Saturday, December 20, 2008

Oh, Buffalo..

I've come back to you after so many days away, and today I found those old dreams still looming.

The sale at the Western New York Book Arts Center was fantastic- and I speak above and beyond any sales made. Though I did make them, and had a few folks tell me I was under-priced! How sweet. I have raised my prices some- but really I just want people to take my little creations home and love them. Silly? Yea, maybe.

While all of that was lovely in and of itself, what was truly spectacular were the
incredible people I met and talked with. Some were folks I've met before now such as Abbey of AestheticOutburst and Jeffery Vincent. But gladly many new ones too, like Shelly of French Press, Nicole of Freshly{Blended}, Chris of Ferrum Wheel (among many, many other things..) and Carol of CrowBiz. Conversations ranged from the latest episodes of 30 Rock (who doesn't love Tina Fey?) to the more pressing matters of the state of the arts in Buffalo.

Having bounced back and forth amongst many Upstate NY cities I've always felt more at home with this town. Rochester kicked my butt and Syracuse just never caught my interest. People spoke of their passion for the old buildings downtown and the longing to own one, about taking the initiative and starting something on their own. It rekindled those old thoughts, the desire to own my own little space. I once again saw myself curled up in a little yarn shop, selling skeins and needles, hanging art, holding events and having regular stitch and bitch circles.

For now I will happily distract myself with one in my own living room (POST-holiday of course) when I will finish up a few commissions, at last make something for me, start preparing for the spring shows and setting up that etsy shop at long long last!

And I will share my current favorite song of the moment, John Cale's version of "Hallelujah"

Monday, December 8, 2008

No Rest For the Weary

Today is the last day of school. The students are furiously trying to finish their projects and the halls are filled with nervous energy. Grades are due Friday but I intend to finish far before that because I have yet another sale coming!

This time I'll be setting up in downtown Buffalo for the Last Minute Panic Holiday Gift Marketplace being held at the Western New York Book Arts Center. (Can't see the image? Click here) My thanks to Kyla Kegler for alerting me to the opportunity! The event is on December 20th from 11-4 pm and is of course free and open to the public.

I've begun making lists and trying to reasonably determine what I can accomplish. I wondered whether tacking on another sale before Christmas was a good idea or not given the amount of gifts I have yet to make and MacKenzie's still unknown illnesses... but I've heard some great things about the Book Arts Center so I opted to give it a shot. I liked the idea of not only supporting the local handmade community but also an up and coming Buffalo venue.

Come by and say hello, I'll be the frazzled one with the knitting needles...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Well, It's Over Now

The nights spent up until 4am have subsided, for now, as the Second Storie Indie Market is behind us. The loss of sleep and the travel to Rochester and back was of course more than worth it. The amount of incredible items and vendors was overwhelming, so much talent in one little room. Many thanks to freshly blended for taking some great photos (like the one above) so many of us found it hard to get out from behind our tables which made get images hard.

The event was a great experience as always and I was thrilled to see so many folks taking home my new creations. In particular the brand new etched glass pieces! I'm still struggling with pricing and presentation. I had them marked on the bottoms (who wants sticky stuff on the side of a vase?) but I think the fear of touching them kept most from picking them up on day one. I found myself telling people the prices- because I didn't have them priced to high and I wanted people to feel at ease to pick them up. The candle holders/cups went quickly which made more room and on day two I think people were more at ease not having to reach over anything to get them. I sold all but one vase which is just fine since I have to stock my etsy store, and prepare for the next sale!

Ok, sleep well tonight friends for tomorrow its back to battle!

Friday, November 21, 2008

November 29-30: Second Storie Indie Market

It's that time again. The Holiday's are quickly approaching and everyone's getting present buying fear. The simple solution? Handmade gifts!

Stop by the Second Storie } Indie Market at Visual Studies Workshop- 31 Price Street- on November 29th from 11-6 or the 30th from 11-4 for some unique gift ideas from some of WNY's best and brightest.

I'll be there too with my latest items including my new hand etched glass pieces! I've been laboring away in (unintentional) secrecy and can't wait to set them out to share.

