Tuesday, September 29, 2009


what i have been helping do for the past two days. i am too exhausted to write much.

this is cathy.

this is nuit blanche.

put them together. giant cake!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

happy birthday.

happy birthday, aitor!

the celebrations began last night with an outing to see our favorite yodeling country crooner, petunia, who just happened to be passing through town and playing the dakota tavern. if petunia is in your town, you should see him.

today we celebrated with roti from mother india and cupcakes from our corner cupcakery, yummy stuff (he chose bacon chocolate while i went for a classic red velvet).

gifts had to be minimal this year as it has not been a flush one for us, but bourbon and coffee always seem to sedate the reverend's baser needs. he seems happy. and full.

welcome to another year on earth, sweetie!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

a moment at home and forced wanderings.

look! there are my most rugged orchids. they have moved from the misty bathroom to the bedroom for a brief moment (until the deadly radiators come on) so that we can contemplate them in the mornings while trying to lurch out of bed. i guess feeding them this summer had an effect. this is the most successful bloom i have ever lead them into and it has lasted months now. good work, guys.

i have been trying around the house, i really have. a few pictures and paintings have found spaces on walls. it's slowly coming together around working hours. but there is still a lot to do and a lot of rummage to tame. aside from a few vanquished corners, this place looks like a rubble heap.

i am thankful, therefore, for a weekly excuse to escape it when i go hang out with willy after school on thursdays. these engagements afford me a justified reason to wander around and see things like this in my neighbour's yard:

...i have a general envious respect for that particular neighbour's garden. it is full of beautiful flowers that seem to bloom in perfect sequence over the year - but it always looks kind of untamed as well. i wish i could have a yard. maybe someday.

on yesterday's cross-city after school walk, we also happened into bookhou on dundas street. i am ashamed to admit that i had never been inside it before (confessions of an overworked shut-in) because i have been a big fan of arounna's work for years.

her new collaborations with roisin (a new city of craft conspirator, too) under the name repeat studio are on my wish list, too. imagine using this yardage for a dress. or even just a bit in a quilt.

the shop is lovely. i especially like that they live upstairs and that there are kids in tow during shop hours. it may be a handful for arounna but willy liked making them laugh, too. and look at all the house motifs in her collection. there must be something in the air. i can't stop thinking about drawings of houses. i think i am working towards a whole village on one of my walls.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

if only time were hyperbolic...

...and expanded out into infinite directions from any given moment in time. maybe it does. i'm not actually that smart. i don't know.

but i certainly feel overwhelmed by projects, emergencies and drudgery these days.

this post, though, is about a project - the nicest of the three activities mentioned above. i recently found out that the toronto hyperbolic reef project has been accepted to city of craft's installation programming. yes, even we organisers need to apply under the iron-fisted regime of new installation coordinator, tara bursey. that's not true; tara's not a tyrant by any stretch. she's just more organised and thoughtful than we had managed to muster in previous years.

but, i digress. the greatest part of our hyperbolic news is that tara secured the fly gallery on queen street for our reef. and we get it for the entire month of december! the fly is a (relatively) small window gallery but still presents a lot of space to fill. and, although the call to contribute is open to the entire city, i am too panicky to allow our collection's growth to rest solely in the hands of potentially unreliable unknowns (no offense...please feel free to prove me wrong). so i have been busying my hands during 'off' moments (read: while i watch the news) by constructing a few new models.

pictured here is a new pseudosphere/anemone-in-progress made of crazy novelty yarns. it is going to undergo a few more metaphorphoses before it is done but so far it is coming along nicely. weird, but nice. it also serves to consume a little bit of my nightly stress.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

a few things.

well, it is official, in just under a month, city of craft and the workroom will be teaming up for another trunk show. this time, though, we are taking the impending holidays, the shaky economy and the urge to hand-make things into account by offering up a pure rummage trunk show. it is a chance for a small sampling of toronto's most artful hoards to open up their stashes and collections for reuse by the greater populous. pictured above is the modest first preview of the things i will have up for grabs. it's just a little collection of beads and sequins. although i keep seeing myself festooning something crazy with them, it hasn't happened in years. i bet someone else out there will make use of these things more quickly. maybe you?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

getting out.

this afternoon, aitor and i made it out of the apartment in time to catch the tail end of the queen west art crawl at trinity bellwoods park. it was overwhelming, especially for two caged animals like ourselves, but the day was beautiful and it was so nice to stroll around.

