Saturday, 25 June 2016

My first *Frida's Flowers CAL* hurdle.

Ooopsie Woops ( translated: Aaaargh! ). This does not happen often. I've hit a hurdle. Usually, where it comes to colour, I have a very clear picture in my head. Round Three of Frida's Flowers calls for nine colours. 9! It all looks perfectly lovely, on the chart, and in the colours chosen by Jane Crowfoot but, hello, I'm using Pastels? So my hurdle is: how can I use five pastel colours and still create a piece that pops? Mmmmm. I've been working on several combinations. My husband loves them all because he loves me! He's absolutely NO HELP at all! Anyhow, while I allow my brain some space to play with colour combinations and come up with a solution, I turn to crochet to help keep the brainstorm flowing. I like the idea that I crochet to sort out a crochet related problem. For me, it works like this.

My project at the moment uses five colours from the Elle Yarns Family Knit DK range:

  • Aran, 
  • Beige, 
  • Skintone ( don't ask ) 
  • Snowmoon 
  • Lemon Yellow.

Enter Hurdle.
Enter Brainstorm.

Which is to pick up three entirely different colours:

  • Citrus
  • Watermelon
  • Shrimp

And using a lovely, easy flowy stitch, the fabulous "V", begin. anything. simple.
Heather, from Patchwork Heart,  has written a blog post about this stitch. I'm definitely going to use it again. I can see a V-Stitch colour block blanket in my future! :D Naturally, I like to name things. The colourway here reminded me of Fizzers! Yes, the Fizzers Infinity Scarf. I swear my teeth hurt just writing that!

I used the three *fizzy* colours, joined together randomly using this method ( which I LOVE ). It's an incredibly strong join and unobtrusive. Also, no bits to weave in.

Anyhoo, the point of this post is about helping to ensure the flow, well, flows!  The idea is to keep your hand-eye-brain wheels chugging along. Our brains can multi-task easily, so while we're crocheting a simple infinity scarf, in another brain-room, there's a different sort of action taking place. I imagine something along the lines of tiny crochet-wise Oompa-Loompas, all busily sorting out yarn colour combinations. Some are pulling their hair out, some are squabbling, others are thoughtful and patient. But in the end, when my *Fizzers Infinity Scarf*  is done, they will deliver the exact solution to my *Round Three Frida's Flowers CAL*  problem. They always do. All I need to do is keep the cogs oiled with crochet, in this case, and wait.

I hope this works for someone else as well as it has for me! :-)

Happy crochet weekend!
Love, always,

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Frida's Flowers, at last!!

I'm so excited! It's ridiculous really. I mean at my age ( and after the life I've lead! ) I should be roundly bitter and twisted, jaded and cynical and/or miserable and grumpy. But no, I still get flutters of excitement in my stomach! Just this morning I was up at 4am peeking out the window to try and catch a glimpse of a rather elusive little bird. I call him The Secret Songster. For years, he and his descendants have lived out of full view in the dense honeysuckle hedge on the other side of our little front lane ( darn Cats, as much as I love them! ) and every morning , without fail, rain or shine, this little fellow runs through an impressive repertoire of tweets, trills, and warbles. I tried to count them once but gave up after thirty. That's thirty or more different bird tweets! I had a thought that it might be a Cape Robin because they live well hidden from view and are very territorial.On further investigation ( Google, you beaut! ) I discovered that yes, it was! I've always been an avid bird-watcher and my Book of South African Birds, is filled with pencilled in the margin remarks like " yay, have just seen this bird!" Look, I've wandered off course again! Hahaha!

What I wanted to say was... I am FINALLY doing Jane Crowfoot's beautiful Frida's Flowers blanket!! So excited, and loving this beautiful project! As I crochet more, I'm definitely developing a crochet-slant, meaning a lean towards certain patterns and colours, over others. I'm attracted to crochet that incorporates lacy aspects. flowers, petals and leaf motifs. More geometric designs don't appeal to me. Also, I do prefer squares to rounds. So a flower, in the round, then squared off, is my thing. Mandalas leave me cold. Maybe one day I'll warm up to them.

I first played around with some pastel colour variations. I'm not partial to Black. I own two pairs of black panties. That's it! The FF CAL uses quite a bit of Black.

 Anyhow, I'm far behind with Frida's Flowers but working furiously to catch up!

