Wednesday, 28 October 2015

early winter bus-y-ness

so, after finishing when nature fought back and manitoba fibre fest, i purposely scheduled myself with a few major projects spread out over the next 1-2 years (yes, i know), and have semi-promised myself not to take on any other large-scale projects during that time. and i've actually said no to medium/large-sized projects that others have asked me to join in on, which is a little bit shocking because i typically want to join in on all of the things. i realized earlier this year though that if i just tag along on a project, all i do is take time away from things i really care about and run myself into the ground. collaborations are my favourite way of working, but i need to work in a group where everyone is equally dedicated, or at the very least where i am totally committed.

part of the reason for limiting my larger-scale projects is because i get to throw a bunch of short-term or one-off projects into the mix! i realize that technically, a bunch of small projects ultimately add up to probably just as much time as the larger projects, but don't tell that to my brain. november and december will be pretty busy. first up, i'll be dyeing up a special order for wolseley wool's annual retreat. i got the bases last week and have been dyeing up some new surprises for them. i have a new naturally dyed item that will debut at the retreat, and then be available in-person only after the retreat.

i'll be doing a little pop-up at wolseley wool after the retreat. i'm not 100% what day it will be yet, but i'll have yarn available, including more of those surprise retreat debuts! and gradient cakes, since everyone seems to love those.

and then, on december 12 and 13, i'll be hosting a studio sale at my house! the first annual ruby street studios holiday open studio sale (what a mouthful) will run over the second weekend of december, 10-4 each day. i'll obviously be there with naturally dyed yarn and fibre and patterns and notions, and i'm stoked to be joined by some of my favourite local fibre artists - mel will be there with her dolls and fibre art jewelry and kami goertz will be there with her fantastic creatures. there will be a little bit of coming and going based on everyone's schedules, and hopefully other artists will also be joining us. i'll have more details in the upcoming weeks. but it should be a delightful time, and i definitely intend on having a crock pot full of mulled cider simmering for you.

if you're wondering where to find a nice little listing of all the events i'm doing, check out my new makerspace on the textile museum of canada's making makers website! this is a really fantastic initiative, and the website is just awesome. super easy to navigate, and full of brilliant canadian minds and makers. i am very happy to have ruby street studios listed on there. 

oh, and somewhere in all of this i'll be releasing two mini baby collections, plus a super squishy unisex cowl, finishing off my first course in the arts and cultural management program, and sewing some stuff for my wardrobe and for xmas gifts. and working 9-5. i love it. 

Sunday, 18 October 2015

loved - a hand-made tale

this past week's theme for the slow fashion october challenge is "loved." there are many items in my wardrobe that i love and have loved over the years, items that were made with love or gifted with love or purchased with love (beyond just the usual lust). the most consistent items in my wardrobe, though, are my rings, and since i just recently added two new ones to my collection, what better time to tell a little tale about them?

i wear my rings every single day. i never leave the house without them. it's been like this for about six years now. over the years, a few of the rings have traveled between fingers, and a rare few have completely changed. i don't feel the need to share each ring's full story, and to be honest, not all of them have incredibly complex or detailed stories. some of them are simple. here are some of their tales.

left-hand thumb: i am an anxious creature. while i now use my knitting to calm down my anxious self, i didn't always feel so comfortable knitting in public. which meant fidgety hands. the top ring is actually a spinner ring, which meant i could transfer all that nervous energy into fidgeting with the spinner in a slightly less conspicuous manner. it only squeaks a little. the bottom ring has a message etched inside: "be here now." i'm often in my head, which is great for creativity, but i am also trying to exist more in the present moment. it is an ongoing practice. an ironic part of its tale is that i lost it for a number of weeks following a yoga nidra meditation practice.

left-hand index finger: kristan macintyre made me this beautiful knitter's row counter ring. i love it for so many reasons. it is the perfect functional knitter's accessory.

left-hand middle finger: my oldest ring. i bought it five years ago during a summer in winnipeg. it is amethyst and mother-of-pearl, handcrafted by a manitoban artist. the shop i bought it from, artifacts, recently closed after 23 years in business.

right-hand thumb: this ring is a funny one. i bought it following a break-up, because the ring my now-ex had given me was returned to its owner and i couldn't stand the feeling of my bare finger. it added to the heartbreak. i bought this ring to replace it, and while it didn't really fit, it did the trick. it has traveled across multiple fingers now, lost part of a branch, and is nowhere near a circular shape anymore. someone close to me referred to it as a placeholder, not in a negative way. he's right.

right-hand index finger: this is one of my nanny's rings. i've inherited three of them in the years since she passed. my nan had arthritic fingers and thumbs that we joked would never work for hitchhiking because of how they bent at the joints. the arthritis meant that she had to switch out rings over the years. we think this ring is probably an anniversary gift from my poppy. it has nine small diamonds, engraving along the band, and a small gap in the engraving that seems to be from an extension made by someone who knew what they were doing. it's the only ring that never comes off, even when i shower or do the dishes.

right-hand ring finger: another one of nanny's rings, and the first one i inherited. it's a beautiful cameo, and the only gold metal i wear. it was the ring to first move the placeholder, and fits perfectly on that finger.

