Friday, 26 December 2014

happy merry

holidays are still happening here in the alberg household. we have our large family dinner happening tonight, after spending christmas eve and day with just my parents, brother, dog, and visits from my girlfriend and her dog. it's been a lovely slow time so far, and there have been dustings of fat snowflakes each day. i love christmas time, because our family has a lot of traditions and it has always been a time of slowdown for me. once i've finished making gifts, that is. i finished my last gift yesterday afternoon, but it at least wasn't an overly stressful time. i was able to enjoy the making process throughout the season, which i suspect was in large part due to having a much more manageable to-gift list than in past years. that and the fact that my girlfriend did all my baking for me because i threw my back out last week ha. 

i always appreciate the gifts i receive at christmas, and my parents in particular are very good at getting lovely and useful gifts. my girlfriend managed to cover cleverly useful, adorably thoughtful, and wonderfully unmentionable all together. she's a clever one. one of her gifts was a drill, which will come in handy for hanging photos, but which i'm also already planning on using for drilling holes into bones for the show later this year. i'm weird like that. this year is actually probably the best one in my memory for thoughtful and meaningful gifts though. three things stand out to me: 

-framed photos from my girlfriend from a double date we had with my roommate/life partner back in the fall. (on mum's "santa's workshop" table, which is busier than usual this year.) 

-a beautiful, locally made yarn bowl of jointed oak and walnut my mum custom ordered for me from a woodworker we met at fibre fest (she's a sneaky one, that mum of mine). you can order your own here.

-my great-great-aunt's 14k thimble, an item whose beauty i can't even describe. family heirlooms are special in a whole other category to me, and i can feel the history in this little thimble every time i place it on my finger. i absolutely love useful and beautifully made items, and the fact that i know i will be using this thimble soon to work on my show and that it has been used by my mum's family is just…i don't really know how to describe it. but it's wonderful. and heavy, in a beautiful way. 

i've been doing a load of knitting and dyeing lately, but a lot of it is under wraps, at least on the knitting side. i've been working on some publication submissions, which is mildly terrifying. it's the first time i've endeavoured to get my knitting designs published elsewhere, although double scoop's publication was kind of along similar lines since it won a design competition. i'm using the experience as an opportunity for learning, and if the patterns don't make it into publications, i'll just release them myself. i'm proud of the designs regardless, and i know from my years in theatre that just because you don't get all the way through an audition doesn't mean you're not talented and worthy. it just means you don't fit the director's/production team's final vision. the same way that every audition is an opportunity for learning and growth and honing your craft, so are these publication submissions in my mind. as for my dyeing adventures (the process of which you can see on instagram, along with a destash that i'm still hosting), i'll be making the yarn available in the new year. given my limited capacity for making large batches (i generally get a couple of skeins done in an evening if i'm home) and the fact that i'm trying to build up stock for my show this spring, i haven't decided yet what yarns, if any, i'll make available online beforehand. or if i'll look into making them available at brick-and-mortar shops before the show. so at this point, spring is the timeline i'm still looking at for yarn release. if you have opinions about what yarns and/or spinning fibres you would like to see me carry, do let me know. i'm loving the experimentation and the process, and am definitely not opposed to doing small custom batches at the very least in the meantime. 

i hope you're all having a warm, safe, and happy holiday season, and are spending time with other creatures you love. merry merry, dear ones. 

