Monday, April 30, 2012

Flailing, Satchels, Jumbo Dice Bag, Pictures

The quick recap of the weekend goes as follows:
Saturday: Flailing about
Sunday - Accomplished things, including:
  • a jumbo dice bag,
  • (Belt) Satchels,
  • order fulfillment,
  • and Bookwork
I finally realized WP has a cut-tag option, going to try that out, about . . . here. Expanded natter, with pictures, below the cut.

Friday, April 27, 2012


Yay, my e-mail got through to the die maker! Got a quote, decided which dies we're going to get (2 out of 4), and have ordered them.

New Pouch Prototype

Last night I put together the prototype of the new pouch:

(I didn't get fancy and cut it out of the background, the pouch was just sitting on a white sheet)

There's three bugs with the prototype: First, we decided the gusset needs to be wider (which also means lengthening the flap appropriately). That's the only significant change. On the less significant side, I located the belt loops based on how high up the front would come on the back, forgetting about the hem on the front, so the belt loops are a little high. That one is easy to fix. I also placed the tab so that it pulls the flap down a little tighter than it probably should. Also easy to fix.

Here's a shot trying to show you the inside pocket. Taking a picture using a smartphone camera of a black pocket inside a black pouch is not exactly condusive to great results, I'm afraid.

Ron drew out two more possible die designs last night - a leaf and a fleur-de-lis. I tried submitting them to the die shop via their web form this morning, but they vanished into the ethernet again. However, this time I called to check on receipt a while after sending. The person who does the die quotes had me e-mail the files for try #3. Hopefully this time they make it through.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


The troll under the ethernet bridge ate my die quote request, I keep forgetting to e-mail the PDF to myself, and I left the hard copy (which I could have faxed) at home!

Midweek Musings

The middle of the week is often a time of not accomplishing much, although this week I'm doing better than usual.

After taking measurements from Ron's old pouch, I started drawing up my old version. My first shot at the front piece came out looking entirely too much like a belt satchel. Try two came out better, and while roughly the same basic size as Ron's pouch, it is different in shape. I dug out some of the nice pebbled black I'd gotten as large-scrap, and cut one out. The gusset may need to be a bit wider, but I think I'm pretty close. Maybe tonight we can put it together.

Checking the Sizzix web site, Ron and I both think we do have the "Tattered Leaves" die set, but I forgot to check when I was in the dining room getting leather. D'oh! All three leaves fit into a 5-1/2 x 6" area, so they should even be about the size I was thinking I wanted, and having more than one leaf shape is a plus for the current secret project.

Did some poking around yesterday, and found a source for reasonably-priced Bison leather (my Usual Sources don't carry it). Samples should be sent out today. Not that I need more leather in the house, but it is different than most of what I have.

Got more leather yesterday, that I'd ordered Monday from one of my Usual Sources. Despite my protestations about not needing more leather in the previous paragraph, I did need more for molded pouch fronts, as I need to make a bunch more of that style pouch. My source also had harness leather bellies super-cheap, so I got one of each color (two types in black, 5 shades of brown). Bellies aren't big, and these are fairly thick, so I'm largely limited to pieces that will fit through my splitter; but the more I think about it, the more things I can think of that I can use them for. I think I'll probably be ordering more, especially black...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

More New Things

At lunchtime yesterday I was sketching leather tabs to hold a pouch shut. As I remarked to Ron, I was a hard time drawing tabs that weren't . . . suggestive. Ron's old pouch has a fleur-de-lis shaped tab, which solves that problem, but I want something different.

Then I drew . . . a nose! A pretty good nose. Not a good shape for a tab, though.

After some silly ideas passed back and forth, I tried leaf designs. Several times. Then it was time to go back to work-work.

When we got home, we found some photos of leaves we liked, and Ron started trying to trace the first one (simplifying) in Illustrator, but his brain wasn't properly engaged. (probably distracted by bee-related things, see personal blog)

I took over, fired up my CAD program, and drew a couple not-suggestive tabs up, then tried a trefoil and quatrefoil. I e-mailed them off to a die maker, but I don't think I'm going to get the quatrefoil, and the trefoil is right out. I might get dies to cut those shapes eventually, but not for tabs.

