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Learning Log 09.07.19

I have been terrible at this student thing. I am serious in my heart but when it comes to my day-to-day, I honestly suck. I *want* to be pursuing this degree but there’s just so much to do and somehow, this work seems to be the first thing that gets pushed aside. I’m trying damned hard to change that. 

The other day, I received an email from Textileartist.org and the artist featured immediately grabbed my attention. The interview was with sculpture artist, Meghan Rowswell. Her work is loaded with curiosity, experimentation, and so much texture! I read the article and kept it in an open tab in my browser for two days so I could go back and keep looking at the work. I also looked her up on Instagram so that her posts would show up in my feed. I want to keep an eye on her work. 

The pieces which show techniques such as pleating, slashing, and embroidery were of the greatest interest to me. They immediately sparked ideas for new work and I think I’d be wise to record them in one of my sketchbooks before I forget. I love when I come across an artist whose work ignites that kind of inspiration. What a magical, unexpected experience! 

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6am be like…

I have a great weaving friend Anastasia Hobson-George, who told me that if I wanted to get my weaving completed in time for the coastal Tlingit celebration in Juneau, Alaska in early summer of 2020 that I’d have to get up early and weave for an hour before starting my day just like the late master weaver, Jennie Thlanaut. I was told that Jennie would wake up early and make tea and weave. I decided that finishing this robe is important enough to sacrifice a little sleep so since July, I’ve been waking up at 6am and weaving for two hours almost every morning (Tues-Sat). I make coffee, I often listen to a podcast with my headphones on while George, the lucky recipient of this robe sleeps nearby. 

In these bleary-eyed early morning hours, I have felt so fortunate to welcome each day with this deeply spiritual weaving practice. I feel every weaver who came before me, guiding my hands – often before I’m awake enough to do so for myself. The only lights on in the house are those illuminating my loom, flooding my workspace with light so that I can ensure the tidiest, most compact stitches. Yes, I’ve made plenty of weaving mistakes but I’m ok with that. I’m not aiming for perfection. I’m aiming for beautiful. 

This robe came into being in the summer of 2018. I spun the warp yarns by hand on my Ashford Kiwi II wheel using merino wool until that ran out and I substituted the remainder with corriedale. I included cedar bark in the warp for the strength and bug repellency (as is the tradition with Chilkat weaving) and am so grateful for the time I put into creating every one of those one thousand yards of yarn! When I dressed this loom on Canada Day, 2017, I had NO IDEA how tedious but precious each stitch would become. I estimated that when this robe is completed, I will have created somewhere in the neighbourhood of 250,000 stitches. I love the time I spend at the loom, weaving threads in and out, over and under. 

I take great care to ensure that my state of mind is a peaceful, pleasant one. If I am angry, I redirect my thoughts to a more positive state. If I’m hungry, I stop and eat. If I’m sad, I step away from the work. Whenever I’m in a state of unhappiness or any kind of negativity, I stop working and regroup. I know I must take great care to monitor my thoughts because they are being woven into the fabric of this robe which will be worn and danced by hopefully many generations of Tlingit dancers. 

I’m not an expert. To the contrary – I’m quite a beginner but an enthusiastic, committed one. I’ve documented much of this process on my Instagram feed but I think I ought to keep some of those images here as well. 

The image immediately above shows bundles of warp yarns hanging in preparation for dressing the loom in the summer of 2018. I was excited, apprehensive, and totally full of inspiration and hope. Once the loom was dressed at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre on Canada Day, I was on my way. I had no idea how my enthusiasm would ebb and flow but as of today, September 9, 2019, I am committed to an almost daily (save for Sundays) weaving practice that starts at 6am. I only complete 3-4 rows at best with each row taking 30 minutes to complete but I am making progress. Daily. 

It is absolutely a challenge to wake up earlier than I’d like and immediately work but I do it. This means that every day, I get to see a little bit of progress which brings me closer to my goal of completion. 

I was so lucky to spend several months at home working on the weaving. I saw diamonds emerging in the Haida Spider Web pattern which was exciting! There were still many moments when I felt as though I’d never be done. I still have those moments all the time. But they pale in comparison to the moments when my heart is racing as I watch a new pattern emerge. This robe is steeped in life experience, love, and joy. It is telling its own story through the design and stitches used but also, it tells my story as the weaver. We, the robe and I are intertwined. We are one. 

