Thursday, February 26, 2009

Skirts Galore

The blogosphere is full of people's Spring 2009 sewing plans. I am still sewing for 2008. The linen skirt I had blogged about earlier had been lying around the sewing room since last summer!

For winter, I had planned to make one gray wool pencil skirt. I finished it last week. It is still officially winter so I made the deadline. But, Spring weather hits LA in February. Sigh.

I made Vogue 1790 View A twice. It is my favorite straight skirt because it has usable pockets that don't gap. Both times, I cut the skirt knee length.
The first time, about 15 years ago, I used a navy blue Italian wool satin remnant, underlined with an iron-on knit backing. I got all the materials for the blue skirt from Denver Fabrics. This skirt also has the magic hidden elastic waistband. It fits, but only during my thinner time of the month.

I made it again with a gray plain weave wool from Joann's and a knit fusible from SAS. I graded the pattern up from a size 12, adding 2.5" in the waist and 3" in the hips. I overcompensated. The skirt is too loose. I regraded the pattern again for an intermediate size and cut it out of French navy cotton stretch poplin for Spring.
It seemed like a bargain underlining at the time, at 99 cents a yard compared to the $6+ I paid Denver Fabrics. False economy. See how it bubbles in the photo above? Below are the insides of the two wool skirts.
Get the good stuff. Call or email Denver Fabrics to order the 60" wide fusible knit interfacing/lining. You fuse it on the fabric before you cut it out. I also lined the gray skirt with black silk habotai from Dharma Trading. It's cheaper than Bemberg rayon, easy to work with, and feels fabulous.

Here's a peek at my Spring knitting.
And my quilt show entry (the bottom one).
The sweater is done and blogged about here.

Magical Metalized Linen Pleated Skirt

My sister asked me today about my favorite A-line skirt patterns. They are all out of print, OOP, but here are a few, including the one I am currently sewing. The asymmetric box pleats in Vogue 9951 attracted me. They remind me of a Japanese skirt in one of my pattern books. Overlapped and asymmetric pleats are magical for two reasons; you don't have to match the two sides of the pleats so that the meet exactly (which they never do without hand basting, which I am too lazy to do), and it combines the topological function of both a dart and a pleat. Magic!

I made view A out of a cream linen with a metalized finish. If I used the linen on the waistband, it would scratch through my skin (YMMV); I used Kona cotton for the waistband. I added pockets and a Bemberg rayon lining.

I cut it out in a size 16 throughout, and then applied a magic hidden elastic waistband to bring in the ease at the waist. Now I need not turn down dessert. Pleats over a stomach that is less than drum flat may not be flattering. I stitched them down for the first two inches or so below the waistband.
To add a pocket, I placed tracing paper over the skirt back pattern piece. I laid a pocket piece from another pattern on top. I traced the pocket bag, drew the side hip curve to match the skirt back curvature, and extended the pocket upwards to the waistband. I put things in my pockets and they need the extra support the waistband provides.

I have made the skirt in Vogue 1358 three times in matte jersey. I also used the skirt pattern piece twice to make a Frankenstein dresses, combined with a Kwik Sew t-shirt pattern.
Each time, I cut the front in two pieces instead of one, and placed the straight of grain down the center of each skirt quadrant. I omitted the zipper on the skirts and added a tubular elastic waistband sized to stretch over my hips. It is very comfortable and I wear the skirts often. In fact, skirt #3 was a replacement for skirt #1, which had worn out. The shorts make great summer pajama pants, too.
I have made Burda 3152 twice. It is not as flattering as Vogue 1358, but it still in print.

Here are the backviews.
Ann also said she was interested in making skorts. I bought Butterick 4894, but haven't sewn them yet.

El Anatsui Slideshow

The very annoying website for T magazine from the NY Times has a profile about El Anatsui with an accompanying slideshow of 13 works. It is a flash-heavy site and I can't link to the photos. Read A Thousand Bottles.

