Monday, July 25, 2016

Cultural Tourism

My two talks last week came and went.   People came up to talk to me all week about some of the points I brought up, so I guess not everyone snoozed.

DD is at sleepaway camp.  DH is at a meeting in Boston this week.  We decided to spend some vacation time together on the east coast before heading back west.

I've been enviously reading other sewists' blogs about their visits to
I really, really wanted to explore the permanent collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and to see the Barnes Foundation's collection again. Philly is bursting at the seams hosting DNC this week. But, this is the week I am on the east coast.

Here's my schedule for the rest of the week in case you want to join me for cultural bingeing, shopping or eating:
M: Boston
T: AM Amtrak to Philly. PM museums
W: Museums, strolling Philly
Th: AM Amtrak to NYC (Chelsea), PM strolling, shopping Manhattan
F: Museums, shopping, strolling
Sa: Brooklyn (any recommendations?)
Su: Museums, bookstores, strolling
M: AM strolling, PM fly home

I'm interested in seeing these other exhibits if time permits

And I'm all about the food.

If this sounds interesting to you, leave a comment with your contact info and day(s) available. Thanks.

Friday, July 15, 2016


Over the years, I've made at least six nightgown renditions of Simplicity 4767.  DD was so fond of this pattern, I graded it up from size 8 to 14.
After her recent growth spurt, I decided to find an adult-sized pattern.  You'd think it would be easy to find a peasant top or night gown pattern but I didn't find any in the pattern books.

I probably could have traced one from a BWOF magazine in my collection, but then I spied newly-issued Simplicity 8124, a Cynthia Rowley pattern.

The dress looks scandalously short and full. One breeze or sneeze and...

The pattern envelope says that the bust on the XS is 57.5"!  Fortunately, the romper had a more moderate 42" circumference.
I adjusted the sleeves to full length for the winter-weight flannel gown shown above and below.  I also lengthened the body to 48", flaring it out at the bottom to the full width of the fabric (about 40" wide after shrinkage.)

That was actually the third nightgown I made last week.  Imagine #2 in this fox fabric.

I forgot to take a picture of the completed first gown.  But, I have two progress shots, which I previously posted on IG.

I used French seams on the cotton shirting one and used my serger to finish the seams on the two flannel versions.
I thought I had 2 yards of 60" wide shirting.  I had 1.5 yards of 44" shirting.  Although the gown wasn't as short as the pattern envelope, DD and I were not comfortable with the length.  I added a bottom band in blue and white sprigged calico.  I might get a picture of that later.

Notes to self:
  • All: raise neck edge 1" on body and sleeves, 25" neck elastic, fold and press 1.25" to inside, sew 15/16" from folded edge (leaving 2" opening), insert 3/4" elastic.
  • Summer: lawn or shirting, 40" long, 6" sleeves (before hemming), 2.5 yds, hemmed sleeves (no elastic)
  • Winter: flannel, 48" long, 20" sleeves (before hemming), 3.5 yds, 9" sleeve elastic

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Studying while hungry

I read this study of food insecurity among University of California students with dismay.  It appears that rent is eating their food budgets so they are eating too little or cheap low-nutrition food, just to make ends meet.

I'd like to give a shout-out to the Berkeley Student Cooperative, where I lived for my last three years at Berkeley.  BSC was a key component of my Berkeley education and I am so grateful that I found it.
Home, sweet home.  Rooftop deck and study area at CZ.  Photo courtesy of Victory Garden.
During the great depression of the 1930s, many students suffered from malnutrition.  (I read a long time ago that professors reported students fainting in class from hunger.  If you have a link that substantiates that, can you leave it in the comments?)

Students in the BSC went to the Oakland Produce Market to buy food wholesale and in bulk.  Then other students took turns cooking and serving food (work shifts).  It was and remains a low-cost, and time-efficient way to obtain high-quality food near campus.

Plus, you learn skills.  I know how to operate a Hobart, an industrial dishwasher, how to dismantle and clean a commercial range, food safety laws...

