Catching up... 

OK, so my camera is back in action and charged. Besides the awesome Web ottomans mentioned last week that are coming along very nicely, as you can see above, Outi also designed some Retro ottomans in different colourways:

(that's her on the left, parading in one of Morgan's embroidered cummerbands and showing off Astrid's hand knitted wrist gloves - isn't she lovely?!!) So, Outi, here is a little sneak peek at how the ottomans are all coming along:

Finally, remember the little paper mock-ups I made of the Orbit cube? Here is the first taste of what's come in. On the left are some carpets inspired by some lekker local brands.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! The weatherman predicts STORMS with 10 meter waves, so happy red wine, movies and fires, all capetonians.

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sweeties for you 
The most beautiful carpets and cubes came in yesterday, carried on the heads of sopping wet crafters who arrived one by one in a downpour. Oh I felt so sorry for them! I can only tell you about it, and not show you because my camera battery was flat and I had left my charger at home... again!

Oh well, instead, I'll leave you with this sneak preview of what the felt balls mentioned here are being magic'ed into. I'll take some pics today of yesterday's crop, ok?

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Nitida splendour 

I am really priviliged to live right up against the mountain, and one of my favourite things is to watch the Nitidas grow. It starts as a tiny scaly ball, then slowly lengthens to a point and finally opens up into a puff ball. A year later, it's a dry twiggy mess, and two years later, you can hypnotize yourself by contemplating the perfect spiral pattern of its wooden centre.

I think it's a marvel of nature and geometry - so masculine, don't you think? The Nitida is locally known as a waboom, or wagaon wheel, because its wood was used to make the spokes of early settlers' wagon wheels. It is a member of the protea family, and locally we call this type of protea a pincushion, for obvious reasons. Here is a Mielie version of a pincushion:

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all amped 

I try hard not to bore you with boring boasting mom stories, but if your child does something really awesome, you have to crow from the rooftops!

For his school electricity project, Niki decided to build an amp for his electric guitar. With minimal help from his dad, he planned, built and soldered it in a little tin that I had lying around.

It was a delight to be on the periphery and watch this project develop without a single glitch or a tear... and completed well before the due date. It's amazing the difference a bit of enthusiasm makes! Well done, Niki, and thanks, dad.
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more felting... this time with less colour 

Today I put this selection of images together as a summary of our felting capabilities for a proposal. Felting has always been Mielie's Cinderella craft, and we often debate whether to focus only on our hooked rug "mielie" work.

But then again, I love creating a world full of different textures, techniques and ideas. I also love the alchemy of that magic moment when fluffy wool turns into felted wool. Did you know that felt pre-dates woven fabric? It's warm, it has incredible sculptural properties... No, I don't think I'll wave felt goodbye after all.
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Dyeing is never easy 

Oh my, here at Mielie we NEVER tire of dyeing jokes. As in "Lungi and I are going to dye on Friday" or "that was a very successful dyeing session..."

A while ago we attended a workshop to learn how to dye wool, presented by talented local weaver, Norma Ordman. To date I have always used food colouring to dye wool, which has its pro's -
- cheap
- some colours take beautifully, especially the hot colours
- I don't have a scientific system - I just add colours as I see fit, so it's great fun

On the downside:
- it's not 100% colourfast
- especially blues and purples are difficult to predict.

The felt balls above were dyed using commercial reactive dyes. I really like the blue and the yellow, but the red is too dark. I mixed the green, and am not crazy about it. I think I will buy a ready mixed green. I clearly have a lot to learn still!

The ones below were dyed with food colouring. The felt balls are all destined to become christmas decorations, as you can see below right.

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Lunar musings 
Last Saturday evening Marina and I took Kathleen Holland, who had helped us with our business strategy, for dinner and to see Maya Prass's new spring collection. It was feminine, romantic, exotic - it was Maya. A touch of the Balkans falls in love with a hint of nomadic North Africa, I'd call it. I couldn't find any images of her new collection on her site, but I got these off the South African Street Style blog.

After the show we were thrilled to see the beautiful lunar eclipse.

This week we spent some time chatting about the full moon at Mielie and what picture people see. Most people see a bunny, I see a girl jumping up to catch a ball. Xhosa people, says Sheila, see a woman with a baby on her back, balancing a bundle of sticks on her head. I'm going to try to spot her when next it's full moon.

Have a wonderful, restful and inspiring weekend!

Image from

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Going out and coming in 
Last week Outi, our awesome agent in Scandinavia, sent us a couple of sketches for ottomans. I loved this one, even though the colour is much more, shall we say demure than Mielie is known for:

Well, I can't wait until they have been sewn up to show you what our talented weavers have come up with, even though they said it was a very complicated design to sketch and to weave:

The little model is Noseko's grandson - oh my, what eyes!

And how beautiful is Phumeza's hair?

This week I made up these little mock-ups of an Orbit cube...

I also asked the weavers to make me one with the circle positioned more to the corner, with the bands all lining up, as if it were a layered sweet that was cut square. I'll snap what comes in next week to show you, ok?
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Chris Stone rocks! 

Chris the stonemason has been tinkering on our home on and off for the past fifteen years. In this time he has built us retaining walls, flower beds, even a rock pool.

And what, I hear you ask, has this got to do with Mielie? Well, I guess we are both preserving age-old time-consuming handcrafts, even though textile and rock lie at opposite ends of the art/craft universe.

I never tire of watching Chris work. Rocks and stones are his medium, and he has an uncanny eye for spotting them and matching them perfectly. Natural stone work has recently become increasingly popular in our area, which can only be a good thing, because it keeps this ancient craft alive and it ensures that there is food on people like Chris's table. Chris is pictured here with Moses, his assistant.
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Molo, BongoLolo 

Meet Malibongwe,the nephew of Vuyelwa and Noseko, who are sisters. His cousin, Nomalungisa (Noseko's daughter) also makes beautiful corsages and butterfly bags for Mielie.

As you can see, Malibongwe has a winning smile. He is soft-spoken and always prepared to help. He is one of Mielie's finishers who, unlike our weavers, come in to our workshop every day. Once our bags, etc have been woven, Malibongwe sews them up and stitches on the handles. The finishing team is full of jokes and pranks, so you have to be wide awake in our loft!
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