Thursday, December 7, 2017

Reflections on Houston

NOTE: This blog post is about me. It also is going to get graphically ugly at the end. This will be your only warning.

I am home from Houston where I worked the Bar-maids booth at the Houston International Quilt Festival. It was a show I looked forward to for many reasons, first of all because of it's sheer size, probably the biggest trade show I have ever been to. Just to demonstrate, I was booth #1652, which means I was the 52nd booth on aisle sixteen. There were 24 aisles in the market place.... PLUS there was a display area of quilts just as large. 

After being in Texas for the very first time (yes, in my life) for Stitches Texas in September, and visiting with folks immediately following Hurricane Harvey, I did look forward to the Quilt Festival. The folks I met in Dallas shopped with a kind of 'held breath' attitude. I heard rumors (I hate saying that word 'rumors' but this was what was told to me by others, I didn't hear this myself) that shoppers in the market place were proud of themselves for NOT spending money. It was very hard for vendors who had traveled great distances with large quantities of merchandise to make a shopper squeal with delight to hear, but I understood. It was so soon after that catastrophic event to know if it was OK to squeal and to be enticed to buy. The folks that I visited with at that event made me want to meet those closer to the floodwaters, with a little more time under their belts. I wanted to be a witness to #HOUSTONStrong. 

In the days leading up to the event, something very awesome was happening, the World Series of the Major League Baseball 2017 was happening between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros. Superman (my husband) and I had a discussion when it first began, he thought the Dodgers would probably win. I said that I hoped it would be the Astros. After everything Houston, and Florida, Puerto Rico and other areas of the Southeastern US and Caribbean Islands had suffered in the last few months, I felt some good news, ONE GOOD THING would be so welcome. 

The first couple of days, the Quilt Festival Market was so busy, I really didn't get to know anyone. There wasn't time for sharing stories. The aisle in front of my booth was so congested with people, I barely saw the friendly faces in the booth across the way from me. And really, the only personal details people shared with me was about their skin concerns. (Bar-maids, in my opinion, is a natural ingredient skin-care production, although others may look at it as cosmetics. For me, it makes my skin feel better, it doesn't change my looks except to make it healthier.) Those first days we shared our concerns about dryness, our hands and feet soreness, discovering together a way to soothe those little irritations and get on with more important things. 

At the end of the first full day, the Houston Astros won the World Series. There was a friendly male voice that announced the score periodically, and cheers went up all through the market area. I had heard a bit of joyful shouting prior, so I had realized things were going well before the announcements. That hadn't been the first indication of something so momentous happening that day. The game was happening practically next door, so parking in the area was outrageously priced. I had been fortunate to park about a half mile away for $4, but it was a long walk when I'd forgotten something and had to go back to the car just prior to the event opening. When the show closed for the day, the game was over, too, and that walk was very crowded, like panic 'strangers are invading my personal space' crowded, and I was so happy to reach my car and lock myself inside. 

In the rental car, I listened to the local Public Radio channel. In the congestion of the streets, I ended up listening to A LOT of public broadcasting. The congestion also made me circle the event three times before I could get on a path toward the hotel, so I heard a lot about the good news of the World Series. The next day, I also heard how the other Texas teams hoped the fortune would spread to them. The soccer team would play the Portland, Oregon, team the following Sunday, and having just lost their goalie to a scandal, an alleged domestic incident, also playing away (which greatly reduces the chances of a win) didn't look positive, but they hoped the Astros win would carry over to them. A couple of days later, The Texans also hoped for that having lost a third player to their injured list.... 

The Quilt show was still happening, but the numbers of attendees seemed to have dwindled. It was felt on the market floor as the vendors got to know each other better because there were fewer people stopping at the booths. I felt it was natural to be so distracted with the good news. But later we heard people had been prevented from entering the festival because of the parade and crowds happening on Friday. (Another rumor, this time told by visitors to the market.) The confusion out there must have been crazy-fying. And parking lots continued to be outrageously priced, justified by the owners because of both the celebrations and the quilt show. 