Besides using a leaf-shape for a tab to hold a pouch shut, I have another idea for decorating a larger pouch. On the way in this morning, I kinda remembered getting a leaf-shaped die for the Sizzix machine. Ron thinks we might have, too. Must check tonight, although the Sizzix dies won't cut leather thick enough for a tab, they will for the decorative thing I'd like leaf shapes for.

Have preliminary designs for a pouch similar to Ron's old one. Although I don't want to hand-cut a fancy tab for a test-run, I can just make a simple oval or pointed tab, using our end punches and the appropriate-sized strap.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Further CodCon, with Less Flailing

In that last post, there is a whopping great error in the recounting of Friday - we were set up by 6:00, which while still relatively fast at about an hour, is not the impossibly fast 5-15 minutes I implied.  :) I was surprised we set up that fast, it felt like we were really flailing around.

Business Saturday was good, although the afternoon/evening got long and boring. Ron and Robin got to CoD somewere around lunchtime, which helped on the boredom front.

Sunday wasn't bad either. Roughly half our sales were on Saturday, the rest being split between Friday and Sunday, weighted slightly toward Friday.

We were set up next to Bast's Garden (plush critters with wings, dragons, wings, polymer clay critters, art, etc.), which was good, because they're fun, and good neighbors. Good for them, bad for us, because we kept buying things from them.

On our other side was a guy giving psychic readings. Okay, sure, whatever. There were also three vendors with gaming stuff, one with jewelry, and a guy with some older collectible card games and lots of other odds and ends. The last table in the room was for the convention CyPhan. They were only there Saturday.

We were in a corner, and managed to get everything set up except knitting patterns and alpaca fiber (didn't even bring them). Forgot to get pictures.

Almost all our sales were pouches. Lots of pouches (which includes drawstring bags). The CoD Cosplay club was part of the convention, and there was a LARP group, both of which I think helped our sales.

Packing up, tearing down, and packing the trailer was accomplished in an hour or a little less. Teh Fast, I haz it. One thing doing one-day SCA events has taught me is how to set up and tear down quickly. And for amusement value, at least one of the other vendors was confused when we first wheeled in the two big tool bins.

The trailer and tool bins/road cases are great. Loading and unloading the trailer are much faster than when we had umpty dozen smaller bins. The new hand truck is nice. Bungee-ing the gridwall to it is one of those "DUH!" things.

We got an order for an extra-large flat-bottomed black drawstring bag, so yesterday morning I went to the Leather Factory store in Elgin, to get leather for it. There weren't any pieces big enough in the large-scrap bin (where I'd gotten some nice pebbled black before), so I ended up buying a whole hide. Way overkill for the bag, but we also need more satchels and belt satchels, and black leather (belt) satchels don't usually hang around long. So the plan for the coming weekend is to cut out satchels/belt satchels - I also have a whole hide of bright yellow, and another of bright blue that I haven't touched yet.

Saturday morning, while looking for something else, Ron found the belt pouch he bought with his moccasins at Bristol ages ago. The company he bought them from is out of business now, so I think we may make something similar. It's smaller than a belt satchel, and his is made out of buffalo, which is thicker than the black, blue, and yellow I have, but the style would work with them. It's also machine-sewn, which is good for my hands and wrists.

Besides the black hide, and black out of the large-scrap bin (and a piece of pretty dark green), I found a nice red for softish pouches. And, um, remember the piece that I think I described as "dark Barbie pink"? Yeah. It's not pink, it's purple. Magenta. Whatever. And it turns out it isn't as big as I thought when I unrolled it. Anyway, as you may have guessed it followed me home, too. I decided if I was looking for/at it again, it was meant to be.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

CodCon, With Saturday Morning Flailing

I got to CoD about 5 minutes before Ron and the strong young men yesterday - I was standing outside, and had just pulled out my phone to call Robin and find out how far away they were (ie: should I wait outside, or inside where it was warmer) when I looked up and saw them. That answered that question.

We all got here 4:45-5-ish, I think, and were set up by 5:00.

