Sunday, August 24, 2014

Back to school sewing

Does anyone else hate deadline sewing as much as I do?  When I lived with my family, I could just finish one thing at a time and sneak it into Iris' closet for her to discover.  Now that I visit them once every 2-3 weeks, I am always in a rush to finish things before the next trip.

Sigh.  First world problems.  I have it pretty cushy and see my family way more often than the women described in Global Woman.

As I mentioned earlier, some of Iris' clothes (made by me in 2009 and 2010 and worn until 2014) were falling apart.  They were not fit to give to her cousin or Goodwill.  We cut them apart and threw them in the rag bag.

I made her another pair of knit shorts.  This fantastic cotton/lycra jersey might have come from Fabrix and is a lovely shade of steel blue/gray in real life.  She originally wanted to replace her olive and black swirly skirts with similar skirts.  But, I didn't have a suitable black knit.  She got a black ponte pencil skirt instead.

On the last day of the ESIP meeting, they gave away all the leftover t-shirts--all in sizes XL to 5XL. This 3XL was resewn (Kwik Sew 2555) into a nightgown for Iris. I refashioned the 5XL into a nightgown for me.  I still have one 3XL left if any data geeks want one.  Readers who cook dinner for me frequently may even get the t-shirt refashioned into their size and tie-dyed in their choice of colors.
Originally, Iris said that she didn't need any more tops; I had purchased three knit tops for her and she had purchased one for herself*.  However, I couldn't resist sewing Kwik Sew 4014 for her because the top looked so cute on the model.  Doesn't the model in the leopard shirt resemble my daughter?
I had a little bit of black cotton/lycra jersey left for the contrast.
I went to the Colorado Fabrics sale yesterday and came home with 5/8 yard of "steampunk" scuba knit.  Well, I came home with other stuff, too.  ;-)
The nylon/lycra knit is digitally printed with black and the three printers' primaries.
Iris and I are still discussing which pattern to use. It may not get done before my next trip to CA. That will not be a tragedy as this knit doesn't breathe. It will become a cool-weather top for sure.

In case you are interested, I got the black ponte at Trash for Teaching, the olive and black stretch jerseys from SAS Fabrics, and the elastic and interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply.

* The t-shirt she bought at a mall store ripped after just a few wearings.  I think she learned an important lesson about disposable clothing at stores where I refuse to shop.  I'm so glad that our LA neighborhood has an abundance of thrift/vintage stores and that she has friends that think it is cool to shop thrift/vintage.  Between those stores, and letting her shop my closet, I don't have to make that many clothes from scratch.  Whew!

Before you congratulate me on thriftiness, I should admit that 6 weeks of camp this summer for Iris cost more than 3 semesters at Berkeley (when I was an undergrad).  We take a market basket approach to raising children.  You win some, you lose some.  We look at the big picture.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Subliminal Messages

When Bad Dad visited, we speed-toured the Denver Art Museum's show of 20th Century Japanese prints. I raved about it and went back to see it again with a Boulder friend.

I was especially drawn to the work of Kiyoshi Saito; his repeated use of a tight color palette and wood-grain texture held particular appeal.
Clay Image by Kiyoshi Saito, 1952
I even purchased this book as a souvenir.
Perhaps there was a lingering subliminal effect because, two days later, I picked up this burgundy-red textured silk linen blend at Elfriede's Fine Fabrics' summer clearance sale.
I then dug through my stash until I found two remnants of black silk linen, purchased at Stone Mountain and Daughter and Thai Silks. I have 2 yards (44" wide) of the red and 1/2 yard each of the blacks. What should I make?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Data Archeology

I asked a colleague what he thought about this article and he thought that data archeology would be a better name for the painstaking work that we do.  For instance, the National Archives just sent over 11 boxes of magnetic tape, originally from the National Hurricane Center.
Remember 8-track tapes?
These are 9-track.
He keeps a tape cleaner in his office for just this purpose.
The tape readers sit across the hall in another office.  The data will be read by a computer, and then pored over by several people with MS and PhD after their names.  We figure out what the tapes contain and rate their value, uniqueness and cleanliness/preparedness.  We can then estimate how much effort it will take to make them reusable and decide if it is worthwhile to do so.

