Crochet – Revisiting an Old Skill

I picked up crochet from my dear late mum. She’s good with all sorts of handicrafts – crochet, lace making, embroidery, knitting, tailoring clothes and definitely cooking and dancing … she knew how to do the paso doble. She did say she went for all sorts of lessons. What I remember with fondness is her cooking. Hari Raya is not Hari Raya without a centerpiece for the table. We had a lion sitting majestically in the center of the table or a dozen eggs on green grass – all lovingly made from agar. When she’s bored with agar, she would have cakes with icing as her centerpiece and the table was always laden with traditional and modern cookies. And fresh flowers would always adorn her table – a tradition followed by my sisters and I until today.

My late mum took up crochet lessons but she used raffia. She made bags and hats and even sold them to friends and relatives. Her pieces were beautiful and she picked up patterns from a Japanese magazine known as So-en. I don’t see this title any more at magazine stands but my mum bought the magazine regularly and I loved leafing through them. Probably this could be the start of my interest in every thing Japanese. I use to sit beside her and watched her crocheting with raffia. Raffia is a natural fiber that is scrunched and it comes in balls of various colours. Before you use the raffia to crochet, you need to open it up so that the crocheted pieces looks good and the raffia is easier to crochet. I would do that for her. From her, I learnt to read crochet patterns and do basic stitches. Later on in my teenage years, I came across a crochet pattern for a triangular shawl made using wool. So my mum bought me wool in brown, blue and chilly red – the same colours as in the photo and I borrowed her crochet needle, I crocheted my first ever piece under her guidance. The shawl was made using granny squares and the squares were joined together to complete it and the last part was making the tassels. The shawl followed me every where and the last time I saw it, it was covering a TV set in my mum’s home.

I was staying alone in Ipoh in 1986 and was pregnant with my first daughter. I had too much time then I guess and so I picked up crochet again. This time I got a pattern for a tablecloth for a coffee table and two side tables from my mum’s collection of patterns. I used a chilly red cotton yarn and manage to complete the tablecloths before the birth of my daughter. I stopped crocheting.

My first and last crochet (1986) using cotton yarn

Shortly after I retired on 28 May 2017, whilst I was clearing up my home, I came across my mum’s crochet needles. I went to look around for crochet patterns which I had photocopied from my mum’s collection but could not find them. Then I remembered that I threw them out when I moved house – a big mistake. I could not locate my mum’s collection of patterns and I guess they were either thrown out when my late dad sold their house – another big mistake cos’ it’s not easy to buy these books anymore. I also could not find my mum’s macrame books. So that was that. No point in crying over spilt milk.

With time on my hands now, I decided to crochet a blanket for my granddaughter as a keepsake when I’m no longer around. I searched on the Web for crochet patterns and recalled that the one I used previously is known as the granny square. It’s the easiest and prettiest pattern for a blanket. I went out looking for wool and decided to use synthetic wool – 60% acrylic, 30% milk fiber and 10% polyester. The completed blanket is soft but the yarn is expensive. That was my 1st project. My youngest then requested for a similar blanket and since her favourite colour is purple, I used three shades of purple yarn. The centre portion is made from remnants of my 1st project and it was my first attempt at crocheting a squircle granny square – 2nd project done and dusted. My 3rd project was a blanket for my eldest daughter and I decided to try my hands at crocheting a rectangle granny. The choice of peach and green was my daughter’s but I decided to insert a single grey row ever so often within the inner part of the blanket and completed it with off-white edging. Whilst doing the 2nd and 3rd projects, I am also doing my 4th project for myself using remnants or scrap yarn but the edging is messy and I need to figure this out. Hmmm … the colours did not turn out well in the photos but in reality, its much brighter than in the photos.

My bad habit here is that I tend to go crazy whenever I go to the handicraft store where there are yarns. When I was in Perth in August 2018, I bought quite a number of yarn balls since they were on offer (and its still unused). Towards the end of last year, I bought more yarn balls from my usual shop in Petaling Jaya. Thus, I’m now embarking on my 5th project with the latter – making a blanket with large granny squares and I might just have to abandon my 4th project if the problem with the uneven edging is not resolved.

If you are a newcomer to crochet, there are numerous websites and YouTube videos that one can refer to. My favourites are Bella Coco Crochet (https://bellacococrochet.com/) and The Spruce Crafts (https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/crochet-4162930). Bella Coco’s tutorials on Youtube are very easy to understand and follow. That’s the plus point of the Web … if you need a solution to your crochet problem you can always search for it on the Web or you can email the experts who are ever willing to share their skills with you … such is the way of the borderless world.

