Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas 2010

Christmas is a time of joy and wonder. I grew-up in the Caribbean, but visited my grand parents in Toronto for Christmas throughout my childhood. The baking of old fashioned West Indian black cake and taking sips of sorrel, mauby, ginger beer and punch-of-cream is a continued tradition is my home. I have transported my Caribbean holiday traditions and combined them with my husband's Canadian traditions, creating what I think is a truly unique experience.

Decorating the Christmas tree is my favourite thing to do (just after eating the West Indian black cake). This is the second year that my husband and I got a fresh tree, and we officially donated our artificial Christmas tree. This year we journeyed out with our little family and chose what we think is the best tree we could find. The smell of fresh spruce fills the air and heightens the festive experience.

A special ornament is added to our collection each year. Each ornament is carefully selected and have has their own story. The colours are a combination of rich creams, golden tones with hints of green and ruby reds. They are in all shapes and sizes and hang from golden cords and satin ribbons. I wanted to share with you my favourite ornaments.

This is the first Christmas for Crafted Spaces and the first Christmas post. I will like to wish all those who follow our blog, as well as all first time visitors a very Happy Holiday and best wishes for the New Year.

Yvette-Michelle Cottle Darby
Crafted Spaces

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Craft Shop

Crafted Spaces is happy to introduce its online shop, featuring books and other resources. We hope that you will enjoy this great collection of resources. The books and other items featured have been reviewed or used by us at our studio. Many of the books are part of our library and has been a source of information and inspiration.

One of the books listed at our online shop is Heartfelt by Teresa Searle. This is a great book with 25 creative projects. There are a variety of items that you can create for yourself or as a gift. The book itself will make a great gift for the crafter in your life. The mittens are our personal favourite.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Profile: Jamie Irving

Jamie Irving started making Tutu's this pass summer. Her Barrie, Ontario based company Trendy Tutus was born out of a desire to make something for her little niece. Jamie joined us this pass week at Crafted Spaces to share with us her whimsical collection, and to chat with us about what she does.

Jamie Irving, Designer & Owner of Trendy Tutus

Jamie's creations have made quite the hit and can be found at community craft shows and via her website. She indicates that she gets her inspiration from the ribbons she finds.

"I like to start with the ribbon and choose the tulle after . . ."

Customers can order a tutu in any size and colour combination. They are available for newborns to adults and can range in length. Orders are available within two to four days of ordering.


You can also order a tutu for your little angel and her doll or teddy bear!

Jamie has sold her tutus across the province, and has also reached customers outside of Ontario and into the United Sates. However, her tutus are available worldwide. In addition to her collection of tutus, Jamie is also a talented photographer. Her photography services focuses on children, families and weddings. She has been a photographer since 2008, and especially love taking pictures of children wearing tutus. She has combined both business ventures by offering customers a combined "tutu/photography" package.

View our studio interview with Jamie Irving, as she chats with us about her creations and her new creative business venture.

Jamie has a wonderful charm and it was a joy having her visit us at Crafted Spaces. To find out more about Trendy Tutus and to order a Tutu of your own, just visit her website and fill out the form under "contact us."

Please check out the following links:

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Closet Transformation

In an effort to enhance our studio and maximize space, we decided to transform our VERY cluttered closet into a functional workspace nook. It took a little thought and some furniture moving, but recreating this closet was lots of fun and well worth the effort.

The overhead shelf is home to some craft magazines, a sewing machine and just a handful of other items. A vintage desk and iron chair makes for a comfortable work area, while small baskets were used to store some supplies.

A magnetic calendar makes keeping track of the days simple and within view. There are still a few additional touches that are pending, however the changes that have been made so far have made a world of difference. This is a great solution for those that are short on space or will like a workspace that can easily be tucked away behind closed doors.


The closet had become a catch all for supplies, inventory and photography props. It seems as if everything was in there, except the kitchen sink. It is now a functional storage and workspace.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Plantable Stationery

If you love flowers and like to make paper crafts, perhaps you can think of a project or two that can be made using this great eco friendly product. I have gotten hooked on this seed paper which ranges in size from 3x4 to 11x17 sheets. The paper is available in several colours and not only is it great for a variety of paper crafts and invitations, but they are plantable. Instead of tossing it in the garbage or recycle bin, just plant the paper in a pot or in your garden for an assortment of wild flowers.

