Belle

Lately I've been thinking a lot about the culture I consume. I've been for example asking myself why I like watching costume and period dramas so much and the problematic aspect of watching them as a black woman. There's this interesting article by Monique Jones where she explains the many things she finds difficult watching what she calls problematic faves. I can really relate to her dilemma. Every time I'm watching shows like The Crown or Victoria, I start thinking about colonialism and all the horrible things that came with it. Do I stop watching them? No. Am I conflicted about it? Very much so. When I was growing up and watching these costume and period dramas I wasn't thinking so much about it. These rich white families from centuries ago felt so far removed from my own reality that I watched them with the same fascination as with sci-fi or fantasy movies. But over the years I've become more self conscious about it and started analysing them in a different way. Lately though I've become even more critical. There are plenty of these dramas being made every year and they often only feature white actors. The few roles there…

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Winter is coming – So I made a Beanie

Ok, so winter is kind of here already but I've got Game of Thrones on my mind. I've been doing serious closet cleanup sessions lately, taking out all those garment and accessories that no longer work for me for different reasons. That has also included letting go of pieces made from animal fibres. While layering is an alternative for wool, I've struggled to find replacements for some of my beanies. It seems that everything on the market is either wool or acrylic. The few beanies that are made from cotton are made for people with much smaller heads than mine. I've been reluctant to crochet a beanie since the last time I did it, I ended up with a heavy and weird shaped beanie that I rarely used. Tired of googling ethically produced cotton beanies I decided to give a crocheted version another go. This time I would try to find a pattern and make sure I got the fit right. Thank goodness for Pinterest because it didn't take long before I found this simple way of crocheting a beanie, that even beginners can do. You don't have to worry about decreasing stitches, only how big of a fold (or…

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Read This Book!

I had a class earlier this year where we had to read a chapter from Tansy E. Hoskins book Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion. Unlike many of the other readings we had to do for the course, I read the chapter really fast and immediately decided that I had to read the entire book. I was already aware of many of the things Hoskins examines in this book but I had never had them all compiled on one plate and served to me with such razor sharp straightforwardness. This book has forced me to look long and hard at my own consumer habits and all the industry myths I buy into. After reading this book I can't justify buying fast fashion anymore, even if I'm only buying those very basic staple garments that I know I will wear until they falls apart. What's so great about this book you ask? Chapter by chapter Hoskins examines the very many ways the fashion industry exploits and destroys people and nature. She debunks myths about high end fashion and exposes how most of the industry is ruled by a few conglomerates. At the same time she describes how all of it…

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Another reason why I love crochet

I learned to crochet when I was a kid but to this day I still find new things about the technique to get excited about. There are so many styles of crochet and you can make such a wide range of things. Good thing for me 'cause I love learning new things. A good friend of mine gifted me with a Molla Mills calendar that got me interested in tapestry crochet. It's something that's been on my list of techniques to learn but have struggled to find time for. Having the calendar on my wall has been a good reminder of that list but for some reason I really wasn't into crocheting some swatches as I usually do when testing new stitches. Then I made a stupid mistake and put my lucky cat purse in the washing machine. It went in intact and dirty but came out clean with a bunch of holes. So I thought a new pouch/purse for my phone would be a good size product to test tapestry crochet. I choose this graphic pattern for November from the calendar and improvised my way through it. There were some rows where I  counted the stitches wrong but otherwise it…

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Another set of d.i.y. cotton pads

Last year I started working on finding alternatives to regular single use cotton pads. I crocheted a couple of sets and I've been using them regularly. I have noticed however, that when it gets really cold the crocheted pads are a bit too rough on my skin and I end up returning to disposable ones. So that's why I decided to make an additional set of cotton pads that are a bit softer. This time I made them from trey cloth instead of crocheting. I could have cut them into squares to make it easier but for some reason I really wanted them to be round. Overlocking the edged would probably have been faster too but I was too lazy to go back to the store and buy more cotton yarn. Luckily, I had some water-soluble support material left over from some school project ages ago. It made zigzagging way easier and neater. I usually do laundry once a week or every other week and I'm currently testing the double cleansing method so that requires a lot of cotton pads. I'm gonna try these out for the next few months and see how I like it. Have you tried reusable…

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The Kimono – My new wardrobe staple?

The first time I wore my vintage kimono, I immediately knew I needed more kimonos in my life. Then I figured the fastest way to get started was to copy the one I already had and then make smaller alterations. At first I wanted to make a really long one from a thick linen fabric but then one evening I got the idea to use one of my wax print fabrics. The kimono itself is not that complicated but it still took me forever to finish it, I had a lot going on in the late spring and then I was in Stockholm all summer. Now that I've made one, I have lots of ideas for different versions. I've been struggling to find cardigans in second hand shops lately so I think the kimono might become a new wardrobe staple of mine. Photos by Johanna Boyd

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A wolf, a rose and a silver dinosaur – embracing the weird and going with your gut

Ok, long title there but it is an unusual combination of items I'm talking about. When we popped by the Antique fair while visiting Habitare I was looking for the the ladies who usually have beautiful stands filled with vintage garments and accessories. I was hoping to find a small cross body bag or maybe a scarf. The ladies were nowhere to be found, their usual spots now occupied by other vendors selling furniture. So I moved on to the other items I always look at during events like this, glass objects and jewellery. We lingered at one  stand selling vintage rings with beautiful stones of all colours but their prices didn't fit our budgets so we moved on to the lady selling bronze rings close by. The minute she opened the lid to the box I picked up the ring with the roses. It's no secret that I love flowers and I knew if I bought this ring it would be in constant use. While I was debating with myself whether it would fit on finger even when it's swollen I was looking at the wolf ring. It's not the kind of ring I would usually go for but…

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Would you wear a borrowed garment?

