Another Book: Bill McKibben’s Falter

Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? by Bill McKibben

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Since I associate Bill McKibben with climate change writing, I was surprised to hear this book was also about Artificial Intelligence. I went to hear his presentation about the book. (I live in Portland where we have Powell’s City of Books, and authors come to talk about their recent works.) It was done as a dialogue and the questioner dealt only with the climate stuff, as did most of the Q & A. Until the last question. Someone asked about AI. Of course now there was no time. But his answer indicated that he felt we were at a beginning of awareness of AI akin to where we were on carbon in the 70s.

Now even more interested, I got on the library wait list and finally got the book.

The book begins with climate stuff, updates on research. A couple details especially interested me: As the earth warms, the protein content of some plants decreases. At certain concentration of carbon, our cognitive abilities decrease. (I don’t remember how far in the future or what percentage.)

Then the AI. He cites goals and claims of speed of anticipated accomplishments, exponential. He discusses designer babies–not just medical adjustments, but choices of intelligence and character and . . . The latter would be changes that could be passed on genetically, so affecting more than the baby itself. One critique he made was that Designer Baby 1 would have a selection of traits that the parents deemed desirable. Then the science would continue so that Designer Baby 2 would have an even more enhanced set. Thus Baby 1’s time of functional superiority would be short lived, soon to be outdated by the next model, as with most technology.

He discusses solutions in the third section, managing to maintain hope for a move to solidarity even while acknowledging the counterforce of individualism. So the book ends on a cautious hopefulness.

While there is scientific information, the book is readable. And there are footnotes for those who want to follow up. I especially appreciated the balance of his ending.

Lots of good books ahead. But I think it is time for something light and then some sewing.

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Book Time: Robin Diangelo’s White Fragility

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About RacismWhite Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the past I was part of a cross-racial discussion where the term “white fragility” appeared. From the context I determined it meant a defensive reaction, a lack of listening. Learning that this book was the origin of the phrase led me to reading it. And I learned it meant much more than defensiveness. It includes denial along with defensiveness and has the effect of stopping the discussion/analysis of racism. It involves keeping the racist system we are socialized into in place. Or as Diangelo puts it, the mention of racism disrupts the system and the fragility response restores equilibrium.

Important to the discussion is an understanding of racism as systemic rather than individual acts; as a system, it is something we are socialized into, often unconsciously. Understanding that socialization divorces “racism” from something a bad person does. Being free of seeing ourselves as bad people when exhibiting racism frees us from the need to deny it. Rather we can listen, process the information, and work to change.

Because I had had previous exposure to concepts of social construction of identity and power structures and their perpetuation, I could quickly get into Diangelo’s argument. Someone not so exposed might have to work harder to understand and accept it. Might need more discussion, explanation, and examples. I had also previous understandings of a part being considered the norm from my studies of sexism–I especially remember a study where healthy male and healthy humans were the same; healthy women were defined differently. So it was easy to follow the discussion of how whiteness becomes normal human.

All of those concepts are necessary to understanding the rest of Diangelo’s discussion of “white fragility,” our resistance to seeing ourselves able to do and say things that have racist impact and to see the need to interrupt the perpetuation process.

I can only hope that in a real life situation, that if someone offers the comment that I’ve said/done something with racist impact I can remember to say , “Thank you” instead of resisting the information. And learn.

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Return to Improv and Scraps

Back in the day (here) I started an improv for the Academy of Quilting class with Elizabeth Barton. I chose this exercise because it sounded the fastest. Wrong. I think  spent more time on it than on the two small color studies I recently finished! A piece would look flat after pressing. Then when a new piece was added, it bulged in an old seam, not the new one. I haven’t figured that one out yet. It meant lots of corrective seams and darts.

Anyway, the top is finished now. (Some very pretty curved seams will disappear into “hidden” seams. Oh well . . .

4-patch top finished

38 x 43 inches

Once the top was finished, some fabric turned into scraps.  So I decided the back should be a big four patch.

4-patch back

I hadn’t started out to make the corners not meet; however, the orange piece was all I had, so I decided it was fitting to be unmatched since the front was purposely unmatched. (The light green wasn’t big enough either, but I did have enough to piece it.)