You will just have to put up with an old image I took when his traveling retrospective was at UCLA.
I am a big El Anatsui fan and wrote about him in El Anatsui Gawu and African Textile Art. I posted a Flickr slideshow of the exhibition. There is another photo in BCAM Opening.

Whale of a Day

The whales are on the move!
"Whale of a Day" is a festival celebrating the migration of the Pacific Gray Whale from its summer feeding grounds in the Bering and Chuchki Seas in Alaska to the winter breeding and calving grounds in Baja California. Migration viewing takes place December through April along the California South Bay coastline.

Whale of a Day is held annually on the first Saturday of March from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM and next year's celebration will take place on Saturday, March 7, 2009. The celebration is sponsored jointly by members of Los Serenos de Point Vicente and the City of Rancho Palos Verdes. The event is held on the main grounds of the Point Vicente Interpretive Center at 31501 Palos Verdes Drive West. [MAP] Parking is available at the Rancho Palos Verdes City Hall located at 30940 Hawthorne Blvd. [MAP]

There are activities for children ~ face painting, children's crafts, chalk drawing, story telling, small children's games ~ all at no charge. There are also exhibits, craft and food vendors and an opportunity drawing. Some of the past participants have included the Tidepool Cruiser from Windows on our Waters, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, George F Canyon Nature Center, Save the Manatee, National Marine Fisheries, Heal the Bay, American Cetacean Society, Whale Watch, Marine Mammal Care Center, South Bay Wildlife Rehab with their rescued hawks and other raptors, PVP Land Conservancy, California Native Plant Society, Don Gales and Las Candalistas. Tours of the Point Vicente Lighthouse are given by the Coast Guard on a first come, first served basis for ages 7 and older.
Parking is limited at the Point Vicente Interpretive Center. There will be a free shuttle from City Hall. We might ride our family bike.


Monday, February 23, 2009

CSA & Schools

Iris' school is joining the Tanaka Farms CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. Every other Friday, Tanaka Farms will deliver boxes of freshly picked, organic fruits and veggies from nearby Orange County to her school. Families subscribe for $25 per box, payable on a monthly basis. The PTA keeps $5, Tanaka Farms receives $20 and parents endure no extra hassle. This is so much better than candy sales.

The only things keeping me from shopping more frequently at farmer's markets are the logistics and extra driving. There are no farmer's markets during non-work hours that I can safely reach by bicycle or on foot. Bringing the veggies to a place that people already go to each day is brilliant. We sometimes stop by the supermarket on the way home from school anyway. Now, we can skip that step.

You need have a child in the school to participate. If you contact Tanaka Farms and tell them where you live, they can direct you to a local school (Long Beach, Palos Verdes Peninsula, Redondo Beach & others). If North Redondo Beach is on your way home, or is your home, contact me for a sign up form.

The farm delivers every other Friday. You can pick up boxes any time between 2:00 and 6:00 PM.

Another branch of the Tanaka family runs Dick Tanaka farms of Longmont.
Iris' school also has a teaching vegetable garden.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What we saw at Abalone Cove

Grandma Ann pointed out this sea hare.
What's this?
The colorful underside of a giant keyhole limpet.
The other side of a giant keyhole limpet (not the same one).
Sea urchin and coral skeletons.
Sea star.
A sea urchin condo complex.

Wave motion.

Just Following Orders

I agree with Ta-Nehisi Coates; that was one boring-ass speech. But I obeyed AG Eric Holder's mandate to have a meaningful and frank conversation about race today with someone of another race.

My roommate at Casa Zimbabwe in Berkeley was black. (She still is, the last time I saw her at a conference in Boston.) What drew us together was that we both sewed our own clothes (and stash fabric), and we were both female science majors (Chem and BioChem). What drove us apart was different tolerances for clutter.

She did teach me a great deal about race relations, even in a supposedly liberal town like Berkeley. When we went shopping together, store security would immediately tail us like we were there to steal, not buy. That never happened when I shopped alone. When we paid, salesclerks would hand me my change by putting it in my hand. They would put her change on the counter, like she was contagious or something.

She complained that, when she went to office hours, professors would often ignore her and answer everyone else's question first. Once, she got tired of waiting and burst into the conversation. She said that the professor looked directly at her for the first time and said, "You are not from around here, are you?" (The cute answer would be no, her father teaches economics at our arch-rival, Stanford.) But what the professor noticed was her African accent. For some reason, that professor never hesitated to call on her again.

I've heard that our self-image is often a reflection of those around us. I forget racial differences among people I know and say things that more polite people wouldn't. When our group secretary dropped off some balloons in my office for Iris this afternoon, I asked her where she got them. She replied that they were decorations from today's banquet in celebration of African American History month.

"Oh, that's right. Like Spike Lee says, they gave you February because it's the shortest month."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

South Bay Quilters' Guild 2009 Show

WHERE Torrance Cultural Arts Center

3341 Torrance Blvd, Torrance, CA (driving directions)

WHEN Saturday, February 21, 2009, 10am - 5pm

Sunday, February 22, 2009, 10am - 4pm

Monday, February 16, 2009

Why do they call it Abalone Cove?

I've been slow at blogging this, because it was so depressing. We went tidepooling with Grandma Ann and three of Iris' playmates. Everyone was asking, "Why don't we see any octopus today?"

The answer is this man. See that metal rake in his hand?
He poked it under rocks, not caring about his trail of destruction.

He flushed out an octopus under this rock. This was the only octopus we saw that day.

The rest of the octopodes must already be in his cooler. We also saw them put a brittlestar in there.

They also brought equipment to strip mine the marine sanctuary of fish, mussels and clams.

Ann and I tried to stop them, but they wouldn't listen. The parents spoke Mandarin with an accent I couldn't place. Later, I found the boy alone and talked to him. He said that his family had moved from China recently. He wouldn't tell me where he lives now, nor where in China they came from.

I asked if if he ever went tidepooling in China.


"Why not?"

"The ocean is too polluted with oil and garbage."

"Is there any wildlife?"

"No, because everyone has already taken it all."

I couldn't get a good picture of their faces because they kept turning away. They clearly knew that they were doing something wrong. I don't think they can plead the language ignorance defense. The boy spoke excellent English and could have explained it to his parents. Several onlookers tried to explain it to them, and the boy could have translated, if he cared.

We called the park ranger (back at the gate), and he said he called California Fish & Game, but they didn't respond in time. I watched the family climb up the cliff side trail ahead of me. Then they cut off cross-country up to the road. I was not surprised that they were happy to speed up cliff erosion to dodge the park ranger at the gate ($5 per car entrance fee). I wearily trudged up the trail to the parking lot and told the park ranger they got away.

Abalone Cove Shoreline Park is a marine preserve. No collecting of marine life is allowed, even if you have a fishing license. As long as I am in a scolding mood, no dogs allowed.

Is there any wonder there are no abalones left at a place called Abalone Cove?

A PVIC docent who was not there that day, sent along this information:
Existing Marine Protected Areas in California: Regulations

The areas listed below are marine protected areas that currently exist
in California State waters. This list includes the Central Coast
Marine Protected Areas, which went into effect on September 21, 2007.

Abalone Cove State Marine Park

SPECIES PROHIBITED For Recreational Take
All marine aquatic plants; All invertebrates

Invertebrate is a kind of animal that does not have a spinal column or backbone.
Includes worms, Squids, octopuses, Snails, sea shells and slugs
Most shellfish; clams, oysters, scallops, mussels,
Echinoderms — starfish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, crabs
Porifera — sponges
Cnidarians — jellyfish
Platyhelminthes — flatworms
Nematoda — roundworms
Annelida — segmented worms
Bryozoa — sea mats or moss animals

SPECIES ALLOWED For Recreational Take

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

More depressing news

From Crooked Timber:
1. Are you male, or female. (If you’re not sure, just pick one, if you reject the question, sit out the exercise).

