Amazing new firmware on my camera

Cameras are no longer mini computers, they are mega computers. I have been following people on You Tube. There is so much to learn! So two weeks ago there was a major program update. Thank God I had no problems with the update. Then the fun began.

Now I can take time lapse photos. This is something people have been complaining about for a while. I had to try it out, what better than finally capture those little hummingbirds that are flocking to my feeder.

I took over 600 hundred pictures. Many had nothing but the feeder, many had images that just weren’t that clear. I am sharing the best. When the focus is on the bird, look at the results!

The wings appear to be paper thin.

I will also be playing with the speed, see if I can freeze the motion of the wings. Then again, seeing them in this kind of motion is very cool.

Getting closer! I’m not sure this is the same bird. Well, maybe it is the same bird just a different session. I set up the camera many times.

Landing wheels, I mean claws at the ready.

Sometimes one is too hungry to wait to actually land.

Ok, now he can relax and eat. Yes this is a male, looks at the Jewel-tone feathers.

I am beyond amazed at this image, I can literally see the eyebrow on this tiny fellow.

There are plain brown ones, probably the females, as well as some red breasted ones. I also have to figure out how and where to set up the tripod, in some cases my images were back lit, or in these last pictures, I had to tilt the camera up. It is an unusual angle, but as I said, I need more practice.


Duckface people

Back in January I bought Latifah Saafirs’ pattern Duckface people. I so need to get back to sewing. I can’t actually quilt, but I can piece.

Latifah is such a professional, she printed out a whole booklet, her instructions are very clear.

I have decided to make some baby quilts to have on hand, someone is always having a baby. (Thank God!) I started with this boy. Btw, She gives many options and of course one can pick and chose elements.

I didn’t want to rush things, so, I made practice blocks. Btw, this isn’t a fast an easy project. I think the results are very worth while, but it is a little fiddly. She was inspired by cross stitch embroidery, and did a great job at capturing that feeling.

Sharing the backside. After this practice, I decided, that in order to make it really look like Cross stitch, I need to make sure that all the blocks go in the same direction.

I got to sewing…


And cutting. You can see that one can work in bulk, but , there are many little stages.

Can you see how all the X’s are going in the same direction? I think that is more important than the fact that each X is a little off balance and don’t fit perfectly.

I have a whole head.

Working on the body.

The body is bright and complete.

Little boy done! I need to complete the background. I will then make one of the little girls. I won’t be getting my new tables until the middle of May, so now quilting for a while.


Ikats part II

I didn’t mention much about the patterns, that was a big part of the title of the show. I don’t know, I love seeing all kinds of patterns, but often I think the curators overthink things way to much. There are standard designs that show up all over the world, as beautiful as these are to me it’s about the overall affect.

One thing that is still confounding me is how invisible the weft threads are. The docent couldn’t really explain it, and looking online didn’t really help. So I’ll stop being so technical and just enjoy the beauty.

There were a number of examples of this kind of Ikat. Velvet. Velvet is always an expensive fabric, it takes twice as many warp threads, and they pulled up with each row of weaving, then cut to a fine pile. I am counting 7 colors here, which makes sense. If you are going to make velvet make it extraordinary.

More velvet, this time with bold simple paisleys, or Bodums as they are know in Asia. This design element originates in central/west Asia. Notice how ‘simple the undergarment is, except for that wonderful band of ‘plain’ woven ribbon.

This is a woman’s garment, clinched in a little at the waist. The lining fabrics are also interesting. These are roller print cottons from Russia, this happens to be a lovely example, many are much simpler. Once again, that crazy mixture of colors, patterns and styles.

More pattern mixing.

The undergarment is a simple Ikat, what we’d call ombre today. Looks like someone planned some embroidery there, but never got around to actually doing it.

Big, bold, brash, with an interesting juxtaposition of smaller stripes.

More big and bold. A clear indication that this is warp Ikat, look how sharp all the vertical lines are and how fuzzy the horizontal ones are.

Close up of velvet.

Incredible color

Ok, I tried to flip the image, it didn’t work. Then I realized it really doesn’t matter, it is just as beautiful this way.


