April 2013 Archives

April 2013 Archives

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Art for the Complacent


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 It's August and 7am on St Catherine Street East. A group of people gather and begin to assemble scaffolding outside Foufounes Electriques, comprised of kids as young as 15 years old to people as old as 38, they've come together to prepare for Under Pressure, a day-long event celebrating graffiti, hip hop, and counter culture. During the day graffiti artists paint the walls of the local businesses around Foufounes Electriqueswhile DJs spin records, B-boys break dance in a competition, and skateboarders skate in the half pipe. Under Pressure brings in people from all over Canada, the States, and even Europe and South America. Why would people come from all over just for graffiti? Well there's more to the event than meets the eye.

            Under Pressure is North America's largest outdoor graffiti convention. Graffiti writers from all over North America and other continents come to paint the walls of Foufounes Electriques. While the painting goes on, there are several tents to check out, even a tent for children where they can colour pages, collect stickers and get their faces painted. If you want to support the event, there are tents selling t-shirts, hats, bandanas, and the last remaining Under Pressure magazines. At night after the painting is done and all the awards are handed out, inside Foufounes, there is a free hip hop show. Not too bad considering the talent that comes to perform at the concert, last year it was Masta Ace, a famous rapper from New York City. It was one of the best free shows ever put on in the history of Under Pressure.


            I wanted to understand the history and challenges of putting on a large scale graffiti convention, so I spoke with Flow, one of the original creators of Under Pressure. I started by discussing with Flow anarchists or people who believe graffiti is an outlet for anarchy. I wondered if Under Pressure attracted these types of people and if this was problematic for the event organizers. Flow's answer shocks me, "That's the whole reason we started the event in '96." He leans back in his chair and folds his arms across his chest, "The police were lumping graffiti in with violent crimes and muggings and raping, and they were equating everything into one section of crime so we started the event to try to change the public perspective of graffiti."

         The first Under Pressure was held in March of 1996 and was called Aerosol Funk. It was held inside a loft with 11 graffiti writers, and three DJs (A-Trak, Devious, and Blast), and Tactical Crew break dancing. After the production the event organizers decided against doing another indoor event due to the hazardous environment created by the paint fumes in a confined space. A few months later, they decided to organize an outdoor graffiti convention, and Under Pressure was born.

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The first outdoor event was held at Mount Royal and Henri Julien, an area with a lot of foot traffic. For the first few years the event moved around from Foufounes Electriques to Guy and St Catherines and then back to Foufounes again, where it has remained for the last 12 years.  Flow tells me about the positive response by the public. "People were outside and stopping and looking and saying, Oh there's people doing this graffiti and they're not all scum bags and no one's getting killed here. It's not such a bad thing." How can art be violent?

           The artists chosen to write at Under Pressure respond to an announcement that Flow puts on the convention website. All artists send three pictures of pieces they have painted, including their name and the city they're from. Afterward, Flow goes through them personally and chooses the artists himself. I ask him if it's hard to choose, and he tells me the problem is more about getting the registered applicants to show up the day of the event. Due to no-shows, wall space is given to artists who are at the event and willing to paint, but may not be as talented as the registered person. Flow tells me that blank spaces means the wall would get hit for sure. This is only the beginning of problems for the organizers.

       Before Under Pressure starts the event coordinators begin a poster campaign which asks graffiti artists--and people in general--not to paint in the area. Posters are placed on the lamp posts around St Catherines and on the walls of Foufounes, nevertheless some years it seems the poster campaign is done in vain. Flow folds his arms across his chest again and tells me about one year Under Pressure lost wall space from a business off of St Catherine because someone was doing acid tags on the windows of one building, in the back and on the side of the building. Now event organizers try to push the message two weeks before the event out of respect for the businesses.

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          I talk with Flow about building the relationship between Under Pressure and the businesses around Foufounes. "It became much easier to stay at Foufounes because we already had the wall space procurred and already established a connection with the business owners. Initially it was harder to ask for permission to paint the whole thing. At first we had to approach all the business owners and ask for permission to use their wall space and explain the whole event a little bit obviously, and try to make sure that it was portrayed positively." Not an easy feat given the nature of the event and the reputation Under Pressure had to overcome.

         Recently the biggest problem facing Under Pressure has been the use of their images by Chevrolet without permission. Two years ago Chevrolet came down and took pictures of their cars in front of the murals painted at Under Pressure. Some event organizers were upset and filed suit for damages. I ask Flow where he stands on the issue, he sighs heavily and begins to tell me that he's not sure what to think. He believes that Chevy should have hired some graffiti artists to paint them a backdrop, but at the same time it's not as though they parked in an art gallery and took pictures in front of some paintings. On the other hand the artists who painted at the event registered to paint those walls and are not being recognized in the Chevy ads. He says, "I'm kinda on this fence 'cause it's in the public sphere." He finally shrugs his shoulders in resignation.

