Wednesday, December 31, 2008

gifts for the new year.

above is a lovely package i received today from jia in singapore. although it is supposed to be an envelope contribution, jia also included a whole bunch of other gifts including note cards, a beautiful piece of arrow print fabric and an elastic belt! i have actually been on the hunt for elastic belts for a while but there is no way she could have known that. thank you very much, jia.

but back to business - here are the new patterns found in her envelope contribution. subtle differences, but i love these wavy plaids.

this collection come to me via leah in australia. the two on the right are going into my solids collection and text collection (respectively). i though it was worth mentioning that the one with writing says 'secretive lines'. i may have to use that term in this project somehow.

these one here come from cindy in illinois. it may be hard to see in the photograph, but the red one has the most amazing and subtle pattern. i'm really excited to see it in button form.

and, finally, there is this envelope from rose ann in ohio. as you can see, there is very little envelope to be turned into buttons so these ones will be very rare.

and, with that, i have cleared my entire mountain of envelope contributions. today's new patterns brings me to a grand total of 293. who knows, there may be more packages in the mail yet but i can't imagine there are too many. i guess i am going to have to work hard in the coming days to get collection phase two rolling. i know i was spending all my rent on postage, but i already miss the heaps of mail and the little points of contact with likeminded strangers the world over. my pattern greed is also reemerging, as i know there are more patterns lurking out there, hiding out in post office garbage cans and recycling bins. but for the moment, i feel happy that i managed to complete one thing by the end of the year. all of your reward packs will be going out in the coming days, contributors.

happy new year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

weird stuff under the tree.

well, christmas has come and gone but i did want to highlight a couple of extra special gifts that came our way. the first one (above) came to aitor via julie in philadelphia. it's almost self-explanatory. i will do my best to photograph the 'houses' contained within when aitor decides to install them.

this, on the other hand, is a gift my mother brought back from europe. i am still on the fence as to weather i should hang the whole thing on the wall or try my luck at actually using them. skerple quality seems dubious at best.

Monday, December 29, 2008

triple yarngasm.

gross. that word looks gross.

i am currently collecting myself after three back-to-back days of yarn acquisition. it started on saturday with my annual pilgrimage to the full-on hen house experience of the romni wools boxing day sale. aitor got a reprieve from attending this year as my visiting mother and newly transplanted aunt were more than happy to frolic in yarn with me for an afternoon. i got some great deals of garnstudio's eskimo bulky wool (i know, eskimo) some sublime organic merino (which is so soft) and some little blobs of madame lucien paul angora yarn from the basement (even softer). i wish i had bough more of all of those as they all worked beautifully into some new neck warmers. but as they say, 20/20 vision is perfect. or someone i know once said that, anyway.

on sunday i had the big free yarn score via leah.

then, today, i went to an insanely massive destashing sale hosted by tosca teran of nanopod: hybrid studio. it was amazing! there were no skeins over $3! i'm still going through all the amazing silks, angoras, wools and mohairs (true story!). tosca is liquidating the enormous stash of her knitting teacher mom (who is moving back to california) and has had a series of these sales. i'm not exactly sure how she's getting the word out about future sales, but joining the nanopod facebook group might not be a bad idea if you'd like to hear about her next sale. there is also some talk of her joining the fun at the love and rummage trunk show coming up in february.

so what am i doing with all this stuff? good question, aitor. some of it will be retained for personal projects (sorry, honey) but the bulk of what i acquired is already being made into neck warmers and elf hats to keep bodies warm in the coming cruddy months. the eskimo and sublime yarns have already been made into some positively ducky new neck warmers that have challenged my previous colour predilections (photos forthcoming). i usually only sell these crocheted items in person at fairs and in toronto at the good catch general store, but if there is any interest expressed by out-of-towners, i am happy to list some in the etsy shop. just encourage me. i have not had much success selling these things online (probably because people want to try them on) but am happy to try again. especially with the neck warmers - their fit is more adaptable.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

the calm amidst the storm.

in all the holiday mania, i neglected to mention that one of my orchids is in bloom (i know how much you all must care about this). the first bud opened on the morning of city of craft and it seems pretty happy. although...three blooms seems to be the norm when any of my orchids bloom (and i have only ever had blooms out of my phalenopses). anyone have any orchid tips for greater blooms.

