Nomvula’s – she who brings the rain

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For the past 3 years, five of us have been visiting St Francis Bay on our annual crochet getaway. Each year we spend hours (not to mention Rands) in the awesome yarn store Nomvula’s. Only during our 3rd year in the gorgeous coastal town did we get to meet Frances the mastermind behind Nomvula’s Knitters.  Frances “Nomvula” Becker is a dancer, choreographer, designer, teacher, filmmaker and mom. She has also battled through Hodgkin’s disease and survived breast cancer.

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Nomvula (nom-voo-la) is a Xhosa word that means “she who brings the rain.” It is considered a lucky name because any sign of rain in Southern Africa is gratefully received. When Frances Becker was christened, the heavens opened and drenched the family and friends who were gathered at the church. Dinah, a young Xhosa woman who worked for the Becker family named Frances, ”Nomvula”; in honour of the rain that came that day in May.

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In 2008 Frances invited local women to attend a free knitting class in St Francis Bay. On the appointed day Priscilla and Letitia arrived. They were the very first knitters! Clifford, a local security guard, arrived soon after. Not having knitted before, he was eager to try his hand at knitting! The news spread and nine months later 14 regulars were meeting regularly twice a week to hone their knitting skills and share their progress.

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 What inspires you?

Everything or anything can be an inspiration. I would put nature at the top of the list then colour.

When did you start crafting and who taught you?

My grandmother taught me with difficulty as I am left handed. She taught me right handed.  I was around 8 years old and she was shocked that my mother had not taught me to knit yet.  I was not very good at it.  I still cannot work with four needles.  I learned to crochet a year ago – Denise van Schalkwyk managed to teach me after figuring it out left handed. She is a saint. Many people don’t realise that knitting and crochet can be quite a challenge for some of us at first – but worth the effort.

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Tell us about Nomvulas Knitters …

I started Nomvula’s as a response to the squatter camp in St Francis Bay.  I wanted to help with job creation and that has always been my primary aim.  I wanted to make a for profit business for products made by crafters that would be beautiful and well made as well as fashionable – only when looking at the label would you realise it was made by a community project. So product first; how and why second.  We now have our own yarn and produce beautiful sweaters, scarves and childrens knitwear. We make anything knittable.

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We have sustained 10 jobs for 8 years and have a shop in St Francis Bay.  The knitters are partners in the business and are buying into it.

We make knitwear for KEEDO the children’s company, Shakti Shanti, and Mediterrraneo as well as clients in New York.

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How did it all begin?

I turned 50 and felt it was time to give back.  I was also recovering from breast cancer and was looking outside of myself, as brooding over things was not helpful. I was knitting a lot.  I initially wanted to help Aids orphans, but ended up teaching people to knit.  It started with a couple of knitters and eventually grew to 15.  We started getting orders for hand knit baby jerseys in Vinnis yarn with ceramic buttons which I sold in America, where I had been living for 25 years.  I had a male knitter – Clifford Mjima who was determined to be a part of the business.  Without his determination I am not sure I would have kept going. Then I bought a knitting machine in the States and a friend there taught herself to use it and came over to teach Clifford how to use it……and 8 years later we are still at it.

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What do you think will be the next big thing in the world of craft?

I would love the knitting bug to catch on here like it has in the States. I love getting young people interested. The design possibilities are endless and when people knit they also appreciate the time it takes to make beautiful garments.  I think there may be a resurgance in home knitting machines – but maybe I am just hoping that more people will make the machines as they are difficult to import from England!!

Who on the international craft scene do you admire most and why?

I do not really follow personalities but recently did a Brandon Mabley knitting class that I really enjoyed.  The knitwear designer I most like is Eilleen Fisher – but she is not really a crafter. I admire her simple lines.

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Where can our readers find you?

We have a website  and you can call us 042 294 0882. We  also have a Nomvulas Knitters Facebook site.

 What is your favourite craft?

I love knitting and quilting and in fact would rather refer to myself a fibre artist.

I am a multi-media performance artist by profession so would love to get back to that eventually.

