Vulpine Mitt [lobsterclaw]

Vulpine Adaptive is a company that makes highly regarded cold weather gear for cyclists. At the moment it is hard to find them via the internet; you can either go to SnowTrekkerTents and find a link to EmpireCanvasWorks who apparently is now owned by Vulpine, or you can go to Icebike and read a little about the Vulpine Mitt. An actual Vulpine adaptive location may only be accessible via the telephone, or perhaps, the Vulpine name is now Empire Canvas Works (even though the Snow Trekker Tent site says that Empire Canvas Works was sold to Vulpine?). Both ends of the story claim to be located (physically) in Duluth, Minnesota. [Shortly afterwards Empire Canvas Works was declared the place to go for further information regarding the Vulpine name, Kevin Kinney is the person behind this and does keep his company in Duluth. For a short article on Kevin and his work – from another site – read MnBicycleCommuter]

Anyhow, a Vulpine Mitt was delivered for a hem job recently*. These are big mitts, with insulation in mind and thermal capacities stretched to the limits of cold weather protection, so cutting down the two fingers and thumb would not be as simple as cutting across and tacking the ends back together – undermining the designs integrity. The mitts have this three finger design to create a hybrid glove/mitten, which allows for maximum insulation and uses the two fingers together to create their own warmth, without sacrificing all the fingers dexterity (like that of a full mitten) and allowing your index and middle finger to control braking and shifting on the bike**. After looking at them – folding them inside out, and right side in again a few times – the shears came out and 3″ long incision was cut in the inside liner (made of pile fleece), length wise in relation to the arm. Figuring that the mitts are made to be tighter around the wrists and expand and contract from there (to keep the snow out, but let you get your arm in), it made more sense to make the incision perpendicular to this so that it would not work against this motion – after it is sewn back together and becomes slightly (very slightly) more stiff (pushing against the stretch).

Vulpine Mitt [lobsterclaw].3Vulpine Mitt [lobsterclaw].4Vulpine Mitt [lobsterclaw].5Vulpine Mitt [lobsterclaw].1Vulpine Mitt [lobsterclaw].2

After the incision, the mitts are turned inside out completely and hemming*** begins. The next step was to un-stitch (seam rip) the fingers around the tips and at least an inch further towards the vertex (crotch) of the fingers on the longer sides. Then cutting about 3/4″ off of the top and bottom panels of the fingers, the length of material that wraps around the two panels (creating the wall-like structure that basically supports the top and bottom panels) could be approximated. Once this was determined, that piece met it’s other half again and was sewn to a make a complete half circle (or half-finger-shapen circle). Why the mitt does not use a single piece of fabric to go along the sides of the fingers is unknown, possibly that would be the normal case, but in this instance the material ran short, so another piece had to be spliced in to complete the routed path. Or, as it is now clear, determining that length takes a bit of guessing, so having the material start from the outside of the fingers and traveling in is easier, because you can chop it at it’s best place for fitting (making up for small inaccuracies in the top and bottom panels patterns which could adversely affect how long the side panel needs to be every time the mitt goes together). Next the top was sewn back into place as was the bottom along the newly measured radius, this completed the outer mitt. The inside liner was made out of three panels per finger so that was a bit easier and did not require seem ripping, instead one new seem was stitched in and then, the excess out side of that was cut off. The inside liner hem was strange in that the pattern seems to be flat, yet it expands very easily to take on a kind of “A” frame shape. After the inside liner was hemmed up the mitt was turned right side out again, the incision closed up and it was ready for the winter again.

Vulpine Mitt [lobsterclaw].6Vulpine Mitt [lobsterclaw].7Vulpine Mitt [lobsterclaw].8Vulpine Mitt [lobsterclaw].9Vulpine Mitt [lobsterclaw].10

*These mitts were not made on this machine – they (the fingers) were only hemmed for a better fit – to the person’s hand who purchased them.

**The origin of the lobster-claw shape is not known at this time, but a company by the name of PearlIzumi is thought to have coined the phrase when they introduced the first mass-produced cycling lobster-claw with shifting and braking in mind without losing as much thermal qualities as you would with a traditional glove.

***Again, these mitts were not devised and made on the Brother DB2-B791-015. They were sent to have the fingers hemmed down to fit the owners hands better.

12 Comments so far

  1. Kevin Kinney December 30th, 2007 11:41 am

    Nice job!

    Having built those mittens, I know what it takes to alter the sizing.

