Posts tagged [yarn]


  • Q&A with the designer - Hilda Steyn (session 3 of 3)

    For me, the Crochet Guide to Greatness workshop was the moment when I finally decided to wean myself from acrylic yarn to natural fibres.  I'm still learning a lot though!  Hilda shared her process from using acrylic yarn to only natural fibres in the previous post.

    Now!  The reason why I wanted to interview Hilda:  The Wacky Weave Interlocking Crochet-a-long.  My blanket is finished and washed and blocked and very, very pretty!

     

    Helène:  You are running the Wacky Weave Interlocking crochet-a-long (CAL) at the moment.  We have been given a peak of the follow up Babette Interlocking CAL.  Before you announced the initial CAL I was completely unaware of the technique and yet last year you were already running workshops teaching on it.  How did you first become aware of the interlocking technique and why has it kept your attention?

    Hilda:  I saw interlocking by accident on Pinterest in 2014. Since then, it has kept my interest. There is just so much that can be done. It is different than other colour work in that you don’t end up with that many tails. I am still discovering the intricacies of this technique. I will be interlocking for a long time still. I have three CALs in my head, planned for 2019, all interlocking. Whether they will all see the light is another question. The moment I feel bored with something, I look for the next challenge. I am not yet there with Interlocking. She has some secrets I haven’t yet told the rest of the world, and some more, I haven’t yet figured out. I love math, and the math part of interlocking got me hooked.

    Helène:  Anyone who have been crocheting a while can reasonably easy alter a pattern to suit their needs.  For example the Granny Square stitch pattern can easily be manipulated into a rectangle or a circle by any confident crocheter.  The Interlocking technique is not difficult.  But I can imagine the design of an interlocking block is tricky.  Is it?

    Hilda:  Designing an interlocking square is a bit of a challenge. It is tricky for sure. I have grown to the point where I know what the front will look like after it has been crocheted, but I have no idea of the back; it is a surprise every time. I draw what I want to see on the front, then I crochet a row, type a row, crochet a row, and type a row. I actually realised that although I am not dyslexic, I do have a tendency. My poor testers. There has been a few occurrences where I wrote the entire pattern back to front. We couldn’t understand why their squares were different from mine. Alet Scott finally figured it out. Now I try to be a lot more careful, and all my patterns go to Alet first for a quick check, before the other testers get it. I sure had a lot of fun laughing at myself with the two Wacky Weave CALs.

    Helène:  Everybody wants to leave a legacy when they are no longer on this earth.  What is the one thing you would like to leave as a legacy – specifically to the crafting community?

    Hilda:  I wonder how many times I have blogged on this topic. My legacy. It’s difficult isn’t it?

    https://broomformybrain.wordpress.com/2011/03/14/the-epitaph/

    https://broomformybrain.wordpress.com/2013/12/27/eternity-value-finally/

    I want to do things in my everyday life, that has eternity value. I want to inspire people, encourage people, and pick up the one who doesn’t have strength to stand anymore. I want to spread the light of unconditional love, regardless of race, culture, or religion. I have many friends who are not Christian; I don’t mind that. If I don’t show them unconditional love and acceptance, who will? Yarn in a Barn was just a way to connect with people. It was a way for me to befriend those who God felt, needed something from me. As an Aspie, I don’t pick up social cues. If you don’t tell me how you feel, I won’t know. That was a revelation for me with my diagnosis too. If I suddenly become aware of a person on that level, I know God is speaking to me. In myself, I don’t have the tools to pick it up. What a blessing. God can use me because I have Aspergers. Isn’t that amazing? When I am gone, I hope people will remember me for the positives I brought into their lives.

    Helène:  How does your ultimate project bag look like?

    Hilda:  My favourite project bag was a gift from Monika Snyman. It is a Brilliantmommy tote bag with little colourful sheep on it. I absolutely love it. It hangs from my warping frame, above the fire place in the lounge. Whenever I am heading out the door, my project bag takes whatever I feel like working on.

    While you are pondering over whether Hilda just performed a paid promotion for us or not make sure to subscribe to our newsletter (click here http://eepurl.com/cWsYwn) so that we can drop you a mail now and then.

    Until next time.

    x Helène

    Make sure to buy from me in the online store and follow me on Facebook and Instagram

    But wait!  There's more!

    We have a wonderful giveaway for the yarn obsessed!

    This giveaway is sponsored by Hilda SteynLJ Craft Creations and Brilliantmommy.

    The giveaway includes:

    *12 50g balls of 4ply 100% Merino Wool Superwash dk (4 Lemon, 4 Peach, 4 Dusky Pink),

    *1 LJ Craft Creations wooden hand crafted shawl pin,

    *1 Brilliantmommy tote bag, and

    *Free delivery to an ordinary address in South Africa

    Total value of this giveaway is R1 260!

    This giveaway are open for entries from the publication of this post and will close for entries on the 30th of June 2018.

