03/19/14

Completed Errandonnee!

by Jessie Kwak

Despite starting a bit late, I’ve successfully managed to complete all twelve errands of my errandonnee!

(What’s an errandonnee? Here’s what the hell I’m talking about.)

I combined a lot of errands on one trip, because I got started so late.

#1 & #2: St. John’s Jaunt (8 miles total)

Errandonnee - st john's ride

I biked out to St. Johns on a sunny afternoon in order to look for some camping supplies and stop at the grocery store. I hit up Ace Hardware and the nearby Gross Out (Grocery Outlet), although I was pretty thoroughly shut down at both locations.

What I learned: it’s too early in the season for Ace Hardware to have many camping supplies, and the Gross Out apparently only sells half and half in quarts (I wanted a pint). I bought a discounted bag of Tillamook shredded mozzarella cheese and headed back.

The photo is of this ravine that cuts across the peninsula. There’s a little park and bike path that goes along the east side of the ravine, and it’s quite lovely.


#3: Gettin’ out of the house (7 miles)

I totally forgot to take a picture of this errand, which I categorized under “Personal Care.” Rob and I had had a rough week, both of us staring at computers working until ungodly hours of the night, and both of us feeling crazed and behind on life.

In the midst of that frustration and anxiety, I convinced us to get out of the house and go for a bike ride.

What I learned: bike rides are the best for relaxing.


#4: Freelance writer’s meetup (5 miles)

Obviously, working from home can be taxing on my brain at times. That’s why I’ve been going to this freelance writer’s meetup group, which is filled with fun people, strong drinks, and only the occasional chat about writing.

I didn’t take any pictures of this, either, because I suck at remembering I own a camera.

Part of this trip was in the dark. MG asked us to say what lighting we used, but my headlight went dead on me a few minutes after we left the bar, so I basically used a little blinky in front, and my big flashy taillight in back.

What I learned: if you head the back way through the neighborhoods (as opposed to dropping down to the river and climbing back out into Southeast), you can avoid a lot of elevation loss/gain. Not that the elevation gain in this city is all that noticeable….


#5, #6 & #7: Books, and more books (5 miles total)

One problem with this errandonnee is that although I can think of lots of errands to do that involve buying things, I’m trying to avoid that at the moment. In trying to brainstorm an errand that didn’t involve me spending money, I remembered that I had a bunch of stuff to take to Goodwill.

Lots and lots of my old college books, among other things.

Normally I would have just left them for a car trip (we have 3 big chairs to take back, too), but I was inspired to try to carry it all on la Konita.

errandonnee - all loaded up

I packed up this pannier, as well as my Po Campo Loop pannier, and then bungeed another 10 pounds of books to my rack. I teetered the 1.5 miles to Goodwill pretty easily, then, my load lightened, I headed to Posie’s Bakery and Cafe in Kenton.

Once there, I realized that I still had two stowaways in my Po Campo pannier: a copy of Virgil’s Aeneid, and one of Dostoevsky’s Brother’s Karamazov. I passed those books off to the baristas, and sat down to enjoy a cup of tea and a delicious almond croissant.

errandonnee - croissant

After getting some work done, I slipped down the street to the library to finally get my library card.

(I know we’ve been in town less than 3 months, but for me that’s a long time to be without a local library card.)

What I learned: I can carry more than I thought I could; Posie’s almond croissants are amazing; and the library is busy with kids during the week days.


#8, #9 & #10: Working away from the office (4 miles total)

With the sun shining outside my window, I was beginning to feel cooped up in my little home office. I decided to head out to that cute little area around Vancouver/Williams/Shaver to find a coffee shop. (You know, with HUB and all the little shops? Does that area have a cute Portlandy name?)

errandonnee - livingscape

First I hit up Livingscape, which I’ve ridden by a dozen times and always wanted to check out. I thought it was just a nursery, but they also sell a random assortment of kitchen stuff and camping/outdoors gear.

Rob and I just dropped a ton of money on plants for my birthday, so I’m on a plant purchasing freeze at the moment. I’ll be back, Livingscape!

I took a left and turned up Williams, where I spotted Poa Cafe. It looked inviting, so I hopped in for a cup of coffee. I was missing the accessory of the hour, however – a small child.

