Bootmaking by hand

by onblueberryhill on January 24, 2016

Final steps involved gluing a rubber base onto the sole, trimming and grinding it, and applying dye and wax to the edges of the sole. And then, they were done!

Between knitting and sewing, I’ve made a lot of what I wear on a daily basis, almost from head to toe – hat, scarf, shirt, sweater, dress or skirt, socks – which got me to thinking:  could I make my shoes, as well?  As luck would have it, I found an incredible instructor here locally in Portland (you can check out his website at www.laughingcrowe.com).  He offered both classes and private lessons – I opted for the latter, to give myself more flexibility in terms of time and project.

We scheduled four days in a row, 9am-5pm, for the lessons.  In the end, we were able to move faster and I was able to stop an hour or so early on most of the days, and we needed only a few hours the last day, but it was still an intense and time-consuming process.  I learned an incredible amount, not only about how boots are made, but about their history, why they’re shaped the way they are, about leather and how it’s made and used, and a plethora of other information that I never even thought about.

The process itself required both machinery and a variety of hand tools – more gluing and less sewing than I expected.  Many of the steps were challenging physically, and I would have done better if I had more than a passing familiarity with using hand tools.  However, none of it was impossible, and my instructor did an excellent job of letting me do most of it, but stepping in to help if needed to keep me from ruining the final product.

Here’s a photo journal of the process – I didn’t take pictures of each step, by any means, and there are a lot more steps than I expected!

The first step is to make a 3D cast of my foot out of duct tape. I wanted the boot to reach about halfway up my shin, so we ran the tape up a ways.

The first step is to make a 3D cast of my foot out of duct tape. I wanted the boot to reach about halfway up my shin, so we ran the tape up a ways.

We drew the design elements I wanted on the duct tape cast, then cut it apart and traced it to make a 2D pattern. This step involved a lot of math and measuring to make sure we had all of the dimensions and seam allowances correct.

We drew the design elements I wanted on the duct tape cast, then cut it apart and traced it to make a 2D pattern. This step involved a lot of math and measuring to make sure we had all of the dimensions and seam allowances correct.

Here we're preparing the sole - we've cut grooves into the outer perimeter with a hand tool, and now we're drilling the stitch holes.

Here we’re preparing the sole – we’ve cut grooves into the outer perimeter with a hand tool, and now we’re drilling the stitch holes.

I chose the color and texture of leather I wanted, and decided to have the counter (the part the wraps around the heel) be a contrasting color. I also chose colors and materials for piping around the upper edges and lining the inside where the eyelets will be.

I chose the color and texture of leather I wanted, and decided to have the counter (the part the wraps around the heel) be a contrasting color. I also chose colors and materials for piping around the upper edges and lining the inside where the eyelets will be.

One of the most challenging steps is skiving - we did this with hand tools, and it involves scraping away some of the thickness of the leather in certain places so that your seams and joins don't end up too bulky. These thin leather strips are what are scraped off when you're skiving.

One of the most challenging steps is skiving – we did this with hand tools, and it involves scraping away some of the thickness of the leather in certain places so that your seams and joins don’t end up too bulky. These thin leather strips are what are scraped off when you’re skiving.

After gluing the pieces of the upper together, I used an industrial sewing machine to sew them on, as well.

After gluing the pieces of the upper together, I used an industrial sewing machine to sew them on, as well.

Hand stitching the sole to the upper was fun once I got the hang of it, but challenging to get the stitches pulled tight enough.

Hand stitching the sole to the upper was fun once I got the hang of it, but challenging to get the stitches pulled tight enough.

Just some of the hand tools involved in bootmaking.

Just some of the hand tools involved in bootmaking.

Final steps involved gluing a rubber base onto the sole, trimming and grinding it, and applying dye and wax to the edges of the sole. And then, they were done!

Final steps involved gluing a rubber base onto the sole, trimming and grinding it, and applying dye and wax to the edges of the sole. And then, they were done!  Entirely handmade, and (pretty much) made by me :)

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Clara’s hat and shawl

by onblueberryhill on January 23, 2016

Clara's shawl and hat 1

I chose these patterns to show off the beautiful new Clara Yarn, Cormo 3.0 – Sheep (bulky weight).  I used most of 3 skeins (120 yds/ea) on the shawl, and the fourth skein on the hat.

Shawl pattern:  Maya’s shawl, knit on US 10s

Clara's shawl and hat 2

Hat pattern:  Fidra hat, knit on US 9s and US 10 1/2s

Clara's shawl and hat 3

The shawl lace knit in this bulky weight yarn blocked out beautifully – it opened up but didn’t seem to grow much.  But warning:  the hat grew HUGE!  I mean, it must have doubled in size!  I had to throw it in the dryer for over half an hour, just to get it somewhere in the vicinity of the right size.  I was really bummed because it fit perfectly before blocking.  Had I to do it over again, I would not have blocked the hat – it looked just as beautiful pre-blocking.

