Category Archives: Craft

cushions and houses

On the working side of life, I’ve been making cushions using the designs I usually print on pillow cases. I was keen to maintain the patchworky random look, so no two will ever be the same.

Still experimenting with sizes and layout – but it’s a brilliant way to use up small pieces of fabric left over from the bedspreads. The Kalk Bay shop has expressed an interest, but they would want the cushions to be a standard size. “Standard” – hmmm, a strange concept for me, I’ll have to give it some thought….

On the domestic front, we received three offers on the house within 24 hours of it being on show. We happily accepted the best one, and transfer is scheduled for the end of May. Aaaaaaannnnd, best news of all, Philip and I are now the proud new owners of a beautiful house in Claremont (a suburb of Cape Town about 10 minutes drive from where we currently live). It’s green and leafy and quiet, and the house is perfect for two people who both work from home and who like to entertain (on a relatively modest basis). It’s been wonderfully and attractively modernised, in pristine condition, and we don’t have to make a single change. So, 1 June will see quite a few removal trucks rumbling along in various directions between Mowbray, Rosebank and Claremont – housewarming to follow soon after :) Deep sigh of relief, gratitude and contentment!


cross stitch progress

Last week I had the opportunity to indulge in more cross stitch on my train trips to and from Johannesburg, with a night at a hotel in between. Starting out:

cross stitch 1

Arriving home:

cross stitch 2

Thanks to the inability of Shosholoza Meyl to keep to any kind of $#@*& timetable, I had more than nine unbudgeted-for hours in which to stitch. And read and nap, of course. Unpropitiously, the kitchen ran out of water a few hours into the return journey so there was no coffee to be had. Now that was a real test of endurance.

Not sure when I’ll have a chance to carry on with this piece but one thing is for sure – it certainly won’t be on a bloody train!



change of plans, and a purple elephant

Scratch all previous arrangements. For the sake of mental equilibrium and in the interests of world peace, the house is on the market. Even better, today is show-house day. This is my worst nightmare – tidying and cleaning sufficiently so that potential buyers do not think the house is inhabited by pigs and weirdos. You will understand that this is hard for me!

My reward for this, and this is just today’s reward mind you, is a visit to the Gin and Tonic Festival at the Old Biscuit Mill this afternoon. Philip and I have been looking forward to this for weeks and, while he is more of a connoisseur than I am when it comes to all things alcoholic, I intend to make a damn fine effort to learn more.

Sorting through boxes recently, I came across this little needlepoint elephant. He was once in a frame but I decided he’d now look better on a patchwork cushion. I love it so much I’m going to be hardpressed to put it up for sale.

ellie 1

ellie 2.jpg

This is the original elephant cushion design, which comes from a wonderful book that I picked up in London some years ago. I can’t locate it right now or even remember who wrote it, but it’ll turn up eventually.


And so, let me procrastinate no longer. There is shoving-of-stuff-into-cupboards to be done…

pocket cushions

I scored a whole stack of readymade jeans pockets in a box of imported textile samples. And so we have – the pocket cushion!  Ideal for your tv remote, glasses or bar of chocolate, or – as a customer volunteered recently – for your condoms. Yes, I was surprised by that, but then maybe that’s just showing my age.

remote cushion  IMG_20180210_111314

pocket 1   pocket blue

The embroidered star on the pocket of the greeny browny one got added on Saturday morning, free style and very quickly, because a customer wanted it like that for a friend who had been a big help to her recently.


And the unfinished pinky grey one is for Jessica, a teenager from Australia whose sister bought a blue and white one on the weekend. Can’t let a sister have something the other doesn’t, right?

I was going to say a couple of other things today but IT’S JUST STARTED RAINING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THERE’S EVEN THUNDER AND LIGHTENING so I have to go outside and watch the beautiful drops falling ……………………….

loving Edward, home and work …

I thought it was only dogs who liked to dig holes in gardens and uproot plants. Apparently, Edward is dog-like in that way. I have a beautiful peperomia in a pot on the dining room table. It has just been mauled to near death and there is soil everywhere. I shouted at the little villain and took him outside to the Naughty Corner, where he proceeded to continue with important excavation work….

