Chain Twenty

I’m so sorry for the lack of updates over here, but those of you following along on Instagram might already know that behind the scenes, I’ve been working hard to follow my dreams! And now it’s finally here, so let me introduce you to *tatataaammm* — my new blog + (soon to be) webshop!

The idea of opening a webshop to sell my hand knitted / crocheted pieces has been on my mind quite some time, and it took my even more time to figure out exactly how I wanted it to look like. I’ve decided to complement it with an inspirational blog, where I’m not only talking yarn, stitches, and patterns, but certainly also business and fashion. Because handmade knitwear should be fashionable and wearable, and it will surely follow my love for the minimalistic and comfortable.

For now, you’ll find me blogging on, and behind the scenes I’ll be working on a FW16/17 knitear collection (for a peek, check out my new Instagram @chaintwenty). I’m not quite sure when the shop will open, but please follow along via Bloglovin or Instagram, or sign up for my newsletter. For, I’ll find a new purpose I’m sure — in the meantime my Insta page @merelymerel is already turning into something more personal and colorful, I hope you guys like it.

Thanks so much for all of your support & I hope to see you again over at Chain Twenty!

festival fringe

It’s a shame, actually, but I haven’t been to any festival yet (and I even can’t remember the last one I went to last year, if any?). Most of the time, I’m worrying about the weather, or I think the tickets are too expensive, or I have to work, or or or… excuses. Truth is, I’m too much of a homester to feel like going out — if ‘homester’ is an actual word as Google Translate says?

However, I do love festival fashion! But since it doesn’t really fit my style to walk around in floral maxi dresses, wearing a colorful headband, cowboy boots and feathers in my hair, I’ll have to find another way. I found this fringed (yay-grey!) tanktop on sale at H&M and paired it with the lace up sandals I bought at work the second after they arrived. Combined with my good old black skinnies and a comfy oversized denim jacket and I’m definitely staying in my comfort zone while still feeling those festival vibes!

Now where is the good weather, a big wallet and a few days off? I might take out a vintage pair of Levi’s and a flower crown instead.

merely Merel

festival style

lace up sandals


festival outfit

H&M top | H&M jeans | Manfield sandals | Bershka jacket | Casio watch

Photos by the always fashionable Lauren.

behind the scenes

Oh guys, I’m so excited! I’ve got nothing concrete to show you, but I’m just here to tell you that behind the scenes, I’ve finally decided to officially open a handmade knitwear webshop! In the previous Monday Moodboard I wrote about my Summer holiday plans, which included work on my knitwear shop, but as soon as Summer holidays started, I just couldn’t help myself anymore: If I do it, I wanna do it right.

So I started doing some research about how to set up an online business (because everything starts with proper research amiright!?) and came to the conclusion that writing a business plan is the best thing to do first. So I sat my ass down, made me some coffee (ahh, the other way around of course), and started writing. What do I wanna do? What will my bizz look like? What is my target audience? Etc. Etc.

Gosh, that was illuminating! I’m not done with my business plan yet, but to lift a tip of the veil: There’s gonna be a new brand name, a new website, which will include both a blog and a shop, and a hella lot of new directions to go in. But the overall aim is to simply bring the granny-associated crafts of knitting and crocheting closer to our modern world of fashion. I’ve made a planning to make things more concrete and the first deadline is set on the end of July — by then, I must have decided upon a brand name and start creating a new website. It’s totally nerve wracking, but so much fun at the same time!

Hope you’ll stay with me through all of the transitions to come <3. Meanwhile, you’ll find my shop here (more items added soon, hopefully)!

Find these photos on my Pinterest| Loopy Mango knitting heaven | @aaron_jamess__ bedroom goals | @fashionedchicstyling ripped jeans | Couldn’t find any more photo credits, so please let me know if you do.

city map posters

A typical case of an impulse buy I will probably never regret — these city map posters by Anne H Copenhagen. I was looking for a birthday present for the boyfriend (back in January, yep… #sorrynotsorry) when I stumbled upon Anne’s Instagram. And before you think I’m the most horrible person ever to buy her boyfriend a present that is actually more fun for herself than for him (I’m guilty of that too though), you must know the boyfriend himself asked for something in memory of the amazing years that he had lived in Portugal and Spain.

The only thing he and I could think of was something with photos, but I always find that risky, because with the pace in which we tend to take new photos nowadays, I quickly loose interest in older ones when I see them hanging on the wall everyday. That’s why, for my photo canvases (check ‘em out here and here), I chose landscapes over more detailed photos or portraits.

