Category Archives: Fiber Arts

Tour 2015 – Day 16: Mesilla, Fiber, and Family

Enzo is a menacing leopard, waiting to depart yesterday for the picnic and hike.
Enzo is a menacing leopard, waiting to depart Friday for the picnic and hike.

Saturday was a bit more quiet, from the big family gathering the day before and wild weather. The day dawned crisp and clear after the cold front passed. We decided to spend the morning site-seeing on our own before our final round of visits.

The historic village of Mesilla is the home of a fiber artist co-operative, Tres Manos. We had just missed them the day before, arriving a few minutes after closing time. Today, we stopped at The Bean, a coffee shop up the street, to wait for them to open. I had an hour of panic as my primary laptop decided to spontaneously boot up in Airplane Mode and could not be coaxed out, meaning no networking, wireless or otherwise. Frantic pressing of the network switch had no effect, and attempting to enable the driver using software simply returned the response that it was disabled with hardware. A search of the Linux forums (using the iPad) offered a few suggestions, but no promises. This phenomenon is a documented but elusive bug, for which the work-around involves more magical incantation and wand-gestures than logical procedures. To top that off, the coffee was a bit lighter roast than we like, so the perfect day started out a bit on the grumpy side.

But, Tres Manos was wonderful. In addition to the shop full of shawls and scarves woven by the members, there was a roomful of looms to ogle and even more here and there in the shop. The co-op members are also members of the local weaving guilds, so we also enjoyed visiting with the staff. On leaving, we picked up a postcard that had the new location of Quillan Fiber Arts, a spinning, weaving, and knitting shop we had visited last year in their old location—on our bicycle, no less. They had moved because that location was considered too dangerous to get in and out of the parking lot. The new location was bigger and on a quiet side street. Of course we had to buy something.

The rest of the day was spent visiting with two of our daughters. After lunch, I tried booting up my laptop, pressing the power and networking switches simultaneously (the phrase “Mandrake gestures hypnotically” comes to mind here), and violá, the machine could see and hear again.

Visiting with the girls...
Visiting with the girls…

We had a good visit, and, after a quick shopping stop for items we would need on the next leg of our tour, we joined one of our daughters for dinner at International Delights, our favorite middle-eastern restaurant.

Left of Center, Off the Grid

After a very busy winter and spring, in which we joined more organizations, participated in more events, and volunteered for more offices and committees, in the midst of combining an ambitious physical training plan for bicycle touring with our committee work, we crashed, putting everything, if not on hold, at least in perspective. While we haven’t yet ventured back out on the bike, we haven’t slowed down, and remain, as always, just outside the flow of “normal” life expected of old people.

A few weeks later, we went on vacation, during which we worked at gaining back some of our physical mobility, on foot rather than on the bike as we planned, but continued to work in the meantime: Judy on a weaving project, and me on a programming project, to the extent we had a computer network set up in our hotel room and the various fiber projects spread out on the extra bed intrigued the hotel staff no end. I think we still managed to visit a few local attractions, shops, and restaurants in the process.

We also, during the “season,” which runs roughly from April through October, open our home to members of Warm Showers, a bicycle touring lodging exchange. Last week, we were inundated with bicycle tourists, ten in three days, with five showing up on short notice on the first day. This week, we are at a weaving workshop—or, at least Judy is, while I attempt to catch up on technical reading and work, since there is no Internet connection at the workshop location (an old Navy prison, now part of a city park), but there is a place to set up a computer. The workshop is another “left turn off the grid,” covering techniques of turning the draft to swap warp and weft. We are in Seattle, exploring the neighborhoods between Sand Point, Wallingford, and Green Lake in search of good coffee and wholesome food, driving up and down impossibly steep hills on narrow streets lined with astounding landscaping in full spring bloom surrounding a mix of old shingled cottages and bungalows, stark “contemporary” boxes, and modern northwest cottages of cedar. Sunlight and rain sweep through in various densities, and we often sit in gridlock traffic watching bicyclists outpace us, even uphill.

