The Collections. A set of things I thought were interesting enough to comment on, share or otherwise make note of – And why.

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Saturday
Dec312016

Dough Bag Pt 2

So the whole thing worked out well, as you'd assume from such a simple concept. It made kneading and mixing a very casual and tidy affair, allowed the dough to rise and was simple to clean - Silicone being fairly non-stick.

In fact turning the dough out into a loaf tin was probably the easiest transfer I've ever made.

It's been suggested the bag could be used for marinades, making coatings and so on but I'd add a caveat that anything with readlly good spices and oil in is goignto turn your bag orange-red, permanently.

Saturday
Dec312016

Buff Update

Since I've managed to pull holes in both my Merino wool Buffs due to wearing them with velcro and catching them with zips, I determined it was time to add a new acquisition - The Buff wool neckwarmer and Smurf  hat.

Neck warmer

Take a normal length buff and turn it down so it's double layered. Voila. In this case, the neck warmer uses two different colours so you can reverse it or turn it down for accent colour.

It settles nicely around the neck and is warm, so... job done, I suppose.

It's slightly more elegant than the standard single colour version and still long enough to pull up as a face mask in the cold and wind.

Gnome Hat

Your basic beanie. Long enough to turn up to show the accent colour or pull down over your ears. Or, and this is the main selling point,  wear like a beret by puling it up and folding it over at the top.

Fold it forward to show your support for Smurf pride. To the side if you're being artistic, fold to make it look like you're developing cat ears, or tuck for a beret look.

Joking aside it's got space for big hair, it's very comfortable and light yet warm and actually pretty damn stylish. The alternative to dragging a buff on your head and twisting it in the middle to close it off.

Co-ordinate

The neck warmer and hat combo both share colour schemes so you can pair them. Currently I have 'Tobacco' which is a dark yellowish mustardy green that's more like antiqued brass. The alt colour is a warm grey so I can run around looking like a formal nutter, or a happy fun serial killer.

Suggested use

Obviously light outdoor use when it's a little chilly - This thing won't keep you comfy when it's seriously cold - For that you'll need to examine Buff's other heavier options.

However if you're having to work in a chill area or you find there's a draft down the back of your neck this is ideal. 

Within reason it also makes a dandy liner between your neck and collar or your head and hood - If you have a mesh or plastic lined hood for instance, the hat resolves the damp or clingy feel

Saturday
Dec312016

"BakeitFun" Silicone kneading bag. Pt. 1

A Silicone rubber bag with a silicone re-usable zip tie.

At this point you've basically already worked out exactly how this is goign to work: You put your flour and water etc. into the bag, and knead without actually having to touch the dough, or get flour or oil all over your counter.

Mine arrived about 15 minutes ago, so I set some yeast going, located my basil infused olive oil (Mm, smells good. Store brand too.) loaded up some flour and gave it a good squidging around.

It's easy to see where the flour's not mixed in, and it's very easy to knead and work one, or two handed even if you're short on space - And I'm going to test to see if it can be left in the bag to raise, which should avoid the dough drying out, and allow for the second round of kneading before turning out.

In theory I should be able to go from start to finish without ever touching the actual dough, which would be fun.

In Pt 2 I'll determine if it all worked out.

Tuesday
Oct022012

The Buff – Not new, but still exceptional.

There is a thing as a stocking knitting machine. It knits in a spiral, continuously. You merely sew one end closed, measure as much fabric tube as you want, and cut and hem the open end. Voila, a stocking of the old style, or as we would call it, a sock.

A tube of fairly elastic material is useful.You can put it on your foot, roll it up your leg as an ankle warmer, pull it over your head as a hat and look like a 17th century sailor, keep your hair out of the way during  surgery and so on, and in fact that’s mainly what lengths of stocking knit fabric have been used for throughout history, until the whole thing became unfashionable.

However, there's still a few companies making items this way – Or rather one very successful company and a score of people doing fairly inferior cheap knockoffs.

That company is Buff ( http://www.buffwear.com/ ).

I would like to concentrate on one particular Buff product which I regard as superior to the other, well made and useful varieties, and that is the Wool Buff.

Made from Merino wool, it’s soft, non scratchy, roughly a yard long, and is a lot wider than the normal run of Buffs, making it a lot more comfortable for people who’s collar size is a little higher than say, 16”.

Due to it’s length and width it also folds and hangs around the neck in quite a fetching way, though mostly I recommend it as a way to stop the warm air in your clothes from escaping through your collar, without the need to constantly re-wrap a scarf. It also makes a fairly dandy helmet liner or just a way to tuck all your hair back and keep it out of the way.

Thursday
May032012

Get a brand new bag

I have this problem with buying bags – They’re often really badly designed.

I admit it, I’m picky about my luggage. If I’m paying money for a bag, I want it to be worth it. Often – Or more accurately, almost all the time, what’s on offer doesn’t measure up. That said, https://www.trooplondon.com seems to share my sensibilities and that’s why they’re my pick this time, specifically the TRP 209, in black (But only because the super-popular brown is sold out).

Short version:

It’s built like a tank and it’s waterproof on the inside, looks good and is built for decent sized human beings.

Long version:

I buy my shoulder bags based on the following criteria:

  • It has to hold an envelope of a4 paper without needing the envelope to be folded over. If I need to cart some documents around, then I want a bag big enough to handle that. A surprising number of ‘messenger’ bags are too small to do this.
    • It has to be large enough to hold a magazine without needing to fold it too. Sometimes you just need to grab a couple of magazines and camp out
  • It’s got to be deep enough to hold a drinks bottle or soda cans. What use is a bag if you can’t put your drink in it?
    • Also a lunch box.
  • It’s got to have some sort of compartments or pockets so all the small stuff that I might want to take with me – Pencils, pens torch, mini prybar, mini first aid kit, etc. doesn’t end up as loose handbag trash rattling around some place under my magazine, documents, lunchbox, soda cans and bottle and sketchbook.
  • Zips. If you have a bag, it needs some sort of zip so when you inevitably put it down and it tips over, all your stuff doesn’t slide out and vanish.
  • A cover flap. This keeps the rain and wandering hands out. This is a good thing.
    • Also a flap that needs you to screw around for a few minutes trying to fasten down isn’t worth your time. Ideally it should have magnetic snap closures, or spring clips. Velcro will just fill up with fluff and also I just hate having to  rip it open – it’s too loud to be polite.
  • Canvas. Or equivalent – It’s stylish, it’s nicer than nylon, cheaper than leather.
  • Size. A large bag lets all your stuff slide around, gets in the way and is wasteful of space.. I’m looking for something small and nimble that’s not going to need constant handling to stop it flopping and swinging around, and folding in the middle.
    • Also a shoulder strap made for someone who’s over 4 ft tall would be great. Too many bags assume that six inches of slack in the shoulder strap is perfect for every use case. The Troop bag at full extension hangs down around my thigh, even when worn shoulder to hip, but the strap can be shortened.

Troop managed to ship the bag to me within 24 hours, and I can’t find fault with it apart form the nylon waterproof lining is a little stiff – But since I managed to spill a drink inside the bag, I think that’d be complaining about the wrong thing entirely (The bag was undamaged and did not leak).

It is indeed big enough to take a magazine, bottle, change of clothes, and some small odds and ends, while being small enough to be comfortable.

If you’re looking for any sort of bag, Troop’s worth using as a base to go from.