Archive for February, 2007

Finally, a finished object to show.

This is item number 6 for 25 Things for Charity as always it is going to Hottentots Holland Hospital, I’ve got three items to hand over this month.

Today was another really hard day at work. I took the students to see Monkey Town. I had to pay for the staff to enter, so I sent two of them in and then sat down to knit. This was the progress

It’s a little hat to match the cardigan. This yarn is Lorna’s Laces and was donated to me to use for charity. After Monkey Town we went to a nature reserve for lunch, there were tortoises and bontebok (antelope) there. The bontebok had a baby with them and was very cute. Currently one of our students has his parents visiting and they went nuts with the video camera.

I suspect that the mother may be a knitter, she saw me with the dpns and smiled, nodded and patted her foot (she speaks zero English, just Spanish) I said no and patted my head. That was as far as we got, and her son doesn’t have enough English (yet) to translate.

Sometimes this country breaks your heart. Our campus has a farm, and we have farm workers and cleaners who live on site. I tutor one of the daughters of the farm workers in English. She started with me last year, for a variety of reasons she wasn’t in school, but wanted to continue with her education so I took her on. This year she is back at school and came to see me and asked if she could come and get some help again – well who am I to stand in the way of someone wanting an education…

We had our first session today: A month of school and she has 4 pages of work to show in her English book. I asked her if this was all the work she’d done. She indicated that it was. I then asked what they did in class, her response?

“Sometimes the teacher doesn’t come to class, so we do our homework.”

I helped her with her homework, and analysed the literature she was studying and sent her on her way, on her way out the door she turns to me and says,

“Do you have any old takkies (South African for sports shoes)?”

She wants to play netball and her shoes have split up the sides. I found out her shoe size and I’m going to see what I can do. On a campus this size we should be able to find a pair of shoes to fit a school girl…

I’m singing with a small group on Friday, so we’ve been practising pretty intensely. They are all rather talented so it should sound good. I’m going to have to cut back on the amount of performing I do this year though, I’m just getting too tired and run down.

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I have an inch and a half left on a sleeve (knit in the round so there’s no seaming) and I cannot find the energy to finish it.

I did put in 12 hours at work yesterday, so was just a little tired when we got home, ok, I fell asleep on the couch while Gorgeous Man made dinner.

I did a little reading on the weekend and finished book number 12 for the year. I’m not including magazines or knitting pattern books in this count.

Book 12: Country of My Skull – by Antjie Krog.

Krog was a reporter for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission here in South Africa, and the book is a result of her experiences. This book took me a while to read, it’s not the sort of book that you can read for any great length of time as the sheer human suffering, narrated in such matter-of-fact language (she uses the voices of the victims and perpetrators wherever possible) is at times difficult to bear.

It also looks at the effect of the commission on the reporters and translators. She is a white Afrikaans South African and in many ways the book is about herself coming to terms with how much her language and culture, that she loves, has contributed to the trauma that was Apartheid. She received death threats from white South Africans during the TRC. This book was made into a film in 2003 starring Samuel L. Jackson. If you want to understand (a little better) South African history and race relations then this is a book you should read.

Thank you for all the nice comments on my 100th post.

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This is my 100th post. Who would have thought I’d have so much to say, well ok, I’m rarely at a loss for words…

There’s nothing really profound to say, or exciting (craftwise) to share in this post, so I’ll use it to catch up on a few things.

I’m having problems with comments being delivered to my in-box, so if you’ve left a comment and I haven’t replied it’s because I’m having technical difficulties, not because I’m ignoring you.

On the computer front I’m also having problems emailing Samantha and Beth, my emails keep getting bounced back as undeliverable.

On a happier note, my package to Crazed Quilter, that I had given up as lost/stolen, finally arrived. It left South Africa on December 1st 2006 and arrived in Ireland 20 February 2007! Don’t know where it has been…

The girls night out was fun, but we didn’t get to see a movie. We tried to pre-book the tickets (since it was Chick Flick Thursday and you get free stuff, it sells out pretty fast) and found that we couldn’t pre-book on-line, or by phone. However, when we got there we were told all of the tickets are gone, and that we should have pre-booked. This is the second time this has happened to us. We went shopping and had dinner and then went home and had a great time catching up, so it was fun.

We booked our June holidays on Friday – 4 nights at Kruger National Park. I’m just a little excited! The accommodation was surprisingly less than I expected, and we will drive there which will save money, and give us a chance to see more of the country.

I found a Debbie Bliss knitting book on special on Sunday How to Knit. I’m thinking of expanding my knitting horizons and trying some colour work and this had a good ‘how to’ section.

I’ll try to have some knitting or quilting pictures tomorrow. I’m very close to a knitted finished object.

