Thursday, 30 January 2014

snail mail!

there are few things i enjoy more than getting snail mail. well, ok, there are probably many things i enjoy more, but getting snail mail (that isn't a bill) is definitely one of life's little joys for me. and lately, i've received a bunch! good ol' etsy and ravelry. 

valentine's day is coming up, for those of you who care, and while i'm not someone to put more emphasis on a specific day randomly chosen by the big corporates as an excuse to spend more money (personally, i think you should treat your special whomevers nicely year round), it does happen to fall on the day before the mrs. and my's anniversary. perfect excuse for snail mail! i'll make another post with her wee gifties later, once they've actually arrived in the uk. the cards are super cute. but i will show you the other things i got from the same etsy seller.

remember wit & whistle? well, here are some of the cute things i got from them. 

seriously, how adorable is that?

makes snail mail even more delightful.
also from etsy are these amazing om buttons, which will eventually adorn my levenwick sweater (when i get around to making it…need the yarn first…). i actually first ordered two sets of eight, but when they arrived one button was missing. i sent a message to the seller, and got an immediate response apologizing for it and that another six would be sent out the next morning. 



those six arrived today, along with the extra two charms! i can think of a few people who would fit those charms. maybe add them onto the corner of a shawl or something…anyway, i'll definitely be ordering from bohemian findings again. really lovely supplies at good prices, and the service is wonderful.

and finally, this skein of sweetgeorgia tough sock in stella arrived today too.



the mrs. and i had picked up one skein while we were in paris, and while i love it, you can see that it's quite variegated. not a bad thing, i just tend to wear more semi-solids myself. but the paris yarns that are left are all designated as selfish knits for me or her (besides the skeins that we bought for her niece that have already been used). remember my drool-worthy post with stephen west's rising dawn shawl? i immediately thought of this yarn for it. there's not a regular stockist in winnipeg for sweetgeorgia (wolseley wool gets some in, but not loads, and i haven't noticed yet if there's a regularity to the colours brought in), so i headed to ravelry to see if anyone had it and was willing to destash. lucky me, there was a single skein in stella! and for cheaper even with the shipping! i've decided i'm going to knit with it first, because the yards that are left over i want to make into hexipuffs for the beekeeper's quilt (i'll post about it a little later). and i'd rather know that the hexipuffs come from the skein we brought from paris. i'm sentimental (ridiculous?) like that. 

the wound one is the paris skein. isn't it great?
i restarted with our local wellness centre today. i've been going since i was about ten, but obviously the last 5 or 6 years wasn't really around. i've got a weight-training circuit set up and everything. it's pretty exciting. and the sun is out in force today! it's meant to dip back down again (it's already started), but for one glorious hour, it was the perfect blend of sun and -11 without much wind. that's the kind of winter i love. just cold enough to keep the snow frozen, but not so cold that you have to wear eighteen layers to avoid frostbite.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

drool-worthy #4 - "lila" by carrie bostick hoge

another drool-worthy! hurrah! this time it's a sweater (or jumper, if i'm in the uk) - lila, by carrie bostick hoge (she often does designs for quince & co. and brooklyn tweed). 


anyone who knows me knows that i love my layers. i have the strangest body that is cold to the bones up until a point, at which point i sweat like crazy and get cranky from the heat. this means that i routinely have several layers on, often going from smallest amount of clothing next to my skin to blizzard-worthy weather on top. and there is always some sort of sweater. it's the perfect in between. especially if i've been in the studio (theatre or yoga) and have worked up a sweat only to cool down quickly or stop to write another passage. 


i love this sweater. even though i wear layers, i like for the lower ones to still somehow be visible. this sweater's gentle front swoop does that beautifully, and the wide neck sits gorgeously under the collarbones (which are, in my opinion, one of the sexiest spots on every body). 


also, worsted weight sweaters are the best. they knit up relatively quickly, are a great weight for the variance in canadian seasons, and aren't so hot that you can't wear them for three-quarters of the year. 

