Saturday, November 29, 2008


My grandmother used these old fashioned keys up until the day she died in 1999. As a young girl I always thought they were very odd, but interesting. Different. I had never seen anyone else use these long skinny keys for their homes. Later on I learned this was because she had never changed the locks on her doors since she purchased her home in the 1930s.

After my grandmother passed away, I put the key she carried with her on a ribbon, and wore it around my neck. It was something of hers I could always keep with me, and it made me remember her. Maybe a strange artifact to remember someone by, but it had meaning to me.

Although it was a simple necklace, if you could even call it that, I got a lot of compliments on it, and many requests for one. I could never part with my own of course, but when I'd come across interesting old keys at flea markets or antique shows I'd purchase them to give to friends.

They did not have the same sentimental value, but it was fun to think of who might have owned each key. Who where they? Where did they live? What did they do? If not a house key, what did it open? A great opportunity for story telling and creativity.

There is something very special about these old keys.

Available in my shop.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Baskets and Bags.

Leaving projects laying around is a huge no-no with a dog and a cat running around the house. My two especially love getting tangled up in yarn and thread. Easier access to projects means more get completed, so this situation doesn't work very well for me. Although probably healthier, I don't want to run up and down the stairs every time I want to knit a few rows or stitch for a few minutes. I've seen these clever baskets with fabric sewn on top to keep things safe inside, in several magazines and around many craft blogs. I thought this would be a perfect solution, so I made up a couple myself.

I like the knit Ikea baskets for this project because of their flexibility. They can also be stored easily when not in use. The fabric I used for the larger basket is from Erin McMorris' Park Slope collection, and the fabric on the smaller is a corduroy print from good-ness.

I made up the larger basket a while ago, and it has worked out great. It's the perfect size for my knitting and supplies! I added some handles for easy toting, and they have been very useful for when I've wanted to take my knitting out and about with me.

I decided to line the smaller basket since I didn't bother with the larger one. I used a pink and white stripe cotton, although it really just looks white in the picture. It was a huge pain to get the lining to match up with the outer fabric, and to get the hand-sewn stitches to look half decent on both sides. I'm not sure I'd bother lining one of these again. I think that double sided fabric I love so much might be a good choice for next time.

I finished up another project earlier today. This one being a tote bag for my mom to use for the extra books and reports she lugs to school. She's a grade one teacher, and I wanted something fun that was still appropriate for work.

I used another corduroy fabric from good-ness. You would not believe how soft this fabric is! The big polka-dots add some fun while still being a bit subtle, and she just loves them.

The lining is made from some fabric I found at one of the Church Bazaars I went to earlier this month. It's a darker pink so it isn't too bright, but it adds some colour to it. The polka-dots are still my favourite part though!

It was definitely a busy day for crafting.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A New Shelf.

This was another weekend full of visits to Bazaars(sadly, this was the last weekend for the Christmas Bazaars in my area), Flea Markets, Antique Shops, and Thrift Stores. I've been on the hunt for some good pieces of furniture lately, especially a bookshelf. The cheaply made particle board is slowly being phased out, and the good quality solid wood furniture is taking over. I like pieces that will last, and pieces that can fit into many designs and spaces, not unlike my new(old) dresser. I ran into this piece today, and although it's not exactly a bookshelf, it is just perfect.

For the moment it will be used for storage in my bedroom. The cubbies are the perfect size for those cube wicker baskets that can be found nearly everywhere, so I plan to purchase a few for smaller items. The other cubbies will be used for small blankets and pillows, and books.

I can envision this piece used in many spaces to come - storage for toys in a playroom, placed in an entryway to hold baskets of hats and mittens with a tray for keys on top, used to store books and records, kept in a dining room as a sideboard with pretty dishes stacked inside, or used as a television stand in a family room. So much more than a bookshelf! This piece has a long, long life ahead.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


This morning I awoke to find a blanket of white covering the world around me. The first snowfall to remain on the ground this year, although there have been a few snowfalls already. I bundled up and took Lola for a walk around the neighbourhood to take it all in. I have to admit I am not a fan of winter. There are things I love about it - my favourite holidays, the warm food, toasty socks, cute hats, scarves and boots, curling up under a blanket with a good book, some handwork, and a cup of cocoa, or perhaps a loved one - mostly indoor things. Talking about this makes me long for a fireplace..and perhaps a mudroom so I wouldn't have to wipe up the floor every time Lola comes inside. I don't like the wet, the cold, or the drivers who are in desperate need of a class or two on winter driving. I'm also not a fan of the mass amounts of snow that accumulate on Lola's furry legs, and melt all over the house once she comes inside. I do think winter is rather pretty though.