    How to enter:  To be eligible for this giveaway you need to be subscribed to Brilliantmommy's newsletter.  If you are not already subscribed please click here:  http://eepurl.com/cWsYwn.

    hilda steyn giveaway

    Terms and conditions:

    * Only valid email addresses will be eligible to win.

    * An email address will be randomly chosen from the entire Brilliantmommy email list that exists at the time that the giveaway closes.

    * A confirmation email will be sent to the randomly drawn email address to ascertain the validity.

    * If an email address is already on the Brilliantmommy email list that email address is already eligible to win.

    * An email address may only win once every 12 months.

    * Only 1 winner will be drawn, at random by the close of the giveaway.

    * Prize is not transferable.

    * This competition is in no way endorsed or run by Facebook or Instagram.

    * Judges decision is final.

    * Valid for delivery in SA only.

    * Valid for over 18's only.

    Read More  

  • Q&A with the designer - Hilda Steyn (session 2 of 3)

    Have you read the first part of the interview?  Hilda allowed us a glimpse into her world living with Asperger's.  You can catch up here.

    Hilda Steyn needs no introduction - whether you came across her (now retired) Yarn in a Barn store or crossed swords over the sharing of patterns without crediting the designer!  In her Ravelry store her shawl designs are easy to master and her Ready, Steady, Ripple blanket design is still on my to-do list - all free of charge!

    In this part of the interview I ask Hilda more about her decision to republish her patterns without copyright.  Without copyright?!  Without copyright.

    Helène:  You have zero tolerance for copyright infringers.  You even went so far as to put it into writing on your blog (http://www.ilonaslowlifecreations.co.za/tutorial/copyright-made-simple/).  Recently, you re-published all your patterns copyright free.  For me it was a sad day and somehow I felt that evil managed to overcome good.  Did you feel the same?  What motivated this decision and what are you hoping to achieve by this?

    Hilda:  Evil didn’t win. Good decided to make evil work for a change. When my patterns had copyright on, I got extremely angry whenever I saw an infringement of my copyright. I was policing various Facebook groups, notoriously known for their copyright infringement. To tell the truth, it stole my joy. Designing wasn’t fun anymore. I prayed about it and God said I received freely, and I should give freely. So I removed the copyright. Now, those who love to steal, can do my marketing for me, and take my name into all the groups I don’t want to belong to. 

    Helène:  Inspiration is all around us.  We spend countless hours on Facebook groups, Instagram and Pinterest and look at what other makers are doing and those images are filed in our memories.  Then one day you design and subsequently publish a pattern that for all intents and purposes are your original work but actually, unintentionally, originated from something you saw/read months or years ago.  How do you as a designer safeguard yourself from infringing copyright?

    Hilda:  What you described, actually happened to me. I designed a shawl, and I got a very angry email from another designer whom I didn’t know existed. Somebody saw my design, and saw that in a way, it was similar to hers. She insisted that I withdrew my design, which I did. I would rather forfeit a design than being accused of pattern theft. I used to go to Ravelry, to search and make sure there isn’t a similar item to the picture in my head, but lately, I don’t do it anymore. I design from a picture in my head. Knowing that, is enough for me. As long as my conscience is clean, I am happy. If the same thing happens again, I will just ditch the pattern again. No big deal really.

    Helène:  Up to a few months or so ago you owned a yarn store that only stocked natural fibres.  There exist very divided opinions on the use of acrylic yarn verses natural fibre yarn.  Apart from the negative environmental impact, acrylic yarn do have a number of plus points (cost effective, easy to launder, no lot number colour differences, moth resistant and widely available).  Can you remember the exact moment when you made up your mind to never again work with acrylic yarn?

    It wasn’t a moment. I think it was a process. The more I read and researched, the less I wanted to touch acrylic. The last straw was when I broke out in a rash all over my forearms while working with one of the local acrylic brands. I made my mind up to never touch it again. With the knowledge I have now, after four years in the yarn industry, I won’t ever go back on that decision either. I am so much in love with natural fibres. And I am a spoiled brat. I love fibres that isn’t readily available in South Africa. I have a special stash that contains mink, cashmere, possum, pure mulberry silk, camel and then some more. How can I ever go back to scratchy acrylic that causes cancer? Nope. Not me.  

    Helène:  Natural fibre yarn is expensive.  Not only is it human labour intensive, the source of it is finite.  The water crisis in South Africa has forced many of us to cut back on our water use and be creative in ways to reuse it.  As a casual dyer yourself, do you think this will impact the South African Indie dyers in the long run?

