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A simple knit

In all the years I have never seen my mother knit garter stitch, anywhere else than on the bottom of a baby bootee. It was too simple and too common for her. So it became the same way for me. Without ever thinking about it, I just never knitted garter stitch. There was so much to be conquered! And without being pompous, I can say “been there, done that” to all of the intricate stuff. Cables, lace, mosaic, brioche, fair isle, intarsia….. they have all been on my knitting needles at one time or another. But not garter stitch. Until I made my first Enchanted Mesa designed by Stephen West. Immediately after finishing the project, I casted on a second one and started playing with the short rows. My playing resulted in a stunning jumper. A jumper made mostly in garter stitch!

This week I decided to cast on a jersey while I wait for new yarn to arrive and for my bronchitis to pass. Nothing worked the way I wanted it to. I was moody and not feeling well and I frogged time and time again. At times it felt as if my head would explode and I couldn’t count.

Eventually, I just threw it all down and laid back with my eyes closed for a while. As my thoughts started to wander, I remembered a woman whose blog I followed right up to her death. She called it Mundane Faithfulness. Faithfulness in all aspects is really mundane, isn’t it? Have you ever thought about it? There are no trumpet sounds when we manage to keep the households running. There are no fanfare when we manage to get something done on time. We do what we have to do, when we have to do it, and most times, we get it right. But there are many times when we don’t. And that is okay.

Today I decided that I am not feeling okay, and that it’s okay to not feel okay. It’s okay not to want to do anything that involves counting. It’s okay to go for the simplest of stitch patterns, simply to be in the moment. So I started to knit myself a garter stitch jersey. The rhythm of the stitches is exactly what I needed. I don’t have to think; my thoughts can wander wherever they feel like. That is also okay. Next week, I will hopefully be back to my normal self. Until then, I will just listen to my body; it has the knack every now and then to force me to slow down. To slow down and knit garter stitch. It’s okay. Really.

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Rainbow after Idai

This is a story by Amanda Wellmann, a well-known and active member of Ilona Slow Group Creations. She was a tester for Wacky Weave Squares and Wacky Weave Babette.

In this light of the Afrikaans crochet book just published, ‘Hekel en word Heel’, I simply have to share her story. Yet another woman who crocheted through a time of trauma.

Here is her story:

“When Hilda asked me to write the story behind “Rainbow after Idai”, my first instinct was to decline. Although I am a serious chatterbox I do not live with my heart on my sleeve and find it very difficult to talk about my emotions.  But, out of respect for unconditional friendship and emotional support during a very difficult time … this is for my friend Hilda.

We live in rural Mozambique not too far from Beira, and life in rural Africa can be very challenging at times.  We are prepared for most of the day to day challenges but nothing, absolutely nothing, could have prepared us for the total onslaught of Cyclone Idai.

We received notification that a serious cyclone was slowly making its way towards us, and we did everything we could think of to be prepared for the event.   We bought extra water and food and then we waited.   As the cyclone moved towards us the wind picked up and the rain came tumbling down.  Day turned into night with wind and rain like we have never seen. 

We watched huge old trees tumble to the ground and we heard our roof sheets lifting, we ran and moved furniture further into our house, we watched the ceiling cave in and the rain now bucketing down into our home.  We pushed a mattress in front of the door to keep the wind out and we stood in awe of the total onslaught of nature.

Around midnight suddenly everything went quiet, the eye of the cyclone now above us … total silence …. a man started wailing, raw cries, desperate pleas for help, children screaming …….

The following morning brought daylight and we stood speechless surrounded by total devastation and chaos.  There are no words to describe the days that followed, so much heartache, so many lost everything they owned, so many without food, so many without a roof over their heads, so many hungry children and so many who died.

We were literally cut of from the outside world, no communication, no water or electricity for 11 days.  We washed out of a bucket, we burned candles and we rationed our food.

After  8 days finally we had sporadic communication, my cell phone went crazy with 97 messages from family, friends and even people I haven’t seen or heard from in years.  Once contact was restored,  other than our families, only a few friends remained in contact.

One day my friend Hilda phoned me and asked if I am really okay, my answer ….  Yes, we are okay but NO I am not bloody okay!  There is so much heartache, so much devastation, so much sadness, that some days I feel as if I just can not cope anymore … if only I could stop thinking!

My friend listened to me for a long time, making the necessary sound effects where appropriate, and when I finally got rid of all emotions she said …. Well, then we need to keep your head busy with something else.  You used to be a tester right? Right! The testers are busy with the new Rainbow CAL and you can crochet Rainbow with them. Before I could say “pop goes the weasel”, once again I was part of the testers group with access to the new pattern.

MoYa is my favourite yarn and as I stood in front of my quite substantial stash, I decided to crochet myself a happy Rainbow blanket and as I watched it grow, this silent time brought me peace and joy through some very difficult days. 

To my friend Hilda, thank you for your unconditional friendship and thank you for the Rainbow you brought into my life after the devastation of Idai.

