Friday, November 27, 2015

Why Hand Made Matters

The blanket my Gran made for me in the 1970s.

When it comes to gift-giving, it's easier and often less expensive to buy something from a retail store when we head out shopping with a checklist. But I've been thinking a lot lately about the beauty of giving--and receiving--hand-made gifts. I've been thinking about why hand made matters. 

Links to our Past

Do you remember your parents or grandparents making something for you? Perhaps your grandmother crocheted or your mother sewed. Or maybe your father did wood carving and your grandfather painted in oils. Think of the time someone spent on what they loved to do, especially if they made something specifically for you. These are part of your family story.

For Shelagh and me, our love of giving something special, something hand made, comes from our mother and her mother. Gran was amazingly talented: she sewed, crocheted, and knit. When I was a teenager, she sent me a beautiful crocheted afghan that she and her sisters (I think) made. Gran mailed it from Scotland, where our parents were from originally. Although I loved it, I know my teenage self didn't completely appreciate it. But I still have it and every time I look at it, I think of my grandmother.

Supports Creativity

Face it, most of our days are spent on the "have to" activities: grocery shopping, children's events, house cleaning, even exercising. But creativity should be part of our lives, whether through our own pursuits or appreciating other people's. I read a great quote from Elizabeth Gilbert that I think sums up why creativity is good for our mental health: "If I am not actively creating something, then chances are I am probably actively destroying something--myself, a relationship, or my own peace of mind."

The beauty of creativity is that it looks different for each of us. And often we appreciate that "thing" we cannot do: painting, knitting, jewellery-making, writing. Pursuing those creative activities is a wonderful outlet. Purchasing an artisan's creations might fire up your own creativity.

"Slow Living"

The growth of mindfulness has occurred as people becoming tired of a hectic, hyper-connected, over-marketed lifestyle. Living mindfully means slowing things down, choosing simplicity over excess, being present and aware of what we have, and practising gratitude.

Making something by hand means having the chance to be active creatively and mindfully. Buying something hand made means choosing creativity, simplicity, and a story over speed, excess, and a checklist.

These are just some of the benefits I see for why hand made matters. What do you think? What do you see as the benefits of choosing hand made over store bought?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Three Reasons to Shop the Neighbourhood

Have you seen the advertisements for the Yellow Pages "Shop the Neighbourhood" campaign? Here's the description on their website: "On November 28, 2015, Canadians nationwide will be encouraged to make a local purchases and take advantage of exclusive event day deals offered by businesses in their neighbourhoods."

We love the idea of shopping local: small businesses are an important part of the local economy, although they do not garner the same headlines given to large companies or government offices moving into town.

Shelagh and I aren't a bricks-and-mortar store, but we do consider ourselves to be a small business. So here are our top three reasons to support local businesses this weekend:

  1. Support larger industries. Small business provide support for other larger industries in a town as well as goods and services for the local population. Everything from coffee shops and restaurants, taxi services, and auto parts provide much-needed support for any larger offices and industries in town.
  2. Provide job opportunities. Small businesses offer job opportunities for locals, even family-owned and -operated businesses often need help if they are growing. I think many of us started working in high school for a locally owned restaurant or fast-food place. Or perhaps in a small retail store. Many of these are small businesses and if you worked for one, you were part of the small business family.
  3. Add character and community. Small businesses add to the character and sense of community in their towns. Have you heard your neighbours talk about not feeling a sense of community? Do you wish there were more character where you live? Figure out where you spend your hard-earned cash in your town: Is it at a bakery, toy store, boutique, or auto shop? Or a bunch of big box stores? Maybe a mix of both? However you normally shop, your patterns will show you what kind of community you want.
I like to think Shelagh and I participate in shopping local throughout the year. We love yarn--in case you missed that tidbit of information!--and we love going to our local yarn store, Soper Creek Yarn Store; visiting fibre festivals, where many indie dyers attend to sell their finished yarns; or even shopping online to find great yarns. We purposely look for Canadian artisan or indie dyers (shout out to Fleece Artist, IndigoDragonfly, and Sweet Georgia Yarns) and also some local dyers (thank you Yarn Enabler, The Yarn Therapist, and The Cozy Knitter).

We love being part of the indie, hand-making community: it's a fun and creative group of women (mostly) who support and encourage one another.

That's the community I want.

Have fun shopping local on the 28th!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Fashion Friday - Three Ways to Wear a Skinny Scarf

A skinny scarf is perfect for transitioning from summer to Fall. It's not too bulky and it stylishly provides a layer of warmth as the temperature drops. The scarf we're showing here is a Merino / Bamboo blend, so it's light but warm and breathable. And it's blue, which provides a great pop of colour to a wardrobe of neutrals / classics. Here's how to wear it now.

First, at work: I mean, what a great way to add some interest to a plain white shirt and black skirt. The tie-blouse became popular last year and we still see it on runways and in stores. But for that classic shirt you already have, why not add a skinny scarf instead of a necklace? It looks great and keeps you warm if you have to go to a meeting in a chilly conference room!

A skinny scarf is a great way to change up a traditional office look. 

Next, picking up / dropping off the kids for after school activities. Skinny jeans and rubber boots, a bulky pullover and a yellow mac: the style quotient for this look is amped up by wrapping a skinny scarf around your neck multiple times. The only other accessories you will need is coffee and a wallet.

Doesn't the blue pair well with a yellow mac?

Finally, let the skinny scarf release your inner rock star! Think Steven Tyler as you dress for a fun night out. Skinny jeans, a white T-shirt, high-heeled booties, and a rockin' belt all topped with a sequin-laden jacket and your skinny scarf wrapped once and draping down. 

How would you rock a skinny scarf?