Please bear in mind that I don’t crochet all the time. When do I crochet? Whenever I feel like it and that’s not often and that is probably why my projects do take a long time to complete. I tend to crochet when I’m watching the telly. Why do I crochet? Probably ‘cos I never had the time to do it before … probably ‘cos I love looking at the end product … probably cos’ I’m exploring my creative side … probably ‘cos I just love doing it. I really don’t know the reason.

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Why Do I Choose to Blog?

Way back in 2009, I decided to blog. Why? I wanted to keep an account of the going ons in my life with the hope of one day compiling them into a book. I have seen numerous autobiographies on bookshelves both in the libraries and bookstores and secretly I was hoping that I can get mine up onto the shelves one day … God willing … one day.

Time flies … 9 years of blogging in 2018

Sitting down and writing a complete manuscript takes a lot of discipline and probably a strong heart that can withstand numerous rejections of your manuscript. Journaling and writing scholarly articles are different. I have done both and I do very little of the latter since my retirement but blogging allows me to do the latter. But what is journaling? There’s a one liner definition and there are numerous reasons for journaling but to me it all boils down to writing down my thoughts and experiences and sharing it with whoever is interested.


To write one’s observations or thoughts in a journal


Journaling. (n.d.) American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. (2011). Retrieved January 21 2019 from https://www.thefreedictionary.com/Journaling

Instead of literally keeping a journal, I decided to keep a blog. My first ever blog post was written on 28 December 2009 titled Hello World. It was a short one to declare my intentions and lo and behold, I received a comment from my ex-student whom I have not seen or heard from for quite some time. That was the trigger to continue blogging but alas, the statistics say it all – 3 blogs in 2009, 4 in 2010, 14 in 2011, 3 in 2012, 2 in 2013, 10 in 2014, 2 in 2015, 1 in 2016, 13 in 2017 and 6 in 2018 … 2011 and 2017 were definitely my good years. As of today, I have 60 posts (including this one), 21 followers, 5,053 views and 1,520 visits – I don’t know whether this is good or bad but I’m ok with it. No worries there since blogging is a way for me to keep a written record of my life and I’m not keeping score here.

What is my greatest hurdle in blogging? Well, when I was working, it was time. I had the materials but time was not my friend then. Now I’m a retiree and time is definitely on my side. I have the materials and the time but now I need the “mood” to blog. Petty, fussy, no brainer etc. etc. etc. reason but nowadays I need to be in the “mood” to blog … the entire household has to be deadly quiet and I can blog like crazy. Right now both my eldest daughter and my granddaughter are in bed, my SIL is at work and my youngest daughter is typing out her master’s dissertation. The TV is off and the atmosphere is so conducive for blogging. It would be different if you are a “true” blogger and by this I’m referring to one who blogs on a daily basis.

What do I blog about? I do get questions from friends whom I have persuaded to blog. I have 60 posts and almost all my posts are about me and my girls but mostly about me. I blog about what I do and where I go. I do not have a specific post on politics/religion/race but I do insert a line here and there in my posts. Ideally at the close of every year, it would be good to have an end-of-year post – summarising the year and penning down expectations for the new year ahead. Now and then I do access different types of blogs to have a feel of what is out there. I’m currently following https://lovetravellingblog.com/ by Little Miss Traveller who’s based in Manchester. Her posts are current and informative. A different type of blog caught my eye rather recently – https://angelartstar.wordpress.com/
by Sawa Minori. The subject matter is angels and each blog post has an illustration followed by a poem. This blog showcases the creativity of the blogger. Another one that caught my eye is https://writesquire.com/ 
by Pam. There are various types of posts in this blog but the beautiful photos of the birds are something else. Do take a look at these blogs to see how different one is from the other. I’m leaving you with photos taken at 2 different locations during my trip to Kunming last year.

  

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Goodbye 2018, Hello 2019

The fireworks have died down and we are well into 2019 … 17 days to be exact. Last year the girls and I checked into the Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur on new year’s eve. The only reason for that – the three of us signed up for the KL International New Year Run 2017.  We checked into the same hotel for the same reason but the organisers have dropped INTERNATIONAL. This would be my third run and it’s a “no pressure”. I just like to start the year walking along the streets of KL … something you don’t get to do on a normal day. Flag off for the 5 km run is at 7.00 am and we hope to finish within an hour.


