17 november 2015

I'm Johnny Two Hats, why do you think they call me that?

Just a warning: this post is going to have a LOT of pictures of my head. Photographing hats, quite the ego trip...

I've been on a bit of a knitting kick lately, and hats are one of my favourite things to knit. They're easy enough to make whilst watching tv, they don't use a lot of yarn so you can splurge on nice stuff and they don't take forever like a scarf or a sweater does. I made a few hats last winter and over the past few weeks, and today I'll show you ALL OF THEM.

The first one is one of my favourites. It's the Rooty, a pattern I spotted on Jo's blog before, and it was a bit of love at first sight. The construction is easy but quite clever: you knit the band first on straight needles and then join it in the round for the body of the hat. This creates a vent in the back so your entire head is covered without any awkward bunching up!

The yarn for this isn't super special: two different colours of sock yarn held together. It was on sale at the shop, and combined with my employee discount this made for a super cheap hat that has already gotten tons of wear!

Here's another firm favourite! This yarn is a nice and warm alpaca blend, and I sort of made the pattern up as I went with it. If I remember correctly it went a bit like this: knitting a swatch, calculating how many stitches to cast on, knitting ribbing until I got sick of it, deciding  this yarn would look cool in a seed stitch, cursing myself for doing what's essentially more knits&purls, finishing the hat as a slouchy beanie, deciding to forego a pom pom for once. I love it. It's burgundy!

This was a new addition to the hat collection, shown together with my friend Dead Waldo (wearing one of the very first hats I ever knitted. So deep, you guys). I had been eyeballing this yarn for a while now (the main problem with seeing things almost every day...) and went for it in the end. It's pretty interesting: bulky strands of white wool (that go from thick to thin) wrapped in dark blue yarn. I used a plain white bulky yarn for the ribbing since that looked horrendous in the effect yarn (so uneven!) and made a big fluffy pom pom with the leftovers. Toasty!

You wouldn't say it, but it's also the perfect hat to be dramatic in.

Next up: another Rooty hat! This one is made from a super luxurious alpaca and merino mix, and it took longer than all previous hats combined. Most of this was my fault: I wanted to knit the pattern with smaller needles (since this yarn is finer than what the pattern calls for) and add a stranded pattern around the brim, so I had to work with a certain number of stitches to be able to make a nice repeat. I think I cast this on and ripped it back out three or four times.

It worked out in the end though: the end result is a bit more snug than what I'm used to, but it's totally wearable. The yarn is amazingly soft, and it has skulls on it. Because I'm really a tough and badass person, yes sir!

And finally, a new favourite! I bought 100 grams of this yarn at Julija's shop when Tasia was visiting Belgium, and I LOVE the colour. Seriously, I have an appointment with my hairdresser later this week (back to blue!) and I'm tempted to bring this hat to show the exact colour I want. Is it silly to match your hair to your hat?

(At this point I was a bit fed up with taking pictures so all the other ones look like this. The life of a sewing blogger.)

Again, no real pattern here. cast on stitches until I think it will fit my head, try on a few times along the way, make big fluffy pom pom. The yarn is a lovely soft merino, dyed in small batches and OMFG THE COLOUR.

And with that, I kind of managed to get hats out of my system! There's more knitting on the agenda though, I have a cabled scarf (ouhhh) almost finished (around 50 cm to go!) and I have some yarn lying around that would like to become a Guernsey wrap...

(For those of you wondering about the post title, click here! And then watch the entire show, 'cause it's amazing.)

04 november 2015


I have wanted to write this post since FOREVER but stuff just kept... Happening. Loads of extra hours at work and sudden energy to put into knitting... A bit of a shame, since this is something I'm super excited about!

A few months ago two dear friends told me and my boyfriend they wanted to start their own business. They both had a long retail background and a passion for beautiful things, so starting a store selling gifts and design objects seemed like a logical step. They wanted to offer a variety of nice things, including art made by local young artists, and so Superet was born!

We did some brainstorming about things we could contribute, and I decided to sell some postcards, limited lino prints, printed tote bags and handmade brooches (which I posted about before). They worked their butts off to get everything ready, and the result is a gorgeous shop in the middle of Antwerp (seriously, it's smack in the middle of the city)!

My friend Hélène provided an awesome tiger for the shop window! She also has some beautiful postcards and gift tags for sale. My boyfriend came up with tons of super happy colourful prints and posters!

