neck cushions!

Oh glory you know how it goes – there’s urgent stuff that needs doing (like cleaning and packing up your house!) with a deadline built-in (gak vomit shudder) but you’re too excited by a new idea to focus on the horrible task – or is that just a euphemism for work avoidance? Well, when it comes to procrastination, I am a world expert.

second sample

This idea has been fermenting in the back of my mind for a while and, now that the approval days for the Christmas markets are imminent, I had to pull finger act fast.

The neck cushions have involved much experimenting re size, sewing, fabric, colour, design, filling, dried herbs, seeds, lavender, dried fynbos, barley, labels, velcro vs zips, etc., but I am delighted with the result. Megan, Anne’s daughter, managed to translate my terrible scribbles and rough layout into the beautiful leaf fabric and logo design, and it’s all been very exciting. Megan’s other work can be seen here.

So, I print the fabric for the cushion cover myself, and all sewing is done by moi as well. What makes my neck cushions different (and special) is the two separate inners – one with grains and herbs/flower extracts, and the other with unicurl filling. It makes the cushions really versatile and extra comfortable. Here’s my lovely screen and some fuchsia printed on dark cream,

and all the info on the back of the wrap-around label:

beleaf copy

The cushions are on facebook (I’d love you to like my page!) and there’s a website under construction.

For Cape Town readers, I’ll be at the Kirstenbosch Craft Market on Sunday. Before I start selling the neck cushions, I’m going to give away three to nice people who will be asked to send me an honest review afterwards. One has already been booked by one of my lovely customers, Simone, so there are two up for grabs. Find me at the market and, if still available, you will get your pressie!

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mixed berries and garter stitch

My crafty friend and fellow trader Theresa (she’s also included as a beneficiary in my will because anyone else would simply toss my long-accumulated mountain of fabrics, trims, beads and yarns in the rubbish) saw me knitting at the market. I need to have something mindless to knit (I’m still off the crochet) and the chunky tank top I had on the needles was perfect — and almost finished, just need to sew up the shoulders and sides then will model for you. She suggested I try what a friend of her’s did – make a shawl or scarf by casting on 2 stitches then increasing one stitch at the beginning of every row until your triangle is the size you want. I’m doing it in garter stitch.

Lisa 4

and using 3.25mm needles and some very special hand-dyed “Mixed Berries” yarn sent as a gift from Lisa at Yarnchick last year. The garter stitch is perfect to show the different shades, and every row is different.

Lisa 2Lisa 3  Lisa 1

Once I’d got cracking and found my knitty sticks yesterday, I was too excited to look for my wool winder hence the loose drape over the back of the chair.  Yes yes, I know I should be working (or packing) but I’m getting such pleasure from the knitting that I keep thinking just one more row, okay okay, just three more….

In other news, plans for moving are going gaily ahead. I have ruthlessly pruned back the amount of furniture and tchotchkes I own, also sold fridge and microwave and anything else that will be duplicated on the ‘other side’. [Prince] Philip has a piano and crystal chandeliers that need special care in moving, but I’m just a happy commoner so my stuff is getting bunged into old fruit crates and supermarket boxes. My movers are called Two Men and a Truck. We are counting the days and have the champagne all lined up. Now, just to stop knitting….

display – before and after

At the beginning of May at the Made in the Cape market at Cavendish, I was fortunate enough to find myself with a neighbour I hadn’t met properly before. Her name is Hanici (pronounced like Sean Hannity but with a hard k instead of a t). She and her husband run a shop in Fishhoek and also like to travel to trade fairs and markets to promote their own products. Hanici originally trained in fine art and her husband, Barend, is a chemical engineer.

Display 1

Display 2

Cavendish Square was relatively quiet during the first two days of the market, which is never encouraging for a trader. I muttered something about feeling invisible, and Hanici jumped right into the challenge of how to fix my display. She told me about lines and frames and order, what attracts peoples’ eyes, what is distracting, and how to arrange bedspreads and cushions in such a way that a person would immediately want to riffle through them. We also had to “clean” the air by sweeping and brushing with imaginary brooms and dusters. I felt a bit silly doing this but I figured it couldn’t hurt. Hanici also offered to help Wanda on the other side of her (I forgot to take pics of Wanda’s stand but I wish I had, it was beautiful after H’s magic touch). We redid everything and cleaned the air like professionals. Within 10 minutes (not lying), Wanda had made three sales, and within an hour a customer bought the bedspread that you can see in the top pic draped over the middle of my table, and in the bottom pic folded up barely visible in the neat centred pile. Crazy, huh?!

