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For anyone not growing up in the Tri-State area, ‘two states at once!’ is what’s shouted crossing through the Holland Tunnel as you reached the tiled Underwater State Boundary Delineator:

(if the tiling looks different it may be because a truck blew up in the tunnel in 1949. Or maybe just redecoration).

Which brings me somewhat vaguely to a point: While familiar enough with New Jersey, I remain woefully ignorant of most of these United States. Case in point, this week’s pattern-states Louisiana and Oklahoma (two this week as nothing was posted last week). Since I have little to no firsthand knowledge of either state, I shall follow the rules of a game a friend introduced me to some time ago, whereby a room full of inebriated nerds is challenged to speak with authority on any given topic for 5 minutes. The topic is of random choosing by an audience member, no padding by means of digression or excess floridity is allowed, and the speech must be convincingly informative (actually informative is not even the point). For this exercise I won’t even allow myself to search the sweet nest of information that is the internet. So!

Let’s see, Louisiana. The Magnolia State! Home of the Crescent City, New Orleans, which while not completely rebounded is doing better and remains a lovely place to visit. “A Confederacy of Dunces” took place there. Indeed, right outside a hotel in the French Quarter a large bronze statue of its main character, Cornelius stands with scarf and parrot. Gambit hails from this state, as can be heard from his distinct Creole accent. Alligators appear to be a common threat and entree. Uh, that’s about all I got.

Oklahoma. Damn. There is a song about it that is part of a play of the same name, I believe. The people of this state are given the derisive, though occasionally intended endearing, nickname of ‘Okies’. On ‘Full House’ Uncle Jesse’s newscaster girlfriend was from Oklahoma. They probably have a great deal of some sort of grain, like wheat, growing in vast, rolling fields. Native Americans, I’m not sure which, occupied the land at some point in their past. Perhaps they are in the tornado belt (Geography: also not a strong suit). Uhh….I got nothing else. Enjoy!

Feel free to correct me in the comments, folks!

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Auugh. So hot. So….so damn hot. Going outside’s pretty much like this:

Holing up in the one air-conditioned room drinking iced beverages in the dark helps (and is what I’d be doing anyway regardless of temperature), but today is a day to reflect on cold thoughts. The iciest one I have is visiting The House On The Rock in Wisconsin in the dead of winter; we were the only people there (well, that we could see; even taking the off-season abbreviated tour in the parts of the house open took us 5 hours, so it’s likely we could have missed someone between the larger-than-life-sized Squid and Whale battle room and the underground Christmas Village).

The weather was a type of cold not known on the East Coast, a bitter cold that bit into your bones and numbed you in minutes, apparently an average winter’s day in the cheese state. We hustled through it to see room after room after room after room of the most random collections (carousels, automaton bands, model ships, hearses), our breath showing even inside. Aaah, I can almost feel the drafty breezes now.

Which all has little to do with this week’s pattern, another state flower embroidery from the State Quilt project. The Wisconsin state flower is wood violets, a flower so special Rhode Island, New Jersey and Illinois decided to choose it too. Really guys? Jersey has some fantastic swamplands, you couldn’t go with the more endangered Swamp Pink? Illinois, you have fields, what, are you too good for the Smooth Blue Aster, Rose Vervain, or Quaker Ladies? Rhode Island, you are tiny and birthed H.P. Lovecraft so you get a pass.

I’d be in Wisconson, if only I knew the way.

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Lately, with days being oven-blastingly hot, I’ve felt like this guy:

Yes, melting in a pool of sweat and apathy, combined with startlingly bad heat-induced decisions (‘don’t want to move…what do we have in the fridge….pickles and peanut butter. Creamy goes with crunchy!’). These are the days when having a lap full of yarn seems more torturous than thrilling, and so I present a pleasantly cool alternative (with bonus botanical fun facts!).

Stopping at a well-stocked (and to my New York City eyes, HUUUUUUUUUUGE) vintage shop on a trip out to The Land of Corn, I came across a worn envelope tossed beneath a pile of silk scarves. It looked as if it might contain a mail-order pattern. It did not. It contained MANY patterns, not just a delightful iron-on for EVERY contiguous states’ flower, but a full-sized quilting pattern to sew them all together! SO CHARMING! SO. ADORABLY. CHARMING! No date is listed, but considering Hawaii and Alaska aren’t included, it’s definitely pre-50s.

One of the reasons I post vintage patterns is the hope someone out there will actually work them up, and we’ll all get to see a bit of history come to life. As knitting something usually requires devoting a month or so of time to each project, this doesn’t happen very frequently. So imagine my excitement when, through the magic of googling, I found not one but three real-life examples of the finished quilt!

from Threadtales
A square grid instead of diamonds gives this quilt a more severe look.

From gobama's Flickr photostream
Sunflowers stitched into the plain squares!

from Instant Appraisal
The scalloped border is part of the original pattern; several poorly-photographed variants were on ebay using small-dotted patterns instead of solid cloth to delightful, more 1930s results.
Not to get persnickety but would it kill someone to put the states in order of annexation instead of alphabetized?

‘So what?’ “Sew BUTTONS.’

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Urban Outfitters, flagship of a generation’s trends. If you see it here in the morning it’s all over the streets of Williamsburg by evening. Sure, their prices are a little ridiculous ($88 for a cotton skirt? I don’t care if it has a Navajo eagle printed on it), and they keep pushing the extraordinarily irksome glasses-as-pure-fashion-accessory (you know those glasses ads where people who clearly don’t need glasses are wearing glasses and you think ‘gee, they’d look better without the glasses on? Welcome to New York), but it can’t be denied that Urban Outfitters clothes those who put way too much effort into looking effortlessly hip (visible effort/enthusiasm = move to Portland).


While a lot of their catalog reveals a shift from ironic 80s to completely straightforward 90s appropriation (moving past Kelly Bundy and on to Season 1 of ’90210′), something about this latest ‘strong shoulder’ craze seemed…familiar. Hmmm…big shoulders…big….shoulders…biiiiig…….shoulderrrrrs…..

Handicrafter VolX No3 44
Oh, that’s right, the 40s*, which was sniped by the 80s, and now again by the…uh, can we call ourselves the aughts? Is that cool? We can call ourselves the Teens next year, ending this whole etymologic dilemma. Yes, during the War Years fashion reacted much like a frightened owl, sending shoulders soaring outward in defensive trajectory, adding angles to curves.

Considering we’re at war (both overseas and on drugs; how’s that one going by the way?) and dealing with numerous long-term natural disasters, it’s hard to fault fashion for reverting to a defensive posture, but it’s irksome when the new guard pretends they thought it up first.

You could land a plane on those shoulders.

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