Monday, 12 October 2015

when nature fought back and the knitter punks

it's a blustery day in the neighbourhood on this long weekend monday, and i am curled up inside with studying (someone remind me again why i decided to go back to school) and yarn i would prefer to be knitting. i just finished a new design last night that has several test knitters already, which is rather exciting, and i'm back to the second baby collection i've been working on. but something else on my to-knit list is a harvest moon for ashtyn! so i thought, hey, why not do a knit-a-long so i have a proper deadline to stick to? so i give to you: the when nature fought back kal

photo by leif norman.
the rules: knit any pattern from the collection (there's a whole sixteen to choose from!), and have the project completed by end of day on december 1st. 

photo by leif norman.
the points: accessories count for 1 point; growth, guard hairs, and faultline count for 2 points; harvest moon counts for 3 points because it's so huge. anything not completed by december 1 still gets props, but i unfortunately can't enter half a name into the prize draw. oh yeah, 1 point = 1 entry into the prize draw. i will draw the winning names on december 2 and announce them on social media then.

photo by leif norman.
how to play: use the hashtags #sunflowerknit, #whennaturefoughtback, and most crucially, #wnfbkal (aka "when nature fought back knit-a-long") on instagram and ravelry so i can track your entries. all completed projects need to have a photo either shared on the ravelry fo board or, if you don't have rav, emailed to me ( to be considered for the draw. please include your contact information so i can connect with you if you win!

the prizes: there will be three prizes!

perfect sweater dyed with indigo.

  1. your choice of three patterns from the collection
  2. a skein of perfect sweater, my naturally dyed worsted weight yarn, in your favourite colour
  3. a surprise of perfect sweater in my choosing and your choice of deep roots, undertow, or dirty paws
what makes this all even better? there's a coupon code coming out later today! i happen to adore sylvia and jocelyn of the knitter punks podcast, so we've teamed up to have an exclusive code for their listeners. head on over to listen to the latest episode (number 12!) of the knitter punks, and you'll get a code for one free pattern of your choosing from the collection. imagine, you could technically get 4 free patterns by the end of all of this if you're lucky! sometimes i question my business practices…anyway, i hope you'll join us, and don't forget that more finished projects means more entries into the prize draw! deep roots in everyone's stockings this year!  

Thursday, 8 October 2015

slow fashion october

following on the heels of my last post, it seems appropriate that this month is #slowfashionoctober. it's being led by the lovely karen of fringe association, and i'm loving the prompts and thoughts and intentions behind all of it. i'm a bit slow to the mark (ah, the irony), but here are my thoughts and goals for this month. and some recap photos of my slow fashion outfits that i've worn so far this month. may i say before we get started: hallelujah for red lipstick. it is the best femme accessory besides a kick-ass glare for creeps and large rings.

from head to toe: take two, growth, second wiksten, undertow
fall is my absolute favourite time of year. it's the perfect layering weather, which means more handknits! i'm notorious for rarely making (re: finishing) selfish projects, so i have half-made tops and sweater patterns and cut-out sewing patterns without the fabric lying all over my house. but i do tend to finish accessories, probably because they're quicker. and in the case of knitwear, require less frequent washing...

concentration face. from head to toe: take two, indigo top from kelly ruth wearable, project bag by anna hunter, button skirt by velvet plume, undertow
sewing is something i wish i did more of. i love making my own clothes, even though sometimes i find the actual process tedious and/or frustrating (usually because i sew super last-minute and have thread breaking at 2am when i need to be up and out the door in the outfit by 7am...). i love my wiksten dress pattern because it's a super quick sew, looks great, and i know the tricks to make it even quicker if i need it in a hurry (like i did for fibre fest). so when mel told me about seamwork mag, from colette patterns, i was stoked. for basically the cost of netflix each month ($6 us), you get two pdf patterns each month. sometimes they're clothes, sometimes they're accessories. and if you don't like a particular pattern, you can swap it out for one of their back issue patterns! i'm trying it out and seeing if i can't add some more me-sewn items into my wardrobe, starting with the akita top. and maybe sewing for some other people to practice that too.

