Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Cowl Finished

I finished a couple of projects last weekend. Neither took very long, but they attest to the psychological power of making lists instead of moving on to the next shiny thing.

The cowl shown here on the needles is complete, with ends woven in and wet-blocked.
It's about a foot longer than I had hoped.  That's what I get for not wet-blocking my swatch before calculating the number of stitches to cast on.  (12 st repeat * 22 repeats)
I messed up my first attempt with a 360 degree complete twist.  Frogging these yarns was not easy and I lost some fancy yarn yardage.  That mistake, and the additional length, meant the cowl lost some width.
But it looks quite substantial (yet light!) worn doubled.
I made this with the intention of blinging up my black shirts and knit tops. But, that wouldn't photograph well.

What do you think about mauve? Matronly? Timeless? The shirt still has the store tags on it, despite languishing in my closet for years.  Do I dare wear mauve in public?

Pattern (see copyright stuff at the footer of the page):
  1. With plain yarn: cast on your desired number of 12 stitch repeats on a long circular needle, placing markers every 12 stitches and stitch counter or other marker at start of round.
  2. Knit 8-10 rows (4-5 ridges) garter stitch back and forth.
  3. Place stitches on 2 long circular needles to ensure that there are no twists.  Join into the round.
  4. With fancy yarn, set up pattern (Row 1 of 4 row repeat): 
    • *k4, centered double decrease, k4, k1 into bar between stitches, k1, slide marker, k1 into bar between stitches*, *repeat between*
    • Centered double decrease:  slide two stitches together from L to R needles as if to k2tog, k1, slip two slipped stitches over the knitted stitch.  This doesn't sound like it will create a row of centered stitches, but it does.
    • For larger holes, use a yo instead of the lifted bar increase.  For no holes, use a pair of m1R and m1L.
    • Row 2: at start of round, k1 into bar between stitches, knit to end of round.
    • Row 3: repeat Row 1
    • Row 4: repeat Row 2
  5. With plain yarn, knit rows 1-2 three times for 6 rows total.
  6. Repeat rows 1-10 till desired width or out of yarn, ending with the fancy yarn.
  7. Knit 8-10 rows (4-5 ridges) garter stitch back and forth.
  8. Seam garter selvedge edges together, weave in ends.
  9. Wet block, soaking in warm water and then stretching firmly to open the stitches.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Reliving storms past

I can't bring rain to drought-plagued California, but I can bring virtual showers by making movies showing historic Atmospheric Rivers (ARs) that hit California.

ARs can be defined in terms of satellite measurements of "20 mm of water vapor and is > 2000 km long and < 1000 km wide."  They average about 400 km wide.

First, I made a global animation of Dec 26, 2004 to January 11, 2005 so you can see atmospheric rivers peeling off from the moisture belt of the tropics and subtropics.  I used the NOAA/CIRES Twentieth Century Global Reanalysis Version 2c (20thC R2c) because I want to highlight a newly available dataset by showing cool things you can do with it.

Global animation of NOAA/CIRES Twentieth Century Global Reanalysis Version 2c for December 26, 2004 to January 11, 2005.
Precipitable water is a measure of the total, column-integrated, water vapor in the atmosphere at that point.  If all the water vapor condenses, the equivalent depth of the water can be measured as a length (often mm), or as mass per unit area (kg per square meter).  1 kg m-2 of water is equivalent to 1 mm of water.  In the global animation, ARs are light cyan to red in color.

Precipitable water can be estimated (pretty well!) using microwave remote sensing from satellites.  Modern Global scale models usually assimilate all available data, including satellite and ground-based measurements, to generate estimates of physical parameters, including precipitable water. But, because 20thC R2c goes back to 1851, this analysis was performed using just the three types of data available in 1851: surface pressure (from land-based ground stations), sea surface temperatures (from ship observations) and sea ice extent.

Then I zoomed in to the regional-scale and changed the color range of the precipitable water scale from [0.1, 70] to [0.1, 40] to better show the structure in mid-latitudes like California.  In this animation, ARs are yellow to red.
Regional-scale animation of NOAA/CIRES Twentieth Century Global Reanalysis Version 2c for December 26, 2004 to January 11, 2005.

