Thursday, 4 December 2014

This year I crocheted teacher gifts

I'm not much of a teacher gift giver.

For the preschool yes, and during the Foundation Phase I thought up tiny gifts that didn't break the bank.  But this year, we finished at the preschool, after six years of  being part of a great community - fundraising, PTA-ing, bring-and-share-lunching, wondering what greeting we'll learn this year (the kids greeted each in other in circle time in ALL the languages spoken...they could colour in the globe).

It was a great six years, and the school contributed so much to my boys' education.

And so, putting no pressure whatsoever on myself, no, not at the end of the year, with one child writing exam, and a house being build elsewhere, and a move to plan and coordinate, and a training program that leaves me with jelly limbs twice a week...I decided that I would crochet them each a scarf.  

A Chick Summer Scarf (or, I think the Little Lacy Scarf, in the English pattern book) - designed by fellow SA hooker Cornel Strydom for Ideas Crochet Magazine, available here.

The scarf promised to be quick and easy, to finished within a day or two.

That bit I struggled with...but it was done.
Five scarves.
One polka-dot neck piece.
One set of Nordic Wrist Warmers.

I only have energy to show the pics today.  Plus the packers are breathing in my neck to get into the study with their boxes and plastic tape...

For Irene - to contrast with her dark Zulu skin: raspberry and pink Rowan merino, label long lost.

For Meryl, who wears cerise to warm up winter: this one in Vinnis Nikkim

For Shan, whose blue eyes lights up when she wears blue - a soft,heavy, 100% bamboo, label also long lost

Blue-eyed, silver-blonde Heather got this soft one in Rico Baby Cotton

I Love Yarn's Imagine was Sheila's from the beginning.
She also taught Stephni's boys in in their early pre-school years
and somehow the duck-egg blue-green hues drew on her Scottish heritage. 

Eritrean Adiam often wears white linen and loved her neck piece in steelgrey Vinnis Serina,
 old gold Vinnis Nikkim and ivory Drops Cotton Light.

Miriam is a bright and colourful Zimbabwean, whose first Afrikaans word was "handskoene"
(literally hand shoes, for gloves). So the Nordic Wrist Warmers got an African twist for her.

Cook Kate got two balls of red Netlon and a nr 16 hook, which had her grinning from ear to ear.  She saw me starting on a giant doily with black Netlon, and was overwhelmed. Crochet is also popular in her Zulu culture, but she's never seen the oversized hooks and yarn.

That is it.  I think this was the fastest I've ever crocheted. They all loved their gifts - happy about that. 

Now, I'm moving house.  Next time I sit down to type will be from the shade of the Outeniquas, can't wait!

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Projek Bohemia...Trial Version

The end of the year is rushing up to me and I realised I'd quite forgotten to report on a few of my FO's!

In August, I started a trial version for my summer throw (at LAST I decided on something).  I absolutely loved the Sorbet & Lace square Cornel designed for Ideas magazine, and immediately all my other ideas for the summer throw flew out of the window.  First I tried it out a Elle Pure Gold, my favouite local acrylic (I had a ton of stash, and I had another idea for my own blanket...but first I had to master the pattern).

The pattern hooks up quickly and makes a nice, large square - great if you want to make a quick blanket :-) I wanted to try out some new colour combinations - bright, contrasting edges to each square, and also wanted to figure out the layout, which had to be seemingly random but not, ordered, but not.  That's the Gemini brain speaking.  Even when trying to work totally random, I'll still order around colours, as the lights and dark, cools and warms must balance.

Almost at the end, I made such an epic mistake, I still laugh at myself for it :-D  

But it was easily corrected and I could lay the blanket out, work away the ends and declared myself satisfied. 

A nicely sized lapghan

I used a different joining technique as I didn't want the large gaps of the original pattern, so used granny clusters of four stitches where I joined in the clusters as well as in the chains.  A friend and I sat over a coffee one day to look at the options, and decided that joining with SC's would look better than slip stitches, as it just give that tiny little bit of extra space to allow the join to lie flat.  

I don't try to block or even steam block acrylics, just gave it a quick wash, shake-out and let it hang to dry.  

This blanket was then donated to a hooky friend's charity group and will be donated to an elderly or wheelchair-bound recipient next winter.  

--- X --- the back of my mind...was this, all along:

Colours of Grace, a 10 ply cotton, in the most beautiful colours. I bought more than a bag full and quickly had to try out a first square in this dusky pink:

It might be one of the most beautiful colours on earth.  And I'm not even a pink person.

It is available online from Beatrix at Btrix Designs or Hilda at Yarn in a Barn.  The autumn blanket by Pigtails in Simply Crochet 23 was also hooked up in this yarn.

