16 December 2007

High as an Elephant's Eye

And I am not talking about the corn in Iowa, but rather the snow in Toronto. Although I probably should not have done so, I actually took a snow day today. I was meant to be at my craft show of 2007, but when the snow started last night, I knew I would have to decide whether it was actually worth it to attend. I paid for my space months ago. Did I want to lose that money? What if nobody came, and then instead of paying just for the table, I also ended up paying for gas and parking, and made none of it back? What if it turned into the best craft show day ever, and I missed out? I waffled forever, and then finally decided it would be better to stay home. Why risk the drive if it wasn't absolutely necessary. At the time I was slated to leave, the roads were becoming increasingly bad according to the local police. People weren't going to go for a walk if they didn't need to, and if they did have to go out it would be to shovel themselves free. Or so that was my reasoning. Sometimes I spend far too much time trying to justify my actions. Its like some sort of obsessive hobby I have!

Moving on....

Taking the snow day turned out to be so much fun! I spent the morning indoors, all cozy and warm, and then when it seemed to let up a bit, my husband and I decided to take a walk. We walked down to the local movie store. We also bought some popping corn so we can have hot buttery popcorn and hot chocolate as we curl up to watch the movie.
On the way back home I flopped onto the clean, untouched snow of the school yard and made a snow angel. I'm not sure why the snow brings out the kid in me. Toronto has been deprived of a good snowfall for a couple years now, so even when my husband was ready to go back in, I decided I needed to head to the park for further frolicking. It was beautiful. Only one other person had been there before me, so the snow was largely untouched. The park sits high on a bluff overlooking Lake Ontario. There was complete calm up above, and the angry thrashing of the lake hitting the breakers below. Pine trees droopped under the weight of the snow creating wintery green cocoons that would provide a temporary shield from the wind. The few determined flowers that had held fast to their few remaining petals through the autumn and into the winter, were frozen in the direction the wind was blowing when the temperature plummeted. All was beautiful and serene.
Eventually, I will need to head out with a shovel and free my car from the drift that has blown up around it. For now, though, I am happy to look out at the snow that is now softly drifting past my frosty window.

Fresh Snowfall

The Coolest Seat in the House

Toronto Borrows a Scene From Narnia

Susan is a Stubborn Flower

13 December 2007

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

What's not to love about this time of year (apart from sneakers that soak up slush and tummy-aches which result from squirting too much gingerbread icing directly into your mouth!)?
At every turn there is a project of some sort awaiting my attention. Last week it was cookie baking and card making. This year I made traditional gingerbread men, which resulted in the icing induced tummy-ache, green tea shortbread, and florentines, which are still awaiting a drizzle of melted chocolate. Did you know that Bulk Barn now sells Callebaut chips? Drooool....
I'm eager to make more cookies, but I am not sure that I will have the time. Plus, we will be seeing fewer people this Christmas, which means Darcy and I will need to eat whatever is left. Not such a terrible thing, until you have to make that New Year's promise to go the gym religiously and eat nothing but salads for a month.

For a couple days I wondered about the wisdom of making my own cards. Time was running short, and although I had my vision of how I wanted my cards to look, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to pull it off and get them written and posted in enough time. Luckily, I embraced the less is more philosophy with this year's Christmas cards, and I hear that some are already arriving in mailboxes, so I guess I didn't leave it too late after all.
And I am actually fairly pleased with the result. Onto a deep blue, slightly metallic card stock, I stamped a snowflake and "Merry Christmas" in silver ink, and then added a touck of white glitter (some of which actually stuck through the entire mailing process!). Then I adhered the blue stamped card stock to a simple black white card.

The next few days will bring a few more fun projects like wrapping presents, and planning dinners, lunches, and snacks. For someone who loves projects and many forms of creative expression, there truly is no better time of the year.

6 December 2007

Crafting Supplies are my Crack!

Its true I can't get enough of raw crafting materials. Last year we had to buy a new storage cabinet to hold my excess materials. Full! So then we bought some new shelving. Full. And overflowing! And still, I feel a compulsive need to "treat" myself to more.

So deciding to give myself a day off from holiday madness, I relaxed the best way I know how - supply stalking! First stop, Michael's. I intended only to get some plain white cards and envelopes so I could get my Christmas cards made over the next few days. I didn't get off that lightly. My nemesis was lurking on the shelf fronts - sale signs! Damn you, price reductions. One giant block of paper, reams of wrapping papers, oodles of ribbon spoools, swirly rubberstamps, epoxy stickers... what? How did all of you little fellows leap into that basket? I sat in the car and surveyed the damage. It was all justifiable, I reasoned, since I had not paid full price for anything.

Next, to Queen Street West in downtown Toronto where a supply stalker becomes misty-eyed from the realization that there are all those shops devoted to supplies. For today I opted to stay away from the bead stores. I was looking forward to a fondling day. Its not that weird, really! Deisgner Fabrics and MacFab have little hangers of fabric samples hanging all in neat little rows. So pretty, so inviting. Silks: patterned, striped, solid, Dupioni, Chinese. Linens, some rough, some gentle, all beautifully coloured. Toiles, velvets, cotton, twill, organza. Heavy upholstery fabric, flimsy curtain materials. Oh and then there are the buttons, the tassels and trims, the purse handles and other findings. Sigh.

