I have been lucky enough to visit Kazuri twice in recent years and wanted to share what they do with my readers.
Kazuri, which means small and beautiful in Swahili, refers to a brand of hand-painted ceramic jewellery and beads made in Kenya. Everything made at Kazuri is shaped by hand by one of the 300 local women employed there. Founded by a British couple in the mid 1970s, the aim was to provide sustainable employment for single mothers. The factory and shop are located against a stunning backdrop in Karen, a suburb of Nairobi, and their products are now shipped worldwide and are sold in retailers such as John Lewis (although the price difference is substantial – £30 for a bracelet which costs KSh2000, eg. £14 at Kazuri).
On my first visit in 2011, my mum and I were shown around the workshop and a guide explained and showed us how the beads were made, painted and finally turned into jewellery. The ceramic beads are hand shaped (with some employees managing to roll and shape up to 1000 a day), then kiln fired once, glazed and fired again. Many are then strung to order or stored for later use.
The incredible collection of jar after jar of beautiful handmade beads is a delight to see and the shop on site sells ready to wear jewellery as well as ceramics such as crockery and small animal figurines.
On my visit in 2012, I bought a bag of mixed beads, and handpicked some beads and buttons which I aim to incorporate into some crafts over the next few months (suggestions welcome!). I was like a kid in a sweetshop, taking each jar off the shelf and looking through all the different shapes, sizes and colours to find a little selection to buy. I also bought this little paw print dish.
I could have been there for hours and if you are ever in Nairobi, you should definitely take the time and go to visit.
I have a wonderful crochet book called Gourmet Crochet by Christen Haden and Mariarosa Sala, which is full of food patterns. I like it because its not just the usual fruit and veg patterns you can easily find but it has wonderful ‘recipes’ such as a cheese board, crackers and bottle of red wine and a full set of sushi and dim sum.
For my nephew I made a BLT:
slice of wholemeal bread
two strips of streaky bacon
baby gem lettuce leaf
slice of tomato
As an addition, I added stick on Velcro dots so that the pieces all stick together.
My cousin and his wife were due a baby girl at the end of the March and they live out in Canada. Even accounting for postage time from the UK, I thought I’d finish their little gift in time… However, baby Millie arrived on the 6th March and I was swamped by a number of university assignments which had to take priority over finishing the project.
Using a Lion Brand Yarn pattern (once again), I made a little pink and cream amigurumi bunny which has now been lovingly and gratefully received across the pond.
I moved into a new flat at the end of January and when my new sofa finally arrived (a few weeks later), I felt it deserved some handmade cushions.
I had already bought some fabric and invisible zips although I haven’t made cushion covers before so decided to keep things simple for this first attempt.
I bought three cushion pads from Dunelm Mill (good quality and such cheap prices) measuring 46cm x 46cm (1) and 41cm x 41cm (2). I cut two squares of fabric for each cushion and pinned and sewed the zips first.
With the wrong side facing, I then sewed the remaining 3 sides of each cover.
All it then takes is to turn the cover the right way out, put the cushion pad in and arrange on the sofa for added comfort (please excuse the boxes etc – I was still trying to finish my unpacking).
Another year and another baby boom from my circle of family and friends. I made this blanket for a close friend of mine who I have known since school. She is due at the end of this month and doesn’t know if she is having a boy or a girl. The pattern comes, once again, from the wonderful collection at Lion Brand Yarn and was easy to follow, fairly quick to make and a really perfect size for a newborn.
I changed the border to a simple shell, rather than follow the Lion Brand pattern, and I added in the strips of mint to add a bit of colour to the silver/grey and cream.
These little purses are so easy and quick to make but are a useful item and a lovely gift. Using felt means no tatty edges and no seam allowance. The contrasting blanket stitch adds a simple but stand-out detail.
- Decide what colour felt to use and cut any size square/rectangle you like (the set of 3 shown measure 8.5cm x 6cm, 7cm x 12cm and 7cm x 7cm)
- Fold and press with a low-heat iron
- Choose a contrasting wool and, starting from the bottom right corner of the purse, blanket stitch all the way around – making sure you’re stitching through both layers of the purse
- Use self-stick velcro dots to close the purse – you could also use a button or a popper
I have made these purses for a few friends and they have been used for makeup, coins and pens – just remember, for a coin purse, to make the blanket stitches a bit closer together so nothing can slip out!
I received lots of lovely gifts for Christmas this year, my family know me so well.
Most of my wool and crochet supplies are in a big canvas box in the lounge, so I needed a more portable craft bag to take projects with me if I’m away from home. My mum made a lot of different presents this year, most of which I’d seen as she is currently living with me. This one, however, mum managed to make in secret whenever I was out at work or uni:
Its the perfect size and the fabric is just beautiful. The cross stitch panel makes it even more personal and I love the bobbin-print lining too.
My brother’s girlfriend bought me this little acorn felting set:
I haven’t tried felting before but the little instructions included in the box seem pretty straightforward. The wool is angora and is so soft and the colours are stunning.
I love the Great British Bake Off and I love recipe books. This was from my parents’ good friends and clearly they know me as well as my family do!
The book also ties in well with the gift from my aunt and cousin:
I love to bake and anything which makes cupcakes prettier has a place in my kitchen.
Finally, this book from my aunt and uncle is great. Such inspiration to recycle and upcycle things for around the house.
I really have been so spoilt this year and my family as ever knew exactly what to get me. Let me know if you’ve received any fab handmade or craft gifts this year, I’m always interested to see what’s out there.