Thursday 31 May 2007

A Basketful of Strawberries*

Somehow my meandering creative journey has started to pick up things like sustainability, art, green politics, home, all sorts of stuff - I feel like a giant burr caught on the fabric of this world, sometimes just hangin' on, sometimes causing a little irritation :-) and a lot of the time picking up stuff and spreading seeds around. I've always loved discussion, but not until I gathered up my skirts and rolled up my sleeves to get dirty creatively and start risking - what? my pride? a little bit of our money? time? - have things started to grow.

What in the world am I talking about? The chat. On Sunday I met a great group of women (maybe we can talk about the state of men and craft sometime?) and there was a lot of talking. Everyone brought food, and it was almost an afterthought - food? oh yeah, but we're in the middle of something here (I've never seen that at a professional conference!)....There were quilters, sewers, some knitters and crocheters, jewelry makers, someone who works with glass (glassblowing and other methods), bookbinding, button-making, illustrators, I'm sure I've forgotten something - all in a group of about 20 people. Amazing, eh?

We introduced ourselves, gathered in, and started on the goods. Funnily enough, I only remember one person knitting, but there were a lot of notes, ideas, being taken down. I expected it to be more raucous (probably because Safiya makes everything more raucous, so that's just the state of affairs around here), but it was (mostly at the beginning) reserved, tentative, anticipatory.....Canadian? Then a couple more people showed up and the burr started rolling, as it were. Talk about wishlists for our city, what's lacking, commerce and craft (how is stuff sold, what's the difference between the craft movement down in the States and up here? what kind of things sell? etsy, craft fairs), how can we integrate "high" craft and "low" craft (uck - so awkward of labels, but you know what I mean), how did we each get here? (in the craft sense), the usefulness of guilds (and of the Ontario Craft Council...hmmmm....) and lots more.

Sitting there, all I could think was that there's nothing lacking in could there be with even half of these bright, active people out in the community? People who do what they do (and many do a lot of different things!) because they love it, because "let's run with it" and "why not?" seem to be pretty good mantras.

What does this have to do with sustainability? Connecting like this was way better than any shopping excursion or big ticket purchase or whatever else business-as-usual-consuming is doing these days. All for a subway token and some homemade cookies :-)

p.s. *Thanks to SockknittingMama at Downshifting-path to simplicity for saying hi :-) Her mention was my strawberry for the day!

Monday 28 May 2007

An Afternon of Conversation

Yesterday I attended the Toronto Craft Chat, which was awesome. Beforehand, Mr. S. expressed his doubts.

"What's it about?"
"But what are you going to talk about?"
"You know, the state of craft here in Toronto, stuff like that"
"Wait a minute, wait a minute - the state of craft?"
"Yeah, so what?"
(slightly bewildered/bemused look from Mr. S. - o.k., he was laughing at me)
"How long is this going to take?"
"A couple of hours, the afternoon, you never know...."
"All afternoon?"
"....o.k., but what are you going to talk about?"
(ducks as I throw my knitting at him.....)

Sunday 27 May 2007

Speaking of Heritage and an Old Envelope

When my Mom was a young girl, she ordered this set of hot iron transfer patterns:

The postmark is 1965, and I won't reveal my Mom's age without getting her permission first, but suffice it to say it was before she was a teenager :-) I don't specifically remember her teaching me how to embroider, but this was my first pattern:

Now somewhere along the way, as I've said before, embroidery became my nemesis, but now that we're making up, I'm glad these were hidden away. The one above has been traced over many times, and I actually think it was the only one out of the set that was used! I googled "Laura Lee" and embroidery, but couldn't find much history except for some vintage patterns for sale. The set is quite large, with cheerful pots, pans, a glass, different sets of fruit similar to the strawberries, all of which I liked then and still do. But then there is a whole sheet of cheerful fruit in bowls such as this:

which alarmed me as a child and still does...a trio of singing fruit is reasonable, but a whole bowl? They seem cheerful, but when you're not looking, they could gang up on you....

The cake however, seems a lovely fellow and will be definitely embroidered onto something soon:

Now, all of this could explain the inspiration for the face of my little cloud:

who, I promise, will never rain on your parade :-)

Saturday 26 May 2007

Humbled by Thread

Oh, the Textile Museum of Canada! Their annual yardage sale is something that I've always wanted to go to, and having never been to the museum either (!), I was more than happy to drag Safiya and Mr. S. downtown this morning. (psssst they both had a great time at the museum!)

