Wednesday, October 30, 2013

There Were Birds on Things

Thanks for the non-warning, Portland Convention Center!

When I first started teaching, I used to get really excited about going to science teacher conferences. Now that I'm older and more experienced (and more jaded?), I find them more tiresome. There are less new and surprising things to learn and see, and traipsing back and forth across the convention center and over to the surrounding hotels feels more like a chore. It's like a less interesting version of Comic-Con with really boring cosplays.

I did get really excited about this DIY gel electrophoresis box, though! Even though I don't teach AP Bio anymore, I couldn't resist a workshop that had "DIY" in the title. It's amazing what you can do with a tack box, a couple of paper clips, and a few 9V batteries! 

Thankfully, I got to end my week with an awesomely geeky day with Gretchen and her husband, who graciously showed me around their city. After a very Portland brunch (vegan and gluten-free everything! kale! but very tasty!), they let me drag them over to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry to see the Sherlock Holmes exhibit. It was probably one of the most well-done, enjoyable interactive exhibits I've ever been to (and trust me, I've been to A LOT of science museums!), with adults and children alike getting into it. If you're in the area, you should check it out! Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed, so you'll just have to believe me when I say it was almost like going on the Harry Potter Studio Tour in its attention to detail. 

We also checked out several fabric stores, of course. Many thanks to all of you for your helpful suggestions! I wish I could've visited more than three, plus Powell Books, but there just wasn't time.

The Mill End fabric store was like walking into Costco or something similarly warehouse-like, except that instead of free samples of canned tuna or yogurt, it was row after row of fabric! This picture cannot accurately convey how far back it goes! They had an excellent knit selection, but I had pledged not to buy any new fabric...
Having recently studied this in textiles class, I appreciated this informative poster about the different kinds of silk.

We hopped a few blocks over to the Pendleton Woolen Mill, which had gorgeous cozy wools for what felt like high, but were actually quite normal, prices (think $60/yd on average):

I didn't take pictures of the bolts of fabric, but I did find this little display interesting -- they showed how the wool samples felt after 1, 2, or 3 washes! 
And if I thought that Mill End was overwhelming, the Fabric Depot was even more so! It also marked the first time that I've ever seen a fabric store advertised with its own brochure in those visitor information kiosks along with more run of the mill tourist destinations like whale-watching or outlet malls. A lot of it was quilting cotton, but I was still able to pick up some more obscure items like extra-wide petersham for waist facings, ban roll for waistbands, and a buttonhole cutter. If only I had had that last tool when I was making my waistcoat!

By this time I had to get to the airport, but I'm just grateful I was able to squeeze in some sewing blogger meet-up time into a work trip. Thanks for spending a day with me, Gretchen! And wouldn't you know, neither of us thought to take a picture with each other. 

Here, have a picture I took at the airport gift shop instead: the creepiest use of those bear-shaped squeeze bottles ever! The top part was all foamy and weird, like brains...

After I got back, I spent a rather hurried day finishing my final for my pants class: a perfectly fitted, perfectly constructed pair of pants. I keep telling my students not to save their lab reports until the night before they're due, and what do I do? Turn around and put off my final project until the ninth hour. I was sewing on hooks and bars right up until I left for class. Fortunately (or unfortunately, for the sake of learning not to procrastinate), they turned out spectacularly and I'm pleased as punch with them. Pictures to come!


  1. Wow, could I get in trouble in Portland. What self control! Can't wait to see your perfectly fitting pants. Soon?

  2. impressive that you left without any fabric! i love the displays with useful info about the fabrics. and sherlock holmes exhibit??? ahhh!

  3. Thanks for posting this! I'm going to Portland next month and was looking for fabric store suggestions. Any stores you didn't make it to but wish you did? Or stores you went to but wish you'd skipped?

  4. I can't believe you didn't buy any fabric! Trips are the one time I would guiltlessly break my no fabric buying ban.
    I'm so proud of your self control though!! Way to be an example to us all! I really like all those neat informative fabric displays. Cool stuff.

  5. I'm glad the Sherlock Holmes exhibit turned out to be awesome! I really hope it comes to a city I can visit.

  6. Those fabric stores look so extensive! I can hardly believe you have so much restraint. Glad you had some fun time on your trip! By the way, I just made your dolman sleeve top (finally) and I love it! Thanks so much for sharing it. I want to make a ton of them, and maybe put a cat on one... I never thought I was that sort of person, but cat ownership is changing me. I want cats on everything!


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