Thursday, February 28, 2008

accidental worksite accident.

hey, what would you give me for this?

(disclosure: it has a smudge on the top of the scissors).

out of 200 prints, this was my only second from the worksite accidents run, so i am pretty proud of myself. and even though i've deemed this little lady less than perfect, i'm sure she would make someone very happy. but because of the smudge, i don't really want to sell her. so it's time for another bidding war (last time i think i made shannon gerard bid against herself).

so make me some offers. i'll entertain all your weird bids. but i might also reject some.

the cloth, bowl, chair, kitchen table, flooring and base board is not inlcuded.

oh, and it measures 4.5" wide by 9" tall and is printed on a page from a cathode tube manual that i bought on etsy. and i am able to mail it quite safely if you happen to be outside of toronto.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

pin cushion and related neediness

here is a pin cushion i made last night. i've been wanting to make one for a while, then was inspired by fabrics i got at the fabric swap. i knew these ones came from jen because everything in her house has a special smell that she says is cedar and tobacco - she married a pipe smoking woodworker. it's nice when people have inoffensive yet distinctive smells. it makes me feel like everything would be okay if i went blind.

the buttons are vintage. i think the red one came from a favorite antique mall on the fringes of detroit and the cream one is a rather old glass button i got in a big button score at st. lawrence market. and it's all stuffed with the tiniest unusable fabric scraps, selvages and thread (see, sweetie, there is something to be done with that jar of thread ends/tangles i keep).

i'm thinking of making a bunch of these for a spring craft fair that city of craft/the workroom is cooking up (more actual information on that shortly) so you can feel free to encourage me, if you'd like. i am also trying to wrap my head around things to crochet for spring time and have a few ideas in that direction, too. but i have some pattern making to do before i have any crochet work to show off.

other side. it's reversible!

the hyperbolic future.

for those who'd like to know, know this:

i will be teaching another workshop in hyperbolic crochet at the knit cafe in april, complete with on-hand resources and mind-bending conversation about advanced geometry.

it will be sunday, april 13, 2008 from noon o'clock until three o'clock in the afternoon. if you'd like to book yourself in, you should do so through the knit cafe. word is, space is filling up.

here's a write-up for the workshop for those fond of "information":

In this one-day class, students will cover basic skills involved with crochet-in-the-round to create a pseudosphere (or the hyperbolic equivalent of a cone). We will cover basic crochet topics such as yarn selection, gauge and hook matching and even stitching techniques as well as delving into the possible variations of hyperbolic models. Mathematical materials, books and articles will also be on hand for reference (although, make no mistake, your instructor is much more knowledgeable in crochet than higher mathematics) and discussion of hyperbolic possibilities is encouraged. From this course, students will leave with the skills to make as many hyperbolic cones as they should ever want with infinite mathematical variations. The course also teaches the basic skills for crochet-in-the-round, which can also be used to make simple hats, potholders, tea cozies, slippers and other round things.

Monday, February 25, 2008

no rest for the wicked.

today i taught my first workshop at the knit cafe here in toronto. what a thrill! i got to indulge in a great passion of mine, hyperbolic crochet. it was a really lovely group of workshopees, too. and although we managed to digress into all sorts of conversation, i think we probably also discovered the true nature of the universe by 3:00pm.

with such platitudes as quantum physics behind us, marnie and i then hustled over to the workroom for a bit of supply swapping. it was a pretty overwhelming amount of stuff and i only found myself with a bit of energy for sifting through all the yarns and fabrics. i ended up with a couple of great finds, though, including some pretty choice wool fabric that may soon become a pin cushion.

the swap was quite well received and, with a small amount of logistical retooling, i think toronto will see more of these from city of craft/the workroom. stay tuned for more on that.

after everyone was gone, karyn, leah, jen and i slumped around on the couch and chairs (embodying the same energy as maisy here) and did some scattered scheming. suffice it to say, the wheels never stop turning and we have a couple of new plans in the works for the coming months.

oh, and i also got a sneak peek at my winning bid for the rubber ducky giveaway from shannon gerard. it's pretty amazing and smutty. she's kind of a bit of a genius.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

mega crochet.

i visited marnie yesterday after work to distribute some fabric scraps and generally talk about making things and living life. she has a three year old so a) grown-up time is much appreciated and b) we had a very funny visit filled with constant diversions. she's lucky to have a little one so easily distracted by feeding fabric scraps to her pet dragon.

marnie has also recently taken to making this crazy yarn from the seams of the wool sweaters she felts for other craft uses. she was generous enough to send me home with a huge bag of wonky wool and i couldn't resist diving right into it last night. for one thing, it gave me cause to break in the biggest crochet hook i have (if you're looking for such a marvel, i got mine on etsy here, although i am also needling a local woodworker to start making huge hooks for the massive hookers of toronto). secondly, when crocheting in preposterous gauge the work goes preposterously fast and i need quick gratification these days; i'm a busy gal.

