21 Dec 2011

A Handbag for Helen Zille

Helen Zille is the leader of the Democratic Alliance, the opposition to the current ANC government.  You can read more about them if you want to over here, and more about the lady on Wikipedia here.  I am an admirer of the dynamic lady, as well as a member of the DA since 1996.  So I have been following her on Twitter since I joined Twitter.
One day she was tweeting about only wearing South African made clothes as far as possible and I tweeted back that I would make her a bag and ...well...I did.

When considering what I should make I first thought of shweshwe, as it is a truly South African fabric. Obvious choice.
I wanted a bag that's not too in-your-face, but not something demure either, something with humor, originality as well as practicality.  Something that is not everyday, something one would notice.
I decided on a basic enlarged clutch shape with a flap.  And yes, you will recognise a similar style to the one I gave away in This Cosy Life's Monday Meltdown.  Well, if something works then keep the same feel, I say.  But where that bag had no frills, just the ruching, I added frills to the flap of this one (that one didn't have a flap).

I once again chose to use different prints of the same colour shweshwe, in fact, I used SIX!

As this bag was to be quite a personal bag, I felt it appropriate to use as lining, the satin that was left over from my daughter's matric farewell dress.  Which is purple - and not only does Ms Zille apparently like purple, it also went quite well with the brown.  And purple isn't exactly a demure colour, is it?

As to the practicality, I added a little zippered pouch to the back of the bag, for anything that a political figure might want to have close at hand.  Like...erm... I dunno, the latest facts on corruption...?

And of course inside are two little pockets for all those things that gets lost at the bottom of one's bag: lipstick, keys.

If you're wondering why the pocket's white on the inside:  Well, the satin is quite soft and needed to have some interfacing on all parts to help it keep shape and make it more durable.

 The flap closes with that wonderful invention: the magnetic snap.

I sent some of the photos to Ms Zille's very capable and friendly assistant and received back and email from Ms Zille saying that she could see it had "verve and a sense of humor".  Well, I was as pleased as punch and tried my best to get someone, anyone to personally take the bag to Cape Town.
I failed to find someone and ended up using the good old PostNet services to send it.

To say that I'm quite proud of the fact that a person like Helen Zille not only has one of my bags, but LIKES it, is an understatement.

Now if I could only get a photo of her with the bag.....

14 Oct 2011


Since I last posted there were something nasty things happening in my house.
My husband had a HUGE tantrum about the washing that hadn’t been folded and my workspace that was a mess.
Now let me explain: My workspace is the dining-room table.  The dining-room is part of our living/dining/kitchen area.  Which means that our general living space was a mess.  Which I admit to, as I was working like a crazy person to get ready for my first market.  And the washing hadn’t been folded for a week, because I was working like a crazy person to get ready for my first market.  And as we all know, men cannot fold washing.
This entire tantrum led up to me packing away all my things.  Every. Little. Thing.  And stashing it in the garage.
After two weeks of me walking around like a dead person (as any creative person knows: not being allowed to create is like having your oxygen cut off.  Hence: Dead person walking), my husband found me crying in the kitchen.  That led to a long talk.  Let’s just say some more tears were involved, as well as spreadsheets and projection tables.  It’s not the first time that I’ve explained the situation to him, but I think the visual aids helped him get a clearer picture.  Perhaps I shall get some graphs and pie charts ready for the next blow-out.

So, there is a lot of creating going on at my dining-room table.  I’m not taking part in this month’s market, as I have no stock.  

But next month is the Christmas market and I will have lots and lots of nice things to sell.  In a better spot.

20 Sep 2011

The truth about the market

Well, my first time at market did not go as well as I would have wanted it to.

My husband and I were there just after 6:00.  At first the guy from the market said that there were many cancellations due to a lot of people being sick, and one guy's wife had passed away the day before (which I'm very sorry about).  So he could give me a nice spot.  At first he showed me a spot that was perfect.  One would be able to see my stall when one enters the market's gate and then one would also see my stall on the way back to the gate.  But then for some reason he changed his mind and showed me to another spot, right at the back, in a corner by the food stalls.  What I didn't know at the time is that they would set the tables further away from there than they did last time I was there.  So I didn't complain too much, lunchers would see my stall and come over.  My husband and I started setting up the gazebo.  Then the guy came and said no, we have to move more to the side, as another stall must fit in next to us.  That's behind the tree, I said.  No, he said, not really, people will still see you from the tables (which hadn't been set up yet.)

