12/6/14

A Portland Bike Craft gift guide

by Jessie Kwak

If I was a better person I probably would have told you all about Bike Craft before the weekend it’s happening – but, really, if you’re still getting your news from me at this point then it’s your own fault.

Me, I get my bikey news from Twitter.

But, Bike Craft! It’s happening this weekend from 11-5, Saturday and Sunday at Bike Farm, a nifty volunteer-run bicycle collective.

Bike Craft 2014

There’s beer, jewelry, art, a craft station, clothes, books, free vegan tamales (oh, Portland) and Bike Farm even has volunteers teaching basic bike maintenance if you want to learn how to love your bike better.

There are about 20 vendors. I don’t see a full list on Bike Craft’s website, but here’s a taste of who you’ll find:


Helmet ear warmers from Gigi’s Handy Work

Bike craft ear warmers

Gigi uses recycled fleece and wool sweaters or suits to make her cozy ear warmer “Helmuffs”. She’s got a ton of colors and appliquéd designs. I love the skull and crossbones one! If you miss Bike Craft, you can find her online here

Bike craft ear warmers for helmet


Beautiful bike part art from Velo Gioielli

Bike craft upcycled bike art

Brian upcycles bike parts into some really stunning works of art. You can see his booth in the front left of the photo at the top of this post, featuring an amazing chandelier made out of gears. He’s also got etched barware, jewelry, and more. If you miss Bike Craft, you can find Brian at Portland’s Saturday Market, and online at velogioielli.com


REALLY lovely inner tube earrings by Laura TK

I’ve seen tons of inner tube earrings around the internets, but these were truly gorgeous. Laura paints the earrings with these vibrant, shimmering colors – she actually said that people have come up to her at craft shows to accuse her of murdering exotic birds for her earrings, only to realize that they’re actually inner tubes. If you miss her at Bike Craft, you can find her online at www.LauraTK.com

Bike craft recycled inner tube earrings

I couldn’t resist. I bought these:

Bike craft upcycled feather inner tube earrings


Cycling and running accessories from Clodine Crafts

Clodine uses scraps of wool from Pendleton’s Woolen Mill to fashion reflective pants cuffs, ear warmers, bookmarks, and more. Her stuff is so, so pretty! She’s just getting started, and planning to start an Etsy shop, adding top tube pads to her inventory. I’ll update this post if I see her shop go up.

Bike craft pendleton wool accessories 2

Bike craft pendleton wool accessories

Also, how many of you knew about the Pendleton Woolen Mill and didn’t tell me? I’ll definitely be checking that out this week.


Hats, books, belt buckles, and more I didn’t get photos of

I wasn’t exhaustive in my documentation of Bike Craft since I plan to go back tomorrow, but I just wanted to shout out to some of the other vendors.

Elly Blue Publications and Microcosm Publishing are both there. You’ll find handmade bike caps by DanaMade, Black Star Bags, North Street Bags, and a handful of other vendors.

Check it out!

11/16/14

Get Crafting with Inner Tubes in print!

by Jessie Kwak

You guys, Andrea Rangel (who you may remember from this post on knitting activewear for winter cycling and this post on choosing a knitting stitch pattern) just told me about MagCloud. It’s a site that lets you offer print on demand booklets and magazines, and it’s what she uses to print out her lovely materials for her knitting classes.

I’m using it to print out copies of Crafting With Inner Tubes – and I’ve listed the book for sale on their site. So if you’ve been wanting a physical copy, now’s your chance!

Crafting With Inner Tubes

By Jessie Kwak

28 pages, published 11/17/2014

You’ve been there, right? In the middle of a joy ride when all of a sudden:pssssssss-s-s-s…Puncture.As a natural packrat, I hate to throw anything away that could possibly be useful, so over the years I’ve developed quite the collection of busted inner tubes. Crafting with them has become an obsession – I’ve made reflective belts, jewelry, and even a macrame plant hanger.And now you can, too.You get a 27-page, full-color PDF…

By the way, I’m fully aware that it’s been ages since I’ve posted here. I have so so so much I want to talk about, and I plan to hop back on the blogging train now that it’s cold and dreary and I’m not out having fun all the time.

Hope you’re all well!

JK

08/1/14

Come hang out! Bike craft night at Bike Farm

by Jessie Kwak

Hey Portland and surrounding environs! What are you doing August 14th?

Nothing important?

Look, I made plans for you:

Bike farm bike craft night

From the event page:

We’re having the first of hopefully many craft nights at Bike Farm. Come cut up tubes and make bike bags with me. I’ll be there to help guide you through a sewing project, just like we love to teach mechanics at bike farm, we’ll all be teaching sewing!

