Fellow artisan: Red Thread Design (DEAF & OOAK)

I’ve known of Devorah Miller for a while through a friend, and I’m pretty sure I bought one of her lovely dresses many years ago at the One of a Kind Show for my niece as well. We met in person this past weekend at the Cabbagetown Art & Crafts Sale, had a great weekend, and are looking forward to another great weekend coming right up at the Danforth East Arts Fair this Saturday and Sunday from 10-5 at East Lynn Park near Woodbine Station. Come on out and check out the art, handmade goods, food, children’s activities, music, and pick up a Red Thread dress for your wee one!

Caterpillar Dress Corduroy Shirtdress Summer Breeze Dress

Red Thread Design

Products: Children’s clothing, most of which is designed to be multi-season and to last for years. I also make baby quilts, mostly using the scraps left over from my dresses and tops.

Price Range: $20-$64

How did this all begin?
I grew up with a textile artist mother who taught art classes in my house, so my interest in creating with fabric started very early. Red Thread was born in 2004, while I was working full-time as a writer for an architecture firm. On maternity leave with my second daughter, the desire to quilt and sew again overtook me. I started making patchwork dresses for my daughters, like little living quilts that we could use and enjoy, but soon started designing more simply, to enjoy the beauty of wonderful fabrics without such time-intense labour. I love the creative design process, the satisfaction of making things by hand, the connections with my customers, and the challenges of being an entrepreneur. That’s kept me happily working away at this for ten years!

The name “Red Thread” was inspired by a lovely Chinese proverb I discovered when I adopted my daughter Samantha from China in 2003: “An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle but will never break.” I love the image this conjures of all of us being interconnected.

I don’t design clothing because I love fashion. For me it’s all about the joy of gorgeous fabric and colour. Children know instinctively what they like, and they’re not self-conscious about pattern and colour. I love the freedom that designing for children gives me to use wonderful vibrant fabrics, and the challenge of making clothing last a long time, even though it’s designed for active, growing bodies. I believe that for all of us, surrounding ourselves with colours and textures we love, and wearing well-made clothes that make us feel great, just make life better.

I’m currently designing my first line for women (to launch in Spring 2015) and am trying to capture that love of beautiful fabric and colour in a way that’s really wearable, even by more self-conscious grownups!

What advice do you have for a first-time One of a Kind Show vendor?
Preparing for One of a Kind Show for the first time can be very stressful. My advice is to take some time and calmly think through everything a potential customer will experience from the time they approach your booth. What do they see? Is it well lit, so your product stands out? Is there some product close to the aisle that they can touch or admire to entice them to step in? Are there beautiful images showing your work in action, to reinforce that your work is valuable/luxurious, or practical, or adorable?

Once they’re engaged by your product and you are helping them find just the right thing, where will you reach to grab exactly what they want (is it out on table, stored under a table, in a bin), and how will you complete the transaction? What will you put in their bag? What does that bag look like? (hint: branded bags, even just with a sticker or stamp, are a very good idea)

Last but not least, how will they find you again? If you are able, capture their email address so that you have a way of communicating with them in the future. This is immensely valuable and should not be overlooked. You can do this with a book to sign, ballots for a giveaway, whatever works for you. Don’t forget to email your list of wonderful new customers to thank them after the show!

If, when thinking through all of these things, you still have questions, get in touch with a current exhibitor. I’d be happy to answer any questions about the show and I know many other exhibitors would too! This is a very supportive community and there is a wealth of information being shared and discussed, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

Do you have a favourite OOAK show moment/memory to share?
I have so many one of a kind moments. I have had customers buying clothing from me for children soon-to-be adopted, and then meeting those children and seeing them grow. I have met amazing people who do charitable work and have collaborated with some of those people on fundraising projects. And I have met generous vendors who stepped in to help when another vendor needed a hand – sometimes in a big way. I have customers who have followed my work for ten years through this show, and some customers and vendors who have become close friends. Sometimes tears are shed in my booth, when a customer catches up with me about the past year’s events. These connections are my favourite thing about doing this show.

Red Thread’s website is www.redthreaddesign.ca. You can also find Red Thread Design on Facebook Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and on her blog.

Baby Twin Set

(Images from Devorah Miller used with permission.)

Fellow Artisan: IMWyred (Cabbagetown)

Irene and I met at The Purple Purl, no doubt on some knit night or other and later both started our own small businesses and have been keeping in touch and doing occasional sales together. Her new recycled glass line looks tempting… I may just have to pick up a little something from I.M.Wyred this weekend at the Cabbagetown Art & Crafts Sale!

