Tuesday, February 28, 2006

knit talk

If you're lucky enough to be hanging out at home at 2pm on a Wednesday , then you may like to tune in to TV Ontario tomorrow (March 1st). The program "More 2 Life" will feature a 3-person panel (including Toronto's Yarn Harlot aka Stephanie Pearl-McPhee) discussing and answering call-in questions about why knitting is so damn hot nowadays.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

hello indie toronto

There's a cool new project in the works called hello indie- a quarterly print magalog (magazine + catalog) that promotes the work of selected independent artists and crafters. They describe it as an "indie Lucky (with a smidge of Giant Robot) filled with the best in independent products."

Your stuff qualifies if:

You’re a small business or hobbyist
*You handmake your own work (it can’t be manufactured)
*You should have a Web site and store, or PayPal and an email, at least.

They are accepting entries for their May 2006 issue until Friday, March 10th.
Toronto makers, represent!

i left my heart at st. lawrence market

I have been visiting the St. Lawrence Sunday Antique Market (at King and Jarvis) fairly regularly over the past few months, and at the risk of creating competition for myself – I would like to share this place with you as a great resource for vintage craft materials and ephemera. Some of my scores include a totally gorgeous 1930s feedsack quilt top – in perfect condition, and a bag full of multi-coloured vintage embroidery floss and antique lace for $5.

One great thing about being a regular is that people start to get to know you and your tastes/needs. Everyone is super friendly and eager to feed your habit, so if you chat up the vendors and describe some of the things you are looking for, you may find that next time you visit they’ve put something aside for you. For me this is a big part of what I love about the market – that small town coziness in the big city.

Below are some images from my last trip to the Market (click to enlarge):

1. A wicker sewing basket (note heart-shaped pincushion!).
2. More heart pincusions and vintage spools and tools from Ruth's booth (one of my faves).
3. The market is great for fancy-pants vintage buttons and buckles.
4. Adorable and rare prints in great condition.
5. Fun books for inspiration (beautifully illustrated vintage children's books in abundance).
6. More loveliness from Ruth's booth.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

lewiscraft = no longer

The Alert's first bit of actual craft gossip is a doozie - apparently Lewiscraft is going under and will close all of its doors across Canada over the next 90 days or less. I looked into it a bit after a tipoff from Sew Be It Studio and apparently they filed for bankruptcy protection from their creditors in January.

While not much of a Lewiscraft shopper myself these days, this kinda bums me out - Many misty-eyed childhood memories of shrinkydink, styrofoam ball art, and fake stained glass light catchers are streaming through my mind. I'm sure American big guns a la Michaels will have no trouble swooping in filling this gap.

Anyhow, they will be getting rid of all of their stock, and you can take solace from this tragedy by scoring some hot deals in the coming months.

beads and bedrooms

Two events to check out this weekend:

Oasis Beadshow
February 24-26 2006

Metro Toronto Convention Centre North Building (lower level)
255 Front St. West
Admission: $5 or 3-day pass for $8
Friday February 24 2006 - noon - 8:00pmSaturday February 25 2006 - 10:00am - 6:00pmSunday February 26 2006 - 11:00am - 5:00pm

According to
Nathalie-Roze this is a good show for hobbyists and hardcore beaders alike - Lots of selection, workshops (costs run about $20), resources and inspiration. Some indie companies to watch for: Lunacy Beads (see photo) and BeadFX who distribute Art Clay Silver in Ontario.

2. The Gladstone Hotel's 3rd Annual Alternative Design Event
February 24-26, 2006
Gladstone Hotel - 1214 Queen St. W.
Admission $6.00

Friday February 24, 12-8 pm
Saturday February 25, 12-5 pm + Reception 7-10 pm (last tickets will be sold at 9 pm)
Sunday February 26, 12-5 pm
Come Up to My RoomLovedesign Party - FREE ADMISSION
Saturday February 26, 9 pm till...
with music by felix and gani - milkaudio (

Come Up to My Room is an annual alternative design event housed in the historic 117-year-old Gladstone Hotel. Innovative, cutting-edge designers/artists are invited to transform all 12 of the Gladstone's second floor rooms into imaginative - and sometimes strictly aesthetic - site-specific installations. The exhibition showcases the work of practitioners and emerging designers who approach design with radical personal vision.

Come Up To My Room is designed to connect designers and artists from diverse disciplines to each other and to the outside community through its alternative take on the trade show.
Come Up to My Room showcases work that falls outside the "norms" of traditional design featuring designers and artists from diverse disciplines who dedicate their practice to; experimental, inter-disciplinary, self-taught, hand-made/craft-based, installation, and environmental, art & design projects. The installations incorporate furniture design, sculpture, lighting, ceramics, and more. Many of the installations are collaborative creations.

