Thursday, June 24, 2010

DIY Huaraches

This is my Summer 2010 sandal, the huarache. I really wanted my classic Vibram FiveFingers to bear that title, but after a few months in warmer weather, the stench they emitted after each wear was too foul. I found that soaking them in water and baking soda helped, but I wasn't about to wash my main shoes everyday. Barefoot Ted sells a Vibram-sole huarache kit in his online shop at a very reasonable price. I bought from him, and substituted red polypropylene rope ($3 at Walgreens) for the leather laces. It was a small concession because polypropylene is a petroleum product, but I was skeptical about the pliability of the leather. According to a friend who also completed this project, the leather laces do work for this tie-style, they just take longer to break in. These shoes are designed after the minimal footwear of the Tarahumara runner-people of Mexico. Urban runners who want that barefoot feel will don these for a thin layer of protection against potentially dangerous surfaces. I'm no runner, but I do enjoy the easy slip-on slip-off aspect of these stink-free shoes, and can happily add handmade shoes to my short list of craft accomplishments.

August 2010 edit: The poly rope knot wore through in a couple of months. I restrung the sandals with the original leather straps (yes, they get pliable) and they have been going strong ever since.

Made in: Wherever you live
Handmade? Yes!


Friday, June 18, 2010

Schrade Barlow and Opinel Knife

The barlow is a classic American pocket knife style. The handle on this austere model is made of plastic, but you can find a slew of more expensive non-plastic options and made in USA ones elsewhere online. I stumbled upon this item while browsing the Lehman's online catalog, which only stocks old-fashioned non-electric merchandise. According to their about page, they sell to "missionaries and doctors working in developing countries; homesteaders and environmentalists living in remote areas; people with unreliable electricity living on islands and mountains; second home owners, hunters, fishers and cabin dwellers; the 'chronically nostalgic,' and even Hollywood set designers looking for historically accurate period pieces."

Made in: China
Handmade? No


photo from canoe

A step up from the barlow in price and rusticity is the French Opinel knife. The Kitchn names the #6 as a choice pick for picnics. The carbon blade keeps a sharper edge, but needs to be wiped dry immediately after use. The stainless steel blade grows duller faster, but requires no special maintenance.

Made in: France
Handmade? No


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Aluminum Collator

This is an office product and not something you can wear; however, it's 100% practical. For a Type A like me who deeply enjoys keeping important paperwork neatly filed away, this aluminum collator puts to shame the flimsy options available at the local Office Max. Organize your work space in style. (I also have a sneaking suspicion that this is the same product- you can be the judge.) And Canoe is a fantastic, unpretentious shop. My dream home would be stocked with Heath Ceramics and modern Japanese and Scandinavian goods- I would move into the store if I could.

Made in: USA
Handmade? No


Archival Clothing Musette

photo from Archival Clothing's photostream

This musette is one offering in the fairly new line of bags produced by Archival Clothing. It is constructed from durable Waxwear waxed cotton. It comes in tan, yellow and navy- featured here is navy, my pick. More details here. I really don't need another shoulder bag, as my vintage Coach Ebay-find satchel serves me extremely well. However, I support that blog and want to test this out as a bicycle accessory. Cyclists traditionally used thin cotton musettes as feed bags during long races. If it comes down to choosing between a bag attached to the bike (such as this pretty Sackville SaddleSack) and a shoulder bag, I will choose the latter, since I go on short errands and am frequently hopping on and off. This bag truly embodies the AC ideal: classic, relatively unadorned, and maximum functionality.

Made in: Springfield, OR
Handmade? Yes!


J. Crew Caprice Jacket

Here is a women's jacket that can be described as a girlified mountain parka. It sounds like a terrible concept, but J. Crew actually executed it successfully, as they do on occasion. I bought it when the Texas summer swelter had started, so it is hanging on my coat rack waiting patiently for cooler days. I knowingly broke my rule about trying not to buy crap made in China, only because I had intermittently searched too long for a decent forest green parka. It is much boxier than it looks on the mannequin, which I find charming. (Excuse the iPhone photo quality. One day soon, a DSLR or micro four-thirds.)

Made in: China
Handmade? No


Swedish Officers Blanket

I've had my eye on a MacAusland's Woolen Mills blanket (lap size) for some time now, but despite their amazingly low prices, I suspect that international shipping might make it slightly less of a good deal. The Hudson Bay Company point blanket is similarly appealing, but you kind of look like a tool with such a ratty old thing in your living room, assuming you cannot afford a $300-$500 new one. Then I stumbled across this Swedish Officers Blanket. Usually military blankets are scratchy and not the softest blankets you can find, but the striking crown pattern caught my eye. This gray/eggshell color combo is available on this military surplus site. You can come across some great finds browsing around those sites. The giant Sierra Trading Post also carries a tanner one. Though it may be 95 degrees outside, we always appreciate a blanket to snuggle with while lounging on the couch in the evening.

Made in: Sweden (I assume)
Handmade? No