Tag Archives: cape town

I never said I was an artist…

…but I’ll have a bash at some freehand stuff when the need arises. The need just did, when one of my favourite customers phoned to ask me for a blue bird in flight on the corner of a pillow case for her granddaughter. For tomorrow. Yikes. I don’t have a screen with the right kind of bird to use, so it had to be a quick work-around.

100_3242

Print picture of bird. Cut out shape. Add bits of paper here and there where you don’t want the ink to go through, including the background, stick it all together with tape, have a practice run on a piece of waste fabric (actually, is there ever such a thing?) and give it a go! You get this:

100_3244

Then you play around with some different shades of blue and a teeny weeny #1 paintbrush…

100_3247

Okay, it’s true that this resembles no bird in the real world, but I think it’s fair to say that it most definitely is a bird, and it’s blue, and it’s on the wing.

Right, back to sewing. The October Made in the Cape artisan market opens again on Thursday, so I need to have everything ready by Wednesday night. I never learn, and I always panic…

Advertisements

Changing pace

Kate’s posts about cross-stitch have long tempted me to take up the last cross-stitch project I started and pick up where I left off. Of course, I had to find it first. And in the Bermuda Triangle that is my house, this was no easy task. But find it I did, eventually, and just in time to take on our train trip to Johannesburg last week. Two days en route, two days there, then two days en route home, viewing parts of this amazing country that we don’t often get to see, giraffes and buck and wildebeest, our berths made up for us with fresh cotton sheets and blankets, no televisions or radios, no domestic concerns – what utter bliss. I say “our” because I ventured forth not alone, but with Karen, my friend of over 42 years. She had been appointed Food and Bedwear Manager, and I’m happy to report that she took her responsibilities very seriously.

twins pyjamas

Twins

Matching pyjamas and silver slippers (although her feet were cold so she insisted on socks as well)! Ciabatta, crackers, butter, ham, English mustard, salami, gherkins, olives, crisps, nuts, Camembert, cheddar, blue and brie, and of course chocolate. Reading, embroidery, a coupe to ourselves, and the rhythm and pulse of a train – that is my definition of bliss.

Karen 2

Karen on top

Oh right, the cross-stitch…sorry, I got carried away. I started this about 11 years ago. Last week I was here:

cross stitch 3

and now I am here:

cross stitch 2

Not sure when I’ll have a chance to pick it up again in 2017, but at least it got dusted off :)

PS. The “best” part of the train journey? Being told, on booking, that as women older than 55, we were entitled to the Senior Citizens’ discount. This is not a category I had thought of myself as belonging to quite yet, but the shock wore off when they reduced the fare by 25%…

and the seasons change again – sort of!

Yesterday it was cool (14 deg C) and Cape Town was treated to a lovely gentle rain for most of the day (I swear I could hear the roots of the plants stretching and yawning out of their hibernation). The day before, however, it was 32 degrees C and the sun was strong – not hot enough to fry an egg on the bonnet of the car, but enough of a signal of summer to book a pedicure and check the use-by date on my tube of sunscreen.

Level 5 water restrictions have just been implemented in the Western Cape so we know the overall water situation is serious, especially as we’re now officially in spring and have many rainless months to get through. In spite of that, and because I’m careful to keep my water consumption below the prescribed limit and use only grey water for watering, my garden is green. Very green. Too green? Is that even possible? Where is some colour??? Yesterday – the bleak, grey day – a tiny splash of cerise against the back wall caught my eye. I decided to investigate further, and find as many new pops of colour as possible.

Orange and lemon black-eyed susans; purple Myrtifolia; three shades of lilac simultaneously on the Yesterday, today and tomorrow; tangerine clivia; egg-yolk and white erigeron; purple lavender; ivory Arum lily; red-leaf spinach*; cerise bougainvillea. This cheerful evidence of survival and renewal has filled me with optimism.

* I forgot to mention that about a third of the spinach I used in the pie on Monday night was harvested from my own garden. Disclaimer: any edible produce is due to Peter’s efforts, not so much mine!

