Tuesday, October 1, 2019

En Provence Quilt - A Finish

 I took the final stitches in the binding and label for En Provence yesterday evening. Today was a crisp and clear Fall day, so I put it on the clothesline to get some photos.
Maybe I take too many pictures, but it seemed like it was only fair. You work on these quilts for multiple years and then all of a sudden, they are done. Ready to be packed up and given to someone who will hopefully enjoy them. It's only fair to have a photo session. Speaking of which, Quarta needs to get her Senior photos taken before we ship her off to college. Hmm.
 Anyway, En Provence was the mystery quilt starting in the Fall of 2016. It was the quilt top that I used as a background picture for my first smart phone, and it's still on there. It really is a gorgeous pattern, with the motion of the purple accented with the sparkling magenta stars. I seriously depleted my purples and neutrals when piecing it.
The quilting pattern I chose was squiggle-loop-flower, with a couple different types of flowers I repeated more or less randomly. I depleted my cone of Robison-Anton eggshell thread when I was quilting it. I used to buy it at Joann's, at the dealership inside the store, but they don't carry it anymore. I will have to look for another source for better-quality machine quilting thread. I picked up a spool of Aurifil at Craft Warehouse, but I've never tried it before and really, I'm on a roll (sort of) with machine quilting. I want to encourage myself to get a bunch more done, and that means buying a big cone of thread. And probably a few more extra-wide backings, since piecing backings is kind of a drag.
I really like the light check fabric I used for the backing of Grand Illusion and the label on this quilt. I also like the kind of grunge-looking extra-wide backing (and binding) I used for this one. Maybe another trip to Joann's and another coupon to buy another backing for when I'm ready to quilt On Ringo Lake. I have been piecing a backing for the Tone It Down quilt, which I want to do next. And I finished piecing the Scrappy Trip Around the World top, which I'll share next time.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Political Tuesdays: Child Activists and the Adult in the Room

You've all seen it. A Swedish teenager, whom I won't name because I believe excessive media attention does terrible things to children, impassioned and outraged about climate change, scolding the adults she thinks have failed her and stolen her childhood: "How dare you?!"

The adults in her life have failed her, but perhaps not in the way she thinks. Her parents and other activists who have promoted her as the face of climate change have ignored her underlying needs for something much more basic: unconditional love in a safe environment. Don't get me wrong, I firmly believe all humans, including the disabled, have the right to think, believe, and say what they wish. And she is sincere in her beliefs, and she has a right to express them. It doesn't have to be pretty. It also shouldn't be so public.

This girl has many serious diagnoses: Autism/Asberger's, OCD, anxiety, depression, selective mutism. Any one of these would seem to indicate caution in use of social media and exposure to large crowds and intense pressure. Together in the persona of a teenage girl who, in her own words, is not mature yet, they create the perfect storm. Her speech yesterday, in a foreign country and foreign language, was terribly painful to watch for anyone who loves someone with these conditions. She has been suddenly catapulted to fame and prominence by activists who set her schedule and control her public persona, and are happy for their cause to profit from her angst. Her face was contorted, she was gasping between phrases. Her psychic pain was obvious, and for adults to use it for political advantage is unconscionable. That wasn't the impassioned wisdom of a child grieving for the future of the world; that was a panic attack, a highly publicized meltdown which will, unfortunately, typecast her forever. How will she be able to bear watching video footage of herself? How could anyone with intense social anxiety? Her parents and handlers seem to want to create a patron saint for the environmentalist movement, but I fear they have created a martyr. "How dare you?! indeed.

