Day 11

Last day of Festival today.

This was my view of dawn breaking over Grahamstown this morning from the veranda with my first cup of coffee.

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I was approached by a sweet young man called Brent earlier in the week; he’d seen my fish hats and wondered if I could make a seal beanie for a good friend of his in Cape Town. I said I’d have a bash, and we were both quite pleased with the result:

The Village Green closed at 3pm and we were packed up and home by 4.30pm, rather tired and achy but overall very chuffed with sales up by almost 50% from last year :-)

A short holiday may be on the cards….

festival neighbours

Our immediate neighbours in Tent 4 :

Nico and Neville with bulbinella and beeswax bodycare and medicinal products. They gave me a sample of the royal jelly and swear I woke up feeling 10 years younger the morning after using it. Gave me quite a buzz…,

Nadine from Dragon Gems. Her sister Dorina and son Darren are also here, they’d just gone for coffee when I had a chance to take this pic. We call them The Crystal Girls, and it’s fabulous being next to them – their stall is a massive magnet.

Ben with his Potjiekings. He makes them all himself and they sell like hot cakes to the braai- and camping-crazy South Africans. Rob bought one last year, and Ben is wearing one of my beanies.

Thandeka with a vast range of handmade items. I have my eye on the leather bangles and shweshwe bags. Of course I do.

You’re not a serious teenage girl if you can pass the clothes and accessories at Chirpy Chix without getting sucked in.  Managed this year by brother and sister Andre and Sonette while their parents have a break and enjoy the winter sunshine, they are always busy!

And Rasta, who sells handmade ceramic graters (for garlic, nutmeg, etc) hand over fist, in a Jam Tarts beanie just perfect for him – mad stripes and two fat pompoms. Big enough for him to tuck back all his dreads :-)

Grahamstown is rocking :-)


Grahamstown 2016

Our second year at the National Arts Festival – going super well :-)

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Sales are up from last year, the sun has been shining (despite the intense cold), and Sean and Melinda are again treating us like favourite family members. We remembered to pack warm jackets, vests and long johns, and there’s underfloor heating in our bedroom. What more could we ask for?

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Three days down, eight to go xx

working space

Despite what I said yesterday about upheaval, there are some benefits to being in the new house. One is that there is a separate “flatlet”, comprising of two rooms and a bathroom, which I have annexed for my work space. Still disorganised but if I show you some pics it might help me to get a bloody move on….

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Room #1 above: desk, printing table and ironing board. Also other stuff…

Room #2: sewing machines, fabric storage, very useful built-in cupboards.

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Bathroom. There’s a narrow path to the loo, but otherwise it’s filling up fast…

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A few inspirations hanging on existing fixture: Market Rabbit, African birds, and a very beautiful felted bag sent to me by Kathryn in Colorado.

work cats

Jessie and Choco have been sulking since the move. Their refuge is a cardboard box with a flannel sheet in my sewing room, and I’ve kept the doors closed while they acclimatise. Since we now share the house with a dog, however, this may take years. They will certainly never forgive me.

And here is an entirely gratuitous photo of me with my daughter on her graduation day at the University of Cape Town last week. Very proud of my girl. It was bitterly cold but at least the rain held off!

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WARNING: Avoid moving house when you need to be more productive than usual.

I’ve reached the stage where I would go so far as to say Avoid moving house altogether, but sometimes moving is a good thing, and if the opportunity presents itself you can go along with it without too much disruption to work or mental equilibrium. (Okay, okay, we all know that that was a Big Fat Lie. I’m a terrible liar.)