    I don’t see myself as a casual dyer. I did the colour workshops just for the fun of it. I hate getting my hands dirty. I can’t stand it. The dying drove me nuts! I ended up with ‘variegated hands’ after each one, regardless of how hard I tried to keep my hands clean! I hope our current water crisis will be resolved before it starts to seriously impact the yarn industry. That would really be a bummer. But I also think it is time that each crafter seriously considers how he/she is impacting the environment through craft. I became very mindful of my yarn waste. I no longer throw it away – birds get their feet tangled in it. I now mix it with a little bit of oil or paraffin in; we use it for fire lighters. I don’t have to buy Blitz anymore. Unfortunately, many yarn snobs like me, scream about the effect of acrylic on the environment, yet they don’t change their own ways to improve life on our planet. If you don’t want to crochet or knit with acrylic yarn due to it being plastic, you can’t keep buying plastic bottles and use plastic straws. If you want to stick your head out and say something, you have to walk the walk and talk the talk. It is in the best interest of the entire world, that ALL of us, should take inventory of our actions and decide on a better way forward.

    As far as the price of natural fibres go – yes, it is expensive. But I would rather have one, classic, high quality, natural fibre cardigan in my closet, than 5 cheap acrylic cardigans. Slow living is also mindful living. I don’t have much clothes. Heck, you can only wear one set at a time! We tend to buy too much, and live as if life is infinite. It isn’t. All of us should slow down and think about our actions.

    During the third and final part of the interview Hilda and I talk about the successful Wacky Weave Interlocking Crochet-a-long that she hosted and that recently came to an end.  Hopefully I will be able to show you my completed Wacky Weave blanket!

    Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter (click here http://eepurl.com/cWsYwn) so that we can drop you a mail when the new posts are up on the blog.

    Until next time.

    x Helène

    Make sure to buy from me in the online store and follow me on Facebook and Instagram

    But wait!  There's more!

    We have a wonderful giveaway for the yarn obsessed!

    This giveaway is sponsored by Hilda SteynLJ Craft Creations and Brilliantmommy.

    The giveaway includes:

    *12 50g balls of 4ply 100% Merino Wool Superwash dk (4 Lemon, 4 Peach, 4 Dusky Pink),

    *1 LJ Craft Creations wooden hand crafted shawl pin,

    *1 Brilliantmommy tote bag, and

    *Free delivery to an ordinary address in South Africa

    Total value of this giveaway is R1 260!

    This giveaway are open for entries from the publication of this post and will close for entries on the 30th of June 2018.

    How to enter:  To be eligible for this giveaway you need to be subscribed to Brilliantmommy's newsletter.  If you are not already subscribed please click here:  http://eepurl.com/cWsYwn.

    hilda steyn giveaway

    Terms and conditions:

    * Only valid email addresses will be eligible to win.

    * An email address will be randomly chosen from the entire Brilliantmommy email list that exists at the time that the giveaway closes.

    * A confirmation email will be sent to the randomly drawn email address to ascertain the validity.

    * If an email address is already on the Brilliantmommy email list that email address is already eligible to win.

    * An email address may only win once every 12 months.

    * Only 1 winner will be drawn, at random by the close of the giveaway.

    * Prize is not transferable.

    * This competition is in no way endorsed or run by Facebook or Instagram.

    * Judges decision is final.

    * Valid for delivery in SA only.

    * Valid for over 18's only.

    Read More  

  • Q&A with the designer - Hilda Steyn (session 1 of 3)

    If I had R1 for every time that I sped past Yarn in a Barn's entrance I'd have a few Rands.  I'm telling you.  Every single time I went out to The Barn I would somehow miss the entrance and either have to break quite fast to turn in or turn around.  The last time I went out there I meticulously measured 4.4km from the turn and managed to not miss the entrance.  Success!

    Hilda Steyn equals Yarn in a Barn and Yarn in a Barn equals Hilda Steyn.  Recently we had to forget all that!  The Barn closed down but Ilona Slow Life Creations was born and, among others, brought us the Wacky Weave Interlocking Crochet-a-long (WW1 CAL).  Boy, oh boy.  Don't just read over those last few words.  Those words are heavy with meaning.  It was a whole new technique for me (maybe it was a good thing that I didn't know about it at the time that I signed up for the CAL and ordered my yarn kit - I was just like:  oooh!  new pattern!  new yarn purchase!).  But I can proudly say that I made it through to the end.

    Before I show you the final product, I want to share with you conversations that I had with Hilda about the her personal life, finding inspiration and the CAL (following in blog posts after this).

    Find Hilda on her website, Facebook group and Ravelry page.  

     

    Helène:  Earlier this year you, very generously, have shared your Asperger’s diagnoses with us.  My first thought was ‘yeah for mental health openness!’ Tell us more about your Aspergers.

    Hilda:  My Aspergers come a long way. I remember as a small pre-school toddler, my mother taught me to knit to keep my hands busy. I had the typical fidgeting that you find with many a child on the Autism spectrum. It was the biggest gift ever. Knitting and crochet kept my hands and my mind occupied my entire life. Whenever I can’t cope with circumstances, I run for yarn and knitting pins. My diagnosis was the best thing ever. Finally my weirdness had a name. So many things about myself suddenly made sense:

    • my ability to offend people without meaning to (oh hell I can write volumes on this);
    • my inability to judge distance, time and volume due to a lack of spatial awareness (my husband has touch up paint in the BMW as I cannot judge the distance to the curb if I cannot see it – oops);
    • my obsession with fibre and fibre arts;
    • the battle I have to make eye contact with people;
    • the absolute hate of anything social (I will most gladly become a hermit, no really!);
    • the total lack of tact and social grace I have…

    There are many more, but these are the most obvious. 

