Friday, 3 November 2017

A little catch-up is in order!

Oh, yes, indeed...a little catch -up is in order, especially seeing as I completely missed an October Blog Opportunity! Somehow, in all the excitement of working The Amanzi Block into a Throw sized piece, I lost a month! Of course, my eldest son, Nick, arrived home for a three-month break from working in THE BIG APPLE. Funny how things work. I never imagined one of my children living and working abroad ( although it's common here in South Africa for Nestlings to fly very far from the nest ) and I always wanted to visit New York City! And now, vicariously, and a generation later I am, through Nick! Life is full of surprises.

Finally, The Amanzi Throw is completed. Well timed I think, just on the cusp of Spring and Summer. I can truly say that I crocheted in a house, I crocheted on a step, I crocheted in a yard and crocheted in a car, I crocheted here, and crocheted there and pretty much crocheted everywhere! And many of you crocheted along with me. Part Five aka The Final Rounds was released two Fridays ago and so, slowly but surely. completed Amanzi Throws are beginning to appear. As I have come to expect, the colourways are mind-blowingly beautiful!

credit: Emma Sharpe

      credit: Cindy van der Schee

credit: Sandra Salas

credit: Marianne Jacoby

I struggled through the final parts with dreadful hayfever and if you only knew the myriad stops and starts, just so I could sneeze, cough or blow my nose, in-between crocheting, photo-taking and videoing... it's actually miraculous I managed to finish ahead of schedule! But I am nothing if not determined. My father always complained that I was as stubborn as a Donkey. I take it as a compliment now. Tenacious is my middle name!

Many of you lovelies have sent me private messages bemoaning your post-Amanzi blues. Yes, it is a thing with all creative work that we throw ourselves into, heart and soul. Crochet is an active meditation, keeping us engaged in the present ( mind * fullness )  especially if the pattern requires our full attention. Thus, it takes us elsewhere, away from the troubles and challenges of our usual routines or daily expectations and responsibilities. Handwork so easily serves us, rewards us, and transforms us too! It's no wonder we feel a little anchorless until our hands are once again hooked back to shore by beautiful yarn and just the right pattern.

With this in mind, OF COURSE I am already working on a new pattern!! Although many designs are in a large wicker basket on top of my cupboard all impatiently awaiting their final fruition. All I need now is another 24 hours in my day and two more pairs of arms!  I'm one of the few people I know who does not crochet at night. My day begins at 4am and by 8:30pm I am already in crochetdreamland. I'm hoping to release this newbie mid-November.

This October, in fact, was my 1- full- year- of- crochet- patterns anniversary! I released my first free pattern in October 2016, and then went on the design another 13 free patterns before releasing 2 paid patterns. Looking back it's a pretty full schedule of crochet-work! Nevermind all the designs that never made it to Ravelry! And crikey, what a year it's been! I was approached by Furls and Interweave to submit designs and  *famous crochet designers * have left me encouraging and congratulatory messages! *faints* My patterns have shot to #1 on Ravelry and have been featured on a slew of websites! Whooohoooo! I can't thank those Admins enough for the fantastic exposure this has afforded me. You need to know that I. AM. NOT. USED. TO. THIS. SORT. OF ATTENTION!! Quite frankly I'm thrilled, but from under the duvet cover...if you understand my meaning?

And then most importantly, besides learning a heck of a lot of new stitches/techniques...through this magical year, there are the many new friends I have had the pleasure of meeting, not in the flesh but over our crochet hooks and continents apart! This has become my joy, moreso even than pattern creating. Crochet really does transcend so many usual barriers we encounter in ordinary life that keeps us inevitably very disconnected from our fellow Earthlings. Isn't Crochet marvellous?

Take care, fellow Yarnies! Keep those hooks warm and that lovely yarn close! See you in Crochetland!


Thursday, 28 September 2017

A Gorgeous Gallery of Amanzi's!