Oh and of course there are the wool shops. The Knit Cafe where the squashy skeins are neatly stacked and knitted samples are artistically displayed, and where you can revel in the cozy comfort while enjoying an espresso. And Romni Wools, where any woolen thing you can imagine is surely to be found in the high shelves that overflow into laundry baskets below. And in the basement, a sale section and as I newly discovered, giant bags of roving which can be purchased by the ounce! EEeeeeeep!

And as if the stacks of sale paper at Michael's weren't enough, there is The Paper Place. Sheets of screened Japanese papers, handmarbled Brazilian papers, cardstock, envelopes, hand-dyed ribbons, and so, so, so much more. And my favorite part, little 4x4 inch scrap squares of Chiyogami paper. So beautiful! And such a small price for such elation as having that little square in your hand as you leave the store.

I am totally sated this evening. And I realised that I forgot to buy the plain white cards and envelopes that was the only actual item needed today.

3 December 2007

Little Fuzzy Orbs are Taking Over my Life!

This past Sunday I took part in a craft show. Knowing that an early winter storm was due to arrive the night before, I didn't anticipate a great turnout, and I wisely packed a book to take along with me. I would have had plenty of time to read if..... the most incredible 9-year old girl hadn't happened into my life.

She was with her mom and together they were selling knitted items at a table near me. I wandered over to see what they had for sale, since the best therapy for not making any money is to spend money. The young lady had a huge wad of wool roving which immediately set me drooling. As you may remember from one of my first posts, I have an insatiable craving for wool in any form, despite not really knowing what to do with it. And just to get off track for a moment, the scarf I started way back when is still on the needles since I decided I wanted to add length but do not know how to change from the emptied ball to the new one.

The girl showed me the project that she was working on... a multi-coloured needle felted cupcake. I nearly squealed with excitement. I have been fascinated for some time with the concept of needle felting. I had always pictured some horrible medieval torture instrument being used for the process and was so surprised that it was in fact just one solitary needle, albeit, a very long and thick needle. She showed me briefly how she attacked the roving with the needle and magically a shape began to appear. Then, gasp, she ripped off a hunk of roving and passed me a needle and told me I could take it back to my table to try for myself. Giddy! I was absolutely giddy with the excitement of it all. I started poking away at my little cotton-candy like fluff of purple softness. I figured out how to manipulate it and slow coax it into shape. Eventually it was a somewhat rounded shape. The girl came back to check my progress and told me that I had done it; I was done. Then she ran off, and came back lickety split with more fluff, this time green.

I started playing with the new piece of fluff and my second attempt was a tighter, more compact ball. I figured out that the more I attacked, the better the effect. For someone who grew up hearing the phrase "you win over more flies with sugar, than with vinegar" this type of venomous violence was rather new to me. Alarmingly, I am not sure if it is the ability to finally let go and attack, or the amazement of seeing something take shape from nothing, that led to the feeling of elation. Whatever it is, I can't wait to go and buy myself a felting needle. The knitting stores in Toronto seem to all close on Monday so sadly I wasn't immediately able to get the needle. But maybe that's a good thing as I think my thumb needs a chance to heal from all the misguided pokes it endured over my learning session.

Here are photos of my first attempt at felting. The purple ball was my first, the teal was my second.

*** Post-Script ***

I have since made my trip to The Naked Sheep in Toronto where I picked up a pack of felting needles and some beautiful multi-hued roving.

Last night I made a little ball that being deep green with a spot of deep purple reminded me of autumn ornamental cabbage. I decided that making the little balls, though exhilarating was a little limiting. Thus, I used my next little ball and turned into the centre of a flower. I thought I was gettting a little ahead of myself in trying to master something that required so many little pieces, after all I had no idea what to do to get all the pieces to stick together if I did actually manage to make them into a shape other than a ball! But, in time I had a wad of purple roving that was beginning to resmble a flower. An off the cuff decision to stab the two pieces together resulted in one full piece all stuck together. So looking at my roving and thinking, "hmmmm - green", I decided to aim for leaves for the flower. So an hour or som of fiddling and I ended up with a blue-centred purple flower, with yellow-veined green leaves.

Here it is:

I Took the Pledge!

I Took The Handmade Pledge! BuyHandmade.org

Not only do I love to create handmade loveliness, I also love spending my hard-earned dollars supporting others who devote their life to the pursuit. So I took the pledge.

And... well I may have taken it a little toooooo seriously over the past week. Hey, it is a pledge, not somehing to take lightly. Oh, and the One of A Kind Craft Show was in Toronto the past two weeks. I wiled away three full days in hand-made heaven!

What a glorious handmade Christmas this is going to be. Between my show purchases, and my etsy purchases, there is not a single person on my list who will not be receiving something handmade! How exciting to know that they will not need to exchange anything due to duplicated gifts. Like the Christmas I got not one, not two, but three crockpots! Wow!

I can't imagine that the people receiving these gifts will not be overjoyed to receive them. I'd share the list of who gets what, but I don't want to ruin any surprises.

I'd encourage everyone to take the pledge. Handmade just simply rocks!