Monday, November 29, 2010

Luna Sport Cycling Jersey

image from Sierra Trading Post

Cycling clothes are egregiously overpriced, as I soon discovered after performing a Google shopping search for a jersey. Expect to pay above $50 for a modern synthetic one and over $100 for a wool one. This is baffling to me, as you can get synthetic workout tops on sale for less than $20; is it the fancy stitched back pockets that you pay so dearly for? Who knows. Anyways, I found this tasteful plain jersey by Luna on sale at Sierra Trading Post. It doesn't make you out to be a moving advertisement, with just 3 small stitched yellow logo patches (2-front, 1-back). I like Clif Bars better than Luna Bars, but the latter company churns out some solid women's cycling clothing. The XS is a wee bit too tight on me, but less drag, right? The fabric is sturdy, medium weight, and made of recycled polyester. I hope to snag a black one before they sell out (after I find the perfect bike shorts).

Made in: USA
Handmade? No


Friday, November 19, 2010

Hansel from Basel Tights

images from Hansel from Basel

Here are some of the more quirky, yet refined tight patterns I have seen. Knee highs, anyone?

Made in: Korea
Handmade? No


Monday, November 15, 2010

Cool Weather Cycling

My only wool jersey, snacked on by moths. I gotta get some lavender. A one-of-a-kind Ebay find (Oregon Randonneurs)

As I may have mentioned before, I've been going on Monday Night Rides with whomever is available, going 25-30 miles in and around town. They've really been boosting my aerobic endurance, as I have given up my hatred for hills and and am coming to accept (if not enjoy) them. At 54 degrees, tonight marked the first chilly ride. It also offered some new lessons. I layered up with an Under Armour polyester base shirt, an American Apparel (55% cotton, 50% polyester), a jersey knit scarf, and my Marmot windshirt(100% polyester). Bottoms consisted of cheapo long black cotton leggings from Forever 21, AA poplin shorts on top for modesty, and SOS North Carolina cycling socks. No wool yet, as I am not too eager to provide more luxurious munchies for our resident moths. I might try wool blends first. The scarf was a lifesaver, as I flipped it over my mouth and nose because the cold air was reviving my cough. I ended up only unzipping my jacket a few inches after heart-pounding climbs, never overheating.

Here's the route Tyler, Stephen, and I took. 15 minutes in, I noticed that my handlebars were noticeably tilted to the left. My bike fell over while I was waiting for my ride partners at Quacks, and apparently the stem was not bolted on tight enough. It was folly to not bring my newly acquired (and effing awesome) Leyzne multi-tool, as I was running out of space in my bento box. Always pack the multi-tool! And I gotta get a handlebar bag or remember to wear my jersey. I wasn't able to bring a pair of gloves and my keys, phone, wallet and Clif bar in the bento box made a ruckus on bumpy surfaces. (And, yes, that is a Nitto Technomic protruding a whopping 14 cms above my headtube- it won't go down any lower! As the 50cm frame is a bit small for me, it works. Just don't wanna look like a tool.)

In hindsight, I am happy that I got rid of my large, wide English saddlebag. Only the smallest seat bag (the one I found off Craigslist is Banjo Brothers Mini) won't get in the way of my thighs. To me, the balance of carrying just enough stuff is a challenge to figure out in the beginning. I want to have a rear rack for strapping on a jacket or extra layers that I get rid of during the course of riding, but if I rarely use it, that's 1 or 2 lbs of extra weight I'm hauling up a hill.
Other additions that would have helped: seamless undies (!), not wearing the shorts on top (extra fabric and seams really rub after 10 miles), a warm cap to put under my helmet, plastic toe-clips that actually fit, bar-end shifters. Articles of clothing that did not reek afterwards: thermal shirt, leggings, jacket, scarf. Not bad at all. The Under Armour shirt was pretty cold on my skin when I stopped- it's definitely part of their "heat gear" collection.
It's pretty neat to put my setup to the test and figure out better ways of dressing. I'm trying to "deserve" my gear (aka use it frequently), which will help me decide what is truly useful and what is vanity. This excellent bike touring post reminded me that it's not all about the technical gear, it's about the experience and if you are having fun. Ah, I'm gonna be sore tomorrow for workout. Now that I have binged on chocolate foods (hot cocoa, fudge mint cookies), I feel an early bedtime coming on...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Patagonia Catalog Photography

As I mentioned before, I adore and respect the photography in Patagonia catalogs. I feel that they represent some of the best of extreme adventure photography. In my newest Patagonia Holiday 2010 catalog, I noticed that some of the photos were from years past, some very apparently vintage. In the front cover in small print, it announces the new book, Unexpected: 30 Years of Patagonia Catalog Photography ("to order online, search classic photos at" - lol). Our coffee table is much to tiny to showcase books, but if it were more sizable, this would be a worthy contender.

image from Mister Crew

Monday, November 8, 2010

STP Finds of Today

Trust me, I usually do not plant myself in front of my computer and browse the ultimate clothing outlet Sierra Trading Post, but I am riding a wool kick. (I can't even begin fathom the decision making behind what goes in their mail catalog.) Some standout finds in the first 10 pages:

Wigwam Lite Hiker Socks. Merino Wool. Everyone needs a pair of eggplant purple hiking socks! This company has been churning out socks since 1905. Made in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, USA. $8.95
Smartwool Cuffed Beanie Hat. Merino Wool. Made in China (b00). $14.95
Smartwool Roundabout Scarf. Merino Wool. Made in Vietnam (boo). $24.95
J.G. Glover English Wool Sweater. 100% Wool. For you Anglophile trads out there. Made in England (where else?). $52.46

Sunday, November 7, 2010


playful life. images from yokoo's etsy shop

Super chunky knitted hats, scarves, and other head-neck accessories. I first found out about Yokoo via the NYT article on making a living via Etsy (conclusion- it's rewarding but hard). Although it's not exactly my style, I am tickled by her vibrant, avant garde flair. Last winter I remember seeing a listing for a plain winter hat that I loved. Hope she will bring it back soon! Edit: She brought it back today: The Circumpolar Hat. So cozy! Peruse and purchase her knitted accessories at her Etsy shop.

Made in: Atlanta, Georgia
Handmade? Yes!

$60 ($10 S&H)

On Functional American Brands

Been digging around other fashion history websites this weekend. Found some fascinating stuff. Note: I do not claim to be an expert in these areas. I am merely a casual visitor and observer. And I apologize for awkward phrases used to describe the trend, as I don't care to pay that much attention to the media's and bloggers' word choice.

showing off some muscled legs and a tight butt. image from nytimes from the book Take Ivy

Having grown up in Texas, I've never been bitten badly by the preppy/ Ivy League bug. For regional wear, like Wrangler jeans and Justin cowboy boot, you had to look in small, isolated towns. I owned the occasional Lacoste and Polo polo shirt, but even that was more determined by European tastes and the selection at Dillard's. I guess it's not something you really get into unless you are from New England. Even when watching The Social Network (great movie), I found myself fascinated by the almost severe ivy attire of the Winklevoss twins in each of their scenes. Their v-neck sweaters, letter jackets, striped ties, and jerseys were an immaculate blend of the proper, the timeless and the elite. Here's an illuminating read from Ivy Style about the man who brought (Ivy) fashion to the previously non-existent Japanese youth clothing market

these men are jolly! images from zabou

Speaking of the Japanese, they have always gotten the historical and aesthetic value of American classicwear. Perhaps because it is so foreign? Traditional American workwear and outdoor clothing establishments, such as Pendleton Woolen Mills, Johnson Woolen Mills (see article), Levis, Filson, Patagonia, Sierra Designs, Danner, Clarks, Dickies, Carhartt, Champion, and many others have all experienced relatively massive success and appreciation in Japan. Recent slideshow example: Best of Vest. Evidence of this is also shown by the fact that on the companies' Japanese website (linked above), they offer a wider range of specially designed premium pieces that can't be found in the Western hemisphere.

probably one of the saddest, most empty outlet malls in texas. image from thbnb

When I traveled to Osaka in the summer of 2006, I was struck by how some of the clothing seemed to more American than what Americans actually wear. And whenever my relatives from Hong Kong visit (Japan serves as sole style inspiration for all first-world Asian countries), they beg us to drive them to outlet malls and Ross/Marshall for them to stock up on what seems like boring, throwaway American-made basics. I am not old enough and have not had enough exposure to Japanese youth culture to make a statement on whether this mad obsession of theirs stick around for more than a handful of years. I hope it will, for the sake of small, family-owned American businesses. I also do not have an opinion about it, and I waver back and forth between apathy (materialism is bad!), admiration (they really know their stuff!) and disgust (those posers). Happily, existing stateside fans of these brands have been able to come out of the woodwork, mostly to discuss with new converts to the current heritage trend.

rad old labels. images from oregonphotos

One important site on the history of outdoor gear is Bruce Jonson's I can only compare it to Sheldon Brown's site in that it is equally as passionate about the subject matter, but much less extensive and organized. It hosts more information that you'll probably ever want to know about early outdoor brands and their evolution. For me, I was pleased to find out confirmation that my down Moonstone sleeping bag was manufactured by a solid company (albeit shut down without explanation), that Patagonia was founded on a love for surfing, and that Rivendell Mountain Works is a brand. Here is a lengthy interview of Mr. Jonson on Our Culture, as he discusses the origins of his low-budget site and his views of the trend, the DIY outdoor culture, and the environment.

modern day JanSport classic pack: the Right Pack. image from amazon

Vintage daypacks have been popular with the streetwear crowd (and of course, Japan) for a few years now, see Jake Davis' post for a summary on the current offerings. As someone who hauled most of her school books in a forest green, leather-bottomed JanSport Classic backpack, I couldn't bring myself to embrace this trend, as I felt too close to it. Granted, most of these models are from the 70's, a decade before my birth, and it seemed inevitable that a rejection of modern synthetic-made outdoor gear would lead to an examination and geeking out of its pioneering roots and first designs.

getting ready to go backpacking at Pedernales Falls!

