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.

postcards from peru… cusco

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We arrived in Cusco yesterday weary but excited be here and to see my son for the first time in ages. It’s only been 7 months but it felt like a long time… that first hug was a tight one. We celebrated with dinner at a nice restaurant in town and tried to catch up on 7 months of happenings. I’m impressed with his language skills as he conversed with ease to the waiter and our taxi driver, he’s come a long way since the Spanish lessons he used to have at the dining table back home this time last year.
The lack of oxygen takes some getting used to, we need to take it easy until the dizziness, headaches and general woosy sort of feeling fades. So we had a quiet morning then went to San Pedro Market, and it was everything I thought a Cusco market would be and more. From the traditionally dressed women with their aprons, skirts, jumpers, plaits and hats to the mamas carrying their bubbas on their back in the colourful woven fabrics Peru is known for. I was in alpaca heaven surrounded by alpaca jumpers, hats, gloves, scarfs, and socks… I may have partially filled that spare suitcase with a ‘couple’ of jumpers. The butcher section of the market proudly displayed their meat with the goats heads taking pride of place at the front. A bit confronting for me but maybe that’s just because the heads still had a full set of teeth in, eerily smiling at you as you walked by! Then there were the potatoes. I know Peru is famous for them but to see so many varieties was quite a buzz. We found our way to another the fruit & veg market. It was absolutely a locals market and we got a few stares as we wondered around stocking up on supplies. In fact two very cute young girls, maybe five years old, followed us for a wee bit giggling shyly at me when I smiled at them. I guess a white haired pale skinned lady wasn’t something they saw everyday. All in all it was a special day taking in the Cusco vibe. Hope you’re all keeping well, will write again soon.