I think I could end up doing a few of these blankets using different colour recipes. :D

Crochet fascinates me! Who could ever be bored discovery the myriad styles and patterns of crochet?
Also, I'm brushing up on my Arithmetic times tables again!

Before I forget, I did want to share these youtube FF CAL tutorials. These are done by a delightful Danish lady called Henna!

I also wanted to share my blocking method. I pin the pieces to a sturdy block of foam, then lightly spray them with Rosewater and leave to dry. Works beautifully and your work smells DIVINE!

Luckily I am naturally quite organised, and this spills over into running our home. It takes some discipline but my reward is CROCHET! And that makes all the household "drudgery" much easier to bear. I might be organised but I still detest housework! Here in South Africa, it's still quite normal for an average income family to employ a Domestic Helper, but since I was a child I've felt uncomfortable with other people cleaning up after me. I once had a Domestic Helper called Betty. I was a homeschooling Mom then and overwhelmed with the workload of  housework, teaching three boys at different grade levels, doing all the extra-mural taxi-duties, as well as everything else that falls under the label "Stay At Home Mom". Weirdly, working Moms have no problem dropping their kids off  at Stay At Home Moms because, you know we're sitting around at home, just watching TV and doing our nails? No. Anyhow, about Betty. My husband insisted, so very reluctantly I  agreed. Betty lasted a month. I used to tidy up before she got to the house! We got along so well that most days you'd find us drinking coffee at the kitchen table and chatting up a storm. It didn't work. Both of us got nothing done! I found her a "proper" Domestic Helper position, with a working Mom. On the subject of organisation, this post is being typed out at 5am. By 7am when my husband is out the door I'll have washed up the morning's dishes, popped a load of washing in the machine, fed and watered the dogs and cats and made the bed. After which, I'll hop in the shower, put on a pot of coffee, make two slices of seed loaf toast and then it's just me and Frida's Flowers! Yay!!!!!

I'd be happy living in a one -roomed hut, filled with all my crochet paraphernalia (but with wi-fi. And a well-stocked Deli close by).

Happy hooking and remember, keep your loved ones close but your crochet even closer! :D

Love, always,

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Elle Yarns 2016 CAL

Tadaaa! Yes, it's all done and dusted. I must say, these colours are not the ones I naturally veer towards BUT once crocheted up they do look lovely and cheerful. This is my very first biggish CAL and I'm quite proud of myself for hanging in and staying the course. Naturally, I omitted one or two of the squares that did not gel with me. Also, I designed two of my own. But they do blend in well so I'm not going to point out which ones. All in all, it does make a nice splash of colour against the backdrop of Winter. Follow this Link to find all the free patterns.

Happy Hooking!

Off to the beach!

The weather here has been perfect! I'm a Pluviophile and hated by many for singing and dancing when I see storm clouds gathering. Sadly, though, there are consequences. The dogs become house-bound, and very naughty, play-fighting all over the house, traipsing muddy paw marks through the house, becoming bored and chewing things to bits. So walkies are essential. We pile the three of them into the back of our pick-up. It's always a bit mad! They become so ecstatic that they start biting each other! Then all the way to the "walk" it's like we have three very over-excited Monkeys at the back. The noise they make is indescribable. People stare. It's all part of the fun, really.

Two of our doggies are rescues, one of them is a bonafide street dog rescue. Ol' Harry, our Alsatian, was found starving near to death, as he lay on the side of the road with a broken pelvis , unable to move or find help. My husband happened to catch sight of him out of the corner of his eye while driving along a busy road on his way to work. It snowed that day! He stopped to investigate and found the poor boy in a terrible state. He could barely lift his head! My husband bundled him up in a blanket we always keep in the back for our other dogs. The intention was that at least the poor dog could die in a safe place. But an hour later, he was still going. My husband left work and we brought Harry ( we wanted him to die with a name, at least! ) to the Vet. To cut a long story short, after a long period at the Vet hospital and a year of recovery we have our amazing Harry! He still walks a bit funny but what a sweet, adorable, lovable, playful and goofy boy he has become.
He used to be TERRIFIED of water, but now he runs into waves and jumps into streams and rivers! I think it is my absolute best part of our walks, watching our dogs have the time of their lives1 They always have so much fun, and make me laugh!

Winter walks are such a joy. Unlike summer walks which leave us all in a sweaty steamy puddle. Except my husband. It can't be too hot for him. Meh!