from head to toe: mess in time for leaves, first wiksten, gather mitts, undertow
there are some really fantastic conversations happening right now as a result of slow fashion october. about choice, and priorities, and privilege, and not shaming ourselves or others for wherever we fall on the spectrum of making slow and ethical. as always, everything is so much more complicated than just "the best (only) way to do slow properly is to source absolutely everything local/ethically/eco-consciously/organic/raise all the fibre yourself from scratch and process it and weave or spin and knit or sew and also make all the notions from the debris in your backyard." (i would just like to say, i wish wish wish that i could do that last part, if only for the sheer nerdiness of it all.) shit is not so simple, nor black and white. god, how i love the grey. i encourage you all to follow the tag on instagram, read the blog posts, and listen to the podcasts. technology is an incredible source of community and conversation nowadays.

my favourite for fall is mixing super femme with plaid. head to toe: flopster, deer heart, handmade quartz necklace, dress from my poppy's small town of 1300, secondhand plaid, gather mitts, undertow
a little bonus aka a glimpse into my planning process: my twinsy is getting married sometime next year to her sweetheart (who did hands-down the best proposal ever - all the twinsy brownie points for that one, jenn), and i will be travelling to ontario for the celebrations whenever they happen. obviously this means making my outfit, because i don't seem to do fancy events without giving myself grand aspirations for me-made outfits and then shoving them into the last minute. the planning always happens months in advance, though. someday i'll get better with time management. anyway, i'm knitting myself a shawl and my date a matching pocket square, and plan on sewing the elisalex dress from by hand london. turns out the pattern went out of print (you can still get the pdf version, but i actually really hate working from pdf patterns and would much rather spend the extra money on a printed copy), so i couldn't find a copy in canada. but fancy tiger crafts still had it! so i ordered it from them and am waiting on it to appear. i have some bee-print dress canvas that i got back at ray stitch in london, so i'll do a test version out of that before making the actual wedding version. i'm also going to make their wedding gift. seriously, weddings to me are just great excuses for a lot of crafting and making. so someday in the future, you'll see photos of me in that me-made outfit, with probably other me-made elements thrown in there. especially since i've managed to create a mini-collection out of it as of last night...

Monday, 5 October 2015


i was slow-moving today, slowly resettling into my house and catching up on the things that have been neglected recently - dishes, cleaning the bathroom, mopping the kitchen floor. things that are maybe not so glamourous, and that i didn't used to care so much about, but which now i really appreciate within my own living space. i'm also slowly reorganizing after manitoba fibre fest, photographing the yarn that came home with me to add it to etsy over this week.

perfect sweater in the etsy shop.

i have had the most incredible past few weeks, getting amped up for and finally executing the photo shoot for when nature fought back and then attending manitoba fibre festival. it's been amazing and wonderful and also absolutely exhausting. a friend dropped by the festival on friday night, after i'd been up and in "work mode" for about 12 of an eventual 15 hours that day, and i was telling her how my face hurt from smiling. she suggested taking "frown breaks", which turned out to be just perfect. it's not even that i was faking my smiles, it's just that i was in such an adrenaline-paced mode by that point that i wasn't able to release the smiling muscles in my face. 

perfect sweater in the etsy shop.
i came to the realization this weekend while talking to friends that i've been in "go" mode since the spring. i haven't really taken a break in about six months - it's just been project after project. my evenings and days off from my 9-to-5 have been filled with events and prep work and deadlines. which is incredible, because i've loved 90% of it, and 100% of it recently, but it's still a bit ridiculous. so today i embraced the slow. i putskied around my house to get little chores done, and returned to non-when nature fought back designs that have been set aside in recent weeks. 

perfect sweater in the etsy shop.
it's not like the long-term will be slow, of course - i'll be placing a bases order later this week for dyeing that needs to be done over the next six weeks or so, i'm finally able to start planning my holiday open studio sale for december, i can start conceptualizing the first fridays exhibition for manitoba craft council, i have two mini baby collections to get out between now and the winter holidays, i'm getting organized for my next big collection, and i have two new collaborative conceptual projects as a result of this weekend that will be happening in the next couple of years. but right now, my deadlines are being measured in months and years instead of days, and so that allows for some slow. which is just delicious.

perfect sweater in the etsy shop.

if you missed it, i was on tv on friday morning as part of fibre fest. you can check it out here if you'd like a laugh.