Nina Ligeti holds the giant knitting needles used to make several mohair products at Smutsville's Mama Bear's Craft Centre, including the cute and cuddly sheep tucked under her arm. Photo: Fran Kirsten.
SEDGEFIELD NEWS - While visiting a Johannesburg craft expo about three years ago, Knysna mother Nina Ligeti was drawn to the craft of looming and so started her involvement in the Sedgefield not-for-profit organisation (NPO), FreshStart.
"I have always wanted to give back and when I noticed how easy looming really was with this new looming contraption I immediately started making beanies for those in need," said Ligeti. She was living in Johannesburg at the time and by the time she moved to Knysna she had provided close to a hundred beanies to cold children in need and brought many more down with her in a container.
"I read an article in the local newspaper about children helping themselves in the FreshStart initiative and realised that this was exactly what I was looking for, a home for my excess beanies. I was involved in a bit of charitable work in Johannesburg but the circle of energy never seemed complete to me. I made the beanies and they were passed onto those in need. I never got to share in who received them or even know if they were happy with them. In helping Freshstart I have a sense of the complete circle."
Her first involvement with FreshStart was with the craft workshop held at the Smutsville Youth Centre every Thursday morning.
"It soon became apparent that these once-a-week session just weren’t enough. They were so empowering for all. We would sit and laugh, learn and cry together. It was not just about crafting. We soon realised that this workshop needed to be available more often. It was important for the crafters to interact with each other.
The workshops gave them an opportunity to leave their problems behind and come to a place of happiness."
Smutsville resident, Elsie Cervati (see article elsewhere), one of the original Thursday crafters, decided to give up her playschool, Baby Bear’s, at her home in order to provide a crafting space, Mama Bear’s, a centre where Smutsville community crafters could get together every day if they so wished. "There are crafters that join us after work now," said Cervati.
As the crafters began to master more and more skills, Ligeti started sourcing waste materials that could be repurposed and upcycled into high quality, modern, refreshing and novel items.
"I combed the internet in search of rag-trade suppliers that would sell me their waste. Daniel Stucken of Hinterveld, Uitenhage kindly sent me, at own expense, a kilogram of the most beautiful Mohair waste. I could not believe my luck, it was absolutely perfect and I bought a ton from them."
Laughingly, she remembers the horror of how much one ton of mohair actually is. "My word, there are bales of mohair everywhere! I am so proud of the mohair products including the shaggy sheep that the crafters are now producing. They sold 27 sheep at this year's Leisure Isle Festival and we have confirmed orders for a further 17. You may find our various upcycled Mohair ranges (I have a Soft Heart and Earth Angel) at the two Montessori Friday Markets before Christmas and the Scarab Market in Sedgefield."
"Although I don't consider myself an expert crafter, the joy I experience in sharing my crafting skills with this group is immeasurable. It would be such a gift if others would share their talent with this group of Smutsville residents that are so willing to learn and supplement their income to take good care of their children and community."
If you would like to get involved in sharing your talent with the crafters of Mama Bear's Craft Centre or would like to donate purposeful waste, or want more information, contact Jennifer Tooley at FreshStart on 076 294 3075 or Nina Ligeti on 082 562 6810.