Some of the glass pieces are purchased at local craft stores but many more are found at garage sales, thrift stores and even my own recycling bin. It feels good to get some more mileage out of that often overlooked R: REUSE!

I will of course have more funky knitted breast sachets, washcloths, hats, and tea stained greeting cards. Only 1 week left to go and oh so much work left to do!! Wish me luck. See you there!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Pauline VandeMortel: Nov. 3, 1924 - Nov. 6, 2008

At 6am last Thursday my grandmother exhaled for the last time. My mother called me around 8am and I immediately packed my bags and headed for home. My brother got on the first plane back. Everything from that moment on is a blur of tears.

A close friend encouraged me to make use of my tears. He said, so much has happened and you've been through so much let it all out. When you cry, cry for everything. I tried to, but I don't think its all out yet. The pain is out there, waiting for me. I brush against it without knowing and it takes my breath away. I can't move past how much I miss her.

There was an open casket for the family at the viewing hours. When I walked up to her side I saw she was holding one of my pillows. At the age of 9 or so, I was obsessed with making these little pillows. Grammie loved them but it had been so many years I had long forgotten about it. Seeing the small rumpled pillow underneath her small hands broke my heart.

We went through her things, I took some small tokens. A nightgown, a pin, some sweaters and a small picture she had bought at a garage sale that seemed to sum her up. "A giggle a day keeps the glums away." Most importantly a ring. My mother put it on a chain for me to wear, the band had worn so thin, and I haven't taken it off since. My grandfather bought it for her before they were married, almost 70 years ago. They would've celebrated their 64th anniversary this December.

Grammie was a fighter. She had a hard time growing up, harder than most but she always saw the glass half full. And so I try to fight too. Life keeps testing me and its getting harder to stay positive, but I'll try, for her. It's what she would've wanted me to do.

Monday, September 22, 2008

form behind tired eyes

I made a small step today. I set up an etsy account No items posted yet but at least there is a place to put them!

Soon my humble little shop will be filled up with drawings, greeting cards, knitted oddities and my newest venture, etched glass pieces. I got my little etching tool and have been playing with it, experimenting with the different tips and the degree of pressure I can put. I think I'm going to really really love this. I'm currently designing for some vases and tea candle holders. I'll post pictures as soon as I can.

For now I need to harness all my energy for my next group of students...

Monday, September 8, 2008

i haven't forgotten about you.

Dear Sweet Blog,

I am so sorry I've been gone. The forces of life have taken me away and the winds have left me without words. At night my brain feels the urge to write, to share all of the things are happening and all the ways my life is changing but when I open my mouth the words don't come out.

Grammie has taken yet another turn the worse and navigating this is next to impossible. The doctors say she has no more than 6 months and tragically I feel that would be too many. Her body is giving up on her and even opening her eyes is becoming too much for her. To say it breaks my heart would not cover the pain. I'd give anything for one more day with her, the her she used to be. All I can do is sit quietly at her side, knit and make sure she isn't alone.

I will be moving soon and I believe that when my life settles a bit more I'll be better prepared to handle these things. I promise to come back blog with pictures and insights. You have my word, but for today I will share a small bit of inspiration. It's a drawing I found so so long ago that I no longer know to whom it belongs, which is sad because I'd like to see more. I love its simplicity and something about it seems to suit my mood.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Back to Basics

I heard once that "its a fool who fails to return to the place of his last happiness." I don't think you can ever really go home again- the wheel is always turning. But I think there's truth in that statement anyway.

I've been talking about and thinking about school for a long time. Wanting to teach, wanting to be taught. Daydreaming about freshly sharpened pencils. And now I'm going to go back. This time its back to playing teacher. I've been hired to teach three introductory drawing courses and Villa Maria in Buffalo, and I don't think its possible for me to be more excited.

