I learned the worm!


And I’m not talking about breakdancing! And having these worm skills is far superior to having the breakdancing variety. It’s actually called the caterpillar. I learned it from Keith Smith’s Non-Adhesive Binding Vol. III: Exposed Spine Sewings and he credits learning it from Betsy Palmer Eldridge. I’m bravely posting photos of my very first try, then my second and third. The third one is the only satisfactory one, in my opinion. And it’s already reserved for my friend Kelly Lusis. The sewing technique I found surprisingly easy to pick up, but it’s getting the tension right that will take multiple attempts. Like in the double digits, I’m afraid. But anyway, back to my bravery…

My first attempt:

So the legs are all over the place, I hadn’t figured out a way to make a distinct looking head. And if you notice the book climbs slightly from left to right — it’s sewn more tightly on the left side than the right. And that’s a consequence of a couple of things: I’m not used to sewing one station (one set of side-by-side holes to sew through) from cover to cover and then starting on the station.

Basically, you sew one worm to completion and then you start the other worm. This is a very rare way to bind, at least according to everything I’ve read.

And that picture makes it look like I bind my books in a cave. But I don’t. I started learning this stitch at about 5pm and couldn’t go to be until I had completed at least one entire caterpillar book. So this picture was taken at 4:17am.

My second attempt:

You can see above that I modified the caterpillar itself on the spine from my first attempt. In the first one I sewed the caterpillar at every signature. The caterpillar looked disproportionately heavy compared to the body on the cover. So in this second try I only entered every other signature… Better, but still not great.

You’ll also see that sometimes Mr. Caterpillar’s legs are much longer on the left side of his body than his right. It’s those kinds of kinks that can only be worked out by obsessive repetition. Yay! (If you know me, you know this exclamation was indeed genuine.)

My third attempt:

I do think this one turned out pretty cool. I also like the pea pod paper with the big purple caterpillar coming to munch some tasty lunch.

This is the first time I’ve used this brand of paper… it’s called Iota, and it claimed to be extremely ecologically responsible. The paper seems okay, it’s interesting, different than what’s out there and seems really pretty durable, that caterpillar puts some strain on the spine edge.

I ended up settling on sewing the caterpillar into every third signature on the spine. I think it is the most closely mimics the weight of the caterpillar on the spine.

And to wrap up the tail end of this exhibition of my new wormy skills… drumroll…
here is the tail end of the caterpillar

*reserved for Kelly Lusis*

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