gearing up


Things are gearing up in the studio. First, a photo of  Carissa modelling the PT backpack in action. This bag flips easily from back to shoulder. It is great for getting to work on your bike and then transforming into a more business-like shoulder bag when there. At 11″ wide and 10″ tall with a base of 5″, we think it is big enough to hold all your essentials. Carissa, an important part of the design team, is testing out this new bag and from there we will refine the details.

Below is the first spate of mittens. Making these is one of my favourites, combining the textures and colours to come up with each pair. My studio right now is strewn with sweater pieces as I search for the perfect combo of weight, pattern and colour. As always, these are 100% wool–recycled sweaters on the outside and recycled scarves on the inside. Cozy and colourful–perfect for the fall and winter winds around the corner.

mittens sept 30


3 prs mittens

mittens 3

mittens 2


small town sketching

walton st
It was a very cool Friday morning when I went to meet a friend in Port Hope. While I was waiting, I sat on a steel chair outside a cafe and sketched the buildings across the street. I was wearing my arm warmers for the first time this season and still was shivering. However, this building pulled me in; I was struck by its perfect symmetry, six brick columns encasing ten casement windows. I’ve said before that this is what keeps me sketching old buildings, actually seeing such history and design when you look up. The street-side windows reveal the sorry state of small town downtowns–and Port Hope is surviving much better than many–but the glories are still there if you just look up.

I wrote about this sketch the day I did it, over a week ago–and was delighted when I read Liz Steele’s description of her workshop in Brazil to hear her express much the same sentiments…

Trusting your own personal response to a building is far more important when sketching architecture than achieving absolutely accurate proportions or perfect perspective. I don’t think so much about the bricks and mortar as I do the skill that designed and put it all together. The act of sketching becomes more than just observing an inanimate object – it generates an exciting personal connection with the mind (and often genius) of the original creator and even the culture of a different era.

I am thrilled that Liz is offering an online course, Sketching Now FoundationsI know there is a danger to doing too many courses–and Sketchbook Skool Storytelling starts this Friday–but I’ve long been hoping that Liz would offer an online course and I can’t wait. It is her set of lessons in Sketchbook Skool that I refer to most often. I like her approach and her subject matter.

Here is another sketch from that day in Port Hope, a set of row houses dating from 1845.

port hope row houses

Last Friday we were in Kingston for the Writersfest (highly recommended!) and I had time to sit in the park and sketch the City Hall, one of my favourite buildings. This day, so unlike the week before, was warm and sunny and outside sketching was perfect. Kingston has many tourists and on such a beautiful day many stopped to talk and even photograph the sketch. kingston ch


september at the lake

near turtle islandThe fall is my favourite season and this year we have been having a month of perfect weather in Ontario. Because there have been no winds or rain, the leaves are still on the trees. And the sight is magnificent. I was exploring the back bays of our lake in the kayak over the past few days. And really, no matter what time of day, and no matter what direction I faced, the views on the lake were spectacular.

I am reading The Rise and Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman. Almost all my time, apart from paddling on the lake, was spent with it. It is a wide-ranging and captivating tale, one I recommend you try. It has lots to say about family ties, friendship and survival–and it has one or two characters to add to your lifetime list of favourites.

lake w 2

lake wes dawn

new moon


the full-time backpack

ft backpack 2

I’ve been thinking of making  a full-time backpack for some time–and here is the first one. It is made from the loveliest black pebbly leather which had a former life as a large man’s winter jacket. I like to look for a long time at the pieces of leather once I have the garment cut apart and let it direct the design. I used the top of the sleeve to make the wonky zippered pocket on the front  and the rest fell into place. Inside it is lined with bright red cotton and has three pockets, a birdbrain canvas zip and slip and a leather phone pocket. It has adjustable straps which are thick enough to be comfortable even if the bag is full. High quality hardware including a European zipper adds to the simple elegance of the bag.

12″ wide, 11.5″ tall and 3.5 ” deep.

ft backpack 3

FT backpack 1

full time back pack 5

ft backpack int


the part-time back pack

I have been wanting to make a back pack for some time. This is the first, and while it is a backpack, it can also be worn, by shifting the straps, as a cross-body bag.  It is made of some beautiful leather, a green-bronze pebble. I think you would wear this bag mostly as cross-body–it is a great shape and sits easily on your hip.  But if you were going on a bike, or needed hands free, you could quickly convert it into a backpack. Very handy, very versatile. Big enough to carry all you need.




The PT (part-time) is 11″ wide, 10″ tall and has a base of 5″. It has a double leather base, is lined in striped cotton canvas and has a zippered exterior pocket and two interior slip pockets, a leather one for your phone or passport and a larger one in birdbrain canvas. Durable metal zippers and hardware. A perfect every day bag.

This is the beginning of my backpack explorations. I’m going to try my hand at a bigger one soon–no conversion just a full-time backpack. I have some recycled black pebbly leather that I think would be perfect. This is new territory for me, but that is what keeps it interesting.ptbpint


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sketching around town

highland houseWe have been having some cool sunny weather so I have been out on my bike with my sketching equipment. I was on my way to the waterfront when I saw this old beauty. This is the side view. I was able to set my stool up on the grassy shoulder of the side street and sketch away. I am still working on shadows. I need to do them in stages rather than a dark blob. I took a workshop with Marc Holmes in  Montreal last year and he talked about building washes in layers of tea, milk and honey. Recently he included a ‘cheat sheet‘ explaining this process which he invited blog readers to share. It’s worth downloading and checking out for sure.

Below is a quick cartoony sketch of the waterfront. I’ve decided this Fabriano sketchbook is not for me. I don’t like its size and the quality of the paper does not take washes well. But I’m sticking with it until I finish the last page–and it is encouraging me to experiment because I really don’t care how many pages I use at a time. I’m already eyeing the large Moleskine that I used for the Quebec trip. I have two trips coming in October and it will be in my travel sketching kit for sure.bayshoreAnd finally, today’s sketch. After going to the market, I sat on the bench in front of City Hall and did a quick sketch of a corner of the Jamieson Bone building. It is a lovely stone and yellow brick structure with wonderful details. Given my city’s record of knocking down historic buildings, we are very very lucky it is still standing for us to admire.jamieson bone


more waxed canvas — the cayenne/olive tote

This tote is made from the same olive waxed canvas as yesterday’s sac–but this time combined with a pinch of hot cayenne.  This is a large durable tote, waxed canvas and leather on the outside and canoe canvas on the interior. It would be a great diaper bag, book tote or travel tote and will be noticed wherever you take it. It has an adjustable strap in olive leather, a double leather bottom with ‘feet’ and high quality hardware including a metal zipper. Inside there is a phone and ipad pocket on the one side and slip/zip pocket on the other. Outside there is a slip pocket with birdbrain appliqué.

Height 15″. width 15″ and depth 5.5″.wc tote 1

cayenne waxed canvas tote

wcan tote int

wcan tote int 2


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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