We arrived a bit late in the game, so the fabric was already well-picked over, but I did score some trim and tapestry wool and more trim (which I think I got mostly for the package labels, but do you see the giant orange rick-rack? everybody needs giant orange rick-rack!):

And these patterns, the first one of which I harbour no illusions about wearing as depicted in the cute illustration because on me, with my legs, instead of "summer picnic" you'd be thinking "why is that tree-stump wearing an apron?"

But I do love it and I may have to make it to wear over jeans or something. And then there's these:

which are also too cute, but vaguely unsettling as the top left baby in both pictures looks to be under some sort of impending doom....

All frivolity aside, when I finally ventured into the museum itself, I was awestruck by the exhibition colour and light: embroidery from India and Pakistan. Granted, I have not seen a lot of textile exhibits, but this one struck me as so rich; the beauty and workmanship and ownership and depth of what is hung on those walls is wonderful to behold, and what a privilege to have seen it. Seeing works of art such as those is so humbling. The tiny amount of work that I put into my little stitches on fabric is something else entirely, which is o.k. too, because those same works are also inspiring in seeing the beauty that is possible in human hands. It's set me reflecting on art and craft again, and especially on craft heritage.

I'll be going back....(it's on until July 8 - if you're in town, go and take it in, because the website, while wonderful, does not do it justice....)

Thursday 24 May 2007

At the End of the Day (In Which a Girl Loves Her Bicycle)

As you've seen before, I like trees in sky...

Today was a good day. One of those things keep happening, good and not-so-good, but all in a good flow, a good vibe...

We started out with this:

I looooove my bike. Biking in the city isn't nearly as scary as I thought it would be, although I do tend to stay away from the main roads (especially if Safiya is with me in the child seat). Zipping around, picking up a few things or not, long haul or short, and I'm happy as a lark on this fine, piece of heavy bicycle beauty (found and fixed up courtesy of the cool dude bike fiend who is married to my great friend Janet). Man, none of your ultra-lightweight-modern-look-at-me-racing bikes had better mess with this baby, because she will take you down!

This morning, however, Safiya was having none of the helmet. The end goal being having her to actually want to wear the helmet and not wanting to traumatize her (after an attempt during which I actually did nip her little chin with the clip by accident while trying to get it on.....sigh), we abandoned the whole bike idea and walked to our destination...1.6 kilometers away (which is apparently a 3 minute drive according to Google maps). Ha ha! Not when you're with an almost-three-year-old who choose to wear her rainboots during 32-degree-celsius-in-the-shade-and-huuuumid weather (that's 89 F for our American friends). To both our credits, we had a really nice, long walk with water breaks and a playground break and everything. Sometimes slow travel is the only way to go :-)

And when we got home, a package from our friends on the other side of the world, waiting for us (I wonder how long it took to get here?). Yay! A pink koala t-shirt and awesome Aussie wild animal letter flashcards. This is my favourite:

Why do I find that amusing?

Oh, and I finally listed stuff in my etsy shop! I'm just listing as I go along, and apologies for some of the pictures (why is it so hard to photo a blanket?), but I figured better to list than not....I'll try to maybe get some better pictures and keep experimenting....

The babe and her Babo are at the park.....hmmmm I think a little craft-experimenting is in order :-)

Tuesday 22 May 2007


Just so you know, the hair?

Just a lot of grey, really...

And that's the most you're ever going to actually see of me around here, I think....

Everything in Order-ish

Somehow, I feel like I'm starting all over again (in a good way). The past week-ish has been spent re-organising fabrics, cleaning, just playing with Safiya, and nourishing my brain. Because you know you haven't been even contemplating cleaning when:


o.k., just one little guy...don't tell my mother...and oh - he was relocated humanely.

Humanity has been on my mind a lot lately. Kind of a broad plane to be thinking about, but this past weekend Mr. S. and I had a whole day date (our first one ever, thanks to Granny!) and we eventually (after basically eating at different restaurants all day - ha!) ended up at the NFB downtown and watched Manufactured Landscapes. This movie, about making connections with what we consume and how it is provided to us (and by whom), besides being visually stunning, affected me in such a way that it's prompting not only an emotional and brain response, but an action response. It's provided a short-circuit to action, if that makes any sense.

Take a deep breath. Today we switched to Bullfrog Power. It's just a start, I think. Now what kind of thread am I going to use? That's not polyester (plastic, oil product)? That's not conventional cotton (highest use of pesticides crop)?

...Apparently I am going to meld fabric together with sheer good intentions. Oh, and that doesn't cost an arm and a leg? (Although from the picture above you'd think we have money just flying around the house...."Oh look, honey, here's that hundred you were looking for!..." good grief!)