Going back to Buffalo feels like going back home for me. I can't wait to get my hands dirty with charcoal again. It'll be awhile before I call B-lo my home- but all things in time!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

nerdy knitting

A friend of mine, Robyn sent me this link tonight and it was just too amazing not to share. The above is the emission spectrum of Iridium, in a scarf form. Yea, I'm not kidding. Go here for the rest of the article. I think it's fair to say that I have perhaps found some of my people...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

here comes the sun..

Like so many others i've been waiting for a sunny day to take photos of my new pieces. I've loved the rain we've been getting, but the cloudy skies don't make for good photos.

This isn't terribly new but I did finally get some photos. I turned my tea stain drawings into tea stained cards with some success. People seem to like them and they aren't hard to make which is always nice. I recently inherited a royal academy typewriter that I want to use to add text to these pieces. Trouble is I haven't been able to find a ribbon for it! I'm still looking but am a bit discouraged. I've wanted a typewriter for years now.

This is my purl bee rabbit, I'm making it for my favorite little girl Marta. It's not finished yet- I rarely make such small things so it's taken some fussing. Marta really loves ducks so I'd like to make her a duck doll too but one thing at a time. Her favorite color is pink so the dress is too. A doll for a doll...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


While searching for information on how to make yarn from non-traditional fibers, I found this. A project by a Dutch design student. That's yarn from old newspapers. Talk about recycling. I found this absolutely stunning.

I was looking for instructions on how to spin yarn from cat hair, which i found here. I haven't gone so far as to start making it yet. But soon enough. This is crazy cat lady to the second power!

The more I involve myself in fibers and fabrics, the more I feel a responsibility to reuse materials- and purchase unbleached muslins. Locally, the best resource is still the dreaded JoAnns. But I do try to reuse my old clothing and purchase things from thrift stores. Though I'd be lying if I didn't admit the allure of those cute little fat quarters were overwhelming at times. We all do what we can. And like my friends and I used to say it's a "roadside revolution." We're all on the path, just a different places. The point is not to be perfect, the point is to try.

Perhaps we should all take a cue from Greetje van Tiem!

Monday, July 14, 2008

inspiration from louise

Louise Bourgeois is one of my absolute favorite artists. She is one of the places I turn when I feel creatively empty...

"Every day you have to abandon your past or accept it and then, if you cannot accept it, you become a sculptor."

“Ms. Bourgeois, 96, has been prolific. For her art is not a job; it is a life. It is what you do when you get up in the morning, and what you continue to do all day, through headaches and phone calls, breakups and breakdowns, silences and celebrations. It is what you keep doing after dark, and when you can’t sleep at night.”

Saturday, July 12, 2008

when love becomes obsession

My dear friend Colleen shared this with me some time ago and its come to mind lately- as I find myself obsessively working on a thousand things at once and at the same time making nothing at all...

I'm also saving my hair for a future project.. if anyone has experience with spinning please let me know. That's all the details you get for now...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

at last

Last weekend was the wedding of my beloved friends Luke and Meghan. Also known as Mook and Leg. The ceremony was beautiful. They whispered their vows- if you weren't already crying that put you over the edge! The ceremony was so perfectly earnest and authentic. And I couldn't be happier for the two of them. Everything about that day felt so honest- love the way we all dream of.

It took me seemingly forever but I finally finished the blanket I knitted for them. It's incredibly hard to decide what to give a couple moving overseas. I wanted to give them something personal, something I made for them, that would hopefully become something sentimental. Something that in later years they could look and remember as a gift they received for a special day. And I knew that if I asked about a gift registry I'd be met with dismissive laughs.

However, there was no way I was not giving them a gift, so eventually I decided to undertake my first blanket.

It measures approx. 4' x 6'. I used Caron Natural Spa Yarn, a bamboo blend which felt as soft as silk. The color was called Misty Taupe though to my eyes, and certainly in this picture it appeared very silver. I used a 10.5 needle- in a 45" length- I had to double the yarn up to be thick enough. The pattern is also called bamboo and came from my Stitchionary.

I had to leave the celebrations earlier than anticipated, so I presented the gift to them the night before their wedding. It produced tears from Meghan which nearly brought them out in me! It meant a lot to me that they were so touched by my gift.

