happiness is a warm back

DSC08349.jpg

Way back in January, I made one big new year’s resolution and a smaller one: to learn how to knit.  One of my best friends shared the desire to learn, so together we made an adventure of it, rounded up supplies, filled a big bowl with popcorn, and started YouTubing tutorials.  I like to fancy myself a crafty lady, but my goodness!  Knitting is hard.  Several frustrating hours and unraveled skeins later, though, we were very slowly sort-of-kind-of-knitting.

Quite a few of the dancers at FBP are avid knitters, but none rival the ultimate knitting queen, Vilia Putrius.  With several decades of knitting experience, she has certainly earned that title…

DSC08355.jpg

Vilia learned to knit when she was just 5 years old.  You could say a talent for crafting runs in the family.  Ms. Putrius grew up in a family of circus artists (how cool is that?) and some of her earliest memories are of her parents sewing costumes and knitting clothing for she and her brother.  By age 18, Vilia had become a professional ballet dancer, but that homespun tendency ran deep.  When she struggled to find warm ups to suit her distinctive style, Vilia took matters into her own needle-clad hands.  Her obvious talent turned the craft into a business, and a few years later Arleo Wear was born.

Being a professional ballerina herself, Vilia is able to design pieces that a dancer truly needs. The Arleo Wear-covered dancers of FBP are a clear indication of that specificity; In the studio we stay bundled  in her cozy overalls, signature sleek ankle warmers, and on-trend convertible shorts, but it seems everyone’s favorite design might be the brilliant back warmer.

img_0078

Perfect for class and rehearsals alike, the Arleo back warmer allows freedom of movement in the hips and shoulders while keeping the core toasty.  Finally a way to keep an eye on lines without sacrificing comfort and style, ah!  Her knitting expertise is also woven into every garment she designs, using only the finest yarns to create these essential pieces.

Now that I have my back warmer, I truly wonder how I ever got along without it.  It’s like a ballet-appropriate version of your favorite cozy sweater.  And really, isn’t that what we all want?

to shop.

also check out her accessories while you’re at it. (you might see a familiar face;)

ms. rubia and her wonderful warmers

Last winter, somewhere in the midst of record-breaking snowfall, a friend introduced me to RubiaWear leg warmers.  Flattering silhouette, ultra thin fabric, soft knit, subtle stripes.  Always game for a little investigation, I decided to give them a go.11026053_1607928049427136_5997283873558158194_n

When my first pair arrived in the mail, immediately I was hooked.  For the remainder of the season, not one morning passed where I watched my reflection without the warm hug of my trusty Rubias.  Today Boston Ballet’s Ashley Ellis, the genius behind RubiaWear, sheds a bit of light on what life has been like since creating the collection of warmers worn ’round the world…

lsaZzh5Gf-TOnZrLF38Y-3ZYVIITvtyCv2LYO-6agSo

So Ashley, how did you become inspired to start making leg warmers?

It should be noted that I am in Boston now, and well, winter here is notorious for being long with extreme conditions, so this was surely extra incentive for creating a line of ‘warm ups’!

Apart from this, I really enjoy making all sorts of things, am always busy with projects, I find it to be a nice outlet for me. Whether I’m sewing, fixing things around the house, painting, baking, or what ever else sparks my curiosity. Needless to say that when I sew I am often drawn to making things to wear in the studio because this is where I spend so much of my time.

In the months before I opened the line I had made some legwarmers for myself, simply because I had lost the ones I’d had before (by that mysterious fairy that steals dancewear left in the studio over night). I played a bit with different styles that I found to be most flattering. Then, a few friends started to ask me to make them some. As more people showed interest I thought it would be fun to make more and come up with a design to offer to my colleagues. I explored this idea step by step, and with each new detail I wanted to create a product that looked professional but maintained a unique quality.  In the end I thought I might as well make it an official line and how fun it would be to offer not just to my friends, but also to anyone who would be interested.

yG3d7_hcAYFjEaViEk_qwavOo6i02JkLo1DYq7Q0lI4.jpeg

Your tendency towards constantly finding little projects is so relatable.  So, what made you decide to turn it into a business?

It wasn’t really a predetermined plan of mine, it just sort of happened. Not to say it was easy- it took a lot time, work, and educating myself on how to get it all going, but I was having fun with it so I kept going.

I knew that my colleagues were fans of the warmers but I had no idea whether or not people outside of my direct contact would be interested in buying them so I just decided to give it a shot. I did feel that if I was going to offer RubiaWear to the dance world at large I wanted the product to be of a high quality and offer an attractive platform from which I was able to sell it. Essentially, something that I myself as a dancer would want to buy and wear everyday.

Since starting with the official line of RubiaWear things have been escalating nicely which has been a very exciting ride so far. It’s been difficult to keep up with at times, and I wish I could move faster and offer more growth sooner, but this will come with time. I plan to introduce new designs, premade products to get things to customers faster.

Being a dancer is still my passion and full time concentration, so at times there are moments when I have to step back and admit that there are things that still have to wait and feel fortunate that things have escalated at the pace that they have.

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 7.50.14 AM.png

I’ve always wondered, where does the name RubiaWear come from?

While dancing in Spain for three years with the Corella Ballet de España I picked up the nickname Rubia, which essentially means Blondie, and it kind of stuck. I wanted to have a part of myself in the name but didn’t really want to use my own name. So, RubiaWear has a sort of disguised part of me in it. I chose the logo and its colors because I thought suited the ‘blonde’ theme. I like that there is meaning behind it but it doesn’t have to be completely obvious.