I've made a decent pile of squares, but had to put it aside to quickly finish a few year-end projects, but come December, after unpacking in my new hometown, this is one of the first projects to pick up!

--- X ---

PS - a friend at Ons Hekel is using the same principle to make up a Bohemian Blanket, with a square of her own design, but also the colourful, contrasting joins, and it looks stunning so far.  She's using Vinnis Nikkim.

Look. At. This:

Gina's Bohemian Blanket.
I'm jealous.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

What to do with those keepsakes? your parents' wedding telegrams?

You decoupage the inside of an old trousseau kist with it, of course. 

I am sentimental, and a hoarder, the combination of which makes for horrific storage challenges.

I keep things.  I still have my nursery school blankie, a little test book from Sub A, my Baby Love doll, books since forever.  Heirlooms like my dad's 2.4 m tall grandfather clock, his desk chair, my gran's dinner bell, my other gran's ring from an Italian POW.  I keep not-so-logical things, like my dad's uniform cap with his rank insignia on, the old tea tins my mom used for her curtain hooks (as I do), my mom's beautiful Bally shoes (not my size), an old anvil that was among the last things on my dad's mind as he lay dying - I still don't know where it comes from or the reason for his obsession with it. So I keep it.

And then I had the box with cards and telegrams of congratulations hat my mom saved after their wedding in October 1969.  It travelled with me from Polokwane to Pretoria to Brisbane to Pretoria and as I prepared now to move again, something had to come of it.   

Luckily I remember a pic of a decoupaged something, so the plan was made:

1. Take mom's old trousseau kist, one of those sturdy-but-not-so-pretty ones with the lacquered surface, that you store the linen in.

2. Lightly sand it down and paint with a non-drip satin enamel in a much better looking bone white...

3...While also cleaning the clasps

4. Modge-podge for the first time in your life and almost make a big bugger-up (luckily modge-podge is very forgiving. And luckily the wrinkles do disappear. Laaaaater).

4.   Lightly sand it down again et voilà, one better looking kist.

I used the telegrams on the inside of the lid, and more-or-less matching gift wrap for the trunk.  By then I also discovered adhesive spray, to make things a bit easier.

The rotary cutter...I was contemplating those edges, wondering how in hell I was going to cut it straight, when luckily (again) a Pin came past, advising me to fold the paper flat over the edge, and literally sand it off.  Beautiful finish, straight as a ruler, and just modge over it again. 

Done, I'm happy, can almost re-pack it!

Now to the list of twenty other things to do before we pack
(I also procrastinate...)

Next up: one retro wire garden set to de-rust and repaint.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

My Mzansi 14/10 - My Cool Pretoria

I took my boys out for a drive to Church Square, in the old city centre.  It is the site of one of the latest happenings of Cool Capital 2014, an uncurated, "guerilla" art biennale, by the citizens of Pretoria, for Pretoria.  

At the centre of the square is a large, bronze statue of former  Pres Paul Kruger, president of the Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek round the turn of the nineteenth century.  For Cool Capital, his statue was covered in aluminium tinfoil, rendering him sparking and brand new!  He will remain as such until 16 November.

My boys getting a dose of local history

The statue was commissioned by businessman Sammy Marks and sculped by Anton van Wouw, cast in bronze in Italy and erected in the 1950's.  It is surrounded by four anonymous Boer soldiers.

(I recently saw a photo of my grandmother here on a visit to Pretoria during the unveiling of the Voortrekker Monument 1938, before this statue was erected.  In this spot was a monument celebrating the crowning of King George VI. Amazing to see how Church Square looked then!)

Holding guard, the Old Raadsaal in the background

I could show the boys what real old vellies (velskoen - leather shoe) looked like.

Wonder what Oom Paul would have thought.

There was some murmurs of a crowd that did not like his new cover, but I think the old president might not have been disturbed too much.  Rumour has it, after all, that he has been known to sport a gold earring...

"I see you watching me watching you"

I think he looks splendid!

I've been living in Pretoria for 31 years now, and it's been lovely to see the city slowly shaking off its long-held image of a verkrampte, conservative bastion.  It still doesn't have a city vibe and feels actually just like a very large town (which is also great), but is home to academics, diplomats, refugees and us ordinary folk, making up a very interesting mix. 

Monday, 27 October 2014

Lerato's baby blanket

Last week on Ons Hekel, at least two baby blankets were finished. 

I completed this one in V-stitch:

A blankie for Lerato's baby girl

...and a hooky friend completed a beautiful, light pastel hexagon blanket for her daughter's baby shower.

I started mine in great haste, next to the swimming pool where my boys have lessons:

...and then worked on it on our way towards the Garden Route:

...worked away the edges over coffee with a friend:

(Hate this part...and I always leave it to the last).

And then finished over another:

A fello Pure-fan recognised the carefully disguised menu!