Data that gets the highest rating may even be staged on a fast disk for instant global web access.  Otherwise, it will go into a tape robot like this one at the San Diego Supercomputing Center.  Researchers who request data from tape will have to wait a few minutes to a few hours to access the data.  (If there is a great deal of interest in a particular dataset, we will find space disk space for it.)

As a data archive, we preserve everything for future generations by converting the data to modern storage media.  If the data is unique or might have current or future value, we will spend many, many hours preparing it for research by standardizing the data and metadata to modern standards.

This part is labor intensive and also requires people with expert-level knowledge.  That's why everyone in our department has graduate degrees in atmospheric science, oceanography, statistics and/or information science.  It would be hard to imagine private industry putting this much effort into data without a sure commercial payoff*.  Some things need to be done by the government, or else they won't be done at all.

The sky when I left work tonight.

* Private industry does use this archive, and we don't charge them for it. This type of data work is infrastructure and paid for by taxes levied on a broad population.

I am speaking only for myself, and not for my department or our larger organization.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Janitor or sexy librarian?

I was hopping mad after I read For Big-Data Scientists, ‘Janitor Work’ Is Key Hurdle to Insights.

Equating my work with a janitorial service?  The nerve!

But, admiring the view from my window and investigating two reports of possible data corruption in one day took precedence over hyperventilating about one ill-informed article.
After rereading the article, I don't think it's as bad as the headline would suggest. Steve Lohr is only guilty of selecting unfortunate quotes and choosing to interview data gold rush miners while ignoring data veterans in the government.

How many times does he have to quote men saying that data science is "sexy" and data wranging/munging/cleaning is not?  Notice that only the men say that.  The women speak more holistically about data work.

If the majority of our time--whether it is the 50-80% quoted in the article or the 80-90% I hear in meetings with other data veterans--is spent on data preparation, then doesn't that make it our "real" work?

I'm going to risk stating the painfully obvious:


It's all about the data.  And data support work is a necessary and critical step in order to get correct answers.  Otherwise, it is GIGO (garbage in, garbage out).

It's late, and I need to write a tutorial to teach others how to use open-source data language, R, to read and manipulate GRIded Binary (GRIB) weather data from NOAA/NCEP in order to answer their real-world questions.

After that, I'll be writing tutorials to teach techniques for data fusion--combining different datasets--for new insights.

I'll do that in tandem with curation of an old dataset made for a defense purpose, but with value to many fields.  This requires writing new documentation to introduce the dataset to a new audience of researchers in disciplines as disparate as computer vision/pattern recognition and wind energy.  (Introducing non-expert users to new-to-them data has to be done carefully because terminology varies between fields.  That deserves a post of its own.)

OK, this won't all get done in one night.   More later.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Leaving Work

It takes me a while to get started sometimes. But, when I am in the middle of something, I lose track of time until I finish. I left work late one evening, and the sky was so pretty; I chased down a couple of hikers in the parking lot to ask them to take a photo of the sky with me and my recent makes.
The sky was pretty in the other direction, too.
I wore the Papyrus Lace Cardigan Version 2, Vogue 8392 Version 2, Vogue 1247 Version 2.

I gave away the first Vogue 1247 skirt because I wasn't happy with the waistband and my middle-aged waist.  I gave it to a thinner friend and made a new one for myself with a faced waistband.  I also added a bit extra on the side, but found that I need to take out all the width that I put in.  I'll post the pattern mods and the inside pictures soon.  The cardigan and skirt were made with 100% preconsumer waste and the top was made with 100% postconsumer waste (except for thread and interfacing).

