Tag Archives: toronto

Stitch Yourself into an Expert

So, I’ve been working on lots of new or re-visited things lately. I’ve been feeling like wanting to do something new and creative and have a few things that are sitting in a position of almost ready to launch but I am still deciding what to do, and when. Meanwhile I am still spinning fun yarns and going down a bit of a rabbit hole with sewing. I decided that being the new parent of a toddler requires a bit of time to oneself sometimes. So, I am going to take little workshops and classes from time to time so I can get some focused creative time. I started a few months ago taking a sewing boot camp class at Black Orchid Designs and it’s been a nice wake up call to get reacquainted with sewing and sewing machines. I’ve already made a fun pillow and I’m working on a dress for myself that I hope to finish this weekend. At home I have pulled out my sewing machine and read the manual and we are getting reacquainted as I turn my baby quilt project into reality. I decided some time ago to save all of Bee’s little sleepers and make a quilt out of them. It’s quite meditative cutting out the squares for this project.

I’m doing a simple patchwork design that I might add some interest to when I quilt the top layer. These cute little patterns are full of so many memories. I feel like I remember lots of places she went, and all sorts of milestones where I can still see her wearing these pajamas.

I’ve been trying to spread around my creative pursuits a bit and get into things that are not necessarily a part of what I do for Studioloo, but just fun in general. I’ve also been thinking on the concept of business vs. pleasure in the arts and in creative expression and also about how to be a professional with your skills. It got me to thinking about back when I first learned to spin. My skills were still quite new and had a lot of room to get better. I was spinning yarns I liked, but in smaller amounts, and with simpler techniques. I was not confident enough for some time to get started selling my yarns. I decided for about a year to just spin and use my yarns in my freeform crochet, as at the time that’s kind of why I started. I had been looking for yarn that was interesting enough to make really one-of-a-kind hats. That’s the very reason I started researching about making yarn. Then I just fell in love with it.

The point I am getting at is that there is value to learning your craft really well, and finding your style before you start to market yourself, or your craft. I look back at all that I have learned about spinning art yarns and I know that what I produce today is far better than what I produced 15 or more years ago. It’s hard to imagine how long I have been on this journey, and still that I love this yarn. The worst thing you will do as an artisan with the intention to sell your wares is to sell something that is not up to your quality standards. People will buy from you, but if they have issues they will not be return customers, and they might even leave bad reviews about you online that are hard to resolve. That’s a topic for another time — the whole anxiety of being perfect, making mistakes, not being able to afford mistakes, and customer service, etc. It’s a big topic.  My point is – love what you do enough to make sure that you make that ‘made with love’ really apparent to your customers. Learn your craft. Never get too comfortable in your expertise and keep learning!

Some of my tips about spinning art yarns successfully would likely be:

  • Anchor your coils and complex techniques with a strong ply so that they don’t fall out if the yarn is cut.
  • Make sure your yarns have tensile strength – don’t sell yarns that have fibres that fall apart of float away.
  • Don’t ply with sewing threads or other weak, easy to snap, yarns or threads. This makes your yarn an easy candidate for snapping.
  • Knit / crochet / weave with your own yarn – it’s your best way to learn how to use it and troubleshoot/advise on questions like ‘what do I do when I get to this flower add-in?’
  • If you can, produce a simple pattern to be used with your yarn. Art yarns are incredible and usually require only a simple stitch to be an amazing finished project. They are often bulkier so you can produce samples quickly. (I need to follow my own voice here – I do make samples but often they sell. I don’t like to keep things around too long.) Get someone else to test knit your pattern.

In other life events, we were lucky enough to visit the AGO and see Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Infinity Mirrors’ exhibit. We had a lot of fun and it was great to wear polka-dots and dress up Bee in a polka-dot dress.

And we went to the Creativ Festival and I  might have been bamboozled into some fabric stash enhancement.

I will sign off by sharing my contribution for the #artvsartist hashtag on Instagram. 8 pictures of your work and a picture of the artist.

Remember the Internet?

Lately, with all going on in the news, and in the world, I have been feeling kind of like I could turn back time to when the internet just felt more exciting, and big! We all had webpages and blogs, and seemingly endless avenues to visit and find other creatives. Then social media came along and for some time it was a nice curation of friends, family, and inspiring people we followed down the many roads the internet provided. It seemed easier. However, at least for me, now that same tool feels kind of limiting in that I don’t really want every part of my life connected. I want to have privacy. I want quiet time. I don’t need distractions like a social media feed to cause me to stare at a device for an hour instead of spinning a yarn, playing peekaboo with my daughter or taking part in something educational or relaxing. I’m also starting to feel like it’s taken things from me. I notice a change in productivity. There are some positives but like many notable tech leaders, I am starting to see more negatives than positives for me personally.

