adventures in flameworking

I’ve always been fascinated by glass, especially the kind of small glass sculptures or beads where a form or swirls of colours are enclosed in clear glass. It’s like a world unto itself. I’ve been wanting to take flameworking classes for a long time, but didn’t quite have the money or the time. In the beginning of the year I decided to make time to do something I wanted, and remembered that years ago I bought this small pendant of a jelly fish encased in a drop of clear glass from a local artist. So I looked her up, and found that she offers classes at a studio not too far from me, at quite a reasonable rate! Excited, I signed up right away.

And these are my very first batch of beads!

To be completely honest, half way through the first class I had the thought that it was a bad idea after all and I should just leave, because I was so uncomfortable with open flames, and the glass wasn’t melting the way it should because I wasn’t holding it in the right spot in the flame, I was terrified of the glass or the torch exploding or me doing something stupid and catching on fire (vivid imagination sometimes is a hinderance to learning), and I couldn’t see properly because I was wearing these goggles on top of my glasses… but towards the end of the class I seemed to have gotten the hang of making round beads. I made three proper ones (the 3 green/clear donut-shaped ones on the left — the teacher made the small opaque green one as demo, she just let me keep it :D), and one of them I made into a necklace right away when I got home :D

The next class we tried making different shapes and adding sculptural components. That snowflake is a bit sad-looking but it was fun to try.

If you’re in the city and would like to give flameworking a try, check out the nanopod studio! (that’s me concentrating very hard in the plaid shirt)

On a related note, I saw an image of a beaded death’s head hawk moth one day, and decided that I wanted to make a beaded moth. So I looked up bead embroidery, found this very helpful tutorial, and tried just making a test one on felt, with the beads I have on hand.

I found it a bit difficult to keep to the exact shape I drew on the felt, the wings are more rounded than I intended, but it may get better with practice. Next time I’ll get more moth-like colour beads and try another design.

Hope everyone have a good week!


spring forward

Winter seems to be dragging on in my corner of the world, but that doesn’t stop us from getting ready for sandal weather and looking forward to blooming trees :)

Last year I tried crocheting shoes because I hate shoe shopping. I made some shoes and sandals with jute soles, I was quite happy with how the pattern turned out, but the jute sole turned out to be a bit bumpy and uncomfortable after walking in them for a while. Several friends have sent me this crocheted shoes pattern by Make & Do Crew, so I thought I’d try using flip flop soles this time.

And I think they turned out not so bad! :D

I thought I’d share how I made them here. As much as I’m sharing it with you, I’m also recording it so I can remember what to do when these wear out, because they’re really quite comfortable! If you try to make them I hope you’d like them too :) It took me just two evenings to make them and I was taking process photos and such, so it’s a fairly quick project. And apologies in advance about the poorly lit process photos! The weather has been so drab lately and the lighting in our apartment is bad :S but hopefully the what the photos are trying to show is clear! If not, drop me a note!

I used:

One pair of flip flops (I bought mine from Old Navy for about $5 CAD, in size 5)

One skein of Bernat Handicrafter Cotton (80 yrds, mine in Indigo)

3.5 mm hook, and a smaller hook (i.e. 2.5 mm) to weave in ends

Sewing needle

Sewing thread that matches the colour of yarn

2 half-inch buttons

A long sharp tool (I used an awl for bookbinding, but I know that’s not really an everyday handy tool, so I did a quick search for awl alternatives, and the results that came up were metal skewers and long crewel needles)

Masking tape or painter’s tape

Sharpie marker

Tape measure

Kitchen scissors

What I did:

First, I cut off the straps on the sandals with kitchen scissors. I left the bits of plastic in the holes where the straps were attached though, because I plan on wearing these outdoor and I don’t want holes in the soles of my shoes.

I then put painter’s across the soles and wrapped around the sides, the top piece of tape positioned just a bit above where the straps were attached at the top of the sole. On mine it’s about 1.5″ from the very top of the sole, but that would probably be different if you have a different size shoe. It doesn’t really matter, as long as the tapes on both shoes are positioned the same way. I put a couple more pieces of tape across so that the taped area is 2.5″ in length. Again you can make it longer or shorter, as long as both shoes are the same.

I then marked one side of the sole on the painter’s tape with a tape measure and marker, with a marking every quarter-inch apart, at about the midpoint of the thickness of the sole, starting at one edge of the taped area and ending at the other edge of the tape. 

I then poked holes at the markings and going through diagonally from the side to the top of the sole, coming out about quarter-inch away from the edge at the top of the sole, like so…

Repeat marking and poking holes on the other side of the sole. Remove all the tapes.

