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!


  1. Hahaha!!! Where do you get your crazy ideas from - looooove it! Love the orange colours in your background shots matching your hair too!

  2. I can't even tell you how much this post made me laugh - I love it!

    I think you definitely need to test out the A.T.O.M. on the Tube here in London.

  3. Holy cow that made me laugh! Very amusing! Just love your creativity and humour! Keep up the great work!

  4. Excellent work! From the expressions on those ladies' faces, I guess not everyone knows how great aromatherapy is. For a different citrus kick, load the A.T.O.M with a couple of drops of bergamot (used to flavour Earl Grey tea) or lime oil.

  5. That photojournal is even better than a re-run of Seinfeld! Love the aromatherapy gadget too.


  6. Howie, I think that might be your most creative creation yet. Way to go!

  7. Okay, Howie, is this just a bid to get more work flowing your way? The folks here at the headquarters of YES and KNOW mags feel you have far too much time on your hands. Thanks, as always, for the laugh.

  8. Explosive ideas as usual Howie!

  9. THAT is so much cooler than some Glade aromatherapy plug-in. :D

  10. It's a mug, it's a rocket, it's A.T.O.M.!!! Genius!!!

  11. PaisleyJade: hehe Thank you! I got this idea after watching one-too-many spy thrillers & after inhaling (mint) aromatherapy oils for the first time. Yes, I was grateful that my hair colour was harmonious with the backgrounds :D

    Irene Strange: I'm glad you think the A.T.O.M. is awesome, thanks :) I wish the police felt the same way :(

    angeltreats: It's good when manhunts can still inspire laughter! You're right, it would be a fun adventure to test the A.T.O.M. in subways 'round the world :D

    katilo: Thank you for the encouragement! I'm just lucky that my talented gf, MJ, was bold enough to photograph me around town (& below ground) during the police chase :D

    Kitty Ballistic: Thanks for the aromatherapy tips! Bergamot or lime oil sounds refreshing :D By the way, the second lady on the subway is MJ's mom, who was very generous & patient to go subway-dashing with me and MJ!

    Ali: Better than a Seinfeld re-run? Thanks! If I was Jerry, I would be sporting a half-smile in all these photos ;)

    Rosebug: hehe Thank you, I'm glad you're not allergic to the nuttiness :D

    Dave @ Yes Mag/KNOW: Working for awesome YES Mag & KNOW over the years has led to creativity run amok! I'm going to end up behind bars one day! :D

    Adrienne: I thought it was a requirement to dodge bullets in order to get more YES & KNOW work flowing my way? :) I better use the next paycheque to pick up a Kevlar vest!

    Jude: Thanks! No limbs lost to the explosive ideas this time, at least ;)

    JenGoPop: Better than Glade plug-ins? I hope so, thanks :) Glades overload the Geiger Counter!

    TADA's Revolution: You're right, I could have made the A.T.O.M. into a multi-purpose device ;) Oo, I could turn it into a thermos and fill it up with refreshing orange juice! :D

  12. Your history was very funny! like a cartoon! And the faces of the people next to you!! Very funny!

    Pd: I dont speak too much English so i cant express very well, sorry is any woed is bad written.

  13. Brilliant as always Howie! Thanks for giving me my morning chuckle - although my heart did start to race when I saw all the police action. Orange you glad you didn't get arrested!!

  14. GENIUS Howie!

    You know, just the other night my husband and I were talking about how you could make the most super awesome crochet book, I would definately buy one!

  15. fabuloso tus trabajos muy detallista ,seria un honor que miraras los mios Besos desde Argentina

  16. oh my god! your works are amazing!!! awesome!
    send me one present :)))
    with best regrads from russia :)))

  17. O.K. I am officially cracked up now!!!You are the most hilarious mad crocheting scientist!! I swear! Oh & a big fat DITTO on that book suggestion!

  18. Porcelana: Thanks, I'm happy you found this blog post funny :) Aromatherapy can lead to the giggles!

    Louise: At least my police chase made for good morning entertainment! I'm going to imagine you were eating grapefruit while reading about my orange troubles :)

    Sandy Meeks: My gf and I talk about your stunning work often, so it's trippy to hear you and your husband talking about a WooWork book haha Thanks to both of you!

    Monica: Gracias por las amables palabras y besos desde Argentina! haha

    Аня: Благодарим Вас за уважение! Я надеюсь, что вы получите много подарков! Haha

    You and Monica make me it fun to use Google Translate :)

    Miss Julep: Hmm, I may have to find an excuse to suit up as that mad scientist soon!

    Thanks for the book vote! I don't even know what a WooWork publication would look like... Maybe a flip book of my overly-dramatic expressions? :D

  19. Hey - Really like the portable yarnbombing (literally?) experiment. Just thought I'd mention that if you're trying this out in really crowded places like transit, it would be extra awesome if you invested a few more bucks and got actual orange oil - a lot of those really cheap synthetic scents are the things that may as well be a toxic bomb for anyone with allergies or asthma!

  20. Ariane: You're right, it may have been the allergy police that was protecting the dollar store oils from the public ! ;) Thanks, I've heard from a few people who have praised the qualities of real orange oil or bergamot oil. If nothing else, I'm going to sniff the heck out of those sampler bottles at the boutique store! :)

  21. I love not only your work, but the stories you tell to go along with them. You have got to be one of the most fun, talented people I've ever seen.

    What would it take to get patterns? I really WANT that raygun. Yeah, I'm a geek girl.

    As to the bad smells - when I lived in a certain Oregon city that I shall not name (but it was certainly the BO capital of the US), I used to put essential oils on my upper lip to drown out the smells. You might want to try that.

    Keep it up - I completely love your blog.

  22. dude you rock! so creative and skillful making crocheting more than a grandma-activity. love it!

    / Liisa from Sweden :)


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