The photo of me at the loom above is from early July , 2019. I was beginning my morning weaving practice and was excited to see the fruits of my labour. I also was beginning to see how starting my day with this work was setting the rest of my day and my life to be so rich and fulfilling. 

I foresee needing to record my progress in this storytelling fashion more regularly as this piece comes to life. I have so many thoughts and ideas that emerge during this time at the loom. I gain clarity on my life’s path, my biggest dreams. I have so much to be grateful for and it all starts with my time in this chair, in this place, in front of this work. 

Thank you for being with me as I share my experience. 

V

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I think I need a clone

Copyright © 2014 Sven Müller

I’m not entirely sure how the heck so many weeks go by between posts but they DO go by and instead of feeling like a total dolt, I’m going to remind myself and you that I’m doing my best. Also, fall time seems to be a season of getting shit done and this fall is no different. 

I’ve just posted a series of upcoming classes on Facebook and Instagram which I’m really looking forward to teaching. Also, there will be a few classes held at our LYS, Itsy Bitsy which will be my regular drop spindle spinning and frame loom weaving classes. There’s always a huge demand for these classes so I suspect my fall teaching schedule will keep me on my toes. 

In addition to classes, I’m reworking how a bunch of my online store listings are being launched. I’m trying something new where I knock out a pile of new designs and restock a bunch of the core line and launch them all together at once with announcements on social media. Maybe in the future, I’ll include a newsletter for those announcements but I’m just one person and between making stock (jewelry and woven goods), running the store, weaving on the Ravenstail robe in the early morning hours, and finishing writing my first book, I think we can all agree that I probably have a few plates spinning all at once. No need to mess with what’s (mostly) working. 

So without further ado, here are some of the upcoming classes for September. I’ve created an actual event for all of the upcoming classes mostly for ease of sharing. The registration process is simple and somewhat manual for me. PM/email to sign up. It’s pretty straightforward. Class info is included in each listing and if you click the photo, it’ll take you straight to the FB event. Try it! 

September 3 from 6:00-8:00pm.

Must be prepaid. $75 +gst per person, all materials provided.
Cancellation policy – full refund up to the day before. Class day cancellation will not be refunded but you will receive a kit of materials and instructions or templates when applicable.
Max six participants. Can be paid in store or online. DM for details re: online registration

Location : Wild Yukon Furs || V. Ægirsdóttir – Artist – (the former wine shop) beside Baked and across from The Collective Good.

You will learn back stitch, satin stitch, and French knots. Also, you’ll learn how to transfer patterns.

Hoop, fabric, needles, and thread are yours to keep.

September 4 from 6:00-8:00pm.

Must be prepaid. $75 +gst per person, all materials provided.
Cancellation policy – full refund up to the day before. Class day cancellation will not be refunded but you will receive a kit of materials and instructions or templates when applicable.
Max six participants. Can be paid in store or online. DM for details re: online registration

Location : Wild Yukon Furs || V. Ægirsdóttir – Artist – (the former wine shop) beside Baked and across from The Collective Good.

You will learn how to warp your loom, which materials to warp with, how to select weft yarns, plain weave and finishing techniques to create one of a kind woven bracelets.
Loom, warp thread, weft yarns, and needle are yours to keep.

September 10, 6-8pm.

Must be prepaid. $75 +gst per person, all materials provided.

Cancellation policy – full refund up to the day before. Class day cancellation will not be refunded but you will receive a kit of materials and instructions or templates when applicable.
Max six participants. Can be paid in store or online. DM for details re: online registration

Location : Wild Yukon Furs || V. Ægirsdóttir – Artist – (the former wine shop) beside Baked and across from The Collective Good.

You will learn back stitch, French Knots, how to transfer patterns, and most importantly; how to use watercolour paint on fabric!
Hoop, fabric, needles, and thread are yours to keep.

I do have more classes in the queue and will be sharing them on social media and hopefully on here as well. If you want to see the samples for these projects, most are shown in the posts on Instagram. I seldom put much time into Facebook anymore so if you want to see what’s what, hit me up on IG. 