I edged the blanket with one row of SC, and then a couple of rows in HDC.  In retrospect I think linen stitch would have been neater.  

As for yarns, I used
Vinnis Nikkim Natural (the white colour)
Vinnis Bambi Peach (not shown below - a cotton/bamboo blend with lovely texture)
I Love Yarn Imagine in Guava, Antique Rose and Burned Butter

Angie's V-stitch graph here

My V-stitch blankie was delivered on Friday!

All done

The hexagon blanket - it was sent overseas by courier last week...but over the weekend we learnt that a baby girl was stillborn.

37 weeks.

While I'm happy about Lerato's little baby girl that's still on her way, I'm mourning with a hooky/book friend who lost her grandchild.

Into every blanket, we crochet our joy, hope, love.   
Sometimes that must comfort as well.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

When we crocheted in Morocco


We couldn't look on while they prepared for their Cool Crochet workshop in Marrakech.  We wanted go come along!

It's just a bit...far.  And at least one long haul and another connecting flight away. 
No, we had to make a plan and join in.

So we went to Morocco!  In Pretoria :-)

Thanks to Moroccan House, we could.   

A group of hooking friends crossed out last Friday in our diaries, and escaped to a place of colour and texture, aromas and tastes, and will definitely go back for more of the same.  

We enjoyed:

We walked through the showroom and wondered what we could get for the house...

We hooked and chatted and met new friends from Holland and Mauritius and locally and caught up with each other's work:

We're already planning a next visit.

But first...we're going to Holland!
(And maybe to the real Marrakech one day)

Read the beautiful post Hilda wrote after this morning

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Hookin' on a road trip, and a new coffee spot

Off we went on a road trip, and I was armed with my hooky project for the next two days.  This baby blanket was going to be finished before the end of the weekend.

As I said, I am not totally in love with the V-stitch, but it does work up very quickly...

Pit stop at a favourite farm stall outside Aberdeen quickly, that just after this pit stop, I ran out of Antique Rose...and I didn't think of bringing another ball :-(

(am using double rows of Antique Rose compared to the other colours)

Oh well, I enjoyed the scenery.

In George, I busied myself with building inspection and last-week-details that needed to be done for our new house AND, coffee pot that I am, I found a new spot, where I know I will spend many mornings crocheting away, systematically working my way through the delicious menu and one cappo after the other...


My sis, on a quick visit from Ireland, alerted me, so looking The Bench was on my list of Things To Be Done In Four Days.  She was totally right, it has my name stamped all over it.

A large table inside...for a group of hookers

Or a pozzie for me:

Or, if you want to stretch your legs after all the eating and crocheting:

(My builder has been alerted - there has to be one like this on my stoep)

After one horribly hot day with berg wind conditions and 42ºC outside, the next day I had to borrow a scarf from my MIL to brace the onset on a cold front with quick, icy rain!  I actually knitted this for my FIL many years ago, a simple scarf in moss stitch, in this brown woollen-acrylic mix.

I almost stole it back

Love the browns

After being stopped in my tracks with the baby blanket, luckily, just-in-case, I had extra yarn with me to start work on a summer scarf.

It went well with the vanilla cupcake :-)

I'm struggling a bit with the pattern.
(One shouldn't do this one while chattering away, as I usually do, so it's now been relegated strictly to home, when it's quiet, which is usually never).

I decided therefor to go for three at once, doing it round by round, making sure I'm getting the round right, making my notes, hopefully getting back to this by the weekend.  

Three quarter Summer Scarves sitting in a row

Back to the baby blanket first!

Friday, 3 October 2014

Of beanies and baby blankets

I had to make a quick change to the helmet beanie my littlest gave his friend - first he wanted a nose bridge thingey (didn't work out), then I convinced him of a visor/mouthguard combo, which was happily accepted:

Little Boy S is armed and ready

I used a lovely mottled grey pure merino DK from I Love Yarn, used a basic beanie pattern and improvised the front, the back, the guard...most everything!

And then there was another birthday, a Dr Seuss-party and a two year-old, who got a Cat in the Hat hat lopsided beanie. I had an evening and wasn't going to sit up all night, so almost immediately abandoned my plans of a tall, slouchy beanie-hat, and it became... a cone.  But he loved it!

Ginger E almost went to sleep with this one on

So I was ready to take up the heritage Blanket again, that's been thrust to the back of the cupboard for too long...and then got diverted by a friend's pregnancy, and oooh, a favourite waitress also has a baby coming...what the heck.  Let me do baby blankets then!

Here's the first one, and I should complete it soon as there's a 1600 km road trip waiting today and tomorrow.  Lots of hooky time on the N1 South!