Renting evening and bridal wear is quite common but what about clothes for everyday life? You've maybe borrowed a garment from a friend or a sibling but would you do the same from a company? With the tons of garments ending up in landfills do we perhaps need to reconsider ownership of clothing? When I first heard of clothing libraries and other renting services a few years ago, I thought it was a great idea but couldn't really see myself using them. Now that I understand how these services could help decrease the amount of rarely used garments at the back of our closets I'm willing to reconsider. There is still a part of me that s a bit hesitant. Maybe it's because I'm very clumsy at times and I'm worried about ruining the garment while I'm renting it. It probably sound very crazy but you haven't seen the oily red sauces I eat and stains they cause. If I think about it rationally though, these companies have thought about tomato sauce and turmeric stains and have policies for them. Lately I've been really trying to pay attention to the garments I own and how often I use them. My…

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YouTube faves right now – Part 3

Teela Cunningham I'm usually very impatient with photoshop and illustrator tutorials but I find Teela's tutorials very helpful. Avant-Garde Vegan One of the most amazing vegan food youtube channels out there. This is the channel I send to people after we've had the "vegan food is so boring" discussion. I hope Gaz starts a restaurant soon! Screen Prism I only recently became aware of the term video essay. I can't remember how I found the Screen Prism channel but I've watched a lot of episodes since finding it. I really like the way they analyse movies and tv shows and I sometimes send links  to friends so we can discuss the episodes. Never Too Small There's a lot of channels dedicated to tiny houses and van living but very few about small apartments. This channel shows some incredibly well designed homes with clever use of the small space. After an episode I usually end up on the real estate websites where my dreams are instantly crushed when I'm reminded just how expensive it is to buy an apartment in Helsinki. But I'll keep on dreaming!

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The collection of collections – Hallwyl Museum

When I was preparing for my summer in Stockholm I made a list with all the castles and museums I was going to visit. Six weeks into my stay I've only visited two. One thing I can blame this on is the heatwave but I've also experienced a lost interest in walking around castles this summer. I'm not quite sure what's going on but I'll have to revisit the subject when I get back to Helsinki. One place I visited pretty early on is the Hallwyl Museum. I had seen some pictures of the interior on social media and I knew it used to be someone's home so I was a bit curious. I'm really glad I paid for the guided tour, I got a lot more information than if I had been walking around by myself (I sometimes get lazy with reading the descriptions). There was only three of us on the tour so we got to see more spaces than if we had been a larger group. The rooms are preserved in their original state and give you a glimpse of how the super wealthy and forward thinking lived during that era. The rooms are as one would…

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Ceremonial Blooms

When I visited the Alppiruusupuisto last summer, I vowed to visit the park earlier this year so I could see all the flowers in full bloom. So when the images from the park started showing up in my insta feed I got on a bus towards Haaga. Is it kinda lame? Maybe. But you guys should know by now that if there's a concentration of colourful flowers in one place, I must go there. I remember this day quite clearly. I had just handed in a school assignment that had been the cause for several sleepless nights (great course but I hate writing essays!), it was the first of June and weather was perfect so seeing all these flowers almost felt like a ceremonial start of the summer season.

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Copycat, copyright and the coveting of ideas

Last fall I did a school project where our topic was positivity. It's a very big and philosophical subject for a conceptual design course but we tackled it the best we could in the limited amount of time we had. One subject that came up early in the process was motivational Pinterest quotes. It was fascinating to see how we all interpreted them differently and how some perceived them to be infuriating rather than inspiring. I've noticed that I now see positive quotes in a different light after that project. There's one quote (more of a creative tip really) that I came across on Pinterest a while ago that really made me think, "Do not covet your ideas". After a bit of googling I found out that it's from a book by Paul Arden.  It probably caught my eye because I was thinking about copyright a lot at the time and this quote was somehow contradicting my instinctual need to protect my work. The core of the chapter about coveting ideas goes something like this: The problem with hoarding is you end up living off your reserves. Eventually you’ll become stale. If you give away everything you have, you are…

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Approaching Sustainability

Talking about sustainability (especially in fashion) feels at times as an impossible task. It's such a big and complicated issue and it's easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless as an individual. However, giving up and saying there nothing we can do is simply not an option so I think the best way of tackling a giant of an issue like this is to find a place to start. Reduce, Reuse, Repair, recycle. I want you to memorise that. I want you to remember these words the next time you feel like you have nothing to wear, the next time you're going shopping or emptying out your closet. The goal is to think about the clothes you own and how you buy and wear them. It's about taking the time to figure out what you actually need and use and giving some thought to where those garments came from. Reducing for example doesn't only mean reducing the number of garments, it can also mean reducing the amount of ill fitting garments or reducing the number of bad quality garments in your closet. I've been reducing the amount of things I own for some years now but even I occasionally struggle with  impulse purchases…

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