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:

COME IN AND GET LOST

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

                                                                                                                                                      

 

lately

I haven’t written in a while, but I’ve been crafting day and night (literally, I knit in the subway in the morning and I chip away every night at this massive crochet project as soon as I get home), and have made so many things, that I can’t show you because they’re Christmas gifts! But I promise there will be an extensive Christmas crafting post after the holidays!

I do want to share with you this found object artwork I made in a caring for self workshop last weekend (if you can travel to the Toronto area and are interested in workshops that explore the therapeutic qualities of creativity and art-making, do check out Petrea’s website and workshop offerings, some free projects there too!). I’ve always loved found object art. This one is — pearls of wisdom rising out of moss, with a monument of past battles that shape this ground, bathing in moonlight. Kind of in the same line as my last post about moss.

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And this is an exercise about intention. We think about an intention that we bring to our work, and while thinking about or meditating on that intention, we choose different yarn and things to wrap around the twig. There’s a marble in the space where the twig branches out, to represent clarity.

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There are also other neat things I learned from the workshop, like drawing mandalas, which I’m trying to practice at work as a way to take breaks. Trying is the word :S But I’ll share the drawings when I have a few more. 

In other news, I attempted to carve a jelly fish out of an eraser. I’ve never tried this before and I think it turned out not so bad! It’s part of a holiday project, which will be revealed at holiday times! :D

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Happy weekend everyone!

 

keep calm and carry moss

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I bought these beautiful vintage shadow box pendants from Etsy shop youarenotthebossofme to put moss in :D It turned out beautifully, I’m so pleased. Looks like there are a few more of these pendants for sale, pop by the shop if you’re interested in making something similar! I bought the moss from the model-making section of my local art store. Or one could put in small stones or yarn or tiny shells or whatever one finds meaningful to carry around.

I’ve always felt more connected to water-related analogies — like the river, or the sea, going with the flow, fill the gaps, like what Bruce Lee said,

You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”

One can’t make a dent in water, it can’t be hurt. 

But I’ve been feeling drawn to moss lately. Grounded and tenacious. It can be pulled out of the ground and be damaged, but it comes back again, reaching and covering even further grounds. Its roots spread wider than eyes can see. It re-emerges always after winter frosts.

So maybe it’s about acknowledging the hurt rather than saying to myself that things don’t or shouldn’t hurt. And maybe it’s about standing my ground rather than filling whatever gaps or needs others put before me, trying to be everything to everyone. 

A bit of reflection as I enter another year in my life! :D Another year wiser, hopefully.

Thanks for visiting today! 

 

luna love

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Recently reminded of my fondness of Luna, adviser to the Sailor Moon and her friends. She has all her flaws, with her moments of panic, embarrassment, disappointment, fury, exhaustion, melt-down, uncertainty, even occasional meanness (in one episode she drew a picture to make fun of Usagi for becoming “fat” :S), but she always holds on to her purpose, and determination to fulfill her purpose. And she doesn’t take crap from people.

AND! She shows us that unpleasant moments can be quite comical! (in some ways)

Must have to do with our recent trip to Asia. We’ve in fact come across a lot of Sailor Moon merchandise while there. Wonder if Sailor Moon is popular again, in a nostalgic kind of way, or its popularity has always been consistent in South Korea and Hong Kong?

Anyway, didn’t buy anything Sailor Moon while on the trip, so I was searching on Etsy a couple days ago, and came across this perfectly Luna pin back button in this shop, I just HAD to get it :D

I need a feline mentor to demonstrate how to say no (there are more of these if you also feel like you need to say no more often). It’s making its way across the continent as I type :D In the meanwhile, I found a plastic Luna key ring somewhere at home, so I sawed the plastic ring part off its top and glued a pin back on it. Ta-da! My very own portable feline mentor.

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Have a very good weekend, everyone!

 

 

 

underwood 315

Came across a good quote that I wanted to display at my desk at work. Thought about handwriting it, or finding a good type face for it and printing it out, but then remembered that we’ve inherited Mike’s grandmother’s Underwood 315.

tolkien

 

It took us a while to get the imprints looking right. At first we thought the ribbon was out of ink. After all, Mike remembered that the last time he saw it used was in the 80s. But then we tried to adjust a number of things, and eventually we were actually able to get a dark enough imprint.

I typed the quote 3 times over to end up with one that doesn’t have typos — proof that I’m far too used to typing on the computer and being able to easily erase mistakes. The first time I ever typed was on a computer keyboard; this is actually the first time I’ve used the typewriter. And how did people use their pinkies on the typewriter? The keys require quite a force to make an imprint on the paper. I imagine getting callouses on the fingertips, much like playing the guitar. But I find it to be quite a rewarding experience! To practice and practice and finally get it right :)

And it reminds me so much of printmaking. Especially with the two-colour ribbon. One just wouldn’t know exactly how the words will appear, there are always slight variations even if the letters are the same. Maybe I will try to make more things with it :D

Have a wonderful start to the week, everyone!

