Wednesday, 25 January 2017

True Cost - Documentary

I've stumbled across this link to a film more or less by coincidence and although I've only watched the trailer, the images are haunting me (I am still wondering about the child in min 1:32 - I hope it is just asleep or so ...).

With every bargain we make, every cheap piece of clothing, we should know, that somebody else is paying for it.

I remember from years ago an ad with a woman running after a shoelace from a shoe she so wanted and finding the other end in a slum in India. I can't seem to find it at the moment, but it also was meant to remind us under which circumstances clothes, shoes etc are made. Also fabrics.

What can we do?

Buy only what you need.
Buy locally from local producers.
Pay the price it is worth.

You will probably ask: Are you doing that? 100%? All of the time? No. I am not. I am not a superhuman. But I am really trying. And the more I try, the better I get.

It also reminded me of my trip to India in 2009 (work experience thing) and that trip was a real shock to my system. Not only was I reminded daily of how little women are worth there (I was ignored or not served or transported in a riksha, on a daily basis really, sometimes I didn't know whether it was because I was white or a woman or both). But you see on a daily basis around you how little a humans life is worth in India. The contrasts are overpowering and hard to understand for a person that grew up in a sheltered middle class household in Germany. - In the parallel street to a superposh hotel - people dying in the street. People living under bridges near a river that is really a big open sewer.  Children begging, living in the dirt. And nobody cares. On the contrary, it seems the people in power want to maintain the conditions the way they are. And then the images of the film - they are not exaggerated. This is real. It is happening. And not just in one place, but in an entire subcontinent. And more.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Magic and Minimalism and Kondo. Tidying up.

If you have trouble with "having" things and tidying up (like I have), you probably have read pages on minimalism and you've read or heard about the new best selling "Kondo" Method. Which apparently is magic (...I've heard...). You want to sort thought your things and get them in a nice order. For a decluttered life and mind. For more breathing space.

So do I.

Because I am interested in Magic and tidying up, I've had a look at Marie Kondo and just as an example, here's a video of her folding underwear to make it "more tidy" or so. (from

Let me be very clear about this. I don't like it. I find her joy of having folded these items this way weird. I wouldn't want my underwear and socks in a box like that, I don't like it, I don't like them rolled and folded like that. And I don't believe it is the only way.

I do understand that the idea behind folding them away like that is to be able to see everything you have. And I think it is absolutely right, if you open your drawers or your closet you should see all of your clothes easily. But do they have to be folded up like that? if you live in a 8m2 flat in Tokyo, maybe. Because even for the littlest amount of clothes you have hardly any space there. But I dare to say, that most of us have wardrobes of a reasonable size and we just tend to... overfill them. And then we are so decadent, we forget about the clothing we don't see. (And if you think about it, that's just another way of saying "I don't need this" and "I don't really like this, it's out of my mind" - so I dare ask: why do you own it?).

First of all, I would like to underline: I understand all of you out there that hear the word "Minimalism" and cringe. Because it sounds more like "asceticism"  and not like "enjoying life". It sounds like an awful lot of "NO". And no leeway. And that's not right. It scares us away, because it seems so unforgiving and harsh. I personally don't like the word minimalism at all. Not at all.

The Kondo magic is a lot kinder that way in allowing us to keep everything we truly love. Even if that would mean throwing away sensible things (like a hammer). And keeping 101 little cuddly teddybears and storing them in an ingenious way. Because we have an inner connection with them. And that's not right, either. Because  while it is perfectly fine to love what we own, it allows us to continue overconsumption if we just say we love things enough (like "I really NEED this, because I LOVE it - although it has absolutely NO purpose, I am NOT going to use it and it's going to collect dust and although I already have the same thing already"). And it encourages a disposable society ("I don't LOVE this anymore. This item serves its purpose perfectly well, it is not broken - I will throw it away and get a new similar item that I feel more love for now"). No trace of thoughts about sustainability here.

