days ago, Facebook mysteriously disabled our lovely "new" HooksnTales Group. The thot plickens ( or it could just be Mercury in Retrograde? ). The reason sited was that we had violated several of its Community Standard Rules, repeatedly, relating specifically to...wait for it..." nudity and soliciting 53X "! Oh, I can tell you the Admin Team and I laughed our heads off between the inevitable "Hooker" jokes, and so on. However, this dragged on for three days with dozens of our Members protesting to Facebook via a handy complaints form that is not readily available ( you have to hunt it down ). This made us sad. Finally an email from FB ruling ( tentatively ) in our favour. However, an investigation is now underway as it appears several "culprits"  falsely ( maliciously I'd say ) fingered ( sorry, LOL! ) our lovely, friendly, helpful and fun Group! To those of you Lovelies who find yourselves "Groupless", we can't say for sure when we might get our Group back. To accommodate everyone, the Admin Team and I quickly set up an "emergency" Group HERE.  I fear we may, for some reason or the other known only to untouchable FB, never get back our lovely crochet group. But, no worries...we will keep going. It's the darndest thing though. Since all this uncalled for drama, I've been filling my art journal with sketches of design after design. I close my eyes and literally see new designs dancing across my mind. Strange, right? One thing, for sure, the Universe works in mysterious ways. It's a universal law that Creation is an inevitable by product of Destruction. There's a very strong feeling of being in a deeply regenerative space. I know, sounds artsy fartsy but, I have a HUGE smile on my face.

Finally, I'm getting around to crochet-speak! My LYS ran out of several Stylecraft Special DK colours that I'm using ( specifically Sage, Gold and Denim ) to continue on with the final two sections of the Harvest Moon Thow. As many of you already know. I live at the bottom end of Africa. Sometimes we have to wait a loooong time for things to reach us. But good news, my colours are already at the courier warehouse and, fingers crossed, their arrival at my front door is imminent! I'm SO excited to get back to this project! Mostly because there are other designs in my head clamouring to materialise. It's getting crowded "upstairs ". Below are some gorgeous colouways of where the Throw is at right now.

By Kris Price

By Nana Razpoush

By Urooj Umar

By Marjolijn Zweeren

THANK YOU all so much for your support, for your encouragement and your kind, kind words through yet another HooksnTales drama. I'm positive we will get back to a place where no one gives us a second thought as far as false reporting or other silly shennanigans are concerned.

To get properly back on track, it's GIVEAWAY time again! As usual, we'll randomly choose five lucky Lovelies to win this beautiful free pattern, The Blooming Moss Scarf HERE by Dutch designer Christina Hadderingh. So, don't forget to leave your Ravelry name if you do comment!

See you in crochetland and please stay safe but make sure to have loads of fun time too.

Hugs as always,

πŸ’› Jen

PS: Miss Augusta makes me smile every single day. She's such a funny old girl!

Thursday, 5 August 2021

Midwinter break!

   Lovelies, I'm on a mid-winter break ( JOKING! You know I'm crocheting up a new pattern and designing the extension for Harvest Moon! ). 

  August is my birthday month and since way back, I've ritualised this month to do all sorts of  "taking stock" exercises. For example, clearing out my clothing cupboard and sorting through all the bits and bobs that accumulate over the year. You know, drawers, the tops of shelves, book stacks, the sock nook, sewing baskets, mending, make-up bag, unused or half-used toiletries, and so on. All of that wants a going-through! The good stuff is parcelled up and set aside for our gardener's wife. I know that sounds posh but Archie comes around twice a month to beat our garden into submission and without him, Mr H&T and I would have long ago been gobbled up and absorbed into the foliage never to be found again! And then who would make the patterns some of you have told me you're addicted to?

  I've always loved the month of August. Summer turns to face its demise, Winter puts up less of a fight and graciously allows sneak-peeks of what's ahead. It's a month of harvest, dusting off abandoned cobwebs and opening an optimistic window. Whether you're in the Northern or Southern hemisphere, August brings relief in the form of quiet promise. Have you noticed how the light changes in August? ANYWAY...let's move on to important things!πŸ˜† PART 2 of the Harvest Moon Block ( HERE ) is done and dusted! For those of you Lovelies who already have the pattern, you'll find PART 2 in your Ravelry Library today. PART 3, the Extension will be available in September. Through August, GIVEAWAYS here will be on hold. HOWEVER, if you're a Member of our FAB pattern workshop group ( HERE ) then you'll know we're running bi-weekly  "Buy 1 Get 1 Free" pattern combos! These will continue through the month of August, so do scoot on over and join in the fun?

So, without further ado...I have drawers to tidy up and now that I think of it, Mr H&T sauntered out into the garden this morning and I haven't seen him since. Better ring up Archie!😁

Lovelies, it's still pretty wild out there so please do take extra care and stay safe!

Wishing everyone a relaxing, peaceful, creative weekend.

πŸ’— Jen

Friday, 23 July 2021

Reality bites!

 Happy Friday, Lovelies! 🌸

Tadaa, today is the release of the new pattern Harvest Moon Block! Yep, I've just launched straight into my "big" news before asking " how are you ?"  HOW ARE YOU!!? Once again thank you for all your lovely comments. I absolutely love reading through them even though I quickly run out of typing finger strength to reply to all of you Lovelies.