 

And lastly, if you’ve gotten this far in my post, please leave a comment so that I know someone other than my partner is reading this…and let’s be honest, he’s probably not even reading this. See why I could use a little comment love? 
Thanks for hanging out, homeslice. 

V

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New Class Offerings

Always doing something new...

I love teaching. I’ve been teaching creative classes and workshops for over 15 years and love it every single time. One of my favourite parts of teaching creative skills is watching the learners, regardless of their age, grasp the concept being taught. There’s a magical exchange that occurs when a learner begins a class not knowing how something is done and the the skill or technique is taught and the information lands inside their brains in a way that ignites a fireworks display of “getting it”. Sure, every class is different. Sometimes, the information exchange is an easy one and sometimes it’s a really tough one. But even those classes or moments are extremely valuable for me as they afford me the opportunity to consider what could be done better or differently next time. 

I think if you were to ask me what age group is my favourite, I’d really be hard-pressed to do so. I’ve instructed kindergarteners all the way through to the most senior of Elders. Little ones are fearless and eager to learn. Teens often are concerned with how others perceive them and Elders, like the little ones aren’t bothered by looking silly or making mistakes. There are so many things that I learn from my classes and from the people in them. 

Since moving the shop from the tiny space into a larger one (still in Horwoods, beside Baked), we now have a bit of room to host classes. I held one embroidery class and it was a tremendous success. There have been several inquiries as to when the next one will be. There will be another ‘Not your Grandma’s Embroidery’ class held in the shop from 6-8 on Wednesday May 29. Class fee is $75 and includes instruction, fabric, hoop, embroidery floss, needle and design templates. Classes can be paid for via e-transfer (email hello@aegirsdottir.com) or in person in the shop. 

Embroidery Class
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Breaking up is hard to do

Dear Facebook, It's over.

It seems that Facebook and I are officially at an impasse. I want to use their “Shop” feature on my business page to allow sales on Instagram but their terms of use prohibits the sale of animals which, according to their review process, also includes fur. So, given that I have limited hours each day to promote and market my business, I’m choosing to redirect my time and attention to my website instead of Facebook. 


I intend to maintain regular a posting practice on Instagram until such time that their ownership by Facebook interferes with my using that platform as I’ve attempted to do with the Facebook Pages. As always, however you can still purchase any listed product on my website so I’m happy that is not changing. 


So, things for me have been somewhat quiet on Social Media over the past year. I’ve been weaning myself off of Facebook so I have time for things like reading, working, researching, and generally living my life. I’ve certainly enjoyed the results of this surprisingly large behaviour change and am now poised for another shift with the general elimination of Facebook from my business as well. 


My partner, George and I have been receiving tremendous support and attention from Canadian media and the coverage has been instrumental in helping us spread our message of reconciliation. The first story was published by Yukon News at the end of January and the number of folks who have come looking for the boutique as a result has been so heartwarming. Check the story out HERE.



The second story was a little different and deeper. We were surprised to be contacted by the UC Observer but after very thoughtful questions and lots of dialog with the journalist, we couldn’t have been happier with the outcome. Read the story HERE


For us, the winter months are typically extremely busy as this is our trapping season. This year, our fur harvest began mid-December and really kicked off when George’s nephew flew up from Dawson Creek to join him on the trap line for a week. They ran traps and even put out a few in new places. The following week, the trap site now named “Dustin” produced a beautiful lynx. We wrapped up our season with many lynx and marten, one wolverine and a beaver. No wolves this time. 

Every single weekend had us returning to Whitehorse with furs to process in the following week. It was a busy time – many late, late nights. We processed all of the furs together and really found that time of working together to have huge impacts on our relationship – all positive! We really learned how to anticipate and communicate so that our processing time was as short as possible but also so that the fur was handled as respectfully as possible. 


One of the most incredible things that happened on the trap line this winter was our good fortune of harvesting a Blue Lynx. According to George’s mom, Doris (who has seen this genetic anomaly only once in her 84 years!) this variation is extremely rare and very special. When the Blue Lynx collection comes out, there’ll be MUCH fanfare!! Special indeed! 