    My Aspergers are definitely getting worse as I get older. This has contributed hugely to our decision to close Yarn in a Barn. I really don’t need all that stress, and coping with it, became more and more of a challenge.

    Helène:  My second thought was ‘I wonder how that impact her craft?’.  You are an artist of many talents – especially when it involves yarn.  There are many bloggers that specifically write about crochet/knit as therapy for their mental health.  However I struggle to find a blog specifically mentioning how their mental health diagnosis as an adult has changed the way in which they approach their long time craft such as crochet/knitting.  Did you purposefully change the way in which you crochet/knit/weave/spin once you were diagnosed?

    Hilda: Since my diagnosis, I am striving to live slower. So my craft has changed a bit. I am no longer chasing deadlines. I am enjoying every moment, of every project. I have a project going in each craft; I do whatever I feel in the mood for, whether it is knitting, crochet, spinning, weaving or sewing (quilting too). Some days I just unpack and repack my stash. It makes me happy to just cuddle all my special yarns. I don’t only craft to design anymore either. Using another person’s pattern is something I have very seldom done in my life. I always chased the pictures in my head. Now, I actually have a few patterns lined up that I want to try, just to spend time on myself, making something for me. I have to gather the courage still. I have been looking at Stephen West’s Enchanted Mesa for months. The yarn is ready. I just need to get my big girl panties on! It’s scary working from another person’s pattern!

     

    Helène:  You advocate ‘slow living’ (you even took the time to show us how to diy handwash http://www.ilonaslowlifecreations.co.za/slow-life-tips/slow-life-living-making-your-own-handwash/!).  In fact, your social media profile is now named Ilona Slow Life Creations.  Ilona is your beautiful middle name with the most delightful meaning but why ‘Slow Life’?  What brought that on and how are you living slower?

    Hilda:  Ilona is actually not my official middle name. I was born as Hilda Maud Hodgkinson. Yeah. My father was English. The name Ilona has a very special story to it. Back in 1997, I used to play piano in church. One Sunday the preacher stopped in the middle of his sermon, and asked where I was. I stood up thinking he wanted me to go play again. But instead, he gave me a scripture. Isaiah 60:1. He didn’t know what was in the passage, he just knew that it was for me. The scripture says: “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you”. At the time, I didn’t understand it, but I wrote it down in my journal. Shortly after that, I lost my hearing due to Ménière's disease. Both my ears were operated and I was deaf for a couple of weeks. In that time, I read the scripture in Revelation 22:17 “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.” I was wondering about the new name. Hilda means battle, or war. Maud means battle maid. Believe me, I was tired of getting into trouble and always fighting (aspie always offending…. Bleh). So I thought a name change will be marvellous! I prayed and asked God for a new name. One Sunday afternoon shortly after, I took a nap, while still deaf. I woke up from a voice calling ‘Ilona’. I was shocked. When I went to sleep I couldn’t hear. I wondered if my hearing came back. I jumped out of bed, and heard it again. And then the voice said: “You have a new name”. I was shocked into total standstill for a while. When I finally got myself together, I realised I was still deaf. This had to be a supernatural experience. I wanted to know what Ilona means – Bearer of Light. That was confirmation of the scripture given to me by the preacher. Since then, I have been trying to take the light of God’s unconditional love, wherever I go. The big change in my life, gave me the courage, to at least use the name on my Facebook profile. I won’t go and change it at Home Affairs; my family will be extremely offended (again – pffffft).

    When I decided to close Yarn in a Barn down, I decided at the same time, to really live out my calling. I wanted to slow down, get other woman to slow down, get them to appreciate themselves, and spread the light of Christ.

    Over the next few weeks we'll explore how Hilda finds inspiration and what she wants to leave as her legacy.  Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter (click here http://eepurl.com/cWsYwn) so that we can drop you a mail when the new posts are up on the blog.

    Until next time.

    x Helène

    Make sure to buy from me in the online store and follow me on Facebook and Instagram

    But wait!  There's more!

    We have a wonderful giveaway for the yarn obsessed!

    This giveaway is sponsored by Hilda SteynLJ Craft Creations and Brilliantmommy.

    The giveaway includes:

    *12 50g balls of 4ply 100% Merino Wool Superwash dk (4 Lemon, 4 Peach, 4 Dusky Pink),

    *1 LJ Craft Creations wooden hand crafted shawl pin,

    *1 Brilliantmommy tote bag, and

    *Free delivery to an ordinary address in South Africa

    Total value of this giveaway is R1 260!

    This giveaway are open for entries from the publication of this post and will close for entries on the 30th of June 2018.