          I ask Flow if this is a common theme with Under Pressure where businesses try to affiliate themselves with the event. He begins to tell me about past years where Red Bull and Sprite have driven their company cars up to the event and tried to hand out free samples. On the face of it this may not sound problematic, but Under Pressure gets part of their funding for the event through sponsorship. Without these funds Under Pressure cannot afford to bring in big names for the after show, pay businesses for use of their property, or buy the supplies they need for the volunteers and event participants.

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         Under Pressure has dealt with some forward thinking sponsors as well. Flow discusses the year Absolute Vodka sponsored the convention, "They were nice about giving away the branding and logo, they said 'just throw our stuff here,' and we even had an ad on the back of the magazine designed by our people so it was our branding, our styling, that was nice." Sponsors like this are far and few between though.

         One thing impressed upon me is how much money it takes to put on an event of this size. Besides getting the wall space, money is the biggest challenge for Under Pressure. Flow tells me that as the event grows so does the need for money. Even though the event looks like it has plenty of money, Under Pressure could always use a little bit more. I ask him what the most expensive costs are and without hesitation he immediately answers, "Scaffolding, and some of the building owners take money too, so we can use their wall. The parking lot takes money so we can use the parking lot, because they aren't making money that Sunday." To me it feels as though there's a lineup of people with their hand out waiting to get paid by event organizers.

          Curious about the respect Under Pressure gets from Montrealers I ask Flow about graffiti appreciation in Montreal and for Under Pressure. Flow tells me honestly that he feels event goers have become too accustomed to it and don't appreciate what they have in the graffiti convention. He says "It's a good event, but I think that if it [Under Pressure] went away for a while, in a couple of years people would be like, remember Under Pressure, that was cool, we could go down there and...you know." Flow gestures with his hands.

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         I ask Flow if he's afraid that getting the wall space again would be hard if the event coordinators did decide to put Under Pressure on hiatus for a few years. He shakes his head no and says they've developed such a relationship with the businesses that they would get the space back without any problems. He says "They [the businesses] understand now that the area is such that it would happen anyway." The area around Foufounes lies just east of the city's gentrification projects on St Catherine. This part of the city gets hit pretty hard with graffiti, but with the area being gentrified who knows what will happen to the space around Foufounes.

         At one time Under Pressure was not the only well-known graffiti convention in Canada. Toronto also held a graffiti convention, I remember in the past driving to Toronto the weekend after Under Pressure for their event. I talk with Flow about those conventions and he shakes his head and begins to tell me some upsetting news. "No. There was the 416 event and then they stopped and did Style in Progress, but that stopped too. The mayor [Rob Ford] doesn't like it. The mayor of Toronto, he's a big idiot, he doesn't like graffiti, he doesn't like bikes. He thinks we're all queers. So, the administration of Toronto has helped curtail graffiti acceptance in Toronto, even though Toronto has a bigger graffiti scene. Montreal is well known for our graffiti scene, the nice stuff and the bad. I guess you can say we take the good and the bad."

         Why should you support an event like Under Pressure if you don't like or do graffiti? For one thing understanding graffiti is essential to appreciating it as an art form. Just being able to spray paint from a can does not make someone a graffiti artist, it takes skill. Understanding graffiti means that it is understood that graffiti is not about violence or vandalism. That doesn't mean that vandals don't do graffiti, sure they do, but true graffiti artists would never paint swear words on buildings just because they can. Again, it goes back to the skill of the painter and what is painted, not vulgarity just for the sake of painting it. Graffiti at its roots represents freedom, freedom of expression. Without freedom of expression where would we be? We would be repressed by images that have been preapproved for our viewing. I know there's bad graffiti, but Montreal has a wealth of beautiful graffiti, just walk around and you'll recognize it. Remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

The Gordon Robertson Beauty Academy


Modern Beauty Academies

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Most people do not take beauty seriously when it comes to careers. When thinking of beauty school many people will still conjure an image of Grease's "Beauty School Drop Out" song in their minds. This image needs to be reinvented because today's beauty schools provide the training for women and men alike to create a successful and respectable career. With vocational training becoming a popular choice for students here in Quebec, many people are looking at beauty academies in a new light. When looking into beauty academies (or any vocational training school for that matter) it is well worth considering a public school because public vocational training is completely free for residents of Quebec.

 The Gordon Robertson Beauty Academy

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One of the best public beauty academies in Montreal is the Gordon Robertson Beauty Academy. The Gordon Robertson Beauty Academy is located in the West Island of Montreal in Beaconsfield and their programs provide training for all aspects of the beauty field. The Gordon Robertson Beauty Academy was built in 1994 and was the first school of its kind located on the West Island of Montreal. The school is part of the Lester B. Pearson School Board and is named after Gordon Robertson who was a friend of the school board and a strong supporter of vocational training programs. The programs offered include:

-Become an Aesthetics Professional

-Become a Hair Care Professional

-Become a Professional Electrologist

-Become a Body Care Professional

-Become an Entrepreneur in the Beauty Industry

On the Gordon Robertson website they provide 5 questions to ask yourself if you are thinking of joining their beauty academy:

1)      Do you want a career in the beauty industry?