Stormy weather off the coast always brings treasures. My husband, especially, has a keen eye for these. He found Nautilus shells! Two! These are so very delicate it's a real miracle they reach the shore in one piece at all!

If I do find shell loot, it always seems to be these. I have a growing collection in sizes large to tiny.

But my best find was this. A Rainbow coloured simple little Mussel shell. It was the day after the massacre at the Pulse Club in Orlando, USA. It was as if even the oceans were sending a message of comfort and love.

Wherever you may call Home on this beautiful planet may your days be filled with Peace, Love. and Crochet.

Happy Hookin' and love, always.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Off-Grid Crochet Weekend.

I know, it sounds crochet. But there's something magical about crocheting late into the night, watching the umpteenth re-run of Modern Family on our biggish plasma screen, under the LED-lighting of our bedside lamps, when it's all powered by the Sun. I just love that! In the morning, my toast pops out of the toaster and I say "thank you, Sun!". Then I take fresh produce from out of the 'fridge to make a lunch-time salad and I say "thank you, Sun!". I'm tickled pink and get a thrill thinking about how the Sun is making my toast. Well, making the toaster make my toast! You know, it's simple things like this that blow my hair back. I do so love being here.
I love going upstairs and seeing my crochet hexie blanket waiting for me. This took me four months to make! Crazy!

There was so much Sunshine. It hardly felt like Winter at all!

We have six very old Almond Trees, which we harvest once a year. We're very grateful! Have you seen the price of organic almonds!?

The grass needed cutting and my husband needed exercise. Perfect combination. :-)

 A pure cobalt -blue Winter's sky! Just awesome!

The valley below, looking a little dry but the rains are on the way! We're waiting for snow on those mountains!
 Two love-birds!

It's all Vineyards and Olive groves here...and mountains, of course.

Proteas growing wild, just everywhere!

Wildflowers and lovely grasses, peeping out to sun their little faces. So sweet! I wish I could describe the smell in the air. It was heavenly!

I always feel a bit sad when I read about crochet weekends some crocheters participate in, in other parts of the world. Mind you, we have had a few here too, but they always seem to be really far away, like another province altogether! Anyhow, so I chose to take myself on a crochet-weekend up to our little off-grid cottage in the near country side. And it was lovely! The weather was warm, I got taken out for meals, the dogs were almost well behaved and the neighbours were MIA.

Usually, I choose some crochet homework to take along. This time, sewing in yarn ends for the last few squares of the Elle CAL. And...I continued with parts 4, and 5 of Jane Crowfoot's "Frida's Flowers". Seriously, what a lovely, lovely CAL. And 10/10 for the well laid out PDF patterns, with their very handy pictorials. My ADD brain gets very muddled when I read crochet patterns. I am a visual learner so pictures and diagrams work for me, beautifully. I still love the colours I chose for the Elle Yarn CAL...they remind me of Winter fruits! I think I mentioned that before. :D

And so, while I was comfortably sat in my old wicker chair, in a patch of warming sunlight, the dogs at my feet, snapping rather half-heartedly at a few winter flies, I thought, wouldn't this be a perfect way to die. Oooops, my INFJ thinking does creep into everything, but yes....I thought: there I'll be all ancient, like 130 years old ( so many projects to crochet before I pop off ) sitting in a lovely sun-spot, a bit of crochet on my lap and I'll just nod off, and that will be that. My husband says I have a morbid mind, but I don't really. I just think a lot, about everything.

Although we're all set up for cooking and baking off-grid, we always mooch on down to the village for breakfast. It's become a sort-of tradition for us to do so. Over the years we've made a few friends here, namely the proprietors (and their friendly staff) of the small yet bustling businesses. Also, it's a good time for us city mice to exchange news and views with the country mice. Everyone is very friendly and total strangers strike up conversations with us!

Visiting King Olaf has become part of the post-breakfast amble around this little village. I guess you could call it a hamlet. He opens late, but then he's a King after all! We've found quite a few bargains here! Pauper prices always suit us. There are some lovely, cosy and totally adorable coffee shops here too. They have funny, charming names like Baa Baa Black Sheep, The Social Cafe and Wicked Treats ( our favourite ). This one is called "The Cosy Armchair". Yes, please!  :D

I love the country life. I raised my children on a smallholding many miles from civilisation, and they turned out alright! I am somewhat of a hermit. If you know something about INFJ personality types (or you are one yourself), then you'll know the great paradox of INFJ types is that when they're around people everyone would absolutely swear we're Extraverts.