See the lady in pink standing there on the right?  That's my little helper for the day, Karen.  More about her later.  What this picture doesn't show is the low hanging branches of the tree more to the right and the path angles right toward it, so that when one comes up it, one actually only notice the tree, that's why I hung the bags that side so that the bright colours would show.

Well, my husband and I set the thing up.  I didn't have so much stock.  But we all know that my time's limited.
Karen and I moved the tables up a lot about an hour after this was taken, in the hope that it would be more noticeable.  We don't have a picture of that, since my husband had already left.
We clearly saw and heard people walk to a few meters away from "our" tree, stop, look around and say: "No, it's only food stalls from here", then turn around and walk the other way.

In hindsight I must confess that I didn't do all that badly for a first market, on a bad day (all the other stall holders complained about it being a bad day), in a bad corner.  I made enough to pay for the stall.  So I suppose one could say I broke even.  But let me just mention that my second eldest sister did most of the buying, before you get too excited!
Karen is my husband's sister's son's girlfriend. Did you get that?  Read it again. Husband. Sister. Son . Girlfriend.  OK, so they've been together for seven years now and she's just the sweetest little thing. At one point I could see that she was really irritated with the people just turning around and walking away before they came to our stall.  She even grabbed a bag and some books and started walking around the market with it. I suspect she stopped short of accosting people and dragging them to the stall.
My mother-in-law came to see me at the market. Which was very nice of her, as she moves with difficulty after a knee replacement about a month ago. Well, she came to see me specifically and spent half an hour LOOKING for me before she found us, and that's only because she recognised Karen.  I also had a good friend from work as well as my best friend (30 years now we've been best friends - another story) stopped by.  My third sister brought the girls over as they had spent the previous night with her so that they wouldn't have to get up so very early.
Well now.  My question is this:  Did I do badly because of the spot I was in, or did I do badly because my stuff is just...well, crap?

3 Sep 2011

Some photos

Here's just a quick look at a few of the items I've made for market so far.  These are not all.  There's about fifteen bags, twenty pens and twenty notebooks.  I'm now almost finished with the six clutches and then I'll jump in with some more quirky bags.  But my "staple" stuff is done, and if I don't get to finish the quirky bags I've got planned it's not going to be a train smash.

Pins and hairclips.  No, that's not my packaging, it's just a box I keep them in for now.

Beach bags with HUGE inside pockets.  Just basic totes, but really versatile:

This is another of my favourite shape bags.  The fabric is fantastic!  Sorry, I forget who the designer is.

And this is one of the six clutches in different satin and chinese prints.  Just so pretty!


PS  The teenage party was great - they all dressed up like 80's rockstars and much giggling was done.  We ended up giving her a very expensive pendant which she will be able to wear for the rest of her life - classic never goes out of fashion.  That's for the two of you who actually read this blog!  ;-)

14 Aug 2011

No photos, just words

I'm keeping myself extremely busy.  I rarely have time to come and sit at the PC.
I hope you understand.
I'm doing my best to make a wide range of products to offer when I go to market.
Since I only have evenings to work on it, I'm sure you understand that I would rather sit at the sewing machine than at the PC.
Also, things are a bit difficult for me.
I've had some more mean things said to me by my boss' boss.  A very pretty lady with a very nasty soul.
Finances are really, really difficult and having my daughter's 18th birthday coming up has only made it worse.  I want to give her a FABULOUS party and a very meaningful gift - one that she can have for life.  So, instead of spending what little extra money I never have on supplies, I'm spending it on her. Of course.  As you might imagine, it forces me to come up with some very creative solutions for those unexpected problems that tend to come up.

The postal workers here have been on strike and I only hope that the winner of the shweshwe bag will receive her prize soon!

I hope to have some photos to post next week so that you can see what I've been working on for market.  (See a couple on the Make something! page)
Till then these (boring) words will have to do.