So, what to do? 
As usual, the middle way is best. With a bit of common sense. Knowing, that sometimes one clear "NO" can be more honest and better than 100 hypocritical "yes". 

What does this mean in the world of tidying up? 
Before I start, let me say: It's a great thing you are going through your possessions and get order into them. That's so good! Now let's get started, here's what I try to stick to:
  • Be honest with yourself.
  • Think about what you want to achieve - do you want to keep everything and just sort it through because it is higgeldy-piggeldy? Or do you want to size down your wardrobe and declutter? Do you want to concentrate on what you really like and just keep that? Or a bit of it all? There is no wrong or right. Just focus on what you want. 
  • Be persistent. Nothing that´s worth something is easy. Tidying up is an awful lot of work
  • Before you are sorting through your possessions, have 3 boxes ready labelled "keep", "donate" and "rubbish".
  • Choose only a small and manageable area to go through per day. Maybe one shelf.  Or one drawer at the time.
  • Take each item out of the cupboard, drawer, wardrobe, shelf - whatever you are sorting through. Look at it, touch it, turn it. Feel it.
  • Ask yourself these questions:  
  • 1. What purpose does this item serve?
    2. How often do I use it?
    3. Have I got something at home that serves the same purpose?
    4. Do I really like this item?
    5. If I get rid of this item, will it make my life difficult? 
  • 6. Will it make my life difficult if I keep it?  
  • Don't loose a sense of humour
I found sorting through and out incredibly difficult, especially in the beginning. I just wanted to keep everything. Because I felt so emotionally attached to so many things. Or because one day I might use it, maybe... But let's be serious: If you've not used something in 3 years, wouldn't you agree it is rather unlikely you will use it in the next 3 years? And that's 6 years of useless standing around, collecting dust and taking up space. And if this item is in good condition: why not donate it and somebody else can really get some use out of it?! And if you love it so much - ask yourself why. 

It's okay to keep sentimental things - just not a truckload full of it. Because that doesn't help anybody. You could take a picture of it. Or you make a painting. Or you hand it on to somebody who you really like and who can get some use out of it. And would that someone you are linking it with think any less of you if you don't keep the item? If you own a lot of things that are emotionally attached to feelings, people, situations - and they start cluttering your life... try to find out why. 

When I tidied up before we moved house last year, I had days where I just felt like ordering a skip and throwing nearly everything away. But that's also not the right way to go. Because in between so many weird things I also own useful things. I was trying to go the Middle Way - keeping what makes sense and getting rid of what is just cluttering my life. Because I didn't want to overdo it, when in doubt I kept it. Which filled quite a few boxes. Which didn't make me feel particularly happy. So when I unpacked the boxes again in the new place, I gave a away a lot of things again. If somethings doesn't have a designated purpose and I don't know when I will use it and I don't have positive feelings about it - why keep it? 

Another thing that really helps is "Assign every thing a place". No matter whether you prefer open storage (that can be so decorative, but is also hard to keep clean and tidy) or storage behind closed doors - everything has to have its place. If you can't find a place for an item, that is a clear indicator that there is no inner order. If you don't know what to do with it - why have it? If you have something else that serves the same purpose - why have both? I believe that outer order reflects inner order. Everything must have its place. And the floor, surfaces and the ceiling do not count. Otherwise space will be cluttered and taken over by things, that creep about and mess things up (ok, this sounds very much like my children, children are obviously excluded here, because they are not things, I'm talking about things only, like thing one and thing two in The Cat in the Hat, no, sorry, that's more like my children again...).

I'm trying not to loose my sense of humour over all this stuff and tidying up, but sometimes it's hard. :)

So anyway, accumulating stuff feels a bit like this, just different:

Der Süsse Brei, Brüder Grimm

And this is what my children feel like. :)

The Cat in the Hat

Back to the topic: Things and stuff aren't your life, YOU lead your life. Teapots don't reflect who you are, they are items that have to do their job. Own only what you need, love what you own and assign everything its place. Sometimes it helps to make mental "tags" on shelves. I made real ones with sellotape for the first few weeks in the new flat. That really helped, too. :)

Oh, and tidying up is not magic no matter with what method I've tried it. It is hard work, it's about being honest with yourself and also about self-discipline. To get to where you want to be.

