Saturday, June 29, 2019


Randomday is the day the blog eats leftovers.

Daniel is home from Virginia for a friend's wedding! We met him at the airport Thursday evening and took him out for a late (very, for him) dinner at Deschutes Brewery Public House. Excellent burgers and elk-burgers, and you should totally go extra for the garlic fries. It was his birthday so they gave us a little plate of birthday cake/ beer flavored cake-pops.

Daniel is off at a bachelor party beach weekend, and Peter is home from annual training with the National Guard in Yakima! Here's some of what he was up to. Driving a Stryker sounds very cool, but sleep deprivation and only one shower a week, not so much.

I have the Megaquilter taken off the carriage and am going to cut the half-length rails that were included with the Grace Frame set-up many years ago, to fit them onto the carriage length. I found this blog post from 7 years ago about my fears with that, but I think it will be okay. I did it once before. The hardest part was getting Steve to lift it off the carriage for me. I need to dust and clean all the parts that haven't been given any TLC for awhile, and then reassemble it. But first, I'm going to attach the walking foot and try stitching on the binding of Celtic Solstice with the machine alone set up on a regular table. That should give me a good idea if it needs professional servicing.

We have a branch down from the plum tree in our back yard. It tends to prune itself when the weight of the fruit is too much for it. But the fruit that is ripe right now is strawberries and raspberries. The raspberries are especially delicious this year. We have red and golden varieties. I harvested all the fava beans which Steve grew as a cover crop. It is so laborious to prep them, and you really need to do it when they are young... but if you do, they are delicious. 

We have a hummingbird feeder that is right outside our front window and is quite fun. It had steady customers all winter and now there's still one who comes by a few times a day.

Below is the video I took of the tiny bunny we saw on our walk earlier this week. It was one of about 11, and it was too small to be afraid of us. We walked around the entire wetlands loop and he was still there when we came back. (This is also a test to see if I can figure out how to upload videos.)

If this video works, I have another of a suspected woodpecker in our backyard that I can share another time.

In other news, we have successfully gotten both Tertia and Quarta hooked on Monk reruns after watching the first few episodes ourselves. Amazing how many shows we missed out on during the 2000's when they were little. Steve has been watching through the original Star Trek series with Quarta, who is quite persnickety about the lack of good visual effects and generally male chauvinist worldview. They are in 3rd season and so there is some pretty regrettable stuff! But even the Next Gen. looks hokey by today's standards. Okay, I'm feeling old.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Political Tuesdays: In Detention - No Yarn for You!

(Elementary school bus song, to the tune of Frere Jacques)
Marijuana, marijuana
Mr. Murray makes it.
All the teachers take it.
Why can't we? Why can't we?

This piece of absolute ridiculous drivel has stayed alive in my brain for 40-some years, thanks to my phenomenal auditory memory that is both a gift and a curse. I never sang it, I was subjected to it in the echo chamber of Bus 19. Mr. Murray, the kindest and most tolerant of elementary school principals, to my knowledge never required the students who composed or sang it to serve detention, or perhaps he remained blissfully unaware of their disrespect. It was pretty rare for students to go to the principal's office; the girl who punched me in 4th grade did, but I always felt vaguely guilty about reporting her -- the unwritten culture code of the 70's in Northwest Ohio seemed to be that you just had to learn to be tough. I wasn't tough. I mostly liked school and wanted to please my teachers. I was always careful to follow the rules and was only really moved to anger when something seemed terribly unfair. Maybe this was why my parents moved me to Christian schools starting in 6th grade, for which I am forever grateful. 

Though I went to a small Christian college, the prevailing culture code in the late 80's was libertarian and quite tolerant of rebellion and dissent of all kinds, particularly in the English Literature faculty. I had two profs who were aging hippies, who specialized in saying edgy and suggestive things that would be guaranteed to make 18-year-old girls uncomfortable... what they call "triggering" today. One was Dr. Donnelly. One of the first things I ever learned about him was that he had a daughter who was in a lesbian motorcycle gang. I did not know what to make of him, but I owe a great deal of my writing ability to his classes.

Really, I was a good, shy, very mild-mannered person all through my schooling, and I was terrified of falling afoul of the Powers that Be by breaking any rule, so I had to really push myself to take risks.

Fast-forward to age 51, and I am now serving out my very first detention.

The knitting social network Ravelry has enacted a policy of zero toleration of support for Donald Trump. Ravelry's new policy, announced with no forewarning whatsoever Sunday, states "We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy. Support for the Trump administration is undeniably support for white supremacy."

