Marking out the panel cut
To form the stitch, a old Phillips head screwdriver was filed down to form a sharpened triangular point to serve as an awl. The wetted bark was carefully pierced in 3/4" intervals and the hole temporarily pegged with cedar bits until lashing with root. After about 5-7 pegs, I'd take them out and begin the saddle stitch with pieces of soaked root, tying off the shorted ends before continuing on with a new piece. This gives the exterior the appearance that the stitch is made with a single piece; in reality the inner side of the panel (eventually hidden under sheathing) shows the various lengths.
Pegging & stitching; View of inside panel
I severely underestimated the time it would take to do the running saddle stitch. I assumed maybe an hour a side, but it took me nearly 5 hours with much needed breaks to do both sides of the canoe.
With this part done, I could move on to setting the inwales. This involved cutting up some "height sticks" that would serve to support the inwales at the appropriate measurements. I made some from extra pine staves and marked the height (in inches) appropriately on the back to ensure I didn't mix them up. After loosening the support stakes and stretching out the bark, the inwales were softened with boiling water, placed into position and weighted down with rocks.
Putting the the inwale assembly
Setting on height sticks; weighted down with rock
Up next, I have to carve some outwales so that the even more time consuming process of pegging and lashing the gunwales together can begin.