Friday, August 15, 2014

Storm Clouds

I know that I've already shown you the view from my window, but I can't get enough of the ever-changing view.
I think I took this picture in June, when Boulder was at the peak of greenness. The scenery turned brown from the heat, and then regreened after the monsoonal rains arrived.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Butterick 5452

I made this robe at the beginning of the year. I purchased 3 yards of 60" wide cotton from Fabrix. There was enough left over to make my Simplicity 2339 shirt.  I've made robes from Butterick 5452 at least 5 times and all of them are still in use.
I pieced the collar band and put it on the bias.
"Locker loop" for hanging.
Mock band sleeve hem.
Belt loops and bias pockets.
The pattern is OOP, but you can purchase a new and uncut one on Etsy from this seller.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

3 Days

Chunghua Road-style potstickers near San Francisco.
Sunset in Manhattan Beach (with coast guard helicopter) on dusk patrol.
Farewell to Mork in Boulder.
It's been a crazy-busy week dealing with family stuff and I am happy to be back at (paid) work.

Iris and I went through her wardrobe and threw out worn-out clothing (some from 2009!)  We also went through some of my old clothes; she received one dress, three skirts and a pair of sandals from my closet.  I bought her two dresses from Goodwill last Spring.  She and her BF bought one graphic-T each in a BOGO sale this summer.

A friend invited me to accompany her to an art fair in Boulder specifically to support one of her former students.  I purchased a graphic-T at a Boulder art fair from his booth.  My friend and I selected the same shirt design for our respective teenagers and didn't realize it until we went to pay.

Two of the hand-me-down skirts needed to be taken in a bit.  One of the thrifted dresses required a quick gaposis fix.   Another mom-made pair of shorts needed a minor repair.

Iris asked for three items to complete her back to school wardrobe:
  1. another olive skirt
  2. another black skirt
  3. a neutral or cool-toned pair of shorts
Would you believe I already possess all the necessary fabrics in my collection?

If I cut or sew a little bit each night, I should have them done before my next trip to CA.

Papyrus Lace Cardigan 2

Remember this teaser?

I found this lovely cotton mill end cone at Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins for $8 per one pound cone (1050 yds/pound). This cardigan took slightly less than one cone.

I was never happy with the droopy Papyrus Lace Cardigan, but thought the pattern deserved another go with a more appropriate yarn. I also knit it in pieces for droop-insurance at the side seams.

The swatch gauge is 17x24 and the pattern gauge is 16x24 so I knit one size up to get the fit I want with the thinner yarn. It worked perfectly.

I combination knit the body on size 7 needles and knit the sleeves in the round on size 8 needles.

Note the difference in texture between the aggressively blocked lace collar--which is open and flat--and the 3-dimensional cuffs, which were very lightly blocked. If I had knit the sleeves a wee bit shorter (and I had already shortened them 1” from the pattern), I could have blocked the sleeves more aggressively. As it is, the cuff hits me just a tad on the long side.

Please admire the neat tubular rib cast-on in a cotton with almost no elasticity.

The pattern uses a 1 st st selvedge, which would curl in this yarn. I tried a k1p1 selvedge, and it still curls slightly. Next time, I will try k1p1k1p1 selvedge for more anti-curl power. That’s the way my similar-weight cotton Eileen Fisher cardigan is finished.

I am aware that the teaser contains yet one more textile to be blogged.  The top and bottom pictures most accurately represent the color of the yarn.  Raveled here.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Speaking of Simple

I cut up one of Bad Dad's frayed old button-down shirts and made another Vogue 8392. The fabric was a bit worn so I don't expect this top to last for long; I didn't put much effort into fine finishes this time.

I harvested the buttons before realizing that I needed to retain the button bands to be able to eke out the shirt body.  I wish that I had left the buttons on, but not enough to sew them back on.  ;-)
I left off the sleeves and bound the neck and arm openings with 2" wide self-bias strips, cut from one of the sleeves.  I lowered the armhole about 1/2" because I found the last one rather tight under the arms.  I lined the front with white cotton voile and serged the shoulder and side seams.  (The serged seams were hidden inside the layer of voile so they don't scratch.)  I reused the hems from the shirt.

