Quote of the day

In the rhythm of the needles

there is music for the soul.

Breiclub in Oostende : elke woensdagavond van 19 u - 21 u !

zaterdag 25 juli 2015

knitting excursion

Once in a while, the 'Vrijstaat O' knitting club decides it is time for an excursion.  Chris, one of our faithful  knitters, works at the Bozar.  The Bozar (palais des Beaux Arts) is the Museum of Arts in our capital city, Brussels.  While we knit, she always talks about the beautiful exhibitions, and now it is something we are all interested in : Belgian Fashion.

It is something to be proud of.  Belgian Fashion Designers are worldwide acknowledged to be exeptional.  Surreal (that is typical Belgian - the painter Magritte was Belgian - ceci n'est pas une pipe - remember? ) Avant -Garde and Explicit are the 3 words that describe our fashion at its best.  Take a look at these 3 items.   

I bet this needed more than 1 blue biro

a sexy corset in national colours

look close, see the weirdness...

The Antwerp 6 have been very infuential, Raf Simons is currently leading the house of Dior.
Edward Vermeulen (Nathan) whose dresses are worn by Queens.  - to name just 2-

So we decided to get together and travel by train to the Bozar, and spend a nice day in Brussels.
We enjoyed the exhibition a lot, Chris was so kind to explain and tell us the 'little history' behind the objects.  She actually travelled to her work on her day off....  just for us !

crochet by Ann Salens, a 70-ies designer
 Ann Salens was a girl from Oostende (my home town) with a talent for crochet. During the 70ies she dressed international stars in her handmade dresses.  I was still a young girl in the 70ies, but she inspired me to copy her designs for my barbie dolls.  Still love her work !

now that's a pleated skirt...

Alexa is admiring some dresses. 
Young talent had designed this wall with all their pictures
a new talent from Oostende ! Katrien Van Hecke dyes her own silks

I really liked this outfit !  felted wool and plastic.
The replica of Mary's dress
The St Andries church in Antwerp has a very modern priest.  He wanted a dress for his statue of Mary, and he contacted Ann De Meulemeester.  She designed something very frail, and exquisite.  This one in the museum is just a replica.  Once a year Ann takes the gown to clean it, and then Mary is wearing the replica. You find this hard to believe ?  Well, this is Belgium.

St Andries kerk in Antwerp : the best dressed Mary ever.
really liked this one !

nice one too !

close inspection.  How did they make this ?

the back can be removed... 

in need of some coffee...

In the afternoon we sat outside in the adjoining park.  We knitted and chatted and enjoyed the company.  Knitters from Oostende met knitters from Ghent and Hasselt. The sun was shining and time sure flies by when you're having fun.

thank you Chris (at the right) for a lovely day !

one day to remember...
Whereto next time ladies (and gentleman) ?  Paul Smith is on at the fashion museum in Hasselt...

maandag 20 juli 2015

To spin or to knit - a stupid city girl's adventures in sheep country.

As a long-time knitter, I am feeling a weird, uncomfortable  emotion.  I've knit it all.  You know that nasty feeling ?  Not knowing what to knit next ?  Another pattern from Ravelry or Pinterest ?  Another technique ?  Another skein of wool, or silk, or cotton, or linnen, or hand dyed purchased on the other side of this globe and delivered to my doorstep ?
I've been there, I've done that.  *sigh *

 What is wrong with me ?  Where has the enthusiasm gone ?  What could I do to get the usual feeling back ?  ( you know, that burning passion to get creative, the thrill, the I-can't-wait-to-get-started feeling, the aha-erlebnis when a tricky pattern comes together, the pride you feel when finished...)


*sigh again *

But I'm not the kind of person to let that get me down. No, in a situation like this, my head is turning around, looking for something else.  Maybe I should go further down the road of knitting.  Looking at the beginnings, where does it all come from ?  Sheep.  yes.  I'm a city girl, I haven't seen, touched or smelled a sheep Ever.  But they grow hair (do you even call that hair ? ) and that results in my knitting skeins.
Baby steps Rozemie.  Baby steps.
Like, how does spinning actually work ?  You need a spinning wheel.  The only spinning wheel I know of, is the one where you sleep for a 100 years when you touch it.  Idiot City Girl.  I know.

But hey, Google and Ravelry soon changed my views.

There are people who spin, in groups, and they produce the most wonderful yarn.   There are different sorts of sheep, each with its own beautiful wool. You can dye this wool in whatever colour you want.  Spinning wheels cost a fortune.

Ok.  I'm getting hooked here.  There is the passionate feeling 'I need to know this' again.

More research on internet got me in touch with Alet Tienpont, who lives a couple of hours driving from me, in the Netherlands.  She is a spinning-expert.  She explained about carding.  What ? Carding ?

You need to get the hairs of the sheepskin all in the same direction, roll them up in what is called 'rolags' and with these you can start to spin.

 Right, this makes it even more interesting.  There is such a thing as hand-carding, like a cool fitness exercise for your arms and wrists.  There is also a device called a drum-carder.  Which is slightly easier on the wrists.  My respect for spinners is growing. But there is creative fun whilst carding;  You can add colours, silky ribbons, shiny specks of silver or gold - amazing !  Note to self : drum carders are expensive.