The best part of BSC is the people I met.  I roomed with a black roommate one semester before I collected enough points to live in a single.  I can never walk in her shoes, but walking beside her was a crash course in US race relations.  That's one reason why I feel so strongly about #BlackLivesMatter.

Unlike the 1930s, the hunger experienced by 40% of today's UC students is caused by a strong economy.  Rising rents is literally eating the students' lunch.  It appears that the Oakland Produce Market is also at high risk due to rising rents.

I've come to realize that some basics--basic food, housing, healthcare, education and some types of data--are too important to leave to the free market.  Oops, writing that sentence took a long time because I kept thinking of things that needed to go on that list, such as environment, water, power...

As a society, we have work to do.  Let's push back with data and an open mind to problems and solutions.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Freegan pillows

I sewed two more AB reversible pillows used gleaned fabrics. Do they qualify as freegan makes?
If cars become classic at 25, does 20 yo fabric qualify as vintage*?
I picked up the red and white polka dot pique from the "share" table at a South Bay Quilters' Guild meeting.  There was just enough for me to cut two fronts to cover these 16"x24" pillows.

Primary theme in my bedroom reading alcove.
I picked up the blue and white ribbed fabric from the kids' free bin near the entrance of Denver Fabrics the first time I lived in Colorado, sometime in the 1990s.

Colorado Fabrics continues the scrap bin tradition. You can drop off your scrap fabrics (or ones you know you will never use) in the bin as you enter.  Kids can pick up donated scraps from the bin without charge. Adults pay for the scraps by the pound and the proceeds go to charity.

In the 1990s, DF was not set up to charge for the scraps yet. I looked so pathetic (and I was a student at the time) the cashier let me take the blue and white piece I coveted anyway.

I had white thread and two 20" zippers in my supplies.  (Don't look carefully; they are not the same color.)

I purchased the pillow forms at Crate and Barrel, so they are not a completely gleaned project.  I'm counting this as a recycling win, though.

BTW, these are the 6th and 7th pillows I made since moving back to Colorado.  I've used pillow forms from Wawak, CF and Crate and Barrel.  They've all been too soft.

Does anyone know a source of firmer synthetic pillow inserts with fabric covers that you can throw in the wash?  (I'm allergic to dust and wash my pillow inserts in hot water occasionally.)

* I read that clothing is vintage at 20-100 years old.  100+ years makes it antique.  If we apply the same definition to components, such as fabric and patterns, then I sew vintage quite often.  These pillow covers are both freegan and vintage!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Twice as good

I'm too torn up to write about the events in Falcon Heights, Baton Rouge and Dallas.  There are others better positioned to write about that. It also speaks to the awfulness of today's internet why I and many of my friends opted to stay off the internet while people who know very little rant and pontificate anyways.

I'm going to switch gears and talk about how black people have to be twice as good to get half as much because I have a data point.

The data crunchers at the National Bureau of Economic Research determined that Rowan Pope is right; black people really do have to work twice as hard to be perceived as half as good.

I did follow the women's Wimbledon tournament, especially my fave tennis player, Queen Serena.  Now that she has won 22 Grand Slam tournaments, exceeding Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova (18), and tying Steffi Graf (22*), they've moved the goal posts so that Margaret Court (24**) can be the record holder.

Serena Williams photo courtesy of BET.
No and no.  Graf and Court do not belong in the same league as Serena Williams.

* Steffi Graf was an excellent tennis player that could beat an aging but still wonderful Navratilova, but she struggled against a teenager named Monica Seles.  Do you see how she her GS tally suddenly jumped between age 23 and 24?
Stats courtesy of USAToday.
In 1993, when Graf was 23 and Seles was 19, a Graf fan stabbed Monica Seles in the back while she was sitting on court.

He said that he did it to help Graf get her #1 ranking back.  He succeeded.  He never even went to jail for that, but that's another story.

With Seles out of the way and Navratilova retired, there was no one for Graf to compete against.

