Category Archives: Craft

ScrapHappy February 2021

Darling is a small town a couple of hours from Cape Town. Isn’t it a fabulous name? More info here. There is a dairy farm out there and one of its products is a really excellent plain yoghurt (the only kind I like). Seems a pity to keep sending all the empty plastic containers to the recycling guys when I could do with a few more plant pots…

I found this tutorial and got my hands messy with a small piece of leftover fabric and a bit of glue and water. It dried overnight and is now home to my prayer plant. There’s a 100% chance that I’ll be making quite a few more – I should have made the cuts in the fabric closer together for a more fitted shape, but I’m still happy with this one.

Lots of other people also post for Kate and Gun’s ScrapHappy initiative. Always so much inspiration out there, I love it!

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynn,Lynda,
Birthe,Turid,Susan,Cathy, Tracy,Jill,
Claire,JanMoira,SandraChrisAlys,
KerryClaireJeanJon,HayleyDawn,
Gwen,Bekki,Sue L,Sunny,Kjerstin,
Vera,NanetteAnn,Dawn 2 and Noreen

cutting cords

In my mid-30s, I resigned from a well-paying but highly stressful middle-management position with an internationally-recognised tertiary institution – to open a needlecraft shop! I bought and renovated a little cottage in Rosebank and had the business (which was called Threads) for seven years. While I will never ever even consider having a shop again (for reasons too numerous to go into here), I don’t regret the decision I made at the time. I learnt about bookkeeping, how to think out of the box, how to handle stupid and/or rude people in a way that didn’t release toxins into my system, and about never giving up – until the writing really was on the wall in bright green neon letters (when it was no longer about giving up but about being realistic and doing the necessary). I didn’t learn how to get rich or how to achieve a healthy balance between work and family life, but, hey, you can’t win ’em all.

One of the things I did was organise workshops – cross-stitch for children in the school holidays (gak!), freestyle embroidery, tassel-making, beading, etc. I’d run the kiddies’ workshops myself but found a few lovely people who were experts in beading/ crewel work/ fabric painting, etc., to run courses from my shop, thereby bringing in more customers. I learnt about tassel-making from a wonderful textile artist called Marie (I can’t remember her surname now) and one of the tricks in her bag of wonders was a cord-winder. Traditional passementerie required one to make one’s own cord for wrapping the head, and since I had got bitten big-time by the tassel bug, I had to find a winder for myself.

Above is one of the first tassels I made, which I found at the back of a dusty box in the garage marked “kitchen stuff”. As you can see, the cord wrapped around the head is coming loose, but the idea is to show you how essential it is to have a cord winder for making cords of different widths and in specific colours.

I believe it’s not difficult for a handy person to make a cord winder from some kind of rotating piece of simple machinery and four cup hooks, but that person isn’t me. There was a company in the UK at that time that manufactured the winder pictured above, and of course that was the one I had to have. 23 years ago it wasn’t as easy to order things from other parts of the world to South Africa as it is today, so Plan B was to ask my then sister-in-law (who lives in London) to order one for me and bring it with her on her next visit to Cape Town. Her visits were frequent and regular, and within six weeks I had my new baby. I seem to remember that it was priced around 30 quid but Elaine generously refused to let me reimburse her.

Many hundreds of tassels were made until my enthusiasm ran out. I had a retired neighbour who had a lathe and he would make wooden tassel heads for me in shapes I liked. Here are some that I still have left over.

Where is this post going? you’re wondering. Does it have a point or is the crazy old bat just meandering around lost in her craftmaking memories?

The point is that, since I’ve started making fabric beads for my own necklaces, the idea of using handmade wrapped cord keeps popping up in my head. Here’s experiment #1:

I used some fuzzy blue yarn, some orange bamboo cotton and a novelty pompom yarn with greys, oranges and creams. I bound off the ends and turned them into tassels with beads. I did this when I should have been doing household chores like washing-up, vacuuming the rug and scrubbing the shower tiles. Over 24 hours later and those things remain unattended to….

Beads and silk and bling and stuff

It’s been a good while since I’ve felt motivated enough to write a blog post, what with this and that going on in the world (!!!)…but I’m still here, and I can see the light flickering dimly in the distance at the end of an unpleasantly long tunnel.

I’ve decided to take a break from my sewing machines and indulge myself in making necklaces. I have 3,920,333 beads at my disposal (collected over the years) and another 2,982,847 that I’ve just bought. I incorporate fabric and ribbon, with some visible hand-stitching, and have also started experimenting with handmade beads.

I listen to Sam Harris podcasts or an audiobook (currently Malcolm Gladwell reading his latest book, Talking to Strangers) while I’m busy with my needle and thread. I find it all very relaxing – now all I need to do is find a way of selling these makes. I’ve started with a give-away on Instagram, let’s see how that goes :)

Testing times

And no, this isn’t about the virus … (although now that I’ve mentioned it, perhaps I’ll just let you know that, here in sunny South Africa, we are back in Lockdown Level 3, very sadly. The number of covid-19 cases has escalated and so this Alert Level includes a curfew (all citizens are to be in their place of residence between 9.00pm and 6.00am), a total ban on the sale of alcohol, including a glass of wine or a beer with your meal in a restaurant, and a fine plus possible 6-month prison sentence for anyone in a public space without a mask. Beaches and parks are closed, just CLOSED. That last one is quite contradictory because research apparently shows that the virus does not like open spaces, sunshine and fresh air. But there it is. I have quite a few friends and acquaintances who have either had covid and recovered, or who are still in recovery. I understand that it is no fun at all, I send them lots of love, and I’m very grateful to have been spared so far).

The testing I’m actually referring to is me needing a couple of volunteers to test a digital sewing pattern and instructions for making a fabric plant hanger, like the one below.

I had the idea last night and woke up really excited about it, but I’ve come to realise that it’s not as easy as I originally thought! I’m working on taking photos as I go along and the pattern should be ready in a couple of days. So, are there two or three sewing people (I hate to use the word “sewers”) out there who would like to try this out for me and let me know of any errors or poor instructions? It takes a very small amount of fabric, a few meters of cord or string, and about an hour of cutting/sewing time. If you’re interested, please email me at jillgoldberg19@gmail.com.

Thanks in advance. And be safe out there, everyone.

Thrifty Thursday

I love my patio. It has a retractable roof and a retractable awning, so I can either choose to get full sun or as many degrees of shade as I wish. I usually opt for shade, (a) because I prefer to avoid direct sun on my skin as much as possible, and (b) a large number of my plant babies live there. They definitely prefer some protection from the ultra violets! Despite this, after two and a half years, the old couch was looking really bad. The kelim I’d put over the back had faded, and the cushions are pap (South African slang for flat and mushy), stained and torn in places. The whole thing is faded and yucky, actually, and it may well once have been a handsome piece of furniture but 2020 is not the year for splurging on having anything professionally reupholstered, so I’ve made do with recovering the seat cushions (using hand-me-down pieces of fabric and some sample books) and ramming some scrap pieces of foam down the sides for extra padding. I gave it a good vacuum (bloody cat hair) and turned the kelim the other way round. Before and after:

Still old and tatty, and my cushion recovering skills leave a lot to be desired, but (a) I managed all the sewing and stuffing in under three hours, (b) it cost me nothing but time and effort, (c) I can cross it off my To Do list, and (d) I’m happy enough for the time being. In my book, that’s four solid wins!