Wednesday, March 26, 2008

and the winner is....

Commenter #18, Susan!

Susan said...

1. I love the tote bags, and the little knit clutches

2. I am digging the green/brown combo. I also like fabric with birds on it.

March 19, 2008 8:00 PM

Susan, send me an email with your address and I'll send the bag out to you! laurel (at) penguinbot (dot) com

Thank you everyone for all the comments! Stay tuned, we'll have another contest in a few months, hopefully to celebrate the opening of the Penguinbot store. =)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

win this tote bag!

Blog posts will be few and far between this week, as my big brother and my niece are visiting us. I've promised my niece that I will spend lots of time with her digging in the sand at the beach, and as such, I will not be making many bags. To tide you over, I give you the gift of anticipation! The anticipation of possibly winning a free tote bag! As mentioned in a few other posts, I made a wee mistake on this tote bag:

It was supposed to have straps of the same color vinyl as the bottom. In my first ever mistake at sewing (what? you don't believe me?) I grabbed the wrong set of straps and sewed them in, not realizing what I'd done until I turned the bag right-side out and finished the topstitching at the top. As I proudly showed it to Lorne (as I do with every single thing I make, even if I've just made two of the exact same item), I saw my error. This must be the price I pay for "mass-production." (I've started cutting fabric out for multiple bags at once and sewing things in stages, not just one bag at a time. It's probably as mass-produced as anything made by one woman sitting at one sewing machine could ever be.) Anyway, it's not a horrible mistake, as you can see - it's not like the black straps clash horribly with the bag - so instead of ripping the whole thing out, I left it as is.

It has lovely pink, black, white, and orangeish innards. Do you like it? Do you want a chance to make it yours?

All you have to do is this: post a comment in response to this post that answers either a) or b) below before Wednesday, March 26.

Questions (answer one...or both!):
a) What have you seen on this blog that appeals to you the most?
b) What is your favorite color pairing?

That's all. Then, next Wednesday (March 26) I'll use a magical random number generator to pick the lucky winner. Lucky winner will then have to email me his/her address, and I'll drop it in the mail post haste.

P.S. This is a small tote bag. I forgot to measure it last night, but I'll post dimensions when I get home. I just wanted to get that out there so that in a week and a half the winner doesn't get all up in my grill about the bag being smaller than what they expected.

Tote bag size: 10.5" tall, 10" wide, 3" deep

Also, to answer Miranda's question - relatives can definitely enter the contest, seeing as how random number generator is doing the picking for me. Also, it's my contest. I'll do what I want.

Monday, March 17, 2008

tote bag insanity, part the first

I have a bazillion (literally!) totes to make in the coming months. Here is the first one, a small tote bag for Joanne. Her only guidelines were blues and greens, so this is what I came up with:

I took this on my favorite chair. We got it for free from our last landlord in Seattle...she went through a messy breakup with her fiance and wanted none of the furniture they shared (they left a bunch of it in the house we rented). It's so comfy, and incidentally, it's a pretty good background for pictures not taken with daylight.

Here's sort of a close up of the fabric so you can see the colors better. If it looks familiar, it's because it's the same as the fabric I used for Flannery's tote, but in a different color. Also, it seems to pretty much perfectly match the color scheme I have for this blog.

Here are the innards.

And here is another picture that's pretty much the same as the first, except one of the straps is hanging down. Ooooooh.

P.S. The contest will begin tomorrow! WOOOOO!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

my fancy scissors

For Christmas my brother- and sister-in-law, Nate and Miranda, got me these awesome scissors.

They're hand-forged carbonized steel with brass handles. They were made in India by a woman named Parveen, who is a part of a family that's been making scissors forever. And they're fair trade! How do I know that Parveen made them?

She signed them, as you can see here (sort of, thanks to my crappy picture). I didn't realize how crappy my other scissors were until I used these for the first time. My crappy scissors that came with my Learn to Sew kit have been relegated to snipping thread, until tonight.

I've been using the fancy scissors so much that the screw thingy that holds them together is starting to stick (I'm sure it can be fixed with a little oil, which I'll try tomorrow). So tonight when I was cutting up some fabric for Totebag Insanity 2008 I had to switch back to the old scissors. Oh my god. They're terrible. They take longer, they feel weird in my hand now, and they just don't cut well. Really though, how could my crappy scissors from my crappy several years old Learn to Sew kit even dream of competing with scissors that have been hand-forged? Just the word "forged" probably makes them shiver a little bit, kind of how you shiver a little when you hear the story of the One Ring being forged in the fires of Mordor.

Oh...that's just me? Sorry, I'll go back to my nerd closet now.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bethany's Wedding Clutch

Bethany is getting married two weeks from Saturday! Bethany is hilarious and fabulous, and the day before she leaves for her wedding, we're meeting up with her in Phoenix to watch some Spring Training baseball and go to the fun bar where you grill your own meat outside. When we see her, I'll give her her little wedding clutch.

She asked for an envelope clutch, and there it is. It's more shiny looking in real life.

My original plan was to use little magnetic snaps for the closure, but the magnets I got were ridiculously strong and the fabric is really light, and I got concerned about it ripping when Bethany tried to open it. The only other thing I had that would work was velcro, so I tried that. It does the job in holding the bag closed, but it doesn't look as nice as the snaps would have. Why were the tiny magnets so freakishly strong?!