Her treatment has been rightly characterized as child abuse, in my opinion. It's exploitative, designed to manipulate public opinion. And when the climate justice warriors have moved on to another short-term celebrity, she has to continue to grow up and find her place in a world she has been taught she can't trust. Michael Knowles was criticized for calling her "mentally ill," but aren't we supposed to be removing the stigma around mental health issues these days? Still, focusing more negative  attention on her is not healthy. Somebody, somewhere, needs to get her a glass of lemonade, some cookies and a quiet, cool, dim room where she can listen to Mozart or whatever makes her happy. That's the question. Does anything make her happy? Maybe a positive affirmation or two that is not predicated on the end of the world. She did get one, from perhaps an unexpected source:

"She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!" (Donald Trump's tweet)

This also caused outrage in the media. They assumed he was speaking ironically and intended this as a mockery. But remembering that irony is not always understood by those with autism, or by young children, I'm not so sure. Sometimes, if you tell someone she seems happy and has a wonderful future, she will be that way. It has the virtue of not having been tried yet. I hope it works.


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Political Tuesdays: Ravelry Gag Rule and the Knitting Witch Hunt

For my previous blog post about the Ravelry Gag Rule, see No Yarn for You!

Funny thing about Ravelry, as the crackdown on Republicans who knit is almost 3 months old now. I don't like it as much as I used to when I added to my queue far beyond my life expectancy and spent hours browsing patterns and projects. I still love the genius of the pattern database and the ability to track projects, but I have serious qualms about whether my personal data is safe there now. I know for a fact that my kind is not welcome there, and they have no proof that I have ever violated their terms of service. So they have not been truthful in their suspension and continuing punitive actions against me. But I'm also concerned about their handling of personal and financial data. A week or two after the purge, Casey, the site owner, responded to a woman who wasn't banned but didn't want to financially support a site that is biased against her by buying patterns on that interface. He responded in the GOP group, the only conservative group left on Ravelry after Conservative Knitters was forced to close. It is an open group; anybody with an account can read or comment on anything, and trolling, open or anonymous, is a way of life. Contrasted with "Stitching Liberally", "Atheist and Agnostic Knitters," "Lazy, Stupid and Godless," "Rubberneckers", "Wingnut Watch" (started as "Sarah Palin Must be Stopped!" back in 2008) ... it's a pretty small and quiet group. And they aren't really allowed to talk about anything. Anyway, Casey responded to this woman, who was, in my opinion, legitimately upset about funding a knitting site that engages in political blacklisting and censorship, with the comeback, something to the effect that "I looked it up and we've only made about $5 of profit from you." Now supposedly this was to underscore that boycotting the site would only punish the designers who sell their patterns on the site. But if site owners have access to your shopping record and private financial records, don't they have the legal obligation to keep that information confidential? Can we trust them when they say they are not punishing Republicans, when, in fact, they are punishing Republicans? The woman he interacted with is no longer on the site. Apolitical groups like "Christian Knitters" are now having their members harassed by the trolls.

I was getting pretty depressed about the fact that despite purging my profile of any political content, and asking nicely... twice...they still have not restored it. So all you see when you go there is a gray outline person, no pictures or personal information about me at all. Kind of defeats the purpose of "social" networking. I've posted a few times in chat threads but the fun is gone. However, a few weeks ago, after my second request, I looked up Casey Forbes, just to see if he had made any further statements or was acting less like a fascist. I found a tweet that is both terribly depressing and yet explains everything, and I realize that the ownership of Ravelry have bigger problems than the fact that they aren't inclusive or honest at all.

"Friends, I'm trans. My pronouns are she/her/hers. My name is Cassidy. Cassidy is actually my birth name, aren't I lucky?"

I was sure at first it was a weird joke, like many that Casey has made in the past. But no, apparently not. And it does explain a lot. Let me say (I can say this, can't I?) that Casey has been married to Jessica for over 12 years and is the father of a school-age daughter.

This YouTube interview with Kathrine Jebsen Moore, a Scottish writer for Quillette, is worth the listen. In it she describes - back in February - the witch hunt that began on Instagram, against knitters who were not sufficiently "woke" for the social justice warriors. I now understand some of the background behind the spillover onto Ravelry. Kathrine is a good account to follow on Twitter if you are intrigued by the phenomenon which is being called "cancel culture" of bringing social and economic pressure to bear on people you disagree with, to disenfranchise them and force them to assent to your viewpoint.

