'Thoughtful, sensitive, spiritual, alternative'

Stitched silver birch on cover. At dusk, a walker through a wood can navigate a way by the treeshine from the gleaming silver birch. Then keep private the thoughts of your journey with leather ties, folded handmade paper, hidden tucks, net, felt, and secured pages. The waxed paper stitched into the front cover is a memory paper. I'll tell you its secret when we meet.


Memories of the sea

Rockpools, sands, curious, delightful, surprising details, rubbing against your fingertips.

Or wrapping blue leather, soft, wind-beaten, with shells, picked from beaches far away.


Design inspirations: therapy

Here's a tale. Running a drop-in workshop making journey books, a woman came to me and said they were terrifically pretty, what are they for?

I explained how the journey you stitch into the book is one you can take literally, or metaphorically. You can walk about the gardens, or walk about your mind, or your soul, or your heart, or the places of your recollections and childhood. Whatever it is that makes you, you.

As you walk, think, choose, stick, write, you build a story of a moment. You need never put your name on your journey book. If you wish, you can hang your story from the branch of a tree and watch it spin and dance in the wind. Any passer-by can read it. Anyone might take your book, follow your steps, walk in your shoes and for a moment, they might know an altogether different you.

She spent two hours making a book, walking about the gardens, thinking, choosing her words carefully, making a journey that didn't have an ending or a beginning. Peeking over her shoulder, catching a glimpse of her words, I was glad she could take the opportunity.

She is a person I keep in my head, and she is the reason why I make the books always with spaces for reflection and quiet consideration.

Design inspirations: twistings & transgressions

Yes, I want to explore many design ideas! Many are given to me by way of commissions and requests. Like the one for teenage becoming, please supply in girly pink.

You don't get sweeter than strawberry bonbons, pink net, and soft ostrich leather (Hong Kong acquired offcut from Dior!).

I enjoyed making these limited pieces, yes I did, and they hit the craft stall ready to choose, soon.

But there exists that ugly, unruly, submerged part of my id. You know the one. The one who cannot pass a Cath Kidston shop without wanting to smash the windows in. (The id is a monstrous weight for my super-ego, I can tell you.)

The snarling id wants it all un-cute, un-nice, un-neat, un-wise with a dagger in the binding and a twist at the heart. It may start off by rolling its cruel, ungenerous eye to steampunk, goth, cult and fetish interests.

But wouldn't this be a very English thing to do? Imagine me in my Laura Ashley elasticated-waist skirt stitching crafted books for the fisting brigade.

Here, have a far more nuanced, truer, wiser and perceptive analysis of the Kidston brand than I will ever dredge up from my id before I can calm it down with a nice cup of tea.

Design inspirations: folk tales

One of the worst decisions I made in my life (first boyfriend excepted) was to take an English Lit degree. It totally destroyed my love of wide wandering reading, undermined the aspirations I held in my true place, gave me misleading goals, and did the unforgivable: made me snooty about childhood fairy stories.

Now I have outlived the grisly consequences of the EngLit degree, I have my stories back. I love fairy stories, folk tales, Grimm reading and Perrault. These stories contain wisdoms about the dynamics of relationships, fears about knowledges of women, and the minefields of sexual normalities and transgressions.

I want to stitch the fantasy note book where little red riding hood might have written her story. I want to touch the bark of the magic tree where the treasure is buried. I want to turn the pages where the evil goblin records the people whose hearts he has clawed. I want to make the book owned by the witch in the woods, the one who eats children, where she keeps her spells safe.

Design inspirations: Borges

You know that Borges story about the book that has endless possibilities, infinite sequences of events, and pages you can never find again?

I try to make note books like that. I want Knicker Drawers to unroll, unfold, unfurl, offer you networks of paths, opportunities to take new directions, give you places to explore coincidences. I want the book itself to inspire creative connections and bring together places, people, and moments that are impossible but in your imagination, real.

Okay, the book as living maze may send you bonkers, but there's a downside to everything.


Design inspirations: Louis Vuitton

Not the Shenzhen rip-off shoulder bags for sale on the local market, but the nineteenth century LV travelling furniture, over which it's worth my spending time goggling and dribbling.

Trunks that not only carry a traveller's luggage, but trunks that turn into wardrobes; trunks that turn into beds; trunks that turn into writing desks; trunks that turn into everything the explorer needs.

Objects that are perfectly designed for their purpose: functional, practical, hard-wearing. While telling you they are luxurious, elegant, and beautiful to touch. What could be more desirable?


Design inspirations: lady travellers

Notebooks for the sort of woman who packs an overnight bag and sets off for Borneo on a bicycle.

I'd like to think my soft folding Knicker Drawers are driven by my rose-tinted recollections of personal travel experiences, except the memory is rarely rose-tinted. The terrible illness in Calcutta, the death's door in Christmas Malaysia, the aeroplane of Borneo. And I have still not forgiven Dig for Hotel Rat.

All lady explorers need to carry with them a little jottings book to keep a record of the delights, but mostly the horrors, miseries, and grudges. She needs a place to keep invoices, tickets and the sales receipt it took three men and two hours to write out, 'because the man who opens the cupboard where we keep the Sold stamp has gone to lunch'.

Here, have a list of lady explorers. These days, I might make number 199,984,715.


Design inspirations: story

I want a Knicker Drawer book to be a book you discover, as in a story; the small hand-sized leather-bound book you might come upon while you are rummaging in an attic or a junk shop; you never knew it was there, but here it is, tucked away, wrapped in cloth, stowed safely, intentionally, maybe at the bottom of a crate, or in a box, or strangely placed behind a splintered wooden panel. You find the book, feel the soft cover, see that it is chained and sealed, and wonder how to open it. Take a moment to think on that. Maybe it would be better if the book stays sealed. Who knows what you might discover inside.

Design inspirations: you

Sometimes I stitch a pocket book with you in mind, even though you may never see it. I'm surprised when someone else picks it up, loves it, and says That book is mine.

Then a woman passes by my window, the woman I see often, who never smiles. Or the woman who smiles too much. The woman who pauses, and touches her mouth with a fingertip.

Then the people who ask for friends; little books to be surprises and pleasures on birthdays, celebrations, graduations, or just-because. I need only a few words and an initial letter to set me going.

And you, spontaneous passer by, who stops to run your fingers over my leather ends and fondle my sueded ties. You are my inspiration too. Your eyes, words, fingers tell me stories about who you are, even though you might leave with just a card and a wish.