Friday, February 22, 2019

where I am these days

Hello friends

Today I just wanted to pop into this space to share where you can find me these days (for anyone stumbling across my work here and wondering what's happened to me!)

About a year and a half ago I launched a little yarn company, under the same name as this blog: Raincloud & Sage Yarn. While I still have a soft spot for this blog and all that it has given me over the years, my work has evolved and expanded beyond what this space can hold. I have been reluctant to let go of this space to be honest and always thought in the back of my mind that I might return to blogging here. But it's time to face the facts and officially let go of it. 

And so. Although I totally realize that it's been ages since I posted here, and no one is waiting with baited breath for this post I wanted to pop in anyways to let you know what's up and where you can find me these days:  

Instagram: You can follow along with everything Raincloud & Sage Yarn here and you can follow my personal account (where I'm currently not very active, but am in the midst of pivoting) here

Website: I'm also of course over on our website here. This is where you'll find our shop and more info about our yarns, but also our journal, which is where I've been sharing blog posts roughly once a month. 

My email newsletter: This is currently where I write all my long and rambling thoughts that I previously put into blog posts. It's also where I share behind the scenes stories & sneak peeks about the process of creating our yarn as well as shop news and projects and posts from our community. You can sign up via our website here. (As a thanks, you'll also received a free copy of my Moorland Mittens pattern too!)

And that's basically it. If you're still reading this I want to say a heartfelt thank you for all the support here over the years. Writing this blog taught me so much and brought me so much joy over the years. It gave me the courage to go after so many dreams and I am not exaggerating when I say that it has played a huge role in helping me become who I am today. Which is why I wanted to finish it off properly before completely leaving it behind. I'm excited for what the future holds and hope you'll consider following along further- I'd love to keep in touch. 

Until then, friends. 

above photo by Finlay Burrage, who has been doing all the professional photography and video for r&s yarn. More info about his work here.

Monday, December 31, 2018

one word for 2019

oh 2018, you were a YEAR. 

While there was so much good that happened this year, I honestly can't say I'm sad to see it go. 2018 has been one of the most challenging years for me in a long time. My word for last year was sustain. I remember landing on this word this time last year with the best of intentions. I started a lot of new things in 2017 (most notably perhaps a new job and a business in the span of a month- phew!) and I really wanted to dive deeper into those things this past year and focus on getting them to a healthy place before starting anything new. 

What I failed to realize is what an active word sustain is. What started out as an intention to slow down and dive deep into what mattered quickly turned into a lot of striving and pushing to make things happen. A lot of scrambling, if I'm being honest. And a TON of hard work. Honestly, I worked harder this year (in many ways) than I ever have before. Unfortuantely, I worked hard trying to "sustain" things that were often out of my control and the result is that I am no where near where I'd hoped to be at the end of this year. 

In addition to this, I often felt this past year that I was sabotaging some of my happiest moments- by not being present, by allowing my anxieties to get in the way of my joy. (Thanks to Brene Brown's excellent book Daring Greatly this is a tendency I've been cautiously aware of in myself for a little while now. More on that here, if you're interested)

So as I began thinking through a word for this next year I was very aware that a few things need to change. First of all, for the past few years I've chosen verbs as words and this was the first obvious shift for me. This year I really want a word that focuses less on what I can do and more on who I am. I want a word I can really crawl inside, inhabit and be (not to be overly dramatic here...) 

So moving forward, my word for 2019 is whole. In a personal sense I want to re-connect with who I am and focus on getting myself into a more healthy mind space, on being my "whole" self, if you will. I'd like to confront some of my anxieties (and areas of avoidance) head on and really deal with them. Practically I'm planning to focus on both my physical and emotional health and have a few ideas I'm excited to move forward with. I'd love to focus more on "whole" foods, or plant based eating, as well as learning to embrace the fact that I'm a WIP and that there's beauty in that whole process of becoming more fully who we are. I am hoping to use the word to explore deepening my connection to the planet and have a few concrete goals on how our family can continue learning how to treat it with a little more kindness.

And finally, from a business perspective, I'm excited to work on building a foundation for us moving forward by really looking at the whole picture, and not being bogged down by the every day challenges that go with running a business. Honestly, I think this was what I was aiming for with last years word but I went about it in all the wrong ways. I'm thankful for the chance this year to experiment, to get a few things wrong and to learn these valuable lessons and can't wait to apply them moving forward. 