the best part? there's a kid's version. find it here






Friday, 24 January 2014

my brain is exploding a little bit

i'm afraid i have no pretty pics for you guys today. i have a couple of things that could feature in a photoshoot, but i was out for most of the good sunlight (having lunch with a friend and finding anniversary gifts, so i'm fine with that). i'm finding that my brain is having a very difficult time lately settling on any one thing for a decent amount of time. and by "decent," i mean enough time to actually accomplish something with said thing, including photography. 

i am so close to the end of the commission. and it's also now where i'm the most lost on it. i had an idea of what i wanted it to look like, but then started knitting it yesterday evening and all those ideas proved to be not so pretty. the i-cord edging was messy, and the edging that i did do is too tight, which means i'm very likely going to be ripping out about 3 hours of work. as soon as i finish the swatch for the top part of the back panel. which i think also isn't going to work. which means pulling out the stitch dictionary (aka the interwebs) and knitting more swatches until i find something that works. blarg. the thing is that, like with theatre/performance, you can't just introduce a brand new vocabulary at the end of your piece just because it's cool on its own. like, if you've done a straight traditional play, and then suddenly throw in some aerial hoop action within the last 15 minutes of the play, it doesn't make sense. it may be the best part of the show, but it just doesn't work within the context. same with knitting. just because a stitch looks gorgeous doesn't mean it works in the context of the full sweater. so that's where i'm at with that.

and because i'm near the end and yet very much not near the end of the commission, i want to make a bunch of other things. like this, and this, and this. which will mean more wips, which will further clutter my brain. i really do want to finish off a bunch of wips before starting something new, i'm just stuck on doing a number of them due to materials/needing a longer needle cable/it's really not a priority so i should just leave it for a while. i'm also trying to rejig all my business stuff, including creating a workable studio-esque space in my parents' house that doesn't get in their way but that works for me for the next few months, writing up a business plan, and really focusing on getting the business off the ground. but i have no regular income at the moment, so i'm also job hunting for something that is short term and won't impact on my need to travel, but that pays well and is fulfilling. which my knitting business does, minus the "pays well" bit. which doesn't work for saving up money for this fall. so my brain is being pulled between focusing on something i actually give a shit about and finding the perfect dream job (not dream career). if you feel like hiring me, by the way, i can do basically anything in the arts/education fields. just sayin'. and my brain is much more compliant when i'm not organizing my own life.

also, my producer and i are currently scrambling to put together all of our paperwork to register as a not-for-profit, find a bunch of grants, and put together this summer tour of shows and workshops. thank goodness i have her. she's more organized than i am, especially at the minute, which means she's able to define exactly what we need to do and i just have to do it. 

so, i feel like i'm doing a hundred things and also nothing at once. i need more structure in my life. working on that. and on emptying my mental to-do list onto some sort of surface that doesn't clutter my gray matter. 

BUT! i'm going to see the mrs. in april. so that's super de duper exciting. hopefully by then i've got my shit more under control and can just relax for a few weeks with her. fingers crossed.


Sunday, 19 January 2014

sometimes it's draining

and by it, i mean politics. and all the things that surround politics, such as the community and safe spaces we carve out in the world with those whose politics we may not totally share, but whose hearts beat to similar drums as our own. 


mondragon is closing at the end of this month. i've been going there since high school, before i was even close to being comfortable with myself (do we ever get totally comfortable with ourselves?) and before i was really committed to any sort of activist lifestyle or causes. fast forward a number of years. i'm more comfortable with myself (ironically, much of that has involved embracing how socially awkward i am and learning coping methods for when my body or mind plays against me), and my career centres on doing activism through performance and art. and mondragon is still the place where i go, to sit, meet with friends, write for hours, and just be. it's been a place where i could always get food, regardless of my dietary issues/restrictions at the time, had my first cup of tea that i actually enjoyed (chai, of course), and also the place where i realized a few years ago just how much being in the company of queers kept my brain and its craziness a little less crazy. 

and now it's closing.

it sucks, and there are reasons for it (i'm sure most of which those of us not in the co-op have no comprehension of), and there are systems and patterns so entrenched that have led to its demise, and the irony that this radical co-op will fall because there's not enough money to live above poverty is bitter. i don't think anyone can blame the co-op members for this decision. it's impressive that the place has lasted for the 18 years that it has. it will be missed sorely, especially by those of us who don't really have other truly safe public spaces to hang out in.

so what to do now? mourn it, heal whatever needs healing, gather more energy if we need it, and then carve out more spaces, physical and otherwise, to share with those whose hearts beat with ours. keep carving until there are so many hearts there we sound like a war. and pure love.