2. During your teen years did you get paid to do babysitting more than 10 times?

3. Do you anticipate having children? If not, sit this out.

Here are three kinds of parenting arrangements.
A)Father led parenting: the father spends substantially more time than the mother looking after the children and thinking about their wellbeing over the course of their childhoods
B)Mother led parenting: the mother spends substantially more time than the father looking after the children and thinking about their wellbeing over the course of their childhoods
C)Egalitarian parenting: the mother and father spend roughly the same amount of time looking after the children and thinking about their wellbeing.

4. Think just about yourself for the moment. Which of A, B, and C best characterizes your expectations for your prospective family life.

5. 5. Now think about your FIVE best friends. Which of A, B, and C best characterizes your expectations for most of their family lives? (eg, you expect 3 or more of them to be Father-led, answer A).

I get my TA to collate the answers, and then read back the answers to the students.

I only recently added question 2), so I have less confidence about the answers to that one than the others. The one time I’ve done that in a large class, about 5% of the boys answered “yes”, whereas about 65% of the girls did. (The point of that question is abut socialisation, which has a key role in Okin’s argument).

But for 4 and 5 I get almost exactly the same numbers almost every time. Here they are.

4. Boys: A 0%; B 85%; C 15% Girls A 10%; B 25%; C 65%
5. Boys: A 0%; B 85%; C 15% Girls A 0%; B 75%; C 25%
Look at the disparity between the boys' answers and the girls' answers. In the competition to find mates, is there any doubt that a large percentage of the boys will lie to potential spouses?

Where is the Lysistrata for our times?

That's what I call journalism

The LA Times continues to get thinner and thinner. The depth of the coverage has also visibly diminished. That's why the Guardian's two week series, The Tax Gap, representing months of work for a team of experienced investigative journalists, is so welcome.

Just reading some of these dirty tricks makes my blood pressure rise. Did you know the banking industry in the UK managed to keep their taxes flat while their profits tripled? Those are the same banks taking bailout money from the government that they worked so assiduously to rob of revenue. I like the idea of barring any accounting firm in the tax avoidance/planning business from government contracts.

Don't get me started on Proposition 13 and the shifting of property taxes from the commercial to the residential sector, from the old to the young, from the wealthy to the rest of us.

  • Where the money goes
  • The sale of the LA Times to Sam Zell was the ultimate tax avoidance scheme. By buying the paper with the money from the pension fund (without permission from the employees), the restructured LAT enjoys the tax-exempt status of pension funds. The sellers were able to realize a price 30% higher than other offers due to this neat trick.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Australian Wildfires

You can see more images from the MODIS Rapid Response website, especially the Australia region 6 daily subsets. We are calling Mark's cousins north of Melbourne to let them know they can evacuate to our house in LAX.

Ocean Acidification

Many people we met at the tide pools talked about the changes they have seen in their lifetime. Some talked about the relative abundance of marine wildlife relative to the 1970s, when many environmental protection laws were put in place. Others complain of a dearth of biodiversity and marine life in general relative to 50 years ago.

I grew up tide pooling in Half Moon Bay, on the San Mateo coast, so I don't know the longer history of marine life in the Santa Monica Bay. However, I do feel an urgency to show Iris tide pools whenever the opportunity presents itself because I fear she will not be able to show them to her children. Why?