NEW IN 2006 - Come Up To My Room introduces Psssst! A series of design dialogues which will include speakers and presentations as well as interactive workshops in keeping with the exhibition's curatorial theme of conversation as a metaphor for social change in design. See the website for more info on these events and participating artists/makers.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

feel the love this saturday with las valentias

Thanks to a tip-off by in-the-know Nathalie-Roze of Frugal Fashionista and DIY Style fame, we can get our vintage textile fix this Saturday the 25th at a studio sale held by Erin Keatch, maker of the romantic line Las Valentias.

Keach works with a lot of vintage fabrics and notions, and will be selling fabric remnants & overflow as well as her fall/winter collection at 50% off most items ($80 - $100 for jackets and dresses, $20 for tops) – "nutty prices, considering the exceptional workmanship", says Nathalie-Roze.

Note: Keach is on the shortlist for the Toronto Fashion Incubator's New Label Competitiion happening during T.O. Fashion Week next month.

Saturday February 25
10am to 6pm
2252 Dundas St. West, at Bloor

Friday, February 17, 2006

beauty, clark! (and other stuff)

One of the things that I love about Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay West) is that when they generate a concept for a project, they really go for it. Their latest scheme - Beauty - is no exception. From January - May of this year you are invited to explore the idea of beauty through a wide variety of programing - to ask whether beauty can be "defined by personal tastes or perspectives or [if]...universal standards [can be applied]?". As you might imagine these questions are investigated largely through a visual lens (though dance and poetry also factor in) - inspiring seven exhibitions and dozens of Craft artists through March 12, 2006. Read on for an overview of what's going on....

"In many mediums and by many hands, beauty is transformed by some of Canada's top emerging Craft artists at Beauteous (a national juried exhibition featuring 16 artists) as well as by twenty artists at Material World (Harbourfront Centre's Craft Studio residents biennial exhibition); at the four beauties exhibition and at installations by Susie Osler (BLOOM) and Wendy Walgate (New Migration). Photography by Garett Walker (The Canadian Icon Series exhibition) and a site-specific installation by designer Andrew Jones completes a fabulous free admission display of vibrant visual arts and cutting edge Craft at Harbourfront Centre."

Call 416-973-4000 or visit here for more details on these exhibitions.

*Innovators + Ideas (I2)*
Still hungry for mental stimulus? Check out Innovators + Ideas (I2) - also on at Harbourfront Centre - where contemporary Craft Art practice is explored through lectures, seminars and master classes, on select dates from February 25, 2006 through April 2, 2006. This is "a dynamic and lively series addressing current issues and needs within the contemporary craft field by inviting artists, curators and writers spearheading international and national contemporary practice through innovative individual investigation."

This investigation takes place through public lectures and master classes with participants:
Master classes and workshops feature UK textile artist Deirdre Nelson and Canada/USA glass artist Katherine Gray. Lectures feature prominent UK writer and curator Lesley Jackson as well as Australia's Janet Mansfield - editor of the influential periodical Ceramic Art and Perception. All events occur at Harbourfront Centre's Studio Theatre and Craft Studios.

For details on this series (including event info, costs, and registration) visit

*Clothing Swap Plus*
Finally, for some fluffy (yet socially/environmentally conscious) fun, on Saturday Feb. 25 you can participate in the Giant Deluxe Co-Ed Clothing Swap #2 , hosted by Park Gallery (1036 Queen St. West - one block west of Ossington). Girls swap at - 5pm and the co-ed swap action begins at 9pm.

Here’s the deal: Drop off your so-hard-to-part-with unwanted clothes and accessories at Park. Bring them with you when you come by, or call Julia Burton at 647-999-7494 to arrange drop them off earlier.You can attend the swap even if you haven’t donated stuff. It's all Free, and all leftover items will be donated to charity.

What's more, "Our very special Park Fashion Designers will go further and celebratethe event by unveiling their swap creations, modeled in our windowsby our unique Park Fashion Models, renowned for their beauty and flair.Our Co-ed Dj’s MADAME hair and Steve Marsh will provide the clothesswapping soundtrack."

Thursday, February 16, 2006

the *new* gallery on the block

I have a thing for sea anemones so when I came across Ying-Yueh Chuang’s ceramic sculptures at the TOAE last summer, I fell in love. Her stuff has been described as, “brightly colored sculptures [that]have the look of deep-sea creatures crossed with exotic vegetables”. Starting February 22nd she’ll have a show called Sweet Wonder at the *new* gallery, recently moved to 906 Queen Street West. The opening reception happens Friday, February 24, from 6-8 pm, and the show continues until March 5th.

If you are interested in checking out the new *new *, an artist-run gallery with a focus on contemporary fine crafts, their Opening Bash happens this Saturday, February 18, from 5-10pm, where you are invited to “eat, drink and buy art!”