 

yarn blessings

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This came to me a while ago and I meant to write about this earlier, but was going through some stuff (more below) and then went on a trip

I got yarn in the mail! From my friend Amy :D She has so kindly asked me to try out her pattern and sent me this gorgeous yarn. I absolutely love the forest tones in it, with the yellows and greens and blue. What a treasure. I love working with variegated yarn and seeing how all the different colours blend differently in each stitch. Cannot wait to start making the cowl!

What cowl, you ask? The Love-Me-Knot Cowl!

The love knot (or Solomon’s knot as it is also called) is one of my favourite crochet stitches. Here’s a handy tutorial if you hadn’t used it before. I find it very meditative, and makes a delicate fabric with a nice drape. It also makes very quick projects because of the height of the stitches, perfect for last-minute presents (or, if you’re like me, you might be making Christmas presents already). And cowls are especially great because they’re stylish when worn indoors and they don’t have long ends that get caught in coat zippers while wearing outdoors. It is generously shared by Amy to download for free on Ravelry :D

But this particular skein of yarn is more than just yarn. It actually arrived at a time when I was very much not myself. I had just finished my final semester, feeling lost, purposeless and more than a little afraid after being in school on and off (more on than off) for 10 years, which resulted in four degrees but little job experience. Sent out dozens of job applications and heard nothing in return. And then there was administrative mix-up at school that could quite possibly jeopardize my graduation. My future was looking rather bleak.

And then this yarn came in the mail, with a lovely hand drawn note, and generosity and kindness that expects nothing in return. It reminded me of what I want to be for others and why I took the (long) path to be where I am today, and brought back some sense of purpose. I’m therefore truly blessed by this yarn, and most importantly Amy’s friendship.

(And since then the administrative mix-up has been fixed and I WILL graduate! But I digress…)

Do give Amy’s pattern a try! And for the beginning of fall I would like to pass on an Irish blessing that one of my favourite teachers shared with me:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.

Happy September! May you find joy and new learning in all that you do.

 

 

owls from far away

Got a wonderful surprise in the mail last week from my friend Nancy — owls! :D

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This beautiful ceramic owl charm. We’ve been going on adventures together for the past few days and it makes me so happy :D

And this fun owl puzzle! He’s now settled happily on my desk (please excuse the unsightly dust. It’s since been dusted. Yikes.)

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And this lovely sunshiny dish cloth!

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So grateful for your generosity, thoughtfulness and friendship, Nancy!

Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

 

 

for mothers

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this is a bit late in the day, but it’s what I would love to be able to present to you in person — the first wild flower bouquets of spring. For you bring forth life and make it full with your great love. To all mothers, mother figures and mothers-to-be: wishing you much joy and blessings on Mother’s Day and every day.

hope

here comes the sun

As Christmas approached Ontario encountered a pretty severe ice storm. All the trees were all encased in ice overnight. They looked absolutely magical, but weight of the ice also caused the branches to snap and fall, carrying power lines with them, and thousands were left without power for days. The power in our building was down, but we were blessed with friends who opened their home (and cupboard full of tea!) to us and family we could stay with. 

Still we stayed a day in the apartment without light and heat (how I took these luxuries for granted when I had them!). The sky was also very grey that day, and as the day began to grow dark at 3:30 in the afternoon I was starting to get this feeling that the power outage situation wasn’t going to end. When we left our apartment to stay with my family and Mike’s family for the holidays our building’s power and water supply was still down. They were staying on the news that the power may not be restored for everyone before Christmas. Here’s hoping that everyone will be warm and safe over the holidays.

When we arrived at my parents’ today the sun shone through the clouds as it was setting. The ice on the tree branches started to melt and was sparkling like jewels. It reminded me of the words from this song by Relient K, which was also the theme song for the movie The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

It’s always winter but never Christmas
It seems this curse just can’t be lifted
Yet in the midst of all this ice and snow
Our hearts stay warm cause they are filled with hope

And everything it changed overnight
This dying world you brought it back to life
And deep inside I felt things
Shifting everything was melting
Away oh away
And you gave us the most beautiful of days

Cause when it’s always winter but never Christmas
Sometimes it feels like you’re not with us
But deep inside our hearts we know
That you are here and we will not lose hope

 

Wishing everyone a merry Christmas and a new year filled with joy, peace, love, and hope.

 

 

hope

hope is like a country road

 

Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence.”
Lin Yutang

(Acrylic on raw canvas with oil pastels)

 

In the past years I’ve been working / interning / volunteering in various community agencies, running groups that use expressive arts to support women in dealing with different challenges. Time and again I witness hope growing like wildflowers amongst and within people as they work together and share experiences, wisdom, joy, and pain; each person a light that brightens the path for others. I think this is true in many other communities and groups too.

And I’m grateful for you. I don’t think I say this enough, but I so appreciate the time that you take to visit, your interest in the things I make, your kind and encouraging comments. Whether we’ve spoken or written to each other or not, I cherish all of the connections that we’ve made through this space. 

Thank you so much! And I hope you have a wonderful weekend!