Category Archives: Quilting

The Parkins Report: Events of 2014

Note: this is an expanded version of the one-page PDF we circulate.

“Entering Utah,” on Road Trip 2014, a January venture to visit relatives in New Mexico,Texas, and California.

This year was characterized by extreme medical adventures, interspersed with the usual auto tours and some slightly different activities. The year started fairly normally, with an auto tour to New Mexico and California, and a business trip to Montana, but then took a different tack.

The Southwest Loop tour began with the Bike Friday perched on top of the Jeep, with the intent of getting in some winter riding early, while visiting with kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids in Santa Fe, Las Cruces, and El Paso. In keeping with our advancing age and reluctance to let scenery pass by in the dark, we took several days enroute, stopping in eastern Oregon and Durango, Colorado, arriving in sunny Santa Fe to -11C temps, much too cold for riding.

Las Cruces was a bit more hospitable, weatherwise, and we did get in a few rides, one in the middle of a half-marathon, where we shared the trail with many runners for 2 km. The back and chest pain Larye had experienced on early-season rides for the past several years returned, but overall the ride was pleasant.

Crossing the Sonoran Desert, headed from Las Cruces to Anaheim.

Moving west, we visited relatives in Anaheim and Thousand Oaks. After a few days, we headed north, overnighting in Carmel-by-the-Sea before settling in for a few days vacation and riding at Clear Lake. The weather was a bit cold and Larye’s discomfort was more pronounced, through we did manage a 30-km ride on a mild day. Despite the drought, we drove US 101 the rest of the way north to Oregon in sometimes heavy rain, taking time to tour the scenic drives through the redwoods. In Oregon, our way was blocked by a large tree blown down across US101, with high winds when we finally reached our evening’s destination. Our tour culminated with a stop at the chilly air museum in the blimp hanger at Tillamook, then directly home after encountering snow at the 45th parallel.

A quick inspection of the exterior of our cabin: the snow was piled deep against the front door, so we didn’t go in.

In early March, we traveled to Montana, staying with nephew Rick rather than shoveling out our cabin, which was buried in several feet of snow. A business trip to Rocky Mountain Laboratory yielded a task to flesh out a web application Larye had written years before and package it for general distribution to other users of the instrumentation with which it was designed to work.

The login screen on Larye’s web app, a custom user interface to create plate definition files for the BD Biosciences FACS cell-counting instrument, originally designed for the Research Technology Section of the Research Technology Branch of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, and soon to be released to Open Source as a Linux software package and virtual appliance, for all users of the instrument model.


At Lake Chelan, as the fruit trees were starting to bloom.

We visited with friends Gary and Char at a resort near Mt. Hood in the spring, and they stayed with us in May at McCall, Idaho. It’s always fun to share vacations.  Gary was the first to note that Larye’s exercise-related pain might be something other than reflux, having been through similar symptoms himself the year before.

A few local bike rides were cut short because of Larye’s recurrent pain when starting out. We spent a week at Lake Chelan in late April, with some riding around Manson, with minor starting-out pains. Memorial Day weekend, we rode the 30km around Payette Lake, from McCall, Idaho, with frequent stops for pain to subside and pushing through the loose sand and gravel on about a quarter of the route.

Ready to begin our circumnavigation of Payette Lake, at McCall, Idaho. The 30-km loop was fraught with frequent stops to let the angina pain subside. Judy grounds Larye for the duration of the week: three weeks later, he was in ICU recovering from cardiac bypass.

On returning home, Larye saw his physician and insisted on a cardiac stress test, “just to rule out any problems.” Well, the stress test lasted almost three minutes before blood pressure and pulse spiked over 200, and Larye was feeling pain down to his fingertips. This was on a Friday, and he was sent home with nitro pills and beta blockers, with a Monday cardiology appointment, which yielded an early Tuesday catheterization: the blockage was severe, and a full cardiac artery bypass graft was scheduled for the afternoon, as soon as the surgical team finished the morning surgery.

Waiting for lunch in the ICU, the morning after surgery.
Waiting for lunch in the ICU, the morning after surgery.

