Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Monday, February 23, 2015


Sometimes, I shake my head in wonder about how Iris comes up with stuff.

Take our outing to the Denver Art Museum during their visit. I asked her to pretend to be a piece of art while I took a picture. She immediately stuck out her tongue to match the protrusions behind her.

Bad Dad says that she takes after me.  I'm skeptical about that.  But, I scrolled through the photographs of their visit and saw a picture of me imitating the flatirons behind us.

He also snuck a picture of me.  I love the dog photobomb.

What a difference a week makes.  The trails were snow-free and nearly dry during Presidents' Day weekend.  A week later, we have over a foot of snow on the ground.  (Officially, Boulder got ~15" over 3 days, but my neighborhood gets more than average.)

More Jason Rogenes artwork made from trash at DAM.

Don't miss the incredible watercolors of William Mathews on view now at DAM.  Does this portrait remind you of

this portrait?

The horizon line, the buildings in the background, the Jackson Pollock-like depiction of grass...

And then Leah posted a picture of one of Luke Haynes' quilts on view at quiltcon.

The purple shadows of the cow portrait also remind me of the Matisse and Friends fauvism show that recently closed at DAM.

BTW, Iris is wearing Kwik Sew 3476 in the top photo. As you can see, they fit.

Can you tell that I have been spending a lot of time looking at artwork for paint color inspiration?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Not Marsala

is finally done.
So light, so fluffy, so soft, so delicate.

Knit top down, beginning with a clean tubular cast-on.

I designed a shoulder increase sequence based upon the one in asimmetrie.  It's a hybrid of a raglan and saddle shoulder that works well with my build.
  • When the sweater is laid out flat, you can see that the increases start out at a rapid rate with increases on both the sleeve and body sections every other row.  (20 rows)
  • The the body increases slow to every 4th row while the sleeve stitches continue to grow every other row.  The sleeve section needs to grow rapidly to cover the shoulder without straining.  If they body grew at the same rate here, there would be too much fabric across the chest and upper back.  (20 rows)
  • After you reach the tip of your shoulder, slow the sleeve increases to every 4th row while speeding the body increases to every other row.  The body stitches need to grow rapidly to go around to the side.  If you increase the sleeve every other row here, you end up with the dreaded raglan puffy sleeve.  (16-20 rows to reach your desired armhole depth)
I didn't pay attention to gauge.  I just tried the sweater on as I knit, but it is roughly a 5x7 light worsted or DK gauge.

This sweater was inspired by a $300 boutique sweater that alternated heavy and thin yarn tonal stripes.  As much as I liked it, I thought it would be more frugal and personal to make something with the collection of yarns already in my home.

I found a remnant cone of Art Fibers Alfabeto in a perfect rosy-plum color, but it was < 250 yds and way too light.  Amazingly, I didn't have anything suitable to pair with it.

Fortunately, Twist's proprietress, Cathy, hand-dyed a silk/merino lace yarn in a perfect colorway.  It made the perfect carry-along yarn for the solid stripes; I used it solo for the sheer sections.

Alfabeto is discontinued and Art Fibers went out of business.  I needed something similar to Alfabeto for the solid sections.  Nothing was quite the right color, a skein of Malabrigo merino lace sufficed.  It's soft, but I wish the light flecks were not so light.  It looks fine IRL, but really pops in photographs.

The ribbed sections need a study yarn like Madelinetosh tosh sport, a hand-dyed superwash merino wool.

If you did the math, you know this was not a frugal sweater.  ;-)

I have no regrets about that.  All of the yarns are high quality and were a pleasure to work with.  The sweater looks and feels great.  I look forward to wearing this with joy.


WIP pictures

Friday, February 20, 2015

Burda 7184

I made a muslin to test out a new-to-me silhouette.  I wasn't sure if this would overwhelm my 5'5" body or if this proportion would work with my figure.

The muslin of Burda 7184 turned out so well, it made it into my regular wardrobe.

(I tidied up my office last week.)  I just love the undulating stripes.

I made the shorter View A, but trimmed the front 4" so that the back dips slightly relative the front.

[I M Pei is so clever.  That cutout to my right is not a mirror.  It's a window into the office that is a mirror image to mine.  The building is loosely modeled after Anasazi architecture.  The bottom part of the window to the outside tilts open.  On summer afternoons, the shape of the wall underneath the window directs a stream of air right into the window--just as they do in Anasazi cliff dwellings.

Architecture fans and people curious about climate and weather science can tour the building.  Plan your visit.  Sorry, we no longer work behind glass windows for public viewing, but you can see where the supercomputer operators used to work.  They have been replaced by tape robots.]

A dummy view to show off the gigantic pockets.

I didn't like the in-seam pockets in the pattern.  Instead, I taped a piece scratch paper to figure out the size, shape and placement I prefer.

The pattern envelope drawings do not show the two-piece sleeve with a seam down the top.  If I had known that, I might have shied away from the pattern.  I'm glad I didn't.  I cut single-layer, but made no attempt to match the seam at the top.  After all, I thought I was making a muslin.

