Saturday 31 March 2007

Getting Into It

What? You don't have designer, one-of-a-kind toilet paper?

Safiya got into the groceries...her markers know no bounds...

I've been getting into the sewing again. Remember the blanket that I wanted to finish in a week? Well, it's a week late, but in my not-so-great defense, a week and a bit late is definitely better than two years late, yes? It was sitting there, and I kept rearranging the fabrics I had picked out, but it just wasn't working. I was being stubborn. I really liked all the pieces, but how was I going to make it work? Ah, by letting it go...once I let go and excised some of the fabric (which reminds me of an excellent English lit prof who told us to write our essays and then go back and take out half the words...), there was an aha! moment and now I'm really pleased with the results. This is the front:


Obviously it's not finished yet, but I've had the opportunity to concentrate on it for a bit lately, so it will be done soon :-) It's my first blanket that's not recycled sweaters and my first applique, about which I was a bit nervous - I kept thinking about those sci-fi movies when the hero/ine shoots the floor all around themselves and it gives out beneath them, thus evading impending doom - figured my poor tree was going to escape out of the blanket when I was done. I still think it needs something, but not quite sure what. The saying is something that popped into my head when I was doodling. Not really contradictory - gotta have deep roots to be strong enough to stride about, no?

Oh, and totally 100% inspired by Two Trees. The simple but deft way in which words and craft are combined by her hands is beautiful.

Wednesday 28 March 2007

General Mischief

It is a dear friend's birthday today. A while ago, whip-up (I'm pretty sure that's where I read about it?) had a post about this, and then later that same link showed up her wonderful (although brief right now - keep writing!) blog a day in the life of blu bird. She's talented, passionate, honest, interesting, interested, and has one of those really delicious laughs that spreads itself around like Sunday afternoons with extra frosting.

And so, because there are dishes to be done, vacuuming, unfinished projects, no real dinner anywhere in sight, and a craving for chocolate in the air, but by far really just in her honour, I got out to do a little mischief before the sun went down...

Happy Birthday hon!

Tuesday 27 March 2007


Well, it's been a bit of a little break. When I started girl number twenty in February, I tried to make sure that I did an entry every day, just to be sure to get in the habit and to keep myself accountable. This weekend Mr. S. and my brother-in-law ripped apart the previously (improperly) done "finished" part of our basement, and Safiya and I hightailed it out of town to my parents'. The visit was lovely, the hard work was done well (big thanks guys!) and when we got back...something about one part of the house being in completely disarray just puts a big wrench in the middle of things. My old habits of "must attend to that first" creep up and I feel craft-and-blog-paralysed.

But then, then! an email from the lovely Sarah at cloth.paper.string, to whom I had sent a little package thanking her for being the first person to comment on my blog. She received it (yay!), and her generous words have sparked that craft-joy in me again this morning that had been buried under drywall dust and the sight of bare brick foundation. This is the reason I started this - to simply say hi, to see what happens, to send a little bit of craft-joy out there and maybe make someone smile, and to be inspired in turn by not just the projects that are out there, but the community.

Speaking of community, on the right I've added some places that look like great places to get involved, either ongoing swaps or one-time projects and such. I may get involved in some, others I'll just keep peeking in to see how it's going. Right now keeping up with my own little stuff, the house, and the blog are just enough...

Friday 23 March 2007

Taking Over

I've always liked the effect of enfilade in architecture ("an axial arrangement of doorways connecting a suite of rooms with a vista down the whole length of the suite" which is much better than what I had typed trying to explain what I meant...thank you dictionary!). Here's our humble enfilade effect looking down the length of our house, from the kitchen at the back toward the front door, doors thrown wide to welcome spring and the late afternoon sun:

You can't tell from that photo, but we've been invaded! It lurks in drawers in the playroom:

On top of the armoire in the living room:

In the armoire in the living room:

On top on the bookcase:

Peeking out from corners at the top of the stairs:

Even outside!

Ack! Craft is taking over!

This is not even considering the boxes in the basement, which certainly will not get exposed here! However, underneath all this is the basement, overdo for some love and attention, which it will be getting in the next couple of days after which maybe all this lurking, nomadic felt and such can have a home of its own...I'll be a little extra busy over the weekend...

