vrijdag 30 december 2011

Aran Islands II

And Synge continues somewhere in part III:
' It is likely that much of the intelligence of these people is due to the absence of any division of labour, and to the correspondingly wide development of each individual, whose varied knowledge and skill necessitate a considerable activity of mind. Each man can speak two languages. He is a skilled fisherman, and can manage a curagh (narrow handmade boat) with extraordinary nerve and dexterity. He can farm, burn kelp, cut out pampooties (leather slippers tied with fishing string), mend nets, build and thatch a house and make a cradle or a coffin. His work changes with the season in a way that keeps him free from dullness....'
The crafts have remained, even with modern techniques. That's very inspiring about this place. Something to learn from. As crafts artist Denis Brown recently said in the British magazine 'CRAFTS' : 'Some think tradition means copying the past. But a living tradition must move forward'. We must rethink the importance of traditions, of the crafts that come with them.Which are to be used in a contemporary way. In this way we can revalue design, revalue what we really need, and also the labour it took to make it. Whether it's food, clothes, household ware or accessories. Crafts galore!

the photo's are mine, from 2004

donderdag 29 december 2011

Aran Islands

Recently I came across an old copy of J.M. Synge's book 'The Aran islands' on the lovely Friday book market at Spui, Amsterdam. A few years ago I was on the Aran islands with 2 friends. We took knitting classes, to learn the traditional aran knitting. What Synge wrote in 1907 still captures the sense of the islands today.
This is how it begins:
'I am in Aranmor, sitting over a turf fire, listening to a murmur of Gaelic that is rising from a little public-house under my room. The steamer which comes to Aran sails according to the tide, and it was six o'clock this morning when we left the quay of Galway in a dense shroud of mist. A low line of shore was visible at first on the right between the movement of the waves and fog, but when we came further it was lost sight of, and nothing could be seen but the mist curling in the rigging, and a small circle of foam. There were few passengers; a couple of men going out with young pigs tied loosely in sacking, three or four young girls who sat in the cabin with their heads completely twisted in their shawls, and a builder, on his way to repair the pier at Kilronan, who walked up and down and talked with me.
In about three hours Aran came in sight. A dreary rock appeared at first sloping up from the sea into the fog; then, as we drew nearer, a coastguard station and the village.'

woensdag 28 december 2011

Options, Fair+Fair, Maison NL

Three new great shops have opened recently in Amsterdam. Despite the economic crisis we face, a good idea, a strong concept and sustainable products seem to have the future. These people certainly have followed their heart. All three shops sell items you want to have, you need and will love forever. That's  the retail concept of the 21st century! Nothing cheap or bad quality, but wonderful kitchen stuff, lovely textiles (at Options also my flock of lambs), desirable desktop items and good books and magazines. I like!
Maison NL

vrijdag 23 december 2011

Poor Economics

Yesterday I went to the 'globaliseringslezing' by Esther Duflo. It was about the book she wrote with Abhiijit Banerjee 'Poor Economics'. She had a sparkling lecture about their way of working on the eradication of poverty. The main message is : start looking at reality, and act regarding to that reality. Within their 'Poverty Action Lab' at MIT they do small scale projects such as stimulating communities to vaccinate their children by providing them a one-kilo- bag of lentils. It helped; more children were vaccinated and the next time also. It worked as a drive for development. Why do poor people act the way they act? Why is poverty not solved yet, despite the aid that's been given? In contrary to many scientists and workers in the field such as Sachs, Moyo, Yunus, she states that there is not 1 solution. Eradicating poverty is a blanket woven from many threads. By starting on a small scale they work on governments to take over. That last step is a tricky one. But it must be taken!
Also invited were Dutch NGO specialists such as Monique van 't Hek, Rene Grotenhuis and Andries de Jong. After the lecture it was meant to have a discussion. However, Linda Polman, who was the moderator, was acting shamefully. She kept on showing that she had read the book properly, kept on pushing the dialogue into her cynical ideas about aid, and completely forgot the knowledgeable input of the others. She was a bad moderator. Rene Grotenhuis saved by stating that he was unhappy the way the conversation went, and the audience agreed by applauding loudly. Despite this; the evening was inspiring and gave fresh ideas and results. The book is out also in Dutch: 'Arm en Kansrijk'.

donderdag 22 december 2011

Happy Holidays!