The pattern had one match point, at the underarm seams. I matched the stripes there, and paid attention to the grain lines. All the rest of the stripes automagically lined up.  I am very impressed with the engineering that went into this pattern draft!

I've used this poly Ponte knit (purchased cheaply by the pound at SAS Fabrics) before, and was disappointed in the lack of stretch and breathability.  However, the beach is very humid; the mountains are very dry. What is too clammy to wear at the beach is perfectly comfortable in Colorado. Yeah!

The ponte doesn't curl or ravel so I sewed it using a narrow zig-zag on my main sewing machine, and then pressed the seams flat.  This was a super-quick and relaxing sew. I thought I didn't need another one, but I have a suitable piece of magenta ponte in my stash.

My Burda 7184 PatternReview

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Thinking of spring

I cut out two tops, in two sizes, out of 1.7 yards of this gorgeous printed linen.  The yardage sufficed as long as I made the bias binding with a cotton remnant.  (I selected the lighter purple one.)

I put these away in preparation for Iris' and Bad Dad's visit last weekend.  The sewing room in my apartment multi-tasks as a home office, living room, and guest room.  Right now, I am soooo close to finishing the not marsala sweater.  These tops can marinate as WIPs until I finish the sweater.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Friday, February 13, 2015

Dear Jane

Valentine's day is an appropriate time to tell the story about the most painless break-up ever.  In fact, it was so painless, it was like we never dated.

My first semester of college, I was so grossed out by the food at the dormitory cafeteria menu, I spent a lot of time at the salad bar.  One time, I was surprised to see a male hand piling the raw spinach and alfafa sprouts on his plate.

It's a good thing I spoke to the hand before I followed the hand up the arm to a drop-dead gorgeous guy.  If I had seen him in the entirety, I probably wouldn't have made a friendly remark about the dreadful hot entrees; I'd have been too tongue-tied.

I kept running into him at the cafeteria and he invited me to sit with him and his friends.  It turned out that they were all varsity rowers.  We talked about the normal things that people just meeting each other in college talk about--our majors, home towns, and cultural stuff we were enjoying like books, movies, music, lectures, art shows, etc.  (This was Berkeley.  The football team was terrible and I liked that.)

We also discussed what we had done to deserve a spot at the most coveted dorm.  At that time, UC Berkeley had a student housing shortage.  Students were assigned priority numbers and the more desirable dorms were filled mainly with varsity athletes (him) and academic scholarship students (me).

I learned that he was a bit older than the other students because he had deferred college to travel the world as a print and runway model.  A model scout approached him in high school.  Modeling paid better money than the near minimum-wage jobs that most HS students can obtain.  All he had to do was stay in shape, which he would have done anyway.   Then there was the prospect of international travel.  Why not?

He and his modeling agency had a falling out when he thought it was time to go to college and they thought it was time for him to go to Paris or Milan.  (Models start out in smaller markets to gain experience.  Smaller markets are more diverse and interesting to intrepid travelers; luxury hotels in major cities are more alike.)

One time, he said that he and a teammate were going to rush through dinner so that they could walk down to Telegraph Avenue and look at books.  Did I want to go with them?

Photograph of Moe's Books via Telegraph Ave.
Yes! I love browsing bookstores on Telegraph "Ave". In fact, I used to drive to Berkeley from my suburb as a high school student to enjoy the bookstores of Telegraph Ave. I didn't feel safe walking at night to the bookstores on my own, so the offer of two very large and muscular companions was irresistible.

Photograph via Telegraph Shop
In the following weeks, he sometimes stopped by my dorm room to walk to dinner together.  I did wonder a little why he was passing by my room when his room was on the other side of the cafeteria.  Once, I saw that he wasn't in the cafeteria and went to his room to find out why.  He had fallen asleep after practice and thanked me for making sure he didn't miss dinner.

I remember being surprised when he casually undressed and changed in front of me.  I figured that models must be used to undressing in front of others.  I shrugged it off and we walked to dinner.

A short time later, I found a letter under my door.  He wrote that he was dating two women and things had progressed to the point where he would feel like a heel if he didn't make a commitment to one.  The other woman was older and the femme fatale of the dorm.  They were both older and hot; of course they were a match.

Wait, he was dating two women?  Were we dating?  Did I date a male model and not even realize it?

Years later, I leafed through Let's Go USA and under "Berkeley nightlife" it listed going to bookstores as a popular courtship activity.  I didn't know that my first semester at Berkeley.

A couple of years ago, when I was doing serious self-study about data analysis in the social sciences, I read John Molloy's Why Men Marry Some Women and Not Others.

I was surprised to learn that very attractive men often feel like they are not taken seriously for their intellect.  Many of those men prefer to date and marry very intelligent and ordinary-looking women in the belief that others will project that intelligence to the gorgeous partner.  John Molloy's advice for intelligent women was to approach gorgeous men because we were more likely to be successful in capturing their attention than most women.

So I did date and get subsequently dumped by a male model.  And that's why he would slip in a reference to the scholarship that got me into the dormitory when he introduced me around.

The femme fatale dumped him shortly after that.

When I met Bad Dad, I invited him to go to bookstores with me.  We've been traveling the world and reading together ever since.