Teddy 2

Maybe he’s digging for gold or diamonds? It’s hard to be cross for long with a pet (or a person) you love, isn’t it?

Teddy 1

In other news, some felicitous arrangements have been made and I am delighted to say that I will be keeping my home. Not only have I grown fond of it, funny old house that it is, it is also my work space. I am so very lucky to have this much room for work and equipment, a sweet garden, lovely neighbours, proximity to everywhere important, and all the other good things that have come my way.


I will be trading at the Made in the Cape artisan market in Cavendish Square from this Thursday for four days (yay!), and have lots of half-completed cushions and bedspreads to attend to today. No more procrastination!! The sewing machine will be put through its paces shortly and work may have to continue well into the evening…

And in other other news, I had a lovely order last week for my screenprinted pillow cases from a gorgeous shop in Kalk Bay called Casa Boho. It’s one of those shops where it’s advisable to shred your credit card before entering, unless of course you are simply very rich and can have everything you want. Not only was I thrilled to get the order at all, what was also heartening was that my invoice was settled in full within 24 hours. I know from experience that small producers like me often have to battle to get paid, it’s a risky business sometimes. This efficiency was such a morale booster! Big thanks to the wonderful manager there, Mymoena, and her son Tauriq. xxx



Last week, to belatedly celebrate Anne’s birthday on 1 January, we had lunch at the Gardener’s Cottage, on the same grounds as the Montebello Design Centre in Newlands.

montebello 1

I specially went early because it’s been so long since I was last there, and I was not disappointed. The grounds, the studios, the workshops, the nursery, the restaurant – everything was beautifully maintained, the staff were professional, the atmosphere was calming and also blissfully cool thanks to all the tree cover. The place is no hidden Cape Town secret, but there’s something about it when you’re there that makes it feel like you stumbled into another world.

montebello 4

montebello 3

The shops and studios are run by the people who are involved in making the products, and the range and quality was superb. It was like the best of Cape Town rolled into one.

montebello 5

montebello 6

The hand-embroidered and beaded cushions took my breath away. I would have bought them all if I could have afforded to because it would have been impossible to choose.

By the time I got to the eating side of things, I was too excited to take pics of the food plus I wanted to concentrate on talking to Anne. I’m trying to get myself in the habit of switching my phone off when I’m with someone, constant beeps and flashing icons are too distracting. I figure there’s nothing that can’t wait til later (barring an emergency, in which case I would presumably receive a phone call) – but it’s a hard habit to break. I’m getting there, slowly. I’m grateful for the upsides, but for someone as easily diverted as I am, this is one of the downsides of the world of instant communication in which we live…

Food. Right. I had the “hand-crafted” bagel with salmon and cream cheese – I was a bit concerned about its size when it arrived, because I have a healthy appetite and this chap looked to be on the small side, but I’d forgotten how filling and substantial a truly good bagel can be – and one of the best cappuccinos ever. I can’t remember what Anne had but whatever it was, she said it was very good :)

Since Montebello is about eight minutes from my home and I drive past it at least three times a week on my way somewhere else, it is ridiculous not to stop by more often. You guys come visit Cape Town, I’ll take you there for lunch!

have a heart

Experiment in patchwork heart-shaped cushion: relatively quick to make, enjoyable to stuff and hand-stitch edges with perle cotton while watching a Season 2 episode of Top of the Lake, make sure the bottom lines up properly next time. I plan to make a batch for the next Made in the Cape market, just in time for Valentine’s Day.


The bathroom took longer to sort out than I’d anticipated so no worthwhile pic to show you yet. I’ll be moving on to the sewing room next, but the week has been interrupted – very happily – with more overseas orders for pillow cases and the discovery of a fabulous new Italian restaurant in Observatory. Forneria Italia doesn’t have an alcohol license yet, so take your own wine. Thanks to Gwenni for the recommendation.

And the last thing for today, particularly for Cape Town readers: Level 6b water restrictions will be coming into effect from 1 February, as you probably already know (and we’re all trying not to panic too much) but how useful is this from EyeWitness News:

50 litres