Power of Pattern, Central Asian Ikats

Sometimes a big bombastic title like this really isn’t necessary. This is the name of an Exhibit at LACMA. Although they think that everyone is running to see all the contemporary art shows they have – really, textiles, crafts or Arts and Crafts movements attract visitors on their own.

Btw, there is confusion about how to pronounce Ikat, it’s e-cot. Not I-cat, e-cat. I know this because over 30 years ago I saw a similar exhibit at the Museum of Islamic Art in Jerusalem.

As I was walking through this exhibit, a docent announced that she would be giving a tour. Of course I hung around to hear what she had to say. She was quite surprised that I had seen a similar exhibit so long ago. That is because Israel really is the center of the world, plenty of Jews came from central Asia and many brought these kind of garments with them. Or at least the knowledge of them. On a similar note, around the same time I learned of the Mexican Day of the Dead, at a time when few in Mexico knew about it. That is because art historians in Israel were actually interested in what was going on in small remote villages in Mexico.

Back to Ikat. This style of resist dye fabrics is very popular through out Asia. The technique moved along the silk road, probably moving from east to west. In Central Asia the warp threads (the colorful ones) are silk while the weft is a very fine cotton. Unlike Batik that is dyed after the fabric is woven, in Ikat, usually the warp threads are tied and dyed, then warped on the loom and woven. The shifting of the threads is what gives the prints that sort of hazy jagged look.

There are other methods, weft dying and double dying. But since there are no examples here, I won’t bore you with those details. Suffice it to say, these are incredible as is. Do you see the white line running through? I don’t think it’s a mistake, because it shows up often, somehow it must have something to do with the tying process that prevents the dyes from penetration.

This collection is from the mid 19th century onward. There had to have been a long tradition of this craft before that. But textiles don’t last very well. Also, by the mid 19th century they would still be using some natural dyes like indigo (the light blue) but synthetic dyes were now available and much brighter as well as colorfast. These are luxury items, worn in layers on special occasions as well as given as diplomatic gifts.

Two important things in this picture. On the right, we have the dyed warp threads. For some reason this was never woven into cloth, so it is very cool to see it here as part of the process. The second is on the fabric itself, I can pick out the repeat very easily. The designer would mark the pattern on taut threads, then workers would tie off all the areas that wouldn’t get the first dye color. Once dyed and returned, the warp would be stretch again, and the next areas would be tied. Often many warps would be dyed the same, either for the same garment, or simply because it was popular. By having the patterns repeat, it was easier for the tiers, also, it allowed fabrics to be seamed together, with a reasonable degree of pattern matching.

It is unusual to see so much white. I think the more the fabric was decorated, the more value it has. At most there would be 8 colors including white, that is very labor intensive. Which once again goes to show, that before industrialization, textiles really were luxury items. Both men and women wore these kirtles, later we will see a style that was only worn by women.

These panels were either made into garments or as curtains or room dividers. In this case, probably as part of a dowry, a girl added a lot of embroidery on top of the Ikat. Central Asia isn’t very pretty, grey brown landscapes. So the beauty had to be man made. In mosaics on the exterior of buildings, to these vibrant textiles.

Have you noticed those white lines that run through many of the prints. I’m just guessing here, but I think that there were some permanent ties that were never removed, most probably between repeats. Think about it, after each dye bath, ties are removed and new ones are put in. If everything is untied, then you end up with quite a mess, leaving certain areas permanently tied keeps the bundles together.

I don’t see that line everywhere, which means that some workshops took more time and effort than others. When the Soviets took over this region, they demanded uniformity. There were certain designs that were allowed for a tiny amount of ethnic pride, but no more small family run workshops. Ikat moved into factories and lost a lot of it’s unique beauty. With the fall of communism in the late 1980s’ this trend reversed. Today there are small workshops again, but it will never repeat the heyday of the mid 19th century.

The Ikat was combined with other needle crafts. I love all the colors and the textures. Could I wear all of these in one outfit. Probably not, to western eyes this looks garish. On the tour there were two French women who loved the color, but wanted it separated out. In other words, they could see wearing one of the calmer robes over solid black. And that is what is so wonderful about seeing how different cultures react to pattern and color.

I have more pictures, but I’ll be splitting this into two posts.


Shira goes downtown

Shira has two weeks of Spring break. I only offered to cover one day.