    How to enter:  To be eligible for this giveaway you need to be subscribed to Brilliantmommy's newsletter.  If you are not already subscribed please click here:  http://eepurl.com/cWsYwn.

    hilda steyn giveaway

    Terms and conditions:

    * Only valid email addresses will be eligible to win.

    * An email address will be randomly chosen from the entire Brilliantmommy email list that exists at the time that the giveaway closes.

    * A confirmation email will be sent to the randomly drawn email address to ascertain the validity.

    * If an email address is already on the Brilliantmommy email list that email address is already eligible to win.

    * An email address may only win once every 12 months.

    * Only 1 winner will be drawn, at random by the close of the giveaway.

    * Prize is not transferable.

    * This competition is in no way endorsed or run by Facebook or Instagram.

    * Judges decision is final.

    * Valid for delivery in SA only.

    * Valid for over 18's only.

    Read More  

  • Why I signed up for the Wacky Weave CAL

    There were 3 reasons why I signed up for the Wacky Weave Interlocking Crochet-a-long.

    One. I've never Interlocked before.  This technique was totally new to me when I saw it.  It intrigued me that I couldn't figure out how it's done by staring at the pattern and trying to count stitches.  I'm on a mission to learn everything there is to know in crochet and the day I mastered the Jasmine Stitch AND could apply it in a design I thought I'm pretty close to knowing it all.  Apparently not... (insert *meh* emoji here).

    crochet jasmine stitch cotton rug

    The cotton rug I made my daughter using the Jasmine Stitch.

     

    Two. I wanted another handmade natural fibre heirloom quality blanket.  When the Wacky Weave Interlocking CAL was announced I was in the final stages of my Granny Square blanket done entirely in Vinnis Colours Tori (chunky cotton and bamboo mix).  In the past I've only made blankets for charity projects.  In all that time I've kept only one blanket for myself - and it's acrylic.  As part of my legacy I want to leave my children blankets that they can keep as a remembrance of my passion and a reminder to all those times when they called me and I answered "Mamma kom nou-nou" and never showed up.

    Three.  I needed something to blog about.  Why do people blog?  Some bloggers blog (say that a few times in quick succession and it will sound like you want to throw up - which may or may not be the way I feel about this specific group of bloggers) because they have an over-exaggerated sense of self-importance and think the inhabitants of the world wide web will find it interesting on how they live their lives.  That's not me.  Really.  No!  Really!  Promise!  I blog for my website's SEO (search engine optimisation - basically when someone google the word 'crochet' my website will turn up on page 18 of the search results because I've on purpose used the word 42 times on the blog).  But I cannot blog about anything randomly.  In order for the blog to be even more effective it has to drive traffic to my website.  The higher the click rate on my website and the longer you stay on a page will indicate to google that my site fulfills the need of person who initially searched a keyword.  So, I have to add value to my target market (that's you).

    Halfway into the CAL I realise that I should've added a fourth reason.  Four.  To teach me perseverance.  This is the first time I joined a CAL.  How could I have known that the CAL will move forward with or with out me!  It's hard to not let your hook wonder onto another project!  It's hard to not pack up the completed squares and let it become just another work in progress!  Although I'm a week (OK, maybe 2) behind the other crochet-a-longers I will persevere until the last stitch is stitched and the last yarn tail is tailed.

    wacky weave cal halfway

    Until next time.

    x Helène

    Make sure to buy from me in the online store and follow me on Facebook and Instagram

    Read More  

  • Go, go, go... frog (again)

    And while the word 'frog' can easily be substituted by another f-word that I may or may not have said when I discovered my mistake - this question remains unanswered:  to frog or not to frog (funnily enough (and not like funny ha-ha) I was faced with the same question two months ago and you can read about it here).  Will I undo a whole hour's worth of crochet?  Will I convince myself that it's not that bad?  I agonised over this question for a whole night and I've decided to...

     

    One hour earlier

    While still staring in agony at my project with it's mistake I'm wondering why I'm always so indecisive when faced with this scenario.  I came up with a few reasons:

    • I'm hoping the mistake will go away.
    • I'm hoping the mistake is not that bad.
    • I'm hoping that by stepping one step back and looking at the mistake it will morph into the project and not be visible.
    • I'm hoping that by squinting at my mistake it will be less obvious.
    • I'm hoping that by fixing a pompom there will make the mistake less obvious.
    • I'm hoping my daughter has a matching colour pencil so I can colour in (colour out) my mistake and make it less visible.

    Then, by prolonging my agony with a fancy delaying tactic, I decided to construct a rule for when I need to frog and when not to.  After all, I'm a rule-type person.  I need rules frog-it!  Rules make for an orderly society.  Rules make me feel safe.  Rules have exceptions...

