I know two angels..
The one started to work at Woolcrate June 1st 2019. I always tell customers that I am 100% sure Ros invented knitting. Ros knows everything about knitting without ever boasting about it. She is a calm presence in the shop and never gets rattled, even in the face of drama or crises. She has a wicked sense of humour and loves to pull pranks on people. I am so proud of her: despite being born a few decades before me, she does not shy away from technological challenges and is the first to pick up mistakes when we cash up at the end of the day.
On May 4th 2020 the other angel helped us out after the hard lockdown – she welcomed customers at the door, took their temperature and wrote their contact details down. And then she stayed. From day one Annerie chatted with anyone and everyone. And she has not stopped since. She is a wealth of information and knows everyone’s stories, projects and business references. She remembers names, brands, details, codes, numbers and colours at the drop of a hat.
She teaches crochet lessons in such a relaxed informal manner and has a wonderful hearty laugh!
These two angels see to the day to day running of Woolcrate.
Recently I took the time to revisit and reread the reviews and comments we have received from our customers. Two things stood out: 1.) Ros and Annerie’s friendliness and helpfulness 2.) their knowledge and willingness to share it.
Today I want to commend these two angels without reservation. Thank you, ladies, for making Woolcrate a safe haven for many people – even if it’s just a quick hello at the gate. Thank you for your competence and commitment. I love working with the two of you!
I know two angels..
My husband and I seldom agree on what movie or series to watch together. Opposites certainly do attract! I love dramas, documentaries and crime thrillers – he enjoys comedies. Especially sitcoms. Generally the choreographed choir of laughter irritates me but lo and behold, after many years some sitcoms started to grow on me. Knitting or crocheting while watching The Office and Big Bang Theory have provided many cozy evenings of chilled relaxation. Recently we watched Friends and one episode particularly stood out for me:
Joey and Phoebe entered into a long discussion about the nature of acts of kindness, aka charity. Joey stated that all acts of kindness are intrinsically selfish because the gestures we do for other people that give us nothing in return, are done to make us feel good about ourselves. And that in itself is selfish. Obviously Phoebe did not agree.
It made me think about the generosity of people we witness daily in the shop. We have customers that use their pension money to purchase Mirage 25g balls to knit beanies for babies in state hospitals and scarves for the homeless in shelters. We have husbands that drop off bags full of knitted and crocheted squares made by their late wives, to be sewn up for blankets.
A customer once commented that true charity only takes places if the giver engages in a sacrifice of some sorts – only then are acts of kindness true and sincere.
My take is that it will be a shame to confine or limit kindness, compassion and generosity in our quest to find a definition of charity. Charity is when we give our time, our talents and yes, our handiwork. It is when we look beyond ourselves and recognise opportunities where we can make a difference in people’s lives, albeit small and effortless.
In the words of Mother Theresa from Calcutta: “It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.”
Morgan Scott Peck (1936–2005) was an American psychiatrist and best-selling author who wrote the book The Road Less Travelled. He once declared “Share our similarities, celebrate our differences!”
We daily experience similarities and differences in people and their preferences in our little yarn shop. There are customers that make a beeline for the shelves packed with Mirage, Charity and Family Knit. Then there are the customers that only knit and crochet with pure natural yarns and would not be caught dead with acrylic yarn in their basket!
So: what is the difference between natural and synthetic yarns? Why do certain projects with a certain type of yarn?
Natural yarns can be from animal or plant origin. Animal fibres such as wool, alpaca, mohair and cashmere retain heat exceptionally well and are perfect for winterwear like sweaters, beanies and scarves.
Cotton, bamboo, hemp and linen are examples of plant fibres and are suitable for garments, accessories, hats and décor items.
Synthetic yarns are “man-made”, for example acrylic, polyester, nylon (also called polyimide) and spandex.
Different situations call for different approaches. You probably would not want to wear a pure merino sweater when you live in the Bushveld, whereas that same sweater will be considered your best belonging in winter in places like Sutherland and Bloemfontein! Shawls and scarves in bamboo present with a beautiful drape; cotton is durable, does not stretch and gets softer with every wash. Socks are often knitted in a blend of merino wool, for heat and polyimide, for stretch and shape retention.
Bottomline: to each their own.
I am positively sure that Morgan Scott Peck would nod his head in approval of our similarities and differences. We knit and crochet with natural yarns to celebrate nature and earth in its purest form – we knit and crochet with synthetic yarns because it is affordable, durable and can be washed in a machine!
What similarities do we celebrate? We knit and crochet because it makes us feel good. It reduces stress and anxiety and promotes mindfulness through repetitive movements. We bless others with gifts from the heart and tend to the needs of the less privileged. We knit and crochet because we have to. That’s all.
Somebody asked me a very interesting question the other day: does the joy of having children weigh heavier than the trauma that one can experience as a parent?
My answer was yes, it does. But I do think that the answer to this question is not always that straightforward. It differs from parent to parent to child to child and from situation to situation.
Quite a deep train of thought so early in the morning.
On a much lighter note, the same can be said for having a deep meaningful relationship with yarn and also suffering from arthritis.
Yup. Many of you will agree that the struggle is real.
We live daily with pain in your hands, joints, elbows and shoulders as a result of hours and hours of knitting and crocheting but we also know that these movements relieve the stiffness in our joints.
