Portland designers


I’ve had a set of Dapper Dan grips from Portland Design Works (PDW) for several months now, and have put them to the test on my daily urban travels.

The grips are well-designed, easy to install and use, comfortable, and attractive. The construction consists of a rigid tube wrapped in a piece of vegetable-tanned leather, laced up on one side. The ends of the tube are fitted with binder clamps, to secure the grips onto the handlebars.

The grips are available in two shapes: straight, and ergo. The straight grips are cylinder-shaped. The ergo shape has a bulb-out to support the palm of your hand. I tested the straight grips.

Headtube! Headtube!

When I learned to knit a few years ago, one of the first things I made was a neck gaiter. It’s a great project for learning how to knit on circular needles, since all you do is knit a tube that will fit over your head. We toyed with a bunch of names for them; they seem to be a kind of wimple, or a sort of disembodied turtleneck. At one point I was calling them “neckscarves.” Eech!

The following year I knitted one and donated it to the BTA for their Alice Awards auction, and that’s when we came up with the name “headtube.” Perfect, since we use them while cycling, and a headtube is part of a bike frame.1

Recently I noticed that Caroline of Little Package had started making headtubes, although she, too, was using the term “neck gaiter.” I let her know of our new name, and she asked if she could use it. Of course I said yes! I’ve since had the pleasure of wearing two of her headtubes and I have to say she’s really putting them together nicely.

Headtube Headtube

Caroline’s primary design is a tube sewn into a perpendicular tube, resulting in a double layer of soft, warm merino wool. As the layers are very thin, the garment is light yet warm: the air pockets in between the two layers add insulation. The construction makes for a versatile garment that wears well over a wide range of temperature: on a crisp cold morning or in windy rain, I pull the tube all the way up over the back of my head and ears, helping my hat do its job. When it warms up in the afternoon, I pull the tube down to turtleneck height, and it just keeps my neck and shoulders warm. And it’s smaller than a scarf, so it easily packs into a pocket or bag when not needed. The lightness of the fabric drapes very nicely. The only problem I’ve encountered with it is that it sometimes rides up at the bottom and exposes a little area of my collarbone; I just have to make sure the bottom of the tube is well tucked into my jacket or shirt collar.

Headtube Headtube

There’s also a second, simpler design, basically a light shirt-weight knit wool fabric in one layer, sewn into a simple tube. This design is lighter and not as good for severe winter weather, but it’s just perfect for the warm-ish rainy days of early spring. I love this single-layered headtube’s crumply look, and color, and style.

1. Did you hear about the lady who walked into a bar and asked for a double entendre? The bartender really gave her one.