    • When a mistake is spotted in my crochet project I will frog it back and do it over.  Except when:
      • The mistake will go away.
      • The mistake is not that bad.
      • By stepping one step back the mistake morph into the project and is not visible any longer.
      • When squinting at the mistake it is less obvious.
      • By fixing a pompom over it the mistake is less obvious.
      • My daughter has a matching colour pencil and I can colour in (colour out) the mistake.

     

    Present time

    The mistake didn't go away.  It was that bad - for me.  It was all I could see.  I will forever look at the completed blanket and search for the block with the mistake.  I will not ever be free to take pics of my project without rearranging it so that the mistake doesn't show.  I will feel like a phony brilliant mommy at show-and-tell crochet gatherings.  So, I just did it.

    Wacky Weave Ilona Slow Life Creations CAL

    Now hand me my chocolate and slowly back away...

    Until next time.

    x Helène

    Make sure to buy from me in the online store and your project can look like this too!

    Follow me on Facebook and Instagram

     

    Read More  

  • Christa van Wyk - crochet for a cause

    "Hier is my 314ste kombers vir liefdadigheid." 

    What was your first thought when you read that?  

    1.  That sounds familiar.  Where did I see that?

    2.  What the...!  314 blankets?  For charity?

    3.  Where's the translate button?

    Initially, when I started seeing these posts pop up in my Facebook feed I was definitely thinking the second thought.  I know how cumbersome a crochet blanket can be.  Then I started noticing this kind of post popping up in my feed round about every second week with the number of blankets increasing.

    This lady intrigued me immensely.  I wondered what her 'why' is.  And you'll be surprised.

    Christa van Wyk is a pensioner, like many.  But unlike many, she devotes her free time and own funds to crocheting blankets for 'Cause We Can' in the Western Cape.  Although she is not part of the charity she donates all her blankets to them.  She does it from the heart and, in a way, as a stress relieving activity.

    She was born in Namibia and went to school in Gogabis.  During 1976 she moved to Windhoek and stayed there for 20 years.  Thereafter she spent ten years in Walvis Bay and returned to Windhoek for the final nine years in Namibia.  During 2015 she moved to the Western Cape to be near her two daughters.  Her only granddaughter is now three years old.

    Christa says she has always been a very patient person.  This truly is evident from her responses to all the questions on these Facebook posts of her.  She patiently answers every question - sometimes the same question gets asked twice!  That, to me, already says a lot about this very generous lady.

    Here are some of the frequently asked questions (starting with the most frequent!) with answers:

    1.  Which crochet pattern do you use?  Mostly the Corner-to-corner stitch but also the Slanted Shell stitch.

    2.  Which yarn do you use?  Mostly Charity dk Pullskein or Chick dk from Checkers.

    3.  How big is a blanket? All of them are 120 x 130cm.

    4.  How much yarn is needed per blanket?  About 9 100g skeins.

    5.  Who gets the blankets?  It is donated to 'Cause We Can'.  Christa also sells the blankets and price is available on request.

    6.  Do you get yarn donations?  Sometimes, but mostly she pays for it herself.

    While typing this I suddenly wondered why number six is not number one?  Why are we more interested in the yarn type than whether this lady has enough yarn to carry on her charitable work?  We should rather ask 'Do you need more yarn? in stead of 'Which stitch pattern is that?'  

    As it turns out Christa can indeed do with yarn donations and will gladly accept any support.  If you would like to support Christa please get in touch with me so that I can give you her email address.

    Of course, my last question to Christa was how her ideal craft bag will look like.  Her answer can be expected:  it should hold up to 10 skeins of yarn with space for her hooks!   

    Until next time.  

    Cheers!

    x Helène

    Make sure to buy from me in the online store and follow me on Facebook and Instagram.  

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  • Q&A with the designer - Bren Grobler (session 2 of 3)

    Not only did I finish the crochet top in the Your Family Magazine of February 2018 in Nurturing Fibres Eco-Fusion Seashell, I have been wearing it!  The colour suits my skin tone and the cotton/bamboo mix is light and soft and such a pleasure to wear.

    Last time we spoke I was telling you about the great time Bren Grobler, the talented SA designer of this crochet top, and I had during the interview she so graciously granted me.  If you weren't here you better read it before reading the rest or you'll not know what I'm on about!  Now, where were we?  O, yes.

    Set the scene:  cue the instrumental music in the background, glasses are clinking against each other in the distance, Bren and I sitting at a table in a quaint restaurant overlooking the sea and the waiter brings our wine order...

    Me:  It is evident from many crochet- and knitting-related gatherings that most crafters are very jovial and welcoming.  It’s almost as if you are by default part of the club when you can crochet or knit.  Does that resonate with you too?

    Bren:  It certainly does. I don’t really do the social crochet gathering thing, but have made many friends in the design and yarn industry. What amazes me time and time again, is when we meet for the first time. It is almost as if we’ve know each other for a long time (in person). There is this common thread that binds us together.

