Now is the Winter

31 Dec

Winter, oh winter. You start after New Years, really. There is a glory and a sparkle to the snow and ice during the holidays. Come Jan 2nd, its nothing but bitter cold with no psychic tinsel chaser.

These wintertime distractions I hold to be self evident-

Winter Fridays are tie days- Also Sat-Thurs.

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Winter means obtaining as many sweaters as possible, at deeply discounted prices from cabalistically obscure companies with hard won coupon codes obtained through complex information exchanges on boring mens style forums.

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Post sweater binge, I realized I needed storage for all of these woolly body stockings, specifically sweater storage– which then, in its own turn, set off a full closet reorganization which culminates in the invention/creation of a new closet accessory that is not yet to be revealed.

Now comes the drinking and reading-

Port and Aubrey-Maturin

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or The Rathbones and Giardini Arimei

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Let us also not forget the mulling of everything liquid-

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Finally, there is this

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Which is the olfactory equivalent of pounding a horn of mead on a moor cliff and drunkenly rolling through the gorse and heather, then plummeting into the sea. Its actually amazing what DS & Durga has done here. It smells so good.

Ok 2014, I’m ready.

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The Guernsey

17 Nov

 

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The Island of Guernsey is a British crown protectorate, as well as the source for a rather iconic style of simple black or blue knitwear known as the Guernsey sweater (or Gansey jumper, if your’e from the UK).

Historically, these sweaters were made in coastal western Europe for hundreds of years, the tradition spreading from the Southern Island of Guernsey Northward, settling as far as Denmark. Worn by North Sea fisherman and sailors of many nationalities for utilitarian warmth.

Guernsey fishermen

Unlike the the modern Irish Aran sweater, the Guernsey was tightly knit from coarse wool to make it hard wearing and water repellent. Most were traditionally designed symmetrically, so you could reverse it back to front to make it wear longer. They were often dyed with indigo, as it was readily available and hid grime and fish scales, whale oil, and merhorse blood quite well.

Some time in the 1940s, some enterprising Aran Islanders decided to make loosely knit white versions (black or brown wool used for the working man’s version) of the Gansey for export. These have been widely adopted by the general populace as Irish fisherman’s sweaters. Though nothing can be said against true Aran craftsmanship, they aren’t made for repetitive hard work in wet weather.

Curiously, the Guernsey became more complex as it moved north, incorporating family patterns and cabled embellishments. There is actually a stylistic difference between the Guernsey (more plain sweater from the titular island), and a Gansey (more embellished version from Brattain/Ireland). The hyper embellished grandchild of the Guernesy, the Aran, is the Irish wide-knit terminus of the spread, while the Scottish kept the cables small, but added as many as possible to every inch.

A couple of long lived brands that have been making such upper body coverings for many years include-

The Aran Islands own Inis Meain

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S.N.S. Herning

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Makes you want to row a boat into a storm, no? Ok, that’s just me.

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squirrel time, again

6 Oct

 

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This marks the 3rd recurrence of my presence here in Vermont during the Summer to Fall transition. The first time, I just didn’t know what I was looking at. The seasons shift with a special kind of wanton subtlety. The natural forces of this state want you to be shocked on that first cold morning, to be caught outside with a light jacket at night. Oh, but now I know better

Vermont really is most lovely in the fall. Summer starts to creep away, and things coalesce into this state of grace on the spectral level. Everything just suddenly feels right. This in and of itself, is yet another natural bait and switch; the second you’ve gotten used to the crisp days and chill nights, you find yourself under 3 feet of snow, in a dead wind-blasted wasteland. Not to put a bitter edge on it or anything.

Here is a series of  personal distractions in biographical order-

Music

New sunglasses- Persol PO 3046S

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This video featuring Kalpesh Lathigra’s recent shoot of the RRL w2013 line for Port magazine

Getting the fall boots ready

Rider Cordovan and LL Bean Shearling Ducks– Also known as the Vermont Fall to Winter 2 step.

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I think it’s hot cider time.

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1957 Lyman and the last of summer

1 Sep

My brother in law, an intrepid renaissance man of numerous talents, owns a boat. This boat (which I am trying my damnedest to buy from him) is a wooden masterpiece of lake skimming glory. A 1957 Lyman. In the below we are boating around lake Sunapee on the last day of August. A perfect way to close out an otherwise hot and lengthy summer.

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Summer Occupation

5 Aug

No, not a summer job. Summer is nothing but work. Winter is nothing but work and wishing for summer.

But seriously, Its actually been a nice few months. Lots of vintage boat times on lakes, and trips to the ocean.

In the mean time, I’ve been busy with side projects. By busy I mean doing the occasional thing between naps.

One of these things involves putting my feet into pink foam and sending it to Vienna.

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then

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More to come on this soon.

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Philosophy on tap

10 May

I want Cornel West to follow me around the house and comment on the things I’m doing.

“Petting a CAT? Petting a cat is nothing but stroking the animal you’ve forgotten to be, like slaying the Minotaur in the middle of your mental labyrinth is something you want to FORGET to do.”

“Shining your SHOES? Shining your shoes is the petty creation of a mirror you use to see the reflected space inside yourself that nothing will fill, nothing but a reflection of the emptiness ITSELF. ”

 

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The Parachuter

26 Apr

I find myself travelling for work pretty regularly. Short trips in distance, just long enough to be annoying to pack for. I usually need 3 suits, and 5 days of general clothing-type items.