She has become quite the reader! I found this book in one of those free library boxes. After finishing it, she went up to the barista and they talked about how wonderful this story is. The other day I actually went into a bookstore, they have updated the book in color, otherwise, exact same book.

Then it was on to downtown. On a glorious sunny day. Of course we rode Angels Flight. Shira wanted to do so a few times. But I had other plans for things to do.

I had to get a picture in front of this sign for her Abba. He works for BNY Mellon, he used to work at this office. We’re not sure they still have an office downtown, but if not, then removing the name is too much effort.

She is really trying to get all the poses. Not that she needs to. Shira has always been extremely photogenic. Here we are, looking at the Central library. Then it was down the outdoor escalators, which she thought was the coolest thing ever!

The Children’s section of the library is the coolest of all. It isn’t the original location, but the kids lucked out with the most beautiful. She got to take out four books!!! I can’t tell you how thrilling it is that these days she prefers reading to You Tube!!!!

Then we walked through the Biltmore Hotel. At this point she told me that everything is so beautiful here, that she wants to live downtown, preferably in the Biltmore.

Sushi lunch at Grand Central market.

And here we are, dancing in front of the neon Mural at Grand Central Market. We ended the day at a park, where she ran, and danced and played with the other kids. Yes, I was exhausted.

Might as well get the other grandkids in here. I just LOVE this photo. Serendipitous, is all I can say.

He loves the swing.

Pancakes aren’t just for Santa’s house! They get them at home, with my homemade marmalade.

That plate looks empty!

Took Aytan to Fosselman’s Ice-cream shop, which is just a mile from his school. Yeah, that is one happy boy.

I am blessed, I know it, which is why I spend so much time with the grandkids. They are the best gift in the world.


Springtime walks

We went back to Elysian park. This is one of those walks, where in the beginning, we are walking high above the 5 freeway. Even though it was a Sunday, there was a lot of noise coming up from the freeway. So how does one capture the view? Having a hawk fly by is a good distraction.

How cool is this! I was aiming for the artwork along the river, lo and behold, look at that cool orange tanker that popped in the picture. Also, you can see this is a Sunday morning, no traffic whatsoever.

There are no California poppies in this park. To be honest, most of the massive blooms are far from the city. What we did get was massive amounts of mustard. Tall, massive and bright yellow.

Can you see how the distance made the yellow so much more impressive. A close up means that sure, I look good. But the flowers – less so.

Ok, lets be honest, a background of yellow mustard is lovely, but sometimes it’s about the portrait.

This is what all that mass of yellow looks like close up.

I don’t now what this is, it’s clearly a vine with tendrils to grab onto other plants. It has these extraterrestrial fruit.

As we moved away from the freeway we came upon this glorious view. Dodger Stadium with City Hall in the background. No game today, the parking lots were completely empty.

Moving the camera to the right, and there is that incredible skyline.

The walk was lovely, but we were looking for Angels’ Point. Our route instructions weren’t great, it looks like we cut a mile or more out of the walk. People we asked along the way didn’t know what we were talking about.

Here it is, a sculpture designed by local artist Peter Schrier. A slightly different angle of downtown in the background.

Perfect isn’t this. a sign about the law and no one cares. I didn’t take any pictures, but in the last few years, people have been spray painting rocks and trees as well. Well, as soon as the artistic elites decided that some graffiti is art – this is what happens. Yes, there are consequences to being too high falutin’ arty.

There are wonderful picnic areas here, some with plenty of tables for big parties. There even was a spit that would fit a whole pig. Looks like the Mariachis are gearing up for a busy Sunday.

You are familiar with our after hike tradition by now. Go find some good tacos, and boy did we. Guisados’ is now open on Sunset Blvd in Echo Park. I love how they painted the back retaining wall. This section is honoring the original truck in Boyle Heights as well as the Dodgers.

As well as Mariachis, a dancer and day of the dead. This is a lovely outdoor patio, where we sat and enjoyed this feast:

It was soooo good!!! They do tacos, or ceviche with a twist, a yummy twist.

Guisados is in Dodger stadium territory so it wasn’t surprising to find this painted on the wall of what looks like a new apartment building. Notice the Broad tower peaking over the rooftop. It’s not very close, it’s just very tall.