 

the Jill Goldberg Award for Political Incorrectness #2

I have finally found someone worthy enough to receive the second Jill Goldberg Award for Political Incorrectness* (apart from Mr Trump, of course, but he’s just too easy, plus he already holds the emeritus position).

toilet paper award

Today’s winner is a woman who saw my couch throws at a market and asked if I could make one for her to fit her couch exactly the way she wanted it. She’d had a throw specially made before (by someone else), but it turned out to be way too big and, when she asked them to make it smaller, it turned out to be way too small. Clearly she wasn’t good with a tape measure, so I suggested I pop in at her house and measure the thing myself. Which I did. We talked about colours and textures and got along just fine, until it was time for me to leave.

She walked me outside to my car. There was a buzz of activity at the huge house across the road – construction vehicles, piles of bricks, painters, men in safety hats huddled in groups, armed guards, etc. So I said, Ah, looks like they’re having some changes made to their house – but what’s with the four armed guards?

Customer: Yes, so noisy, it drives us all crazy. They’re having a third floor built, so we’re going to lose our sea view altogether. No-one knows what they do, probably drugs, there’s a permanent team of four guards, sometimes with dogs.

Me: Wow, sounds serious. Maybe they’re diamond merchants or politicians or something?

Customer: Could be. But they’re Jews, of course, so they could be involved in anything. And that’s how they got the planning permission to build so high right in front of us – the rest of the road is also full of Jews so they all band together. They said, don’t use our names but here’s money towards legal costs if you need it. Real Jews, you know.

Me: Real Jews? As opposed to, what, fake Jews?

Customer: Ja, real Jews, so there’s nothing we can do. They’ve got everything all stitched up. People with money can make happen whatever they want.

Me: Ah yes, of course, so many members of our own government are wonderful role models for that! But getting back to the Jews: as my ex-husband, Aaron Rabinowitz**, used to say, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. I wouldn’t be surprised if they stretch to four floors, actually – sounds like they might need permanent accommodation for the guards.

* Awards are made to whomever I want and whenever I feel like it, and I am the only judge. The results are final and no correspondence will be entered into.

**Name changed to protect my ex-husband, who real name is even more “Jewish” than the made-up one!

Made in the Cape

Made in the Cape is an artisan craft market that happens over four days every month in the middle of Cavendish Square, a high-end and bustling shopping mall in Claremont. It is a much sought-after trading venue, so I was delighted when Dale, who initiated the concept five years ago and continues to organise the market, found a spot for me at the June market. And July. And August. That one is coming up on the 3rd…and yes, I’m sewing up a storm…..

This was my first set-up, around the escalator circle in the centre ground floor:

made in cape 2

And last month’s, in the same escalator circle but on a different side.

July 2017

I already knew quite a few of the existing traders, and have since got to know more. They’re a friendly and innovative and hard-working bunch! (Special shout-outs to Theresa, Marie, Dale, Aviv, Francesca, Tina, Geoff, Wanda and Zee). They all make absolutely exquisite items, from jewellery to ceramics to foodie stuffs to textile work and upcycled products, which are all delicious and inspiring. I can’t think of anywhere else in Cape Town where you would find that kind of handmade quality all together under one roof any more – not to mention close to the Seattle coffee bar and plentiful parking :)

I’ve been experimenting with a new product and, after three weeks, a lot of glue and mess, and pins and sewing and cursing and muttering, I finally have a workable prototype. Watch this space.

PS. The first half of 2017 has been rather challenging and debilitating in a number of different ways so far, but I do feel now that I’m slowly getting back to being more creative and focused and calm and, basically, more human. Let’s toast to that, and hope not too many people even noticed (heh)!

Dear foreign tourists

Welcome to South Africa. Welkom. Wamkelekile. I’m getting to meet so many of you at the craft markets lately, and some of you have travelled really far to visit us – from Portugal, Spain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, the UK, the US, Belgium, Sweden, Japan…  Thank you very much for coming, for liking what you see, and of course for spending your money here (not all of it goes towards firepools for the president’s personal estate or new Porsche Cayennes for all the top government officials)!