        Let's fly in 2012. We might find new opportunities, new destinations and new passions. 
               Even close by. Let's open our eyes, spread our wings, choose direction but: fly!

dinsdag 20 december 2011


I'm learning to knit socks! Through great tuition by Ada and Truus I'm finally beginning to understand the wonderful process. My skills are rapidly improving, especially since I'm working with thick wool and 5 bamboo needles. It has been a tradition for long among women all over the world. I've seen great examples in Ireland, Scotland, England and Chile, but also my own grandmother used to do it. It's great to see that it's getting back to being done. I know Heleen, Nicoline, Trine and Severine who are currently learning it. Ada and Truus are passing on the skills.
So let's revive the tradition!

vrijdag 16 december 2011

Schatkamers van de Hartenstraat

Tomorrow and Sunday: design shopping for Christmas!
My lambs of my flock will be in the wonderful atmosphere of Vlinder & Vogel.......

woensdag 14 december 2011


 Some wonderful city patterns that I spotted while in Valparaiso. This Chilean city is built on 45 hills, just on the Pacific coast. This neighbourhood was very inspiring. Some houses had great colour patterns, and the most outrageous decorations. Tiny streets, endless stairs, a great breakfast & lunchplace 'El Desayunador' with a great wall pattern.  A very colourful place, Valparaiso

dinsdag 13 december 2011


After the half hearted results of Durban and the attitude of the Dutch Government as if climate change and sustainability are matters of less interest than 'our model of growth' my concern grows. Today in Trouw a few articles about the topic. The 'Taskforce Biodiversity' proposes a.o. green taxes and a stop on products that threaten biodiversity. Green taxes are being discussed already everywhere, it just doesn't seem to be taken serious enough. With this article came this graphic by Michel van Elk about our footprint:

It shows we in The Netherlands are using twice as much as the world average and 3 times as much as the planet's capacity. Politics as well as companies as well as individuals MUST act. So please switch off your electronic devices when not in use, have shorter showers, eat less meat and fish, eat as local as possible, as fair as possible, go by bike if possible, wear a warm jumper and reduce the warmth in your house, recycle and be happy about all you can do!

zondag 11 december 2011


Being in Chile we visited Isla Negra, his house along the coast near Valparaiso. Unfortunately you can't walk around on your own; just with a museum guide. Groups queue up, so each group is pulled through the small buildings in great speed. But the sense came through; this remarkable poet was a remarkable collector. Shells, crockery, glassware, sea maps, endless. He was takes from this place because he was seriously ill, just as the Pinochet coup took place. The military force went to his house, afraid of the power he had with his poetic interpretations of what was going on. Shortly after this he passed away. His house was restored, eventually. His inspiration never faded, and that's what you feel when you're in Chile. Here's a fragment of one of his poems:
Hay algo denso, 
sentado en el fondo, 
repitiendo su número, su señal idéntica. 
Como se nota que las piedras han tocado el tiempo, e
n su fina materia hay olor al edad, 
y el agua que trae el mar, de sal y sueño. 

There's something dense, united, 
sitting in the background, 
repeating its number, its identical signal. 
How clear it is that stones have handled time, 
in their fine substance there's the smell of age, 
and water the sea brings, salty and sleepy
This poem was taken from the book Neruda Esencial, from Pehuén Publishers in Chile. The motto of the book:
'On our earth, before writing was invented,before the printing press was invented, poetry flourished. That is why we know that poetry is like bread; it should be shared by all, by scholars and by peasants, by all our vast, incredible, extraordinary family of humanity' Pablo Neruda.

donderdag 8 december 2011


Just returned from Chile. An amazing trip. Thinking of crafts in South America, Peru and Bolivia popped up immediately, but that was wrong. Chile has a long and varied tradition of crafts. I visited the exhibition in Santiago's Fundacion Artesanias de Chile . Along the country's regions an overview was presented. Wood, ceramics, copper, leather, wicker and, of course, textiles. Alpaca wool and sheep wool in knitted and woven techniques. Heaven! The foundation was established after the 2009 earthquake to help people getting back a normal life. All products are fair, social and sustainable. So I was happy to buy a pair of alpaca socks, a ball of sheep wool and a large scarf.

zaterdag 3 december 2011

Santiago Street Life

Just some impressions.....