Starter pack

I'm using Vinnis Nikkim, Vinnis Bambi and I Love Yarn Imagine

One swimming lesson's production (I sit outside on the grass, in the shade, while the boys are splashing away)

I'm not that crazy about the V-stitch, but it has to go quick, grow fast, be cool (summer in Pretoria) (which is also why I decided on the cotton/bamboo yarns).

Off I go, the yarn is packed but nothing else!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

My Mzansi 14/9 - Heritage Day and an Afrikaner boykie

They had to dress up in national or traditional dress, the letter from school said.  It had to be proper and dignified, otherwise just plain uniform, no civvies. 

So this mom had to come up with a plan, as we were not really raised with "traditional costumes" and the like.  The Afrikaner is such a mixed breed, and such a very young thrown-together nation, that we don't really have a...corporate identity, as such ;-)  Well, apart from wearing a Springbok rugby jersey (but that's for all South Africans), or Bafana soccer shirt (that too)...we might as well just wear a flag T-shirt like on Flag Friday!

But Heritage Day is actually a great day to celebrate your heritage and ancestry, and we have so much of that in South Africa.  Today, cashiers in various shops will be in their traditional wraps and make-up, I saw a Xhosa woman in a stunning modern version of  a blanket wrap, white dots over her face crossing the street. 

So...into the old photos I searched and came up with something resembling an Afrikaner boy of a couple of decades ago:

One pair of vellies (leather shoes) bought at the local cobbler.
One pair of khaki pants (or any other sturdy fabric, denim only came to SA much later)
One corduroy waistcoat (I managed to refashion a shirt !)
Hat for the sun

"Ik ben een Afrikaander"

How's that?

With slight changes here or there, he could also be Dutch, German, French, Belgian...all of which features in his ancestry, along with a smattering of Scottish and a few unknowns. 

(Before I came up with this outfit, I did briefly consider beach wear, as the first Pretorius here did serve as secundus and "sick-comforter" in Mauritius for three years before coming to the Cape of Good Hope in the 1660's!)

PS - anybody know the surname "Hunlun"?
We're still wondering about that, sources say it might be of Irish of German or Finnish  origin, most likely the spelling has been changed. 

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Almost a Bohemian Bugger-up

When it's the end of a long, busy week, and you just made the 2hr drive with two lively boys to your aunt, and you're busy the whole weekend, and the little time you take to work on the Bohemian Blanket is spent squinting bleary-eyed at the yarn... can only gasp at the horror of the mistake you realise only Three Rounds After You Made It!

What the...whaaat???

Tragically, yes, it can be done.
My heart rate is back to normal. Several cappo's later, the horror has been rectified, the ends have disappeared and Project Bohemia has been completed and is actually drying outside. 


(But I'm sure I'm not alone in this club...)

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Cobertor do bebê

At the school gates, the Portuguese avó and I don't understand much of each others' languages - her English is...broken and my Portuguese limited to bom dia and obrigado - but we both speak crochet!

Apart from a huge throw, she's also busy with this baby blanket

She usually works with thiiiiin yarn and in tiny stitches - and she says crochet relieves the pain of her arthritis, so she crochets while watching tv every night.

We love each others' work.  

Tuesday, 9 September 2014


No real spring storms yet, although Pretoria hit 32ºC yesterday!  Wishing on rain, this dust is killing our sinuses.

Meanwhile, we are spring-cleaning, house-clearing, decluttering -  all in anticipation of The Great Move for which we are house-building-from-a-distance.

Freaking out at the cost of moving!

(I've moved a lot in my life - six schools, this is my 25th house in 43 years, and we're breaking a record here with 7 years in one place.  Moving furniture 1600 km now costs more than moving it from Australia back to  South Africa 7 years ago, eeeew).

So what do you do???

Free printable by friend and fellow crocheter Elsbeth Eksteen, at HelloHart

(I used this as the front page of my new carry-around folder for printed patterns.)

I also met up with friends for a Hook-in-Public-to-Welcome-Spring at Tasha's:

Riesl caught us through the window, hooking, breakfasting and brainstorming away

Colour-guru Adele, rebel-hooker-designer with the eyebrow ring Brenda, and beautiful-blanket-maker Zelda

I wore a men's T-shirt that I made this collar for: 

Version 2, previous collar discarded.  Working at night, with Crochet Nr 5...not a great idea. 

...and I'm still busy with my Project Bohemia, trying out a new way of working with colour (for me).  The beautiful square is the Sorbet & Lace, published in Ideas Crochet.

Symmetry-obsessed, even when seemingly working random.

When seeing this photo, Adele exclaimed "Ah, Now I see the Christelle layout-process!"

Have a look here to see the beautiful blanket the above-mentioned Elsbeth made with the same pattern.

With a few changes, I want to make the same for myself, with an Aran organic cotton, similar colours.  Roll on, next year!