i think it is also time to wish my oncidium a safe journey across the river styx. i have no idea what happened. it was doing great and pushing up new bulbs and then all turned black and died in the space of a couple of days. here's a photo from its greatest moment when i had just brought it home from last february's orchid show:

rest in pieces, little guy. i am sorry to have let you down.

today i also made a bit of time for quilt sunday at the workroom. it was a slim turn out but a good one. and, while quilting didn't dominated (shannon and i had a real crochet hen party in the corner), we all got lots of crafting done. and chatting. i always find these informal gatherings to be great think tanks for future happenings. we had some really great chats with jacqueline (of soak - which is an amazing product, by the way) about interactions with the corporate world and the pitfalls thereof. how boring. we totally exhausted maisy. per usual.

shannon and i also got to raid the stash of yarn that leah left when she departed for europe. what a score! shannon and i have totally different tastes in yarn, too, so we happily split it all down the middle. look for all this stuff in the form of future boobs, dinks, plushstaches, plants you can't kill and sweets (from shannon) and neckwarmers and hats (from me). i can never keep up with shannon's prolificness. hey leah, do you have any special requests for your european tour? i could use some of this stuff to make you something. just name it and i will see what i can do.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

my blog has something to tell you.

happy holidays!

this is one of my favorite pictures from the walls of aitor's family's house. it's my brother-in-common-law, ed, as a very worried little baby.

i am spending christmas here watching my new twin peaks dvd box set. there isn't much i would rather be doing. it makes me miss being young and being on the west coast and fishing. it's all pretty bittersweet. but what great pie!

i think i need to make some twin peaks inspired art after watching all 40 hours of this.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

days off are for people with salaries.

today brought me fourteen new patterns, starting with the one above from delphine in portland.

the rest of today's stack included these envelopes from augustas in lithuania,..

...these ones from rose in new york,...

...these from katie in philadelphia,...

...and these from michelle in london.

of all of today's discoveries, the diamond pattern from lithuania and the banners from london are the most fascinating to me. what can i say? i am a sucker for the foreign stuff. and as per usual, the british packages don't disappoint. my big huge stacj of contributions is now down to four remaining packages and i am starting to feel a bit sad. these daily indentifications have fallen into a comforting routine for me. i can't wait until collection phase two launches!.

as of today, i have reached 281 patterns.

speaking of sadness, by the way, my good friend from pittsburgh, al, has just launched a fantastic new blog called city of sad toys. it's participatory and contribution-based, so can get involved, too. i am happy to say that today's entry is one of my contribtuions. way to go, al. keep it sad.

Monday, December 22, 2008

soldiering on.

these envelope updates are starting to feel unnecessarily perfunctory which is a real disservice to the plucky people worldwide who have been sending me contributions. i will say, though, in my defense, that i have to take a trip out to the west coast to attend to some family business and am just trying to get through current submissions before i leave. i now have eleven packages sitting on my living room chair waiting to be sorted. i've certainly passed the half way point. which is good because i also wanted to launch phase two (scanning patterns) before i leave.

but back to business, above is a collection from danielle in california. although they look fairly run-of-the-mill, i compared these all to my current collection and don't have any of these specific variantions yet.

these are from katie in california. the wavy one is pretty exciting.

these are from maj in germany. sorry, north americans, but i do perk up when i see packages from overseas (actually, i have yet to get any from mexico, either). regardless, maj delivered some nice new finds, all packaged in this puzzle-like conglomeration of used envelopes. i had to carefully disassemble to whole thing to find my prizes. i especially like the one in the background which is part of a huge envelope so i get maximum use out of it. its pattern is so big that the resulting buttons are all quite different and amazing. maj also included another of the solid colour envelopes. my collection of these is becoming quite large so i will have to come to a decision about their inclusion in the project soon. any advice or influence is currently encouraged.

speaking of conundrums, here is a pattern sent in by maitreya in seattle. although i have yet to do my due diligence and poke around the company's webpage to see if this imagery comes from some sort of advertising campaign, it still brings up a question of representational imagery. when i started this project, i had seen it to be an illumination of mundane abstraction. you know...begging the question "how can the same person who feels alienated by abstract art, accept these decorative abstracts as part of everyday routine. blah blah blah. anyway, i don't yet know where i stand on images of things in this project. so far all thing patterns have been eliminated for reasons of corporate branding. but what happens when i find one that doesn't come from anywhere?

last but not least, this group comes from viki is louisville, kentucky (one of my favorite places, by the way). she had mysteriously sent me an email promising a spectrum of pink and purple patterns. i didn't let my hopes inflate too much. but look what arrived in the mail! a whole whack of colours i didn't have yet. and although one or two of these are from companies to which such girlie hues make sense, the totally pink one on the far right is from the department of defense. we can all infer whatever we like from that.

