Juno Crochet Blanket

I am very happy to share with you my new project, the Juno Crochet Blanket. Juno is a corner to corner, join as you go project. Juno is available in Jaarn Magazine Issue Six, which you can find in the Jaarn Shop.

Juno is made from African Expressions Joy, which is a wonderfully luxurious yarn.

I really enjoyed making this project, and, while it may initially seem a little complex, it is really quite easy, and works up wonderfully quickly.

I have recorded a tutorial, which is available on YouTube for you. It should be watched in conjunction with the pattern in the magazine, where you will find all the details, and instructions.

I’d love to see your work, so please do share.

Well, this took a bit longer than I thought

Well, hello. It’s been a while. Happy new year. I cannot believe I’m only wishing you this now. It’s already February. If I’m honest, 2022 started off as an extremely stressful year. As if the last two years weren’t enough with a pandemic going on, someone very dear, and close to me, had her breast cancer come back with a bang, Matt needed urgent hand surgery, which was made riskier by leftover issues from 2018, and there was a lot of other stuff going on too. When it’s like this I find stress saps a lot, if not all, of my creative energy. There were several things I had been wanting to blog about, so I am aiming for a few posts in the coming weeks.

First off, I have a new amigurumi pattern coming soon, as announced on Instagram last week. I can’t wait to share the pattern with you. The pattern will be available on Ravelry and will be free.

The pattern is currently in the testing phase, and I am now working with an amazing tech editor to take my patterns to another level. She is fantastic. More on her in the near future.

There are a few crochet pots on the boil, and I look forward to sharing projects with you.

When I crochet I spend a fair bit of time listening to audiobooks. Most of my books are non-fiction, no matter how hard I try to listen to some fiction. One of the real gems I recently listened to was “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” by Margareta Magnusson. I know it is a much talked about book, so I had to find out for myself. I found it to be a delightful book, and not macabre, as one might expect from the title. I loved the practical advice on dealing with the emotional aspect of clutter, and the very down-to-earth approach to aging, decluttering, and ultimately death itself. One gets the feeling of making the most of a life well-lived.

For us as crocheters, letting go of our precious stash of yarn can be a horrifying concept. I have talked about my tendency toward minimalism before, but this was a totally different look at one of the reasons for taking the step of sorting through your things, and not keeping things that have no purpose. This includes things that may be fraught with emotion.

I have, over time, destashed my yarn collection drastically. I do still have a number of tubs of carefully sorted and stored yarn that I use for my designs. I’ve also started a new habit, one I never imagined possible. These days I tend to buy yarn that I specifically need for a project or design. If I like a yarn in the past I would buy it in every possible iteration of colour, or whatever metric I determined made multiple items desirable. That has been useful in my cotton stash for my ami projects, but generally has resulted in beautiful yarns going unused, with absolutely zero idea of why I might have bought them in the first place.

This isn’t to say that I don’t still buy yarn. I do. The difference now is that I am intentional about what I buy, and tend to usually use it for the purpose it was intended rather than it lying around, carefully stored in a tub, for years. It’s a whole new way of looking at how I consume things. I am a minimalist in many aspects of life, but yarn has always tripped me up. I won’t even talk about other crochet / knitting supplies. There certainly is a huge difference between collecting and hoarding, but let’s not kid ourselves that we don’t have a tiny bit of a problem.

I find that when there is less to go through I am less overwhelmed when choosing from the existing stash for a project. I remember reading that too many choices often overload people, and they end up choosing nothing at all. An example was a supermarket carrying different types of jam. When there were a limited number of choices people found it easy to choose a jam. When they were bombarded with a multitude of choices they often ended up choosing none of the available options. Too much choice makes us unhappy. Another interesting concept to think about.

I am the first to admit that my craft room, slash study, often looks like a bomb went off in here. The creative process really does seem to be a messy one for me. Having ADHD, and I won’t even mention the OCD, I find it very difficult to work in a disordered environment, so it’s a constant push and pull between creation and getting everything perfectly tidy. What I do know is you can’t organise clutter. There is stuff in here that needs to go. Once I get going with decluttering I’m really, really good at it. I don’t tend to hold onto things once the decision is made, and I don’t fret over it. It’s getting to the point of actually doing the decluttering. Getting momentum going. A body in motion stays in motion. This is generally true for me too. I intend to tackle this monster a little in the coming weeks, as my schedule will allow. I might share some of that with you.

If you are thinking of the enormous task of trimming down your craft supplies, such as yarn, I say go for it. Start with crafts you no longer do. That will certainly be easier, if not actually easy. Then work your way up to the hard stuff. The peace that comes with getting rid of what you don’t need is a marvellous feeling. Choosing to bless others with the unwanted items is a doubly extra delight. Nursing homes, schools, and I’m sure there are many places would kill for the craft supplies you tell yourself you are going to use again one day, but really aren’t.

Good luck. Let’s meet back here again soon.

Recent Projects & Yarny Goodness

Recent Projects from Jaarn Magazine

I realised I hadn’t shared my recently published projects with you. Frida the Frog from Jaarn Magazine Issue Three, Petals and Posts Scarf and Gloves, and Finn’s Blanket from Jaarn Magazine Issue Four. Better late than never, and all that. The magazine is available in digital format from the Jaarn Shop and Ravelry.

Petals and Posts image courtesy Bren Grobler @hookybren

Meet Olive the Guardian Angel

Olive is the prototype for a design I’m busy working on. Testing has been completed, so it’s really getting there. Olive is made from Vinnis Nikkim (DK, 100% cotton) and a 3.0mm hook. I’m toying with the yarn and hook combination to get a tighter finish without it being too stiff. I want to make several in differing skin tones for a nice variety.

