Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Travels with knitting

We made it up to Northern California with no troubles at all. In fact, as Rick was kind enough to do the driving from the north side of the Grapevine up to Sacramento, I got a ton of knitting done. The good thing about garter stitch is that it makes great car knitting, even in the pitch black (although I did have to make use of oncoming headlights to see if I was managing the "knit two together through the back loop" maneuver correctly).

On Sunday, we had breakfast and walked the dog, and then headed out to the Bay Area, with a day full of plans. We started off by having a wonderful visit and lunch with Grandmom; I always wish we could stay longer, although I think we all know that by the end of those three hours, she's pretty tired, and the kids have hit their sit-still limit (even though they do love to look at Grandmom's travel photo albums with her; this time we went through the one from the time she lived in Europe for 18 months from 1935-37)(!!). I miss living closer to her, when we could visit more frequently. When we lived in the East Bay, I used to go visit with her a lot, with Rick and by myself, or with the kids once they were born. We'd go for coffee at the Warming Hut at Chrissy Field, and take walks on the Marina Green, and for a long time, Rick and I had a regular habit of taking her out to dim sum every few months (at this great place whose name neither of us can remember, but that everyone always knew as the pink place near the Russian Orthodox Church in the Richmond District). I manage to forget how much I miss it most of the time, but when we go up there, I am reminded.

But we had a nice lunch with her, and a good visit.

After that, we headed into the city to go to the De Young Museum (another place I associate with Grandmom; she docented there for years and used to get us in to see exhibits) to see the Tutankhamun exhibit. No pictures, of course, but we all enjoyed it very much. (Although I do often find it curious how often exhibits like that make no mention of textiles. In one of Howard Carter's original pictures of the tomb, there is something sitting on a stool that I am absolutely convinced is a spindle, but of course it's not identified, sigh.) I saw the exhibit at the De Young when it was last here, well over twenty years ago (I think I was about the age that Tess is now). Rick saw it in New York on that same tour. Both of us missed some of the pieces that we remember seeing, but I thought that this exhibit did a nicer job of placing Tutankhamun within the history of Egypt, which I appreciated. I'm glad we went, and both of the girls enjoyed it tremendously, which was a large part of the point.

On the way out, we stopped in at the Amish quilt exhibition that's also there right now. They had some stunning quilts on display; I admit that I was most impressed with the quilting itself (am I using the right terminology, quilters? I mean the stitching that holds the layers together), which was a huge design element in all of the quilts and so intricate. And of course, I assume (because the exhibit didn't say) that it is all done completely by hand, which makes the complex, even, stitches that much more impressive. It was serendipity to happen upon them while we were looking for a way up into the observation tower to see the view of the city.

I will say, though, as a last note, that I'm still unconvinced about the chicken wire on the outside of the tower. I keep wanting someone to come by with a stucco gun to finish the darned thing off. But that might just be me.

And then we got to have a lovely dinner with Rick's cousin Jasmine, and her husband Justin and my lovely baby cousin Tyler, who is growing like a weed. He thought his big cousins were pretty nifty.
And he's acquired some new skills since I saw him last. (Heh.)
I miss seeing them more often, too, but it was lovely to get a chance to sit down and have dinner together and visit for a while.

Rick very kindly did all of the driving so I could get knitting done. Between that and the time I spent knitting yesterday, I have finished a project. Which one, you ask? Well, I haven't taken any good pictures of it (tomorrow in daylight, I promise.) But meanwhile, here's a hint.


Miss 376 said...

It always amazes me, the detail that goes into these quilts and the way they are able to endure such a long time. Congratulations on your finish, look forward to the photos

Lynne said...

Sounds like a wonderful trip!

I am amazed by quilting - some marvellous designs and gorgeous craftsmanship - but I have no desire to take it up!

Mary Lou said...

Why that looks like Electra -- it sounds like a good trip and I bet those photo albums of Europe in the 30's are amazing. How lucky to have been able to spend so much time with your grandmother. She sure looks happy to have you all there. (I saw King Tut in NY back then, too.)

twinsetellen said...