I'm now onto a sweater I'm making from Suss Love in chocolate. The tactel nylon feels amazing and I almost look forward to fall so I can wear it.. pictures to follow.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

this is what a 29 year old looks like

Many thanks to everyone who helped me celebrate my birthday. I was touched by all the wishes and surprise gifts I received. Here's to 29 being way better than 28!

I love you guys.

My sister Muffin and me...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Call me Paulie....

My middle name is Pauline. So named for my Grandmother, Pauline Dey Vandemortel. Known to me as Grammie. She was admitted to the hospital today, no one knows when, or if, she'll ever come back out. She had her third stroke.

The entire family has taken a collective inhale.

My Grammie helped raise me. My parents, like so many of our generation, were divorced when I was a little girl. My mother was left struggling and my grandparents stepped in to support her. Grammie took the WATS (Wayne Area Transportation Service) bus to our house most everyday to take care of my brother and I. She hung the clothes on the line, took us for walks to see our mom at work and washed the floors with a rag. Once she even sprained her wrist doing it.

From the time I was little her hair was always red, I didn't know until much later that she dyed it. She was our family's Lucille Ball. I remember once she came shopping with us to help me find some back to school clothes, I was starting the 6th grade that fall. In the dressing room she got a hanger all twisted up into her ring and just couldn't get it out. We laughed so hard, and all any of us could think was this was our private episode of "I love Lucy."

I spent many summer's with her and my grandpa. Every night Grandpa had his beer and peanuts, I had mine with soda and we would sit on the front porch. I remember trying to hide my pajamas so I could wear one of her pretty nightgowns.

Around the age of 10 I developed a plan. I wanted any kids I had to know my Grandparents and so I had a plan so that that could happen. I'm sure it included getting married long before now. Probably by age 20 or something, so I could have kids by 23. I went off that path along time ago.

Her slow decline has kept me trapped in denial. Only today have I begun to allow myself to believe what's really happening, we're losing her. In the last 2 years she's declined so fast. No longer the woman who walked faster than me, would talk to absolutely anyone, and used to say "Blastoff!" when we pulled the car out of the driveway. Now when I see her she sits quietly in her chair, her hair now grey, and just sort of stares into the distance.

I've separated myself from it. I don't visit as often and I should and I didn't realize until today, why. I don't want to believe that the woman in that chair is really my Grammie.

My Grammie was one of the funniest, kindest most amazing women I have ever known. She taught me to love libraries and little potatoes; gardens and garage sales. I'm thankful that I've had the privilege of calling her my family.

I love you Grammie.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

the plan

the plan was always to try to write in this everyday, to make a record of what i was thinking, what was inspiring me. but life often gets in the way of that and we feel compelled to close up and sit in the cave until we feel brave enough to come back out, patch up our walls and move on again. maybe put in a little table with chairs and invite people in for tea.

i try, but am terrible with this.

so today i thought i'd hide behind someone else, someone who is good at this, sabrina ward harrison. these words are not hers, but when i saw them today it occurred to me i knew someone else who would like them.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

adam weekley

Adam Weekley is my best friend. We met back in grad school, and while I doubt he knows it his work has always been an inspiration to me. I am continually fascinated by his ability to twist reality- to take ideas that are so harsh and talk about them using materials that are seemingly benign.

As he puts it himself:
In many ways the work is about taking things deeply personal or visceral and imploding and exploding their potency by making art that is loud, seductive and full of artifice.”

Check out this video interview set in his studio as he prepared for his exhibition for last year's Beyond in Western NY.

I am currently trying to convince him to enter the craft world a bit- I see so much room for translation there. I'll talk him into yet...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

purl bee

The Market last thursday was fantastic! My sincerest thanks to everyone who came out to say hello and extras to those of you who took home some of my little oddities. The reactions I get are always amusing. People often make reference to psych tests when looking at the tea stains and the breast sachets elicited a lot of laughter. When coming over people said they thought they were baby hats, acorns and also pin cushions. I could turn them into pin cushions if I made them from cloth- but sticking pins in them just seems so mean!