I thoroughly christened my block printing press by churning out some lino prints. It's a really cool process, even if it leaves everything dirty and the cat very confused. The press I have is a super simple one, basically two planks and a lever, but it works really well! This cat print is available, along with a few others you might have glimpsed before.

The one thing I was really excited (and a bit afraid) about are the tote bags! The good thing about the type of press I have is that it doesn't go through a roll like on a more advanced printing press, so while the printing surface is the same (around an A4), you have some space around it to use larger paper, or in this case, tote bags! Each one of these is handprinted and unique.

They have loads more amazing things, and some beautiful gift ideas. If you're in Antwerp, go say hi and have a look!

Wijngaardstraat 21
2000 Antwerpen

15 oktober 2015

Take the precaution of a good coat and a short friend.

Yes! Time to continue my holiday slideshow! (part one here)

The pictures in this post were taken at Lynn Valley Park in Vancouver, where we went on a nice long walk. Before leaving on this trip I realised I had no coat suitable for the kind of weather we might have- non-stop rain- so I set out to make one. I had made the Sewaholic Robson once before and knew it fit me, so that's what I went for!

I made a few modifications, as usual. I added a lining as before, made the lapels pointy instead of rounded and added a hood to protect my precious hair against light rain. The shell is a rather light cotton canvas, so it's still no good against heavy showers- anyone got an idea about how much Otter Wax I'd need for this entire thing?

The Robson is a surprisingly quick sew for, you know, a trenchcoat with loads of details. The instructions are super clear and having all these small bits makes it a project that's easily divided into parts. I think an ambitious beginner might even be able to tackle this!

I didn't really make any changes to the fit, apart from shortening the hem a bit and making the pockets a tough bigger to fit my giant hands (they are a bit snug on my first version, but I do have giant hands).

Drafting the hood was really easy, and it turned out well (a tiny bit too high maybe) for a first attempt. Hooded coats and jackets are a blessing for someone who's always lost her umbrella! This coat kept me warm and dry during the chillier and rainier days of the trip (which were surprisingly sparse) and I think it will get a lot of wear in the following autumns and springs!

There! That was the part where I talk about clothes and sewing. Now for more travel pictures!

spent about four days in both Seattle and Portland, and it was really great. We were staying with friends of internet friends in Seattle which made us a bit nervous at first (strangers!) but they turned out to be really awesome people. We spent some time hanging out with Tom Deslongchamp and his wife, and just relaxed a lot. I also met up with Sanae Ishida for a delicious lunch and some fabric shopping, but completely forgot to take a picture. Stupid!

After these few days we took another train to Portland to go see Alex Chiu and his wife Ann. We'd met them a few years ago in San Francisco and it was great to see them again (and astound them with us never having had a rootbeer float before, or gone through a drive-thru). We both loved Portland as well, the weather was amazing again and we just had a blast walking around (and maybe doing some fabric shopping). We were also around on the historical event of recreative marijuana being legally sold for the first time!

05 oktober 2015

I will talk about my travels, Sorry not Sorry.

Hi everyone! I'm back! And there's going to be tons of pictures in this post (and the next one)!

I had this crazy idea about blogging while on vacation, but of course I was way too busy having fun to keep you all updated. We did manage to photograph two projects on the road, and today I'll share the first one (along with some pictures and a travel report, obviously).

Also, hi to all the new followers! Hanne gave me a lovely mention in her guest post on Closet Case Files, and it was great to come back home to such lovely reactions!

So, on with it! Our trip was three weeks long and I didn't really want to bother with washing clothes on the road, so I needed a few lightweight pretty dresses, and quickly! The Kielo wrap dress from Named had been on my mind since its release, but I never thought it could work on me until I saw the version made by the aforementioned Hanne. I traced the pattern, cut and sewed two versions in one day, and this is number one!

This was intended as a wearable muslin, since I wasn't sure about how it would turn out. The pattern itself is super easy, just two large pieces and two ties. It's fairly loose-sitting (as it should be, since you have to pull it over your head!) but there are two bust darts (coming out of the armpits) and two fisheye darts in the back to give some shaping.

It looks pretty funny when it's untied, kind of makes me feel like a manta ray! The fabric is a cheap viscose I picked up at a local fabric outlet some time ago. It was labeled as cupro and has a slightly matte, almost peachskin like texture. It works really well as a summer dress!

