Thursday, March 22, 2012

Favourites : Thrifting and Vacations

I am officially back from vacation and back to work finishing up those owls I was working on while I was away and reorganizing my to-do list to figure out which stores need restocking next.

Coming up on the list first is another restock for Chapters in Ancaster, White Rabbit in Iowa City, and Kid Culture in Toronto.

I thought I would take a little break from diving in to all that sewing work to share some thrifting adventures from my vacation.  Between a huge (somewhat shady seeming) flea market in Columbus, Ohio (of which I forgot to bring my camera to) and a big Goodwill in Delaware, Ohio - we had fun looking around in the newly nice Springy weather and I managed to find a few usable goodies.

In a mess of old tools, bootleg dvds, and other horrifying things at the flea market, I found a woman with a booth in the back who was selling yards of fabric and other sewing notions.  I really wish I would have brought my camera because it was stacked so high it reminded me of that scene in Labryinth where the junk lady emerges from the piles of junk.  Except it was piles of fabric instead.  

I found these ones that I think I will be able to make use of for sure.

I've always loved tiny flower prints.  

Later in the week we took a trip from Columbus to visit a friend who made us a lovely lunch and showed us Delaware's huge Goodwill.  It really was big, you guys.

Although I would have considered owning these ugly old chairs if I weren't out of the country, instead I picked up this skirt and managed to find a couple other things I thought family at home would use.

And then we had a fun backseat ride home!  

We spent my last day in Columbus doing an AMC's "The Killing" marathon which we got hooked on a little too late in the trip to finish without a hardcore day of TV watching. So worth it - such a good show!

 I had the sweetest vacation hosts and had a really nice time because of it. Columbus has become a little home away from home for me.

And now I'm home in Ontario!  Back to work on Needlings work and thinking about future local thrifting adventures and the next time I'll be back in Columbus.
Be back at the end of the week for a workroom recap!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

In the (Vacation) Work [Space] Recap : Week 227

Why, hello. Not the usual "In the Workroom Recap" this week...

I didn't expect to have anything to show you as far as the workroom was concerned as I am still away on vacation (note kitten waving photo in last week's post) but as my vacation host had some work to do this weekend, I got a little work done myself - after a fair bit of lovely week off activities like movie watching and general hanging out.

Some may say one should not work on their vacation but it really isn't stressful work sewing a bunch of owl faces I had cut out before I left, let's be honest. No one twists my arm to do this stuff. I love my job!

My iPod, movie watching, and sewing kept me sufficiently busy in my improptu home away from home workspace this evening.

Enough to almost finish 16 faces. Only black eye stitching to go...

And that's it for the week - one solid night of sewing!  Slacking off is nice when you have the best company.

See you when I return home to the usual workspace with more Needlings work!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

In the Workroom Recap : Week 226

This week started with a big stack of partially cut out Owl Mamas and Little Robots.

Normally I don't work on two different types of things at a time - batches, yes, but only of the same things.  A little work quirk to keep my brain organized, I suppose.  But this week was different because being that I am going away this Sunday, was finished with pressing jobs (besides a small Chapters restock needed), and wanted to bring something away with me to hand sew during travel time and such, I decided to work on two things until I figured out what order I should do them in and how much time I would have.  That was a long sentence and more than you needed to know about my process but essentially, I can't stop even when I don't have a plan!

After cutting all the "parts" of each batch and deciding I would take the owl faces on my trip with me for hand sewing, I set the owls aside and decided to finish up the robots and restock Chapters before heading out of town.



And done!

I dropped them off at Chapters yesterday, which you would have seen if you checked out the blog yesterday (although technically, yes, you can still go back and look now), and came home to hang out a bit and get some things together for Sunday.  Today is for packing!

Riveting stuff, folks!  This week was a generally more distracted one for me for various reasons but I'm glad I was able to tie up loose ends on the Needlings front.  A trip will be nice and I'll have a big ol' stack of Owl Mamas to pick up work on when I get back.

I hope you all have a few wonderful weeks ahead and I'll see you when I return when the Needlings shop will be back open for business!

Friday, March 2, 2012

OotD : Restock Day

I headed over to Chapters in Ancaster today to stock up the shelf with a batch of Little Robots before I head out of town on Sunday.

That should tide them over! A few more Owl Mamas were gone than I was expecting so it's not as full as I thought it would be before going away (not complaining) but that will have to do until I return and stock them up again!  I think I made the woman reading a self-help book beside the display a little nervous with all the camera shutter clicking. 

And this is what I wore (Outfit of the Day):

(A little frizzy from all the rain we had today but that's the best we can do!)

