December 2010

In this edition:


Running out of time to do your Christmas shopping?

Don't panic! offers 24-hour delivery on a wide range of books, including the craft titles below. (Click on each book's image for more information.)

The Complete Photo Guide to Textile Art
by Susan Stein
Was R228.95, Now R183.16

Complete Book of Candles and Candlemaking
by Gloria Nicol
Was R249.95, Now R199.96

Sew What! Skirts: 16 Simple Styles You Can Make with Fabulous Fabrics
by Carole Ann Camp and Francesca Denhartog
Was R200.95, Now R160.76

The Essential Sampler Quilt Book: 40 Techniques for Machine and Hand Patchwork
by Lynne Edwards
Was R289.95, Now R231.96

21 Terrific Patchwork Bags
by Susan Briscoe
Was R199.95, Now R159.96

Seams to Me: 24 New Reasons to Love Sewing
by Anna Maria Horner
Was R215.95, Now R172.76

Cookbooking: The Delicious New Way to Scrapbook
by Barbara Winkler
Was R252.95, Now R202.36


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Happy holidays!

Seems everyone is in desperate need of a holiday this year, doesn't it? No matter who I speak to, I get the feeling that the second half of 2010 has been demanding, fast-paced, and just plain exhausting. We're taking a break this year too: our offices will be closed from the 23rd of December until the 5th of January.

Of course, the tricky part of working from home (as all our staff do) is that you never REALLY get to leave work. So for the first time in many years, I'm seriously considering switching on my out-of-office reply on the afternoon of the 22nd and absolutely ignoring anything that looks like work until the morning of the 5th. Bets are now open on how long this arrangement will last. :-)

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, and whether you're staying at home or heading off on a summer holiday, I wish you the happiest of times, filled with laughter. Make a point of starting each day with a smile, and whatever you do, don't let the little things stress you out.


Inspirational craft ideas for your Christmas gifts, decorations and wrapping

Our round-up of Christmas craft ideas was so popular last December that we've decided to do it again this year, with an assortment of Christmassy ideas from around the web. So haul out all your unused craft supplies, and get busy!

Designer gift wrapping, made by you

We’re boycotting the same old, shop-bought wrapping paper and ribbon this year. Join us, and make your own (far prettier) wrapping from things like brown paper, ribbons, fabric or even repurposed sheet music instead. Here are 13 themed ideas to get you started.

Cute cookie cutter floating candles

For far less than you’d buy them for, here’s how to make your own floating candles using play dough, candle wax and cookie cutters in a variety of shapes and sizes. What a lovely, inexpensive way to decorate your home over Christmas!

Glitzy pinecone ornaments

Probably still one of the cheapest, easiest, most festive and time-honoured Christmas decorations, here’s how to glitz up all those pinecones lying around, with just paint and coloured ribbon.

Peanut butter doggy treats

Don’t forget about the dogs this Christmas – they too deserve a treat or two. Here’s a recipe for yummy peanut butter biscuits. And if you make them in big batches, they’ll keep for weeks after Christmas in an airtight container.

Butterfly hair comb

A perfect gift idea for a girlfriend, niece or daughter, here’s how to make a pretty butterfly hair accessory from inexpensive materials. We suggest going all out in festive golds, greens and reds.

Versatile CD-and-fudge gift pack

This is a great gift idea for anyone, really. This tip shows you how to make a gift pack containing home-made fudge (in various flavours) and a CD of your favourite Christmas tunes. Cute, downloadable CD covers are also there for the taking to print out and use.

Box topiaries good enough for gifts

Now, here’s a novel idea with more than one use: while hand-made box topiaries could be part of the packaging, ones as gorgeous as these are good enough to use as gifts themselves.

Cookie mix in a jar

Something that’ll lure even the most stubborn baker into the kitchen is pre-mixed, flop-proof cookie mix. Great as Christmas gifts for friends – or children, even – chocolate chip cookie mix in a beautifully decorated jar will, if anything, guarantee you an invitation to tea.

Vintage-style tile coasters

Looking for a way to get rid of those old, dated tiles? Even if you’re not, smallish ceramic tiles are fairly inexpensive, and make for funky coasters in no time at all. To start you off, here’s how to make vintage-look coasters using bits and pieces from around the house.

Cupboard door tea trays

Well, this is definitely not something we’d have come up with on our own. What a superb way of making a beautiful tea tray out of an old, salvaged cupboard door - complete with cupboard door handles for tray handles.

Christmas lights in a potpourri jar

Potpourri is great; we all love it, but it soon loses its scent as time goes by. Laying Christmas lights between the leaves in the jars is a nifty trick, as the heat activates the aroma. Plus, the lit-up jars make for really pretty decorations.


What's on

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

  • Christmas Craft Market (Gauteng)
    Treat the whole family to a fun day out at the Bokkie Park in Boksburg. There will be a number of colourful stalls selling arts and crafts, gifts and souvenirs; a tea garden and food stalls to catch a quick bite; and plenty of entertainment for the kids (sand art, pony rides, and farmyard activities). Picnic and braai facilities will also be available.
    Date: 18 December 2010
    Venue: The Bokkie Park, Southvale Road, Boksburg
    Time: 9am – 2.30pm
    Contact: Janine on 011 896 3890
    Click here for more information.