You know how baseball players have an asterisk * next to their names if there was a question of how they achieved their performance?  Well, I feel very strongly that Graf's 22 is actually a 22* and not really a record.

Rightly or wrongly, the press used to write about 22 as the number to beat.  Now that S. Williams has matched that, they moved the goal posts.  Now she has to match or beat Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam Singles victories.


** Court won 13 of her 24 Grand Slam events when they were amateur events.  We don't know how many Court would have won if professionals were allowed to play against her.  (Professional players were not allowed to enter the contests until 1968, the "open" era.)

There's a whole lotta class privilege surrounding who gets to be an amateur and who has to turn pro to support themselves or their families or even to raise enough money to enter and travel to the tournaments.

Court was a great athlete and competitor, but let's be real.  She won only 11 (not 24) Open Grand Slams against all comers.

Serena Williams beat her record 11 Grand Slams ago, doubling Court's record.  She's twice as good, not two behind.

Thou shalt not diss my queen, Serena.  She is the greatest of all time.  Full stop.

Friday, July 01, 2016

It's complicated

Remember It's a girl! Maybe and Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain?

The NY Times Magazine published an excellent long-form article by Ruth Padawar on The Humiliating Practice of Sex-Testing Female Athletes.

It's long AND worth your time.
Estimates of the number of intersex people vary widely, ranging from one in 5,000 to one in 60, because experts dispute which of the myriad conditions to include and how to tally them accurately.
I feel sad for the athletes caught in the gender bind. Then I read through a selection of the comments and that saddened me even further.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

5 for 5

It's been a busy few weeks.  Today, we wrapped up the Weather Research and Forecast Model 2016 Users' Workshop.  I just want to share with you the last slide of the last presentation of the day and week.

How often in the world of tech and STEM do you see an all-female leadership team?  The leaders all five of the Developmental Testbed Center's Focus Areas are female.

The DTC was founded to "serve as a bridge between research and operations to facilitate the activities of both halves of the NWP (Numerical Weather Prediction) Community in pursuit of their own objectives."

Meanwhile, I have made a little progress on the #shirtdresssewalong.  I finally decided on these two fabrics: the floral with the check as an accent for the collar, pocket and cuffs.

I'll use the Ralph Lauren pattern for the bodice and the OdlR pattern for the skirt.  I had previously made the RL in rayon challis, and didn't like the rectangular shape of the skirt.  The OdlR skirt is more flared and has a curved pocket opening that I prefer over side-seam ones.

I had hoped to get at least the bodice done before the June 30 deadline for the sewalong giveaway.  But, deadlines and hobbies don't mix for me.

I'll work on it this weekend while I wait for my family to join me in Boulder.  July in the Rockies is heavenly.

Is anyone else going to the Cherry Creek Arts Festival?

How about the Women of Abstract Expressionism exhibition at the Denver Art Museum?

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Simplicity 2938 Take 7

I've tried Instagram and Twitter. They fill their niche.

But blogging is not dead, at least for me. I like to read blogs that share deep knowledge about subjects and give a peek into the lives of their writers.

It takes me more than 140 characters or a picture and a quick sentence to express some of my ideas. I also like that my ideas from 2005-present are all collected right here.  Some 2003-2006 ideas can also be found at my sister's blog.

ASIDE: When my sister watched me knit in December 2002, she asked me if I was interested in posting on her fiber arts blog.  I asked, "What's a blog?"

When I increasingly went off-topic (not about fiber arts), she told me I would be happier with my own blog and suggested Wordpress or Blogger.  I found the Blogger interface easier to learn (YMMV) and here we are in 2016.

META: I'm going to keep writing about whatever interests me and I think should be more broadly known.  That means, it's not all knitting and sewing.  I read environmental science news and journal articles and I'm going to write about how that translates into real life for people who aren't scientists.  Occasionally, I'll multi-task by connecting science, sociology and making stuff.

