Friday, December 21, 2007


Tonight Caro came over and we played Scrabble and made gaufrettes. It's a family recipe that came down from my mom's mom's Belgian side. It's a frenchy sounding name for a cookie, but we pronounce it goo-fritz.

You make them on a special iron - the "proper" iron is square and heated over the stovetop, but I use a plug-in pizzelle iron.

Today my sister asked me, "do you have just one iron?" My family's figured out what heirlooms to offer me, and taken advantage of my gemini nature to give me multiples of everything - Two china cabinets, and every Virgin Mary statue they've got. Do you want Grandma Margie's fry pot? Um, no, I've already got Grandma W's.

Anyway, here's gaufrettes. They're simple and delicious - try them hot off the iron and slathered in butter. There's some butter scarcity gaufrette story I seem to remember - if any aunts and uncles are tuning in and want the world to know it, tell me and I'll add it on. Here's what you do:

1/2 # Butter
3 C Sugar
5 Eggs
2 Tbl Vanilla
5 C Flour
1 tsp Salt

Cream the butter and sugar, add the eggs and vanilla, stir in the flour and salt. Heat up the iron and grease it by "cooking" 2 pieces of buttered/margerined bread. Drop by teaspoons or with a cookie scoop and close the lid. Cook a couple minutes - just until they stop steaming. If you let them get a little on the brown side they develop a compelling caramelized-sugar taste. If you use too much dough, some will ooze out of the sides - a delicious mess. My mom makes them on the small side and pretty thin. I like to make them on the thick side by letting the weight of the
iron flatten them slowly.

We poke holes in them and hang them on the tree, too - a week later they're subtly pine-tree flavored sugar cookies. My "tree" this year is a little old rosemary bush, so I wonder how that's going to turn out...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Atlantic Northeast Xmas Tree Jellyfish Tutorial

This year I signed up for a great holiday ornament swap - Thanks again Nicole and Kathleen for organizing it! There's a flickr pool of all the awesome stuff people have made here. And to spread the holiday love even further afield, here's how you can make a tree-jellyfish of your very own!

2009 Update: I've moved the pattern over to, my pattern website, here: Forkfull the Jellyfish, or the Atlantic Northeast Christmas Tree Jellyfish Tutorial.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Pulpo is go!

Just off the needles, here's the knitted octopus!

Radial symmetry, pleating, and googley eyes - oh yeah!

Pattern coming soon - hopefully faster than the last time I said that... stay tuned!

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Squid Has Landed!

The honeymoon of two eloping star-crossed squid is suddenly fraught with danger when disapproving aunt T-Rex finds them and gives chase. Run, squids, run! They thrash their trusty giant land-grub into a lather....

....which is my roundabout way of announcing that I've finally finished the squid pattern! It's rather gratuitously illustrated (there's 16 snaps, showing how to do just about every step), and you can get it the pattern in the shop.

...and, of course, it's also my roundabout way of offering a first peek at another big thing I've been working on lately - my giant grub! More squid lovelies:


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Lili Marleen!

Bad news in the inbox yesterday - Knitty decided not to publish my boa pattern, so my dream of finding true love, escaping the drudgery of my day job and ultimately moving into a solar-powered hovering castle, all by designing and knitting fabulous objet (while simultaneously vermicomposting, fixing bikes, finding found art, cross-stitching pithy quips onto old paper bags and, of course, finally learning to tat!) has been deferred until at least the spring issue. My loss is your gain, fan club! I knit brushed alpaca in August just for you!

Meet Lili Marleen!

What if a feather boa could keep you warm at night? I’ve been obsessing over fringes for a while now, and came up with this stitch while goofing around -- why fringe the edge and not the center? Frills in all directions make this scarf wickedly fun to twirl yet seriously warming when wrapped, and bulky as a lion’s mane. Perfect for the glam gal or brave boy you adore.

