Friday, November 27, 2015

Mt. Watatic - Black Friday Hike #OptOutside


Mt. Watatic (1,832feet)
Nutting Hill (1,585ft)
Trails: Wapack and State Line
Miles: 3.4 roundtrip
Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
Guidebook: Guide to the Wapack Trail sold at www.wapack.org

I woke this morning feeling like I was coming down with my husband’s cold, but didn’t want to cancel this hike. This was a hike that Steff (Nature Girls organizer) and I put together a couple of weeks ago specifically for Black Friday. It was meant to be easy and short, so despite feeling crappy, I went on it.  Glad I didn’t cancel, the weather was perfect (except for a bit of wind on the Watatic summit) and the other Nature Girls were fun! I enjoyed this hike…there’s no rushing to the top. Just a stroll along the trail, enjoying the sights and getting to know the other Nature Girls members….super mellow! Who needs to shop in a crowded store full of rude peeps pushing and shoving one another – or standing in long lines to pay for slightly discounted items. No thanks, I’ll get out to enjoy nature instead!


Mt. Watatic is one of the most popular hikes in Massachusetts and stands as the southernmost summit on the 22 mile Wapack Trail. Enjoy some photos I took of our Nature Girls meetup group chillin’ on our Black Friday hike!

A week before our hike I was looking around REI for a bit.
Found their #OptOutside board and added our heart of info!

We did the 3.4 mile loop up to the
state line and back - yes, super mellow!

Trailhead

Past a small pond

At the State Line and Wapack trail junction


Shortly before the summit is a lookout ledge




At the lookout ledge there is a granite marker dedicated to Gary Evans. Gary Evans was the owner of Evans On The Common in Townsend, MA. He loved the outdoors and died suffering a heart attack while hiking Mt. Watatic. 












Peace out! from Steff

Nature Girls group selfie at the Mt. Watatic summit

Not the Hokey-Pokey!

Leaders selfie



Nutting Hill Cairn

Taking a short break on Nutting Hill


Nature Girls group selfie at the MA/NH state line 


The marker on the left indicates the northern end of
the Midstate Trail through Massachusetts.
The marker on the right is the Boundary marker indicating
the corner of New Ipswich, Ashby, and Ashburnham. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

DIY Darning Tool

DIY, outdoor, clothing, gear, sock, darning, repair, wool, mushroom, egg, needles

As a winter hiker and ice climber my favorite socks to wear are wool and wool blends. But well-worn wool socks do wear out! If there are holes in your wool socks, don't throw them out! Instead, repair them by "Darning". Since I started buying wool socks, I've added the following mending tools to my repair kit.

Yarn Darning Needles
Usually come in a pack and can be found at most sewing stores




100% Wool Yarn
Usually you use the same color as your socks. I just keep one skein of black on hand to use for all repairs. I don't mind the different/contrasting colors as most my socks are dark brown or black anyways. I haven't found any 100% Wool yarns at Joann's Fabric & Crafts stores or Hobby Lobby. I found my 100% wool yarn at my local quilting shop Red Barn Sewing & Yarn Center. They cater to mostly quilters but also have a few yarns and supplies for crochet and knitting. You  can also find wool blends at Michael’s Craft Stores, but I highly recommend 100% wool yarn.








Wooden Darning Tool
Darning Eggs (or Mushrooms ) is a hard round object inserted into a sock to mend and repair holes. I haven’t had much luck finding these in my local sewing stores, and I really didn’t want to order one online. So I made my own using two pieces of wood and a dowel screw. I have heard that you can also use a light bulb, but you must be very careful as it's glass and can break.

So here’s how I made my own Darning Tool - I got my wooden pieces from the A.C. Moore Arts & Craft store. Dowel screws were from Home Depot. And I used my husband’s table vice, Vice Grip Locking Pliers, Drill, drill bit and a clean cotton rag.




I used a 2¼ inch wooden doll head – this already has a hole in it: $2.19. When choosing a doll head, make certain it’s smooth. Sometimes the grain marks can be rough and this will snag your wool sock.






One small wooden 4 inch bowling pin: $1.19












One package of 4 dowel screws (¼ x 1½ inches) from Home Depot, but you only need one screw. $1.18 for a package of 4.














I attached the vice grip locking pliers to the middle of the dowel screw, then screwed the wooden head onto the dowel screw – be careful not to use too much pressure or you will flatten the threads.