And, let’s be honest, you’re getting great value for your money, aren’t you? Our rand is a poor little sausage compared to your meaty euros and your hearty dollars – so then why why WHY would some of you treat some of us with disrespect?

lion

Why would a tourist from Portugal try to buy something from me at less than the marked price? He wanted a pair of rhino-printed pillow cases, which cost R195 (don’t bother trying to convert that into your currency – believe me, it’s a very reasonable price for a top-quality, handmade, original item). He said, I only have R130 on me – here you go. As it happened, I’d gone to the loo and Rob was holding the fort at the time. He said, It’s R195. If you haven’t got the money, you can’t have it. “But it’s for my wife, she really wants it.” Then your wife must come and buy it. “Okay, okay, what’s your best price?” For you – R250.  Now please leave.  [He did, but came back sheepishly 30 minutes later with the right amount].

Why would an Asian tourist at the Kirstenbosch market pick up a hat that was already on sale and scream Cheaper??? Cheaper??? in my face?  Any cheaper and I’d have to pay him to buy it.

A German couple recently wanted me to make them a huge bedspread with screenprinted designs and very specific colours, in just three days (they were going home for Christmas), and also to deliver it to them at their (second) house in the countryside. I worked out that I could manage it, at a real push, and quoted R1,700 (that’s 115 euros). Apparently it was much too much, and they huffed off. Rob suggested I should maybe have considered doing it for less – since, you know, income is useful for buying food and petrol – so he got this answer: No f**king way. If people don’t want to pay a fair price for something special, then they can’t have it. Or not from me, anyway. I would have resented every second I spent making that bedspread – so totally not worth it!

proudly-sa

Is this common behaviour? Do some people think that haggling is the way things are done at craft markets in Africa? Or that, because they’re not in a fancy shop in a fancy mall, they can get something very special very cheaply? Because it’s not, and they can’t. I know many traders (who also make their stock by hand), and they have similar stories to tell – but the bottom line is that it’s insulting.

Not one single South African customer has EVER asked me for a discount. I do give discounts to fellow crafters, and if I really like someone and they buy more than one item from me, I am happy to reduce the price, unasked. I once offered a discount to a young woman at a market in Tulbagh who bought a hat for herself and one for her friend, and she turned it down – she said she knew how long it takes to crochet, and she wanted to pay the full price. Now that’s classy.

Right. Let me get back to work. I have three markets on this weekend (tomorrow is a public holiday here), and a four-day gift fair next week to prepare for. I’m looking forward to selling to LOVELY new and returning customers, wherever in the world they are from :)

 

Franschhoek

Franschhoek is a small town in the winelands of the Western Cape and one of the oldest towns in South Africa (established 1688). 75 kilometres from Cape Town, it takes us just over an hour to drive there.

franschhoek 1 franschhoek 2

and yes, it truly does look just like this !!

We met Elizabeth and Vince in Oudtshoorn who told us about the Franschhoek Village Market, and now we drive out there every Saturday morning to join a very mixed and friendly bunch of traders under the trees, organised by Elzahn and Elsanu, mother and daughter team. There’s lots of fabulous food and wine and craft beer, and some beautiful local handcrafted work.

Some pics, to give you an idea of the prettiness of the setting, and the lovely weather (yes, it’s officially winter here, but we still get a bit of sunshine).

100_2055100_2062100_2058100_2049100_2050100_2048

…me with Elizabeth (Rob in the background), Virginia with her leather bags, Kim with cotton jerseys and ponchos, Kelvin photobombing, and Judy (the curry lady) looking at my beanies.

Franschhoek gets tourists from all over South Africa, and quite a nice bunch from overseas – Americans, Swedes, Poms, Brazilians, French, Germans, and the Far East. With the South African Rand in the crapper, the foreigners are happy to support our economy, and how happy we are to encourage them :-)  I had a very rude Taiwanese woman on Saturday who seemed to think I should give her an 80% or 90% discount, but rudies like her are few and far between. (She didn’t get the discount, by the way, I would rather have stuck my crochet hook in my eye than sell anything I’ve made to her!)

The pillow cases are doing particularly well, and I’m waiting for Gareth to call to let me know I can collect my new screens (elephant and rhino). Pics soon. They’re going to be stunning :-)

In other news, I am busy packing up my flat and moving to a new house, next week – 3 June!  The date is looming and there is much to do. So much, in fact, that I am  unable to think about it. You may recall my expertise in procrastination. I have a PhD in it.

And a shout-out to some people in particular (if you are still reading this blog and haven’t given up on me) – Vardi and Fiona, sending you both multi-coloured hugs, and lovely Lisa who I met at the Somerset West Country Craft Market. xxx