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 If you had more time on your hands what would you do?

I would love to get fit – spend more time swimming and working in my garden.  And maybe try writing. I would love to get back to video and film.

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What magazines do you buy?

Ideas Magazine and Stitches for the shop.  I love the Rowan knitting magazines too when I can find them and Selvedge Magazine a British publication.

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What is your favourite yarn store or craft store and why?

My favourite yarn store is Nomvula’s OF COURSE!  But after that is The Stitchery in Pearl River New York – run by my friend Adam who has helped me with ideas and patterns and inspiration for the knitters.  He has helped me develop patterns that are easy and interesting to adapt to machine knitting.  He is yarn obsessed and keeps me up to date on the latestes yarns and trends.

Nomvula’s Own Yarn

To make our sweaters more affordable and to eliminate the middle-man we decided to develop a yarn of our own.   The yarn is a luxury yarn – 90% wool, mohair and silk.  It is made from factory waste – the left over from a current production process and is a blend of the three fibres spun with nylon for strength.  It is super cosy and warm and lovely to knit with.  Our factory is very environment conscious.

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We do not use electricity, we recycle our waste and now we have a recycled yarn !
You can buy it from Nomvula’s directly – the Lace is R60 for 50grams which goes far as it is thin,   The Roving is R80 for 100 grams.  We are currently updating our website with our new yarns. If you wish to order the yarn please email us on
afternoon at nomvulas

One lucky reader will receive 6 balls of the awesome Roving yarn.  All you need to do is tell us why you believe you should be the lucky recipient

Have an inspiring week!

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vintage crochet clothes

vintage 1930 crochet top

There is a little puddle of drool in front of my keyboard.

vintage denim skirt with crochet

vintage victorian day dress

I would wear this.

vintage handmade lace tank

And this.

vintage 1980 crochet top

vintage victorian lace top

This is soooooo pretty.

vintage victorian day dress detail

All these vintage one-of-a-kind pieces are for sale at Free People.

I don’t think they’ll be in the shop for long.

Have a lovely weekend!


Father Coffee – Worth the visit


Driving through Johannesburg central, your first thought would be that this is a chaotic traffic nightmare, a noisy place and it may even be somewhat scary given its reputation. But just on the left of the Nelson Mandela Bridge, you enter into a space that transports you into a world of adventure¸ colour, gorgeous art and immense energy. Braamfontein or Braamies as its often fondly referred to, has become the energy centre of Johannesburg.



Braamfontein’s transformation from a rundown business district to a revamped Soho style neighbourhood with chic hotels, art galleries, trendy bars clubs and restaurants, is truly inspiring. What’s fabulous is that a number of Braamfontein’s buildings have been, or are being turned into student accommodation or Manhattan-style loft apartments.

You will agree, life is about finding those little gems that add so much value to one’s day. The Hellohart team on a regular basis want to share some of those everyday little life gems with you. And one such gem is a wonderful roastery and espresso bar called Father Coffee situated in the heart of Braamfontein. In fact its situated directly below Neighbourgoods Market in the culture rich Juta block.


Father Coffee is a seriously cool and well-designed store and the good news is that the store’s owners serve up great coffee along with good looks. If you’re looking for something a little different, you may want to try out Father’s signature Skhotado.

Stop to order waffles and ice-cream along with the regular offerings. Sunday Times even voted Father’s coffee as the best in town.


The aim of the Father team was to create something modern and bold with a Scandinavian feel. The design is unapologetic, it has a father-like feel without being pretentious and un-welcoming.  And this applies to both the logo and the interior design – its bold and its modern.

As one of the owners Nick has stated before …”Think Father’s wood-cabin in the Scandinavian wilderness… but with taxis hooting outside and the unparalleled vibe of Braamfontein to keep things interesting”. The entire shop is wood-clad in a massive herringbone pattern and all other elements were created with a minimal colour palette and style reference in mind.

Coffee is something you drink everyday, so without overthinking it, the Father team believe it should just be really good.