Before we take off for the KL New Year 2019 on 1 January 2019 at Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur

With my colleagues from PPM for the Opening Ceremony of IFLA WLIC 2018

I was kept busy during the first half of the year. Kuala Lumpur was going to host IFLA’s WLIC 2018 and I was a member of the National Council as well as a member of the Newsletter team. Our efforts were amply rewarded – the Newsletters were well received and the Congress was a success and we congratulated ourselves for a job well done. Mind you … there were tense moments which were well hidden underneath our smiles and of course our feet were silent sufferers. I have never walked or stood around as much as I did during the Conference. By the time I reached my rented apartment, all I wanted to do was sleep. On the last day, I succumbed and was down with high temperatures. I had no choice but to leave for home. So I missed the closing ceremony and the farewells and the visit to the top of the Twin Towers. I was down and out for a whole week and lost some weight … a blessing in disguise I guess.

2018 had been a good year. I traveled considerably since I have the time and resources to do so – Jakarta and Kuching in January; Jakarta and Bandung in February; Kuala Terengganu in March; Seoul in April; Napyitaw in May; Kuching and Kuantan in June and July; Perth and Singapore in August; Norway and Iceland in September and October; Penang in October; Sungei Lembing and Kuantan again in November; Kunming+Chuxiong+Lijiang+Dali in December; and Jakarta again in December. Interestingly enough, most of my trips overseas were with old friend as well as newly found friends. Interestingly enough, except for Seoul and Napyitaw, these were holidays with no added pressure to present or attend meetings. Interestingly enough, I enjoyed myself tremendously. The photos above and below are from my international travels.

The girls (aka my daughters) and the babe (aka my granddaughter) are doing well. Both girls are studying part time at a local university. The babe will turn six this year and all of us are looking forward to sending her off to Primary One next year. Her command of the English language is much better than her mother tongue. Cause for concern? Not really since she understands when we speak to her in Malay. She can read simple words in both languages. Thanks to the Almighty, none of them had any serious ailments.

Resolutions for 2019? None so far but as we enter 2019, we will definitely pray for 2019 to be a better year than 2019. HAPPY NEW YEAR and may the force be with you.

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The Dentist and I

Dentists and anything dentist-related are my Achilles heel. From 1965 to 1968, I was at Sultan Abdullah School in Kuantan. Those were memorable days basking in all the attention since it was an all boys’ school and the only girls around were from the Express and Special classes. Every week, if my memory serves me well, an ambulance would come by with a couple of nurses. They would appear at your classroom door and call out what I refer to as the “death roll call”. Whenever I see the ambulance roll into the school’s compound, I would excuse myself and hid in the toilet. There was one occasion when I did not see the ambulance driving in. All I remembered was that the minute I saw the nurses at the door, I disappeared under my table. But my teacher saw me and that was that. A number of us were led to the ambulance-like vehicle – it’s actually a van but painted to look like an ambulance – and was driven to the Dental Clinic at Jalan Gambut. Here you have no choice but to go through the drill … checkup, fill cavities, extraction and advice. So what is so frightening then? The DRILLING and EXTRACTION of course. The sound of the drill is unbearable and the minute it hits a nerve in the pulp cavity, the pain is unbearable. Extraction involves the removal of a bad tooth and therefore, your gums have to go to sleep and this involves injections. You can see the needle so close to your face. 

Throughout my life, I only go to the dentist when the pain is unbearable. No regular checkups for me. Thus my dental works are not as good as it should be. I have always noted that I will “do up my teeth” at the Faculty of Dentistry before I retire, but I never did. Finally my teeth (that means many many tooth) got the better of me and I finally secured an appointment. After a thorough check and x-rays, the Professor ran through the things that needs to be done and the list was long. I waited and waited and waited (it was a very long wait) before I was contacted by Dr. A (that’s not even his real initial for professional reasons) and he said that he’ll be handling my case.

So this is my 6th visit and a lot has taken place. The technology and instruments are much better now. The chair is much more comfortable and you get to put on shades to protect your eyes from the glaring lights. My dentist is really good and the nurses are nice. Up until now I have received numerous injections and I’m ok with it … I chalk this down to the age factor and probably labour pains. But I still HATE the whirring sound of the drills.

Great istruments

My daughters? The eldest … her first ever visit was to a dentist in Ipoh. Her father and I were careless with her and she heard the shouts and screams of another child. From then on, she had problems with dentists. On her 2nd visit to a dentist in Subang Jaya, she ran down the stairs and was trying to walk home while I was registering her. After that I left her dental visits to my late father aka her grandfather and my brother-in-law aka her uncle. They were instrumental in the removal of her milk teeth. Till today, she takes very good care of her teeth and  visits to the dentist are rare. 

My youngest was introduced to the dentist when we were in Leeds and she’s lucky. When we entered the dentist’s room then, there were cartoon characters on the walls, ceilings and instruments. The dentist was very children-friendly. So, my youngest has had no problems with dentists and my eldest’s fear for dentists was greatly minimised with her experience in Leeds.

