18 February 2017
Art and Design, Autumn Maker School, Makery, Poetry
binding, book binding, bookbinding, books, coptic stitch, making books, poetry, poetry books, poetry in the world of acts
There’s something beautiful about a stack of books bound with Coptic stitch. Particularly when you know that the contents of each book are your own. These are copies of my Book of Splendor, a collection of poetry exploring the relationships between nature and the divine in a particular corner of New England.
These are part of a limited edition of 100 copies: numbered, and hand bound, and the hand signed by the author, that is me. I interested in buying one? Let me know.
17 February 2017
Art and Design, creativity, design, Makery
hat, hat making, hats, knitting, knitting in the round
I’ve never made a hat before by knitting. It’s supposedly easy, at least according to those who’ve been knitting hats for years. For those of us who’ve never knit in the round before it seems daunting.
Don’t twist the knit!
I don’t quite know how this will turn out. I’m not following a pattern, merely putting one knit-stitch in front of the other until the round of a hat appears. I know that there’s fancy ribbing I could do, all sorts of patterns. I know that hats work better in multiples of eight, for some reason. I know that my own head needs about 24″ around. I have no idea if this hat will meet any of those conditions.
The first condition is to not twist the knit as you work it in the round. The yarn has a tendency to work itself into a spiral as you knit. That’s fine if you’re making a scarf — it’s just straight line after straight line with nary a pun or a punch line in sight. But knitting in the round and not paying attention leads to a twist. And a twist leads to Möbius strips and Klein bottle covers, in knitting.
I’ve already completely undone this hat once. I don’t plan on doing so again. Sometimes it’s better to finish a bad hat, and learn from the mistakes, than to start again and again, never going beyond the beginning.
16 February 2017
creativity, design, makers grimoire, Makery, textiles
bag, design, dice bag, makery, making, rune bag, Sewing, textiles, viking baf
I used a lucet today to make three cords for these three Viking bags — appropriate for dice or for runes, or small stones. Lined but unpadded inside. One of the bags is spoken for, but the other two are up for grabs.
The Viking Bag is not a komebukuro. This is a piece of fabric — the row of marching vikings, with the wave-band and the red and white stripes — sewn in a round around a base fabric, and then given a lining of brown cloth stitched with a drawstring tube. The new cord, in a persimmon-dyed merino wool is pulled through the tube and finished with a wooden bead (or unfinished, in the other one).
One will go up for sale on my Etsy site next week. Probably the other one as well. Do I hear any bids?
16 February 2017
Art and Design, creativity, design, Makery
bookbinding, books, hand-bound bokks, poetry
The sewing machine is busted. I am waiting for a part to come in. Singer sewing machines in the early 1960s began to transition from metal parts to hybrids that were partly metal and partly plastic. One of these plastic parts has become so worn from rubbing against metal constantly, that it has become un-usable.
Accordingly I have shifted over to bookbinding for the moment while waiting for the part to come in. Two of these books got bound this weekend — an orange copy of The Book of Splendor, intended for a friend. And a gray copy of The Mansions of the Moon. And finally, this morning, a black copy of The Behenian Stars.
I’m least happy with the Behenian Stars binding. The other two books are substantial enough for a Coptic stitch binding. But The Behenian Stars is not. It’s only two quires or signatures, and it doesn’t really hang together properly. The Mansions of the Moon, likewise, is a little flimsy but it may improve with weighting and pressing it a bit. We’ll see.
I have eight more copies of the Book of Splendor to bind. This one isn’t ready for purchase yet, though it will be expensive: hand-made covers, hand-bound by the author? The Behenian Stars is available on both Etsy and Amazon as a digital PDF, but to sell a physical copy of it, I think I’ll need to thicken the book up a bit. Maybe if I combine it with the Mansions book, both together will be dense enough to bind easily.
13 February 2017
Art and Design, creativity, design, Makery, textiles
babies, baby, baby quilts, creativity, crib quilts, design, fabric, quilt, quilting, quilts, Sewing, simple sewing, textiles
Normally the Monday article is a book review. I’m a little behind in my reading due to other projects this weekend. So that will appear later this week. Instead…
Quilts are relatively easy. All you do is beat your head against the sewing machine while flogging your back with a quilting ruler.
Maybe it’s not that difficult. It does seem to involve a lot of cutting of fabric into squares or strips; sewing those together; the resulting squares into different pieces; and then sewing those together.
I tend to go more simple on baby quilts. After all, babies do grow up sooner or later. And then the quilt will be retired to an attic or given away — becoming an appropriate link in a chain as children become adults and bring children of their own into the world.
So far I’ve produced four baby quilts. I gave the two described here to the happy parents this weekend. They gray roses is for a small baby born a few months ago. The blue and red quilt is intended for a baby who will be born in a few weeks.
The essence of a simple quilt is this: make squares of fabric. The fabric squares should be all the same size or pretty close. The challenge with one of these quilts, the gray one, was that the quilt squares were neither squares, nor the same size. Getting stuff to line up was challenging. The blue and red quilt is more regular, with squares of 10″, all of them pretty exact.
The most difficult part of making a quilt, for me, is sewing the backing and batting and front of the quilt together. Making squares, particularly these single panel squares with no decoration, are easy. Sewing rows together is easy. Sewing columns together is easy. It’s the challenge of sewing through three layers — the decorative front, the batting or felt layer, and the backing fabric — that wrecks my sewing machine and tangles my thread.
The specific challenge with these quilts, and the assembly of the layers, was a question of thread. every time I got more than a few inches into the quilting of thr three layers together, the thread would snap. Then I’d discover that the back side jad become a whorl of loops and tangles — what experienced sewers call birdsnesting. When the sewing machine creates birds’nests, the cause is either the tension disks, or the tension on the needle thread, or the tension on the bobbin thread, or the motor…. But! I learned this week that sometimes it’s cheap thread!
These two quilts are what are known as “crib size” meaning about 36″x54″. They’re not actually that size though. I wish they were. When you consider the common denominator between those two numbers, though, it means that we’re looking at squares smaller than 10″… probably about 9 1/2″, to account for a quarter inch seam area around each square.
Cheap thread. Who knew? When you use badly-made thread, wound on a substandard spool or bobbin, the thread often snags or breaks. It doesn’t come off the bobbin smoothly. The result is birds’ nests on the underside of your sewing!
So now I know that. And now I have to remember that… because the risk is always to save money on materials and not to go to too much expense on a project. But going down to the cheapest available materials usually results in complications later in the project — usually at exactly the point that the finished project is nearing the point of looking professional or amateur.
I think, at this point, I’ve made as many simple-square quilts as I want to make. I think my next challenges are hexagons and triangles.