I reject that premise categorically. Political affiliation is far too complex an issue to boil down to such a childish standard. Calling anyone who supports the legally elected President of the U.S a white supremacist is deeply hateful and antithetical to the fundamental American value of fair play and free speech. 

I am no white supremacist. The suggestion that I am is a hateful slur. Nor am I a Trump supporter. You may, if you are inclined do some actual reading, trace my thoughts on the matter through several posts from 2016:

Since the election I have been slightly reconciled to the fact that the political process is largely out of my hands, that Trump has not been the complete disaster he was predicted to be, and against all expectations I have even been pleased with his stance on the pro-life issue, which is the non-negotiable one for me. And it is my duty as a Christian and a citizen to support him in the sense that it is a sin and a crime to agitate for the violent overthrow of a legitimate head of state, and it is just plain bad manners and self-destructive to constantly be engaging in negative speech about anyone. 

I posted only once after Sunday's announcement, in the "Inclusive for all..." thread in the heretofore very quiet Conservative Knitters group. Conservative groups on Ravelry are quiet because there has been a purge at least once before, after the election of 2008. My post, objecting to the one-sided application of a policy restricting free speech, was deleted along with a large batch of other posts in one thread a few hours later, and I was notified that my account was "restricted" for thirty days for violating TOS or community standards. That means I can read forums, but at the bottom of every page "you are restricted from posting in this thread" appears and I can't even vote with the "disagree" or "agree" buttons. I can still access my queue, add patterns to it, and I can still buy and download patterns if I am so inclined. So all the essential features of Ravelry are still there... as long as I behave myself according to the standards of whoever decided to restrict me in the first place. I am not materially injured, but I am spitting mad. What worse insult is there to a writer than to delete her words and slander her with the "white supremacist" label with no ability to defend herself? 

But what did I say to deserve this? My best at reconstructing my post, since it was deleted without my consent, and in a sweep that indicated no one was really reading carefully - This will make an interesting SCOTUS case. (probably this was the trigger, if anything, but I don't see how it's outside of the TOS) I don't see how they can be inclusive by being exclusive. It's exactly the kind of thing that will help T* in 2020... not that I'm supporting that or anything! I may also have asked a hypothetical about whether Ravelry is a place of public accommodation... because any legal case would probably turn on it. And what I didn't say then, but wish I had, was "It's like algebra. Whatever you do to one side of the equals sign, you must do to the other side of the equals sign, or they aren't equal." 

It has been a depressing montage of groupthink and echo chambers in the knitting world, as one after another, people in the knitting and yarn industry announce their support of Ravelry "against hate." Ravelry has "othered" me. Where do I go to get my reputation back? 

"Our radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice and rage... They would shut down your free speech, use the power of the law to punish their opponents..." I would mock this campaign speech by President Trump as overblown rhetoric, but now I'm not so sure. 

I understand that in managing a big platform like Ravelry, there are provocative and downright offensive projects and posts that need to be moderated. That is not the issue here, and I have to wonder if the unilateral actions taken in the last two days were really thought through in advance. Open invitation to Casey, owner of Ravelry: give me my voice and equality back, and I will have a civil discussion with you in the forum of your choice. I am always civil and usually pretty patient. I have four children and taught middle school for 16 years. I also helped build and promote Ravelry in the early days and would like to be able to enjoy and promote it many years from now.

Raveler since October 5, 2007
Raveler #19244

I do not stand with Ravelry if it means suppression of the free expression of any of its members.

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty, than those attending too small a degree of it. - Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Joy of Finishing

So, I have progress in both knitting and quilting to report this week. Of all the things I have blogged about, the knitting and quilting have always been constants, and since I am still struggling with blogging regularly, it is easiest for me to push myself to blog when I have progress or even a finish to report. So, I started a new, impulsive summer knitting project this week. It is Gemini, from Knitty summer 2012 issue, and I am trying it with some reclaimed cotton yarn from an unraveled thrift store sweater. But my conscience nagged me as I knit, because Mint Chocolate was lacking only the buttonhole band and some buttons, and it had been started 5 1/2 years ago.