When I see bullshit, I'm just going to write about that, breathe, and then let the anger go.  I don't know if exposing bullshit does any good when so many people appear to be unswayed by facts or reason, but, pushing back makes me feel better.

Some sewing happened

Simplicity 2938

Pattern by Karen Z and endorsed by ASG (always good signs.)
When I searched for Simplicity 2938 on this blog and on my pattern spreadsheet, I discovered that this is the 7th version of this top that I have sewn.

Four versions, all sewn with recycled shirts.
I really like this pattern because the pattern pieces fit inside the usable bits of Bad Dad's shirts that are frayed at the collars, cuffs or seams, yet have perfectly good fabric in the interior.

Perfect for recycling shirts that are frayed at the collar/cuffs.
When I need a top, I pull a shirt from my refashioning bin and look for a coordinating center panel fabric from my scraps bin.  Rather than use facings, I piece bias strips from the sleeve of the shirt (if it has long sleeves) or from scrap fabric.  I omit the zipper as it pulls on over my head easily without it.

The only knit version.
I've only sewn one version that did not begin life as another shirt.  But, I bought this < 1yard remnant from SAS, which receives/sells truckloads of scraps from clothing manufacturers around SoCal.  I made the two-piece outfit below for a friend's daughter (as a going off to college present) from stuff that used to go to a landfill.  I paid SAS ~$6 for the two pieces and spent a day sewing it up.
The only one not sewn from a recycled shirt.  But the remnant was purchased by the pound from an odd jobber.
Textiles are not environmentally benign.  It takes huge amounts of water and pesticides to grow and process cotton.  Organic cotton is not the answer as seeds that are genetically modified to use less water can not earn the organic designation.

Natural dyes are also not the answer.  It takes about 13 acres to grow enough natural dyes to dye 1 acre of cotton.

Those rayon pants?  I used every last scrap of that remnant.  I can't bear to see rayon wasted after I chanced across a textbook on rayon manufacturing at Moe's used bookstore in Berkeley.  It was written for chemical engineers in industry and cost $200 *used* and in the 1980s.  However, it was 800 pages thick.  I managed to skim-read much of it on repeated visits to Moe's because I can't afford the $ or shelf space for that book.

I love the feel of rayon, but not the environmental impact of the irresponsibly made ones.  If the rayon was made in Germany, or has the Tencel trademark, it was made with an environmentally-friendly closed-loop process.  Enviro-guilt free.

Back to this top.

I over-dyed a green/white striped pinpoint oxford shirt with (cobalt? ultramarine?) blue Procion fiber reactive dye from Dharma Trading the same day I tried the snow-dye experiment.  You can see the shirt in the plastic shoebox in those photos.  The color is made up of different dye components, and they can separate, as they did here on the lower back.

Color separation happens.
When working with dyes that contain fuchsia, 'bursts' of fuchsia can happen unless you filter the dye through cheesecloth first. I don't bother and live with the results.

Star bursts of dye happen, if you don't filter your dye for undissolved dye particles.
I use very little water, scrunch the fabric, and let unevenness happen.  Just for fun, I put the bias binding on the outside instead of the inside.

I employed Grandma Sewing techniques, so the top can be worn inside out.  The contrast between the quilting cotton and the shirt is more muted on the reverse side.

The shoulder is a bit strange, because I attempted (and failed at) a square-shoulder adjustment.  I should have left it alone because the other 6 tops hang much better.
I bought some heather cotton jersey from The Fabric Store that pick up many the colors in the top.  I'm going to make an unstructured, open cardigan to match.

Friday, June 24, 2016

I got nothing

I'm heartbroken for the people in Britain who are about to live in a smaller world, and for the ideas of multi-culturalism and international cooperation.

I'm also worried about the future of the somewhat* United States.

Let's pause a minute to look at a pretty view.  Just don't breathe deeply because of the wildfire smoke.
The view on my bike commute.
Feel any better?

Me, neither.