So when I saw Anne’s I can make (almost) any city in the world in the bio of her Instagram page, I knew my problem was solved. How cool would it be to have city maps of the far-from-welknown cities of Évora, Portugal, and Santa Pola, Spain, hanging on our wall? City maps might not be the most original wall art ever, but these cities would make it unique and personal.

I ordered them both, along with a poster of Utrecht — since we’re at it now anyway (;-)), and after some e-mails back and forth about the size of Évora (Spanish city areas are weird) and the visibility of its airport (which was most important, since my boyfriend is a pilot), I received the posters within a few days. Coupled with some basic white wooden frames, the whole thing hasn’t been cheap, but the quality of the printing (and the paper) is amazing, so they’re gonna last us a lifetime! <3

And when we’ll move again, I’ll definitely add a fourth =).

city map posters

city map posters

city map posters

Anne H Copenhagen

Anne H Copenhagen

Ps. This is my way of showing you bits and pieces of my interior. I know I’ve promised a hometour a dozen of times, but after more than five years, our home still isn’t Pinterest worthy haha! To all of you still living with their parents and dreaming about their own places: don’t get carried away too far, ‘cause you’ll probably never feel like your home is done or perfect, especially with a small budget. That being said: decorating is still so much fun!

Ps2. Yes, I vacuum cleaned the couch for the purpose of these photos. Imagine it being covered with white kitty hairs all day every day #thestruggleisreal

comfy clothes

Comfy clothes, comfier clothes, comfiest clothes. On the scale of comfyness, this oversized top skyrockets. By now you might have noticed I’m not a heels-kinda-girl and no matter how hard I try to be feminine and sexy and dressed-up and pretty and girly all the time, as soon as I walk into the Zara and spot a top like this one, all my sexy-girlfriend-resolutions are instantly forgotten. I must admit I kinda felt bad when I left the store and went home with my new comfy treasure in a dark blue paper bag, but that feeling of guilt disappeared alarmingly fast and I haven’t taken this top off ever since — as a figure of speech.

And who’s to blame really, ‘cause its quite appealing print — which you’ll see clearly when you scroll down — perfectly fits my current schedule. My non-existing schedule that is! Of course I still need to work and write a thesis and blabla, but other than that, university courses and deadlines are now officially o v e r, so hell yeah, let’s take a siesta! The boyfriend and I celebrated this joyous fact with beach strolls and -BBQs, which fitted my plans for Summer perfectly.

Of course, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have an unnerving amount of ideas about how to spend my time the next couple of weeks. So stay tuned and make sure to follow my Instagram, ‘cause it’s gonna be exciting!

PS. Talking of spending time: I’ve opened a Tictail shop where you can shop my closet! There will be even more items added soon, so keep your eyes peeled. And in case you don’t have a Paypal account, you can of course always shoot me an e-mail if you’re interested in something!

beach days

merely Merel

take a siesta Zara

comfy clothes

take a siesta Zara

beach days

comfy clothes

Zara top | H&M jeans | Adidas Superstars | Weekday bomber (a.k.a. beach towel) | H&M sunnies

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Summer holidays

Every year, around this time, I find myself in that state of mind where you cannot really comprehend the fact that Summer holidays are around the corner, and where you cannot imagine what life will be like having NO DEADLINES whatsoever, and where you certainly cannot imagine yourself longing for studying in September again. Well, that time of the year is here, because coming Wednesday, I’ll be having my last exam EVER. *Insert hands-up emoji*

Here are five things I definitely wanna be doing between coming Thursday and September 1st:

  • GO TO THE BEACH. The boyfriend and I are not going to travel, but making regular beach visits here in The Netherlands should make up for that a little. I always tend to forget how amazing a simple afternoon beach stroll + food and cocktails afterwards (at the local beach club of course) can be.
  • INVEST IN BEAUTY. Can you believe I’ve never been to a beautician before? Well that’s a top priority this Summer. Plus new nails, a proper hair cut and who knows what else.
  • WORK ON MY KNITWEAR SHOP. I’m always telling the boyfriend that I’d love to knit and crochet all day every day, and now I can finally do so. I hope to design some nice blankets and pillow covers to be put on sale when the cold days return.
  • BOOST MERELY MEREL. Feeling like I’m getting on the right track with my blog, all I need to do now is invest time to post more and do some research into SEO, web design, and photography.
  • SELL STUFF. I’ve been selling a lot of clothes and other stuff lately and I can’t even begin to tell you how much that clears my head. I wanna get rid of everything unnecessary and surround myself with things I really love only.

Hope you’ll be having some time off soon too, and don’t hesitate to tell me your Summer plans!