Love, Light and Blessings from darkest Africa.”

The kit for Rainbow after Idai will cost slightly more, due to a whole different colour arrangement. But with Amanda being the amazing artist she is, her rainbow came out beyond beautiful. I am honoured to have it now as a kit option for Wacky Weave Rainbow in the Round.

The kits are beavailable from Afrique Yarns.

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The Woes of Womanhood

Bra shopping. Hands down the worst shopping ever. If you don’t like the F word, stop reading. I really don’t feel like filtering my thoughts. Right now, I am angry and despondent, all at the same time. Match that with my hate for shopping and you will begin to understand how I feel.

I am out of proportion. And I know for sure, I am not the only one. I don’t have a big bone structure, I wear a size 12 jean and I weigh 65kg. Not too much if you consider that tomorrow, I will be 50 years old. Yes I know I am slightly overweight; it doesn’t bother me. I am unfit too. You know why? Because I am fkn clumsy. I have been born clumsy. If I try to walk fast, I will end up twisting my ankle. I am that girl that trips over nothing. Sport is not my thing. Never has been, never will be. But when it comes to boobs, oh, I was in the front rows. I got dealt a hefty pair of boobs. Try and find a bra that is COMFORTABLE, AFFORDABLE, and in my size – 36F. I dare you.

“Oh Hilda, you can’t possible wear a F cup! It sure doesn’t look like it! Are you sure?”

Yes. Yes I am. You see I have had this problem for years. My boobs start somewhere under my arms. By the time I have them nicely in the front, instead of them trying to hide in my arm pits, they are a F cup. Since I started wearing a bra, it has been a battle each time I need new ones. I go into a frenzy when I see my bras need replacement. It takes me days to build up to the courage to go shopping. Only to walk out in total dismay, angry at the entire world of lingerie.

Bra Boutique I hear you say? Oh sure! Let’s start at R1500 for one bra. Have you any idea how much yarn I can buy for all of that money? And having only one bra will be a bit of a bummer don’t you think? So we are looking at least R3000 for two bras. Hell no.

The first problem when I ask for a BIG cup, is that the staff immediately assume, I WANT to look like somebody out of a horror movie, wearing the ancient ‘cross your heart’ thing. How the hell am I suppose to look sexy to my husband in something like this? Still, I would buy it if I could get the right size!

This one looks better even if ever so slightly, but still, no size.

Cross my heart. This is me rolling my eyes so badly, I have trouble focussing afterwards. Did I mention I am on the autism spectrum? Did I mention I have serious sensory issues? I cannot stand any clothes that feels hard to the touch, that squeezes and scratches. This bra above? Horrid. Horrid I tell you. So hard, it is disgusting. And no F cup.

Oh did I mention? They only make BIG cups, for BIG people. I shit you not. In most of the lines, the E cup only starts with size 40. So when I see something like this in a shop, only to find out that the F cup is only available in size 40, I want to slap somebody. I just don’t know who. Maybe the idiot who decided that all small built woman, have small boobs, is a male. Send him to me. He needs to be educated.

Now add the following to the problem: My gynaecologist wants to throw a tantrum every time I see her for a check up. I have two sausages under my boobs. Scar tissue from wired bras. Breeding ground for breast cancer she says. Sports bra you shout! NOT. I am yet to find a sports bra that prevents me from looking to Mrs Wobbles when I walk. Oh, and they don’t separate my boobs either, so I have this huge fat sausage. A uni-boob. Think of uni-brow.

I was desperate enough this time, to look at bras for breastfeeding mommies. Really. I makes sense doesn’t it? When you are breastfeeding, your boobs are BIG. So maybe there, I will find a bigger cup for a 36, right? NOT.

The nice looking, lacy, sexy bras are in the front of the store. This wall is reserved for BIG woman. But still, nothing for a small woman, with big boobs. Besides, life is too short to wear a beige bra.

No, I am not yet done with my rant. When I was young, I got so desperate, I went to an underwear sewing course, and for years, I made my own. Unfortunately, all with wires. The technology needed to lift a hefty pair of boobs, and keep them there, isn’t available to the home seamstress. I had an entrepreneur who made bras for me for many years. Unfortunately, the last batch I got from her, were not the quality I was used to. Her business has grown (good for her), and her work is contracted out to various seamstresses. Not the same anymore. So back to square one.

I feel like burning all my bras. Walking around ‘tossel-tieties’ until I die (translation: pompom-boobs). There is only one problem. What if I have to run? You know we live in Africa. Here you never know what to expect. If I run today, they will lock Dries up tomorrow thinking he has beaten me silly. I will have bruised, blue eyes. Guaranteed.

I am now going to sit and crochet while I cool off. The worst part of this morning was the staff member. “Just try this one, or this one”. FFS. I know what I want. And she didn’t have it. Nobody does.

Sunday we will go to a bra boutique. It might seriously compromise my yarn shopping in New Zealand, planned for later this month. It makes me sick just to think about it.

Oh, and don’t get me started on massage beds. I will rant about that another day.