Notice a first pulse of moisture that came in through the Gulf of California, responsible for the record-setting heavy rains in Death Valley and the inland deserts of California that filled up Lake Manly.  Yes, that is a kayaker in Death Valley.

Then an atmospheric river hit the coast of California with multiple pulses of heavy moisture. According to NOAA's California Nevada River Forecast Center's Heavy Precipitation Report for this event, these two storms dropped an impressive amount of rain in southern California, including a whopping 51.77 inches at Opids Camp.

 Can you feel the rain?

I made the visualizations with the help of NASA's free Panoply data viewer and GIFMaker.  You can easily make your own, too.


Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Memories of wetter years

While researching another water and climate post, I reread my March posts from wetter years past.  I loved going down memory lane and remembering showing little Iris our beloved California.

March 2005, she loved pink.
Death Valley after receiving three times it's average annual rainfall.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

World Water Day 2015

This will be a less ambitious post than my past World Water Day posts because I'm still a bit under the weather.
However, I was able to follow through and make a t-shirt from recycled textiles (as I have shown previously), thus reclaiming its embedded water.

Have I shown this one before?

Two recycled Ts into one.
About 18 months ago, I took 24 of my mom's souvenir t-shirts and made them into 12 long-sleeved ones using Kwik Sew 2555.

I pulled out KS 2555 again for myself.  The t-shirt for the body started out white, but I dyed it with a mixture of burgundy and fuchsia Procion fiber-reactive dye.  It's a perfect match for this sweater.  (In fact, it's shown in the top picture of that post with the yarn swatch.)

Working with recycled textiles means having bins of "potential" tucked all over my home.
Refashioning box
When I made these striped PJ pants, I knew that I wanted to use the scraps to make a top.  My refashioning box and fabric stash yielded an organic cotton t-shirt advertising some kind of housing development and a piece of organic cotton rib knit gifted by a friend who was moving.
Nice color match!
I've long admired Eileen Fisher's box-top.

I started with a Vogue 8175, originally published in 1991.  I've made it once a long time ago and thought it would make a good starting point.  The EF 'box-top' has slimmer sleeves. I'm not sure which type (slim or full) I prefer. Which do you think?

I shortened the sleeves by 2" and the body by 3-5".  I unpicked the neckline ribbing to reuse it.

Aren't slogans like "You can change the world!" (by buying this humongous LEED house) super-annoying?  And don't let that organic cotton fool you.  Organic cotton takes more water and energy to produce than nonorganic cotton.  The least environmentally-damaging cotton is reclaimed cotton.

If only it was so easy.
You want to see the top?
Sure you do. After all, this is a maker blog.

The back is 2" longer than the back and the sides are shorter than the center front.

I also unearthed a grouping of deep blue and white woven remnants.  From top to bottom layers:
  1. cotton/lycra gingham poplin
  2. puckered rayon uneven plaid
  3. cotton/rayon blend chambray
Any ideas for what to make with it?

If you haven't done so before, please read the links about world water day and reclaiming water at the top of this post.  It's not just about shorter showers.  For most people, the goods and food they consume account for more water than direct household use.  Using less cotton and eating less meat are very effective ways to conserve water.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The California water crisis

As the representative Californian in my department at NCAR, I get asked a lot of questions about the drought in California. The back story is long. The science is complex. I have had a massive headache since my return to altitude. My energy is reserved for work- and remodeling-related stuff.

I'm going to send you to my favorite independent and accurate resources on the web for California water topics:
Pay special attention to the stories about groundwater pumping.  The farmers in the central valley and the golf course developments in southern California have been robbing the rest of the state (including non-human inhabitants) of water at a breathtaking pace.  In fact, in the past ~20 years, they will have stolen all of the underground water that California 'banked' in the past 100,000 to 1,000,000 years.

For this, they paid nada.  Not only that, the 200+ golf courses of the Coachella valley and other areas lobbied against even having to report to local authorities how much water they are pumping out of local and shared aquifers.  They cited privacy concerns.

I think that the 200+ golf course operators of the Coachella valley have to explain why the are more important than the survival of the endangered Desert Pupfish, who live in spring-fed pools in the same valley.