(click below for larger images)

CopperBracelet1 DarkBlueCombo1 TurquoiseBracelet1

I. M. Wyred

Artisan Name: Irene McRae

Products: A collection of expertly knit wire bracelets, arm cuffs, necklaces and earrings in mixed metals and semi-precious stones.

Price Range: $6 to $75

How did this all begin?
I. M. Wyred jewellery line was launched in June 2011. Founded my Irene McRae, the name is a combination of her namesʼ initials and that all of designs are inspired by wire. Along with knitted jewellery, I. M. Wyred also designs an array of eco conscience necklaces and earrings using tagua seeds, acai seeds, wood and recycled newspaper.
Each piece of jewellery is made by hand locally in Toronto and made out of the finest sustain- able, non-toxic and recycled resources. The design and creation process always has the mod- ern women in mind, creating contemporary pieces which are versatile, light and fun with an eco twist.

I have been knitting since the age of seven but lost the love of it until I had kids. Three lovely girls, Audrey, Piper and Ginger. I made everything under the sun for them with yarn from dresses, sweaters and skirts to many of stuff animals. I just love to knit and making things and teaching them to knit was a great joy. But a few years ago, I discovered knitting with wire and I occasionally go back but I am just hooked on wire. Different gauges, colours, adding stones and crystals, I love it all.

My goal for I. M. Wyred is to move from a part time business to full time. I enjoy creating jewellery and I love forward to sharing my passion with others.

I. M. Wyred currently sells online on Etsy and can be found on Twitter @immcraeFacebook, and her blog.


(All images used with permission.)

Artisan: Lynn’s Lids

I keep doing fellow artisan features, but I just realized that I haven’t actually done one of these posts for myself. So, just in time for my 3 big September sales (Cabbagetown Art & Crafts Sale, Danforth East Arts Fair and Etsy Made in Canada at MaRS), here goes:

Lynn's Lids felted wool dryer balls Lynn's Lids felted wool Toronto iPad sleeve Lynn's Lids needle felted wool Santa ornaments

Artisan Name: Lynn Wyminga

Products:  hand knit, waterproof & windproof felted wool hats, tea cosies, iPad sleeves, sheepy wool dryer balls, natural wool catnip balls, Christmas tree toppers and ornaments, either hand knit then felted wool yarn, wet felted wool roving, or needle felted wool roving.

Price Range: $10-100

How did this all begin? 
A few years ago, I picked up knitting again for the first time in 20 years. I made scarves for my kids’ stuffed animals, then scarves for my kids, husband and brother-in-law, but I didn’t need a scarf (my brother had knit me one!) so I browsed through the patterns at my local yarn shop and came across a pattern for a felted wool hat. I am a hat lover, so I figured if I could keep myself in hats (instead of buying them), I’d be set! So I made a bowler and during the felting process, I was kinda hooked. That transformation is a bit thrilling every time it happens. Anyway, I wore the hat out (and promptly made myself another) and friends kept asking me to make them one, and eventually Lynn’s Lids was born. (I had to take nearly 2 years off for treatment of 2 cancers, but when I was strong again in the fall of 2012 I started in earnest.)

I am inspired by many things, but nature is a big one (take the sheep on the dryer balls!) and necessity is another. The dryer balls idea came from the David Suzuki Foundation newsletter since I needed a smaller ticket item to sell at markets. They are a great gift since they are environmentally friendly (reducing dryer time) but even if the recipient isn’t interested in that aspect, they are just so darn cute (I had a non-English speaker order them on Etsy and they didn’t know they were for the dryer until they received them with my note – they had just bought them as fibre art!). I have made a lot of them, and as of yet I haven’t tired of it. I’m making the right product, I guess.

Other new items come from client requests (tea cosy, cat bed, computer sleeve, various hats), my own needs (iPad sleeve, camera cosy), and sometimes just whimsy (catnip balls, ornaments, Frankenstein hat, cyclops hat, devil hat, dragon hat).

The hats are definitely my favourite. I enjoy making every single one, from the knitting, the thrill of felting, and the blocking. (But not the waiting. Never the waiting.) I especially enjoy creating new designs and patterns, as that keeps things fresh and exciting. Not everything works, but mostly they do (a good example is the baker boy cap, below – which I made up a few years ago but took 3 tries to perfect). It feels great when someone tries one of my lids on and it suits them perfectly. I’ve been wearing my second hat (a bucket hat turned out to be the favourite for me and I gave that first bowler to my mom after a couple of years of wear) for 6 years so I know that they don’t really wear out. Because they are felted to a thick dense fabric, they are very durable, keeping out the wind and rain and I know the wearer will be warm and dry for years.

