Thursday, 14 May 2015

Pandora's boxes and bags - my crochet stuff

This is a Knit & Crochet Blog Week Post, hosted by Eskimimi Makes
- my crochet bag, caddy, box, basket...whatever it is that I use -

Today was one of days where you have appointments scheduled weeks ago, those biennial medical ones that you don't just quickly move, but then it turns out that it should also be the day that the dad of the house have to prepare for and depart to one of the hell-hottest places on earth, where people file their teeth and chew khat, and then when is a better day to drill holes and hang things on the wall and tie trees up and such?

I think tonight I might have a whiskey, or half a little white pill.
Or both :-P

So almost late, but back to the Blog Week topic of the day...

Around two years ago I wrote a post about the tools of my trade, which actually included a lot of what could be covered by today's topic.  I still use the little tin, but also an assortment of other containers for PHDs and WIP larger and smaller.

These lurk in the living room/kitchen of our house, or travel up and down with me on a daily basis:

The small mobile basket

I take this when I will have small snippets of time.  The pattern must be a no-brainer, therefor a cowl for school, in plain doubles.  Also in the basket - my prescription specs to drive with, a tiny plastic container with the vitamins I forgot to take in the morning, and a just completed washcloth at the bottom.  

The large mobile basket
The large basket comes along when I will have more time - an hour during the boys' judo class, on a longer roadtrip, sitting around somewhere.  Also an easy project, plain granny clusters in two colours, for my Cheap & Cheerful project. 

Mmm...what would this be?

I have a work corner upstairs, but I'm not going to run up and down every time I need another hook, or stitch holder, so this gem of a little suitcase found at the Hospice Shop in Pretoria, serves as a general hold-all and lives in the built-in bookshelf in the living room.
In there today:  some leftover Imagine yarn (need to take it upstairs to store properly), my Alek Arabesque star bunting, little bits of Colours of Grace and safely in its box - my nr 4 Illona Heritage Hook.


Then there is:

A pouch for my hooks

My sis gave me this pretty pouch - see the knitted patterns? I usually use it with one of my mobile projects, holding the hook, pair of scissors, maybe stitch holders etc, but when me made the move down south I placed all the hooks from my tin in here, in order to pack it better.  Some have returned to the tin, but in here you can still find...

...a whole pile of hooks!

Here's most of my Prym hooks, some KnitPro (the flat soft grips), some hooks that came free with magazines, the blue and red also a gift from Germany, the pink one is (was) my sister's plasticised stainless steel hook, her favourite one...until my Boxers got to it...I'm still searching for a replacement in every yarn shop I Eiffel Tower scissors from Typo (I have a golden pair as well), another tiny one with sharp ends, and a few stitch holders. 

Nothing gruesome, scandalous and/or surprising! But I must get my hooks back into their tin.  Maybe this weekend is a good time for some organising.

For more posts on this topic, search the tag 6KCBWDAY4.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Photographing my crochet work

This is a Knit & Crochet Blog Week Post, hosted by Eskimimi Makes
- all about experimental photography and image handling - 

I'm not really one for gimmicks and props and my photos tend to be simple. A previous post for this blog week series indicated recurring themes in the way I photograph my work. 

The last year or so I have noticed more bloggers resorting to the all-white background, which makes for a crisp, clear photo, beautifully showing off the detail of the work, the colours and must allow for great fun when you like playing around with styling and such. 

I tried it once or twice...The white cardboard promptly disappeared and was rediscovered as a Transformers-decorated poster in the boys' room! But...I'm also not that crazy about the stark white-out :-)  So I just resort to the nearest surface at that stage:

A darkish wooden background would either be my kitchen table or worktop of the kitchen island...

Both might be Rhodesian teak

A lighter wood is the 3m stoep table...

This one is made of reclaimed Oregon floor planks

Smaller items I would often put on an old tray or aluminium plate (that seemed to have disappeared this morning)...

The 2nd hand tray with broken handle that I need to fix!

(All my things are old, mainly from a second hand shop in Pretoria.  The kitchen table used to be a police desk - I also have a large cupboard, office cabinet, another desk and lab trolley with police origins :-) - the kitchen island was an old shop counter. The matching wall shelves have been customised now to fit above the stove. The stoep table is made of 3m long old floor's sagging a bit, I might need to get it reinforced!)

