Tag Archives: South Africa

time out

I am here: on a farm just outside Ladismith, in the Klein Karoo.

Klein Karoo 3

Klein Karoo 2

Klein Karoo 1

It’s hot and dry, as you can see, but there is no shortage of water because there’s a private dam and a windpump system set up to pump water straight from the surrounding mountains. So, YES, I can run a deep bath without guilt and even extend shower time from 45 seconds to any length of time I feel like….. The exact opposite of what it is like in Cape Town now, as we get closer to DAY ZERO. Level 6 water restrictions will be implemented from next week and we will all be paying a drought levy from February 2018 onwards (based on the value of one’s property). I have mixed feelings about this – on the one hand, Capetonians are all in this together and have to do the best we can to save water, and on the other, 66% of residents are clearly not doing their bit and don’t care that there’s extra cost involved because they are wealthy enough not to feel the impact. The arrogance! I’ll be very amused to see some of those high-and-mighties impatiently queuing at the nearest mountain spring to fill their empty containers along with the rest of the hoi polloi.

In the meantime, from a cool cottage in the Karoo (about 4 hours out of Cape Town), where you must keep your eyes open for cobras and boomslangs when you go for a walk and the doors bolted when you go out because the baboons are way ahead of things like locks and keys, where the loudest sound is the silence of this extraordinary mountain country punctuated by bird calls, and where I am finding some wonderful peacefulness both within me and without, I hope you are all having happy holiday times.

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 :)

 

when you’d really rather not be making something for someone

Today I’m sending a parcel to someone in Limpopo, the northernmost province in South Africa.  The parcel consists of a BonBon in cranberry, a newsboy (cranberry and black), and a pair of house slippers (not cranberry!)

limpopo

They’re going to someone I know, whose wedding Rob and I attended three years ago, who has two beautiful daughters, two stepchildren, a wonderful husband, a loving extended family, a talent for painting like she’s been trained in fine arts (which she hasn’t), and a good career, at which she works very hard.

Two weeks ago she went to the GP for a check-up, because her right hip felt mildly painful.   Turns out to have been secondary bone cancer (hip, ribs and skull), the primary being breast cancer.  Stage Four.  She’s 43. Today she starts an aggressive course of radiation therapy.  (Interestingly, she has a mammogram every year, the last one in December 2013, eight weeks ago. Nothing was picked up.)

Last night I was reading Deepak Chopra’s book Ageless Body Timeless Mind (1993).  This stayed with me: “Live in the present, for it is the only moment you have. Keep your attention on what is here and now, look for the fullness in every moment. Accept what comes to you totally and completely so that you can appreciate it, learn from it, and then let it go….Don’t struggle against the infinite scheme of things; instead, be at one with it.”

I cannot know how my friend would interpret this right now, or her husband and children and mom but, if I was a prayerful person, I would pray that it is with hope for a cure and a longer, even more beautiful life.

Back soon x

ballet pink

A lovely new customer found me at the Somerset West Country Craft Market last Saturday, and I’m making a beret for her in Vinni’s Cotton in Ballet Pink. It’s similar to the mustard one I had on display (seems mustard isn’t a popular colour, who knew!)

It feels like a long long time since I used a 3mm hook for anything, but I’m enjoying the change:

beret pink

And I’m using this pattern by Luba Davies:

lilac

I’ll be working on this while watching Madiba’s memorial service in Johannesburg at 11h00:

maverick

Back soon x