Archive for May, 2009

Herringbone Cowl
May 31st, 2009 | Link

Stitch detail of the herringbone cowl

I needed some airplane knitting for a trip up to Calgary last weekend, and (inspired once again by Kirsten) it turned out to be the Herringbone Cowl from a spare skein of Malabrigo Silky Merino, which has made a previous appearance on my blog as the Home Life Scarf. I love this yarn so much that I bought several more skeins (two in black and one in the same colourway, Cloudy Sky) thinking I would weave with it again. But I ended up knitting with it instead.

Close up stitch detail

I love, love, love this color.

Close up stitch detail

I did five repeats of the herringbone pattern stitch, using most of one skein. It might have made the final cowl just a bit too high—it’s so soft and drapey that it falls over itself a lot. Or maybe that’s just a cowl thing, I can never figure out how to drape them right!

I love the way the stitches turned out though. I thought after my experience with Henry that I would never knit this type of stitch again. But in DK weight yarn, with only 128 stitches per row, it was quite tolerable. I’m even modifying the pattern a bit to make a second, less cowl-like version—stay tuned.

The Replacement Messenger Bag
May 26th, 2009 | Link

Last August I made a black corduroy messenger bag from a slightly modified version of the Burda Style Diana pattern. And I was happy with it, except for a couple of things. First, it had no pockets or separations in it of any kind, and my keys, cell phone, etc. kept falling to the bottom of the bag. Second, the strap was just slightly too short, because I ran out of fabric when I made it.

With this in mind, and influenced by Kirsten’s bags and by my old Jack Spade bag (in a style no longer made), I revamped the Diana pattern and came up with this:

Messenger bag

The flap fabric is the Urban Type design from Green Olive Textiles on Etsy. The other fabric is a light-weight denim stretch fabric I bought a while back on eBay (I made a skirt from it, and had some left over). I feared originally that I should have used interfacing to sturdy up the shape, but now that I’ve worn it everywhere for the last month or so, I like the slouchiness of it. It curves around my hip when I wear it alone, or flattens out against my lower back when I’m carrying it under my commuter backpack. It sinks against the wall or down to the floor when I put it down. It’s casual.

(After I sewed the outside of the bag, and was ready to attach the flap, I was suddenly nervous about having the Urban Type fabric facing outward. I was very tempted to put the Urban Type fabric on the inside of the flap, and have the whole outside of the bag made of denim. But my husband talked me out of it, and wisely so.)

Messenger bag - strap and bottom detail

The seat belt webbing strap idea came from Kirsten. The 1-1/2″ wide webbing was purchased from Seattle Fabrics, along with the slide and other hardware (including a key ring hook). I used the adjustible strap tutorial from You Sew, Girl.

Messenger bag - outside pocket detail

The bag is lined with red linen that is pretty close to the Urban Type background. This time I added an outside pocket that makes up the full width of the bag and starts about two inches down from the top. This is great for my work badges, passport and plane tickets while I’m at the airport, etc.

Inside, I added a zipped pocket for my wallet and a slip pocket for my phone (following the Sew, Mama, Sew tutorials), and a hook for my keys. There is also plenty of room in there for my journal, iPod, and glasses, a paperback, and even a small knitting project. (When I made the black corduroy bag, I reduced the width and height by an inch each. This time, I used the original pattern dimensions.)

Long-Stitch Photo Album
May 22nd, 2009 | Link

Spine view: black bookcloth spine with white stitching, with Japanese paper on the covers

I’m sure there’s a specific name for this binding, but I don’t know what it is. It’s basically a pamphlet stitch with the threads outside crossing over on a diagonal to a different section, forming this cross-hatch pattern.

Read more…

It’s a Giveaway!
May 19th, 2009 | Link

Two journals: one with copper spirals on a black checkerboard, one a solid red textured paper

In an effort to make room for some of the new books that are burning to get out of my head and into a real form, I’ve decided to give away these two Coptic journals. I’ll be totally honest with you: the reason I’m giving them away and not putting them up for sale on Etsy is that they each have teeny flaws. These flaws in no way impair the books’ functional use—you probably won’t notice them, even now I’ve told you they are there—but they don’t meet my rigid standards of quality assurance and so I’m giving them away.

Inside covers of the two journals

What do you have to do to win one? Just leave a comment on this post before midnight PST on May 31st, 2009, telling me how you found this web site. You don’t have to leave your real name, but do enter a valid email address so I can reach you if you win (your email address won’t be displayed). I’ll draw two names randomly on June 1st and contact the winners for their snail-mail addresses. Yes, it’s totally OK to enter if you don’t live in the United States, as long as you’re reachable by some postal service somewhere!

Long Stitch Variation with Button Flap
May 11th, 2009 | Link

Front view: blue-gray paper cover with black spine stitches and flap fastened with a vintage Japanese black button and linen thread

Some days I just need to finish something to feel successful. Yesterday a non-adhesive binding fit the bill. I’ve played with this structure in several variations, but this was my first attempt with a fastened cover.

Read more…

Paper Folding Meditation and the Business of Bookbinding
May 4th, 2009 | Link

I spent most of the weekend folding paper. It was the first weekend in weeks that I didn’t work, and it was raining, so I stayed in and watched animé with E. while he experimented with Python and I folded and tore paper. It was nice to be doing something that didn’t require focus after the deadlines of last week.

I grabbed all of the remaining 119 gsm Mohawk Superfine sheets off my paper cart and started folding. I thought there were only about 20 sheets (25″ by 35″, grain short), but when I finally finished I realized there had been quite a few more. All told, I folded and tore 46 full-size sheets into 736 4-1/4″ by 5-1/2″ folios. That’s folding sheets of paper in varying sizes in half 1426 times, and ripping through the crease with a bone folder 690 times. No wonder my back hurts!

When you realize the amount of time it takes to do some of these things, it can be really disheartening to price your work for sale. I spent at least 7 hours folding and tearing paper by hand, and over an hour last night assembling the folios into sections. This is light-weight paper; I use six folios per section rather than the usual four, so with eight sections per book I prepared enough paper for about 15 books. That means it took about an hour just to prep the paper for two books. Depending on how I bind them, it will take another hour or more per book to prepare the covers and sew the bindings. If I sell these $18, after deducting the cost of materials I’m making about California minimum wage—and that’s before I even consider the amount of time it takes to photograph each piece, write a description, step through the five page form required to upload each book to Etsy, and deduct the additional fees for each sale to pay to Etsy and Paypal.

There are certain things that I can do to produce more, faster. I could use my Kutrimmer, rather than tear the paper. I could use heavier, larger sheets of paper (which I usually do—this paper is the last of an unfortunate online ordering choice), use four folios per section instead of six, or use fewer sections in the book. I could have made 8-1/2″ by 11″ folios and saved myself a few hundred folds and tears. I could choose to make only specific book structures, those which are faster to produce. I could even outsource, as my husband often teases. But when I start making creative decisions based on production optimization, it takes some of the fun and spontaneity out of the experience.

My Etsy store has been mostly empty these last few months, partly due to lack of time to produce anything to put into it, and partly due to lack of interest. When I produce for the sake of selling, I tend to go into production line mode, and I get bored with making the same structures over and over again. This year I want to explore more and make things for the sake of my own interests, and if they turn out well and I start running out of room again they’ll go up for sale.



My name is Shannon Hale. This blog is on indefinite hiatus, but it contains archives of the last 10 years of posts about bookbinding, knitting, sewing. and other random things in my life.


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