25 Jul 2011

Shweshwe bag for you

Some more excitement for me: I’m taking part in the Meltdown Monday Giveaway on This cosy life!

See the pictures of the bag on her blog and leave a comment there to enter the giveaway.  Here’s a sneak peek:

You might also like to take a look at Julie’s other blog posts and the wonderful photographs she takes of her life and family.  You will also find a link to her wonderful Etsy shop on her blog.  Take a look at the knit gnomes and fairies, they are the sweetest things ever!


20 Jul 2011

Excitement on my part

And the news is that I have a stand at the Klip Klap Art and Antiques Market in September!

I'm really excited and looking forward to it so much!  I'm planning everything out and have started working like a crazy person to get as much stuff made before then as I can.
There's beach bags, bunting and lots of pins planned.  Not to mention the evening clutches, gift bags and embellished notebooks.

Now, any tips on how I can make the most of the experience on the day?  Tips on display - it is an open-air market and I will be taking my gazebo?

Before I spend more time on the internet, let me get behind that sewing machine!


18 Jul 2011

Looking forward

I have been in contact with the owner of the market I spoke of.

I vaguely described my bags and books to him and he said it sounds like the type of item he still needs at the market.  So I wrote him an e-mail this evening.  Re-wrote it like seven times.  And then I included a couple of photos and also told him I want to add this and that to the collection.  I'm all nervous, anxious and excited.  I really, really hope that he will say "yes" and give me a stall in September!

On a personal note let me tell you this.  For the largest part of my life I was convinced that I had no talent whatsoever.  After all, my mother told me I didn't, so it must be true, right?  I always thought I just "make stuff".  It was very recently that it dawned on me that "making stuff" is actually a talent. The urge to "just make something" has always been very strong in me.  I'm 42 years old.  Please don't let 42 years of your child's life go by with them thinking they have no talent.  Even if that talent is just to "make stuff".
The other day I overheard my boss's boss say to another person that "a person without a degree is stupid".  I don't have a degree.  I have an IQ of 139.  Whatever.
Well, that's pretty personal so I'll just go now.


6 Jul 2011

New Ideas

I've gotten some inspiration from this nice lady.

I've decided that I will start making summery Christmassy stuff.  It's summer over Christmas in South Africa, see?  Because I've come to the realisation that with my time-shortage I will not be able to make a lot of wintery stuff in time for the next KlipKlap market.  Or even the one after that.  But I'm pretty confident that I'll be able to get a bunch of stuff together for the market in September - which would be spring.  Although, rest assured, I will not be making any reindeer or similar stuff to KerryAnne's.
I think it's pretty good do-able idea!  Thanks KerryAnne!

My other inspiration will be coming from Country Living UK.  I do love it so, although we get it about a month later than the UK people do.  But that doesn't bother me in the least.  I've never seen a Country Living USA, but I have a book they published: "Crafting a Business", which I will be talking about on another day.

In other news, I forgot to mention before that I've bought a speedstick (dongle) so that I now actually have Internet at home.  At last!  As nothing in my life is ever easy, let me just mention that I live right on the edge of their coverage area.  Which makes my Internet veeeerrrryyyy sssslllloooowww.  And since National Intelligence (a contradiction in terms, I know!) is just behind my house, the news is that we will never have full coverage here.  Last night I bought some fabric from Skinny laMinx, and I had to try the payment three times before it actually went through.  By the way - take a look at Skinny LaMinx's stuff.  Very original and good-looking!  Proud to say she's a South African!

Well, I have to go put supper on!


28 Jun 2011

Handmade courage

Today I would like to tell you about all the ideas I have floating around in my head.