As we walked I could see the last remains of Fall peaking through, as the warm sun began melting the snow away. I have trouble letting go of Fall every year, especially when it's as beautiful as the one we just had. The crunch of the snow under my feet is never as satisfying as the crunch of the leaves in the fall.

I love the little bits of colour you can find if you look closely.

And all the interesting shapes to be seen.

I guess winter is not so bad after all. Well, if one can get past the cold and the wet, the roads, and little dogs who track snow throughout the house.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I had my eye on this drapery fabric for quite some time. It's sort of a thin brown cotton-canvas with a beautiful floral pattern done in white. The pattern almost exactly matches the pattern on the bedspread, but in a different colour of course. At $25 a metre it was a little more than I wanted to spend, especially since I'd need five metres for this project. Luckily, I visited my local fabric store two weekends ago and found it onsale for $8 a metre! I quickly bought it up and began sewing. I love the way the curtains add so much to this space.

Unfortunately, I dropped my camera and the flash broke, so I can't give you a better look at them up just yet.

You can get a better look at the colour and pattern here, or in the sneak peek you got in my last entry.

Better photos once my camera is fixed!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Projects in the Works.

My craft projects are becoming much like my reading endeavours - I jump into too many all at once and have trouble finishing any of them. I'm reading nine books right now, and have as many craft projects started, with even more on my mind. Of course all of this takes a back seat to class work. The trouble is I have less motivation to finish a project if I let myself start several at once. If I limit myself to one I'll finish much quicker so I can move on to the next. I need to start doing that again. This isn't even all of it..

Hopefully I'll have some completed projects to share soon!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Remembrance Day was yesterday, and this has been a week of Remembering for me. The focus on Remembrance Day is put on those who fought with arms for our country, but my thoughts turn to so many more. I think of those who fought in many ways to give us the opportunities we have today. I reflect on those strong souls who have changed the world, many forgotten and without credit, and those who continue to change it. I think of family, those who have influenced and changed my life. Today it is important for me to stop and look back, as well as forward. Yesterday I sat with a stack of old albums by my side, one of my favourite pastimes, taking the time to reflect on each aging photograph. These faces bring me comfort and strength.

I've heard the story of each photograph many times, slightly changing depending on who the teller was.

Some of my favourite memories are looking through these albums with loved ones, many of whom are no longer here to share them with me.

And some of whom I've only ever known through these photographs.

It's a good thing I know the stories by heart.

In a way I'm sad that most of my photographs are stored on my computer. I think half the fun of looking at these photographs is holding the album in my hands, turning each page, and seeing the fading pictures arranged thoughtfully on the pages. Clicking a mouse is not quite the same.

Monday, November 10, 2008

November Fairs.

This weekend was filled with craft and nostalgia fairs, and holiday bazaars. It is definitely November. We ran into many old friends, some who were selling their wares and others who were there to look, and we met many new people who were more than eager to share their stories with us. I even got an offer for a quilting lesson! The special finds and great deals are always fun, but the kind words shared along the way really make the day for me.

I had seen little spice canisters exactly like this only smaller at Linens 'n Things, for $4.99 each. These were $2 for the set, brand new. They were orginally $3 a piece, but the kind lady selling them kept lowering the price without prompting. She was happy to be rid of them. Plus another pile of sweet linens!

A couple Pyrex dishes. I have been coveting the blue snowflake pattern since I saw it on a friend's flickr photostream, so I was glad to find this one. They need a good wash, but are in otherwise perfect condition.

A husband and wife team were selling these little pop-out Dutch cards. I couldn't resist. How cute are they?

I can't decide if I want to frame these or send them off to some very special friends.

The rest of the weekend was spent knitting the scarf that won't end! I have been working on this for a very, very long time, but I have had some wonderful company along the way. Can you spy the little fuzzy ones? One day soon this scarf will be finished, and just in time for the cold weather!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Yoga Dog.

It is very difficult to get through a morning Yoga session in this house. Lola felt she should be included. She walked right onto my mat, plopped herself down, and promptly fell asleep. I guess that's what I get for placing my mat in the warm morning sun.

If you're interested in Hatha Yoga, this book is wonderful and very informative. It may be a little too scientific for most, but I enjoy studying Physiology so it's right up my alley.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Eggling.

I got one of these little egglings two months ago. The ceramic egg comes packaged in a cute little box, and is already filled with soil and seeds. You just crack it open, water, and wait...and wait, and wait, and wait. Then you wait some more. After nearly a month of waiting, and obsessively checking my egg each day, I didn't think anything was going to grow besides weird stains (which I think are from the terracotta pan + water) on the outside of the shell. Then one morning I awoke to find this..


