Monday, January 9, 2017

now

After seeing the taking stock post on Meet Me At Mikes, I thought a quick capture of where I am right now would be fun (and a nice way of getting back in to blogging). I've used some of Pip's prompts but not all, so if you'd like to take part, check out her post for the full list.

Making: things to keep little ones warm


Cooking: stuffed peppers with tomato sauce
Drinking: herbal tea - This is really good!


Reading: Daring Greatly by Brene Brown - an eye-opener to say the least
Trawling: paleo sites - no matter how far I stray, I love going back!
Wanting: to get everything done
Looking: forward
Deciding: on which way to go
Wishing: peace to all
Enjoying: Sherlock 
Waiting: for things to pan out
Wondering: when the water company will turn the water back on :(
Loving: The Year Compass 
Watching: my baby take dramatics to another level!
Marvelling: at my friend's stairs


Needing: more hours in the day?
Smelling: a scented candle from a beautiful friend
Wearing: hand-knit socks 
Noticing: composition - for a little photography club I've joined
Knowing: that I don't know what's best for my family ... only Allah (God) does 
Admiring: the efforts of so many regarding the Syrian crisis
Celebrating: community and friendship


Embracing: winter - well, trying to!

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

socks


Warning: This post is all about socks. Yes, nothing but socks and knitting here. Feel free to move along if socks are not your thing. Can I say socks one more time in this disclaimer? 

I'm not too keen on winter! After living in Jeddah for so long, I did miss the seasons BUT I do prefer warm weather and sunshine to rainy, bone-chilling, windy greyness! So I tend to seek out things that will get me through cold weather and well, socks, not your ordinary bog-standard, shop-bought socks, but hand-knit socks, definitely make the list.

I'd tried knitting socks for quite a few years  ... and no, I never ended up with an actual pair. I'd get bored. And I had a funny relationship with knitting for the longest time,  but then who wants bumpy crocheted socks?! Fast forward to 2016 and I'd knit a couple of baby socks. By then, I had continental knitting and magic loop under my belt, so to speak, and then I came across the Knitting Expat Podcast. Mina was taking part in a sock-athon, where she was competing with another knitter to see who could knit the most socks in the month of January. I started getting that sock vibe! Then Kirsten of the Yarngasm Podcast started a Box-O-Sox KAL running throughout the year, in which you had to knit 12 pairs of socks and store them in a box of your choice. Fuelled with inspiration, I thought I'd give it a go. But then, yes, I had a baby, and things came to a bit of a halt on the sock front. 


I wore these socks for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I didn't think anyone noticed until my 15 year old daughter noticed and voiced that my socks don’t match. She knew that I’d want to hear that. She knows me well. They’re nothing fancy. No special ribbing. No lacy patterns. They don’t even “match” in the conventional sock sense. But I love them. I love that they are my first finished pair of socks. I love that they keep my feet so warm and toasty during the wintry days that we’re having right now. I love that I can make a little statement by wearing mismatched socks. Not the kind that’s in your face. Just the kind that peeps out from under a pair of jeans. And most of all I love that I made something that I can wear and feel this joy! Have you made something that just warms you right up and makes you feel fuzzy and warm?


My Sock Story So Far: 

1. Mina's Two At A Time Socks (free pattern) - A cuff down, two-at-a-time (duh) vanilla sock with a Fish Lips Kiss Heel. This was the game-changer for me ... no more knitting socks one at a time! My first complete PAIR of adult socks! 

2. Tennarisukka (free pattern) - A cuff down, ankle sock with heel gusset. I love the stitch pattern on the front and the heel.


3. Nurturing Fibres Vanilla Socks (free pattern) - A toe up sock with an afterthought heel.


My first contrasting heel! I'm a rebel, aren't I?
I loved trying the different heels. I'm not sure which my favourite is yet. But I did realise that with very little wear my socks are getting really, really baggy. So I need to reduce that 60 stitch count for sure! 

To be continued ...


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Friday, December 23, 2016

patience and gratitude ... and lots of excitement!

Delayed gratification was something that I had been contemplating before my family and I moved to Algeria. It seemed as though too much in our lives was about consumerism and acquiring material possessions and our ability to have what we want, when we want, in other words, NOW! I was aware of the fact that life here, for us anyway, wasn’t going to be like that and I was ready to embrace that … or so I thought. Well, when the electricity or water cuts off, I can’t say I’m excited about delayed gratification! But these experiences allow us to appreciate all the things we take for granted, such as, continuous electricity and running water. 

