Tag Archives: beads

ScrapHappy June 2021

Small fabric necklace-y thing, made yesterday from a few scraps of shweshwe from the cutting room floor (and since there’s been no real cutting going on for 4 weeks, you can imagine how much it all needs a good clean-up – I should be more ashamed than I am).

I used some red wooden beads and some transparent glass ones in between the mini-cushions.

You may notice from the last photo that I stitched one of the squares on at the wrong corner, but it’s staying that way. It’s all part of the experimental fun…..

ScrapHappy is hosted by Kate in Australia and Gun in Sweden. You can post about anything you make from scraps, it doesn’t have to be sewing or knitting.

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).

KateGun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn,  Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Claire, JanKaren,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaireJean, Jon
and Hayley

ScrapHappy April 2021

I’m having difficulty dragging myself away from beads and shiny threads these days: I think in large part because my sewing room is in such chaos that I can’t bring myself to face it, but also because I find it therapeutic to make an entire item by hand while listening to one or other calming or thought-provoking podcast, or some lovely music. Unfortunately, this renders me more sedentary than usual – not good for the old bones!! [Note to self: make time to go for a walk down to the park occasionally, panic button in one hand and taser in the other].

But in the meantime, I have produced an entirely ScrapHappy piece of jewellery: three small pieces of a silky polyester fabric handstitched together, a mix of beads salvaged from bits and pieces that were either broken or part of an impulse purchase, some broken necklaces/chains from a friend who had no use for them, and a bit of old gold crochet thread from the year dot that turned up at the bottom of a box of kitchen utensils.

Apologies for the quality of the above pics, they were all taken late last night at my desk, no natural light involved. Pics of the finished piece below were taken about half an hour ago, at the start of another exquisite autumn day in Cape Town. I’m being taken out for dinner tonight, think I’ll wear this and wow the crowds :)

I’ve been inspired to take part in the ScrapHappy concept by Kate, Tall Tales from Chiconia. On the fifteenth of every month lots of other people often publish a ScrapHappy post, do check them out:
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,Carol,Preeti and Edith

April at last!

I think it’s mainly children who wish time would pass more quickly – until their next birthday, until the first day of school, until Christmas, that kind of thing. Adults less so (especially when it comes to birthdays.) But for me, for once, and very selfishly, I am utterly thrilled that March is over. It was an unpleasantly challengingly month for a number of reasons and they are now all behind me – and I seem to have survived with all mental faculties intact! (No rude comments from friends, please.)

My health caused a few problems, and consequently there was lots of admin and discussion with my medical aid. It’s all sorted now and Discovery Health has covered all hospital, medication and covid testing costs in full. I’m deeply relieved, it was a very large amount of money! The health issue is being resolved with help from beloved friends and, of course, dear Andrew.
My GP switched me to a different medication for hypertension (it’s been one of my chronic conditions for over 20 years) and after two days my feet and ankles swelled to the size of adult puffer fish, just like when I was pregnant 28 years ago. I wasn’t best pleased, and now have to take a diuretic daily on top of all the other goodies in my morning pharmaceutical smoothie.
Then there was the seemingly silly incident with Choccie, my cat: it is now her habit in the morning around 5h00 to approach my head on my pillow and pat my face with her paw. I’m usually half-awake already and, since her patting becomes less gentle and a lot firmer quite quickly, in order to make me get up and feed her, I sometimes cover my face and head with the blankets. She managed to catch me right in the middle of my open left eye on Sunday morning with all claws out – she was in a more impatient mood than usual.

Bad cat!

The pain was excruciating but I thought it was probably normal and would just stop eventually. Three hours later, it had not and I’d patched it up with some cotton wool and masking tape to keep it closed. Even with only one eye, I was online (!) and was emailing my friend Kathryn in the US, who made me aware that this could well be more serious than I’d thought. My GP, an amazing man who never stops working (his rooms are open 7 days a week, every week, and he treats homeless patients at no charge), told me to get to him immediately. Andrew drove me there and I am extremely fortunate to have had no serious corneal damage whatsoever, just a “mild corneal abrasion”. Well, all I can say is that, if that was mild, other people who have eye accidents have all my sympathy.

By the next day, I could remove the patch and put in antibiotic drops to prevent infection, and I was able to drive. Choccie was in the dog box for a few days, even though I know she didn’t deliberately mean to hurt me.

My mother developed some covid-like symptoms and went to be tested yesterday. It took over 24 hours to get the results, which is absurd in my opinion, especially for someone who is 84, but she has tested negative – so great relief there!
The other big hurdle this month was emptying my house of Philip’s furniture and appliances, so kindly left in situ for my use by his children (but only because they were forced to under instruction from the executor!)
The reason for this is that my mother is moving into a retirement village and there isn’t room for everything she has. A lot of tables and chairs and other things were made by my dad and my grandfather, both carpenters, and I am certainly not ready to see the back of them just yet. I know my mother is pleased that I will be able to accommodate them, but I was filled with sadness at seeing Philip’s possessions being loaded into the back of a truck. Also, in sorting through cupboards and drawers, I found a few small things of his that I’d forgotten about. Spectacles, his old leather wallet, his bow-ties, that kind of thing. It seems that the feeling of missing someone never really goes away. I’ve turned one of his bow-ties into a brooch.


Shirts and blouses with collars aren’t my style at all, but I do have a loose white cotton blouse that I think this will work with. I couldn’t bear to have the elastic round my neck so that got chopped off and I stitched a brooch pin to the back of it. I’ve had the shirt for over a year, ordered online from a clothing shop I like very much that was having a sale, but I still haven’t yet worn it! I’ve come across quite a few items of clothing that I’ve bought and never ever worn, so perhaps now is the time to be ruthless and pass on what I clearly don’t need.

I was also obliged to fit in a trip to a dermatologist because my GP didn’t like the look of a mole on my back. I’m fair-skinned and have many moles here and there (have had at least three removed in the past), but I’m at an age where it’s not a good idea to put things off indefinitely so I had to wait a couple of weeks for an appointment with someone who has apparently has an excellent reputation. His diagnosis – seborrheic keratosis or, as lay people refer to it, a “senile wart”. How charming. Senile wart indeed!

My two closest friends have been having a terribly hard time with their health lately, which also affects their mental health. It’s a vicious cycle. One friend, whom I’ve known for over 38 years, has moved temporarily to Cape Town for eight weeks of radiation and chemotherapy at a highly respected cancer care clinic. Unfortunately for her, things aren’t going quite according to plan. At 57, she is two years younger than me, and it is a very distressing situation.

Some of you will be going into spring, and those of us in the southern hemisphere are going into autumn. Autumn really is my favourite season because Cape Town starts getting rain again and the garden just thrives. I usually get the urge to knit something at this time of year but that hasn’t happened yet. I seem to be hooked on beads, so I’m just going with the flow — and grateful that there is any flow at all :)


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….

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.