November 2010

In this edition:


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Hip and happening

A little over six weeks ago I was lying in a hospital bed at Durbanville Medi-Clinic, waiting to be taken to the operating theatre to undergo arthroscopic surgery on my hip. (To give you some background: I suffer from hip dysplasia, which has resulted in some rather painful joint problems over the last ten years or so. The surgery I had is the only way to delay an actual hip replacement - which is an operation no-one wants to perform on a 34-year-old. ;-))

All the time in the world

In some ways it's hard to believe that it's been just six weeks since my operation, but in other ways it feels like that day was a lifetime ago. Time is a funny thing, isn't it? I had to spend the first three weeks lying in bed, and wasn't allowed to sit upright. Whilst this is not quite as much fun as it sounds, the upside is that it forced me into having some me-time. Quite a lot of me-time, really. I couldn't work on my computer for very long, and I certainly couldn't get up and do housework, so instead I listened to podcasts, read books, and made some progress on a rather ambitious cross-stitch project I started a couple of years ago. (The project is still nowhere near complete, but at least it's actually beginning to look like a picture now.)

My resolution

This experience changed my perspective (as challenging situations often do), and reminded me of how important it is to take time out. So I've resolved to snatch a bit of me-time every single day from now on. Why don't you do the same? We're all busy, we all have endless demands on our time and attention, but you know what? The world won't end if you take a bit of time out. More than that, you'll be a happier, kinder, more patient person, and those around you will be better off for it. Go on, give it a try. :-)


Put that down, boy; it’s not for cats.

I have a rather unusual cat, with some very strange habits. He likes to sleep in plastic bags. He hides in the bath. He falls asleep flat on his back. And he steals jewellery.

Yup. William is a right little pickpocket; he steals bracelets, necklaces, even rings – and then drops them into the food bowl he shares with our other cat, presumably as a gift for her.

I find it heart-wrenchingly adorable, so I often leave bracelets or necklaces on my desk, and let him run off with them, jingling all the way down the passage. But there’s one piece of jewellery I’m not going to be leaving lying around, and it’s this one:

William would make off with that in a flash. And who can blame him? It’s got butterflies (one of William’s other favourite things), and pretty Swarovski crystals that sparkle temptingly in the light.

But although I made this bracelet myself, I can’t take credit for any of its prettiness. That’s all Fransie Snyman, the talented, smart and highly creative author of Jewellery in a Jiffy, and now, More Jewellery in a Jiffy.

To celebrate the launch of More Jewellery in a Jiffy, the publisher, Metz Press, invited a few journalists to spend the morning with Fransie, learning how to make this lovely Butterfly Bracelet (it’s on page 24 of the book, in case you’re wondering).

We were all quite surprised to learn that when she’s not creating beautiful designs for beading, Fransie is actually a maths teacher. It sort of makes sense, though; after all, the secret of beauty itself is said to lie in a number – the golden ratio, or 1.618.

Fransie’s healthy understanding of symmetry and balance is very apparent as you page through her latest book. Every design is, without fail, the kind of thing that elicits oohs and aahs from observers. The designs all feature pearls, crystals and gemstones, so these are pieces that you could happily make as gifts or to wear on special occasions.

And I know it’s a cliché, but I think there really is something to suit everyone here, from the light and dainty Delicate Filigree Bracelet on page 36 to the funky Turquoise Cross Necklace on page 82.

I have to admit, I’ve fallen in love with beading all over again, thanks to this book. Which is a good thing, because it seems I’m going to have to make another Butterfly Bracelet – this time out of cheap plastic beads – so that William can have some sparkles too.

Look out for a full review of More Jewellery in a Jiffy, coming up soon on the Red Balloon Craft Junction. And if you’re ready to get beading, order the book right away.


Win with Red Balloon

Stand a chance of winning a copy of Soap: The Art of Glycerine Soapcrafting, by Capetonian soap-crafting teacher and expert Jo-Ann Bannister. In this book, Jo-Ann introduces you to the basic processes of melting and pouring soap, and gives useful advice on where to find the right moulds and equipment. The book contains loads of tips on making crafted soaps for special occasions such as birthdays, Valentine's Day, anniversaries and Christmas.
Be warned, your soaps will look good enough to eat!

