Join Janet on her adventures as a designer, writer, maker, and farmer in montana. no two days are ever the same. you might even see a bear or two.

Over and Back to Spokane

Over and Back to Spokane

I got in a quick road trip. DD#2 had to be back in Spokane this week. She has a car. She has driven herself back and forth several times. She knows how to drive in the snow. Still, sometimes the mother in me decides that a little helicoptering isn’t a bad thing—especially when it’s couched in terms of me needing something, like a road trip—so I suggested that I drive over with her in my car, spend the night, and come home.

We are suffering the effects of an El Nino winter here. Except for a week in December when the temperatures dropped close to zero for a few days, it’s been warmer than usual. I don’t think the precipitation levels are above average, but the fact that it’s swinging between freezing and above-freezing means that it’s been like perpetual March out there. (March is the worst month of the year in Montana, truly.)

The forecast for Wednesday was freezing rain in the morning, then warming up by lunchtime to just rain. The problem with temperatures that hover right around freezing is that the roads look wet, but they could be wet in one spot and covered with black ice a couple hundred feet later. The coefficient of friction of black ice is zero. Drivers get lulled into thinking they can go faster than they should. I watch the thermometer in my car like a hawk under those conditions. Unfortunately, there are a lot of stupid drivers out there. I know; I hear the results of their driving habits on the scanner every day.

I’d much prefer a typical winter with temps that stay in the mid-20’s for a few months, even if that comes with more snow.

The trip to Spokane also involves some elevation gains and losses, which means big changes in driving conditions. The roads were mostly fine until about five miles before the pass into Idaho, and then we just had to slow down appropriately. Once over the pass, the temps stayed high enough to keep the precipitation as rain. We made it to Spokane, unloaded her stuff at her house and turned the thermostat back up, then went out to eat and run some errands. I stay at a hotel there where I have reward points. I had enough points for four nights of free rooms and I kicked around the idea of staying another night, but I have to do payroll for the employees this morning. I could talk the husband through it (and he probably ought to know how to do it, like I ought to know how to change the oil in my car), but I decided to come home yesterday. Temps were way up into the low 40s and the roads were fine.

While in Spokane, I harvested all the Kona remnants I could find, and some polka dots, too, because they make good bindings:


I caught up on all my podcast listening, including Sewing with Threads, Love to Sew, Sewing Out Loud, and Living Free in Tennessee. That last one has something of a libertarian homesteading theme. I used to listen to Jack Spirko’s Survival Podcast, but honestly—some men get a bit full of themselves and I got tired of the strutting and chest thumping. The host of LFTN is a woman so she speaks from a perspective that I find a bit easier to relate to. I also listened to an excellent Featured Voices podcast about soil science. The guests on the show own Singing Frogs farm in Sebastopol, California, and they always have a lot of good things to share.


Drive time is also a great time to think through some sewing projects. Once again, I found myself needing a good overnight bag—literally, a bag that could carry enough stuff for an overnight trip—and I don’t have one. All my bags are either too big (like my Vera Bradley duffle, which is great for trips of 2-3 nights) or too small. I ended up using my Noodlehead Cargo Duffle, which worked, but could have been a few inches bigger all around.

I can’t find a pattern for exactly what I want, so I am going to try designing one. I am drawing on the following bags for inspiration:

The Noodlehead Explorer Tote in the large size:


I’ve already made the smaller size version in denim and waxed canvas. I meant to make the large size, but the pattern gives the measurements and directions for the large size first, with the information for the smaller size in parentheses after. That’s completely the opposite of how knitting instructions are written—with the smallest size first and changes for larger sizes in parentheses—and I didn’t notice until I was well into the pattern. I like the size of the larger bag. I am not crazy about the flap combined with the zip top, so would leave the flap off. I also don’t like the pieced exterior. That’s fine if you’re using a solid fabric, but it becomes problematic for any kind of print. The shoulder strap is a must.

I want my bag handles in this style, however, for added strength. This is a tote bag from Target:


What I’m ultimately going for is a marriage of those two styles. Target has another tote bag—this one—that I thought about buying and deconstructing and using as a pattern:


It’s a few inches bigger than the Explorer Tote. It’s also $45 and not in my product research and development budget. (I keep waiting for it to go on clearance but so far, no luck.) It looks like a rounder bag, but it’s actually just a rectangular tote bag with a boxed bottom.

This idea really wants to get out of my head and become an actual bag. I can tell, because it’s all I’ve been thinking about. I am going to do my best to accommodate it in the coming weeks.

Another Fight Inside My Brain

Another Fight Inside My Brain

Lovely Lemon Curd

Lovely Lemon Curd