I put painter’s tape around the heel, starting and ending where the original sandal straps were attached at the bottom of the sole, and marked and poked holes in the same way I did one the sides of the sole. Remove the tapes when done.

Repeat for the other shoe. Make sure both shoes have the same number of holes!

With top of the sole facing, and a length of yarn and sewing needle, attach yarn to the first hole at the top on one side of the sole, like so…

Sew through the holes made with blanket stitch.

When you get to the last hole, reinsert the needle down from the top of the sole to the side of the sole, then tie off securely.

Don’t worry about all the loose ends, you can weave them in when you crochet the top and heel :)

Repeat the blanket stitch on the other side of the sole and the heel, then repeat on the other sole. It will look like this.

Now we’re ready to crochet! :D

Left Sandal Top:

With a blanket stitch, you would have a vertical thread and horizontal thread in each stitch. Attach yarn to the vertical thread on the top right of the sole, work 1 sc around this thread, then work 1 sc around the horizontal thread right next to it, then work 1 sc in every horizontal thread to the end of the row, and placing last sc around the last vertical thread of the row.

Second row and every row thereafter: ch 1 (does not count as a stitch), sc in each sc, turn. 

You can put your foot on the sole and see how wide you need to make the top as you go. It’s good to make it a bit snug, I imagine it will stretch a bit as you wear it. There were 26 rows in mine. End with a wrong side row. 

Attach row: sl st in top left vertical thread of the blanket stitch on the sole, then sl st together next sc on the sandal top and next horizontal thread of blanket stitch on the sole, continue with sl st in next sc and next horizontal thread till end, end with sl st in vertical thread of last blanket stitch on the sole, fasten off.

Edging: Attach yarn to the vertical thread of the blanket stitch on the top right side of the sole, ch 1, sc evenly across top edge of sandal top. I find that repeating [1 sc in each of the next 3 end of sc row, skip 1 end of row] seems to work well. Ending with sl st in vertical thread of blanket stitch on the top left side sole, fasten off.

Repeat edging on the bottom edge of the sandal top. Weave in ends.

Left Sandal Heel:

Attach yarn to first vertical thread on the right side of the sole, work 1 sc around this thread, then work 1 sc in the horizontal thread right next to it, then work 1 sc in every horizontal thread to the end of the row, and placing last sc around the last vertical thread of the row.

Row 2–3: ch 1 (does not count as a stitch), sc in each sc, turn.

Row 4 (decrease row): ch 1, skip first sc, sc in next sc and each sc till there are 2 sc left, 2 sc tog, turn.

Repeat rows 2–4 twice more. Fasten off.

Edging: Attach yarn to the first vertical thread on the right side of the sole (same stitch where the heel started). ch 1, sc evenly up the side of the heel. I find that repeating [1 sc in each of the next 3 end of row, skip 1 end of row] seems to work well.

When you reach the top of the right side of the heel piece, ch 30, sc in the 6th ch from hook, sc in every ch (strap made), then sc in each sc across the top of the heel, then sc evenly down the other side of the heel, end with sl st in last vertical thread of the last blanket stitch on the heel, fasten off. Weave in ends.

Attach button with matching thread to the top left corner of the heel piece.

Right Sandal Top:

Make as left sandal top, except start by attaching yarn to the bottom left vertical thread on the sole. 

Right Sandal Heel:

Make as left sandal heel, except when crocheting edging, work sc evenly up the right side of the heel piece, then sc in each sc across the top of the heel piece, then ch 30, sc in 6th ch from hook, sc in each ch, then work sc evenly down the left side of the heel piece.


Sew button on each heel piece opposite of the strap.

Ready to roll :D

These are fairly plain-looking, but they’re my first try, and I do like simple designs. But maybe one day I’ll try to incorporate fancier stitch pattern or a closed toe version! As always if you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment below :)

Hope everyone is having a good weekend!

this week’s awesome finds

It’s March and winter has returned for its (hopefully) last hurrah with much snowiness and bitter winds. So, welcome to a very cozy episode of awesome finds! :D

This phone case is ingenious — you open the case by taking off the helmet, which is latched onto the button nose when closed! (I don’t think Darth Vader would like me using the words “button nose” on him. But there it is, his nose is a button.) Paid pattern by Anna Vozika on Ravelry. There’s a Yoda version too!


I love kimono slippers, I think they’re very stylish. And these are very easy to knit, I just wonder where one could buy thick wool felt for the soles, if not buying the felt soles from the online store. Maybe an alternative would be flip flop soles, but that’s less cozy. From Joe’s Toes


A perfect stash-buster project with stylish chevrons. From Dandelion Daze.