Needle felting is so much fun that I want everyone to give it a go, so I teach it on a regular basis at my local yarn shop.

What advice do you have for a first-time One of a Kind Show vendor?
Start creating stock early, bring a big bottle for water (it’s dry in there), pack your own food (junk food takes its toll and they are long days!) and ask a friend to come and give you an hour’s break in the middle of each day, if possible (if you can’t afford to hire a booth sitter). Smile and enjoy it. It’s a great time.

Do you have a favourite OOAK show moment/memory to share?
On day 3 (of 5) a woman I recognized from earlier in the show came up to my table (in the Etsy section) and headed straight for the basket of catnip balls, exclaiming to her friend, “I bought one of these on Wednesday and my cats just love it!” and bought 6 more right there!

You can find me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, www.lynnslids.com, Pinterest, my Etsy shop, and here, on the blog. To find me in person, check out my upcoming markets (via Etsy) or my where page.

Lynn's Lids baker boy cap with flower

Fellow Artisan: County Cupboard (Cabbagetown & OOAK)

Today’s fellow artisan is a dear friend. Helen and I have known each other since the 1990s when we worked together in Kingston, then a decade later when we both happened to be on maternity leave at the same time (and in the same part of the city) with our first children. Now we carpool to craft fairs and bounce ideas off each other as SAHMs and small artisan businesswomen. I love her products and own one of County Cupboard‘s vintage Toronto map pillows, which I picked up when we were both selling at the Spring One of a Kind Show. Helen and I hope to be neighbours at the Cabbagetown Art & Crafts Sale in just over a week and a half!


County Cupboard

Artisan Name: Helen Hawketts

Products: Vintage Canadian map pillows & tea towels

Price Range: $25-$60

How did this all begin?
Inspired by my family’s love of Prince Edward County, and hoping to pivot on an existing mail order business, my original business plan for CC was for it to be a web site where you could buy all sorts of great PEC products. There are SO many talented artisans and craft people in the County, it seemed like having a sampling of them in a ‘County cupboard’ was a logical business idea. My own offering for ‘the cupboard’? Scan a 1930’s map of the County that I had, get it printed onto fabric and sew it into a pillow.

The broader County products web site idea fizzled but a star was born in the map pillow. I gave them to friends & family that first Christmas 4 years ago and soon was asked for other areas, especially cottage country. I now have 6 vintage maps, and one vintage postage stamp design. A new (old) map will be unveiled at this year’s OOAK in November.

I love actually making these pillows & tea towels. I find sewing very soothing.

I’m inspired by the people I meet at shows – my customers are very passionate about these maps. Many are really touched when they see their cottage area appear on a map. It’s really cool to witness and I’ve heard some great stories.

What advice do you have for a first-time One of a Kind Show vendor?
Stay calm, try to enjoy the madness because life can get really quiet when the dust settles. Have fun!

Do you have a favourite OOAK show moment/memory to share?
Love the camaraderie! It’s palatable.


Fellow Artisan: Bijouxbead (Cabbagetown & DEAF14)

Today’s post features Etsy artisan Bijouxbead who will be joining me at the upcoming Danforth East Arts Fair as well as the Cabbagetown Art & Crafts Sale:

bijouxbead4 bijouxbead3 bijouxbead


Artisan Name:  Darlene Martin

Products: handcrafted artisan jewellery

Price Range: $25 – $750

How did this all begin? By happy accident! After 17 years as a figure skating coach and choreographer, I discovered that designing jewellery is a lot like choreographing a skating program; deciding on a theme, placing the highlights, weaving the supporting steps, and presenting the finished piece. It took less than a year to launch Bijouxbead and about 3 years to make it my full time career. Along with coaching, I also held a senior corporate sales position, which really helped me with the business side of making handcrafted jewellery from the very beginning. Bijouxbead is the perfect marriage of my artistic and business sides.

About: Bijouxbead jewellery focuses one of a kind and limited edition necklaces, bracelets and earrings, featuring handmade lampwork glass, sterling silver and high quality semi precious stones. Bijouxbead is sold at juried arts and crafts shows across the province and online at bijouxbead.com

Bijouxbead will be attending 20 juried arts and craft shows in 2014. For information regarding upcoming shows, visit bijouxbead.com and click on “upcoming markets” for comprehensive event listings.

You can visit Bijouxbead online at: bijouxbead.com, on Facebook and Twitter.