Yes, this is knitted! It’s basically a big tube of I-cord worked in alternating colors, with periodic rows of fringelets. The fringe is similar to a picot bind-off, only without binding the whole way off – you use a third needle to make each fringelet by casting on and binding off stitches mid-row. It’s really fun and addicting to make. About the yarn – I used a bulky brushed alpaca (I love it, it feels like butter only fuzzy!) but anything bulky with some fuzz to it will do the trick.

The pattern is available as a free download at my website -

I'm also ironing three knitting scouts badges onto my sash - the I got turned down by Knitty badge (obviously) the I will crush you with knitting-math badge (for anemone) and the Knitting got me through my divorce badge (for penelope - close enough)

Update June 11 '08: Knitty published Autogyro today, so I'm ironing my new knitty-published-me badge over my old knitty-turned-me-down badge. Yay me!

p.s. if you couldn't tell, that rambly bit at the start was bravado - leave me a comment and cheer me up!

p.p.s. the model is Beyonslay!

p.p.p.s. if you like my boa, check out my squid!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Belated Hooray for Doris

I finally got around to watching the youtube of Doris Lessing learning she'd won the Nobel prize. "oh, christ!" and plonk go the shopping bags. I'm still too technically inept to embed video here, but here's the link. If she weren't already my hero for writing such awesome, honest, emotionally frank novels and managing to maintain and hone her trademark, new-to-the-world shock at the varieties of human cruelty, she would be just for her response to this befuddled BBC fellow.

Update 12-18: Enthusia has posted the text of Doris's acceptance speech - read it here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Centered Double Decrease (sl 2, k1, p2sso) Tutorial

Here's a step-by-step of my best fave decrease. It pulls both sides towards a central raised stitch, which looks super neat-o. It's featured heavily in the squid pattern (this'll be in the stitch dictionary when I finally put it all together), but here it is for all. I knit "british," so that's the way the tuturial goes.

Step one: slip two stitches together as if to knit:
step 2: enter next stitch after the 2 you just slipped ...
... and knit it.
step 3: With the left-hand needle, pick up the two slipped stitches and pass them together over the stitch just knit.
The result:

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Again with the Squid

Hey kids - here's the squid again dolled up in a Santa hat for the Holiday Softie Awards! Wish me luck! (Or wish yourself luck as the case may be...)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Signs that living alone is getting weird...

I just took a bath with a bucket.

Here's a peek into my world -

I've been volunteering with Recycle a Bike lately resurrecting old bikes and teaching other people how to do it, too. Today I went on my first Ride Club with them. Recycle-a-bike is great. A herd of 10-to-14 year old kids and various and sundry grown-ups rode from Long Island City to Prospect Park and back again. 23 miles - that's a lot even if you're not a kid! It was lots of fun, but a really long day... I left my house at 9 to ride to the ride, and didn't get home until 5.

Living alone is still so new to me that it feels like a project. As I rode home through the park I planned my evening out - eat dinner, take a bath, then watch tv and work on knitting squid number two, photographing the tricky moves as I go this time for the pattern write-up. My head is bursting with projects lately - squids, octopi, starfish, kraken, then finally some mammals ... most everybody on my Christmas list is getting knitted softies of some sort or another this year (sorry for the spoiler, relatives, but it's not like it would suprise you!), plus I'm cogitating on playing along with NaSweKniMo, and making some mobiles, and finishing the baby quilt I started for Mathea before she turns one, and I promised somebody a poncho, plus I have this idea for sewing a shower curtain, which would also involve decorating my brown-tiled bathroom with pink everything, except it's impossible to find a pink toilet seat that doesn't have hellokitty on it, and I wish I could find time to cross stitch, because a nice subversive sampler would go great next to the kiki smith poster...