“The fact is it doesn’t cost very much more to make a great cup of coffee than it does to make a bad one; it just takes a little care and effort. With any luck that’s what we’ll add to the coffee culture in Johannesburg – coffee that tastes good, is made well, and is easily available.”


As a coffee lover myself, I have made the mistake of thinking and in fact getting used to drinking bitter coffees that masquerade as rich and strong, but in fact this is not how flavour or strength in coffee works.  The Father philosophy revolves around the thinking that a lot of ”bitterness in a cup is really just a way to create sadness in someone’s day after the initial assault has worn off. We care about balance. The blend aims to offer a sweet, almost fruity flavour that develops in the mouth with good brightness to carry this through, solid body and a smooth, rounded finish that never leaves a bitterness to linger in the mouth and wreck your day. But come try it, it’ll make more sense when it’s in your mouth

Cornel, Elsbeth and I had a great time! Father Coffee is well worth the visit.  See you there soon for a short or tall cuppa.

You can find Father Coffee at the following Location: 73 Juta St. Braamfontein

Contact numbers:

+27 82 513 4258 (Barry)
+27 82 411 1431 (Nick)

father_coffee on instagram HERE

father collage

The three of us having a well deserved delicious cuppa and we even got some crochet going on the spot…

(photos were taken in a new app called TinType)


Father’s ceramic teaspoons are also conducive to some knitting (if you can’t keep your hands stil)



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come and meet the inspiring arthur bales team

It’s wonderful to know that there are some really great family run businesses out there.  There is something so real about a business that is run by a family, spanning a few generations.

Arthur Bales is such a business, its authentic, nostalgic, colourful and wonderful all bundled into one amazing experience.  Whenever anyone asks me what my favourite yarn store is, I blurt out Arthur Bales, a name that rolls naturally from my lips. Why my favourite store you may ask? Well, there are just so many reasons I find myself having to list them:

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They have the most awesome selection of fabrics – which includes the Westminster Fabrics (with collections by popular designers such as Kaffe Fassett and Amy Butler).

Their yarn is simply to die for and include favourites such as Rowan and Vinnis, to name only a few.

anisa and friend

(see me pose here with one of Arthur Bales’ oldest clients)

I absolutely love their pattern selection – I always buy my knitting and crochet books there.

And naturally the people in the store are amazing, you simply need to ask advice and they have the answer and an option right there and then.

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And of course there is such a wonderful old world/new world charm to the store. In fact, the history is almost tangible.

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Arthur Bales was established in 1902 and is conveniently situated in the Johannesburg suburb of Linden, which is fast becoming one of Johannesburg’s “it places” to visit.   In essence Arthur Bales is a haberdashery shop specialising in dress fabric and knitting/crochet yarns.

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Read this fascinating History on the company…

Since Norman days, the Bales family name has been associated with wools and textiles in the Norfolk County in South East England. Norfolk was the wool centre of Europe for many centuries. Arthur Bales, a young immigrant from Norwich in Norfolk, carried on the family`s association by opening a drapery and outfitting store in Johannesburg.


Founded in 1902 by Arthur Bales on his return to Johannesburg after the Boer War, Arthur Bales was started as a small drapery and clothing store on the corner of De Korte and De Beer streets in Braamfontein. The business grew from strength to strength in early Johannesburg, opening another two stores, one being in La Rochelle. The flagship store moved in the early 1920`s to the corner of De Korte and Biccard streets. After the untimely death of the founder in the late 1920`s, his eldest daughter Dorothy Bales, and his late wife Mrs. Edith Bales ran the store. The second Generation, Arthur Haylock Bales, took part ownership of the store in the 1930`s after his return from Norwich after completing his apprenticeship.

The store changed over the following years from a clothing and departmental store into a more specialised drapery and haberdashery shop. The third generation, Arthur John Bales, opened up a branch of Arthur Bales in Linden in the late 1960`s, where it is still in operation today. Sadly, in the mid 1990`s, the Arthur Bales store moved out of Braamfontein after serving its residents for over 90 years. The Linden Branch became the new flagship store.

