my special moments in the karoo- elsbeth

Those of you who has followed our blog for a while, will be familiar with our yearly crochet-getaway. If you have missed out on our previous getaways, you can go here and here to see what we were up to.


I spent my Karoo days knitting and crocheting.


 Sitting in Colesberg at a quaint coffe shop, knitting a beany for myself with cowgirlblues aran. I didnt follow a pattern and loved the result! I will share a final photo on my instagram sometime. ( It was done, pom pom and all, but my dog got hold of the beany when I got home and played with the pom-pom, and im sure you get the picture…. need to add another pom pom….)


At Richmond Rooms and Cafe, I had the cutest little stoep in front of my room, and fell in love with the embroidered tablecloth!

Every room had so many beautiful little corners and this was one of my favourites!

I also crocheted  hot water bottles covers and embroidered a little something on them to make them extra special.

Its a perfect project for beginners- just make a ch that is the same length as the bottom of the hot water bottle. You will then work  trs in all the chs until you get to the first ch made, turn your work and then tr in the other side of all the chs- this way the cover is all ready closed at the bottom.  Ss into the first tr you made, and then continue working in the round. When the cover is long enough you can bind off. Add a cute border and make a string to close the cover around the spout.


I also started knitting the marled magic shawl from Stephen West.

Thank goodness Anisa was there to guide me through this pattern- she made one a few months ago- otherwise I would not be smiling on this photo and the horns would be really sprouting from my head!


…dear Liesl just being her cute self.


This lovely Karoo break was amazing and spending time with my dearest friends just made it unforgettable, and we are all ready dreaming about where our next adventure will take us!



Have a lovely week making pretty things with yarn, plants and people,

love from Elsbeth

on-the-go in handmade style

On a recent vintage shopping spree at Provance Vintage fair, I found this lovely basket….. perfect for my on-the-go crochet and knitting projects.

FullSizeRender (6)I love the wooden beaded handles, but I had some plans for the boring grey lining and knew that I will find something in my fabric stash that I can use to take the inside from boring to fab!.

This floral fabric is also from a secondhand shop and I really like how this very busy floral fabric blends in with the natural  basket colour.

The crochet butterfly pin cushion on the fabric was my first attempt at making a butterfly brooch. I crocheted a bit too loose so the butterfly is really far too big for a brooch, but makes a lovely pin cushion. Here is my butterfly brooch if you are curious.

FullSizeRender (17)

The fabric was cut to follow the shape of the basket. After sewing it together I stitched it into the basket and voila….

FullSizeRender (13)

A little fabric pocket for scissors and notions make it very practical.

The first project to enjoy this cosy new basket is the Maddermade Cardigan.

I am busy knitting one for my husband in the most glorious Alpaca yarn from Quenti Alpacas. I highly recommend this pattern if you want to knit a cardigan. The best part is that you can decide how long, fitted or straight the cardigan should be, so you design the pattern with the help of Carrie’s clear instructions. I am not an experienced knitter by the way, so trust me on this!


FullSizeRender (14)

FullSizeRender (16)

I am so please with this little project.

Wishing you a creative weekend full of possibilities

love from Elsbeth


my butterfly brooch


I had so much fun making this! A cute little butterfly brooch…..

It has two sides. The fun speckled yarn side……..

FullSizeRender (14)

….and another side with flowers

FullSizeRender (7)

the collection yarns

I used an arty speckled yarn from one of a kind yarns, black vinnis nikkim to crochet the two sides together and to crochet the middle of the butterfly’s body and to embroider 2 small flowers.

The other side of the butterfly was crocheted with some delicious natural merino dk yarn, and cowgirlblues merino lace was used for the little french knots and flowers.

If you would like to see it in action on my jersey you can pop over to my instagram account. Winter is here and its time for jerseys, sweaters, scarves, beanies and mittens…and of course, my cute little butterfly brooch!

Have a lovely weekend

love from Elsbeth

ps: this is the pattern that I used.

tierlantynkies and the african flower motif


As you know Elsbeth and I have a small business called Empty Nest.

Well, between 27 April and 3 May this year our nest was CERTAINLY not empty!


We held crochet workshops at the Tierlantynkies Market in Pretoria,


And on the side we sold some lovely yarn from I Love Yarn


and Moya Yarn.


From the very young


to the more mature ladies discovered the magic of crochet in our beginners workshops.


And for everyone else who just wanted to spend 2 hours crocheting something new,


spending time with friends,


drinking wine, laughing and relaxing, we introduced them to these 3 motifs…


The humble Granny Square, the popular Rustic Lace Square and



Needless to say, I got a little carried away…


Over the course of 7 days I progressed from one


to more


and more


to many.


Until I had a small ‘roll’


of African Flowers,


And ultimately this half-finished beautiful blanket made with left-over “kakriel” yarns.

But acrylic blankets last forever and who wouldn’t want to play with so many colours at the same time.