Class sample on Judy's loom
Class sample on Judy’s loom

One of the side-effects of travel is television. We don’t have one at home, but motel rooms often lack radio sets, so we frequently spend a few moments channel surfing in bewilderment before finding an old movie or reruns of syndicated series we once watched (NCIS—the original–being the last holdout, and which seems to have its own channel). These links to an earlier era bereft of TV-land inside jokes and unreal reality are at least comprehensible. This time, we find ourselves in a room where the secondary audio program, a technology of which we were previously unaware, is permanently on, with a mismatched controller that, like our watching experience, predates this feature. So, we are treated to what seems to be an audio book of the screenplay, with actors reading the dialogue parts, which makes it unnecessary to actually fix our gaze on the unfamiliar device on the other side of the room.

Next week, if all goes well, we are spending a few days at our truly left-of-center, off-the-grid cabin on the lower slopes of the Mission Mountains in Montana. This is intended to provide more perspective on slower, unconnected living, though we do have a small solar panel to power reading lights and radio, our home phone is now a smart phone with limited Internet connectivity, and the neighbors might have Internet access we can borrow. And, there is the possibility of a day or two paid work on behalf of our Montana clients, since we will be close enough to pay a visit.

So it goes. We are supposedly in our retirement years, but have somehow managed to keep working, learn new skills, become involved in the leadership of several organizations, and become amateur innkeepers in our attempt to fill up what we anticipated would be idle time, while studiously avoiding sitcoms, reality TV, and Fox News. As usual, our “vacations” tend to be watching the scenery go by on the way to visit relatives or clients or work as usual but with different vistas out the window. Our “leisure” activities tend to be 40-60 Km bike rides at 20Km/h, preparing for longer “vacation” tours of 75-100Km per day, or the annual “birthday mile ride,” now approaching 120Km. At least the runners on our rocking chairs aren’t going to wear out soon.


…be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity. [Horace Mann]

Art Quilters Show at Ruby Street Quiltworks

The Ruby Street Art Quilt group has a show at the Quiltworks, March 17-24, the first in the 4-year history of the informal interest group. The photos below were taken at the March 17 opening reception, after the regular monthly meeting of the group. Judy has six pieces entered, and Larye has two (both of which were in the Man-Made exhibit at Island Quilters last month).  The overall show was fantastic, and well-received.  I think we may have picked up a few new members, quilters excited about the surface alteration, innovative techniques, and artistic expression exhibited by the group members.

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Man-Made, Part 2

Last month, we showcased the Man-Made quilt show at Island Quilters, Vashon, Washington, in which the Unix Curmudgeon had two quilts displayed.  The response from men who quilt in the Pacific Northwest was so overwhelming, the show was extended through March, with Man-Made 2, featuring 25 additional quilts for which there was not room to display for the February show, including my “Leonardo’s Garden.”  Some of the favorites were repeated, like Luke Haynes’ works and Carl Rohr’s Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired men’s round robin quilt, along with 8-year-old Max Zuber’s wonderful collection of small quilts.

Island Quilter is located at 17739 Vashon Highway, in the heart of downtown Vashon, on the island.   Vashon is accessible by auto on Washington State Ferries from Fauntleroy (West Seattle), Southworth (Kitsap Peninsula) and Point Defiance (Tacoma/Ruston); and by public transit via King County Water Taxi from Pier 50 in Seattle (next to WSF Coleman Dock).  Metro bus routes 118 and 119 serve the island from downtown Seattle via the Fauntleroy ferry terminal and meet all boats on-island on intra-island routes.


One of Carl Rohr’s Kaffe Fassett quilts;


The back of one of Carl Rohr’s Kaffe Fassett quilts.
Leonardo’s Garden, on left, with the quilter, aka The Unix Curmudgeon.
The quilt on the show poster, “Labyrinth Walk,” by Portland, Oregon quilt designer Christopher Florence.
The back of Luke Hayne’s stunning quilt “Rags to Riches,” held over from last month. See more of Luke’s work at

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Man-Made Quilts at Island Quilters, Vashon

I responded to a call for entries for the February 2013 Gallery show of men’s quilting at Island Quilters, located on Vashon Island (where we had lived more than 20 years ago), and entered the three finished quilts that are still in my possession, about which, more later. The response to Paul and Anja’s call for entries was, to say the least, overwhelming, so the show will be in two parts, continuing in March with the other half of the entries.