I still have to do laundry and pack and all that kind of boring prep stuff to get ready to leave on Sunday but I'll be back tomorrow with a workshop recap from this week's Needlings work! 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Stores : Dots & Loops, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

*Over the past 4 years I have been amazingly lucky to be made aware of some really lovely shops that now carry Needlings - some I've visited myself and some of which just my work has crossed the threshold. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to meet such lovely shopkeeps and people through this little Needlings biz so I thought I would take the time to introduce you to some of the stores in a series of store visit posts, in no particular order.*

First on the list of (virtual) store visits, is Dots & Loops Handmade in beautiful Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

(All photos c/o Dots & Loops on Facebook)


Dots and Loops opened in the summer of 2011 with a bunch of Needlings there to join in the opening festivities. As soon as I saw the adorable yellow building I saw it was perfectly "Lunenburg" and would do well.  Over the course of the year, thanks to their Facebook page and my impecable internet viewing skills, I have seen their shop fill up with some wonderful handmade things from all over the world (and then things disappear, no doubt exiting with happy customers, and filled again). I also love that the store name is a Stereolab album - so they definitely have that going for them in my book. That and that ceiling...

I lived in Halifax (about an hour or so away from Lunenburg) for a bit when I was a kid.  When we visited Lunenburg back then, I remember it as beautiful little touristy fishing town filled with the smell of the ocean and lots of cute little brightly coloured shops and houses. Of course, we made sure to visit the famous Canadian Bluenose (II) schooner, where we were excited to see the "dime boat," (for you non-Canadians, the Bluenose is the famous sailboat you see on the Canadian dime) though not as much as we were excited to get some ice cream cones from one of those little only-open-in-the-summer small town places and roam around the sweet little dockside streets. My parents must have known I would need to be blogging about this 20 or some odd years later and thankfully provided me with this experience to remember. 

I have so many warm memories of the east coast (my mom's side of the family lives mostly in New Brunswick still) and am so happy to have a tiny piece of myself there in the form of my felty handmadies in this beautiful shop.

I hope to visit Lunenburg again sometime with a more grown up appreciation of big boats and beautiful handmade things.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Favourites : Etsy Handmade

The internet seems to make it easy for us to save our favourite things all over the place so I thought I would take the time to share them here occasionally: books, music, art, plush, movies, tv, fashion, design.  Basically, "things." You get it.

Today I'm going to share some of my Etsy handmade favourites since I have so many.  Thousands. I'm sure I'll never run out of them - there are so many amazing things being made all over the place. Sometimes when I think really hard about it I get really excited and feel all warm about the world in my heart. Dramatic and sappy! I just love handmade so much!

Ok enough about me, here are some things I like (ha):

This is a print from the APAK Shop on etsy.  It was hard to pick just one, they're all so dreamy.  I have the 2012 Apak calendar put out by Little Otso that I picked up at Wholly Craft  (they carry Needlings too) on my last visit to Ohio so I get to enjoy Apak daily.  

These amazing fuzzy guys are made by Kit Lane. I love everything she posts but I haven't been able to get my hands on one yet since they sell out so fast! Not surprised.

This delicate handstitched wall wear is by fellow Canadian, NeaWear, from Montreal.  I'm a big fan of special little wall trinkets and these are no exception.

I use a big ol' glass mug for my big ol' mug of tea but I would happily trade out for this mug and yellow canary friend by Laura Walls Taylor.

I've been covetting this Ships Large Zipper Tote from fellow Hamiltonian, Jenna Rose Handmade.  Actually I'm really loving the Yellow Honeycomb one too.  Decisions.

And since we're talking ships here, I've been in love with these automatons byCartoon Monster since I saw them mentioned by Dots & Loops Handmade a sweet shop in Lunenburg, N.S., that carries Needlings as well as these genius little sculptures. Something about them reminds me of The Science of Sleep, one of my favourite movies (I'll probably talk more about that someday too).

You have to watch the video to see how cool these things are:

So cool!

Well, there's a few favourites.  I hope that will set you off on hours of clicking around on etsy to find some of your own.  Feel free to let me know what you find if you think I might like them and email them to me!
I'll be back with more later!

The Nature of Mary Jane

Meet my awesome mom, Mary Jane:

She is my favourite.
The reason I am introducing her to you (in addition to the fact that I love her a bunch) is she makes things too! Her knits are available at shows she does in the Hamilton area with me and on etsy at

(My brother, Nick, wearing Olive Cowl / Circle Scarf)

I remember growing up asking her about random crafty decor we had around the house, "where is this rug from, this pillow, this puppet, this dress for my cabbage patch doll, etc.?!" And she had made them! I think she rested on knitting a long time ago, sporadically making little yarny goodies for my brother and I as kids and then when I asked her to teach me how to knit in middle school, tons of scarves. Seriously, we ended up with so many scarves.

(Mustard Hooded Cowl / Circle Scarf / Infinity Scarf)

A year after I opened my own etsy shop and had done a few craft shows I thought, HEY, my mom should be doing this too and I should help her do that!  So we set up her etsy shop, The Nature of Mary Jane and she started setting up at the craft shows she was coming with me to all along anyway! We are really close so I'm always happy to have her close by.

I should also mention that in her dayjob (actually night job since she works mostly nights) she is a nurse who takes care of special needs children and people in the last days of their lives. She really is pretty amazing.

(Table with Knit and Wrap)

She even has her hooded cowl pattern published in this great pattern book byLark Crafts, Knit and Wrap! That was exciting for sure.
They are my favourite winter accessory and I have one in almost every colour! (Thanks Mom!)