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I took a class to learn how to machine quilt. The teacher was very talented this is the reverse of one of her sample quilts.

Another sample of her work, all done on a domestic sewing machine that is 2o years old!

Her quilts sell in galleries and she is preparing for an exhibition in the Isle of Mann.

Learning has always come easily for me, except in the area of art and sewing, and this combined both. I have to say it was a new experience for me to be the dumbest in the class.

Things got off to a bad start when she realised that 2 of us (following the instructions given to us at guild meeting, but which were contrary to her instructions) had brought actual quilts and not pre-made sandwiches of calico. Fortunately one of the other very nice ladies

had two and so lent me one for the day.

I learnt some useful things, but I feel that I was written off very early and that I wasn’t given as much guidance as I would have liked, mind you I’m not sure that much would have helped me.

I was having trouble controlling the material under the free-motion foot and was told that it was more difficult for me because I don’t have a table attatchment for my machine. Now that may be true, but my machine was made in Australia and I’ve not seen any here, so the chances of getting a suitable table are slim to none, I need to learn how to work with the machine that I have. Also other ladies were there without the fancy tables and they were managing ok…which leads me to think that there may be a technique involved.

I did learn how to tack/baste a quilt together properly (I’ve only ever used pins before) I think not having the quilt quite so heavy with the pins will make a big difference for machine quilting in the future.

I also learnt to do some really cool things with my walking foot. I think the controlled geometric stuff appeals to my control-freak nature a little more than the free motion stuff.

I can’t draw on paper, I can’t meander on paper without getting hangnails and hooks so expecting to be able to do that on machine is expecting a bit much. I don’t think that this is a skill that I’m going to be able to master, and to be frank I’d rather be piecing a quilt or knitting than practicing.

There were a few designs with the free-motion stuff that I’ll do, but they are more geometric than most of the designs we were taught.

I was surprised to hear her say that taking in other people’s quilts and quilting them was like prostitution, and giving away your talents, since people never acknowledged the quilter. She was talking about the sort of stuff she does on a domestic and not long arming, but I still raised my eyebrows. I guess everyone is entitled to their opinon.

I enjoyed the course, it was a good lesson in humility and I know that I won’t feel bad sending a big quilt out in future to be quilted. I learned a lot of tips and things about quilting that I wouldn’t have otherwise learnt, and I learnt that the artistic stuff isn’t my style.

I’m going to the movies tonight. It’s chick flick Thursday, it’s a movie I don’t really want to see, I’m not into chick flicks, but it’s an evening out with my friends and the cinema provides all the women at “Chick Flick Thursday” with a free goodie bag of womens’ stuff.

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I did a lot of sleeping this weekend, but I did manage to get these little booties finished.

Not the best picture, they are not so dark in real life. These were made with the donated yarn from Shelly and are destined for the babies at Hottentots Holland Hospital. I was holding my breath while knitting the blue on these. I literally had an inch spare at the end of the coloured section.

I also laid out my quilt ready to baste together. I’m taking a course on how to use your sewing machine to quilt and need a quilt top and/or a practice sandwich. I’ll be taking both. I’ll show pictures of the quilt when it’s all together and before quilting. It’s one I made before I started blogging, so it hasn’t had a public showing yet.

Last night’s sunset was amazing. The camera cannot possibly capture the richness of the colours

Please excuse the back fence and clothes line, but this is the best one with the colours.

We are back to nice warm weather, so knitting will be on hold for a little while again. Which is ok, since I still have some applique blocks to do for the African quilt.

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Today was ‘outing day’ for work, we took the students to Camps Bay Beach and they got to spend some time in the sun.

After a few hours there we drove up to the Signal Hill Lookout. This vantage point gives a great view of Cape Town and Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for many years)

On the left is Lion’s Head Peak

and turning a little further, Table Mountain itself

The students seemed to have a great day, and the weather was perfect, not too hot, but not as cold as last week.

Last night I laid out the blocks for the animal quilt that I’ve done so far. I’m halfway there. These blocks get spaced with unappliqued blocks and strippy sashing. I’m really pleased with how they are turning out, though finding an applique class is high on my list of priorities. I’m enjoying the process and want to learn how to get the best out of my time and effort.

How was your day?

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Yesterday we left work very late and decided to stop and eat out. Gorgeous Man and I felt like fish and so stopped at a seafood restaurant on the way home.

Everything was going fine, until the young man who was our waiter sat us at our table and started speaking. (In my defence the music in the place was quite loud.) But I looked at him and I said,

“I’m sorry, I don’t speak Afrikaans”

He looked very puzzled and said,


So I repeated myself. Turned out he had been speaking English to me.