She let me card, and then spin.  And although it seems soooo easy (children can spin !)- there is so much hand - eye - foot coordination involved that I felt like an idiot.  It's like driving a car for the first time.  There is so much happening at the same time, you are gasping for air. And the thread you produce is hardly worth that name.  No knitting material produced here.  Disappointment lurking at the horizon. But I am born a Taurus, and they are Stubborn.  My mother told me so - I prefer the word persevering.  :-)

not really knitable but hey ! don't laugh !

proud of my first attempt.

2 days of trial-and-error but hey, I spinned (spun ?  span ? ) something you could call a skein.

Back home, I told my friends about this new found aspect of my knitting hobby : producing my own raw material.  and then I got a mail : are you interested in some sheepskin ? It's for free-hee...

My brain only registered the last bit, and I agreed to pick up a bit of sheepskin.

5 stinking bags full of sheeps curly bits.  You do not want to smell that.  You do not want to touch that. You have to put that in the boot of you car.  And on your back seat, since boot too small for all this mess. oh you Stupid City Girl.   To top it all : it is black sheep.  Karma has a sense of humor.

Right.  Google, help !  How do you proceed next ?  Apparently, you need to wash this.  (Who would have thought ? )  I bought 2 giant buckets and filled them with very hot water and a good splash of detergent. Taking the curly bits out of the bag, removing the obvious dirt (think straw, grass, and yes,  shit, as in what the sheep produces - not the word I kept repeating in my head)
Let it soak, and watch in amazement how quickly it all turns into a brownish stinking mess.

5 huge bags of smelly sheepskin

Just to make it clear : this city girl lives in a house WITHOUT a garden.  There is only a few square meters of outdoors on the first floor, next to my kitchen. I grow a couple of flowers and herbs in planters, there is just enough space for my laundry to dry.  This is where I am washing the sheepskin.  My husband is sure I have truly gone mental this time.  So am I.

the Lord of the House sees it's all OK.  The wool is clean and dry.

After washing and rinsing (I'm dreading the next water bill...) it has to dry.  Then I have to card.  Then I have to spin. And if I have any energy left, I can finally knit.

hand carding

producing a lot of rolags.  I added a bit of colour.

To be continued....

maandag 13 juli 2015

Marie Suarez

Sometimes I need a change from knitting and crochet.  Once a year, I find myself craving for a little embroidery work.
So, when I discoverd the lovely shop 'het gaerehuys' in Ghent, I couldn't resist buying a kit.
It is from 'le chat dans l'aiguille', and they have wonderful patterns.

I could spend hours in this shop...

this little basket is called 'Summer'

a lot of different stiches and colours

So - still in emboidery-modus - when I read about a workshop patchwork & embroidery near my hometown, I quickly enrolled.
The teacher was Marie Suarez, a Spanish wonderwoman who makes the most exquisite designs.

It was just perfect.  We learned a lot of new techniques, stitches and tips&tricks to get a professional result.
This is it , after 2 days of 'hard' work.

working with felt & jeffitex

all 4 sides have different emboidery

would be nice for easter eggs too, in yellow/purple...

For more inspiration, I bought her delightful book filled with little embroidery projects.

Many thanks to Sophie Van Driessche and Patchwork Atelier Varsenare, for organising this wonderful and inspirational workshop, the great lunch in the garden and the homebaked cakes.

zondag 26 april 2015


Is it a girl ?  is it a miracle ?  No.  It's a hype in knitting land.  the bernadette.
Some time ago, a mother knitted a very simple vest for her daughter.  Daughter wore it to school, and other mums wanted the vest too.  So mum started knitting the vest for others, selling them in very exclusive Antwerp fashion stores.  400 euros for a very simple handknitted vest.

For me, that is a lot of money to spend on a vest.  My reaction was : I can knit that myself, and it won't cost that much money.

So I bought pale yellow mohair at 'Suzywol' and cast on stiches.  The original vest is just a bunch of rectangles : one for the back, 2 halves for both fronts and 2 small rectangles for the arms, all sewn together.

I added a little shaping for the upper part.  I found the original vest a bit ...    huge....  ?  and i'm not the thin and skinny 20-year old I used to be (lol) Now I know a raglan is very flattering for female shapes (read big) and I cast on....  I call it the Bernadette-Rose, because I added a significant change : the shape.

The pattern I designed is here.  It's for free.  You're welcome.  :-)
It's in dutch.  For English : scroll down. 