Click here to enter.


What's on

Get more info on these and other events on the Red Balloon Events Calendar.

  • Oakhurst Food and Craft Market (Western Cape)
    This is the third Christmas market to be held on the historic Oakhurst farm, situated outside the Garden Route village of Hoekwil. Attractions will include a wide selection of wholesome food, a tea garden, children's activities such as pony rides and sand art, a relaxation station offering pampering treatments, and a range of stalls selling clothing, homeware, gift items and more.
    Date: 28 November
    Venue: Oakhurst Farm, outside the village of Hoekwil, 25 minutes from George
    Time: 9am - 3pm
    Click here for more information.

  • Cobblewalk Lifestyle Market (Western Cape)
    Visit this indoor market for a selection of gifts, decor items, clothing, handcrafted jewellery and more.
    Date: 27 November
    Venue: Cnr of Verdi Boulevard and De Villiers Road, Sonstraal Heights, Durbanville
    Time: 9am – 3pm
    Click here for more information.

  • Soul Sisters Craft Club (Western Cape and Gauteng)
    Soul Sisters is a craft club for ladies who enjoy a variety of crafts and want to spend time expressing their creativity with people who share their interests. As a Soul Sister, you will attend six workshops per year, learning two new crafts per workshop from the top craft teachers in the country. You also receive a Soul Sisters membership card, a Soul Sisters bag and after each workshop you will enjoy a relaxing lunch with the other members. The membership fee also includes all the material that you need to complete each project – no extra costs during the year. Members can join the Cape Town or Pretoria Club.
    Contact: Monean Winterbach on 021 919 9325 or
    Click here for more information.

  • Beginners' painting course with Elsie van Tonder (Free State)
    Learn to paint with acrylic paints at this non-intimidating course that's perfect for beginners. The course is spread over two evenings, and the structure is relaxed.
    Dates: 17 and 18 November
    Venue: Loskop Farm, 6km outside Bloemfontein
    Time: 4.30pm – 8.30pm
    Cost: R490 per person, or R465 per person for groups of three or more friends
    Contact: Elsie van Tonder at or on 082 784 2218


Can you help?

  • Jo-Ann Bannister is selling copies of her book Soap: The Art of Glycerine Soapcrafting for R70 each. Read our review of the book here.

  • Jo-Ann is also getting rid of her stock of plastic moulds; she is selling them for R6.00 each.

If you are interested in either of these offers, please email Jo-Ann directly, at


On the bookshelf

Knitted Toys by Fiona McTague

Reviewed by Cara Visser

If you find yourself confined to the couch with nothing to do, here’s the ideal way to keep you and your hands on the go. No need to leave home; knit up a treasure chest full of colourful soft toys for children’s gifts, home décor or Christmas stockings. My favourites are the bugs on page 24 – use them to make a colourful cot mobile, or even to hang from your car’s rear-view mirror.

With 20 options ranging from furry farmyard animals to quaint finger puppets, each project provides colourful photographs, detailed instructions and information about measurements, materials and tensions. Particularly useful is the skill-level indicator, ranging from one (easiest) to three (most difficult). For those of you who are just starting out, there’s also an introductory few pages covering different types of yarns, stitches, needles and techniques.

And if you’ve got children, jump at the opportunity for collaboration on easier projects. A perfect example is the teddy on page 72 – while you bring him to life, encourage your kids to learn by knitting him a scarf. Nothing could be easier, or more rewarding.

Get more info on this title here.

Find more book reviews in the Craft Compendium.


Opportunities for crafters

Find more opportunities to sell your crafts in the Craft Outlets section of the Red Balloon Craft Junction.

  • Adorn Me Markets (Western Cape)
    A full-moon night market celebrating inspired creativity, in the magnificent gardens of Little Stream Conference Centre.
    Dates: 21 November, 21 December
    Trading hours: 5.30pm - 10.30pm
    Venue: Little Stream Conference Centre, Klein Constantia Road, Constantia
    Contact: Astrid on 082 816 1329 or at


That's all for this edition. Enjoy the last few weeks before the silly season strikes, and remember to check the Events Calendar at the Red Balloon Craft Junction to see what's on in your area.

Till next month,