I experimented with a few different ways to tie it and found I prefer the bow to be in the back. This dress has all the niceness of a wrap dress with the added benefit of there being no danger to expose yourself if it came undone! I've been untying myself several times a day to show people how brilliant the construction was.

The only 'problem'  found is that the underside of the wrap part shows quite a bit when it's tied, unless I press the hell our of it before wearing. It doesn't really bother me though, and I'm not sure if there's anything to be done about it.

Now on to our vacation! We started out in New York, to revisit old places and friends. I managed to meet up with these two lovely ladies and had a blast going through the fabric shops:

We spent four days in New York and it was lovely to be there again (longtime readers might remember the first time I went there and the pictures we took then in exactly the same location). There was a bit of a bad start since I pulled a muscle in my back upon leaving the airport and spent the first afternoon flat on the bed, crying in pain and hoping it would be over soon! Thankfully I was able to walk around by the next day and almost completely fine by the time we had to take a plane again. We spent most of our time strolling around and looking at things:

After that, we took a plane to Vancouver, Canada, to visit my cousin and her husband. They moved there ten years ago and I was super stoked to see them again! We also met up with Tasia to see some fabric stores (they have a store with just buttons!) and had some of the greatest food ever.

I liked the city of Vancouver, but was even more impressed with the nature surrounding it. We went to visit Lynn Valley park one day, and even though we were terribly unprepared (realising at the start of our walk that we had no food or water on us and didn't even know what to do in the event of BEAR) it was amazing (eating a cinnamon bun the size of my head afterwards definitely helped)! 

We also borrowed some bikes off my cousin and cruised around Stanley Park. I'd definitely recommend doing this on a bicycle, since it's way too big to do on foot (I'd have given up about halfway through). After a few days with only minimal rain we took a train to Seattle, and were baffled by the views. The Amtrak goes right by the water for a good chunk of the trip, and at one point I punched my boyfriend in the arm because there were two bald eagles chilling on a tree in the sunset while a whole bunch of herons flew by. Magical.

Stay tuned for another project and some pictures from Seattle and Portland!

09 september 2015

If only I could wear 200 brooches at once.

A few months ago, two good friends told me and my boyfriend they wanted to start their own business. They wanted to open a store in the middle of Antwerp to sell pretty things and unique souvenirs, and asked me and a couple of other people to make products for them. I went for postcards, limited lino prints, printed tote bags and felt brooches, and today I'll show you one of these things!

I have been making these little brooches for a while now, but never seriously thought about selling them (more in an 'ok if you want it I'll make it' kind of way). Over the past few weeks I spent a few days watching the X-Files and embroidering. With nice results!

Every brooch is made from 100% wool felt, and entirely handcut and sewn. I first sketch the brooch on sturdy paper, cut it out, use the general shape to cut out the background and then cut the smaller shapes out of that to cut the details. This means that each one is unique!

I had to find a way to present them that would look decent but not be too expensive or hard to do. In the end I carved a stamp on some mounted softcut (which I only used because I was going to stamp it by hand, it's horrible stuff that feels like cutting chewing gum and I'd much rather cut real lino and use a press or spoon!) and went to town on sturdy coloured paper. The result looks 'legit' according to the boyfriend!

I have some pictures of the linoprinting process lined up as well, but those will have to wait for after my holiday. See you in about three weeks!

PS: If anyone in New York, Portland, Seattle or Vancouver wants to meet up, don't forget to let me know!

02 september 2015

Watch out, here we come!

Sorry, no sewing to show today, but I do have some exciting news, so here's another gif party!

I've been permanently hired at my job (I'd always work with three-month contracts before so I was basically at risk of being out of a job every three months) and this meant that my boyfriend and I could do some longer term planning! We thought it had been way too long since we went anywhere so I asked for three weeks off... To go on a trip to the US and Canada!

We'll visit New York, Vancouver, Seattle and Portland, and I'm REALLY excited. We haven't been properly travelling since Iceland, apart from a few very short weekend trips. More gifs to express my emotions!

Now for the big question: is there anyone from around those parts who wants to meet up? Show me the nice (fabric) spots, or just to have fun. I can repay you with Belgian sweets and wisdom such as this:

We will be around between September 15th and October 3rd! If you are interested, feel free to send an e-mail to annekecaramin(at)hotmail(dot)com!