Category Archives: Craft

for all the single earrings

The phrase “single earrings” naturally got stuck in my head as “single ladies”, so it seems reasonable to end this post with a youtube clip from Beyoncè and some dancers. (Yes, I am generously sharing my earworm with you!)
In the meantime, someone’s granny died and I was given a bag of extremely interesting bits and pieces. Included were some of these:

And, coincidentally, I’d been going through drawers and boxes and cupboards over the weekend sorting various things out. I had found seven lonely earrings, all of which were once half of a pair and had had some meaning for me.

I got out my topstitching thread and a suitably sturdy needle and set to work. I didn’t really plan on how best it might be done and I did a sort of weavy, in-and-out thing with the thread and then dabbed a bit of glue on the back and left it to dry overnight.

The result is clearly a bit of a jumble, but (a) it’s an improvement on having seven half-earrings, (b) I have nothing against a good jumble, (c) it looks just fine on my old denim jacket, and (d) there is no (d). It is what it is.

and it’s a wrap, folks

I happened upon this bracelet in a recent purchase of a random bag of beads from someone on Facebook. In between the silver bands it had a big horrible metal sticky-up thing with a plastic pearl stuck on top. I asked Andrew to remove it, knowing he’d have some sort of tool perfect for the job (his double garage is more of a workshop, it’s fabulous).

The cream fake-snake stuff was coming apart on the inside but I liked the shape and I really liked the metal clasp. I decided Something Could Be Done With It.

And so – after some wrapping using craft glue, strands of DMC embroidery cotton and some silver Madeira ribbon, and with the clever manipulation of a toothpick (so as not to get glue all over my hands and the desk – I have something rather attractive and wearable. I’m quite pleased with how it turned out. #colourmehappy
Stay safe and sane out there, everyone :)

ScrapHappy March 2021

Holy moley, where does the time go? I try to remind myself of Einstein’s general theory of relativity but it doesn’t make me feel any better. Time’s a-marchin’ on and I still haven’t finished Gulliver’s Travels or started on War and Peace!

Anyway, here’s my ScrapHappy make for the month. What item could possibly be of more use than a face mask anywhere in the world today?

I made this one using four leftover bits of cotton shweshwe and the inner is a plain grey cotton that came from someone else’s cast-offs. The elastic is from a time when I thought I was going to experiment with sewing knickers but never got around to it. I prefer to wear a mask where the elastic goes round the back of my head instead of looping over each ear. That way, when I get a chance to take it off, I can just pull it down so it hangs around my neck instead of disappearing into the black hole of my immediate environment.
I don’t know why these pics are so large, I didn’t do anything to them that I haven’t done before.

Here’s hoping you are all staying healthy and, for some of you, having access to the vaccine. It’s a little bit more complicated down south in Africa and, if anyone’s interested, here’s a helpful overview by Benjamin Mueller for the New York Times.

Lots of other bloggers take part in Kate and Gun’s ScrapHappy concept. You can check them out in the links below.

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

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….