i got camera shy (or maybe taking pictures made me feel like i was working), so i only snapped a few pictures of the tent of artist heather marchand. she wasn't there and i felt like a thief taking pictures without asking. apologies, ms. marchand. but your work is lovely and i wanted to share it with a friend.

i also picturelessly appreciated the tar and plexiglas wild west outlaws of neil klassen; and the architectural/portrait/nautical prints of gillian wilson. i think i am dreaming of living in a two-dimensional screen printed town now, thanks to ms. wilson.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

getting sorted.

today was a day of postal servitude and computer work (always, always). even with an endless work week, i have been trying to commit at least a few minutes a day to sorting something in the apartment. with the holiday craft fair season looming, i know time is not going to become more relaxed and this place is a sty!

today's victories were small but satisfying.

...a sorted drawer that houses our totes, rags, tea towels and bag flags. there is a lot of craft scene represented in my collection of totes. accepting that i am a billboard when i shop for groceries, i like to choose my advertisers carefully.

i also got a new bread box at the parkdale sally anne yesterday. for some reason, aitor has been asking me about bread boxes and i have resisted them until now. then i saw this one and, presumably, sensed its perfect match to our travel percolator. i have to be honest, we don't eat much bread so it is mostly devoted to teas, strainers and mate supplies. it certainly tidied up our fluid enhancement station. oh yes, this area is clearly deigned for a microwave but we held strong and resisted having one. i am glad we did. i know myself; i work too much and if we had a microwave i would never actually cook. also, they scare me because i am basically old.

this next part is kind of gross, but informative...

we bought some hormone moth traps in the spring in an attempt to combat our wool-eating interlopers and i found this one tucked away on top of our cupboards. turns out they only worked on the brown food moths (we had been given false hope by a well-meaning friend) and about a dozen of them have come through our place in the last six months. sure, i am happy to not be eating moths but we were really excited at the prospect of defending our woolly winter coats. it's back to the lavender sachets and prayer, i guess.

Friday, September 18, 2009

bottles and jars.

pictures here are some tiny bottles that i have prepared for a mysterious future purpose. i will give you a hint: it has to do with crafts, small towns, and hotel canzine.

today (and most days lately) was mired in relatively boring but very important computer work. i did get to make it out of the apartment once, though - bank (stupid), post office, salvation army (a distraction). on the way out into the world, i did manage to stop into coriander girl - parkdale's newest (and only?) fancy flower shop. i had noticed it while it was in the works but just managed to shove my nose in the door yesterday. what can i say? i am a sucker for window orchids. while peering at them yesterday, i discovered that the shop is owned by alison - a lady i had met through the workroom.

today i was able to take a better look inside (my thursday babysitting charge had his own needs yesterday that didn't include flowers). i was happy to discover that alison had a huge jar of lavender for sale by the scoop, too. i have been meaning to make sachets to combat my constant moth scourge but didn't manage to grow lavender this year. what's better - i live right around the corner so i can bring my own jars in for filling! she'd probably be nice enough to scoop into your jars, too.

i have to say, my preconceptions of the nouveau parkdale fancy flower shop were challenged by alison's business choices. pre-made bouquets are $20 and she offers mini-bouquets for $3-$5. they make use of small cast-offs from the bigger bouquets and put forward more affordable shots of life and colour for budget-constrained neighbourhood homes.

so here we have it - out urban village's first florist. go stop in.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

double dose of craftland.

craftland illustration by jen corace

from the city of craft right into craftland, i am so devoured by my own craft show that i almost forget about my involvements in others.

when it comes to news about providence, rhode island, i am happy to be able to announce a two-fold blessing for the sweetie pie press.

#1) we were happy to stock the new perpetual craftland shop (ie. a full-time, year-round bricks and mortar shop in downtown providence) with loads of sweetie pie button sets for their soft opening this august. well, now the opening has turned hard with a grand opening hooha party scheduled for this very evening (friday). i don't know, they promise pinatas. it sounds kind of rad.