So, I’m mixing it up and using the time machine in my mind to go back a bit to how things were when I was happier about the internet. I’m updating Ravelry again, blogging, listening to podcasts and spending less time in general offline. I’m online for my day job and that’s really probably going to be about 90% of my online hours. I’m also debating about how I want to sell my work online. I’ve been terrible at doing shop updates for a multitude of reasons. It’s a lot of work photographing everything, writing descriptions, uploading it, tagging it, advertising, it. I’m not excited to do all that. But I might do something like have live sales or sell on Instagram, where I am posting pictures of both my progress and final items anyhow. It seems like a logical move to try to streamline everything.

I’m also getting back into sewing, which I have not done in a very long time, and I am spending lots of time just spinning fun art yarns. I’ve decided to refocus a bit more on that than on dyeing millspun yarns. I think the market is oversaturated a bit right now – although there are a ton of amazing dyers out there. I just find I have more fun creating yarns from scratch. I will still do small runs of dyed millspun from time to time but more as a special release.

Also, the Frolic is coming up really soon! Come on out and see all our new goodies!

 

Peeping From Under the Covers…Frolic Time!

Well, it’s been a busy, quiet Winter, and I have developed some bad habits but despite this unrelenting snow, I am going to kick my life back into gear. I guess we all feel this way at this time of year. I have been wasting my time doing so many things…facebook….playing games on my iPad where I am far too committed to building fake towns, and feeding fake animals and destroying blocks and things. That…needs…to….stop! Now! But, the good news is that I have not only been wasting time. I have been doing a lot of cool things that don’t happen on the internet.

I have been a supreme hermit and I am pretty sure that my friends are likely convinced that Mike is keeping me in a cage in my studio, but that’s not the case. Trust me, I am still shaving my legs and making art and having fun. I have really fallen in love my our new home and I have been working on it most weekends and evenings. I have been reading more, watching lots of documentaries, having date nights, playing with my dogs…including our new rescue dog and so much more.

But, it is time to balance and come back into the light. I have a bunch of plans to accomplish things I have been wanting to work on for some time, and I have an action plan.

So, this period of quiet is over, starting with the upcoming Knitter’s Frolic. So, I am going to start blogging again, and updating my site. I am planning on scaling back some parts of Studioloo…things I need to abandon to create anew. Looking forward to growing and changing more and more.

DKCposter_halfsizeAlso, my show schedule so far is updated: http://www.studioloo.com/upcomingshows.htm

 

 

April 27th – DKC Knitter’s Frolic and Stitch n Kitsch

Happy Spring!

This Saturday Studioloo will be at 2 shows!

DKC Knitter’s Frolic 

Marketplace: Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre
6 Garamond Court, Toronto, Ontario

http://downtownknitcollective.ca/wp/?page_id=14

 

Stitch n Kitsch in Waterloo

http://www.stitchnkitsch.com/

Great Fall Weekend!

It is the nicest weekend! The weather is beautiful and the leaves are starting to change. On Friday I bought some beautiful Indian corn from the farmer’s market and hung it on the front door. The colours are so exquisite.

Funny enough, I cast on the Aestlight shawl in a really similar colourway of Creatively Dyed Calypso.

I replanted a bunch of small succulent cuttings and they are growing up nicely.

On Friday night I went to the ballgame and saw the Jays beat the Orioles again. It was a fun game and a nice night – not too hot and the seats were 100 level so it wasn’t so cramped. I think going forward I am going to always sit in that level. It’s overall nicer – the food is even more decent, not as many vendors interrupting the game and just better in general.

The other thing I am working on this weekend is getting all of my bisqued pottery waxed because I have to glaze this week for next weekend’s firing. Here are the backs of my waxed buttons:

Yesterday I went downtown to the fashion district on Queen and bought a bunch of nice beads from Arton beads, some yarn from Americo Original and had an awesome lunch at Rivoli. It was my first time there but won’t be my last. I had the Laotian Spring Rolls – they were really yummy. My company had the macaroni and cheese (with peas…yum) and the Siam Wookie Balls – not just a hilarious Star Wars reference but these awesome little sticky rice balls coated in toasted sesame seeds. They were chewy, crunchy and had a nice toasted taste. Really yummy!

Then we wandered through Chinatown and Kensington market and I stopped into Lettuce Knit’s new digs.  The new space is nice and I picked up a beautiful skein of Madelinetosh Prarie and some cute bumblebee buttons.

G-Whiz and the Day to Day

Because the dumb G20 and G8 are in town, Toronto is a crazy town of traffic and people in the streets. Overall it is a giant waste of time and money that is impacting Ontario’s economy in ways that no one sees or cares about. But I guess…myself included. I hate politics but moreso, politicians. They are the reason I hate politics really. Don’t get me started on the ridiculousness of the manmade lake that they constructed….um, hello, Lake ONTARIO wasn’t good enough for your ‘cottage in the city’ experience? Argh…

The good news is I get to work at home and look at this for most of the day:

Tonight, I podcast – no matter what. The agenda is written, music chosen and essays recorded. So, soon Episode 10 of Muststashyo will be up.