    To clear up the story. We are, and still remain Vulpine Adaptive. We simply closed the Vulpine Adaptive website because the turn in the economy has all but dried up our custom clothing work. We purchased ECW from the owners of Snowtrekker. It’s our baby now, but we still make Vulpine gear on a limited basis. Icebike Mittens (the new style- 4 generations past what you’ve got) are available at:

    http://www.empirecanvasworks.com/clearance.htm

    Cheers,

    Kevin

  2. Kevin Kinney December 30th, 2007 11:41 am

    PS- we use a Brother LS5-P52-050 post bed with a large hook.

    Kevin.

  3. admin December 30th, 2007 12:25 pm

    Kevin,

    Thank you very much for your insight on the issue of Vulpine Adaptive and otherwise. It is always very exciting to hear from someone of your expertise and it is equally encouraging to know that there are other people who are committed to materials in an expansive way that does not sacrifice ideas to the normative patterns of society.

    Best Regards from the Brother DB2-B791-015 and company.

    P.s. For those reading this second hand, here is a link (or the URL at least) to see a Brother LS5-P52-050 post bed machine,
    http://www.industrialsewmachine.com/webdoc1/brother/p52.htm

  4. Jreidko December 31st, 2007 2:05 pm

    Watch out Kevin, or BrotherDB2 here is going to start making his own. By the way DB2 what’s with “expansive” and “normative”. In fact, that whole portion of the sentence seems to be able to be parsed in multiple ways. How bout a little clarification?

    Dumb it down for us non art philosophy types.

  5. vs.vs.vs. January 3rd, 2008 4:44 am

    oh brother

  6. vs.vs.vs. January 3rd, 2008 4:53 am

    i’d say they got a ninja turtle thing going on…lobsterclaw? though historically i don’t know which came first: lobsterclaw glove or ninja turtle phenomenon?

  7. admin January 5th, 2008 5:53 pm

    Jreidko,

    As always, you mix it up, create complex relationships, shift propositions to statements, acclimate linguistic strategies to grammatical prisons, expose the reflexive, scrutinize, and validate.

    Yes, the site does submit to this kind of “art philosophy” discourse, but “art philosophy” as a way of placing this writing style is far from accurate. It is probably better located (or stemming from) in hermeneutics, and semiotics, and that would point to literary theory, which is involved in the theory and critique of writing and language. This should dissuade from the suggestion that it fits a genre or peculiar writing style. All of this, raises the issue of – if this writing in the last comment even has a particular genre. What you may have meant to say is that this writing sounds like what a certain “art philosophical” audience might hear or stereotypically expect, as it has become a paradigm of the arts to flaunt vocabulary, although this is a brash generalization that negates writing’s primary concern which is language and it’s wealth of elasticity. In the end, using these supposedly large words (like expansive and normative [?]) will always be inherent to moments of this site and only act as a maneuver to hopefully solidify that sewing is a tremendous thing that does not need to be dumbed down like it often is at “craft” stores, which designate sewing as a past-time or even worse – as something “fun” to do, where as long as you can pick out bright colors, you too can make a unique work of “art” without having to consider the implications. The garment and textile industry is a very serious thing that has had very serious impacts on history and will continue to do so for better or for worse. It is not a past time for the majority of people involved in it, volunteer or not, and is in fact an intolerably unstable labor-inducing necessary evil (evil if applied to sub-par working conditions, whatever that may be). Sewing machines and their products have revolutionized the world in innumerable ways, not just by providing where there has become need, but by progressing how mechanical objects function and can be manipulated to automate increasingly complicated tasks, negating the need for constant human contact (also for better or for worse). Therefore with sewing and sewing machines being equally impactful on the world’s events, it consequently must call for a heightened rhetoric.

    Hopefully some of these explanations will help dissolve your illusion of an elitist mentality fueled by “art philosophy” jargon.

    By,

    “…It is equally encouraging to know that there are other people who are committed to materials in an expansive way that does not sacrifice ideas to the normative patterns of society.”

    It is meant to say/suggest through the form of written communication (or hope, maybe these are false accusations, albeit) that by inspecting Kevin’s work it would appear that he has taken the time to learn about materials in depth, and with a broad platform in mind that designates how these materials should be used and why [1]. Using this knowledge of material, and making products, which are very specific – in this case to cold weather cycling as the mitts are – it may display the maker’s willingness to step outside of older norms, or more specifically the traditions of what a “glove” is and what it will be used for and/or should do; so when it comes to devising patterns and making product defining procedures/features the end result will have greater insight, telling us a more thorough use of materials and process’ was underway [2]. Furthermore, when one commits to this degree it is often at their own expense and therefore is truly generated by appreciation and understanding, and does not make sacrifices by taking short cuts, which would question the integrity of said materials and methods – causing inferior results for sake of ease, economy, shear laziness, etc. because fewer people require it. A curious sentiment following these ideas is how does supply & demand, and consumer awareness of a product – but not what is within the product (materials, tools, labor) – build boundaries around the thinking behind the item in terms of development and perspective use.