I often carry 2 bags, a Saddleback leather messenger bag for electronics and other small personal requirements, and a Filson weekender (note, an amazing bag, for trips up to 3 days). Between these two, I can usually balance what I need to travel/ stay. But its occasionally difficult to juggle them while I’m running through Reagan International after being delayed because the check-in line was filled with kids on a school trip.

While searching for an alternative bag solution I came across Aviation Luggage– a luggage maker based in Kildare, Ireland. I have a soft spot for things from Ireland, especially when they’re well made and generally useful. They make some really nicely designed travel bags, that simultaneously hold a decent amount  while being easy to strap up and run. The largest of this type of bag they call the Parachuter.

DE BRUIR Aviation Luggage Parachuter 7

 

From the founder of Aviation Luggage-

“The Parachuter Bag is the studio’s most innovative bag design. It is a contemporary backpack that features the best of traditional construction techniques with the finest quality leather. Each bag is designed and crafted by Garvan de Bruir at his design studio and workshop in Kildare,Ireland.

A single shoulder hide of leather wraps to form the main body of the bag, with additional hand-cut binding straps and skids for the base machine stitched in position.
As the bag begins to take shape, all of the stitching is done by hand with brad awl, needle and thread. The chunky stitching details combined with the robust bridle ensure the bag will last a lifetime.
Over time, your back will mould a comfortable concave shape into the body of the bag and the shoulder straps form to the top of your shoulders.  With consistent maturing of the leather, the bag will become more and more comfortable with age.
When using the bag, there is an additional binding strap that secures the shoulder straps in front of your chest. Adding to the comfort and ability to run without any movement from the bag.
A perfect companion for all leisure, business and travel requirements, the extra large size hits the maximum aircraft carry-on specifications in Europe. There are a selection of sizes to fit different peoples body sizes and intended uses.”

 

See additional images of the bag below.

 

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I think this would make for a really great travel alternative to my current (and perhaps too small) messenger bag. I especially like the way the straps connect across the chest to stabilize. Over all, a great looking bag from the motherland.
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Heinrich Dinkelacker and THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EXPENSIVE AND VALUABLE

19 Apr

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I’m really into sturdy shoes. I think thin soles and fine leather on shoes have their place, but nothing beats a crazily built-up cordovan wingtip. These types of bullet-proof foot coverings can be referred to as gunboats. Gunboat as a phrase was popularized in the 1920s to describe both cars and feet that were over-sized or especially ungainly. This carried over to shoes in the 30’s in Dashiell Hammett style prose, and has stuck with aficionados of well built shoes since.

One shoe maker of this classic style that few people know of here in the US is the German based Budapest made organization Heinrich Dinkelacker. From their site-

“At Heinrich Dinkelacker the production of sewn-welted men’s shoes lies in the experienced hands of 40 specialized shoemakers who have learnt their trade from scratch. Every one of these experienced craftsmen has particular expertise in 2-3 working steps. Without an assembly line or constant pressure to increase efficiency, each employee creates one pair of premium shoes per day. And each pair undergoes 300 manufacturing steps – from the cutting down to the finish.”

Dinkelacker has been making classic “Budapester” styled brogue shoes for over 50 years in the classic 100 year-old tradition first made popular in Hungary’s capitol city.

Check out some of their 2013 collection below.

Luzern

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London Captoe

 

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The theme of quality is a dear one on this blog, as you may have noticed. There is a marked difference between expensive and valuable, as as a core principal at Dinkelacker, their work speaks for itself.

These shoes make me wish I was walking along the Danube. Then again, most things make me wish I was walking along the Danube.

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My Kingdom for a Key Wallet

16 Apr

The key wallet is perhaps one of the most underrated and rarely seen mens accessory these days. In short, it is a wallet for your keys. Usually made from leather, with a loop or set of hooks that hold keys in place, to then be safely enfolded by the wallet cover. This saves pocket linings like nothing else. I’ve had a lot of holes poked in jacket pockets over the years by pointy key serrations, and they’re a pain to repair.

My first and most beloved key wallet was this antique number from the 1940s. Made from american alligator leather, with a zipper closure. Sadly the age of the thing, combined with my rough treatment has caused it to die a noble death (I’m planning to burn it at sea like a viking king, but first I have to practice making tiny long ships).

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My search for a new one is on, and there are several runners up, but none that really fit the bill.

The bill-

-Sturdy
-Attractive
-Quality leather and hardware
-Not exorbitantly expensive 
-Capable of holding standard keys and large ignition key (either enfolded or attached).

Runners-up include-

Pros: Slim profile. Might force a key purge.

Cons: Holds too few keys. No space for ignition key.

Worth it? Nope.

Pros: Sturdy Cordovan leather. Zip closure. Style would allow for larger keys.

Cons: Made from magic talking horses, judging from the price.

Worth it? Maybe.

Pros: Alden brand whoredom. Sturdy cordovan.

Cons: No space/external ring for ignition key.

Worth it? Nope.

 

The search continues.

 

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Spring Knits of Berg&Berg

10 Apr

This time of year on the East coast is contradictory: no longer cold enough for coats, not yet warm enough for just a shirt. In comes the light spring sweater to solve the problem.

I’ve been really taken by the brand Berg & Berg from Oslo, Norway. They have a variety of offerings that can help you make the seasonal shift in comfort. See the below silk and cashmere Striped Raglan Sweater paired with one of their knit silk ties. Add the right shirt, and one will be kept warm under cool spring conditions so prevalent on the Atlantic side of the country. The silk and cashmere blend is an especially nice touch, as it will balance the insulating properties of the sweater without making it bulky or over-warm.

Take a look at the rest of their Spring collection here

No one does spring like the Nordic.

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