the leather laptop bag is done!

leather laptop bag3

The leather laptop bag is finished. This is the first time I have worked with oily pull-up leather and it is both beautiful and challenging. I love the finish–it has a great look and feel and will wear well. The challenge comes because of its heft–sewing this was a real physical experience, especially turning it inside out. The bag has a minimalist look, simple lines, simple pockets and simple hardware. It is designed to carry a 14″ laptop as well as the other things you need for your work day.

It has a finished leather strap with vintage buckle and leather shoulder protector. It also has a front buckle closure, a quick grab handle and inside key ring. There are two outside pockets and one inside as well as a waxed canvas compartment with knob closure for the computer. Overall measurements 18″ x 12″ x 4″. It is shown here with a 13″ macbook.
leather laptop bag back

leather laptop bag int

lather laptop bag4

leather laptopbag

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a new all-leather messenger bag

I’ve been working on a new messenger bag for the last little while. It is designed to hold a large macbook and the other essentials needed for the work day. The bag is made of beautiful heavy leather which stands on its own. Hardware and design details are simple and understated. It has a double bottom and three pockets, two outside and one inside, and a front buckle closure. Still to come is the leather shoulder strap with a buckle adjustment. Every step of the way has been a big learning , but it is finally coming together. Next time you check, it will, I hope,  be ready for action.
leather messenger bag 1

leather messenger bag 2

Inside is a brown waxed canvas compartment with a knob closure for the laptop. This photo also gives a good view of my label which I made with the new birdbrain branding iron. leather messenger bag 3


hooking: a wonderful surprise

Today I received five pieces of hooking from Matangwe, Kenya. Those of you who follow this blog know that I spent my February in Matangwe from 2012 until 2015 teaching the women to hook rugs. I knew that the women with whom I had worked had the skills to make great rugs and I hoped that they would continue to produce high quality pieces of work on their own. Their lives are not easy and they have much work to take up their time. So I was delighted to receive a few pieces today and I hope that the women will continue to hook so that other volunteers will bring more pieces back. Every piece sold in the gallery last year and there will be much interest in these new pieces.

The colours and designs are wonderful, evoking the Kenyan countryside.zebra hooking

floral hooking

house hooking

camel hooking


rug hooking: Annie update

annie april 21 16

This section and a small spot in the top right corner for the bird signature are all I have left to hook–about two days’ worth. However…before I have even finished, I’ve become obsessed with correcting some of the very early loops. Now that I have a view of the whole I can see where some of the early sections are jarring. I began the rug with the quotation at either end, hooking in circles with an off-the-bolt mid-blue stripe and adding strips of similar colour and value. From there I had the idea of moving into green and then back to blue in the centre as I hooked around the 65 houses. The ends of the rug with the quotation are quieter, but I still want it all  to work as a whole.

The rug taught me as I went along how to make a smooth transition from colour to colour while keeping an interesting pattern of circles. I learned that smaller circles are better, as well as staying within a close value range. As I look at the whole nearly-completed rug, I realize that the first transition in colour below the quotations is to0 defined. I can see the divide between colours like a line across the rug. So I’ve been ripping out and re-hooking, trying to make a seamless transition from colour to colour.

This rug has been three years in the making, not non-stop hooking by any means, but always in my mind. So it is fine that it is taking a little longer. I am learning as I go. After all, the rug is about how we live our lives.  And imagine how long it will take to whip! I am sure to be devoting many evening hours on the cottage porch this summer to that little task. For an overview of the progress of this 5’x7′ somewhat biographical rug, just type Annie in the search box.

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a little sketching road trip

old train station

Last week I went on a little road trip. I started at the train station in my city. This is a view outside from the new monstrosity to one of my favourite buildings–the original 1856 Grand Trunk station. It is standing empty now, but luckily protected as a heritage site. I got the drawing done standing looking out the window, and then had to hurry to catch the train–using the two elevators (!) where we used to be able to just step outside. I added the paint later. goderich library

This sketch if from day two of the trip. We drove to north-west Goderich on the shores of Lake Huron and in the late afternoon sunshine we leaned against  the car and sketched this imposing 1905 Carnegie Library. There are many towers in Goderich and I was able to sketch a few others. We had a week of beautiful spring weather and by Friday I could sit outside to sketch. I’ll post more sketches of the trip later this week.


those birds again

wonky bird apronI bought this coated cotton fabric in Dublin last fall. The delightful birds still make me smile, every time I look at them. I’ve made a dozen pouches out of the fabric (there is only one left in the on-line store).  And there was just enough left to make a couple of aprons and a tote or two. Here is the first one–it will wipe clean and has cotton ties with an adjustable neck band.


zippered travel pouches

I’ve had a couple of requests for coated cotton pouches for travel. I spent an afternoon this week using up some remnants to make a few small makeup bags, big enough for a tooth brush and other travel essentials, but compact enough to fit in your tote. And to give a boost of colour!

april pouches

From the left two striped coated cotton from Chartres, one with a lime zipper one with a cobalt one. Then two magenta flying birds with cobalt and fuchsia zippers and then I could not resist two more wonky birds. The wonky birds are lined with water-resistant orange waxed canvas. The remaining are lined with crisp blue and white striped canvas. A few of these will be in the shop very soon.

2 chartres pouches

fuchsia bird pouches


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.

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