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

TOAE apps.

Last time I visited the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition (TOAE) in Nathan Phillips Square, I was totally blown away by the amount and quality of crafters (fine and fun and both). There were screenprinted Tina Turner dolls, insanely beautiful textile collages, flamenco-inspired wallhangings, felt ball mobiles, vintage paperdoll jewellery, etc. So there's no question you should check it out in July, but you should also consider applying yourself.

The deadline for 2006 applications is March 1st - the exhibition entry fees are: Artists: $300 Students: $100. All of the details

Friday, February 10, 2006

Knitting Olympics

Hokay, gonna squeak in just before the opening ceremonies (the rerun at 8pm tonight counts too, right?) with this last-minute post about the Knitting Olympics, thanks to a tip-off from Haley. Though it appears to be an international knitting blog phenomenon, this is an initiative of Toronto's own Yarn Harlot.
In brief, "You must cast on a project during the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics (Feb 10)- and finish before the Olympic flame goes out (Feb 26)".
Other stuff:
*The project must be a challenge for you to complete in 16 days.
* No casting on before the flame is lit.

*Finish before the flame goes out.
*Winners get a gold medal button for their blog (if you have one), your name entered into a draw for a prize from Yarn Harlot, and (awwww) the personal satisfaction of knowing you are an Olympic level knitter.

Full deets and a list of participants here.

Also from Haley - apparently Wolfitt's is having an insane sale and sketchbooks are only $5 - act fast!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

THE FIRST OFFICIAL Toronto Craft Alert!

ON THE MENU: February 9, 2006

1. Hello there
2. Vintage textile o-rama
3. Craft fair in Mississauga
4. Sew Be It Studio: Workshops/swap parties
5. Cross country checkup: Montreal and Vancouver
6. Local craftivism: Fibre Philanthropy

1. Hello there

Just a quick note to say thank you to everyone for your interest and support – I am still reeling from the amazing response this project has generated (in terms numbers and enthusiasm), and I can't wait to see what form this all takes. Thanks especially to those who have sent in their hot craft tips or event listings – keep 'em coming and this thing could grow into an incredible resource.

Finally, I just wanted to give props to the
instant coffee mailing list, an amazing source for arts events happening around town (and elsewhere). Their work has most definitely shaped the development of this project.

2. Vintage textile o-rama

Vintage textiles are where it's at. Here are two upcoming events that make my heart beat fast:

a. Rozaneh Vintage Clothing Studio Sale

Rozaneh Vintage Clothing* is holding a spring studio sale:

Sunday, February 12, 2006
11am - 6pm
183 Bathurst Street (east side, just north of Queen), downstairs
For more information : 416.516.0419

An eclectic selection of dresses, skirts and unusual vintage garb. Some designer pieces, textile, jewelry and accessories.

*Until just recently, Marilyn used to have a shop on College at Shaw – filled with gems at amazing prices. So this should be good.

b. Toronto Vintage Clothing and Textile 15th Anniversary Show and Sale

Saturday March 4, 10am - 5pm
CBC Building - the Atrium
250 Front Street West (Formerly at Enoch Turner Schoolhouse)

3. Craft show in Mississauga

Underground Garage Sale

Saturday February 25, 2006
Kinsmen Hall

327 Queen Street S.
By transit: Bus #9 from Square One

Music, art, clothing, jewellery, indie labels, books, zines, distros, sold mostly by girls in their late teens/early twenties who are diy fanatics. Live music all day!

4. Sew Be It Studio: Workshops, etc.

Sew Be It Studio is offering a bunch of fun workshops and swap opportunities. Some not listed here include Bra Making 101, Corset Making, and Beginner and Intermediate Knitting. Please visit their
website for more details on these and the following:

Beading Applique for Beginners

Learn the three basic stitches for executing beadwork on fabric. A full explanation of tools and materials will assist the students in producing quality beadwork. You can enhance your finished project by combining color theory and patterning.

Date: January 21 & 28, Saturdays, Time: 2pm - 5pm
Date: April 22 & 23, Saturday & Sunday, Time: 10am - 1pm

Intermediate Beading Applique

In this workshop we will explain different ways to create three dimensional surface work on fabric. You will be given the guidance and encouragement to establish your own designs to elaborate on.

Date: March 18 & 25, Saturdays, Time: 10am - 1pm

Fuzzy knit bag

Make an adorable and functional knit bag in just one easy lesson. This fuzzy purse is a fun project measuring approx 20x25 cm (8x10 inches). There is a photo of this bag here: http://www.sewbeitstudio.com/workshops.asp

Date: March 11, 2006, Saturday, Time: 10am - 1:30pm

Fabric Swap Party

Bring in all the fabric you have been hoarding for years or that discounted tweed you bought last week. Bring in your excess yardage, those scraps you haven't been able to part with, trims, old curtains, anything! Then we swap till we drop over tea and chatting. All leftover fabric will be donated to a local family shelter.

