Thursday, 31 December 2015

glance back, step forward

this will be the third year in a row that i look back on my year and plan some resolutions for the upcoming one. the rule of three is a good one in my books, and 2015 has certainly been an incredible year for me.

last year's resolutions were as follows (i've crossed out the ones i accomplished, or at least worked on a lot):
-host at least two shows this year (art/fibre/performance)
-finally get my half-sleeve…i've been planning it for five years now
-dance more often
-cultivate the openness i felt at my residency last summer
-do more residencies
-collaborate with inspiring people
-learn the ukulele? (this one is dependent on when i get Ășlfur back)
-indulge in all aspects of food - the growing, the prep, the eating, even the clean-up
-do things that make me happy, and reevaluate things that don't
-listen to my gut
-continue playing with and learning about natural dyes
-find the ritual in the everyday
-work on my photography skills
-escape to the woods more often

-fix up my website and actually keep it up-to-date
-get better at grant writing
-love my feet (this is an ongoing process)
-learn to drive…again

not too shabby! of course, a lot of this can always continue, but i'd say 2015 was pretty damn great. you can go listen to my latest podcast episode if you want to hear a bit more detail of the major things i did this year.

A photo posted by Ash Alberg (@sunflowerknit) on

my resolutions and goals for 2016 are as follows (like i said, a lot of last year's can carry over too):
-publish my first book
-finish at least six selfish knits
-cull my wardrobe to items i really love and wear, with as much of it me-made or handmade as possible
-refine my sewing skills with large and small projects
-relearn how to balance eating healthy with crazy working deadlines
-get my septum pierced (i've been thinking about it for about three years)
-reconnect with my body regularly
-keep at least one plant alive for the length of its natural season
-engage in everyday ritual
-love openly in all aspects
-continue growing self-awareness without self-judgement
-use my colouring book
-take time off without feeling guilty (this can be five minutes, an hour, a day...)
-stay on top of my emails and communications
-check my bank account regularly to help with financial management
-say yes more, and also not be afraid to say no
-go on more nerdy friend dates
-make tiny coven collective a thing

2016 will be a good year full of projects, i know and feel it already. i have a large project in the realm of my conceptual craft practice that i'll be able to reveal in the coming weeks. the book will take up most of the year with its various steps. i'm hoping to have my program in arts and cultural management totally completed by next december. several shows and collaborations are already in the planning/scheduling stages, and i'm crossing my fingers that tiny coven collective gets off to a good start. and i'll finally get back to nova scotia after a year and a half away from it. watching it from afar, there's a lot that makes me happy about not currently living there, but there are a lot of people who i love and miss who are still there, and i always always always miss the ocean. it's an ongoing ache in the centre of my bones. visiting the waves and feeling the salt on my skin this spring will be a really beautiful experience. 

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

me-made wardrobe 2016

it's nearly time for my annual reflections post, but first, i figured now is as good a time as any to talk about other resolutions for next year: my slow fashion wardrobe goals for 2016. i'm not sure how many of them will actually come to fruition, but currently this is what i would like to accomplish over the coming 12 months when it comes to adding to my wardrobe.


i've had this shirt on my needles since 2013. it's so close to being done! i just never get around to dealing with it because, well, it's a selfish knit, and my design deadlines have been so ridiculous lately that it's just never a priority. but i do really love it already, and it will probably only take a couple of days and some blocking to finish up. so i will hopefully get around to it after i deal with the book's knits. maybe i'll take it on the airplane with me when i go out east in march. it would make for some good plane knitting, and probably be finished over the course of the flights.

i bought this sweater's worth of rios in 2014 with the intention of knitting myself a lila with it. someone's instagram post about their own lila recently made me feel like that should go to the front burner. it's a pattern i know i could whip out over about a week if i really needed it, and the sweater construction would be a good reminder for me. regardless of whether it's lila, hana hou, levenwick, or escher (or maybe all of them!), i would really like to knit at least one selfish sweater for myself this year from someone else's pattern. working from other people's patterns is one of the most useful tools i have as a designer because i learn so much from working through each one, but i haven't had the opportunity to do it for a while because my own design work takes priority. but i know it would be beneficial for both my wardrobe and my skill set to continue working from other people's patterns, so hopefully i can squeeze in at least one sweater in 2016.

i bought this yarn only a few weeks ago, and have a design in mind for it that i've been wanting to do for ages. i'm adding on one of grace's buttons too. it'll be a design first and foremost, but it's also then going to quickly find its way into my everyday wardrobe. mwah ha.

there is totally not a theme of purple happening here at all...nope, not even a little bit.


all of the wikstens! i love this pattern a lot and have already sewn two of the dresses. i'm going to sew another for the photoshoot, and i will probably sew another one on top of that. they're quick, a great way to use a multitude of fabrics, and a fabulous wardrobe staple when it comes to the way i layer.

i have a slightly ridiculous obsession with vogue patterns...

i have a substantial backside, which i have come to love, but it means that dresses that start off at just the right length don't need to shrink by very much to suddenly become more of a tunic that has a very high likelihood of riding up. i always wear either shorts or yoga pants under my dresses anyway, so it's not that big of a deal, but a number of the dresses recently have really become tunic length. and i just can't quite get myself into the whole leggings-as-pants thing. so i think sewing these pants out of a lovely darker linen will save some of that - they have pockets, i can practice sewing pants (a fear of mine) out of something not too terribly fitted, and then i can at least say i'm wearing pants under my dresses/tunics/now-it's-really-just-a-long-top. 

