Monday, 31 August 2009

Bushveld Textures

When I started compiling this post I thought it would be one of those "a picture speaks a thousand words" type of posts without any text, but I just had to add my two cents worth...

First of all, for those of you not familiar with a Bushveld winter: It is the dry season. No cold and wet and evergreen here. Cold and dry, that's it.

Secondly, I test-drived my new camera and as you can see I still have a lot to learn about taking close-ups. I considered removing the ones that are out of focus, but in the end decided against it. I thought it would be a more honest representation on my experience. Warts and all.

That's it, folks. Enjoy.

A Shopping Centre with a Difference

A mall is a mall is a mall, right? Wrong! This is a Moo!-ll with a difference.
It is located in Irene, a village at the edge of Pretoria. This village is fast becoming a very sought-after location due to its proximity to Midrand and Johannesburg and all sorts of interesting things are happening there.

I haven't been there for a while, so was very surprised and amused by this wonderfully different shopping mall. Irene used to be a dairy farm in the country-side outside Pretoria. The working dairy is still there but is now surrounded by a bustling town. Obviously the farm spirit is still very much alive!

The cow-topiary at the entrance (still in it's winter garb)

Watch out!

Even the man-hole covers are themed!

The restaurants are built around a wonderful atrium with a fountain that keeps the children occupied while the parents take a coffee/lunch break. So much fun!
photo courtesy of the mall-website.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Free State Knitting Inspiration

How about a wonderfully inspirational story to kick off the weekend?

Once upon a time, not very long ago, in a small village somewhere in South Africa, a few grandmothers came together and decided to spend their retirement doing something useful for their community...

Alina Sr and Alina Jr hard at work

Salminah showing of her bed-socks

So they called themselves GAPA (Grandmothers Against Poverty and AIDS) and set to work. They started by planting a communal vegetable garden, doing all the work themselves. The proceeds from the garden are used to provide cooked meals for the poor in the community. All the cooking and preparing are done by themselves.

Selina and Beauty enjoying each other's company

Emily and Sanna

They soon realised that feeding the poor is not enough and started their next project. They found an unused house in their community and again, doing all the work themselves, they fixed it up and turned it into an old-age/frail-care home for abandoned old people. (AIDS take away mostly young, working-age people and leave behind children and old people who can't fend for themselves.)
The little house provides a home for 6 old people. The ladies from GAPA work in shifts taking care of these frail people day and night.

Sanna and Lydia concentrating on their lesson. (The 'teacher' is my mom, Anneke)

Some of the beautiful scarves for sale in the thrift shop

But as we all know, there is more to life than work and taking care of others. Everybody needs time to be creative, socialise and take care of thyself. This is where the knitting group enters their lives. Facilitated by the VVA (Vrystaat Versorging in Aksie) - a privately run welfare organisation, the ladies meet once a week to learn new knitting skills.

Their first project: Teddies for children who need some love.

Aren't they beautiful?

Their first project was making teddy bears using a plain garter stitch. This taught them the basic stitch, casting on and off, and finishing off a stuffed object. The teddies go to the welfare workers who hands them out to the abused and neglected children they deal with on a daily basis.

Every person in the old-age home received their own blanket

More scarves

Once they were familiar with the basics of knitting they moved on to the next step, this time knitting scarves. This taught them to knit in plain and purl and to add fringes. The scarves are for sale at the Welfare office's thrift shop and the proceeds are being used to buy new yarn.

When I met these industrious ladies, they were already hard at work on their third project. Bed socks. This time they learned about multiplication and reducing of stitches, as well as using more than one colour at a time.

Bed-socks to warm the heart (and feet!)

The next step will be to teach them basic business skills like calculating the amount of yarn needed per item and pricing a product. Their aim is to use these skills to earn some money to fund all their community projects.

More bed-socks

I met these ladies because my mom, Anneke, is their "knitting-teacher". We are both so inspired by these ladies' spirit of giving, sharing and hard work. In a country like South-Afica where there are so many needs it is great to find people who are willing to give of the little they have to those who have even less. And don't be mistaken, these women all have their own woes of arthiritis and bad backs, children who has died of AIDS, and orphaned grand-children. But they have faith in God and willing hearts, and that is enough to conquer any obstacle.

Even though they work hard and do not expect hand-outs, they can always do with a helping hand. They would appreciate any left-over yarn or other materials that can be put to use in any of their projects. Some of these ladies also do beautiful sewing and embroidery. If you have anything to contribute please contact me by e-mail.

...and they lived happily ever after. Have a great week-end!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Holiday time at last!

We are off on our 3 week holiday to South-Africa. We are all super excited and actually look forward to winter and cool (cold?) weather.

We will spend a week on a game farm in the Bushveld...

Then we will spend some time in my hometown, Pretoria, to visit friends and family..

And then we will spend the last week in the Free State visiting my parents...

Can't wait! I will try and post while I am there, but then again, I might be having such a good time that I won't even touch the computor...
Enjoy your holidays, if you are lucky enough to have some, and see you in a few weeks time. Bye!

(Photos from Google images)

Spiral granny squares - finished at last!

It's 2 months later and the blanket is finally finished!

I wasn't sure how big it will be, so I just carried on until I ran out of yarn. When I was about halfway I weighed the finished bit as well as the remaining yarn to get an idea of how many rows I had to make. I had to plan the border as the colours are different there.

The blanket is really soft and cosy. It measures 1.54m x 1.32m (60" x 52"), which is ideal to snuggle up on the couch...