Friday, May 25, 2018

These Days

       I haven't written a "These Days" post in so very long. First of all my kids- who I used to refer to as "Littles" are not so little any more and along with age comes a desire for privacy. Also I just felt a lot of what we were doing wasn't too interesting to most people- I mean do you want to hear about swimming lessons and gymnastics? So anyways I haven't written about the biggest part of my life in over two years and I really miss it!

       These days you will find us doing the daily grind- after school sports- home reading- friends in one door and out the other- life is a constant whirl around here these days. My kids are turning into interesting people- ones that have interests in stuff like computer coding and baking- they know about things like the science behind why some people here Yanni and some people hear Lauren- like they had to explain the phenomenon to me! They are curious little creatures.

          Needless to say with all the activities (and we are far less scheduled than most families with kids our age) we miss the slow quiet days of when they were young. Last weekend when we all piled into the car and headed to the ocean they started to talk and we all started to reconnect. The Boy made our very eclectic mixed CD- tunes ranged from Fleetwood Mac to Justin Timberlake. The Girl told funny and really weird stories. It was nice to all be in one place with no other distractions besides someone randomly yelling out "COW" as we drove past farms. 

       So these days we are parent's to big kids- the struggle is still as real and hard as when they were little but the demands are different. Less physical and more emotional. When I look back on the days when I first started writing this blog the hours seemed just so long and the days were so very hard. Now the days can still be hard but they fly by just so fast. From babies to complex young people in the blink of an eye!

P.s- they agreed to this post
P.s.s- not their beer bottles (does this need to be said? Someone will surly comment!)

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Yarn Treats

        If you follow along with me over on Instagram then you likely have seen my flood of road trip posts- this past long weekend we hit the road and drove down to Long Beach in Washington for a mini getaway with friends. It was great- everything we needed as a family- unwinding time for all (except the Mr. who did all the driving- the man is a saint) plenty of beach hangs, camp fires and erm adult beverages.

      On our way home it was decided that we would avoid Seattle and head through the interior- conveniently right by one of my favourite yarn shops- Tolt Yarn and Wool! When we lived in Vancouver visits to Tolt happened on the reg- these days not so much. I haven't been in two years! So while I could have easily gone bananas and bought everything I laid my eyes on I intentionally just slowed it way down and took it all in. I touched everything and got an idea of what new to me yarns feel like- I may have walked around squishing a skein of the new Ranch 01 from Brooklyn Tweed.

     In the end though I contained myself and came away with some really special yarns- two skiens of Quince Owl in Mesa- a gorgeous worsted weight. Destined to be crocheted (yes you read that right) into the Strossel hat by Karen Crittenden. I also brought home one skein of Yoth Father- another worsted weight yarn in a deep indigo colour called Caviar. I love Yoth yarns and never miss a chance to add to my stash!

     Additionally I treated myself to some knitting art- a letter press print A Sense of Place by artist Anna Brones. As soon as I saw this print I feel in love- two of my favourite things combined knitting and printmaking! I don't purchase many souvenirs when I travel but yarn and art are two things I find difficult to pass up- both reminders of the roads I've traveled. When the time comes to work with this yarn I will forever remember the sticky hot day we stopped- my family hanging out at the van with the side door open- my Mr. peeling apples for a snack- the kids picking all the chocolate out of the trail mix- waiting patiently as I touched all the yarn!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Field Trip: Maiwa Supply

     Now I really don't want to sound like a broken record when I say there are things about living in Vancouver that I really miss- loads that I don't - but a few things living in a big city provides that just don't exist in a smaller place! One such place is the Pandora's box called Maiwa Supply- a veritable treasure trove for a textile artist or even just someone looking for a little inspiration. Maiwa is what I consider to be ground zero to the slow fashion movement- with 30 years of experience in supplying natural dyes and organic fabrics.

    Maiwa is a family run business and you can feel that the moment you walk through the doors- they aren't in the business of just selling cloth but in the business of creating memories and some of my strongest Vancouver memories are tied to the little shop across from the bakery. My first visit to Maiwa  was in the early 2000s- fresh to the city Granville Island was my home base. I was working on the island and had heard the buzz- people told me "you just have to go" and I'm so happy I did! Walking into the store was like nothing I had experienced before- the store just resonated with me deep in my core- I didn't know how to use any of these lovely things but I wanted to learn!

      Maiwa was the place I went when I became obsessed with crochet- back then they had a small selection of naturally dyed yarns- I heard words like Madder and Indigo for the first time outside of art supplies. Maiwa was the place I went when I was pregnant with my first child and wanted to sew baby clothes- choosing from the soft block printed fabrics I knew my baby was wrapped in something special. And Maiwa was the first place I ever heard the words Slow Fashion- learning the difference between industrial cotton and organic cotton. Where I really and truly began my own textile education.