While most of the quilts are from better-known male quilters from the Seattle area and local Vashon quilters, I was delighted to see the “Montana Men Quilt” group quilt, to which I contributed back in 2009, and three of the five 2007 Round Robin Challenge quilts that Carl Rohr orchestrated.  The Montana Men Quilt collaboration combined the talents of 15 men from Montana, with Carl doing the setting, an admirable job, considering the diversity of materials, motifs, and colors in the contributed blocks.

The "Montana Men Quilt," a collaboration of 15 male quilters from Montana.
The “Montana Men Quilt,” a collaboration of 15 male quilters from Montana.
Two of the Men's Round Robin quilts.
Two of the Men’s Round Robin quilts.


Carl Rohr's Round Robin quilt: Carl started the center with the Jackie Robinson pattern inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's stained glass windows., and the other four men added complementary borders.
Carl Rohr’s Round Robin quilt: Carl started the center with the Jackie Robinson pattern inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s stained glass windows., and the other four men added complementary borders.

In addition to not-so well-known quilters (like myself), the show includes Seattle-area quilters Luke Haynes, Geoff Hamada, and Scott Hansen.  Island Quilters’ new venue in the old Robinson Furniture location provides excellent gallery space and lots of light, in addition to their huge fabric collection.




Luke Haynes
Luke Haynes


Max, a Vashon native, is the youngest quilter in the exhibit. His “Layers of the Rain Forest” (center, left) is the poster quilt. All the quilts here except my “Corporate Recycling” at far right are his.
Another Luke Haynes, with one of Geoff Hamada’s on the bottom.
More small quilts from Geoff.
More small quilts from Geoff.
Another Geoff Hamada quilt, a closeup from the south wall panorama above.
Another Geoff Hamada quilt, a closeup from the south wall panorama above.
A quilt based on Ricky Tims’ Convergence pattern, using Fibonacci sequence, a more traditional approach than the ones in my quilts, below.
One of mine, "Elemental Phases," Earth(solid), Water(liquid), Air(gas), and Fire(plasma)
One of mine, “Elemental Phases,” Earth(solid), Water(liquid), Air(gas), and Fire(plasma)

“Elemental Phases,” is the second in a series of explorations of the Fibonacci sequence, familiar to computer science students as an exercise in double recursive programming, and to artists and mathematicians as an approximation of the Golden Mean. The spiral
arms represent the classical elements: earth (yellow), air (green), water (white), fire (red) and void (blue), the colors of which are taken from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. The ancients depicted not the atomic elements of the modern age—which we now know are themselves composed of even more elemental particles—but the phases and properties of matter: solid, liquid, gas, plasma, and “non-material.” In this original design quilt, the four corporeal elementary phases intertwine on a void background, as all objects exhibit properties of varying degrees of inertia, cohesion, expansion, heat, and non-existence.

My block in the Montana Men Quilt, which features paper piecing (propeller), curved piecing (wingtips), applique (canopy), and 3-D (Y-tail). The block is made from recycled dress shirts.

The traditional airplane block, updated from the 1930s, depicts the two-place Waiex kitplane I’m building in the garage. The block includes fabric from two recycled dress shirts, one of which was missing a collar and buttonholes, recycled for “Corporate Recycling,” created in response to a Bitterroot Quilters Guild challenge to make a 5-inch square quilt of recycled materials. In this case, the quilter recycles himself, finding a new use for the corporate button-down uniform and power tie, in anticipation of retirement.

"Corporate Recycling," a 5-inch square quilt made for a guild recycling challenge.  The binding is made from the button-hole placket.
“Corporate Recycling,” a 5-inch square quilt made for a guild recycling challenge. The binding is made from the button-hole placket.












My other quilt, “Leonardo’s Garden” [2005], will be part of the second half of the Man-Made exhibit, in March.

"Leonardo's Garden," the first in my Fibonacci series.  I learned a lot on this quilt, which does not bear close inspection.  The background is from the 2004 Moda Challenge, but the qult wasn't finished until 2005.
“Leonardo’s Garden,” the first in my Fibonacci series. I learned a lot on this quilt, which does not bear close inspection. The background is from the 2004 Moda Challenge fabrics, but the qult wasn’t finished until 2005.