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Thursday, December 31, 2009

'Merry Chrispies and a Happy New York'

 Margot and me outside our hotel... The Gershwin.

This is what my old college roommate wrote in a Christmas card a couple of decades ago!  I do hope that everyone did have a Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays (to be PC).  After shows, my Mum's 90th birthday and a flying visit to New York City I wasn't ready.... consequently I will be sending my cards out sometime late January!

 View from our window, over 5th ave & Broadway.

I had decided to hit NYC to look at the One of a Kind show there in it's first year way back last year while doing the Chicago show. A not great year meant my other half and I couldn't really afford the whiz bang trip we had planned and he had to stay home and work so when my friend Margot Miller asked if I wanted to go I jumped at it. She is a seasoned traveller and suggested the train out of Syracuse, a two hour drive from Kingston.... but oooooh so cheap!  The five and a half hour trip seemed like a dream to me after two shows and party prep. Five hours to relax, snooze, work on my laptop, stare out the window.  We prepared by my filling a thermos with soup and getting munchies from the bulk food store, some fruit and Margot made a huge salad. This meant we had a great lunch on the train wile watching the scenery roll by. It was so relaxing not to have the hassle of airports, screening, packing properly etc, then landing a $30 cab ride from your hotel! We had a five block walk from Penn Station.

We high tailed it over to the show on Pier 94 (memories of doing the NY Gift show with another artist back in the 80's flooded back for me) and ran into all sorts of folk we knew. It was a small show, about 250 and high end like the Chicago show. We were there for VIP night and got the royal treatment including bubbly and snacks. The fashion show was great and we ran into Patty Stewart VP of the OOAK TO who Margot hadn't seen in ages. We chatted and caught up our way around the show for two hours, then met up with friends Jeff and Susan Watson Ellis for a bite to eat.
Margot, Patty Stewart and me at the OOAK 

We went to Five Napkin Burger for great eats. I had one of the biggest bowls of French onion soup while the others wrapped themselves around burgers. The atmosphere and food were great, getting a cab back to our hotel was difficult, Thursday night they were all full and whizzed by us standing on that cold, windy corner.

The next day we  headed out to do as much as we
could. I had found the locatios of Habu Textiles and that was a short walk away as we were already in the garment district.  Here is a young mad from Parsons buying yarn for his thesis project. The baskets of yarn on the floor were for retail purchase, I got a couple of cones of Silk Stainless and we both came away with a full catalogue which was super.

Here I am lost in a tiny room off to one side full of skeins of the different yarns Habu imports from Japan.  Silver was one of them!

We made our way down to Soho to visit Purl, a knitting shop I keep seeing advertised in my Selvedge magazine. A tiny store with the usual lovely yarns but I was interested in the bits and pieces around the counter and on display. While Margot got lost in a Rowan magazine with pictures of England I poked through notions, accessories and all those wonderful things you find at any checkout counter.  I came away with a Knit Kit and have never regretted it. I now have every tool I need when  hand knitting (with the addition of a tapestry needle that I put in), all in one chic case, do check it out. I wanted the white with purple but was told they only make black now.

Seen in a shop window. There were more but I was already dragging out my camera at every turn.... but isn't this cute?    We also found some really cool clothes in a store called IF, the red plaid jacket above is Ivan Grundahl, we loved the dresses and skirts, lots of cloth!  We also found Paul Harnden Shoemakers... and if anyone can figure out his web site please let the rest of us know!!!!!!  You can see imagaes at this link  PHS.

Here we enjoy a fabulous bowl of Carrot Ginger soup, crusty bread and a shared quiche and salad in Cafe Cafe somewhere in the heart of Soho. Such a busy and popular place, cozy and  warm and eating done upstairs on balconies!!! We sat for a while watching the locals popping in and out for lunch.

I discovered Margot eats more often than I need to so, at the recommendation of my Nurse Practitioner the week before, we sought out and hit Once Upon a Tart on Sullivan St (same street as Purl). We got a cup of tea (sorry, take out cups, now pots and china) and a delectable pear chocolate tart, yum!! There were pics on the wall taken over 100 years before when it was still a food establishment.  Next door the deli take out part had great sandwiches we got a Goat Cheese sandwich to take on the train the next day... also yummy.