And we got sales last night! Yay! I was afraid it was going to be a flop, but apparently not. I have to remember that sales will probably slow most of today, if things go as usual for a convention, then possibly pick up tonight from people who won't be back tomorrow. There's a Masquerade, so that may generate some business tonight if people decide they need a pouch or something for their outfit.

Flailed around this morning. Things seemed to go smoothly: got lunch made, stuff out to the car, remembered to send somebody back for the collars and leashes (which I expect to not be bought for people use...), and Ron remembered a need for some leather scrap. Then to Ace for an extension cord, as the outlet behind us is apparently turned off, but there's a live one down the hall (Bast's Garden let us use one of the outlets on their cord last night, so I didn't have to worry about UPS life).

Then we went to McDonald's for breakfast, and I realized I'd forgotten the cash box. D'OH! Circled back home for that first, then breakfast, and then I remembered I needed gas. AAARGH! Will we ever get more than a couple miles from home!?!?

Yes, we did. After that we came straight to CoD. Marmaduke helped me bring stuff in and uncover, and now I'm all ready to go. Ron and Robin will be here later this evening.

And now I should move the iPod and keyboard back to the belt bin, put the pouches back in place, and work on red and black little pouches - I thought I had 2-3, turns out I only had one, which someone bought last night.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ready for CodCon

I think we're ready for CodCon:
  • Cooler, toolbox, and groceries (for Saturday) procured. 
  • Last things taken out to the trailer. 
  • Cash box checked so I know what change I have to get tomorrow. 
  • I finished another pouch this evening.
  • Pouches to work on packed (they go in the car in the morning).
  • To-Do list updated, and much shorter - only a couple things left to do/take out to the car tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Things Done, Things Left To Do

  • Karma mocked for not getting the beer gut out of the big yellow road case on Sunday by sending me a question about it via Etsy. Ron beat me home, and by the time I got home he had excavated the beer gut, and put the tablecloths in the yellow bin.

  • Ron also finished the two pockets (one stacked set, one large single) I cut gussets for over the weekend.

  • All finished pouches have had costs figured, been entered into inventory, been tagged, packed into a bin, and that bin put into the trailer.

  • Including all fifty drawstring bags. Robin helped.

  • Not including the pouch I finished at lunchtime.

  • I have a list of things I need to do/pack. For a while this morning I thought I had to get it all done tonight, but this afternoon I realized today is only Wednesday. Yay. It isn't an extensive list, but two nights makes for less insanity.

  • I've decided that a small cooler would be a sensible purchase - one big enough to hold lunch for 2-3 people, or for lunch, dinner, and snackage for me for Saturday. Conveniently, Cabela's has a 24-can size soft-side Coleman cooler on sale, and is on the way home.

  • I also need to replace one of the tackle/tool boxes that was a victim of cargo shifting on the way to the last event. A box which came from Cabela's

  • FedEx tracking states that the e-track straps and other accessories have been delivered, so we can finish tying things down in the trailer.

Otter Necessities has been in business for about 15 years now (scary thought). For most of that we've been hauling tables around on a handtruck. For much of that time they've been the plastic banquet tables (and last year we added the gridwall). The handtruck is/was not as wide as the tables, and if you get the load off-center or go across a slope, things can shift, and it isn't an uncommon occurance. So why did I not think of using bungees to help secure the tables/gridwall to the handtruck until this last weekend? Headdesk, headdesk. Yes, we have bungees now. We can be taught!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sticker Shock

I got a new leather, hardware, and tool supply catalog yesterday, from the company I buy most of my leather from. I was expecting price increases.

What I found was price INCREASES for leather. My eyes glazed over, my brain just kinda gibbered, and I refused to think about it any more.

Today I compared the new prices to the 2011 catalog, and what I have for various types of leather in my cost computation spreadsheet.

The numbers still aren't pretty - prices for a small sample of the leather and hardware I use most shows increases mostly in the 5%-15% range over last year's catalog. But the reason the most recent leather prices were so shocking is that I haven't bought more expensive leather in a couple-three years, and I'd been ignoring the price increases over what I have on hand that the 2011 catalog reflected. In short, for the things I looked at the effective price increases for me range from 7% to 44%, with the two kinds of leather I use for belts going up in the neighborhood of 25% since I last re-supplied. Ouchie.