Step one…

Cut to young man bringing the drinks. He came to the table with my fruit juice in a bottle and carrying a glass. I swear he asked me where I was from so I answered

“Australia” at this point I look over and there is Gorgeous Man with his head in both hands trying not to laugh (or he might have been trying to look for a place to hide). Turns out he had asked if he should pour my drink into the glass.

Step two…

We decided that it would be best if I didn’t speak to the waiter for the rest of the meal.

Apparently I need a translator to understand English.

The sad thing is I’m an EFL teacher and spend all day every day with non-English speakers.

To the young man who was our waiter at John Dory last night, I’m sorry I couldn’t understand what you were saying. Please know that there is nothing wrong with your English. I was really tired and the music was distracting.

Do you think I need to go for a hearing test?

PS: When did I get so old that I’ve started referring to someone as ‘a young man’?

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We drove to Hermanus on the weekend and, since we’ve had a cold snap, I took some yarn and needles with me in the car. Behold the car knitting –

The colour is actually more green in real life, but I can’t get an accurate picture. It reminds me of the sea. This is going to my local hospital for distribution to families from the ‘townships’. The blue yarn came from Shelly and the white yarn is from my stash.

On the way home from Hermanus we stopped at the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens. These gardens are nestled in a valley between the mountains and the sea.
The proteas are starting to flower. I really like these plants. They fascinate me.

Sunday was the annual staff/student soccer match. Because we live in Africa and I am now familiar with the concept of African time, I took knitting with me. True to form the 9 am kick off took place at 10.20.

It was cold, I had a jumper and a scarf on and the jaywalkers made their first trip out of the house.

Gorgeous Man was the goal keeper. Unfortunately the staff lost – though they played a better game. They just missed some opportunities to score. I completed a bootie to match the hat during the game, now I just hope I have enough of the blue yarn left over to make a matching partner – otherwise I’ll have to frog it and turn it into something else.

I also worked on the quilt blocks this weekend and am now officially half way with the applique. Each block looks better as the my skill improves.

Books I’ve read in 2007

11. Whiteman by Tony D’Souza – I really struggled to finish this book. This is the story of a young American working for an NGO in the Ivory Coast. The blurb on the back of the book touts it as a powerful story of his loss of idealism, but to my way of thinking the character had very little idealism to begin with. I found much of this character repellant, especially his relationships with the village women – in one case negotiating marriage and then running to the town the day the woman arrived in the village, resulting in her being returned to her village rejected and in shame. Though there were cases where women used him as much as he used them. I can’t recommend this book. I’d rate it as a don’t bother.

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Favorite Color Swap Questionnaire

1. What are your top three favorite colors?

Purple, green and blue

2. What crafts do you really enjoy?

knitting, quilting

3. What products do you really covet?

sock yarn, cheap quilting fabric

4. What other activities do you enjoy besides your favorite crafty things?

Reading, going to the theatre

5. Is there anything you collect?

Books and Chinese postage stamps

6. What is your zodiac sign and/or Chinese zodiac symbol?
Libra/Water Ox

7.What are your favorite…


fruity/citrus/pine/bergamot – nothing too sweet

…types of music and/or bands?
I like everything from gregorian chants to enya to U2


Science fiction, history books anything that looks interesting…

geckoes, chameleons, cats

places to shop?

Anywhere I can afford


all of them have their merits, I’m not overly fond of winter, though it does provide good knitting time, possibly spring?

…yarn/fabric/paper/other craft supplies?

varigated yarn

…candies or goodies?

dark chocolate

8. Do you have any wish lists?


9. Are you allergic to anything?

Latex, but this isn’t that kind of swap

10. Do you have any pets? What are they?

one obese cat

11. Please include anything else you would like your secret pal to know about you- anything that would be helpful in finding you little gifts that you will really enjoy.

I’m happy with anything you want to send. I’ve just learnt to knit socks; quilting fabric can be difficult to come by here, so I’m not a fabric snob.

I’m looking forward to getting to know my swap partners. I made a great friend in the last swap and had a lot of fun.

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Some animal blocks

This is currently my favourite block in the animal quiltThe blocks are 5 and 1/2 inches, I need to work out how to embroider the ear onto him/her (haven’t decided yet). I just did back stitch for the tail.

The hippo is the block I worked on during quilting guild and got some good advice on turning points. My points turns still need some work though. There’s a reason the photos are small.

My quilting guild is having a challenge. We have to make a pincushion using a traditional quilt block – does anyone have any ideas?

I remember seeing a whole bunch of gorgeous log cabin chickens last year. Does anyone know where I can find an on-line pattern or tutorial for that block? I’m also open to other suggestions. Thanks in advance.

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