This place was amazing, Pearl River. We stumble upon it, though Soho was wonderful to walk around it was cold so we ducked in here and there... this was a whole block deep and we were in there for ages!!! I picked up some chopsticks to make sweater sticks with and also a really cool money box for knitters! It has cute sayings and instructions all over it.

Here's Margot lost in the fans I think. Note she is wearing my Noro knit shawl and got so many compliments I wore it the next day. It did look cool though, with her yellow purse and black leather jacket!

Well, we walked home that evening through Washington Square and saw the tree there.  We later were invited to the National Arts Club by  her old friend Ward who writes about the theatre and had to take off to do a webcast broadcast.

We hung out at the club and availed ourselves of the munchies being handed out and with a couple of glasses of wine. We had planned to head to Rockerfeller Center but decided to do it the next morning before our train. We did and the rest of the world was there.

We've decided that a hit of the Big Apple is necessary for artists and artisans. We visited FIT the following morning (we squeezed a lot in before our train at 3pm Saturday) and took in two wonderful exhibitions:   American Beauty and Night and Day (with an instructor in tow by coincidence!). It had been too long since I was there and going with  a girlfriend/colleague that likes to walk fast and loves the city streets on cold windy days is key!

Happy New Year!!!
Year of the Tiger

Monday, December 14, 2009

Shows Over

Felted collar in situ.

It's been a very busy month since the build up to the One of a Kind Show, it was nice to be back in Toronto for the Christmas edition for the first time in more than a decade. I had been doing the Ottawa Ottawa Originals in past Decembers until the Chicago OOAK started in 2001, then it was there (except for my '07 chemo year) that we went. 

Here is Joey commentating the fashion show in one of my jackets.. the one that seems to have become really popular recently.

She's great, always wears one of my items during the show, sometimes for the kiddy fashion show as my work is colourful.

My booth was smaller than in former years, that was for budget and because I didn't think I had a lot of stock.  Clint thought it was crowded  but having the corner helped expand my display space. I loved my spot, close to the centre and the fashion show stage.  That was were the half show booths were.

Nana Carolyn

Here is the second outfit I knit for my impending grandchild. This is of a wonderful machine washable Merino wool.... darn it, I can't recall the name just at the minute.

I saw it at Gwyn Gryffon  I couldn't resist the two colours to make something a bit funkier than the last one. Same pattern though. Why mess with success!

I managed to duck out during the show to attend my stepdaughter Alana's baby shower and to see how she's growing. She's still working very hard as it's the Christmas season and isn't everyone?

Never having gone to a baby shower before it was fun and I wish I hadn't had to get back to the show (don't know why, Saturday is 'tire kicker' day...).

But I didn't do well in the 'cut a piece of string to the measurement of Alana's waistline' game, but her Mum and I were off by about six inches.

Then the clothes pin I got when I walked in was taken away when I was caught saying the word 'baby'!    Food was great too and Jean Cliff (wife of Dennis Cliff), our fearless hostess and the third grandma, invited me to take some munchies back for the Granddad!

Me with my felted collars 

Of my felted collar jackets I sold the black one to one of my clients who always orders blue. It looks stunning on her!  I'm very happy.

Gift Giving 

The weekend after the  One of a Kind saw me at Old Fort Henry in Kingston at the Gift Giving show. That was a wonderful experience, in a small barrack room which used to house soldiers now housed four artisans per room, 24 of us in total. The setting was lovely, and we all rushed out Saturday afternoon for the sunset over the lake. This show was well attended and the right people.  Tire kickers don't go to an historic site for a craft fair. 

Lindsey Fair did a grand job of organizing and running this.  In my nearly three decades I still stand by my feeling that the best run shows are run by women... from an artists point of view especially.  Anyone who has done shows for any length of time knows you need chocolate, tampons, water, a first aid kit and the like.  Duct tape, scissors... need I go on!

Here we are in our 'go round' before show opening on Friday afternoon.  This is one of the rooms.

...and here is my display against the whitewashed walls of the room we were in.  Some of the other rooms had old brick of red or grey limestone.  I loved the white.  