at the moment, i am crocheting in the round and it looks like the beginning of a crazy rug, although there is a part of me that thinks i may pull this apart and try something else. i'm having trouble committing at the moment and it's doesn't help that my sweetie looked at me like i was some kind of crazy cat lady when he saw me making this thing. maybe i just need to take my friend hazel's advice; she used to say that if you feel your project is going awry it probably just needs more craziness heaped on top of it. in her case, this usually applied to excessive silkscreening but i might have some dry felting and free form embroidery in my future.

regardless, working on a massive scale is immensely satisfying. and the yarn itself is a lot of fun to work with.

marnie also gave me some bits of fabric. it's amazing, i decided two weeks ago i was going to undertake a quilt and the fabric gods (well, my fabric-loving friends) really came through. i have amassed an impressive pile of oranges and browns. now i just have to decide on a pattern...

Friday, February 22, 2008

hyperbolic crochet; what gives?

in preparation for teaching my first big hyperbolic crochet class, i have decided to pour back through my related resources and write a little rundown of this mathematical handicraft to clarify my thoughts on it. i should start by saying that i am much more of a crocheter than a mathematician, so feel free to pipe up, whiz kids, if there are holes in my understanding or explanations.

my love affair with hyperbolic crochet was ignited on a fateful (in many ways, actually) trip to pittsburgh just under a year ago. jen and leah and i were there for the craft congress and took a free afternoon to go to the warhol museum. their special exhibit was a group show concenring climate change. on top of an amazing installation by the yes men (based on this intervention), there was a huge coral reef made entirely of crochet pieces. obviously, we craft nerds were enthralled. but it got even more interesting as we started to read about the complex mathematics behind this highly organic assemblage of shapes.

the coral reef, as it turns out, was the major installation project of the institute for figuring at that time. the institute itself is a fascinating organization that does a great deal of work bridging tactile reality with more complex and esoteric arts & sciences. in thier own words:

The Institute For Figuring is an organization dedicated to the poetic and aesthetic dimensions of science, mathematics and the technical arts.
by the way, if you just poke around the hyperbolic resources on their website, you probably have a better chance of understanding hyperbolic crochet than i can give you.

leah and i each went home with the iff's new publication, a field guide to hyperbolic space. it's a great book and if any of this piques your interest, you should probably hunt down a copy (here).

oh man, this is where i have to explain the science behind the yarn. this part always freaks me out, so let's make it quick - hyperbolic crochet is the physical modeling of shapes that arise from a branch of mathematics once thought to be impossible (also a branch of mathematics that eventually disproved euclid's grand postulates of geometry - never postulate with grandeur; you will just end up with hyperbolic egg on your face).

as much as i enjoy hurting my brain with the math involved, the history of hyperbolic mathematics and its eventual crochet modeling is even more interesting. after hyperbolic mathematics was finally accepted as real (a long winding road), the challenge was set to create models of hyperbolic space. hyperbolic geometry, by the way, takes it's name from the literary term of hyperbole. in the geometric case, the hyperbole manifests itself in a continuing and constant excess of surface. put plainly, hyperbolic spaces can look all lettucey.

but back to the task of making hyperbolic models...

while these forms are easy enough to represent in two dimension or simulations of three dimension with computers, tactile models were proving harder to create. any brittle material (paper, wood) might indeed be made into a hyperbolic plane with some difficulty, but it could never be manipulated.

enter dr. daina taimina, a latvian mathematician and physicist who decided to pick up a crochet hook in 1997 to make workable hyperbolic models as aids for her students. revolutionary! funnily enough, once explained the basics of hyperbolic forms, even the most novice of crocheters could make just about any hyperbolic plane, but the breakthrough had eluded mathematicians for centuries. what's more, after sewing lines and shapes onto the models, incredibly complex mathematical theories can be easily observed (ie. the behaviors of straight lines and triangles in hyperbolic space).

my mind is too tangled to do justice to advanced geometry at the moment so it's time i left it to the pros and had this all explained to you much more succinctly by the iff.

as an added bonus, after your mind is blown by trying to envision existence in hyperbolic space you can have it double-blown considering the possibility that we may already be existing in it. but i'll leave that to you, dear reader, as i can only be responsible for so many physics-based panic attacks per day and i think i've eaten up too many already by myself.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


just a little note to say that i am partially responsible for a craft supply swap happening in toronto on sunday.

the details:
sunday february 24, 1 - 3pm
@ the workroom
1340 queen street west

our blurb:

Start your spring cleaning early! Craft supplies of many sorts are welcome, but for this first swap, we have a sense that fibrous stuff will take centre stage (fabric, yarn, textiles...). It's also a give what you can, take what you need kind of set-up so don't worry if your contributions are low. We have a bunch of fabric/yarn graciously given to us by Laura-Jean at Fresh Baked Goods and Haley at Knitomatic that will surely get the wheels rolling.