You can find the first of Kathrine's articles here: A Witch Hunt on Instagram
She wrote a second in early June, even before Ravelry dropped the boot: Instagram's Diversity Wars Revisited
And at the end of July: Knitting's Infinity War, Part 3

The witch hunt may have started a long time ago, but it is still ongoing if you do not pay lip service to BIPOC knitters and their concerns. (Black, Indigenous, People of Color. The fact that I had to look up the acronym is proof positive for these people of my White Fragility. But I won't be reading that book, so there.) Caitlin Hunter, the talented designer behind Boyland Knitworks, seems to be the latest object, because she didn't speak out strongly or penitentially enough when challenged to be more inclusive. She had the audacity to publish a new knitting pattern instead, and hence, in these people's demented mentality, she was fair game for gaslighting and abuse. So she has hired a consultant to increase her diversity awareness and promised to try to do better. SHE DID NOTHING WRONG! Somebody needs to say it. It is the social justice warriors who need to apologize, but won't.

From back at the end of July, a long and depressing "Daily Covfefe" video on the phenomenon of intolerance and abuse in the knitting community, using the Quillette articles as a starting point. Caution... quite a bit of language.

The language aside, this is a disturbing trend. People are being financially, socially, physically and psychologically abused, and these are not just isolated incidents. Nor are the victims universally white, conservative, Christian, or otherwise "privileged."

Yeah, I used to think Twitter was a scary social media platform, and Ravelry and Instagram were the friendly places. I'm not at all so sure anymore.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Machine Quilting

 I finished machine quilting "En Provence" in mostly one day. I think I may have had a breakthrough of sorts. The lack of stitch regulator means I have to pace myself, and it is more difficult to stop and start, so I just keep going until the quilt needs to be rolled or the bobbin runs out. I used my all-over squiggle-loop-something pattern. This time the "something was flowers. Little double daisies as above...
 and little chicory flowers. My breakthrough is finally figuring out that machine quilting is just doodling with thread. And no one cares if doodles are a little uneven or lopsided. My original mistake may have been buying Harriet Hargrave's Heirloom Machine Quilting 22 years ago. It was excellent as a treatise in perfectionism, but I have come to the point where I'm happier getting the quilt done and thinking of the quilting as doodling.
I even cut and stitched the binding on the same day. Now the hand stitching will take longer, but I'm really happy with the overall effect.


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Quilt Finish: Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt

Grand Illusion, the mystery quilt from 2014, is now finished! I gave it a little airing after the last of the binding was stitched on. The piecing on this started after Thanksgiving of 2014 and finished sometime in 2016, and then the top waited around for three years to be quilted. I am trying to kick out some of my quilt backlog.

I love how vintage the colors make this look. It reminds me of the tile-work in the MAP South bathroom at college, built in the 1930's and more elegant than your typical college dormitory.
 My quilts have been getting steadily more scrappy every year.
It's 88" square, queen sized, backed with a wide backing I bought at Joann's, and has a label and everything. Binding took me a long while with all the going to camps the last month, but it is all done now. Maybe I can find a family member who needs a queen-sized quilt. I have a few too many.
I enjoy hanging out quilts for photography, but the clothesline isn't quite tall enough. Also, glad I did this before the weather abruptly changed over the weekend and it has gotten rather cool and wet.

Yay! for finishing things. The 2015 mystery, En Provence, is now on the frame.

 I didn't get far today, but I used up the remainder of the thread in the bobbin that was left from the previous quilt. My pattern will be squiggle-loop-flower, which I did on the Easy Street way back when.
So far I have two different kinds of flowers. But I didn't really have the energy to get into it very far today.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Back-Blogging: Machine Quilting Update

