Sunday, June 25, 2023

My crafty bag.

I spent today out at El Rancho de las Golondrinas, helping to skirt some of the fleeces that other folks sheared from the ranch's sheep a few weeks ago. Skirting a fleece involves picking out stuff like straw and poop, so that the fleece can be sent to a mill for processing into roving (which is then spun into yarn that can be woven on a loom). It's not tiring work, but it's dirty, and it was hot. So I'm not going to write a lot. Instead, I'm going to tell you how my tote bag turned out. Here's the finished product, if that's all you're interested in. If you want to learn about the process, you can keep reading. 

Lynne Cantwell 2023

Still here? All right, here we go.

You may recall that I wove the fabric for the bag on the ranch's hundred-plus-year-old loom. (There's a picture of the bag on the loom at the link.) Once we cut it free from the loom, I took it home and sewed up the sides. Then I set to weaving a strap. 

Lynne Cantwell 2023
The device in the background is called an inkle loom. An inkle, according to the Oxford English Dictionary via Wikipedia, was originally a type of linen tape. An inkle loom produces narrow bands or tapes that can be used for various purposes: belts, straps, and so on. The Wikipedia article has several pictures of inkle looms. Here's what mine looked like while I was working on the bag: 
Lynne Cantwell 2023
While I may know just enough about weaving to be dangerous, I knew nothing about weaving on an inkle loom. I warped it from a diagram on a printout, then realized I'd done it wrong, went to YouTube, and re-warped it the right way. And there were other issues. See the medicine vial hanging off the loom on the right? It's there because a warp string broke and I had to put in a new one. I also didn't understand how tightly I was supposed to pull the weft (the dark green yarn on the shuttle), so my band ended up looking less like an inkle loom product and more like I wove it on a regular loom.

Anyway, at last it was done. And it was long enough to make both the strap and some trim to cover the raw edges of the top of the bag. I decided to go a little '70s hippie with ends of the strap and add some braids and beads. Here's my high-tech (ha!) setup for that -- the Starbucks cup and stapler held the strap in place so I could do the braiding. 

Lynne Cantwell 2023
I pulled the beads and the big concho from my crafts stash. The concho is backed with a leather rosette that I also happened to have in my crafts stash. (I needed two for a knitting project, and at the time, I couldn't find online a smaller quantity than 100. If you ever need a leather rosette, let me know -- I have plenty, in a variety of colors.) The loop that goes around the concho is simply a few strands of leftover warp from making the bag; I twisted them and tied them together, then sewed them to the back inside edge of the bag.

I guess I should also mention that I dyed the yellow and terra cotta yarn in the strap the same weekend that I dyed the turquoise yarn in the bag, and I spun the white yarn in the strap from some churro roving.

All in all, it was quite the project. I tried it out today and it works great -- I don't have to keep my phone in my shorts pocket anymore, which is such a plus.

And now I'm going to learn more about inkle weaving, so the next thing I make on that loom looks more like it's supposed to. 


These moments of strappy blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Stay safe!


Ey Wade said...

It's beautiful. I'm totally impressed with the learning skills and the ingenuity(cup & stapler). Can't wait to see what else you make.

Lynne Cantwell said...

Thanks, Ey!

Anon: I'll get right on that. ;) I'm not scheduled to volunteer again 'til early August, but I may end up going out to the ranch again later in July. If so, I'll get someone to take my picture in the full getup.