There is a small hole at the corner of the pocket and a very weak line near the back waist.  If I feel ambitious, I might applique a yo-yo and bias stem.  But, I doubt I will find the mojo due to the reasons below.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Simple and Done

In the afterglow of my two recent and successful bathmats, I caught Absorba fever. I cast on immediately for a wool doormat. Wool is not as absorbent as cotton (but repels dirt). I thought it would be fun to do stripes instead of a log cabin. So, this rug is Not So Absorba.

I had a bit of a brain fart and forgot to multiply gauge and desired size. I cast on 180 stitches with 2 strands of Fisherman’s Wool on a 5.5 mm needle.  I had wanted a doormat and ended up making a runner for the kitchen. Oh, well. It’s cushy and I like it.
2 strands of brown Fisherman’s wool for the dark stripes, 1 strand each of brown and natural/undyed for the marl stripes. I don’t think food stains will show. ;-)

8 row/4 ridge stripes, carrying the unused yarn along the edge.

Friday, August 08, 2014


Sunday was more relaxing and slower-paced, if you count hiking near the Continental Divide slow-paced. My ankles and I are healing, so I wasn't up for the full 3 mile uphill trek from the Buckingham campground and trailhead to Arapaho Pass. We went about half way--enough to enjoy fields of wildflowers and this waterfall.  View the video if you want to watch Bad Dad negotiate the wet rocks.

Enjoy the gratuitous wildflower photos.

Ho-hum.  Just another Colorado scene.

We didn't quite make it up above tree-line. Hopefully, next summer, my ankles and I will be stronger.

On the way back to Boulder, we stopped in one of my favorite stores, Nature's Own in Nederland, for some singing magnets.  I also bought a Tanzanite pendant for myself (way cheaper than in Tanzania---go figure).

Not sure about Ironman traffic*, we drove directly to some friends' home for dinner. Their daughter is about to leave for college.  IMHO no dorm room is complete without singing magnets.  I don't know about you, but I'm fidgety when I study. However, keep those magnets away from your phone and computer!

* The participants we saw near the finish line looked grim and determined, but not like they were having fun.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Whirlwind Saturday

Bad Dad flew to Colorado last weekend and I can't believe we packed so much into 2 days. This is just some of what we did on Saturday.
We started out at the Research Aviation Facility Open House.  The NASA P-3 was airborne, but we saw NSF/NCAR's Gulf Stream 5
and the huge C-130 nicknamed "Snowflake".
They were in the middle of FRAPPE, the Front Range Air Pollution and Photochemistry Experiment campaign, and trying to make up for schedule slips during the 3 days of steady rain earlier in the week.  My interior photos were kind of dark and blurry, so go to the the FRAPPE website to see better photos of these airborne laboratories.

After that, we were famished.  RAF is near many Vietnamese grocery stores and restaurants.  Yelp pointed us to Pho Bay, where I enjoyed gumbo.  I'd read about Vietnamese Cajun.  Sadly, I forgot to take photos.

After nourishment, we headed over to Denver Art Museum and saw a fantastic collection of 20th Century Japanese prints.  I need to go back and spend more time in that gallery.

Of course, we had to swing by the quilt gallery and see the rotating display of selections from the DAM's extensive permanent collection of quilts.
We then tried to go to the Denver Botanic Gardens, but the parking lots were at capacity and the garden looked jammed.  It was also hot, so we cooled our heels at nearby Tattered Cover Bookstore, where I purchased the August issue of Burda (the UK, not American edition).

5-9 PM, the botanic garden offers 2 for 1 admission to DAM members (our LACMA reciprocal membership qualified us for the discount).

I love walking through gardens in the evening and enjoying the sights, sounds and smells. Look at the contrast in textures and scale in this gate
and in these flowers gone to seed.
The Chihuly sculptures added to the ambiance. Does this orange column remind you of desert dodder?