Friday, 17 January 2014

drool-worthy #3 - westknits' rising dawn shawl

i'm sure i've promised several times about photos of the commission and wips, etc. unfortunately, i woke up late today and need to play catch-up with several things, including the commission and sending out some snail mail. and then an old friend is popping by with crafting materials (i'm helping her with a show she's staging next week). so, what better time for another drool-worthy pattern?

photo courtesy of ravelry.
look at that sexy thing. it's stephen west's latest shawl, rising dawn.  if you know me/my knitting, i love slipped stitches almost as much as i love short rows. and then you add a picot edge?? i'm sold. the fact that it also deals with those awkwardly variegated yarns in your stash is just a bonus. (another bonus: he knit it for his mom. how sweet is that?)


stephen west has been one of my top favourite designers since i really got into knitting. his groove shawl was the first really big project i made (it was for an ex, so i have no idea where it's at these days unfortunately). stephen's brilliant, plays with colour and texture in mind-blowing ways, uses really clever alternative shaping methods, and is a dancer by trade. and his favourite country is (i think still) the same as mine - iceland. did i mention that he's only two years older than me? yup, that's a bit annoying.

a long view of my groove shawl. can you believe i took a decent photo so long ago? total fluke.
anywho, suffice to say that i will always love his designs. and this pretty baby (which is of course now in my queue) is part of a new collection that he's currently releasing. you can order the full collection on ravelry now and get the pattern updates as they're released. i'd highly suggest it, for both experienced knitters and new knitters alike. stephen's patterns are always well-written and easy to follow on top of being innovative, making him the ideal designer to try out if you're a) an experienced knitter who's bored with the usual stuff or b) a new knitter who wants to try out something beyond just the basics. i'm of the opinion that many knitters never learn new skills because it looks too tricky, like using circular needles instead of straights. but y'know what? knitting really comes down to two pointy sticks and some string. even if you're using dpns, you're only ever knitting with two at a time. and trying something new is fun in all its terrifying newness. so try it out. maybe something crazy will happen, like circular needles becoming your new favourite thing or picot edges becoming your go-to bind off. and then tell me how it goes (or better yet, show me a picture). 

seriously, it's so pretty.



Thursday, 16 January 2014

not really a tutorial, or, what happens when i get up too early

i was meant to go to a coffee meeting today, but mama nature had another plan apparently. you wouldn't know it by the sun outside, but we've got some crazy winds happening, and this morning it was combined with more snow. a mini-blizzard, if you will. so, i was up early and stuck inside with cabin fever (it's been climbing, to be honest). i also had that hood that needs to get packed and posted. upon confirming that i had left all my tags in the uk, and that we had none at home, my dad suggested i make some. this is what happened.

one folder made 15 tags and one template.
whilst making strange noises (pretty typical when i'm crafting or focused on a task that doesn't involve direct interaction with other people), i took an old file folder, cut up a template, and proceeded to trace and cut a bunch of tags. then i hole-punched them to allow for ribbon/raffia attachment, stamped them with my logo, and grabbed a skinny sharpie to write on my etsy address and care instructions (only a couple have these so far, since the care instructions can vary a wee bit per item i tend to make). 


so, there you go. that's by far been the most productive thing i've done so far today, but it's pretty good i think. the next time you realize you're in need of gift/product tags, try upcycling an old file folder. just remember to hold onto your template for the next next time.

*update: i did make a call and then emailed the arts council, which was very official of me. then i grabbed a colouring book.

another update: i really want to start on tiny owl knit's beekeeper's quilt. i feel like maybe it'll help when i get fidgety like today during longer projects. if you have remnants of sock yarn or actual mini skeins kicking around in your stash and you want to declutter, get at me (etsy's probably the easiest if you don't actually know me). i would love some snail mail, especially if it's filled with yarn goodies. all colours welcome (i love semi-solids), and i'll knit with pretty much anything except acrylic.*

this is stephanie's original quilt. seriously, how cool is this? and just think, you could help me make one...