After 8-9 weeks of non-stop work between our day-jobs and trapping, we took a much-needed vacation in the Bahamas. We enjoyed two weeks of sun (a little rain, too) and isolation on an actual deserted island. We’re now home and have hit the ground running. 


The next two weeks are full of hustling and preparation for the Vancouver Gift Expo which takes place on March 10-12. We’ll be showing the fur jewelry to over 2000 retailers looking to add new products to their shops. We’re so excited for this opportunity and can’t wait to meet everyone. 


We’re especially looking forward to educating so many consumers about the ethics of our fur harvest and how it is rooted in tradition. That it is, in fact, a healing practice. Now, I’m not going to lie, I am very aware that there may be serious fur-haters in the city and we’re prepared for them. We are hopeful that even those folks will respectfully hear our approach to fur harvesting and maybe just open their minds a little. 


So now that I’ve gotten you all caught up, I suppose I’ll go do some of that trade show prep I mentioned. Thanks for following me over here from Facebook. I hope you’ll subscribe to receive updates and comments are always welcomed. I’m grateful for every single one of you. 


See you soon! 

Vanessa

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Can’t even put it into words

Can't even put it into words

 

If you know me at all, you know that I am seldom stuck for what to say. I adore language and verbal expression but people, I need to tell you that I am kind of at a loss. Gobsmacked. Flummoxed. Verklempt. I get weepy when I think back on the past few months. 

What started out as a bit of a whim at the Great Northern Arts Festival (and what earned me People’s choice for jewelry design) quickly turned into pop-ups at The Claim and then snowballed into a full-fledged store (albeit the smallest in the Yukon). I had no intention of opening a store but open one, I did and look at what YOU all did. You checked it out, you cautiously dipped your toes into the water and now, now you bring your friends, colleagues, aunties and mamas. You shop for yourselves when you should be shopping for others because you just can’t leave that necklace/bracelet/earring set behind. 

You all are the most supportive, curious, generous, adventurous, trail-blazing fashionistas who clearly have GREAT taste. I am finding financial freedom after an incredibly exhausting and expensive divorce thanks to YOU. I can’t thank you enough for all that you’ve given me – encouragement, kudos, hugs and high fives, praise, props, and so much love. In return, I will continue to bring you ethically sourced, fairly priced wild Yukon fur goods and so many gorgeous new designs in the coming months. 

Additionally, I will giving back to my gorgeous community with a coupon code. I have to do some of my own shopping and of course some sleeping in so the boutique won’t be open but you can use this coupon code to save a few dollars and get that one fluffy trinket that didn’t find its way under your tree. I love you. I can’t possibly thank you enough. 

Code : BoxThis! 

 

Expires on Dec 27. Goods wont ship until I return to work on Jan 3. 

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Kinda like Beyoncé, but different.

Oh friends, what a crazy few months it’s been. I have all these ambitions. Goals. Dreams. (delusions?)

I set out to do so many amazing things and then this weird thing happens. It turns out that I’m not actually Beyoncé and no, I don’t actually have the same hours in a day as her. Or maybe I just don’t have a massive staff like her to get shit done. Anyway, while I may not be Beyoncé, I am pretty amazing at being me and that does include having more things on my to-do list than is possible to get done in the allotted time.

The last few months have been wilder than wild. I opened a store. An actual store. Then my website died. Like, it disappeared and was gone for a whole month. That was painful… but through the amazing folks at Vault Press (the most badass website backup service on the planet!), it’s back and better than ever. Store is getting slowly updated (bear with me – that’s a brutal process) and I’m reminded of my commitment to obtaining my degree. I’m still working through the first Foundations course (so very slowly) but every time there’s just a little space in my life to work on this education that I’ve busted my ass to pay for, I’m grateful and working on being gentle with myself for not being as far along as I’d like.

The holiday season is fast approaching and I’m hustling with all of my heart in my wee store – have I mentioned it’s the smallest in Whitehorse (and maybe in the whole Yukon?!). It’s a 65 square foot little piece of heaven. Almost everything on the shelves was made by my hands and let me tell you how humbling, rewarding, gratitude-inspiring that is. The impending gifting season is indicative of my distinct lack of time for things like school but I must persevere!