With the slower pace, I had conversations with people, explaining that I was from Oregon and had so looked forward to meeting people in Houston and hearing for myself how they were fairing. One woman told me about the devastation to her home, she and her two cats had survived, but putting it back together had more challenges than could be expected. First of all EVERYTHING had been destroyed. (A man had told me that many lost everything but the shirt on their backs, but even that had been taken away, when they got to the shelters, because they'd had to wade through the floodwaters that had been contaminated.) She had not had flood insurance because it had not been required by her home loan, FEMA gave her $12,000 to help and an offered her an affordable loan for the rest of what she needed. At that point she hadn't decided if she would accept the loan. She was sleeping with her two cats on a metal army cot, her kitchen cabinets were about to be replaced which she felt very optimistic about. Many folks in the area were smart enough, perhaps because of prior storms, to have replaced their carpet and linoleum with ceramic tile. (Another woman I spoke with was glad she had antiques, because none of that seasoned furniture had to be replaced, but had to replace the ceramic tile, because it was installed with plywood underlayment. Not this lady, I asked about that...) She was a widow and introduced me to the neighbor from across the street. She indicated that without this woman and her husband, she didn't know what she would have done. She didn't say it but I felt that she might have given up. She did admit she always attended the Quilt show, but this year, her heart wasn't into quilting. I told her that at this moment, that was perfectly understandable and that I hoped when we met next year, things would seem much more brighter, like the displayed quilts around us.

On the Public Radio station, I was hearing about Houston's desire to prepare for future storms. The discussion included 100-year and 500-year floodplains. I had heard these terms a lot when we first moved to Boise, Idaho, in 2011, because they were still suffering the after affects of floods, and neighborhoods and housing developments were being newly re-evaluated. The discussion included the thought that Houston had a lot of pavement, and needed to focus on "green space". For example, a defunct golf course was being considered for a housing development, many believe it should be made into a park for the surrounding existing neighborhoods. They realized that the waters receded easily and with little or no damage in parks, as opposed to what occurred in other areas. Made sense to me, capping the earth in pavement because it makes it easier for us to get around, doesn't allow for the waters to recede, to be filtered and continue on in the Ecosystem and all that. Lots of decisions to be made. Many of the roads I spent time on were what Superman calls 'Landlocked' which we have hated because it's so hard to get in and out of places you need to get to, but now, I realized with new appreciation, had a strip of land in the middle of several lanes, to allow for the waters to flow somewhere OFF the pavement. You just have to drive to nearly the end of the long block and take the u-turn that had been thoughtfully installed right before the intersection so you can get to the property on the other side of the road. 

And then Sunday. After the show, I was able to pack up and get out of the way of the bigger vendors, and had called Superman to say I was OK and on the way back to the hotel, thinking about dinner and the next chore, get the remaining product to the Post Office. My mom tried to call or sent me a text while I was on the phone, so I called her back. She seemed relieved to hear I was OK, told me about the shooting in Sutherland Springs. From the Pacific Northwest, all she could understand was this happened in Texas and didn't realize I was almost 200 miles away. While I ate dinner on the bed in the hotel room (my favorite way to eat dinner when far from home is in my pajamas on a bed that belongs to nobody) I tuned into the local news for more information. The next day, I drove to Galveston, about an hour south of Houston to see the Gulf of Mexico for the first time in my life, and listened to a show called 'Texas Standard' which replaced the Diane Rehms show. The host, Joshua Johnson interviewed a pastor from another church nearby, also an elected official (I can't remember if it was a senator or a congressman) whose district includes this little town. And I heard other 'news' stories before I boarded the plane that included interviews with witnesses. So much so, that perhaps it has become TOO real for me.

This morning I had a terrible nightmare.

I watched a work crew enter it's breakroom, sit down to unwrap packed lunches, sandwiches in ziplock or waxed paper, a few love notes from home .... a gunman I couldn't see entered and shot them all down. I watched in horror the faces of the people as they fell, surprise, shock and pain, and then mass liquid, blood and other body fluids and matter, and more water, maybe rainwater or my own tears. It woke me up and I immediately had the thought: That image, replaying in the mind of the shooter in the moments after and perhaps in some kind of adrenaline caused lucidity that he couldn't have had in the moments before his terrible actions when off his meds or whatever, could easily make a person take his own life. 