#2) i also just found out on tuesday that i will once again be shipping off a pile of my goods to their annual pop-up shop. i had such a great experience contributing to craftland last year and i am totally thrilled to be involved again, especially as my bones get older and the thought of making buttons with cocoa in hand at home seems much more appealing than braving the ice and snow of december show-hopping. oh, i will be hopping enough in my own apartment come that time of year, to be sure!

so shimmy on downtown, quahogs, and get your indie craft fix at providence's shiniest new shop. congratulations, gals!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

all things city of craft.

today was mostly devoted to getting notifications out for city of craft and revamping the website with amy borkwood's lovely 2009 artwork. how can that all fit into on sentence when it took an entire day to tackle? i'm not even done.

thank goodness for orange pekoe.

time to eat a grilled cheese sandwich and water our container garden on this seventeenth rain-free day in toronto. the plants seem happy but the city feels eerie.

i am quite looking forward to making buttons into the night and not being on the computer anymore. my eyes are watering.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

sleepy days.

this image has nothing to do with anything. i just wanted to apologize for not updating the blog during my weekend in atlanta. but it was a quick trip and i was very busy living my other life. over the past two days, the good times have been threatening to kill me and i have been trying my best to take it easy (which, for me, is not saying too much).

don't worry, all kinds of plans are cooking.

yum! plans!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

paper work.

a small update to show you, dear readers, the fate of my grandfather's heaps of mixed paper.

in the absolute madness of our home (do not let the carefully framed recent images on this blog fool you), i have found one more corner to bring my kind of order into. i loved the way my grampa's paper looked all stacked up so much that i decided to find a way to keep them as is and out in the open.

of course, this little 'project' only really makes sense if you happen to come into a great mass of uniformly sized mixed papers, but i thought i would share it. i like that it is also a large amount of usable material (the bane of my apartment) arranged in such a way as to be decorative - in my opinion, anyway.

leah came over last night and said "there's more wood in the paper than the log." i guess this makes my arrangement profound as well. paper + log + doily + fire = choose your own meaning.

other paper work of note:

1. an interview with me went live today on vancouver's got craft? blog. i am so flattered to have been asked to be profiled.

2. karen and i have agreed to do a 'pure rummage' sale at the workroom on sunday, october 18. this is all i can let you know now, but i can assure you that it will be a healthy feeding frenzy of vintage goodies and supplies.

3. city of craft has a blog now. as empty as it may be at the moment, it may be worth following for future purposes.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

songs of the darned.

oh, this is a bit of a gross post in that it begins with a shot of my cat hair-laden dirty slippers (this is what they look like after a wash), but i am proud of the work i did darning these guys late into last night. also, i think this is just what hardwood floors do to pale-soled footwear.

the slippers were a little cursed to begin with. they were made at the workroom's slipper making class, with instruction and design by the beautiful and brilliant reva quam. but i used a fulled blanket that didn't quite felt properly (chosen, clearly, for aesthetic reasons) and they started unravelling immediately. i've always meant to blanket stitch their edges, but never get around to it.

the blanket was also a little thinner than it should be for walking on. remember, i mostly work from home so these are part of my daily uniform.

i snagged one rather quickly on a nail poking out of the floor boards (another drawback of my beloved hardwood) and it frayed wildly. but i like these guys and i am trying to stretch my possessions to the limits of their usefulness, so i decided to pull out the old darning supplies and practice the ancient art of woolly preservation that my grandma johnson once taught me.

i admit, this is a much more "folksy" rendition of darning. it had been a while and my skillz have vastly diminished. i was also using thrifted lengths of wool tapestry yarn that had come to me precut and preseparated so there were lots of ends to deal with. but the work does its job pretty well. besides, i wanted to dive back into darning as fall looms and i am faced with the task of squeezing another season out of all my wool knee highs.

ideally, i would like to progress to a more finished and clean technique (it is my way) but i was happy to practice on these old reliables. darning can even expand into seamless mending of knits and purely decorative practice. for now, i am happy my slippers will last a bit longer. maybe the pattern of my feet will eventually be replicated thereon in woven yarns.

Monday, September 7, 2009

paper cuts.

i spent a few hours yesterday going through my grandparents' things with my mother. the nonagenarians have finally made the leap to a swanky care facility after my grandmother broke her hip. they are outstandingly happy there but their room is much smaller than the apartment they just vacated and there is much stuff to go through.

my grampa had been an accountant since he finished his military service in world war two. he only retired a few years ago so the accumulated paper hoards were considerable. much of these ledger papers and report forms have been obsolete for years if not decades. but, as hoardings go, his were very neat and organized.