So, suddenly, the summer plan turned from training for a bicycle tour in Wisconsin to slowly regaining strength by walking back and forth on the porch, gradually extending to downtown sidewalks, then city and county parks, then regional trails, and an excursion into the Olympics and salt marshes, hiking trails we hadn’t visited in 20 years or more. By the time the Portland Knit,Quilt, and Stitch came around in August, Larye was ambulatory enough to drive to the Lacey Amtrak station and we attended the conference via public transit, after getting a clean bill of health from his cardiac surgeon, and later, a release from the cardiologist: no rehab program needed, since we were hiking up to 6km on the trails by then.

Rehab: a walk across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, 6km round trip, before going in for 8-week checkup with the heart surgeon.

Labor Day weekend found us “on the road again,” with the weekend in Silverton, Oregon, touring the Oregon Gardens, with a brief tour of Silver Falls before heading east to the dry side for a week in the Bend area. The original plan had been for a bicycling holiday, but we continued to hike, visiting the Newberry Volcanic National Monument and hiking the trails around the resort, including an hour’s spin on a side-by-side one-speed tricycle just to prove we could still ride, albeit cautiously. Since then, Larye has set up his old Fuji touring bike on a wind trainer in the basement to get in some interval training without danger of crashing, something we don’t want to do: read on.

Workout from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

Recovery was not without setbacks, however. A couple weeks after surgery, on July 4, Larye experienced a pulmonary embolism, which prompted another hospital stay, so he is on blood thinner for a year, which involved several weeks of daily painful injections into the stomach while building up the poison levels… Then, a few days before a planned long fall vacation trip to Montana, Idaho, eastern Washington, and British Columbia, the warfarin mistook Larye for a rat and he turned up with bleeding kidneys, for a few frightening days until the warfarin level was brought down and the flow stopped, plus some unpleasant tests to rule out bladder cancer: found a kidney stone, to be addressed later. We were able to join our vacation route “in progress,” with a trip to visit Judy’s brother and sister-in-law in eastern Washington before heading for Canada’s Okanagan Lake and a visit with Larye’s cousin, Becky.

Kelowna, BC, Canada. Where we stayed was exactly 75km each direction from cousin Becky’s house, on the opposite side of the lake. The lake is 135km long, with Kelowna and its floating bridge about halfway.

We had one more trip planned this year, at least, to spend another week at Lake Chelan, finishing out this year’s timeshare obligations, sans bicycle, but with hiking shoes. It is quiet time at the resort, with only three of the 24 units in our section occupied, including ourselves.

This was the year that Larye became more or less retired for real, after electing not to renew his contract for support of the NIH, which expired in September. He has hinted to his remaining clients that nothing is forever, so they should have a Plan B.

Being an official “retired person,” Larye didn’t have any excuses to put off completing the inside storm window project this fall, spurred on by an early cold snap in mid-November.

Our fourth year as Warm Showers hosts saw an early influx of bicycle tourists, with a trio of hardy souls in January on a Seattle-to-Los Angeles trip, and a scattering of early season tourists in between our own travels in the spring. The medical issues forced us to close for the summer as well as cancel a few reservations, but we had a flurry of guests between our Bend and Kelowna trips, and a late-November tourist who needed rescued from storms and steep hills that left him cold and wet, far short of his goal by dark, 60km from us and far from other hosts. We had to turn down yet another potential guest in early December, due to our schedules.  The guest count is close to 100, plus a number of cancellations and just requests for advice or assistance.

“Twilight in the Garden,” a quilted, discharged, appliqued, and bead-embellished piece from 2008, which now hangs in a classroom at the Lacey Senior Center

Judy continued as program director for the Olympia Weavers Guild, which is more or less a full-time job, if not a lifetime position, as few are willing to undertake the task. She also is now primarily a weaver, having sold her quilt fabric stash last year and, on the weekend before Larye’s surgery, her long-arm quilting machine. Fortunately, her health has been good this year.  Judy also sold an art piece this year, to the Lacey Senior Center, as a result of a call for entries for art to hang in the new center at Woodland Park.

Peace — Larye and Judy (and Delia)
For more photos and videos, find us on Facebook,Vimeo, or our personal blogs.  (Links to some of our videos below.)

