Fashion designers harness Dutch grannies’ knitting power

Updated 24 February 2013

Fashion designers harness Dutch grannies’ knitting power

ROTTERDAM: Two Dutch entrepreneurs are merging the fashion sense of young designers with the knitting knowledge of local grannies to create a range of original knitwear, stitched together over coffee and cake at a retirement home.
A small room at the back of a retirement home in the suburbs of Rotterdam has been given over to the weekly “knitting club” for women aged 58 to 85, their cheerful chatter almost drowning out the rhythmic click-clacking of knitting needles.
“I think I’ll make this one next,” says an excited Willy Mollenaar, a grandmother in her seventies with dyed light brown hair, pointing to a thick grey woolly hat displayed on a table.
Once she will have copied the design, created by a young Dutch fashion graduate from the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague, the hat will be sold in a small shop in Rotterdam called “Granny’s Finest,” set up by businessmen Jip Pulles, 31, and Niek van Hengel, 27.
Her only payment will be a photograph of the happy customer wearing the fruits of her labor.
“I was visiting my grandfather in a retirement home and I always saw an old lady knitting,” Van Hengel told AFP, as he served cups of tepid coffee and soft cake to the team of grannies. “She didn’t have any relatives or friends to knit for but she kept on because it kept her busy and she enjoyed it,” he said.
That “oma,” the Dutch word for grandmother, and the return of knitwear to the catwalk gave him the idea to team up modern designs and traditional techniques, fashion designers with knitting grannies, in a project that combines social inclusion with a commercial spirit.
“My grandchildren don’t like to wear what I knit and I didn’t have anyone to knit for anymore,” said Mollenaar.
“I learned to knit at school and it’s really fun to do, it’s relaxing, but it’s really sad when no one wears or uses what you knit.”
Fellow knitter Loes Wijnbergen, at 58 the youngest of the group, said: “It’s really worthwhile when someone buys and especially wears what we’ve made with our own hands.”
Eager to be resupplied with fresh yarn and new designs to execute, Wijnbergen, Mollenaar and the other women get together every Thursday afternoon, finding new use for a skill passed down through generations.
They look at the designers’ creations, anything from bow ties to bags, before choosing one and starting to knit.
But the social side of the club is as important to the elderly women as the knitting patterns.
“I come here just as much for the new designs and for knitting material as for the social contact,” said Niza Rauws, 80.
“It’s not always obvious how to stay busy and meet new people when your old and retired,” she said.
The shop sells a selection of hats, scarves, bracelets and bags ranging in price from 25 to 145 euros (33 to 190 dollars).
The project is partly financed by subsidies from Rotterdam municipality and organizations promoting social cohesion, but it’s not making any money yet.
“It’s a good project for young and old to meet each other,” said the Oranje Fund, which promotes activities to get residents involved in the local community.
The entrepreneurs stress that they’re far from exploiting idle and lonely senior citizens.
“The project’s main aim is social, it’s social cohesion and creative contact between the generations,” said Ven Hengel.
“We make the most of the grannies’ skills while at the same time providing them with a meeting place,” he said.
The fashion designers, often fresh graduates at the start of their careers, see the project as “a way to make a name for yourself while learning the ropes by working with the grannies,” said Annemarije van Harten, 28.
Another designer, Rosanne van der Meer, 33, wants to make a baby knitwear collection for next year’s spring-summer collection.
“I really learn a lot of things from the grannies, about how to make the designs, about which are the right techniques to use,” she said.
“Although, well, sometimes they don’t have the same tastes and aren’t convinced by the designs,” Van der Meer laughs, holding up a pair of baby knitwear dungarees.

Gigi Hadid celebrates birthday with a funny tweet

Updated 23 April 2018

Gigi Hadid celebrates birthday with a funny tweet

DUBAI: US-Palestinian model Gigi Hadid celebrated her 23rd birthday yesterday, a few days after she marked the birthday of a close friend in New York.
Hadid spent time in the Big Apple and stepped out to celebrate the 35th birthday of American reality TV star Tan France at his home in the city earlier this week.
A day before her birthday on April 23, Hadid took to Instagram to ask her fans to mark Earth Day, which lands on April 22.

She posted a photo of a forest with a caption that read: “I’m still just a (little) Taurus girl who finds so much happiness, contentment and inspiration when I take a minute in nature and look around.

“May we celebrate Mother Earth every day for all she gives and teaches us!”

In honor of her impending birthday, the fashion star took to Twitter on Sunday night to share a humorous message with her nine million followers.

“As we close in on midnight, I would like to share that my final meal as a 22-year-old will officially be Cocoa Krispies. Thank you for your attention.”

She has every reason to celebrate this year, as the star has been riding a wave of success that would make even the most experienced models nod their heads in approval.

A few days before her birthday, she unveiled her Vogue Japan cover — the latest in a clutch of coveted magazine covers that the young beauty has managed to nab.

“So happy and excited to share my @voguejapan June cover story!” she captioned one of the snaps on Instagram.

The cover image features Hadid wearing a high-collared leather jacket and sporting slicked-back hair, a bold red lip and minimal additional make-up.

For the inside pages, the model posed wearing various masculine, edgy outfits in a series of black-and-white shots. In one particular photo that oozed cool factor, Hadid was snapped wearing a leather jacket-and-trousers combination with a broad tie that would not look out of place in a 1980’s film about the perils of Wall Street — or on Donald Trump circa 2018.

Besides her fashion credentials, the model, who recently spit from singer Zayn Malik, is fast becoming known for her social media clap backs.

She made international headlines in February by discussing her weight loss and said it was the result of learning to manage her Hashimoto’s Disease, not because of an eating disorder or drug use.

The model sent out a series of tweets stating that she would no longer respond to comments on her appearance.

“I will not further explain the way my body looks, just as anyone with a body type that doesn’t suit (your) ‘beauty’ expectation shouldn’t have to. Not to judge others, but drugs are not my thing. Stop putting me in that box just because you don’t understand the way my body has matured,” she said on Twitter.