It's been a bit mad here in the H&T studio. Also, things got very real, as they say. If you're wondering howso, let me explain one of life's two certainties. Death and Taxes! Seeing as I'm writing this I'm sure you can guess what I've had to deal with recently? I mean, seriously now, not even in my most daydreamy daydreams did I EVER think my little crochet corner of the entire world would be fingered for taxes! 

Ok, that was a bit dramatic but how it happened was that I was happily daydreaming, while washing dishes. As one does. You know, just gazing over the rooftop of the neighbouring house at a tall Eucalyptus tree waving it's branches about, like an artists paintbrush, imagining that it was painting the clouds scudding across the stormy sky when suddenly this faint Gollum sounding voice began floating up from a darker corner of my daydream ( maybe the shelves under the kitchen sink that badly need sorting? ). It whispered,  " taxes, you will have to pay taaaxessss noooow "! Good grief, I kid you not; I stopped washing those fertile dishes, headed straight to my computer, typed in "local Accountants ", immediately sent out an email SOS to a few names that looked legitimate and accountanty. I won't bore you with the sordid details of what next transpired. Tears were involved. At one point I was seriously discussing with Mr H&T my plan to divorce him, dye my hair ( or purchase a blonde wig! ) and move to the tax haven of Mauritius!

HOWEVER! While searching for a nondescript suitcase I discovered my big girl panties ( ok fine, tummy tuckers! ), pulled them on, all the way up to my chin, made a pot of calming Rooibos tea, then sat down at my desk to begin daydreaming about knocking this challenge on the head. No way out but through it, right? If you're on our lovely, friendly, helpful group you'll have noticed me posting several " buy 1 get 1 free " specials? Seeing as I've never done that before, having the proclivity to rather give patterns away for free, perhaps you may have been a little surprised? Also, a brand new pattern appeared without warning? Well, now you know!πŸ˜†

This brings me to the next part. YOU, and YOU, YOU, YOU, YOU and YOU x 100's and 100's of YOU, helped me knock this tax boogeyman smartly on the head! All of you Lovelies have contributed towards making me a Designer who now pays taxes BUT, you all contributed towards helping me pay those taxes! And I cannot THANK YOU enough for your ongoing kind encouragement and generous support. None of this, good and bad, would be possible without all of you. So saying...don't forget to check out the new " buy 1 get 1 free weekend special "! πŸ˜‚

Honestly, my heart was in my throat the whole time seeing as I've never had debt! Being raised by super old fashioned working class stock, nothing could be a worse than the day-nightmare of owing the Taxman! Or anyone, for that matter. So, this is my life now, making sure I never do! LOL! Sigh...I did say life got very real, very quickly! But enough about "real life"...let's talk crochet! As many of you may already know, I ran a "special" for the Harvest Moon Block? As in, "buy the block get the extension for free"?  Many of you may already have the Block? I'm going to randomly pick winners from the last comments section and if you have already purchased the Block...please let me know and I will send you any other pattern you like. Deal?

If you don't yet have the Harvest Moon Block in your collection, you can find it HERE. The Harvest Moon pattern is a Throw pattern in 3 x PARTS. Let me explain.

🌸PART 1 ( The Square 12" x 12"/ 30cm x 30cm ).

🌸PART 2 ( The Block 20" x 20" / 50cm x 50cm ). The Square is upsized to the Block size.

PART 1 and PART 2 are included in one price. If you already have PART 1 you'll automatically receive PART 2.

🌸PART 3 ( The Extension ). The Block is upsized to a Throw size ( 47" x 47" / 1.20m x 1.20m ). The Extension is a separate pattern that can be used to upsize any of my other Blocks ( eg: the "Tea" series ). The Extension will be available in September. For those of you who grabbed the launch special, you'll automatically receive the Extension.

In between all this madness I did manage a few soul repairing walks with the Girls and Mr H&T who is working from home while we plough through yet another heavy lockdown. Oh, nature, how you nurture! 😊

Today our GIVEAWAY is a gorgeous pattern called Letitia's Garden by one of my favourite designers, Rosina Plane. Five lucky Lovelies will receive a copy in our draw on Friday 6 September. Don't forget to leave your Ravelry name if you do comment. Ten Lovelies will be today's lucky recipients of the Harvest Moon Block ( check your Ravelry notifications ).

And that's me for now! Hope your weekend is warm and cosy if you're in the southern-hemisphere and cool and breezy if you're further north. Anyway, stay hydrated Friends! 😁

Take care and stay safe!

πŸ’› Jen xx

PS: on the plus side...Princess Nisha makes sure I never get to make the bed. She's taken to burrowing into the blankets every morning until lunchtime.

PPS: For those of you shivering in your booties this winter, I discovered a great hot chocolate recipe!

πŸ’— Add a cup of milk to a saucepan ( I used almond milk ).

πŸ’—To your milk add: 2-3 heaped tsps raw cocoa powder, 1 level tsp turmeric powder, 1 level tsp ground cinnamon, 1 level tsp ground ginger, a twist of ground black pepper. Bring your milk to a gentle simmer while whisking in your other ingredients.

πŸ’— Pour your hot chocolate into a mug, stir in sweetener of your choice ( I used Vegan Honey made from apples ).

SOOOOOOOO delicious, oh, my word!