I really like how it looks closed though.

administrative note

Hey everyone! I've come to the realization that I need to put a moratorium on bag orders for the time being. My brother and niece are coming to town next week for a week and a half, then after they head home Lorne and I will be going out of town three weekends in a row, so my time will be a little squeezed for the next month.

Aside from that, I'm a bit backlogged right now, and on top of finishing up the custom orders I already have, I'd like to have inventory ready to put in the Penguinbot store before I go about birthin' the baby in June. You may have noticed that there is currently no store on the site right now - but there will be! Dr. Lorney is working hard making things like fancy shopping carts, and we're hoping to have everything all functional in May. The store will have lots of bags similar to ones I've shown here, except they will be available for you to purchase immediately! No wait time! (Well, except for the time you need to wait for the store to be open. And then the time you need to wait for the mailman to bring you whatever you ordered.) I just need to take the time to expel them from my imagination through my sewing machine (the process is less disgusting than I made it sound just then).

I really, truly appreciate all the interest that's come from people reading the blog - it's still very exciting every time someone tells me how much they like something I've made for them. Also, keep an eye out for the exciting contest to win a pretty bag. I'll be posting it sometime next week. Here is a terrible picture of the bag that will be given away to the lucky winner:

I won't even make the winner pay shipping and handling, the way your crappy credit card company probably does when it says it'd like to give you a free gift.

P.S. Just to clear up any possible confusion that may stem from this post - for everyone that has already emailed me about a custom order - don't worry, this doesn't apply to you - you're included in the backlog of things I need to finish up. =)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

a short break from totes

Andria is getting married at the end of the month and thought the knit clutches I make would be a nice gift for her bridesmaids. I took a break from all the tote bags I've been making recently to knit these up for her.

The pink one seems to change color depending on the light. I took this picture last night as soon as I'd attached all the handles.

And then took this one (and all the others that come after this one) this afternoon when I stopped at home to pick up the bags I was shipping out tonight. Interesting.

I like the lining for this one. It's cherry blossoms with little birdies on them, though I think the way this one turned out, there's only one bird showing (and not in this pictures).

Here's the red one. I like the way the stripes turned out on it.

And the innards for the red one.

And the green one. I guess this one looks different in the daylight as well.

And the lining for the green one.

It was nice to take a break from all the sewing - the way our living room is set up, my sewing area is perpendicular to the television so I can't really watch anything while I work, but when I knit I can sit in front of the TV while I work. These were made while watching lots of Law & Order, Deadwood, and the Jason Bourne trilogy. It's fun to be a productive couch potato.

The cats have a new fun game to play. It's called run in front of the camera every time I'm about to take a picture. I think this is George.

Monday, March 10, 2008

geometric goodness

I've posted a lot of pictures of totebags in the last billion months, but there will be a short reprieve, probably tomorrow. I made three knit clutches over the weekend, but I haven't attached the handles yet. While I was waiting for the finish on the handles to dry, however, I did finish sewing up this tote bag for Melissa. I know her from the internets, where her screen name is melissainabq. For months I misread her name as melissainabbq, until it was pointed out to me that her name was a reference to where she's from (Albuquerque), not some bizarre inside joke about being trapped inside a barbeque, as I had thought.

Anyway, Melissa is getting married in April and wanted to give a tote bag to her maid-of-honor. She told me a little about her maid-of-honor's style, and I sent her some pictures of fabric, and she picked out this lovely geometric number. This is my favorite fabric right now. It's just so...mod. Or something. I wish I'd bought more of it when it went on sale in December. I didn't realize how much I'd like it when I found it on the internets.

And the innards. I also am a big fan of this stripey fabric on the inside.

P.S. As much as I hate turning the clock forward for daylight savings time, at least it will help me take more pictures that don't suck.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


I made a post the week before going to Boston mentioning that I was making a pair of fingerless gloves. I finished before going to Boston, and wore them there when my fingers were cold, and then failed to take a picture of them. And now that I've taken a picture of them, it's officially too warm to wear them in San Diego. (Really, there's only like a five week window of "winter" where knitwear is necessary, and it's only necessary if you've lived here long enough to acclimate to the climate. "Winter" here is very much like late spring in Seattle.)

Anyway, here is a picture that proves how unnecessary they are right now.

That's my hand. In front of a blooming cherry blossom tree. It's been like 70 here for the past week.

So if you look at the original pattern, you can see that there are three twisty cables around the model's wrist. If you take a look at the picture above, you can see (sort of) that I only have two twisty cables around my wrists. I apparently forgot to do the third set when I was knitting the first glove, and I didn't realize it until I got to the second, so I just made both with two cables instead so they'd match. They still were long enough to make it up into my coat sleeve, so they served their purpose.

ALSO! Stay tuned this month, I made a (small) mistake in sewing a (small) tote bag a few weeks ago (I used black straps instead of teal). When I finish my totebag making extravaganza, I'll have some sort of giveaway of the mistake bag. I also need to figure out how to run a contest through the blog, since I haven't done that before.

The giveaway will not be this bag (which I have been using for myself for the last week), but it will be similar to this bag:

As you can see here, they are good for holding paperback books and all other sorts of crap: