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.