And also I have plans for this bucket. It's not just any bucket, it's an old Japanese water bucket my mom picked up at a shrine sale when we lived in Japan. It made of pieced wood, and it's in fine shape, but there are some gaps where the wood pieces meet. But a couple years ago I heard a story on the radio about the people that make New York's ubiquitous water tanks - they leak like crazy for the first couple weeks after being installed - the wooden tanks suck up the water and swell, and that's how they hold together. There's something I love about this - form and function mixed together where function comes first - you have to do the verb to become the noun. I've been keeping the bucket next to the tub to remind me to see what happens when I get it wet.

So I set the bucket under the tub spigot as I filled up my bath. But the cracks between the wood slats are big enough that it really won't hold any water at all, and then what am I to do with this soggy bucket? So the bucket and I took a soak together. Here's what I learned: Thirsty, dried-out water buckets make a really great noise when you put them in the bathtub with you. If you've ever forgotten to water a spider plant for a month or so and then remembered, it's a sound kind of like that - an alive, squeaking, rice crispies kind of sound.

At some point it will probably bother me that I'm multi-tasking even in the bathtub, but for now I'm really happy.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Knitted Squid - Yippee!

Here's the squid I knit this weekend while visiting my folks and sis - some version of the pattern has been kicking around in my head for months now, but I'm still amazed at how quickly it came to life once it hit the needles ... I cast on the first stitches of the mantle on Thursday, and by tonight I was weaving in the yarn-ends! Made on the subway, in the airport, and on mom and dad's couch. Though I confess, the family does watch a awful lot of football when we get together. Pattern available here!
Marjojo points out that I have a thing for arms - she's right, this one has 20!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Prototype Tuesday - Jumbo Knitted Octopus

I'm usually not one for showing works in progress, but it's killing me that I can't show the other thing I've been up to lately since I submitted it to knitty (everybody cross your fingers and hop on one foot for me), so here's one - it's my most recent attempt at designing a knitted octopus! It's not 100% there yet, but it's getting close - this is the rough draft. And can I just say I love radial symmetry?

This is worked completely in the round with (ta daa!) no sewing whatsoever. Which means it's totally scalable (by the time I do the pattern write-up, there'll be two or three sizes - a whole octo family), and you can make a snuggly cephalopod of your very own with any gauge yarn you want. I'm planning to self-publish this one in the etsy shop, and I'm writing up the pattern super-deluxe, with step-by-step pics of all the tricky moves. Watch this space for some small-scale circular knitting tutorials in days to come.

There's a squid in my head that will be made much the same way and follow hot on the octo's heels... or tentacles, tee hee! And did anybody see the creatures of the deep on the cover of Smithsonian magazine this month? Yipes - it's got me trying to figure out how to make a see-through plushie!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

New Digs!

I moved! I no longer live in a sprawling, falling-down victorian with a gash in the ceiling, two of my closest friends, their son (my godson), my cats and their stinky dog with a rotating cast of crazy ladies and juvenile delinquents squatting and smashing things upstairs from us on the second floor. Whew! Don't get me wrong, it was a lot to give up, but for the last week or so I've had that Celine Dion song stuck in my head, but in a happy way ... all by my se-e-elf ...

A few years back when I was taking color photo class I took a picture of an electrical outlet in my bedroom wall. You just moved, didn't you? the teacher asked. Um, yes, how did you know? 'Cause by next week you'll have five plugs sticking out of each socket.

So here's the shelter-porn before the new-apartment smell wears off:

can you find in this picture?

my cats (there's a reason we call them the little lumps)
candy darling (it's an athony and the johnstons album. crappy album, best photo ever)
my bowl of pretty
great grandma mary's dresser cloth
the b.v.m.
my first patchwork quilt (made in '02)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Last night I played this game with my god-son Silas. He and his folks and I were walking home from dinner out and he said "I want to bump into you" and I said "if you bump into me I will say CHA! at you!" So he chased me and Dan and Shana up and down the sidewalk and around the grocery store, and bumped into us when he caught us, and we said "CHA!" at him every time he did. I didn't think of it at the time, but it was kind of like rollerderby - at least in the sense that spectators got bumped into. Plus if booty-checking somebody into the third row had a sound effect, it would probably be CHA!