So, for any market people out there who, like me, have no clue about the theory behind display, think on these things and have a google. And a clean sweep :)

strip tease

strips 1

Please excuse the unmade bed but I suddenly thought I should lay out all the strips that Martli and her pals have knitted so far to see how much progress has been made. I had actually been on my way to brush my teeth but then tripped over my market basket which had my knitting in it so obviously and completely understandably got side-tracked. You know how it is.

strips 2

I think we can safely say – almost big enough! And now, I’m off to brush my teeth…

patchwork pants, unicorns, leather straps and coffee

Quickpix from yesterday’s market at Somerset West:

Hands need to be busy if I’m not occupied with customers or friends. Crochet is still too uncomfortable with my gammy right hand but I can manage a bit of knitting. This is a long length of garter stitch which will eventually be joined to other long lengths of garter stitch and turned into a blanket for someone who needs one.

knitting

Extremely desirable cotton patchwork pants worn by someone strolling along – she told me where she bought them (Langebaan) and how much they cost (R250), and how often people commented on them. She said, You should make some, they’d sell like hot cakes. I said I wouldn’t put so much work into something that I couldn’t sell for a really decent price, so she should just take them off and let me have them immediately. Oddly, she didn’t go for that but at least I have a pic to remember them.

patchwork pants

I had a brief text chat with Martli: she’s making amigurami unicorns and sent me this pic of the little darlings lined up on her windowsill. Aren’t they divine?!

Martli unicorns

And then, my second greatest pleasure of the morning: seeing what leather straps look like on my patchwork tote. It’s a prototype, of course, I’m still working on getting the right size and how best to put the zip in at the top, but in the meantime I’d asked Faranaaz to come up with leather straps so I could keep going with the idea. Faranaaz is the “bag lady” next to me at the market, she and her aunt make beautiful simply-designed leather bags and purses that sell very well (I have a few myself, of course….)

leather straps

My biggest pleasure of the morning turned out to be a loooooong conversation with someone I’d met a couple of years ago at the same market, a lovely lady called Lisa. We talked about children and divorce and men and work and didn’t realise that time was even passing. Thanks for the coffee and the chat, Lisa, hope to see you when you’re next in the southern suburbs :)

 

taking (a bit of) stock

Making: elephant cushions that, hopefully, will be given the thumb’s up by the Kalk Bay shop:

for elephants

Gearing up for: sorting out and packing all my crafty things. Since the Big Tidy in January, which was sufficient to get the house looking decent enough to put on show, my natural love of chaos has taken over again.

Enjoying: compliments from customers – this from Enid, who stopped and bought a kitty cushion on Sunday while her family was on its way to breakfast at Woolies. She’s put the cushion on top of the throw I made for her last month.

Enid Son

Not enjoying: planning my finances for the next couple of months. Moving house is bloody expensive…legal fees, transfer duty, movers, aarrgghhh

Getting very cross with: Edward. His youthful naughtiness is rubbing off on my two old girls and they have started up with new bad habits, like sleeping where they shouldn’t and knocking phones and glasses off bedside tables. Here is helpful Edward:

help from Edward

Choco’s thoughts are clear: If he can do it, why can’t I? Now leave me alone while I’m trying to nap.

IMG_20180403_101010

Looking forward to: having a girls’ night at my house tomorrow – Gwen, Kim, Michelle, wine, pizza, ice-cream. All the good stuff.

Grateful for: meeting lovely people through blogging. On Friday at Made in the Cape, I was visited by Lynn, who introduced herself as someone who reads my blog. I thought you’d be older, she said, at which point I knew she would be my friend for life. I haven’t had time to arrange a follow-up, but we had a long chat about all kinds of things from crochet to self-confidence, and I feel like I’ve known her for years. Lynn, if you’re reading this, please give me til next week to sort myself out, I’m a bit behind with work stuff right now :)

Sad about: my wonderful Doreen, who had a stroke last month and is recovering at Booth Memorial in Gardens. She has made a very good physical recovery but isn’t quite ready to go home just yet. She has a loving and attentive family but, with the exception of her grandson, they all live overseas. She is so frustrated that her hands aren’t up to crocheting, I can share her impatience! Last night I took her biscuits and flowers, kindly donated by Karen, and with 15 minutes to go before the end of visiting time, her daughter Linda arrived straight from the airport from the US via London. Hugs and tears.

my doreen

I have so much love and admiration for this incredibly generous and hard-working and positive woman. xxx Doreen.

and cats

I’m still stuck on animal cushions. Here’s Cat Cushion #1, finished late on Friday night in time for Saturday’s market. It sold within the first hour.

kitten

I can be clever on occasion, so I knew what to do — make more! Here’s another one:

kitten 2

Another four cats are waiting in the wings, they’ll be finished and stuffed by this evening in time for the Made in the Cape market at Cavendish tomorrow. I’ve made 28 new cushions altogether in the last few days so, as it happens, it’ll also be me who’ll be finished and stuffed by this evening. Cushion collage

PS. The woman who bought the cat on Saturday phoned me yesterday to ask if I could make her another one (in a different colourway) so that she’s not without a cat cushion when the first one is in the wash. Purrrrrrr…..