267 patterns now.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

powering through.

presented here is today's envelope glut. the first group is from patty in virginia (above) then from betsy in atlanta (below).

maybe i should mention that i have only been photographing the new patterns i find. all my contributors have been much more generous than i have been letting on. speaking of their generosity, i am starting to accumulate quite an overstock in a few more common patterns. does anyone in the toronto area have a use for them? if not, start thinking. this is when leah needs to be around to come up with some great project we could do with the church of craft.

here's a contribution from ana in scarborough:

it's hard to see in the photo, but this envelope has a very fine dotted pattern on it. and this last pair of envelopes is from karin in calgary:

i especially like the scalloped pattern. i have a couple patterns like it in the collection but they are all very different.

this makes nineteen new patterns today which bring the current grand total to a whopping 251. can you even believe it? it kept me busy, anyway, through snowmageddon part two.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

buckling down.

here's the first picture of the unpeeled button board and my efforts to sort out the security envelope collections. soon enough i will have my office cleared enough to take over some wall space. hopefully. it still isn't remotely set up since our return. craft fairs, making things and holidays have totally destroyed (i mean, enriched) my life in the past month and taken my attentions from domestic concerns. speaking of wayward attentions, i spent a good part of today going through envelopes...

...from odette in quebec...

...from rachel in pennsylvania...

...and, finally, from nicole in indiana.

although, on the whole, these do not represent the wildest contributions i have received, everything up there is new. many of those patterns are variations on patterns i already have (the scrutinizing of which has become way easier with the button board). the teal ones are another example of corporate colour branding, but exciting nonetheless. also, now that i am sorting and resorting the master collection on the button board, i am truly coming to appreciate the impact of presenting subtle variations en masse. i need another board. all that said, the pattern with the cascading cubes/optical illusion from nicole's contribution is totally new and different to me.

after all these new additions, my collection has now reached 232 patterns. last night i had a dream that i reached 400 patterns (yes, i am dreaming about this now). i wonder if there are, indeed, another 168 patterns and variants out there. i know i have some good stuff waiting in queue. dare to dream.

you will also notice that one of the envelopes in nicole's contribution has a number on it. i have been saving all these identifying markings in case i manage to do a bit of deeper research into the creation/origins of these designs. there is a real dissection feel to the processes involved in documenting, cleaning and preparing the envelopes for use. i should probably do a little pictorial on that. it's a real every-part-of-the-buffalo routine.

i should also mention that one of the pictures i took yesterday ended up being the photo of the day on cbc radio 3. the blog post it is featured in also outlines a few other interesting image-based projects that cbc radio 3 has initiated through flickr. i recommend taking a look. it's pretty cool stuff. i originally found out about their flickr pool through serena whose amazing photo was featured by them on canada day. my little screw around pales deeply in comparison.

Friday, December 19, 2008


for those outside of toronto, i should explain that snowmageddon is the name our local news media has given to the large yet normal snow storm that hit toronto today. for those outside of canada, i should also explain that toronto is constantly (and rightfully) ridiculed by the rest of the country for such hyperbolic treatments of winter weather.

these are the days when self-employment tastes extra sweet. we just looked out the window, watching the expressway and feeling very superior. sure, all those commuters have retirement funds, but we get to stay in all day. i did go out for all of twelve minutes to do my daily mail drop and counted three cars stuck in drifts. the mail box is two blocks away. this town is falling apart!

i used the snow day to waddle around making buttons and trying desperately to catch up on my bazillion projects. i made a bit of headway on sorting through security envelopes (i quietly broke 200 patterns last night). i really need to dedicate a lot of this weekend to getting through the envelopes backlog. to all of you who have contributed: i am very appreciative of your gifts but also very swamped. the guilt is all-consuming.