My favorite is when he uses CHA! as a verb, though. One afternoon walking home from the tot lot we said CHA! at everything we passed - a car - CHA! - a trash can - CHA! - a dog - CHA!. Did you see me CHA! that tree, Daniel? Yes, I did.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Representing for the fellas...

Not that I've ever claimed to be representative of my sex, or that my new crop of facial hair has resolved all of my gender stuff, but...

Ariadne found a somewhat spooky youtube featuring knitting fellas. Hey dude, what're you making? A hammock. With sharpened pool cues. Yipes.

Not to diss the pool-cue guy (I mean c'mon, it's kind of awesome), but it brings to mind the Dave Cole stuff from the Radical Lace show - hey! look at me! I'm a man! and I'm knitting! with back-hoes! (or whatever you call those things). So that makes it art!

I mostly knit on the subway, and I don't have a knitting circle. I've met plenty of knitters on public transit, but only a couple of knitting men. Knitting breaks the NYC subway rule - strangers talk to you. Here are a couple of random boy-boy knitting encounters I have to share...

(one) More than a couple times, I've had people ask me if I went to Waldorf school. Subway conversations always start in the middle of things - "Waldorf school, huh?" "Um... no? Why do you say that?" "Oh, all the Waldorf school kids learn to knit, even the boys..."

(two) Last year I met a teacher on the subway. I was knitting penelope, and she was wearing a sweater she'd made herself. She told me her dad started knitting during world war II - he was on a submarine. There's lots and lots of down-time on a submarine, and in between it's pretty hectic, so knitting sounds like a perfect stress-relief and time killer. Her dad got everybody knitting by the end of their tour. Better than scrimshaw, that's for sure.

(three) The last time I went to a punk show, (Mastodon & Against Me! this spring) the bouncer checked my bag. I was carrying the cotton and sticks that became the anemone blanket. He said, oh, man, I'm learning how to do that! Who knew?

I know the knitting fellas out there in the ether have more to add... to be continued...

Monday, September 3, 2007

Doilies and Dresser Cloths!

I named this blog Tatting my Doilies 'cause it's about all my little arts and crafts projects. It's also about the self-deprecating way I usually talk about my little arts and crafts projects. What are you up to lately? "Oh, you know, riding my bike, tatting my doilies... " The first stranger that found me through the interthing was Lady Shuttlemaker - a real life, bona fide tatter and maker of fine ceramic tatting shuttles besides.

Then last month when Grandpa died I inherited two real life lace doilies, made I think by my great grandma (his mom). I asked Lady S if she knew how it was made, and she asked her lace people, and then pointed me to this website. Apparently it's needle lace. I did some more poking around and found this honkin' bibliography, too. Wow. So thread and a needle, and a little scrap of cloth in the middle is all it's made of. I find needlework totally bewildering. It's so tiny! Lots and lots of little tiny knots. I can't really think about how she made it without feeling the urge to squint my eyes up. Anybody else out there in the ether made needle lace? Does it take absolutely forever?

I also inherited three lace-crocheted dresser cloths - basically big rectangular doilies just the right size for the tops of the dressers in grandpa's bedroom. I haven't figured out what to do with these yet, but tracking down the pattern (and learning to crochet) is somewhere on my list...

Penelope Pattern

The divine (tee hee) Ariadne officially put the bee in my bonnet to set this one down in writing. So after a couple weeks of doing other stuff and spending some time re-creating the border to figure out how I made it in the first place, here goes... I'm super-new to writing patterns down, so please if any of this doesn't make sense, let me know!

Finished Measurements: 6" (10" including edging) by 9 feet

Materials: Karabella Zodiac in orange, lots and lots of it (I think I used 8 balls)

Size 5 needles.