So, for inspiration (and yes, a lot of them have to do with food....)

sew green
no impact man
eat local challenge
100 mile diet
path to freedom journal
slow food toronto

I'm posting this while eating M&M's (there's blog as confessor for you) and listening to the news announce another smog day here in Toronto tomorrow...and yet I still feel pretty optimistic :-)

Night night!

Monday 14 May 2007

A Bit of Show and Tell

As promised, the smock from Katharine:

It's reversible!

And, with her permission, one of her adorable girls, Fred (who has her very own blog, The Edumacation of Winnifred), sporting her brand-new play cape!

The capes were a riot to make, because really it was just an exercise in pattern and colour and they provoke such a great response in kids :-)

This one is now Fred's:

And these are two of my favourites:

They are reversible, which was what all that slip-stitching was about :-) I'm going to sell what I have left in my Etsy shop, which doesn't have any listings yet, sorry - I'm still trying to figure it all out! And I'm still experimenting with how to photograph them (note to self - iron things first!):

Hmmmm. Because obviously the best way to show them off is when someone adorable is wearing one, if you can catch them. that is!

Sunday 13 May 2007

Say Hi to the Craft People!


So I lost all the business cards and tags and contact numbers that I received yesterday.....

I'm blaming it on the coffee, but am still hopeful that they'll be found (I probably put them in a "safe" place...somewhere...good grief...)

So nice artist woman who wanted me to make quilts with your fabric stash, hi! And really nice cool girl who's going to be a teacher and had a rockin' apron on and who wanted me to see her friend's jewelry booth, hi! There are more....sigh.... Luckily I do remember Becky and Katharine's business names, 'cause we spent all day shivering across from each other (it was pretty cold!).

Craft fair people are of a certain ilk, I think. I'm new at this, and was glued to my table in a must-say-hi-to-everyone-who-comes-by and must-keep-everything-arranged-just-so coffee induced delirium, so it was so lovely for Becky of HoneyBea to come over and say hi to the obvious newbie. I've seen her awesome stuff at Grassroots, and she was just so laid back and had such a generous and positive vibe that I'm looking forward to talking to her again and possibly learning some things, 'cause she looked like she was in the groove :-)

And hi to Katharine. Katharine was right across from me and had the cutest banner up that said "me and the girls" and she had smocks! I've been coveting the smocks love and just haven't had the time to make one yet for Safiya, so at the end of the fair we swapped and yay! I'm the proud owner of the most lovely and well-made strawberry print smock that I don't have a picture for (ack! sorry!) but will post tomorrow. And as I said, there's something about craft people. Not only is she pleasant to talk to and has a cute-vintage aesthetic that I love, turns out Katharine is delving into unschooling as well! And she likes orange. Anybody who likes orange can't be that bad. Don't ask me why, that's just the way it is.

I'm still not done talking about this...hee hee!

More tomorrow....

Saturday 12 May 2007

To Safiya From Mama

grow, child
eat sunshine
and apples

grow strong roots
walk the earth

taste butterfly sunlight
and ferns in the air

around the bend wishes
and soft breeze kisses

hide dirt happy toes
in frog dimple shadows

raspberry blissed fingertips
in bumblebee golden afternoons

belly laugh sky
leap so high

love life
live love

To Market To Market (Or, Everything's Roses and Rainbows and...Coffee)

O Wow, was that ever fun!

Early this past week, when everything was still undone and the threads were not fastened and trimmed, I was having doubts. Maybe it would just be easier to sell on Etsy. Maybe I didn't have enough stuff. And the maybes fell around me, making little piles and getting in the way...

I'm happy to say, they got swept up and disposed of.

Craft fairs rock. Why? Simply because the people at craft fairs rock. And that's why it was sooooo worth it! And so, for my very first I-survived-my-first-craft-fair-wheeee! post, I'm going to say thanks to some people.

First, my very cool friend Janet, who gave up her whole day to cart my stuff around and hang out (and get me food, even though I had only had four hours of sleep and hadn't eaten and had consumed my first cup of coffee in ten years and was convinced that I could survive on craft adrenaline alone...thank goodness one of us had sense!). And hang with Safiya, and gamely try to attempt a tent set-up with a very uncooperative tent. Her yes-i-totally-get-why-you're-excited-and-i'm-excited-for-you vibe is precious like gold and clean water, and I'm just so thankful.