speaking of waddling, i will leave you today with a sneak peek at the brand newest commissioned artist button set, duck duck goose by alec thibodeau. i will have a chance to write a bit more about alec and his button set when i release them next week, but feel free to start squawking over his brilliance before then...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

security concerns.

well, after some city of crafting and recovering, i am finally diving back into my flood of envelopes. actually, today's update is a cheat since i collected so many envelopes at this past saturday's festivities. they all came home with me in a big mishmash so i felt i needed to sort them right away before the apartment consumed them.

the one on the top up there is from anahi and comes from one of the basque political parties in spain. the ones on the bottom and left are from kim and the one on the right is a new variation on the 'british bricks' that serena brought me. of these, i think i got most excited by the bottom one. it reminds me of some kind of 1970's lost-wax sculpture.

i also got a big collection of envelopes from my mother, anne. she had been travelling in europe and picking up garbage for me (don't worry, picking up garbage is one of her favorite things to do). all three envelopes above are from france and all present subtle variations on themes i have seen before. but they are also all new. i found it particularly interesting and odd that the one on the far right had lines - as if address lines - inside it.

my mother deserves extra props for running my table most of the day on saturday and this only hours after getting off a plane from vancouver. props also go to emma for giving me an hour off at the end of the day to peruse the vendor's tables at a more leisurely pace. i still don't think i saw everything.

i do feel like mentioning, though, that when i set up my master collection at home again after having it installed at city of craft i was three buttons short. as if you thought i wouldn't notice. this is a good way to drive someone like me totally mad. and although i prefer to presume the best in people, if you decided to help yourself to three buttons out of my installation at the show, you know who you are. i wish a hex upon your heart and a pox upon your house. how's that for bad hoodoo? you may not feel guilt now, but you will soon and steadily be devoured by unstoppable evil forces. sorry about that. but you have none to blame but yourself and you own wicked ways.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

trim job.

today i had some friends over to trim our holiday tree.

actually, it is more like a charming blob. we went up roncesvalles last week on a tree hunt but felt totally priced out - urban tree lots know they have you cornered. so by the time we got to the last tree seller, i just walked into the lot and said "what do you have that is shabby, small and affordable?"

"oh, you want charlie brown."


"charlie brown, twenty dollars."

so we got our tree at the maximum my budget could allow. but we got a tree! it's pretty cute and gnarly. and last night we trimmed it up with some friends and covered it with our ornament collection (including the brand new shrimp lace ornament from tara bursey, pictured above). because it is the first question anyone asks, i am happy to report that my cat has yet to take any interest in eating the shrimp lace.

Monday, December 15, 2008

papering the city.

today i finally recovered from my post-craft coma and hauled myself out of bed to see some toronto with my wonderful house guests from detroit (mike and stephanie). aitor played host yesterday when i couldn't move and took them to some of our favorite toronto hot spots - the beguiling, honest ed's, and some record shops. all these places seemed to make quite an impact.

today, on the other hand, we stuck to queen street west to do a little more craft-babe specific tourism. we visited some of my personal favorites - the paper place, tealish, type and preloved. i hadn't realized that preloved moved onto that little block across from trinity bellwoods in the aftermath of the great bathurst fire. they have. this makes that one little block extra amazing.

special deal alerts: preloved is doing a holiday food drive, so a donation of non-perishable foodstuffs will get you 15% off anything in the shop. the paper place is also still having their amazing chiogami giveaway through the end of the month. that's a more online thing, but it's fully worth checking out.

after the michiganeers took off on their merry way, i had the trampoline hall office party and annual general meeting to go to. it mostly looked like this:

...and scored an a+ in saag paneer availability.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

yeah, right. if i was going to live blog from the show. city of craft was way too insanely busy for me to even think. it was amazing! we organizers know that there is room to grow and improve but really, overall, these things feel like tweaks. jen and i were actually beside ourselves at how smoothly things ran this year. and the crowds! i will leave you with some pictures from the big day.

if you'd like to see more, look here or here.

oh, and what did i come home with? a mushroom terrarium from newly transplanted winnipegger, holly procktor; a skein of handspun yarn from pleasurecraft fibre studio; and a mighty care package from tara bursey which included all her hits - onion skin pins, tea bag orgimai shoes, a shrimplace ornament and more! i just want to get a bunch of shadow boxes and frame all her stuff up like the perfect artifacts they are.

i am exhausted and contented and in sad it had to end.