my smile inducers… october

There’s been so many things to smile about lately that I thought it was high time for another smile inducers post… and a warning… I’ve been smiling lots!

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Blanket
Ducklings on Water blanket… all alpaca and baby alpaca and pure merino wool… in Pip from Meet me at Mikes Cheery Wave Ripple Pattern… squishy soft and delightful colours… a custom order for a sweetie who requested blue, grey, cream and yellow… these were some of the shades in my stash and they worked beautifully together.

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Scarf
So much so that I had to make a scarf out of the same colours… I found this pattern on the sweet Dottie Angel blog… I’m loving crocheting this pattern, so easy and chunky and bubbly.

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Rufus
Writing a special little message and sending Rufus Rad Rabbit off into the world to find his new home… I really enjoyed making my first Softies for Mirabel and to be honest was a smidge sad to say goodbye… but only for a brief moment as I know he’s off to fulfill his life calling… and you’ve got be happy for people/rabbits who find what it is that they are meant to be doing in life… and do it.

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The Nursery Project
I reckon these guys are doing just that…Rohan Anderson and Kate Berry have created The Nursery Project“Simply put, we imagine a place where we can share the idea of eating real food and living well. We aim to create a place for people to the learn skills to grow, raise, harvest and cook real food.”* What a great idea hey… you can read lots more about it here.
This terrific idea needs funds to get it off the ground… and thanks to the beauty of crowdfunding, we can help make it happen. I love the whole idea of crowdfunding… someone has a dream… asks people if they want to help make it come true… and people do… It’s the people doing it for themselves and that pretty cool! The Nursery Project is a place that’ll inspire and teach people, and that’s the sort of thing that I love to support. So if you want to help dreams come true, check out this link and offer a few dollars.

*text and the image above is from The Nursery Project website

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Homegrown
Growing your own veggies is so satisfying… it’s something we’ve only just got back into… inspired by blogs like Whole Larder Love and Foxs Lane… who’d have thunk a little baby cauliflower could bring such smiles to two grown adults! It’s my first homegrown cauli… can you tell?
We’ve just got a long narrowish ugly spot out the back… near a falling down fence… but the veggies we’ve enjoyed so far are broccolini, broccoli, bok choy, radish, swiss chard, cos lettuce, snow peas and sugar snap peas. Not bad from a small patch… homegrown veggies make me smile big time!

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Weaving
The latest addition to my crafty ways… I’ve never done it before and am totally making it up as I go… though I did buy the complete kit from the Finders Keepers Market last week which came with these gorgeous fibres… hand dyed indigo pure wool is pretty hard for me walk by… and it came with instructions on how to do four basic stitches…
I couldn’t help but think of all the amazing weaving I saw in Cusco recently as I weaved away… and the traditionally dressed women I saw weaving at the markets, by the side of the road, in the shops… so many of them with their long hair in plaits… it seemed pretty natural to add a plait to my weaving.

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Memories
Speaking of Cusco, I just love looking back at the photos of our holiday. Especially from the two days we spent at Machu Picchu… You won’t see too many photos of me on this blog but the time at Machu Picchu is etched so deeply in my heart that it doesn’t seem right to not have it recorded here…
The second day we visited we were blessed with the most incredible exhilarating thunderstorm… watching those water channels come to life and divert the rain water like they have done for hundreds of years was such a privilege… listening to the birds tweet the happiest of songs after the rain had stopped and the sun came out was magical… Oh and can you see the face in the mountain? Yep, big swelling heart smiles here.

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Crochet
Happy coloured granny squares… arranged on the coffee table in the order I’m going to stitch them together… waiting patiently for me to stop getting distracted with new projects… but looking pretty while they wait!

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Roses
Roses always make me smile… but old English roses that smell like fruit punch… they just blow my socks off… every year when Abraham Darby blooms her pretty petals and smells so sweet and looks so pretty with her peachy coloured goodness, she tops my favourite list again. Sticking my nose into the centre of this flower and taking a deep breath is one of life’s sweetest treats.

So that’s what’s been making me smile lately… how about you? Care to share? Add your link below by clicking on the froggy so I can see what’s making you smile… Or tell me in the comments or hashtag #mysmileinducers on Instagram… I’d LOVE to see yours!