Leftovers go to local charity groups.

De-stash, re-stash and mingle. What fun!
i will be coming straight from teaching my first hyperbolic crochet workshop (i consider the church of craft edition a preview) at the knit cafe. hey! maybe i will prepare by writing a little bit about this wayward passion of mine here.

Monday, February 18, 2008

good gravy.

last week my friend ken asked me if i could spend a slice of my family day (new ontario civic holiday) at a bar in kensington market to help out with a movie his band, the gravity wave, is making. he describes it as "signing in the rain meets the gravity wave musical." while i'm not exactly sure what that means or they are doing, i was charged with the task of creating the best merch table ever - a heavenly display to dwarf and shame their paltry table of free cdr's - and happily accepted.

i think we did a pretty good job with old shirts and postcards from iron cobra's touring days, sweetie pie button sets (spinning display racks are extra shaming), rural alberta advantage merch, some unknown cd's and those framed illustration brooches by carly ogonek.

carly is someone i have been supposed to meet for some time now. our mutual friend paul has been trying to coordinate this meeting for almost a year but out ladyhawk-like schedules have kiboshed his best efforts.

look, paul, it happened. there's carly! we met! and of course, we got along like gangbusters and immediately started chatting about busting her out of her organic grocery store job for a weekend so she can finally set up at a craft fair. for those interested in her fine work, i also found an esty shop of carly's. it seems inactive, but at the very least you could contact her there.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

thrift score (play on words stolen from al hoff).

it seems like everyone i know in toronto is getting the february antsies and going to st. lawrence market on sundays. pickins felt slim this week (or maybe we were just too groggy), but i did manage to get these stamps which will find their ways into prints and button sets soon. i even bargained! i get scared sometimes and just walk away if the price is too high. apparently, this is effective.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

cheap dates.

i have finally gotten my act together to photograph the newest sweetie pie press commissioned artist set, cheap dates by tara bursey. these have been kicking around for a few weeks, have been traveling to craft fairs with me and a few even made it out to bruno, saskatchewan, in my first shipment to my first (and best) saskatchewan shop, all citizens. but now that i managed to take pictures, they are also available to the whole world via etsy.

i am very excited that tara mobilized so quickly on my invitation to make a set. and i'm excited on a number of levels - i really like tara as a person; i think she is an exceptionally talented artist of many disciplines (see this); and on top of being thoughtful, her illustrative work is also quite pleasing to the eye. i know tara collects yearbooks, so i am assuming these cheap babes are inspired by her archive. take 'em home. they're lonely and low-rent.

but back to saskatchewan...i discovered the all citizens shop this past month through the recommendation of jen from the toronto craft alert. actually, she recommended that i read going rural, the blog that eventually tracks the inception of this small coffee shop/gallery/gift shop on the prairies. it's a winding tale. and an inspiring one. and at times it gets a little harrowing (well, i don't know if i could go through cold months without hot water). and you know what's great about the internet? you can read a blog, send an email, start a conversation and wind up driving out to oakville a week later to meet a stranger, go to their art opening and deliver a bag of buttons and neck warmers. i guess the c.i.a. knew what they were doing when they made this thing. clearly, they had the support of independent culture on their minds. who knew?

Friday, February 15, 2008

post-millenium tension

a little tasteful valentine's flair. heart medallion by jen anisef.
yesterday was my birthday and valentine's day.

after years of avoiding parties, i just decided to throw anxieties to the wind and have one this year. it was great! i even forced my visiting mother to make me my childhood birthday cake (banana cake with chocolate icing), which was a big hit. other than just being able to see a bunch of my friends, a real highlight of the evening was watching my mother hold court with her graphic retelling of the circumstances of my birth (which included drinking czech liqueur, a game of risk, driving a sports car, a semi-racist film and winning a due-date pool). the late seventies were a different time. i thought my friend leah was going to barf when the c-section stuff started to crest. even better than that was my mom getting peels of laughter out of a table of comedians.

birthday cakes my mommy made. served in a shoe box.
i also cleaned up big. jen and karyn gave me cuts of my favorite fabrics from the workroom. i got a new (much needed) tea pot from bon bons from jola and dan at good catch, bowls from aitor's family, a mix cd from steve...and...well my friend levi made me a little piece of art (pictured below). it came swaddled in a bunch of kleenex and kind of totally blew my mind.

stool made by levi.
give a man a typewriter and this is what results. he even broke off one of the cross-braces and weakened another for maximum subtle effect.

fabric from the workroom from jen and karyn.
very exciting fabric. i guess this solidifies my undertaking of the quilt of my dreams. can anyone say hexagons? i can. i can totally say that.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

happy birthday.

well, my initiation into blog culture has been swift.

after just a few days, my friend claire over at needle book tagged me in some sort of bloggy tag game. my first reaction was the way i felt about chain letters/emails. after i got over actually believing in curses, i would always just throw the things out (having made one exception a few years ago for a chain letter that involved sending strangers new panties). but then i read claire's entry after having been tagged herself and thought i should stop being such a crank and do this thing.


seven things about me:

1. at 9:50pm pacific time tonight i will have been on this planet for exactly thirty years. at that time, on this date in 1978, my mother was having a ceasarian section and, being in vancouver, i imagine it was raining.

