Leather mirror case
I have a little handbag mirror that I’ve had since forever, but the hinge of its plastic case broke with the result that the lid kept coming adrift from the mirror part. Without the lid to protect it, it was only a matter of time before the mirror got broken – it has to survive in the bottom of my bag along with all the usual detritus and the occasional spanner or extending rule that I’m carrying around for some reason I can’t quite remember. I decided to salvage the mirror itself from the broken case and make a new leather case for it.
I’ve never tried these studs on leather before, or fabric for that matter. They can be used purely decoratively or to attach two or more pieces of leather together, like a rivet.
Being a novice as far as studs are concerned, and of a miserly disposition, I only ordered the studs themselves, not the setting tools. A setting punch and anvil cost an awful lot more than a couple of packets of 50 studs, and are only good for a single size (and head shape). I figured I could find something lying around the house that would do, or bodge something. The studs I’ve bought are tiny, just 6mm (¼”) across. I’ve got a hole punch that small, so I made holes in offcuts of leather and set about trying to make a neat job of joining them with studs.
I soon discovered that it wasn’t too hard to get a secure fastening and reasonably neat underside by assembling the two parts of the stud and then positioning it upside down and striking it with a ball-pein hammer. The problem was, the shiny domed head was deformed in the process, even though I put several layers of scrap leather between it and the hard surface underneath.
The stud on the left was my first attempt. Spot the large dent. For the second try, on the right, I rested the head in a pressed steel eyelet-setting tool I found in my sewing box. It deformed into a weirdly conical shape that doesn’t look attractive. A proper setting anvil would be exactly the same shape as the stud head – or rather, the negative of it, obviously – and would therefore support it perfectly and prevent it from being squashed.
On the third try, I again used scrap leather to set the rivet and then turned it right side up and hit it several times with the flat end of the hammer at various angles. The idea was to give it a distressed appearance that looked deliberate rather than accidental (or ham-fisted). I’m not convinced it was successful.
Back to the drawing board.
I toyed with the idea of using a stud head stuck onto a cocktail stick to make an impression in some kind of modelling clay or epoxy putty that would then become a perfectly shaped anvil once it had hardened. But what kind of clay or putty has minimal shrinkage, won’t stick to metal and will be sufficiently hard and non-brittle to withstand hammer blows? Possibly epoxy metal putty, but I don’t have any. I did consider chopping up steel wool and stirring it into 2-part epoxy glue with some filler to make a sort of fibre-reinforced epoxy clay, and then oiling the stud head and hoping it wouldn’t stick, but it seemed like a messy idea that had only a small chance of success.
Before giving up I had another go with the original set-up, but this time using a thickish slice from a wine bottle cork under the head of the stud. This resulted in nearly total success, with just minor damage to the head. I can live with that. I don’t expect it would work with larger studs that need to be hit harder to secure them, but for these tiny ones it’s fine. And I was pleased to find that a stud goes through 4 layers of leather with no problem.
My plan is to use a single stud as a pivot for my mirror case, allowing the mirror to rotate out of its protective cover. I don’t know if it will work well, but I’m going to give it a try.
Will there be enough yarn?
I bought 200g of this orangey 4-ply yarn by Araucania last year, originally to knit a sleeveless cardigan called Titus Adrift. But then I realised an Adrift in a linen and cotton yarn would be better than wool, and knitted it in Bergère de France’s Bigarelle instead.
I can’t wear wool next to my skin and a summery cardigan that can only be worn over long sleeved tops wouldn’t be very useful. Which left me with the problem of what to do with the Araucania Botany Lace (now called Huasco, I believe).
I acquired 100g of plain grey/beige Fivemoons yarn at Yarndale 2015 to go with it, but even 300g isn’t really enough for a jumper with sleeves. (Unless you’re a beanpole, which I’m not.) Then I realised that some plain orange yarn I had left over from a pair of socks would go with it too, taking the total to about 330g which just might be enough.
While browsing Knitty the other day, my eye was taken by Saint Rémy. It’s a close-fitting, top down, all-in-one jumper with a band of stranded colourwork around the yoke. I’m turning that stranding into stripes to make my yarn go as far as possible, and with luck I’ll be able to complete a zero-ease garment. If I run out, I can probably get some more of the Drops orange sock yarn, and since the new ball will be used round the bottom and the cuffs it won’t be obvious if it’s a slightly different shade from the stripes at the yoke.
I did a tension swatch on single-pointed needles when I first bought the Araucania yarn, but I knitted another swatch in the round before casting on for Saint Remy. Like most people, my tension varies a little between to-and-fro and in-the-round and I don’t want to end up with a jumper I can’t fit into. (Btw, the difference in tensions is because most of us purl to a slightly different tension from our knitting.) Before I pulled out the original swatch I took a photo of it, and I’ve been using that in the Gimp to decide what combination of stripes to use.
Planning the jumper this way may turn out to be rather an academic exercise though. I don’t know if I’ll have enough of the 3 colours to make this number of stripes of these thicknesses.
My plan is to knit down to a few inches below the point at which the sleeves are separated off, then knit the sleeves, and finally finish the body using whatever yarn is left. It’ll be complicated by the fact that I really ought to work both skeins of the Araucania yarn at the same time, alternating between them every couple of rows, to minimise the risk of colour pooling and differences between the appearance of the body and the much smaller sleeves. If it were a plain yarn or even a semi-solid (like the Fivemoons) I could just knit the sleeves with the second skein and avoid a few joins, but I don’t think I dare with this strongly variegated yarn.