Author Archives: Nice Piece of Work

About Nice Piece of Work

Screen printer, designer, maker, lino cutter, knitter, beader, crocheter, painter, gardener, reader, writer -- all the good stuff, basically (except cooking). Living in glorious Cape Town :)

scraphappy June 2020

I’ve been making lots of plant hangers lately, mostly from shweshwe cotton but also using some other lovely fabrics. Buuuuuuuut….there hasn’t yet been a patchwork one. I thought Kate’s scraphappy project was the perfect opportunity to give it a go.

scrap 3

scrap 2

And this is the view of it from the chair at my desk:

scrap 4

I overlocked the edges instead of double hemming like I do on the cotton ones, because I used scraps of upholstery weight fabric and thought it would look too bulky if I did it that way. The finishing isn’t perfect but it’s living with me in my house so I don’t mind :) I also didn’t bother too much about matching colours or textures – that, I figure, is half the point of using up my scraps!

overlocked

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at). I love looking at what everyone’s come up with!

Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Lynn, Lynda, 
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaireJean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawnGwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline,
Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin, Vera  and of course Kate herself.

Bead me up, Scotty

Fabric beads. It’s a thing. I hadn’t even heard of the concept until a friend recently said she was thinking of running an online workshop on how to make them. My brain lit up like the Blackpool illuminations, and I hit the glorious mazes of pinterest and instagram to find out what I’d been missing.

I’d recently tried making fabric-covered wooden beads but absolutely hated the process — too fiddly, I wasn’t in a glue mood, and didn’t like the messy end result. Experiment aborted.

beads 1

But the stitchy-type beads – ah, much more my style. I found some soft thick black fabric, cut a piece roughly 14cm by 6cm, rolled it up like a seasoned pot smoker*, stitched the edges neatly into place, then wrapped it with some burgundy cord, glittery ribbon and little gold beads. Stitched all that into place as I went, using black thread,

beads 5

beads 4

beads 3

I made three and they didn’t take very long. A most enjoyable process, potential to use up scraps and all sorts of odds-and-ends, and I think the possibilities are endless. I think I’ll turn these into something that will go round my neck. Any other suggestions?

* Fyi  I don’t smoke dope, but that may change as our Level 3 Lockdown continues…. Just saying.

Hanging plant holders

Greetings from a very wet and windy Cape Town. I just had to nip out to the shop up the road for bread and milk, and to the sewing shop round the corner for a new pair of sewing scissors (cutting some thick fabric this morning with my old ones was too much to handle, on top of everything else happening here right now). I could have held up a bank, dressed as I was in Philip’s huge old black hooded raincoat and my black face mask.* You could only see my eyes. Maybe that’s what wearing a full burqa feels like.

We are still at Level 4 of lockdown, moving to Level 3 on 1 June. I don’t know what it’s like for you, wherever you are in the world, but here is pretty damn crazy. This post was supposed to be about the plant hangers I’ve been making (I’ll get to it, I promise) but the things happening here are just so insane that I can’t contain myself any longer. The ban on the sale of alcohol will only be lifted next week – countless people have died from drinking vrot homemade pineapple beer (seems it’s not as easy to make as one would have thought) or meths, and the ban on tobacco products is not going to be lifted for months. We are allowed to buy certain items of clothing in shops but not t-shirts with short sleeves or open-toe shoes (not sure how they define Crocs). We can attend religious gatherings of up to 50 people, but we are not allowed to enter a restaurant to pick up a take-away order (even one person at a time). Apparently the minister of social something-or-other wants to ban the provision of cooked food to the homeless and the poor, and this bill is sitting on her desk right now. Countless people have been killed as a result of overzealous police action relating to lockdown restrictions. (Yes, you read that right. Killed). It is outrageous. Sniffer dogs are now employed at many postal and courier depots to make sure that no-one is sending any prohibited items around the country. A curfew was imposed at the beginning of May – you had to be home by 20h00. Exercise time was 6h00 to 9h00 daily. You could go to the pharmacy to pick up your meds but you couldn’t buy hair colour from the shelf right next to the queue you were standing in because it was deemed “non essential”. Few things made sense.