Business was brisk and, a plus, it was so great to drive ten minutes home each day!

Not Done Yet...

 Whew! I'm taking a break from gadding about to get my studio in order and start my orders, not to mention catch up on necessary paperwork.  I just got back from New York City and viewing the One of a Kind NYC and will post about that next.


Monday, November 23, 2009

All in a Day's Work

Well after an evening of felting then a day or claying I'm worn out and still two days to  go until the show. This is a detail of the back of the collar I made, this is the centre back that you'd see if you were standing behind the wearer.

Here is the set laid out on my work table where I left it overnight to dry after tugging it into shape. It's going to be a shawl collar and the little bits are for side seam decoration for small pleats/gathers in the side by the waist. I've got it pinned just now but haven't had a chance to sew them on. Look good though.  Rather a folk art look which I really like, I just see how it's all going to turn out, with a little control.... I'm still really new at this but love doing it. I learn as I go that I've put some yarn in that won't completely felt so I have to put a little roving over it to hold it to the main body of the work.

As I took the polymer clay work I did today out of the oven and picked up the cooled Sweater Sticks I thought they made a lovely bouquet!  I do love making these and wearing them too. I've made three jackets with sweater sticks instead of buttons.
Here's a pic of the day's work, the sweater sticks on their show cards plus some buttons and my little decorations for the Clay Amies swap... not done that before and they're not great but it's a start.

My  Clay Amies swap effort

Well, I've started a new sweater in red and navy stripe. New colours for me as I usually don't like blue unless it's Periwinkle!  Buttons made, finish it tomorrow... then there's brochures, packing,  etc, etc...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Workshop News! 2010

As I knit my way towards the One of a Kind show and Sale ~ in Toronto this year, first five days ~ the phone it library telling me I haven't returned a book on CD (they found it eventually), a bill I've overlooked or good news?

Great news, I'm back teaching another week at Haliburton Summer School for the Arts next Summer.  It'll be another great week of Machine Knitting and I'm so glad to be going back to the Highlands.

Last year I spent the first two days dealing with sponge bars that had breathed their last breaths long since!!!  Now that I've revived eight sponge bars in my own studio on my machines.... I'm prepared. It's easy to do and this time I'll have everyone prepared beforehand and we'll be away to the races!

Machine Knitting at Haliburton School for the Arts 
August 9th - 13th 2010

Looking forward to seeing old and new faces.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Show Time and Felted Collars

It's two days until the Maker's Hand show in Picton starts, it's three days long with Friday being 10am  to 8pm. That means leaving home (at least I get to sleep in my own bed) at 8:30am and getting back about 9:30pm. If we can catch the right ferry coming home it's fewer miles and a shorter drive.... otherwise it's the highway.

Anyway, here are pictures of my first felting efforts for collars, this one I've put on a grey knit jacket and I've made buttons that go with it. I still want to make some embellishments for the cuffs, but I'm knitting the body for the other collar .... a black base.  Here I've done the fancy stuff on the ends as that is the part of the collar that will show close to the face.

 The back with detail on the centre which will show at the back of the neck.

It was interesting remembering to put the back neck embellishment down first then putting the prefelt on top.


This is the darker collar looking at the front (face side).

The back of the darker collar.

The buttons are made for this too, so as soon as I get the body knitted it's a 'go'!  Then I want to do some more felted pieces for the One of a Kind show that starts November 26th....Aaaaarrrgh!!!

Photos of the garments to come... now back to the knitting machine......!

Thursday, October 22, 2009


 Why ouch? Because I'm hurting in more ways than one and - forgive me - but I need to vent. My wrist hurts, it's De Quervain's tenosynovitis and its in my right hand. It can be cured...if I stop using my right hand for a while....I'm getting symptoms now in my left hand. Sheesh... where do I go from here? I've thought of getting a firmer wrist brace that I can't take off for a while but that will have to wait until after the Christmas season (shows, family etc).