Wednesday 21 March 2007

Opening the Windows

Lately the photos here have been very introspective; close-up glimpses of home life and small moments. Today a breath of fresh air, standing on the damp porch in my slippers, just looking around in the grey...

Thinking we really are all connected...

Recently I read a movie review in which the reviewer was just so tired of all the post-modern "everyone's lives connect with everyone else's and oh look how deciding to turn left instead of right can profoundly influence a stranger's life..." (paraphrased)

I'm not ready to be that cynical, and only gave her a voice here purely for demonstration, as something to ring my voice out against.

I do believe it, always have. It's one of the phenomenon of life that I find intensely interesting. The dance and how the molecules of air compress, squish, and swirl around between us. Not knowing how our words will reverberate in someone else's day...

Tuesday 20 March 2007

Pink Elephants Make Everyone Happy

Things that are making me happy:

Safiya feeling the couch and in her sweet sing-song voice saying "it's so nice and warm"...

Finishing a little felt hood for her (wool sweaters with hoods are like gold!)...

Discovering that our parquet floors (which I wasn't too crazy about) are exactly 6" square, thus greatly increasing the likelihood that the blanket I'm cutting out will also be square (and now I love the floors, especially since I don't have a right-angle-triangle-thingy)...

Pink pom-poms and packages going out to family and new friends:

And a genius way to make a recipe (I don't know much about Seventh Day Adventists, but man, do they know how to make a loaf - ours was delish! Must get Mr. S to calculate all possible combinations...) thanks to Jennifer at the Vegan Lunch Box, whose blog I haven't read yet, but looks interesting and is a definite will-read!

And, ongoing giddiness about the fact that a got a little shout-out from Toronto Craft Alert and they added my blog to their list of Toronto crafters, just for passing some info on to them...I feel like a cool kid just asked me to dance!

Now to figure out how to add their button to my side-bar...

Sunday 18 March 2007

Weekend Contentment

The best pancakes that I've ever had are the vegan banana pancakes made at The Naam, in Vancouver. A close second are these yummy ones from the cookbook put out by Ruth Tal Brown, owner of fresh by Juice for Life, one of my favourite restaurants (and a vegan one to boot!) here in Toronto.

Here's the recipe, but be warned, it makes an enormous number of pancakes, which is why the picture above is so peaceful...everyone's already done their breakfast! (sorry, my scanner's down and my camera is balking at focusing, but the recipe's worth the blurriness, I think):

Then there's tea:

Herbal tea is a passion of mine, and one of my favourite things to make are tea cozies:

I added the ribbons on the bottom (from Mokuba : 577 Queen Street West) because my aunt and family live by the ocean - Mr. S. thought it was hay (sigh). It's reversible, with felted pink wool on the inside for those I'm-definitely-in-a-pink-kind-of-mood days:

The big project for next week:

A pieced baby blanket for a friend's baby who is having a birthday next weekend, so there's a self-imposed deadline...hmmm....I'll try to turn any anxiety about that into something creative!

Saturday 17 March 2007

A Day of Firsts (or the day we listened to Safiya)

Today I went to Seedy Saturday for the first time. Having a backyard for the first time makes me giddy, and thanks to the Toronto Seed Exchange (Toronto Community Garden Network) people (you can swap seeds or give a donation, all in the spirit of preserving heritage seeds or being generous with old stock), I came away with a whole bag of goodness:

47! packages of seeds - where in the world am I going to plant all this, never mind starting the ones that need it indoors? Well, I can always share...friends beware, strange packages of seeds coming your way! There was good food, interesting people, and an "eco-fair" with cool booths like composting worms and solar ovens and lots and lots of seeds. The workshops and films sounded interesting, but I had a limited amount of Free Mama (shouldn't that be a movie?) Time.