Seed Paper
100% post-consumer waste paper

The Winnipeg, Manitoba based company, Botanical Paperworks produces a range of products that are created from 100% post-consumer waste paper. Invitations, greeting cards, calendars and so much more can be found on their website and at select retailers.

Selection of Greeting Cards

I visited Cry If I Want To at 1175 Queen Street East, Toronto, several weeks ago and purchased some of this great paper. Co-Owner Allison was also kind enough to chat with me way pass her closing hour about the product. If you visit the Botanical Paperworks website, they also have the paper available online, as well as various craft projects and a list of retailers.

You can also visit Cry If I Want To at their blog:

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lighting Your Studio

The right type of lighting can add to your decor and enhance your productivity. It is also important to consider the effects that lighting has on your vision and health. When selecting the lighting for your studio, craft room or office, consider the type of task you are doing.

There are three layers of lighting, task, ambient and accent lighting. The most important of these three is task lighting. It is important that your task lighting be aimed at your hand and that it is not too bright. Your ambient lighting is usually an overhead light that creates a balance in the room or workspace, while your accent lighting is optional.

Natural light through a window can be wonderful; however, it is not recommended to place your computer or desk directly in front of a window or with the window directly to your back. A side position is usually best to avoid glare and improve contrast. You can also adjust your window treatment as the day passes to help with this issue.

Overhead lights at Crafted Spaces studio

Desk lamp!

Tips for selecting your lighting:
  1. Light your task first
  2. Use a combination of lighting
  3. Arrange task lamps so that the bulb is about 15" above the work surface
  4. Soft white bulbs are best for task lighting
  5. Consider three-way light
  6. Use energy saving bulbs
For a guide to eco bulbs visit the following link:

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Craft Show Storage Solution

It can be a challenge to find the right containers to transport and store inventory for craft and trade shows. There are many creative ideas that can evolve out of the necessity to keep things organized, and there is a never-ending supply of storage containers available. However, keeping things as simple as possible for setting-up and taking down at the beginning and end of a show can save you both time and frustration.

Over the years we have done many shows, from community craft and bake sales to professional wholesale trade shows. Among the various factors involved in getting organized for the shows is also the question of: Where do I store things during the show? Often on-site space is either limited or none-existent. With limited storage space available, under the table or behind the drapes becomes the best solution. However, you still need something that will "tuck away" nicely.

We have recently been asked what we have been using. We have several solutions depending on the show, but recently started using these Sterilite containers, which we wanted to share with you.

"Footlocker" Latching Tote
31 1/4" L x 17 5/8 W x 13 7/8"H

They have been used at a few shows so far and seem very durable. They have metal hinges and latches and can be locked using a standard-size padlock. They stack easily on each other and the wheels are an added bonus. We have only found them in green (but we can live with that), but they available in other colours (including bright orange). We purchased these at Walmart for $17.00 each Canadian.

Perhaps these containers will also be handy for you at your next show. They are also great as regular storage, camping or travel solutions. Please share your thoughts and ideas on the topic. Do you have a storage solution or container that you will like to share with us? You are invited to post your pictures on our Facebook wall.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Making a Knitted I-Cord Flower

This week we are happy to introduce our new DIY project. We had the pleasure of meeting with knitwear designer Jennifer Gontier of Hipknitized last week (read profile), and she demonstrated; how to make a "Knitted I-Cord Flower." This project requires two double point knitting needles, yarn and a tapestry needle. There are lots of possibilities for how you can use this flower to embellish your projects.

Please find below our video tutorial:

Featuring Jennifer Gontier of Hipknitized
Knitwear Designer and Guest Instructor

A FREE instructional sheet has been included with this project to help you to create your own.
Click for FREE download

Your comments are welcomed. You are also invited to join us and share images of your finished projects on our Facebook wall.

Have fun!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Profile: Jennifer Gontier

Jennifer Gontier is the designer and owner of Hipknitized. Hipknitized is a knitwear company that focuses on handmade fashion accessories for women, men and children. Jennifer met with Crafted Spaces to talk about her designs and her passion for knitting.

Jennifer decided to become a stay at home mom, after having her son three years ago. She wanted to work from home and have the flexibility of spending as much time as possible with her son. Faced with the added challenge of being a single mother, Jennifer wanted to do something that she could develop into a viable business and that she is passionate about. With the added moral support of her family, Hipknitized was established in 2009.

