Quiet Christmas

>> Thursday, December 23, 2010

Just before the flurry of Christmas and just after the flurry of craft shows, I took a little quiet afternoon to knit up a sweater for Francis. My friend Sarah had alerted me to the fact that while the new pants were nice, he needed a sweater like Fifi's to complete the ensemble.
I wanted to make it red and had a nice little ball of merino in my stash but it wasn't quite enough so the sleeves are pretty short. On the other hand, how long do you go with a monkey?

Happy holidays to everyone, and wishing you everything good in the New Year. Thanks for all your visits!

 

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City of Craft - bringing it all back home

>> Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lovely doilies by Beside Herself and a pretty embellished wooden pen knife.
Adorable wee pouch by Coucou Salut.
Pretty bird brooch and printed fox notebook by Genevieve Jodouin. If I can manage to use the notebook, I'm planning to frame the beautiful cover print.
When can I ever resist a bag of fabric scraps? These were offered up by Grace Design.
A little log faux bois keyring, and blackboard necklace by Killside Krafts. I've been using it to keep track of knitting rows! Pictured next to one of Shannon Gerard's popular crocheted cactuses.
Summery vintage floral wallet by Knotted Nest. They even came in charming boxes made from maps. How could I choose just one thing from Kristen's table? Well it wasn't easy, I loved everything!
Two glass cups from my talented neighbour, Rachel Robichaud. The jadeite green one caught my eye first, but I also love yellow so that one came home with me too.
And I even got treats just for being a vendor, a ribbon made by Roisin, and one of the pencils from Kalpna's pencil project.

I love City of Craft. Thank you to Becky and everyone who helped out and everyone who visited. City of Craft loves you!


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City of Craft - almost ready!

>> Thursday, December 16, 2010

Just one last post before City of Craft this weekend! This year I have new Christmas cards, a vintage-inspired watercolour of a fairy with a young robin. It's a bit sweet & sentimental but sometimes when I sit down to draw that's just what comes out. These come in sets of four with envelopes, and the cards are blank inside so you can write anything you like.
 I also just finished some more new wool embroidered brooches, this time in blue/green.
To make these I started with a knitted swatch, like a small scarf. Then I wash that and dry it a few times so it's a bit felted. Then I do some extra soapy felting by hand to help it really shrink down and get nice and thick.

This time I dyed the swatch with yellow first, then added some blue after that. Doing it this way instead of just dyeing it green in the first place makes a nice rich blend of blue and green that I really like. Then I dry the swatch and cut it into little circles. Each circle is hand-embroidered using crewel wool. Then lastly I sew a little brooch latch on the back. Done!


I also have some new sewn pincushion/ornaments as well, lots of them made with pieces of my favourite barkcloth fabrics. There are two made with grey and orange wool plaid and crocheted lace.
And a few with a combination of mustard yellow linen, a floral print and vintage lace.
And lastly a few with a blue Japanese cotton print with little trees and deer combined with blue striped fabric and gingham on the back.
If you're not a sewer, they have loops so you can hang them on a tree and they make a nice little stocking stuffer.

And lastly I have these little friendship medals. The wood shapes were made by Beside Herself and bought by me at a Workroom trunk show. I decided to cross-stitch little bars of colours on each one then sew a brooch pin on the back. Beside Herself is the collaboration of Toronto based artists Carolyn Self and Alda Escareño - this talented duo will be at City of Craft as well, tempting you with everything on their table!
Ok, back to work for me... don't forget to visit the City of Craft blog to see samples of some of the swag on offer for the first 100 people to the show on BOTH days, and some of the gorgeous items you could win in the raffles that take place throughout the show.