Photo credits (the ones that I could find) | @airdaisy_ desk | Jenny Martinsson lillies | Amy knitted blanky | Mija Flatau champagne | Find them all & more on my Pinterest

merely Merel

Fired by the desire to adhere to the a less is more kinda lifestyle, I’m continuously trying to create a coherent, minimalistic wardrobe that consists of a limited amount of clothes that can be easily combined with each other. In my case, however, this often results in me buying neutral colors and basic pieces only, which leads to plain and boring outfits. Not exactly the minimalistic Scandinavian effortless chic normcore look I was going for.

So at times, it’s important to look for those simple pieces that will still fit many of your clothes, but have something that is different, that stands out, and that gives your outfit just that little extra. I knew I found such a piece when I saw this gorgeous top with flared sleeves on Silvia. It was featured in my wishlist (see sidebar >>) for a couple of weeks before I decided to click it home, but I’m so happy I did!

The top can be called neutral in many ways: it has a discrete, blue-white stripe that is barely noticeable, and a simple v-neck. The sleeves however, don’t get me started on the sleeves haha! They add such a feminine touch to this outfit that I immediately decided to order myself a black top with flared sleeves as well.

Just as Silvia, I figured this top didn’t need much more than a jeans (and some beige suede dress shoes that score high on multifuctionality). The only drawback I can think of is that the sleeves don’t really fit into your regular coat (this is something Silvia struggled with too, I believe). Lucky for me, I’m quite a coat addict, so I dug up my most oversized one and the sleeves didn’t get too crinkly.

At the moment, I’m still in the middle of putting together a Summer wardrobe (too late for that, yes I know), so I’d be happy to know how you manage to keep your outfits interesting!

flared sleeves

fringed coat

beige suede shoes

flared sleeves

flared sleeves

Zara top | H&M jeans (similar) | Manfield shoes | H&M coat (kind of similar)

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avoid stress

I often find myself wondering how on earth it is possible that — even after those often celebrated inventions such internet, cars, and the laundry machine — we still find ourselves incredibly busy all day every day. We continuously think of ways to do things faster (and often succeed in doing so), but I guess we simultaneously think of ways to do more in the same amount of time. So instead of ending up with more off-time, we end up with a serious need for multitask-skills to tackle that impressive to do list.

At various points in my life (and I think every single one of you can relate), I’ve found myself on the edge of my capabilities. Last year, it happened again and I knew I could not go on the way I did forever, so the last couple of months I’ve tried to make some changes. This post is devoted to the things that worked for me — that helped me unwind and avoid stress. Perhaps it’ll help you too!

avoid stress

This is probably the most rewarding thing I’ve ever tried. I’ve noticed that multiple activities on one day make me nervous, so I limited myself to two. For example, when I have class in the morning, I can meet up with a friend later that day, but that will then be it, even if I have plenty of time in between. I’ll devote that time to myself; to study, to get some cleaning done, or whatever, as long as it doesn’t take me somewhere I’m expected to be. Naturally, this is something that might be different for everyone (I’m not that spontaneous and outgoing, so I can easily feel overwhelmed), but consciously saying ‘no’ to activities in favor of some off-time you can spend however you like really can be liberating.

The above advice goes hand in hand with this one, because those who have difficulties saying ‘no’ often ‘suffer’ from a fear of missing out. It can be hard to suppress this feeling, because nowadays, the world seems to move so fast and everyone around you seems to be on top of their game. It’s hard not to try to keep up. Battle this fear with the notion that quality is always more important than quantity. You don’t have to be dancing the night away every Saturday night, going to a big festival every once in a while can make you just as happy. The same goes for work or studies: Don’t be afraid to tackle one task after another instead of everything at once. Doing things more slowly enables you to do it with more focus, so you’ll enjoy it more, learn from it better, and — hopefully — reach a more satisfying end result.

Kobo e-reader

Don’t fall in the same the trap I did when I figured that doing things you love automatically means it’s relaxing or unwinding. I love my studies, I love blogging, I love hanging out with friends — don’t get me wrong — but when something is in some way ‘pre-arranged’ or ‘obligatory’, you’re not able to completely relax. It still is something you ‘have to do’. Unwinding, for me, is to sit down and to do whatever I like to do, even if that is nothing in particular, and — even more importantly — to not feel guilty about that.