My grandaughter … I advised her mum aka my eldest daughter to introduce her to dental visits early. The first visit was tearful minus the screams. I give credit to the dentist and nurses who were pacifying her with words and lots of caressing. Her next and subsequent visits were drama-free.

My take on this one … when going to the dentist, first experience  does matter and I guess I’m coming to terms with dentists and anything dental related. But the dentist did say that I need to have two teeth extracted and I’m dreading the day.

Petaling Jaya’s skyline as seen from UMMC’s carpark
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To blog or Not to blog

The trigger to this … I was looking for a particular blogger on the Web two nights ago but could not track her whereabouts. What I like most about her blogs is the simplicity and honesty in her writings.  Her link took me to a company instead of her blog site and the next best thing to do is to google. After hours of clicking here and there, I did find her last post under a different blog name and even that blog site was not available. However, I received a link in my email to her farewell post. She said that blogging that started out as a hobby, consumed her. She was too caught up with it and other social media apps that she lost her real world and she had to stop. 

I tried looking up for her again today and manage to find her on Twitter but she seldom tweets, only retweets. Like her and I guess many others, I started blogging to “while my time away”. I wanted to chronicle my thoughts, events in my life and most importantly I just want to write so that I do not lose my interest in writing. Whenever I say to myself that I will blog today and most of the time I don’t. I would even lug around my laptop to every town I go to with the sole intent of blogging about my trip. But most of the time I’m enjoying myself way too much to bother about pounding the keyboard. I make notes in my various notebooks, handphone and pieces of paper with the sole intention of putting in all down in a well written blog … easier said than done.

Brochures, pieces of papers and a notebook to record my travels

I’m now a retiree and logically I should have more than enough time to blog. BUT, please remember that a retiree can choose to be just as busy as a non-retiree. So, yours truly was so intent on blogging-on-the-go that she bought a Tab S4 with a keyboard and choose to opt for a RM1 J6 (under the Maxis 128 Plan) to replace her now defunct S6. She has been carrying the tablet in her tote but have yet to open it up to blog.


The definition of blogging is the process of writing a blog, an online journal in which you share your thoughts about a particular subject with readers.

https://www.yourdictionary.com

There are various reasons for blogging – to generate income, to share experiences, to promote an organisation, to act as a diary of events, to network, to market products, to state political view and the list goes on. Since I am involved with GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums), I’m more inclined towards reading postings from blogs of these institutions. When I was working and even now, there are a number of institutional blogs that I follow. These come to mind:

  • USM Library Blog (https://hamzahsendutlibrary.wordpress.com) was blogging regularly then but now there is a lull and they have not updated their blog for quite sometime. 
  • UM Library Blog (https://blogumlib.com) had a slow start but they are now blogging monthly. It would be good if they blog more frequently since they do have a lot going on at the Library. However, I’m more inclined to them since I was part of the institution.
  • Berita PPM (https://beritappm.wordpress.com) is a newsletter put out by the Persatuan Pustakawan Malaysia (PPM) of the Librarians Association of Malaysia. Their postings are regularly since their various Committees and Groups run various activities throughout the year. I’m also involved in this blog

I guess what I’m trying to say is that, unlike institutional blogs, your personal blog is yours and you decide when you want to blog. There is no pressure for you to blog incessantly and there are no deadlines to meet. But at the same time, you cannot leave your blog “unattended” for too long. The choice is yours. For those who want to blog, there are various websites offering online tutorials and guidance. There are also various websites giving you examples of blogs. Just go through them and all the best. I started out with WordPress and I’m still on it. So for newbies, I would recommend WordPress. Good luck and all the best.

Clouds looming over Gambang, a town in Pahang
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It’s Been Too Long

It’s been a while … a long while to be exact. My last post was uploaded on 28 July 2018 and since then numerous events have taken place in my life. Come to think of it, four months is a long time to be away from blogging but knowing me. I will tell myself that I should start blogging once I returned from my travel or attended an event or just felt like sharing meaningful moments in my life. I would mentally blog but never got to hitting the keyboard to come out with a masterpiece. A truly bad habit that has not gone away even when I’m in my 60s.

However, I will make an attempt to update my blog … keeping fingers cross. What did I do and where did I go since January 2018?