New Stuff

I recently got a call from an eager potential machine knitter mentioning that my Etsy section on my web site was blank.... that's when I discovered there is a four month expiry on the  listings...oops, I really must read more of their instrucional emails!  No sales yet but my good friend Claire Maunsell has had success so I'll persevere, and it's easier than trying to sell from my site which is really more of a reference site. Well, I spent a day making some more of my buttons and new Sweater Sticks (for buttonless cardis, wraps, shawls.... even hair) and Sweater Pins, and then uploading some of them to my Etsy shop.

Though my buttons are a bit dearer these are only $15.

I just had the Town and Country Studio Tour here in K'town and that was great, I had lots of vistors and if I could hand knit socks one pair a day I would be rich!!  .....but there's the De Quervain's..... Sales were made, friends and the curious dropped by and I had such a grea time I just spent Monday staring at the walls and wondering how I could drag myself upright off the sofa in my studio!

Sleeves need shortening and knitting needs to be done but for that ..... my machines need functioning SPONGE BARS!!!!   So I hit Knittsings for the info and step by step.

I've done five sponge bars so far with a couple more to go, from both Singers and Brothers. I had most of the equipment and found iron on laundry tape was already cut width wise and ready to go instead of iron on interfacing.

Now I'm ready to knit again .....  well later after I take my Mum out while our wonderful cleaners are in.  We'll run around and do errands, maybe grab a coffee. When these visits are over I hate to leave her as she asks if I've seen around the house she's lived in seventeen years. Mind you, not remembering much means that you don't remember that you've just spent the day at the hospital for a cataract surgery with your husband and eldest daughter nattering away while you sleep off the woo woo drugs!

Hitting the studio means facing the bills, show fees uppermost and wondering where the money went...  then I remember that I spent six unproductive weeks not using my arms after my double mastectomy and reconstruction, only to make a mad dash to make stock for a less than successful One of a Kind Spring show....the economic times being what they are.  And after twelve years of having the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition (and I'm not linking this because of the sour grapes I'm allowing myself!!!) which was always really successful for me, I was juried out this year (it happens to all of us) and have none of those nice sales to pay my Fall '09 and Spring '10 show fees etc. That along with the residual debt from my couple of cancer years has left me owing all over the place and working less because of trying to take some time for myself (stress being found to be a contributing factor in breast cancer).

What happened to the days when I schlepped my wares to a show in green garbage bags in a taxi, didn't need a computer for web sites, email, client contact, printing hang tags, brochures, show application, advertising blah, blah blah???

On the up side there is my grant (doesn't pay booth fees though), and another free knitting machine I was graced with this week!!!! A Singer 850 plus ribber! Now that gets me all fired up.... I'm also repairing it's sponge bar.

Well, I'm off to run errands with Mum it tow and we'll have a giggle as she still has a wonderful sense of humour. I do however miss the woman who, when I called her in tears over something falling apart in my life, drove over and took me out for  a drive and let me cry it out.

Love you Mum, thanks for teaching me to knit.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fashion Blitz

Just For Us Originals - my booth.

It's been a busy few weeks recently, on returning from Cleveland I had to prepare for the Just for Us Originals a wearable art show in this year in Oakville tacking onto the coattails of the World of Threads show. Unfortunately I was unable to see any of the World of Threads but as it happens every two years I'm bent on seeing it in 2011, I had colleagues showing in that show and I'm so sorry I missed it.

Dale Cox, me and a cloaked form!

A wonderful part of that weekend was that old friends Dale and Dave Cox were helping out. They are both great amimators and artists who have worked on many movies and animations including Care Bears. We got to play a bit of catch up, as we used to hang out waaaaay back in my first marriage ('70's) I got to find out what some of the folk from that other life are doing now.

After the show closed on Saturday evening I got to drop in on  my step daughter Alana Kurtis, a musician and music teacher and pat her five and a half months along belly. Also to present her with the rest of the little outfit I made, the 'Yoda Coat' and  little hat with a twirl on top. When I popped into my local Wool Tyme they had about three little Yoda Coats knitted and on display. There's no pulling anything over baby's head and with this soft machine wash and dry Merino wool it should keep my first grandchild warm when 'it' arrives in February!