If you know how to sew, crochet, knit, weave … come hang out and teach your skill. There’s a ton of fun material to work with in a bike collective, nuts and bolts, tubes for days, cog, gears and wire spokes.

Bring a project, or just show up empty-handed. We’ll have a couple sewing machines, a ton of inner tubes to play with (because me and inner tubes, right?), and other assorted sundries from the Bike Farm drawers and shelves.

Plus, I’ve got like 10 yards left of this neon yellow fabric that I thought we could make safety infinity scarves, etc, out of.

To come, RSVP here in the comments, on the Facebook page, or just show up. I can’t wait to see you all!


ABOUT BIKE FARM:

Bike Farm is an all-volunteer-run collective dedicated to every aspect of bicycle education, from safe commuting to repair. Our mission is to provide a space where people can learn about the bicycle and build community around promoting sustainable transportation. We strive to demystify the bicycle in order to impact the city in a healthy and positive way.

07/28/14

Craft Bomb Your Bike!

by Jessie Kwak

If you’re into bikes and crafts, you’ve probably already seen Craft Bomb Your Bike, 20 makes for you and your bike – it’s been getting some great exposure all throughout the internets since it was released earlier this month. I was out of town most of July and my contributor copy arrived while I was gone – so I had to wait in anguish while the everyone twittered about it.

(All right, not really in anguish. I was in Spain because my cousin was marrying a fantastic Catalan man, and I was having far too amazing a time to be thinking about blogging.)

Craft bomb your bike - cover

Now that I get to hold my copy in my hot little hands – and it is HOT right now, isn’t it Portland? – I can say that it’s a beautiful book!

My project is an oilcloth clutch that attaches to your handlebars (long time readers may recognize the hot pink oilcloth). Long time readers will also be totally shocked – SHOCKED! – to find out the straps are made from recycled inner tubes.

Craft bomb your bike - cycle clutch1

The publishers did a fantastic job with the photography and layout – overall it’s a very beautiful book.

Craft bomb your bike - clutch2

I’m a particular fan of this pretty tool roll by Katie of Swim Bike Quilt.

Craft bomb your bike - tool roll

You can get the book through Interweave or Amazon.

The projects are all fairly whimsical and girly – you’ll find things like buntings for your basket*, a crocheted helmet cosy, and embroidered “I love my bike” label.

* Or “nests,” as my new cousin-in-law from Catalunya called them when we went on a ride together last week. “Do you want to rent a bike with a, what is it, a nest?” Yes. I most definitely would love a bike with a nest.

Craft bomb your bike - table of contents

And check out these fun crocheted birds by Kate at Greedy for Colour:

Craft bomb your bike - birds

I don’t care if they’re functional or not – they’re totally adorable. They’ll go perfect on my nest.

Happy crafting!

07/6/14

Joy ride, vertical edition: Raleigh Eva

by Jessie Kwak

It’s been a lot of years since I rode a mountain bike, but a few weeks ago one came in the mail.

Now, my husband’s a bike rep, so we get to act as foster parents to a lot of sample bikes – but this particular beauty is mine. For now.

Raleigh Eva 26.5 hardtail

Raleigh Eva 26.5 hardtail

I’ve been calling her Evita Bonita, on account of the girly paint job. She’s pretty, for sure, and has been a fantastic playmate over the last few weeks. I hardly feel like I’m qualified to write a mountain bike review (“The shocks skoosh appropriately, and the tires roll over things well?”), but I can say the Eva seems really stable, pleasantly aggressive, and up for any challenge I’m able to put her through.

The tires are 27.5″/650b, which is new for me. My last mountain bike was a 26″, and Evita seems way faster and more able to tackle roots and such. The hardtail was fine for me, although when we did a really rooty, rocky ride in Klamath Falls (read on, friends), I did get jostled around a lot.

EvitaEnflorida

I’ve been having a blast. Rob and I have taken several road trips to visit shops and hit the trails – I wrote up some of the most fun ones here.

Nisqually-Mashel (Eatonville)
Alsea Falls (Corvallis)
Brown Mountain (Klamath Falls)


Nisqually-Mashel State Park, Eatonville, WA

We’ve been to Nisqually-Mashel before for a mountain bike race (the Ronde Ohop), but neither of us rode – so when we found ourselves out near Eatonville, we knew just where to go.

We stopped in at Eatonville Outdoor to get a map of the area, and to talk to the owner about the trails. He printed us out a map, marked out a good route for us, and away we went.

To get to the trails, head out on Hwy 7 from Eatonville, and then turn south on Mashel Prairie Road.