Jennifer Gontier, Designer and Owner
pictured above with "Fair Trade" items

Jennifer designs a great collection of hats, scarves, cowls, booties, mitts and accessories. She also provides a collection of "Fair Trade" products, produced in India. Jennifer's original designs are created with environmental consciousness and comfort in mind. Some designs are created using yarn from reclaimed sweaters and are embellished with reclaimed buttons.

Hipknitized is a vibrant collection, with rich texture and bold detail. Jennifer tells us that she is not afraid to break the rules. The result is a unique product line that is fashionable and skillfully crafted. She also took the time to present us with a DIY project on how to make a: Knitted I-Cord Flower.

Baby cap with a floral pin

Hipknitied designs are fashioned from wool and synthetic fibres, employing a range of knitting and crochet techniques. As indicated, an assortment of items is available; however, the collection is primarily for teens and children with a wonderful selection of items for babies and toddlers as featured in these photos.

There is something for everyone. Jennifer also provides custom order service and will design an item to your specification. Hipknitized designs are available direct from the company, as well as online at its Etsy shop or at select retailers in the Barrie, Ontario area.
Baby crochet hat with vintage button


Jennifer has recently added a collection of "Fair Trade" items (seen in first photo above) to her business. These items are available at trade and craft shows. This unique selection of items from India are ethically made and have been designed with environmentally friendly processes. For more information about these items, please contact Jennifer for more details.

View our studio interview with Jennifer Gontier:

To order your Hipknitized design email; of visit the blog at

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Carving the Perfect Pumpkin

Carving a pumpkin can be a creative and fun activity for halloween. The search for the right pumpkin can also be made into a fun family activity. I found these great instructional clips which I hope will help you crave up some pumpkins of your own.

Creative Pumpkin Carving Ideas : How to Start Carving a Pumpkin - Expert Village

Visit Better Homes and Gardens for more great carving tips and FREE Printable Stencils. Enjoy and have a fun and safe Halloween!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Profile: Dr. Cheryl Cottle

Dr. Cheryl Cottle is an educator, researcher and business development consultant with over twenty years of experience. She holds a doctorate in education, a masters of science in IT and a bachelor of arts in english. She has worked with individuals, organizations, boards of education and businesses to transform and enhance their objectives.

Dr. Cheryl Cottle (left) and Yvette-Michelle Cottle Darby

Dr. Cottle is not only academic in her skills, but also artistic and fashion savvy. She has also been a long time supporter of Verona Collections, fashion accessories and design company. In the past she has assisted with the development of the business and is the educational consultant for Crafted Spaces.

Silk hand painted evening purse (shown centre)
Illustrated and painted by Dr. Cottle

This Fall/Winter season Dr. Cottle will also be rejoining the creative team of Verona Collections, where she will be designing a collection of hand painted and silk screen patterns for the company's Spring /Summer 2011 Silk Evening Purse Collection. Dr. Cottle's creative talents have been put to work before at Verona Collections and her ornate hand painted floral vines have adorned its' evening purses before. We look forward to seeing the new designs in the Spring and will feature them when they become available.

You can join her highly motivational and inspiring women's business development and networking group: CPC Women in Business. Through this group Dr. Cottle motivates and inspires and provides other women entrepreneurs with an opportunity to network with other like minded women. Women share their experiences and assist each other in building their respective business ventures.

Dr. Cottle's list of business development services include: Strategic Planning, Technology Training, Social Media Marketing, Website Design and Development, Business Planning, Coaching and Mentoring. For more information about Dr. Cottle and Cottle's Professional Consulting, please visit

She is also my Mom :-) xoxoxo

Monday, October 18, 2010

Shop Review: Lady Mosquito

Walking down the trendy Queen Street West area of Toronto is always a delight. There is never a dull moment and you are generally guaranteed to find something to temp your senses. Little bistros, galleries, specialty shops, and a character or two are part of this urban landscape. Queen West is a must-see area of Toronto.

Over the years, the area has seen countless changes and continues to reinvent itself. This past weekend Crafted Spaces had the pleasure of visiting Lady Mosquito, a quaint little gallery boutique that has just celebrated its one year anniversary. This unique, one-of-a-kind selection of handbags, jewellery and other fashion accessories are vibrant and well crafted. Director, Cynthia Villegas took the time to chat with us and share the details behind the featured collections.

