Friday, February 9, 2018

on slow fashion & handmade wardrobes

 my finished Rosemont (designed by knitbot and made using De Rerum Natural wool)

This post has been a long time coming. For real. Slow fashion and handmade wardrobes popped onto my radar a few years back and I've not been able to shake the idea- planted like a seed in my mind. The truth is, for several years I've felt a bit of a disconnect between my values, ideas, goals and my wardrobe. For several years, I've sat back from this conversation a little, not sure of where I fit or if I have anything of value to add to it. 

And while I am still far from perfect in this area, a few things have happened recently that have really changed things for me.

The first thing is that I discovered mending. Over the summer I started doing a little bit of visible mending, inspired mostly by Sashiko, and the Japanese tradition of Boro, which is mending your clothes using Sashiko embroidery techniques and pieces of other clothes. So far this has mostly been jeans, but I'm working on mending a wool cardigan right now and it's such a blast. I also started altering clothes a little (mostly small things, like cutting the arms off a button down to make it sleeveless and that sort of thing.) 

an example of my visible mending, on my most favorite jeans

This has been HUGE for me. Because I neither own a sewing machine nor have the ability to sew more than a straight line, I always felt that any sort of handmade wardrobe I could have would be rather lopsided (in a word: knitwear). Mending and altering has given me so many more options for using what I have and changing it to fit my needs.

Along with this, I'd say over the past year I've just gathered a little more awareness about what goes into making clothes. This includes "fast fashion" or clothes that are made in a way that is harmful to the planet and our fellow humans but for me it goes so far beyond this. I've learned through starting up my yarn label that even textiles that are ethically produced, with care to the environment, still require so much work and go through quite the process to be transformed into something useable.

I think in the past I would sometimes approach slow fashion practices with a bit of a fast fashion mindset. I'd go to the thrift store and pick something up that I didn't really need and only sort of liked, because it was second hand and well, because it was there. I would knit things without much thought to whether or not the colors or styles would fit in my wardrobe, whether the design was wearable for me, or whether it would stand the test of time and really last. 

a mix of long worn, handmade (by me and by other artisans), second hand, and mended clothing

So I'd say the other big thing that's shifted for me recently is embracing a more mindful approach to the clothing I acquire- including my handmade items. I've started trying to take responsibity for the items I bring into my wardrobe (how long will I be able to use this? what will happen to it when I don't want it anymore?), which includes both what I buy and make. 

How does this affect my knitting life? Well, I guess I'm trying to plan things out a little more- maybe even knit less (dare I say it?) so that I can knit better. I'm trying to identify the holes in both my own wardrobe (and in the wardrobes of my most knitworthy family and friends) and work towards mindfully filling those, by making garments that won't wear out quickly and can be used for a long time.

Of course (OF COURSE) I'm not perfect at this. And I do still think there is room for crazy, not quite utilitarian knitting projects just because they're fun -this is my hobby after all! But in general, I'm super happy about the direction I'm heading.

So onwards- towards mindfulness in making, and confidence in wearing my clothes every day! 

PS: if you're still here, here's a little list of the items I'm hoping to make for my wardrobe this year (this doesn't include socks because honestly? I want to make ALL THE SOCKS right now- I think this little collection has something to do with that!)

1. Sauvabellin sweater using raincloud and sage Origin
2. Little Twigs sweater using De Rerum Natura
3. Shoreline Cardigan using Quince & Co Owl
4. Tegna OR Saco Stripes top using WOLLEN Berlin Lino Muka 
5. Hollows Shawl OR Ludlow scarf using De Rerum Natura 

Monday, January 1, 2018

one word 2018

I love the calm, coffee-soaked days between Christmas and New Year’s. Days spent cozying up at home, reflecting on the year that’s passed and planning for the one to come. I’ve got a few exciting goals & projects planned for 2018 and I’m so excited to see how they turn out. One of the practices I most look forward to is picking a guiding word for each year. 

Last year I really struggled to pick a word. For the first time ever, January began and I still hadn't decided. The truth is, at the beginning of this past year I didn't have the faintest idea where I was heading- there was no flicker of a vision or direction on the horizon. I was feeling lost both in my role as a mother and my place in this corner of the world I currently call home. I not only did not know where my path was leading- I could not see the path. In the end I chose the word GROW because I knew I wanted to move forward, even if at the time I was completely unsure what that would look like. 