Also, full disclosure on my abundance of UFOs -- on the right is On Your Toes, a Green Mountain Spinnery pattern I started about 8 years ago (?) with some handspun Shetland wool. And on the right is Rosalind, also long in hibernation. Rosalind doesn't need too much more, On Your Toes needs quite a bit.
Well, I stayed up late and banged out that buttonhole band. It was just a little math, and looking up how to do one-row buttonholes. The next morning I sewed on all the buttons, which were salvaged from my favorite red Nordic sweater I bought at Goodwill, after it wore out at the sleeves many years ago.
 I even practiced my selfie-taking skills a bit. They are better than they used to be. Mint Chocolate, finished at last.
So after I blocked it, I also washed three other of my colorwork cardigans in the Kookaburra woolwash. And then I ordered some more Kookaburra because it's been too long and basically all my woolens need washing. Amazon delivered it the NEXT DAY, which is kind of insane but impressive.
So last week I blogged about returning to the Megaquilter to work on Celtic Solstice, which had been basically waiting 1/3 done since the end of 2017. This was the 2013 mystery quilt. I got to the bottom border and had to refresh my memory about how the quilting goes. It was a good thing I had taken a picture over a year ago of the border quilting, which is a wave pattern.
That was this morning when I finished the bottom border.
 And the right side. Then I took it off the frame and remounted it so one side was ready to have the border quilted. When I took my training lesson on the Megaquilter, the lady said to do this with borders. You can just let the weight of the quilt hang over the front rail to keep a basic tension on the area to be quilted.
 How it looked from the side before quilting...
and from the front of the machine. I tucked the extra quilt under and up again over the batting rail to keep it out of the way while still holding tension. If necessary I put a heavy notebook in the middle, in the "pocket" formed by the folded quilt. Believe it or not, this helps!

So I have finished quilting Celtic Solstice. I am still having some trouble with the machine, but I think it is because the hard rubber rails on the carriage have abraded in certain spots, and maybe also because it needs me to use different thread. I can tell it's the rails by visual examination, and because the bumpiness I feel in quilting happens when I am quilting north-westerly or north-easterly. I think I can fix the rails on the carriage, cutting down the short rails that I have never used from the original set-up. I will need to disassemble the set-up and take the machine off separately from the stitch-regulator to do that, and I can maybe sew on the binding while I have it off to test whether the machine itself needs a tuneup. This is a lot of tech talk to say, I need to hold myself accountable to actually do that! It's a bit scary for me. But I am on a bit of a high from having actually finished a project, and maybe I can channel that. I have so many more tops to machine quilt!

So in summary, I have finished two long-standing UFOs in June so far. They are just NOT the ones chosen randomly from my list.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Scrappy Trip Around the World

Well, it has once again rolled around to a new month, and I have been lackluster in my blogging again. But I have been sewing a fair bit. Last time I blogged, I had resurrected some 6-year-old trial blocks for the "Scrappy Trip Around the World." And I kept making them, using my 2.5" strips, until I had a total of the 48 I need for a 72"x96" top.
48! It went very fast, all things considered. That's what I love about quilting. It's a high-energy, quick gratification thing. Unlike knitting, which I probably need to do to recover my zen after all the blocks I made. Also, I need to clean up my scraps again, but that's a never-ending thing.
 I experimented with a few different layouts; above is more or less an attempt at true randomness, and below is trying to keep adjacent blocks with diagonal paths in the same color/value groups.
 I ended up liking the more random approach of the first time but of course the final layout is different, and I didn't bother to take a picture of it. I did stack the blocks and pin the row numbers on the top in each stack so I can sew them together. That is going to go more slowly, because the long seams of putting a big quilt together are not what I like best, so I tend to put it off or only work in concentrated spurts.
Speaking of putting things off, I put the Celtic Solstice on the frame at the end of 2017, and I am finally getting back to it just today. I'm a little unhappy with how the tension is not quite right... maybe it's subpar thread that is the problem, maybe the machine needs a tuneup. But even with occasional broken threads or tension issues on the bottom, I finished about half of the overall center of the quilt just this morning. I will need to repin the quilt to do the side border quilting. I'm definitely trying to remind myself that "finished is better than perfect."

I don't think I shared this on the blog yet, just on Instagram. This is a test block of "Sand Castles" from Bonnie K. Hunter's newest book String Frenzy. It has a lot of 4-patches I pieced as leaders and enders between the scrappy trip blocks, and some string blocks, and is just going to be really fun.

Also, reporting on the UFO challenge... I haven't really finished any of my quilting or fiber UFO's except for January, when I spun up my autumnal colors batt. I was supposed to do Celtic Solstice, the 1996 Piecemaker's Quilt, and at least 2 other machine quilting finishes so far this year, and for fiber arts, Rosalind, Manu, and more spinning which haven't been touched. The number for June is 10, which translates to the Rainbow Star quilt top, and the On Your Toes sweater which has languished for many years. I may have a good shot at finishing the Celtic Solstice quilting, though. These challenges are more like REALLY broad guidelines, anyway. I have a pair of lacy Sara Elin socks I really want to finish knitting, and I am also continuing cleaning and organizing my sewing area while I work on scrappy quilts and maybe more baby quilts. Happy with the progress on the quilt front this past month, whether I finish any UFO's or not.