2)      Do you want a career that is in high demand?

3)      Are you a hands-on person?

4)      Do you want to own your own business?

5)      Do you want a fresh start in less than a year?

If you answered yes to most, or all of these questions, then The Gordon Robertson Beauty Academy is probably a good place for you to be.  All of the courses are offered solely on a part-time basis except for the aesthetics and hair care courses which can be taken full-time or part-time full time for 12 or 24 months respectively. Gordon Robertson is an English school, so all of the courses are offered in English only.


Gordon Robertson Beauty Academy

240 Beaurepaire Drive

Beaconsfield, QC

H9W 6G4



 Interview with a Gordon Robertson Graduate

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(Photo of Amanda and I at the Interview: Amanda is on the right)

Amanda Carrier is a graduate of the aesthetics course at Gordon Robertson, and she offered to share some of her experience with me. We decide to meet for drinks so that I can ask her questions about the program that she completed.

Amanda is a 23 year old with a lot of drive and determination. She completed her aesthetics course a couple of years ago and is now halfway through the highly competitive professional photography program at Dawson College. She loves fashion and hopes to become a fashion photographer one day. She is brimming with creativity and it is no wonder that she loves to make things beautiful. She is a small girl with bright red hair, and very fair, porcelain-like skin. Her love of fashion and makeup can be seen right away through her stylish and fashion forward appearance. She carries herself very confidently. We order martinis and sit down at a table to proceed with the interview.

Stephanie: So, what course did you take at Gordon Robertson?

Amanda: I took the Aesthetics course.

S: What did the course cover exactly?

A: It covered makeup, waxing, facial treatments, body treatments, and a little bit of business and customer service skills.

S: How long was the course? When did it start and finish?

A: The course started at the end of August and went until mid-June. Just like high school or elementary school.

S: How did you find the teachers? Helpful?

A: The teachers were really nice and very passionate about what they taught. I was very impressed by them.

S: What kind of form did the course take? Was it mostly hands-on?

A: When we first started it was mostly theory, for about a month. Then at the end of the course we had to learn a little bit about business which was also mostly theory, but everything else in between was completely hands-on practice.

S: Who did you practice on?

A: For a month we practiced our skills on each other. Then we were allowed to bring people in to practice on, like friends and family members. Then we started getting real clients.

S: Yeah, I read about that on the website, apparently people can make appointments and receive spa quality treatments from the students for reduced prices? Is that right? Are those the clients that you're talking about?

A: Yes. It was mostly older women who came in. They were always really nice and patient with us. Every week one person would be manager. Basically you greeted the clients and assigned them to a student. We always had to tell the teacher what our facial treatment plan/makeup plan was before we started. The teacher would double check and ok our plan. We did facials, back facials (a facial for your back), makeup, waxing, manicures, and pedicures.

S: What did you spend the most time learning?

A: We spent the most time on facials. There was a lot to learn about skin types, skin condition, skin diseases, so on.

S: Did you have to complete a stage to graduate?

A: Yes we had to do a stage at the end of May. We had to work at a spa, for free, to see what the job was like.

S: What would you say the best and worst parts of the course were?

A: The best parts were the teachers, and learning about makeup. I love makeup so that was my favourite. We got so many makeup items that we were allowed to keep. Big palettes of all different colors, makeup brushes, almost everything that we would need for our kits. The worst part for me had to be the girls in my class. They were so lazy and never wanted to do anything, especially with the clients that came in. They would ask dumb questions in class, like why does the skin have three layers? There is no answer! It just does! I was taking the course very seriously. It is a career program! It seemed like the other girls weren't though. That's the only negative thing I can say though. Everything about the school itself was great.

S: Thanks for all the information! I'm sure it will help someone out to read about your experience!

A: You're welcome!


Montreal is a great place to pursue vocational training programs. There are many vocational schools on the island where students can learn a variety of skilled trades. Successful and stimulating careers can be pursued through vocational training programs. Students can study cosmetology, hairdressing, plumbing, computer servicing, restaurant and hotel management, culinary work and more. Vocational training programs are a good choice for anyone who is ready to work hands-on.

Here in Quebec, vocational training programs are designed in collaboration with employers and are suited to regional economic activities. They also reflect the needs of the current labor market. This means that graduates usually have no trouble finding a job in their field, and most programs will even set students up with internships that can turn into full-time jobs after graduation. In fact in Quebec 75% of vocational school graduates find full-time work within a year, as there is currently a huge demand for skilled workers. Another amazing thing about pursuing vocational training in Quebec is that through public schools it is completely free for Quebec residents! This helps to encourage more people to study skilled trades.

There are many great vocational training schools that offer their courses in French, and there are also many private vocational training schools in Montreal, but this review will examine the top five English-language, public vocational training schools in Montreal. Let's get started!