Oh, and this is magic. And the way to go:

Maybe you'd like to read a bit more about what Minimalism is for me and why I don't consider myself a minimalist 

Or have a look at your wardrobe and think about how many clothes you really need?

Monday, 16 January 2017

Lupo the Lamb - Lalylala patterns

I've done some crocheting again (only took me about 6 months...), but I think the result is quite cute. :)  Here's Lupo the Lamb by patterns. (she's got other great stuff on her homepage...)

The instructions were very clear (they are available in several languages) and she also adds good pictures to the instructions to illustrate how to do things.

Somehow the head of my Lupo turned out too big for the hat, or the hat was to small for he head, whatever way you want it. My suspicion is that my bobbles are tighter that intended. Anyway, I added 2 more rows of bobbles on the hat and that solved the problem. 


Things learnt: Bobbles. Plenty of bobbles. Still working on the counting (in general)
Cost estimate: pattern 5Euros, wool about 12 Euros (still have some rests...) - total about 17 Euros.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Amour Fou Crochet - Mini Frida

Mini - Frida

I've finished another crochet doll by Amour Fou Crochet and I really enjoyed it. :)

I made Princess Leia last time - see blogpost here - and I couldn't resist her Mini Frida.
There were a few little mistakes in the pattern (maybe from the translation, but noting too serious) and like with princess Leia my hairhat-piece turned out a tiny bit too short (which I could have avoided by checking...).

Overall the pattern is really well made, lots of pictures, clear instructions, easy to follow. She also makes recommendations for simple and quick alterations (e.g. an alternative hairstyle or style for the shawl) which I find really nice.

The pattern is a clear recommendation. 

It was snowing last night and I managed to take these pictures of Frida going for a walk in the snow before the children took over the peaceful picture.

cosy walk
slightly high front here, ...

girls united

Things learnt: making flowers, triangle shawl, should have measured better with the size of the hair though...
Cost: Pattern 6 Euros, cotton yarn (black, skin, red, green, blue)  12 Euros


Wednesday, 11 January 2017

The "One comes, one goes" rule

I stumbled across this lately, "Shwopping". I think it is a brilliant idea.

So I decided, that's my new rule (like an addendum to the Make and Mend Challenge). I am calling it the "One comes, one goes" rule: If I buy/sew/get a new item, one item from my existing wardrobe has to go. Because I want my wardrobe to stay the way it is (or get lighter even...). 

Here's why I think it is a  gread idea:
  • It makes you realize that you actually have a similar piece in your wardrobe
  • It makes you think about whether that new piece is actually so much better than what you have already
  • Which then makes you more aware of what you own. 
  • Your wardrobe doesn't grow and grow and grow
  • It also makes you think twice about accepting clothes gift.

 I think it is interesting that Marks&Spencer doesn't seem to worry about people then not buying anything, but shopping is so popular it probably doesn't even occur to people not to go shopping for leisure.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

"The disease of being busy"

Welcome back and Happy New Year 2017 to all of you out there!

Today I would like to share this excellent article on being busy and on being human with you.

I agree with the author, that it is so easy to fall into the trap of chasing around, to do all at the same time. But we shouldn't make a schedule our master and not have time to enjoy what we like. It is a skill and a priviledge to have time free and maybe it is also something we have to learn again, if we've been working too much for too long.

Sit back, have a cup of tea, do nothing, just be yourself.  :)

And i just wanted to add one thing: I think it is important for all of us to know what to do with ourselves when there is no "schedule", no "planned entertainment". Especially children have to learn to rely on their imagination instead of being entertained and being passive - I believe strongly that if you are actively creating your own world and activities when you are a child, you develop more skills than if you are carted from one activity to the next club and then on to the telly or computergaming inside. Skills that you will benefit from as an adult.