There’s not much in the way of signage, but you’ll find a big clearing under some power lines where you can park. There might be a horse trailer there – the trails were mostly cut by horse riders, and can get a bit chewed up by them.

The route we followed on the Eatonville Outdoor map was horse-hoof free, for the most part. Some was single track, some was overgrown gravel roads. It was a great reintroduction to the mountain bike for me – a bit technical, a bit of a climb, mostly mellow, and lots of great wide places to pick up your speed going downhill.

Once we’d ridden the route, we decided to explore a couple side trails – all of which turned out to be really shitty. One was so chewed up by horse hooves that we had to walk our bikes most of the time, and several started out great, but then became so overgrown we could barely find the trail.

"Where the hell were we?" – on exiting an unmarked trail.

“Where the hell were we?” – on exiting an unmarked trail.

(If you come across one of those, just turn around. Don’t forge on like us. It doesn’t get better. We promise.)

Bushwhacking here isn’t the most fun, on account of the stinging nettles and blackberry brambles, and Rob had some sort of terrible reaction when he rubbed his eye after we were done. But stick to the regular trails and you’ll have a ton of fun.


Alsea Falls, Corvallis, OR

This trail just opened a few weeks ago (June 2014), and Rob had heard it was awesome. It’s just southwest of Corvallis, out some of that gorgeous forested wilderness/small town/farmland vibe that Oregon’s got going on all through the coastal range.

There’s an established recreational area around the falls (which are apparently quite pretty, though we didn’t go check them out), so a smartphone map should get you there. To get to the mountain biking trails, turn south on Fall Creek Access Road, and after a few hundred yards you’ll come to a parking area with great signage.

(There’s great signage throughout the trail system, and you’ll find several copies of the map posted around.)

We snapped a photo of the map, then headed out the trail. While we were getting ready, a youth corps crew that had been out working on the trail came by, and recommended Highballer as being super rad.

It was.

It’s a long climb up a fire road to get to the trailhead (about 3 miles, with an elevation gain of about 1000 feet), but going down makes the climb worth it. It’s really well groomed and super flowy, with high berms and steeply banked curves.

I totally didn’t do it justice, but I had a blast.

Rob kept trying to take a photo of me going high up on the rim of one of these berms, but you can’t take a photo of something that just isn’t happening.

Rob kept trying to take a photo of me going high up on the rim of one of these berms, but you can’t take a photo of something that just isn’t happening.

Once you make your way down Highballer, you connect in with Springboard, a more mellow trail that I really loved.

There are other trails out there, and more are planned. The terrain is hard-packed clay, which got a bit slippery since it had just rained, but there aren’t many roots and rocks, so it’s easy to flow.

The scenery is amazing, too. As you descend the terrain and vegetation changes subtly, and the trail cut through it changes from dusky brown, to rust red, to chalky pale.


Brown Mountain, Klamath Falls, OR

I’d never been to Klamath Falls before this trip, though I’d been warned by my uncle it was desolate and bare, “sort of like Yakima is.” Desolation’s never bothered me, and I kind of think Yakima is pretty, so I was excited to check out a new corner of my new state.

Outside Klamath Falls, it’s certainly desolate. Enormous, perfectly flat valleys are ringed by sawtoothed ridges. They’re filled with farmland and these incredibly vast, serene lakes that reflect back the blue sky.

The scene reminded me of the Peruvian Altiplano, particularly the windswept plateau around Lake Titicaca, fringed with pine trees instead of eucalyptus.

Downtown Klamath Falls looks like it’s seen more interesting days, but the pizza at Old Town is good, and there’s a great bike shop (Hutch’s Bicycles).

One of the guys at Hutch’s, Zach, took us out to the trails at Brown Mountain. His wife Lilian had just been cleared to ride after recovering from surgery, and the third woman in our group, Debby, had put 100 miles on her road bike yesterday. I was promised a mellow ride.

It was not.

The trails around Klamath Falls are all rocky and rooty, according to Zach and Lilian – and this one was no exception. It was all technical turns through sawed-up logs while avoiding pyramid-shaped rocks and fat twigs that leapt into your spokes.

I had fun – and Rob had lots of fun – but I was exhausted at the end of our 15 miles. My poor endurance, combined with the jostling I’d taken on the hardtail and my beginner’s mountain bike handling skills meant that I walked a lot. Particularly near the end, when I was too mentally and physically tired to navigate the rock gardens, and finally gave up trying to ride through them altogether.

Like Alsea Falls, I really look forward to when I have the technical skills and endurance to really enjoy these kinds of trails.

EvitaSuicita


Disclaimer: my husband works for the company that owns Raleigh, Lapierre, and Redline – hence the shiny new bike I got to muddy up and write about.