5) Pearson Electrotechnology Centre (PEC):

5000 René-Huguet

Lachine, Quebec

H8T 1M7



This school belongs to the Lester B. Pearson School Board, and it is the only English public school of its kind in all of Quebec. It has been open since 2007 and the programs offered include: Electricity, Installation and Repair of Telecommunications Equipment and Computing Support Courses. Sometime in the near future the school will also be offering a Heating and Plumbing program.

Classes for all three programs are offered either during the day from 8:00 to 3:00, or in the evenings from 3:30-10:30. The school features state of the art equipment and all training involves hands-on experience with the highest safety standards. The school partners closely with many businesses including Videotron, Belden, Commission de la construction du Quebec and more. Students are offered many training opportunities through the school's various connections.

4) West Island Career Centre (W.I.C.C):

13700 Pierrefonds Blvd.

Pierrefonds, QC

H9A 1A7



The West Island Career Centre belongs to the Lester B. Pearson School Board and offers training for a wide variety of skilled trades. They cover the fields of healthcare, automobile mechanics, interior decorating and visual display, residential and commercial drafting, and accounting and administration. The specific programs include: Accounting, Administrative Professional, Assistance in Healthcare Facilities, Automobile Mechanics, General building Maintenance, Health, Assistance and Nursing Care, Home Care Assistance, Hygiene and Sanitation in Health Care Settings, Interior Decorating and Visual Display, Medical Office Specialist, Medical Secretary, Residential and Commercial Drafting, and Starting a Business.

This school offers a "Student for a Day" program which pairs up potential students with current students. They are able to spend the day at the school, attending real classes before they decide if it is the right school and/or program for them.

3) PACC Vocational Centre (Pearson Adult and Career Centre):

8310 George Street

LaSalle, QC

H8P 1E5



The PACC Vocational Centre belongs to the Lester B. Pearson School Board. The school offers vocational programs in the fields of food services and tourism, administration, and health. The programs include: Retail Butchery, Food & Beverage Services, Professional Cooking, Pastry Making, Accounting Studies, Administrative Professional , Pharmacy Technical Assistance, Home Care Assistance, Health, Assistance and Nursing Care, Dental Assistance, Assistance in HealthCare Facilities. There is a great variety of programs available to students.

An interesting note is that PACC offers their students an amazing resource free of charge, the online use of the language learning software, Rosetta Stone!

2) Shadd Business Centre:

1000 Old Orchard

Montreal, QC

H4A 3A4

(514) 484-0485

[email protected]

The Shadd Business Centre is part of the English Montreal School Board. The school has been around for over 15 years and their reputation is highly respected. The Shadd Business Centre boasts an impressive job placement rate for qualified graduates. The programs that they offer include: Accounting, Assistance in Healthcare, Pharmacy Technical Assistance, Secretarial Studies, and Starting a Business.

All programs are full-time, but students have the option to sign up for daytime or evening classes. The Shadd Business Centre is very aware that many students are going to be balancing full-time jobs with school, and their flexible scheduling options reflect that.

1) Rosemount Technology Centre (RTC):

3737 Beaubien Ave

Montreal, QC

H1X 1H2



The Rosemount Technology Centre is one of the largest English-language technical career training centres in all of Quebec. It belongs to the English Montreal School Board. The school offers amazing programs that are hands-on, and all of the featured trades are very in demand in Quebec. Programs include: Automated Systems in Electromechanics, Cabinet Making, Computer Graphics Techniques, Furniture Finishing, Industrial Drafting (CAD), Industrial Machine Operator, Machining Techniques, Numerical-Control Machine Tool Operation (CNC), and Printing and Digital Layout.

The school employs a work-study assignment within all of their programs which allows students to use their newly learned skills in real working environments. This often leads to job opportunities in the future.

A Conversation With David McGimpsey


I met David McGimpsey years ago at open mic night. His passion for food and writing instantly convinced me to take his class at Concordia University. We sat down for pigs feet, beer, and conversation at a blue collar diner in Pointe St Charles. My transcriptions of our interview are marked with the tar-coated laugh of a regular. Here are some choice excerpts of our conversation

Comedy writing workshops:

There's a reason somebody is writing jokes for Reba. And it's not because they're terrible. The reason they're writing jokes for Reba and you're not is because they're good at it. "Compartmentalize jokes, the same ones are happening"

The SNL Live From New York has the best bit on comedy ever" I found the one phrase that makes everything funny, "Chris Farley enters room".

On Smoking:

In some bars in Philadelphia you can smoke. If they can do it in Paris, they can do it anywhere. If they can somehow convince people in Paris not to smoke indoors.

"Vegas will the last place obviously they ban smoking, they want you in a state of whatthefuck..

Philadelphia is really hard because in the city itself they've done that but it stops at the county line, They don't want to give all their business up. But in a state with a lot of working class coal miners its pretty hard to convince them its ok if you die from working in the coal mine but you're not allowed a cigarette."

On Sports

NHL: They wouldn't be fucking around so much if they didn't have such a loyal fan base. When it starts again they'll be right where they were.