Arthur Bales is jointly managed by family members of the fourth generation. The store has always remained a strong family business with its customers always being the centre of the business, some of which have been loyal shoppers for over 60 years.

Arthur Bales specialises in dress fabrics, haberdashery, quilting fabrics and knitting yarns, and is one of the largest stores of its kind in the country.

Enjoy reading our interview with Nicci (below middle) and Jonathan (below right) 

bales family

What inspires you?

Nicci: Colour. And depending on my mood it is either soft pastels or bright and vibrant. I just love seeing what people create using different colours. From knitting to sewing, I get so inspired by what our customers come up with.

Jonathan: Our customers. They provide our inspiration, and it is a privilege to be involved in their creative process.

Tell me what you think makes your business unique today?

Nicci: Being a small family business that has not changed very much over the years. Keeping up with the latest trends without losing our “old school charm” I think we offer our customers a different shopping experience,  with a more personal service and also  try and go the extra mile to help, because we supply a wide range of knitting amd sewing products. We are a one stop handcraft shop.

Jonathan: in a world of change, our store provides consistency and a link with tradition.  There is always a buzz in the shop, this is partly due to people shopping for a craft they love and the sense of community and happiness it brings.

What do you think will be the next big thing in the world of craft?

Nicci: Crochet seems to really be taking off, and with such great colours and designs it is appealing to a large market.

Jonathan: Any handwork is proving to be popular. People are looking for something to disconnect with the fast pace world and for a creative outlet.  Crochet is attracting many first time crafters and anyone can learn. Also keep an eye out on Macramé.

Who on the international craft scene do you admire most and why?

Nicci: Kaffe Fassett and Amy Butler are such talented designers. We stock their fabrics and each and every collection that they introduce is incredible. Kaffe Fasset in particular is an expertise in colour, and putting them together. Not only in quilting but knitting as well, his use of colour is amazing.

What is your favourite blog and magazine and why?

Nicci: The blog at the moment Attic 24, just seeing what she creates will inspire anybody to get crocheting.

Jonathan: An online magazine I find very interesting is Frankie Magazine from Australia and Martha Stewart’s blog always has great ideas.

Have you bought something online and if so what?

Jonathan: I regularly buy fabrics and yarns for the store online.

What magazines do you buy?

Nicci: Ideas magazine

What is your favourite yarn store abroad and why?

Nicci: I Knit London is a pretty interesting place, it has lots of different yarns and books and stays open late at night. It even has a bar!

I have never been but if I go to New York then definitely the Lion Brand Yarn Studio would be on my agenda. I love what they do to with their window displays, they are legendary.

Jonathan: Whenever I am in London I always make a point of visiting Liberty’s yarn department.

 Arthur Bales was so kind to offer one stunning Knit Pro Waves Crochet Hook set.

knit pro prize

All you have to do is SUBSCRIBE TO OUR BLOG HERE, to stand a chance to win.

The winner will be announced here next week Wednesday, 18 February 2015.

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PS Look how much fun the three of us had at Arthur Bales …


hello monday

If you know me you will know that I love yellow!

Sunny yellow, lemon yellow- you name it …I love them all! But recently I have developed a deep love for mustard golden yellow.

I found a perfect example of this yellow in the Arthur Bales shop in Linden.

You can read more about this amazing shop in this post.

A gorgeous 100% wool from Rowan. They have a great collection of Rowan yarns and soon here on Hello Hart we will share our amazing visit to this yarn lover’s dream of a shop.

My new yellow love features in the beautiful blokkie that Cornel shared in this post .

You will use a lot of your little bits of wool and leftover yarns for the inside motive, and this way you can buy new wool to add to your stash without a guilty conscious!

I’m really so happy with my collection of blokkies!

crochet motive by Elsbeth


crochet motives


crochet motives by Elsbeth

 This yellow cardigan seems easy enough to knit and makes such a statement because of the colour and loosely knitted tension…..

yellow cardigan

a simple granny square- just in yellow.

yellow blanket

pom pom

Who doesn’t love a pom-pom! An easy way to bring some colour and playfulness to any outfit.