In some ways GROW was a good word- I certainly grew a lot. I watched my baby grow into a toddler at some point over the last 12 months (HOW did this even happen..?!). But during the course of the year, it was the word PURSUE that resonated. It chose me. This year was an incredible adventure of putting myself out there, taking risks and going after the things I wanted. From something as simple as starting the book club I'd always wanted to be a part of, to making new friends and digging deeper into a community here, to of course launching r&s yarn and taking on a new job.(much of this last point I owe to my work with Making Stories, as I shared over on IG here

This year’s word is SUSTAIN. I’m excited to see how this theme plays out over the weeks and months ahead and already have goals set in line with it. In 2017 I added a lot of new things to my life both personally and professionally, and now is the time to really sink into those things, to make sure that I'm able to sustain them all in a healthy way for both me and my family. This has a lot to do with time management, obviously but also with finances and self-care and mindfulness. 

Another angle on this word that I'm excited to explore is the whole sustainability aspect. In 2017 I had a lot of discussions (and learned a ton) about environmental issues. I've set a few very concrete goals for our family to hopefully reduce our ecological footprint and live with a little more kindness to our planet. I'm super excited to unpack this a little more over the next few months (probably via Instagram). 

So welcome 2018. I sincerely wish you all the best for this new year!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

My Year in Books

every year I do a little reflection here on the blog of my favorite books that I've read this year. This year I set a goal to read 24 books (2 per month) and was a little more intentional- I aimed for 50/50 fiction & non-fiction. I managed to meet this goal, and quite enjoyed picking the books for each month, though I did find it a little restricting at times- I didn't read any series this year, which is something I certainly missed. I also was sharing over on Instagram using the hashtag #whatruthisreading2017 which was fun, but not something I think I'll do again (I'll probably just share the highlights...) This year I'm also going to shoot for 24 books as it feels like a good number for me right now (not easy, but not unrealistic either) though I think I'm going to plan less and absolutely let myself read (and finish!) some series... and maybe do a bit more re-reading (Harry Potter audio books anyone..?)

So as per usual- here are my own personal "book awards" for this year. (If you're curious to see all the books I read this year, I've listed them all under my reading challenge on Good Reads- there were certainly some duds, but I did read a good many more that didn't make the below list that are worth checking out!) 

best re-read: Anne of Green Gables (LM Montgomery)

most surprised to love: Rebecca (Daphne du Maurier)

hardest to put down: Murder on the Orient Express (Agatha Christie) (though I feel like I also have to mention John Krakauer's Into Thin Air here, which was definitely most likely to send you down a Wikipedia rabbit trail...)

most likely to change my daily life: Present Over Perfect (Shauna Niequest)

most quoteable: Big Magic (Elizabeth Gilbert)

most in my wheelhouse: The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern)

most heartbreaking: Everyone Brave is Forgiven (Chris Cleave)

best memoir/biography:  Lab Girl (Hope Jahren)

best crafty related book: WOODS (Making Stories)

the one that kept me up at night: Half of a Yellow Sun (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) 

the one I'm still telling everyone about: Wonder (RJ Palacio)

So what's up next? Well, I'm currently reading Little Women for my bookclub and am hoping to finish before the new year. Then I'm planning to read The Crosswicks Journals by Madeleine L'engle (and maybe also re-read A Wrinkle in Time to get ready for the movie...) What about you guys? Read anything good lately?  

Monday, November 13, 2017

R&S Yarn Update!

If you follow me over on Instagram, you've probably seen that we are in the final stages of launching Raincloud & Sage Yarn into the world. YAY!! 

Honestly you guys, I can't believe we made it this far. That sounds a little trite to say, but it's the honest truth. I could never have imagined when I started this blog (almost 5 years ago now!) that this is where my path would lead me, but it feels so right and I'm just thrilled to be here. 

Of course, starting this yarn label has come with it's challenges in different shapes and forms. I'm so glad we stuck with it and that I can finally hold the finished product in my hands, but in many ways this is only the beginning. 

As many (all...?) creatives, I have a lot of fears surrounding putting my work (and ultimately myself) out there. Honestly, every time someone purchases a pattern from me my very first feeling is fear- what if they don't like it? what if they find a mistake? Regardless of how much effort and energy and love goes into creating a thing, I think these feelings are somehow always connected with sharing creative work. And I'm sure battling them with this yarn- what if people hate it? what if it's too scratchy for them? Or perhaps even worse- what if nobody even cares...?

My husband recently told me that I need to stop describing our yarn in terms of what it isn't (in other words: it's not soft) and focus on what it IS. Because the truth is, I am incredibly proud of what it is: rustic, sheepy yarn with a story, grown by sheep who are raised with care, spun locally & sustainably with mindfulness for both the materials and the environment, packaged by us with a ton of love and then (hopefully!) sent to knitters everywhere so that they can continue this story we've started. 

I've seen the sheep who grew this wool. I've visited the mill, seen the machines that spun our yarn and the river where it was washed afterwards. To be involved in something like this is nothing short of amazing. 