I'm unlikely to do it this week, but in the very near future I'm going to have to crunch numbers and figure out where I'm going to raise prices and how much. This will only be my second price increase in almost 15 years in business, so it really isn't an unreasonable step to take. Part of the decision-making will be if I'm going to re-price all my existing pouches, or start with pouches made after a trigger date.

Belts are easier - unlike pouches, I don't tag belts, I just have a price list. Then again, I have enough different belt styles now that maybe I should go to tagging belts.

Decisions, decisions.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Trailer and Bag Progress

Pictures, we have them today (click to embiggen).

First up, a shot of the completed and mostly-packed trailer interior, showing the big stuff and the shelf:

The upper piece of lumber going across is a shelf support, the lower one is a load bar to help restrain the bins. If you embiggen the picture you can more clearly see the yellow bin is behind the big green bin. Ron had a bright idea, and stood the 6' tables up on end. Unfortunately, the 6' gridwall panels are just a smidge too tall, because of the leather that we put on the bottoms to protect floors. A couple pieces don't fit in on the side, but have to lay down on the floor. Shouldn't be a problem.

The new handtruck (not a really good Magliner, but I think an upgrade from the old one) is loose at the moment, but I've ordered more E-Track tie-downs, and a rachet strap that hooks into the E-Track for each big bin. They should arrive tomorrow or Wednesday.

The small tables are tied to the E-Track. The big tables don't need to be, they're restrained by the shelf, as shown in this closeup:

How do we get the tables out? Simple: the shelf bottom is supported by, but not actually attached to, angle-iron which is screwed to the inside of the 2x4s. Similarly, the 2x4s are not bolted into the brackets. Lift out the plywood, lift the 2x4s out of their brackets, and there you go. (the piece of lumber standing up bridges the gap over the back gate hinges).

Here's another view of the shelf:

The plan is for the shelf to hold the few remaining Rubbermaid bins and other small stuff - one bin holds receipt books, etc., this weekend we'll have a bin of drawstring bags and other new stuff that didn't make it into the big yellow bin, tool bag, etc. Not sure exactly chairs will go, now that I think about it, possibly standing up next to the handtruck - There's one of the pairs of tie-downs I thought were extra when I was ordering...

On to the end of the drawstring bag orgy

After I got the shoulder straps on the purses (finally!), I sewed some of the second batch of bags. We'd considered using the lightweight sewing machine, but I decided to put lighter thread in the big machine and use that. Worked fine.

Ron laid out a star pattern, and we put studs on some of the medium and large pouches:

  No, the two pictures are not to scale - the star pattern is the same size on each size bag. You can't really see the difference, but the off-white bags have gold-colored studs, the other have silver-colored.

Ron did some sewing, then I took over, and by dinnertime we were done with that part of the job. But we were on a roll, and started cutting and melting cords for the drawstrings. That went fairly quick, so we started threading, with some help by Modelmaker who'd stopped by, and by bedtime all 50 drawstring bags were completely done.  

All that's left to do with the drawstring bags is to tag them and get them in inventory. Small bags $5, medium $7.50, large $10, add $5 for studs (which are on both sides).

Sunday, April 15, 2012

More Things!

Cutting, marking, punching, and sewing 22 drawstring bags may have been enough for one evening's work, but it wasn't enough bags.

Yesterday I laid out, cut out, and started marking and punching holes in 28 more drawstring bags.

Yes, that puts us up to 50 of them. Yes, that is a lot. No, that really isn't an excessive number. That's an assortment of colors in three different sizes, and some of the large and medium ones are going to have decorative studs added.

Yesterday I also got the costs of most of the finished pouches figured out, got them tagged, and into my inventory spreadsheet. I'm still grappling with some issues with pockets, but that was a brain-power issue.

Today I got a lot of the finished pouches into the big yellow road case, after pulling out a couple things I wouldn't be putting out at CodCon anyway to make room. I was going to pull out the old beer gut bag for a makeover, but I didn't get that far (under other things, feeling lazy). I should also have put tablecloths in, but didn't think of it.