Apparently Poa is where the neighborhood moms get together to day drink. There were about 10 women and between 15-50 kids (so hard to count when they’re swarming). There’s a great big play area and chalkboard wall, and although it wasn’t the least-distracting environment I’ve ever written in, it was still way less annoying than working in an office. So there you go. The food looked delicious, the coffee was good, and Lacey, we’re definitely coming here next time you bring down the kidlets.

After I got my fill of screaming children and my computer battery was kaput, I swung by the New Seasons to pick up some soap, then wandered back home.

errandonnee - soap on a bike

What I learned: Livingscape is a cool store; Poa Cafe is not the place to go if you want to get work done; New Seasons sells the soap from that little store (Camamu) that used to be next to my old roommate’s old Portland apartment before the store moved to Sellwood and she moved to Seattle just in time for me to move to Portland. I’m sure you remember the one.


#11: Date night (8 miles)

The only photos I got of this were blurry, so I’m sparing you the pain.

Did you know that St. Johns Theater & Pub has a beer, burger and movie deal on Tuesday nights, where you get all 3 of these things for $12.75? Apparently no one knows about this, because Rob and I went this last Tuesday, and there was only one other couple in the theater.

The burgers are tasty, the movies are second-run, and the beer is, well, made by McMenamin’s.

Ah, McMenamin’s! I love your little nooks and crannies, your fantastic reclaimed spaces, your quirky decor! I just wish your beer was a bit more delicious.

We saw Jack Ryan: Ghost Reboot. It was fairly straightforward (this bad guy wants this, that good guy wants that), and after our binge marathon of House of Cards, simplistic motivations are less than interesting. There were the requisite number of car chases, gunfights, and explosions.

Also, St. Johns Theater has a fantastic little patio out back, with secluded bike parking so your rig isn’t sitting out on the street corner while you enjoy the movie. Super cool spot.

What I learned: I’m over watching movies that star New Kirk as lead. Nothing good can come of them.


#12: Overlook Park (3 miles)

errandonnee - overlook park

I had plans for a more exciting ride today, but I spent the day feeling absolutely exhausted. I still needed to get out of the house, though, so I took a quick ride to Overlook Park to explore our new neighborhood.

Overall, that’s what this Errandonnee has been about for me. I’ve forced myself out of my usual traffic patterns, and gotten a chance to see more of our new neighborhood than I had in the prior months.

The Errandonnee may be over, but I’m inspired to keep up my explorations. I’m promising myself that I’ll ride my bike to one new spot every week – even if it’s just a new coffee shop where I can work for a few hours.

What I learned: There are so many nooks and crannies! I can’t wait to explore them all.


Did you errandonnee? How did you do?

03/10/14

Errandonnee is a word with triple double letters

by Jessie Kwak

You remember Encyclopedia Brown, right? I loved those books when I was a kid. One mystery he solved involved a broken watch that was supposed to be given as a prize for a spelling bee. Encyclopedia Brown figured out who broke the watch because the culprit deliberately threw the bee, thus not winning the watch, which he knew was broken.

Encyclopedia Brown knew that the kid threw the bee (threw the bee!) because the final question was “Spell a word that has three sets of double letters,” and the kid couldn’t spell one, even though he worked as a bookkeeper, and therefore should have known.

Totally shaky circumstantial evidence, but there you go.

Anyway, my point is that maybe the kid could have used “errandonnee” – although he may have then been disqualified because it’s a made up word.

It was made up by M.G. of Chasing Mailboxes, and she uses it in a sentence thusly:

“It’s time for a March challenge designed for the utility cyclist with lots of errands to do, even in winter – the Errandonnee!

Errandonnee

My cyclisty friends were all a-tweet about it last time she ran the challenge, and I vowed to play along the next time it happened.

Well, it’s happening, and I’m just now noticing. That leaves me with a fair amount of catch up by March 19th, but I think I can do it.

Is anyone else playing along? Let me know in the comments, and leave links to your blogs if you have them!

You can follow the Twitterness at #errandonnee.


(P.S. And now when you’re trying to remember how to spell “errandonnee” in your various tweets and blogs and letters to grandma, you’ll think of Encyclopedia Brown and thank me for the mnemonic device. You’re welcome.)

02/26/14

Tutorial: Sporty knit slip

by Jessie Kwak

I’m so in love with this slip, you guys!

Sporty knit slip tutorial - finished | Bicitoro bikes and crafts

I have an army of camisoles that I wear under everything from tees to dresses in order to smooth out bra lines and add a bit of smoothing, etc. (You know.) The problem with wearing a camisole under a dress is that it tends to bunch up around the hips, giving you that weird bulging line right where you least want it.

