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September 09, 2010

New Tandem Adventures

There are very few things that make me happier than using a bicycle as transportation. Taking a bicycle to the farmers market or to the store or out to dinner or lunch. Some of you might recall my Bicycling as Transportation Project which resulted in knitters everywhere logging over 2000 alternative transportation trips between April and September 2008.

A big limiting factor in being able to use any of our three tandem bicycles for transportation has been that the sheer valuable-ness of these bicycles has made us reluctant to lock them up and leave them while the errand was being accomplished. Thus, we have used a tandem to ride somewhere and eat at an outdoor cafe where we can keep the tandem with us or within sight. But this certainly limits our dining options, especially in the Boston area where an outdoor seating area might just be too crowded to allow for parking a big-ass tandem right there.

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Our oldest tandem is this Ritchey Skyliner which we bought as a wedding present to each other (awwww!) twenty years ago. At the time, it was worth more than my 1985 VW Golf. We rode this bicycle exclusively for many years, but then eventually it was replaced with newer and faster tandems. For the last few years its sat unused in our shed, while we ride our fancy orange road tandem or our newer mountain tandem.

While in Amsterdam, hubby had a brainstorm. Perhaps it made sense to rehab this tandem into our "cafe bike" and take the risk of locking it up and maybe having it stolen if that was the only way we'd get use out of it. Clearly if the bicycle could vote, it would rather be loved and ridden rather than locked up to molder in the shed.

So, we bought the big lock you see hanging from the rack in the picture and took it out for a test session this past weekend.

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It was a beautiful day, and first we rode into Harvard Square to hang out at a beer garden. It was hard to find a bicycle parking spot there (yay for bicycles!) but we found one, locked up the tandem and walked away. After a lovely lunch of buffalo burger with bacon and cheese, we came back to find...the tandem still there. The same scenario was repeated at the second beer garden in Boston. Score! Turns out that this tandem is great choice for urban assault riding.

I just bought a big light for this bicycle, making it possible to have after-work dinner/rides as the sunlight gets scarcer. Here's hoping that lots of fall riding and restauranting will be happening!

October 01, 2008

BANG! and Finally. Knitting

Sure enough, the Bicycling as Transportation/Knitters Alternatively Transporting Project went out with a Big Bang:

Final BAT/KAT Total: 2132 trips taken by knitters who walked/bicycled/scootered/took public transportation instead of a personal vehicle from April 2008 through September 2008.

That adds up to a whole lot of gas not used and carbon not put into the atmosphere. Nice job everyone!

Sarah described her participation in the BAT/KAT project as being part of a larger effort for "mindfulness in consumption". Indeed, I've really seen this project as forcing me to make conscious decisions about transportation, instead of just mindlessly getting into my car. More mindfulness can only lead to good. But without the peer pressure of reporting to the blog, will I continue with such mindfulness? Only time will tell.

Laura won the glass knitting needles by submitting the 2008th BAT/KAT trip! Through the miracle that is the random number generator, Lea K. won the Tweed book and Donna won the Son of Stitch and Bitch book. Congratulations to the prize winners, and to all the BAT/KAT participants!

Now that I've carved out a little more mental space to knit stuff more challenging than socks, I've returned to my long-stalled Apres Surf Hoodie.

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I started this sleeve -- the FIRST sleeve -- in June and I finished it in September. How lame is that? I started the back piece immediately so as not to fall into the trap of having to start up this project again cold. Does anyone else do that? Leave a project after finishing a piece because casting on for the next part all of a sudden (and for no rational reason) seems hard and scary? Knitting is truly a mental game.

My sister Silvia is knitting the very same sweater, except (1) she is beating my sorry assfurther along and (2) she decided to knit the body in the round up to the armhole division. Although I thought about converting this pattern which is written flat to in-the-round to avoid side seams, I was chicken and decided against it. Why?

Well, I struggle with every project to get an appropriate row gauge. Generally, the particular way I hold the needles and yarn results in compressed row gauge: too many rows in a four inch space. This means endless rewriting of patterns to get shaping that isn't short and squat.

With Apres Surf Hoodie, the Knitting Goddess has smiled upon me and given me appropriate row gauge when I knit the lacy pattern back and forth. Because my purl rows are looser than my knit rows, I know that if I knit this sucker in the round (which of course eliminates the purl rows), my gauge will change. Frankly, I do not wish to tempt this particular fate. Back and forth it is.

September 29, 2008

BAT/KAT Out With a BANG!