But everyone has their ups and downs. I was going to post about how a lack of decent internet has bothered me and my need for social interaction with like-minded people. I was going to post about how I signed up for an Expat Yarn Swap* in March and although my package reached it’s recipient, the package that was meant for me arrived in Algiers (according to the postal tracker) but never arrived at my door step.

But up until now, we've somehow managed to connect to the internet. Skype calls were always dropped, kept breaking up or had delays and we got a little frustrated at times. And now you know partly why I wasn't blogging. Then not so long ago, more than 3 years after arriving here, we got hooked up to a very normal ADSL line and it does feel strange to say the least. It’s nice but sometimes I forget that I don’t have to wait for the early morning lull in cyber traffic to load something. It’s strange how we can get so accustomed to not having certain things that we took for granted before. 



Two days ago, I received a note from the post office, telling me there was post for me that hadn't been delivered. It was pouring down with rain. And I was playing it cool, but there was this little buzz of excitement deep down that made me get baby to sleep, wrap up, grab an umbrella and brave the deep deep puddles. I picked up my package and it was clearly from my Expat Yarn Swap partner, V. I got home with shoes and socks (hand-knit socks, I might add) soaked through. But it was worth it! As I walked back I thanked God for these little joys that make our days that much better. And I thought if this isn’t delayed gratification, what is? I know it’s not self-imposed, but it’s like that here. Things are delayed, and you don’t let it bug you if you want to keep your sanity in place. You get on with all the wonderful things around you and when those other things work out or turn up, it’s all the more special. Well, that's the way I choose to look at it. 


And when this treat turned up, I was so humbled by my swap partner’s generosity. She'd wrapped everything up carefully and ensured that there was something for everyone in this package! Allahi barik (God bless). The yarn is locally (from Minnesota, USA) hand-dyed.


But that project bag ... it blew me away! She made it especially for ME! How truly heart-warming! AND she got the style and colours just right!


There was a notions pouch, gorgeous mini skeins and stitch-markers and beautiful handmade soaps! I'm trying to get V to open an Etsy shop selling her soaps and bags!

So, there you go. I just had to share this little piece of my life. I think we have to get through those troughs to get to the peaks in life and to savour them that bit more. Wishing you all much longer peaks than troughs! :)

Wednesday (top) and Thursday (bottom)!

* The Expat Yarn Swap was hosted by Mina Phillip of the Knitting Expat Podcast in March 2016 



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Thursday, December 8, 2016

back on the blog


I really hadn't meant to stay away from this space for so long. No, really, I hadn't. In the year or so since I last posted anything ...

I went back to London after 7 years of being away! I got to meet up with family and friends and it was a lovely yet busy break.

Hammam Melouane
I've experienced more of the seasonal weather changes. Remember, I'd spent almost 10 years in Jeddah where it's either REALLY hot, hot or not SO hot!


We've enjoyed some beach days ...


... had loved ones visit ... 

Tipaza
 ... and seen a little bit more of Algeria ...

At the Roman Ruins, Tipaza

On a lovely boat ride from the ruins
... And I had a baby! Yes, well and truly blessed with another little teddy bear person. Alhamdulillah!

I had thought I'd be able to have and share more adventures here in Algeria, but pregnancies and two births (the last one being an emergency Caesarean) kind of changed how things happened. I do hope to be able to share a bit more here now though in sha Allah.

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Monday, April 20, 2015

ugly

There is a lot of ugliness in the world. And one might argue that as with beauty, everyone has a different opinion of what is truly ugly. But I think "ugly" is a strong word. Yes, tastes vary and I see that more so here, in Algeria where tastes in clothes, make-up, home decor, even cake designs are generally quite different to mine. I appreciate the work that goes in to a handmade clay pot, a hand-embroidered bedspread or an intricately decorated cake. Even if I find it a bit tacky and not pleasing to my eye, I could never say it's ugly. What is ugly though? Rudeness, oppression, exploitation, disrespect, arrogance. There is a lot of ugliness in the world.    


Here in Algeria, when you tell someone that they look nice or "shebba", they reply with "oyoonik shebbeen"or "your eyes are nice/beautiful" meaning: Your eyes are beautiful to have seen the beauty in me. With whatever ugliness there is around us, I think it's nice to seek out beauty in it, be it a situation, a relationship or an incident. Sometimes the beauty just springs up, as if from nowhere.