Of course this past year wasn't all bad- there were some seriously wonderful moments, very valuable lessons learned, and memories I'll honestly cherish for years to come. I feel like much of this year was about exploring. We traveled a ton, mostly in connection to our Canadian summer, but we also took a few trips around Germany and of course, visited Iceland. I experimented with learning a few new crafts and took several workshops (both online and otherwise) which was one of my goals at the beginning of the year. And we tried a whole bunch of different things with r&s yarn (with varying degrees of success, but always with equal amount of heart). 

All in all, I feel quite grateful looking back. And relieved to be moving forward. Wishing you all the best for 2019. 

Some of the year's highlights include: 1) our mini vacation to kick off the year in North Germany with our best friends 2) a wonderful week-long visit from my dad to celebrate my 30th birthday in the Spring 3) our whirlwind 5 days in Iceland which I can honestly only describe as EPIC 4) arriving in Canada just in time to celebrate Caleb's 2nd birthday with all my family (including my brand new baby nephew!) 5) flower school with my sisters (which also represents all the time I spent in the summer creating just for fun and taking some of the pressure off of my creative-self) 6-7) our road trip up to Haida Gwaii (and back) which was not only an incredible adventure but also represented a real emotional turning point for me this year in getting some of my priorities straight 8) a spontaneous trip to Seattle with my mom & sister 9) and finally, launching Homestead this Fall, which was the bright spot in a rather difficult few months and a true labour of love that I couldn't be prouder of. 

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Make 9 2019

bringing back the blog for one of my favourite times of year (which in German is so aptly called "between the years") - these slow, reflective days just before the year turns, which I use to look back on this past year, as well as plan and dream for the one ahead.

 Last year for the first time I decided to participate in the Make 9 challenge. At the beginning of the year I picked 9 projects that I wanted to make (in my case, mostly knit) for my handmade wardrobe. In the end, I didn't get even a little bit close to finishing this project. I ended up with 4 finished items for myself (not counting hats and socks) and two of these weren't even on my original Make 9 grid. But what did happen through my participation in this project is that I got waaaaay more intentional about what I was knitting. I knit from my stash, including a few lonely skeins that I was really unsure how to use. Even the two projects that were rather impulsively cast on (my Tegna and Arboreal) were still carefully considered as I had to remove a project from my Make 9 grid each time to accomodate the cast on. The result is that I'm happier with my finished items than I've been in awhile. 

And so it only seemed natural to me to continue on with this format for 2019. I thought through the items that were left on my grid at the end of this year, and picked a few to carry over, while letting go of some others. Then I thought through the current holes in my wardrobe. For me this is summer tops that I love and feel comfortable in, and basic, workhorse sweaters for every day wear. With this in mind, I've created a loose Make 9 for 2019, with more summer knits, basic sweaters and a few shawls just for fun! 

I suppose I should mention that I didn't include any socks here- but that doesn't mean I won't be knitting them! Socks are a HUGE hole in my handmade wardrobe and I've always got a pair or two in the works in the background, I just decided to go ahead and leave them off this list. I've also got a few projects (commissions, samples & gifts mostly) that I'll be working on this year that will take precedence to the Make 9 projects, so we'll see how it goes! But as I said above, I'm honestly not concerned at all about finishing all these items- I'm more concerned about making within the guidelines that they provide and keeping the mindfulness I was able to introduce to my knitting life this past year. 

So here's my Make 9 projects for this year:

1. Weekender Sweater (designed by Andrea Mowry & knit in Homestead, the new base from my own little company, r&s yarn!)

I've already cast this on (this morning actually!) and I'm super excited to have this basic, staple, every day sweater in my wardrobe.

2. Stokur Shawl (designed by Melody Hoffman)

This is a carry-over from last year's Make 9 grid. As much as I love triangle shaped shawls, I tend to wear longer, wrap-style shawls a lot more frequently. I love the simplicity of this design as I think it will make it easy to wear, without of course being plain. I'm thinking of trying out Tukuwool Fingering (which I've been dying to get my hands on) but I'm stuck on a color!