Sunday, 21 December 2014

deck the halls

happy holiday season, everyone! it seems to have crept up even faster than usual this year, but i'm definitely enjoying the festivities as they come along and trying not to stress too much about it all. this is the first year that i've not had a list of minimum one dozen people to make for (last year's 30ish knits cured me, or something), but i'm still a bit behind on making. i have one xmas wip and one design submission left to finish, after completing the others recently on top of a different secret design sample. the holiday season happens to be around the same time as summer quarterly publication submission deadlines, so it's a bit of a deadline crunch at the moment around here. conveniently (not really at all), i threw out my back this week and have been housebound for the past few days, with the exception of last night. this has given me a combination of extra knitting time, an inability to use my spinning wheel because of the motion until today, and way too much energy due to being stuck inside. it's a mixed blessing, i think. it also gives me way too much thinking time.

i have been experimenting a lot recently with different making practices, and thinking about my own artistic practice and how i identify as an artist, and how my official training does or doesn't feed into my current interests. my theatre life has been on the sidelines for a while, mostly because of practical reasons (i have a full-time job and spend my downtime on my fibre practice lately), and i'm trying to decide how that affects my life as a practicing artist. i miss performing, but i'm also really interested in design concepts and multi-disciplinary collaboration right now, and don't necessarily feel that pull to the stage that took me through two theatre degrees. what i do feel a pull towards is a more installation-based process right now, and collaborating with other performers (more specifically, dancers and movement artists) without actually performing with them. that being said, i recently committed to some community activism-based theatre training for next summer and may be involved in a local production soon, so theatre is still a part of my life.

i have also been thinking about working as a practicing artist within a capitalist society. i've been mulling over this for a while now, but it's been more at the forefront of my mind especially since my white rabbit experience. i've also been listening to the woolful podcast, which is so deliciously nerdy (to the point that my girlfriend - who helped me organize my knitting stash and gets excited about my projects because i get so excited about them - just laughs). ashley really focuses on sustainability in the podcast episodes, which i love and am very passionate about myself, but i also know that my own fibre practice sacrifices sustainability to an extent due to capitalism. at this point, i fund my fibre business with my own money, sometimes making enough from some aspect of it (be it pattern sales or a commission) to pay off another aspect. other times, i use the money i make from my full-time job to do that. having that job, making regular paycheques that allow me to make those decisions, is a privilege. class privilege, which a lot of people, and a lot of artists, don't have. it was also a choice i made to pursue a full-time job in order to be in a position of privilege and more freedom of choice. but i'm certainly not rich, and still live life paycheque-to-paycheque to an extent, and that means that the base fibre i buy for my naturally handdyed yarns comes from places i can't trace all the way back to the source, and it means choosing superwash yarns (which i do like, to be honest, but which are definitely more processed products) because they will sell better and be more versatile in the marketplace. we make sacrifices in a capitalist society because we have to, whether they are moral/ethical sacrifices because we don't have a choice of shopping for better quality/more wholesome items, or choosing a life that is not necessarily our dream life in order to still feed a part of our dream, or saying "fuck the system" and dealing with the consequences of trying to survive outside or beyond capitalism (hint: it's really fucking hard, and not always fulfilling). i suppose this ties in to an extent to my blog post about freelance life earlier this year. i haven't quite figured it out yet, which is why this is all a bit rambling. i don't totally know how to articulate it yet, but i think it's worth mulling about out loud. 

part of why i have been thinking about this so much lately is because i'm getting ready to start selling my handdyed fibre. i'm really excited about it, and i love love love the process and experimentation that natural dyeing has added to my artistic practice and to my life. it can't be rushed, and the results are pretty much always a surprise and teach me something new, and it forces me to slow down and be a little more mindful. i love that i can use compost to make incredible colours that feed my own artistic practice, and can feed others' as well. but i can't say that i know where my bases are sourced from right back to the animal, because that's not true. so i don't quite know at this point how to reconcile that desire for grassroots handmade process and financial reality. i think perhaps some day it can balance out, whether by making connections with a local animal farmer or indulging at times in really luxurious ethical fibre. right now, i'm still really pleased with my naturally dyed yarns, and i'm working on a design submission with some of them, so we'll see how things go. i'll be making the yarns available in the new year, so keep an eye out for when i launch them online and locally here in winnipeg! i can't wait to share them with you all! (along with my new branding, thanks to my super talented friend liz!)