Closely related to the above is something I find myself struggling with over and over again: to be able to do something without a purpose. Each time I find something new I like to do to relax — the latest example being knitting — I somehow manage to turn it into something with a purpose — a one-day-in-the-future-knitting-shop. So now all my knitting evolves around improving myself, which totally misses the point and the purpose it once served, namely relaxation. Not that I don’t like the evolution, but I knew I had to find another activity-without-a-purpose.
In my case, the Kobo e-reader my boyfriend gave me a while ago (I’ve got this waterproof one, very holiday-appropriate!), and which features on the photos in this post, has fulfilled this quest. Reading a book had been crossed off of my relax-activities-list long ago, since I thought I already did enough reading for uni. Besides, why read something that is not of an informative nature? That will not provide me with ready-to-go tips and advice or other kinds of input? Well, that was exactly the wrong thought, fueled by the wish to be continuously productive, even when reading ‘for fun’. The easiness of this e-reader made me start reading just for the sake of reading again. To pick up a ‘book’ and get lost in the story and think of nothing else. It’s sincerely rewarding to find a ‘purposeless’ activity that you like!

cat in bed

06 relax 05

Well, here’s to a lovely new day to make some changes in your schedule if needed!

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Summer moodboard

Wowsj, I haven’t posted for a whopping two weeks, but please don’t be mad, ‘cause I’m kiiiiinda on top of my game when it comes to the rest of my life =D. Here are five random things that keep my busy!

  • I’ve changed the way I work on tasks — with the help of my beloved Productivity Planner — and this has guided me through the finishing stages of two huge study deadlines that I was really looking up against. Instead of alternating between several tasks, I now dedicate much more time to one project, and basically don’t stop untill it’s done (unless it takes more than five hours to finish it). On the one hand, this creates this restless idea in my head that there’s still so much else to work on, on the other hand (and this turned out to be more important), it enables me to cross off tasks from my to do list that have been there for way too long. Let’s continue that this week! #highfive
  • I’ve received my Triangl bikini and found the perfect denim cut-offs, so now I officially can’t wait for Summer holidays anymore. Still need some serious Summer wardrobe updates, such as skirts.
  • Two of my friends are organizing a trip to Portugal for all of us next year! It’s gonna be a villa-with-swimming-pool-kinda thing and it’s going to be ah-mazing. The boyfriend and I are probably gonna travel to some paradise destination in November, so if you have some nice suggestions for that time of year, I’d love to hear!
  • I sold one of my crocheted blankets and I now I can’t be more motivated to create more! (Have you seen my pink baby blanket, it’s the softest and cutest thing I’ve made so far.)
  • I ran a 5k in 38 minutes last week (what a joke ><) and I really hope I’ll feel like running again this week (probably not, but hey).
  • Planning an outfit-, lifestyle-, and giveaway post as we speak, so don’t go anywhere =D.

Hope you’re all having a lovely week!

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Monday Moodboard

I’ve been thinking about a way to regularly share some kind of personal update, reflecting the things I’ve been up to as well as the thoughts on my mind, while being inspiring all at the same time. And well, I think the answer is easy enough: moodboards. A moodboard is more than simply copy-pasting the pins from my Pinterest account to my blog, because it requires a selection process that reflects my current interests and – of course – mood. Therefore, it gives me an opportunity to talk a little about my personal life and recent thoughts, while providing you with some good old inspiration at the same time (because snaps taken by yours truly can be found on Instagram already). I’m certainly not the only one publishing these kinds of posts, so I admit I was greatly inspired by Jules’ weekly collages (love reading those). Hope you’ll like it as much as I do, ‘cause I’m planning to make this a regular Monday post.

What’s been on my mind most of all lately is starting on my thesis. I’m annoyed by the fact that I can’t do so because I need to finish some other courses first, especially after watching my fellow students from other universities present their research at a small conference last weekend. It gets me all motivated to — also — fill my days with early morning coffees, books, and a laptop.

On a more fashionable note, it’s almost Summer now and my wardrobe needs some serious updates. I’m planning to fill it with a lot of romantic whites and flared sleeves. I don’t know why I’m craving for this kind of femininity, ‘cause I normally don’t, but trying new things is always a good idea right? There’s a flared-sleeved-blouse-outfit-post being written as we speak (check out a sneak preview here), so I’m working on it haha! Oh, and I’ve decided to grow out the bleach in my hair and go for a longer, fuller, and most importantly, healthier lob to complement my Summer-wardrobe-to-be.

Contrary to these Summer feelings is my desire to create a whole pile of cozy crocheted blankets. I’ve launched the Donna blanket in blue (check my modest ‘shop‘ here) and I’m working on a beige-white one right now. Can’t wait to have it stocked in more of these pretty color combinations, so I’ll feel like I’m running a proper knitwear shop. I’m also working on a knitted blanky in the softest merino wool, so keep an eye in my Insta for future progress pics.

Last but not least: let’s cut out the snaccidents, ‘cause my daddy gave me a new Triangl bikini for a birthday present so shit just got real.

;) Happy Monday! (And make sure to follow my Pinterest account — link below — if you like these inspirational pictures!)

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