I love sports because they mean absolutely nothing. You can believe and have all these emotions but at the end of the day it doesn't matter. Nothing will change.

"I never confuse sports with a social function or event"

Sports as nationalism.

I love games because it gives you an opportunity to care about something that doesn't mean anything. Because you know it doesn't mean anything you can let yourself so a little bit.


I don't like the Beatles ok, that's my crime.

The internet is crazy. I made fun of Bruce Springsteen being old. And his response to this "I hope you die"

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ --------------------------------------


What are your thoughts on food blogs?

I like them when they're good, as long as they're directed through the person. I don't like food blogs as much as I like blogs about food by cool people.

So it's good writing?

The problem with writing food writing is that it has a built in flaw, monotony. Because you travel you eat well, every story is the same, "I ate here it was delicious, I stayed at this hotel, fucking fantastic". So what you say to get around the monotony. Do your research and go to places so you're not necessarily writing a restaurant review. If you're writing a blog about you're sort of burdened to tell a story about yourself in some way because the ultimate thing is that it's a given. It's a given that the steak is delicious. And it's sort of hard to make that story compelling. You blog or you write it you say the same thing over and over.

If you put yourself in then that's new and that changes with every story and that makes it way way more interesting. It's no longer a review you don't have to be goldilocks about it, "This is too cold this is too hot".

Do you think that reviews are still relevant with Yelp, or on the internet where everyone is a critic?

No I don't. I think they can still work. They can be. Like the New York Times story on Guy Fieri that was great. So there you have a piece like a restaurant piece but with humor.

Do you think magazines like Lucky Peach have established food writing as a field outside the dining section?

That's the problem with what people think I do.  They say, "Come review my restaurant" and I don't do that. I don't write reviews. I've never written a book review. If I read a book that I didn't like, I don't care.

Why is it called pate chinois?

The working class fare of the Quebecois can be attributed to their own opinions of self. The image constructed by generations of Quebecois stuck between the snobby English and the snobby French. They are humble people. Peasant food and lots of it to feed workers. There is a pride in living on needs not wants.

The Art of Bartering With Food



We all need a favor at some point. The problem with  favors is that you always owe them back, indefinitely. Like Bing Crosby in White Christmas. But there is a solution and that solution is bribery. Cooking as defined by most of my friends can be summed up in two succinct phrases "take-out" and "microwave". Home-made treats are so few and far between that, "Can you help me lay down the flooring in my house all weekend?" suddenly becomes appealing when you add "I just made spaghetti". Bonus prize for overachievers, ask over someone you fancy. One home cooked meal and he'll be uh checking your pipes and other home repairs in no time.

Krista Norris' Lace, Linen & Wool


Launching her line upon graduation from Carleton University Business, Communications and Media Industries in 2012, Krista Norris introduced her classic yet authentic line to the Ottawa fashion scene. Ottawa's girl next door, who was voted heartthrob of her graduating year in high school, is not only a sight for sore eyes, but also a successful designer at the age of 23.

Combining elegance with timeless fabrics such as lace, linen, wool and others, Norris' personal aesthetic and technique have garnered her a dedicated following in her local area. Recently, this following has bled into the more 'fashion-oriented' cities in Canada such as Toronto and Montreal. Alongside her scarves, which range from men's classic infinity scarves to feminine lace scarves stand Norris' leather and fabric bags.

Living proof 'it's all about who you know' Krista can thank friends for encouraging her to start making money off the hobby she is clearly very good at. These friends and family are also the solid foundation of Krista's following and in this case; being from a large suburb proves advantageous. Krista's large circle of friends from high school are her biggest fans, wearing her designs proudly, unknowingly advertising her line.

Krista has never been your typical small-town girl; she decided to indulge her curiosity and travel after enrolling at Carelton University in 2009 and studying for a year. Taking her 2nd year off school and embarking on a journey alone, she travelled to London, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. Making friends around the world and putting herself in situations that challenge her, Krista almost felt satisfied. Since then Krista went back to Europe and travelled Paris, Holland, Ireland and England. Her enthusiasm and spontaneity exude from her line as well as her travel attitude, as she dances her way to different cities promoting her line.

While Krista's line blossoms, the possibilities are endless insofar as her 'why not?' philosophy keeps her nourished. Sewing started as a personal interest that she thanks her Oma for teaching her. Now, as her hobby turns into a success, Krista is smitten with appreciation and ready for whatever comes her way.

What were you doing just before you sat down to answer these questions?

I actually had a meeting with a buyer at one of the stores I sell in, and dropped off more spring stock!

This is all still very new to you. Did you ever expect to have such a great response to your designs?

I started actually selling my scarves after a friend asked why I didn't. He introduced me to a store owner who was happy to see if they would sell - and they did! I didn't tell anyone because I didn't think anyone would buy something I made.

What inspired you to start sewing and where did you learn to do it?

I started sewing at a very young age with my Oma. She was a seamstress and also did projects on the side, and I would love being around all the fabric. She taught me how to make small bags and purses.