De Bernadette-Rose

Benodigdheden : dunne mohair wol of lace wol genre Kid silk mohair
of andere zachte lichte wol.  Je breit met 3 of 4 draden samen. Of dikkere mohair strengen van bij suzywol in Eernegem.
Naalden nr 8 ( en nr 10 om af te kanten)

Stekenverhouding  : met nld 8, in tricot steek :  9 steken = 10 cm

Tricotsteek is 1 naald rechts, 1 naald averechts.
Boordsteek 1/1 is : brei 1 steek rechts, 1 steek averechts.  In de tweede naald brei je rechts op rechts, averechts op averechts.  Dan krijg je een mooie boord. 
Minderen door overhalen = haal 1 steek af, brei de volgende steek rechts.  Haal de eerste steek over de tweede (zoals bij het afkanten) Deze geminderde steken hellen naar links, gebruik deze techniek aan het begin van je naald, dat maakt een mooie lijn in je raglan.
Minderen door 2 steken samen te breien : schuif de volgende 2 steken dicht bijeen op je linkernaald. steek de punt van de rechternaald (alsof je rechts gaat breien)  door beide steken in 1 keer. Brei die steek rechts en laat afglijden.  Deze mindering doet de steken naar rechts hellen.  Gebruik deze techniek op het einde van je naald, dan heb je ook hier een mooie lijn in je raglan. 

Zet 58 steken op met nld 10.
Brei 3 nld boordsteek 1/1 met nld 8
Brei verder in tricot.  (1 nld rechts, 1 nld averechts)
Na 46 cm kant je af voor de raglan : elke rechtse naald 1 mindering aan het begin en 1 mindering aan het einde van de naald.  (overhaling aan het begin, 2 samenbreien aan het einde, telkens op 1 kantsteek)
Na 25 cm raglan de resterende steken afkanten met nld 10.

Hetzelfde als de rug, maar ½.  Dus 29 steken opzetten. Brei de 2 delen samen op 1 ndl, of anders goed opletten dat je spiegelbeeld breit voor deel 2.

Zet 26 steken op met nld 10.  Brei 3 nld boordsteek 1/1 met nld 8.
Brei verder in tricot , meerder 6 steken in de eerste naald.
Op 30 cm (dat is driekwart lengte, brei wat langer voor lange mouwen) afkanten voor de raglan (zoals bij rugpand).  Na 16 cm de overgebleven steken allemaal in 1 keer afkanten met nld 10.

Zet de jas in elkaar : sluit zijnaden en schoudernaden.  Zet de mouw in.

Bernadette - Rose in English.

 This is a very easy and basic pattern, ideal for beginners.

You need : thin mohair (lace or fingering) held double or even 3 threads held together.(I knitted one in a single strand of lace mohair for a lighter summer version)
Needle 8mm ( & 10mm to cast off)

Gauge  : on 8mm : 9 stitches =  10 cm

Stiches and techniques used :

StSt : stockinette stitch.  you knit one row, you purl the next row.

Border = ribbing  1/1: knit 1 stitch, purl 1 stitch.  In the next row knit the knits, purl the purls.

ssk : slip slip knit. in this way you decrease 1 stitch and the decrease leans to the left.  Use this in the beginning of the raglan decrease rows, it will make a nice left leaning decrease line towards your shoulder.

k2tg : knit 2 stitches together, this way you decrease 1 stich and the decrease leans to the right.  use this on the end of your raglan decrease rows, it will make a nice right leaning decrease line towards your shoulder.

Cast on  58 steken on needles 10mm.
Continue on the 8mm needles, knit 3 rows of border stitch.
Continue in StSt.
Start the raglan decreases at 46 cm : knit 2 stitches, ssk, knit until 4 stitches remain on your needle.  k2tg, knit 2 . purl the next row. Repeat until the decrease part measures 25 cm. Cast off the remaining stitches , using the 10 mm needle.

Same as the back, only knit in 2 pieces. (one left front part, one right front part)
CO 29 st on the 10mm needle. follow instructions like for the back piece. For the raglan : at 46 cm you start the ssk decreases, no decreases at the end of your needle !  when you knit the second half, make sure it is a mirror image.  this means that at the raglan decreases, you now decrease at the end of the needle, with the k2tg method.  No decreases at the beginning of this piece.

CO 26 stitches on the 10mm needles.  Continue with the 8 mm needles in border for 3 needles. 
Continue in StSt, increase 6 stitches in the first row. (approx. every 4 stitches put the yarn over the needle to create an extra stitch)
When the piece lmeasures 30 cm, (that is for a 3/4 sleeve, knit a bit more if you want long sleeves) start raglan decreases, just like you did on the back.  (ssk in the beginning of the knit row, k2tg at the end)
When this raglan piece measures 16 cm, cast off using the 10 mm needles.

Sew the pieces together.  close the sides and the shoulders.  Insert the sleeves.

Do feel free to go and play with this pattern.  Add some cables, or a little lace.  Make it longer or smaller.  Have fun with it !

zaterdag 18 april 2015

making dolls

Do you remember the Hollie Hobbie dolls that were soooo popular during the 70ies ?  My sister and I made one from an old sheat of cotton and made knitted clothes for them.

These days, there seems to be a revival of those sort of dolls.  In her book 'My rag doll' by Corinne Crasbercu, the hollie hobbie doll has become a real little princess.   I tried out some of her patterns, and this is the result :
a gorgeous blonde

now with my hat !

a prima ballerina in her tutu

brown pigtails are cute

2 skeins of mohair for the hair !

she is ever so soft

I don't know if these dolls are meant to play with.  The construction of the hair is really delicate.
I think they will prefer to be 'on display' rather than be played with....

Oh, and remember Sarah Kay's Hollie Hobbie ?

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