November 12, 2018

Sweaters with Stories: Officially Launched!

The House of Ell shop is officially UP and running with the first mini-collection of "Sweaters with Stories" now launched!

Each of these sweaters was made with so much love and care, and I really hope that they can find some good loving homes, bringing warmth and comfort to people as the weather gets cooler (at least in the northern hemisphere!).

You can check out the collection on the House of Ell Shop here!

And of course, subscribe to the mailing list HERE to be the first to hear about future releases, and promo codes as the holiday season approaches!

Thank you to everyone who has sent me kind words so far, I'm excited for this adventure to evolve!


November 9, 2018

Sweaters with Stories: Coming this weekend!

I am SO EXCITED to share with you all the work I've been doing the last few months. I veered into new(ish) territory and began making upcycled sweaters. At first I was just trying to make the perfect one for myself, but then I cut up three sweaters and realized I had extra "sweater parts", and so I started to make more.

When I started thinking about how this new mode of art-making fit in with my practice and my beliefs, I started to think about (you might have guessed...) relationality! How does my interest in relational theories and relational aesthetics tie in with these new sweaters I am making? Here's a quote from my online shop to begin explaining:

"Sweaters with Stories are meant to bring relationality back to clothing - the relationship between the clothing, who made it, and who wears it. Each sweater has a history, being upcycled from multiple thrifted pieces. Also, each sweater was made by me, Katia, on a certain day, during a certain season. Each sweater comes with a brief story to tell you about who I was in that moment and what was happening in my life."

SIGN UP to the mailing list so that you can be the first to shop the collection, releasing this weekend.

I think the world of fast fashion is in part so toxic because it removes the consumer so deeply from the production, from the physical actual hands of a human being who put your garment together. I think our relationship to our clothing is toxic, because we don't value clothing in the way we should. We value it as a trend, as a passing fleeting moment that elevates our status in some way. We do not value clothing as treasures that should last us and bring us comfort and make us feel at home. Here is one small move to change that.

If you've been around these parts you know I think a lot about relational theories, and sustainable living. I realized that these sweaters fit into those two categories, AS WELL as being a creative practice. It has been really fulfilling to hit this note in my creating, and I hope that you are just as excited as I am! By buying one of my Sweaters with Stories, you are giving these pieces of clothing new stories, you are engaging with some relational fashion, and you are buying from not only a handmade maker but also a recycled/reused product.

Interested in seeing the whole mini-collection first? You can find the mailing list subscription page HERE !

November 4, 2018

Window Shopping ~ Pea Green

I've been really enjoying monochromatic outfits lately - AND this pea green tone. I desperately want to find some thrifted pants (in my size) in this really subtle and calming colour. So, here's a bit of online window shopping daydreaming and some sweet Etsy finds. Look how cozy that jacket is! Here in Toronto we completely skipped jean-jacket season and moved directly to cozy winter jackets (no parkas quite yet though). This jacket looks like it'd be the exact amount of cozy I need in the grey terrible weather we've been having. Trying to stay positive in gloomy grey weather is so tough! Fun colours for outfits help a little.

xo Katia

November 3, 2018

A Thought or Two: Trusting Strangers

The other night on the short walk home from the subway station after a slightly overpriced dinner with a great friend, I had two encounters with one thing in common.

A gentleman with a probing cane for vision impairment was walking right into a poorly delineated construction zone - essentially an odd maze of pylons right before a small step down to the next walkable surface. I stopped when it seemed that he may not be able to tell what was happening and offered to direct him out of the funny little pylon zone. He accepted the help and then asked me for directions to the subway and I offered to walk him there. I then offered him my arm for guidance, again he agreed, and allowed me to lead the way through traffic and intersections back to the subway station. You never know what level of vision someone has, even if they have a probing cane, so for all I know he had some vision, or entirely none. It didn't really matter - we chatted and introduced ourselves. The moment that changed my perception of this encounter was when the ground dipped just a little and had some uneven bumps from shoddy pavement work. I felt him hesitate and realized he didn't truly know where I was leading him, or what was happening under his feet. I assured him it was just a matter of bad city infrastructure, an explanation he seemed content with.

Something that has really struck me since moving so near to a subway station is that I now encounter persons living with homelessness almost daily. There are several regular frequenters of my area and I am always a bit hesitant to pull out my wallet to dig out some change - a bi-product perhaps of living in Paris and traveling alone, where you never flash what's in your wallet to strangers around you. I've been thinking about ways to have small change easily accessible to help when I can. This time, on my way home that same night, I had leftover chicken pot pie from my dinner. There was a woman who reached out to me, sitting next to the door of a busy fast food spot. I asked her if she was interested in some food. Immediately, she reached out both her arms, head nodding. She did not hesitate for a second to accept the mystery box of leftovers I had in my hands. I assured her any way - telling her it was a really yummy chicken pot pie and that I really hope she enjoys it. She didn't seem to need to be reassured and was just happy to accept it nonetheless.

I wondered, truly, if I would have been as trusting of me if I were in their shoes. I found it remarkable that these two strangers trusted me - a random person out of hundreds walking by. The first gentleman might not have even been able to see what I looked like and essentially trusted me based on my voice and the touch of my arm and my hand. The woman who accepted my food had no idea who I was or what my motivation might have been in offering food. For all she knew, it was an empty box or filled with something inedible. And yet her arms reached out so fully and openly to accept what I offered. I think I would have been so much more skeptical if I were either of these individuals.

Helping others always feels good - I admit I felt like I had done my good deeds for the day and definitely felt like a good person. That's not really what stood out to me though and not what I hope to relay here. It's important to remember that it was these two individuals who allowed me to help. It was SO powerful to be trusted by two strangers like that. We spend so much of our time - especially those of us who are young women - focused on self preservation and our personal safety. Approaching strangers on the street is something we are taught not to do at a super early age, and just like my aforementioned wallet neurosis, we learn so many tips and tricks to avoid risk from strangers on the street.

These risks are real. The consequences and fears are valid. However, there is beauty in the moments we let down our guard, too. I'm not sure what my conclusion is here, but it just felt good to let my wall down a little and to have others let their walls down for me in return. These days my brain is swirling with relational theories and how to make the world more relational - as you know if you've read this blog recently, so I can't help but connect these experiences to some of those ideas too.

What would the world be like if we were more trusting to those we pass on the street every day, whether they are helping us or we are helping them?
(I'm serious - tell me your vision in the comments!)