2. i have two parents, one parental-type and a brother.

3. the only formal post-secondary education i have is a diploma in physical theatre from a school housed in a converted odd fellows hall in california.

4. i have a problem differentiating the words otter, oyster and olive when speaking. i wrote my only ever stand-up bit about that. this lead me to put down my pen and never try to write stand-up again.

5. fake teeth.



i'm sure there are seven things about me, but somehow i stalled at five. i guess the last two are mystery items. i am also going to have to tag every blogger i know. except for carl wilson. i think i fear judgement from him. oh, and no tag-backs. this is a one-time deal.

1. smogdammit!
2. torontunian
3. little dog monday
4. tara bursey
5. girl number twenty
6. creampuff revolution
7. rhya

1. link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

february stitch n' bitch at the workroom.

there's something really fantastic about trudging through a blizzard to go make crafts. for this vancouver-born lady, wobbling around in snow storms makes me feel like i can lay claim to being canadian for real. then all of a sudden it's warm and there are people around and everyone is making stuff they like to make. and there are snacks.

i worked on more neck warmers and sipped a bit of wine. life's really hard.

Monday, February 11, 2008

the rubber ducky incident.

okay, so i have a million rubber duckies. i used to buy some cheap one every time i had a bad day and i guess i began this at a tumultuous time in my life and was suddenly a collector.

well, i am now on the brink of thirty and am reconsidering my large collection of rubber ducks. i think all those house cleaning shows are shaming/scaring me into wanting to get rid of things. also, real estate in the bathroom is hotly sought after now for our growing collection of epiphites.

this ducky, however, stays. i think it's the oldest one in my collection and is made in ireland - an erstwhile hotbed of rubber duckdom, no doubt. there are a few more that have to stay for reasons of sentiment or kitch, but i think i can whittle the keepers down to five or six.

so that leaves at least 50 assorted rubber ducks that need to go.

make me an offer?

i will consider money, things and services.

you have to go in for this sight unseen (to keep it interesting) but i can tell you the rules i maintained for my collection:

1) no doubles (although i may have ended up with a couple as gifts).
2) no clothes (ducks don't wear clothes)
3) no anthropomorphism (barf. duck + human = barf)

leave your offers in the comments section. let's see if we can get a crazy bidding war going on, which would be amazing considering nobody knows this blog is here.

i will abruptly announce the moment when i decide which offer to accept.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

valentine's trunk show.

a bunch of favorite people and beautiful things.


Saturday, February 9, 2008

southern ontario orchid society orchid show.

i got taken out to the orchid show as a birthday gift. it was too much! and i got to bring a couple little guys home. take it in...

all this and more.

worksite accidents.

people of the internet, please let me present to you a project i've had brewing for a good while now.

behold the a diptych of gocco printed silhouettes on the sheets of an old technical manual for sylvania electronic products (cathode tubes, and such).

it is entitled 'worksite accidents'.

information about it's online availability will be posted which such an outlet materializes. until then, find me at a fair and i'll have 'em there.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

scissorhead prints for the toronto craft alert.

in celebration of two years of the toronto craft alert, i've made this exclusive run of 100 gocco prints. happy birthday, tca!

on the toronto craft alert here:

on etsy here:

Monday, February 4, 2008

matryoshka dolls and other loot.

aitor and i went to st. lawrence market for the first time and we scored big on deals! i got these two matryoshka dolls (a market that was very competitive there), a bunch of sewing notions and, most exciting of all, a numbering stamp for $1!

aitor also got a new portable typewriter, because we always need another typewriter around the house (and i guess on the road since this one is portable).

Saturday, February 2, 2008

a photo a day. a pot holder today.

so i joined this photo a day a month group on flickr. i sometimes stay away from these sorts of things for unknown reasons of cyber-social anxiety. but i thought it would help me trudge through february. i am also trying to make something every day as an added challenge.

day one - with the help of the new sewing machine i was graciously gifted through freecycle, i finished the pot holder i was working on. it was the completion of a project my friend jen had lost interest in. i found the circles of fabric all cut out in a scrap bag of hers and asked if i could finish it. there a lovely green calico and an amazing hand-woven japanese fabric. and it's stuffed with circles cut from one of aitor's old undershirts which made me feel like a thrifty pioneer.