it really is an impressive amount of stuff. this, with all the stamps and staplers and rulers i could ever want, amounted to a formidable amount of stuff to bring home. i knew aitor would choke when he saw it all. we mostly plan to use this huge collection of old papers for book and art projects. i wouldn't be surprised, though, if leah ends up with some for her work. she's been back on canadian ground for all of two days; it's time for clutter to start sticking itself to her.

but honestly, all the family deaths and downsizings i have been dealing with over this past year have left our home totally overstuffed with things. in some cases, i have inherited superior versions of things i already had; in other cases, i have been saddled with family heirlooms that must be kept at the expense of my less sentimental possessions (my grandmother was a talented artist who painted and sculpted large things); and in still other cases i was just forced to take collections of bit and bobs because...well...somebody had to.

i think this is all coming to a head and will have to result in a major ejection of stuff. i have some unofficial plans in the works to offer selections up to the world (by way of toronto). some of the things i plan to put back into circulation are suitcases, paper ephemera, vintage buttons (both pinback and otherwise), tea sets, grooming supplies, linens, housewares, books and craft supplies.

stay tuned for details...

are any of you looking to stock up these days?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

private screening.

on thursday, i was lucky enough to get to spend some evening time with shannon and willy who were kind enough to help me screen print some new shirts for my improv duo, iron cobra.

it was my first ever attempt at registration (even though shannon did all the hard work of pulling). and i think the end product turned out very well. the artwork is by the ever-brilliant reverend aitor.

if you know where to find iron cobra, you know where to find one of this small run of shirts (i'll give you a hint: we're going to atlanta this week and starting a monthly show in toronto at the end of the month).

thanks shannon and willy and aitor. the shirts look rad.

and special thanks to willy for being our biggest/smallest fan and getting a custom shirt on the spot. well, he's a fan of aitor's artwork, anyway. he has yet to see iron cobra. but willy has threatened to come out to shows with his swear jar. he'd clean up!

Saturday, September 5, 2009


nice try, vandal. willy and i call bull-oney on you.

i just left him there. it's almost a day later and he is still waiting for his bacon.

Friday, September 4, 2009

hyperbolic and bucolic.

...just a preview of some hyperbolic reef action that will hopefully launch a great and vibrant reef for the city of toronto. models by shannon gerard, angelune des lauriers, kalpna patel and myself. set up in shannon's living room so we could measure it and take stock.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

apartments have gardens, too.

years ago, i did a custom button order for east york community garden. when i asked them what their organisation did (picturing simply public gardening plots), it was explained to be that they aimed to expand the public's view of where food comes from. for instance, it was put to me, i could be growing tomatoes on my fire escape balcony. it was as easy as that for me. i started a container garden very soon after. win one for the community gardeners. i have been fortunate enough to continue living in places with balconies ever since (although some foods can even be grown indoors) and keep a container garden every year.

with all of our summer travels this year, the garden is rather slim. i mostly planted hardier herbs that i thought would survive a stream of subletters and house sitters. the rosemary certainly prevailed. i just did a major cutting today.

even when my only crop is a small bundle of herbs, i feel the empowering effects of apartment gardening. i wonder what all this will be cooking into.

also, if anyone nearby wants chives, i have a heap of them. i grow them but i can't eat them.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

a touch of endlessness.

monday night's city of craft deadline also meant that the toronto hyperbolic reef contributors had to come together to submit our installation proposal. of course, this meeting mostly involved absent minded crocheting (we are not the type to leave hands idle) as we took turns working on our proposal.

this left me with a newly started model which i had to come home with and work on. this meant pulling out my stash of crazy yarns for the reef project which also meant finding other hyperbolic beginnings. pictured above is a nudibranch i had started a while back (and finished last night). it is made from a crazy collection of mixed-guage yarns in a hyperbolic double spiral. i find it really difficult to properly match these insane yarns and colours but i think i did a pretty good job in this case - especially when you see what real nudibranchs look like:

photographer unknown's a tough act to live up to, but one that offers many possibilities when in comes to colour and palette. and here i thought neon was invented by the 80's.

our application relates to opening the toronto hyperbolic reef to more contributors, so polish off your hooks, toronto. our fingers are crossed that we will fit into the programming (yes, i have to apply, too). one way or another, toronto's reef hopes to grow and needs a lot more contributors to do so.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

wrapped up and bagged.

this is what happens when an eight year old has to sit through a two hour proposal-writing meeting. i have to say, willy's spazzes are pretty creative. he upstaged us all. now to pull down the city of craft applications. phew!