sketching at the Tett in Kingston

Yesterday I was in Kingston to meet my son for lunch at the Juniper Cafe in the Tett Centre. I love this spot, right on the shore of Lake Ontario. And I love having an hour to spend with my son. After he went back to work, I stood on the main level and sketched this from the huge window there. The building is the old Morton distillery, a limestone structure from the mid 19th Century. The site is now home to all sorts of creative types. It's a wonderful space in the heart of the city--a great place to spend an afternoon.


Family Day Tulips

Today is Family Day in Ontario and we were lucky to have all our family home on the weekend. These tulips were painted during a brief respite in the activities--in celebration of family and the joy of having them all together for a little while.


Ton Tribute: another hooked mat

Here is another little mat done in the style inspired by Ton Schulten. I put a grid on the linen this time to help with the design. Hooking in this style is a great lesson in composition--lights/darks and brights/dulls. I didn't leave room for borders on the sides as I was hooking on a small piece of backing--a mistake. I also tried varying the sky in colour blocks, but it seemed in this small space that it overpowered the designs. Next steps: I think this style would work well for a pillow. I like the quirky geometric pattern and the pops of colour. Enough 'sketches' for now.  I'm taking a fresh piece of linen and planning out a larger rectangular design. I'll show you when I have it on the backing.        


thinking of spring–a new cross-body Keller bag

We are dealing with the aftermath of a big ice storm in Southern Ontario--but in my studio, I'm thinking of spring. I'm working on new Keller bags in beautiful blue-green leathers. Here is the first one: it has a generous zipper pocket on the front and inside a large canvas pocket with birdbrain graphics and a large leather pocket for your phone. The lining is my favourite Kenyan cotton--layers of turquoise, green and black circles and triangles. The bag is a great size for everyday use: 11" tall, 12" wide and 4" deep. It has durable metal zippers and a double leather bottom so it is ready for all your carrying needs. This bag and others will be in the online shop next week.


hooked landscape sketch and the memory of Ineke Berlyn

ts3Sometimes an idea for a project swirls around in my head for years before it comes to fruition. Here is the beginning--a small mat I've just finished, inspired by the work of Ton Schulten. I've been thinking about this for a long time. My wedding rug, completed in 2012 was a start. But for this one, I set out to understand his use of colour and value and to learn how I could take this into rug hooking. The impetus now for this piece is a project for a study group where I am to hook a larger piece inspired by his style. This is the first 'sketch'. But there is a sad note to all of this today. In the process of learning about Schulten's colour block style, I discovered the work of quilter Ineke Berlyn. Her book, Landscape in  Contemporary Quilts, which I bought and read in 2009, describes her discovery of Schulten's work and her journey to creating landscape quilts based on the style of his paintings, "a bright picture-postcard centre...offset against shades getting darker towards the borders." (p.25) I loved the pieces Ineke created and followed her development of the style on her blog. It was with sadness that I saw today that Ineke died just yesterday. I encourage you to visit her blog and look at the many online images of her work. It's amazing how we form bonds with other textile artists online, and although we have never met them, feel so saddened by the passing of their creative light.


new pouches in the store

I made a little pouch to send in the mail as a thank you and I liked it so much I continued making a few more. These are made of great leather in either red or teal with corresponding hearts sewn on the front. Inside they are lined in 100% cotton. These make a great little case for your phone, cards or other essentials. In the online store today.hearts 3a hearts 3 red heart pouches



I was away last week in an idyllic place. It was a perfect spot to hide away from world events. While there I worked on the small hooking below of another favourite retreat, our small island cottage. These small hookings I have been doing lately are like sketches done in preparation for a larger piece, investigations of colour, texture, composition and materials. This cottage piece has loopy shiny yarn and small pieces of painted velvet which I cut into strips. Translucence.jeckyll island cottage sketch 1 I am back home now in the grey, soggy, climate-changed January of my city. And I am retreating again, this time to my basement studio with my sewing machines and bins of leather. I know I can't hide from what is happening, that attention is required, but I also know that my sanity comes from these quiet places of creativity. And maybe some new creations. studio jan 2017


I am a retired educator and recovered administrator. I have always been interested in fibre, first as a weaver, now as a rug hooker and screen printer. Over the last few years I have become passionate about giving a new life to cast-off wool and leather. This is my journal where I muse about my creative life.

Available in Store

Follow birdbrain via email