My winter line up

I have a bunch of food, water, and fire wood.

I bought a tarp. I’m going to lay the tarp out and harvest the snow off it until there is a good build up of snow on the ground so I don’t scoop up dirt.

I  have a phone and dial up Internet.

I started up Netflix; they are offering 2 weeks free to new and past customers.    I think I’ll keep it going for a while because it keeps me walking, since my mailbox is 2.5 miles away.    I get 5 miles in on days I just need to pickup or send a movie but on days that I need to do both, I walk a 7 mile loop and mail the movie at a mailbox that gets later pickup.

sewing machine and weird shoes

In my quest for pain free feet, I have purchased a discounted pair of MBT shoes… They are the weirdest shoes ever.   They are rocking shoes.   For sure, my feet don’t hurt a bit in them but they kind of stress the rest of my body.  They also weigh 3lbs.…. Jury’s still out on this one.   Mine didn’t come with the instructional DVD so I might be using them wrong.

I purchased a refurbished sewing machine for 75 dollars that a reader recommended.   So far I have wound the bobbin, threaded the machine and did a bomber repair job on my pants.  I have rented Project Runway from Netflix to get inspired:   “Okay, designers, your challenge is to make something functional, comfortable, and beautiful, using only the materials you find in this primitive cabin.  You have only a limited amount of gasoline to run the generator that will power your sewing machine.  You have one spool of thread and a pair of kitchen scissors.   Make it work!”

I have a list of twenty good habits I’m instilling in me.

I have some books the library mailed me to read.

It really makes a more interesting winter without Internet, movies, or books but I think it’ll be a good winter.

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Hermit, long distance hiker, primitive cabin dweller, seeker.

4 thoughts on “My winter line up”

  1. Since I recommended the sewing machine, here’s some advice:
    1) Use quality needles and replace them often. My Walmart sells Schmetz needles, which are high-quality and what I use, along with a bunch of junk brands. Dull needles cause the machien to skip and otherwise perform poorly. Use size 10 or 12 universal is for silnylon and other very thin fabrics, size 12 universal for light nylon or polyester and size 14 for supplex and cordura. For something like several layers of heavy backpack fabric, you might want to use size 16, though I’ve never found this necessary. The thicker the needles, the more damage to the fabric. Whereas if the needles are too thin, then they’ll break more often and perhaps give bad stitches in heavy fabric. For similar reasons, avoid running too many stitches too close together, since all the needle holes will weaken the fabric.
    2) Use quality all-polyester thread. I use mostly the black thread from Ray jardine, which is very strong. Thru-hiker also has some good thread for sale. For my shirts, where I want a different color than black, I use Gutermann all-polyester. Walmart doesn’t sell this, so I order it. I believe Never use cotton or cotton-coated or silk threads, since these will rot outdoors. Cheaper threads will also foul the machine with lint. I’ve never felt the need to use heavy-duty nylon upholstery thread, even for backpacks. The Jardine thread is plenty strong enough for backpacks if you run several parallel lines of stitching.
    3) Study the manual instructions regarding tension very carefully. You will almost certainly have to adjust the tension on the bobbin holder if you use Jardine’s thread. This can be done with your fingernail. After getting the bobbin holder tension right, adjust the top tension to match. I find myself putting the top tension on 8 or so with jardine’s thread. With the Gutermann, I can ramp down to perhaps 5. Thread tension will be different for each type of thread.
    4) Buy a rotary cutter and cutting surface at walmart, along with a bunch of spare cutting blades, plus two pairs of quality scissors, one large and one small. The rotary cutter is vastly easier and more accurate for cutting fabrics than the scissors, though sometimes you need the latter. Never use your sewing scissors on paper, since paper is very abrasive. You can use the rotary cutter on paper, but then you’ll have to replace the blade more often. The small scissors are snipping thread as you finish each liner of stitching. The machine has a little blade for this, but scissors are much easier in practice, espcially when the threads are hidden under a mass of piled up fabric. With the blade closed, the small scissors are also useful for pushing the bobbin thread out from under the presser foot and otherwise getting into places in the machine where your fingers won’t reach. I find myself constantly using these small scissors.
    6) For making patterns, get some 30″ wide brown kraft paper, from either Walmart or Walgreens, plus some packing tape for taping multiple pieces of paper together to make very wide patterns (like for quilts and tarps). You draw the pattern on paper, then put the paper on top of the fabric, weighted down with books, then cut out the fabric with the rotary cutter. Once you get a pattern that works, save it away for reuse.
    7) You’ll need a set of notions, such as pins, pin cushion, hand sewing needles, a 36″ ruler, a flexible cloth measuring tape, fray-check (gummy stuff which you apply to the stitching on things like backpacks to keep it from unraveling even if some of the stitches break). All this is available at Walmart. For quilts and tarps, you’ll also need a 12 foot retractable metal tape measure if you don’t already have one, and probably a long straight-edge, which is normally available at places like Home Depot or Lowes. You might be able to improvise the straightedge if you have some spare hardware lying about.
    8) I know I mentioned Walmart a lot, but actually some of the online outdoor fabric shops also have a lot of the notions and miscellaneous items. The sites I visit are:,,,,,,, for patterns. has some good info about cutting edge fabrics (and a really slow website) but I haven’t bought from them. When ordering, you’ll find that shipping is a major expense, so it helps to stock up on smaller items that you might need down the road. For example, it is also nice to have a wide selection of cord-locks and side-releases, various sizes of nylon webbing, hook-and-loop (aka velcro), elastic and other roll items, etc. Most of the fabric companies I mentioned are very helpful with advice.
    9) Start small with stuff sacks and headnets and other items and gradually work your way up to things like shirts.

    Good Luck!

  2. Yes, it does sound like a good winter! I like the idea of your 5-mile post office walk–mine is only about half a mile, but then I work outside the cabin, so my walking time is more limited than I’d like. Still, some of my favorites times during the winter are when I make that walk after dark.

    Don’t think Project Runway would have been my first choice, though….(smile).

    Take care,
    Carolyn h.

  3. Frank: Thanks for all the information. I did try to order Jardines thread but he has a 20 dollar minimum order. Someone had given me a spool of thread earlier this year. It’s probably all cotton and looks to be about 40 years old but maybe for just goofing around it will be okay. When I start in earnest I’ll get some Jardine thread.

    Diane: Even though winters are more interesting without the Internet, this winter I’ll be connected because my grandchild is soon to be born and I don’t want miss out on that. One of my goals is, a blog post everyday this winter.

    You know, “Project Runway” would have been something I would never have guessed I would have liked. I started watching it because Netflix said people who like the same movies I do also like “Project Runway”. It’s really good. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. These people are amazing. While under all this pressure they aim to put out something beautiful and functional that expresses their unique vision.

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