Holiday Bazaar NightLife @ Cal Academy of Sciences, Thurs 6-10pm (21+ with ID for admission)

It’s that time of year! What time is that? Holiday show time…

This Thursday, December 11 we’ll be at the California Academy of Sciences for the Holiday Bazaar. It’s a 21+ age event, which = adult merriment of various sorts, a.k.a. booze and music. There will be jewelry, art, accessories, apothecary supplies (actual apothecary not included, we’re guessing), paper goods, and more…

Live DJs will be on hand and  we’re told there will also be two actual live reindeer on the premises.

Members $10, Everyone else $12.

RSVP here: Facebook RSVP

See you there!

What’s New?

Jacob recently took a break from making wallets to work on some new products (just in time for the holidays!).

A small selection of the newest  items are posted in the shop already, but most will be making their debut at a couple of local holiday shows – the SF Etsy Indie Holiday Emporium on November 29/30 and San Francisco Bazaar on December 13/14.

Here’s a sneak peek:

Tote Bags

We’ve updated our Tote Bag to include a zipper top closure.  The new batch features eye-catching prints paired with durable nylon. The bags have one exterior zipper pocket, two side pockets and a small interior zipper pocket.

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Laptop Cases

We’ve got a fresh batch of laptop cases ready, too.  They have an exterior zipper pocket and a layer of 1/8″ closed cell foam.

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Yoga Mat Straps

We’ve been planning to make a batch of yoga mat straps for ages and finally got around to it!  The straps are available in three sizes to fit mats ranging from 1/16″ to 1/4″.  The straps can be worn crossbody or over one shoulder and can even be used during class to assist with various stretches.  Check them out in the shop here.

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Seatbelt Webbing Pouches

Our new seatbelt webbing pouch is great for everything from pencils and pens to makeup.  It even has a d-ring so you can clip it to a bag or attach keys or a strap.

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Urban Air Market – Lower Haight Edition – Saturday, October 11

It’s Urban Air Market‘s 10th Birthday and last show of the year. Join us and over 100 other designers and artists for a block party full of fashion, art, and music with an emphasis on sustainable design.

The fair runs from 11am – 6pm on October 11. Don’t forget to drop by the .retool. booth and say hello!  We’ll be on Haight Street, near Fillmore.



New in the Shop – the .retool. Mini Wallet

Our new mini wallet is now in stock in the shop! It’s geared towards the minimalist who wants quick access to a few cards and some cash. Each of the card slots will hold 2-3 cards. The center slot is perfect for holding cash that is folded in half or for some extra cards. It’s currently available in all black, black with a silver racing stripe, and black with a red racing stripe. Click on the photos below for a larger view.

Vegan ‘Likes’ – Clothing & Shoes, Part I

As design geeks and art lovers Jacob and I value clean lines and simple but well-made items. This carries over into our aesthetic tastes for the items we produce for .retool. and also into our personal tastes for vegan items.

Below are some of my current favorite items from vegan-run clothiers & shoe designers. (I wish I could say haberdashers will be included, but I don’t often wear hats.) I’ve marked vegan-owned companies with a (V). There are some honorable mention slots for environmentally/eco focused companies and one or two from major companies that have a particular item that’s vegan. ‘Wish list’ level fare and more budget conscious ones will be interspersed throughout this multi-part roundup. Have fun looking at pretty things!


Vaute Couture – Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY (V)

Wax cotton pea coat

T-shirt (bonus cute puppy in pic)

T-shirt (puppyless pic) but still a nice shirt

Nau – Portland, OR (Sustainable & Philanthropy)

Oooh, selvage denim. (Ooh hoping for a sale at some point)

Denim jacket

A good wind shirt can go a long way in the land of fog (a.k.a. San Francisco)

Courier wind shirt


Good Guys – Paris, France (V)

I have a crush on their derby style shoes.

‘Aponi’ in navy

My current favorite – Black vegan suede & leather

‘Dean’ in vegan suede & leather

Brave Gentleman – New York, NY (V)

I own a pair of ‘Defender’ boots and love them. When I bought them two years ago Joshua Catcher was in MooShoes (man, I miss MooShoes) but I didn’t want to harrass him by saying hello. If you like patent ‘leather’ you’ll like the upcoming 2014-2015 line.

‘Worker’ in tan


Only two of their lines are absolutely vegan. The Bullet, below and the Jazz Low Pro. I’ve been fooled before! These are clearly labeled on their website as vegan though and have been verified by a number of folks on the interwebs by talking to sales reps.


To be continued…


Strength Training for Runners: Exercises 2,3 – Lunge Variations

And by video on Monday, I should’ve said Tuesday. The following things have not quite come together today – free time, good lighting, availability of properly weighted dumbbells, and a person to film or a functioning tripod. So, in lieu of video, here are the other two exercises at the top of my favorites list. Videos for all three tomorrow!

Hinge Forward Lunge (Alternating)- with Dumbbells

The hinge forward lunge and other lateral lunge versions will challenge your body in unique ways compared to the traditional versions mentioned above. As with any new exercise, use caution when performing the first few repetitions. And take a quick peak at my ‘Remember’ notice from Saturday’s (8/16) post.

Hold a dumbbell in each hand relaxed & at your sides. Stand with your feet hip width apart and parallel. ‘Simon’ says take a small step forward – approximately your normal stride length or a tad longer. Transfer most of your weight to the front leg as you hinge forward at the hips. Keep your shoulders back, and core tight (pull your navel toward your spine & keep it there at beginning of each rep) and refrain from rounding your lower back. Your front knee will bend as you do the hinge motion. Lower your torso toward your front knee as far as is comfortable. 