This was a pattern for an apple hat but  I left off the leaves and just curled the 'stem'.  I do hope these are gender neutral enough as we don't know the little one will arrive wearing pink or blue booties.
 Judith and me.

I got back from Toronto late Saturday night and got up early for the CIBC Run for the Cure which went along the lake and past our house this year. My sister Judith and I walked on the 'Sue's Care Team' for Dr Sue Hendler a neighbour of mine for many years and head of Women's Studies at Queens University. She was diagonsed (after a lot of false starts and palava) with breast cancer but it was already far along. Chemo and radiation and many drugs made her very ill but didn't cure her cancer and knowing her days were numbered she put together a marvelous group of her friends to see her out of this mortal coil as comfortably as possible in her own home. She passed away a few hours after entering hospital.
Pix of Judith and me walking with our friends Erin and Yvonne and Nuggett the dog.

Sue arranged her memorial service (which I was unable to attend being in Oakville but my sister went) and also a bit of a munchies 'do' back at her place after the run. Not only was it really good to meet the women who took care of her but I connected with the brother of a girl whos house I used to go to to listen to Bob Dylan records back in the late '60's!!!!  He said that as the big brother those had been his Dylan records. We really dug up the past and that was absolutely super.... thanks Sue.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Grant at Work

I've been having  fun with my gant money, it's enabled me to take classes, buy materials and do things I didn't think I would be able to do for a long time.  Spending a day with Andrea Graham in he studio felting was wonderful and really opened a brand new door for me creatively.
Here is a photo of my second felted piece, working with prefelt and some fun stuff from around Andrea's studio.  Here it is soaking wet and lying on the bubble wrap that I 'felted' it on. I learned that first you very carefully felt under another surface, old nylon curtain 'Grandma's Curtain' as Andrea calls it, or plastic. We didn't use tons of water as I had thought so it was not messy.

This is a photograph of my finished piece on my back deck. It has some crazy knitting in it, some silk fabric, a long tail thing that Andrea made as a demo for me. Some fancy yarns, silk roving and pieced prefelt.  I love it and am so proud!!!!

 This mini collar was my first piece made with roving, I learned the difference between roving and batt. For me, really not a felt maker I will use prefelt to made pieces to add to my knitted jackets. I aiming for the Maker's Hand show and for the One of a Kind in Toronto (I'm in the first five days).
I was so proud of this too as my first real felted work.

Detail of my 'art' piece.

Sweater Sticks
In making a wraped jacket for the Art After Dark, not making a button or buttonhole meant I had to think of another closure for the front. I had knit it to allow for a good overlap so decided to try 'sweater sticks'  of polymer clay and bamboo knitting needles.  Here's what I came up with and so far they have been well recieved, I'm selling them at $15.

Here are my first five, I have fun making them too so it's unstructured work unlike the knitting, especially custom orders!

I have one for the purple coat and one for a wrap I made for myself a year ago.

The big trip was to attend Inspiration '09 in Cleveland put on by BT Yarns. Sue does a wonderful job each year since she took over from Bonnie Triola in Erie PA.

The main draw for me was Susan Lazear of Cochille, the software I use to aid in the technical//numbers side in my pattern making and executing my designs, much less paper and pencil stuff thank heaven. 

She had classes in knitting and fabric, combining the two, knock offs or how to make a pattern of some store bought garment you already have. We also worked on our laptops with Garment Designer... I really needed some brushing up, especially as I teach it.  And Stitch Painter. I got some nagging questions answered.

I picked my friend Sonja up in Toronto and then inched toward the border (awful traffic!!!). Nine hours there and nine back but I found that driving sitting very upright in my PT Cruiser (the 'Knitmobile' bought because a. I've always coveted them and b. with the  back seats out and the box on top I can load her up) was great for long distance and not tiring at all.

Susan talked about taking notes and even photos of things you are interested in while out clothing shopping. So here I am wearing a really neat coat in Saks and taking a photo of myself!

Now I'm back from that weekend, a show in Oakville (future post) and am turning my studio upside down to clear out some 'stuff' and make room for creativity! My DH has bought himself a new dresser for the bedroom and I get the old one for my studio ... more storage than the antique dough box I had in there.

This just in: I've found the floor!!!!!!