Today I need to find my camera battery. It is missing and making me sad.

Last night was my pottery guild meeting and that was really fun. I have been really lucky in finding a great, embracing place to learn pottery and also make a lot of new friends. The guild is full of really nice people, of all skill levels, with a lot of hobbyist potters. There are some really creative folks to be inspired by and the president is an absolute sweetheart who is really great at celebrating people’s creativity and strengths. It is one of the most pleasurable cooperatives I have been a part of in a really long time. It makes up for a few that have been not so fun. I have redesigned the website for my guild and taken on the role of updating the blog, which I am totally excited about. So, if you are interested in what is happening in pottery and stuff relating to the Mississauga Potters Guild you can check out our website here: http://mississaugapotters.com/ and just click the blog link to see my blogging. I am only 2 entries in thus far but already doing the research on ceramics relating to this task has me learning so much.

Today I am hoping to have some time to read up on a Ceramic Arts Daily article about converting cone 10 (high heat fire) glazes down to cone 6 (medium heat fire) which is great because our guild is a cone 6 guild. When I was in North Carolina a couple of months ago I came across a potter, Bill something…., who did these incredible crystalline pieces where crystals are grown in the glaze on the surface of the pot. THAT is one of the techniques. So, I am going to read up on it, see what formula and chemicals are involved and see if the studio coordinator could work with me on it. I think it would be fun to test out and then later a great workshop.

Here’s a look at a crystalline surface – amazing right?

Here’s my progress of my second pair of the Totem Pole Socks from my recently published FREE pattern:

My girlfriend Vicki has recently started a pair as well – so check out her project – she had amazing colour choices:

Anyhow, I am slowly knocking out a little piece of the list and realizing that my items are very big and general so I am hoping not to have 101 of them. I need to break it out more but that might feel like work.

1. Business Plan
2. Find good accountant
3. Talk to a bank
4. Discuss much with L and S relating to TBL.
5. Renovate basement
6. Get M here
7. Update resume
8. Finish Doll Feet dyework
9. Podcast Episode 10
10. Prepare fiber palettes
11. Muststashyo page on Studioloo website
12. Update non-fibery pages of Studioloo
13. Make plush and birds
14. Whale painting
15. Take sewing classes
16. Guitar lesssons
17. Find a voice coach
18. Raw food diet planning
19. Dog training
20. Set weight loss goals and achieve with a plan
21. Research urban farming and what is allowed in PH
22. Organize Spin in Public Day in PH
23. Raise money for Sea Shepherd
24. Work on book
25. Design workshops
26. Wake up Yarn a Day
27. Set spinning goals
28. Etsy destash
29. Gnome
30. Altered art
31. Clean house
32. More hooks added to window in kitchen
33. Finish enough pottery for another bisque
24. CofC application
25. Foot therapy
26. Publish Muststashyo pattern
27. Yarn club
28. Fiber club
20. Tea order
21. Cashmere and Bamboo order
22. Contests
23. Clean out garage
24. Garage sale
25. Recipe database
26. Master Spinning Course
27. Find local fleece
28. Monthly Projects for Artists Project
29. Curriculum design
30. K for M
31. M Painting
32. Type up kiln instructions and save
33. Keep food blogging
34. Organize beads
35. Finish knitting WIPs
36. Finish blue skirt appliques
37. Finish mending things that need mending
38. Find blue paint, mix and paint bedroom

Of Dogs and Totem Poles

Yesterday I had a really great morning. I went to Woofstock! One of the nicest things about living in Toronto is that there is always something going on – and this weekend it is North America’s largest dog festival! The roads all around St. Lawrence Market are closed down and you get to see every kind of dog imaginable. It’s so fun. First the dogs take a stroll up the red carpet.

There are hordes of people with dogs, vendors, restarants, and it’s just a really fun, happy scene.

I will mention that I published my Totem Pole Socks pattern up on Ravelry as a free download – but then the rest of this post will be entirely dog related. 🙂

Grab it here: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/totem-pole-socks

Ok, now on to the dogs!

First my favourite dog of the day – this sweet little girl in her roller cart:

She was so sweet, calm and gentle and her face had a way of melting your soul.

Funniest dog face of the day is awarded to:

Best tutu award….

Cutest toenails…

Best all-over face lick!

Best dachshund prarie dog stance! (This is a piebald – really rare..)

Most impressive fancy group of cute:

Best leash chompage:

Least amount of hair:

Today I need to get a little knitting in public done – WWKIPD was officially yesterday, but I am sure you can see why I simply didn’t make time.  🙂