(Me wearing Woodlands Hooded Cowl)

So there we are. She's the best!

Check out her shop here:
and like her on facebook here:
See you next time! ♥

Friday, February 24, 2012

In the Workroom Recap : Week 225

A week later and I'm back with another workroom recap!  

I've pushed my vacation back a week for various reasons so that'll give me one more week to finish some things up and do another workroom recap post before I leave next Sunday. Hopefully we'll get some sort of muscle memory blog post thing going after the third one so you can rely on my return. Thankfully I'm keeping busy so I don't doubt there will be multiple things crossing my worktable weekly!

This week started with paperwork.  As promised - boring boring paperwork.

Accompanied by a big ol' cup of tea.  I managed to get a lot of things from last year straightened away so taxes won't be too overwhelming when I return from vacation. Exciting! Not really, I know.
Then, because numbers exhaust me, I picked up a new doll idea I had started sketching and working on earlier in an attempt to feel like a creative person again instead of a grown-up pantsuit office person (not that there is anything wrong with that).
You could actually see her half cut on the shelf on my worktable awaiting some attention for at least a few weeks of workshop photos if you look closely.
Here are a few progress shots before I finished her:

Done! I felt creatively rejuvinated after all that boring number stuff and was left with this crazy girl, Wilhelmina W. Wasserman to put up in the shop!

Here she is hanging out on my worktable with my Plush You dolls!

Now on to the usual Needlings suspects!

I started cutting some Little Robots and Owl Mamas that I'll be working on this week (and in parts, possibly, while I'm away). My plan for the week is to finish the robots and prep the owl faces to take away with me when I'm away, although depending on what comes up this week or not, this might change. Nothing is set in stone!
Then of course I'll be packing bags and tieing up loose ends and all that other stuff one does before they go away although that won't be very interesting - although I am an excellent packer. Even the customs officers who go through my bags have complimented me on how much I fit in such a small bag! The key is rolling everything in tiny clothing burritos. But I digress...

See you next week with a worktable recap before the Needlings workshop shuts down for a little bit!

Thursday, February 23, 2012


So last year I joined tumblr to start a casual Needlings blawg and in addition to lots of new art and other fun things, found a very nice little world of personal style blogs that appealed to me in a way they hadn't before.  And I have a big closet full of clothes (mostly dresses) that need wearing.

I may or may not decide to continue bringing these outfit posts over from tumblr to the official Needlings blog but for good measure, I have to try everything at least once!

Without futher ado, here are a few OOtD or Outfits of the Day (done every few weeks or so) from this year so far:

You can head over to and click on the "outfits" link at the top to go back a little further and see more from last year.
So there you go!  Sometimes I forget to put shoes on - forgive me this one quirk. :)
And back to sewing!  I'll be back in a couple days to update you on all the goings on in the workroom this week.

Monday, February 20, 2012

In the Workroom Recap : Week 224

Ok, so this post's title may have you wondering where the previous 223 weeks' posts are. Surprise! This is the first one! I tricked you.

No but really, through some rudimentary math, I figured out that I have been in the Needlings biz for (approximately) 224 weeks. Of course this doesn't include various silly sewing projects of an unfocused girl with a sewing machine but I opened my Needlings etsy shop on September 27th of 2007 and continued from there.  Thank you to Etsy for documenting this date for me as I am not very good at the remembering of important (or unimportant) dates.  I, of course, didn't realize I would be writing about this important date four and a half years later.  I think if I did, perhaps I would have written it on a calendar somewhere.

So these four and half years have been pretty great for me, not only had I found something I loved to do that would take away my ability to feel bored at any given time, but after a few years in to it, I was able to create a full-time crazy job for myself.  

So I'm a toy (and other things) maker.

Which means that I keep pretty busy making things!  For at least the last couple years, I have been photo-documenting my worktable change over partly in an attempt to remind myself what I've been working on recently and partly to remind myself of how productive I'm being so I don't feel guilty taking a day off here and there!  

So anyway, all that introductory drama aside, here's what I worked on this week:
I sent this little restock batch of owl goodies to Kid Icarus in Toronto, a great little place in Kensington Market.  Hm, perhaps in the future I'll do some posts about the great stores that carry Needlings. Blog-brainstorming.
I started work on a batch of Owl Mamas for Nice Things Handmade in Philadelphia and took a break to make a little Cupcake Snap Pouch for a customer in LA.
Worked on a few more little goodies for customers and received these little ladies back from Plush You 2011 at Schmancy in Seattle.  I put all three up in the shop then finished up the goodies before mailing them out to another very sweet customer.
I then finished and sent out that restock batch of Owl Mamas to Nice Things after a special work weekend of getting together with some girls for what has been dubbed "Crafternoon."

So, on to the next week!  This will be the last work week before a little vacation for me but fortunately the last few productive weeks have taken care of most of my post holiday season restocking of shops.  Still lots of behind the scenes paperwork and other boring junk to do - and then more sewing!