How has your aesthetic developed since you started selling scarves?

I've noticed I really lean towards textured fabrics. Along the way I also added my leather tag which now I wouldn't make anything without.  

Have you considered branching out, and selling other accessories or clothing?

Yup, I actually have sold a few leather bags. I've thought about clothing, and I might eventually.

Where can people buy your scarves exactly?

Viens Avec Moi, house of clothing, Ottawa

Schad, Ottawa

Schad Blu (in the fall, men's) Ottawa

Belanger & Martin(s) boul.  St.Laurent , Montreal

Now, since you are a little more experienced in the field, where specifically do you find your inspiration?

I just trust the fabric I like more. At first I was trying to think what other people would like, but I've learned that what I like, other people usually will too.  I don't know if I find inspiration, I find fabrics and textures that I can see something with.

What sort of environment do you enjoy working in?

A space with a lot of open room. Fabric takes up a lot of space and you need to be able to lay everything out. I would love a huge loft with a lot of windows, as I currently work in my basement studio. I'm always playing music while I work too, keeps me in a good mood.

How many hours a week would you say you spend sewing?

Right now probably 10.. on various projects. In the fall it was probably 15-20 hours.

Is there an overall theme that you can relate your work to?

Probably just classic style. I am not too trendy and love the classic fabrics; wool, plaid tweed, lace, linen.

Who is your biggest influence?

My biggest influence is a close friend and mentor who has really taught me to look at life from a 'why not' perspective.  Nothing is outside anyone's reach.  

What are your goals for K & N in the foreseeable future?

I would like to expand just the Fall/ Winter 2013 scarf collection into multiple cities. Eventually I'd like to add other products but it's more important to me to do one product well and see it grow, than create a whole collection but it not really go anywhere.

If you are interested in more information, visit  Krista Norris' designs

3 Best Vintage Boutiques


Montreal exhibits some of the most fashionable people in Canada. It's their 'je ne sais quoi' of trying to look like you're not trying that is just so charming. So where do these fashionistas shop? Aside from clothing exchanges, their parent's closets and value village--they shop at Montreal's finest vintage stores. I've only lived here for 5 years and I can tell you [coming from Ottawa] Montreal has amazing vintage shopping. Therefore, I'm going to write a review of what I believe the top 3 vintage stores in Montreal are.

Eva B

Eva B and its endless possibilities are located on St. Laurent Street just below Montreal's artistic plateau. Beyond the ragged door and unwelcoming entrance rest a world of past, present, future; fictional and non-fictional. Even if you're not a vintage-junkie in particular, this shop is a must-see for tourists who want to get a glimpse of what Monteal is all about. Most people stumble upon this hidden gem because they are looking for a Halloween costume, but if you aren't afraid to dig through the massive piles of clothing and cluttered racks, Eva B also offers incredible vintage jackets, boots, art, jeans and clothing.

But Eva B doesn't stop at retail! If you get tired of digging through the racks of clothing, you can take a break and sip some coffee at the bistro bar and appreciate the decorations which are unfortunately not all for sale [including the phenomenal red lamp resting on the bar].

What most people don't know about Eva B, they also offer rented spaces for events as well as a stage. Its multi-leveled and dimensional offerings garner its varying range of customers who stem from all artistic subcultures Montreal offers.

Eva B is undoubtedly a great place to look for a Halloween costume during the spooky season as they cover just about every era that you can imagine. What's great about this store is that you don't have to commit to the costume by purchasing it; you rent the costume for a much lower price. So if you're searching for theatrical, medieval, tu -tus, Victorian wear, fetish, retro or futuristic, Eva B is the place to go.  

Friperie St. Laurent



A much more tamed environment, located on the corner of St. Laurent and Duluth is a classic vintage stop called the Friperie [another word for second hand). This quality vintage store is a little more pretentious insofar as their prices and what they carry specifically. The Friperie collects street wear a well as costumes that are also worn as street wear by some of its customers. There is more of a 'hipster' feel in this shop but you can find anything there from letterman jackets, leather backpacks, wallets, vests and Levi's jeans. Essentially, they carry anything that does not go out of style, catering to 40s 50s, 60s, 70s fashion as well as more contemporary pieces which rest at the back of the store. A must see for vintage-lovers who are shopping for original clothing kept in the best quality.

Les Folles Alliées

As you keep moving your way up the mountain, you can find Les Folles Alliees, located in close proximity of the Mount Royal metro, in the heart of the plateau. This vintage hotspot is similar to Eva B in that it also caters to the theatricals and medieval by carrying classical Victorian pieces such as corsets, hats and dresses. What I love the most about this spot is their amazing selection of jewelry and accessories. If you're a vintage accessories lover like myself, you will fall in love with this boutique. They carry hats, shoes, scarves, knit knacks and elegantly timeless jewelry. Alongside their accessories lie their well-kept vintage pieces that range from a cowgirls closet in the 70s to a Chanel lover's closet from the 1850s. A must see for thrift shoppers willing to spend a little more money for good quality vintage.