  • Porter Estate Product Market (Western Cape)
    This fresh produce market in Tokai operates every Saturday, weather permitting. It was started by the same group of people responsible for Jonkershuis on Groot Constantia and Societi Bistro, and boasts the best in organic fruit, vegetables, treats as well as other goodies. There are loads of activities for children and ample parking. Entrance per vehicle is R5, which goes to the Chrysalis Academy.
    Dates: Every Saturday
    Venue: Chrysalis Academy Grounds, Porter Estate, Tokai
    Time: 9am – 1pm
    Contact: Gail on 082 334 5434
    Click here for more information.

  • Durbanville Night Market (Western Cape)
    Durbanville’s well-known craft market will operate under the stars, in the cool evening air, this December. Themed “Dancing under the Stars”, you’ll be able to bring the whole family and learn line dancing, Latin dancing or belly dancing. Apart from all the beautiful arts and crafts that will be on sale, there will also be live music and entertainment, a beer garden and a jumping castle for children. The market will continue to operate during the day on Saturday, 18 December.
    Dates: 17 and 18 December 2010
    Venue: Rust-en-Vrede, Wellington Road, Durbanville
    Time: 5pm – 10pm on the 17th, and 8.30am - 2pm on the 18th
    Contact: 072 173 1040 or email
    Click here for more information.

  • Adderley Street Night Market (Western Cape)
    What better way to share in the Christmas cheer than at the annual Adderley Street Night Market in Cape Town. Organised by the City of Cape Town, you can expect more than 180 stalls selling local arts and crafts, jewellery, gifts, clothes, home and garden accessories and food to name but a few. There will be lots of entertainment for everyone, including face painters, magicians and trapeze artists for children.
    Dates: 17 to 30 December 2010
    Venue: Adderley Street, Cape Town
    Time: 6.30pm – 11.30pm
    Contact: 021 419 1881 or

  • Gonubie Christmas Fair (Eastern Cape)
    It’s time for the annual Gonubie Christmas Fair in East London, which is organised by local charity organisations to raise funds. There will be a wide selection of stalls selling arts, crafts, gifts and accessories; a beer tent and loads of entertainment for children including a water slide, helicopter rides and the chance to meet Father Christmas. On Saturday morning, you can join in the Red Cross Jingle Bells walk; on Sunday, braver participants can join in the Living Waters Jingle Bells fun run.
    Dates: 17 – 19 December 2010
    Venue: Gonubie Sports Fields, Main Road, Gonubie
    Time: 9am – 5pm
    Contact: Marcine Cooper on 083 789 8094 or

  • South Coast Christmas Market (KwaZulu-Natal)
    Expect over 300 stalls at this year’s South Coast Christmas Market. Spend the day browsing for Christmas gifts and other yummy treats – there will most definitely be something for everyone.
    Dates: 10 – 30 December 2010 (closed on 16, 25 and 26 December)
    Venue: St Michaels on Sea
    Time: 10am – 8pm
    Contact: Jo-Ellen Canovion on 072 305 2585 or
    Click here for more information.


Become an Eazy Stitch Kidz educator

Due to the success of the Eazy Stitch Kidz handcraft programme in the Western Cape, Eazy Stitch Kidz will be expanding to the North-West Province and Gauteng in 2011. First, though, they need new licensed Eazy Stitch Kidz educators. Are you interested?

The programme is currently being presented as a private extra-mural activity at 20 schools around the Western Cape. It teaches knitting, crocheting, plait work, embroidery, tie-dyeing and lots more. Two courses are taught for beginner (grade 1 – 3) and intermediate (grade 4 – 7) learners on a weekly basis for an hour at a time. Not only do the courses stimulate learners’ fine motor skills; they also awaken entrepreneurial skills – all items made are easily sold at craft markets.

A small capital investment is required initially, but you’ll soon be earning an income and can even generate extra income by hosting workshops, craft clubs and birthday parties.

If you’re a hands-on artist or crafter interested in becoming an educator for Eazy Stitch Kidz, please visit and download the Licensed Educator form to receive more information. Alternatively, contact Hesmari van Toorn on 083 629 2929 or at


On the bookshelf

Knitted Beaded Jewellery by Ruth Herring

Reviewed by Cara Visser

Just in time for Christmas, Knitted Beaded Jewellery offers you a creative way of making really special, one-of-a-kind gifts for your nearest and dearest. Combine your knitting and beading skills to make the daintiest jewellery and accessories out of wools and cottons; or be a little adventurous and try working with wire or leather.

The book is divided into four sections starting with basic, beginner projects using beads and simple techniques. The projects in the sections that follow increase in difficulty – I recommend starting with one of the easier projects, like a ring or two, to get your creative juices flowing.

All in all, there are a choice of 14 different designs from which to make earrings, necklaces, chokers, wrist- and anklebands, hairbands, rings and even handbags. It really is up to you how creative you’d like to be, as the designs are versatile enough to embellish with as many beads, sequins and sparkly bits as you like. If you’re brave enough, you could even adapt the techniques to make gorgeous Christmas tree decorations.

As someone who is fairly crafty but inexperienced in this area, I was impressed by the detailed instructions, skill level indicator, tips and step-by-step photos and captions for each project. I also found the introductory Materials and Equipment and Techniques sections to be very useful. There, the author starts from scratch by teaching you all about different types of beads, equipment, measurements, abbreviations and techniques; right down to holding the needles, how to thread wire and how to finish off your projects – very useful to page back to as you get going.

Get more info on this title here.

Find more book reviews in the Craft Compendium.


That's all for this edition. Have a delightful festive season, and we'll see you again next year!

Till next month,