also, a little holiday bonus for you all: i'm destashing a bunch of my yarn via instagram. after we sorted through my yarn stash, i ended up with three under-bed boxes and the glass cabinet full of yarn to keep, and still another huge tupperware tub of full and partial skeins that i don't have an immediate use for. and i will be ordering more base yarns soon for dyeing, so extra cash (hurrah, capitalism again!) and more space will be useful in that regard. check out my instagram account starting tonight and call dibs on what you like. first come, first served. payment is accepted via paypal and i'm happy to ship anywhere in the world. final cost will be listed price plus shipping and handling. i'm listing full and partial skeins of brooklyn tweed, cascade, local nova scotian wool, handspun, quince & co., drops, and more! anything bought before tuesday will be mailed out before xmas, and everything after that will go out after boxing day. if you're a winnipeg local, i'm more than happy to arrange a meet-up to save us both the bother and cost of shipping.

i will have photos for you all soon, and new patterns! i just have to get through this deadline crunch and be mobile enough for photoshoots ha. happy holidays!

p.s. i know i let the #pollinationkal fall to the wayside. sorry, folks. i will make it up to you all soon, and that naturally dyed yarn i made for the prize will still find a home! most likely partially through instagram. keep an eye out for announcements.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

learning, or at least trying to

i made a very large mistake this week and hurt someone i care deeply about, and also hurt other people at the same time. the people in my life these days are all wonderful, loving, caring, kind creatures, and so are dealing with it in a way that i am not used to and that i feel like perhaps i don't deserve. which probably feeds into the mistake to an extent. i've been trying to sit with the consequences of my actions, and process the whole thing, and figure out how to be better. and how to accept the compassion that is coming to me in addition to the hurt that i've caused. i don't really know how to do that. i don't know how to deal with people who i have hurt and who can still be kind at the same time that they are in a lot of pain because of things i have done. i am used to anger, and negativity, and perhaps that is a large reason why i made what was a very self-sabotaging move.

anyway, i promised the person i hurt the most that i would figure my shit out, and take care of myself. see? very much not used to having someone hold me to self-care after i cause them a lot of pain. so i'm working on self-care right now, and hoping that it will allow some space in myself to process current self-disappointment and old pain and move on from both in a healthy way. it's hard, because i think to a large extent i feel like i shouldn't be being kind to myself because what i did was not kind at all. but i'm working on it, because i promised that i would. it's still early, and i'm not sure where i'm at in the process because large areas of my body still feel quite numb, but i am making the effort. so i am forcing myself to eat, and to eat healthier things because they are more nourishing, and drinking water, and not drinking coffee, and doing yoga every day but mixing restorative practices with the sweaty ones, and having herbal baths, and spending time with friends who are also far more kind and understanding than i can really fathom right now, and working on projects that use my hands and my creativity and eventually roping in my heart when i feel like it won't poison the project. because handmade things soak up the energy that goes into them during the making process, and i want to make things from a place of love and not of pain. because i've already created pain in other people, and it sucks a lot, and i want to only gift love.

i am also not sure that i want to share this in a blog post, because a lot of people who read this space also know me, and i wonder every time i write something more personal whether i really want it out in cyberspace. but then i think of the people i know who share their painful moments, and how i appreciate their honesty and rawness and them as people, and i hope that maybe this can be part of my healing process too. i don't know. i will probably flip-flop between regretting this post and being happy that i made it.

tonight, i am listening to the woolful podcast, and my beautiful roommate is making us supper, and i will maybe spin some wool because it is relaxing and it will be a christmas gift. so, i am working on being better. and i will continue working on it, because i have a sneaking suspicion that is a lifelong exercise. and i will (hopefully) be constantly amazed and grateful for the people in my life. 

