Learning Curve: Lone Star Quilt

“I am missing Texas . . .  Will you make me a Lone Star quilt?”

GF is from Houston, and every once in a while, she threatens to move back, but mostly she tells me she misses Texas.  I don’t understand it, but I take her word for it.  So I went searching for a Lone Star quilt pattern, and found Terri Ann Swallow’s Jellied Lone Star Quilt on the Moda Bake Shop website.  I liked her pattern so much that I hunted down what may have been the last existing jelly roll of “Feed Company” by Sweetwater.  How hard could it be?  After all, it’s supposed to be appropriate for ambitious beginners, and I was under the impression that I was now an intermediate quilter.

I should have paid attention to the part about starching the fabric first . . .

And this is what happened:

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Lone Star Quilt #1

See those huge puckers?  When your points aren’t at perfect 45° angles, your sewn top is never going to lie flat.  Ever.

Sigh.

So, the quilt top is going to become this floor quilt (some day):

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After much stomping and whining, I made some DIY sizing using potato vodka and distilled water (1:2 ratio), bought a new jelly roll — “Mama Said Sew Revisited” by Sweetwater — and unleashed my not-so-hidden OCD with a vengeance:

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Lone Star Quilt, version 2!

 

The finished quilt is 90 inches by 90 inches, and I did the quilting at Jukebox Quilts on one of their super duper Innova longarm machines.  I fell in love with the stylized modern “chain link” stitch; I think it provides a nice counterpoint to a very traditional quilt pattern.  The star I made is bigger than the original pattern, and I chose to insert the white pieces surrounding the star using Y seams.  In retrospect, I probably should have used the same off-white fabric for the entire background, but at the time I thought it would be more interesting to have two different whites.

I will not make another Lone Star again; as with knitting, I don’t like using the same pattern twice.   It’s a learning curve, right?

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Road Trip: Golden, Colorado

DH has been preparing for this bucket list ride for months (or arguably, for years).  This was his year for the 2017 Triple Bypass cycling event . . . and it was cancelled.  But for the ride, we would not have been in Golden — not that we would NEVER have gone there, but we have lived in Colorado 24 years and never even driven through the city.

We loved our short visit:

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Not named after gold, but after early prospector Thomas Golden.
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On the campus of Colorado School of Mines. No donkeys, no mining …
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The one-room Guy Hill schoolhouse at Clear Creek History Park, with the mountainside “M” (for Colorado School of Mines).

DH still went for a 64-mile ride:

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The city, from Lookout Mountain.
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A denizen of Lookout Mountain.
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Juniper Pass

Other fun things:

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A much-modified late-19th century house . . . .
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. . . . with a modern shed-roofed addition around the corner to the rear . . . .

and, wait for it:

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. . . . a set of row houses attached to the other side of the original house.

Sigh.   But what fun would it have been if I couldn’t laugh at some atrocious renovations?

Remember Life

DD has a goal for the summer:  climb as many 14ers as possible (this is a Colorado “thing”).  Last weekend she hiked four in one day: Democrat, Cameron (although it is not technically a true 14er), Lincoln, and Bross.  As she fulfills her bucket list, I think about my own list from when I was about her age.  There I was, backpacking through Europe during my junior year abroad, and ticking off as many countries and cities as I could visit on my 2-month Eurail Pass.  And let me tell you, you can hit quite a few cities if you are willing to sleep overnight on trains then run like mad from one famous site to the next.  Then repeat.

The smart phone makes it so easy for people to have pictorial evidence of their existence at any moment in time.  An actress once explained to an interviewer why she didn’t take selfies with fans:  Just because you don’t have a picture doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.  I dragged a 35 mm Canon with multiple lenses around Europe, and I have hundreds of photographs of “can’t miss” places.  I have pictures of Lucerne and Zurich, and zero memories.  As in, I don’t even remember BEING there.  Just because I have pictures doesn’t mean it happened.

As I age, I worry more and more about the state of my mind.  Are these lapses in memory, lapses in my vocabulary, lapses in attention — are these significant?  Or has my brain in fact become more efficient at weeding out extraneous information?  This of course would be a much kinder interpretation.  I visit Tom Vander Well’s Wayfarer blog every now and then and come away inspired to change something in my life.  Today, the entry I read had to do with what we choose to focus on as we age (“Fixing Our Eyes on Life”).   Aside from the inherent optimism of choosing to focus on the life ahead, the message resonates with me as I watch my father dying in place.  His eyes are turned inward to all his memories of his parents (dead), his brothers and sisters (dead), Mom (dead), and finally to his own existence (what is the point?).

When DD was younger and we corrected her, she would try out some sort of explanation or excuse.  She then graduated to “I will do better,” and now she just says “Okay.”  I have no idea what “the point” is, but I keep trying.  Fixing our eyes on Life?  OK.

Knitting in the Winter: Rhapsody in Cables

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Rhapsody in Cables

Pattern:  Rhapsody in Cables, by Joji Locatelli.

Yarn:  Alice Starmore Scottish Fleet, in cream.  I have never worked with this yarn before, and it surprised me by how nicely it bloomed and softened with washing.

Modifications:  Scottish Fleet is a 5 ply gansey yarn, so I knew my gauge would be off.  I guesstimated the third size to get the fit I wanted.  I also wanted the sweater to be tunic length, so I added an extra band to the front bottom, a zigzag cable pattern that I think works well within the context of the over all design.  I also have a fear of cling, so I added some shaping stitches in the back to give the tunic a slight A-line.

