Friday, March 28, 2014

Earning The Stripes

Stuff does not get done by thinking about it, wishing it were done, imagining it or pretending. At some point, I have to sit down and do it. I have been collecting supplies, ideas, and tools for some serious bag-making for a few months with the goal of eventually working more seriously with leather.

But baby steps:
linen tote
(bead zipper pull made by Selena Wells)

The first bag I sat down to make is linen (mostly). Purchased handspun tow linen hand towel fabric, of which I had about a yard. Enough for a tote bag, and a good first step into the breach.

There are leather parts: the bottom of the bag is reinforced with leather, and the zippers have leather tabs around them. Both of these areas on a utilitarian bag such as this get plenty of wear. I wanted to use leather for the straps, but I did not have any leather long enough, and (duh! this is how we learn) did not think of piecing it!

So I went shopping for red, or barring that, off-white or beige cotton woven webbing. All I could find was dead white. So I went old school and dyed it with tea...

(it was about time to retire these anyway, sad well-traveled little wads that they were: I keep a few extra bags in my carry on for emergencies. There are very few emergencies where tea will not assist).

I heated water and steeped the tea bags, then plopped the webbing in a pan:

and let it soak overnight:


It matches the linen fabric perfectly. Still, a little dull, so I stitched on some red twill tape:

and now had the perfect straps. There are pockets inside and out, some open, and some with zippers (one can never have too many pockets). Of the several in the lining, this one is a favorite...
inside pocket, linen bag
left to right: a flat pocket, then a columnar pocket for a spindle, big enough for a spindle with a cop-in-progress, next there is a pen pocket, and last an expandable pocket.

The top zipper closure was a screaming success on this bag, so I took an older bag, ripped out its less-than-stellar zip-closure and replaced it!
celtic project bag

Two new bags: one completely new, and an older one remodeled and now more useable!

Yes, there was learning. It involves sewing and ripping out, throwing away parts that did not work, and trying again. It's what happens when I try things out. When I have to think things through and just go for it. But now I know lots more! I have more mad bag-making skillz, and have started two more bags... Next post!

I also finished a simple little stripey project bag:
handspun silk project bag

Handspun silk, about 8" x 9", for the bag exhibit at the upcoming CNCH conference in Oakland. Several classes have now expanded space for enrollment, so if you are thinking of weaving/spinning/dyeing and want a class to jump start: now's your chance. There are vendors, and galleries too, if taking a class is not possible right now. It should be a good show (and I will have 3! bags on display in the gallery area. Oh! Maybe 4, if I get busy and get back to work :)!).

Friday, March 14, 2014

Part of the Whole

I've been reading this book all week:

Stephenie's book is the first in a series, mine being the second. We have been communicating about them as we wrote and made samples: one of our most reassuring thoughts was that the title was the "practical guide" not the "complete guide". But Stephenie has gone and set the bar very high: she speaks of each fiber in depth, of course, as you would expect. But she also has lots, and I means LOTS! of information on general spinning: tools, processes, hand movements and yarn handling, yarn finishing and yarn wrangling.

Her book is very nearly complete. I wrote to her and told her how thankful I am that hers is the first in the series. Now, if people ask for basic spinning information after reading my book, all I have to say is "Buy Stephenie's book! It's the first in the series, and has all that information!"

spinner's guide cover

Just talks about silk. Sure, properties of silk, how to spin silk, how to care for silk. But I assumed spinning knowledge of the reader. Stephenie did not. And we all know what assume spells? Yep.

Be that as it may, the time has come. Pre-order time! Now that I have told you how simple my book is, how limited, you are anxious to have it, are you not?


The usual pre-order deal: I pay the shipping free in the US, (sadly, not for Canada or Overseas), I pay applicable taxes, you get a signed defaced! copy directly from me. As soon as I get them. Which is May. I don't have them now, I don't get them earlier, but you will get a book as soon as I do!

Oh, and as an aside, I think the cover is different than that above..on my book. I think the photo changed. But I won't know for sure until the books get here! In May!

So, with humble and multiple thanks to Stephenie, the series is off to a good start. Buy her book too, if you want the complete set! and if you want to spin silk, my book picks up where hers leaves off. I could not be in better company!


Monday, March 03, 2014

Done and Dusted

We've been working on these:

Yep. Dye Sample Books! The Basic Book is ready to ship! We have packed and shipped those already ordered:

We had help:

(Along with the requisite coffee, wine and chocolate!). We have also made good use of the hot tub, after long days slaving in the studio.

It's cold here. Wisconsin. March. How could it not be cold? It's been below zero F most nights, and some days have only been up to the single digits. People live here! They go outside in this!

One memorable evening was clear, very cold, and windy. As we sat soaking, clouds rolled in and it began to snow. The damp, cold and wind turned my head into a snow helmet. Snow. Helmet. We deemed it time to go inside.

It's sunny here today, and up to 2. 2! We started at minus 9... I head home today, and tonight I will be in the land of 40 degrees! Maybe even 50! No more snow helmets...