 

I arrive to my boutique in the morning and can’t actually believe that I’ve created this space, this opportunity for myself. I’ve had some incredible support in getting here but I built this thing. I’ve forged a path that supports my dreams and goals and sure, my delusions. I’m not pursuing opulent, wasteful wealth. Nope, I’m pursuing a sustainable career path that supports my values, my ethics, and my deep abiding love for textiles and creating beautiful things for beautiful people.

So while I may fall behind on my studies (falling behind according to an abstract assumption about linear progression and expectation – things I’m learning to adjust and adapt to), I come to them eventually and in the meantime, I’m doing meaningful work and adding beauty to the lives of many. And an unexpected element of my work is the educational component of sharing with my customers about my partner, George’s fur harvesting practices. I have learned so much throughout these past months and am so fulfilled, I’m surprised I could put as much of it into words as I’ve done here. Thank you for being part of this incredible journey. You are the reason I’ve come this far.

SaveSave

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Æ Web Store – It’s FIXED!

So my website’s been busted for nearly a month. Long, dull story – I’ll spare you. BUT! It’s back!! I have SO MANY new designs to upload and I can’t wait for you to see them all!! There’s a pile of new wolf fur pieces, lynx styles, marten, beaver and my favourite – the red fox. Just wait. It’s going to blow you away. And what’s even better, I’ll send your goodies to pretty much anywhere Canada Post will deliver.

Of course, if you haven’t already checked out all of the newest goodies on my Instagram, I highly suggest you do so. If you spot something there that isn’t yet listed on the website, just message me and I can pop it into the mail for ya!

OH! And the store has been the funnest thing ever. Horwoods Mall is a fun and busy little place. There’s always faces I haven’t seen in forever and almost everyone I see is just so darned happy! I hope you’ll be one of them. It is a bit tricky to find me, however. If you don’t use the Front Street entrance much, it’s easy to miss. I’m literally right beside the Passport place. I have so much to show you!!

 

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Learning Log – Assignment 1 Feedback


Well, I’ve submitted my first assignment and received feedback from my tutor. Bless him for being gentle and kind in his delivery of the most constructive criticism I’m probably ever received. He pointed out many of my achievements and strengths while encouraging me to consider my work from other perspectives. He also suggested that I generate more material from which he may form additional feedback on future assignments.

So while what I posted previously was a cross section of the work I produced over the duration of the first module, I did produce far more than was shown in that one post. If more work is needed to meet criteria for assessment, I’ll be posting that and linking to it from my assignment submission post. It’ll likely be a dull post but it may just satisfy what’s currently a bit weak in terms of my submission content.

While the completion of the degree seems like it’s a lifetime away, if I persist and keep putting one foot in front of the other, I could very well get there.

So back to the drawing board I’ll go. Revisit the assignment sections, review all of my work to date, flesh out my learning log, and produce more content. Wish me luck!

 

 

 

 

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Æ – Boutique opening soon!!

I’m so excited to tell you this! I’m opening a store in the Horwood’s Mall in downtown Whitehorse next month!! I get the keys on the first and will be hustling to get the doors open so you can come see me and all of my handcrafted treasures. I’ll be selling fish leather and fur jewelry and fur accessories (coming soon!) as well as all of the various textile products (coin purses, bento bags, pouches, scarves and of course tapestries that I make in my home studio. Of course, over time, the offerings will ebb and flow but for now, that’s what you can expect. The shop is very, very wee – a closet, practically. But it’s really cute and in a very hip, vibrant mall. I’m really excited and grateful for the opportunity that this boutique represents – so much change and validation.

So, as I mentioned, I get the keys on the first but will need a little time to get it ready for you. Watch for a super cute window display and hopefully by the fourth, I’ll be open and ready to go! Also, while you’re in Horwoods, be sure to come by Baked Cafe to see my exhibition – Impressions – where you can see  a whole bunch of botanical prints that I created last summer – most of which are available for purchase. Several works are framed in embroidery hoops and ready to hang (or gift, since Christmas IS coming) and several that are just prints on fabric that can be purchased to sew your own items with! Some are embroidered and some are just beautiful, simple floral prints.

Hope to see you soon at the boutique and the exhibition!!