My "ugly", scrap yarn, crochet!
Are you seeing any beauty in the "ugly" around you?

This post is a part of the "Love Your Blog Challenge". Click on the image below to see posts by others that are participating.

A Playful Day

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

beginnings ...

... can be frightening! 



Stepping out in to the unknown. New challenges and adventures await. 


I question myself. Will it work? Do I have the energy and motivation to see it through to the end?



Those first steps are the hardest. Sometimes I crave the familiarity of people and things that are no longer in my life. Sometimes it's lonely and I need to know that I'm not alone. 


Beginnings can be difficult but I need to start. I need to give my graphic design work a push and I want to finally list some things in that Etsy shop of mine! 

Are you beginning things? Do you tend to look back at the experiences you've had or do you look ahead more towards your goals? 

This post is a part of the love your blog challenge. You can see posts by others that are taking part here.


A Playful Day





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Monday, April 6, 2015

the one where I don't apologise for being away for so long

I've decided to join in with the love your blog challenge hosted by A Playful Day. I feel it should be a great way to ease back in to blogging. It might also motivate me to finally re-vamp this space (do bear with me as I tinker away a bit). Every Monday during the month of April there will be a prompt for us to blog about and a link to others that are participating. Why don't you join in too?


A Playful Day



Interactions and Community




Community has always played a very important role in my life and coming to Algeria has made it even more important. I need that balance of having my own space, dealing with my familial responsibilities, interacting with those around me locally, internationally and online.


I know I've blogged previously about how I was inspired by other bloggers to start crocheting (now, what seems like a lifetime ago!), to try out continental knitting and to get some graphic design experience under my belt. I now find myself at a point where I turn to particular crafts for particular needs and one of my needs is to be able to "geek out" about it. To just talk about knitting techniques on Ravelry groups, future crochet projects at our local yarny sessions and to just ogle at some artwork that a friend has spotted online. Blogging was always a great channel for this but then life happened, changes occurred and it seemed easier for online, social interaction to take place on sites such as facebook. But in writing this post I've found myself looking back at my blog and seeing it at as my creative journal too. I have missed this space. This space which is a relatively visual one yet has a splattering of my words and thoughts.  


I re-visit old projects in a bid to inspire those that are starting out on the crochet journey.
Having tasted full-on creative interaction online, I crave it in real life too. Which is why it was fairly easy for me to decide to work with Emma on Al Mubdiaat (The Creatives) as a local project here in Algiers; a kind of bricks and mortar version of Great.ly perhaps? Circumstances have led to a little delay in getting this project up and running but I hope and pray that we can it going again very soon. There are so many creatives here and so much beautiful work that I would love to share as much as I can with you in upcoming posts in sha Allah. 


One of the things I aim to do these days, is to be more mindful in my day-to-day life, and that includes my creativity. I have to think about what I'm making and what I need and will I use it or will I sell it and will it sell and ... well there is a lot to think about! I don't want to dither around too much though. I need to take a leap with a few ideas I've been holding back on. 


At times it can get a little lonely, once the storm of family life calms down and you're left standing at the kitchen sink full of dishes wondering where your place is. Sometimes you need a hand to pull you up and get you moving again (like an invite to an online creative group!). The people that come in to your life at those times, probably don't even realise what an effect they have on you.


I LOVE receiving post! What about you?
At other times, winning giveaways and receiving swap gifts can bring the warmth of online interaction literally in to your home. A few weeks ago I was under the weather and as I scrolled down my facebook feed I suddenly whooped with joy as I found out I'd won a crochet pattern in a giveaway! Don't you just love that feeling?


I won a print of my favourite flower, painted by Anne of My Giant Strawberry


And she sent me these extras too! Aren't they beautiful?


My swap goodies all the way from Malaysia!


I enjoyed designing the art for this tote bag for my swap partner.


I remember Kirsty's My Creative Space and how it was a great source of creative interaction with others across the globe. This challenge can also be a way of sharing and forming connections.

a sneak peak at something I've been working on

I've always had a passion for creative work and I've always wanted to to do what I love. Interacting with others that are doing that is pushing me to get on with it too. Sharing our happy moments, our fears to do with taking the indie business leap, issues with branding and marketing and various other experiences and tips with others in the creative community all help a great deal. I love combining my graphic design work with crochet and a bunch of ideas go spinning through my head. But, I'll wait patiently until my latest swap partner receives her gift before I share one of my latest makes with you!

You can check in with others that are loving their blogs here!

#loveyourblog

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