Gifts to Selfย 

I believe it’s very important to take care of oneself in form of gifts, both tangible and otherwise. Today one gift arrived in the mail, and I’ve added another for good measure ๐Ÿ™‚

The first is a delivery from KnitPicks.com, hurrah! Once again, speedy and well-packed all the way from the US. So chuffed! Practical items: a retractable Clover tape measure and a new pair of thread scissors. Yarn: 8 balls of CotLin which I’ve wanted to try for ages. Patterns: Interweave Crochet Home Special Issue 2015 (clearance) PLUS there was free book coupon on my order day so I also have a copy of The Well-Made Home {Crochet} by Knit Picks! 

My favourite apart from the yarn is my new mug – I love it! Bigger than I expected which is perfect for my morning coffee (my other addiction), and excellent for my afternoon green tea. And emblazoned with very important words of Crochet Wisdom โค ๐Ÿ˜

My second gift today is time. Time just for me. Sometimes life speeds up and it’s good to take a moment to just STOP. I am now well on top of my iron deficiency but the related forced stop of my running routine really impacted my mental health. Five weeks without my run therapy left me slipping into depression again, with increased symptoms of anxiety, too. So frustrating and disapointing, as I’m now more than 8 months off my meds and had been going so great. 

I am now thankfully in a position where I recognise the signs early and I can see it coming, but nevertheless I was really clawing my way back for a week or so there. However, I’m running again now and have reimplemented my yoga routine, plus I’m swimming once a week while my girls have their lessons. Within a week of running slow interval 5ks every morning with 2 rest days, I stopped waking up under a cloud of inexplicable dread. So grateful! And taking extra good care of myself. 

Taking good care of myself doesn’t mean lavish spending or elaborate outings and plans. Today, it simply means a few balls of yarn for my stash, a new mug that makes me smile, and an afternoon off my chore list to sit on the veranda and listen to the birds. It means crochet, and a good book, and a big comfy, striped sofa dragged outside to its new Spring/Summer home – my peaceful perch for a few hours before I’m back on Mum mode. Bliss!

It’s the little things โค

Happy hooking, all ๐Ÿ™‚

Wip Wednesday – a List as Long as Yer Arm!ย 

So many wips, so little time! However, I remind myself that it’s not a race; it’s all good – just gotta prioritise sometimes. So, instead of digging into some Lincraft Cakes (because you can never ever ever have too many wips, not really!) today I returned to the Willow baby blanket I started at the end of June. It’s very close to completion now and I hope to be able to post it off to a special someone very soon ๐Ÿ’™

Last post I mentioned I started a bag which I’d gone right off as the variegated cotton worked up. I was so undecided about whether or not to stick with it but in the event, I did. Perhaps partly because I’ve not had a lot of crochet time during the day recently and the bag, worked in a simple single crochet (US) spiral was the easiest thing to pick up of a sleepy evening to get my fix! I don’t have a more recent pic, but I’ve added a lot more rounds of solids, and I’m up to the handles now – and still a bit hopeful it’ll turn out reasonably well. We shall see!


Right now, I’m going to reply to your lovely comments of the past week, and then join a few more squares. Here’s to getting stuck into the border tomorrow – love that bit!

Until next time – happy hooking!

Crochet Gnome – I finished something!ย 

For what feels like first time in yonks I have something to share for FO Friday, woot! He is only little but here is my friendly gnome.

I am new to amigurumi, and after a whole day working him, truth be told he didn’t even look like a gnome to me by the end! However, the next day I liked him much better – some time apart did us good haha.

