Artist: Amy Vervoort

I’m Amy, mother of three ,two in my arms, one in my heart, wife to an Australian Geologist living in northern Ontario where I’ve lived for my whole life near the north shore of Lake Superior. We live with our four dogs on a hill facing the Sleeping Giant in Thunder Bay, Ontario. My daughter is currently away at university studying political science and law with an interest in human rights; and I am so very proud of the woman she’s growing into. I’m a work from home mom chasing my busy rainbow baby boy, now two years old and into everything. He’s got the energy of two boys, I think perhaps because he’s got a little bit of his brother in him. Our life is full, but always empty without our son Finn. Losing Finn (just four months after losing my mother to breast cancer in 2013) made time stand still for a while. What’s evolving out of it is Olives and Bananas.

When my mother became ill she renewed an interest in knitting as a a way to combat the neuropathy brought on by chemotherapy. I tried to knit. I was taught by countless expert knitters, but never caught on. Instead I sat in the chair beside my mother’s bed and balled yarn and enjoyed hours of conversation with her and friends who joined us about the fibre arts.

After the loss of Finn I found needle felting had a healing effect through the quiet creative process. What developed was a love for wool, and a deeper respect for the animals who provide us with beautiful workable fibre. Through that, a quirky art I think I’ve always fostered started to take centre stage. It began with making thank you gifts for the people who helped us the most and grew into an outlet to provide handmade, thoughtfully made keepsakes for all kinds of people. I quickly fell in love with how wool is like clay – colourful clay, and can be molded in endless ways to create anything. It made so much sense to me, Since then I’ve studied a lot more about sheep and wool than I have about needle felting. I enjoy discovering for myself how the tools work, and how they work with different fibres. My techniques are an ever evolving experiment.

I learned to crochet about a year after Finn lived and died. My thoughtful friend Sheri taught me a few simple stitches and sent me off with the confidence that I would know what to do next…, and I did. Combining crochet with my needle felted projects resulted in the development of Olives and Bananas, this small ‘made by me’ business named in honour of my three children: Oliver and Hannah are held together in my logo with a small dragonfly representing my little Finn, who inspired it all‬ always nearby, always magical.