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Guatemala 2014

I am so grateful for this business. It has allowed me to travel and meet cyclists from all over the United States. I was able to purchase my Madsen back in 2012 with proceeds from bike hats. This past year was the best yet and here's what I did: I took my family to Guatemala for two weeks over winter break.

I first visited Guatemala on a summer studio to study bioclimatic architecture way back in 2003. We went all over the country for nearly six weeks and I've missed the smell of woodsmoke in the air and the taste of refried black beans for breakfast since then. So when a friend of mine asked if my family and I would like to travel with her and her two children over winter break to take Spanish classes in Guatemala I naturally jumped at the opportunity.

We flew in on a Sunday evening and hopped in a van to meet our host family in Antigua. For the next week (except Christmas Day) we walked over to our school for four hours of one-on-one Spanish class in the morning. My teacher Paola was a total taskmaster and a former architecture student to boot. She drilled two verb tenses into my brain in just four days. My son was happy to have someone to listen to him jabber in his Spanglish and play games with him for four hours each morning. Oh, and the school was set in a tropical paradise of a garden next to the ruins of a colonial church. Upon leaving Antigua Ana - the mom of our host family - exclaimed that I could understand nearly everything in Spanish but my speaking left a bit to be desired.... guess I will just have to go back.

Our intent for the second week was to stay in a village on the western shore of Lake Atitlan and take Spanish classes across the lake in one of the busier towns.  We sort of slacked and never made it to class but we did get plenty of practice in that week. The little hotel where we stayed had a lovely girl staying with the family who took care of the property who was fluent in Mayan (K'echi? There are over 30 dialects of the Mayan language.), Spanish and English and whom our children fell in love with instantly. We boated around the lake nearly every day which might have been the kid's favorite part of the trip besides tromping around with their new friend.

We were back in Antigua for one night before leaving for an overnight trip back to Chicago and lived it up at a hotel with pool in a gorgeously renovated Spanish colonial building.

My favorite part of the trip? It might have been the trip to the market in one of the small towns at the lake. Or the visit to the cooperative of women weavers that used natural dyes to color their yarn. Or swimming again in Lake Atitlan that seems to be just below the clouds. Or maybe it was sitting in the morning with a cup of coffee learning Spanish. Or eating refried beans for breakfast every day. Or seeing the parade on Christmas Eve and then sipping Margaritas at Frida's with Amos while Avery played outside on the cobblestone pedestrian street? Or spending time with a friend and her two children. Whatever moment it was thank you for purchasing my caps. I am so grateful. 

Handmade Arcade in Pittsuburgh is This Weekend!

Just a quick post before I start packing to head to Handmade Arcade this Saturday, December 6th in Pittsburgh!  I hear Pittsburgh is a great cycling city.  I've only been there for a few short trips on my way to D.C. or Virginia and for a wedding.  I'll have a whole day to explore so let me know what is fun and not to miss in the comments! 

I'm also taking the train - so fun - so will have a totally stress free comfy journey along with my husband who I decided to take along. Besides the stress of figuring out how to disguise my display as a pair of skis I'm so excited!

 

Thanks D.C.!

Thanks to everyone in D.C. that came out to Crafty Bastards this past weekend.  I can definitely say that it was my best show ever!  I sold over 100 caps to all sorts of people from babies to commuters to fashionistas preparing for the oncoming winter.

As always I had a blast and got a bit teary-eyed leaving - I love D.C. and hope to see you again next year.

My niece rocking a winter cycling cap.  Not pictured is my 9-year old nephew who picked out a new winter cap for his birthday.  He mountain bikes in the snow (!) and I'm sure this little girl will be out riding her WeeHoo with her mom this fall.

My niece rocking a winter cycling cap.  Not pictured is my 9-year old nephew who picked out a new winter cap for his birthday.  He mountain bikes in the snow (!) and I'm sure this little girl will be out riding her WeeHoo with her mom this fall.



Renegade Handmade Chicago is this weekend!

The Renegade Handmade Chicago September Market is this weekend!  I just looked through the roster of amazing makers and can't wait to make the rounds myself.  I will have my own caps there - summer, Chicago and winter along with neckwarmers and new for this year reflective iron-ons! 

In other news I'm nearly finished ironing out all the kinks in the newest batch of panniers.  I'll have those prototypes to show off at Renegade as well.   