3. Lucinda Pullover (designed by Carrie Hoge, from Madder Anthology 2 and knit in Moeke yarns Elena)

I've just finished the body on this and am about to separate for the sleeves. While in Canada this summer, I decided to purchase a sweater's quantity of Elena for my only stash enhancement and although it's a bit thinner than the yarn the pattern calls for, I really thought they would be a good match. Fingers crossed I can get the fit right on this one!

4. Something from the Making Stories Stripes collection! (pictured here is the Stripur pullover)

This photo is a bit of a placeholder as I've not yet decided which of the designs I'm going to make from this collection first. I plan to make both Stripur, the pullover pictured here as well as the Rayure pullover at some point. Though I'm thinking that I might end up doing Suora or Juova this year (both tops) as that will help me fill out my wardrobe hole a little better. I'll be definitely using Lino Muka linen yarn for either of those tops, and for the pullovers would probably pick the Silke Tweed from Magazin Duett. But again, this is a bit of a wildcard pick so I'm going to have to consider it a bit further.

5. Telja Sweater (by Knit Love Wool, shown here knit by Colleen of Postscript Love in Lettlopi)

While in Iceland I purchased a sweater's quantity of Lettlopi to make this sweater in a very similar color palate to Collen's version pictured above. I'm excited to turn this very special yarn into a sweater that will remind me of our trip, though I don't think I'll be getting to this project for quite a few months yet. 

6. Plumetis Shawl (by Melody Hoffman)

While on the hunt for a project to use up a lonely skein in my stash I stumbled upon this shawl and fell in love! The skein I was hoping to use up is an off-white skein of Manos Del Uruguay Milo, a mix of wool & linen. I think it will pair perfectly with Purl Soho's Linen Quill, which I'd love to get a skein of this spring while in New York. So I can use up my stash as well as add in a skein of souvenir yarn, which feels like a double win.

7. Bobbie (by Pam Allen, knit in Quince & Co Willet)

I've honestly loved this design ever since it was first released a few years ago, but I must admit that I completely forgot about it. I'm mostly drawn to the woollier, cold-weather knits and this pullover just wasn't on my radar. But I'm glad I discovered it while going through my Pinterest boards to create this grid, as I think it's the perfect transitional piece and will help me add another summery top to my wardrobe. I'd really love to knit this in Willet, which is Quince's line of cleaner cotton (most likely in Mast & Windlass or Sail) so hopefully I can get my hands on that somewhere here in Europe!

8. Sauvabelin (by Jessica Gore, knit in r&s Origin)

Another carry-over project from last year's Make 9. I really really want this sweater, so I'm hoping I can carve out some time to knit on it once we get our shipment of Origin 2.0 sometime in 2019. 

9. Solano (by Stella Egidi from BREEZE, knit in Wollen Berlin's Lino Muka Lithuanian Linen yarn)

Ever since I first visited Wollen and saw their linen yarn line, I've wanted to make a sleeveless top. It's just taken me a bit of time to pick which one! I think I've settled on the Solano tunic, but I KNOW I've settled on the colorway Yellow Ochre for my top. I've excited to knit this up hopefully in time to wear all summer long! 

PS: I know there are no links in this post, but all these designs can be easily found through a Ravelry search. Also, if you're curious to see what else I knit in 2019, you can do so here.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

My Year in Books

bringing back the blog for one of my favourite times of year (which in German is so aptly called "between the years") - these slow, reflective days just before the year turns, which I use to look back on this past year, as well as plan and dream for the one ahead.

After last year's carefully planned out reading list, I decided not to set any reading goals for this past year (beyond the 24 books that I wanted to hit) and just go ahead and reach for what I felt like. The results of this were...interesting. I ended up reading much more fiction than usual, across a fairly wide range of genres and even started a series or two (which was something I'd been missing for the past few years). But honestly? This was probably my most disappointing reading year in awhile. While I certainly read some gems (all of which can be found on the list below) I also read a ton of books that were just okay. 

