We have long admired the beautiful, meticulous work of crafter, Elza Van Der Merwe. Elza is no stranger to crochet and knitting groups in South Africa, her work regularly inspires people. And best of all! She loves to work with Nurturing Fibres yarns.
Tell us about yourself.
I grew up in the beautiful town of Stellenbosch. After I completed my Home Economics degree at the University of Stellenbosch, I moved to Johannesburg to start working at the guest house and training centre of the Rupert International Group in Sandton. These days I live in Centurion with my husband of 28 years, but also spend a lot of time at our holiday home in Pringle Bay. We have two grown up children, a son and a daughter. I have a full-time office job working as Financial Director at my husband’s software company. Hard to believe as numbers are not my strong point, but I know how to work a computer! My main hobbies involve yarn! Mostly crochet and lately also a bit of knitting. I also love to read, spending time outdoors and socialising with friends and family.
How long have you been crocheting?
Six years ago my daughter moved to Stellenbosch to start her studies. I suddenly had an empty house and loads of time on my hands. I realised I needed something to keep my hands (and mind) busy. I somehow stumbled on the Ons Hekel FaceBook group and decided that’s it! I am going to crochet a blanket. And as they say, the rest is history. I learned from YouTube videos and books. Being left handed, I had to make adjustments and work out a method that works for me.
Any other crafts you enjoy doing?
As I mentioned I also knit. I have done some mosaic, renovating and painting furniture and I can also sew, but only if I have to! I used to make my children’s clothes when they were still little.
How has crochet (or any other fibre craft) changed your life?
Crochet saved me from myself. I tend to become depressed when I am not busy. My mind starts to dwell on all that can go wrong and it becomes a bit too much. And the best of all… I made the most wonderful talented and supportive friends through crochet.
What is your favourite Nurturing Fibres yarn?
It has to be Eco-fusion.
And your favourite Nurturing Fibres yarn colour?
I love Anvil, but Paris is a close second.
What has been your most favourite project to date, and why?
I think it has to be the Sophie’s Universe Crochet-a-long, designed by talented Dedri Uys. It was a journey. Not only did I enjoy the design and making the blanket, but the excitement it stirred up in the crochet community was fantastic.
What do you enjoy crocheting (or knitting) most?
That is a difficult one. I usually enjoy all the projects I work on, because I create what I want. Anything from blankets, shawls, toys, sock knitting etc. If I have to choose, it will probably be knitting and crocheting shawls with beautiful hand dyed yarn. I also do a CAL at least once a year. It is wonderful to connect in this way with people from all over the world. At the moment I am following the Lilliana CAL by Hooked on Sunshine, working in lovely Nurturing Fibres Eco-Cotton.
Most challenging fibre moment?
I had difficulty in combining different variegated coloured yarn. At the moment I am knitting a zig zag scarf with 6 different variegated hand dyed merino singles. I have wonderful, talented friends who help and cheer from the side and gives me the confidence and guts to try new things. Combining different yarns and colours has opened up a whole new dimension when planning future projects.
What inspires you and how do you pick your next project?
I love making something for a special person to mark a special occasion. Family members celebrating a special birthday, or a wedding or a new baby, planning the design and colours accordingly. I spend a lot of time browsing on Instagram or Pinterest looking for inspiration and ideas.
Do you have a lot of WIP’s or are you more disciplined in your approach?
I usually only have 2, maybe 3 WIP’s, but who is counting? When working on a large project like a blanket, I also tend to work on some smaller projects in between. I need to get something done, where a blanket can take months.
What is still on your fibre bucketlist?
I am currently knitting my first top-down sweater. I am also planning a merino blanket for my bed. The wool is ready and waiting. We are really spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing natural fibres, indie dyers and designers in South Africa. I wish I could spend time with each and every one of them.
Connect with Elza via her Instagram Account.