Friday, 28 November 2014

november flurries

i have been neglecting this space of late. the work days are long, the sun is out for shorter hours, and my weekends have been spent with people i care about and catching up on knitting and design projects. basically, i haven't had much time to write. or to take photos (the shorter days definitely play into that). but life is lovely (minus the daily world news, which sucks a lot lately and i don't really know how to articulate how much it sucks), and snow is finally on the ground here on the prairies.

i do have news though! ok, here it is in list form (because i love lists):

1) #pollinationkal is being extended until at least mid-december. i feel like november has just flown by, and suspect that december will as well. so at this point, consider it extended until december 15th. potentially until december 31st though. partially due to the next entry on the list…

buy pollination here.
2) my lovely friend liz is doing an energy trade of sorts with me! she's a graphic designer and is turning my handwriting into a digital font, and i'm knitting her something in exchange. so that means i may be holding off on releasing new patterns and updates until after she's done, because i don't want to do double the work within two weeks of release.

3a) i'm naturally dyeing yarn! and it'll be for sale! at this point, i'm prepping for a show that will be happening here in winnipeg in the spring, but if you want a custom dye, give me a shout. i'm more than happy to do custom work right now. i'm really loving the experimentation! currently i have fingering weight and worsted weight yarn in semi-solids, and i'll be getting some sock blanks soon that will become gradients and potentially stripes. follow my instagram to keep up with my dyeing adventures.

3b) the yarn will be combined with my patterns to be released as kits. and i'm working with a local artisan to get handmade buttons made out of salvaged wood, which will also find their way into some of the kits. same deal in terms of the yarn with regards to custom orders, since most of the product will need to stick around for the spring show.

4) i have five new patterns that will be released as soon as i have the new font (one of them will be a freebie!) and a new shawl pattern that will come out at the end of next month. which means i'll have a slightly more consistent presence here at least!

ok, now that those are all said and done, i'm going to finish with a few photos that will function as catch-up about what's happened in my life in the past couple of months. this upcoming week is full of hang-outs and plans and shows and lovely wonderful people, so i probably will go back to the usual radio silence for a bit. but rest assured, i'll pick up the blogging pace in a bit! i do miss it.

i spent canadian thanksgiving with my parents and our dog at the place i spent every thanksgiving growing up. it was perfect.

my roommate and i had a double date at the corn maze, and there were sheep!!!

the infamous wedding quilt. 

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

drool-worthy #13 - "escher" by alexis winslow

i'm still doing a rather poor job of maintaining this space right now (if you want to keep up with me on social media these days, instagram will be your best bet), but i had to make a point of drooling over a pattern from the latest wool people collection! check out escher by alexis winslow!

it's one of the most stunning pieces of knitwear (and just general clothing) design i've seen recently. i desperately want to cast it on my needles, but i have too many designs of my own to deal with right now to justify a selfish knit. particularly a selfish knit that's a fingering-weight garment. sigh. i do so want to make it though!

it looks absurdly cozy, and i've been eyeing my closet and its lack of "nice" (i.e. i haven't already camped in it) cardigan layers for work and fancy events. working at a place that produces upscale art is very convenient for the femme in me, but not when i don't know what sweater to pair with my dresses and lipstick! 

i shall have to deal with not having the time to work on it for now, and spend the time instead dreaming up beautiful colour combinations for it instead.

don't forget that the pollination kal is going on this month! prizes for knits are always a good incentive for finishing gift knits...

speaking of designs, those of you who follow me on instagram will already know that i've got bulky knits galore coming off my needles at the moment. i've got a new design about to launch for testing (the charting has proven to take a longer time than i anticipated for formatting) and i have a mini collection within the when nature fought back collection that i hope to have ready for the beginning of december. i've pared back my xmas knits considerably from last year, but i do still have one gift to knit, and i have some undies to deal with (thankfully, they have very patient and understanding future owners). once the bulky knits are done, i will be moving back to fingering weight projects. there are too many ideas rolling around in my head and not enough time to knit them all. i would really like to get around to some selfish knitting sometime though...maybe i'll fit some in over the holidays just for kicks.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

kal time! - pollination

well, i am once again floored by the ravelry reaction to my shawls! pollination was downloaded well over 1000 times before the coupon code expired today, which is super exciting! do you know why? because that means all you folks can start on the pollination kal right away! and so can the rest of you - you just need to go grab a copy of the pattern.

the kal will work as follows:

-it starts today, november 1st, and will end at 11:59pm CST on november 30th. you've got one whole month to knit up pollination!