I often use a 2mm hook with DK yarn for amigurumi, but it can be slightly uncomfortable as it is extremely tight, and tension can be tricky. Generally speaking I like yarns with a high twist for ami, such as Nurturing Fibres Eco-Cotton and Colourspun cotton. Both are very comfortable on the hands as the high twist has a bit more of a springiness, and stretch. Yarns with a low twist, like Vinnis Nikkim, can be trickier, but it is still a gorgeous yarn and comes in incredible colours.

While you can, technically speaking, use just about any yarn for amigurumi, I do recommend cotton as it washes and wears very well. My grandson’s toys are testament to that! It gives a smooth and durable finish. If you do want a fluffy finish then wool or acrylic might suit, especially if you brush it. As with anything I recommend going with the right yarn for the right application, and that you buy the best you can afford. I always feel that you put so much heart and soul into a project, why would you want it falling to pieces or pilling? It would be wasting all those hours you spent on it.

Playing with yarn

Winter is pretty much here, and so the evenings grow dark earlier. I find myself snuggled in bed with the pooches embarrassingly early, crochet in hand. I’ve always love African Expressions yarns, my favourite being Harmony. I decided that I wanted to try Joy. Joy is a 15% mohair, 40% wool, 45% acrylic yarn. It is wonderfully soft, with a lustrous sheen. It took a long time for me to work with real wool as I have incredibly sensitive skin. It took even longer for me to pick up mohair. This yarn is truly lovely, and I’ve recently completed a design with it.

I made some test squares with Joy, and this is what they looked like before blocking. I do recommend blocking this type of yarn. It will give a professional and smooth finish, and ensure even shaping. You can refer back to my tutorial on spray blocking if you need a refresher.

I’m glad it’s winter. I miss the Eastern Free State, crackling fires, and comfort food when it’s icy outside. Pretoria really is much milder, but as we hurtle through May I’m really getting that hankering for making blankets and comforting projects with squishy, soft yarns. I have recently destashed my yarns, but daresay I’m itching for another round. It also gives me a chance to go through the not insubstantial stash (even after about five rounds of decluttering), and remind myself of some of the amazing yarns that are in there.

Watch this space.

For those of you in the Southern Hemisphere enjoy the cooler days and nights, and those in the Northern Hemisphere, I hope the flowers and warmer days bring you much joy.

Cheers for now.

From Start to Finish

I am a very good starter of things.  I start projects like the ADHD (which I have genuinely being diagnosed with, as well as a mild case of OCD) person that I am.  My concentration flits from one thing to another with astonishing ease and speed.  As I’ve blogged about before, this results in a rather large number of WIPs.

I must, however, digress and tell you about my word for the year.  My word for 2019 is less.  Less everything.  I’ve been decluttering for years, but toward the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019 I really got stuck in and did some pretty brutal decluttering.  Even my yarn stash wasn’t immune to my fervour.  You see, 2018 was a dreadful year.  My husband had an intestinal issued that nearly killed him, eight times. He had eight surgeries in four months.  He spent nearly five months in ICU and most of the rest of the year in hospital and then a step-down facility.  The doctors were quite astonished that he survived, and said it was quite miraculous.  It felt like the year was out of control.  I really got some practice in how to manage my feelings about being so totally out of control.  I got to face the possibility of loss head on, and made friends with people who ended up not being as lucky as I was.  And we really leaned on each other.  I learned about the kindness of strangers, the disappointment in people I thought would be there and weren’t , but more importantly the huge number of people who were so incredibly kind and stepped up when I needed it most.  Back to the decluttering.  I think that with everything feeling so uncontrollable, I felt the need to exert some measure of being in charge of my life, so as a start I took control of my things.

Our home is pretty minimalist.  Despite this, there was still a fair amount of stuff in cupboards, drawers and the store room.  I was getting tired of it.  It starts to feel like possessions own you and not you them. I got stuck into books, clothes, papers, yarn, absolutely everything.  I first read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying” and “Spark Joy” by Marie Kondo, when they first came out in 2011 and 2012 respectively.  They made an impact at the time and I started and stopped the process many times.  During my decluttering I came to realise that there was a series based on her books on Netflix. I really enjoyed that, and the timing was simply perfect.  It spurred me on further.  All I have left is the kitchen and some sentimental items (which isn’t much at all) and I’m done.  Having said that, I don’t think you’re ever completely done.  You will likely revisit your things many times in your life, but the process gets easier, and the base from which you begin gets smaller.  Decluttering yarn was pretty difficult.  I’m generally not very materialistic and rarely get attached to stuff, but I really liked my yarn collection.  I had to fess up to the fact that there were yarns in there, bought on impulse, I was never, ever going to use.  Lovely though they may be, off they went.  And I actually felt more motivated than ever afterward to use yarns in my stash for projects rather than buying new yarn.

So, with this being the year of less, I thought I could extend that to fewer WIPs too.  Keep just a few WIPs about:  one complex, one easy and portable for out and about, and one for the list of gifts I’ve made.  And I’ve been pretty good.  These are my first three finished projects for 2019, not bad for nearly the end of Feb.  Furthermore they were all made with yarns from my stash:  Win!

 

I’ve been battling a little with the rheumatoid arthritis in my hands (not to mention the lupus everywhere else), so there are a couple of lovely projects in the works, but they’re taking longer than I’d hoped, but hey, I’m doing better than expected.

Our evenings in Rosendal are beginning to cool, as are the early mornings.  We are slowly but surely heading for winter, and I reckon it’ll be a cold one.  Not a bad thing since it means cosy crochet in front of the fire.  That sounds pretty awesome to me as the blanket projects come out then.  Yay.