Yarn Crawl

It’s probably been four years since I actually went on a yarn crawl, as in visiting a bunch of yarn stores. This year was no different, but I did what I always do, I walked to my local yarn store to check things out.

As the neighborhood changes and grows, I’m wondering how long these old commercial buildings will stand. Still here now, so I’m enjoying them. This location has been a yarn store for almost 20 years. First Knit Cafe and now the Altered stitch. The present owner is looking to sell, so we’ll see….

Among my yarny friends, we call this the hand-dyed heaven store. There is no Plain Jane yarn, which makes shopping here a little difficult for me. But it does make it lovely for photography. Spinning is still very much a thing, so they have dyed fiber as well as finished yarn.

Every year the yarn crawl has a theme, honestly, I don’t know what the overarching theme is this year. Maybe travel? This store went with tropical Hawaiian which is perfect for their bright hand dyes.

What I have found in the last few years, is that there is less yarn and more cutesy decorations. I stopped buying a lot of yarn years ago. Recently I purged most of my good yarn, except for the linen. I have a sweater’s worth to one friend. I am teaching another friend to knit and I gave her some nice yarn as well. I have decided, no more yarn stash, I will buy for specific projects. Which is sort of what I’ve been doing for a while anyway.

So, we have tiny bear knitting.

… and huge knitting on very large needles. I counted 5 strands of very bulky yarn here.

Samples of projects are always good. I’m over socks with too much pattern on them. This is really really adorable, but no, not worth my time. Btw, they only have one sock, so I wonder if the knitter gave up after one.

Small sample of a yarn knit up. In this case, the size is fine, but with some hand-dyes, a swatch this small wouldn’t really show much.

As part of the yarn crawl, there was demonstration of dying wool yarn with Koo-lAid. Not bad results, that red is very deep and bright. It is also probably very fugitive and will either crock (release dye into water when immersed, or simply fade with time.

You start with damp yarn.

Since Kool-Aid already has citric acid in it, that is built in mordant. Mixing and dispersing colors.

There we go, ready for heat. In this case, 2 minutes in the microwave, let rest for 2 minutes, repeat, until the liquid runs clear. That means that all the dye has been absorbed. I am working on a shawl with the natural Merino wool I bought in Chile, I am considering dying the shawl when I’m done knitting. No, I won’t use Kool-Aid, I’ll look at Dharma Tradings website, find some good dye and then look at some You Tube tutorials.

Because its spring, I’m sharing flowers. These bright yellow ones grow on trees scattered around the valley. I don’t know the name, but they are big, bright balls of yellow happiness.

A zinnia can be such a pretty thing.

So I planted a Matilija poppy in my yard, I hope it’s a dwarf variety, otherwise, I’ll be blocking my dining room window….



No, I haven’t been able to sew much, except on my serger. I happened to be at the mall, which is somewhere I rarely go. Gymboree is going out of business and they were having a 70% off sale. I never shopped there for my own kids, I don’t think I ever bought my grand kids stuff there. Sure the quality was great, but the prices were high.

My DIL really wants Shira wearing leggings under dresses. She bounces all over the place, modesty is a good thing. This dress is adorable, I love the embroidery. I happened to find leggings in her size that match perfectly.

Oy, Shira, not only are you extremely photogenic, you have all the moves. Another cute dress with another pair of leggings.

The H&M effect has taken over, I was surprised by the not so great quality of many of the clothes. There were some ‘cute’ dresses that just looked so cheap, I wasn’t willing to buy them.

Shira’s best friend was over. She was already a mermaid in Shira’s mermaid swimsuit. So the both got into the photo session.

You can see that Shira has all the moves down pat. Her friend, is just a natural 7 year old.

A wardrobe change was in order.

Omg, I’m dying here, Shira has that bored I don’t care kind of look down pat. Meanwhile, I love her friends’ smile. So natural, so real.

Then they had to do the bunny ears. Now that is a cute smile on both of them.

I love that Shira has such a close bestie and that they are busy being 7 year old girls together. One of these days, I’ll sew her some more dresses, I keep waiting for my sewing tables. When a company has no competition, I get to pay full price up front and be treated like garbage. You better believe that next time I see Koala at a quilt show, they will get an earful.


More Argentina

My friend Marlene gave me some picture that she took, I have to share.