Next, the ever-patient Mr. S. who does not get the craft vibe, but does get that doing this made me happy and such, and thus wholeheartedly supported me being happy, and such. And who played with Safiya all day (who said she missed me after they went for a walk as if she'd been to the Gobi desert and back and hadn't seen me in months).

And next, cool craft fair people. Thanks to the people who took the time to pause and feel the fabric and praise my work. Thanks to the girl who read one of the quilts and commented that "it should be a life lesson". Thanks to the people who wanted to know how to felt wool (really? you want me to explain? hee hee!) Special thanks to the couple of people who said they liked my hair (ha! did I sell anything? who cares? they liked my hair! Sometimes that's all a girl needs :-)

I am still buzzing from that was really good.....

(p.s. Sorry about the picture quality - craft fair hastiness, unfortunately.)

I really need to sleep somehow, so I'll save another big thanks for tomorrow's post, which will be thanks to the other cool craft vendors! What fun!

Saturday 5 May 2007

Expectations (In Which the Blog Stands in For Therapist)

Ms. Blog: How are you, Marnie? It seems you're under a bit of stress?
M: Well, not really stress...I'm trying to enjoy the
process, you know?
Ms. Blog: Is that why you are thinking about the next project even while you're sewing something?
M: Have you ever sewn 10 of something?
Ms. Blog: I don't think we're here to talk about me, Marnie....
M: - well, I'm just saying that the 40-th seam gets.....ahem (in a small voice) tedious. You know, in an exciting, anticipatory way....
Ms. Blog:
Are you saying you're not enjoying this?
(in fear of having uttered heresy) no! no! I'm really enjoying all the crafting I've been able to do lately! It's just that I have this image in my head of the perfect craft booth, and I know I can do it, if I just work a little harder...I want it to be a place that people will enjoy popping in to.....
Ms. Blog:
For a 4-hour fair?
Yes, well -

They are rudely interrupted by someone brusquely throwing the door open and striding into the room -

Ms. Blog: Excuse me! This is a private session!
Oh no! Go away!
Unknown Intruder:
Marnie has sewing to do.
Ms. Blog:
Who are you?
Unknown Intruder: (grabbing Marnie by the arm and dragging her out the door)
I'm her Expectations.
Ms. Blog: (shouting after them)
Marnie! Clearly you have boundary issues with your expectations!.....


Friday 4 May 2007

All at Once

Safiya has been very busy lately, doing new things. Like climbing things fearlessly (mostly in the park), and nonchalantly trying new food that she wouldn't have given a look at a week ago. And getting naked (a lot) and using her little potty on her own...without telling me.....

And saying things like (this morning), "I think I want to make a salad, please. For a snack." She didn't want to eat the salad, but she wanted to make one, for my snack. The pretzels are hers...

And then there was this (under supervision.....):

"It's o.k., Mama," she said reassuringly, "I'm making a quilt. See? I'm holding the heads of the pins, not the pointy ends!"

Oh, well, in that case....

B@!ch of a Stitch

I'm a fairly quick learner. These days if I don't understand something, i just go and find someone who does, and quick. I don't have time to sit there feeling embarrassed that I'm ignorant or unlearned. I am ignorant and unlearned, about a lot of things, but not about asking for help.

So, you know slip-stitching? I've gotten someone to show me, googled it, and gave it many a go, but still, slip-stitching gave me, well, the slip (ha! sorry, that one slipped out - oh no! it's uncontrollable! o.k., I'll stop now...) I just don't get the standard diagram. Even the vintage sewing books are no help - they all say "and slip-stitch closed", as if any baby with a needle could elegantly make invisible stitches...

That doesn't mean there haven't been projects without slip-stitching, my lumpen, uneven stitches that look like something between an inverse blanket-stitch and a back-stitch are just painfully obvious, and it's painful and laborious work for me.

Until today.

See that (not the top-stitching, the other stitching)? Nope, neither can I! I made a mistake and that mistake turned out to work pretty well. I learned by mistake! Ha! and Yipee! and thank-the-sewing-heavens-above, because I've got about 15 more of these to do before next Saturday...

Tuesday 1 May 2007

This is Not This Morning

But the little bit of rain and grey skies today make the memory of yesterday's morning that much sweeter....

Some more pictures from the last few days. They are in-between crafting pictures - we'll see what else I can post up here later on today.....maybe something a little more crafty, eh? Right now Mama Nature's craft will do, I think...

Somehow it looks to me as if the wires are holding up the clouds, not quite containing them...

A plant with tears...

And a tiny world, waiting to be explored...Have fun exploring your world today, on whatever scale it is...