Gauge: 21 sts and 28 rows per 4" in st st as worked on size 5s

Concept: A really, really long scarf of fishnetty lace. Diamonds grow and shrink in the center. The diamond pattern makes it like to fold in half vertically, which works out great when wrapping this multiple times around your neck. I finished the piece, blocked it, and found that it still very much liked to curl... the sawtooth lace edging is applied at the end and counteracts the tendency towards curliness somewhat.


This is a 32-row repeat

Cast on 30 stitches using open cast-on (I didn't do this, but in hindsight, I should have).
Row 1: k1, *yo, k2tog*, end k1
Row 2 and all WS rows: purl
Row 3: k1, *yo, k2tog,* 6 times, yo, k2, k2tog, *yo, k2tog* 6 times, end k1
Row 5: k1, *yo, k2tog* 6 times, k4, *yo, k2tog* 6 times, end k1
Row 7: k1, *yo, k2tog* 5 times, yo, k6, k2tog, *yo, k2tog* 5 times, end k1
Row 9: k1, *yo, k2tog* 5 times, k8, *yo, k2tog* 5 times, end k1
Row 11: k1, *yo, k2tog* 4 times, yo, k10, k2tog, *yo, k2tog* 4 times, end k1
Row 13: k1, *yo, k2tog* 4 times, k12, *yo, k2tog* 4 times, end k1
Row 15: k1, *yo, k2tog* 3 times, yo, k14, k2tog, *yo, k2tog* 3 times, end k1
Row 17: k1, *yo, k2tog* 3 times, k16, *yo, k2tog* 3 times, end k1
Row 19: repeat row 15
Row 21: repeat row 13
Row 23: repeat row 11
Row 25: repeat row 9
Row 27: repeat row 7
Row 29: repeat row 5
Row 31: repeat row 3

Repeat until you've reached the desired length. 17 times, in my case.

Edging: Use a double-point and a single-point

PU: Pick up st from body of the scarf either using left end of LH double-pointed needle or end right left end of RH needle as appropriate.

S&W: Slip first st purlwise. Wrap the yarn around it counterclockwise 1 1/2 times, ending with yarn in front.

BO: Use wrapped bind off: K first st. Wrap the yarn twice around the stitch just K, ending with yarn in back. K next st and pass first st over second. Wrap the stitch just K before knitting the next.

Row 1: PU 1 st, CO 4 more
Row 2: S&W, *yo, k2tog* twice, PU1
Row 3 and all WS rows: K
Row 4: S&W, *yo, k2tog* twice, yo, PU1, k2tog
Row 6: S&W, *yo, k2tog* 3 times, PU1
Row 8: S&W, *yo, k2tog* 3 times, yo, PU1, k2tog
Row 10: S&W, *yo, k2tog* 4 times, PU 1
Row 12: S&W, *yo, k2tog* 4 times, yo, PU1, k2tog
Row 14: S&W, *yo, k2tog* 5 times, PU1
Row 16: S&W, *yo, k2tog* 5 times, yo, PU1, k2tog
Row 18: BO 8, *yo, k2tog* twice, PU1

repeat rows 3 through 18 the whole way around the scarf. It will take you an eternity, but it may keep those pesky suitors at bay.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

North Fork

I rode the North Fork century on Sunday. It's another of those get up at 2:30, check in at 4:30, take a bus to the start rides. But it's worth it to get way the heck out of town. Mostly empty back roads with a few hairy stretches on the main drag. Highlight number one - An office-mate's hubby caught up with me en route and we kept pace together for most of the ride. Highlight number two: Jaywalking Quail! A family of three of them crossed our path.

Here are some numbers: I got up at 2:30, checked in at 4:30, the bus left at 5:30, I started riding at 8:23 and finished at 3:28 (14 miles an hour counting stops - pretty fast for me!), the bus home left at 6:30 and I got home again at 10:00. Lots of fun, but a long, long day.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Grandma's pincushion

My grandfather died last week. It wasn't altogether unexpected, but it was very sudden. He had a lump, which turned out to be bladder cancer that came out of remission as cancer of the everything. Two weekends ago my sisters and I met my parents at the old folks' home slash hospital to see him for what we all knew would be the last time, and this weekend we were back again for his funeral.