Ocean acidification due to the huge amounts of carbon dioxide we are pumping into the atmosphere. When carbon dioxide, CO2, is dissolved in water, it forms carbonic acid, H2CO3, which loses a proton, H+, immediately. Carbonic acid is even more acidic than white vinegar. Put a few drops of vinegar on sea shells to see what happens.
It is well established among researchers that the uptake of increased amounts of carbon dioxide will make ocean water more acidic as the gas dissolves to create carbonic acid. Ocean chemistry is changing 100 times more rapidly than in the 650,000 years that preceded the modern industrial era and since the late 1980s, researchers at Scripps Oceanography and others have recorded an overall drop in the pH of the oceans from 8.16 to 8.05.
The California coast is less vulnerable, relative to some tropical locales, to ocean acidification because of the strong upwelling of deep ocean water offshore. The deep water is colder and more nutrient-rich than the surface water. In effect, the deep ocean circulation is like a tape recorder, and we are replaying the CO2 levels from 50 years ago, when those parcels of water were last at the surface.

Yet, the upwelling water is already so acidic that the marine life off the coast of California is stressed. They have difficulty forming shells and skeletons, causing them to be more susceptible to disease. Phytoplankton blooms are occurring with greater frequency and lasting for longer periods due to the enhanced CO2. The commercial Dungeness crab season has shrunk to two weeks. The list of effects goes on and on.

If this is happening with 50 year old atmospheric CO2 levels (310 parts per million), what happens when today's surface ocean water (380 ppm CO2) resurfaces?

Further reading:

Tidepooling Opportunity This Weekend

Grandma Ann of Sitting Knitting posted a reminder that this weekend offers tidepooling opportunities. See her listing of low tide times.

See you Sunday afternoon at Abalone Cove! Email me if you want to carpool.

From the archives:

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Bye-bye Mommy & Me

Iris and I cleaned our closets and discovered this mommy and me set, which we have never worn. Iris grabbed that mauve Moda-Dea Curious yarn while we were at Joann's and asked for a poncho. I didn't want to make an entire poncho out of novelty yarn, so talked her into using it only as trim. I bought some coordinating Wool-ease.

She had so many ponchos, I thought I would make a loose cardigan, the one on my dress form. (Free pattern for the Gail cardigan at Berroco's website.) When I presented it to her, she threw it on the ground. She said that a poncho doesn't have arms; you throw it over your head and then you go! Four years old and she was already too busy to bother reaching for sleeves.

I bought more yarn and made the top-down poncho, following Barbara Walker's directions.

The weather in Los Angeles is not conducive to wearing these. Iris also pronounced the poncho itchy. She is such a sensitive child. (But it should also teach me not to buy yarn at Joann's.)

If you and your daughter would like this set, leave a comment. I will even mail it to you. If you live in Australia or New Zealand, I may ask you to send me something in return that I can't buy in the states.

(If you live in Melbourne, my condolences about the 3 successive days of 49C/120F high temperatures. If I ship by surface, the weather will be cool enough by the time it arrives to wear them.)

OMG, it is raining in Los Angeles!

Crib Sheet for the Maze

Found in an issue of Real Simple magazine, a handy card for how to get a real live human on the phone. The full list is at

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


with capers and tomatoes. Recipe from the special edition DVD of Cinema Paradiso.

(Apologies to The Enthusiast for ripping off her What'd We Have for Dinner idea. But, years before I discovered her blog, I lurked in the What Did You Have for Dinner Last Night? section of the Global Gourmet. )

Bad Dad told me that I should not complain about the # of DVDs he owns when they give him such great dinner ideas and recipes. I told him to blog his dinners, because they combine his great loves, movies and food. He gave the blogging without obligation defense; he will blog whenever he pleases.

He added asparagus, roasted in the pan with a a non-dairy trans-fat free buttery spread, which Michael Pollan would not recognize as food. It doth protest too much. It has Omega-3 written in a huge font all over it.

I am staying home from work this week in an attempt to get over the infections plaguing me since Dec 26. That's a scary long time to be sick. Mark says he knows I haven't slept a full night since then, because he hasn't slept a full night either, listening to me cough all night.

I don't have any knitting or sewing to share. (That's why I am on sick leave.) But, I am reading and napping and Mark is doing all the cooking and cleanup! If only Iris could magically take care of herself...