Meanwhile, Ron pulled the trailer into the driveway. Ron and I poked at things and figured out loading and the best way to put a shelf across the front end, and then Ron and Robin loaded the road cases - the ramp on the trailer is really really nice for that.

Just got back from buying angle-iron and plywood for the shelf, and a new handtruck. The old one has a bent axle, Ron suspects that happened on the way to the last event, when the road cases shifted as we went up and down some significant hills. (Yes, we're setting up the trailer to try to prevent that from happening again).

At the moment Ron and Robin are out getting ready to actually make the shelf, and its time for me to go work on putting holes in the last of the drawstring bags, and put the shoulder straps on the purses (which I didn't get to yesterday).

Friday, April 13, 2012

Drawstring Bag Orgy...

22 drawstring bags (I laid out another two) cut out, marked, holes punched, sewn, trimmed, and turned right-side out. I think that's a sufficient night's work.

More Drawstring Bags

Having figured out how we want to make drawstring bags Wednesday night, last night I started actual work.

I ended up laying out 20 drawstring bags on various bits of upholstery/heavy garment leather that I found in the stash - green, navy blue, smooth black, suede pigskin in black, and one on some nice light tan. I managed to get a six-foot long table put up in the dining room (yes, you can still get in and out), and used my new safety ruler. I like my safety ruler, you put it down and it stays with no slipping. And I'm sure I'll appreciate the safety aspects even more when I start doing lots of cutting with it.

It still surprises me how fast I can work assembly-line fashion: all I did last night was lay the bags out/trace them onto the leather - no cutting, no marking for drawstring holes or for the flat-bottomed large bags, etc. I'll probably work on cutting, marking, and possibly punching holes tonight, so Ron can start sewing. And there's still more leather I can make into bags, so I'll probably go back and lay out another batch.

I have a vague fear that a variant of Murphy's Law will kick in and we won't sell any drawstring bags at CodCon, but we also needed something along the cheap-and-simple lines for a while, since we ran low/out of a bunch of little "envelope" pouches I made at one point. So even if the bags don't sell at CodCon, I expect they'll be a good addition to inventory. I haven't figured out the theoretical costs for the bags, so I haven't decided on prices yet, so that's another thing I need to do.

Other plans for this weekend include getting the shoulder straps onto the two black purses I have otherwise done, and getting the big pile of finished pouches (pushing two dozen if you count the purses) tagged and into the inventory list. The slow part there is doing the cost computations for things - most pouches I try to figure out the actual cost of each. There's also a couple-three pockets I need to cut gussets for, and get Ron to finish sewing together.

I think my plan for tomorrow is to start out the morning by finishing the purses, then move on to cutting (and gluing) pocket gussets. After that I'll cost/tag pouches and update inventory, then move back to the drawstring bag binge. With interruptions for the usual schlepping of Robin to and from karate, the new addition of getting him to Games Plus or the train station after a quick shower, change of clothes, and lunch, and later in the day picking him up from the train station. And this week, a PeaPod delivery.

Which reminds me, I need to finish my PeaPod order before 8 tonight so we actually have food next week...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Drawstring Bags

We worked on drawstring bags yesterday. I'd poked around and come up with a design along the lines of the bottom of a grocery bag (or L.L. Bean Boat & Tote bag). After dinner we started prototyping. I cut, marked, and punched holes, Ron ran the sewing machine. Click to embiggen pictures.

Bags 1 and 2 

We decided that the construction method worked fine for the big bag, but not for the small one. It would work fine for the smaller bag in fabric, maybe with thinner/softer garment leather, but not so well in the leather we were using, which was more upholstery-weight.

Unfortunately, while folding over the top edge to make the casing for the drawstring looks good, with this leather there was just no way to pull them shut.

This is the larger bag, after Ron heaved on the drawstrings. I couldn't get it this far.

Bags 3, 4, and 5

These bags are all made flat, with simple holes for the drawstrings.

Bag 3, on the left, doesn't have enough rounding-off of the corners.

Think think, think think think . . . grab a template for something else. Make bag 4, center. Some wobblies on sewing around the bottom, but better!

Flip the template around to try a smaller version, bag 5, on the right. Better yet!