May you see your dreams into fruition and smell the sweetest smelling roses.

rufus rad rabbit

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Meet Rufus!
Rufus came to be for a good cause, I made him for the Softies for Mirabel toy drive.
Softies for Mirabel is such a lovely creative way to bring a smile to a little kids face who could really use something to smile about.

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I discovered this wonderful toy drive via one of my favourite people and blogs, Pip Lincolne from Meet me at Mikes. Anyone can get involved, your toy can be whatever you want it to be!

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I’ve never made a stuffed toy like this before and I didn’t use a pattern. Rufus came out of my head with what whatever crafty supplies I already had (admittedly I do have a healthy craft room stash!). I was inspired by the beautiful softies on another favourite blog, Posie gets Cozy. They are totally adorable, as is the blog and the softies creator, Alicia Paulson. Rufus sports crocheted eyes out of sashiko thread, a stitched felt nose and some cotton whiskers.

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The trim on the fake pockets is something I’ve had for years. It was a packaging trim from a Bison purchase, and I knew it’d be perfect for something one day!

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Of course it goes without saying that I have a healthy stash of left over yarn, so crocheting a jacket and knitting a scarf seemed like a perfect way to use some up and make Rufus all cuddly and warm.

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Now Rufus did have some body shape and proportion issues. But I had a chat with him and explained that these things weren’t important really. It’s the stuff you’re made out of that counts. And he’s stuffed with love and kindness and a super big heart so that’s all that matters.

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Rufus Rad Rabbit was surprised to hear this, that his bumps and lumps and odd shape body didn’t matter. Now he’s as happy as can be and just can’t wait to meet his owner and start sharing some of his love and kindness.

Wishing you sunny Sundays full of love and kindness.

fibre to yarn… the andean way

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The altitude is 3,762m, the air is thin and oh so pure… it’s a place far from home where the mountain ranges seem to go on for ever… It’s Chinchero in Peru, and it’s home to a very old wonderful colourful market… fruit and vegetables are bought and sold there in the same way they have been for hundreds of years… the main difference now is the odd tourist and backpacker.

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You can purchase just about everything you’ll ever need and more … from alpaca jumpers to ancient hand made spoons … even fairy floss!

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It’s an historic market held on sacred grounds… and we were lucky to see them preparing for a festival on the day we visited.

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We ventured over the valley to the hill nearby… here the lovely Peruvian women showed us how fibre was turned into colourful yarn… with traditional methods that have been used for hundreds of years.

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The first step was obtaining the root of the soapwort (jabonera) plant… it was grated into warm water, then frothed up with hands ’till it become sudsy. It’s a natural shampoo…. and smiling a beautiful cheeky smile, she tells me it’s ‘good to stop the grey hairs’… ha, a few years too late for moi!

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The pure wool fibre was washed and became a beautiful clean white within minutes… then rinsed and strained using a woven basket a few times… it was soon looking pristine enough to start spinning.

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Watching the spinning was really beautiful… she made it look so easy and effortless… and I know it’s not! Despite this I’ve added learning how to do this to my crafty wish list… I’m not sure I’ll break into song though.

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There’s a little insect that lives on the cactus… the Cochineal bug leaves a powdery white trail on the cactus… ‘sacrifice’ she whispers as she crushes it in her hands… the vivid red liquid stains her palm.

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Then the magic starts… she squeezes some lime juice into one part of her palm and the colour softens and mellows… then a large piece of rock salt transforms the red into a new shade as she rubs it… a little powder from one of the dishes in front of us is mixed in and the colour changes before our eyes again… She rubs her palm with the skein of yarn to remove all the colours and dips it in the pot of water… a new colour is born… a teaspoon of salt is added and half the skein is dipped again to reveal a new shade. I am in awe by this stage!

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All the colours are made from items that are naturally available to them… purple corn, beans of some sort, plants, leaves, flowers, salt, limes… all imparting their signature colour on the yarn… so naturally… what a privilege it was to see… I just love that it’s the simple things that create the colours… the resourcefulness… the years of learning that go into creating specific colours… who thought to add lime juice to change the colour the very first time? So clever… so beautiful… so honoured… so inspired.

So, you guessed it, I’m also adding yarn dyeing to my crafty wish list! Have you ever dabbled in dyeing your own yarn? Or fabric? Do you have million things on your crafty wish list that you are busting to learn?