It's possible to know too much. It's possible to be empathetic enough to develop PTSD. It's why counseling has begun to be offered to people who aren't involved in these events, not just victims, their family and friends, first responders. This article shows you can watch too much television news, but for me, maybe too much radio, too. I wrote this blog post as a way of getting all the details OUT of my head, that I can sleep more peacefully. I hope it doesn't cause nightmares for someone else.

And I recommend to all of my friends that they
Stop watching the news
Because the news contrives to frighten you
To make you feel small and alone
To make you feel that your mind isn't your own
Oh time, do as I wish (Morrisey, Spent the Day in Bed)

I hope you can get outside, go for a walk and breathe. I'm going to try, too. I love you, be safe. 

Video Book review of 60 More Quick Baby Blankets

Video Review of 60 More Quick Baby Blankets by Sixth and Spring


Thank you for accepting my invitation to view this new post.

Today, I have a brief Review of 60 More Quick Baby Blankets by Sixth and Spring, published in October of this year. Check out the pattern listing in Ravelry: CLICK HERE




This is an unsolicited opinion, mine, of a new book. You can find me in Ravelry as wearingpurple, in Twitter as wearingpurple1 and I have a public group in Facebook called Pursuit of Happy Knits. Also, I'm also in Instagram account and in Pinterest.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Knitting Culture: Fibershed (sponsored by Brooklyn Tweed)

Tonight I attended the first event of Brooklyn Tweed's Knitting Culture program. My initial response to what I heard tonight: extreme sadness, for two reasons. Possibly a mixture of frustration and disgust. Let me tell you why.

The guest speaker this evening was Rebecca Burgess, of Fibershed. If you've heard that name before, you must be a dyer. She's written a book, published in 2011, titled Harvesting Color, How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes. (That's a link to the book in Amazon. I'm not an affiliate, so purchase it where you will.) Rebecca's personal goal, it seems, is similar to 'foodies' where they pursue known sourced ingredients for their diet -- only with her wardrobe. She wants to find the source of her garments within an area of about 300 miles of home.

To accomplish this challenge, she created a project by studying the fiber of her clothes (keep in mind, unlike you or I, she is not a knitter) and found herself disgusted by the amount of plastics in our clothing that eventually find it's way to our landfills. The result of her yearlong project was a few pieces in her wardrobe she can name the animal or farm it was harvested from AND Fibershed. If you, like me, heard that term and wondered if that was similar to WATERSHED, you are not far from wrong. Like a watershed, a cycle can be nurtured to clothe ourselves in a sustainable, eco-friendly way. Her website www.Fibershed.com says it's goal is to "address and educate the public on the environmental, economic and social benefits of de-centralizing the textile supply chain".

@wearingpurple2017
What Rebecca showed tonight that it is possible to reduce our carbon footprint. How did the leap from knitting and books on this blog take such an enormous leap to such a universally hot topic? It seems that with the help of farms and their concerns to make adjustments in how they function, she can share with them that it is feasible environmentally to reduce our carbon output by making a few changes in how they care for the land and it's resources.

Ever since the plow was invented, the soils natural resources have continually been removed without thought to putting anything back into it, exhausting the earth. By composting, rotating 'events' in a field (one farm she mentioned grows cotton and has sheep, which are allowed to graze the stubble after the cotton has been harvested) and other choices made with thoughtful care of the land. Studies have shown that in the past, only 3% of California's wool crop becomes used for American made products, 30% is imported out of the country and the rest is in landfills or, as Rebecca puts it 'lining a ditch somewhere'. (Note: This was what I recalled from what I heard, I took no notes, and can't find this on her website, so there is a need to verify the accuracy of this statement. I do believe this is not the first time I've heard this, but how long ago or from where, I can't recall.) Not only are they trying to salvage that waste, but as the chart on her website shows, the nutrients are put back into the soil. She shared examples of this from a wool farm including Jacob Sheep, the Cotton Farm I already mentioned, her excitement about linen happening in our area and the hemp production in Australia.

Afterwards, an eastern Oregon resident whose background in sheep ranching raised the question that all of us had, what Rebecca is doing in California, can it be duplicated here? She did point to a pretty woman in the audience who is working toward developing linen, but the really good thing I heard was that the infrastructure for milling the final product is already in place in this area. Without naming that company, Rebecca mentioned that because this company has had to integrate foreign fibers and chemical (unnaturally created) dyes, it would be a big change for them to pursue the solely locally obtained and natural materials. It could be done. We as a consumer may need to convince them that THAT is what we want, but it can be done.

