Van Beren

It has been on my mind for a while to share some wonderful brands, that create beautiful high quality clothes, while valuing the materials, the workers and the process. We live in a fast world and it is easy and cheap to buy fast fashion. Aside from the problems this creates for society and the planet, I believe it also creates an emptiness in the people that wear it. You may not even notice it is there, until you think back. Do you remember a specific clothing item from your childhood?

For me it was a red, wool winter coat, with an elegant black collar. I remember it wasn't cheap, but more so I remember the feeling I felt when I wore it - proud and special. That was in rural Germany of the early nineties. I bet you anything, that my mother growing up in Germany in the early fifties, remembers every pretty dress, every skirt, every neat blouse she has ever owned as a child. There were less clothes available and less money available to buy them and so items were often handmade, taken care of,  t r e a s u r e d and then handed down. 

Nowadays, a lot of young families dream back on those moments and those feelings. We want to have that grandmother, that is sending loads of beautiful hand-knitted items in the mail. We wish,  we had the time, the skills and the resources to spin the wool, dye the yarn, and knit that special jumper for our children. But if you are anything like me, you have let excuses about time-management and not least really bad fine motor skills stop you from making it happen. 

That is why I'm particularly happy and a little proud that the Austrian label Van Beren is the first brand I am introducing in this new blog category. For two reasons:

One, they make timeless, vintage-inspired knits that are absolutely beautiful.

Two, and maybe even more valuable (and more sustainable!) in this fast-paced world - Van Beren offers knitting workshops in their WOOL SCHOOL. Creating a safe space to learn and to connect. There's a community there. New friends to be met, new skills to be learned. Knitting, a modern hobby, a daily mindfulness practice.

(Below, I'm listing their upcoming events, and I'm very bummed that I live thousands of miles away, but if you find yourself in the Graz area - be sure to stop in!)

The story of Van Beren is simply beautiful. Heike, the owner, came up with the idea when she was pregnant with her third child. She felt an immense need to make something with her hands as an expression of her infinite love and devotion. She wrote to me that it is important to her to value things not for their monetary worth, but rather their emotional one. She took old knitting patterns from the 50's and 60's, adapted them to meet her vision for design and comfort and recruited a team of talented knitters that are finishing the Van Beren pieces order by order. Housewives, single mothers and elderly ladies are all on her team, being able to earn a bit extra and pass on their passion for knitting - multigenerational. 

Van Beren also offer KNIT KITS, that provide you with the yarn, buttons, needles (if needed) and instructions to create your very own Van Beren piece. So if you are looking for a great way to spend some cold winter days ahead, you can dream up a picture of a fire place, a hot coffee and you going wild with yarn and needle. 

Every piece that Van Beren sent me feels soft and luxurious, yet reminds me of simpler days. Days from the past, when I was out in nature with my family, exploring freely. The BILLIE hat and the LUCA gloves remind me of the old photographs, shot in heavily orange Kodak film, that shows my toddler self and my sisters pulling a wooden sled through the snowy winter days of our childhood.

The cozy knitted items are made of 100% Merino Wool. Temperature regulating and super soft, it has an antibacterial effect, self-cleans, dries quickly and is flexible, giving the baby and toddler freedom to play and move. In the photographs Smilla and Winter are wearing the RAMONA jacket and the STEWART romper. The collection also includes cute dresses, booties, bodysuits, and pullovers. All items are hand-made in Austria for babies and toddlers from birth to 3 years. I like that the color palette relies heavily on neutrals (if you have followed me for a while, you may have noticed the absence of bright colors) and some very powdery, yesteryearly blushes and blues. 

If I had to pick one piece out of the collection, that I'd invest in any day it is the comfortable TEDDY suit. It keeps baby snuggly and hyggelig while being pushed in the pram, or exploring being carried by mama or papa. And then theres the Van Beren BEAR ....

The brands philosophy states "Sometimes we feel delighted by nostalgia but we always think about the future. Because we want to take responsibility for the generations to come. This is what makes Van Beren special." 

Van Beren definitely lays on the nostalgia quite thick, but creates clothing that is made for the everyday, the nowadays, the I-find-beauty-in-the-ordinary-days. And hopefully, for the tomorrow; the younger brother, the tiny cousin, or the box that reads "for baby no3, just in case". 