She had a small waterproof camera, so she was able to get some pictures in situations where my camera was stored away. Landing the zodiacs on Cape Horn, what you don’t really see is the steep climb up the stairs.

This is what the walkways on the rock look like, just wood, painted with a red stripe where there are stairs. Not very stable and no railings to be found.

The Chileans feel strongly about spending time and money and working in awful conditions to put up this memorial. Most people who pass by might see this from the ocean. Btw, this was the only albatross we saw.

I am very happy to see a monument to ViceAdmiral Robert Fitzroy. He was the captain of the Beagle the ship after whom the Beagle Channel is named. The man who created the maritime maps in the 1830’s that were used until the 1950s. His passenger Darwin in much better know, but Fitzroy is the one who made most of the discoveries as well as many advancements for seamen in those rickety old boats.

Cape Horn is both a national park of Chile as well as land being run by the navy.

The lighthouse, we were welcomed in to climb up to the glass dome, the house was closed to us. The lighthouse keeper has his family with him. Sure, it can be lonely, but when people like us stop by, they don’t want to be bothered. Marlene took this picture from the porch of the Chapel, I was inside looking out taking the few pictures that I did.

Love this, you can see how cold I am. On the zodiac in the rain going on shore for a little hike. I may be cold, but I was very happy.

I am very thankful that Marlene took these pictures of us. Some she took on my camera, which I have shared already, here are some on hers.

Another place where she snapped our picture was at Iguazu falls.

Especially on the boat ride under the falls. This is after we got soaking wet. There is water all over her camera, but as you can see, we were having a blast.

The cameraman on board knew to wear full foullies.

Back on dry land, I am showing off my ticket. Soaked and falling apart. The dry bags worked very well. My camera came through just fine.

My camera was still in the dry bag when we passed this huge Capybara. So Marlene was one of the few who caught this picture of him. Biggest rodent on earth. I think I’m glad I didn’t just walk into him. He really is huge.

I may share some more pictures of Buenos Aires when I run out of things to post. We shall see.


Cherry blossoms

I do not need to travel to Washington DC or to Japan to enjoy the blooming of the cherry trees. We have them right here in the valley around lake Balboa. Lake Balboa was created to use water from the Tillman reclamation plant. For some reason people don’t want the reclaimed water in their faucets. What nature does in three years, the reclamation plant does in a month or less. I guess that is just too little time between sewage and drinking water. So most of the water is used for irrigation as well as creating this wonderful lake and park.

In 1992 a Japanese company donated 100 cherry trees, they are of a variety that can handle the heat – but apparently not the draught. More than half have died over the years. Now that we’ve had some very rainy winters, maybe they will do better. I did notice that new younger trees have been planted.

I started taking pictures with my regular lens. It does a beautiful job. Then I switched to the Macro lens.

Closer. This image feels very Japanese, off center, a lot of negative space. That is if you consider the sky to be negative… almost like a modern quilt.

Ahh, these closeups! I am really enjoying what the camera can capture, that my naked eye can’t. Sort of like the incredible slo-mo extreme closeups in the nature shows on TV. We wouldn’t be watching them if they were at normal speed.

This lake is known for the birds. In the past I have shared pictures of the duck and geese. But I didn’t have this amazing camera, so here you go with incredible detail.

A Canada goose. They have to make sure to keep the numbers down. These guys can get nasty! They also are very tame, people are walking by, driving by and feeding them.

White and black. I was concentrating on the swan and his reflection, lets say the black duck photobombed the image.

Cherry blossoms aren’t the only thing at the park. We have some wisteria. I used to have a neighbor down the street with a lovely old wisteria vine. Well, he sold the house and a McMansion is rapidly being built on the property. Other neighbors had hoped to transplant the wisteria, but no, it was ripped out and tossed. So I come here to the lake to visit wisteria.

Image taken with my regular lens, very nice. Good detail in the foreground, faded out in the background.

Look at this! The clarity of the details I get with the macro lens.

This must be a different variety of wisteria, flatter, less complicated.

This is a closeup of the flowerbeds before they elongate and burst into that wonderful waterfall of petals. Oh, as it has gotten warmer, the cherry trees were busy shedding their flowers. Maybe another week or two and they’ll be gone. Lets hope the wisteria lasts a little longer.