Cynthia Villegas, Director

In 2008, Cynthia a native of Peru who has been living in Canada for several years; embarked on her entrepreneurial journey, importing the amazing creations of some very talented individuals. The designs are vibrant and eco friendly.

Cocktail purses created with recycled materials
Click here to view workshop images

"I wanted to bring to Canada designs created by some creative designers from Peru."

The store therefore features Peruvian designers exclusively, adding to its uniqueness. Cynthia also indicated that she travels regularly to Peru and meets with the designers, visits their production sites, and . . .

"try to co-ordinate very closely with them to decide what products will best suit the international market."

The final product is a great mix of designs that complement each other and combines traditional elements with modern design.

Capsula Purses
Click here to view workshop images

Necklace produced with sustainably harvested Tagua seeds
from the Amazon rainforest

The service is warm and friendly, and the shop is well put together with many of the displays crafted by Cynthia herself. Lady Mosquito is located just west of Queen and Ossington on the north side. To find out more about Lady Mosquito and its' amazing selection of designs visit the website for store hours, features on the designers, and an opportunity to shop online.

For more information on Lady Mosquito visit or call 1 647-344-3266

1020 Queen Street West,
Toronto, Ontario

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Splash of Colour

We have been working towards reorganizing and decorating our studio space. After looking at tons of fabric swatches and paint chips we have decided to go with two shades of pink. No BIG surprise; however, finding just the right pink took some time. Follow us as we recreate our creative space.
What do you think about the colours we have chosen?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Verona Collections Summer Contest - WINNER!

Verona Collections is HAPPY to announce that the WINNER of their Summer Contest is Lizz de Savoye, of Toronto. Congratulations Lizz!
Lizz shared her personal style on Facebook:

"I wear a look that suites my fashionista personality. Clean lines, classic cuts that flatter, a bit bawdy and a bit humorous. My look tells you that I never, ever apologize for being the strong, beautiful, radiant woman my Mother raised me to be....and that when push comes to shove, I have sharper elbows. :]"

Thanks to all those who supported and participated in this contest. Visit again for upcoming events.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Alternate Storage Solutions

Keeping things organized includes designating a place for everything. At the studio we are always looking for ways to improve how we manage things, while being mindful of our impact on the environment. Finding creative ways of reusing materials and using beautiful vintage containers as storage solutions are some of our eco friendly strategies.

A favourite milk glass vase is used to display some silk flowers
and serves as home to some dual brush pens.

An assortment of glass jars are reused to store a variety of items;
including, paint brushes, pencils, pens, scissors and some more dual brush.

If you find it difficult to keep things organized, perhaps these time tested tips will help you.

Tips for staying organized:
  1. As you organize your items create a "keep" and "toss" pile.
  2. Label files and boxes so you can easily identify the contents.
  3. Group items together for a specific task or function.
  4. Look for containers that will store items that suite your needs, but are also eco friendly.
  5. Create a space to review and sort incoming mail and paperwork.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Decorative Pin Cushions II

This has been a very overdue craft project to post. In our post "Creative Pin Cushions," we introduced a gorgeous vintage teacup that had been transformed into a pincushion and featured two others from Verona Collections' Sewing and Creative Design Summer Program.

This little felt floral pincushion is a beautiful little project that we also wanted to share. We hope that you will be inspired and will enjoy making your own pincushion. It might even be something to consider as part of your gift giving this year.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Decorative Magnets

This week we wanted to explore the countless possibilities with decorative magnets, as part of our weekly creative project. At Crafted Spaces™ we came up with some ideas, and wanted to share with you an instructional video that will guide you through the creation of your own decorative magnets.

Here are some of the materials you will need, along with a pencil and a pair of scissors. We used a 1.2 cm craft magnet for our project.

Glass stones paired with a decorative image makes for a great combination. A hangtag courtesy of Verona Collections and a piece of note pad paper is shown above.

Small decorative metal frames and a piece from a metal rose clasp are also great pieces that can be used. These metal frames were purchased at Michaels.

If you will like to do something with a more fun and playful theme try old pieces of toys or common everyday items that represent something you like. An old lego astronaut and a bottle cap is shown above.

