Category Archives: Craft

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.

Lockdown, day #whatever

Well, we’re in a right bloody mess, aren’t we? South Africa’s lockdown has been extended to the end of April. We have 1,800 confirmed cases and 18 deaths, so the guys in charge figure this is working. I know it’s easy to be critical from a distance, so I’ll just say that I’m sure the government thinks its doing the right thing “for the people” and leave it there. I will abide by the regulations, although I think some of them are excessive and pointless.

We can’t buy alcohol, so I’m hoarding two bottles of white wine under the bed and some gin behind the bookcase. (I don’t know why I’m hiding it, actually, since I live alone. The cat’s unlikely to be interested in a martini.) We can’t buy cigarettes and I only have four packs left, so I’ll have to start smoking something I can find in the garden. I’ll be going shopping in the morning (I have to choose the supermarket closest to my house), but I can’t buy wool to crochet a blanket or a new pipe for the vacuum cleaner because those aren’t deemed “essential items”. FFS.

Things I have been doing during lockdown, apart from fighting lethargy:

Signed up for an online language course – I’d really like to be able to speak German, also probiere ich es aus. Aber es ist schwierig! My accent must be atrocious but my friend Lara has a husband who is fluent in German, she said she’d lend him to me for a bit after lockdown. That will help.

Started reading the first of three volumes about the Third Reich, by Richard J. Evans. There are huge gaps in my knowledge of history, and my ex-husband recommended Evans as one of the best historians of this particular period in Europe. I’m up to the late 1920s, when the crash of the stock market in New York changed the world’s economy forever, and the implications for Germany and the Nazis.

Been making a few masks, but mainly just for people who ask for them specially. I use three layers of 180-count cotton fabric, as recommended by the WHO. I made the first one with pleats but it annoyed me so now I make them like this (easier and more comfortable):

mask 1

Painted a bookcase. Try to do my Pilates routine every day, to the accompaniment of a blues soundtrack from Spotify so that I forget to count.

Continued knitting a jersey for a friend’s 3-year old grandson in Bristol, who will probably never get it now. I haven’t found it very absorbing, which is a pity – I used to love knitting. I knit while watching Narcos, six fabulous seasons of the origins of the drug trade in South America and its global impact. I’ve almost come to the end, but have picked up a few useful Spanish expressions. Maybe I should have signed up to learn Spanish instead of German – aunque como van las cosas, no puedo visitar México.

Spent a lot of time on social media trying to help an NGO, The Service Dining Rooms, raise money and awareness for the plight of the homeless community in Cape Town. People have been very generous, which is extremely heartening.

Pottering in the garden and with my container plants. Some of the plants on the patio have mealy bug or woolly aphid or whatever that horrible white fuzzy thing is called, so I’ve made up my own spray with garlic and cayenne pepper. Hope it works. I also feed the plants regularly with stuff made from fish droppings or something similarly stinky. What can I say – the plants are thriving, but it definitely gets a bit smelly out there sometimes!

Over and out for now. Good luck with your lockdown. Maybe we’ll all come out of this with a different and better perspective on life, and a greater sense of gratitude for what we have.

 

 

Cape Town April 2020

We’re on Day #12 of lockdown in South Africa, and it’s pretty horrible. The restrictions here include a ban on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes, which I can’t see helps anyone very much. It just means more people are in foul moods (speaking of behalf of a friend…)

But here’s some traditional Cape Town music, which is fabulous, and hopefully will make you smile. All credits for this great piece are at the end of the clip.

Cape Town April 2020