Terrific Tuesday

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On a Monday I can still remember the fun I had over the weekend, Wednesday is the middle of the work week, on Thursday I start getting hopeful and on a Friday I can taste the weekend. But what about a Tuesday? It’s so…. just there. Weekend memories are too far away and the upcoming weekend might as well be a year away.

What we need is a bit of colourful inspiration to get us going on a Tuesday, don’t you think? A pretty picture, beautiful scenery or colourful imagery. Yup, that’ll liven up Tuesdays and turn it into a terrific day!

From now on I will go through my photos and Pinterest likes every Tuesday and find us a pretty picture to add colour and joy to the day.

xxxxxx

I adore this hedgehog swinging from a tree crocheted pendant. It’s cute, crochet and a true work of art. It’s the work of Saffron Johns who lives in Bulgaria and sells her wire art in her Other Worlds Etsy shop. You should have a look at the other amazing pieces of crochet jewelery she makes. I love the Mouse Playing Trumpet double brooch and the Parrot Bird Cage pendant is truly amazing. You definitely wont be able to blend into the crowd when you wear these pieces of crochet art! And it’s sure to make you smile. Perfect for a Tuesday.

Wishing you all a Terrific Tuesday.

Natasja

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Zigzag wrist warmers pattern

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It’s officially Spring in the UK. The daffodils are out, pink and white blossoms can be seen on the shrubs, bright green new leaves are just about sprouting and ye, my hands were freezing on the walk home from the station last night. Of course I didn’t have any gloves with me – see the first sentence. What I need to carry with me for these in-between seasons is something to keep my hands warm yet not be a full-on woolen glove.

What oh what could that be? Oh, I know! The pair of zigzag wrist warmers that I crocheted on Saturday!

This pair.

crochet with fingerless gloves

See how great they are for getting on with things like crocheting and drinking coffee? My fingers can roam freely to do all manner of practical things, yet I look feel super funky while I’m doing it.

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I’m a bit obsessed with chevrons lately. I’ve always loved stripes, so a pointy stripe is like striking gold. I love the ups and downs, the zigs and the zags.
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Would you like to make a pair of chevron wrist warmers too? You’re in luck. Not only did I make myself a pair on Saturday I also wrote down the pattern and listed it in my Etsy shop! You can buy it for a mere £2.50. Just click on the photo below or on this link to go straight to the pattern. The pattern is downloadable as a .pdf file so you’ll get it straight away.

chevron wrist warmers and yarnJust a word of warning. You may end up looking like you have broken your wrist when you try one your first wrist warmer. Don’t let the OnlyOneWristWarmerLook put you off off wristies.  Once you’ve made the second one the look comes together beautifuly. Certainly don’t show your husband the first one and ask him how it looks because you will, I guarantee it, be the butt of a Michael Jackson joke.

 

When work interferes with crochet

I have been crocheting little circle lace motifs on the train to work this morning using my own Lacy Coasters pattern. You would assume that I would like how they’re turning out, but you would be wrong. Just as the train was about to pull in at London Waterloo station I realised that I don’t like what I have been making.  Something was bothering me about the design and/or  the colour and/or the placement of the colour. It’s not the fault of the pattern – hey, it’s my own pattern – it’s because I’m not sticking to the original colour scheme. I’m using two colours instead of the original three and now everything looks different. Me. No. Likey. And what’s the worst thing that can happen when you realise you don’t like what you’ve been crocheting? That you have to wait to fix it.

Reluctantly I had to pack up my things, get off the train and onto the bus that would take me to the office. All the way to the office all I could think about was The Design. I played out scenarios in my head, imagining how I want the lacy motif to look and what I had to change to get it just so. I gave myself a talking to “Geez Natasja. You designed those lacy coaster and they are beautiful, so why mess with something that works?” Sadly I wasn’t even able to convince myself to stick to my pattern. It just had to be changed. Had to.

Then it struck me. Somewhere between Waterloo Bridge and Royal Courts of Justice I knew what I had to do to make me love my circle motif again. I got out my notebook & pen (one always needs a notebook and pen for when inspiration strikes on the bus) and quickly sketched out what was in my head. I was happy that I solved the design problem, yet sad and frustrated that I couldn’t then and there try it out. No, I had to continue my bus journey to get to the office to do PA things whilst my whole being was longing to crochet and play.

Around 11:20 I sneakily got out my tote bag and did a few crochet stitches but got a funny look from one of the other PAs so I had to put back my toys.  But I did sketch out a section of a crochet diagram on my notepad. I might not be able to crochet it, but no-one can stop me from drawing it. Amongst the meeting notes and instructions from lawyers scribbled on my notepad, I have left my crochet mark. Oh I love seeing those little symbols that means so much to me and absolutely nothing to anyone else in this law firm.