Montreal for Outsiders


Montreal has a reputation. It's sin city. It's the party girl that stays up all night with smeared mascara and perfect hair. It's European without being European at all. It's corrupt but you love the corruption. It's Canada's Gotham and it's run by mafia and motorcycle gangs. And I love living here. For its grimness Montreal as a city waxes pure elegance in its writers, artists, and people. There's no way to narrow down the style and energy, Ok yeah, there's total eurotrash whatever, but people don't wear sweatpants or sneakers here. There is a sense of pride in putting yourself together because everyone on the street is going to openly check you out (which is totally creepy so wear sunglasses).

In Montreal there is a sudden energy as soon as the sun comes out around mid-May and everybody is suddenly naked. And proud and somehow nut brown. Old Montreal starts to bustle with tourists ogling the inches of skin as much as they are the brilliantly preserved architecture. There is a sense of community within the city. Sure everyone hates each other and there's social turmoil sometimes but there is a spirit here that I haven't seen anywhere else. So come visit.


-All the signs are in French. So if you get a ticket or need to talk to nay authority figure they'll hate you for being Anglo. Probably.

-Avoid hockey game weekends-there's too much pride

-Dress in layers. The metro is 1000 degrees, and it's probably -40 outside

-It takes twice as long to get anywhere from anywhere but sometimes only 10 minutes. Plan ahead.

-The village isn't as big as Toronto's, but the gay community doesn't give a fuck

-Cops don't care: Hide your weed but don't stress. Cops are more worried about the hundreds of bikers getting knocked by cars and people getting chopped up

-If you find a Quebecois accent sexy you are a stronger woman than me

-If you don't jay walk people will give you dirty looks

-Everyone will give you dirty looks



Depanneurs and grocery stores can sell alcohol until 11pm but can only sell less than 20% alcohol. Stick to SAQ for wine and the hard stuff and Deps for beer. Some are cheaper than other and Dep wine is just swill but its ok in a pinch.

Last Call is 3AM. Chyea.


If you're not staying on someone's couch or spare room there are great small hotels. Look into staying in the Old Port if you can afford it. The Stones stay at the Hotel Nelligan.

Eating and Going Out

Plateau/ Mile-End

The Mile-End/ Plateau area was the original art/hipstery stomping ground for years but they're slowly trickling south. This is "the main"  rue St. Laurent traditionally divided the city in West and East, English and French. This is where you want to party and where you want to eat.

You must have a Montreal bagel. They are denser, chewier and sweeter than New York bagels thanks to a dip in honey water. Fairmont and St. Viateur are long standing competitors. Make a meal out of it and check out Bagels etc (4320, boul Saint-Laurent) Leonard Cohen's version of thug mansion or Beauty's (93, av du Mont-Royal O,) for a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel and to drown your hangover in endless cups of coffee. If you're starting off a little healthier Au Vivre (4631, boul Saint-Laurent) makes a mean vegan breakfast on the weekends.

Wander over to Mount Royal for an afternoon hike, walk or run depending on your pace and footwear. The park was designed by the same planner as Central park and is gorgeously maintained all year. If you're lucky enough to visit on a summer Sunday prepare yourself for hundred person drum gathering that is tam tams, acrobats and LARP (Live Action Role Playing) which is exactly like that movie with Stifler from American Pie in it and everyone makes their own swords. There is obviously plenty of shopping too. Avoid downtown's St. Catherine which is basically Queen West and walk up st Laurent and east across Mont-Royal for vintage and boutiques.

For dinner try Big in Japan (3723, boul Saint-Laurent) for ramen and pork buns at 2am with a $4 beer. Icehouse (51 Rue Roy E) for Southern Food, fried avocado tacos, and bourbon lemonades that are well-known confidence boosters and pantyremovers. Nouveau Palais (281 Rue Bernard Ouest) is a bar with a crazy good menu (burgers and cheese fries) and their late night menu is always over the top. If you have money to burn and a caveman brain Au Pied de Cochon (536 Avenue Duluth Est) is it for pig heads, foie gras poutine, and leaving with a busted gut.

Le Petit Idee Fixe (4857, Av Du Parc,)is my favorite dive bar. Buy a 50 (a huge beer) and watch the grizzled salty bartender he starts to smoke at 2am; killer jukebox too. If you want to dance St. Laurent has everything but all the hot lesbians are at Royal Phoenix (5788 St-Laurent Bvd.) and the hoards have followed. Great DJ sets

Smoked meat is great anytime but especially at 3am when you're getting starry and shiny-eyed over French fry grease. The Schwartz's (3895 Saint-Laurent Boul) vs. The Main (3864 Saint Laurent Boul) splits Montrealers almost as much as bagels and politicians. I'm team Main. Get medium fat with fries and a black cherry pop. Heaven. And don't even front because the best poutine is at La Banquise (994 Rue Rachel Est). If you're gross (or me) get it with hot dogs.