The nice thing about 4 and 5 are that layout is done mostly using a template for a hard pouch back - the flap for the smaller bag, the body for the larger bag. Multi-use tools FTW.

We have our drawstring bag designs: The large flat-bottomed bag, and flat bags 4 and 5 (with minor modifications for small and medium sizes. I can start cutting for production tonight.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Done Flailing, Now Careening

Ron came home around midday yesterday, but both of us are feeling better today. My tummy isn't 100%, but definitely improved.

I spent most of yesterday afternoon/evening flailing around bookwork. It had piled up badly, but I finally got through it. I still need to scan some receipts and file things, but the data is entered. I haven't tackled getting all the new pouches into inventory yet, but soon, very soon.

Speaking of that, Monday night I straightened up the top of the big green bin, so we're no longer in danger of impending collapse. Just shy of 2 dozen finished pouches.

Monday evening Robin also took the tables and gridwall out to the trailer, yay! He didn't take the winch and accessories, but that was corrected last night.

After Robin did that, Ron and I went spelunking for garment/upholstery leather to make drawstring (dice) bags from. I pulled out two bins, hopefully once we make bags I can compress any leftovers into one bin, and put other things away in the resulting space. I think I've figured out how we're going to make the bags (because I can't do the easiest thing), and I'm ready to start cutting tonight.

Before that, however, I need to go to the trailer dealer on the way home. The dealer didn't have the 2x4 and tie-down brackets we wanted for the e-track when we picked up the trailer (expected the next day), so they shipped them to us, and the package arrived yesterday. The 2x4 brackets are fine, but instead of a half-dozen rings on short pieces of nylon strap, we got two dozen rings for a different (incompatible) track system.

Before I could call the dealer this morning, they called me - somebody had scrambled our order and another one. The parts person started to offer something about shipping, but I said I'd stop by and make the switch. It isn't exactly on the way home, but it's the easiest fix.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Got up this morning, started getting ready for work, then my tummy started doing flip-flops (we're blaming the non-homemade guacamole we had with dinner last night, leftovers promptly circular-filed). After getting my tummy to settle, I wandered downstairs.

My big accomplishments this morning have been chainmail: a simple chain in silver aluminum and black rubber for this pouch:

And a fancier pattern in bronze aluminum and rust rubber for this pocket. Also shown is my second attempt at wire-wrapping around an antler tip. I haven't attached anything to the pouch yet - I want Ron and Robin's opinion if I need to re-do the wire-wrapping. Do you think the wrap would look better with black wire? (click to embiggen - all pictures)

And here's my loyal assistant:

How to Tie a "Reenactment" Belt

Almost every event we show somebody how to tie a "Reenactment" belt - the kind that tie, worn both by ladies and gentlemen:

Now that I'm selling on-line, here's a quick picture tutorial.

Step One:


Just like putting on a buckled belt, the belt goes around your body, and the tail goes through the ring or dee from behind.

Step Two:

Bring the tail up behind the belt, notice I've had my model leave a loop. At this point the tail is flipped over his shoulder, and the back side of the tail section is facing out.

Step three: 

The tail goes back down through the loop, forming an overhand knot around the belt where it attaches to the hardware - the model's hand would be pulling the resulting knot snug, if I hadn't had him pause for the picture.

Step four: 

Snug the knot up around the ring or dee.  

Monday, April 9, 2012

Nattering Post

And here's a post for more natter about the weekend.

Something on the Schedule!

After extensive waffling, I decided to go ahead and give CodCon a try. CodCon is a gaming convention sponsored by the College of DuPage (CoD) SF/Fantasy club. Friday and Saturday night I'll be there until 10 pm, which is past my bedtime. I have some reservations about that, but I should survive.

Now that I've decided to do CodCon, I really should make up some drawstring dice bags. I should be able to do that next weekend. And I should probably prioritize the pouches I've got to lace up.

Trailer and Dining Room

The dining room is still a mess. The trailer is painted and the e-track installed, and I excavated the tables and gridwall, but they didn't get moved into the trailer. That should be rectified tonight or tomorrow.