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Eventually the digital clock on my PC monitor showed 12:30. Finally! Lunch! I turn my chair around so that my back is facing everyone who walk past my desk, bend down to rummage in my tote bag and get the three things that bring me a world of joy. My crochet hook, embroidery scissors and cotton yarn. Now I can do what I’ve been thinking of whole morning.

And it was good.

So good.

I very quickly undid the two rows that were bothering me and crocheted what I had written down in my little notebook. It certainly looked better but it still wasn’t quite right. Unlike this morning I was able to try out at least two other stitch-and-colour combinations. I could feel myself relax as I immerse myself totally in my crochet. I know people walked past my desk but I was in my crochet bubble where no-one else matters. It just me, my creative imagination, the yarn and my crochet hook. As I crocheted I could see the picture in my head taking shape right there in my hands and my spirits lifted. It really did! I had been frustrated and a bit gloomy all morning, but within 30 minutes of crocheting and being creative, everything changed.

I really do notice that when I’m crocheting and fully concentrating only on that, my mind wanders to its Creative Place where new ideas are formed. When I’m truly “in the moment” it’s almost like meditating and I can connect with my true self. No wonder sitting at the office counting down the minutes until I can pick up my crochet hook and yarn, makes me a bit sad.

It’s not all bad though. God has been good and things have lined up for me that will change my work-crochet balance for the better, but I don’t want to say too much yet. Until then my work desk will look something like this for an hour every day. I’m very grateful for even this extra hour in my day to do some crocheting.

And if anyone should say something about the yarn lying around, I say: Bite me. I’m happy.

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Terrific Tuesday

On a Monday I can still remember the fun I had over the weekend, Wednesday is the middle of the work week, on Thursday I start getting hopeful and on a Friday I can taste the weekend. But what about a Tuesday? It’s so…. just there. Weekend memories are too far away and the upcoming weekend might as well be a year away.

What we need is a bit of colourful inspiration to get us going on a Tuesday, don’t you think? A pretty picture, beautiful scenery or colourful imagery. Yup, that’ll liven up Tuesdays and turn it into a terrific day!

From now on I will go through my photos and Pinterest likes every Tuesday and find us a pretty picture to add colour and joy to the day.

xxxxxx

crochet pattern designing in progress

This was the scene in my Office Behind The Door on Saturday. You can see the end result of my blast of creativity here.

Oooh I do love my little office space!

Wishing you all a Terrific Tuesday.

Natasja

Terrific Tuesday

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On a Monday I can still remember the fun I had over the weekend, Wednesday is the middle of the work week, on Thursday I start getting hopeful and on a Friday I can taste the weekend. But what about a Tuesday? It’s so…. just there. Weekend memories are too far away and the upcoming weekend might as well be a year away.

What we need is a bit of colourful inspiration to get us going on a Tuesday, don’t you think? A pretty picture, beautiful scenery or colourful imagery. Yup, that’ll liven up Tuesdays and turn it into a terrific day!

From now on I will go through my photos and Pinterest likes every Tuesday and find us a pretty picture to add colour and joy to the day.

xxxxxx

colour palette vinnis Sacré Cœur

I love this photo I took of the Basilica of the Sacré Cœur (Sacred Heart) in Paris. It’s not so much the Basilica that I like, but the contrast between the jumbled colours and shapes of the hundreds of people in the foreground, against the solid imposing shape of the stone Basilica looming over them.  For the colour palette I mirrored that contrast by combining a natural and stone shade with the three primary colours. These five shade will make a piece crochet or knitting with a beautiful balance between colourful and classic. In other words, a piece with French flair.

Wishing you all a Terrific Tuesday.

Natasja

Zigzag scarf pattern and a bit about ice cream

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Do you remember my Sunset Shades Scarf? The one I made with the Vinnis Nikkim cotton yarn that my mom gave me which kicked off my love of Vinnis yarn? I blogged about that beautiful zig zag scarf way back in January and said that I will be writing up the pattern soon. “Soon” turned out to be two months later (whoops) but it’s done now and available to purchase in my Etsy shop!

I tried to make the pattern as easy as possible to follow. There are “Good To Know” and “Handy Tips” scattered throughout. There’s even links to two YouTube videos that will show you how to start the chevron and make Long SC stitches.

The magic thing about this scarf is the way the colours blend into each other so I took my time to write a pattern that would explain these colour changes as best I could. The scarf uses 10 shades (two of which are repeated within one colour sequence) so I had to keep my wits about me when I wrote the pattern! That, paired with all the hexagon joining of the Crochet For Kidneys Part 2 blankets, is the reason for the two month delay. Hopefully it will be worth the wait.

Scarf pattern collage

In my efforts to make the pattern easy to follow, each row is written in a font colour similar to the colour of the yarn. Bearing that in mind, do you see all the white, very light grey and light yellow in my scarf? It would have been impossible to read text in those colours printed on white paper, so I created a different colour scheme to write the pattern.  The example is there in the bottom left of the photo above.