No it's not soft- and it's not for everyone. It's not even for every knitter. But I'm putting it out there anyways, because I believe this is a story that deserves to be told. 

If you're curious- here are the two colorways all swatched up. I'm calling our first base Origin and it's a 3ply yarn, woolen spun at a light worsted/DK weight. For whatever reason, the grey is scratchier than the cream, which is actually quite soft and would totally work for a hat for someone who's not afraid to wear a little wool. Otherwise I think this yarn would be great for outerwear sweaters, and of course mittens or even a good thick pair of mucklucks or outerwear socks. 

All further info can be found on our website- // That's also where you'll find the links to our Newsletter and Instagram, both of which will keep you up-to-date on what's happening. Thanks as always for being here. It means so much. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

November's Quote

sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up. 
-Brené Brown

It's no secret how much I adore BrenĂ© Brown, and this quote speaks so perfectly to what I'm going through right now- in my parenting, my work and my creativity. It's hard to continuously show up and put yourself out there day after day after day. But it's worth it. Man oh man is it worth it. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Autumn Drizzle Shawl

Today I am so super excited to share with you all my latest pattern: the Autumn Drizzle Shawl. 

The Autumn Drizzle Shawl is a small, triangular shaped shawl featuring garter stitch stripes and plenty of squishy texture. It's designed with a shallow fit for easy wear while out enjoying favourite Autumn activities: apple picking, hiking in the woods or crunching through fallen leaves. 

This shawl features plenty of garter stitch, as well as some stripes and a simple chevron stitch pattern to keep things a little interesting. It's perfect cozy evening knitting, with a cup of tea and your favourite Fall movies- Harry Potter of course, or perhaps even a little Gilmore Girls

The design itself is actually quite simple but I spent ages trying to get it just right. The final finished object looks quite different (and much better even) than the original idea as it came to me. When I saw these two yarns lying side by side in my stash I just knew they wanted to be together- and boy was I right. 

A little more about the yarn: the speckled yarn is Hedgehog Fibres Skinny Singles in the Urchin colourway and something about the colours and the distribution of the speckles reminds me of fallen Autumn leaves. The beautiful caramel yarn is Madeline Tosh Merino Light in the Glazed Pecan colourway. Personally, it reminds me of caramel drizzle (you know, the kind that you get on Pumpkin Spice Latte, of course) which is where I originally got the name from. 

Several weeks ago on a beautiful sunny late September day I had a photo shoot with my lovely friend Simone (of Ink and Soil). I just love how the photos turned out and am so excited to finally share them all with you.

I am really really proud of this shawl and hope you love it too. The pattern is available on Ravelry as of today, and I am offering a little coupon code as a celebration of it's release. Just use the code autumndrizzle15 when checking out to receive 15% off until this Sunday, October 22. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Summer Book Report

So I actually don't have quite as long of a list of Summer Reads as I had hoped to. A few abandoned books definitely found their way into rotation and I just ended up reading a little less than I had thought. BUT that being said, I read some real gems this summer- some of the best books I've read all year, and I wanted to share a little round up with you today of what I did manage to read.

So, here goes:

Present Over Perfect // Shauna Niequest
This has been on my TBR list for what feels like ages and ages (it only came out last summer...) When I saw it was a pick for the Solly Baby book club, I was reminded of it and am so glad I was! It was a perfectly timely read for me. I mistakenly thought going in that this topic was one I had already wrestled with and had a handle on- NOPE. Still so much to learn. This book was written with so much wisdom and grace- I cried my way through and will definitely be picking it up for a re-read in the not too distant future.

Murder on the Orient Express // Agatha Christie
Our book club summer read. I breezed through this in 3 days and really enjoyed it. I didn't have much prior experience with Agatha Christie and after reading this, I'd love to pick up a few more titles.

Wonder // RJ Palacio
Another book club pick. Wow you guys- this book. Not only is it a great story well told, but it's also a great conversation starter (and would be an excellent book to read with kids, or to discuss with them...) This is the sort of perspective-giving book that can really make a difference. 

Big Magic // Elizabeth Gilbert
So I basically highlighted and bookmarked and dogeared my way through this entire book. So much good stuff- this is the sort of book that makes me wish I still kept a physical quote book so that I could jot down all the wisdom I gained from it! 

Yes Please // Amy Pohler 
A bit of a bonus pick, I read through this quick, fun read while in Berlin. I wouldn't say it was the greatest book I've ever read (not even my favorite comedian/celebrity memoir) but I did enjoy it and appreciated Pohler's perspective at several points throughout. 

So that's a wrap. I am ALL about Fall reading and closing off this year of books strong. I'm on track with all my reading goals for the year and have a few picks for the next few months that I'm really excited about (I'm currently reading the books in the photo above) How about you, fellow bookworms? How's your reading life these days?