I guess in the end it’s all about balance. Knowing when to stop and take a break. (Not that one can take a break from parenthood!) Even if you only need to knit those last few rows… Just one more… And then one more…
The joy of finishing a project, delivering a commissioned article, blessing someone with a gift or wearing a coveted garment outweighs the pain, inflammation and discomfort in our hands and wrists by far!
In the coming weeks we are going to delve into living with arthritis and simultaneously enjoy the best hobby, addiction, pastime and business. Please share your thoughts and your tips on dealing with arthritic pain with us.
What is the funniest, strangest or most unusual thing you have knitted or crocheted?
I tend to get carried away. There was a time when I crocheted animals (amigurumi) like there’s no tomorrow. Professor Kwaadkat, Farmer Piggy, Mrs Hare, Ballerina Kitty, Snake, VetKat, the Ducky, Henrietta Hippo, Purple Giraffe, Sausage Dog, the Troll and many more. My zoo and the arthritic pain in my hands grew by the day. Then, one day… I was over it.
I decided to make blankets. Afghans for everyone! Granny Squares, Ripple, C2C, stripey, scrappy, checkered, vintage, chunky; you name it, I made it.
Then there was the hat and head band phase. And the sock phase. And colourful bunting for my garden phase.
The phase that I think I loved most, was knitting and crocheting for my dogs and cats. They are so non-judgemental. Once I made a cocoon cat bed for Meraai as we all know how cats love to hide inside objects like boxes and crates. She however decided it’s safer to sleep on the roof of her cocoon bed. So… the entire project collapsed despite the dowel stick framework. She seemed happy though.
Another time I made a pink ballerina tutu for Moomin the Jack Russel. The bodice was crocheted and finished off neatly with a satin ribbon bow. Another time I made her a little pink and white stripey winter sweater – a friend of mine declared that Moomin looked like a moving toilet roll holder.
Straatwolf aka Lizzie, our rescue pup from TEARS Animal Rescue, got a custom-made knitted harness in fuchsia pink.
Another less successful project was my “Save the Rhino” drive. I took part in a muddy rainy 5km Fun Run for rhino conservation, I stuck a rhino sticker on my car and declared those regarding rhino horn an aphrodisiac, idiots. I took my drive further: I crocheted a rhino horn hat for Moomin – with straps that tied the hat under her chin. I thought she looked fabulous and made a difference in her very own unique way. My children however, were teenagers at that stage. They could not stop sniggering and begged me not to let Moomin wear her hat in public. Apparently Moomin’s horn resembled something completely different…
My latest creation is a cotton cover for Buksie, the Jimny. (A Buksie in Afrikaans refers to a short, stocky person.)
So: what is the most unusual project you have ever embarked on?
I love people. I have faith in people. I have after all studied four years to become a social worker because I believe in the innate goodness of humans. The ability to become better versions of themselves.
But between you and me, I suspect I love dogs more.
This morning I watched a clip on NBC news that gripped my heart. So much so that I had to leave everything I am busy with to share it with you.
We are all familiar with the atrocity of what is taking place in Ukraine. We pray for them, we purchase patterns on Etsy from Ukrainian designers to make a small contribution and we support organisations like Gift of the Givers that are actively working there.
May we never grow desensitized to the devastating scenes of destruction, the blank expressions on children’s faces hiding in subways, mothers and grandmothers weeping over the bodies of young men in the prime of their lives.
But the clip this morning was about a Ukrainian man, Nikolai, that returned to his home in Bucha to find his house standing just the way he and his family have fled from it on March 9th. The house is frozen in time because the Russians didn’t get to it and the dinner plates were still on the table. But lo and behold.. upon entering he heard his dog barking! His dog was waiting for him. It did take a few moments to warm up before he recognised his owner but I can just imagine that reunion.
I once read “Be the person your dog thinks you are”. That is simple enough for me. For today. Today I am going to try and be that person.
For all mankind (but mainly for my dogs! 😊)
Five years ago I bought a wool shop – a dream came true! The little shop in Fish Hoek where I, at first as a customer, browse, dream, plan and visualise a million projects to come. (The majority of these are to this day referred to as my PhD: Projects Half Done 😊)
I remember the excitement the first time I could submit an order; the thrill of opening the bales of yarn and getting to decide how and where to pack the shelves. I wanted Woolcrate to be everyone’s happy place: pretty colours, humorous posters of animals in knitwear and situations that all yarnies can relate to. I met wonderful people that allowed me to share the joys and sorrows of their lives.
Month after month my happiness grew with the business. Exploring new ideas, introducing new products, meeting more people. Woolcrate was blessed and I will forever be grateful for that.
But with a growing business came growing responsibilities.
I found myself spending more and more time upstairs in the office than in the shop. Managing the online store, stock control and admin took over the majority of my day.
But I miss the customers! I miss the updates and the quick ‘Hi’s” and waves at the gate. I miss the proud announcements of grandchildren and the deliberations on what yarn to use with what pattern.
So now I am catching up with you! I never thought that I would also start a blog – after all, do I really have something to say? Maybe, maybe not, but I still want to connect and chat with you. Please check in with me by replying and sharing your views and thoughts on this blog.
Let’s get talking!