Do those colour also remind you of Neapolitan ice cream? It’s the pink and brown (or should I say strawberry and chocolate) that does it for me and brings back wonderful childhood memories of enjoying Gatti’s Neapolitan ice cream. (South African blog readers will know Gatti ice cream). A big bowl full of “that stripy ice cream” after Sunday lunch was such a treat. To me chocolate, vanilla or strawberry ice cream was okay on their own, but put them together and suddenly they became cool and made desert taste ten times better.

The same applies to the zigzag scarf pattern. Lots of colours in lots of stripes makes for a scarf ten times better than any other. I hope you enjoy it just as much as I enjoyed Neapolitan ice cream.

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Chevron Zig Zag scarf

£3.50 on Etsy

Available as an instant download .pdf file

An office behind the door

Everyone needs a space to call their own don’t you think? Your area where you can do your own thing and surround yourself with that which makes you happy. Yesterday, I got my little hideaway and I’m so grateful for it!

Before I show you, I have to say that our house is tiny. It might be small but it’s big enough for the two of us and we love every inch of our home. But being small, we need to make the best use of all the space we do have. One of the things we have found that works really well is to utilise the space behind doors. For example, behind our bedroom door we have a tall bookshelf for shoes and in the spare room we hide the ironing board and clothes drying rack behind the door. All of these unsightly everyday things are neatly hidden away yet easily accessible.

The only option we had for creating a workstation for me was to go looking behind doors again. We found the perfect space in the living room.

IMG_6027 before

All I really wanted was a white desk (it has to be white so that I can use it to take photos for crochet tutorials), a chair and maybe a little cupboard, but how do you fit a whole desk and chair behind a door? You go to Ikea and buy a drop-leaf desk and foldable chair!

IMG_6028 after When I’m ready to work I flip the desk up, unfold my chair (which is of course stored behind another door), plug in the Macbook and I’m good to go!

IMG_6030 ready to work

I can place my chair on any of the three sides of my table depending on what I’m doing. For photos I’ll probably sit facing the window so that the natural light will fall on my crochet, and when I want to watch TV and do admin at the same time, I can sit with my back to the window. Look, I even have a little snake plant to keep me company. The whole setup cost us less than £100 (and to think we considered converting the garage into an office at a cost of £16,000!)

I’m typing this post seated at my desk, looking out at the garden where John is mowing the lawn and loving every minute! It’s strange how having a dedicated writing area makes it so much more pleasurable to write. My crocheting spot is still on the sofa, but for blogging, Etsy, admin and basically anything that has to be done on a laptop, I will be seated on my turquoise chair. 

Over time I’m sure my Office Behind The Door will change and become more “me”. Can anyone say crochet bunting? I also plan on crocheting baskets and covers for glass jars which will go inside the cupboard to keep my stationary. I’ll need a coaster to protect my white table too. Oooh, and a cushion for my chair!

If you want to recreate my little Office Behind The Door in your home, you’ll need the Norberg wall-mounted drop-leaf table,  a Frode folding chair and Besta shelf

Oh, and don’t forget the Sansevieria potted plant. Every fold-away desk needs one. You will also need a brilliant handyman like my dear husband who’s idea it was to get a  fold-away desk for me and did an excellent job in putting it up.

Let the writing commence!

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Distributing the Crochet For Kidneys Part 2 blankets

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Yesterday, World Kidney Day, John and I visited the Royal Free Hospital and handed over the 14 blankets. As you can see from the photos we had  a lovely chat with Thelma, the Ward Manager and other nurses. They loved the blankets! Thelma was very appreciative and promised to distribute the blankets to the dialysis patients who need it most.

She asked me to thank all you lovely people for making the hexagons and being part of Crochet For Kidneys Part 2.

I do hope that the recipients will find the time to join the Crochet For Kidneys Facebook group so that we can all “meet” each other!

With Crochet For Kidneys Part 1 and Part 2 now over, I know a lot of you are wondering when Part 3 will kick off. Crocheters love to crochet and we love to share our crochet so it’s only natural that you want to be part of more charity projects. I love that about you all! You’ll have to wait a couple of months for Part 3 though. Crochet For Kidneys Part 3 won’t kick off until September 2014, but dont let that stop you from crocheting for charity.

The Starting Chain blog made a list of ten US Charities that need crocheted items which you can read here and as a follow-up on that post, they listed nine charities in the UK, Canada and Australia that also need crocheted items here. If your hands are itching to put hook to yarn for a good cause, I’m sure you’ll be able to find the perfect charity project in amongst the 19 charities listed in these two articles.

One final thank you to everyone who contributed a hexagon. I, the nurses at Royal Free Hospital and of course the 14 dialysis patient really, really, really appreciate all you have done.