I still had more scraps so I made a scrappy binding (before they got mixed in with outer scraps).

4-patch binding

I carefully laid it out along the quilt to see how the colors worked with the top and to be sure I didn’t have a seam at the corners. However, I laid it out on the front, and I will be sewing it onto the back. The corners will still work.  I’ll just wait and be surprised at how the front looks when it is finished.

Do you make scrappy bindings? If so, how much do you plan them. I’ve been saving left overs from binding quilts, planning on a more random scrappy binding someday instead of a color coordinated one. Someday I’ll have a quilt that that will be appropriate for. Oh, while stitching pieces together, I learned that each join takes up 2 inches.

On a more scrappy note yet, I tackled some leaders/enders. I was running out of 2-inch squares to attach so needed something new. The pile looked big enough to do “something” with.

I have no idea what the plan was when I started these. I pondered between making 4- or 16- or 20-patch blocks. Four-patch blocks sounded easier, so I went with that. I have 80 sets pinned and ready to be Leaders-and-enders.

A baby quilt (36 x 36) would take 72, so that is the current plan. I’ll alternate a 4-patch with a plain square. If I have enough coordinating 3 1/2-inch squares, I’ll continue scrappy; if not it will be a half-scrap project. The left over 8 will become something else.

Although a leader-ender project feels like it happens by magic, there are moments of preparation needed, like this one.

Check in with Kate of Tall Tales from Chiconia to see other Scrap Happy folks’ accomplishments.

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Grid in Two Color Combinations

Back to the grid sketched for the More-Abstract-Art-for-Quilters class (sketch here among other things).  After the line sketch, I did several value sketches and then several color sketches of the best value sketch. I decided to make a very small version of my two favorite color combinations.

So yesterday morning I pulled all the shades I had of red, blue, yellow, and green.

grid fabric pull

I had no intention of using all of them, but didn’t yet know which I’d want. Notice the top green one–at least it looks like a light yellow-green to me. When I ended up using it, it looked yellow in context.

So I started cutting from the first color sketch.

grid start with sketch

You can see already that the look of real fabric will be quite different from the look of the sketch. And as I worked with actual fabric, I made a couple adjustments to the colors on the sketch–a couple things worked in pencil but not in my selection of fabric.

Sewing took longer than I allowed for it–I’d planned to make them both yesterday. Instead I finished one and cut out the second. Usually I can chop any design into all straight seams. Not this one.  There were several partial seam construction spots. I started sewing what could be completely sewn together, then calculated the order of partial seams. By supper time I had this.

grid color

10 x 15 inches

I figured I’d better cut out the second before putting the fabric away. It was a good thing I had.  It was much easier to work on it today having it already cut.  I should do that more often. So here is version 2:

grid color maquette 2

(You can rotate it once to the right if you want to see it in the same orientation as the first one.) This one is the same size.

I will face them both and do a little stitch-in-the-ditch quilting.  I had thought I might do matchstick since the piece is so small, but I don’t think I want the haze of color that would produce. The “stripes” don’t work out evenly even if I did change thread color.

Now the question is whether I want to make either (or both) and what size. For one thing, it will have to wait till I find that bright green. I haven’t seen that color in shops for years and I have only 6 inches or so left.

I have plenty of sketches from the class to keep me busy for a while. Plus ideas from the improv class. And I am now signed up for Elizabeth Barton’s class on color.  She had one exercise in the More Abstract Art class that was so helpful, I’m hoping for more like that in the color class.

I’ll try to remember to link up with the Clever Chameleon on Tuesday. (Link in sidebar)

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PBS Project Finished

The sewing on the Paintbrush Studio Fabric project was finished a couple days ago. I did the photography yesterday and today. Of course the overcast days were while I was still sewing–quite sunny today. Anyway, finished and sent a day early. I rather like working at a slow and steady pace instead of a last minute rush. I’ll have to do that more often.