Twenty-four weeks ago, I thought up the Bicycling as Transportation/Knitters Alternatively Transporting Project. I put up my intention on this here blog, mostly to keep myself honest by way of peer pressure to actually get onto my bicycle and eliminate at least one car trip every week. I didn't really think there would be that much interest in this endeavor. This is, after all, supposed to be a knitting blog not a bicycling blog.

In this thought, I was mistaken.

BAT/KAT Project Update

My bicycle trips instead of car trips last week: 1
Total BAT/KAT project bicycle trips by me: 28
BAT/KAT project trips by all participants last week: 215
Total BAT/KAT project trips by all participants to date: 1955

During the life of this project, I've heard from committed bicyclists, scooterists, bus riders and walkers who racked up huge BAT/KAT numbers every week. I've heard from knitters who decided to buy a bicycle or use an old one for the first time because of this project (that was really cool). I've heard from lots and lots of people who made a BAT/KAT trip a few times, fitting this into their busy lives as they could.

The support for this project from the knitblog community has amazed me.

As autumn came upon us (in the Northern hemisphere that is) I realized that this project needed an ending goal. 2008 BAT/KAT trips in 2008 seemed like a catchy number. Judging from the weekly participation numbers thus far, we are on target to reach that goal during this coming week.

So, now it is time for me to thank you for participating in a project that (1) has kept me on track to meet my own goal of at least one BAT/KAT trip per week and (2) has shown us all that each of us taking small steps to try to do the right thing for our environment CAN make a difference when we all work together.

But really. What's a "thank you" without prizes! Let there be prizes!

For the knitter who emails me with the 2008th BAT/KAT, I will send her/him this:

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A US size 6 glass 24 inch circular knitting needle in the "Triple Passion" colorway handmade by Michael and Sheila Ernst.

If you have ever sent me a BAT/KAT email reporting even one trip, and including those people who email me a BAT/KAT for the first time this week, if you want to be included in the drawing for the next two prizes, send me an email or leave me a comment telling me you'd like to throw your name into the hat. I will send these prizes anywhere in the world, so non-US knitters -- don't be shy.

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A brand-new copy of "Tweed" by Nancy J. Thomas.

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A brand-new copy of "Son of Stitch and Bitch" by Debbie Stoller.

Let's send the BAT/KAT project out with a big bang!


September 22, 2008

And, How Was Your Weekend?

Before we start talking about weekends, lets get to the Bicycling as Transportation/Knitters Alternatively Transporting update:

BAT/KAT Project Update**

My bicycle trips instead of car trips last week: 1
Total BAT/KAT project bicycle trips by me: 27
BAT/KAT project trips by all participants last week: 143
Total BAT/KAT project trips by all participants to date: 1740

Only 268 more trips to reach the goal of 2008 alternative transportation trips in 2008! Way to go everyone. Special thanks to those of you who reported in for the first time for last week!

So, usually when someone asks "what did you do this weekend?" I've got no exciting answer. Grocery shopping, a bit of housecleaning, maybe a bike ride. Woo. Hoo. Some fascinating life. This weekend, however, was a bit different. A good friend of mine had bought tickets to a concert at Symphony Hall in Boston for Friday night and at the last minute couldn't make it. So, we went in her place.

Who was performing?

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Sting! (click for bigger) Now, I listened to the Police in the 1980's just like everyone else, but wasn't especially a fan. But I super-enjoyed hearing his very distinctive voice in person, and Sting has the sort of stage presence that rivets your attention.

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Steve Tyler! (click for bigger) Again, I listened to Aerosmith along with my high school peers, but wasn't particularly into them. I seriously never thought I would see him backed up by the Boston Pops and singing on the Symphony Hall stage. He did a great job with "Cryin'", one of my favorite Aerosmith songs. I also never thought I'd ever be standing up, clapping and shouting "WOO HOO!" in my best rock-concert form in the rather staid atmosphere of Symphony Hall. But trust me, I did.

The concert was primarily about Chris Botti, a very talented trumpet player (about whom I'd never heard until going to this show). There were several other famous guests including John Mayer, and the show was being filmed by PBS for viewing in March 2009. But the absolute highlight for me was this great musician.

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(click for bigger) Yo-Yo Ma makes the most beautiful sound on that cello that I've ever heard (and trust me, I've heard alot of cello). He only played on two songs, and I wished for more. I went straight home and bought a Yo-Yo Ma recording of Bach's Suites for Solo Cello (I bought it on iTunes and can't find a link to the specific album) which is STELLAR. Give a listen to this; you won't be sorry.

In a strange counterpoint to the beautiful music, during a John Mayer cover of a Frank Sinatra song an older gentlemen sitting in about the tenth row near the stage had a heart attack. The show stopped abruptly as a cardiologist sitting in the first row sprinted over to give the guy CPR. Imagine three thousand people collectively holding their breath and watching this situation unfold. When the EMT's came and wheeled him out, the guy looked conscious, which garnered a big round of applause (although, whether that was appropriate I couldn't quite decide).

Then, Sting and Yo-Yo Ma and Chris Botti came out on the stage, performed Fragile and the show went on. An interesting night, all around.

Oh yes. Knitting. There was knitting. But for the first time in recent memory I completely and totally f'd up a simple lace pattern, and I mean good. So net progress on Apres Surf Hoodie -- negligible. But I'm back in the sweater-knitting saddle again!


**The goal of which is to substitute at least one bicycling/walking/alternatively transporting trip for one car trip/public transportation trip every week. Join us any week you like by making a BAT/KAT Trip and tell us about it here in the comments on Mondays.

September 16, 2008

Tuesday is the New Monday

Monday is dead to me. I hereby declare that Tuesday is the new Monday, meaning that its BAT/KAT time!

BAT/KAT Project Update**

My bicycle trips instead of car trips last week: 1
Total BAT/KAT project bicycle trips by me: 26
BAT/KAT project trips by all participants last week: 111
Total BAT/KAT project trips by all participants to date: 1597

Where I am, the first hint of autumn is in the air, the humidity is largely gone and we are looking at a stretch of fine sunny weather with moderate, pleasant temperatures. Perfect for getting out the bicycle or walking to do an errand. Not too hot, not too cold, no excuses.

My goal for the BAT/KAT project is to amass 2008 BAT/KAT trips by all participants during 2008. We are close! Due to the riding/walking/alternatively transporting of lots and lots of loyal participants to date. But, in order to make that goal I'm asking that if you are reading this and haven't yet participated, do just one BAT/KAT trip. You've read about the project, seen the totals go up, seen people buy bicycles and change their habits. I'm not asking for such a commitment; just ONE trip, using a less carbon intensive means of transport than you usually would do, and then tell me about it. And, of course, regular BAT/KATers please check in! Thanks to all!

One interesting side effect of the hubster's broken ankle and his sterling recovery from that injury, is that he is wearing his stash of handknit wool socks all year round. He says that the stretchiness of the handknit sock is more comfortable on his ankle, and the wool breathes and keeps his feet more comfortable than cotton socks. Such devotion, of course, demands more socks.

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For a standard hubby sock, I cast on 64 stitches on my US size 1 DPNs and knit 2x2 ribbing to infinity. This ribbing is the stretchiest (IMHO) and yet holds its shape well. The yarn is Sundara Sock Yarn in the color "Green Tea over Melon". This is a new yarn for hubby socks -- I usually use Koigu or Trekking. So far, its passed the look and feel test of both knitter and recipient -- soft, non-splitty and oh-so-pretty.

And, for the first time in a long time, I have both the mental space, the time, and the itch for sweater knitting.

I think its gonna be a fine fall.

One technical note: you may have noticed that my "Blogs I Like" links have moved to a separate page. I've had to do this because this blog roll is generated by Bloglines, and lately my blog takes forever to load the Bloglines code. This way my entire blog won't be held hostage because Bloglines can't get its act together, but those that are interested can still access the links.


**The goal of which is to substitute at least one bicycling/walking/alternatively transporting trip for one car trip/public transportation trip every week. Join us any week you like by making a BAT/KAT Trip and tell us about it here in the comments on Mondays.

September 08, 2008

Back to Life, Back to Reality

Ah, re-entry is a heartless bitch. Perhaps a list of the pros and cons of this morning will re-focus the negativity:

PROS

1. The sun is shining, the sky is a deep gorgeous blue and its gonna be a warm, pleasant day.
2. Snuggling kitties is always fun.
3. Mmmm. Mango Tea.
4. Lori at gotsoap.com/Simpler Thyme is sending me my soap order, since I'm almost out despite buying a HUGE quantity at Maryland Sheep and Wool. Apparently this household has been very dirty.

CONS

1. There are no fresh-baked, delicious weggli or gipfeli. See pictures in the last post. I sure am.
2. The crushing burden of the work has descended once again.
3. A blue sky and a sunny day are much more useful on vacation.

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Well. That was unhelpful. Let's move on.

BAT/KAT Project Update**

My bicycle trips instead of car trips from August 19 through September 7th: 3
Total BAT/KAT project bicycle trips by me: 25
BAT/KAT project trips by all participants from August 19 through September 7th: 148
Total BAT/KAT project trips by all participants to date: 1485

The Bicycling as Transportation/Knitters Alternatively Transporting Project continues to count up the trips that participants have made on foot, by bicycle/scooter/other that save gas and carbon emissions over their normal mode of transport. Thanks so much to all of you who took the initiative to email me about your BAT/KAT trips even during my blog-absence. YEAH for the strong blogly support of this project!

My Switzerland BAT/KAT trips were: to ride to the center of town to purchase a SIM card for my cell phone/mobile/handy to stay in touch with the fam while out on our adventures, and to walk to the local supermarket with my aunt to purchase fresh-baked goodies for the morning's breakfast.

Having seen lots and lots of alternative transportation in Switzerland (bicycling, walking, scootering for transportation) it was easier for me after returning home to remember to ride my bicycle to the drug store which is less than two miles away from me. But, my first thought is still to head for the car, even for short trips. Old habits are hard to break.

So, here's a question. Have the somewhat lower gas prices recently in the U.S. made alternative transportation less of a priority for you? I wonder if lots of people who focused on taking public transportation or driving less when gas was at an all-time high price have moved their priorities elsewhere now that the shock is over.

Frankly, I've seen no evidence of this in the BAT/KAT totals, which continue to be strong. But I do wonder.

There was vacation knitting, but that will have to be for another time.

Back to reality. Wish me luck.


**The goal of which is to substitute at least one bicycling/walking/alternatively transporting trip for one car trip/public transportation trip every week. Join us any week you like by making a BAT/KAT Trip and tell us about it here in the comments on Mondays.

August 18, 2008

The Summer of No Knitting

Before we talk about my summer of no knitting, let's focus on some ACCOMPLISHMENT.

BAT/KAT Project**

My bicycle trips instead of car trips last week: 1
Total BAT/KAT project bicycle trips by me: 22
BAT/KAT project trips by all participants last week: 135
Total BAT/KAT project trips by all participants to date: 1334

The Bicycling as Transportation/Knitters Alternatively Transporting Project continues to be a raging success. Knitters given a goal and a reason to participate always come through. At this point, we need less than 700 more trips to complete a goal of 2008 BAT/KAT trips in 2008. That has a nice ring to it, dontcha think? BAT/KATers, let me hear from you!

Recently Juno, one of the best writers in blog-land, was musing on how it has just not been a "knitting kind of summer" for her. I bounced up and down in my chair and shouted "Me too!" at the computer screen. Not a knitting kind of summer at all.

As much as I love the sticks-and-string, this summer has been more about the trying of new things. I've felt the pull to grow stuff. I was formerly not the sort of person who grew stuff.

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Note, the small but delicious cherry tomato harvest.

I've also felt the pull to challenge myself physically in new ways. As a bicyclist for the past couple of decades, I've built up goodly lower body strength through all that pedaling. But I've never focused on any upper body strengthening, and predictably that is where I am weak. So, enter a YMCA membership. I was formerly not the sort of person who lifted weights.

No longer.

Now, those of you middle-aged women like myself who have been watching the Olympics cannot have failed to notice this chica. I'm no naturally gifted athlete and I don't happen to have a spare $100,000 a year to pay staff to stretch and tone me. But I've gotten a great reminder that setting and meeting a physical goal (being strong enough to lift the full garbage can, having non-wiggly triceps, having real shoulders) is more a matter of priorities, hard work and an intelligent strategy than age. Apparently I can still have those things, despite being 43. Alrighty then, let's GO.

Knitting is a naturally sedentary activity. Leaving alot of time for contemplation of other matters (crushing workload, family health issues) whilst doing it. Lifting a weight requires tremendous focus of mind. Leaving no opportunity for contemplation of anything else except the next movement of the weight.

So that is where my head is at. Activity over sitting and knitting and thinking. I do sort of miss the involvement of knitting an engrossing pattern. Absence is making the heart grow fonder.

The pendulum swings.


**The goal of which is to substitute at least one bicycling/walking/alternatively transporting trip for one car trip/public transportation trip every week. Join us any week you like by making a BAT/KAT Trip and tell us about it here in the comments on Mondays.

August 11, 2008

Summer?

Today it is rainy and cool. Rainy isn't a surprise; its been rainy alot here. But it seems wrong, somehow, to be dodging raindrops while taking knitting pictures.

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One Tandem sock done, one to go.

And dodging raindrops when riding a bicycle.

BAT/KAT Project**

My bicycle trips instead of car trips last week: 1
Total BAT/KAT project bicycle trips by me: 21
BAT/KAT project trips by all participants last week: 104
Total BAT/KAT project trips by all participants to date: 1199

The Bicycling as Transportation/Knitters Alternatively Transporting Project continues to crank up the volume of trips not taken by car or other carbon-emitting vehicle, despite the adverse weather in some parts of the globe. My own lone BAT trip was a dash to the post office in weather involving raindrops and sun, ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

Crazy.

If you have yet contributed a BAT/KAT trip to the total, there's still time! When I started this project I had only a loose idea when it would end. I'd like to hit 2000 trips before the end of the project, so we'll see how long it takes to get there.

**The goal of which is to substitute at least one bicycling/walking/alternatively transporting trip for one car trip/public transportation trip every week. Join us any week you like by making a BAT/KAT Trip and tell us about it here in the comments on Mondays.

August 04, 2008

New Week, Let's Be Positive!

Today is the beginning of a new week, where only good things will happen. With that positive attitude (OK, its fake it til you make it time), lets talk about good stuff today.

BAT/KAT Project**

My bicycle trips instead of car trips last week: 1
Total BAT/KAT project bicycle trips by me: 20
BAT/KAT project trips by all participants last week: 66
Total BAT/KAT project trips by all participants to date: 1094

The Bicycling as Transportation/Knitters Alternatively Transporting Project is racking up the trips that participants have made on foot, by bicycle/scooter/other that save gas and carbon emissions over their normal mode of transport. Even better, our group support has resulted in putting more bicycles on the BAT/KAT case. Check out Carole's brand new red ride, and Colleen's brand new pink ride!

More knitters on bicycles can only be for the good.

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More knitting held up near ripening tomatoes is also a positive development. Here is my Tandem sock in progress, near my tomato in progress. As I progressed through the short-row heel, I realized that I'd be reaching a bronzy-brown stripe just at heel's end. I also realized that were I to keep knitting the yarn as dyed, the bronzey stripe would be thicker than all the other bronzey stripes in this sock.

So, break the yarn and discard a bit of bronzey in order to start the orange sooner? Or let nature take its course? I paused to consider this question.

What would be gained to exert that last little bit of control? Answer: two ends to be woven in and a wee bit of pressure to make the second sock exactly like the first.

And then, I knit on. Stripes fell where they may, and it was all good.


**The goal of which is to substitute at least one bicycling/walking/alternatively transporting trip for one car trip/public transportation trip every week. Join us any week you like by making a BAT/KAT Trip and tell us about it here in the comments on Mondays.

July 28, 2008

BAT/KAT Monday

The Bicycling as Transportation/Knitters Alternatively Transporting Project** has just had its best week ever. Wait! I said that last week -- yet this week blows last week's socks off:

My bicycle trips instead of car trips last week: 1
Total BAT/KAT project bicycle trips by me: 19
BAT/KAT project trips by all participants last week: 205
Total BAT/KAT project trips by all participants to date: 1027

Almost double the BAT/KAT trips as last week probably means that some folks were saving up a couple of weeks of reporting all for last week. But the trips per week where knitters and their sympathizers consciously chose to take a less carbon intensive mode of transportation is up to 73 trips per week on average over the fourteen weeks of the project so far.

Frankly, I think this is amazing. Personally, I feel just a wee bit inadequate with my one measly BAT trip per week next to some of you who have really made massive changes to your mode of transportation. Mostly my BAT trips consist of a short, but enjoyable, bike ride to the farmer's market. No real traffic woes and I don't ride in the rain. A fair-weather BAT/KATer if ever there was one.

The sad truth is that I use my car for the vast majority of my errands. I even use the damn car to drive a short distance to the gym! Yikes! My reasoning on that last one is that the trip involves busy roads, a bad intersection and my imperfect eyesight. My family actively discourages this combo. Regardless, I still feel like sort of a loser for doing it.

But I do think about gas consumption when I plan trips, trying to group errands together and not making special trips for just one reason. I've also cut back a little bit on some activities that involve long-ish drives and am always looking to car pool. I'm motivated equally by high gas prices and trying to be a more aware carbon-emitter.

Question of the day: even if you don't participate in the BAT/KAT project, have you changed your use of the car? If so, were you motivated by high gas prices, the carbon-emission/climate change situation or other?

Garden picture of the day:

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Click here for bigger. These are my beets. I LOVE beets, and I have to say that I've gotten the biggest kick out of growing these things from just a seed. I worry about my 'maters lots more than these beets. The tomatoes are all setting fruit to beat the band, but a number of leaves are browning up along their edges which I don't like to see.

As I've always said, there still is plenty of time left in this summer for me to kill everything off.

**The goal of which is to substitute at least one bicycling/walking/alternatively transporting trip for one car trip/public transportation trip every week. Join us any week you like by making a BAT/KAT Trip and tell us about it here in the comments on Mondays.

July 21, 2008

BAT/KAT Week in Review and Bike Buying....You Know You Want To!

Today's post is about the BAT/KAT project and tips on choosing and buying a cruiser type bicycle. If you are looking for knitting, you might want to move right along. Nothing to see here.

Still here? Alrighty then!


The Bicycling as Transportation/Knitters Alternatively Transporting Project* has just had its best week ever:

My bicycle trips instead of car trips last week: 1
Total BAT/KAT project bicycle trips by me: 18
BAT/KAT project trips by all participants last week: 114
Total BAT/KAT project trips by all participants to date: 822

114 trips by knitters or their sympathizers taken by bicycle/foot/scooter/various alternate means last week is truly an amazing number. Granted, some weeks people report trips taken on multiple prior weeks. But this is nevertheless a huge show of support for reduced-carbon, reduced oil and gas consumption travels. Taking the reporting variability out of it, over the 13 weeks of this project, so far the average number of BAT/KAT trips taken is 63 per week. Any way you slice it, nice work everybody! You guys inspire me to get out of my car and onto my bike, just so's I don't look wimpy next to you.

Over the weekend, Carole was asking my advice about possibly buying a cruiser bicycle. I was HUGELY happy to discuss this topic, and thought that maybe some of you might be sitting on the sidelines, watching the BAT/KAT Project roll on and thinking "I wish I had a cool bicycle!".

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Click here for bigger.

A cruiser style bike is not only very cool looking, but will provide hours of fun. Slow fun -- one doesn't buy a cruiser bike to take for long, fast rides. Its a bike perfectly suited for short rides to the market, an amble on the bike path...that sort of thing. Its a bicycle that you can jump onto wearing your regular clothes (with a helmet, please) and not look like you should be wearing lycra and riding the Tour de France. If you plan on riding in "regular" clothes (which I think is important for a cruiser type bike) make sure there is a chainguard so that you won't always have to roll your pants up.

In short, a cruiser style bike is a perfect BAT/KAT bicycle.

I have an Electra Townie. But that might be the absolutely wrong bicycle for you. There is no substitute for lots and lots of test riding. A bike that suits me and my body geometry (or that of an on-line reviewer) might be awful for you, so recommendations can only go so far. Treks, Schwinns, Electras....all are nice bikes. Frankly, any bicycle sold by a dedicated bike shop will serve your purposes, as opposed to the bikes sold at Wal-Marts and big-box stores of that ilk. A good bike shop will also fit the bike to you, adjusting the handlebars and pedals to your body.

I have two pieces of advice for you, and the first is most important:

1. Buy the bike with which you fall in love, no matter what. If you love, love, love that bike, you totally will ride it. If you are only "eh" about it, it will sit in your garage as a sad reminder of failed goals. I hope for you that one of the bikes you test-ride will from the first moment be "the one". You'll know it when you ride it.

2. Figure out realistically where you'll be riding that bicycle. Are you thinking about rides to the local farmer's market? to work? to grocery shop? tootling around some local bike paths with your handsome honey? Are there hills going or coming from the likely riding destinations?

A single speed bicycle is great because its slightly lighter (and cheaper) than a geared bicycle and gives you the freedom of no cables off the handlebars and less to worry about when you are riding. Just like when we were kids riding that banana-seat-bike! However, a single speed cruiser bicycle is a heavy beast to get up even moderate hills, especially if you plan to carry groceries or other cargo. Unless where you are riding is dead flat, I wouldn't buy one.

I'd suggest that the minimum gearing is 3 speeds. This gives you more flexibility going up moderate hills. However, it won't get you up a steep hill. I chose a 3 speed Electra Townie bicycle because I knew that my destinations were fairly flat. So far my choice has worked out well. But I know that I can't ride my cruiser bike to my local Whole Foods (or the library, or to one particular post office) because in that direction there is a big-ass, long hill up which I couldn't get with my cruiser. And that's OK *for me* because due to my eyesight issues I wouldn't want to ride the traffic-y roads in that direction anyway. Also, I have a regular mountain bike with low, low gearing if ever I should want to ride there.

So, that's a long-winded way of saying you might consider getting more gears (say, a 7 speed or even more) if you want the flexibility to ride places where there are steep-ish hills. However, generally the more gears, the higher the cost. And, once again, there is no substitute for a test-ride in terrain similar to what you'll want to ride on.

Now, you don't need a spendy, shiny new bicycle with a fancy paint job to participate in the BAT/KAT project. If your funds or interest are limited, check out your local newspaper or Craigslist and grab a used bicycle for short money. Or better yet, go into your garage/storage area and turn on the light. I will bet you there is a neglected, sad-looking bicycle sitting there just waiting for you to notice it. Take it down to your local bicycle shop and get it tuned up. Then hop on and join the knitters who BAT/KAT!

*The goal of which is to substitute at least one bicycling/walking/alternatively transporting trip for one car trip/public transportation trip every week. Join us any week you like by making a BAT/KAT Trip and tell us about it here in the comments on Mondays.

May 19, 2008

Knitting Lost and Found

I was planning to show some actual knitting progress today on my Prove it All Night sock. But when I went looking for it, the entire project (orange pouch a gift from Grumperina, sock yarn a gift from Cara, sock needles a gift from Tom and Linda was gone. GONE! I start to sweat.

Frantically, I re-traced my steps. Where had I been the last time I knitted on the project? think...think...think. In the car, on the way to a restaurant last week. OK. I call the restaurant....

RESTAURANT: "Hello, you've reached the ----, this is Luis. How can I help you?"

C: "Luis, did anyone find an orange fabric pouch with yarn, knitting needles and a half-finished sock??" (I think I sound kind of desperate.)

LUIS: (After a short but stunned pause) "Um, let me check."

C: Heart beats loudly. Palms sweaty. Drums fingers.

LUIS: "Yes, we have it."

Saved! Saved from the ignominy of losing three beautiful gifts and hours of knitting work! Cue grateful dancing and singing.

Maybe I'll ride my bicycle back to get it, racking up another BAT/KAT trip. And speaking of the Bicycles as Transportation/Knitters Alternatively Transporting project:

My bicycle trips instead of car trips this past week: 2
Total BAT/KAT project bicycle trips by me: 7
BAT/KAT project trips by all participants last week: 66
Total BAT/KAT project trips by all participants: 145

Look at that! Knitters (and participating non-knitters) have transported themselves to work, school and errands without a car 145 times since the project started on April 21, 2008. Less gas used, less carbon in the atmosphere, a few extra calories burned by walking or bicycling. Nice job!

Although it might feel like one person making one less car trip every week is never going to amount to enough to change anything for the better, this project is proving that thought totally wrong. All our effort put together indeed creates positive change.

Remember this is a PROJECT. A project means that you do the best you can. Maybe one week its raining every day, or life just gets hugely too far in the way. Or maybe you've seen this project go forward and aren't inspired to try a non-car trip until next week or the week after. That's OK! If you make one trip by walking/bicycling/skateboarding/whatever instead of using a car, you are a part of this project and I want to hear about it.

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A peek into my glamorous existence: bicycling to the drugstore to buy some toothpaste. Picture taken by good sport Silvia who bicycled there with me. So BAT/KATers. What's been up this past week??

MS Fundraiser

Thanks so much to the knitters who have kicked off the Knitters Against MS Fundraiser to the tune of over $3000! What a great start with five weeks to go until the big raffle.

Let's add to the Prize Basket, shall we?

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This prize package is a sock-knitter's dream: Karen has generously donated one set of Lantern Moon Sox Stix, 5 inch double points made especially for sock knitting, and one skein of Noro Kueyon Self-Striping Sock yarn (100 g./420 meters, color no. S185). If, like me, you are dying to try these needles and this sock yarn, every $10 of donation gets you another chance to win this prize and the others in the Prize Basket.

For the details of the fundraiser and a listing of the Prize Basket contents to date, click here. Thanks for considering it!

May 12, 2008

Monday, Monday

I'm starting out this week with high hopes that this week will be much better than the last one! With that positive thought in mind, let's add to the MS Fundraiser Prize Basket:

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Courtesy of Sandra D., a brand-new copy of Knitting Classic Style by Veronik Avery. This is a lovely book that has a pattern for a sweater (the Military Cardigan (Ravelry link) that I especially lust after.

Continuing on the book theme, also in the Prize Basket is my brand-new copy of A Fine Fleece, by Lisa Lloyd which I reviewed recently here. If you' d like a chance to win these books or the other prizes in the Prize Basket, click here for more details. This link is the Knitters Against MS site, on which is a running tally of all the prizes you could win in this fundraiser.

BAT/KAT Update

My bicycle trips instead of car trips this past week: 2
Total BAT/KAT project bicycle trips by me: 4
Total BAT/KAT project trips by all participants: 74

This was a great week for the Bicycles as Transportation/Knitters Alternatively Transporting project. Lots and lots of you decided to take one trip (or in some cases, lots of trips) this week via bicycle, walking or some other transportation instead of your cars. YEAH!

Now, I want to make clear that this is a PROJECT, not an "a-long". There are no official "sign-ups". The goal is to cut out one car trip every week and instead use alternative transportation. If you want to participate in any given week, well my dears. That makes you a BAT/KAT participant! Just leave me a comment on Mondays or send me an email anytime and let me know what you did. This project is all about us supporting each other to make a small change in our daily routines that will help us and help out our planet. So bring it on!

This week I bicycled to the Whole Foods, which is approximately 6-7 miles away from my house. There is actually another Whole Foods much closer to me, but there is just no safe bicycle route to it, so I head out my favorite bike path to this one, albeit further away.

My friend Cathy bicycled out there with me in order to give me some practical riding tips to make my BAT/KATing safer. I was having some trouble quickly (and elegantly) starting up my bicycle from a stop. First, Cathy asked me what my dominant leg was....I picked my right leg since I'm right-handed. This will then always be the leg that I push off with. The trick to this is having my left pedal in about the "2 o'clock" position when I stop. Then, when I start I will push down on the left pedal at the same time shoving off with my right foot. This tip has really improved my starts, and I'm practicing up.

Another great tip is how to make a sharp turn. Cathy pointed out that going into a tight turn, make a wide radius initially, then cut in at the top of the turn. This works much better than cutting sharply into the turn at its beginning. I hope these tips help out my fellow BATers as much as they helped me.

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Here is my Townie taking a break along a wooded section of the bike path on the way to the post office. Note the important legal mail in the milk crate.

April 28, 2008

A New Project, But Not the Usual

EDITED TO EXPAND PROJECT -- NOT JUST FOR BICYCLISTS ANYMORE!

I've started a new project, but its not the knitting kind. As you might have guessed from the amount of times bicycling has been referenced on this blog over the years, I spend alot of my non-knitting time on a bicycle. Generally, the vast majority of this bicycling time is pure recreation/fitness training. A trip to nowhere except good health.

However, over the past year I've become increasingly interested in bicycles as an alternative form of transportation. We've discussed this before and a number of you weighed in on the subject of whether or not any form of transportation other than a car was available to you.

I am lucky enough to live near some safe bicycling routes to several grocery stores, a Trader Joes, pharmacies and famer's markets. It is also possible for me safely to ride to a subway station which goes into Boston. Lastly, I am lucky enough to have a kick-ass errand bicycle that completely puts a smile on my face as I'm riding it.

There is nothing stopping me from replacing some car trips with bicycle trips except the motivation to actually do it.

Thus, I announce the Bicycling As Transportation/Knitters Alternatively Transporting ("BAT/KAT") project. The goal of this project is to replace a car trip with a bicycle trip/walking/non-car trip at least once per week, briefly 'fessing up to our progress every Monday morning. The only rule is that the bicycle/walk/non-car trip must truly be a replacement for an errand trip that would otherwise have been done in the car. Recreational trips are excluded, except if an errand done while on a recreational trip replaces a car trip.

My bicycle trips instead of car trips this past week: 2
Total BAT/KAT project bicycle trips by me: 2
Total BAT/KAT project trips by all participants: 2

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Here is an example of a recreational ride that saved a car trip for dinner supplies. I wore my big backpack on a tandem ride, knowing there was no food at home and a grocery store was on our way back to the house. Inside the pack I've stuffed a half-gallon of milk, steaks, salad veggies and some frozen french fries. Clearly you can see the loaves of bread hanging off me which didn't fit in the pack. Which I thought was hilarious, proving once again that I'm easily amused.

It sure is easier time-wise and effort-wise to hop in the car to run a quick errand, but I think its important to take a small step in the oil-free direction. If anyone wants to join me in the BAT/KAT project, I'd love the company.

If you'd like to participate and have your non-car trips counted in the totals either (1) leave me a comment telling me to check your blog on Mondays or (2) if you don't have a blog, simply leave me a comment on my Monday post with your tally.