Monday, August 7, 2017

a trip to Setif province

One of the things I've been wanting to do while being here, in Algeria, is to explore more of this country. So earlier this year, we grabbed the opportunity to take a trip east of Algiers to Setif province. 

Our first stop was Hammam Soukhna, a town named after its thermal spring water. There are plenty of hotels and visitors can rent private "baths" that fill up into small pools of naturally hot water. People visit from all over the country to benefit from its healing properties ... and it is very relaxing too. 

We saw the signs and decided to make a detour to Djemila, one of the many Roman ruins in Algeria.

It's quite amazing when you think about the Romans settling and building huge towns and cities in these fertile hills, thousands of years ago. 

At the foot of the hills, is a town called El Eulma, formally known as St Arnaud. The main warehouse that stored the wheat to be sent off to Europe, still stands. And this is the train station where it would have headed out of Algeria from. Algeria was known as "the bread basket of Europe".

We also made our way up the mountains, visited some relatives and stopped in the forests to have a barbecue lunch. There are picnic tables set up in Ouelbane where they barbecue locally reared mutton and bring it over to you with sides and of course, bread. Algerians love their bread!

I'm hoping to share more of my discoveries around Algiers and Algeria as well as my usual crafting in sha Allah. Until then ...


Sunday, June 4, 2017

handmade joy exchange 2017

Back in 2012, I took part in the Handmade Joy Swap organised by Anne of the beautiful blog, My Giant Strawberry. So when I caught her blog post just in time, about hosting it again in March, this year, I had to join in. My poor blog hasn't been receiving much attention from me. First, it was due to a lack of decent internet connection and then, general busy-ness with a 1 year old and now my dear Macbook is poorly and I'm not a fan of phone blogging. But I will try, so do bear with me.

Well, here I am, five years later, on another continent, with two more children but with the same love of handmade goodness.

I was to create something for Cindy, a talented artist from the US. I decided on a little print, using fairly bold colours and some humour. Along with this I added a handmade notebook with her name on it, in Arabic. Seeing as I was sending it from an Arabic-speaking country (with French being the second language of Algeria), I thought it would add an unusual twist to the items. It took me back a bit. With all the knitting I've been doing, it has been quite some time since I've created any crochet-embellished stationery. 
It took a little while for my package to reach Cindy. She had a little waiting game going on. I was just so relieved that f2f it finally got there. I got my beautiful swap package from Karen in Connecticut. It reached me about two and a half months later (Algerian postal issues!) but it most certainly brought me joy when it got here. 
I received this cute little card with a beautiful stitch holder inside. It was pinned to a piece of vintage linen that had been hand dyed in indigo! 
And the star of the show was a gorgeous project bag, perfect for a sock project! Karen, a fellow knitter, had noticed my knitting projects on instagram and sent me something she thought I could use. She was right!
I love the vintage style of the entire bag, from the fabric to the zipper and it is just beautifully stitched. She also added some extra little goodies! Do check out Karen's etsy shop where she sells lovely naturally dyed pouches, beautiful tote bags and the cutest of needle books!

I think it's just amazing that packages of joy travelled to various parts of the world through this exchange. 

Are you creating a little joy for yourself or someone else? See Anne's Handmade Joy Exchange celebration post here.


Monday, March 6, 2017

just before spring springs

... and because this winter did seem to drag on a bit, I managed to knit up a couple of cardigans.

My gift to you
I started with one for baby. I find myself extremely drawn to the offset button-band and anything geometrically straying from the norm.

And then the 3 year old wanted a "princess sweater" too. So I knit this. Yes, another offset!

Leaf Love
As it happened, once they were both blocked, the girls ended up swapping cardis! Due to the weight of the cotton stretching it slightly and the wool being more "clingy", they fit better the other way around ... and sisters can share clothes anyway! 

And here's another one of those button-shots! 
This time last year, I was waiting for my baby to turn up. Oh how time flies! Subhan Allah.
I had knit these up while I was waiting. And now one just about fits!

Autumn Leaves
Jeudi and Hurricane Hat
I just had to share my outtakes or what REALLY happens when a mum tries to take photos of her knits!

This goes out to all the mums that try to get their yarny thing going ... and then try to take pics of them! 
Happy knitting, crocheting, general yarniness with kids! 
And those without little monsters around, ENJOY! :)
Alhamdulillah <3 font="">


Tuesday, February 7, 2017


I've spent so many years away from you
Just catching rare glimpses here and there,
And now you are in my life once more
But I am still caught unaware

I mean not to be ungrateful
For your refreshing gusts of wind,
Your showers of rain and biting cold
And the change in temperature you bring

The sniffles and coughs and other ills
Do often get me down,
As does the limited warm sunshine
Whenever you're in town

But then, I get to indulge a bit more
In soups and various hot drinks,
Creamy custards and piping-hot puddings
And lemons, oranges and mandarins

Cozy crocheted blankets and various hand-knits,
I love, as they really are the best -
Thing about you being here and
Make you a welcomed guest!

Chrea National Park - the snow up there, brought us a whole load of cold down here!


Monday, January 9, 2017


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!


Thursday, December 29, 2016


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 ...


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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