Another day spent with a Yorkshire boot maker…

So, here I am again back in Settle. Another sweaty journey later, I turn up to notice Dan has a production crew in his workshop. As you’ve probably gathered, Dan isn’t one for small talk so this was left to the crew who stood there awkwardly lingering, commenting on almost everything in an attempt to break the silence. Secretly, I was quite content that I wasn’t the fumbling newbie this time around. 

As I had got off the train I was faced with a huge plant pot elephant stood in front of me. Apparently, I wasn’t hallucinating off one too many kombuchas (not alcoholic I swear) but they actually have an annual flower pot festival. So, If you’ve ever longed to turn a flower pot into an elephant, fairy or Donald Trump – then apparently Settle is the place to be!

Anyway, back to it!… As Dan sat there in his 5th generation workshop, on a stool older than my great granddad, the camera crew buzzed off all the cool shots they could get. I knew how they felt, I secretly took a couple when I first arrived, under the radar of course as I didn’t want Dan to think I was uncool.. The first couple of shots didn’t quite make it on to my Instagram shockingly, the lens hardly poking out of my pocket didn’t exactly make a insta-worthy shot..

The day started with sewing my pieces of leather together on an impressive looking Singer machine. Unfortunately, I had prematurely boasted about my bunting making skills to then find out I actually have no idea how to sew. The machine was an ‘industrial’ one apparently which basically means its bloody massive and one wrong move and you can kiss your fingers goodbye. Dan joked that only one person had done that and pointed to a picture of him on the wall, I started to sew wondering how long it’d take me to follow in the fingerless boys footsteps…..

Anyway, after a few close shaves and all fingers in tact, I moved on to gluing the other pieces together – slightly more ‘Gemma friendly’. I’ve learnt that in shoemaking – paper, scissors and glue are your best friend. Memories from nursery flooded back, where I’d coat my hand in PVA glue – all so you could peel it off afterwards (just me? okk)…

After glueing I officially made best friends with the un-picker. If you’re new to this sewing malarkey then I’ll explain. An un-picker is like a rubber for sewing. Put it this way, today I spent the majority of the day undoing last weeks mistakes. Turns out Dan is a bit of a perfectionist as when I showed him my work, he looked at me and politely suggested I go do it again, I was only slightly offended I swear…

So, where am I up to now? Well, right now I have it all sewed together, unfortunately the lines are wobbly and a little amateur but at least it kinda resembles a boot now – silver lining! I’m hoping to have it done in a couple of weeks, but to be honest I have absolutely no idea how long it will take. Anyway, I’ll stop rambling now – maybss if I didn’t ramble so much I’d have had them made by now, hehe.

Thank you again for reading and I’m so giddy to prance around in my WildSoles! Fingers crossed (if I have any left by the end) soon you can have a pair too!

Once again, for those of you who like a cliffhanger – to be continued…

A Day Spent With A Yorkshire Boot Maker…

Well, I had absolutely no idea what to expect from today. I had originally found Dan by googling around for someone to make my prototype and I came across an article. I spontaneously phoned the shop (with no idea of what I wanted out of it) & shortly after, began my journey to Settle.

I’m not originally from Yorkshire so perhaps that’s why Settle surprised me so much. Settle is the definition of quaint, it feels like someone finally managed to create a time machine and they’ve thrown you back 100 years or so. The old shoe shop has such charm, just like the village it belongs to and the sight of hundreds of shoes nearly made me wee with excitement.

Dans approach to life was a breath of fresh air, he owns no phone, no computer, just a simple landline to get him through. Unsurprisingly, he’s extremely chilled & benefits from his lack of constant connection to social media (who’d have thought?). The enquiries come to him through the door, quite literally as they’d be no other way to find him… (well unless you’re trying to make walking boots and have no idea what you’re doing, then I guess you might dig deep enough like me). But anyway, the shop had hundreds of lasts and leathers, more laces than you know what to do with and for me this was absolute bliss!

I arrived on a sweaty Wednesday morning and I was sent downstairs to get some lasts. Actually, thats a slight lie, it began by me failing to get into the shop 3 times (not a brilliant start, making me look like I have the IQ of a cauliflower). But anyway, where were we up to? Lasts, thats it. I fumbled around the cellar like a mad woman in TKMaxx trying to find a size 7 (yup, I have massive feet – don’t judge) and finally found the sacred pair.

I knew the shoes Dan made were completely handmade from scratch, but nothing could have prepared me for the amount of effort and dedication that goes in to each pair he creates. He started by making me take my shoes off (sweaty train = sweaty feet, awks) and drew with a pencil & paper around my unusually large skinny feet – poor guy!

We then went on to creating a pattern for my boots, again all pencils and paper still – proper old skool! This part of the process was the longest but necessary for cutting out the leather in to the correct measurements. Finally, several paper cuts later, I got to choose my leather and lining….

To be continued……… Just as you were getting into it, typical!