Blessings to each and every one of you.

Book review – Blossom Street Brides

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A boyfriend who doesn’t want to commit, a long-distance relationship, an adopted teenager, eloping couples, references to frogging, quotes by well-known knitters, mysterious charity knitting and a yarn shop – these are the things I’ve been reading about the past week. Sounds good doesn’t it? It’s the writings of one of today’s most popular and best-loved authors Debbie Macomber in her latest book in the Blossom Street Series called Blossom Street Brides.

Blossom Street Brides tells the story or Lydia, blissfully happy in her marriage, but worrying about her adoptive daughter and future of her yarn shop A Good Yarn. Bethan is madly in love with her husband but their long-distance relationship is becoming difficult to deal with. Lauren has always yearned for marriage and a family of her own, but her long-term boyfriend just won’t commit. The three meet in A Good Yarn and find strength in friendship to help them through their problems.

As I read the book, it was nice knowing that the author owns a yarn and knitting shop also called A Good Yarn in Port Orchard, Washington and that she is a knitter herself. Debbie has written 150 romance novels and contemporary women’s fiction. Over 170 million copies of her books are in print throughout the world, and four have become made-for-TV-movies.  On top of all this creative writing she also finds time to knit,  and run her yarn shop. This is one impressive lady!

All the characters in the book felt very real to me and despite not having read any of the other books in the Blossom Street series, I felt I knew them all and could even relate to some of them. My favourite character is Lauren. As a yarn lover any references to what goes on in A Good Yarn really got my attention. It felt like I had a behind-the-scenes look into the day to day running of a yarn shop which I really liked.

Blossom Street Brides is an enjoyable quick read. It would make a great holiday read or as a gift to anyone with a knitting hobby or a love of yarn. This book, indeed any book in the Blossom Street series, would be a perfect Mother’s Day gift.

The book is available in paperback from 13 March 2014 on Amazon for £5.99.

blossom street brides

*I was sent Blossom Street Brides by the publisher. I did not receive payment for doing the review. The opinions in this review are my own. There are affiliate links in this post, which help me run my blog.

The blankets for Crochet For Kidneys Part 2

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On Sunday evening I finished the last border, wove in the last tail end and snipped off the last stray bit of yarn on the last blanket for Crochet For Kidneys Part 2. They’re all done!  “They” being a fantastic 14 beautiful blankets for dialysis patients. That’s double the number of blankets we had for Part 1!

In total I joined hexagons, and made borders, for eight blankets. Jenny (of Thames Ditton Crafters) and Jane (of Jane’s Nice and Easy Crochet) each joined a blanket too. Thank you very much for your help ladies!  Five ladies made complete blankets for which I am so very grateful. One of those five will be sent directly to the Royal Free Hospital so I don’t have a photo to show you, but I do have photos of the 14 John and I will be handing over on the 13th of March.

We chose 13 March because it’s World Kidney Day - a global awareness and education event. What better day to hand over lovingly handmade blankets to those with kidney failure? These blankets are sure to bring them comfort in both senses of the word. I know you all put so much love into each stitch and the bright colours you chose will surely cheer up any poorly person. Thank you again each every one of you!

Here they are – the 14 blankets made by 36 crocheters, from 7 countries:

Aren’t they beautiful? You have all done such an amazing job! Everyone’s hexagons have been used in these blankets. Whether you sent me two or 63, somewhere in these 14 blankets there will be a hexagon made by you. Thank you so much everyone!

I’d like to end this post with some kidney facts so that you can be aware and informed about the important role your kidneys play and what you can do to reduce the risk of kidney disease.

The main job of the kidneys is to remove toxins and excess water from our blood. Kidneys also help to control our blood pressure, to produce red blood cells and to keep our bones healthy.

Here are some ways to help reduce your risk of kidney disease:
• Keep the Pressure Down – High blood pressure accelerates kidney damage. To protect yourself from kidney disease you should monitor your blood pressure regularly and maintain a diet low in salt and saturated fats.
• Keep fit and active – This helps reduce your blood pressure and therefore reduces the risk of kidney disease.
• Don’t smoke – Cigarette smoking slows blood flow to the kidneys, decreasing their ability to function properly. Quit smoking to slow the progression of kidney disease.
• Eat healthily and keep your weight in check – This can help prevent diabetes, heart disease and other conditions associated with kidney disease.
• Know your kidney function – If anyone in your family has suffered from kidney disease, if you are diabetic or if you are of Asian or African ancestry, it is particularly important to get your kidney function checked by your GP. In the western world, 30-40% of patients with kidney failure have Type 2 diabetes.

world kidney day 2014

Look after yourself and your kidneys my dear readers! I need you to be healthy so when Crochet For Kidneys Part 3 is launched in the Autumn, you can help me make more blankets. Deal? Deal.

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