It all started so well, and I get that authorities and governments round the world had to wing it. We were all behind The Prez at first, but he has misread the growing mood of resentment and desperation in recent weeks, and seems to have taken some bad advice. Little or no scientific basis for lockdown regulations has been provided, and yet we are expected to abide by them regardless. People want to go back to work (all of us, formal and informal traders, office workers, domestic staff, black and white, low- and middle-class), naturally taking proper safety precautions, but that’s not allowed. More people will die from the effects of this lockdown than from the virus itself. I read a lot and I know this applies to many other countries, not just South Africa. And I know I’m speaking as a middle-class white person (how could I not be, that’s what I am?) but am very aware of the hardships faced by homeless and poor people because of my work with an NGO that provides food for those who can’t afford it. Thank god for all the church groups, NGOs, community groups and generous individuals who have been providing for those less fortunate – they have been doing the work that the state is supposed to.

Now, where was I before I started ranting? – oh yes, plant holders. I wanted to come up with a unique product for the Christmas markets (optimistically hoping they will actually happen in 2020!) that combined my enjoyment of sewing with my love of plants. And so we have these:

I fiddled around with the basic design for ages before I was happy, and the new ones (which aren’t pictured here) have wooden beads instead of knots at each top corner. They look really cute. I’ve used up all my shweshwe fabric, hopefully I’ll be able to buy more when all the shops are allowed to open…. 

*It is obligatory to wear a mask now when you go out, and also preferably even when you’re driving alone in your car. Yup, true.

autumn garden

Inspired by Jane and Cathy with their spring gardens, I’ve just taken some pics of what’s happening in my AUTUMN garden right now. It’s my favourite season, even more than spring, and Cape Town’s southern suburbs had beautiful rain all through the night. Here are some of the colourful bits:

Lycianthes rantonnetii, or blue potato.

blue potato sun

Philadelphus coronarius, or mock orange, next to the front gate, in full bloom. The scent is unbelievable. In about two weeks time, the blossoms will fall off and it will look like a mini-snowfall on the ground underneath.

mock orange sun

Perched next to the front door, my beloved red crassula. Eighteen months old and looking like an underwater creature today :)

crassula sun

Next to the driveway, this stunning yellow hibiscus was here when I moved in.

hibiscus sun

The last pic from the front garden, two baby ice-cream bushes (breynia disticha) next to the letterbox, recently freed from the grip of some creeping weedy things and doing very well.

ice cream sun

Moving to the back garden now. The overcast day doesn’t do justice to this pic of the Duranta erecta (golden dewdrops). The flowers really are a glorious purple.

duranta sun

On the patio, this plectranthus was a tiny cutting two weeks ago. It grew so big and so fast it seems to think it’s a banana tree.

plectranthus sun

Some nasturtiums in pots, which those hungry black and yellow caterpillars just love to gobble up. I yell a bit when they’ve decimated a whole plant, but I do get rewarded by butterflies.

nasturtiums sun

The last three surviving petunias. I had to move the hanging basket because they weren’t getting enough sun. There’s also a convolvulus in there but it hasn’t flowered yet.

petunia sun

Tradescantia going beserk, hanging on the trellis. Who said you can’t grow things in old peanut butter jars…?

tradescantia

And then this – Stapelia clavicorona (yes, most unfortunate name) or milkweed toad plant. It lives in the pot it came in on a stand next to the kitchen window, and just seemed like a bunch of greeny-purple sticky-up shoots until yesterday morning, when it produced this. I was ambling around in my dressing gown throwing seed for the birds when I spotted the bloom. I nearly fainted with excitement, and then shrieked so loudly that my neighbour whatsapped me to make sure I was alright.

toad 2

A close-up. It’s magnificence, combined with the wondrous surprise of it even being there at all, is matched only by its vile stench. Google tells me it is also known as a carrion flower. All I can say is that carrion is getting a bad rap because the smell couldn’t possibly come close to this foul odour.

You can see there are another two buds just popping their heads out on the right.

milkweed toad 1

Every day I am grateful for the garden and the beautiful part of the world I live in. I’m really missing seeing friends, going out for sushi, having my hair trimmed (and the grey roots dealt with!), not to mention earning a living – aaarrrgggghhhh – but I acknowledge how very fortunate I am. Sending lockdown love to you all xxx