Soft toys made with love

Gonubie woman quietly crafts adorable gifts in her spare time

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Picking up crocheting hooks and colourful yarn for the first time four years ago, Gonubie resident and self-taught crocheter, Sascha Gourley has handmade more than 80 soft kiddies toys in her spare time.
From adorable elephants and hippos to bunnies, sea creatures and even mermaids, Gourley, 31, was inspired to take on the intricate hobby after her mother, a crocheting enthusiast and avid knitter, died in 2014.
“My mom used to crochet kids’ clothes and little shoes and some toys as well. She taught me how to knit when I was younger, but because she was left-handed she couldn’t really teach me how to crochet,” said Gourley, who is originally from Bloemfontein.
Taking to the internet, Gourley relied on YouTube tutorials, Pinterest patterns and online tips and tricks to feel closer to her late mother.
“I really enjoy crocheting, it’s a lot of fun, but it also connects my mom and me. It makes me feel closer to her in some ways because I use some of her toy patterns and make the things that she used to make,” said Gourley.
“My mom was really good at making jerseys and baby shoes and sandals. I love making the teddies because they’re so cute and easy for me. I can make the sandals too, but I just don’t have the patience to make a jersey,” she laughed.
Starting out with simple patterns, Gourley took to crocheting stuffed animals for family and friends at first, but her handmade toys slowly grew in popularity and led her to make a Facebook page in 2017 to share her cuddly creations.
“I started the Little Miss Crafty Facebook page a couple of years ago to get my work out on the internet.“My husband came up with the name and it’s been really wonderful so far. I’ve made about 60 toys just from orders and it feels like a really big achievement to make something by hand and then be able to sell it,” said Gourley.A CAD draughtsman by profession and a mom to a nine-month-old little girl, Gourley squeezes in 10 minutes of stitching whenever she can to get her orders completed on time. Her home is a testament to her woolly hobby as bags of unfinished yarn, crochet hooks and knitting needles decorate strategic nooks and crannies in the living room.“Crocheting calms me down; it’s my outlet, so if I’ve had a bad day, I love just sitting on the couch and crocheting in the evenings while we watch TV; it keeps my hands busy so I don’t get bored.“I finish work at 3pm every day so I have a bit of time in the afternoons and while she [my daughter] is sleeping too,” said Gourley.“Someone wanted a ragdoll with a hat and she ordered four at a time so I worked through the night to get those done, but usually I can get one done over a weekend.”While using patterns to crochet the lovable stuffed animals and quirky ragdolls, Gourley said that they often don’t come out perfect and that is what she loves most.“I’m quite picky with what I make. I don’t like making characters like Mickey Mouse because if they don’t come out perfect, then it doesn’t work. The finished product doesn’t have to look exactly like the pattern and to me, that’s what makes it fun and makes them all unique,” said Gourley.Made with colourful wool, soft stuffing, a personal touch and lots of love, the toys are perfect for babies and young children and Gourley plans to keep making many more.“I think that handmade toys are becoming more popular. I know I’m definitely going to get a lot of demands for teddies from my little girl when she gets older because she already loves them so much,” said Gourley...

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