So, we thought we’d take you to a behind-the-scenes look at Team Ash & Muff, during a recent trip up North the end of this summer, in preparation for some new designs we are launching this August for the ArteFino “Finds”, a pop-up feature in the renowned ArteFino trunk show.

We’re so excited to show you our new creations, but for now, we’d like to take the opportunity to share how much work we’re putting into these new products, all of which are inspired by the Northern Philippines.

We left on a Friday for an 8 hour drive going to Ilocos Norte, where our objective was to learn from expert artisan weavers. Side trips must be mentioned, of course, because you can’t go up North without pit-stopping for great food. On our way to Paoay, we stopped for breakfast in S.O.U.L cafe where we tried one of their most popular dishes- the foot long batac longganisa and coffee at the hip El Union.

When we reached our destination, our host, Charito welcomed us with her home cooked Ilocano style Lomi, nilagang Saba and coffee.

During our visit we connected with the weavers themselves and learned some of the different styles of inabel like kundiman, binakol (meaning “twill” in Ilocano), and sinukitan.

The pictures don’t do justice to how beautiful these fabrics are — we should be taking these to the world and making more products out of these! Well that’s why we went here in the first place: to be part of this change to support local!

This is our Ilocos group with the owner, Charito.

These are Charito’s cats taking a nap.

They make nice binatog (corn dish) out of these.

By the way, we also discovered kapok here. It’s one of the few trees where cotton comes from. Was so amazed with it!

Of course, a beautiful Ilocos trip would not be complete without a visit in the Paoay church where you can find (in our humble opinion) the best empanada called Don Empanada- We literally had it every. single. day. That’s how good it was!

Our group also enjoyed Ilocos pinakbet, and poqui poqui (a talong dish). Their pinakbet is so famous that they even made a pinakbet pizza out of it!

I should say that the beach along Mcarthur road was beautiful. you will pass by this scenic route on the way to this beautiful Church in Sarrat.

Sarrat church. The. place.was. amazing.

My husband and I alternately took photos.

The Sarrat church was serenely quiet, with only birds chirping to accentuate the ruins.

This is me doing an awkward pose.

On our way back we passed by Calle Crisologo in Vigan and here we are happily enjoying our dirty ice cream. Indeed, it was a memorable trip!

We hope you enjoyed this different kind of blog today, and appreciated our little team’s trip up North! We’re so excited to bring you our new designs using the fabrics we found from this trip. See you at ArteFino Finds this August.