Franschhoek

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).

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…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

nine west gone south

Yesterday I got my hands on a pair of stunning knee-length black leather Nine Wests, and for an excellent price. Man, are they nice. And flat. I can only wear flats now, because the old feet and legs won’t rise to the occasion any more (they’re very cross with me because I abused them in my 20s with too much wearing of platforms and/or kitten heels, so now they’re fighting back.)

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Only problem is – and I’ve had this before with boots –  the calves aren’t wide enough for my legs and I can’t get the zips up all the way. NO – WAIT, dammit! Let me look at this from another angle – the boots have been cut extremely badly, designed by people who don’t have real women in mind. The problem thus lies with them, not me.

I must put these boots right.  I must unpick them down the back seam until they slip like butter over my calves.

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I must insert a v-shaped piece of black corduroy and hold it in place with staples.

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I must stitch down over the leather through the corduroy close to the edge (one needs an industrial sewing machine to do this), and trim the loose bits . I must dab black fabric paint over the stitching because I was too impatient to change the reel from cream to black.

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And finally, I must stick a bit of black lace over the raw edges of the leather where I sliced it open, using fabric glue, to complete the job. I must peg it all in place to dry nice and smooth (the glue becomes colourless as it dries).

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And there you have it – how not to take shit from boot designers :-)

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next adventure

Well hello, strangers! I’m still on Planet Stitch’nMake despite my lack of posts in recent weeks. I know you all know how that goes.

Tomorrow, bright and early, my new ‘big car’ and the trailer we’ve borrowed from Mark will be all packed and ready to go to the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees in Oudtshoorn, from 24 to 30 March.  Today will be last-minute preparations and lots of tidying-up. There will be a frantic search for long-life batteries and mobile wifi chargers. Tempers may fray. There may be raised voices. Backs will ache. The tumble drier will work overtime. The faster I run around, the more the cats will get underfoot.

—– and that’s as far as I got with that post…

KKnK was hectic! I have never ever experienced such a continuous stream of people passing my stall, and there was little time for anything but business, fudge-tasting and a bit of networking. Which is as it should be, yay yay yay, but still – totally exhausting! We’d close up at 6pm, stop for groceries on the way home, then I would collapse in a heap while Rob repaired to the local pub. Sometimes he would braai and then I’d eat cold chops for breakfast. Carol and I only managed one photo, having our coffee before the rush on Day 2:

coffee with carol

We got home last Thursday evening. Friday was unpack-and-catch-up day, and Saturday was the annual Harfield Carnival. Very successful day, and as always well-managed by the organisers, with massive crowds:

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Since Saturday, I have found that my energy levels have dropped pretty low. No surprise there. I’m making time this week for personal matters, reading and crochet — otherwise something’s gonna give!!!

more experiments

My friendly local screenprinter, Gareth at I Love Screen Printing, tells me that there is hope for my buggered-up screen. There is some special stripper I can buy, apparently, but that will have to wait til next week: my days go pear-shaped quite often, plus I’ve already moved on to the next experiment:

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I traced the design onto the screen with a soft pencil, then went over the lines with powder paint (mixed with water, obvo!) and let it dry. In this **%#@ hot weather we’re having here, it took all of 5 minutes :(

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Then I carefully painted over the rest of the screen with the dreaded blue block-out  (this was after Gareth had told me about the stuff that will save my screens).

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Left it to dry overnight, then washed the whole thing. The idea is that the powder paint will wash away, leaving a beautiful clear design.  hmmmm, well, that only sort of happened.

The dried block-out bits were all soft and wrinkly round the edges, and tried very hard to peel themselves off the screen as I worked on it with a sponge. I tried digging at them with a toothpick then an earbud and eventually a scalpel, but there was no disguising that this was another balls-up.  What did not help the situation one bit was that Jessy’s cat litter tray is also in the bathroom where I was faffing around with the screen, and she snuck up behind me and laid the stinkiest foulest dropping of her entire life.  Eventually, I left the screen standing next to the bath and went to bed, disgusted and cursing.

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Next morning, however, the blue stuff had dried hard and crisp.  Yo! There was only one thing to do – I grabbed some sandpaper (always useful to have a couple of squares lying around), and actually sandpapered my screen! The professionals would have laughed themselves silly, I’m sure, and it certainly isn’t ideal, but I was determined to get something out of all this effort !!

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So, it’s not quite what I had in mind, but I quite like the rough textured look (!). At least, that’s what I tell myself. Market Rabbit is just in that pic for added interest, by the way.

Anyhow, it’s possible that I will soon stop with the block-out experiments and switch to using emulsion, like normal people.  Doreen gave me some screenprinting mesh that she’d found in the back of her cupboard, and Rob is very keen to help me make some wooden frames for the screens. Aren’t you, dear?

 

not so clever after all

After the success of the first experiment, I moved on to the second one with all the forethought of a pig jumping off a cliff.  I painted my design onto the screen with modge podge (thinking it would easily peel off when dry).

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Then I filled the screen with block-out, a really good thick layer, and let it dry outside overnight.

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First mistake.  I’d laid such a thick layer of filler that the excess seeped through to the other side of the screen and dried in big fat pimples.

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That alone would have made it unusable. But wait, there’s more – thinking I could at least salvage one aspect of the experiment,  I tried to peel off the dried modge podge. Second mistake. Dried modge podge on a screen mesh does not peel off no matter how hard you try.

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Okay, bloody bugger, but still not the end of the world. I could wash all the stuff off and try something else, because modge podge and block-out are water soluble, right? Wrong. I’ve soaked it in the bath for hours, scrubbed it with Vim and acetone and washing soda, cursed at it, kicked it a couple of times for luck, but nothing. Unless I can find some kind of special chemical remover, this is now a permanently stuffed-up screen.

So, what can I take away from this fail?  Don’t experiment with a brand-new screen; test out a theory on a scrap of mesh first. Like when you think it might be a good idea to use Nair on your upper lip instead of just your legs?- test it first on your inside wrist. If the skin revolts within two seconds, you’ll know you just saved your face from disaster.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing :-)