travelling shoes: toronto and ewe knit

i’m in ontario for a working trip right now, and for the first time in several years, i'm spending much of my trip in hotel rooms. which, to be totally honest, is kind of fantastic. i love couchcrashing for a lot of reasons (spending time with people i care about, having access to a kitchen, having a "home base" that is actually a home, saving money), but especially for these work trips lately, i'm appreciating having a space to go back to at the end of the day where there is literally no one else i have to deal with other than myself. i can stack the mini fridge with whatever i want, watch terrible tv without feeling any guilt about not socializing more, and in this case, i'm able to easily get to everything i need or want to do because of how central i am. big thanks to mama t for hooking me up!

my trip is primarily centred around the create: now summit and working with upper canada fibreshed, so i decided to take my first day in town as a day solely focused on getting settled, not scheduling anything with anyone else and just getting myself nestled into the next few days of my always-busy life. semi-conveniently, there's not free wifi in the hotel rooms, so i can't even distract myself with doing loads of online paperwork (hurrah for pre-writing blog posts and newsletters in word ha!). i've had time to create a groove in my duvet, pick up groceries to reduce my need to eat out, work on a new design, and - the highlight of the day - get myself over to ewe knit!

i've been to a lot of toronto's numerous yarn stores, but ewe knit was a new-to-me lys that i stumbled across on instagram and knew i needed to visit. not only do they have beautiful yarns, but they also carry a huge range of fabrics, kits, and beautiful books. i love when networking coincides with hanging out around pretty things! caroline helped me out while i was there after i found the end of a bolt of a mustard cotton seersucker from merchant & mills i'd been drooling over for a few months and a super soft linen/rayon blend that will make the prettiest ogden.

the fabric selection is gorgeous, especially for a shop that doesn't solely focus on it, and has basically anything you'd want for garment sewing - liberty lawns, soft linens, cotton shirting...i feel like i need to come back in the fall/winter to see how the stock shifts. they carry oodles of high quality sewing notions (hello, merchant & mills kits), and have plenty of embroidery kits and sashiko supplies as well if you want to try your hand at using needle and thread. natural yarns covered a beautiful range of colours and price points, and if you're looking for good european wools, they've got some bases from isager (denmark) and jamieson & smith (uk) in stock at totally reasonable prices. i left with a couple skeins of isager's spinni, which is a single ply laceweight that i'm expecting to behave more like light fingering, in a berry shade that was dyed on top of a grey wool. i do love the qualities of dyeing over different sheep shades.

thanks to caroline for putting up with my camera clicks and meandering around the store! i'll definitely be back on a future visit. now if only winnipeg would get a good garment fabric store back up and running...

handmade wardrobe: me-made may 2018

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slow fashion april has given way to me-made may. it's my favourite time of year to check in with my slow fashion journey and see how my wardrobe has grown and shifted over the course of the past year. when i first started participating four years ago, i think i had two dresses and maybe one top to wear, and then a rotation of handknit shawls. my wardrobe has shifted drastically since then, particularly in the past half year or so since i left my full-time office day job to a part-time work-from-home admin job/creative self-employed biz life all the rest of the time. 

my goal within the next four years is to shift my wardrobe to nearly entirely me-made/handmade with natural dyes represented as much as possible, including shoes and outerwear. in the meantime, i'm shifting more and more of my wardrobe away from items that i don't love/wear frequently anymore to me-made alternatives. i haven't quite figured out what to do with the items i don't love and i'm not going to put them in the garbage like so much of our global textiles (they're still in good condition), so they're slowly amassing in piles to eventually go to clothing swaps or be donated to the local charity shop that funds one of the city's main women's shelters. i'm travelling quite a bit this year (haven't quite figured out how to sustainably address that portion of my personal carbon footprint - send me your suggestions if you have them), and the trips are the primary ways i'm focusing my wardrobe making efforts. as i identify gaps and new scenarios for clothing, i add them to my lists and use the flights as my deadlines.