A lovely, squishy stitch that I think would make a nice seat cover or a bath mat. Or a clutch with that funky neon yellow! From Notey / Behooked Crochet.


Really like the asymmetrical stripes on this cardigan. It uses thick wool and large needles so it should be a quick make… Can one have too many cardigans? From Of Two Wands.



Did you know that sprouts could grow in a jar? Magical! This means that winter doesn’t stop us from doing some kind of gardening. Not that I do any kind of gardening in the spring/summer… But this is probably the easiest, lowest maintenance, most kid-friendly kind of gardening ever. We bought a sprouting jar from Young Urban Farmers at a community fair recently, and have already harvested and enjoyed the adzuki sprouts! Unfortunately they don’t seem to sell the sprouting jars online, but here’s a tutorial on how to make your own from Pass the Pistil. The friendly urban farmer at the fair did say to buy sprouts from here rather than bulk barn to get better germination rates. I also post about our sprouting progress on Instagram if you’d like to check it out! :D


Finally, you can cheer anyone up and chase the winter blahs away with this unicorn puppet made with an origami heart! From Willow Day.

Wishing everyone a good week filled with simple joys :)



Or, an exercise in crochet cables!

Cumulus is a shrug/cardigan with a ring of cables around the neck/front/back. 


The construction is quite simple. Basically, it’s making a 25″ x 26″ rectangle, folding it in half, sewing the side seams, then attaching yarn to crochet the sleeves in the round. Sleeves measure 11″ from where it joins the arm hole to cuff.

I used 5.5 mm and 5 mm hooks, and one ball of Lion Brand Pound of Love

Below are the stitches used, you can click on the link for instructions on how to make the stitches.

fdc = foundation double crochet

bpdc = back post double crochet

fpdc = front post double crochet

bptr = back post treble crochet (made the same way as bpdc, but make a treble crochet stitch instead of a double crochet stitch)

fptr = front post treble crochet (same as above)

Note: you might want to make the front/back post stitches a bit more loosely than you would when making a typical double crochet stitch, so that the post stitches are a bit taller to match the height of the regular dc’s. 


(RS) With larger hook, begin with 96 fdc. (you can add to the length of the shrug by adding more fdc stitches at this point. 4 dc = 1″)

Row 1 (WS): ch 3 (counts as a dc throughout), [bpdc in next dc, dc in next dc, skip 3 dc, bptr in next 3 dc, turn, make 3 fptr in the skipped stitches, turn, dc in next dc after the 3 bptr, bpdc in next dc], dc in every dc till there are 11 stitches left, repeat from [ to ], dc in last dc, turn.

Here is a photo re-cap of how the cable was made. At the point where you’ve skipped 3 dc, bptr in next 3 dc from right to left as usual.

Now turn the piece. You’re only turning the piece temporarily because it’s easier to work from the other side to form the cable. fptr in the 3 skipped stitches from left to right. I’ve made the first of the 3 fptr in this picture.

Then turn the work back and continue on pattern.

Row 2: ch 3, [fpdc in next dc, dc in next dc, fpdc in next 6 stitches, dc in next dc, fpdc in next dc], dc in each dc till there are 11 stitches left, repeat from [ to ], dc in turning ch, turn.

Row 3: ch 3, [bpdc in next dc, dc in next dc, bpdc in next 6 stitches, dc in next dc, bpdc in next dc], dc in each dc till there are 11 stitches left, repeat from [ to ], dc in turning ch, turn. 

Row 4: repeat row 2

Repeat rows 1 to 4 until piece is 26″ from beginning, ending with Row 3. Fasten off.

Side seams:

Position piece so that the cables are horizontal. With wrong side facing out, fold piece in half (the hold is parallel to the cables). Starting from the bottom of each side, crochet the side seams together by matching the stitches on both layers and using slip stitch, crochet 22 sl st up each side.


Turn piece right side out.

Attach yarn to a stitch near the side seam in the arm hole, ch 3, make 49 dc around the arm hole, turn.

Row 1: ch 3, dc in each dc around, sl st in top of turning ch, turn.

Row 2 (decrease row): ch 3, 2 dc tog, dc in each dc until the last 2 dc, 2 dc tog, sl st in top of turning ch, turn.

Row 3–4: repeat row 1.

Row 5: repeat row 2.

Repeat rows 3–5 seven more times. Work row 1 one more time. Don’t turn piece on the last row. 19 rows altogether on sleeve. 

Row 20 (RS): with smaller hook, ch 3, [fpdc in next st, dc in next st] repeat from [ to ] around, don’t turn.

Repeat row 20 twice. Fasten off. Repeat for the other sleeve.