-to participate, hashtag your ravelry projects and social media (twitter, instagram, and facebook) photos with #pollinationkal, #sunflowerknit, and tag me if you can (@ash_alberg on twitter, sunflowerknit on instagram and facebook).

-i will do a random draw on december 1st for one winner among the finished projects. this means i need to see your fo photo before the end of the kal! you can post it on instagram, share it on ravelry, email me at ash.sunflowerknit[at], snail mail it to me if you happen to know me in person and know my address…(totally not sharing that info, sorry folks). i just need to see it. i will make a pot of names and draw one at random. that person will win a skein of hikoo american b.r.a.n.d fingering weight wool that i have naturally dyed by hand, using alum and red cabbage leaves.

check out that sexy periwinkle! cabbage is a strange, strange plant...

that's all there is to it! but, knowing me, there will also be random draws for various prizes throughout the month. i'm also currently putting together kits with my patterns and naturally dyed wool that i make in my kitchen, so maybe one of those will find its way into the prize pot…

number 4, 12, and 15! woot!
i'm just really excited that people are loving my patterns so much, so thank you all! it's very encouraging for me as a new designer to have so much support. cheers! and welcome to the start of the when nature fought back collection! expect the upcoming months to be full of new designs and more fun events. can't wait to see your photos!

an outtake from the photoshoot, in which i was a cold, cold tree gnome…with lipstick!

Friday, 31 October 2014


white rabbit was the most incredible experience of my life up to this point, and while i was there, i was inspired to create a new knitting pattern. all of the cards seemed to fall into place, minus the part where i  decided i wanted to create a circular shawl (which i've been dreaming of for ages now) and didn't have any dpns with me. hence why this pattern is being released so much later after the residency. the time has done nothing to dull my excitement for this piece, of course. i offer this new design to you. please welcome pollination.

pollination takes 215g of fingering weight yarn on 4mm needles, but you could definitely adapt it to fit different weights or needle sizes. i used fleece artist merino 2/6, madelinetosh tosh merino light, and bc garn tussah tweed. it is knit circularly from the centre out, beginning with a raspberry stitch centre, surrounded by a purl border, and finished off with a ruffle edge. it reminds me of the many berry patches around the red clay property, and the old bee boxes used in projects, and the massive sunflower i used to eco-print on silk, and the colour of the mud and vegetation. it also just reminds me of the beautiful time i spent at red clay with my fellow rabbits and honourary rabbits.

i grabbed a suitcase from a friend who had been storing it for me for two years before getting to the residency, and the suitcase happened to contain a bunch of great books and some gorgeous yarn i (luckily) didn't get to take to london. one of those skeins was fleece artist merino 2/6, which i bought during my yarn road trip two summers ago and which matched the red soil perfectly. i wound the ball by hand (a luxury and meditative practice i don't indulge in much anymore) during one of our fire circles (which shifted to a grass circle because there were too many ashes blowing in our eyes to focus properly), and figured out the design after scrapping a couple of other ideas that same evening. the name came from both the natural process of pollination that surrounded us and fed us that week, and also from the metaphorical cross-pollination of creativity that flowed from the rabbits. i fucking love this shawl, and all of the memories i have associated with it. 

pollination is now available for $6.00 from ravelry. however, as a way of honouring the sense of sharing and community that the residency offered to me and everyone else involved, i am offering a 24-hour coupon code for one free pattern of your choosing from my rav store. add your favourite pattern to your cart, apply the code "whiterabbit" before checking out, and revel in the communal wealth of knowledge and creativity that we share in this world. there will also be a knit-a-long launching tomorrow and running for the month of november, which i will be posting about tomorrow, so stay tuned for that and happy knitting!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

tempest test - holli yeoh's "watermark"

hi folks! i know i have been absent for weeks now, and i will address that in another post, but i am back with an exciting reveal for you - the test knit i did for holli yeoh and sweetgeorgia yarnstempest collection! meet my watermark!