If you're stumped for colourways? Look no further! ❤ 
I'll keep adding to this gallery, so be sure to pop back for more delicious colour inspiration! 😃 
Find the pattern here:

credit: Joanne Kinter

credit: Joanne Kinter

credit: Noelene Sampey

credit: Sisse Gjetting

credit: Boerewors ( on Ravelry )

credit: Boerewors ( on Ravelry )

credit: Kerry Neilly

credit: mimdicky on Ravelry

credit: Kathleen Sundby

credit: CindyvdSchee

credit: Jeni Ahern

 credit: Kathleen Sundby

credit: Lucia Martins

credit: Lucia Martins

credit: Marianne Jacoby

credit: Raponsielief ( on Ravelry )

credit: Nicole Hodapp

credit: Nicole Hodapp

credit: NorahY

credit: Sandra Salas

credit: Spiderwebz on Ravelry

credit: Joanne Reeves

credit: scruffystitchin on Ravelry

credit: Turlagh on Ravelry

credit: Katri Vainio

Monday, 18 September 2017

Happy One Month Blockaversary, Amanzi!

Hello, fellow Yarnarinnas! Wow, it's been a very full month, in more ways than just crochet! The weather, good grief! Hurricanes, floods, droughts, fires and you know, through it all, there is this island of sanity called Crochetland. I belong to *quite a few crochet groups* and I have so far, never seen a nasty word written toward a fellow Yarnie! It gives me hope, and also some peace to know that in the midst of turmoil there is always sanctuary to be found within the yarn-bombed walls of Crochetland. And I thank you for this!

Also, I want to extend my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all of you who support my handwork. My yarn basket overflows! And it's absolutely wonderful to experience this sense of abundance and goodwill from a largely women orientated crafty community. So many of you, with your kind and encouraging words, have given me the motivation and confidence to spread my crochet wings. So much so that I am graduating, very soon, into a proper studio space ( with an extra room, as well as a kitchen and bathroom) to hold workshops and informal crochet gatherings! What do you think about that!? 😃

My local yarn shop is on board with this development, with ideas galore about how we can enjoy the space! I AM SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!! So, watch this space for the unfolding of  The Hookery ( I can't call it Hooks'nTales because it will be ALL about Crochet and not so much about Tales, although a group of women together...I'm sure there will be many tales shared ).😄

But, moving onto the Amanzi! I am having so much fun with this project. As I have said, it was intended as a cushion cover or a large blanket panel but whereas all of my other squares really had a finishing point that I was happy to reach, Amanzi kept whispering "just a few rounds more, Jen". Who am I to say no to more hooky, erm...not I!

I've had no idea from one round to the next what would reveal itself but somehow as I completed one round then immediately another presented itself in a very easy, natural unfolding...or is that unraveling? I've literally just gone with the flow. Of course, this has made it a bit difficult to give exact final yarn amounts. I can tell you when it's all done!

Already, Amanzi's are appearing and I'm astounded, as usual, by the clever and inspired colourways popping up. Wow, I will say it again, I TOTALLY SUCK at colour coordinating in comparison to some of the combinations I have seen. I understand now why cartoonists will pass their drawings onto Colourists! Some of you are just absolute geniuses!

credit: Cindy van der Schee

credit: Jeni Ahern

credit: Sandra Salas

credit: Kathleen Sundby

credit: Marianne Jacoby

credit: Raponsielief

credit: Claudia ( aka Boerewors )

credit: NorahY

There are many others in various size stages which I will share in another blog post which will be more of a photo essay and less yadayadayada! 😄

I decided this time that I would not be a cheapskate and would, therefore, use Stylecraft Special DK for the entire project. You laugh, it's expensive here, seeing as it's imported all the way from the UK! Then, it still has to travel 1000kilometres down to Cape Town! And NOTHING is cheap in Cape Town. Nevertheless, my local Yarn shop, which happens to be literally around the corner does make the effort to keep up to date with all the latest colours, and although I moaned about running out of my favourite colour, Raspberry, it was only a  two-week wait. I'm really enjoying the smoothness of the  Stylcraft Special DK, it's lovely to crochet with. It has Augusta's full snuggle approval.

The Amanzi Throw,  when completed will measure approximately 1.2m x 1.2m or 47" x 47". Then, there will be an optional border if you wish to stop there. I have some ideas for the border based on a few interesting patterns in Edie Eckman's Around The Corner Crochet Borders. Weirdly, I have quite a collection of Crochet books and stitch bibles yet I never seem to find anything I absolutely fall in love with! So I do tend to make up stitches combinations. 😃 But don't worry, the video guides will help you through my creative experiments if you're a bit nervous to go any further than the Block! Or, if you're still contemplating purchasing the pattern. So far, Amanzi has been downloaded more than 1000 times, and still going...! It's surreal to think of Amanzi's being made, all over our beautiful planet. It's a very, very, very nice thought though. 💚

Note : Amanzi is being translated into Dutch as we go along, thanks to Cindy van der Schee who is doing an excellent job of the translation. The extended parts, as well as translations, are all included in the Pattern price so no need to break open the piggy bank...again.