Date: Friday March 10, Time: 7pm - 9pm

Stay tuned for a clothing swap party this April.

5. Cross-country checkup: Montreal and Vancouver

O.k. the deadlines for these projects are coming up really soon, but even if you can't participate, perhaps these will inspire similar Toronto-based initiatives. Plus, look how cute the Seamrippers are!

a. Consistent Variable Project (CVP): Trial 2 .

Deadline for email applications: February 11, 2006

The Consistent Variable Project (CVP): Trial 2 is a collaboration between Montreal designer
Clayton Evans and terminus1525.ca, an online gallery and community promoting the work of young Canadian artmakers.

They are seeking 15 young designers and artists to participate in the project. Participants chosen for the show will receive an identical kit containing a limited selection of materials. Everyone will have one month to produce a unique art work using only and all the contents of the kit. The challenge is to create a unique and compelling work with a limited selection of materials. The final collection of work will be interpreted through photography and will appear on the terminus1525.ca in an online gallery later this spring. All participants will receive an artist fee. Visit the CVP webpage for more details.

Check out the
results of the 2004 exhibition.

b. Seamrippers Quilt Show March 3rd

Call for submissions:

We are looking for submissions of all sizes, and welcome works that push the boundaries of convention in quilting as well as traditional Quilts. Works in progress are acceptable for jurying.
Jury date Monday, Feb 13th, 4-9 pm
Contact them

6. Local Craftivism: Fibre Philanthropy

In hunting for links for the blog, I came across a listing for "Fibre Philanthropy * Knitting for the Homeless" on the Knit-o-matic
website . Here's the scoop:

"Every Wednesday night during the Stitch 'n Bitch we also host Fibre Philanthropy. People of all ages come and knit scarves, hats, mitts & socks to help Toronto's homeless survive the winter. All finished items are given to the Wychwood Open Door Drop-in Centre for distribution.

We contribute FREE instruction & patterns for these projects and the yarn is also free, donated by generous groups and individuals. All you need to do is bring a pair of needles (the bigger the better, around 9mm or 10mm are good) or you can pick up a reasonably priced set at the store.
So come on down! You can learn how to knit & make a difference!"

Every Wednesday night from 6 to 8pm.
Knit-o-matic, 1378 Bathurst St (3 blocks south of St. Clair).

This kind of initiative really excites me, and I would love to know (and promote) any other acts of craftivism going on in the city. So if you know of any or would like to start something up yourself, please
email me the deets.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

getting this party started

It's both giddy-making and a little scary to kick off a project that has been brewing for ages (as this one has in various forms). So I figure the best way to do this is just to jump right in there with some crafty goodness going on around town these days. But since you're reading, I will mention a couple of things before getting started:

*Join the
mailing list if you want to be craftalerted when a bunch of fun things amass (like craft fairs, exhibits, stitch'n'bitches in your hood).
*Please do
send me your hot craft tips - for the links on this blog, or write a blurb to disseminate in the mailing list. Blatant self-promotion is welcome!

Onto the fun. Three shows that I'm excited about:

1. Paige Gratland,
donut ho and imparter of free dance lessons (among other fun projects), has a soft scultpure show called "It's O.K. to be Soft" at Katharine Mulherin (1080 Queen West @ Dovercourt) from Feb.3, 2006 - Feb.19, 2006. The installation involves quilted and sewn plush in the form of a velveteen tree that you are invited to hug. Since everyone could use a hug at the end of the week, you best attend the opening tonight from 7-10pm.

2. Just down the street at C1 art space (1080 Queen West @ Ossington) you can check out SMALL DELIGHTS , a whole bunch of cute by Toronto-based artist Heidi Jahnke (check out images her pieces to the left). Her mixed media work, "consists of a quirky collection of constructed boxes portraying playful imagery of animals involved in their own miniature, fantastical worlds." The openining reception also takes place
tonight, from 7-9pm, and the show runs until the 26th.

3. If you haven't already, please promise me you'll visit A Terrible Beauty, an installation by Jennifer Angus at the Textile Museum of Canada (55 Centre Avenue - near University and Dundas). In this totally fantastical exhibition, 15,000 tropical insect specimens from Southeast Asia are pinned onto the gallery walls, in intricate patterns evoking 18th-century wallpaper and textiles from India, Japan and Egypt. Thankfully on until May 14th to allow for multiple visits. FYI: on Wednesdays from 5:00 - 8:00 pm, admission is PWYC.