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

greater days

the mrs. flew out yesterday, which sucks. i'll be going to see her in a couple of months, but the long distance is definitely something i could do without. also got news that the grant application i put in a month ago didn't get approved, and then i slept through my alarm this morning and so missed a skype meeting with my theatre company colleagues. annoying, given that we're dealing with 6 and 7 hour time zone differences to begin with. so, the last couple of days haven't been the greatest. 

but enough of the complaining. 

last night at about 1am, i suddenly had a burst of creative energy. i wanted to do and make everything. dreams of painting inspirational signs, knitting awesome things, sewing cool stuff, getting tattoos, writing everything, doing all of the yoga, drinking all of the tea. it was a great burst, just came at an inconvenient time (i wasn't about to go hunting through the office for painting supplies). it's still pretty fun though. also, i ordered some awesome things from wit and whistle on etsy. valentine's day stuff and things to make snail mail a wee bit more exciting than it already is. i'll take a pic when they arrive so you can admire them too. 

basically the best sign for any artistic person/space ever. £11.23 from wit and whistle on etsy.

my commission is coming along nicely as well. 28 hours in (knitting time, not real time) and i've got the back panel finished. i'll take a pic on a sunnier day. the clouds have control of the skies today. i'm moving on to the side panels/sleeves today, which means it's time to pull out the tissue paper and start shaping! 

here's a pic of one of the mrs.'s xmas gifts. it's the my dear pattern from claire garland on ravelry. pretty damn adorable, if i do say so myself. 



also, because i'm a bit adhd with my knitting projects (most of us are, right?), i decided to cast on the amy march's slippers by tiny owl knits. why? because i wanted slippers and knew i'd have more than enough eco+ from my winterberry shawl left over to make them, and this pattern is super quick. i love basically all of stephanie's patterns, although i'm not sure how many i can wear in public unless i'm with my hippie friends or in the woods. knits are great for the woods though, so we're fine. probably her best known pattern is the beekeeper's quilt, which is totally on my to-knit list. i'm going to hunt down some scrap leather to cut into soles and sew onto the bottoms so the slippers don't wear down so quickly, and to lessen the amount of dog hair i track around.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

antique finds and new projects

guys, guys, guys, look at these pretty puppies!

aren't they amazing? they're antique wooden sock blockers that i grabbed a couple of days ago when the mrs. and i went to the forks. in the basement of the johnston terminal is this massive antiques market. some of the stuff is bizarre, some of the stuff is amazing, some of it is way overpriced, and then there were these. the mrs. and i spotted them at the same time and said, "look!" she's not as much of a knitter as me, but she's picked up a heck of a lot since we've been together, and she gets just as excited about stuff like this (or at least in pointing them out to me). i don't think i'll risk actually using them, as the water damage from past socks have split the wood at both toes and stained them up to a few inches below the tops, but my dad did point out that they'd make a great template for cutting my own. then i can just hang these as decor in my studio space(s). so neat!

speaking of studio spaces, the mrs. and i were trolling buzzfeed's diy section last night and we found this brilliant idea. so clever! why spend loads of money on those chalkboard sticker things when you can just paint a space that fits your needs with chalkboard paint? definitely going to be doing this. mum was planning on redoing my room anyway, but maybe i can sneak this in. i'll paint it over before i head back to the uk...

fyi: i've used chalk ink pens and find they're not that great unless it's a horizontal surface, and then it's just kind of ok. maybe they're like normal pens that don't like lefties?

in other news, i finished off that hood commission i posted about in my last post and have started on the big commission. isn't it pretty? i've really only just started on it, but it's already looking so lovely. if you're loving the cables, it's the seraphine shawl/wrap from brooklyn tweed. i'm using it as the base for a loose cardigan/shrug thing, but am keeping the cabled back panel the same. pretty soon i'm going to have to pull out the tissue paper and start fashioning some pieces to figure out the rest of the construction, but you can keep it simple and just make the wrap if you like. it's gorgeous, and the pattern is incredibly well-written. the cables are only charted, but it's pretty simple to catch onto once you get it set up. it's pretty straightforward and intuitive if you've done cables before. 

