a peek inside the fishbowl

13 Nov, 2017

Gifts for people who have everything, part 1: a special pair of mittens

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Oh! Things!

Last weekend I went on a girls-only expedition to the All Saints Catholic High School Craft Fair in Kanata. This particular craft fair was new to me and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Well, as we approached the school I realized there were an awful lot of cars lining the road and more than a few pedestrians coming to and fro. In fact, the school parking lot was overflowing. Ah ha. Clearly, this was going to be a biggie.

The school gym was packed with vendors, as was the cafeteria, main hallway, and the front foyer. There were people selling all kinds of giftie things one would expect at a craft fair at this point in the season: home baking, all kinds of knitted goods, Christmas ornaments, jewelry, home decor, art, soaps and bath salts, jams and jellies and salsa and hot sauces. And that’s just scratching the surface! There was a lady selling double-sided cloth napkins that were shaped like Christmas trees; someone else selling homemade dog treats that sold out before we even got there; rows of lovely woven blankets made out of yak fur (is it yak fur, or hair?); personalized backpacks for kids; walking sticks carved out of branches; intricate pop up cards – hundreds and hundreds of items – the majority of which were handmade by someone here in Ottawa.

The one thing I was looking for didn’t seem to be there: doggy bandanas. (Piper needs to upgrade her wardrobe!) I think I will try my hand at sewing my own instead. However, I didn’t go home totally empty-handed:

new mittens!

I bought mittens! These ones come with a bit of backstory. You see, I’ve been looking for this particular vendor for YEARS. About ten years ago, the maker of these mittens had a booth at our school’s holiday craft fair. I bought a pair at that time and they’ve been my favourite mittens to this day. I liked the traditional Nordic-style pattern, and thanks to a tighter weave, they’re warm yet breathable, which prevents mitten sweats. Basically, they are a Very Fine Mitten.

So you can imagine my surprise when I spotted the mitten lady in Kanata at the All Saints Fair. Now I know that my old mittens (and my new mittens, above) are made by MAGS Knitting. (They’re on Facebook too!) I’m pretty sure they thought I was a little nutty because I practically pounced on their pile of mittens when I spotted them. After I calmed down we had a good chat about Quality Mittens. So of course, I had to buy another pair.

I bought these for myself but I think they’d make a great gift. Is there such a thing as too many quality mittens? I think not. Warm hands are a gift that keeps giving!

As I wandered the 150+ tables it occurred to me that if people are serious about shopping locally, well, it doesn’t get more local than this. Admission to this particular craft fair was $2 or a donation of non-perishable food. Food donations go to the food bank and the money goes to Christmas Hampers for families in need, right here in Ottawa. Beyond that, craft fair purchases support local entrepreneurs, crafters, and artisans, whether it’s their full-time occupation, retirement income, or side gig. Whether you like to shop locally for environmental reasons or economic ones, or maybe you just like a nice pair of mittens, I urge you to drop by your local church or school holiday craft fair this season. Who knows what great stuff you will find there.


8 Responses to "Gifts for people who have everything, part 1: a special pair of mittens"

1 | Jennifer Jilke

November 14th, 2017 at 8:19 am


It’s pretty easy to shop locally! These are lovely!

2 | TD

November 14th, 2017 at 10:16 am


There is a crafter who I think the name is Gift Gear that sells lots of different doggie products (bandanas, poop bag holders, etc) Not sure what craft shows she is doing this fall, but I expect she is around. She is based in the east end.

3 | LJ

November 14th, 2017 at 12:10 pm


Just wanted to let you know that there’s another great, huge craft fair coming up December 2 from 10-3 at Immaculata HS. It’s called Mac Fair, it’s been running for years and it’s a fantastic show (120+ vendors). The really great thing is how involved the students are – they help organize, prepare, set up, and run the show on the day of the event. It’s all for fantastic causes as well. http://www.macfaircrafts.ca for more info. :)

4 | andrea tomkins

November 16th, 2017 at 10:40 am


Good to know. Thanks!

6 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive Gifts for people who have everything, part 2: Gifts that help break the cycle of poverty - a peek inside the fishbowl

November 24th, 2017 at 4:26 pm


[…] should backtrack a bit. Part 1 of this mini-series about gift giving was about mittens, but it was about more than mittens… it was about supporting hyperlocal businesses at a […]

7 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive Gifts for people who have everything part 4: DINNER. - a peek inside the fishbowl

December 5th, 2017 at 3:21 pm


[…] this mini-series about gifts for people who have everything I’ve written about mittens, giftie things that make the world a better place from Me to We, and air plants. Today, I am […]

8 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive Gifts for people who have everything, part 6: A wee gadget that might be the tiniest bit insulting - a peek inside the fishbowl

December 17th, 2017 at 12:55 pm


[…] month I’ve mentioned a few items that might make that special someone a nice Christmas gift: mittens, gifts that help break the cycle of poverty, an air plant, home cooked meals made via Supperworks, […]

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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