vrijdag 2 december 2011


I'm in Chile at the moment, to celebrate the wedding of one of my favourite cousins. After the house of Pablo Neruda at Isla Negra and much more, we're back in Santiago. Yesterday we went to the wonderful Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. It is a beautiful building, both from the outside as well as the inside. The biggest surprise was a small exhibition in 3 rooms by Maria Angelica Echavarra. She's an artist who does wickerwork. . The title of the exhibition was'Efimero': 'Mil preguntas refuerzan mi asombre por lo efimero' In English:'Thousands of interrogatives strengthen my amazement for what is ephemeral'. I found it stunning, and took some illegal photo's. The way she uses the traditional crafts from the region near Chimbarango here in Chile is so beautiful! After I've seen the small exhibition in the cultural centre of La Moneda where crafts were shown of the regions where the earthquake influenced daily life terribly this was a wonderful addition.

dinsdag 22 november 2011


The last week I've been busy preparing a delivery of my lambs for 2 shops. Royal Tichelaar in Makkum and the soon-to-be-opened Options in Amsterdam. The knitted lambs, Barbara does a lot for me, had to be filled with pure wool. For the filling I use clean wool but unwashed with the authentic fragrance of lanolin. Lovely to work with. The flock grows with each lamb, and they all have their own character. They are all made of organic undyed wool in browns, whites and greys. They are very popular, and I'm happy to know that they found new homes from Friesland to New York.

maandag 21 november 2011


For days now we have a fog. From my window I see nothing but this mast. Boring, but also beautiful.

zaterdag 19 november 2011


This is Occupy Amsterdam. An amazing gathering of people, ideas, questions. Maybe asking questions is the most important beginning of opposition. As Remco Campert wrote in his poem: VERZET Verzet begint niet met grote woorden maar met kleine daden zoals storm met zacht geritsel in de tuin of de kat die de kolder in zijn kop krijgt zoals brede rivieren met een kleine bron verscholen in het woud zoals een vuurzee met dezelfde lucifer die een sigaret aansteekt zoals liefde met een blik een aanraking iets dat je opvalt in een stem jezelf een vraag stellen daarmee begint verzet en dan die vraag aan een ander stellen

donderdag 17 november 2011


Sometimes, in the buzz of activities, duties and running around, I see an image like this. Reflected on my wall in the beautiful late-autumn light was this simple geranium. It made me stop, see and feel.Good to reflect every now and then.....

dinsdag 15 november 2011


Today my online order from the wonderful webshop vlinder&vogel arrived. A lovely package, and great design inside. A mini greenhouse, based on winter garden designs from the 16th century. Wrapped in cardboard and made of recyclable polypropylene. Great to grow seeds, and prepare for spring. Or just sprouts ready for eating! They have other great products as well. I'm a fan!

donderdag 10 november 2011

Community Garden

Yesterday, just a few minutes to browse through the other favourite bookshop Architectura & Natura- besides Athenaeum where I work- I bought The Thrifty Forager by Alys Fowler. A well-designed book about city gardening, foraging in parks and how to recognize what to pick and what not. Her subtitle is living off your local landscape. The reason for me to buy it is not to be thrifty, but to become more aware of the vast potential of that local landscape. Leaving though all the possibilities described in the book, it thrilled me. Today I applied officially, on behalf of some fellow tenants, to use the 'garden' next to our building as a community garden. At the moment you can hardly call it a garden. It's full of boring bushes, and the soil is filled to the brim with shingles. Even planting a small bulb is impossible. How great would it be to grow our own veggies, strawberries and apples. It could be a lovely place, for it's quite secluded and has many sun hours. So we've asked to remove the shingles, replace it with pure soil and give it it a go. So that we can be part of the worldwide development of community gardening, urban green, city veggies and sustainable use of precious space. Hopefully we'll have a reply soon in order to start in the next spring.

donderdag 27 oktober 2011


A friend, Katja Gruijters, launched her new initiative today. She invited us all to a vegetable nursery south of Amsterdam. Kwekerij Osdorp, a great place where passionate people grow tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables. Katja works with them for her project 'mooi van nature'. This is an anti-food-waste-concept. The whole cycle from growing, harvesting, selecting, preparing and eating food has to change in order to have no waste. Why are all the peppers in supermarkets the same size? Why portobello mushrooms? Why are cucumbers all straight? Carrots? Katja makes installations for her lectures and workshops in which she uses the odd veggies. Outer size, outer shape. But with great taste! She also uses traditional methods to keep food. Pickling, using hay boxes to keep it warm, using bee wax to conserve etcetera. We all received a paper bag with funny tomatoes and a recipe. She's brilliant, and very inspiring!