Thoughts:  I love Joji Locatelli’s aesthetics.  Many designers try new approaches to sweater construction that are intriguing on paper and interesting to knit, but the end product frequently have zero wearability (I am thinking in particular of this bolero by Norah Gaughan).  This tunic has a very simple silhouette, and Joji Locatelli could have stuck to a fairly conventional construction method, but she chose to do something different — and it was a delightful knit.

Fixer Upper: When It Goes Wrong

HGTV is my go-to station while running on the treadmill, and my favorite show is probably Fixer Upper, starring America’s sweetheart couple, Chip and Joanna Gaines.  I don’t know when that couple sleeps, especially Joanna:  wife, mother, baker, designer, blogger.  I hope they really are as nice as they appear on the show; I would hate for them to implode the way the Flip or Flop couple did.

Anyway.  Joanna Gaines has great taste; I may not always like her design choices, but I can also see that other people do, and I can admire without wanting my house to look like her staged houses.  But then there is the Chapman House:

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Credit: Rachel Whyte, from HGTV.com/shows/fixer-upper/a-first-home-for-avid-dog-lovers-pictures
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Photo credit: Jennifer Boomer/Getty Images, from HGTV.com/shows/fixer-upper/a-first-home-for-avid-dog-lovers-pictures

The original house was a ranch style house with an atrocious second-story addition …  not much you can do about it, but the exterior renovation on this part of the house looks good.

The porch, on the other hand … I am going to assume Joanna had a temporary blackout.  Why would she think a gigantic unpainted rustic porch more appropriate to a Colorado mountain cabin would be a good thing to tack on a mid-century ranch?  This is the sort of addition that on another HGTV show would be the first thing to be torn down.  I can think of different porch designs that she (or rather, an architect) could have added to the front to balance the house.  This is not it.

The Chapman House porch reminds me of another spectacularly bad renovation in my neighborhood:

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The Ski Jump House

This house is part of a post-war development where most of the houses were uninspiring Minimal Traditional style homes ranging from 800 – 1000 square feet.  The neighborhood is a bit run-down with most of the houses being student rentals, but that is probably changing just because of the ridiculous housing boom in the city.  The original house can still be seen, with new windows, new French doors, new stucco, and of course, the enormous ski jump masquerading as a porch.  This house has been a work-in-progress for a year; I wish they had stopped a year ago.   Or done something like this house, a block down the street, renovated with added square footage over the same time period:

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The owners kept the integrity of the original house, and respected the over all spirit of the post-war neighborhood.  Well done.

Anger Management

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January 20, 2017

Optimism, in front of a non-denominational, non-profit community coffee house.  Unfortunately, I don’t believe it.  Not only do I not believe it, I am not sure it is all that helpful right now.  But that is because I continue to be angry.

My word for the year is SHOULD:  it is an insidious, neither here-nor-there sort of word, it commits you to nothing.  I should work on my anger.

On Carnival Barker’s inauguration day, I cleared dog poop along the trail.  Now, I do trail cleanup pretty much every day (my personal — if tiny — commitment to the environment), but it seemed especially appropriate that day.  It also seemed like there were even more piles than usual.  As I said, inauguration day.  And for a couple of hours, I did something more useful to me than inadequate messages of optimism:  I worked on my anger.

Argumentation of Historians

The collective noun for a group of historians is an “argumentation.”  No kidding!  So, what could be more fun than hanging out with a bunch of doctors?   That’s right, hanging out with an argumentation of historians.  And there are an awful lot of very smart people doing seriously good work — as historian Hugh Trevor-Roper once said, “. . . history that is not controversial is dead history.”  And he of course was no stranger to controversy.

The 2017 Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association is in Denver, and I (via public transportation no less!) managed to attend a few sessions.  No question medical conferences are better managed, and the really good ones are quite efficient at getting the latest information out to the maximum number of people in well-organized chunks. History conferences, on the other hand, are somewhat nebulous.  The AHA does its best, but when 25 sessions are running concurrently in each time slot, it is difficult not to feel that you are missing out.  Because of course you are missing out, probably on a brilliant talk in the next meeting room.

At the presentation level, I would argue that doctors in general make better speakers.  Different material, certainly, but some skills are universal:  speak clearly, and please emphasize your key points.  I sat in on a session titled “Doing Indigenous History,” and I am sure I would have learned more had I been able to understand the speakers better:  (1) slow down and enunciate (preferably into the mic); (2) do not speak as though everything were an aside; (3) do not slide into vocal fry or inflect your sentences into questions unless you really are from Down Under (Angel Hinzo, you are doing important research, but you sounded like a teenage girl and not a serious scholar when you phrase your findings as questions, because that unconscious upward inflection undermines your academic authority); (4) and please please please observe the niceties and remove your hat (Jordan Lee Craddick, the hat may be your “thing,” but seriously, at a conference presentation?)

I pick on Craddick and Hinzo because I have high hopes for them.  Both of them are at the beginning of their career, and I think they can learn a thing or two from their panel moderator Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, a historian who has been around for awhile and who knows a thing or two about being authoritative.  In the meantime, I think Craddick and Hinzo are both going to do interesting things, and I look forward to them making controversy and keeping American history challenging.

On a different subject:

aha

I wonder if anyone else (that would be any other historian) were bothered by the apostrophe abuse.  Clearly whoever authorized the signs at the Colorado Convention Center never bothered to learn the rules.  As DH would say, my personal windmills . . .