And sometimes there's the crumpled duvet, taken on a weekend morning :-D

White enough background, but softer

For more blog posts on this theme, use the tag 6KCBWDAY3.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Ten things about me

This is a Knitting and Crochet Blog Week Post

Talking about yourself.  This is not always the easiest thing to do, nè, because although there might be a million things to say, what do you actually say? So I'll try and go with the first ten random things that pops into my head. 

I love my laugh/life lines.  (I'm lucky to not have frown lines :-) . I thinks it adds so much character to one's face, and therefore I will never try to peel it, fill it, botox it. 

I have ocular myasthenia gravis (which is why I will never botox).  With MG, your overactive immune system blocks the messages from your nerves to the muscles, preventing them from doing their work - I walked with droopy eyelids for a couple of months and my face felt half frozen.  Why would you want to do that to yourself with an injection?
I thank God for my Mestinon pills that I carry with me, and I am even more thankful that I haven't had to use it for 5 yrs now. 

I train hard.  Because of MG, I want to be strong.  I recently started with CrossFit and I'm growing to like it, and I'm recovering from this morning's bike ride (a new thing :-)

Tut tut, now don't laugh, that's me learning to do a dead lift. Or something. 

I twirled around a pole.

Not really!  I did Pole Conditioning for 18 months, and that was some of the hardest training I ever did. I have so much respect for anyone who can lift herself up into an invert and then flag (horisontal), what not to say the various methods of climbing, standing, sitting, sliding - sometimes all of this on a spinning pole, and not falling on you head.   It took me a month just to get my feet off the floor for an arm hold.

I trained with these girls.  They're good!

A benefit of Pole Conditioning is Really Strong Arms and Shoulders, because you work on a upright pole (static and spinning), parallel bars and high bar, and the added benefit of that is...stronger crochet arms, elbows and wrists!  It fixed my sore-ish elbow in no time.

Knees to elbow?  Bring it on. 

I can do artificial insemination on cows.  
(Many moons ago I did a BSc Agric in Animal Husbandry and Plant Production)
(That is why I can also eat pizza while doing in vitro digestibility studies ;-)

In my life-before-being-a-stay-at-home-mom, I was a professional ecologist. 
After an Honours in Rural development and MSc Agric in Plant Production, I did environmental impact assessments for various types of developments in rural Limpopo. 
I saw some of the most beautiful landscapes in South Africa, encountered women who still walk around bare-breasted, kids got scared of me because I was the first white female they had ever seen, I worked in a village where on the same day a lion was killed (escaped from Kruger Park), I had to stand on top of my bakkie to try and get a mobile signal so I could call for help when getting stuck in deep sand and learnt to drive really fast and really well on gravel roads.

One of my first site visits, Mamvuka village, rural Venda. 

I fantasise about doing off-road rally driving 
(see nr.6)

I went there.  See, I can do it :-D

I love travel but hate flying.
I've been so fortunate to have visited Northern America, Europe, Australia, Asia/Middle-East, and of course live in Africa.  I would love to see parts of South America, but leave it clean and untouched by tourists. 

Love the views

I was named after my grandfather Charl with the second name of Charlé.
(Didn't like it when I was younger,  but now I do.)
(And now I'm really interested in genealogy and slowly researching the unknowns in my family history).

My grandfather Charl, oupa Sakkie.

I love love love great coffee.  To the point that I would rather have tea if I'm not sure of the way a cappuccino is prepared.  I buy freshly roasted beans at a local roastery and also get my cappo there most mornings.
That is my vice.  

This at my old favourite, Pure Café

That is also where I'm going now, before picking up boys from school :-D

That's it, ten!

(And on the hooky side, the current PHD is a cowl for school.  Then another one!)

To see other blog posts on this topics,  search 6KCBWDAY2

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Cheap & Cheerful Crochet

We need to talk about privilege.

Allow me some ramblin' here, because it's been sitting at the back of my mind for quite while now.  It came to the fore again this past week as I followed Jack Monroe blog about her Live Below The Line Challenge - surviving on £1 a day for five days - as she used to do, scraping together balanced, nutritious meals for something like 17p for dinner, 12p for breakfast, using up the last wilted spring onion in her soup, diluting the juice from the canned peaches for a drink, stretching that one can over five days.

And yet we (I) can get so blasé over the origin of our coffee beans, the presentation of our food, how predator-friendly our lamb must be.