The thing is we DO enjoy people, and outings, and even participating in social events...however, our super-chameleon-power can eventually make us absolutely DRAINED! Then suddenly, we disappear into our caves until our batteries have recharged. Most people find this unsettling, disturbing and sometimes, plain rude! It's why we have very few friends, who truly understand us and can allow us space to re-fill. I've been re-filling for years it seems. I did have an incredibly busy life which I think I'll probably never fully recover from. But that's ok. Crochet fell into this space and I couldn't be happier.

Also, it's less messy than painting, and not as soul-destroying as writing can sometimes be.

Wherever you are in this big ol' world of ours I hope you're making the most of this amazing adventure called LIFE!

Love, always, and happy hooking!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

June! Already?

 I hate to say this but it's so true. Time really does fly by as you get older. Also, when you're having fun, and also when there's a lot going on in one's little patch of Earth.It's been all tears and laughter and excitement around here. My eldest son, who might I say I am absolutely unashamed to brag about, was offered an amazing opportunity right out of the blue. Which has resulted in him Skyping me from NEW YORK CITY! This fab opportunity could not have happened to a more deserving young man. I'm absolutely over the moon for him. What an adventure!

 Yes, this is a big thing in our neck of the woods! I mean one moment you're in a rather parochial seaside town poised on the most southern tip of Africa and next, you're in an apartment in Brooklyn! Skyping your Ma! Of course, the more nervous I become the more I crochet. In fact, it's the first tonic I reach for. Also, the reason I always have several projects going on at once. Much like books.When you have five at your bedside and read parts of each as you feel the urge. For me, it's cookbooks, crochet books and my favourite crafty mag, Ideas. Not that I don't already have a brain inbox simply crammed with IDEAS! :D Still, I may have missed something, and that just won't do, will it!? Ooh, where was I? Oh, nerves! Of course, I worry about everything, worry he'll get ill, worry about flying, worry he'll be worried! Lol! The worst part and all Ma's understand this part. We. Do. Not. Ever. Let. On! So while I'm all " oh, brilliant, what a fantastic opportunity, you'll have so much fun, how exciting, yay, yippee, whoo oho OOO". Inside my shoe, my sock is slipping. You know what I mean, right?

Enter, CROCHET! Without fail crochet comes to the rescue! These past two months have been like a crochet production line. The Elle Yarn CAL is flying off the hook.

In between waiting for patterns to drop into my inbox, I've started tackling Jane Crowfoots "Frida's Flowers" afghan ( squeeeee, isn't it lovely!? ). There have been those smaller projects, which I find breaks up the intensity of larger ones, and gives your fingers and hands a different direction. If you know what I mean? I've been collecting pretty granny square patterns and storing them in a folder on my PC. Then when I feel my hands itching to try a different direction, I open this folder and select something eye-catching. If I'm crocheting in a bright and breezy colour-recipe, then I choose more intense, moody or darker shades, opposite to my current WIP. For me, this seems necessary to maintain balance in my Crochetland. If it's a serious piece of work then I'll opt for side-projects that lighten the mood. I crocheted up "Kissing Mice" after seeing them at Lucy's Attic24. I followed the pattern designed by Lucy Ravenscar.They were just what Dr Crochet ordered.

And then there's this totally un-planned, un-colour co-ordinated WIP. A large ball of yarn, which is all my bits and pieces, joined to form a Stash Buster Ball. The Stash Buster blanket is quite a challenge for me mostly because there is no colour order to it, dammit! But it does provide a sort of freedom and as long as I keep an eye on the edges and corners ( no ripples, crisp corners ), then it can stay. And grow. :D

In May, I designed two desktop Calendars for June 2016, for my PC. You're absolutely welcome to use them if you like? Of course, it's Winter here...for us the season of citrus fruits, avo's, nasturtiums and lemon blossoms. Especially in the Cape of Storms. It's a world apart from the rest of South Africa! Temperate, more Mediterranean-like, weather-wise. So, while the rest of the country experiences their dry spell, here it's all grey-blue and mauve moody clouds over turquoise-emerald-regal-blue stormy seas, and the most divine Winter flora colours, like Spring...just a lot colder.

I really do believe contentment and peace is an inside job. I hope, wherever you are in the world, that you're making this your top priority, in whichever way works for YOU.

Love, always! And happy hooking!