Must Keep Making Things

I got 5 more pouches ready to lace yesterday.

The tool bag of pouch parts and the tool bag of lesser-used tools, zippy bags of parts, and other odds and ends have been consolidated, and one of them is now holding the mass of pouches that need lacing (and in some cases chainmail peg/antler ties). The pile of finished pouches on top of the big green belt case is getting dangerously unstable. We've had one pouch-alanche already. I need to go through and at least re-stack everything neatly.

I was planning to cut some gussets for pockets out of soft leather yesterday, but that was a plan predicated on getting things out of the dining room.

And as I said above, now I need to make some simple (cheap!) dice bags. And the leather for those? Yeah, blocked off by certain things that need to move to the trailer.

I'm sensing a theme here...


All those pouches I've been working on also need to get put into inventory (which includes figuring out how much each costs in materials), tagged, and eventually packed into the big yellow bin (although I may be starting to push its capacity). Fortunately, I made a "cut out pouches" spreadsheet/list on my iPad, which will help getting them into inventory. Software compatibility FTW!

All of Otter's tax paperwork for 2011 should now be completed, with the mailing of the business returns last week. Next year I get the dubious fun of figuring out depreciation, for the trailer. Yuk. Oh well, I've got at least 9 months of not-worrying-about-it-yet. :)

Picture Time

Nope, I didn't fib, I did get pictures yesterday. But as you probably noticed, I didn't get as far as posting them. So the first post today will be a picture post. Click to embiggen.

First up, Ron and Robin installing the e-track inside the newly-painted trailer. The only light for this shot was what was coming in around me and through the roof vent. No flash. I probably couldn't have taken this picture before the inside was painted, it made a big difference in interior brightness.

Here's a shot from farther back, showing the nice drop-gate with flip-out extension (and a piece of plywood over the hinges at the top of the ramp). It's well-balanced/counter-weighted, so I can open and close it without a struggle.  The floor and ramp are a plasticised composite that the salesman says can even be wet-mopped, not cheap and awful chipboard. We paid for extra height, Ron can stand upright but has to keep his head down to avoid the ceiling ribs, roof vent, and light.

And here's a so-so side view. To get farther away I'd have had to get to the other side of the fence. The neighbors wouldn't mind me taking pictures from their yard (as long as I didn't stand in the bushes, and the dog would probably demand attention), but I didn't get that far.
Next up, a couple shots showing you why I've been impatient to evict stuff to the trailer. This is looking through the doorway from the kitchen Instead of being to walk in past the leather cart, there's the gridwall (which you can't see unless you know what to look for), and the tables. The yellow thing propped up on the leather cart is my safety ruler. (Yes, that is a ginormous bag of Heath Bar chips. GFS is evil. They're going in brownies later this week, which Robin is taking to school.)

And finally, from a vantage point just inside the doorway in the last shot, showing the Workmate and Workmate-clone in front of the window. The mess to the left of the big chair is comprised mostly of a pile of molds and things that haven't been put away because the tables and gridwall are in the way, topped by the cardboard box which is full of scraps and other garbage.

I'm not entirely sure why there's a box of dog cookies on the big sewing machine...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Getting Things Done!

Beer Gut

All the ducks finally got themselves in the correct rows, and the beer gut was dispatched New Zealand-ward Thursday morning. Yay!

Although I was a doofus, and didn't get Ron to get good pictures. All I have is one of Robin acting as reluctant model - I'll append it to the end of this post.


Yes, I will get pictures today.

Ron and Robin had Friday off, the finks (and I used enough time off in March I didn't take Friday off, but it was really really hard not to stay home). Friday morning Robin got the first coat of white paint on the inside of the trailer. Yesterday morning he and Robin did a second coat, and in the afternoon Ron hit any spots that looked thin one more time.

Even though I knew most places would be closed today, and had said any groceries we needed for today would need to be bought yesterday, I somehow did not extend that to screws to install the rail in the trailer. Fortunately Menard's is open. Screws procured, rail installation underway. (The rail came with self-tapping screws to go into the metal ribs, but not wood screws for all the non-rib holes).