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Getting ready for City of Craft

>> Monday, December 13, 2010

I've been very busy getting ready for City of Craft! Here's a sneak peek..
I sold my last crocheted pincushion at Crafternoon Tea, so I decided to make some new ones. These are crocheted from my own handspun wool yarn combined with vintage feedsack floral fabric tops and vintage buttons with wool flowers or leaves underneath. They come with their coordinating pins! They're all stuffed with 100% wool fleece.
I've also embroidered lots of new brooches. These are made from thick white felted wool circles embroidered with crewel wool with a brooch clasp sewn on the back. I love making these! I generally just make up each picture as I go along.
And lastly I have some new necklaces. These are based on a new idea I had last year but I didn't have time to make more than one. I've added wool felt flowers to the usual beads and silver charms I use. I love the textile element and I've used lots of my favourite aqua and mustard. I'm just not tired of this colour combination! p.s. I only bought one pony charm (why? why?) so there is just the one pony necklace.

I hope I've tempted you to visit my table at City of Craft! I'm going to be inside the theatre in front of the stage steps close to my spot last year. If I have time this week, I'll show you another sneak peek. In the meantime, here's all the info:

City of Craft 2010
December 18 & 19, 2010
Saturday 11:00am-6:00pm
Sunday 11:00am-5:00pm
$2 Admission

Toronto's annual indie craft fair is back and better than ever. 50 vendors! A neighbourhood full of related art and installations! Free workshops and demos! Surprises!

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Decor shopping

>> Friday, December 10, 2010

Le Creuset 12-Ounce Petite Oval Casserole in Dijon
I've posted about them before, but I find that CSN Stores has been a good place to find decor items for the home with lots of selection.  I've had a few friends mention that they had a hard time finding things like rugs and extra tall bar stools. Apparently bar stools can be quite expensive.
Le Creuset 1.5-Quart Round Casserole with Lid in Kiwi
I find it much easier to just search online than to visit a bunch of stores especially if they're far away. But sometimes you find the perfect thing, then find out the store doesn't ship to Canada. Well I've had a rug delivered from CSN and it was very easy, so I can recommend them.
Le Creuset 3.5-Quart Round French Oven in Flame
They also have smaller items of course, such as Le Creuset cookware, a personal favourite, so that's what I'm planning on ordering next myself. Is it just me or is a colourful casserole dish just the thing to cheer up your kitchen for the holidays?

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Buying Handmade - p.s. robot friend

>> Monday, November 22, 2010

Imaginary Thomas

miniature toy robot
There are lots of robots on etsy, but these tiny ones caught my eye. I find them a bit spooky in a Doctor-Who-don't-know-what's-under-the-bed kind of way and wouldn't want them scuttling around at night while I'm asleep, but they're also kind of cute. Luckily they are "guaranteed deactivated" so safe to have around the home. And, they're made from upcycled materials so you can even feel good about that. Thomas has lots of interesting creations, have a look at his website for more projects and artwork.

Today I'm busy sewing as I have two craft shows this weekend. I'll be at Crafternoon Tea this Saturday:

WHEN: Saturday November 27th, 11am to 5pm
WHERE: Queen St. East Presb. Church (Queen E. & Carlaw)



Then at the Artisan Gift Fair at the Tranzac on Sunday:

WHEN: Sunday November 28th, 12 to 6pm
WHERE: The Tranzac, 292 Brunswick Avenue

I hope you come and visit!

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Buying Handmade - part three

Very moldy business card case
This post is all about gifts for guys. Harder to shop for, right? I think so anyway. I used to think I could just get Bradley anything with a robot on it and he would be happy. But after I asked him to look for things on etsy he thought guys would like, I was surprised by the results. This is the history of keywords he looked up:

zelda triforce, musette, tour de france, cycling, lumberjack, axe, army of darkness, new pornographers, wolf parade, animal collective music, band of horses, grizzly bear, firefly mal, walking dead, himym, the wire hbo, deadwood, community troy abed, cuff links, dice, deck cards, wooden pen, wire puzzles, geocaching, camping.....robot friend


Not everything had results but maybe that gave you some ideas! My general suggestions are: wool socks, wristwatch, toiletry bag, coffee cup, coffee cup cosy, messenger bag, ipod cosy, ipad etc. cosy, artwork, passport case, notebook, pen, wallet. Anyway, here are my picks:

ELINtm:
ipod touch sleeve in felt with mold decoration
I've been admiring this shop for some time now, fascinated by the notion of embellishing handmade items with crocheted mold and lichen. And the results are stunning! I love how Elin captures a variety of textures with her choices of yarn and stitches. Each piece is a beautiful microscopic landscape.

anotherjamiedavis:
green tree toiletry bag
Jamie takes vintage items and adds her own wood grain embroidery. What a great idea! The embroidery really updates each piece and makes it so cool. I like them myself, but they're definitely manly. Practical too, this would be the perfect toiletry case to take on a camping trip.