i had to keep this one under wraps for so long, and i was bursting to show it to you guys! it's a fabulous pattern, with enough visual interest to really make you stand out in the handknit crowd (not always an easy thing to do!). 

the watermark sweater has three-quarter length sleeves, a good torso length, and generous cowl neck, along with some really lovely lace detailing. other testers' projects were very bright and lovely, but i went for a more muted main colour to pop with the leftover tanis fiber arts' green label from my ease pullover. 

i actually can't get enough of the cowl. it's so cozy! (please ignore the part where my glasses are filthy...)

the best part? you have a built-in hide-away for when you decide you want to check out. or play peek-a-boo with babies. on a serious note, though, it's great. and the shaping creates lovely drape.

if you too would like to look super fashionable, check out the watermark pattern on rav, and take a peek at the whole collection while you're at it (i'm a particular fan of eventide)! or if you're lucky, you can grab a hard copy from your lys! 

the deets:
pattern: watermark by holli yeoh, size 38" (for a 36" bust - the extra ease works fine)
materials: mc - cascade 220 heathers
                 cc - tanis fibre arts' green label in mallard

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

drool-worthy #12 - "road trip" by tin can knits

old growth
tin can knits has been one of my favourite knitwear designers since i really got back into knitting during my undergrad. consisting of alexa and emily, who are based in vancouver and scotland respectively, they always come up with beautiful, practical, well-fitting designs for the entire family. and since we all know how much i adore knits for the wee ones, and how i'm a weirdo who has dreamed about creating matching spawn-and-me outfits, it's no surprise that my latest drool-worthy (after a ridiculously long absence) is their latest collection, road trip, which includes 14 designs inspired by the open road.

apple pie.
i think maybe part of why i love this collection as well is because all the designs make me think of camping in the autumn. which is my favourite time to camp, or do anything really. it's the most beautiful time to wander canadian woods. and then come home to comforting things like the scent of fresh apple pie loaded with cinnamon. i perfected an apple pie recipe before going gluten-free, using fresh valley apples from the apple lady at the old market in halifax. since leaving nova scotia, i haven't had much chance to try out a gluten-free version, but i'm thinking that maybe that needs to change this fall. i just need to hunt down a good source of baking apples…maybe our crabapple tree will be nice to me?

hello, family! seriously, all sizes of hands need cozy handshoes. it's just a bonus when everyone has matching ones. too freaking adorable.

there are four lovely sweaters in this collection (including a steeked one! eek!), but one of the pieces that caught my eye right away was this lovely shawl. maybe (probably) because i knit all of the shawls, or at least try to. it's just so pretty and perfect and wonderful. and gives lovely inspiration to me for fashion show looks. something about that fringe...

grayling. and all the best things about this gorgeous country. my travelling feet are itchy again…

the collection is available for pre-order now, with a couple of the patterns already available. you save a couple bucks with the pre-order, so i'd certainly be an advocate of jumping on that particular train...

Monday, 1 September 2014

playing catch-up

i've been playing catch-up on a number of projects since returning from red clay. it's been a couple of weeks now, and in some ways, i feel like my time in the woods was a lifetime ago. while i was there, it felt like a lifetime passed too. time is a funny, slippery construct. it's a bit arbitrary at times. anyway, one side effect of being in the woods has been a sense of restlessness and constant bursts of creativity. it's wonderful, although sometimes a bit overwhelming just in terms of being able to focus with so many projects running around in my head.