    Next – You mention someone of the Needlefeed.com and company making his/her own mitts; this is interesting in two respects. One is that yes, at the Brother DB2-B791-015 it is possible to make a very close replica to those mitts, this should not come as a surprise – in fact an upcoming project is to make a pair of cycling booties (insulating shoe covers) that are seemingly based on an old pair of Vulpine booties (although the research session was merely minutes and any notes on the pattern are completely in the brain). Rather than locate this in a competitive arena (the inflection was hard to determine in your comment), it may generate more discussion if it were looked at as an unsolicited collaboration that is more akin to working with others in a science lab, where competitive moves are more like pushing your opponent to see how much they can lean backwards on you – hopefully bringing about an even greater proposition.

    Which brings us to the second part of your interesting invitation; that this is even possible. Your comment on making his/her own mitts is appealing because sewing (from patterns or not) can be related to computers and computer programming. The most common example of this is Charles Babbage and his study of the loom as a model to create computational code, which founded ideas around the contemporary computer system, leading to a myriad of developments and even web-logs where people candidly communicate today. They are also similar because sewing is something that can use few resources to make complex configurations out of objects, which do not stand on their own quite as well. Another parallel is with a computer programs base of on and off switches stitching together digital information – it seems like a reasonable connection to make because one of those switches by itself is equally static like the vast stretches of prone material waiting for use. While this discussion (the comment’ary) has been instigated by no specific rule – and is open to interrogation and fluctuation – it is heavily reliant on computers and their programming to display it’s (the back and forth comments) progression. Like hemming the Vulpine mitts, at any given time someone can take an already existing pattern (code set) or product, seam-rip it and make their own, adding or subtracting particular elements and therefore improving upon or not on the “original”. Needlefeed.com is in itself a model of this digitally, wherever there is access to the Internet, someone may happen upon this site, and then depending on the reader, they may add their two bits of extra information changing the format slightly. And of course what Needlefeed.com catalogs, is an example of computer codes – analog equivalent. Whether that is done intentionally or not, the connection is there for those who seek it. Not to mention that converting Needlefeed.com to a Wiki site is under inspection, obviously a Wiki site is not without glitches in it’s neutral policies, but it could at least display these thoughts on the two devices connections, and accelerate the learning curve of industrial sewing machines. This might not be as impressive as what one may do with more tools, but it at least provides a small platform to connect in an intensifying way with a public space.

    These connections, patterns of interweaving data-sets, integrities of materials, and correlative histories are thoughts that bounce around the Brother DB2-B791-015 frequently.

    1. Expansive
    2. Normative patterns of society is a play on words, as in patterns, sewing patterns, and the patterns of mentality to think anew. Society being the definitive factor of how well things are generated for their behalf – some insist that this is done meticulously, some do not, creating a mix of results.

  8. Kevin Kinney January 11th, 2008 4:15 pm

    Wow.

    My eyes hurt from reading all that.

    To expand upon a topic I fished from the text:

    …the big problem we discovered with booties is the crank arm clearance. Don’t be surprised to wear through a few pairs in the process. I’ve got 3 pairs of our latest booties that I still use, but they are intact because I used ancient pedal quills to add 1/4″ of additional clearance on each side of my cranks.

    Happy sewing/riding/deliberation.

    Kevin.

  9. admin January 15th, 2008 1:10 pm

    Kevin,

    As always good to hear from you again. The new booties were finished recently, and they should be up on the site soon. Crank arm clearance was definitely a huge consideration, and we will look forward to see how these hold up. Velcro lashing was added around the heel cup from the inside of the foot to the outside, which hopefully helps keep things taught, but now it will be a matter of how much toe area is coming in contact with the crank. Luckily the tester is an extremely proficient mechanic (and rider for that matter), and can adjust options accordingly – already the sole had to be re-cut to fit the cleat position better.

    Thank you again from the Brother DB2-B791-015 and company.

  10. […] shoe covers based on booties by many companies, but mainly based off/from/by the most recently hyped Vulpine Adaptive. Their design (both Vulpine’s and those built here on the Brother […]

  11. chris broughton December 20th, 2008 8:42 pm

    Where can I buy a pair of the vulpine mitts?

    Chris

  12. admin December 21st, 2008 1:28 pm

    Empire Canvas Works is the place to go. the link is, http://www.empirecanvasworks.com/ (which is also above) – rumor is, the Vulpine mitts are made on a limited basis. All other information should be found at Empire Canvas Works.

    Thank you,