Two of my panniers enjoying the music at Pitchfork in July.

Two of my panniers enjoying the music at Pitchfork in July.


Prototype Pannier

I was commissioned to make a pair of panniers for my friend's birthday by her husband and this is what I came up with. Designed to carry a paper grocery bag this two-toned canvas rolltop bag also has a ripstop nylon lining and interior pocket. I'm collaborating with Legacy Frameworks to make the hardware to fit her Yuba Mundo rear rack.

I'm still working out all the details and am excited to work out the materials and styling. I expect to have a few on hand at the Pitchfork Music festival and look for a few others popping up on my Etsy Shop over the next few weeks.

New Baby Caps on Etsy and Re-Stock at Blue City Cycle and Coast Inn Bikes

New Caps in at at Blue City Cycles last week!  They have 15 more of their limited edition 5-year anniversary caps and 15 summer caps from recycled materials. 

13 caps are going out next week to Coast Inn Bikes in Milwaukee, WI.  For my in town customers I usually find time to swing by the shop... I've been looking for a reason to visit Milwaukee so maybe a day trip is in order!

I also finally made up a small batch of baby caps and posted them to my Etsy shop.  It's back on after being on vacation for more than a month! 

These are so cute I wish I could make 100 of them! 

These are so cute I wish I could make 100 of them! 

Selection of summer cycling caps from recycled materials heading to Milwaukee.

Selection of summer cycling caps from recycled materials heading to Milwaukee.


Settled in at Bubbly Dynamics!

 I'm happy to announce that I finally found a new studio home at Bubbly Dynamics in Bridgeport!  The first time I set foot in Bubbly Dynamics four years ago I knew it was a really special place not only because of the creative and smart renovation to the former concrete and brick manufacturing building but also the mix of creative and smart tenants.  Bike frame builders, woodworkers, educators, welders and printers are just a few of the fellow building mates. 

I'm really loving the 18 mile round trip commute through the near West neighborhoods.  I think I've been to more neighborhoods in the past two weeks than I have in the past six months.  Bridgeport, Pilsen, Little Italy, UIC, Medical District, West Loop, West West Loop, Greektown, Ukranian Village, Wicker Park, Bucktown, Humboldt Park and a few others I can't even name are on the various routes.        

Sturdy.

Sturdy.

My small corner of the world.

My small corner of the world.

Kozie Prery at Pitchfork

I'm excited to say that I am being included as a vendor at Pitchfork Music Festival this year! 

Pitchfork is one of those great events that happen each year in Chicago that I rarely am able to attend.  I did go last year and I'm not going to tell you the whole story but it included riding a tandem with children, rainstorms, riding a tandem with children in a rainstorm, backstage passes, Bjork and an impromptu dance party below an underpass fueled by a pedicab sound system.

I'm sure epic events such as those described above will be happening in my booth.  If you have tickets to the festival please stop by and see me!

 

Porter Rack Bags

Before packing up my studio I made prototypes for two bags - one of them was this:

Don't you hate riding with a basket full of groceries only to hit a bump and have them levitate right out of their bag?  I'm pretty good at riding with one hand while smacking down loaves of bread, cans of soup and various produce whack-a-mole style.  While I don't miss having all that weight on my back in my messenger bag I sure don't like losing lettuce at every pothole.

I have a traditional basket which at least holds the grocery bags themselves while my husband has a porter rack on his Globe daily.  His rack won't contain the paper grocery bags, so instead he has a system of putting some items in his pannier, wedging the bags in between that and his handlebars then securing the whole rig with a used tube looped over his coffee holder.  Still with me? 

Don't get me wrong, we love porter racks - they are more stable, hold more weight and look so hot.  But try to actually porter anything?  Forget it!  Two of our three main bikes have them and other than looking cool or carrying boxes do they really do anything? 

Welcome the double porter rack bag.  Sized to fit on a large porter rack this beast of a bag has a roll down top, ripstop nylon lining, double canvas base and rack clips.  The pictures below are of the mocked up bag made with simple materials from Jo-Ann's.  Like any product there will be trial and error (like the single grocery porter bag that I made from a pair of thrifted pants and a denim jumper, only to discover stains on the pants, ick!) so materials will change.  Lets put that porter basket to good use!