 

VERANSTALTUNGEN // DATES:

Van Beren POP UP STORE

am 18.11. von 14:00 - 18:00

am 19.11. von 15:00 - 18:00

Mehlspeisenfräulein, Grabenstraße 1, 8010 Graz

Van Beren HAPPY KNITTING EVENT

am 19.11. 15:00 - 18:00

Mehlspeisenfräulein, Graben straße 1, 8010 Graz

Dieser Termin ist aufgrund des großen Interesses schon ausgebucht. Wir bieten deshalb einen Ersatztermin für alle Strickbegeisterten an:

am 20.11. 15:00 - 18:00

Mehlspeisenfräulein, Grabenstraße 1, 8010 Graz

 

 

In a heartbeat

house of smilla
house of smilla
house of smilla

It's (only) 8 p.m. and I'm beyond tired. Both kids are down - for now. I have dark rings under my eyes, my hair style is non-existent and I've just detected a scratch in my throat. Great, days of sleep deprivation left me defenseless. 

Mothering one child can be tough. Mothering two children can be rougher. I'm not sure if simple math applies. One plus one equals double the stress? I don't know. I guess, it depends on the kids and the days and the weather. It certainly doesn't get easier adding more to the mix though. 

So why even bother? Why not just have one, spoil it rotten, celebrate all the milestones that come with parenthood (first birthday shindig - bouncy castles; oh he's walking - bring on the balloons...) - do it big, but do it only once? Possibly save yourself some time and some stress, some grey hair, but certainly save yourself some money. 

I would never judge anyone that is done after one baby. For whatever reason. It's probably even a smart idea keeping world population, college tuition and relaxing evenings as a couple in mind. I however, was crazy enough to have two. So many out there are crazy enough to have three, four, five, more. 

9 months in, I full, truly figured out why. It was nice, doing pregnancy again. Feeling the miracle of life growing inside me. The second birth was ...

Pause. I actually just had to leave the desk, because one was asking for milk, the other one was screaming from teething pains.

So, where was I? The second birth was quicker, more intense. Seeing another baby grow has been wonderful. Watching my husband love another one so strongly has been beautiful. All these things though, we had experienced before and even though, I enjoyed it just as much the second time around I can understand how this wouldn't convince anyone to have another one.

Yesterday though, we went apple picking. Out of nowhere Smilla (a toddler who thinks sharing is a total waste of time) took an apple and held it up to Winter. He grasped it with his tiny baby fingers and gnawed on it. She said "I want my brother to have one, too".

"I want my brother to have one, too"

And the love she has for him poured out of her eyes and out of her heart and out of her mouth, onto the apple and his fingers, his hands and his tiny body. The love got bigger and it made its way into the grass and flooded through the fallen leaves. The love went up the trees and into the sky and around the sun. And when he looked back at her, his love for her and his eagerness to be loved by her sparkled in his eyes. Big waves of love rushed through the orchard and washed over me then. 

And even tough, we couldn't know of this - I think this love they have for each other, is what makes it worthwhile. 

The kisses she gives him. The tiny baby hand that reaches out for her. 

Last year, when my father passed and I was finding comfort in the tight bond I share with my  sisters, my best friend - an only child - said "I just realized, that if I loose my dad, 50% of my family is gone". That's some brutal math. Yet, there is no perfect multiplier out there, to make a family feel whole, or to protect them from feeling the great loss of loosing a parent. Every family has to find a good number for themselves. For many, three is a charm and that is good. For us, four has been feeling "rounded". Winter has filled a void we didn't know existed. Complete? I don't know. 

Having a baby drains you. It drains you until you are completely empty and then it fills you back up with love and patience and kindness. Having another does that all over again. Twice as much.

So when people (and a lot of people ask me) ask me "Can you recommend having another?" I can't really give them a perfect answer. Logically? No, absolutely not. But, then again, are the most logical decisions always the loveliest? I'd have Winter again in a heartbeat. And I put his tiny clothes away in a box to keep - just in case.

 

Simple, homemade dry shampoo recipe

diy dry shampoo

Most mornings I feel fine waking up. That is until I look into the mirror and discover that my hair has completely lost its freshness over night. Ever since having babies my hair has gotten a lot greasier, a lot faster. Yuck. However, I refuse to wash it daily. 

In the midst of banning all harsh chemicals from my bathroom, I also got rid of my store bought dry shampoo.  I tried several DIY dry shampoo recipes that I had found on pinterest and finally stuck with this one. 

It is very easy, doesn't need a lot of ingredients and you can add whichever scent you please. Best thing - it works! I apply it with an old make-up brush, but am keeping my eyes open for a good dispenser bottle. 

3 tbsp arrow root powder (or cornstarch)

2 tbsp baking soda (adjust amount depending on how greasy your hair gets)

1,5 tbsp cocoa powder (for dark hair. Lovely, it smells so nice. Feel free to add a dab of cinnamon for a really sweet, warm, scent)

2-5 drops essential oil (lavender smells nice and is calming for your scalp. So does rosemary if you are more into a fresher scent. Right now, I love me some ylang ylang or rose geranium) 

Mix all the ingredients well. Apply to roots and bangs. Let sit for a few minutes, then brush out.