The area I live in at the moment is not all that keen on handmade, as I said before.  But I must admit that I have noticed a turn in this.  A very slow, slow turn.  But there none the less.  There seems to be more handmade items available in the gift shops. Albeit imported handmade items.  Well, perhaps they only look handmade.  Nevermind.  I also notice that more vintage-looking items are finding their way into the shops.
So, that being said, I really think that the handmade and vintage movement(s) just maybe maybe might be catching on around here.
Look, Pretoria is nothing like, say, Cape Town, where there is a culture of art and craft.  I'm not talking African mask head craft.  I'm talking sewing, knitting type crafts.  When I was a teenager there was a fabric store on every second corner, a wool-shop on every other and many general craft stores in between.  These have dwindled over the years to basically nothing.  I'm happy to say that the big shop in Pretoria who has been holding a monopoly on craft materials is losing its strangle hold.  This shop - and I will name no names, is the bane of my existence.  Rude, unhelpful and absolutely totally, 100% overpriced.  It's a huge store and I've been going there since I was a girl.  Now I do not set my foot in there.  And I will only go there ever, ever again if it's really a question of HAVE, HAVE, HAVE to.  Anyway, I'm going off at a tangent.
My point is this:  I have to grab a corner of the market.  As in RIGHT NOW.  I need money, but mostly I need time.  I need money.  If I had money I could resign and then I would have time.  But mostly I need money. No. Time. No. Money.
Despite what I was told as a child, I do have talent and now I only need the courage to take a huge leap of faith.  Well, it's taken me forty years to acknowledge the fact that I have talent.  If it takes me another forty to build up the courage...well, erm...I think that just might be slightly too late....
Ugh.  Sometimes I irritate myself.


20 Jun 2011

This little piggy went to market

The girls and I went to the market yesterday.
I was pleasantly impressed with the entire set-up. 

The paths between the stands meander between bushveld thorn trees and the stall-holders (except for one) were friendly and helpful.

Right at the gate we found this lady with her felt goodies.  If I recall correctly she called herself “The Felt Bakery” – or something in that line.  Her little felt monsters, hairclips and brooches are very cute and well-priced.  

I also loved her doughnuts and cupcakes.

This guy makes wind chimes from recycled materials.

I've seen similar before, these are quite original and nice.

As you walk up to the back part of the market you find all sorts of items, including some beautiful antique crockery.

Right at the back of the market are the food stalls where you can buy a meal and sit down in their seating area to enjoy it in the sunshine.

These guys make goat’s cheeses which is quite something to find in these parts.  It’s very fresh and delicious.

There was a lady with some beautiful mosaic mirrors.  There were several artist and “artists” ;-). 
I was quite surprised at the number of antique stalls there.  Antiques are very hard to find in my area.  I bought my eldest daughter an ancient 18mm movie camera, which she adores!
We bought some jaffels from an older lady to have for lunch.  Unfortunately these were not… erm … the best quality.   But the cupcakes we bought for afters were very yummy, not to say pretty!

All in all, we had a very nice morning walking around the stalls in a very tranquil environment.  I really hope that I can build up some stock and perhaps get a stand at this market.  Perhaps even at their next market?


19 Jun 2011

Handbags and markets

So these photos are in the wrong order, because I have no idea how to move them on my Blackberry.  Sorry about that, just bear with me.

This picture is a close-up of the detail on the fabric of my bright pink bag.  No, I didn't do it, I bought the fabric that way. It's a pretty heavy cotton and I liked the way it looked.  Don't you think it's pretty?

This one is the inside of the bag.  The lining is bridal satin and there's two rather large side-pockets.  It closes with a snap fastener.

And this is the bag itself.  I put rather thick batting in so it's all squishy.  I do like how it looks, but I'm not going to do it again any time soon.  It was really fiddly to do - really tried my patience.

OK, so this picture should have been first.  These are some of the bags I've made.  As soon as I find a market where I can get a stand, these and my notebooks as well as a couple of knitted and crocheted articles will be put up for sale.

So, whaddaya think?

I forgot to mention that the lady who I went to see about my
notebooks did take them and she only added a small amount to the price to cover her own costs.  Very nice, I say!
I'm going to look at another market on Sunday.  I really hope this will be a better one.  Wish me luck!