It appears to have been a 100% successful trip, down to the excellent fit of Electra.

In a former life I quilted quite a bit. I would be pretty surprised if more than an example or two of machine quilting got into that exhibit, so yes, those stitches were by hand. The rhythm of putting those stitches in, rocking the thimble back and forth and loading the needle with 3, 4, 5 stitches before drawing it through the fabric layers is nearly as meditative as knitting.

Helen said...

What a busy weekend. I saw Tut at the British Museum, some years before you, ahem. The only thing I can remember is the golden mask, which I found quite hypnotic.

Grandmom must have enjoyed your visit so much.

RobinH said...

Your terminology is exactly correct- quilting is the stitching that holds the layers together amd the act of doing that stitching by hand or machine. (Also the activity of making quilts- though quilters have differing opinions as to whether a blanket where the layers are tied (held together with a single stitch at intervals, usually knotted on the 'front') should be referred to as a quilt or just a blanket. I think the commonest usage is that anything with multiple layers stitched or otherwise fastened together is a 'quilt', though.)

I won't get into the divide between hand quilters and machine quilters (it could cause outbreaks of violence in your comments!).

And I think that there are few mentions of textiles in museums because a) textiles often don't survive as well as say, pottery and b)it was often women's work and not well documented. But there are some good exhibits out there (the ones I've been to are not close to you, I'm afraid, but)- the V&A has a fabulous textiles collection. And I was at the NY Museum of Natural History over the weekend to see the spider silk tapestry and Silk Road exhibition, and there was a lot of discussion of textiles there, including a fascinating film describing how silk is manufactured.

And lastly (sorry, I'm babbling at length here), last week I invested in an LED booklight for knitting in the dark during long car trips, and it worked *brilliantly*- got me about 6 extra hours of knitting time on the NY trip, since nearly all the driving was in the dark. I got the sort with a clip and a flexible neck, and clipped it to the shoulder belt. Highly recommended.

KnitNana said...

I see that RobinH answered your question quite well.
I'm a traditionalist, thinking quilts really should be quilted by hand, but then, I'm also a realist, knowing that my time is so precious and limited, the machine will probably have to do the work or I'll never get any quilting done! Even the piecework, tho' I learned to piece by hand, originally...alas, quilting is scheduled for my retirement, tho' - lolol!
What a fun trip!!! I know you're glad to have had the visit...they're so important.
Have a great Thanksgiving (is that Elecktra?)

Rachael said...

Have a great time on your trip & happy thanksgiving!

Carrie K said...

Aren't those Amish quilts amazing? Wholecloth, not pieced at all, right?

Sounds like a great drive up and fun w/Grandmom and the City. Her time in Europe must've been fascinating. Right between the two World Wars.

Alwen said...

I better not get started on the subject of mummies and textiles and the things treasure-hunters did to what they considered "worthless rags of cloth".

Pam said...

Congrats on finishing! I hope this means you are pleased with the results.

I am so jealous you saw the Tut exhibit the first time around. My parent's thought I was too young and didn't take me. Of course they didn't know I would become an archaeologist!

Have a great holiday!

Willow said...

Oh! I think I like it! Is it an adult sized Zimmermann Surprise Jacket??

Lovely trip to the Bay Area. Enjoy your Thanksgiving Day.

EGunn said...

Sounds like a great trip...it's wonderful to spend some quality family time together. I love that picture of Rick with Grandmom and the girls. He is so tall by comparison!

Aren't Amish quilts amazing? I hand-quilt, but I don't think I'll ever be that detailed, or that regular in my stitching! I agree with Ellen, though...quilting is just as meditative as knitting (and it tends to go faster, too).

Happy Thanksgiving!

Gwen said...

Lovely all around! Love having someone else drive. You've got excellent results.

maybe we need to go to a museum this weekend. Maybe not - holiday weekend. I'll keep cooking.

Bea said...

Your trips always sound awesome. It was so sweet of Rick to do all the driving too. (Oh and sitting on the couch he makes the others look like dwarfs...)