The rest of the day was just hangin' out. Got comfy in the living room, had some tea (left over from the tea party Safiya was having with Mr. S):

(lovely teapot from my brother and his girlfriend - from 10000 Villages, a fairtrade organisation)

Sat in the sun, and tried to do this:

This is a dear aunt's Christmas present from a Christmas past (I'm not telling how past). Having no tracing paper, no fabric pencil, but really really wanting to embroider a swallow on it (they have barn swallows in their backyard), I tried to free-hand stitch it after drawing the outline from a book of Safiya''s not done, but I can already tell my swallow looks like he hasn't eaten in a's an emaciated swallow...sigh, well, it looks swallow-ish! (I like it enough to resist pulling out the stitches - I hate pulling out stitches.) I'll post the finished product tomorrow.

The other thing that happened today (long-ish story coming up! If your eyes glaze over at parents' child-stories, that's ok - get a coffee and PAY ATTENTION - ha!)

Not to drag all the details out, but Mr. S. and I have a kind of "attachment parenting" thing going on, which has included carrying Safiya in a sling, co-sleeping, and breastfeeding on demand. It's been lovely, perfect for us (including the ups and downs and what-in-the-world-are-we-doing? - that's part of it), and we've never regretted our decision for a second. And it's resulted in me nursing a toddler, which very often results in general hilarity.

For the past week before bed Safiya has been saying that she doesn't want to go upstairs and doesn't want "Mama milk". To quote: "I don't want to go upstairs, I want to stay downstairs. I don't want Mama milk!" Chalking it up to staying-up-too-late-delirium and seemingly general toddler indecision, we've been ignoring her, taking her up to bed, and she ends up nursing to sleep like she always does. But she wasn't very happy before bed and it was taking a long time to go to sleep.

This wasn't working.

I happened upon two articles by Sandra Dodd, one on sleeping and the other on meals. We've been toying with the idea of eventually unschooling, so the ideas, which are based on a fundamental respect for children and a trust that they can figure things out, weren't too far of a stretch, but your two-and-a-half-year-old? Yikes.

So we observed and listened to her today. When she said she wanted bread and chocolate for lunch, we said "....o.k." When she said "I don't want Mama milk" we said "....o.k." What's the worst that could happen? (I'm still not sure any parent should ever really ask that question...)

Today she nursed only when she woke up from her nap, for a little bit. Today for the first time ever she went to sleep (for both her nap and at bedtime) without nursing. And she was happy.

I don't know whether to laugh or to cry...

sweet baby sleep it seems so long ago...

Thursday 15 March 2007

In Which Mr. S. Lays the Cards on the Table

"If you can replicate the pom-poms, I'll wear it..."

So said Mr. S. to me upon seeing the oh-so-sexy picture below of the man-vest.

Is it a dare? A taunt? Good he serious? Is he mocking me? He dare not mock "Golden Hands"!

It doesn't matter, because I have a mission...

Wednesday 14 March 2007

Spring Things

I can smell the earth today. Upon opening the front door this morning, that pungent, winter-doesn't-have-a-chance smell sang its way into the house with the birds.

Inside we fixed up Safiya's little friends (who had been looking the worse for wear, I mean love):

The one with pink antennae is the baby, which she insisted should have pink eyes, as well. Hmmm....looks a little devil-spawn-ish, but I'm sure the parent caterpillars are good people...

Embroidery is a bit of my nemesis as far as getting things done. There is a be-butterflied "dresser scarf" that I started when I was a young teenager that is languishing somewhere, and I don't know what to do with it. It's my oldest project, I think. Can't donate it (sentimental?), can't seem to finish it (sigh)...What do you do with really really old projects? I'm curious what everyone else does...

So to avoid that trap, I did something simple today, something that is going to be part of a gift and so it was imperative that I finish and with grace, and so (sorry about the bad lighting!):

I really really enjoyed that. Maybe my nemesis has a good heart after all...

A Working Knowledge (in which there are two cents)

I am not an artist. I am a scrabbler, a transformer, a put-back-togetherer. Blank canvasses frighten me, but give me a task or a constraint and I flourish. Having not been trained in any of the arts, I have only a working knowledge of the different schools, different influences, different conversations that make up the "art world". That being said, someone recently uttered the "That's not art, that's craft" line, which struck a note with me. It was as if to imply one was of more importance than the other. In all fairness, I did not ask how this person valued art and craft or where, in their opinion, the line is. For it's a blurry line. It's not even a line, it's an open field as far as I can see.

