Recumbent trike, new trail

Recumbent trike, new trail

This is the best day I’ve had in a while, and I’m incredibly grateful for it. The news has been so overwhelmingly bad over the last few weeks, and everyone has been under so much stress. The adults in our family all notice that we’re exhausted, even though not that much is going on at home. We’re taking naps in the middle of the day just to give our brains and body a rest from the constant onslaught of things to worry about.

Today the sun was shining and the temp was up, so Roo and I decided to take the bikes out along a local trail that we hadn’t tried before. It turned out to be the best decision we could have made.

This is my Catrike, which I just got a few weeks ago. I love riding bikes, but it’s become increasingly hard over the years with the fibromyalgia. The regular riding posture leaning over the handlebars causes immense pain on my wrists, shoulders, and low back. I had a recumbent bike years ago, it was incredibly comfortable. I began to check out YouTube for reviews of newer models, and found a channel created by Sylvia Halpern who takes long tours on her recumbent trike. Sylvia’s channel pulled me (happily) down the rabbit hole of trikes, with their many benefits. They’re great for people with injuries, chronic illnesses, different types of handicaps related to mobility, balance problems, the list goes on.

A year or so later I found myself at Recumbent PDX in Portland, trying out a few models to see if this trike idea was a good one. The Catrike was love at first test ride, and we brought it home.

It’s been a fantastic bike for me, I just love it. Would highly recommend this to anyone who can’t ride a normal bike because of pain associated with a traditional riding posture. I’m able to ride without extra pain, it’s still mind-blowing to me every time we go out. It also lets me get my heart rate up, getting my cardiovascular system in shape. People with fibro are told to exercise to help the pain, but it can be nearly impossible to find an activity where increasing pain doesn’t stop you before you can get your heart rate up. With the trike, I can ride long enough to become winded, without causing all the extra pain that would normally haunt me for the next few days after a ride on a regular bike.

My original bike doesn’t languish – Roo inherited it! She loves it!

There’s a park nearby where Roo and I will often bike to, but today we decided to go past the park by a few blocks, and see if we could discover something new. We ended up finding a local trail that runs along the river. A vast waterfront park, with a good half mile of flat rock to walk on. It was exactly what we needed after the week we’d had.

The sun was shining, and we pulled off the trail and parked near the water. We took off our shoes and waded in a bit, but mostly sat on the bank and just watched the river go by. The air was fresh and smelled like water on rocks, a forest-y smell that I love. We had a snack, read our books, and took off our sweaters to let our skin get all the vitamin D.

I drew a little sketch in a signature that I will bind into a new journal.

I enjoyed the sketching, and I have a big stack of books that will help me get better once I have time to read them all (hey, looks like I might have some time), but I still want to take tons of photos wherever I go. I think I will always be a photographer at heart. All I had was my iPhone, but I really love the camera on that thing, and the Portrait mode gives you some neat options.

Here’s two minutes of ducks, for no reason at all:

The Artist's Box Top

The Artist's Box Top

I made my first test version of the Artist’s Box Top from Artist Made Patterns in a light quilting cotton. It turned out great! Super successful test, will definitely be making more.

I’ve made a couple of these easy t-shirt-like tops before out of wovens from different patterns. Inevitably, even when the pattern was designed for a woven fabric, the fit felt off and the top was uncomfortable. Often the neck hole was way too wide. A neckline for a 2X or 3X person doesn’t have to be two or three times larger than a regular size. The test shirts I made would constantly slide off one shoulder, and the mid-section often felt binding. I would have to yank to keep the shirt on my shoulders and yank to keep it from pinching my middle. Bahhh. No.

Happy to say, this top doesn’t have that problem! I’ve noticed such a big difference in patterns for curvy bodies when the designer is also a curvy person. I wish this wasn’t a thing, but it is. But the pattern isn’t complex at all, it’s dead easy. Just two pieces! Sew them together. For the sleeves and the bottom you just roll up twice, press, and seam. For the neck, you use a half-inch facing. So simple.

I’ve wondered whether a woven top like this, if I found the right pattern, could ever compete with my beloved collection of t-shirts. I love t-shirts but I get tired of how fast they die, and knowing that so many of them are products of fast fashion just makes it worse. Yesterday I tried wearing my new Box Top under a long-sleeved t-shirt, and then under a hoodie. It felt fine! Wasn’t uncomfortable or stiff, didn’t feel too binding. So cool! I bet one of these made out of linen or rayon would feel amazing and drape like a dream.

In the illustration below, you can see that she made an option for a ruffle version. Apparently there’s a nifty dress hack where you just make that ruffle longer, and voila, a dress! I’m going go try that on a dress for my 15-year-old daughter, who really wants a “traipsing dress”. We were talking once about how we love old style country dresses, that “make you want to traipse through the fields collecting flowers”. That’s when we decided to call our future project a traipsing dress. I think this could make a great traipsing dress!

And now: books.

And now: books.

Hello, fellow stuck-in-your-homes friends! I hope everyone is managing okay with the stresses we’re all experiencing. Our little family is doing pretty well. The introverts are squirreled away with their books and games, and the one extrovert is online with a dozen of his gaming buddies. Thankfully there are lots of projects here to distract me from my habit of over-focusing on the news.

You might remember that I wrote a little farewell-to-blogging post at the end of last summer (2019). It’s still viewable, I think.

I was doing fine, happily not blogging, until I suddenly got into making books. This isn’t the first time; I took a bookbinding class once, years ago. Somewhere in Seattle, somewhere in the 90’s. I enjoyed it, but I only made a few. I wasn’t obsessed.

A few weeks ago I took a class here in Eugene, this time using coptic stitch binding and paper-covered Davey board covers. I was in a total state of flow the whole class. It was blissful. And now I’m pretty sure I have to make, oh I don’t know, maybe a hundred more.

Bookbinding, as it turns out, isn’t the most common hobby, so I’ve had trouble finding much to do with it locally. There’s a lot online, however, which is great. Being that I hope to participate in the wider online bookbinding community, sharing photos and tips and such, I figured I’d make a little spot in which to put pictures and notes about what I’m making.

I added “fabric” into the title both because I hope to create a lot of homemade book cloth, and because I’m still sewing on the side; another obsession that never died. I should probably stop finding undying obsessions. There’s only so much room.

Here’s the book I made at the class I just took. I used some handmade paper that I bought at Oregon Art Supply, and purple waxed linen thread.

I decided to use this book as a place to put all my notes on, you guessed it: book binding. I’m the person who can’t follow a pattern or recipe, I always end up tweaking it somehow. Sometimes I regret it, but often I’m very happy with the results. The problem is that I routinely fail to write down my spontaneous modifications. I’m going to use this notebook as a place to collect all that info up as a I go along. Next post: Book No. 2.