If groundwater was treated like surface water,  the Pupfishes would have senior water rights and the golf courses would never have been built in the first place.  Right now, it's the wild, wild west.  Whoever drills deepest gets everything so the short-term opportunists are grabbing all of the groundwater before someone else does.  The graphic in this Maven article explains how groundwater feeds natural desert springs.

Desert Pupfish are so cute, but future generations won't know them.
In 2006, I took Iris to see one of the last remaining habitats of the Desert Pupfish.  I wrote then:
We lured Iris to walk the entire boardwalk loop with the admonishment, "Hurry up and see the pupfish before they go extinct!"
My photo doesn't do Pupfishes justice. To see them is to love them. I really wish I was wrong about extinction.

The central valley farmers also lobbied against controls on how much groundwater they can pump.  Sensing a lost battle, they changed tactics and successfully lobbied for time to 'implement' controls.  Local governments have 5 years to form agencies to administer controls and then another 2 years to come up with a plan.  In 7 years, the underground aquifers in California might not have any water left.

A farmer said, “Nobody’s fault but God’s.” I beg to differ. It is the farmers' fault for planting hundreds of thousands of acres of water-thirsty nut groves (even in the midst of this drought!) and irrigating wastefully.

In this video, I launched a weather balloon in a lot adjacent to a nut grove near Fresno.  I did this in a couple of different places--once at night, once during the day.  In a desert, in the middle of the summer, the farmers were saturating the air with their sprinklers fed by underground aquifers.  The radiosondes registered saturated or near saturated air well above the groves.

They were using groundwater irresponsibly and unsustainably well before the drought.  Do you believe this is "nobody's fault'?

BTW, the estimate that California has just one year of water left is based upon surface water supplies only.  If the farmers and golf courses had been behaving responsibly, the underground aquifers could have held us over (with some conservation efforts).  Instead, we are in a crisis situation.

If only a few people benefited from using up California's natural 'water bank', why should everyone else pay for their folly?  The central valley is sinking at the rate of about a foot per year due to excessive groundwater pumping.  Are they paying to fix the roads and other infrastructure destroyed by that sinking?

Enough hyperventilating.  I give you some pictures of cool water in the Sierra high country in happier times.

Iris with potable water and Sierra snowmelt.
Saying, 'hi' from the creek at Lair.
Perhaps I should write about the slow-motion train wreck that is the intersection of global warming and the Sierra snowpack, our above ground 'water bank'.  But let's think cool thoughts and ignore the Pacific inter-Decadal Oscillation until I calm down.

I'm going to meditate with some soft yarn in a pretty color now.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Simplicity 1621 in the wild

As promised, I wore my new linen shell out to the beach for a photo-op. I took the voile shirt off for the picture, but quickly put it back on for sun protection. This is what passes for print-mixing chez BMGM.

In the photo below, you can see that we ate a ginormous brunch at Uncle Bill's Pancake House before our walk.  In the photo above, you can see wee evidence that I have started lifting weights again.

I pinched out about 1/2" in the center back neck.  This is a common alteration for me as my upper chest is wider than my upper back.  The back fits ok, but I think a center pleat would give me the floaty effect I was after.
I couldn't get a photo of the top's twin.  The pattern is drafted for a B-cup.  The recipient of the other top is a C-cup.  Her top fits well in the full bust, but is a bit too loose in the upper chest.  If I made her another one, I'd cut one size smaller in the shoulders and do a pivot and slide alteration to make room for the full bust.

LA's heat wave--90 F at the beach in March--is abating.  We've been walking at the beach every day, as have a huge number of Angelenos.

 As we were descending the stairs from the pier to the beach, a lifeguard pulled up in his jeep and ran up the stairs to the restroom.  The lifeguards were busy all weekend.  They estimate that as many people visited the beach last weekend as on a typical July 4th weekend.

The real-life vehicles look very similar to the ones on the Baywatch TV show, but the costumes do not; the swimsuits on TV are much skimpier.

The real lifeguards are also generally older and more ethnically diverse than the TV cast.  That's true for every TV show or movie set in LA.

Bad Dad is more interested in power walking than sewing.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Simplicity 1621

Remember Thinking of spring? I've completed not one, but two linen shells for spring!

I fell for this linen print at Fabrix about over a year ago. I dreamt of making something for Iris, but she didn't like it. It has the plum blossom color I associate with my flower little flower child as well as the sage green that she now favors.  How could she not like it?

