Meet Amsel - I am so excited about this bike!

May Bike Month the Tin Lizzie Way

May is National Bike Month, and I’m thinking of ways to celebrate the Tin Lizzie way – fashion and accessories, all things reflective, and bike travel! bike_month_web_FB2Here’s a round-up of current interests and faves:

Fashion

I’ve signed up for Me Made May 2016, a challenge for people who sew, knit, crochet, upcycle/recycle and refashion clothing for themselves. Although each participant can set their own goals, most apparently aim to wear something they’ve made every day in May. That’s a lot of handmade clothing! My goal is to wear as much of my own clothing as possible, and to make a list of what I wish I could wear, and then at the end of the month, I’ll see what gaps I have and figure out what to make next. mmmay16final

In the meantime, there are some other bike-y fashions and accessories to admire. Personal favorite Cleverhood has come up with a new Indigogo campaign for Cleverlite, a simpler version of the original ‘hood, in lighter weight fabrics, and made in Fall River, MA. I’ve already pledged – the lightweight cape will be perfect when The Mechanic and I go to Disney World in 2017.

Cleverlite - image from Indigogo webpage

Cleverlite – image from Indigogo webpage

Another fun new bike fashion product is Esperanza Workshop. Started by a friend of a former colleague, Esperanza’s bike bags are hand made in Oakland, CA, out of waxed linen, which are scraps from another local company – how cool is that?! Talk about sustainable fashion. Jen, the founder, tells her origin story on her blog (hint: no cool designs for women…) – I really like that she’s taken her bike bags to international destinations, because that sort of versatility is what I look for in the perfect bag. Plus, the texture of the waxed linen is really cool. Personally, I like the Kate Envelope clutch, because it’s funky yet neutral, and large enough to be really useful. **Jen is generously offering a 10% off discount through the month of May using the discount code TINLIZZIE. Nice!** 

Esperanza Workshops Kate Envelope Bag (Photo by Amanda Barnes Photography for Esperanza Workshop)

Esperanza Workshops Kate Envelope Bag (Photo by Amanda Barnes Photography for Esperanza Workshop)

Reflective Things

Herschel Supply Co. has come up with more lust-worthy reflective bags. They are part of the new “Packable” collection, so lightweight as well (I see a theme…). I like the tote bag – simple, vertical, black, reflective… what’s not to love?!

Herschel Supply Co Reflective Tote, image from website

Herschel Supply Co Reflective Tote, image from website

Speaking of reflective bags, ICNY Sport has some great reflective bags as well. Most of this NYC line is geared towards guys, with baseball caps and oversized tee shirts, but I really like what they are doing. So their packable reflective backpack caught my eye on Instagram – it’s not 100% reflective, but the price, $25, is better. Although their cool collab tote bag with fellow Brooklyn company D’Emploi is sold out, so if you want this backpack, buy it quick!

Travel

The Mechanic scored a fabulous Craigslist find last week – a sleek, simple Tern folding bike! We’ve been talking about replacing our road bikes with folding bikes for ages, and finally it’s happening! My road bike is gone <sniff> and in its place is a matte black Tern, named Amsel, which is German for “black bird.” Seemed appropriate! The Mechanic had to take apart the internal gear hub, to discover it was not only rusty but full of water, so we haven’t played around with it much. Doesn’t matter – I am now busy plotting trips to take folding bikes on! Once we get a second folding, we’ll be able to take them to Northwest Arkansas when we visit The Mechanic’s father this summer; I really want to bike on the Razorback Greenway, a “heritage” trail that connects much of northwest Arkansas. I don’t know the area, so riding bikes through this part of the country really appeals to me. And if we go to Berlin for Christmas, well, we won’t need to rent bikes, we’ll have our own! Closer to home, now we can take folding bikes on Amtrak to Philadelphia and then bike to Bartram’s Garden, America’s oldest botanical garden and 45-acre National Historic Landmark.

Meet Amsel - I am so excited about this bike!

Meet Amsel – I am so excited about this bike!

In other bicycle travel news, it’s a big deal that U. S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx recently toured Copenhagen by bicycle, along with three US mayors. Although Secretary Foxx and the mayors were possibly the only people out on bikes wearing helmets, it’s exciting that they were able to experience what The Mechanic and I, and so many others, love about biking in Copenhagen. I hope that all four are able to convince others that this is something we should strive towards for our nation as well.

Bike Month Action Items:

Sign up for the National Bike Challenge, if you haven’t yet! This challenge not only gives you points for every day you ride, it lasts four months, so there is plenty of time to rack up total points. Put together a team or just personally compete with someone else on the leader board. It’s a fun way to get more people biking.

If you are in the DC area, attend the National Museum of Women in the Arts event, Fresh Talk: Women on Wheels, on Sunday, May 15th. Asking if the bicycle can be an agent of change (um, yes), speakers will share their thoughts, plus there will be a “Sunday Supper” meal afterwards. I’ll be there – let me know if you will be as well so we can meet up!

Other bicycle events in May include National Bike to School Day, May 4th, and Bike to Work Day DC, May 20.

And if you find any cool bike fashions to share, there’s no better time! Let’s celebrate all things bike-y (and reflective!) this month!

Uniqlo

Shopping, Sewing and Sustainability

The Mechanic and I try to live a sustainable life – we are vegetarian (except during international travel, when we want to try local specialties), do our best to avoid foods made with palm oil, we walk, bike or use public transportation on a daily basis, and rent cars when we are going out of town. We use as little water as possible, turning off the water during showers and while brushing teeth, and The Mechanic mostly washes dishes by hand to reduce water usage. We have CFLs or LED lights, reuse our plastic zip top baggies, use environmentally-friendly cleaning products as much as possible, take reusable bags when we go shopping, and turn off the lights in rooms we aren’t using. There is always room for improvement – I’ve recently been exploring environmentally-friendly toiletries and beauty supplies, and buying bulk food items like nuts. But for me, shopping is The Weakest Link.Plastic Baggies

Eileen Fisher, fashion designer and industry activist, said last year that fashion is the second most polluting industry after the oil industry. She knows better than I do, but there is no arguing with the fact that the fashion industry is not an ideal industry. From ethical treatment of workers to textile manufacture to shipping garments and shoes thousands of miles to billions of garments being thrown away, there are problems all the way through. Fast fashion, clothing that is turned out quickly after it appears on runways, has become the norm, as people of all ages flock to inexpensive trends as soon as they come out. Fashion Revolution Week, April 18-24 this year, brings attention to the nameless workers who crank out those fast fashion pieces, a movement inspired by and in honor of the over 1,100 workers who died in the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh.  In response, some clothing companies pledged greater transparency with their supply chain, resulting in the Fashion Transparency Index, ranking clothing companies by results. But even beyond the idea of who makes the clothes the world consumes are issues involving the fabrics themselves – polyester is made from petroleum; creating cotton fabric uses an unbelievable amount of water; there’s the fertilizer used in growing those crops; and apparently the average American citizen THROWS AWAY 70lbs of clothing a year. The statistics are depressing.

Who made my clothes? I did!

Who made my clothes? I did!

So with an industry dirty from beginning to end, how do you incorporate sustainability into what you put on every day?

Uniqlo

I love these pieces but maybe for the same price I should have just ordered three yards of Liberty of London fabric…

I could smugly answer, “Well, I make my own clothes,” but that is not only an incorrect answer, it doesn’t solve the problem. I don’t make ALL my own clothes. I don’t know where the fabrics I purchase are made, or by whom. I’ve never even looked to see where my patterns are printed! Because I have limited local fabric shopping options, I tend to order most of fabrics, which means transportation emissions from the warehouse where the fabrics are kept; don’t even think about how the fabrics were transported to that warehouse. And I still buy fast fashion – I love my Liberty of London for Uniqlo purchases! So what is a sewist and fashion addict to do?!

For starters, I try really hard to not buy clothing any more “just because.” I actually find that I would rather make most things anyway, and that I’d rather *wear* the things I make. It’s more fun to make cute reflective garments than basic tee shirts, but I may need to start doing that as well. I love Spoonflower because of their eco-friendly system: digital printing of fabric leads to less waste of fabric, ink and electricity; they don’t need to store potentially unpurchased fabrics that could end up thrown away; many of their fabrics are made in the USA or organic or both; they support small designers by giving them a platform; and the Sprout Patterns printed on fabric reduces even more waste! If I could buy all my fabrics from Spoonflower, I would.

One giant piece of fabric with the pattern pieces printed right on it!

One giant piece of fabric with the pattern pieces printed right on it!

I have started researching companies that do engage in eco-friendly, ethical creations. H&M and Uniqlo aren’t doing too badly on the Fashion Transparency Index, and I do like H&M’s Conscious Exclusive collection, even though most of it is fancier than I’d ever need. I don’t know that I have the patience to simply not buy – I’m a bit like a magpie: Oh look, something shiny! But if I can focus on a list of places whose practices I agree with, at least my purchases are supporting what I believe in. I haven’t fully identified those companies yet; the ones I have found have very expensive clothing. On the other hand, the pieces I own that I’ve spent the most money on tend to be the pieces I love wearing. Hm… maybe that should be my new shopping strategy: only buy expensive things! Hahahaha….

In terms of sewing and sustainability, I will be testing out my first few download-and-tape-together pattern from indie pattern companies, and looking around for other places to order fabric. I need to find some patterns that can act as basics, so I don’t need to buy those but can quickly whip them up. I would love to be able to sew everything, but I simply don’t have time, and then I get impatient for something new, and then I go out an buy. Hm…. So really, what this all boils down to is being happy with what I have and not wanting anything new! But that seems boring to me – I need to make it work in more eco-friendly ways! And either way, I need to think about the carbon footprint of the USPS/UPS/FedEx way my orders get to me. Buy all the fabric all at once?

What are your favorite sustainable ways to shop and sew?

 

Just think pink!

When You Combine Pink and Reflective Digital Camo

Even with guests in town a few weekends ago, I managed to crank out a sewing project I’ve been planning for ages. I bought this Kwik Sew 4104 pattern last August, and nine months later, it’s done!

Kwik Sew 4104

Kwik Sew 4104

I knew when I saw this pattern that it would be the perfect garment for the reflective digital camo fabric I ordered from Rockywoods.com, and cut it out almost as soon as I could. Finding the rest of the fabric was a bigger challenge. I wanted something that could be work well with several pieces in my wardrobe, be fun but not an overwhelming print, and still coordinate with the dark gray reflective fabric. I kept returning to this pink/gray/gold Michael Miller Arrow Flight cotton print and finally just ordered it. It’s lined in pink. So much pink…. But it’s Spring, and a happy color combination, so I don’t care!

Just think pink!

Just think pink!

I made two muslins for this jacket. The pattern is sized XS-S-M-L-XL, so I cut out a M, and it was HUGE! I pinned alterations all over it before finally deciding to just try the next size down. Cutting out a size S, dropping the waist a 1/2″, and curving about an inch out of the center back resulted in a much better fit. Alas, I was so focused on the torso fit, and didn’t have enough muslin fabric (in fact an old sheet) to put sleeves into the size S muslin, and didn’t realize how short the 3/4 sleeves really were – the elbow dart is about 2″ above my elbow! D’oh! Also, it’s snug across the back, which I would have realized if I’d added the sleeves to the muslin. Oh well. Reflective Jacket 5The jacket is fully lined, with side seam pockets, with the cuffs and bottom band faced in the same reflective fabric. The instructions directed to understitch the lining but I edgestitched it instead. Reflective fabric doesn’t press well, so I always topstitch to help reduce the pouf. Reflective Jacket 3The jacket doesn’t have a closure, which I suspect will be annoying, especially while biking. However, the bottom band is faced with the same reflective fabric, so if the hem flaps up while I’m biking, I will still be reflective. The reflective cuffs are good for signalling turns as well. Reflective Jacket 2 Reflective Jacket 9The reflective camo is obviously not 100% reflective, and so as a bias trim in seams, it’s not as reflective as the piping. However, as a large fabric detail, it’s pretty spectacular! I’ll have to order more and think of what else I can do with it.

Reflective Jacket 8Initially I thought this pink print would coordinate well with the various burgundy pants I own, but after trying on a few combinations, I’m less convinced. I will start off with gray and see how I feel. But I really love this jacket, or perhaps it’s a bit of Spring Fever and Cherry Blossom Fever that make me completely love this pink jacket. It will be an easy piece to fit into my work wardrobe. I am sure I’ll get a ton of wear out of this!

Happy sewing project face!

Happy sewing project face!

 

Colorful plane

A Bit of Transportation History

The Mechanic and I spent some time with out-of-town guests this past weekend touring museums. The Renwick Gallery exhibit Wonder was really amazing and I can’t wait to go back! Definitely make sure you go before May 8, when they start to take it down.

We also toured the National Museum of American History and the Air and Space Museum. It was fun to find quirky bits of transportation history, not always where you expect it.

Sure, in the “America On the Move” transportation hall, you expect to find transportation history. I hadn’t noticed the really unusual women’s bicycle there before – an 1889 women’s Overman Victoria safety bicycle. I was disappointed that we didn’t see the Wheelwoman with her bicycle.

Check out the unusual curved front fork

Check out the unusual curved front fork!

Also, I love these images from the 1950s – an ad for Greyhound stating “No traffic nerves for us!” as a couple travels inexpensively and without having to drive; and a novel entitled Hot Rod. I love the tag line above the title – “Speed… Danger… DEATH!” Oh my. Greyhound Ad Hot Rod NovelIn the National Air and Space Museum, we encountered a bit of World War I history that made us all scratch our heads. Apparently, towards the end of WWI, the German war machine was running low on supplies, and was encouraging women and girls to donate their hair – which would be used to replace rubber driver belts. Yikes! I can’t imagine that worked well. Of course, we all know how that war ended.

And to round out some transportation history, I discovered that WMATA created a platform shoe SmarTrip card in honor of it’s 40th anniversary! Haha – a trip down transportation AND fashion history lane, all in your pocket for your everyday commute. I wish I had one. Platform Shoe Metro Card

Reflective Shoes 3

My DIY Reflective Shoes Experiement

Wednesday, April 6, was National Walking Day, an event promoted by the American Heart Association, and a day that my office promoted to our communities. It was also a good day to wear my new sneakers* – my DIY reflective sneakers!

Reflective Shoes 3I ordered a small (2.3oz net weight) can of Albedo 100 Reflective Spray, after the company liked one of my (many) reflective posts on Instagram. A Swedish product, made in the USA, “designed with nordic conditions in mind” – the possibilities seemed endless with reflective spray paint!!! Oh the things I was planning in my head.

But first I wanted to test it out on something I didn’t really care about, just in case. I hunted around for a pair of fun yet cheap sneakers that I’d want to actually wear – as I’m not a fan of sports shoes, I wasn’t interested in an investment. I found a cute pair at Payless Shoe Source that fit the bill, but of course, not only did they not have my size in the store, they were not available anywhere anymore! Gah! Then I found this really great Addidas pair on clearance in Macy’s – see, the Ballston Mall does have some good finds! (Sidenote: the Ballston Common Mall is generally known around town as a miserable, sad excuse for a mall, and we are all eager for Ballston Quarter, coming in the far future.)

The iridescent stripes on the side closed the deal on these shoes!

The iridescent stripes on the side closed the deal on these shoes!

I took them outside to spray them. The directions on the can Said to shake vigorously for “at least 1 minute” and to repeat during the application. As it is a clear product, it was hard to see what I’d sprayed, except for the white rubber part on the right shoe where I started. I was surprised when I ran out of spray paint shortly after starting the left shoe! I don’t know if I over-sprayed the left shoe, or if this small can is just not enough for two shoes.

Spraying the shoes - see the gray spray on the white rubber? oops. Got carried away there.

Spraying the shoes – see the gray spray on the white rubber? oops. Got carried away there.

So here are the results:

Can you tell how the first shoe I sprayed, the right shoe, is nicely covered, but the left shoe is not? Bummer! Especially since I prefer the majority of my reflectivity to be on my left side, aka, the car side. I feel a bit lopsided, too, but I guess no one can really tell. Also, since this spray paint is intended for fabrics, it clearly doesn’t work well on the rubber, as it is scratching and peeling off. The product apparently washes away, and I tried to wear them in the rain recently, but I can’t tell that it washed off. I guess if I sprayed a jacket and then washed it, I would notice. However, given how little I purchased and covered one shoe with, I can’t imagine trying to re-reflective something all the time.

I’m not as happy with this experiment as I’d hoped I be, but that’s partially user error, I think. I doubt I’ll try this again, but you never know. Maybe it would be fun on spectator shoes, where I wouldn’t try to cover the entire shoe.

Naturally, I love these shoes because I love anything reflective, and I really love the shoes anyway. I know I’ll wear them regardless! But then I found these gorgeous Nike cherry blossom shoes and now I really, really, really love these more… They could be reflective, right? Like the Capital Bikeshare #BikeinBloom!

Nike Cherry Blossom Shoes

Serious lust…

 

*Seriously, what is the appropriate current term for these shoes? I grew up calling them tennis shoes, and I refuse to call them “runners,” but what *are* they?!

I even found matching fossil buttons!

April Showers Bring Spring Sewing Plans

April showers bring May flowers, as the saying goes, but also time to be inside and plot my sewing list for the next several months, yay! This month will be a bit crazy, however, with several weekends of out-of-town guests, and an industry summit in DC, which means out-of-town colleagues to catch up with, plus summit-ing. Nevertheless, I ignore reality and charge ahead with my overly-ambitious sewing plans!

Last month I finished my Vogue 7910 skirt (now apparently discontinued), in khaki twill with the camo reflective bias trim in the side panels. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, although the reflective trim isn’t as bright as I’d like. Also, I’d forgotten how wrinkly twill get, yikes. I wore it the very early morning I met some friends for a bike ride to see sunrise and cherry blossom blooms at the Tidal Basin, and am happy to say it’s a perfectly lovely biking skirt. I anticipate wearing this often in the warmer months ahead.

I tried to get my current project done in March, so I could move ahead with two tops in April, but that didn’t happen. I’m glad I made a muslin of the Kwik Sew 4104 (also apparently now discontinued) jacket I’ve got planned, because I don’t like the fit at all! It’s *huge* – and I cut out a size Medium! I’ve pin fit the muslin but now need to redo everything. Basically, I want to tailor the waist by taking in about 4″ all around, but I’m not sure how that’s going to turn out. I might cut a size Extra-Small in another muslin, I don’t know. I also need to drop the waist about an inch but that’s easy compared to how much needs to be taken in. Even though Spring showers bring May flowers, and I love almost anything floral, I’ve chosen a nautical theme for my Spring and Summer sewing line-up. I’m thinking wide-leg trousers, red and denim blue, lots of stripes, fish, and for something different, ammonites!

First up, an easy top with fish fabric from Spoonflower, in an easy Butterick pattern.

Then something more creative, also with Spoonflower fabric. I’m obsessed with the ammonite ditsy print that Spoonflower designer Coggon created! I think it will be perfect for a Breton-style top. I’m bravely going to try my first download-print out-tape together pattern (ulp), Christine Haynes Marianne dress, which I will then shorten into a top. (Seems like alot of work to tape something together to then cut it apart…)

I want to make more pants, because eventually I’ll find a pattern I like and learn how to adjust patterns for proper fit. I have the sailor pants pattern from Vogue, but I’ll put that off, and first make a nice pair of wide-legged trousers in faded red. I love wide-leg trousers, especially with a cuff. The Simplicity pattern I wanted also was discontinued, but luckily I found it on Etsy.

Then I am going to make two dresses from the same pattern, one for me and one for a friend. McCalls 6520 is *also* out of print, but again, thanks to Etsy, I was able to grab it. I’m going to do version A for me in lightweight pale denim, with the reflective floral blue fabric worked in somehow, and version C/D for my friend, but with 3/4 sleeves. She’s already picked out her fabric, but I haven’t even looked for mine yet. Deadline – a girls’ trip to New Orleans! I could be sewing late the night before we leave….

Out-of-print McCalls 6520 dreses

Out-of-print McCalls 6520 dresses

There are more things on my list but I think this will keep me plenty busy. I’ll be very impressed with myself if I can get this all done before Memorial Day weekend, but know it probably won’t happen. But if it keeps raining, maybe there will be more days and evenings at home sewing! And flowers in May…

Reflective Collection

The Hunt for Reflective Fabric

Hunting for reflective fabric has turned into a bit of a obsession. It wouldn’t be so, possibly, if it was easier to find, however! So when I see things, I tend to jump immediately, cost be damned! Recent example – Stonemountain and Daughter, a fabric store in Berkeley that I actually haunted while in high school and college, recently shared a photo on Instagram of some reflective trim. I’ve never seen aurora reflective anything before, so I called the store when I got home from work and ordered some! At $8 a yard, I didn’t buy much; I’m sure that once the shimmery package arrives, I will regret that!

Seriously, how could I resist this?!

Seriously, how could I resist this?!

I do get asked where I find reflective fabric, so I thought I’d try to encapsulate all my finds.

Reflective Ribbon

It all started in 2012, with Dritz iron-on reflective grosgrain ribbon, purchased at JoAnn Fabrics. It’s harder to find now, as is the Dritz reflective piping, which is apparently no longer made. Shortly thereafter, I found sew-in reflective ribbon in a notions store in New York City. I think it was Pacific Trimming, on West 38th Street, but I’m not positive.

Reflective Fabric

This is the biggie, the goal of everyone – fabric that is reflective. It’s amazing, and I love having so much made with reflective fabric, but it is difficult to find, expensive when you do, and then not easy to sew with or wear.

Most of it I have purchased at B&J Fabrics, in New York. I found the gold in 2012, went back in 2013 for plum and lavender, and then bought some orange in 2014. I wish I had more of the plum! A B&J employee told me that they used to carry blue reflective fabric – oh how I wish they still did! But at $54 a yards, I know the store wouldn’t special order a roll just so I could buy a few yards. (B&J does have a reflective fabric on their website, for $69.95 a yard, but not with a good photo.)

I also purchased a yard of silver reflective fabric at Britex Fabrics, in San Francisco. That too was about $50 a yard, and a friend who was recently in the store reported that they no longer carry it. Gah! 2014_August_Britex SIlver Reflective

Reflective fabric, top, along with some gray velour I also purchased at Britex

Fellow bicyclist and sewing blogger Oanh at Unique Schmuck hooked me up with some other fabrics. She reached out to the people at King Tech Fabrics and they agreed to sell her some remnants of their super cool reflective fabric. This stuff wasn’t as expensive, it’s much more fun, and far easier to sew, although not ideal. I haven’t checked in to see if they will do that again. In the meantime, I’m getting stingier about what I do with it. No more big pieces, but trims and bias instead. Not as fun, but….

I purchased this reflective camo fabric with the intention of creating miles and miles of bias tape, to substitute for the reflective piping that is hard to find and difficult to sew. It’s also relatively inexpensive at $8.99 a yard, so I bought several yards. I’ve used it in several projects, but it’s not as brilliant as a bias as the other materials. Next up, a coat with this on the cuffs. Maybe that will look better. 2015_August_Reflective CamoOther Reflective Stuff

I’ve purchased but not really used some other stuff, like this fun reflective yarn from LFlect. I don’t knit and I’m sort of at a loss for ideas. but hey, I’ve got it, so when inspiration hits, I’m set! I had some reflective rickrack that I found in JoAnn’s a while back, and used on the hem of a skirt. I received a bundle of reflective trims thanks to Australian sewing blogger Susan at Measure Twice Cut Once. (What is it with awesome Australian bloggers?!??! You guys are forever my heroes and I’m in your debt!!!) And I had some reflective embroidery floss once, for a failed attempt to make tassels.

 

So as you can see, the hunt for reflective materials is a hodge-podge of luck, location, internet searches, and swell Aussie bloggers. I haven’t exhausted my possibilities, since Dashing Tweed has some gorgeous reflective tweeds, but they are a bit out of my price range for now. Maybe that will be this year’s splurge?

If you know of sources to find reflective fabric, please share! I’ve got a Pinterest board dedicated to reflective stuff, and would love to add more to the collection.

New Looxs 10

Iceland Biking and New Looxs Bag

The Mechanic and I didn’t get a chance to do any bike riding while we were in Iceland, but saw some familiar bike things in Reykjavik. And I bought a lovely new pannier!

Edgar got to bike in Reykjavik

Edgar got to bike in Reykjavik

Apparently and understandably, mountain biking is a bigger deal in Iceland than basic city bicycling. I did see a group of women geared up against the cold biking past us while we sat in Slippbarinn having lunch. We also saw a consistent number of what appeared to be bicycle commuters every time we drove through Reykjavik, and even spotted a proper European bike lane.

The guy standing in the bike lane was also taking pictures of it. I wonder if he was American too.

The guy standing in the bike lane was also taking pictures of it. I wonder if he was American too.

There were also some fun bike racks around town, along with a complicated version in several places downtown.

I did find one “urban” style bike shop, catering to the Pashley/dandy crowd. I have Americanized the name to Berlin Bike Shop (Sorry!) because the true name is a bit complicated. I ducked in quickly and admired the bicycles and accessories, but didn’t linger because The Mechanic was sick. But I did grab a new bike pannier – a New Looxs bag I’d seen in Germany during our honeymoon and regretted buying ever since.

Turns out this bag was pretty expensive, after I figured out the exchange rate. Oh well – it’s extremely versatile and I’ll get a ton of use out of it.

New purchase on the couch at Slippbarinn

New purchase on the couch at Slippbarinn

It’s a nice size that can carry a folder and water bottle, but isn’t as huge as my full size pannier. It has shoulder straps to carry like a purse, pannier hooks in the back with a Velcro flap system to cover them up when not needed, a large front pocket and a small inside pocket that perfectly fits my phone.

Having a lovely new bike bag was probably the only thing that got me through my first day back. New Looxs 8As you can see, if fits nicely on my bike, and naturally coordinates.

I normally prefer my purse in my front basket, so I have my keys and phone and Kleenex close at hand. But this bag does indeed also fit in my front basket, so the days recently when I’ve had both my large pannier and this, I just put the New Looxs bag in my front basket. It doesn’t fit perfectly but close enough. Because it’s narrow, it does fit perfectly in a Capital Bikeshare basket, something few of my bags do.

I’ve been thinking about a new purse, and had decided I don’t need a bike bag to throw in my front basket, but having the ability to do both actually makes this a brilliant option. I wish the handles were a bit more comfortable on the shoulder, but it’s not that bad.

New Looxs 9

Wearing my #memade unicorn blouse on an early spring-like day

It’s hard to find these Dutch bags here in the US, of course, so even though this was crazy expensive (about $100!), I guess I would have ended up paying a small fortune in shipping if I decided to order if from overseas. And since we don’t (yet) have firm plans to return to Europe, well, let’s just say I am glad I spent the money!

Tira Radiant 3

Icelandic Favorite Things: Tira Radiant Accessories

I could probably write for several weeks about all the things we did and saw and ate in Iceland, but am trying to focus on my favorite things. In this case, the favorite things I came home with!

Duty Free introduced me to the adorable Icelandic world of Tulipop. Created by two Icelandic women as unique, magical characters inspired by nature, the figures captured my grown-up imagination, and it was a real struggle to not come home with the large Mr. Tree lamp.  Instead, I came home with Fred and Mr. Tree keychains, and a desire to return to Iceland and buy everything else in the delightful children’s toy collection.

Fred joined a reflective puffin and my Tira Radiant reflector on my holographic backback for the trip

Fred joined a reflective puffin and my Tira Radiant reflector on my holographic backback for the trip

I also came home with a New Looxs pannier, something I hadn’t intended on buying. I had no idea there was a cool bicycle shop in downtown Reykjavik, Berlin Bicycles, until I stumbled upon it. Having regretted not buying a New Looxs bag during our 2014 honeymoon, I snapped this up regardless of price. More on that in a future blog post!

Sneak peek of my new pannier!

Sneak peek of my new pannier!

But the one thing I had gone to Iceland in search of were Tira Radiant Accessories, and creator Alice Olivia Clarke. These wonderful reflective accessories are made from Icelandic wool and recycled rubber, and hand crafted right there in Alice’s shop in Hafnarfjordur, a town on the western edge of Reykjavik.

A whole wall of reflective accessories!!!

A whole wall of reflective accessories!!!

I wasn’t sure how The Mechanic and our friends would do with such a meeting, but we had a blast talking with Alice and learning about her life, different creative focuses, product, and Iceland in general, and we all ended up buying handfuls of reflective fun. I knew in advance that I wanted one of her necklaces, because I think it is such an unusual design. I had planned on getting light gray one, to go with everything, but couldn’t resist the luscious plum colored one. And it coordinates so well with one of the sweaters I had with me! Tira Necklace 1 Tira Necklace 2The Mechanic bought one of the reflective loops, and I also grabbed a handful of the rune reflectors. I love the meaning of the runes and am always happy to have something add good luck to my travels. Some are gifts, but I do now have them on several bags and purses! Tira Strap 1 Tira Strap 2

Alice graciously whipped up a necklace for one of my friends, who wanted a color she didn’t have already created, so we got to see the artist in action! She also creates gorgeous mosaics which decorate spaces in Reykjavik and Hafnarfjordur, and rounds out her creativity with acting. Catch her in Land Ho!, a movie we plan to see soon.

I am completely delighted with my necklace and am sure I’ll wear it frequently, in all seasons. Check out her Instagram account for more fun photos of Alice and her designs! One of the joys of travel for me is to find local and unique jewelry, and get to know the designer, and this will be a cherished memory that just so happens to light up the night!

With Alice Olivia

Bridge over the Eurasia Continental Plate and North American Continential Plate

Iceland in Few Words

The Mechanic and I returned from a short trip to Iceland late Sunday night. I can’t really quite describe it but it was an amazing trip that has left me more uplifted than expected. We agree that a return trip is in order! There will be more to share, but these are some of the highlights, the images I can’t get enough of. Details in a few days, after I’ve had a chance to process everything and finish unpacking!

Stunning 

Dramatic

Ancient

And this is only scratching the surface of what there is to see in Iceland!