Clara's shawl and hat 4

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Sea Salt Field Wrap

by onblueberryhill January 19, 2016
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Pattern:  Field Wrap, by Veronika Jobe – published in Tolt Yarn & Wool’s Farm to Needle:  Stories of Wool Yarn:  YOTH Father (100% domestic Rambouillet wool, worsted weight) – 5 skeins (220 yds/ea) in color Sea Salt Needles:  US 9s As you might imagine, this project took a little while, given the sheer volume of […]

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Bubblegum pullover

by onblueberryhill January 11, 2016
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Yarn:  Camellia Fiber Company CFC Merino Worsted – 2 1/2 skeins River Rock for MC (215 yds per skein) and partial skeins of Ivory and Bubblegum for the stripes Pattern:  Little Lighthouse pullover, published in Swoon Maine – I substituted the fair isle on the yoke for 4-round stripes, and added 2-round stripes to the […]

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Thirteen Mile cardigan

by onblueberryhill January 7, 2016
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Pattern:  Plum Wine – test knit for Baby Cocktails Yarn:  Thirteen Mile Yarns Undyed Worsted (100% organic wool) – 6 skeins (245 yds/ea) in color Oatmeal Needles:  US 6s Size:  42″ Thea Coleman, the pattern designer, has such beautiful design elements in her sweaters!  The stitch pattern on this one isn’t complicated, but the result is stunning.  And […]

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Baila hat

by onblueberryhill January 5, 2016
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Pattern:  Baila Hat Yarn:  Julie Asselin’s Ankara (85% merino / 15% mohair) – 1 skein (130 yds) in color Touareg Needles:  US 8s (cast-on), US 9s (ribbing), and US 10 1/2s Size:  Large (and I followed the additional instructions for the slouchier version) Pin It

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Racetrack stripes cowl

by onblueberryhill January 4, 2016
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This project was created to put to use a Plucky mystery pack . . . Yarn:  Plucky Snug (70% merino / 20% cashmere / 10% royal alpaca) – one skein each (110 yds) in colors Triple Crown, Pack Your Bags, Registry, and Lonesome Highway Needles:  US 10 1/2 Pattern: Cast on 35 sts Row 1: […]

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Cross country skiing in the new year

by onblueberryhill January 3, 2016
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A beautiful way to spend New Year’s Day on Mt. Hood! Pin It

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Cestari Cardigan

by onblueberryhill December 28, 2015
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A test knit for the talented Andrea Rangel, and a chance to knit another cardigan in Cestari! Yarn:  Cestari Traditional 2 Ply (100% US Targhee Columbia wool) – 7 skeins (170 yds/ea) in color Natural White (NOTE:  I purchased this batch of yarn from Tolt Yarn & Wool, and their website provided notice that the […]

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Winter hues Bradway shawl

by onblueberryhill December 27, 2015
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An excuse to combine some beautiful Plucky colors . . . Pattern:  Bradway Yarn:  Plucky Bello Worsted (55% merino / 45% cashmere) – 1 skein ea (200 yds) of Tin Type (MC), Wintery Mix (CC1), and Loafers (CC2) Needles:  US 8s Pin It

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Scholar leftovers hat

by onblueberryhill December 26, 2015
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To use up some of my Scholar scraps, and to coordinate with my new Maritime sweater . . . Yarn:  Plucky Scholar 2.0 – colors Wintery Mix, Magnet & Steel, and Barn Door Needles:  US 5s (ribbing) and US 7s Pattern:  C/O 96 sts – K1P1 ribbing to 1 1/2″, then change to larger needles, […]

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Merry Christmas 2015

by onblueberryhill December 24, 2015
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The succulents were nestled all snug in their pots . . .

by onblueberryhill December 21, 2015
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These little succulents are snuggled up in some of my handleless cups and are headed off to be the Christmas gift of a dear friend   Pin It

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Rose-hued sugarloaf

by onblueberryhill December 20, 2015
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Pattern:  Sugarloaf cowl by The Plucky Knitter Yarn:  Camellia Fiber Company Merino Worsted in Birthday Cake (less than one skein) for the lace section – Camellia Fiber Company Merino Sport (held doubled) in Rose (less than one skein) for the ribbed section – and a few yards of Camellia Fiber Company Merino Sport (held doubled) […]

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A blanket for cold winter nights

by onblueberryhill December 18, 2015
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This knit up in only two evenings – how could it not, on US 50 needles?! Yarn:  Camellia Fiber Co. Merino Wool (2 lbs) Pattern:  Camellia Fiber Co. Merino Wool Blanket (really just a simple K2 P2 ribbing) Needles:  US 50s Blocking is essential!  It helps the yarn (which is really more like roving) felt […]

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Snow-dappled cedars bulky cowl

by onblueberryhill December 15, 2015
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Beautiful, cozy, one-night knit project! Yarn:  Camellia Fiber Company Merino Handspun, super bulky weight (color Patrick) – I used all of two skeins, approx. 80 yards/ea Pattern:  Royal Mile Cowl by Magpie Fibers, with modifications Needles:  US 15s I cast on 120 sts, joined in the round and knit four rounds of K2 P2 – […]

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Barn Door cabled pullover

by onblueberryhill December 14, 2015
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This is a really great cabled pullover pattern, and a perfect match for Plucky Scholar – one of my favorite sweater – and cabling – yarns! Pattern:  Maritime by Amy Miller, published in Fall Back – a Plucky Knitter Collection Yarn:  Plucky Scholar (75% merino, 25% cashmere) – 7 skeins (255 yds/ea) in Barn Door […]

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Christmas fudge

by onblueberryhill December 12, 2015
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Every year at Christmastime, my dad and I make my great grandmother Maude’s fudge recipe.  It’s not fancy or complicated – in fact, it only has four major ingredients:  butter, sugar, chocolate and marshmallow.  How can we go wrong with those? Pin It

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More and more cables

by onblueberryhill December 9, 2015
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Continuing my love affair with cables right now . . . Pattern:  Father Cables hat Yarn:  YOTH Father in Caviar Size:  S/M fitted Needles:  US 5s and US 7s I used my leftovers from my Wickerwork sweater to knit this one – it came together quickly, and took less than one skein.  The yarn feels […]

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Finally, the rain is back!

by onblueberryhill December 8, 2015

I know that most people think I’m crazy, but I LOVE the rain!  Must be because I grew up here in Oregon It was such a hot, dry summer here, and then a beautiful – but again, dry and unseasonably warm – fall, that I am so grateful to finally see it raining again!  Of […]

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