It should be mentioned that Brooklyn Tweed has an interest in these environmentally friendlier produced fibers, as they did sponsor Rebecca's visit tonight, so we may also want to watch for products from that company as well.

So why did I leave sad/frustrated/disgusted? I am sorry to say there were only about 50 people in the room to hear this information. I am one small person, I don't own a farm, a mill or dye yarns in my kitchen. I have never spun yarn. In this cyclical project, I am the end user. The only thing I can do is save my pennies for that yarn to come. I can imagine those first few skeins will be costly. There was already a fabric kickstarter which may have been out of the range of most pocketbooks I know of, Community Supported Cloth, is currently offered at $55 per yard, minimum 2 yards. For a person my size, that might make a vest and/or a pencil skirt, but the bigger picture I can appreciate: If I can afford to support this effort more will come of it, this effort will have a chance to be a success.

The other thing I can do is to look around me and ask, 'Where were you?'



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Video book review of Classic Knit Shawls by interweave

Video Review of Classic Knit Shawls by Interweave


Thank you for accepting my invitation to view this new post.

Today, I have a brief Review of Classic Knit Shawls: 20 Timeless Designs featuring Lace, Cables, & More by The Editors of Interweave, published in April of this year. I was sent a copy to review, it's available at their website.



This is an unsolicited opinion, mine, of a new book. You can find me in Ravelry as wearingpurple, in Twitter as wearingpurple1 and I have a public group in Facebook called Pursuit of Happy Knits. Also, I'm also in Instagram account and in Pinterest.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Video Review of Circular Needles by Loops and Threads

Video Review of Circular Needles by Loops and Threads


Thank you for accepting my invitation to view this new post.

Today, I have a brief Review of Circular Knitting Needles by Loops & Threads. I found 16" length sized 6 and 8 (US) to use for hat knitting, want to share why they are unique. This is also an update on my #OneADay2017 goal to knit a chemo hat every day.



Not to say that these are the only needles I use, but it's exciting and a new find for me, to assist with hand-knit chemo hats that I donate to Halos of Hope. I did find by a lengthy search after posting this that these are a Michael's brand (Normally, I would include a link so that you can find them, but they are not on their website or anywhere else I can think of.) As I said, I don't think they are the only ones on the planet, but if you need them, I know you can find them. 

NOTE: I found some at Makers' Mercantile, look for 16" Addi Turbos and pick your favorite points. If you don't live on the Westside of Washington State, try the Skacel website

This is an unsolicited opinion, mine, of a new book. You can find me in Ravelry as wearingpurple, in Twitter as wearingpurple1 and I have a public group in Facebook called Pursuit of Happy Knits. Also, I'm also in Instagram account and in Pinterest.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Video Book Review, Crochet Borders by Edie Eckman

Video Book Review, Crochet Borders by Edie Eckman


Thank you for accepting my invitation to view this new post.

Today, I have a brief Book Review of Every Which Way Crochet Borders: 139 Patterns for Customized Edgings by Edie Eckman (that link is to her website, here is link to her designer page in Ravelry) published last February, by Storey Publishing. Link is to the book through Ravelry



This is an unsolicited opinion, mine, of a new book. You can find me in Ravelry as wearingpurple, in Twitter as wearingpurple1 and I have a public group in Facebook called Pursuit of Happy Knits. Also, I'm also in Instagram account and in Pinterest.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Video Book Review, Stunning Stitches by Jen Lucas

Video Book Review, Stunning Stitches by Jen Lucas


Thank you for accepting my invitation to view this new post.

Today, I have a brief Book Review of Stunning Stitches: 21 Shawls, Shawls, Scarves and Cowls You'll Love to Knit by Jen Lucas (that link is to her designer page in Ravelry) published last month, by Martingale Press. Link is to the book through Ravelry. You can also check out her website:  www.JenLucasDesigns.com




This is an unsolicited opinion, mine, of a new book. You can find me in Ravelry as wearingpurple, in Twitter as wearingpurple1 and I have a public group in Facebook called Pursuit of Happy Knits. Also, I'm also in Instagram account and in Pinterest.