Monday, August 31, 2009


Since my nose regained its olfactory senses this year, I've been chasing the good smells and running from the bad smells.

The good smell of citrus is a delight, making me feel both invigorated and content. My cousin even made me some orange potpourri, though it's not very practical (or subtle) to inhale in public. People look at me funny:

Unfortunately, public spaces are where bad smells run rampant. So I began searching for a way to take good smells with me without an attention-grabbing bowl.

Have you heard of aromatherapy oils? I found this bottle of Fragrant Reflections™ Orange-Mandarin oil at the dollar store, and knew it would lead to a priceless solution to those nasty public smells. It would also be a crocheted solution!

I crocheted this yellow pad that soaks the citrus oil and acts as a scent diffuser. The plastic cylinder would help direct that scent to my nose.

I added yellow stripes to provide a visual warning to others in a crowded space, since I didn't want this creation getting accidentally crushed!

Then I stitched a carrying handle onto the back of this aromatherapy device. Transportable!

The citrus smell is represented by this oddly-familiar symbol, with its black shapes resembling the rinds of an orange slice.

The heat from these lights helps release the citrus scent and would make night-time aromatherapy sessions possible!

And here is the completed project: the Aromatherapy Transportable Olfactory Machine. Or, the A.T.O.M.:

This video provides a 360° view of the A.T.O.M.:

A.T.O.M. from WooWork on Vimeo.

For my first smell test, I took the A.T.O.M. onto the public subway system. But even as the subway car filled with the revitalizing smell of oranges, I was still met with alarmed expressions from passengers. Why?

When I arrived at the next subway station, police vehicles were converging above ground. Whatever the reason, the scene looked like trouble and I didn't want to get in the way.

When officers began jumping out of their cars with firearms drawn, I decided to quicken my pace. This hectic environment was no place for an aromatherapy session!

I was nearly caught in a crossfire of bullets in this stairwell, but I jumped the hand railing and narrowly escaped harm.

At this point, my danger levels were on red alert. Was I the mistaken target of a manhunt?

With the wail of sirens and helicopter blades in the air, I decided to hide my coloured hair and go under cover. When night descended, a flashlight and the A.T.O.M.'s reassuring glow were my only guides to escape.

As darkness gave way to light, I stumbled onto a grassy oasis that was far from S.W.A.T. teams or public smells. And it was in this open field—under a fruit tree—where I felt free to inhale the refreshing smell of oranges from the A.T.O.M.'s dollar-store aromatherapy oils.

By sunrise, my frazzled nerves were soothed and my aura was realigned with Mother Earth.

I'll never know why I was chased on the same day I used the A.T.O.M. in public. Bizarre coincidence? Mistaken identity? And why the worried stares on the subway? I should add more citrus symbols onto the A.T.O.M. to make its purpose clearer.

For now, I'll only use my Aromatherapy Transportable Olfactory Machine in this soothing orchard hideaway.

I do plan to take the A.T.O.M. to the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Olympics here in Vancouver. With the crush of public crowds and bad smells, it'll be the perfect testing ground for more A.T.O.M.-a-therapy!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Daily Giz Wiz x 900

I'm a fan of tech gadgets. And although crocheting requires less digital tools than my other artsy pursuits, I still listen to technology podcasts while I work with yarn.

Podcasts are shows that are subscribed to—and shown—over the internet, and my favourite podcast is the Daily Giz Wiz. Each episode focuses on a gadget, but the show's energy comes from the funny banter between the co-hosts. From left to right: Leo Laporte and Dick DeBartolo:

Leo and Dick were preparing to record their 900th podcast episode this month, and I wanted to crochet something for their special show.

The first figure I began to crochet was a mini Leo Laporte. I've been a fan of Leo's down-to-earth approach to tech talk since 2001, and our paths have crossed since then.

Here's a video of when MJ and I called Leo's computer help show in 2005:

And here's a video of Leo viewing some illustrations I sent him a month later:

This video shows my geeky thrill of 2007: being interviewed by Leo about digital illustration:

Finally, here is the crocheted Leo, wearing his headphones, his seldom-seen yellow clog slippers, and sitting on his inflatable exercise ball:

The co-host of the Daily Giz Wiz is Dick DeBartolo, whose nickname is the "Giz Wiz". He is also known as "Mad's Maddest Writer," having written for every issue of MAD magazine since 1966. MJ's favourite magazine is MAD, and she even has two issues autographed by Dick De.

Here is the crocheted Dick De, wearing his MAD t-shirt and sitting on his Giz Wiz Biz logo:

The Daily Giz Wiz podcast occasionally features gadgets that are surprisingly low-tech. In fact, two of their most popular episodes featured a toothpick bird and a spork.

A plastic toothpick bird uses its beak to pick up toothpicks from its base, but this yarn toothpick bird only simulates that pickup action:

A metal spork can be used as a fork and a spoon, though this yarn spork is best kept clear from foodstuff:

Here is the entire Daily Giz Wiz family:

I sent the DGW figures to Leo and Dick for their live recording of episode 900, and here's a video of the surprise gift opening:

Congratulations to Dick and Leo for 900+ episodes of the Daily Giz Wiz! Will I be a geeky fan of their next 900 episodes? As Dick says at the end of each episode: "I'll be here!"

Sunday, August 16, 2009


My girlfriend, MJ, has many interests, ranging from paper quilling to Pre-Raphaelite paintings to remote-control vehicles. One of MJ's current interests is astronomy. She recently bought a Sky-Watcher telescope.

For her birthday in June, I crocheted her this ultra-portable telescope and some celestial objects:

The star, heart, Saturn and moon are strung from a mobile made of metal wire and fishing wire. The telescope's optical tube is reinforced by two cardboard tubes. The yarn legs are wrapped around a mini metallic tripod. The front lens was recycled from the plastic cover of a flashlight.

Here's a video of MJ checking out the telescope's features:

She took both telescopes to the park, where I photographed her stargazing:

In turn, she used my camera and her working telescope to photograph the moon during twilight:

She also captured Jupiter and five of its moons:

Happy Birthday, MJ! You prove that interested people are interesting!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Fridge Critter: Chelsea the Chicken

In 2001, I learned to use a pen tablet to colour eight baby animals. I put that drawing on my fridge eight years ago. Last year, I learned to crochet. To celebrate the spirit of learning new things, I spent this summer remaking my drawn animals into crochet critters.

The eighth and last Fridge Critter is the chicken.

For unknown reasons, Chelsea the chicken was never able to lay eggs. She didn't want to raise baby chicks; she just wanted to make her own eggs.

Sometimes she would admire another chicken's egg:

Other times, she would dare to get closer:

She had reoccurring dreams of hatching a carton-full of Grade AA eggs:

But this summer, Chelsea got tired of unfulfilled dreams. So she taught herself to crochet. What was the first thing she made with a crochet hook?

That's right: eggs.


She makes eggs all the time now. She's happy when she's creating. At this rate, she'll have made more eggs than all the chickens in the coop.

Congratulations, Chelsea. We hope you continue to learn new things!

This summer, we met each Fridge Critter: Squire the Squirrel, Bleu the Blue Bird, Pandara★♥ the Panda, Darla the Duckling, Sherman the Shark, Turner the Turtle, Piki the Pig and, finally, Chelsea the Chicken.

There are now two photos of the Fridge Critters on my fridge:

To celebrate their completion, my girlfriend recorded me returning the Fridge Critters into the wild. Here's the video:

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