WORDS: SARAH MARJORIBANKS IMAGES: SHUTTERSTOCK
Whether it’s because we’ve had more time on our hands, because we’ve been looking to learn a new skill, or whether it’s just a way to calm the anxiety that many are feeling, crafting is on the rise. From knitting and quilting to candle making and DIY beauty products, South Africans are finding beautiful ways to stay at home.
A stitch in time
According to statistics released by Picodi at the beginning of April, South Africa’s Google stats showed an 88% rise in searches for crocheting compared with the same period last year. “We’ve noticed a huge increase of interest in knitting and crocheting since the beginning of lockdown, and a lot of people wanting to learn,” say Adrienne Antonites and Irene Maxton from The Yarn Tree, which specialises in natural South African yarn.
They think that part of the reason is that, as people have had less to do during lockdown, they’ve turned to hobbies they learned as children. Once they’ve developed a feel for it again, there are plenty of benefits to be found – studies have even shown that crafting can bring relief from anxiety. “It’s extremely calming – from the repetitive movement of the hands to the soothing feel of the yarns,” they say.
For those who want to start, The Yarn Tree offers Zoom classes, and there are plenty of beginner’s yarn to try, as well as YouTube tutorials and Facebook groups to consult – Adrienne and Irene recommend Revelry.
Patch it up
However, if you’re like Amor Potgieter and you’re looking for crafting advice, you can just ask your family for tips. “My mom and aunt have been quilting for years,” says Amor, a health and lifestyle consultant. She’s spent her lockdown quilting and knitting blankets, as well as knitting Izzy Dolls. “The Izzy Dolls are something that my mom makes which give comfort to kids who have gone for surgery, or have abandonment issues. They honestly are the cutest dolls!”
She’s found the process fun and relaxing, as well as extremely rewarding: “As you start the project, you don’t know what it will end up looking like, and as it comes together you’re so amazed that you’ve been able to make something like that!”
Count the cost Aside from relaxation, there can be another benefit – financial. As a swimming teacher, Irene Thomson is unlikely to be able to work for a while. She turned to her background in clothing manufacturing and is now sewing three-layer masks which she sells in and around her neighbourhood of Greymont, Joburg.
“I always enjoyed sewing, so when lockdown hit, it seemed like a good way to earn a bit of money,” she says. She first used the material she had at home, and when restrictions on the sale of fabrics lifted she started combing Arthur Bales and Chamdor for fabric. While she says that the market has become quite saturated with people selling masks, she’s sold about 200 so far at R40 each.
Bath and beyond
Bernice McKee, a learning designer, was inspired to start her lockdown hobby not for financial reasons, but because she was concerned she wouldn’t be able to source her favourite beauty products during lockdown. “I love my all-natural, sustainably-sourced and cruelty-free products, but they weren’t sold during level 5,” she says. “I also wanted to add good DIY skills to my apocalypse CV!”
She started off with a bit of research as to what she could use in her pantry to create beauty products, and quickly found the process to be an addictive stress reliever. Now Bernice is creating bath bombs, bath salts and soaks, lotion bars, body and face scrubs and lip balms. “It’s really a lot easier than you think – initially you might need to purchase some airtight containers and special oils, but before you know it you’re making things you never knew you could!”
As soon as Angelique van Niekerk from the Candle Deli notified her Facebook followers that deliveries of candle making ingredients were allowed, she had a huge upswing in orders and sales from new customers. “I think many of them thought I’ve baked the cake, done the homework – now what?” says Angelique.
She’s found that most of her new clients are a mix of parents looking for things to do with their kids, and people at home looking for something to do.
And why candles? “We’re stuck indoors and overly acquainted with our own homes,” says Angelique. “Whether it’s lighting a candle for dinner, a bath, or just because, nothing enhances a space like a candle.”
For those who want to learn how to make candles, Angelique is encouraging customers to try online learning with her online candle-making course that consists of videos, notes and enough material to try out what’s being showcased in the videos.
Candle Deli also offers a candle-making starter kit, which has sold incredibly well this year and is now available on Takealot.
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