Tension should occur your forward hamstring. Depending upon the flexibility of your achilles and tightness of your calf, the heel of your back foot may raise slightly from the floor. Go with what’s comfortable for you. Reverse the bent over position while pushing back through the ball of the front foot in order to more easily return to standing, feet together. Repeat on the opposite leg. Alternate sides 8-10 repetitions per side. Rest 30 sec to 1 min. If you are comfortable with the motion perform 1-2 additional sets.

If you fatigue or your form, especially keeping your core tight/protecting your lower back starts to falter. Take a longer break, reduce the number of sets, lower your weight, or all of the above. 

Single DB Stepping Lateral Goblet Lunge

Hold a single dumbbell lengthwise in front of your chest with your elbows pointing down. This is known in the kettlebell and strength training world as goblet position. For the beginner set, begin with your feet wide, think twice shoulder width, with your feet pointing straight ahead. Hinge at the hip by pushing your hips back and squat to one side. Both feet should be flat on the floor and the leg that you’re leaning away from should be straight. In order to keep your weight over your heels where it should be, lean your upper body forward as you bend your ‘working’ knee.

Be mindful of keeping your shoulders back (aka proud chest) to keep your lower back flat. Also centering your bodyweight over your heels should help keep your shin on the working leg vertical. In all squatting and lunging motions it’s butt back, not knees forward.

Return to the starting position keeping your feet wide and lunge to the opposite side.

If you’d like to try your hand at increasing difficulty of the motion, begin with your feet together on each rep and step wide laterally. Sequence is – step, lower yourself to the bottom of the lunge (working in a range comfortable for you). Push through the heel to return to the starting position. Perform 8-10 repetitions per side for a total of 2-3 sets.


Strength Training for Runners: Exercise 1 – Lunges

Consider this post a teaser! Videos are forthcoming on Monday or Tuesday; today I’m sharing a thoughts on the lunge and one exercise that I consider a staple of this movement category. If you’re a newbie and you want to try these out, hopefully you can wait until after your long run today or Sunday to try this out. In Monday’s post I’ll also provide two variations that I mix into my own training.

Running primarily takes place in the sagittal plane – front to back – (unless one is doing sideways skips for plyometrics or crossover step, or something). However, the frontal plane – side to side – is the locus of control and stability when we run. There is more happening than one might think as we hurl or shuffle ourselves forward. I contend that improving strength, stability, and ease of mobility in the frontal plane can be a tool to help stave off injury by increasing the strength of hip stabilizers (gluteus medius) and lengthening and loosening parts of the hip that can be tight in runners (psoas & groin, etc.)

Why the Lunge?
I recommend lunge variations first and foremost because the basic motion should feel reminiscent of what occurs during running. A more technical matter – asymmetrical standing movements, of which lunges are an example, can challenge a runner’s overall balance, the body’s ability to transmit information regarding position of limbs and adjust with proper position (proprioception). In some cases dynamic flexibility can be positively affected. The emphasis of one leg over two is right in a runner’s “wheel-house” as well, since running is the act of ‘falling’ forward one leg at a time. Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for bilateral leg exercises, and I’ll be detailing squats and at least one two-legged deadlift I subsequent posts. Last, but not least, lunge variations can help runners ‘zip up’ and mobilize the torso and lower body – the muscles of the core including the hips to improve stability and possibly improve your posture toward the end of a race.

Split Squat with Dumbbells

This is one of the staples of classic lunge options. You may have seen someone making their rounds across the gym floor doing walking lunges. For you Python fans out there picture ‘The Ministry of Silly Walks” with DBs. Most typical lunge variations capitalize on motion in the sagittal plane, like running does. These can be your pita and hummus or your gluten-free cracker and spicy white bean dip… choose your vegan analogy. Suffice it to say, this is where one starts.

Tip for breathing rhythm – breathe in as you descend and out on the way up.

Remember: use a manageable weight and never dismiss the idea of doing exercises with bodyweight; we can often be our best barbell.

Good, safe technique is most important. Particularly in the options that will be presented later the groin and other smaller hip muscles are more directly under pressure. Lower your body slowly, contract your glutes at the bottom of the motion to help begin the ascent, and come up out of all lunges in a controlled, smooth fashion. Also keep in mind that a lower lunge can mean more force on the knee, so consider your injury history, the tightness of your hamstrings, and current level/experience with regard to weight bearing exercise. In short, use discretion and listen to your body when considering the depth of your lunges.

Begin with your feet hip width apart and side-by-side. Take a big step forward. The front leg will be primary in doing the work of this lunge. With the dumbbells at your side, begin descending by bending your front knee and hip to lower yourself. If it’s comfortable for you, aim to get your front thigh parallel to the floor. Form tip: your body and your front shin should remain perpendicular to the ground throughout. If you find that your knee if moving forward past your toes then reset and take a slightly larger step forward. Keep your front knee in line with your foot side-to-side as well. Proper alignment maintains the knee directly over the ankle from every angle.

Getting ready for a show! – Urban Air Market, Dogpatch (Aug. 17)

Urban Air Market is in Dogpatch (Esprit Park) on Sunday in SF and that means that there’s been an additional buzz of excitement chez .retool. We’re excited to present a few new items, some of which are pictured here to whet your appetite! UAM focuses on sustainable design, which we really appreciate. We’ll be participating in their Lower Haight show on October 11!

As much as we love creating and presenting new items that we hope you’d like to make your very own, we are equally engaged in an evergreen process of making our booth and tables an inviting and visually appealing place for you to peruse our wares. 

So come by and check us out! (Booth #37, on 19th St, near Indiana) Sunday Aug 17,  Minnesota Free to attend.

P.S. You can find UAM here: Urban Air Market, Twitter: @urbanairmarket