Well, dear Yarnarinnas, the day is almost half done and I hear a Throw calling me. Wishing you a lovely day wherever you may be in Crochetland.

Happy hooky and stay fabulous!

Friday, 18 August 2017

Welcome, Amanzi!

" Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink!"

"Amanzi" is the Zulu word for Water. It's also the Xhosa word for Water. Zulu and Xhosa are the most widely spoken languages in South Africa. We recognise eleven official languages! That's democracy for you!😊

Now, more than ever before, I am keenly aware of how water is life. It sounds obvious, but the lack of it was brought into sharp focus recently with the devastating fire storm in Knysna. Knysna is a truly magical place and I'm not going to even try and cover this unique town in a blog post. Instead, I invite you to delve into its remarkable history,  here, here and here

Knysna Lagoon

Although South Africa is considered a water compromised country, it is a hard fact to keep in mind when you're faced with some of the planet's most beautiful waterfalls, rivers, lakes and natural springs that thunder, gurgle, ripple, roar, and snake their life-affirming presence across the length and breadth of this land. Not to leave out two magnificent oceans, The Indian and Atlantic, lapping our eastern, western and southern shores.

This book, The Story of Water, by Alick Bartholomew, dives beautifully into the life of Water and its role in sustaining our physical, spiritual and emotional equilibrium.

The ancient Augrabies Falls. On my bucket list!

Debengeni Falls in Tzaneen ( I have had a swim in that pool! )

The beautiful Breede River

The mighty, snaking Limpopo! 

Once, a mad bunch of Geologists and I ( a mere core logger) went for a splash ( on truck inner tubes ) down one of  Limpopo's tributaries, The Sand River, only to be stopped short about a mile down by a Farmer standing on the banks gesticulating and yelling at us in Afrikaans, " Is julle blerry  mal! Daar's krokodille in die rivier!!" ( Translation: Are you all bloody crazy! There are Crocodiles in the river! ). To say we beat a hasty exit from those waters is an understatement! With some regret, we watched silently as our inner tubes bobbed off into the distance. It was a long, scorching hot walk back to camp and all the cold beers had been tied to the tubes! 😥

A gift from The Drakensberg ( The Dragon Mountains ), the Tugela River which is about to burst its banks!

Yet, here in Cape Town we are restricted by phase 4 water rations!  The directive from our Provincial administration is this: 100 liters per person, per day! Inclusive. This means: 2-minute showers, no watering gardens or washing cars with hoses... and if it yellow let it mellow, if it's brown flush it down ( with water saved from that 2- minute shower! ).😅

I was inspired ( and craved!) to create a design that was rich in texture, colour, and filled with "flowery, growing, and reaching out elements"...if that makes any sense at all? Amanzi, water, life giving and the root of all Abundance.

After our dreadful Summer here in Cape Town, where every thriving green bit of life browned and shriveled, where the relentless Summer winds whipped away whatever moisture was left hidden deep in bark and briar, our first Winter rains felt like soft diamonds from heaven, and more precious than if those jewels themselves had fallen from the skies. Yes, I'm waxing lyrical. 😄 To see the Earth spring back to vibrant life made me all the more aware of saving every precious drop for the torturous Summer ahead!

This is the first time I have used Stylecraft Special DK exclusively for a project and all I can say is that my little point and shoot camera does not do the colours justice! 💖 They are YUMMY!!

I have SO LOVED, making this square, that I didn't want to stop. So, I designed an expanded border!

Please excuse the picture quality but my camera just freaks out over all the yummy colours! I really must spoil myself ( and all of YOU ) with an upgraded camera...any recommendations that don't cost the earth? 😃 

The expanded block measures 56cm x 56cm/22" x 22"

As with The Durban Spice Girls, there are Video Guides to help you through, so you can't go wrong! 😊 There are  "independent rounds" to keep your interest all the way to the end. ENJOY, and I'm sure to see some amazing colourways surfacing soon!

   Click on the BUY NOW Button to purchase this pattern via Ravelry! 

Take care, and happy hooky in Crochetland! 💖