I had to drill a hole in the wooden bowling pin since it didn’t already have a hole in it. I wrapped a clean rag around the bowling pin before putting it into a table vice – this prevented it from getting marked up from the vice. I marked the center of the bottom of the bowling pin using a pencil. Then using a 5/32 drill bit, I drilled a hole into the bottom of the bowling pin making certain it’s just as long as the remaining dowel screw sticking out of the doll head. Then I had my strong husband attach the doll head onto the bowling pin.

Walla!! Darning Tool for $3.68! 


Here's an excellent video on YouTube to demonstrate "How To Darn A Sock".



My Sewing History
I spent many years sewing my own clothes….that’s what you did after your mom sent you to sewing lessons for the summer when you’re 14 years old. Over the years I handmade Halloween costumes for my daughters as well as prom dresses and figure skating costumes complete with beadwork all done by hand. Living just 12 miles from Malden Mills, I outfitted my family with handmade polar fleece jackets, pullovers, hats, mittens and pants. We still use polar fleece blankets that I had made years ago! And I even had a small biz selling Polar Fleece Skatewear to figure skating teams – I contracted a small manufacturing company in New Hampshire do to all the sewing in order for me to focus on the sales end of the business. I stopped sewing for several years but now am back at it again. This time for making my own outdoor gear to be used while out climbing and hiking!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Alex Honnold Book Signing

book signing, alex honnold, climbing

Free soloist Alex Honnold was in town for a free slide show presentation and signing for his new book “Alone On The Wall.” The Central Rock Gym in Watertown, MA hosted 500 fans for the evening of November 13, 2015. Enjoy the few photos I took of the book signing.


Watched a slideshow presentation and 
then some Q&A from the audience members.
book signing, alex honnold, climbing, slideshow presentation

book signing, alex honnold, climbing, slideshow presentation

book signing, alex honnold, climbing, slideshow presentation

book signing, alex honnold, climbing, slideshow presentation

Then in line around the lead wall to get our books signed

I told him that I enjoyed reading his book and that I had
one more chapter to go, and he graciously thanked me.

Thanks for signing my book Alex!
book signing, alex honnold, climbing, slideshow presentation


My review:
Alex Honnold is an amazing climber! Before his presentation and book signing here in Watertown, MA., Alex was interviewed by the Boston Herald. It was a good interview and I'm glad that he cleared up the fact that he doesn't free solo all the time. Up until I started reading his book, I too thought Alex free solo climbed all the time. But that's just because his free solos get more publicity than his multi-pitch climbing. His book is fantastic, co-author David Roberts (also a climber) does an excellent job of writing! In the book there are many descriptions of all Alex's climbs which I found really interesting. And all is climbing adventures and stories on YouTube videos and climbing films are finally, in one spot! Very inspirational, I highly recommend this book.

Friday, November 13, 2015

DIY Stuff Sack

DIY, outdoor, clothing, gear, stuff sack, ripstop, green mountain, patterns, sewing
DIY Stuff Sack
Made of Nylon Ripstop
Finished Dimensions: 11.5 x 6.5 x 6.5 inches


It took me faster to sew up this easy stuff sack than it did to organize and gather the information to write this post! Easy and fun to put together. Make several stuff sacks from just one yard of fabric. Make it in different colors as well!

Supplies used:
¼ yd Orange 1.9oz Nylon Ripstop Fabric
1 Mini Oval Cylinder Cord Lock 1/8
30” 1.8mm Reflective Accessory Cord
Green Pepper #544 Pattern
¼ yd of Tracing Material - I used Sew-In Interfacing
Ball point pen or marker
Chalk Pencil for marking fabric
Scissors or rotary cutter
Cutting mat (for rotary cutter)
Bodkin (optional)
Ruler or Tape measure
Suggested Machine Needle: Universal 110/18
Suggested Thread: 1 spool Coats Outdoor Thread
Household Sewing Machine

**This DIY project assumes you already know how to use your sewing machine and have basic sewing skills. If you don't, contact a sewing store for basic sewing lessons.


My Sewing Notes:



1.   I used the Green Pepper pattern #544. It’s really easy to follow the instructions for this pattern.  JoAnn Fabric and Craft Stores carries a limited supply of Green Pepper patterns. I called all the stores listed in MA & NH and not one store had the pattern in stock so I ordered online (see References below).  Please read instructions carefully.