i finally finished off this tiny gramps sweater for my cousin's new baby. this is the second gramps i've made, and i just love the pattern. it's the perfect gender-neutral design with the most adorable little details. pockets and elbow patches and buttons and shawl collars! in miniature! i can barely stand it. i love knitting tiny things for babies and toddlers. everything always turns out adorably just because of the size and scale. (you can see a pic of me cradling the li'l bean on instagram.) my dear friend also sent me a pic a couple of days ago of her wee yogini wearing the hat that i knit! babies in handknits, folks. they're my kryptonite. 

i started working on more designs for the fashion show last week, with help from my kids at camp, and realized pretty quickly that i need to start organizing all those plans a bit better. so i've pulled out an old sketchbook to make separate pages for each design, to be added to as things get sorted out. they're all at very different stages of progress, so i think that this method will be helpful for me to keep an eye on what pieces i'm feeling stronger about or, alternately, that i need to buckle down and work on.

the focus on this is awful. i think it's a combo of my lack of photography skills, the late day light, and the yarn's sparkle.

speaking of the fashion show, i have a whole bunch of wips on the go, and an absolutely ridiculous number in the queue ready to get popped onto needles. first to be finished will be the larger charcoal and green piece, which is my test knit for holli yeoh and sweetgeorgia yarns' tempest knit collection. thank goodness it's a worsted weight piece. the fiery bundle is my third shawl from the pattern i'm set to release next. i absolutely love this design, and while i was home in halifax, i found the most perfect yarn at the loop for one of the fashion show looks - yvieknits' sparkly sock (i can't find the label, so i'm going to call the colourway "fireball" until yvonne corrects me ha). the hand-wound ball is for the surprise knit that i'll be casting on as soon as the prior two are finished. expect a pattern from that within the next two months. and i still totally haven't cast on for my #sskal yet. oops. i did very little knitting at red clay, which was kind of wonderful since it was a lovely experience to not feel like my fingers needed to constantly be doing something, but it does mean that i am now back to working full-time and with a full sweater in this month's queue on top of three shawls, a hat, and two or three pairs of handshoes, with three of those items also requiring design work. oh well, it'll happen somehow. or it won't, and that will be okay too. 

the pattern i'm basing the wedding quilt off of. except i've decided to do it sans pattern. because i'm ridiculous.
the wedding is coming up! not mine, obviously. my friends'. which means i need to get a move on with their gift quilt. i pre-washed all the fabric so that any shrinkage is sorted out before i start sewing. i also picked up a new iron (not expensive, but the irons at home are at least thirty years old and a pain in the ass to clean, plus i figured it'd be smart to get one for the new house since that's where i'll be doing my sewing). so there ya go! now i just need to cut out the pieces, sew the top together, get the batting, and actually quilt the whole thing. by machine, not by hand. obviously. although i do love a good hand-stitch session.

finally, i made wee care packages for the folks who contributed to my fundraising campaign to get to white rabbit. more on those in another post, but i'm pretty pleased with the way they turned out. those postcards all feature photos from my time at red clay. the magic of cardstock and a decent printer! although they'd also be pretty awesome with linocut or stamping or screenprinting too…all of the ideas.

update: since i first wrote this post (days ago, but starting my new job and finishing off my summer contract has proven to be way more time-consuming/exhausting than you'd ever expect, in the loveliest of ways), i finished off the test knit. holli will be launching the book in vancouver at the beginning of october, so i'll have a proper post about the garment at that point. rest assured, tempest knits will be one of your favourite new collections! 

Thursday, 21 August 2014

gratitude in plentitude

i've been reflecting a lot since coming back from nova scotia (since leaving red clay, really), and have been antsy in a restless sort of way that is creative and productive and flighty all at the same time. i'm not sure that any of that makes sense, but one thing that is very clear in my mind is how much gratitude i have for my life right now. when i think of the past year that i've had, i can't help but bless my heart and thank my lucky stars.