But if you cannot circumvent the warning above, LIKE ME, here are some tips on preventing things from being most horrible:

  1. When you have packed a box in the old house, write its contents on the top as legibly as possible. A rough scribble can be hard to decipher at a rushed time when the movers are speeding in and out of the new house ….
  2. Make your bed as soon as you can. At the end of moving day, when you are exhausted and in the foulest of moods, you will be overjoyed to fall into your familiar old cocoon of blankies and pillows. And if you can locate the hot water bottle and keep it near the kettle, then you fall into the SuperMover category and earn extra points.*
  3.  Do not allow yourself to be tempted to do just one little thing in the new house, because once you start you won’t be able to stop. And then you can say goodbye to the fantastic notion of getting all your stock ready in time for Grahamstown. For example, the brass letter slot on the front door that is going to be so lovely and shiny when you’ve stripped off all the paint? … WALK AWAY FROM THE BRASS.
  4. Do not think about cooking, you don’t have time. If there’s someone around you who will cook, then count your lucky stars. Otherwise, be happy with peanut butter on toast or get in touch with Mr Delivery.
  5. Don’t try and unpack all your work-related boxes at once. You can’t sew, screenprint and crochet at the same time, so focus on one thing and stick with it until it’s done. It’s just taken me twice as long to get 30 beanies ready for an order (because of constant interruptions relating to plumber, agent, builder, electrician, cupboard man, painter, security people, conveyancing attorneys, electronic gate people, new neighbours, moving shock etc etc) but now that it’s finally in the post, I can give my full attention to the 360 pillowcases waiting for me. Try not to make yourself crosser with yourself than you already are by having chosen to move house in the first place.
  6. If someone offers you a tranquiliser, don’t try and be tough. Say thanks and swallow it immediately. It might slow you down a bit, but more haste less speed, right?
  7. If someone offers to help – it’s similar to #6 above: don’t try and be tough, say thanks and show them how to thread a needle or iron a stack of pillow cases.
  8. Remind yourself that you aren’t SuperWoman. It’s times like these that you feel more like SuperCretin, actually, but you’re not that either – you simply bit off more than you could chew. Just keep going – it’s not like you have a choice!

* Any and all points you award yourself can be saved up and spent in a single splurge at the local bottle store. There’s a crate of Tanqueray I have my eye on…


Franschhoek is a small town in the winelands of the Western Cape and one of the oldest towns in South Africa (established 1688). 75 kilometres from Cape Town, it takes us just over an hour to drive there.

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and yes, it truly does look just like this !!

We met Elizabeth and Vince in Oudtshoorn who told us about the Franschhoek Village Market, and now we drive out there every Saturday morning to join a very mixed and friendly bunch of traders under the trees, organised by Elzahn and Elsanu, mother and daughter team. There’s lots of fabulous food and wine and craft beer, and some beautiful local handcrafted work.

Some pics, to give you an idea of the prettiness of the setting, and the lovely weather (yes, it’s officially winter here, but we still get a bit of sunshine).


…me with Elizabeth (Rob in the background), Virginia with her leather bags, Kim with cotton jerseys and ponchos, Kelvin photobombing, and Judy (the curry lady) looking at my beanies.

Franschhoek gets tourists from all over South Africa, and quite a nice bunch from overseas – Americans, Swedes, Poms, Brazilians, French, Germans, and the Far East. With the South African Rand in the crapper, the foreigners are happy to support our economy, and how happy we are to encourage them :-)  I had a very rude Taiwanese woman on Saturday who seemed to think I should give her an 80% or 90% discount, but rudies like her are few and far between. (She didn’t get the discount, by the way, I would rather have stuck my crochet hook in my eye than sell anything I’ve made to her!)

The pillow cases are doing particularly well, and I’m waiting for Gareth to call to let me know I can collect my new screens (elephant and rhino). Pics soon. They’re going to be stunning :-)

In other news, I am busy packing up my flat and moving to a new house, next week – 3 June!  The date is looming and there is much to do. So much, in fact, that I am  unable to think about it. You may recall my expertise in procrastination. I have a PhD in it.

And a shout-out to some people in particular (if you are still reading this blog and haven’t given up on me) – Vardi and Fiona, sending you both multi-coloured hugs, and lovely Lisa who I met at the Somerset West Country Craft Market. xxx