Although I don’t write about it as often as I did earlier in the pandemic, I’m still knitting. I still only know one stitch and I haven’t progressed past knitting in a straight line. I still have to consult YouTube or video-call Fiver each time I start or finish a new scarf. But knitting continues to preserve my sanity.

Heather's knitting basket
What my knitting basket looks like this morning. I’m about to finish another scarf.

I’m obsessed with Joburg’s East Rand and I’m obsessed with knitting. So when Gail invited me to visit a knitting shop in Edenvale, one of my favorite East Rand suburbs, I eagerly accepted.

Elli's needlework in Edenvale
Elli’s Needlework on Van Riebeek Avenue in Edenvale. I love the old-school sign, which has been there since the shop opened.

Elli Mansfield, proprietress of Elli’s Needlework, immigrated to South Africa from Greece more than 50 years ago. Forty-five years ago, Elli was saving money to buy a car. She had R3000 saved up, but instead of getting a car she changed her mind and opened a knitting and haberdashery shop. Elli still runs the shop today in the same spot.

Elli of Elli's needlework
Elli, the O.G. of Edenvale needlework.

Elli’s shop is stuffed full of needles and thread, buttons and ribbons, knitting and embroidery patterns, clothes, yarn in a cacophony of colors, and lots of other bibs and bobs I couldn’t identify.

Gail in Elli's Needlework
Yarn display with Gail and Elli in the background.
More yarn.
Embroidery thread at Elli's Needlework
Embroidery thread, I think.
Buttons for sale
Buttons with very old price tags.
Doll faces
Doll faces, which might be culturally insensitive by 2021 standards but I’m guessing they’ve been in the shop since the 1970s.
Pattern books
I love these old pattern books.

Elli is 81 (although she looks about 70) and seems to have no inclination to retire. I was thrilled to hear she has already received her first covid-19 vaccine shot. Elli loves to chat, knows everything there is to know about yarn, and is generally a joy to hang out with.

Please support Elli’s Needlework if you’re in the area. (Incidentally, Elli’s is right up the street from the best pancake house in Joburg.)

I will publish more knitting shop posts in the future.

Elli’s Needlework is at 22 Van Riebeek Avenue, Edenvale. Call 011-453-9986.

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