I'm not all that close to my family, and I was never very close to Grandpa. When the grandkids got together to write a eulogy, I realized my strongest memory of him is half remembered and half home movie - we were playing in a kiddie pool, and Grandpa put our plastic backyard slide over it and slid us down it into the pool. I remember a grown-up, probably Dad, wetting the slide with the hose so it'd be slippery for the kids to go down. Then Grandpa climbed up and slid down himself. It was a tiny little pool - he splashed just about all the water out of it when he landed. This was the best home movie ever. I remember watching it on our chucka-chucka 8mm projector with the family. We'd watch him slide down and splash the water out, and then beg dad to play it backwards, over and over again.

He could be really happy-go-lucky. Growing up I was fascinated with the fact that he had come to America on a boat when he was 6 years old, and I asked him if he could say something in Czechoslovakian. He had this little rhyming ditty that my aunt can still recite, that translates into "something something, something, knocking on your door, something something something, or I'll pull down my pants." All us grandkids remembered him as fun to play with - he played tackle football with my cousin Michael and his step-brothers. There's this awesome picture of him rocking out on the swingset next to great-grandson (my nephew) Ethan. And the big narrative of the weekend was about how last spring he and a scooter-bound friend had made a net out of a yardstick and a plastic bag so they could catch butterflies by the pond near the old folks' home.

But Grandpa was really blue, too. My grandma died suddenly and way too young when I was five years old. It was the same year Grandpa retired, and he didn't seem to know what to do with himself. He went into a funk that he only recently got out of. A really, really deep depression. I remember visiting him in my teens, and grandma's dresser being just as she had left it, as if she'd be right back to rearrange her things. As if she still needed her hairbrush. He didn't cook, so he went out for every meal except breakfast. He stopped cleaning his clothes. There was nothing in his fridge except milk and creamer. A few years ago I heard he was picketing Planned Parenthood, and my first reaction was oh, good - I'm glad he's getting out some.

Eventually, though, he did come out of his funk. He moved by his own decision into an independent-assisted living place where his sister also lived, and it was great for him. He started to get excited about things again. I saw him over Christmas, and my aunt had made a video out of old pictures she had, and he really engaged when we watched it - he took over telling the story of his double wedding - two sailors and two war brides, and a too-short honeymoon. Apparently, too, he was the life of the party at the old folks' home. I overheard one of the ladies saying to my uncle, someone just told me he used stay at home all the time - I can't believe it's the same person, that just doesn't sound like our Emery.

On his dresser in his room at the old folks' home, Grandpa had Grandma's pincushion. It's hard to express how odd and out of place it looked there. It was on one of those manly dresser trays where he'd empty out his pockets at the end of the day, and I thought it was from space. I took it to the beach Monday to try to express how out-of-context it felt to see it there. I'm not sure if there's a particular memory attached to it, and I never got to ask him what it meant to him, or why he chose a pincushion as a distillation of all the Grandma stuff he used to live among. That's not the kind of conversation I'd have been able to have with him, anyway. But I can guess at it.

It's chaotic and personal and intimate - the pins are all higgledy-piggledy, and there are hundreds of them, which means among other things that Grandma held this object in her hands hundreds of times. There's something to the pattern of the pins - like in the art class exercise where everybody draws a single line on a piece of paper, then hangs them up and looks at how different they all are. Somehow, the simplest, most everyday artifacts can be so full of a person - my own pincushion looks totally different. And it's an object that begs to be picked up, to be handled.