The pattern is from a cute book called Crochet Your Christmas Baubles, which just arrived last week. Mr Gnome is worked in the (recommended) Stylecaft Special DK. Some of the other patterns recommend DMC Natura Just Cotton, so I’ve ordered (from Love Crochet – 15% off voucher here if you’d like one!) plenty of Christmassy colours for the Santa, elf and reindeer included in the 25 patterns. I’m working on an owl from the same book at the moment. There’s also a cute fairy and a couple of Elsa-type projects (hello fellow mums of Frozen fans!) so the book goes beyond just Christmas, which is added value I reckon. I am managing the patterns fine as a newbie to amigurumi and there are some helpful little notes at the back, too. The patterns are sorted into themes: Santa’s Grotto, Frozen Winter Wonderland, Fairy Tale, Scandinavian Style and White Christmas – definitely something to suit all tastes!

In other news, while looking for black acrylic dk for owl eyes in my stash, I found some variegated cotton worsted. I immediately forgot all about the eyes and accidentally started making a bag – oops! Yes, my motto is, You Can Never Have Too Many Wips (or bags) ๐Ÿ˜‚

Unfortunately now I’ve started working up the sides, I’m just not feeling the way the variegated is working up. So I’ve added some solid stripes but I’m still a bit meh about it…can’t decide what to do! It’s just not to my taste – but it would still probably make  nice library / treasure bag for one of my daughters. Hmmm…

If you’re not loving a project, do you quit or do you see it through?

And are you crocheting for Christmas yet?? ๐Ÿ˜€

Freeform Crochet – the Adventure Continues!

wp-image--1172129344I wasn’t going to write another post until I had something finished to share with you, but I have since realised that this might mean no blog until Christmas or some such, so here I am with some work in progress ๐Ÿ˜€

Last month I started experimenting with freeform crochet, or scrumbling. I completed a piece for a local yarnbombing and my interest didn’t wane so I ordered another book on the topic (any excuse to buy another crochet book!). Freeform Crochet with Confidence by Carol Meldrum is just lovely!! Areas covered include patchwork and spirals, organic patterns, openwork and lace, trims, edgings and fillers. I’ve dived straight into some spirals, offset circles and spikes, and basic organic motifs. The instructions are very clear and the reader is encouraged to use all the information as a guide from which one’s own creations can be adapted. I’ve found the section on filling in the gaps to be the most useful and interesting at the moment, and I’m having a great deal of fun patching holes in my new freeform project, using combinations of stitches worked together.

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So my current active WIP is a small and entirely experimental piece – a freeform crochet pouch, to be worked onto an inner pocket from an old shoulder bag. Freeform and upcycling fun! To me, it is a bit like painting, especially as I fill the gaps with colour – it’s like making brushstrokes. Not that I paint! But you get the idea I hope ๐Ÿ™‚

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Are you a fan of freeform crochet, either in your own work or pieces you’ve seen by other people? There are some wildly incredible freeform crochet artworks out there, it is quite hard not to be intimidated and just give up entirely lol. I love it all ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy Granny Square Day 2017!

Belated wishes for International Granny Square Day! Did you hook a granny to mark this special occasion? Unfortunately I didn’t get any crochet time on the day itself, but I shared a few I’ve made in the past six months on Instagram, and in the days since I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the granny square explosion over there. I saw a really cool one with a spiral in the centre which inspired me to try my very first spiral myself this afternoon. Bit tricky but lots of fun!

Speaking of Instagram, @hooksandhills hit 2k followers overnight, which is quite a milestone! I’ve been on IG for a while but I’ve only really started actively interacting in the last four months or so. There is a fantastic, thriving crochet community over there and I enjoy great yarny chats with people from all over the world, plus of course one can’t help but be wildly inspired by the amazing crochet that people are posting on a daily basis. If you’re not already there, I encourage you to check it out ๐Ÿ™‚

In other news, as planned I’m blogging less and organising my time better. I wouldn’t say I’m totally on top of things – far from it! – but defintely going in the right direction. There is a little less dust – and a little more Sophie ๐Ÿ˜

Until next time – happy hooking!

Time Management and the Crochet Obsessive

My ideal would be a parallel universe – one world in which I can crochet all hours of the day, and another running simultaneously where I meet all my other-world commitments, and of course enjoy all the precious, lovely non-crochet elements of my life! Such a universe, alas, does not exist and therefore, I find I must prioritise (sucks!).

