A soft, squishy, washable merino yarn is one of best things to knit with in the world, and even better, South Africa has some of the best quality merino wools in the world!
With this in mind, it’s hardly surprising that one of my absolute favourite yarns is African Expression Harmony. It’s become a staple in my yarn stash for beanies (see the photos below) and gloves and even toys – for several reasons.
Firstly, it’s just incredibly high quality. It knits up beautifully, and creates draped, very wearable items and toys. Secondly, it’s worsted weight which is very rare in South Africa – yet very popular overseas in a huge variety of patterns! Lastly, they really do have a gorgeous range of colours.
I spoke to Roxanne Maddocks, the Sales Consultant for African Expressions, about the colour range (they have earthy tones, gorgeous pastels and more) and she said, ‘When African Expressions launched its brand in 2011 there were 12 basic colours available. Each year we add six new colours to be added to the colour range for each quality of yarn in the range. Adding colours to the range is quite an intense process. We look at the international fashion and textile trend forecasts as well as looking at what our local crafters have asked for.’ With 36 colours, there is a lot to choose from.
My most recent make was the pretty Autumn in Garrison beret. It’s a top down knitting pattern and is really easy to follow, with very simple lace detail that knits into these beautiful leaves.
I actually made it for Ruth, our retired housekeeper. She lived and worked with my family since around 1992, in a system rooted in Apartheid – black women living and working with white families while their own children were raised in the township by someone else. Ruth was a big part of my life growing up, and since retirement she’s moved back to her family homestead when I moved to Johannesburg. I appreciate her immensely and wanted to make her something special.
Ruth is an avid churchgoer and always wears a beret to the service. And so I decided to make her a soft lavender beret she can proudly wear to church! Since I’ll only see her in a month or two I won’t be able to post a photo of her in the beret quite yet, but here are some of the beret on my beautiful friend Lisa.