I have been continually getting requests to make male counterparts. Not a bad idea and certainly a pattern I could design. You guys tell me- would men buy sachets? And if so what scents? Cedar?

My craft blog virginity was showing a bit when a visitor to my booth told me about the Purl Bee blog and I was caught unawares. I checked into today and I am in love!

So many amazing projects, advice, tips.. Its hard to know where to start with everything. Will it be this amazing bag ...

Or these super cute little coasters? I don't know how to decide.

Now, that the sale is behind me I have time to get back to some of the nagging projects. It's get-it-together time.

I want to redo my website and finally open my own etsy shop. Neither are small projects. I think I'll be putting the etsy shop up first. I need to photograph everything but since the weather looks poor for the week it might take longer than I like. One lesson I've been picking up from my crafty friends is that photos look best when you use natural light. So we shall see...

If nothing else rainy weather makes for much knitting time. I absolutely have my work cut out for me. But that reveal will have to wait...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A table of her own...

So I packed up the "kids" and took them back home again and we're finally settling in. Though who knows for how long.

My mother let me take over the dining room table with all of my random crafts and things and it reminds me of Virginia Woolf, for even going without a space for a couple weeks while I settled in made me get a very particular kind of cranky.

All of you creative types know what I mean I'm sure...

Upon moving back home I finally got to know our neighbor's little girl Marta. She's about a year and a half old and as cute as they come. I had a number of my hats left over from the winter sale season and one of them was a little pink kid's hat. I decided she needed to have it. It's cotton but still seasonly inappropriate.. how cute to see her running around the back yard in it and her diaper.

Too Cute!

And last, but far from least! I am going to be sitting at the second storie} booth tomorrow at the grand re-opening of the South Wedge Farmer's Market!

I've made a bunch of little breast shaped sachets, and have plenty of knitted washcloths and head scarves. I also have my tea stained drawings and will have on hand some brand new tea stained greeting cards. That is assuming all goes well tonight... Wish me luck.

The market runs from 4-8 and is located at the corner of Clinton and Alexander behind Boulder Coffee. As it is the grand re-opening I understand there will be even more vendors. AND my favorite local band the Varnish Cooks will be playing just a few booths down from me! So please, come out say hi, get yourself some fresh veggies, groove to the tunes and support local growers, artists and musicians all in one shot!

Hope to see you there!

Monday, June 2, 2008

June 5 : joAnn mcGranahan

Be sure to stop at the South Wedge this market to see the lovely JoAnn at the Second Storie Booth this thursday from 4-8pm.

Visit her new etsy site here: refashioned

From her bio:
everything old is new again... my passion is to create beautiful new objects from salvaged and reused materials. in doing so, I can pass along to others the beauty I see in forgotten or discarded things. the weave of a particular fabric. the wonderful lines of an old textbook graph. it's the small things such as these that bring me joy.


See you kids there!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

the weird things i knit...

Most of you are aware of the uterine keychains I was making during the winter, I intend to make more- but they do take a lot of time. In the meantime I have been making and have even sold (!) some breast shaped sachets. The current ones smell like lavender and have been a hit amongst fair-goers, friends and family alike. I will have plenty of them on hand for my day at the South Wedge Market on June 12th!

This event is sponsored by Second Storie} If you don't know them you really should. Since my introduction to the organization back in February for I <3 handmade I have continually been impressed by their collective (and individual) integrity and enthusiasm. They are sponsoring a local artist every week at the market (thursdays 4-8pm) and I encourage you to step out and support local farmers and artists all in one shot!

Thursday, May 22, 2008


While searching the web for images and ideas I came across these little paintings by artist Michele Montalbano that I thought were just beautiful.

It has a bit in common with the painter Catherine McCarthy and with Rochester based artist, Belinda Bryce.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hello friends.

It seems like everyone has a craft blog these days, so why not me too? I will be posting here about projects I'm working on and upcoming events where you can purchase my funky little knitted goods.

Eventually I will set up an online etsy store too- but you know, baby steps.

Photos coming soon..