2.    Tracing pattern pieces is optional. I trace pattern pieces because the patterns include different sizes. If I cut out just one pattern size, then I won’t be able to use the pattern pieces in the other sizes. I plan to create more stuff sacks in different sizes, so I trace my pattern pieces. I used a ball-point pen and a marker to trace my pattern onto Sew-In Interfacing. While some seamsters prefer to trace their pattern pieces directly onto the fabric using a tracing wheel and tracing transfer paper, I personally prefer to trace the pattern pieces onto Sew-In Interfacing. I use Sew-In Interfacing for tracing because it’s inexpensive and very easy to see through.  Also, tracing patterns using a tracing wheel, over time the pattern will tear along the traced lines.






   3. For this project, I used the size "Medium Short" pattern piece. I wanted a stuff sack with the 6.5 by 6.5 inch width but without the 16 inches in height . So I folded (not cut) the pattern piece to shorten it. When pinning pattern pieces to the Nylone Ripstop fabric be sure to keep pin holes within seam allowances to avoid pinholes in completed project.













      4.  The Ripstop fabric I’m using is treated, so the shiny surface goes on the inside. Seams are not tape-sealed, therefore this product is water-resistant and not waterproof.














    5. For this project I used Coats Outdoor 100% Polyester thread. It comes in 8 colorfast colors, 200 yards length and is UV and moisture-resistant as well. This is a thick thread so I used Schmitz Universal 110/18 needles. Also used a longer stitch length, 6-8 stitches per inch as a thick thread needs more space to form a stitch. 

Tip 1: Use a test piece of fabric to test your tension and stitches. 
Tip 2: Increase the top tension a bit and sew slowly for better stitch quality.





    6.  I used 1.8mm Reflective Accessory Cord and it can be purchased at Sea To Summit, EMS, REI, LLBean or other outdoor stores and online as well. I got mine at the Kittery Trading Post in Maine. If you don’t want to purchase this size cord, EMS and REI have 2mm cord available and you can get this cut to any length. But the 2mm cord will not fit in the mini cord lock used in this project. You will have to purchase a larger cord lock - one that has an opening to fit both ends of this size of cord. In addition to EMS, REI, and most outdoor retailers, Joann’s Fabric & Craft also carries larger cord locks to fit the 2mm cord.









     7.  For this project, I used the Mini Oval Cylinder Cord Lock 1/8. If you purchase a 2mm cord for this project, it will not fit in this size cord lock. You will have to purchase a cord lock that has an opening to fit both ends of the 2mm size cord. I used this size cord lock for my project because it’s the same size cord lock used on Sea To Summit Stuff Sacks.










     8. Bodkins are optional for this project. The instructions for this stuff sack call for placing cord along the casing prior to sewing the casing. I stitched the casing first and then threaded the cord through the casing using a Bodkin.











Made a smaller stuff sack for my climbing shoes
Finished dimensions: 11.5 x 4.5 x 4.5 inches



Materials Costs:
¼ yd of Ripstop Fabric ($6.95/yd):  $1.74
30” of 1.8mm Reflective Accessory Cord ($9.95/32 feet):  $0.90
1 Mini Oval Cylinder Cord Lock 1/8 ($9.90/17 locks):  $0.58
Total Materials Costs:  $3.22

Green Pepper Pattern #544: $7.00 (re-usable)
¼ yd of Sew-In Interfacing ($0.99/yd):  $0.25  (re-usable)

References & Notes:
Ripstop Fabric: Ebay - Textile Specialists (South Carolina)
 Super fast shipping,  got my fabric in 2 business days!

Green Pepper #544 Pattern: Green Pepper (Washington)
 Super fast shipping, got my patterns in 3 business days!

Apparel Sew-In Interfacing:  Joann’s Fabric & Craft

Coats Outdoor 100% Polyester Thread:  Joann’s Fabric & Craft

Universal 110/18 Sewing Machine Needles
Any sewing store will have sewing machine needles.

Reflective Accessory Cord - Sea To Summit

Mini Oval Cylinder Cord Lock 1/8: Best Buy Button & Buckle (California)
Got my order of mini cord locks in 4 business days.


      My Sewing History
      I spent many years sewing my own clothes….that’s what you did after your mom sent you to sewing lessons for the summer when you’re 14 years old. Over the years I handmade Halloween costumes for my daughters as well as prom dresses and figure skating costumes complete with beadwork all done by hand. Living just 12 miles from Malden Mills, I outfitted my family with handmade polar fleece jackets, pullovers, hats, mittens and pants. We still use polar fleece blankets that I had made years ago! And I even had a small biz selling Polar Fleece Skatewear to figure skating teams – I contracted a small manufacturing company in New Hampshire do to all the sewing in order for me to focus on the sales end of the business. I stopped sewing for several years but now am back at it again. This time for making my own outdoor gear to be used while out climbing and hiking!