Kate Pugsley:
ice fishermen gocco screen print
For artwork I picked one of Kate Pugsley's gocco screen prints. The details are actually hand-painted with watercolors. This print has an elegantly subtle palette and charming naive style (and I thought the ice fishing would be a good guy choice!) Kate's artwork is occasionally embellished with collage elements such as pretty patterned papers, and I love the seaside themes, with mermaids, fish and snorkelers.

The Maple Ridge:
antelien original ink drawing
And another piece of art, this time an original ink drawing. Click on the link and read the description yourself, very funny. And, also, how affordable is this original artwork? The mind reels.

So I hope my post gave you some ideas about shopping for guys. If you have any ideas yourself I'd love to hear about them in a comment!

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Buying Handmade - part two

>> Friday, November 19, 2010

As promised, more handmade shopping inspiration!

strawberries and cream:

woolen monkey
Does your little monkey need a little monkey? Etsy makes me wish I had more kids to buy for, so many cute things! I love this monkey's plaid jumpsuit. He looks a little perplexed: why am I still here? why hasn't anyone bought me yet??

fox and clover:
remnes lace necklace
I can't say enough about this talented artist! Sabrina's necklaces are made from recycled glass and hand-painted with beautiful lace/nature-inspired patterns. Bradley gave me one for our anniversary and to say it is a treasured possession is an understatement! Absolutely beautiful.

amanda kindregan:
egg basket block print
I love pretty much all printmaking techniques, especially when they have a textured look to them and charming content such as this "egg basket" block print. This print is part of Amanda's "happy kitchen"" series so you could even have a little grouping of them!

Part three coming up soon...

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Buying Handmade - part one

I think it's probably obvious that I'm a handmade kind of person. I buy handmade things, and I sell handmade things, and if I'm lucky I occasionally get to swap handmade things. This is great because to be frank most of us aren't getting rich selling handmade and I'm constantly surrounded by talented crafters and artists whose work I covet.

This holiday I'll be making handmade items for gifts and for upcoming craft shows. Over the years I've found lots of presents myself at craft shows and I love skipping the mall and finding something that's one-of-a-kind and didn't come from a factory. To inspire you, I thought I'd post some of my favourite handmade treats.

Ponder and Stitch:

vintage feedsack cuff
This is a lovely cuff made from vintage feedsack. Amy also offers made-to-order cuffs with custom embroidery. Her shop is popular so dash over there early if you're looking for a holiday gift!

Sadie Designs:
birch and gold geometric necklace
I've been admiring these necklaces for a while now. They're made with birch wood in geometric patterns. So cool!

MinusOne:
Now, how can you go wrong with barkcloth? It's a great search word to use if you want to find something special. This oversized pincushion is just one of many gorgeous items in this artfire shop. I also love the pretty vintage-style necklaces.

More to come in my next post!

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More needle books

>> Thursday, November 18, 2010

Here's a peek at one of Bradley's birthday presents from October.
His very own custom robot needle book, with his name embroidered on the front and a robot print inside.
mustard linen woodland embroidered needle book
Yesterday I finally finished my last in a batch of new needle books, some in mustard with flowered branches..

and some in pink with red and pink flowers..
pink embroidered needle book

So these new ones are shaped like an acorn.
acorn needle book

The front and back covers have the cap pieced together with the nut part, then lined. The tricky part was the little stem but that really did seem necessary. Even the pages inside are shaped like acorns! Sewing together all the layers at the end can be tricky, the wool tends to shift and it all ends up a bit wonky. So I just did it by hand while a big clip held it all together. All these new needle books are in my etsy shop and will be coming with me to Crafternoon Tea.