As you might have noticed our blog posts have been few and far between.

I can explain. This is also the reason why I have to move my Happy African Blanket to the side (sad face emoji).

Anisa, Elsbeth and I am working on a wonderful, packed-to-the-brim crochet book with something in it for everyone.

And there’s only 3 months left.

Elsbeth and I have even postponed all our crochet classes (The Gentle Art of Crochet) until November 2016 by which time we hope the  ‘crochet dust’ will have settled.

Please join me on MY INSTAGRAM to keep up with happenings.

Although I can’t show you exactly what I’m making for our book, you’ll get glimpses of the beautiful yarns I’m working with.

We have THE MOST amazing yarn sponsors!

Thank you for following our blog.

Have a wonderful week!


pretty paelas

One of my new friends are about to move back to Germany. She is expecting her first little baby, due end of January.

I feel so excited to have the opportunity to make something for the new little girl that will join their family next year (as if we need an excuse to make special little things- hehehehe).

I discovered Paelas on my Instagram feed and here are my favorite designs.

paelas collage

I love the sweet simple designs and from looking through all their patterns one can see they use beautiful high quality yarns, lovely modern colours that are not too boy/girl orientated and designs that are classical.

Paelas was established in spring 2014 by three women sharing the same dream for creating beautiful knitted baby and children clothing.

The patterns are for newborns and children both female and male, aged 0-6 years old.

You can find more about them here:



Now I just need to decide which one of the cuties I will make!

Have a lovely week…

love from Elsbeth

Nomvula’s – she who brings the rain

afternoon with frances 4

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.

afternoon with frances 11

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.

afternoon with frances 2

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.

afternoon with frances 5

 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.

afternoon with frances 9 

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.

PicMonkey Collage3

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.

PicMonkey Collage4

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.

afternoon at nomvulas 4

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.

afternoon with frances 6

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.

afternoon with frances 7

 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.

afternoon with frances 8

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.

afternoon at nomvulas 2

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.

PicMonkey Collage1

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!

anisa signature

Make it pretty

It was just a normal Sunday. I was catching up on some series but my boring socks kept bothering me.


Why am I wearing such boring socks when I could be wearing amazing socks?
I took some of my favorite colour yarns, an embroidery needle and started to play.

(It should feel like playing otherwise you are doing it wrong)


You now have spectacular socks! I embroidered a very simplistic flower with buds and leaves in the center of my socks.


It is the perfect project for adding some colour into your day and wardrobe.

Can’t wait to take my goodie two socks out today.

Hope your week will be spectacular!

Love Elsbeth xxx

knitting in the timbavati

safari 1 cornel at hellohartdotcom

The Timbavati Game Reserve is a very special part of our country.

It’s located on the western edge of the Kruger National Park. The Reserve was established in 1956 by like-minded game farmers who had conservation of African wildlife as their main priority. There is no fence between the Timbavati and the Kruger National Park, allowing wild animals free range over more than 21 000 square kilometers.

beanie number 10 cornel at hellohartdotcom

While in the Timbavati these last 5 days, I couldn’t help knitting some more (did you read my last post?), because game drives can add up to 6 hours every day…

I finished 10 easy beanies using some fancy and some VERY plain and inexpensive yarns (see my Instagram feed for all 10).

The joy of making combined with the satisfaction of giving is definitely my kind of drug.

The luxury of relaxing in nature was mixed with sadness as another rhino was poached (horns removed and killed) on the night of Monday 6 July just outside Hoedspruit.

safari 2 cornel at hellohartdotcom

The statistics of rhinos being poached is simply horrifying.

One can only hope that something meaningful can be done to stop poaching of all endangered species, especially the rhino.

It would not be funny if, in 50 years time, these interesting, funny-looking but beautiful creatures were not with us anymore…


chanel inspiration

Now that winter is slowly turning into spring and all the sweaters, blankets and mittens have been made, or your WIP pile got a bit bigger,  we can start planning our to-make list for spring.

Spring Beanies are a thing this season as you can see in the 2015  Chanel spring collection.

Look how cute!

chanel 1chanel 2

  chanel 4 chanel 3

I’m not sure how many South-Africans will wear a beany in spring since it is really warm here, but I cannot describe how cool these are to me and I decided to spend my Sunday making a beany a-la-Chanel.

I liked the random way the colours played with each other and the little plastic flowers are just so cute!

I couldn’t go to a yarn shop to buy wool for the project…. it was  Sunday and the shops are closed… so I had to use what I had.

knitted beany by Elsbeth

I used 3 different yarns and I found some romantic pink tulle in my fabric stash that I cut into long strips so I could knit with it.

I just knitted in the round with my biggest needles and also didn’t follow any plan.

The tulle and some beads that i found in an old tin was used to make the flowers.

I love to have fun like this and now Amber, my daughter, has another beany for her collection.amber in beany

Hope you have a great week!

love from Elsbeth