So in an attempt to change that this coming year, I'm reintroducing a bit of structure. Aside from my standard goal of 24 books that I've had going the past few years, I've also identified a few topics and genres that I'd like to focus on, which I'm hoping will stretch me to find a few new favourites as well as keep me a little more focused when selecting choices this year. In terms of non-fiction, I'd like to read a few books on the Enneagram, as well as some in the direction of "self help" and parenting (I think I may finally be feeling brave enough to tackle Brene Brown again!) For fiction, I'm looking to mystery (a rather new to me genre I discovered late this year) as well as sci-fi (something I always love but for some reason am rarely drawn to). I'd also like to read both more new releases and more books written by women of color. 

best re-read: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Mary Ann Schafer & Annie Burrows)

most surprised to love: The Alice Network (Kate Quinn)

hardest to put down: Career of Evil (Robert Galbraith) 

most relevant to my daily life: The Course of Love (Alain de Bottin)

most quotable: In the Company of Women (compiled by Grace Bonney)

most loveable characters: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (Gail Honeyman)

most heartbreaking: The Immortalists (Chole Benjamin)

best memoir/biography: My Berlin Kitchen (Luisa Weis)

best craft related book: Folk Fashion (Amy Twigger Holroyd)

the one that kept me up at night: The Underground Railroad (Colson Whitehead)

the one I'm still telling everyone about: Station Eleven (Emily St. John Mandel) 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Project Planning: what to do with a skein or two of Origin

Wondering what you could do with just one or two skeins of Origin? Personally I think you've got a ton of options- our yarn is a dk weight, and I've found through knitting with it personally that it actually lends itself quite well to a wide range of projects and patterns. Here's a little round up of what I've been knitting (and am planning to knit!) using Origin:

One Skein Projects:

Obviously some of my very VERY favorite projects are the patterns my friends designed specifically for Origin. You may remember the Lahn Hat, designed by Verena of The Wool Club for our shop launch. I absolutely adore my Lahn hat- it's the warmest, coziest hat I've ever knit and I wore it all winter long. You can view and purchase that pattern here.

And then there are of course the Waveform Mittens which were designed by Becky of Soprano Knits. These simple mitts are so cute and functional. They've quickly become a wardrobe staple for me. You can view and purchase that pattern here.

While we're on the subject of mittens, I also think the Moorland Mittens are a great match for Origin. This is a pattern I designed myself a few years ago and then knit up this fall using r&s mill spun yarn dyed with walnuts. It's another simple "workhouse" mitten pattern- just the thing to pair with our yarn.

If you've got children (or are interested in knitting for a friend's little one) I've also seen some really lovely versions of the Naturkinder Cough Shirt and I think our cream color way would be soft enough to make this for a toddler or young child. I've got to get one on the needles for my own little one soon! 

Another good project (one that my friend Simone of Ink & Soil made with her skein of Origin) is the Middle Fork hat, a pattern available in the Tolt Yarn and Wool Ravelry store here.

And finally, something I discovered when working on my Arboreal pullover (pictured above) is that Origin lends itself super well to mixing in with other dk or worsted weight yarn in color work. This is a really great way to use our yarn with something you already have in your stash to create something amazing! (In my sweater I've paired it with Gilliat from one of my favorite yarn companies- De Rerum Natura)

Two or more Skeins:

One project I'd really like to knit out of a skein of Origin is the Winter Morning socks by my friend Jess from Shop La Mercerie. Ever since Jess published this pattern I've been itching to cast it on. I think the cream colorway would be a perfect main color, with a second mini skien naturally dyed for the contrast? (I'll be offering naturally dyed skeins in the shop coming up soon, or you could try your hand at it yourself!)

Personally I am DREAMING of a shawl in Origin. There are several that I think would work really well and one of my very favorite options is the Regen Shawl designed by Shannon Cook. This shawl takes just 3 skeins of dk weight yarn so if you've got a skein or two already, you could consider stopping by our next shop update to get a few more to make the project. 

And finally- sweaters! I'm planning to make both Waldi and I a sweater out of this first run of Origin. Waldi's will be the Fort sweater by Jared Flood in grey (pictured above). For myself I'm dreaming of Sauvabelin (from WOODS) in cream. Can't wait to cast on.

If you've got a skein of Origin (or are thinking about purchasing one in our shop update next Thursday) and are wondering what projects would be good, or just want to chat about what to cast on please do get in touch with me ( I'd love love LOVE to chat project planning with you. 

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!