Category Archives: Making Things

What Are You Working on These Days?

My dear friend Victoria Goddard tagged me in a Work-in-Progress Blog Tour, which offers me an excuse to talk about what I’m currently writing. But first, you should read the tantalizing first chapter of Victoria’s latest, posted on her blog, The Rose and Phoenix Inn. Victoria is an amazing prose stylist and builder of wondrous […]

Pretty Pictures I Found While Writing My Book

To tell the truth, some of these are pictures that I didn’t need to consult, as they show places I know well that made their way into the story: Victoria College, where I was an undergraduate; Annesley Hall, where I lived for three years; the Epitome Apartments, where I lived some years later. Others are […]

The Work of Our Hands

This is a long overdue stab at distilling my thoughts from Maundy Thursday, when my lace handiwork was put to use. The picture above shows the Altar of Repose before the service, when I was able to surreptitiously bring my phone into the church to photograph it. You have to imagine the candlelight! Somewhere toward […]

Whether Angels Knit

Since childhood I have had a collection of angel Christmas ornaments, and I think that’s part of the reason why I have always had a minor fascination with different depictions of angels. And I have written before about my fondness for lace knitting. So you can imagine that my interest was piqued when I saw […]

How to Make a Giant Calendar

I love practical how-to posts, so I thought I would share how I made something useful recently. I want to emphasize that word, “useful,” because Martha Stewart this ain’t. Last year I found a really interesting calendar at Hanji, my favourite paper shop. It showed the entire year printed on a single large page, with […]

It’s Not Writer’s Block

I was setting down my bag and my drink at one corner of a large communal table in a Dark Horse espresso bar. A man of about my father’s age came over and asked me for help logging into the free wi-fi. We compared settings on our iPhones (I know, this story is ridiculous—please bear […]

Lace Knitting, Thorns, and Creative Callings

I’m working on a lace knitting project. It’s large and complicated, but not especially difficult; to understand the distinction, if you’re not a knitter, think of a recipe that involves a large number of ingredients, takes a long time to prepare, but doesn’t require any great technical feats of knife work or pastry handling. It’s […]


What is this “scratch” that you make things out of, anyway? Apparently the expression derives from a sporting term, referring to “a competitor who receives no odds” (which, in my dim understanding of this sort of situation, is a good thing). The OED defines “from scratch” as “from a position of no advantage, knowledge, influence, […]

Making From Scratch

Recently I made a small foray into a new craft. I came across a beautiful paper shop in the Korean shopping district not far from my house, and discovered that they offered lessons in book-making. I spent an enjoyable hour and a half putting together a little notebook covered in yellow mulberry-fibre paper, with a […]