Do you know of the Cape Town Women’s Agricultural Association?
With branches that spread through the entire Western Cape, they are made up of women of all ages who get together every month to address community needs, family life and work towards their annual “community upliftment” goals.
Within the association they run various handiwork competitions with categories for knitting, sewing, crochet, beading and so forth. One of the ladies I personally know has won numerous awards for her handiwork. She is Martie, a member of the Goodwood branch, and has been sewing for over forty three years; curtains, wedding and matric dresses, chair coverings, light shades or bedding for government hospitals.
Although she always enjoyed knitting and crocheting, she was only truly drawn to it during the time when the Great Gatsby movie made its appearance and, like so many other women, she was hooked on the fashionable hats, waist coats and skirts made from lace and wool.
She crocheted a stunning Great Gatsby inspired white hat that won her numerous awards in 2013, but she took on yet another project that required some form of recycled elements. Although she didn’t win an award for this striking, completely out of the ordinary concept of recycling, it is definitely worth showing our country what can be done with useless plastic shopping bags.
Birth of an Idea
She walked around her sewing room searching for ideas and before she knew it she was cleaning plastic shopping bags with thinners to remove all the advertising and printing. She then cut them into thin strips, rolled each bag’s cuttings in a ball and started a crochet patterned square. Thanks to all the supermarkets and shops with their different colored plastic bags, she had an array of colored crochet squares in no time. With one plastic shopping bag she managed to crochet two squares.
Her intention to incorporate recycled elements didn’t end there. She found a relatively solid carton box, padded it with thin foam, covered the foam and box with linen and created a cover for it with her stacks of plastic crochet blocks. She placed twelve blocks at the bottom, six on the outer sides and 8 on the other sides. Those were all crochet together with ordinary black refuse bags. To flatten them she placed the blocks between thick materials and pressed them down with a hot iron.
For a handle she scoped out her sewing room once again. Lo and behold she found dozens of used up plastic thread rolls. A visit to the garage resulted in a piece of metal that was taken from old blindings. In no time she made a solid handle for her basket, covered it synthetic leather and the end product was ever so striking!
When I asked her whether she wasn’t worried someone would be able to copy this great idea, she simply stated that anyone who knew the basics of crochet would be able to see what she had done just by looking at it. How wonderful it was to know a lady who made something so great and yet share her great idea to whoever was interested! A number of her family and friends now carry replicas of her baskets. Although they are not ideal for heavy goods, they definitely make useful knitting baskets.
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