And to be used. I inherited the pincushion, and as an heirloom, it scares the crap out of me. There's a huge power in the fact that it's 27 years of un-touched, just like she left it, but the only way I can think of to honor what it means is for me to use it. I love that it's something of Grandpa's and something of Grandma's at the same time. And I love the idea that I'm picking it up after all of these years, like I imagine Grandpa imagining Grandma picking it up. It's a symbol of doing and undoing at the same time - if it's mine, is it still theirs? How long will it take, I wonder, for it to look like something of mine instead of Grandpa and Grandma's? Years, I'm sure, but that's how grieving works. How well will I use it? When I die, who will pick it up and think of me?

related, kinda sorta and randomly -
this yarnharlot post with knitting in the wild; Gorky's button memory in ararat; and fragiletender for teaching me the word "plinth"

EDIT January, 2008: The ditty goes:

Vincujem, Vincujem
Na pesu kolace vizim
A ked mi nye daze
Spuscim na vas gace

which means

I greet you, I greet you
On the stove I see kolace
And if you don't give me some
I'll drop my pants before you!

(kolace is a slovak sweet)

Thanks Aunt Betty Ann for sharing and Great Aunt Betty for translating!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

From the vaults: diamond lace scarf

Here's some pics of my really, really long orange scarf.

I made this during a particularly heinous couple months of my life, and it took forever, and even when I was done with it I decided it needed a border which took forever all over again, so I think of it as Penelope's shroud. Not that Odysseus came back to town and killed my suitors and maids and then went off wandering until he found somebody who called his oar a winnowing fan or anything, and I doubt Penelope had access to such fabulous, high-tech orange cotton, but still.

If you get plain old yarn-over k2tog lace, that's what this is, only with a diamond that builds up and diminishes in the middle, with a sawtooth lace border applied after the body is finished.

I'm working on writing up the how-to of it for pattern-writing practice, but right now the counting is making me dizzy. So here's the snaps. Somebody bug me for the pattern and I'll reconstruct it for everybody.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Hey Fan Club!

I'm back from my big bike trip - from Syracuse, NY to Portland, Maine all by my lonesome, via the Adirondacks, much Vermont, a hot second of Canada, eye-poppingly gorgeous New Hampshire mountain passes, and the awesomest Maine tidal beach ever. It was a great, great trip.

The whole day-by-day story is up here on crazyguyonabike.

The full set of pics are up here on picasa.

I texted friends & fam from the road. That seems like that little bit belongs here, so here it is. The links on the dates go to the full travelog page.

July 4 (Syracuse, NY)
Hey fan club! I'm in blah n rainy Syracuse. Airport hotels are like another world. Start riding tomorrow at the brick of dawn. Love, d

July 5 (White Lake, NY)
Hey there fan club. Safe n warm in White Lake ny just inside the park. 85 miles today n i feel good. Host fam had a cookout and raspberry pie!

July 7 (Keene Valley, NY)
Hi. Made it to keene valley and ate delicious pie! I'm kinda sore but pretty ok. Camped last night @ Forked Lake. Ridiculously beautiful all day, rain and all!

July 8 (Grand Isle, VT)
Hi again. Poured on me all day but I stayed dry. Yay poncho! Then I hit lake champlain n the sky got gentle. Camping on grand isle tonight. I love icy hot!

July 9 (Enosburg Falls, VT)
Hey kids. I'm in Enosburg falls vt almost in canada. Stormed on me all day today. Still hoping to see some stars tonight. ate 1/2 a blueberry pie for lunch!

July 10 (Lyndonville, VT)
Hi fan club. I'm in lyndonville vt almost to nh. No rain today! Fog then 90 deg. 85 miles of hot n stinky. More storms coming tonight. I want stars!

July 11 (Twin Mountain, VT)
Hey Fan club! I'm in twin mtn NH. Set up camp just before the rain hit. busted my chain this moning n got a hitch to littleton. 100 miles to portland..or more!

July 12 (Sweden, ME)
Hi fc. Maine smells great! Finally a clear sunny day. Crawford notch this morning then pretty pack roads n fluffy clouds. Camping between sweden n norway. Stars!