This sporty knit slip is basically a long tank top, and eliminates that tank-top line problem.

Why is it sporty? It’s made out of wicking, anti-microbial activewear fabric. It’s stretchy, so there’s no problem pedaling, yet it fits a bit snugly, so if your skirt flares up on your bike you’re not giving the world a show. I think it’s quite nice to wear under a dress if I’m pedaling around town.

It’s meant to hug the body snugly, which is why I’m not going to model it for the internet. I’ll let Little Red take on that responsibility, because she doesn’t mind spending a February afternoon standing around in the backyard in her underpinnings. She’s a bit of an exhibitionist that way.

Sporty knit slip tutorial - front view | Bicitoro bikes and crafts

You’ll just have to believe me when I say it looks fabulous on me, too. :)

Make your own sporty knit slip

Grab a favorite close-fitting knit camisole – this is your main pattern. The only other pattern piece you need is this one, for the bodice. That piece is for a size small – I’ll talk about modifying it in a moment.

Lay the camisole out on a double layer of knit fabric, and trace around the whole thing with chalk. Use the back of the camisole as your guide, and don’t bother tracing the front at this point. You’ll be making the bodice cups separately.

Figure out where the hem of the camisole hits on your body, and figure out how long you want the slip to be. Draw a line straight down from the camisole’s hem to lengthen the skirt.

(You can make the skirt flare if you like, but I kept it as a pencil silhouette.)

Add seam allowance (I used 1/2″), then cut out the whole thing through both layers.

You now have two Back pieces.

To make one of them into the Front, figure out where the underbust line is. Draw straight across that, add seam allowance, and then cut across.

The bodice cups

Using this pattern piece modified for your own size, cut out two cups.

This piece is designed for a 14″ underbust measurement (flat measured on the Front pattern piece, including seam allowance). It fits well from cup sizes A-C, since the knit material is so stretchy, and it’s designed to fit quite snugly for extra support. I’m a C cup, and it fits great. Little Red’s an A cup, and it looks nice on her, too.

Sporty knit slip tutorial - little red1 | Bicitoro bikes and crafts

That said, if you’re a D or larger (or if you just want more coverage) you should probably do a FBA. (This post on Pattern Scissors Cloth about doing a FBA for the Ruby Slip is a good place to start.)

For a totally effective, totally hack way to modify it to a bigger (or smaller) ribcage size:

Measure flat across the underbust seam of your Front pattern piece (for me, that’s 14″). The lower edge of the cup piece should be two thirds that length when measured at the seam line, subtracting the fullness of the dart (the sample pattern piece is 9.5″ across, subtracting the dart).

Simply blow up that pattern piece on your computer to get the desired dimensions.

Like I said, that’s the totally not tailor’s-union approved way of going up a size. Knit fabric is super forgiving and the cups don’t take up much fabric, so give yourself permission to play around.

Construction

Stitch the darts in the cups.

Apply picot lingerie elastic or fold over elastic (I got mine from Porcelynne on Etsy) to the neckline of both cup pieces, leaving a tail long enough to be a strap. (Measure the straps of your pattern camisole to get an idea of length.)

To learn how to use picot elastic, check out this post at Indigorchid. (That’s a great place to start if you want to make your own undies, too.) Angry Chicken has a nice video tutorial on fold over elastic.

Sporty knit slip tutorial - closeup | Bicitoro bikes and crafts

Lay both cups over the pattern to figure out how much they should overlap in front, then baste together.

Stitch the cups to the front of the slip with right sides facing.

Sporty knit slip tutorial - bodice | Bicitoro bikes and crafts

Stitch the front and back together at the side seams.

For all the seams, I used a narrow zigzag stitch, and then finished the edges with my serger.

Finishing

Now you’ll use the fold over elastic to finish not only the back and underarm, but also the picot elastic straps. This creates a really strong, stretchy strap.

Starting at one end of the picot lingerie lace that edges the neckline, head down under the arm, around the back, and back up the other strap.

Sporty knit slip tutorial - strap detail | Bicitoro bikes and crafts

I use a zigzag stitch down the middle of one edge while the fold over elastic is laying flat. Then I fold it over and zigzag closer to the edge to make it lie neatly. Don’t stretch too much, since your pattern should already be quite snug.

