Category Archives: The “Art” in Arts and Crafts

Textile Art from around the World

Dream a dream!

My first ever hand spun yarn, that I made all by my lonesome!

The last few Sundays I have been sitting in on the Drop Spindle (Introduction to Spinning) Class here at the Knit Cafe.  Let me tell you, it’s been quite something!

I feel like I learned a lot, and not just about spinning.  Let’s just say when it comes to Drop Spindles, I seem to have a better handle on the dropping, then the spinning.  Now, I’m not one of those people who are instantaneously good at everything. In fact, I’m quite comfortable being bad at many things, and slow to pick up others, but when it comes to crafty pursuits- let’s just say that’s kinda my milieu. This drop spindle stuff has been a humbling experience, and also an incredibly valuable one.

I have taught hundreds of folks how to knit.  It is a joy to so! Sometimes some of my students – they panic because they don’t catch on immediately.  I ask them “how do you expect to be perfect at something you’ve only been doing for an hour?”, but somehow they do expect this. I can’t help but notice them noticing others who have come to class with knitting somehow rampant in their DNA. They compare themselves and not too favorably.

To these people I say “I so relate to you right now”.

…and I also say, “get over yourself”, and when I say this I am mostly talking to myself.  Just look at the crazy, goofy, totally imperfect yarn I made! As we all know perfection is an overrated concept, if in fact it even exists at all. With perseverance my spinning will no doubt improve, and as it does I will look back at my first bit of hand spun and wonder how I got all those wonderful inconsistencies.

When we next offer the Drop Spindle Class – I hope you consider it.  It really is a lot of fun.  BIG THANKS to Michelle who is a wonderful teacher, brimming with encouragement!

art installation by soo sunny park

If you want to get a pick me up, check out this link to 22 Dreamy Art Installations You Want To Live In.  You won’t regret it.

Craftily yours


comings and goings

It’s a boy!!
…but we knew that already. Iwona has had a lovely and pretty-near-perfect bundle of joy.  Born on the morning of April 19. Hooray!DSCN0026
Look at this beautiful creation by Natalie Selles!
This lace vignette looks particularly pretty from the back with the sun simultaneously silhouetting and illuminating the detail.
It will be gracing the Knit Cafe’s window for the whole month, so if you have a chance to come by and visit it in person please do.  While you are here give kudos to Natalie for her handiwork but also in honor of her new employment opportunity.  We are very sad that Ms Selles will be leaving us for some other pasture, but we knew we couldn’t keep her to ourselves forever.

Luckily Natalie will still be teaching classes here at the Knit Cafe so we will continue to benefit from all her knit knowledge.
If you would like to wish Natalie good luck, come to the Stitch and Bitch this Tuesday April 23, it will be the last one she will host.  She will also be  here to mind the store on the day of the Knitter’s Frolic – Saturday April 27, so if you are not going frolicking, you can see her  then too.

Big thanks to Natalie for all her good help here.  She will be  missed.

Craftily yours

There’s a whole lotta shaking going on!

This blog post is ever increasing as more and more news comes my way.
First and foremost our very own Knit Cafer – Kate Austin is putting her stellar design skills to work.  She will be creating thematic textile designs  as part of a competition called REPEAT(ed).  She and 9 other hopefuls will have to jump through designer hoops over the next few months. 5 challenges will be issued and the contestants will have to design textile prints for each. The winner will be announced in July.  Follow Kate’s journey here and cheer her on too.  Hoorah! I know she’s gonna do great things
kate austin

Toronto’s Contemporary Textile Studio launched a new blog! Didn’t know Toronto had  contemporary design studio? Well it does.  This beautiful space is part of the art studio conglomerate at 401 Richmond.  Artists can rent time at the wonderful facilities.  Artists and amateurs alike can take classes. Read all about it here
textile studio

Tomorrow’s First Thursday of the Month at the AGO (a night of galavanting around art)  includes yarn bombing!  Unfortunately the event is sold out, but were it not, me and you too could be treated to a Yarn Bombing Class.  Amazing!  the folks from Bissell Bombers are making it happen.  I wonder what kind of fuzzy bombs will be dropped.