July 13 (Brunswick, ME)
Hey kids I'm in Brunswick ME. Long hot windy day down the mountains into farmland then sprawl. Ocean tomorrow! Ps I ate an apple pie n a tub of berries 4 lunch!

July 14 (Popham Beach, ME)
I made it! I'm at Popham Beach. Beau T Ful here.

July 15 (Portland, ME)
Hi all. Drying out in ptld. 53 miles today with one hell of a T storm. Rolling thunder, lots of fun. Swam in the ocean this morning. Brrr!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Five Things Game

Marjojo over at My Art Grows Around Me invited me to play the say five things people don't know about you game.

so here's a few before I go on walkabout -

(1) When I met my friend Shana in my first year at college, we were both eating acorns off the ground within five minutes.

(2) The majority of my driving has been in U-Haul trucks. I've moved, or moved friends, cross country 6 times. When I drive a regular car, I find the center mirror totally disorienting.

(3) The best present I ever got was a hazelnut chocolate cake a long-distance gf made and fedexed to me. There was a freakish blizzard that year and I didn't get it until a week late, and I don't really like hazelnuts, but it was delicious all the same.

(4) I have a homemade cookbook mostly comprised of recipes for carrots - carrot soup, carrot cake, carrot souffle...

(5) My desire to feel independent and self-sufficient often goes to rather extreme ends. For example, I'm about to ride 700 miles under my own power on a bike I overhauled myself that's never seen the inside of a bike shop. For another example, I own a headset press.

Want to play, too?

Monday, July 2, 2007


I leave Wednesday for the big trip. Here we go! I've spent countless hours tracing out my hoped-for route (the end of the Northern Tier with a detour around the Green Mountain Loop) across the contour lines of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. I made myself a faboo saddlebag. I've found some friends and friends-of-friends to stay with en route. I've trained and tuned up my bike. I've been 90% packed for more than a week. I'm just about as ready for this as I'm gonna get.

Today I loaded everything up and took Mercy for a test spin down to the beach and the only dirt road I know in NYC outside of Staten Island. The good news: Nothing fell off or even jiggled very much! The other good news: It still felt really good with most of the weight up front now that it's fully loaded (~25 pounds of gear in the front, maybe 10 in the back with 4 full water bottles). The bad news: I think the raincoat material I used for the saddlebag is a bit flimsy and prone to tearing. Not that there's a real danger of it falling apart on the road, but it might wind up a rack-top trunk instead of a saddlebag a few days in.

A few more snaps all loaded up:
The bike is a 70's (I'm guessing) Mercier mixte, with all the parts switched out from when I got it except the headset, brakes, bars, and fenders.
Gear-heads, here's the fine print:

Stronglight 99 triple cranks
Eggbeater pedals
Original mafac racer brakes & levers
Original stronglight headset
SRAM long-cage plastic rear derailleur
Shimano ??? front derailleur
Shimano bar-end friction shifters
XT 9-speed cassette, of which 8 are usable due to wacky mixte geometry (the middle stays get in the way, so I set the r/d limit screws as if the smallest cog wasn't there)
Vittoria Rando 700 x 32 tires
Brooks Pro saddle (borrowed from my commuter)
The front rack is an Old Man Mountain that mounts using a special skewer. The up-side for me: it's super easy to install ( the front rack won't fit in my bike box so I'll need to re-assemble it in my hotel room) The down-side: you have to pull the skewer the whole way out to change a front flat.

Finally, here it is all boxed up! I got a fancy aircaddy box that lets me put the bike on the plane without disassembling it -- the back wheel is still on -- I just had to pull the seat and front wheel and turn the bars backwards.

Thanks, everyone for your well-wishes! My next bike-y post will have the mountains in the background instead of my porch! There will be stars, it'll be cold at night, and I'll eat lots of pie. Hooray!