Wishing you magic moments and colourful inspiration this sunny Saturday…

postcards from usa… the joshua tree desert

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We left the high rise buildings and hustle bustle of LA, and watched the landscape slowly become more desolate until it became the desert. It was classic, iconic, Americana desert. Despite the lack of those big old tumbleweeds it did feel like being in an old western movie. Yuccas en mass, scattered amongst small low growing shrubs and bushes. Big ol’ boulders stacked precariously and cracked from years of mother natures loving forces. The big black crow watching us from his vantage point atop of the largest rock. The teeny lizards nervously darting about. A striking sparse, open, and quiet landscape.
Then the special rock. A candle, an inscription on the rock, the feather from a black crow. There is most certainly a special vibe around this rock, a kind of calm peace. It’s the special place in the Joshua Tree Desert that means something to any Gram Parsons fan. We listened to our new obscure little releases of Gram cd’s driving in and out, and I felt sad for the loss of so many talented musicians that have left this earth so young. And at the same time I felt grateful, for the beautiful music they have left behind for us to enjoy decades after they made it. Music that stands the test of time.
Our day trip out to the desert was the highlight on this last leg of our holiday in LA. We fly home tonight with hearts full of gratitude and wonderful memories, feeling so damn blessed and lucky. Will write again as soon as I’ve settled back into normality. I have some beautiful baby alpaca yarn I can’t wait to show you!

postcards from peru… machu picchu

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Machu Picchu is very high in the clouds, peaceful despite the murmur of tourist and guides, and oh so magical. The awe inspiring stonework is quite something to behold, the scale impossible to grasp in photos. The massive rocks and boulders that were too large to move, were incorporated beautifully in the design. Some stones perfectly rectangle, others with little notches carved out to fit the next layer precisely. It’s not as high as Cusco but I felt closer to the sky than I’ve ever been (aside from flying!), literally amongst the clouds. The huge surrounding mountains and their jagged ridge tops, allow sunrays to filter through the clouds and shine on this incredible wonder of the world so beautifully. Perfectly curved terraces hug the steep mountain tightly, making use of every available bit of space. Water channels weave their way through the site. Sweet happy soundings swallows flit about. Baby hawks on the lookout for food. The friendliest ‘wild’ lamas wandering about. One sat down, had a couple of big yawns, then let people sit next to him, patting him and getting their photo taken. I swear he was smiling at the camera! Another followed tourists sniffing out food and gobbled it down quickly when it appeared. We wandered for hours, mostly in silent awe, and tried to soak it all in. The spiritual vibe. The calmness. The beauty. The majesty. You can’t possibly take it all in on one day. So we’re going back tomorrow for more. Will write again soon.

postcards from peru… streets of cusco

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Hello! Hope this finds you well. We’ve been walking the streets of Cusco! Some young Peruvian dude approached us on our wanders, ‘Ah you’ve been looking for me yes? I’m Johnny Cash, would you like to buy my paintings?’ … Never thought I’d meet a Johnny Cash in Cusco! So many street sellers, many napping until their 6th sense kicked when someone walked by. Little street markets where I was thrilled to see so many stall holders either spinning, knitting or crocheting. Some with bubs on their back, some with multiple strands of yarn wrapped over their shoulders. Shops inside shops, through courtyards, into more shops inside shops. Watching the dramatic sounding Peruvian TV is the thing to do if you are a shop owner too, they all seemed riveted!
Cusco is a maze of streets and alleyways, so narrow you think they are just for pedestrians until a small car comes along honking his horn warning you to move over. In fact driving in Cusco involves a lot of horn beeping, seems it’s not an aggressive annoyed thing, more a courteous I’m here, move over thing. There’s been a few hold-your-breath taxi rides as it all feels quite chaotic on the road, people ‘merging’ millimetres in front of you, with right of way seemingly going to those with the most guts pulling out. Stray dogs know to get out of the way, and the lucky ones are chewing a bone by the side of the road.
Tonight on the taxi ride home, we passed the bustling hub of San Pedro, listening to Twisted Sister on the radio, passing traditional elderly Peruvians, young modern Peruvians, and Tourists. It was a hive of activity and noise and a huge cultural mix, and I found myself welling up. I’m feeling so lucky and blessed to experience this amazing city and need to pinch myself to remind myself that’s it’s real. I’m here. In Cusco! What a thrill! Take care, write soon.