Sunday, 5 January 2014

all of the knits!

so you know how i was complaining the other day about having no job? not so much the case anymore. i'm still technically unemployed, but a knitting commission got sorted and is going to be big, payment- and size-wise. i'm really excited about it. it's a gorgeous design for a lovely person, through an old family friend, and i get to knit with good yarn (always a plus). 

malabrigo rios in plomo.
i'll be posting more pics as i work on it, but it will involve really gorgeous cables and a modern look. i also have two other commissions on my needles and in my queue, so my own projects are on the back-burner for a bit.

this is slowly becoming a hood.
in other knitting news, wolseley wool is having a january sale! the mrs. kept me in check, but i did snag 4 skeins of cascade eco+ to knit the girasole blanket (it'll look like a great big sunflower!) and one hank of sweetgeorgia panda fibre to eventually spin on the spinning wheel. i want to get better at spinning before using it though. 

eco+ for a massive blanket! and sweetgeorgia panda in hummingbird.

fun fact: i got a message today saying that this photo was requested as a feature photo for the original pattern on ravelry! (i modified it a fair amount because i was knitting 15 projects in 8 weeks, so mine is shorter than the actual pattern.)


my ridiculous face. pretty sure i had bed-head under that hat...
learning how to price myself as a knitter (and artist in general) is difficult, and awkward. i'm starting to get better with it though, and learning that asking for payment that actually reflects the time and effort i've put into something is ok, and actually more than appropriate. i'm still a huge fan of energy trades, but in cases where someone is able to pay me for my work, being able to pay my bills and invest money back into myself and my businesses is important too. 

Thursday, 2 January 2014

resolutions and such-like

happy 2014, y'all. i realize i'm a couple days late to the mark, but hey, it's the holidays still. and i'm prioritizing spending time with the mrs. and my family. also desperately trying to find sources of income, and i actually have had a couple land in my lap in the past few days, which is a blessing. i need more though. if the world could return to the barter network, i think i'd do better. until then, having a regular source of income would be more than slightly exciting.

last year was the first time that i really bothered with new year's resolutions. they were just never really a thing for me before that. i can't remember what made last year different. i found them recently and i think i actually managed to tick all of them off, to varying degrees. it was nice to see that i actually accomplished more than i expected of myself (i have a terrible habit of making goals or plans and never getting around to them, or at least not completing them). 

so, i figured i should try it again this year. 

2013 was a year of many beginnings and endings, including the beginning of both of my companies (sunflower knit and curiouser theatre <- that one isn't technically mine, it's just a brainchild that luckily has found other parents to join in on the fun), the ending of my school years for the foreseeable future, and a whole lot of travel. i spent my birthday in paris, my summer on two continents, and officially became a master of the arts, while losing a good chunk of my affection for academia. yoga also became both a more important and less regular part of my life, which i would like to remedy this year.

my resolutions for this year are a mix of tangible goals and more philosophical dreams. they are, in no particular order:
-get back to a daily yoga practice, adding in some meditation 
-learn how to kick up into handstand
-knit more things that i enjoy, and stress myself out less with knitting deadlines
-continue to travel
-start my yoga training (?)
-expand both companies - artistically, business-wise, geographically, and socially
-get back to the music
-play more in every way 
-find my love of nutrition again - i know it's good for me, and i enjoy it, so it's just a matter of reigniting that passion in the kitchen
-get better at photography
-express myself more fully
-be kinder, to myself and to others
-find that gratitude and embrace it sincerely
-more poetry, in every part of my life
-breathe more openly
-save some money. nest eggs are nice, and not stressing over bills is even better.

so there we go. i hope you're all having a lovely new year so far. it's freezing here, but the soup pot is hot and the knitting needles are clicking away, as always. 

with love,
ash

*extra resolution - maybe grow a sunflower or two...*