The finished quilt front

front sm

~46 x ~46 inches

and back

back sm

I make a lot of quilts just a bit over the width-of-fabric measurement, and I prefer piecing a strip to buying and extra length of the backing for a couple inches. It is also a good way to use left over fabric, though I have a few scraps.

detail sm

I had just read Jacquie Gering’s Walk and decided to try diagonal wavy lines with the walking foot. For the most part it went well. However, twice I ended up with a line of eyelashes on the wrong side (more than I have ever had when doing free motion). It seemed to happen when I tried too hard to make too big of a curve, but the odd thing is that it continued after I went back to ordinary motions.  The fix was to take the bobbin out and put it back. Go figure.

And in addition to diagonals, the gull print suggested loop d’ loop, but not too much. So I put in the free motion foot and did a couple spaced out rows of loops.

And now for a couple glam shots

 

I had to do some serious cropping of the left photo because I’d managed to include garbage dumpsters at the curb! That photo is from the park across the street where the trees are off to the side and the middle is wide open space; the bench is in the patio behind my apartment building.

Quilt history:

Fabric and project information here

First steps here

 

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An Improv Start and More Sketches

An online class sure keeps me busy, but busy in a fun way. (Meanwhile I have 8 days for the Paint Brush Studio project. Plenty of time–a day to make the back, two to quilt, and another to bind.)

Lesson 2 of Mod Meet Improv involved improv stitching instead of sketching. So I did.

L2 design 2

Elizabeth gave some very general instructions which could produce quite a variety of quilts. Mine is sewn in strips, but I’m still adjusting exactly where I’ll be sewing them together. First I move one to the left, then another to the right. Etc. I’m waiting for Elizabeth’s comments before stitching any more. Once I decide where each strip goes and attach them, I’ll add unbleached muslin for enough border to get to 36-inch square. (Those slightly curved seams really shrink the final measurement.)

Then I combined homework for the quilt-design group meeting tomorrow with a project for Lesson 3. Last month we talked about Jacob Lawrence’s work. (I had associated the Harlem Renaissance with literature–was intrigued to learn it extended to art also.) One month the group talks about an artist and the next month sketches a design or makes a quilt related to that artist’s works. I’d been most fascinated by one piece in his series, The Great Migration: Panel 18, “The Migration Gained in Momentum” (here scroll down to get to it) . What intrigued me most was the composition showing the goal off canvas and the motion toward it.  Since I don’t do people, I wasn’t sure how to proceed.

The current lesson involved varying a traditional block.  So I started sketching possibilities using that idea. First I tried Ohio Star.

L3 Riff sketch 1

This sketch didn’t fill the bill. I felt like I should show the traditional block before I pulled out a part to vary. With the star in the upper corner, the goal was no longer off “canvas.” And the variations on the QSTs (Quarter Square Triangles) were too stable. (It reminds me of Christmas cards that say, Wise Men Still Follow the Star–without the “following”motion. Or chess pieces.)

So I shifted to Flying Geese.

L3 Riff sketch 2

A little bit better: Motion and off the “canvas.” But leading the eye off the quilt isn’t a good thing, and that is what this one does. Also the blocks are moving to the side not up.

Well, as you might imagine, there is no way to tip a Flying Goose block to the right and have it point up and right. At some point you have to let go of the inspiration and deal with the new design. I think this is that point. So here is the third try.

L3 riff sketch 3

I rather like this one. I think I avoided leading the eye off the design. We’ll see. It hasn’t had time to get comments yet. I suppose if I were to make it, I’d call it “Flying Geese Migrate.” One trouble with liking to work abstractly is that it is difficult to keep social meaning in the piece.

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From Sketch to Top

Progress is happening on the PaintBrush Studio project (sketch and fabric here).  First I got permission to change the background. Glad to know the option remains to select from the whole of Paintbrush Palette–though they supply only from their selection.

And the beginning looked just like the picture in my head.

pbs start

I’m really glad I could use that grayer blue, called Haze.

Then I finished the top.

pbs top

The fourth row doesn’t please me quite so much.  Looking at the whole piece of fabric, I ddn’t see it so white as it became once cut up.  Do any of you have tricks to help see that difference? I am not disappointed enough to do any ripping, as usual. Nor do I think I’ll make another top with one change.  But if I were, I’d make the fourth row of 4-inch squares of the backing fabric (shown in the above linked previous post). It will be better with the red binding.

On to making the back.

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