Reading the articles in the "Golden Hands" books, which were printed in the early 70's, is like a draw from a fresh well. There is some history:

some articles on fibre and "art"and some lovely ideas (and illustrations):

some wickedly painful photos:

(oh my lord, that is just the sexiest makes me want to just tear off each little pom-pom...i digress...)

...ahem....and so much knowledge and instruction being passed on! Is this where art and craft differ? Is it the accessibility? Perhaps the closer the finished product is to human touch, the less it is regarded as art and the more as craft. If I put a beautiful embroidery as a patch on a dress or on a bag, it's craft. If I put it behind glass, it's art. For the amount of thought and effort and ingenuity and beauty are very often the same. Sometimes even the medium is the same. (Very often the gender is not, or the venue where the creation happens is not, i.e. home vs. studio, or the amount of money that's exchanged is not, but let's not get too political, eh?) Perhaps once again it's one of those false dichotomies, a question that's not appropriate, that doesn't push us in the right direction (wherever that is). Art is not craft is not art. To me, they are valued for different reasons but equally, for their stories and for the sweat and creativity that goes into them.

This was all brought back to mind when I visited the lovely Guild Shop downtown today, which is run by the Ontario Craft Council. There is a lovely exhibition opening tomorrow night called Stitch: Fibre Beyond Beauty, by various artists. They were just in the process of assembling the exhibit, and the work is exquisite and thoughtful. I found two of the artists (Thea Haines and Kate Busby) here, and Arounna Khounnoraj from Bookhou Design is part of it, and others. I'll be visiting again. (If I get more info I'll post it as well).

As for accessibility and art? I'd do two exhibits of felt sculptures at two different venues or in two different rooms - of houses, of trees, of fabric flowers, a soft wonderland of all kinds of things...and they'd be identical except that one would be called "PLEASE TOUCH" and the other would be called "BE CAREFUL" and I'd love to sit back and see what would happen, just for fun.

Monday 12 March 2007


This morning this:

turned into this:

It's almost done (just have to attach the ribbon around the middle somehow), partly due to the fact that when Safiya saw the pink elephants, she wanted to wear it right away, and partly due to the fact that the back of my throat feels as though it's been filed away with a nail file... *cough*...*bleh* least it's me and not the babe....

Refashioning clothing is kind of new to me as well. I mean, I've cut arms off things before (the original sweater above sacrificed its arms to make arm-warmers for Safiya), whipped up a few hems, sewed stuff for the house, but never tried to re-attach things. The ruffles on the arms above? yeah, I meant to do that...but the neat thing is it turned out better than I had envisioned! It's tricky, but very rewarding. I've been seriously considering taking the wardrobe refashion challenge, (we follow most of the "rules" anyway around here, and it looks like so much fun), but I think I'll keep my commitments manageable-ish right now.

There's so much more from this weekend's craft foray, but I'll soon swoon (I hate being under-the-weather), so I'll just leave you with this image of sweetness from our weekend jaunt in the park with friends:

Friday 9 March 2007


So much was distracting from craft today. Vacuuming, laundry, routine appointments to make, the kitchen floor could use a good wash, well, I could sew, but I'd have to do this and this and this first...and so on....that's enough!

I grabbed the machine from it's forlorn spot it the midst of basement renovations, and plunked it on the kitchen table, as a reminder. This is what you want to do, it whispered as I gave myself an hour to do other things that also really needed to be done. It wouldn't sit right if one shortchanged the other, and so I was thorough in that hour, cleaning as I always do, biding my time...the idea of unswept corners was not going to taint my time.

And then we had some fun.

Working on a package going to a new friend and to a new wee babe out west.

There is so much I'd like to finish, like to work on, but in fits and starts it's hard to appreciate that things do come together, in time. Most of the time reading other people's blogs is an amazing inspiration, and it was what got me going here on my own, but once in a while just looking at the screen and all the bounty out there, I'm spurred into a frenzy of inactivity. I'm trying hard not to let that stop me from mindfully working in small doses on things that I really enjoy. It's all about balance...