…and then this eye catching statement piece!

big knitt

A little bit of yellow on a lampshade– the yellow just makes it POP a little bit don’t you think?

yellow trim


a pretty summer shawl

hope you all have an amazing week!

here is your little free printable.

hope you like it.

my oulike balletjie wol

click on the link and download the image to your computer.
remember to share and tag your printable with #hellohartco on instagram. we love seeing what you up to!
love elsbeth
(original post 17 November 2014)

inspiration thursday: marlene scheepers-fourie

When you crochet or knit something using any of the yarn from ONE-OF-A-KIND, you know you are onto something really unique and special.

The colours are glorious and the yarn of the best quality!

I have had the privilege of working with.

In fact, when I recently visited the Yarn Indaba in Pretoria, I was amazed to see how quickly the yarn had sold.

Marlene had to rush back to her studio, simply to ensure the stall was stocked for the next day.

It truly is a wonderful experience having such fabulous yarns on our doorstep.

You might ask what makes it so special, and I’d say to you its because of the colour, the feel, themix and the variety.


Meet the wonderful woman that makes it all happen… Marlene Scheepers-Fourie

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What inspires you?

Colour, how it plays and interacts with each other, and the wonder.  Colour is everywhere, it is all over in our everyday life, from a brick wall, to artwork, clothing and in nature. Design in architecture, in fashion, in art and in nature.

Marlene PicMonkey Collage


When did you start crafting and who taught you?

When I was young, my mom used to knit on a knitting machine and I would sit underneath the machine and stare at the knitting pieces as it came out.  The wonderfull bright colours she used was the thing that kept me staring at those knitting piece.  She also taught me how to knit, crochet and sew. At a very young age I would sit alone on the playground and knit or crochet when all my friends were playing games.  You could say I was a true nerd that wasso enchanted by the wonderful world of colour, yarn and creating something with my hands.

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Tell me about your product?

One of a Kind yarns are made from the top 100% natural quality yarns in South Africa and then refined  with the touch of an artist.  Every batch is one of a kind and never to be repeated exactly.  Even the skeins within a batch are not the same and thats what makes it so special. You can truly make an artwork that nobody else will have when using One of a Kind Yarns.

How did it all begin?

One of a Kind Yarns was born about 17 years ago, when a visit to the USA made me realise that I need more beautiful yarns to make my knitting artworks.  When I returned to South Africa I bought a spinningwheel and started making designer yarns and also dyed some of them myself.  When friends and family saw these creations, they also wanted some and that’s how my yarn journey started and my yarn dye addiction began.

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What do you think will be the next big thing in the world of craft especially your area of expertise?

When I give a creative crochet/knitting workshop and people start thinking out of the box I know we can still ecxpect wonderful things to happen on the art and craft scene and especially with younger people showing great potential and interest in the crafts

Who on the international craft scene do you admire most and why?

Difficult question, there are so many in knitting it would be Kaffe Fasset, his colour sense is just amazing.  Then there is Horst Schultz for showing and teaching us modular knitting. In terms of crochet it would be Prudance Mapstone for her wonderful freeform work along with Mizzy Morawez, Sophie Digard for her colour and design, Miroslava for the amazing artwork she achieves with hook and yarn and thats just to name a few…

marlene at craft share

What is your favourite blog and magazine and why?

I dont get much time to read or favour blogs or magazines, but I do follow Magda’s blogPIGTAILS, she has a special way of capturing my attention with her stories and wonderful pics and I do buy the Noro knitting magazine, their colour and designs are beautiful.

What is your favourite craft?

Making beautiful yarn (to which I am totally addicted ), and then crochet and knitting side by side.

If you had more time on your hands what would you do

Make more yarn…….?

What is your favourite yarn store / craft store and why?

Well thats a super question……for sure One of a Kind Yarns, because they cater for my crazy yarnie needs and then I love Arthur Bales in Jhb

marlene portrait 2


When it comes to the ONE-OF-A-KIND YARN, you can definately apply the following quote which says

“I will always buy extra yarn. I will not try to tempt fate.”