Happy Valentine's Day.

* A Dear Jane letter is the female version of the Dear John break-up letter.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Comfort Squared

My highest sewing ROI for time is probably the 17 year-old flannel robe that I am wearing right now.  Then, it is a toss-up between my self-drafted aprons and knit pull-on pajama pants.  I make many pairs for Iris, myself, Bad Dad and for babies not related to us.

Bad Dad purchased some RTW knit PJ pants once, and they were so thin, they developed holes after a season.  The ones I make are visibly nicer.

The last time Bad Dad visited his very good dad (my FIL), he admired Bad Dad's PJ pants.  I got the hint and combed my fabric collection for future PJs.

I found two light-weight cotton/lycra French terry knits, in dark charcoal marl and light grey/ivory stripes. I had already traced out Kwik Sew 1139 in the right size so this was really a quick (or should I write, kwik?) project.

Kwik Sew 1139 is OOP, but it is available on Etsy.

Amazingly, I have sewn 15 yards and only purchased 1.5 yards of fabric in 2015. Let's not mention the ~30 yards I bought in SF and LA last Fall.  ;-)

I'm happy when I can make something simple, but much nicer than RTW.  That's fortunate because, these days, I don't have the time or attention to spare for more complicated things.

I made up a sewing list for the year and saw that the highest priority items are utilitarian things like PJ pants, aprons, pillows and hats.  I'll also throw in a couple of quick summer tops in fun prints.

What's on your 2015 sewing list?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Technology Tuesday, Data Edition

I'm the only female data specialist in my department. I thought it was a statistical fluke--our group is small.

But, perhaps, it is a symptom of a bigger problem.

Did you read the Atlantic Monthly's article in which all the data scientists in the photos are men?

The analysis of data is too important to leave to only a thin and homogenous slice of our population. Actually, any job is too important to be left to a homogenous group.

Why?  Because people with different experiences and perspectives can see things that others might miss.  The contributions of a diverse team, testing the data in different ways, without the same assumptions, gives me more confidence in the results.

I read this last night to learn how other women got into data*.  All 15 of them come from the business intelligence or advertising realm.  Their advice range from mindless rah-rah (cheerleading) to the genuinely helpful.  It's short; it's free.

Download your own free copy of Women in Data here.

I work with many female graduate students, post-docs and assistant professors from around the world.  If you need data and data consulting for weather and climate research (that includes journalism and industry), we have a small but very able staff of data experts to help you.  Best of all, our services** are paid for through tax dollars via the NSF (National Science Foundation).

You may not need to pay expensive data scientists to answer your questions.  If you are willing to roll up your sleeves, you can learn to do it yourself.  No super-computer required on your end.

* I explained how I became interested in modeling and data analysis in the introductory chapter of my PhD thesis.  Although I wrote that half a lifetime ago, it still applies.

** There are exceptions for users who need very specialized data products tailored exclusively for them or data rescue services.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Not Square

But done!

If you are concerned with squareness and matching prints, do not work with hand-printed African fabric.  But, if you embrace the spirit of making with more imagination and ingenuity than tools, then you can sleep under something like this.

Who can tell if this is perfectly square once a puffy comforter slips inside?

I got tired of the mound of UFOs that engulfed the couch.  This was finished.  Others found better homes while they awaited their turn.

This simple envelope of fabric took 2-3 months because it is so difficult to lay out and cut ~90"x90" in my tiny apartment and without a helper.  (See the fabric planning step in Slow Sewing.)

I had to move the furniture out of the living room, clean the floor, tape down one piece, then smooth the next layer down....  I avoided it until I really wanted to see my couch again.  Then, miraculously, the trimming and machine sewing only took one (long) evening.  I finished the hand sewing the next evening.

Creating and furnishing a second household has been terrible for my stuff diet (and finances).  I had to purchase duplicates of everything (including a home) we really need and use.  If you think about it, you need 2-3 sets of bedding--one on the bed, one in the wash, and one spare.  In Colorado, you need light cotton bedding in the summer and flannel sheets in the winter.  When Mark and Iris visit, Iris also needs a set for the sofa-bed.

I divided up our LA bedding, but we didn't have enough to fully stock the CO home.  In the summer, I caved and purchased a cotton duvet set.  For winter, I used a red flannel sheet set that I already owned and some coordinating fabrics from my collection.  I didn't have enough of the African red/black print and auditioned many fabric pairings before selecting this black/white stripe.

The duvet-top fabrics and buttons came from SAS Fabrics.  The other notions came from Joann's.  The flat sheet from the set became the other side of the duvet.  Cozy!

The bed may look familiar, but it's actually a duplicate.  I often have difficulty falling asleep in hotel rooms.  In order to make both places feel like home, I purchased the exact same bed and mattress for CO. The duvet I sewed in this picture stayed in CA.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Nerd Mugs

When I moved out to Boulder, we divided up the coffee mugs. On my last visit to LA, I noticed the nerdiness of our mug collection. (Isn't it amazing how absence helps us see anew?)

These are only the ones that remained in LA. I have some nerdy mugs in Boulder, too.

I've shown you mine.  What do your mugs say?