  • Two trips to Jakarta and Bandung with fellow librarians
  • Trip to Kuala Terengganu for PPM
  • Trip to Myanmar for CONSAL
  • Trip to Singapore with my youngest
  • Trip to Kuching
  • Trip to Perth with my schoolmates
  • Trip to Singapore with my girls
  • IFLA WLIC 2018
  • Trip to Norway and Iceland
  • Trip to Penang on the ETS with my schoolmates
  • CSR with PPM in Sungai Lembing
  • Trips to Kuantan for a wedding, an engagement, meetings and Hari Raya

It would be best if I blog about those listed above separately and not lumped them into one lengthy blog. So, I do have a lot to blog about. Okay … keep calm.

As for now, over the weekend, the entire family attended Azwa Safrina’s end-of year concert. It was held at the Auditorium of MAHSA at Jalan Elmu, Petaling Jaya on 17 November 2018. She has gone through two sports day and one end-of-year concert and I have not attended any of them. However, I did promised her that I will attend her concert this time since she has a solo appearance.

Her class presented Little People Jungle and did two performances – Do-Re-Mi and The Lion Sleeps Tonight. She was the lion in the second performance and was rather good at it. She sang her heart out in another two songs with the rest of her schoolmates – Gemuruh and It’s Time To Go Home. 

Her Maksu aka Aunty was out early today (18 November 2018). She was off to UiTM Puncak Alam and came back with a plaque/medal/momento. So, we were rather overwhelmed with celebration this weekend. Congratulations to Azwa and Amy and not forgetting Azwa’s Ummi aka mummy for a good end to her second year at Genius Aulad Ara Damansara.

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Azwa Safrina Revisits Kuching at 5

The first time we took her, Azwa Safrina,  to Kuching was in 2014 when she was 2 and we brought her again in 2015 when she was 3. On both occasions she was too young to comprehend what Kuching was all about. Since I had an engagement with Pustaka Sarawak on 12 July 2018, I decided to bring Azwa and her mum to Kuching again and we stayed from 10 to 13 July 2018.

Her first visit to Kuching in September 2014

Her second visit in November 2015

Us here in Kuching in 2018 … Azwa’s third visit

We took AirAsia and this time round, I went dirt cheap … no food ‘cos it’s a short trip, no check-in luggage since we have 3 persons x 7 kg of carry-on and no seat purchase. All in all, it worked for us and would from now on will be our family’s way of travelling unless its winter travel.

We left on 10 July 2018 at midday and landed safely at Kuching International Airport. Suraiya or Sue (my eldest) got hold of Grab to take us to the Waterfront Hotel which is in the vicinity of the Merdeka Plaza and the Old Courthouse. This was our first time at the Hotel and it was worth the price. The fact that Merdeka Plaza is just next door and attached to the Hotel, is a definite plus since food and window shopping is within reach.

We spent our first afternoon at the Mall and at night we walked to the waterfront area, took a boat cross the river and had dinner at My Village Barok. Again this is my first time here and I was definitely impressed with the décor and the food. Both Sue and I had nasi goreng ayam getuk. It’s fried rice and a tasty piece of chicken … I think getuk means smashed.

The next day, we had breakfast at the Hotel and walked across the bridge and then explored the Old Courthouse, the Indian area  and had lunch at the Mall. The Hana Bridge crosses the river and walking on the bridge is quite an experience. The view from the bridge itself is magnificent. The Old Courthouse is now the Sarawak Tourism Complex. We went through the numerous galleries and were able to understand a bit more about Sarawak and its people. In the afternoon, we set out to search for the cat statutes and walked from the Hotel through Jalan China to one cat statute and then walked on to the second cat statute.

Her first contact with the cats in 2014

She has grown but the cats are still the same in July 2018

Sue caught sight of a shop selling ice cream gula apong and had that for tea. We then walked back towards our Hotel and stopped at Jugra Tower for Azwa’s haircut. We then decided to have dinner at Top Spot for our mandatory seafood dinner. We ordered only 4 dishes this time – prawns in batter, steamed fish, sweet sour crab and lemidi  – and as usual, it was sumptuous.

Azwa and her mum at the famous statute of the cats in 2014

 

With the same statute in 2018

Her first ever haircut by a hairdresser was in Kuching in 2014 and it was a nightmare for us

Another haircut in Kuchin in 2018 but with a more relaxed Azwa

The Sarawak Libraries Colloquium was held on 12 July 2018 at the Waterfront Hotel. I was invited as a panel member and was there the whole day. Sue and Azwa went swimming at the Hotel’s pool. Later on in the afternoon, we explored the Mall again and spent some time watching Azwa running and playing at Padang Merdeka.

On 13 July 2018, we had breakfast at the Hotel. We finished packing and then went to the Old Courthouse Cafe for coffee and cakes. We then used the Grab service to take us to the airport, boarded the plane and landed safely at KLIA2. All in all, it was a nice trip and we hope to visit Kuching again.

 

 

 

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