Friday, 16 June 2017

The Durban Spice Girls ...another BIG square!

Hello, Yarny friends! Well, it's here. The day has arrived where I get to post my very first paid pattern! This is a biggy for me seeing as a)  I really LOVE giving things away for free, or just for fun, and b) I never know how to price my work. I mean, what is the value of ones' time? Priceless, I think. It's easy to work out the cost of materials, but time? Well, that stuff is precious!

I really struggled to settle on a "fee" and decided on $2. My reasoning was that I could purchase a fairly decent ball of yarn with $2! 😃 Also, the few fans I have, keep begging me to charge for my work. Now at least I can say once upon a time I did!!

About this square. It's really the sister square to The Pondoland Square because, while I was busy with The Pondo, my mind was wondering off in many directions, like strands of yarn working themselves into other patterns but linked, like umbilical cords, to the present design. It's a huge problem for me, my mind has all Tabs open, all the time. This can become exhausting, especially when it's virtually impossible to settle on one design only, stick to it, and then see it through all the way to the pattern PDF. Even as I put in the last full stop, I'm thinking oh, I could do this, oh look, I can explore that bit in another design...and so it goes.

So there I was, deep in Pondoland but I could also see women, in pretty Saris, and it made me remember the days of childhood holidays and long weekends in Durban. For those of you who are unfamiliar with where this is exactly, Durban is the major port, and a bustling city of the province known as KwaZulu/Natal. The province lies on the eastern seaboard of South Africa, hugged by the warm waves and golden sands of the Indian Ocean. It's hard to explain exactly, but every province in South Africa ( there are nine ) is like a unique, independent country! KwaZulu/Natal especially so seeing as it's not only home to the King of the Zulus, but it's also home to the largest Indian ( as in from India! ) community outside of India!

Back when I was a child and young teen, Durban was a ten-hour drive away. This involved, seeing as we were six kids cooped up in my Dad's fire engine red Ford station-wagon, many stops along the way. The road was long and wound eventually through the hills and dales of the Natal Midlands, as we descended gently from the escarpment to sea level. I could wax lyrical about the Natal Midlands, for hours! But that's another story for another square? 😊

One of the highlights, for me, seeing as I wasn't really a beach bunny due to my skin which never tanned but burnt bright red, blistered, peeled and went back to " pale, with freckles ", was visiting all the interesting little craft and curio shops in Durban and surrounds. especially when I was older and more independent. My absolute favourite spot was the Indian Spice Market. Think Flea Market, and then upsize with major bling added.

My Father, in his day, considered himself somewhat of a cook but only when it came to Friday night homemade fish and chips, and Saturday night Curry! Oh, the chopping, the sauteing, the fragrance, the swearing... THE KITCHEN ( as the only girl in a house of boys somehow I always landed the dishwashing chore 😢 ). Hence, the Indian Spice Market! Every self-respecting South African man has a unique, homemade- from- scratch, Curry Recipe which absolutely everyone has to try because naturally, theirs and only theirs, is THE BEST! Of course, when you actually taste Indian Curry prepared by Indian people, only then do you admit that your Curry could do with improvement! But never let a South African man, with a Curry recipe, know that! 😋

The original Durban Spice Market burnt to the ground in the 70's! I can only imagine the amazing aroma of burning herbs and spices. But yes, it was a terrible disaster at the time. Luckily it was rebuilt and survives to this day! Of course, it's not only Curry spices which are sold there, but every imaginable lovely thing! GORGEOUS rainbow - hued Sari's, bolts of divine fabric, unusual kitchenalia and homewares, sparkling, exotic and otherworldly looking jewelry, hand-embroidered shoes and slippers, pungent and floral toned incense, essential oils, sandalwood soaps, Indian teas, bindis, multi-coloured bangles, skirts with tiny mirrors worked into them, soft Indian cotton teeshirts and of course... lots and lots, and LOTS of food stalls!

For someone like myself who is a HSP and an INFJ ( for years I just thought I was probably an alien )... places like the Spice Market make a lasting impression. Who am I kidding? It's more like the experience somehow sank deeply into my bones, into every cell of my body, and remained there. I only have to have the briefest reminder and I am back there, filling small paper packets with "hot as hell chili mix" or "mother-in-law masala" or "best daughter-in-law biryani mix"!😄 There is a place, here in Cape Town, that stocks the soap, first bought at this market, which I have been using for years, Mysore Sandalwood Soap. Nothing compares, NOTHING!💖

Just a bit about the pattern. It's a cushion sized design, with lots of interesting rounds, and I imagine, from what I have seen done with The Pondo, that it will be translated into the most beautiful colourways! I have not added a specific colourway page to this pattern but I have mentioned each colour for each round. More as a guide. ALSO, there will be videos available, as a bonus, to everyone who purchases the pattern! In the videos, I will also explore embellishing the design, and also another ( or two ) options for the central Flower! I really enjoy making the videos as I can explain more clearly exactly what goes where. Pattern writing, for me, is extremely stressful! My brain is so NOT wired for pattern writing! I wish I had a little crochet Elf who could just take my pages of handwritten notes and magically transform them into a perfect PDF pattern. We can dream, right?

Of course, I could talk crochet, all day, every day and there is so much more I want to write but, this is a blog post and not a book! 😄

The pattern is available to purchase on Ravelry, and on Monday I am doing a draw ( so head on over to the FB page and add your Ravelry name! ) and three lucky persons will get a FREE copy of the pattern. I tell you, a warning in advance, it's tricky...and why I am making the videos so that you don't end up throwing the pattern at me should you see me in the street! 😃

English and Dutch Versions available on Ravelry
Click on the button if you are a non-Ravelry Member

See you in Crochetland!
Jen xxx

Saturday, 10 June 2017

The Little Phoenix Square

As many of you may already know, this first week in June has been marked by some devastating natural disasters here in my beloved Western Cape Province. We needed the rain, so much, and when it came it came with bells! The weather services issued a warning that we should brace ourselves for " the worst storm in 40 years!". That's a big statement considering this is The Cape of Storms! Then, just as we were seeing the tail end of this, the gale force winds, doing their job of blowing the clouds to where they are needed, also helped to fan devastating, unprecedented wildfires in beautiful Knysna. It has been in the international news so I won't go into all the details here. Besides, my heart is still ripped to pieces. As is usual for me in times of crisis, I crochet.

I wanted to make a simple " no think / just feel"  little square (only six rounds! ) that would represent hope,  life and all good things that will spring forth from the ashes of Knysna. Even writing this I am in tears. Lives were lost, fauna and flora decimated!! Some pain cannot be expressed adequately in words alone. What has filled me with so much love and pride for my fellow South Africans, is that even through all the turmoil and uncertainty we are experiencing in our country right now, the outpouring of deep compassion and generosity has renewed my hope in humanity, has revived our faith and trust in one another. I was reminded, again, of why I have such a deep and abiding love for this country, and it's people. Don't get too excited, or be too disappointed... this is not a very original square.

💗 Jen

PS: you can find the FREE pattern HERE.