i'm sewing myself an elisalex for my twinsy's wedding, which is thankfully still ages away. i ordered the actual fabric i'll be making it out of, so up first will be a muslin using some stash fabric i've had forever, then getting mel to help me figure out the exact fit and any mods i may want to make, and then i'll make the actual dress. 

ohhh lulu is one of my favourite lingerie pattern designers. 

i want to sew more lingerie for myself. that shit is expensive, and if i can get the black lace myself (ahem...or if i already have a massive bag of various types of black lace in my stash), why not make some of it? it'll improve my sewing skills, it doesn't involve having to deal with either the mall or hunting down a small boutique, and maybe someday i'll get good enough to not have to buy any lingerie! other people can maybe buy me some sometimes. lingerie as a gift can be great, if the circumstances are right and the person doing the buying is smart about it. 

i'm subscribed to seamwork by colette patterns (and now so is mumsy!), so i'm sure i'll have random projects that pop up through that over the year. 

other stuff

i want to make more things with bones, and go on foraging hunts for bones and dye stuffs, and just generally make all the beautiful things. so we'll see. the more money i save by working through my stash and foraging in the woods, the more i can save! or put towards new ink. or both.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015


i can't believe i haven't already mentioned this on here yet, but my first professionally published pattern is now available! reflect is available in amirisu's issue 9: winter blues, or individually here on ravelry.

photo courtesy of amirisu magazine.
the design was inspired by a workshop i took back in the spring with sylvia olsen on the coast salish tradition of colourwork. the herringbone border is worked using that method, which involves weaving in your yarns rather than carrying floats. much faster and more intuitive in my experience, and doesn't involve tangled cakes of yarn or too-tight tension. the main body knits up fast with a slipped stitch repeat that looks like vertebrae in worsted weight yarn. i used julie asselin's amazingly gorgeous leizu worsted in fjord with a border in touareg and birch

photo courtesy of amirisu magazine.
i had a great time working with miyoko and the rest of the amirisu team on this one. they took such incredible photos of it! and that model's style is on point.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

taking time, and making time

i've been in go-go-go mode for so long, i can't quite remember the last time i took a proper moment to sit and focus on only one (major) project. after this weekend, that's my plan. at least for a couple of weeks.

last friday was the opening for my when nature fought back exhibit at manitoba craft council. i had a great time, and want to extend a huge thanks to the 57 folks who came through over the evening, my mum for helping out with running errands and just generally being awesome, tammy and corrie for having me, and to mel for being my host and also my social buffer for the evening ha. large social events as an introvert are interesting and frequently exhausting exercises, but they're also great. the exhibit is up until january, so pop by during office hours if you can!

my body, of course, decided to start relaxing as soon as the exhibit ended, which doesn't exactly work for me because i still have to be functional until after this weekend. and when my body relaxes after a project, it also tends to shut down because it's worn out. i've been in constant nearly-nap mode for the past few days despite work, selling at fa la la!, and getting to spend five hours helping a friend do hardware install on one of his projects (invaluable experience, because i still don't really get the electronics side of things and hands-on experiences will help cement that in my brain and muscles). this weekend will be the last big push with the ruby street studios holiday sale, and then i can chill for a little bit and focus on only one thing - knitting the samples for my first book.

for those of you who tuned into the first episode of my podcast (a new exercise i started last week and which i'll be attempting to put out consistently for at least the next few months), you already know about my book plans. but for those of you who haven't heard yet, i'm writing a book. it'll be a book of knitting patterns, available in e-book and also hard copy form, and i'm planning to release it next fall. i'll be able to talk a little bit more about it in april, after spending time with my dear one in nova scotia and doing the photoshoot for it in march along the bay of fundy. but until then, you just need to know that i'm working on a book, that it's the focus of my knitting time over the next few months, and that you'll be able to get your hands on it sometime next year.

i also received some news last night which i can't share with you yet (probably not until january, actually), but it's incredibly exciting and will allow me to take my conceptual craft practice in a whole new direction. it will be big, and juggling it and the book will probably get rather interesting. which brings me to my next point...

i've been thinking about how to balance my time better (i'm actually signed up for a webinar this friday with tara swiger on exactly that subject). the reality of my current situation is that i work a 40-hour work week outside of my home, completely unrelated to my personal practice, and when you factor in the travel time, it's really more like 50 hours that i lose every week. which is fine, because it pays my bills and forces me to not be a hermit and is teaching me skills that are useful in other aspects of my life. but it also means that i have significantly less time to devote to the various threads of my practice. and so i have to prioritize. which i am not always good at, but i need to try, purely out of necessity. so.

i'm keeping the etsy shop closed over the holidays (it's closed right now anyway because of the studio sales). after the holidays, i'll reopen it, but i'm not going to worry about keeping it regularly stocked. maintaining a full and comprehensive etsy shop is a lot of work, and realistically, i don't really sell my yarn much online. i'll continue making stock for in-person sales, and fill wholesale orders, and i'll keep some undyed bases on stock so that if someone wants to place a custom order, i can fill it quickly. this will save me countless hours of photographing and listing orders that basically sit on an online shelf until i sell them in-person, and then i have to remember to pull them from the shop. because natural dyes mean i can't just repeat colourways in a consistent manner, i need to photograph every single item that goes in the shop, and i just don't have time for that these days. so this is the solution, at least for now.

so in the new year, if you want to order corrie, or perfect sweater, or mermaid hair, or ecoprints or gradients or 80/20 sock, you absolutely still can. and you can order regular or large stitch markers too. but i'll be doing dyed-to-order instead for the yarn, and hopefully that works better for all of us. and if you want a set of five of hearts, don't forget to ask your lys to place a wholesale order. they can grab some mermaid hair at that point as well (those are the two options available for wholesale orders, just fyi).