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.

Friday, March 30, 2018

10x 10 Style Challenge


       We all know how much I love clothes- if there was an alternative name to this blog it might be "I Love Clothes"! Not just any clothes but clothing made to last with intention and integrity- items that stand the test of time, fads and trends- so no fast fashion here friends. Much of my closet consists of handmade items or things that I have saved up for and then proceeded to wear for many many years- I would rather spend my time in the garden that in the mall.

     Since moving back to the Okanagan however my closet has felt a little flat- I just do not wear half of what I did in the city. Much of my city wardrobe looks like I stole it from Tia Russel ala the petulant niece in Uncle Buck- if you are under 20 and reading this reference *might* be retro enough to make sense. At any rate I have been feeling a lack of direction in my day to day accoutrement and so when the seasonal 10 x 10 Style Challenge popped up I thought this might be just the ticket!

     What is the 10 x 10 challenge you may ask- consider your entire closet- including shoes and outer wear- now pick 10 things and wear them for 10 days. First of all you will literally be the only one who even notices- no one else cares what you are wearing. Second of all you will carefully consider your level of entitlement- that a capsule wardrobe is even in your wheelhouse. You just used the word wheelhouse. 

    Creating a capsule wardrobe is an incredibly entitled exercise in living- the fact that you (and I mean me) even have time to worry about your clothes means you have less pressing things to worry about- like feeding your kids. Clearly capsule wardrobes are for bored housewives- but they aren't- not really. So after carefully examining my status in society and use of second person prefix I now explain.

    Right now when I look in my closet it is filled with a few favourite pieces of clothing and guilt- a lot of guilt. That guilt looks a lot like clothes I own and never wear- and when I imagine future Sharilyn she isn't wearing any of those clothes. My idea is that after going for 10 days wearing my favourite most comfortable items of clothing I will be able to let some things go. This might be the same thing I do to my kid's school projects- hide them in the closet for a week and if no one notices throw them out.

    While I won't be throwing away perfectly good clothing I will most likely pass a few things on to friends I know will love them- I will likely cut some things down into Spring outfits for my daughter- and I might dip my toe into consigning at a local store. I will not send these textiles out into the great void of second hand clothing- I will recyle responsibly.

    What made the cut you might be asking? Well obviously my new Veronika Cardigan that I just finished knitting and wear all the time- this is SO me! My old standby Eileen Fisher jeans- I love this company- did you know E.F. has a sister site that sells gently used E.F. goods? Love it! I have a self drafted peplum top I sewed last fall and lived in all winter and my trusty Elizabeth Suzann- Harper tunic- I wear this probably twice a week already.  Plus of coarse my Rains rain jacket- Hunter boots and white Converse sneakers- yeah I'm a bit basic!

    If you made it this far and are still reading yipppeee! You can follow along with the fun over on good old Instagram. If you want all the deets and to possibly consider your own 10 x 10 Style Challenge you can check out the brains behind the movement over on Style Bee. So ultimately as much fun as I am poking at the idea of a capsule or minimalist wardrobe I really admire people who live with less- I aspire to live with less- and to do so stylishly.  What I hope to get out of the next ten days is some freedom from that guilt hanging in my closet- I think it's time to let go- I'm ready!


Friday, March 16, 2018

Well Loved: Making Magazine


        I think these days there are just so many amazing publications and opportunities for makers and shakers that there is a very real fear of missing out (F.O.M.O.). It's a thing- it's symptoms are very similar to anxiety and often leave the maker in question with a nagging sensation in the pit of the stomach that there are simply not enough hours in the day!

     Over the past few years I have come to acknowledge this feeling- I hold onto it for a day or so- say hello- how do you do- and then let it move on down the road. I simply cannot knit or sew all of the things I would love to. Playing a huge role in this craft anxiety is the fact that there really are just so many amazing things happening in the world of making. The pressure to create whats trending on social media or other platforms can be massive- especially for someone with a short attention span such as myself.

     I mentioned I have slowed it down- like way down. So much so that I am still working my way through publications from last Summer. Case in point is my much loved Issue No.3 of Making Magazine. I love this issue so much that I have knit 2 sweaters from it- baked the blue berry cake recipe many times over (once with cherries- amaze) and started a number of French knot projects. Up next is a little Spring skirt for my girlie. I love this issue just so darn much!

     What Making does just so well is produce each issue as a stand alone book- I don't feel like I am missing out by continuing to use this issue as a resource. Each project is just so thoughtfully laid out and works so well together as a collection of beautiful handmade items and stories. And good news those beautiful words can be listened to regularly as my favourite magazine has collaborated with my favourite Podcasters to create the perfect holistic making experience!

     So this season I highly recommend saying a hard NO to fear of missing out also known as crafters anxiety and dig deeper into what you really love. Find the thing that inspires you and really experience it in it's entirety! Friends it is Friday- it's been awhile since I have written those words- and I am looking forward to far too much fun with friends- some good yarn and even better coffee! Happy Friday!

P.S. I am in no way wishing to make light of anxiety- I know it's not a laughing matter. However there is a grain of truth here and that is we all need to know our limits. We need to start saying no so we can shed some of that fear of missing out and be present with what we love!