Wildfire season is starting earlier and lasting longer due to climate change.  Dealing with climate change is expensive, disruptive, and requires global cooperation.

Denying that it is happening is not changing the fundamental truth.  The laws of physics (and chemistry and biology) don't give a damn whether you believe them.  They are inexorable.

I'm fed up with the fact that low information voters get the same vote weight as people who seriously study the issues.  I'm fed up with dismissal of the expert opinions of people who spend year--decades--studying issues.

I'm even more fed up with laws like Proposition 13 in CA and TABOR in CO that allow a no vote on taxes and government spending to count twice as much as a yes vote.

We have to vote on every damn infrastructure project.  The people who vote against them are mostly older and won't be impacted by crumbling infrastructure.  Yet, the younger people paying for their social security and medicare don't get a say in the services and money given to seniors because that's an untouchable "entitlement."

I'm sick of generational warfare and the old eating the young.

Did you notice that a major plank of the leave campaign on #Brexit was the completely fictitious story that they would have a huge amount of extra money to spend on their National Health Service (which is mainly utilized by the old)?  How do you fight against such lies?

What happened in Britain is happening here.  What are you going to do to push back?

* Copied from Sarah Vowell's book title.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

I left my heart in LA

I've written before about my melancholy when I leave LA to return to Boulder. The last trip was extended because of a family crisis. In between care-taking and medical appointments, Bad Dad and I managed to sneak in cultural breaks. 

For us, LA is all about the food, the culture and the beach. (I don't mean to discount rocket science even though that's what brought us to LA initially, but we're talking about the things that we love outside of work.)

It's nice to read that even the NY Times agrees with us:
No city in the country is more exciting than Los Angeles right now. Despite pop culture portrayals of Los Angeles as either comically superficial or darkly dystopian, the nation’s second largest metropolis is a vivid, soulful, eclectic city. It’s home to year-round blooms and captivating street murals, musical innovation and outsider art, deeply rooted communities and world-class food cooked by chefs from around the globe. The greatest challenge for visitors is not what to do, but which version of this vast city to embrace.

We went to LACMA to see Reigning Men and the Robert Mapplethorpe retrospective.
Look at that metallic embroidery.

Those short britches may require a bit of calf enhancement.
Cultural institutions of LA collaborate. For instance, LACMA and the Getty share a huge body of photography. The Getty Center is also showing Robert Mapplethorpe photographs as well as the work of some of his contemporaries and the collection of his first major collector/patron.

Getty Center hallway.
Meanwhile, the Japanese American National Museum is showing Making Waves: Japanese American Photographs 1920-1940. That show is incredible and not to be missed. Although most of the photographs made by these artists were lost or destroyed, what remains shows that, had they not been incarcerated (and racism), they would have been as famous as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston.

LACMA extends the argument further, with their own exhibition of Japanese Prints and Photographs: Paths Through Modernity.

I cannot stress this enough.  When you visit LA, skip the Tourist Traps and theme parks and head to the cultural institutions and the ethnic enclaves.  You will be met with friendly courtesy, fantastic food and insight into how diverse people and cultures live peacefully and cooperatively side by side.
Fried chicken, waffles and collard greens in Inglewood.
Downtown LA (DTLA) is hopping these days.  Stores are open (and busy!) on weekends.
The detailing on the old buildings is amazing.

Clifton's Cafeteria is open after their extensive remodel.  Prices and food quality are up.
The LA food scene uses traditional techniques with new ingredients and ideas.  For instance, dim sum places offer more and more vegetarian options.  Ocean Seafood will serve you seafood that looks back at you.  (Baby octopuses, anyone?)  But, even vegetarians can be challenged with tofu (stuffed with tofu instead of the traditional pork) that dares you to eat it.
Even the tofu dim sum at Ocean Seafood is served with faces intact.
When you come visit, pack for our mild and foggy summers.  You don't need a down jacket (that's San Francisco), but bring a light jacket for cool mornings and evenings.
June gloom extended all the way to the San Gabriel Mountains the day I left.