Then this happened.

Things really started growing!

Now not so much. Hopefully one day soon these will actually look like cacti. I wonder how long it takes a cactus to get prickly!

I've been told that other varities of egglings grow much quicker, so if you're impatient like me, you might want to stick to the herbs, wild strawberries, or maybe a pretty flower.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Pink Polka-Dot Tote.

These are just so much fun to make! Who can resist a sweet pink polka-dot tote bag with a pretty vintage doily on the front? Well, besides people who don't like pink, polka-dots, or doilies.

This fabric comes from good-ness, and it is my very favourite fabric. It's a linen blend, so it feels wonderful, and it's double-sided. One side has sweet little polka-dots, and the other is gingham. I also have this fabric in grey, and I made a tote for myself out of it. I've gotten so many compliments on that bag!

This bag is lined in a cream, pink, blue, and purple floral cotton fabric. I considered leaving it unlined and having the gingham show on the inside, but the lining makes it a bit more sturdy. Plus, I have a thing for lining. It's like a little secret only you, and those you let peek inside your bag, know about. You can be carrying around a clean-lined, sophisticated bag that has a wild fabric on the inside, and nobody would know! Who knows what's inside grandma's brown tweed purse? For all we know she could have a wild flame print going on in there. It adds a touch of fun and mystery to any old bag.

The doily is one of the vintage ones I picked up at the Bazaar on the weekend. I think it fits this bag perfectly.

Available in my shop.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Michael's Train.

It can be hard to find toys made of natural materials for an affordable price. Going by the less is more theory, which I subscribe to, you will still save money in the long run buying fewer better quality, more costly toys. These toys tend to last, and some of the more open ended ones can be used by the same child for years and years. Sometimes it's still nice to find a bargain, and often it's just a matter of knowing where to look. Local craft fairs are a great place to start.

This past weekend I visited a craft fair and struck up a conversation with a lovely older man who crafts wooden toys, mostly vehicles. He sells them at small craft fairs, and donates some to local schools.

I love all the little details on this train of his. There are wheel covers on all the cars, and little sliding doors on one of them.

It's a little more delicate than a train designed for a toddler, but it's sturdy enough for an older child. This one is going to a little boy in Vancouver.

I also picked up a couple wooden cars for $2 a piece. These will be put to good use in a classroom.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Apple Wood.

Wood from Jer's apple tree. Sawed, scrubbed, and soaked, and ready to go.

First it's boiled to remove any lingering bacteria.

Then it's baked in the oven to dry. Careful not to burn.

Last it's drilled and stored, and made into toys for two little chinchillas. The coloured wood chews were bought in bulk on ebay.

A few hours work is definitely preferable to paying $3.99 for five little apple sticks at the pet supply store. I used to buy much of my chinchilla supplies from Ontario Chinchillas . Their selection was wonderful, I had no worries about chinchilla-safe products, and I like to support local businesses where I can. Unfortunately, their store has disbanded. This was the first time I've prepared wood for my chinchillas, but I'm planning to make it a yearly event. Hopefully this supply will last the year!

The tree it all came from (an older picture, of course).

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Bazaar Days.

With November 1st comes the start of the Christmas Bazaar season. I am lucky to live in a city with so many Churches and Community Centres who put on these events. There are many great things to be found, both new and old. Tables upon tables of knitted sweaters and hats, beautiful handmade crafts, crafting supplies, and various previously owned items waiting for a new home.

This is just a small selection of my haul for the day. My best find - a bag full of old buttons, beads, thread spools, embroidery floss, needles, snaps, and various other sewing notions, for 25 cents. Can you believe it? There was even something called panty-hose sealer, which is that little match-book like thing you see there. Another great find was the stack of old sewing, knitting, and crochet patterns for a dollar.

A few doilies that would be perfect for tote bags, and some wooden embroidery hoops that feel much better on my hands than my current selection.

As we were leaving some ladies opened a big box full of linen tea towels with the old Simpsons and Eatons tags still on! They do not make them like this anymore.

Adorable coasters with wee wooden folk. These are just too cute for words! There is writing on the bottom that is very hard to make out. A little internet snooping has led me to believe these are made in Italy.

There is much more I haven't shared here, all for around $20. There are so many more Bazaars I want to hit this season, hopefully before the antique dealers get to them (there are some dishes I've been searching for that always seem to get snatched up right away). I cannot wait to start crafting with my new supplies!