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i'm heading to ontario in a couple of weeks and have a variety of scenarios to cover in a single duffle bag - big city creative conference, natural dyeing workshop in the country, farm visits/from field to skin interviews, dates with friends, and road tripping to different yarn/fibre shops (aka all networking opportunities). i've narrowed my wardrobe down to my arenite pants and a skirt (ideally the gypsum skirt if it's released in time, because then i won't have to worry about coordinating tops to two different bottoms since they'll be made out of similar material), 8 tops in case laundry doesn't pan out, and pjs that are appropriate for hotels/crashing with people (fun fact: i don't wear pjs unless it's winter). i've got half of my tops sorted out already, so here are my sewing plans for the next two weeks:

  • purl soho's city gym shorts using a soft cotton shirting for pj bottoms
  • two ogden camis, one with scraps from my zinnia skirt and the other with the same cochineal-dyed cotton voile yardage i used for my strata top
  • two sleeveless grainline hadleys, one with a beautiful brown essex linen and the other with a raspberry linen

on top of the sewing, i also need to cast off two of the three designs i'll be shooting on location during my farm visits before i leave, and i should be able to squeeze at least one sock for the next penny dreadful collection out too. i'm packing yarn for the first design from the next everyday magic collection (scheduled for a june 23 release), as well as my shawl wip for my twinsy's wedding at the end of june. once i'm home, hopefully they'll be done and i can move on to the next patterns for everyday magic. and then of course there are the quilt tops i need to start for a couple of wedding quilts...

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may is a bit chaotic already, and i think for folks who don't run creative businesses, it can seem kind of silly because a lot of it feels like a non-priority. because for a lot of people, making is purely for leisure, and can be pushed to the side if other things get in the way. in my world, making is one of those other things, so it's a constant juggling act. one that i love, and that teaches me so much with every project. we'll see how much i manage to fit in this month and where i learn to make compromises. i'll check in with you in a few weeks, and in the meantime you can track my progress on instagram.

let me know if you're joining in with me-made may this year! what projects do you have planned out?

handmade wardrobe: #spring10x10

i first learned about the 10x10 wardrobe challenge a few months ago thanks to sew liberated's meg mcelwee's instagram feed. the basic concept is that for 10 days, you wear only 10 items of clothing (excluding underwear and socks, but including items like sweaters and bottoms). the goal is essentially to see how easily you can structure your life around a capsule wardrobe, and for many members of the making community, it's a chance to see whether your handmade items are enough to fill up a basic wardrobe. i decided to give the #spring10x10 a try.

i think some people get pretty intense about it, but for myself, i decided to be realistic and not include outerwear (it spanned the last week of march and the first week of april - any winnipegger will tell you we need at least 10 items for outerwear alone), tights, or accessories like scarves. in hindsight, i probably could have opted for one less top, done laundry a day earlier, and added an extra sweater into the mix (spoiler alert: i cheated and wore my juniper sweater, which comes out this friday on ravelry, because midway through the challenge mother nature decided to be an asshat and drop about 15 extra degrees with the windchill and drop some snow sideways into our faces). my ten items, which you can see below in rotation, were: zinnia skirt, bridgetown backless dress, two rtw (ready to wear) tanks, one pair of rtw pants, corbin sweater, third-hand pendleton button-up, strata top, a rtw crop top, and a cochineal-dyed dress made by a local designer who's no longer making clothes.

some thoughts that i have in general about the challenge:

  • i actually do have a pretty contained wardrobe for the most part, at least as far as regular items go. it's one day after the challenge and i'm wearing my cochineal-dyed dress and corbin cardigan, so 10x11 would have been ok in my books.
  • photographing myself every single day got a bit tiresome. that could also have been related to the fact that i'm back in burnout mode, of course.
  • i sort of enjoyed having my social media posts easily planned out for a week and a half, but i also struggled to get creative by midway through. i don't think taking daily photos of my outfits is a particularly sustainable social media strategy longterm, but maybe semi-frequently could be a little more fun.
  • having a minimalist wardrobe in a climate with extreme seasons is just about the most stupid idea in the whole world. you'd either be wasting a lot of water on frequent laundry loads or just freezing and/or boiling from your lack of layers. 
  • good layers are essential, and also help to change up the look of a smaller wardrobe. you don't need a new dress, you can just wear a different shawl and it's a whole new outfit!
  • participating is fun, but don't take yourself too seriously or you won't enjoy yourself. allow yourself the flexibility to adapt to real life. if you planned out 10 days of city outfits and suddenly you have to go help prep the in-laws' garden for the growing season, grab those mud-worthy clothes without a second thought!

so what do you think, would you participate in a future 10x10 challenge? 

if you're interested in building your own slow fashion wardrobe, join me and other like-minded folks for the slow fashion april kal

kal: slow fashion april

those of you who follow me on social media, or have taken a class with me/chatted with me at an event, likely know that i'm particularly passionate about slow fashion and curating a handmade wardrobe and participating in the fibreshed movement because those are all steps for me to engage with my politics in an emotionally sustainable way. textile production and fashion as an expression of identity intersect with all the things i care about most - gender presentation/equality/safety, environmental sustainability, labour rights, animal rights, the list goes on. it's also a topic that forces me to constantly acknowledge the complexities and overlaps of systemic oppression that impact our ability to make decisions, which by extension is a practice in extending kindness to others and to ourselves. we're all doing the best we can with the tools we've been given. 

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april is my birth month, and i'm going to focus on creating less waste by stashbusting and controlling my purchases (including for fabric and yarn) all month long. i already know there will be some blips (i've got new bras coming from Willow Layne Lingerie), but in typical ash fashion, this is meant to be a gentle challenge that gets you/me/us thinking rather than something hard and fast and inflexible to the realities of life. 

if you'd like to play along with me, there will be incentives in the form of discount codes for my ravelry store! share your sunflower knit projects with me (ravelry projects with a start and end date please, or if you don't have ravelry,send me photos with time stamps), and tell me where you got your yarn. eligible wips must be started within march or april 2018, eligible finished projects can have been started whenever but must be finished by april 30, 2018 (and you must still have something to complete on it at this point, even if that's just blocking or seaming). if you're participating on social media, use #skslowfashionapril in your posts!

INCENTIVES (good for one pattern/e-book):

  • 1 stashbust project = 30% off
  • 1 yarn swap project = 30% off 
  • 1 reclaimed yarn project = 30% off 
  • 1 project using locally produced (fibreshed) yarn = 25% off 
  • 1 project using naturally dyed yarn = 25% off
  • 1 project using local yarn shop/locally dyed yarn = 20% off
  • 1 project using non-local indie-dyed yarn = 15% off

sign up here, and follow along with me on instagram and facebook for extra conversations about slow fashion, making an intentional handmade wardrobe, and stashbusting!

welcome to this space

hello and welcome to my little corner of the internet. my name is ash, and while you probably already know me if you're reading this, i'll tell you a bit about myself anyway. 

i'm a queer femme and fibre witch who lives in the canadian prairies on treaty one territory. most of my time is spent with either knitwear design or natural dyeing, and i teach both of these things (along with other stuff, all through the lens of selfcare) to people who want to learn how to create everyday magic with their hands. i write a weekly newsletter and post on instagram pretty much daily, so my blog posts will likely be less frequent in nature and heavier on detail. i'm planning on focusing my posts, at least at this point, on the following topics:

  • travelling shoes (aka my adventures)
  • non-knitting making
  • the curation and creation of my handmade wardrobe

i hope you enjoy these snapshots into my fibre-filled world! please give me a shout online if you have any thoughts you'd like to share.

xo ash