6 Jun 2011

Crafts and collectables? Not so much

These are pictures I took at the Hatfield Flea Market (Hatfield, Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa).
I received an e-mail from the very nice gentleman who sells stamps and inkpads etc.  to remind me that he’ll be there.  He also mentioned in his e-mail that it’s the monthly “Crafts and collectables” market.  Oo, I thought, maybe I should get a stall there, let me go check it out.  I anyway needed some tiny stamps to put on the sides of my notebooks and my inkpads are getting dry.
So off we went.  This is not a very savoury neighbourhood, so my lovely husband insisted that we take the whole family – safety in numbers.  When we got there I was surprised to find the market had shrunk to half its size in the last few years.  But nevermind – crafts and collectables, here we come!  And what did I find?  Very collectable obscure brand toiletries and really crafty rip-offs of well known brands (where was the police, I wondered – oh, yes, I forgot: getting a cut of the profits!)  The closest thing to anything crafts was the guy with the stamps and a table next to him with collectable broken bone-handle knives with ridiculous prices.  I bought my stamps and inkpads and left.  I think we were there a full half hour, including a trip to the supermarket for fresh milk and a visit to the loo with the little one.  To say I was disappointed is an understatement.
If you’re reading this and live in Pretoria and want to contact the guy with the stamps, he is Mr Ockert Pretorius and his e-mail address is stamp-a-way<at>live.co.za

I seriously don’t know what’s wrong with the people who live in Pretoria.  There are about two craft shops and two fabric shops in the entire area.  Antique stores are closing down at a rapid speed.  In fact, there’s only one left in the Eastern parts of Pretoria.  Either I’m the only one left in the East of Pretoria who loves craft, and old things or the rest are just hiding it very, very well.  Maybe it’s something to do with the fact that crafty things and old things aren’t shiny enough?  Plastic does have a shine, you know!  Well, maybe it’s just me that has lost the plot somewhere....


3 Jun 2011

My secret love

Can I say it out loud now?
I do.
I have this book:

And this one:

Cath Kidston products are not available in South Africa (at the moment) so for now I have to be happy with the two books and the catalogue they so kindly send to me.
But who doesn’t love this fabric:

And I would love love love LOVE to own this bag:

Or just this stationeery box:

How about playing in this teepee with your kids, it's huge:

And I can just imagine how cute my little one would look in this dress (in summer):


So if you want to bribe me to do...well, almost anything (legal), anything from the Cath Kidston line will do.....


31 May 2011

My first attempt at posting a photo

It’s very cold in South Africa at the moment.  Yes, OK, so we don’t have snow in winter – well, not much anyway, normally only in the high parts.  But to us Africans cold weather is anathema.

I’m trying to add a photo here, I hope it comes out.

It’s a bunch of little notebooks I prettified with pictures found on Graphics Fairy I’ve tried to make a link here, hope it works – but I’m still learning all this stuff and blogging from my Blackberry is not exactly easy!  So the website is graphicsfairy.blogspot.com if you want to take look at all the wonderful pictures she has on there.
I’ve tried to sell them at a gift shop, but the lady there decided to DOUBLE my price – which makes it unreasonably priced, nobody’s going to buy them.  Also she had them hidden on the back of a shelf behind a whole bunch of other stuff where nobody’s going to notice them anyway.  So I went and took them out of the shop.  I have another shop in mind which I’m going to try.  This one is also in a bigger shopping centre (mall).  Hopefully the owner will be there this afternoon when I drop by.  I was also thinking of trying the only antiques shop in the entire area, since they have vintage pictures on, maybe people who like antiques will like them as well?  Anyway, I like them, I think they’re pretty and yes, I would buy something like that if I found it in a gift shop (at a reasonable price, thank you).

Bye for now!

26 May 2011


It's my little one's fifth birthday today. If I knew how to post photos I would, but since I'm still a bit stupid I will do it at a later stage.
She is such a little girly-girl, unlike her big sister who was a little tomboy at that age.  She loves anything pink, frilly and shiny.  I got some cupcakes for her to take to school - all pink and fluffy and covered in edible glitter!  She couldn't stop staring at them last night and was SO proud to take them to school today!

Isn't it amazing how much love one's heart can hold?

24 May 2011

Mrs. McMoanypants

So here's the thing: I work full time, which means that I'm out of the house for at least ten hours a day.  I dislike my job intensely.  I would rather be at home making "stuff".  I'm convinced that I can make a living out of this. But I have to make a start somewhere.
I just don't know how to work a full day, cook dinner, spend time with the girls and my husband and still "start somewhere".  I do make some stuff over the weekends, but there's always other things to do: school sports days, someone's birthday, shopping to do....
I just don't know how.
Please help?