I just love your children’s line, Rubita, and my goodness, the Rubita MINI series- don’t even get me started.  Cuteness overload!  Where did the inspiration to start making miniatures come from?

Well, besides the fact that the Rubita sizes are so adorable? Haha. I just thought that there are so many young dance students out there who should also keep their little legs warm in between classes and to and from the studio. These ballerinas in training should also have the option to wear dancewear that is unique and showcases their sense of style, even if they do have to wear a uniform for class. I plan to offer children’s sizes whenever I can with future products as well.

3UR9nSkFtuwxZ-BhRBHMDR_BKGPjEzqiE03JBzlQk_w

What has been the most surprising/exciting/fulfilling aspect of running RubiaWear so far?

I’ve really enjoyed the learning aspect that starting RubiaWear has offered. I’ve had to learn a lot, not just about how to make warmers but how to run a business.

I’d say one of the most rewarding things has been seeing people all over the world getting excited about the product. I enjoy being in contact with the customers. I’ve received a lot of positive feedback and it gets me more excited and confident about moving forward into the future.

I have to mention that I’m grateful for how encouraging and supportive people, near and far, have been of this venture.

Rg0e8LX2-rf0WHOp-aHVlsh1BT64O5uhCeOOrK8fp40

THANK YOU to the inspiring and beautifully articulate Ms. Ashley Ellis for sharing her story!  To shop the collection (which I highly recommend), head right this way.  To catch Ashley on stage, head over here.

photos by Kenneth B. Edwards

s-s-s-summertime

photo 3

Wow.  It’s only been two weeks since my last post, but I swear I’ve jammed an entire summer’s worth of projects into those 14 days and nights.  Since we last spoke I filmed a music video, moved into a new home, spent 2 days modeling (read: twirling) for MAC cosmetics, celebrated the first beach day of the season accordingly (see first photo), and participated in another photoshoot for Unique Gifts By Vilia.  There is so much to share, I’m just going to work through it all in reverse order.

We’ll begin with this past weekend’s adventure on the scenic Cliff Walk of Newport, RI, where I spent the evening strolling, giggling and modeling the day away with the multi-talented Vilia and some truly fantastic friends.  I’m still not very comfortable in front of the lens, but the behind the scenes fun always makes it well worth my pose-a-phobia!  Exhibit A: As we munched on our post-photoshoot picnic and watched the sun set over First Beach, a salty breeze swirled around my face, kissing my ears with its happy summer song and I was reminded why I love this pretty little Ocean State of ours.unique3 photo 2 photo 3unique2 photo 4 unique10463995_523489091089267_2013835002123263991_nphoto 4

first,sixth and seventh photos by Vilia Putrius

rehearsal chic

NYC Ballet Ballerina Style

After reading this article on HuffPo about the style of NYCB’s ballerinas, I started considering; how exactly does one’s in-studio style develop?  Everyone has their preferred dancewear flavor, from the guy who sports a wrestling singlet every Saturday to the girl who never starts class without her fluffy knit shawl.  We’ve all seen (and worn) some version of the sheer black wrap skirt and we revel in the magic of the tights-turned-bra-top trick.  We’ve certainly all experienced the softness, warmth, and fat-day-concealing power of the baggy cotton overalls that are somehow deemed acceptable garb within the half circle of wooden barres.  A company-wide rumor of unclaimed “trashbag” anything (shorts, pants, jumpsuits) in the lost and found excites us beyond belief.  But what exactly determines which odd ballet trend we go for?  Why do some of us reach for a sleek black camisole while others relish the chance to don a bright purple Yumiko in the morning?

Personally, I think it has something to do with our sartorial choices outside the studio.  Par example, one of my best friends is a true earrings girl.  From big studs to pearls to danglies (made that word up), she has a big jewelry box stuffed full of them…it’s like the Whole Foods bulk section in there.  She never leaves the house without some kind of ear decor, and she’s even been known to coordinate her earring/leotard combos quite painstakingly.  The brilliance in her dressing?  Without many other options for accessorizing your rehearsal-wear (shoes don’t deviate much from pink satin and necklaces/bracelets/scarves can be cumbersome), earrings are a really smart way to jazz up your ballet gear.  So bravo, T!

As for me, I’m getting pretty excited about a custom-made pair of leg warmers currently being knitted for me by the lovely Vilia Putrius.  Her stuff is seriously amazing…can’t wait to see how these turn out!

Happy Monday!

wrap it up

1381796_423861421052035_664915844_n 600845_423854457719398_663411970_n1234340_423851254386385_1286474090_n1381942_423854527719391_679066443_n1381987_423850574386453_716499212_n

This S(f)unday, Tegan and I had the pleasure of helping out FBP’s Vilia Putrius with her latest creative project: Unique Gifts by Vilia.  Teaming up with family and friends from her home country (Lithuania), the delightful principal dancer has started her own line of 100 % handmade knitwear.  We all know I’m no model, but when someone as lovable and charming as Vilia asks for your help, you just don’t say no!  Despite my nerves, it was an absolutely lovely day spent by a pond in Barrington, snapping photos, giggling like crazy people, and snuggling up in these soft, gorgeous pieces.  I am seriously coveting one of those intricate purple scarves (second photo)- so cozy!

Shop, here.

Like the Facebook page, here.