18-year-old Delia runs the house, insisting on a lap near the fire, and her favorite quilt.

Appendix: Travels with Judy and Larye, a video notebook

Las Cruces – NMSU from Larye Parkins on Vimeo

Once past the half-marathon (2000 runners) with whom we shared the bike path, we continued on to the New Mexico State University campus, then back to our B&B on the normally busy El Paseo commercial strip, where there was no bike lane.

LakePort from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

A ride around the north end of Clear Lake to Lakeport and back saw much heavy traffic, despite being “off season.”

Wapato Lake from Larye Parkins on Vimeo

On our spring trip to Lake Chelan, we rode up into the hills and around the lakes and apple and wine country north of Manson.

Payette Lake from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

The Payette Lake ride was the ultimate wakeup call that no amount of diet and training was going to fix what turned out to be advanced heart disease. The lack of film footage on this ride around the beautiful high mountain lake was telling–Larye was too busy dealing with getting back to town alive to operate the camera.

Capital Lake from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

One of our first long walks.  We also walked around the north basin of Capital Lake later, and made a number of walks on the 3-km Huff ‘n Puff trail park in Shelton, as well as other city trails and county park trails.

Staircase remix from Larye Parkins on Vimeo

Staircase is the southwest gateway to the interior of the Olympic National Park.  We last hiked this in 1985 on a weekend backpacking trip with Matt, Mark, and Jason.

Theler Wetland Nature Preserve Trail from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

Another nostalgic visit: we hiked this tidal marsh trail when it first opened in 1994.

Amtrak Cascades – Olympia to Portland from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

A train trip to the Quilt, Knit, and Stitch expo in Portland.  We did a lot of walking around the Lloyd Center area, where our Montana friends
were staying, as well as downtown Portland, taking the light rail and buses around the city, along with more walking.

Newberry caldera from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

A trip to Bend, Oregon, led us to a hike around the east shore of West Paulina Lake, in the crater of the Newberry volcano south of Bend, in search of the hot springs at the north side of the crater.

ClineFalls from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

We had intended to cycle the paths around Eagle Crest Resort and the roads and trails near Bend, but ended up hiking the trails instead, one of which led us down into the Deschutes River trail upstream from Cline Falls.

Trike from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

Our first pedal outing, on a rented side-by-side trike at Eagle Crest Resort, near Bend.

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.

Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum

A little over a year ago, I got a letter from Carl Rohr, a well-known quilter in western Montana, inviting all Montana men who quilt to participate in a group quilt and traveling exhibit.  The only requirement was to provide a 12-inch (finished size) block “in cotton or batik.”  OK…  Well, as expected, Carl got almost a dozen very different blocks., in all different colors and styles, from traditional to unique to “arty.”  What he did with them is nothing short of astounding.  I could describe it, but you have to see it.  String piecing skillfully transitioned from one color theme to another; a center medallion section surrounded by blocks randomly set in a nine-patch background, and “Montana Men Quilt” spelled in fussy-cut letters down the right side.

The quilt debuted at the Mission Mountain Quilt Guild show in Ronan, where Carl lives, and, with a collection of individual quilts made by each of us,  made the rounds of quilt shops in Missoula and Great Falls, a display at the Bitterroot Quilters Guild, and finished up at the Flathead Quilt Show in Kalispell in September 2009.  Then, Carl entered the group quilt for consideration in the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum’s biennial Men’s quilting exhibit, and it was accepted.  The exhibit runs from Februrary 2 through April 30, 2010 in RMQM’s new facility in downtown Golden, Colorado.

Now, this is, for us guys anyway, a Big Deal.  You would think that quilts by men would be rare and they would take all they could get, but not so–there are a lot of very talented and skilled quilt artists out there who just happen to be men.  I entered the quilt I made for the traveling show, and it didn’t make the cut.  But, I’m glad to be part of the group effort.

The 2009 Montana Men Quilt group quilt
The 2009 Montana Men Quilt group challenge

My contribution is the airplane block in the lower right center. The block above it was made by John Flynn, nationally-known quilter from Billings, MT.