I am backwards, as I love outdoor gear and only want to love being in the outdoors. I chalk it up to my safe, indoor-loving suburban upbringing and genes; that I have little appetite for adventure, only the desire for the appetite. Living in Austin, I've gone on a fair share of overnight camping trips and a single backpacking trip, and thanks to the other Rivendell, aim go bike camping with my Bridgestone RB-3 sometime. I have moderately few words to report about how much of this equipment performs (which means I probably could not snag a job at Patagonia even as a bottom-rung customer service rep). It's just beautiful and rugged and embodies the sort of lifestyle and attitude so glaringly absent from modern, technology-filled life.

images from RMW and edwinhimself (excellent post)

One specific bag I want to highlight is the Rivendell Mountain Works Mariposa Summit Pack. Nearly identical to the original design in 1977, it cost less than the average imported technical pack you can find in REI, yet is constructed in the US, literally in a remote cottage. Mind boggling!

Made in: Monroe, Washington
Handmade? Yes!


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Winter Workout

There is a true nip in the air, and boot camp carries on. This week brought out some revealing running tights (actually leggings), which are quite striking when worn alone as a bottom. Great for displaying muscle tone! "Experts" recommend that when engaging in cold weather activity, dress in layers. Start with a moisture-wicking base, add an insulated layer, and then finish with a wind and rain resistant shell. I'm in the market for a base layer set. My first urge is to go for wool, as it is making a comeback as a natural material far superior to synthetics, especially in releasing stink and staying toasty even when wet. However, expect to pay $50 and up for a single piece, and this girl is on a budget. I want to make the jump, but not until I commit to getting the most use out of it. So, I go embark on one of my favorite Internet activities, which is to leisurely scour outdoor gear websites for deals. That stuff is the paragon of practical-wear.... (I will say though, that Sierra Trading Post is usually too much for me to handle, with their only sometimes useful product categories. I look there for Smartwool socks.)

Terramar Thermolator II Women's Midweight 1/2 Zip Top Shirt. 35% off at Campmor. I had never heard of this brand (they also make wool stuff), and a review search showed impressions ranging from "excellent and soft" to "not the scratchiest, but still sorta scratchy." Polyester. Imported. $22.99
Terramar Thermolator II Women's Midweight Pants. 34% off at Campmor. The matching bottoms. The accompanying review complains about it being smaller than stated, not roomy enough for the curvalicious gal, yet warm. Wouldn't be a problem for me. Polyester. Imported. $19.99
Patagonia Capilene 3 Zip-Neck Shirt. 39% off at Backcountry. Their #3 is their warmest fabric, and also the fastest drying (source). Made of polyester, 64% of which is recycled. I confess that I hold this company in high respect, mostly because their clothing feels so solidly constructed. The rest of the adoration comes from recognizing that they have the most badass extreme adventure photography in their catalogs. Made in Costa Rica. $33.55

Patagonia Capilene 3 Bottom. 39% off at Backcountry. These look wonderfully thick in the photos. It's kinda cute how the fabric bunches up at the bottom... Also made of polyester, 64% recycled. Made in Fiji. $27.45

All in all, these are decent deals, especially the Patagonia pieces. I'm probably going to pull the trigger on the 2nd set. I will let you know how they perform!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wrinkled Storm Cap

so breathable! image from kozieprery

Hm. For when it gets warmer in a few months. A cool cycling cap made from a repurposed polyester jersey. Stylish blend of cycling fashion, synthetic materials, and the DIY aesthetic.

Made in: Chicago, IL
Handmade? Yes!

$25 (only $1.75 shipping)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Fidelity by Gerald and Stewart Duffle Coat

straight off a navy ship. image from penelopes

Let me start by saying that I am not a huge fan of toggle coats or slim-fit outerwear for women. Yet this simple duffle coat jumped out at me and snuggled its way onto my wishlist. The brushed gray wool is so lovely, reminding me of the stuff of the Birkenstock Davos Clog and byrdandbelle's felt cases. The jute rope is a nice touch, and the roomy fit is classy, but not masculine. It truly is my definition of the perfect cut for a short winter coat. Funny enough, both Fidelity and Gerald and Stewart have very lo-fi websites, adding some enticing mystery to the collaboration. See Commerce with a Conscience's post on the men's long version.

Made in: USA
Handmade? No


Jury-rigged: Bike Helmet Headlamp

images from my crappy iphone 3gs camera

Now that I've been going on 20+ mile bike rides on Monday evenings, my Planet Bike Spok light set doesn't really cut it... it meaning the vast darkness that arrives after 7 PM. The front LEDs keep me visible to oncoming traffic, but I have to avoid poorly lit streets. One black pothole and me loosening my grip on the handlebars and down I would go. I've read good reviews of Planet Bike's powerful 2 Watt Blaze headlight, but at $60, it's going to have to wait. I'm currently trying to find a way to use my camping headlamp, the Petzl Zipka. As you can see above, this is attempt one. The light rest on the middle front vent, and the backpiece is wedged out one of the side back vents. Both parts are "secured" with black electrical tape. I will take this out on a ride tonight and see how well it works. If it rattles or doesn't stay put, I may have to try to mold a mounting case out of Sugru and zip tie that to the helmet.