Try on the slip. Pin the straps at the correct length, and mark the hemline. Mine falls about 3″ above my knees.

Stitch the straps in place with a zigzag stitch, and trim off any extra.

Hem the bottom, being sure to use a stretchy stitch, since it’ll stretch quite a bit when you walk or pedal.

Sporty knit slip tutorial - bodice detail | Bicitoro bikes and crafts


That’s it! This project took me about 2 hours, including the time I took to re-do the picot trim because it was wonky at first.

Questions? Ask away in the comments. My goal is to help people be more comfortable sewing quick projects like this without patterns, so I’m happy to help if you get stuck on any of the steps.

02/22/14

Sewing patterns for activewear

by Jessie Kwak

Has your winter been weird, too? In Portland it’s been sunny-rainy-gorgeous-Snowpocalypse-sunny-rainy-repeat. I’ve gotten out on my bike a little, but mostly I’ve been staying close to home.

Bad weather days are great for tackling sewing projects, and I’ve been feeling inspired lately to make some more activewear. Maybe another pair of leggings and a different vest.

Y’know, change up my look.

(How many years in a row can I rock the exact same leggings and vest?)

Photo by Robert Kittilson

Photo by Robert Kittilson

Sewing leggings is a pretty simple matter (check out this tutorial), but I’d like to make some more complicated items.

It’s hard to find good sewing patterns for activewear, though!

Here’s a roundup of what I have found. Have you got anything to add? Sound off in the comments – I’d love to hear from you!


Lola Sweater Dress

Lola_Cover

This sweater dress, Lola from Victory Patterns, would make an adorable winter cycling dress! I’ve got a few yards of bamboo sweatshirt fleece, and some yummy merino jersey that might be great for it.

I first saw Lola on Lladybird, where Lauren has some good tips about her own adjustments, as well as sewing lightweight knits.


Minoru Jacket

Materials for a Sewaholic Minoru

Of course, the Minoru Jacket from Sewaholic is a great cycling jacket. It’s got a loose and comfortable fit, and you can make it out of waterproof fabrics.

I made a version last year, and reviewed it here. I wear it all the time in the spring and fall!


Green Pepper Patterns

Oregon biking shorts

Santiam vest

Green Pepper Patterns has some awesome-looking activewear patterns that I’ve been meaning to try. That Santiam Vest would be perfect with the silver quilted nylon ripstop I picked up a few years back, and I’ve always wanted to try my hand at a pair of padded cycling shorts.

They also have a mens and womens racing jersey pattern, as well as a lot more outdoorsy patterns for runners and hikers.

There’s a great post on The Train To Crazy reviewing the jersey pattern.


Jalie Patterns

Jalie sports bra

Jalie also has some good sports patterns, like this zip-front jacket and hoodie, a softshell jacket, and a racerback sports bra top.

The sports bra is on my list – I’d love to make something that’s truly comfortable, yet does it’s job well.


Fehr Trade

Fehr Trade running top

I was super excited to see that Melissa of Fehr Trade has released a pair of awesome activewear patterns. I love this great workout top (with a built-in compression bra!), and equally great blog post from Kathy Sews about making it up.

I may have to try making these running leggings, as well!


How about you? Are you working on anything sporty this winter?

02/11/14

Meet Sparkle Pony

by Jessie Kwak

Remember the Torker Interurban from this post?

Of course you don’t. It was ages ago. Ancient history. I had to search my own blog to even find out where I’d posted about it.

Well, thanks to a gift certificate I won in last summer’s Girls of Summer Alleycat (this girl got third place!), I finally got the Torker frame powder coated at Seattle Powder Coat.

Sparkle Pony1

When I first saw the color, I fell in love. There are little flecks of gold in it, just enough to shimmer under the surface.

The color is called “Sparkle Granny Smith,” although somehow that shifted during the month to Sparkle Pony, and the name stuck for the bike itself (sorry Rob). I’ll be the first to admit that it’s a pretty undignified name for a bike, especially when my other trusty steeds get nicknames like “la Konita,” “Relampago Azul,” (Blue Lightning) and “the Ferrari.”

But it’s so sparkly!

Sparkle Pony2

I plan to turn this bracelet into a head badge for it, and paint golden tentacles along the frame.

Brass octopus bracelet

Surely then it will be far too cool to be called Sparkle Pony, but for now….

Sparkle Pony 3

SPARKLES!