Arts, crafts and the hopeless

Arts and crafts.

Other people can do them, therefore, my reasoning deduced that I could too. I don’t know why after 36 years of glaring evidence to the contrary I believe this to be true.

Either I epitomise Einstein’s definition of insanity or I refuse to accept defeat. In short I am a slightly balmy, very stubborn ass.

In recent weeks I have:

  • Made two mosaic Go boards only to have a 6 and 8-year-old beat me stupid
  • Knitted a knobbly and slightly lopsided cover for my Samsung tablet
  • Knitted a fluffy scarf a petite blind dwarf may concede to wearing
  • Downloaded two guides on how to crochet
  • Bought one book and 3 magazines on the same (and knitting)
  • Watched hours and hours of YouTube how to videos to no avail

My beloved Grandmother knitted and crocheted like breathing. When all other faculties deserted her, she could still churn out a blanket and assorted baby clothes in under an hour.

So why can’t I crochet a simple square?

My husband shook his head at me last night and said with deep sympathy, “My darling, are you craving a creative outlet?”

No. I just want a skill. I want to make something. Then I’ll go back to reading bad romance novels and leave everyone in peace.

I refuse to accept that despite a privileged education, a university degree and the fact that I’ve managed to keep three small terrorists alive for a collective 25 years despite their inbred kamikaze instincts, that I am too stupid to crochet a square.

All the instruction manuals seem to assume a basic knowledge, which I am ignorant of. They speak in code designed to alienate the uninitiated. Trebles and doubles and chains all of which alter their meaning depending on which side of the Atlantic you find yourself.

It was with a single-minded desperation I ended up at the Rivonia Village Craft Market this afternoon ostensibly to buy some enough black grouting to complete Go Board #2. I found yet another pamphlet on crocheting and carried it in silent submission to the till.

There I met Beth, a purple haired goddess. She didn’t treat me like an idiot. In fact she stopped everything to sit with me for an hour and teach me the basics of how to crochet.

She praised every stitch I managed to complete and gently suggested I try a simple square before trying to copy my grandmother’s intricate designs.

I learnt more from her in that time than from all the Googling I done before. Nothing beats the patience of a great teacher.

She’s invited me back tomorrow to show how I’ve done and offered to coach me through knitting a purl stitch. Beth is brilliant. And the shop is something else too.

I’m halfway through my square and for once it actually bears some resemblance to an actual square as opposed to the bizarre lopsided triangular thing I have been agonising over for the past two weeks.

I’m nowhere near Granny Bruce’s nimble fingered talent nor my late mother-in-law’s, but at least I’m on the path now.

And next week I am going to learn how to make a teddy bear at the Tin Soldiers Studio in Irene.

So stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

The Rivonia Craft Village can be found at Rivonia Village Shopping Centre, cnr Rivonia Boulevard and Mutual Road, Rivonia and you can call them on 011 234 1998 or email

They offer a lot more than just advice for the craftily challenged, they also stock handmade crafts, gifts, scrapbooking, homeware, kids art, ceramics, jewellery and loads of beads. It’s the perfect place to pick up a housewarming gift, a birthday present or stock up for Christmas.


2 thoughts on “Arts, crafts and the hopeless

  1. I totally know how you feel. I learned how to do basic crochet from my mom and even though I learned years ago, I’ve only ever been able to complete basic scarves (and a few unfinished blankets) that I gave to friends because they loved me enough not to complain about the unevenness of my rows. I got all obsessed with crochet again a few months ago, as I joined a crafty book club and I’ve always been one of those people with really crafty friends but never very good myself (probably why I studied art history in college instead of making it). I need a good teacher myself, and one that would teach me knitting, as I’ve heard it’s easier.

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