If you're looking to save your pennies Amelio's (201 Rue Milton) has the best pizza ever. There are no reservations and you have to line up in the snow but it's so worth it. Get the white pizza. BYOB and Montreal has no corking fees. ;)

Get a coffee at Cafe Myriad (1432 Rue Mackay) that houses art students from Concordia University in troves and with good reason. It's some of the best coffee in the city. If you need something strong Dominion Square Tavern (1243 rue Metcalfe) has breath-taking cocktails, every whiskey you can imagine and 1920s décor to relax into.


Griffintown/St Henri

St. Henri is one of those areas that is being harkened as the new neighborhood. It 's a gorgeous area near the water that was previously ignored. For falling off the bone barbecue try Le Boucan (1886 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest) . I'm a fan girl and saw one of the chefs from Joe Beef (2491 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest) last weel and literally flipped my shit and fell a little and didn't even say hi. Joe Beef is what food is now. And if you want to run into me frantically pounding on a keyboard and lusting after gluten drop by Café St. Henri (3632 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest). If you're in this area you absolutely must visit the Atwater Market. I find it much more accessible and less overwhelming than Jean-Talon.

Old Port

Give yourself an afternoon to bike or walk along the canal and explore the old parts of city. Montreal was a trading post and it's buildings and architecture reach back hundreds of years. Tour cobblestone streets but beware of tourist trap trash French restaurants. Old Montreal and Old Port are mega bucks if you're looking to party or just grab a bite. For food and ambience Le Bremnier (361 Rue Saint Paul Est) is the sister restaurant to Food network droolfest chuck Hughes' Garde Manger and I think it's waay better. Velvet (426 Rue Saint Gabriel ) has a stone grotto coke den hallway and it's where you'll find any touring DJs or overdressed trash of the week depending on the night,


Montreal is famous for its festivals and they go nonstop all year. Start off the new Year with Igloofest which runs for three weekends in January its house and electronic outdoors on the canal and everyone's in snowpants. In February the city goes crazy for Nuit Blanche. Buses are free and people are still shaking glitter out their hair as they make their way home at 9am. The summer boasts weekly Picnik Electronik daytime DJs in parc Jean Drapeau every Sunday all summer long. In July check out Jazzfest and Just for Laughs. Osheaga is exploding with guests last year like A$AP Rocky and M83 and headliners like Snoop Dogg.

Practise your French curse words and hop in a car.

Rebirth of Crochet & Knitting


Someone who has taken the art of crochet to an entirely new aesthetic is 2007 Concordia University graduate, Arielle De Pinto, who introduced chain-crochet to the contemporary world of art and fashion. Arielle has made a name for herself internationally with her unique and self-taught aesthetic, which started merely out of curiosity and boredom. Now, her accessories have been spotted in both VOGUE and the red carpet. De Pinto's limitless ambition proves the evolution of crocheting is significant in that it paints a picture of the evolution of creativity, femininity and fashion. Women are always trying to reinvent themselves with fashion and beauty. Waking up in the morning as a blank canvas, we paint ourselves with the clothing and accessories that we own, that's fashion. We have the ability to turn something dull into something beautiful, which is exactly what Arielle De Pinto does with her metal work.

If you're interested click here for Arielle De Pinto's designs

There are many discrepancies in terms of the origins of crochet and knitting; however, the earliest evidence of the craft in action is its popularity in Europe during the 19th century. Machine spun cotton thread became widely available and inexpensive in Europe and North America after the invention of the cotton gin and the spinning jenny, displacing hand spun linen for many uses. The simple pleasure of creating a unique piece of clothing is a therapy many of our grandmothers have taught us or tried to- and also a representation of fine dedication and delicacy.

The knitting aesthetic has taken on new formations and its development has transformed into a modern yet thrifty, hip hobby. Another example is VogueKnitting; a quarterly publication just under 25 years old, whose aim is to give 'the ultimate knitting experience.' The VK magazine has a variety of patterns and charts where anyone between advanced beginners and advanced knitters can knit vogue patterns in the comfort of their own home. This concept takes knitting to a new platform and with a high-end name such as Vogue attached to it; the image of knitting has shifted.  

Crochet has developed into an art with a variety of methods, formations and fabrics, along with fashion. People are crocheting lace, linen, wool, satin, metal etc. Just the same as how we wear all of these fabrics for clothing accessories. Thankfully, for the development of fashion, we have the liberty to wear practically any material that we can possibly crochet or sew.  Crochet has always been a great creative outlet for women [now for men as well], and it's become a much easier hobby to access as the cost of fabric is not as expensive as it once was.

Zellars is a great spot to purchase cheap yarn and needles. Here are some other suggestions to get you started if you want to get in the mix with crocheting.

Mouline is an awesome shop in the Mcgill ghetto, with knowledgable staff and cheap yarn

Effiloche is a little more expensive, but it offers quality fabrics, yarn and workshops.

Espace Tricot is another great spot to learn how to knit the Monkland Village.

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