More back-blogging today. Last time I talked about my machine quilting situation, I was upset with the cat...
who did this to the stitch regulator while the machine was dis-assembled for other maintenance. The "Quilter's Cruise Control" that came with the machine set-up 11 years ago would cost $500 to replace. That is not going to happen, at least not for some time.
This speed switch also came with the set-up. It would only cost $70 to replace, because it doesn't regulate stitch length. Basically, it is a replacement for the foot pedal, with a dial to adjust the sewing speed once you click the switch. So I set it up and loaded "Grand Illusions" onto the frame.
Grand Illusions was the 2014-15 Quiltville mystery, and one of my backlog of quilts needing to be quilted.
 I determined to push through and learn how to use the new (to me) switch setup, despite the lack of a computer brain to regulate the length of the stitches. At least it was easier to set up. And really, once I figured a good setting for the speed for me, the quilting went smoothly. There is only me regulating how long or short the stitches are, but I've had years of practice and it's not that bad. I decided to stick with squiggle-loop-star, easy on the stars, for this first quilt.
 About a quarter of the way in, the cheap plastic cover of the on-off switch (center) cracked and popped off. I had to disassemble the switch to find the plastic bits that had fallen inside. It's roughly the size and shape of a push-button on a ball-point pen. Now you know why this is so much cheaper! Still overpriced at $70. I went to the hardware store to see if this was a standardized part I could easily replace. It wasn't. The employee I spoke to advised a pencil eraser cut to fit and glued on with a dab of superglue.
What I used instead was a wooden dowel with an old rubber thingy that snugs onto it. I'm still thinking about the dab of superglue to attach it, but at least now when it jostles and bounces out, it doesn't break and fall through. Analog solutions for the win!
I finished quilting Grand Illusion in one day, even with the trip to the hardware store and fixing up the dummy switch. It requires more concentration, but it's so cumbersome to stop and start that you push through and it gets done quicker. I'll give the final quilt show-and-tell in the next post, but I was pleased that quilting is still possible. Maybe in my next quilt I will try a few more fancy figures.

Back-Blogging: Camp Socks

It occurs to me that I have been neglecting the blog yet again. I have several projects to share, and even a few photos to accompany them. So here goes.

 A cross-country plane trip is a good time to get some knitting finished. No trouble with the sock needles. These are the Sara Elin Socks by Vicki Bird that I started during the Lots of Socks KAL back in February. I finished the first sock, but not during the challenge time; then the second sock sat for a long time. It's a lace sock on size 0 needles, that's why.
 But they are quite pretty, even with the occasional hiccup in the lace. Glad they are done though. Finished them at the hotel after arrival in Virginia, before leaving for camp. Tertia and I had a wonderful time on Friday before leaving for camp, touring D.C. Here are some pictures from that:
 At the Metro station learning a different kind of public transit than she is used to. She thinks the name "Foggy Bottom" for a Metro station is hilarious!
 We went to the National Archives, where no photography is allowed inside, but we admired the patriotic flower beds outside! Seeing the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution was exciting for her. I loved the Magna Carta and would have stayed longer, but we wanted to check out the National Portrait Gallery (and American Art Museum).
 Crossing Constitution was the only real shot we had of the Capitol, so I took this while crossing. We looked at all the presidents' portraits in order, and she read the dates and is working on memorizing a few details on each one. Maybe we can convince her that memorizing facts about the presidents is better than Harry Potter trivia?
 This is in honor of Eisenhower Elementary School.
 This is in honor of Thomas Jefferson Middle School.
This one is just because she shares two names with the subject, and read it as we passed by. Her feet were getting tired by then, and when her feet get tired, we need to quit and go back to the hotel.
 This is The Puritan by Augustus St. Gaudens. I've been doing enough genealogy lately to have come across a lot of Puritan Great Migration ancestors, so why not? It's cool.
So, after that interlude of art and history...

These are the socks I started after the Sara Elin socks were finished. Thankfully on size 1 needles, and a simple pattern so the knitting went faster. It's Patons Kroy sock yarn, the first time I've tried it, and the pattern is Non-Euclidian by Sarah Jordan, another pattern I bought during the KAL in February. This is the second pair I've made from that pattern. I'm calling them Camp Socks because I worked on them over the two camps I attended this summer. They will probably be a Christmas gift...shh! I may want to buy more Patons Kroy sock yarn, because I liked this. It's a little heavier gauge than most sock yarns, and unfortunately lower yardage per skein, but a better price point. So that's the news on the sock knitting front. Next time: quilting.