    Me:  On crochet-related Facebook groups it is astounding to see how many crafters truly detest the copyright law on patterns.  It is very obvious that they dislike intensely the fact that a copyrighted pattern may not be shared freely.  Why do you think some crafters feel so entitled and regard themselves ‘above the law’?

    Bren:  Years ago, patterns were only available in print (magazines, books, leaflets). Crafters would photocopy and share these amongst each other. Now, with everything happening on social media, they (especially the older generation) want to continue doing it. They literally don’t understand the ramifications of a shared document on social media and how intensely fast it can spread. A lot of education still needs to happen. I also think, because most people crochet or knit for a hobby, they don’t grasp the concept that designers do it for income, so they literally don’t understand the damage they’re doing. It just breaks my heart that people are ok with buying expensive yarn, but aren’t prepared to pay a decent amount for a pattern. It is an ongoing struggle, but I have decided to not let it affect me anymore. If someone want to steal my work, they must have at it. I firmly believe in Karma. What you give out in the world, will come back to you. Steal from me today and tomorrow you too, might lose something dear to you.

    Me:  On some Facebook groups the penalty for not adhering to pattern copyright law is to ban that individual from the group.  It almost feels as if the banning of the individual just makes some more determined to continue the infringement practice by joining secret Facebook groups where patterns are shared illegally.  Do you believe there is a another way to ‘rehabilitate’ these ‘offenders’?

    Bren:  Banning people won’t change a thing. These offenders simply join other illegal pattern sharing groups. We need to continuously educate, educate, educate. And it doesn’t help when the admin of a group leaves a rude, obnoxious message. As painful as it is to continuously having to repeat yourself, rather educate. You might convert someone from a pattern thief to a copyright protector.

    I stop the recorder here. Bren and I feel like a decadent and gooey dark chocolate baked dessert with thick whipped cream and a splash of strong hot coffee over it.  We call the waiter over.  Surprisingly he hasn't bothered us once during our conversation.  Even more surprisingly they have exactly what we want on the menu.  While he scurried off to prepare our order I switch the recorder back on...  

    Make sure to subscribe to get the third and final installment straight to your inbox where Bren shares her tips for the Mompreneur / Solopreneur who crochet for an income.  

    Cheers!

    x Helène

    Make sure to buy from me in the online store and follow me on Facebook and Instagram.  

     

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  • I played yarn chicken and won... sort of

    I've gotten into some type of routine where I leave my crochet for a Sunday.  Sunday's are family days in our house where we go to church and when we return my daughter and I bake something for tea.  Once that's done and I've put lunch in the oven I can sit down and crochet and social with the family.  I have to on purpose walk past my sewing room / laptop / facebook page etc.  This past Sunday was no different.

    Rewind back to Thursday before I go on.  I was able to release the first glimpses of the craft bag collection for March '18.  Every month I prepare a new collection to feature for the next month.  It keeps Brilliantmommy fresh and creates a new challenge for me.  I was also able to open a Facebook shop on the Brilliantmommy Facebook page!  I've had so many requests from fellow crafters that wanted to buy directly from me that it would've been cruel to not do it at some stage.  So, in addition to shopping at the finest yarn shops in SA you can also view and purchase some of the Brilliantmommy products directly from Brilliantmommy hq.

    Fast forward to Sunday.  I enjoyed a wonderful game of yarn chicken with the alluring Nurturing Fibres Eco-Fusion until 11pm that night!  I literally had scrap pieces of yarn that I knotted together to finish the last row.  And when I showed it to a friend the next day she had some of the same yarn in her bag and let me roll some of it down to sew up the side seams!  *insert face palm emoji here*.  But it's done!

    Next week I'll show you how it looks when washed and blocked.  I also hope to have made a matching skirt.

    Cheers!

    x Helène

     

     

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  • How much is that gauge swatch in the window? (woof! woof!)

    How much is that gauge swatch in the window?

    The one that's perfectly made

    How much is that gauge swatch in the window?

    I do hope that gauge swatch's for sale

    I hate hate hate hate hate hate doing gauge swatches.  *insert some childish foot-stamping .gif here*  It feels like such a waste of time.  You start something and the object of it is to frog it and redo it until it's perfect.

    Why does it feel like such a grudge job?  I'll tell you why.  Instant gratification.  A gauge swatch is where instant gratification goes to die.  When you're done with a gauge swatch it serves no purpose other than to congratulate you that you successfully copied the pattern designer by figuring out how to get a block the same size and shape with your own choice of yarn and hook size.  I've read about some crafters collecting all their gauge swatches and eventually making a wonderful and colourful textured blanket with it.  Really? 

    That was the old me.  I've been converted and am now a proud member of the we-are-serious-about-our-garments club.  I will proudly hold up my gauge swatches for the world to see.  I will collect them in a special craft bag for show-and-tell gatherings.