this time last year, i was barely making ends meet, finishing my master's degree, moving again, in a shitty situation, and having so much anxiety that it started manifesting in a tight chest and inability to get a full breath and painful lumps under my arms. i had some really shitty things happen, and was scared of being stuck in a situation i wasn't sure how to get out of, and was just generally really unhealthy while trying to convince myself that things were fine. over the winter, i finally broke and then spent months pressing the reset button, hunting for the person i had left behind before moving to the uk and losing myself there. i remembered that person, and knew there were parts still left inside me near the surface of my skin, but there were other parts that i was scared were lost, or buried too deep to bring back out to fresh air. 

humans are resilient creatures though, and i'm happy to report that i'm not an exception to that rule. old and new friends reminded me about things that i cared about, and i started to spend time with people again in happy silences and deep belly laughs. my eye crinkles deepened, and i remembered the little things that i used to do to make myself happy, and i started to do them again. and opportunities popped up, and i followed them, and they worked themselves into these magical situations that nourished my soul.

my white rabbit program profile photo. photo credit to the marvellous brian riley.

and so here i am, one year later. i've been out of school for the first time in my life for a year now. i've spent the summer working at one of my favourite places in the world, with lovely friends and hilarious kids. i've completed my first art residency as a professional artist, or at least not as a student anymore (in the institutional sense of the word), and fallen in love countless times, and spent time recently with some of the most important people in my life, and added a few new people to that list. i'm moving out again and in with my best friend of ten years, and starting a full-time job with benefits that will still leave me so much time to do my own work because i'm used to working on a bajillion things at once and 40 hours each week really isn't that much time, and those hours outside the 40 are even more luscious when i'm not stressing out about making rent each month. and i have so many projects on the go in the most wonderful way, and my body is craving so much nutrition, and my face hurts from smiling most of the time. and there are beautiful creatures in my life. so, so, so many of them. basically, i'm happy. and it's really wonderful. and that doesn't mean i don't have days of melancholy, or bouts of anxiety so intense i feel like my skin will crawl off my bones, or moments where i get incredibly angry about shit that has happened in the past and that i haven't let go of yet. those things all still happen. but i think that they're supposed to. it's a balance. and the balance happens to be tipping more heavily in the eye-crinkles-and-heart-bursting direction these days. and that is fucking beautiful. so thanks, universe, and thank you, beauties in my life. i'm really enjoying my ride through the cosmos these days. and you're a huge part of the reason why. 


Monday, 18 August 2014


i'm back in flatland after a whirlwind visit to utopia, aka the white rabbit residency and open air art festival at red clay studios in upper economy, nova scotia, where i spent a week living and loving on a scale higher than i can remember ever happening before. it's hard for me to describe, especially as i shift back to functioning within normal society (not the easiest, especially given the amount of overstimulation from things reliant on electricity and groups of people larger than thirty). i think that maybe i can't express how much it meant to me, because i don't have the vocabulary for it. the verbal  vocabulary, at least. i have the physical sense memory of emotions and feeling love so strong and vividly for people who were strangers hours beforehand that my heart seemed to want to explode out of my ribcage. and staring at people directly in the eye for the length of a conversation and truly being present for the whole thing and feeling a visceral reaction to the stories they shared. and falling in love so so so easily with so many people in little and not-so-little ways. and then having to return to the rest of my life after that experience, and not really knowing how to do that, and feeling totally overwhelmed by so much sadness and loss and longing, and crying into my friend's arms on his doorstep, and then thinking to myself, i have lived so much in the past week, and that is why this hurts so much, and that is not a bad thing. 

i stopped taking real photos at a certain point - i'm not sure exactly where or why - but you can see quite a few others on instagram as well. and we had a truly wonderful pair join us to provide documentation of all the projects, so once i receive that material, i'll share what i can with you. and you can check out white rabbit's own photos from the week here. in the meantime, here are some photos of my week as a rabbit, and some of the beautiful people i shared it with. the theme of my week seemed to be remnants, of various sorts, physical and otherwise. read into that as you will.

xo ash

my beautiful friend, sara. 

hitchhiking home with this goofball.