Of course she didn't want anything to do with it. Grr.

I emailed a photo of the fabric and proposed pattern to her coach and asked if she would like a shell top from the fabric. She replied yes, I took measurements, and then I searched my Burda magazines and envelope pattern collection for something in her size.  You'd think that Burda magazines would have plenty of basic shells in plus sizes, but my collection yielded nothing.

Simplicity 1621 to the rescue.  I eliminated the center seams to keep the print intact, curved the shoulder seam slightly to hug the collarbone, and made my own bias tape.  When I laid out the pattern pieces, I realized that I could make two tops, one in XL for her coach, and one in M for myself.

The pattern has good bones and doesn't gape at the neck or arms.  The bust dart does angle upwards and end above my natural bust.  If this bothers you, cut the bust dart box out of the pattern and slide it down to suit your figure.

The pattern is loose, but not baggy.  I shortened it to about 22" in front and slightly longer in the back.

At first, I planned to clean finish the interior completely using single-needle (no serger) techniques.  But flat-felling the side seam with the bulk of the bust dart cured me of purist idealism.

I serged the side seams of the second top as well as both hems.

Two tops, size M and XL, cut out of about 1.5 meters of 60" wide linen.  I hope her teacher/coach likes it.  I certainly like mine.

It's supposed to be in the mid-80s in LA this weekend. Perhaps I can get Bad Dad to take a picture of me in my new shell at the beach.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Sweater maintenance

The weather climbed above freezing, hooray!  Today, it hit the 60s.

Kyle asked whether anyone else had hacked RTW pieces lately.  Well, I did some sweater maintenance but the only hacking was to go back and add length to the sleeves of a me-made sweater.

With the warmer temps of spring, I wash all of my wool sweaters before putting them away for the season.  I've read that wool moths are more attracted to dirty sweaters so this is my ounce of prevention.

While I was at it, I examined them for damage.  The black cashmere cardigan had developed a small hole at the shoulder.  Perhaps it was a casualty of my purse strap.  I darned it with a small amount of the black lace-weight wool I am using in my cowl before washing.  Does this count as a RTW hack?  Or just basic wardrobe maintenance?

I'm embarrassed to admit that the two black RTW sweaters are cashmere--purchased before I learned about the planetary cost of cashmere and more bad news about cashmere.  I wrote and firmly believe:
If you already have cashmere, don't sweat it. Take good care of it so it lasts. I have cashmere sweaters that are 25+ years old (one bought new, two bought at thrift shops).
The sweaters are all clean, fluffed up, delinted and fresh.

I washed them with shampoo on the delicate cycle of my washer. Well, I didn't let the sweaters agitate--I just used the spin dry feature.

 I filled the tub with a mixture of warm/cool water until it was tepid and let it agitate just to dissolve the shampoo. Then I added the sweaters and let it agitate just enough to thoroughly wet the sweaters. I turned the washer off and let them soak while I went to the gym. When I got back, I let the washer drain.

 Then I took the sweaters out, let the tub refill with warm/cool water, then put the sweaters back in for a rinse cycle (with an abbreviated agitation period). I repeated the rinse cycle and lay them on the drying rack for a day.  No visible fulling or shrinking.

What about you? How do you maintain your sweaters? DIY or outsource? Wash or dry clean?  Are you interested in a post about the planetary cost of dry-cleaning?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

On the needles

A cowl of my own design.  It's just a tube of 252 stitches in a zig-zag stitch.  4 rows fancy (Tahki Stacy Charles, oh, my!), 6 rows plain lace-weight wool.

You can view the finished cowl, along with pattern directions here.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Data as a foreign language

Some say that data is a different language.  I agree that it's a specialized language, often requiring domain or subject matter expertise.

But it still amused me to see that Google Chrome detects this page as Norwegian.

Saying, "yes", to translation did not result in any noticeable changes.

Use this page to access an archive of NASA AIRS brightness temperature data in WMO BUFR format.  Yes, I need to update the software tab to include more recent readers in Java and Python.

NCEP = National Center for Environmental Prediction
GDAS = Global Data Assimilation System (DA is the complex process of inserting data into numerical weather forecasts)