However, when I really want (and need) to get giddy and dizzy with design delight, I go to:

silk felt soil
Oh Joy!
print & pattern

In our little corner of the world, this weekend bodes well, I think. There are minimal Plans and a lot of determination brewing here to finish some projects. Next week's mission is to post some finished stuff. Oh I really have to do it!

Thursday 8 March 2007

All of Us

Happy International Women's Day to everyone out there! I hope it was spent in the company of people you love, celebrating who you are. Most of the blogs that are mentioned here involve women involved with their craft, each with a unique voice. Today I think I'll add some of my favourite non-craft voices to that bunch, to celebrate:

:Natalie Bennet: Philobiblon
:Heather B. Armstrong: Dooce
:Sooz and Allison: the washing line
:various: nisaa
:Wendy Priesnitz: Challenging Assumptions
:Miriam Jones: scribblingwoman

Just a short list, for a short post...enjoy and good night!

Wednesday 7 March 2007


Trying something new usually has an attendant amount of anxiety attached to the experience, or it used to for me. Well, maybe not anxiety, but at least a healthy self-respecting dose of worry. I'm the kind of person who maps things out ahead of time, who has read the directions before, who has a binder of appliance manuals, organised into subcategories, on our bookshelf. Freakish, I know. These days my brain is a bit more elastic (or maybe it's just floppy from getting older...huh) and I don't mind throwing cautiousness to the wind and in fact find creativity feeds off new experiences, both bodily and mindfully. So, a new thing today:

A Sunny, Frigid Day at the Beach

A last minute decision, a different bus than usual, and 10 minutes from our house...I'd forgotten how nice it was - the sound of waves strange to me in such a cold context, the birds fluttering on the breeze...we collected rocks, looked at the freezing water gently rolling in, then came home for hot chocolate.

Oddly, this tied in to crafting today. Once again, I felted a sweater whole-hog, intending it for a project for a little babe, and it did not turn out, which was too bad, as I liked the colours and pattern. It was 99% wool, and 1% "other". Whatever the "other" was, it wrecked the elasticity, and I can't use it for what I'd like...So I had an idea and tried something new:

Hee hee, you'll never guess! Anyway, even if it doesn't turn out, it was fun trying!

Monday 5 March 2007

Rose Coloured Morning

This morning has been lovely. The weather is all a big bluster outside, but it's sunshiny and inside the colour of the day is this:

While Safiya was doing her own version of beading (which somehow involved the floor a lot), I was finishing these (spoiler alert, Mom!):

...the other Christmas present (from this year) that hadn't made its way to her's the people we love the most that sometimes get the short end of the craft stick, eh? The findings are silver and the stones are amethyst and ruby (my Mom's birthstone and Safiya's), and before you go thinking rubies, I didn't buy a whole string of them (!), these were kind of sad little orphans and The Beadery (a very amazing, helpful, creative space) people were kind enough to include them in the lot that I was purchasing. This is my second try at making earrings and my second try at jewellry ever, and I'm liking it a lot!

And oh-my-goodness-golly-gee is jewellry ever hard to photograph! I took about 80 pictures of these darn little things, and only learned by the end that what is needed the most is indirect light. I was trying to be all creative and capture the light coming through the stones...maybe with some icicles?...I thought...this is one of my favourites (ha!):


We snag paint chips whenever and wherever we can, because construction paper pads don't come in just pink, but try to explain that to a 2 year old. Sooner or later there is going to be an industry meeting where the executives of the paint companies try to fathom the explosion of preference to pink-coloured rooms in Toronto, given how many pink paint chips are missing...
(as for the woven cardboard fun up there - I started it, and Safiya just commandeered it after that...I did not set it up so that it looks like my daughter is a weaving savant!)

And this:

Oh dear. Well, I've managed to baste the torn batting back together, pin the layers, and baste the ends. I'm going to try Heather Bailey's continuous binding technique...To the cutting table (floor) to cut a gazillion strips! Here's a detail of the hand-stitching (you see why I wanted to save it?)...