Author Archives: Nice Piece of Work

About Nice Piece of Work

Busy crafter, busy gardener, busy reader. Living in Cape Town, South Africa :)

ScrapHappy November 2021

It’s been a loooong time since I made anything with papier machè. And in this last week, I’ve been reminded of the reason for that: it’s a bugger. And I have no patience. But I had volunteered to make a pinata for a friend’s grandson, who has his sixth birthday party this coming weekend, so I had to stick with it.

My first two attempts were thwarted by shoddy balloons. They just don’t make them like they used to. A balloon covered in newspaper and drying glue that bursts at 7.30 in the evening right outside your back door isn’t funny. I thought it was bad people firing a warning shot. The second attempt was a less dramatic fail – the balloon simply detumesced overnight and I woke up to a shrivelled mess.

My third attempt was more successful because I followed my friend Kathryn’s advice: make two halves then machè them together. As you will know, the shape gets a little trapdoor cut into it so that sweets can be shoved in. I bought nine packets of sweeties – only 95% of which actually made it into the pinata. I had to be sure they were good enough, obviously.

I had no idea how many layers of paper I should use – I didn’t want it to be so flimsy that it collapsed before Quenton had a chance to give it a good couple of bashes, but I also didn’t want it to be so rock hard that he couldn’t break it at all. All I can do is hope it’s right. By the time I’d given it a coat of white paint, I hated the damn thing. I’ve made some odd stuff in my life but this would probably win first prize. I couldn’t face doing anything much about the general unevenness of the surface so decided my best option would be to glue on some long scraps of fabric.

Technically, the only non-scrappy things used to make this were the balloons. And of course, the sweets. I doubt this will inspire anyone to make a pinata but I hope it gives you a good laugh!

I’ve been inspired to write a ScrapHappy post by Kate at Tall Tales from Chiconia. Other people who often publish a ScrapHappy post on the 15th of every month are:

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda, Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Tracy, Jill (me),  Claire, JanMoira, SandraChrisAlysKerryClaireJeanJon, Hayley, DawnGwen, Bekki,SueL, Sunny, Kjerstin, Vera, NanetteAnn, Dawn2BearCarolNoreenPreeti
EdithJule and Esther

Testing times

Not crochet this time, but a lot of fun if you like beads and threads and fiddling around with bits of scrap fabric. I’ve written up instructions on how to make a necklace with fabric and handmade beads – and a couple of testers would be very helpful at this stage.

Once you’ve assembled all the necessary materials, it’s a relatively quick make. I think two testers would be sufficient – if anyone wants to put their hand up, please email me at and I’ll send you the pdf. Thanks in advance!

ScrapHappy October 2021

I have more than one project on the go at the same time, as most of us do – it’s a blessing and a curse, isn’t it?! Sometimes it’s good to switch from machine-sewing to crocheting, for instance, or from beading to hand-stitching, but sometimes my brain wants to work on all the things at once. Result = chaotic mind (not to mention work space). I’m trying to focus on one thing at a time, make lists, plan my days, be more productive.

In the meantime, here’s my contribution to this month’s ScrapHappy initiative. I needed to shorten a jumpsuit (why are they called that? no jumping is going to happen around here, that’s for certain!) so I kept the pieces I chopped off from the bottom of each leg and turned them into little balls of fabric-stuffed beads and made them up into a necklace.

It was a bit overcast when I took these pics, my apologies. Over the last 30 years I’ve built up a goodly collection of embroidery and crochet threads, so they’re perfect for the wrapping part.

ScrapHappy is hosted by Kate in Australia and Gun in Sweden; it’s a day for showing something made from scraps every month. Here are the links for everyone who joins from time to time:

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys,
ClaireJeanJon, DawnJuleGwen,
Bekki, Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue LVera,
NanetteAnn, Dawn 2, Bear, Carol,
Preeti, EdithDebbierose and Esther

revised crochet scarf pattern – anyone willing to test?

Many years ago I wrote a pattern for a triangular crocheted scarf. I made it in cotton and used a contrasting colour for the edging. One of my lovely neighbours, Lindsay, modelled it for me at the time.

The plan was to make up a kit, including the cotton and hook, but it petered out – as so many of my plans are wont to do! I forgot all about it until yesterday when I was going through old files on my laptop and it seemed like a good idea to revise the pattern using acrylic instead of cotton for a change. It works up really quickly and I’ve already finished it (it’s being blocked right now).

Before I think about what next to do with it, I’d really like to find two people who would be prepared to make it. I’ve amended the instructions here and there, and may well have overlooked some things. If you make it using the same yarn for the scarf and the edging, it uses approximately 80g altogether (of acrylic, that is – I used Stylecraft DK). It might also lend itself to a scrappy look, I’m not sure. You’d also need a 4mm crochet hook.

If anyone is interested please email me at and I’ll send the instructions as a pdf. TIA!

all puffed up

No, sorry, this post is not about puff adders – although we did go for a long walk last week in Pringle Bay and, halfway along, very far from the road, Andrew casually remarked that I should keep my eyes on the ground in case of puff adders.

I immediately froze. No, keep walking, he said, they can feel you coming and will simply move away. But what if it’s asleep? I screamed, and I’m the one to wake it up??? Just back away veeeeeery slowly, he said. I reminded him that my mother had recently woken up to find a cobra in a corner of her kitchen and I was still getting over the trauma, but he just laughed. I’m not sure it’s kind to laugh at another person’s fears so I yelled SPIDER SPIDER SPIDER and did my impression of a black widow to get back at him before continuing through the fynbos, stamping as hard as I could to scare off serpents as far afield as Mpumalanga.*

But I’ve digressed. The reference to puff is my lovely new Paddington top, designed by clever Sarah-May of French Navy Designs in Cape Town. She sells her patterns on etsy but this top was a free pattern from Peppermint Magazine and, for some unknown reason – because I’ve gone off machine-sewing lately – I had the urge to make it. The big puffy sleeves were the main attraction.

I used a piece of cotton from West Africa that someone gave me years ago, and which may have previously been used as a tablecloth. I have horrible arms – bingo wings, I believe they are known as in the north of England – so am always happy to cover them up as much as possible. The design was great and I’m so pleased with the result that I’m considering making a dress from the first pattern I ever bought when I was 22 and had just got my first sewing machine. It was navy cotton with tiny white dots and I wore it until it fell apart.

* Happy to report that no snakes or spiders or even baboons were seen, just a very fat mongoose and a tortoise later that day while sitting on a bench looking out at the sea.