I was summoned a little while ago for consultation regarding an issue with hole-spacing in the rail compared to where the screws holding the plywood walls are. Said issue is not simplified by the fact that the roof supports are at 24" centers, but we upgraded to wall ribs on 16" centers, so we can't use one to deduce the location of the other. I eventually remembered that we own a stud finder. Robin then remembered that we actually own two. Unfortunately, neither one is helping, probably being confused by the exterior metal skin. I just sent Robin out with a strong magnet, hopefully that helps locate the ribs.

Yay! I should get a bunch of junk out of the dining room today! YAY!

Other Stuff

Got eight more pouches ready for final assembly yesterday. Three of them had significant work already done, so it's not as much as an achievement as it might sound.

I'm almost out of cut-out pouch parts. This is kind of a good thing, I had a pretty big pile. At this point I'm actively trying to get rid of that pile. Which is why I had to cut out two more little squarish soft pouch fronts, really. You see, I had these two backs with no fronts, so . . .

Back to the leather mines. Pouches to work on. Tables and gridwall to unburden of the detritus that has accumulated on them in the last month (even though they're on edge). Gussets to cut with my brand-shiny-new safety ruler, once I have space to set a table up. Fun fun fun!

(No, really, it is fun.)

Beer Gut destined for New Zealand. Click to embiggen.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Got a call this morning that the trailer is in! Yay!

I will be meeting Ron at the dealership, as he has the vehicle with the trailer hitch as well as the registration and plate form the old trailer to have transferred, while I have the credit card to pay the outstanding balance.

As far as the Beer Gut goes, Ron picked up the customs forms yesterday, and with a postal clerk's help determined what the optimum packaging solution would be (our own packaging, not a flat-rate international box). That's about as far as we got though, My brain was complete mush and I spent most of the evening . . . reading a book about smallpox in modern-ish American history.

Yeah, I know, I'm strange. I'm a history geek.

But I did finish off a pouch. And Monday evening I re-built Ron's leatherman belt case (I'd made the belt loop a hair too small, and replacing the belt loop required significant other dis-assembly).

My safetry ruler arrived yesterday. Me likey. Once I explained exactly what it was Robin looked intrigued, so I said I'd share.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Progress Down Under-Ish!

Getting an answer from New Zealand about sending leather has been entertaining.

I think the query I submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry (MAF) was eaten by the troll under the ethernet bridge.

I called the Chicago Consulate, and was directed to the NZ Customs service website, which directed me back to MAF.

I called the New York Embassy, and was given an email for MAF, but apparently my brain did not distinguish between eff and ess when spoken with a New Zealand accent, and furthermore my brain was not fully engaged to catch that I should probably be sending to an address at, not

I was also given a phone number for MAF . . . in New Zealand. Fortunately, I noticed the f/s thing and tried e-mail again to before finding out how much it costs to call NZ. I did, however go so far as to look up the time differential to, IIRC, Christchurch (1:30 pm today CST is 7:30 am tomorrow there).

Yay! Finished/tanned leather can come into NZ! There is a little ambiguity in the response, such that it could be interpreted that a finished bag is ok, but just a chunk of leather is not, vs. tanned leather ok but raw skin not, but in either case we're good.

Now to pick up and fill out customs forms, and figure out just how much shipping for the Beer Gut is going to be, so I can bill the customer (who I've let know where we are in the process).

Monday, April 2, 2012

Weekend Report

This weekend I worked on pouches!


Are you not surprised?

Le sigh.

Some elaboration, perhaps?

I wasn't the only one. Ron is getting to the point in his post-surgical recovery where he's feeling mostly human again, and did some machine-sewing on pockets. He probably would have done more, but I didn't have pieces ready for him to work on.

I didn't cut out anything new, but I did work on the big stack of cut-out parts. IIRC I have ten pouches to lace up at this point. A couple leftovers I didn't finish last week, a couple that I got mostly ready to lace last weekend and only had to do minor work on this weekend, and several that were just a pile of parts when I last posted. I could have worked on more parts, but I figured I had enough about mid- to late-afternoon yesterday.

And last night I finished a pouch not in the above count.

This morning I ordered latches and rivets, as some as my supplies are getting awfully low, as well as some other odds and ends.