No tour of great textile events in our life and times would be complete without Marimekko, With Love presented by the Textile Museum.  From January 21- April 21, the Textile Museum will be showcasing work from one of the most amazing textile companies EVER.  This Finnish institution has been a long time inspiration to me and many others.  I can’t wait to see the show.  Maybe I’ll see you there.

Craftily yours


We had a pretty exciting Sunday!
Iwona and I, left the Knit Cafe in Maurie’s capable hands.  We packed our bags full of goodies and made our way to the photo studio belonging to photographer Danijela Pruginic.  Danijela is helping us to document the details of some new knitting patterns we have been crafting.
Here is a sneak peak.  Action shots!
photo 2
This photo gives an idea of the scope of Danijela’s studio.  Large!! With enormous windows to let the sunshine in.  That’s Danijela perched on the step-stool.  That’s Nathalie pretending to eat an apple (well -actually not pretending, actually really eating an apple).  That’s me in the foreground being supervisorial .
photo 4
Nathalie – looking pretty!  Iwona is behind the Iphone taking pics and adding effects to them – like this Polaroidish one.
Edie looking gorgeous – modelling the Martin Scarf.
The fish!
Every photo studio should have one!
We had a fantastic day! Thank-you to our terrific team for making it all happen.

Craftily yours


This beautiful installation, is right here in our town!

patria 2patriaCross stitched screens by Laura Carwardine adorn the walls of the restaurant Patria on King St. West in Toronto. You can see a video of the artist at work right here. You may even get inspired to do something like this your own self, or perhaps you will  just want to make a pilgrimage to the restaurant.  I hear they have tapas!

The press on this amazing project sites the 485 hours and the 17,000 stitches involved.  Who was counting? That’s what I want to know.

Craftily yours

She’s Come Undone – Nuit Blanche 2012

This is how the night began

At 7:00pm on September 29 we opened our doors to another Nuit Blanche exhibition.  This one (arguably) our most ambitious one to date.

A hand knit doll as big as me sat front and centre in the window.  I am 5 foot 6 inches tall. She has roosters with her.  My research into the beautiful Russian Nesting Dolls showed that the oldest chronicled Matroyshka was adorned with hand painted roosters.
At 9:00, this large lady was unravelled.  Yes – we ripped her to shreds and now she is nothing but balls of yarn on the floor.  It took almost a full hour to disassemble this doll. This is what we found underneath her↓
A buxom white beauty of a doll!
Every time we unravelled a doll we traced the outline of the next doll, and wrote the time she would be unravelled on the chalk board behind.  This chalk outline recounted the tale of dolls past and stood in for their absence.

At 10 o-clock we unravelled the white doll and this is what was hidden inside ↓
At 11pm be unravelled the pink barbapapa doll and this is what came next ↓This doll was a bit shorter so we gave her a pedestal to sit on.  Some of the dolls were unravelled from the floor up, and some were unravelled from theirs heads down.  This one was unravelled from the neck up and from the neck down simutaneously! Iwona took the low road and I took the high road if memory serves me.
At midnight we unravelled her and this is what came next ↓Isn’t she pretty? but not for long!at 1am we unravelled her.  Underneath was this doll ↓  She was industriously knitting herself. When we unravelled her we started with the scarf.I love this picture ↓ with the flashbulb doing it’s work.  You can see the shadows of the small Matroyskas that were also featured in this year’s display.  Have no fear – these small gems lived through the night and are still here to tell the tale.I can not say the same for the Knitting Matroyska though.  At 2am we unravelled her too.  Look what we found↓A doll with two heads!  Well – I never! and never will again. At 3am we deconstructed her too.
If you came by then, this is what you would have seen↑
The next morning looked like this ↓

What a pretty mess!
Thank you to all who helped create the beautiful dolls for the display.  Thank you to all who came and cheered us on while we did our work unravelling our labors.
We couldn’t have hoped for a better White-Night!
Craftily yours
ps. there is video of this event on the way, stay tuned.

Hello Dolly!

A limited addition of lucky people will be able to pick up one of these limited addition posters commemorating this year’s Nuit Blanche Knit Cafe exhibition.  Although many of them were snatched up last night there are still a few available for only $5. The poster features the majority of the hand knitted matroyska dolls made for the event. We think it is freakin adorable!

Craftily and sleepily yours