Attach yarn anywhere on collar, with larger hook, work 2 sc around each dc or turning ch post around collar/front/back, sl st in first sc to complete round. Fasten off, weave in all ends.

Finished :)

Feel free to leave me a message in the comments if you have any questions! Happy crocheting!


full heart


Last weekend was a very full one! We went to a farewell party for iconic Honest Ed’s, organized by Toronto for Everyone

If you’ve ever visited Toronto, you might have been to Honest Ed’s. That was where I like to take out-of-town friends to impress them anyway. It is an enormous department/bargain store that literally invites you to get lost in it. Literally because there is a sign on the building that says:


Lost partly because there was SO much stuff! And so much really different stuff, all kind of organized in a maze-like formation. If you were there for the first time and looking for something specific, you’d probably get kind of frustrated, but then quickly distracted by the cheesy slogans hand lettered in cheerful colours everywhere. 

But if you were like me, who lived right across the street from Ed’s for a while and then continued to shop or meet people in the neighbourhood, you’d know exactly where to get the 99 cents loaf of bread and tinned fish for lunch, or bandannas for a sewing experiment (and this!), or those 2 dollar waffle shirts for days that turned cold suddenly, or large quantity of t‑shirts for summer camp, or socks, or just to get another picture of that giant plush moose head on top of a grandfather clock with its eyes popping out, or to kill time, or escape from reality for a couple of hours in the evening. 

Honest Ed’s was named after it’s owner Ed Mirvish and opened in 1948. As noted on Toronto for Everyone:

Beyond his bargain prices and punny ways, Ed was known for his ability to bring people together and build community in wacky ways: roller derbies, 72-hour dance marathons, free turkey giveaways, to name a few. Perhaps most important of all, Honest Ed’s was a model for inclusivity. Everyone, no matter how you looked, what you did, or how much you made — was welcome at Ed’s. Whether you made a purchase or simply enjoyed walking around and browsing everything from kitchenwares, clothing, toys, fabrics, to knick-knacks (SO MANY knick-knacks!), Ed’s had a way of instilling wonder and making you feel at home.”

And from the Jane’s Walk that we participated in (more on that later), we also learned that he offered very affordable rental spaces — and they remained affordable despite the rapid increases in rental costs everywhere else in the city — to artists and artisans in the surrounding Mirvish Village.

There was no place like this place. 

And so a group of good people brought more good people together and organized one last very vibrant marketplace in honour of Honest Ed’s. 

The juxtaposition of vintage glassware and underpants very much captured the spirit of what this place was.

The artist who hand lettered all the signs for the store over the past years was there painting custom signs for visitors. 

In 2014 when the news first came out that Honest Ed’s will be closing, there was a sale for all the hand lettered signs used in the stores. So my friend and I went there and lined up for over 5 hours and each got ourselves a few signs. One sits in front of my desk at home, it says “holiday coated marshmallow biscuits * 99 cents”. Very special because it’s got stars on it and they don’t make pennies anymore! 

In a different part of the building there was a community hub, where one could sprawl out and read all the Sunday flyers…

… and very smiley policemen do yoga with the kids.

Mike and I were most looking forward to the retro ice cream social. (and you can see there is a setup for music or spoken word performance in the back)

And intuitive painting! :D

People were invited to paint on merchandise tables. The theme of our table was Honest Ed’s.

This was our work! The black dashes were meant to be foot steps but it’s all getting a bit lost there… that was the point I guess :) And Mike painted the streetcar. 

This was under our work by someone else very talented.

Then we participated in the Jane’s Walk in Mirvish Village, where a number of previous tenants spoke about the changes they experienced after the city block was bought out. At the end people who went on the walk also shared their stories of Honest Ed’s and Ed Mirvish. There were definitely expressions of sadness about seeing such important part of the city go, but there was no anger, or bitterness, just the acknowledgement that everything good will inevitably come to an end, and there is hope that what is coming will carry on the legacy of embracing diversity and inclusiveness, and the space will continue to bring people together.

In fact, you can see the vision for the new Mirvish Village here.

After saying goodbye to Honest Ed’s, the next day we went to the Warming Toronto knitting day. Here’s the hat I finished :D

It’s a two-colour fisherman’s rib hat that was knitted flat and seamed together. I learned the 2‑colour rib pattern from this Craftster post. The decreases are not very neat at all, I’ll learn how to do proper decreases with this kind of pattern next time.

It was a very relaxing afternoon of knitting and hanging out with people who knit :D If you live in the city, the project is still collecting hats and scarves till March 26! The organizer can arrange for pickups along the subway lines. Check out the Facebook event page for details.

Have a lovely week, everyone! :D