These ribbon flowers are sweet and dainty for a very girly look.

Follow this video for a step-by-step instruction on how to make your own decorative magnet. Enjoy!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Profile: Loreli Cockram

Loreli Cockram is the designer and creative force behind Big Village. Loreli took the time to speak with Crafted Spaces at the annual Shanty Bay Festival in Shanty Bay, Ontario (just outside of Barrie). It was a delight meeting Loreli and discussing the time her family spent living in Ghana and the birth of her company Big Village.

Loreli established Big Village in 2008, after her and her family returned from Ghana. Her hobby and love for the Krobo tribe beads, have given birth to a unique line of jewellery. Vibrant coloured West African hand-made, recycled glass beads, have been transformed into an original collection of earrings, necklaces and bracelets. Loreli also imports an amazing collection of Bolgatanga baskets, batik fabric, and carvings that complement her jewellery collection. Loreli also conducts workshops on jewellery making, using the gorgeous collection of beads.

Hand woven baskets created from "elephant grass" made by a women's co-orporative in Bolgatanga, Ghana. Also featured are pillows and other items created by Loreli from batik fabric.

Jewellery designed and made by Loreli Cockram.

"Fair-trade, earth- friendly, eye-catching" are just a few of the words used to describe Big Village products. Loreli's sunny disposition made it a pleasure speaking with her, she is a truly creative woman.

For more information visit: or call 1 705-331-9553

Monday, September 6, 2010

Shop Review: Les Artisans du Meuble Québécois Inc.

I took a few weeks to spend with my family and to enjoy some time away from the studio. I have planned previous trips to Montréal over the years, but they would be derailed for one reason or another. This summer my husband and I with our littlest one in-hand were determined to make the trek.

Walking down the cobbled streets of Vieux-Montréal was amazing. Being my first time in Montréal I wanted to explore the many shops along this historic part of the city. Surrounded by hundreds of years of history and beautiful architecture was very inspiring.

This quaint shop in Vieux-Montréal was a delight to walk into. There was an interesting mix of crafts, jewellery, hats, and other items . . . ranging from ornate designs to cottage crafts.

Among the selection is handmade clothing and accessories for women, greeting cards, quilts, pottery and items for the home. The items were skillfully crafted and the selection of Canadian handmade items was well selected.

88 rue St-Paul est, Montreal, QC
1 514-866-1836

Les Artisans Du Meuble Québécois

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Verona Collections Summer Contest

Verona Collections annual summer contest is finally here. Share Your Personal Style with Verona Collections for a chance to WIN these beautiful earrings and 15% off your next Verona Collections purchase.

Original Verona Collections jewellery design!

For more information and to enter contest visit Verona Collections blog or join Verona Collections on Facebook . . .

Monday, August 9, 2010

Profile: Alisa Auger

This week we present you with a Barrie, Ontario artist Alisa Auger of Beadbrain, who's handmade glass beads with sterling silver jewellery captured my attention at the local Kempenfest 2010 event. Her creations have also been featured at The Gallery Shop at the MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie.

This very friendly and creative lady took the time to chat with Crafted Spaces about her designs.

Q: How long have you been creating your designs?
A: I have been creating glass beads for seven years now.

Q: Where are you located?
A: I am located in Barrie, Ontario

Q: Where is your studio located?
A: I currently work from a studio in Scarborough, but will soon have my studio set-up in Barrie.

Alisa can be found at a number of events, however in November her work can be seen at the Moose Show in Toronto. Alisa can also be reached at: 705-726-5116 or email her at

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Creative Pin Cushions

The following Tea Cup Silk Pin Cushion, was inspired by this gorgeous Queen Anne antique bone china tea cup that I found at a thrift shop. It was love at first sight when I saw this little tea cup and I just had to find a creative way of incorporating it into my studio. I love finding creative ways of reusing or refurbishing used items, and after a few days of holding small odds and ends I decided to turn it into the base of this decadent pin cushion.

I also wanted to share these two wrist pin cushions, created by students at Verona Collections August 2010 - Summer Sewing Camp - Toronto. These pin cushions were created from eco-fi 100% Polyester Felt, produced from recycled plastic bottles. They were further stuffed with EcoFill a "Luxury Fibre Fill" produced from recycled polyester fibres.

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