In South Africa we have an ongoing, raging debate over (white) privilege (e.g. ) and the realisation whether you were/are privileged.  

I didn't grow up in an affluent home. Many months my parents were in their overdraft (privilege) within a week of payday.  Yet, there was no question that I would not attend university (privilege), albeit with the help of bank loans (privilege).  And once these were paid off by my dad's pension payout (privilege), I could continue with postgraduate studies where my Hons. and MSc degrees came basically free, courtesy of bursaries, research grants and the like (privileges galore). 

And then one (I) become so used to be studying/working in this milieu, that you (I) can forget that you're actually part of but a small group.  Same when you start travelling, or working as a registered professional. Your (my) privileges become so part of your (my) background, that you don't even realise it anymore. 

For me that realisation came when we returned to South Africa from Aus (privilege) and chose to buy a house  (privilege) in a less affluent area than where we previously lived.  We did this to afford me remaining a stay-at-home-mom (privilege), but still being able to buy the house we wanted, at half the price and triple the stand size compared to where we looked before.  There, many people I met weren't university (post)graduates.  Travel wasn't a taken-for-granted annual occurrence.  So very quickly my casual references to coffee shop this or Canada that or bought such and such or Scotland/HongKong/Nairobi what not became much more guarded, more thoughtful to where and when it may be raised.


While the more affluent acquaintances would raise their eyebrows at our choice of neighbourhood, choice of lifestyle :-0

Now, raking this topic all the way over to hooky - this can so easily happen over a crochet hook and a yarn of wool.  I'll be the first to admit that I do love my German Prym hook (not available in SA, but a very common buy at Kaufhof).  I love pure cotton Vinnis yarn, pure merino, or bamboo, something laced with silk,.  I go glassy-eyed at the sight of Malabrigo at my LYS, or Katia Cotton Jeans, or linen (priviliges ad infinitum)...but I will not shy away from a nice acrylic - and there ARE nice acrylics.  

Managing Ons Hekel, I came to realise that there many hookers who can't afford the lovely natural yarns exploding on the South African market, or who can't access it from their country towns/farms (our postal system is in a shambles).  Now, when you are constantly bombarded by others enthusing about the above, you can either strive to get your hands on one of these, or begin to feel resentful about the fact that so many other are boasting about it, or begin to feel embarrassed to show off your work, as you don't deem it to be of the same quality/to be as pretty.

And these are all valid, true bona fide remarks I have read on the group or received in my inbox.

Privilege dampening the experiences of others.

That is not something I would have wanted to read, that the joy of one would lead to the withdrawal of another.

It's all about the way one expresses oneself, isn't it?

Therefore I'll take even more care of my use of the term "squeak", because even though I might hate the feel of Mirage, it might also be the only yarn another woman can get in her town. Or someone else might actually love it.

Be a bit more mindful about the way I talk about yarns.

So, hand in  hand with our ongoing discussion on colour (the use of, the combinations of) on Ons Hekel, I decided the launch the Cheap & Cheerful Challenge, a challenge to make something real pretty from cheap acrylic yarn. To show that you CAN make a beautiful blanket with Charity. To show that you CAN avoid horrid colour combinations when you work with Chick. That it is not the end of the world if you choose to /are only able to work with Pullskein.

Off I went to my local Checkers supermarket to buy some Chick and this is more or less how far my own contribution is.

Just two colours, grey and denim blue

I promised a prize to the best contribution on the condition that to qualify the blanket then be donated to the Maak 'n Verskil group (Make a Difference).  I've already had pledges towards the prize and quite a few blankies have been started.  Looking forward to see what comes up!

Disclaimer -  I know that not everybody will agree with my train of thought and/or links between these...that's also fine -  the thought is mine.

PS (ed.) - I want to add on to Ale's comment below - she's residing in the neighbouring Mozambique; much less developed than RSA, much less availability of everything.  My South Africa has very different levels of living - you can experience this country as totally First World, or else totally, hopelessly Third World.  Within three, four km of my house there are squatter shacks, bush sleepers - but also houses with more bathrooms than people to use it.  There are people selling household stuff to get money to buy food, there's a guy driving the latest Ferrari.

What I'm saying is - don't feel guilty about buying great quality, expensive yarn...four balls of aforementioned Katia came to my house this week.  I'm just seeing this against the context of life around me, the things we can get so smug and boastful about - is it really that important?  It's not a bloody achievement.  

Just a privilege.