     I truly miss the days of realizing I need something for a project and having this resource just down the road. Their staff are amazing and always so helpful trouble shooting or filling in the gaps in my natural dye knowledge. While Maiwa does have a pretty great website there really is nothing quite like ducking through those blue doors to touch and feel everything on their shelves. This store really is a part of the fabric of my life!

P.S. bucket list- one of the immersive Maiwa trips to India- who wants to come with?

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Me Made May

       Yesterday marked the first of May- and it's just so fitting that a movement such as Me Made May should be starting on May Day! The first of May traditionally marks the halfway point of Spring- also known as Beltane- an ancient celebration of longer days. In addition to being a celebration of Spring May first also marks a day when major shifts in the labour movementstarted to happen in the nineteenth century- for workers rights and freedoms- along with the eight hour work day! With Me Made May following on the heals of Fashion Revolution week this just feels all sorts of right- increasing workers rights and freedoms and striving to make the planet a healthier place.

    So with this in mind I am really excited to share some of my recent makes- as well as more fun outfit posts through out the month. As mentioned in previous posts one of my main goals as a maker is to seek out materials that are sustainably produced- which works considering my long term love affair with linen! Being cognizant of my material use and wastage is also on my radar- I want to use my materials in the most effective way and produce as little waste as possible.

    Now either I am an environmental warrior or just your run of the mill suburban fabric hoarder- either way I have a large collection of scrap fabric just chilling like a villain in my studio.  While a part of me would love to have a clean minimalist studio free from all clutter and scrap this is just not the case so what is a girl to do? Enter in the Bombazine Mitt- a quick I.G. search will show all sorts of clever people using up their scraps in the most artistic ways- I was soon swept away by the scrappy possibilities!

    I am simply in love with this quick and easy little pattern- I may have made several of the oven mitts for myself all ready- who said Me Made May needs to be worn on your body. Oh and did I mention this is a free pattern? Oh yeah- no better way to my heart than something that is free and actually works! Check out Bombazine for other fantastic sewing inspo- there are several pieces I am now convinced to try for myself- up next the In The Folds Jumpsuit! Why is everything from Austrailia just SO cool? I'm always interested to see what other's are sewing and making- are you taking place in Me Made May? If so lets connect!


Friday, April 13, 2018

Whats In The (Knitting) Bag

         Hi-ho it's Friday- and I am packing for Girl Guide camp- Brownie camp to be specific- not a huge variance between the two only that our girls will be awake all night giggling in cabins rather than tents. Regardless it's pretty much guaranteed that I won't be getting much sleep tonight- it is after all Friday the 13th. So of course with the thought of a long sleepless night ahead of me I am packing up my knitting- because hello sanity! I thought I would share a few of my favourite things that I carry on the reg in my travel knitting bag- because really don't we all want to see what cool stuff our friend's carry around?

      First off the bag- a few months ago I started turning some of my screen printed fabric into project bags- they are in fact great for a bunch of stuff but of course I use mine primarily for sorting my knitting projects out. I decided to re-open my Etsy shop and am now selling these bags online- you can click here to go take a gander should you feel so inclined! In my bag I have my Freja sweater which was slow going this week- I did not make much progress but that's the nature of knitting- a few stitches at a time was all I could manage to sneak in.

     There are just so many interesting and useful tools on the market right now and of course everyone has a favourite- I am in love with my Lykke needles which I treated myself to last year- a splurge but worth the investment! I purchased both my needles and my gauge ruler from Fringe Supply- a favourite supplier of inspiration.  My little snips I have had forever- like probably fifteen years- they are just that perfect tool that I would be lost with out. I bought the snips and my Merchant and Mills bulb pins at Maiwa on Granville Island- again primary purveyor of inspiration! The tube of tapestry needles for weaving in ends (I'm being optimistic here) was from Knit City last fall- I can't remember which booth I picked those up at- there was just SO much happening!

   Add to my tools my trusty mini first aide kit from MEC- I usually carry this around with me daily because if a kid isn't getting hurt I usually am! Maybe this is a left over habit from my own Girl Guide days but I always have that handy first aide kit or at least bandages with me at all times! Of course rattling around the bottom of all my bags are treasures from our travels- these gorgeous smooth stones were picked up on a beach in the Kootney's last summer and are just a joy to hold.