    Imagine:

    "This gauge swatch I redid 6 times to get it absolutely perfect..."  (proud smiley face)

    "Oh, and this gauge swatch required me to wait until the weekend so I could go to 4 shops to look for a very elusive hook number..."  (very determined look on face)

    My gauge swatch for the cover top of the Your Family February 2018 edition screamed that I'm going to need more yarn to get the required length.  Did I listen?  Of course not.  Another trip to the yarn shop for me.

    x Helène

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  • Crochet the perfect washcloth (according to me!)

    I crochet washcloths when I want to make something that will give me instant gratification.  They are great to master a new stitch or work away left-over yarn.  They make great gifts as well!

    For me the perfect washcloth should:

    • not smell after a few uses,
    • lather well,
    • dry quickly, and
    • not stretch out too much.

    Click HERE to find out which yarn (surprisingly!) gave me all of the above and which stitch I mastered with the latest washcloth I made.

    crochet perfect washcloth

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  • Go, go, go... frog

    My mom taught me most of what I know today about sewing.  But there is one thing that her mom taught me that still ring in my ears today:  "Nee, mens knoei nie.  Trek los."  No, don't fudge it.  Unpick it.  It would annoy me greatly!  Now, how many years later, I don't mind to unpick because I've learned the value of having a completed project that you can be proud of.  I also don't mind to frog a crochet project.  And boy, did I frog this project - multiple times!  Here's why.  (insert the Law and Order dun-dun sound here)

    Firstly, it's my first real garment-from-a-pattern on the hook.  I feel uncomfortable with taking my own measurements.  Don't laugh.  I do.  I'd rather go to a store and fit tops from the largest size downwards and see how low I can go until it gets stuck going over the twins or until I have to pull in the tube to a point where I can't breathe normally.  I've now forced myself to look at my measurements - albeit in a scientific manner - and figure out where I fit in.  Get it?  "Figure out" and "fit in"?

    Secondly, I up-sized the garment.  I took my measurements and immediately went to the larger sizing.  Why.  Don't answer me, it's intended as a rhetorical question because of, you know, point number one above.  Once I've crocheted a few rows on both panels I fitted it around my waist (which coincidentally is the exact same measurement as my chest...) and realised the top is way too big.  After much deliberation (a few tears might or might not have been involved) I frogged the project back to the second row and started on the smaller size.  The chainless foundation row will be frogged to the correct size when I feel up to it.  P.S. my standing double crochet stitches look like a perfect Pinterest pin!                          

    Thirdly, kids, kid-friendly activities, mealtimes, laundry, dog and husband (although not so much as the aforementioned).  Interruptions can wreak havoc on your newly started project.  Girlfriend (or boyfriend - this is a no-discrimination zone)!  I should have done a bloopers real.  And as luck would have it you'll only realise you made a silly mistake when you are one or two rows on.  So... you frog!

    Amidst all of the frogging I'm still cautiously optimistic with the outcome of this project.  The yarn is glorious, the pattern is comfortable and my craft bag makes me happy!

    Catch you on the flip side.

    x Helène

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • Ready, steady, gauge swatch!

    In all the 20 years that I have been crocheting I've never made a proper crochet garment for myself.  I've always been too scared that after I've put in so much effort the garment will not fit me.  Although I have a healthy body image I know that I am on the - let's call it - voluptuous side.  Thank goodness that I have large bust otherwise my large tummy would have been the focal point.  Now it's the large bust that are the focal point!  Then, I have a high waist.  So, in essence, I'm a typical apple shape and the apple gets juicier and juicier over time.  

    Clothes shopping is such a headache for me.  I never feel comfortable in form fitting clothes.  I want something that's loose over my muffin top but it mustn't make me look pregnant.  I want a blouse that can button over my bust but the shoulders should still fit like they're supposed to.  Aaaah, the joys.

    What drew my attention to the top design on the cover of the Your Family mag of February 2018 was the symmetry and simplicity of the design.  It's loose fitting in all the right places without looking like a flour bag.  And surely when I wear it I will look exactly like Reinette Potgieter who is the beautiful (and skinny) model wearing it.  Right?!  Right.

    Off I went to Surene at Yarn at ZelLé in Centurion to pick up my 6 balls of Nurturing Fibres Eco-Fusion in Seashell (like the pattern suggests).  The yarn looks absolutely magnificent.  The 50% Bamboo Viscose and 50% Cotton blend is silky soft.  The bamboo strand weaved with the cotton strand gives it such a luscious shine.

    At home I, of course, had to find a craft bag for my latest project!  The Dark Chocolate colourway of the Brilliantmommy Valentine's Collection matches perfectly with the soft pink yarn.  Ready, steady, gauge swatch!

    Brilliantmommy Craft Bag Valentine's Collection

    Because I'm so hesitant to crochet a garment I thought I'd be a good hooker and really, like in really, do a gauge swatch.  I was very relieved to have figured out in the end that I can continue my project with my brand new 4mm Clover Amour hook that I bought from Be Inspired.  It would have been a travesty if I had to use my aluminium hook which - to me - is so last year...

    When you hear from me again I would hopefully have started on my front panel!

    x Helène

     

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