But. How much dust is too much? I know I will never regret not having dusted more when I die haha but at the same time, one cannot run a family in chaos (well I can’t anyway). My girls are almost five and almost seven and I am a full time stay at home mum who is suddenly feeling the currents of change and finding just a little more time on her hands. My youngest will be starting school in January and I am now well out of the survival mode of the early years (which included severe depression and anxiety) and moving into a new phase.

This is very exciting but also rather daunting! My youngest is currently only at preschool three days a week during school hours so I have her with me lots still, plus of course there are a lot of hours before 9 and after 3.30! However, suddenly both girls seem to be growing less needful of me with every passing week. The demands on my time are no longer so great and there are finally more hours in my day in which I have CHOICES!? This is most novel! I am no longer fire-fighting, as we used to say in my previous life as a corporate finance analyst – rushing to put out one fire after another and barely pausing for breath. It’s fabulous! But I do find myself…drifting a little. I think, yay! I can crochet now, nobody is here wanting stuff! So I do (sometimes rather a lot), and then I do a little bit of cleaning or ironing and then I get distracted, have a quick look at gorgeous lovely crochet things on Instagram and oops it’s 3pm where did that go and OMG what have I achieved?!

Believe me I am NOT complaining – I know how blessed I am. The things is, after almost seven years of being “on” pretty much 24/7 as a full time stay at home mum of very young children with no family support network and a husband who is AWESOME but who also works long hours, I am just not used to this level of freedom. I’ve reached a point where I need to start thinking about how to structure my days, and what I want them to look like. I’ve been crocheting a LOT , particularly since I started this blog a few months ago, and it has been awesome but that parallel universe I yearn for does not exist and the time has come to plan and prioritise. I don’t want to feel guilty when I crochet. I don’t think I need to work harder – I do work very hard for my family – but I need, as they say, to work SMARTER, so that I have done all the things I need to do before I sit down with my hooks and yarn, guilt free and hooker-happy! Plus, I have a sneaking suspicion that better time management will ultimately result in more hooking time for this crochet obsessive. YES!!!

So.

  • A little less blogging , and more defined times for doing so and for addressing correspondence related to Hooks and Hills (I’ve taken the email apps off my phone so I don’t get distracted by the ‘ping’ any more – such a time monster!).
  • Flexible but clear forward schedule in terms of crochet skills I want to learn – I am an ambitious and adventurous crocheter! – book reviews I want to write and patterns of my own that I want to work on.
  • Fixed hours on preschool days for family / family business interests paperwork.
  • Fixed hours on preschool days for home duties, and clear schedule of tasks (thank you Motivated Moms app!)
  • Fixed hours for exercise – vital and sliding a little recently  (run/walking and yoga now replace antidepressents for me).

How do you make sure you get your crochet fix? If you’re a stay at home mum, what are your best tips for managing your time? And how did you go when your youngest started school? For so long I felt like the day would never come and now it seems to be racing at me full speed and it’s a bit…confronting! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Accidental Kids Crochet Cardi

This morning I unearthed a shrug I started way back in May and settled happily back into finishing the front bodice and trim. I used Caron Cakes in Rainbow Sprinkles with a 6mm hook. The pattern is by ‘Double Stitch Twins’ Erika and Monica Simmons in their book Double Stitch: Designs for the Crochet Fashionista.

I’d never crocheted a fitted garment before so it was an interesting learning experience! Alas, upon completion my suspicions that I should have made the next size up were confirmed, as my shrug was a little too snug. So sad!

However, happily a little person expressed interest as I sat outside bemoaning my mistake. My daughter tried it on and loved it – “So warm, mumma! So pretty!” So, all is not lost and I am a happy crochet mum โ˜บ

And on that note, I think it’s time to pack away the worsted now. Spring is coming!