ALSO, I just found out there's a spot for me at City of Craft! Hurray! More about that later..

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Crafternoon Tea - You're invited!

>> Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I was thrilled to be chosen for Crafternoon Tea this year. It's a Leslieville craft show that I've visited a few times and I've always loved the warm friendly vibe and amazing mix of talent.
Barkcloth Lady by a River wristlet
I'm busy making new things, many of which are sneaking their way into my etsy shop in the meantime.
Mustard-linen owl-embroidered needle book
Snowy Forest with Deer
The day of the market I'll be closing the etsy shop, then before reopening I'll delete things that get sold at Crafternoon Tea. This will probably be my only craft show this winter/Christmas so please come by!

When: Saturday November 27th, 11am to 5pm
Where: Queen St. East Presb. Church (Queen E. & Carlaw)

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Sock monkey pants

>> Friday, November 12, 2010

Have you ever wondered if sock monkeys get cranky? Well it's rare, but as you can see in this picture Francis has his arms crossed in a way that suggests he is annoyed about something. Here's what happened.
Francis modelled some pants for me so I could figure out the pattern to make some pants for a gift for someone else with a sock monkey. But I think there was a misunderstanding and he thought the pants were for him.

He has his arms crossed but as you can see he's still smiling because sock monkeys never really get cranky. It's just not in their nature. But I did think he should get his own pants. And of course Fifi needed pants too.
Francis picked out a red plaid for his new pants and Fifi picked a floral. They look a bit like jammy pants to me, but I wasn't going to argue because the heart wants what it wants.

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Wonky free motion quilting

>> Tuesday, November 02, 2010

This is my quilt folded, pretending it's finished
So as I was saying, we only had a handful of trick-or-treaters. Possibly Bradley's jack-o-lantern was too scary? I will have to alert him to this issue.

But now, onto the quilting. I finished my second quilt top a long time ago, the Denyse Schimdt Single Girl, but since basting it together, it has languished around being a big disappointment. This is because I made a few choices for it that I later regretted.
This is the hand-quilted part
First of all I used muslin for the background, and once it was finished it suddenly seemed a bit drab to me and I wasn't crazy about it. I had considered a white cotton initially but it seemed too bright next to some of the vintage prints. So there's that.

Then I also decided to experiment and used curtain interlining for the batting. It's sort of soft and fuzzy and thinner than the other batting I've used so I thought it would be easier to do nice fine hand-quilting. Plus it was an inexpensive option. But once it was all pin-basted together the lining seemed to make the whole quilt sort of heavy and droopy. So there's that.

Then I decided that I would hand quilt it. As I expected with the thin "batting" I could do nice tiny stitches. I used the circle design suggested by the pattern. But once I had finished three rows I wasn't thrilled. It just didn't seem quilted enough, there were large areas that I felt would need lots more quilting. Which would take ages. Especially as I wasn't motivated to finish it since I didn't love my quilt anymore.
So enough complaining, because.. I've sorted it all out! I decided that I would cut my losses and switch to machine quilting. I decided on free-motion quilting because I have a darning foot already for my Bernina, and I don't have a walking foot yet. Plus I wanted to try free-motion. And I love it! I love the way it looks, I love the way it feels and I like the muslin now. Even the interlining seems right now, it's a thin quilt (which was the original plan, I like thin quilts) but with a nice textured feel. And it's so pretty!
Detail of the machine quilting
I did a very simple scribbled loop pattern, just the same loop over and over, one column at a time. It seemed like an easy way to start and I like the design. There are lots of mistakes but you'd really have to examine the quilt to spot them, so I just don't care. Which isn't like me at all. I may do more hand quilting someday, but somehow for this quilt, machine quilting has been the answer. It does mean I will have to undo lots of hand quilting.. yuck.. but I really think it's worth it.

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