   Adventure is out there my friends and I truly hope you find some this weekend- weather it's taking a moment for yourself to stitch a few rows or climbing up the side of a mountain we all need to take time for ourselves! Myself- my dream for this weekend involves waking up before those giggling girls and sitting with my coffee beside the lake tomorrow morning- even if just for a few minutes before the fun begins! Happy Friday Friends!


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Casting On: Freja

          I'm sitting here at my desk with our backdoor flung open and the cool Spring air streaming in- the sun has not yet shifted around to this part of the yard and I am happy knowing my garlic babies are getting warmed. As my thoughts are turning to longer days spent outside a part of me still knows that Mother Nature could pull a fast one and send flurries any day- today though I will leave the windows and doors open as long as I possibly can. 

     Warmer days surly are ahead and I know my time with wool is fast drawing to a close- in my mind I'm moving on to warm weather projects like t-shirts and shorts- cool linen is calling my name! With this in mind I cast on what is possibly my last warm winter knit- and even at that it is a lofty mid sleeve knit which will likely be in constant rotation these cool Spring evenings! The Freja sweater by Brooklyn Tweed has called my name ever since the launch of their latest collection- as soon as I saw Freja I knew I must knit it for myself- my precious! I'm so excited to once again expand my knitting skills- to think that just a few years ago I didn't consider myself a knitter at all!

       I chose to use Brooklyn Tweed Quarry- which is what the pattern was designed for- I chose the colour Sandstone which is a nice neutral oatmeal colour with flecks of darker browns spun through. I love working with Brooklyn Tweed yarns- not only are they totally sourced, cleaned, dyed and spun in the U.S. but Quarry has such a magical feel when working with it.  To quote directly from the label "Quarry is an airy, chunky-weight wool that mimics the appearance of roving-style "unspun" yarns." To say the least this chunky yarn is a fast and fun knit! I also love that every once in a while I come across a little piece of natural material- reminding me that this wool I'm using is from the earth. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Looking At The Label

        One of the reasons I wanted to participate in the 10 x10 Style Challenge- that I posted about last week- is that I really want to examine my own consumerism once again- take a closer look at the materials I am using and ensure I am making choices that align with my heart. Taking a part in this style challenge has opened up a variety of conversations with friends on both sides of the line. On one hand I have so many like minded peers who are interested in slow fashion and on the other hand I live in a small city where $2.00 t-shirts are still considered a bargain.  Regardless, one of the topics that seems to come up time and time again is that of both food and fibre security.

      Not often do we as a society think of fibre the same way we think about food although fast food and fast fashion are akin to one another- and both are equally big health issues.  In our valley and indeed in much of our province locality is so popular when it comes to food- slow- local and as organic as possible. The farmer's market scene is bumpin' and we like to support good local food. It's good for the economy and it's good for the earth- it's so easy to achieve a 100 mile diet here in the Okanagan- slow food- grown close to home. Local options for all tastes are to be found in abundance at our farmer's markets or just outside our door in the garden- eating locally grown and seasonal has surpassed fad or trend.

      Just behind slow, seasonal and local food comes slow, seasonal and local fibre. Now of course this is a niche market at the moment but I know a lot of people are hoping that will change! At one point in time it was not uncommon to look at a clothing label and see "made in the U.S.A"- today there are very few textile mills left in America and we rely on overseas providers for our textiles. As an artist with an interest in textiles where my materials are coming from is just as important to me as where my food is coming from. I want to use fibres from the land I live in.

     What I look for when choosing my fibres is very similar to how I shop for groceries. I look at the label.  I want to know where this fabric or wool is from. Did it travel across the ocean? Or was the wool sourced, cleaned, dyed and spun in North America (like this Brooklyn Tweed pictured above) I want to know what additives have been added to the wool. Is it superwash yarn? This is an important question to me  as superwash is often coated with a wash of polymer- yes that is plastic.  A label tells you right up front everything you want to know about the providence of the yarn you are considering or dress you want to buy!

     Obviously cost is a factor- acrylic yarn is so much less expensive because it's easy to make- but it's also plastic. Using wool yarn can be quite pricey- lets face it -knitting is no longer an economy hobby- it has moved into the realm of luxury which can feel limiting for some people. So much like eating organic or local food it's all about balance and budget. Spend a little more and buy a little less for a better quality. I dare say after trying this approach your feelings towards your garments will change- they will become a little more precious- will be cared for differently and there fore last longer.

       I think just starting to change  our collective mindset is an important first step in consuming textiles grown closer to home. Look at that label and support local growers and makers with your dollars. There are so many amazing small scale- local makers everywhere you look these days. Folks who are also interested in where their materials are coming from. By living thoughtfully and taking our time we can make small decisions that have great impact. Moving as slowly and seasonally with what we put on our body as we do with what we put in our body is so important.