In fact its as simple as that.  Thanks to Marlene for ensuring we have top quality fabulous yarn… You have inspired my next project, MARLENE!

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(original post on 28 august 2014)

inspiration wednesday: i love yarn

 inspiration wednesday i love yarn


At hello hart we want to share with you insights from some of the wonderful individuals that share our passion, or places that inspire our creativity. Our first chat was with Elaine van Wyk (left) and Stephni Fogwill (right) of I LOVE YARN. This is how our conversation went…

What inspires you?

Elaine: It is so important to be inspired.  Beauty, love, faith, art, successful people, life itself and to be better at everything all the time!

Stephni: Generally I read a lot but I also try to expose myself to new experiences. I went to AfrikaBurn this year and that was an enormously inspiring experience. Travelling is great for inspiration – I would love to do more of it! With knitting and crochet, inspiration starts with the yarn!

When did you start crafting and who taught you?

Elaine: I started crafting at a very early age. My mother is extremely creative and stylish. She baked and decorated wedding cakes from when I was very little. Every birthday my cake was far more beautiful than the previous one. I watched her for hours. She took around 2 weeks to decorate a cake. Besides this, she is amazing at sewing, knitting, crochet, spinning, weaving, embroidery, silk screen, etc. I always joined in and loved making things with my hands from when I was very little. My mom taught me to knit when I was at primary school. She also did felt projects with me.

Tell me about I Love Yarn?

Elaine: I LOVE YARN initially started in my home. I wanted to sell high quality yarn that wasn’t regularly available. I also wanted to start the business as an online store. Besides this, the colour choices of yarns are limited, and I decided to start dyeing my own yarn. The concept of our yarn range is to have fresh, current colours. The store concept is based on personal service, assisting people with colour choices and techniques. We serve coffee and tea and offer advice on projects. Our clients become our friends. We provide assistance with patterns and projects. We have two “Knit One Sip One” groups where we host a craft group in our store. One after hours on a Wednesday and one on a Thursday morning. All these initiatives promote creativity and forms relationships between our clients and us. It also forms a close community between crafters.

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How did the two of you meet?

Stephni: Elaine and I know each other from our kids’ primary school and we met again just as I was looking for a change in career (I have a background in accounting). Elaine started the business and mentioned she would love a business partner and I decided that ‘I Love Yarn’ would be perfect! We are constantly looking at what we need to do next but when we look back I am amazed at how much we did in the past year.

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What do you think will be the next big thing in the world of craft?

Stephni: I think the very thin or very chunky yarns will continue to inspire people to try something new. Locally people will want to refine and improve their skills and a younger generation will want to learn those skills too.

Who on the international craft scene do you admire most and why?

Elaine: I am always drawn to Kaffet Fasset for his life long contribution to fibre art and his amazing use of colour.

Stephni: Stephen West of Westknits  – I love his playful and quirky designs, his use of colour and the variety of techniques he applies. Amy Herzog of Amy Herzog Designs – using her technical & shape knowledge to help women create hand knits that flatter their bodies.

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What is your favourite blog and why?

Elaine: My favourite blog is Magda de Lange’s blog Pigtails. Her use of colour, craft, photography, and mixing of mediums is really incredible! She takes her readers with her on her travels through her photos and inspires one to get creative.

Stephni: Apartment Therapy and Soulemama (about a big family doing all sorts of crafts on a homestead in New England; it reminds me to make time daily for the small pleasures in life)

What is your favourite craft and what would you do if you had more time on your hands?

Elaine: How do I choose between crochet, knitting and painting? My only restriction is time! If I had more time I would paint enough to have an exhibition, crochet enough so that all my family and friends have a blanket to snuggle up with in front of the fireplace and knit enough to have a cardigan with every colour T-shirt in my cupboard!

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What is your favourite yarn/craft store and why?

Stephni: I LOVE YARN! Our shop is a happy, friendly place with lots of lovely people visiting us. It is also a beautiful environment to work in every day.

inspiration wednesday i love yarn 7



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(original post on 6 august 2014)