Continuing randomly…

Those premature daffodils finally fell to some conquering beauties.

spring-daffodils

I’ve been puttering about the yard, finally paying attention to what is what out there and making plans to move some things around and add more. My research on native deer-resistant plants is just beginning, but I’ve got a decent list so far – at least for this year. The big project is expanding the vegetable garden 4-5 times the size it is now and installing a beefy deer fence… More on that later, I’m sure (after my arms recover from post hole digging, even though N is doing most of it).

My studio/workspace is still a partially unpacked mess, but I’ve run out of storage room, and once I start working on things, it will probably always look like a partially unpacked mess. But I need to clear a table to cut out a few simple patterns for summer clothes I intend to make but likely the seasons will change again before I get around to that…

spring-frogged mohair

I wanted some mohair to add to an upcoming knitting project, so I found it in this boxy 1980s bright beauty at a thrift store last year.

Remind me to never, ever, harvest mohair (at least this particular mohair mix) again. I’ve only finished the sleeves, which I think will be enough – especially since I took it an asinine step further and separated the plys to make even more… But perhaps the leftover body parts can be sewn into an enormous baby chick.

Speaking of baby chicks, I keep seeing them in the farm stores and I’ve got some serious baby rabies of the poultry strain…

But not this year – too many things to continue to get in shape and major fortifications would need to be made for some hens – I’m looking at you, you beautiful but murderous fox (and the hawks and raccoon and cats).

spring-shug or shawl

I finished that old shale (or feather and fan, but that’s wrong, right?) thing. It was supposed to be a dramatic drapey wide shawl – something that could be whipped around and trailed behind – but I ran out of yarn. It was harvested from an old mohair blend sweater (this one was easy to rip) and an old Shetland one, so there was zero chance of obtaining more, and I wasn’t interested in adding another color, though as I write this, perhaps I will consider adding something more blended with the Shetland at either end…? But more likely, I will turn this into a shrug – somewhat still dramatic with wide scalloped sleeves and a back at a reasonable length – I hate cropped shrugs, at least on me. The problem is, I was planning on selling this, I don’t like the color on me and don’t have the appropriate flowing navy or brown or black outfit with which to pair it. But it fits my weird ape-armed curvy but lanky body, and for many, the sleeves would be too long…. So perhaps I’ll try blocking it wider rather than longer, but I wanted the scalloped ends to pop out more…

spring-scraps

And even though I ran out of yarn for the length I wanted, the fiber gods smiled down on me for allowing the finishing to happen with the appropriate number of repeats and bind-off with only 6 inches of yarn to spare… that’s satisfaction.

cashmere-skein

I finished spinning that beautiful New Mexico cashmere.

But this picture is a lying liar about its tumultuous youth.

Yes, it is beautiful now, finally, but…

spring-kinky cashmere

…things got a bit kinky for a bit…

I wanted a rustic, bumpy, somewhat thick and thin single. But I still, always, over spin singles. So I had to run it through again to take out twist. But short staple + too thin parts = break, break, breaks!

In the end, it is good – goodly soft – but thin, something from cobweb to light fingering. I haven’t decided on a good pattern for it yet – I want a neck thing, preferably something simple and relatively dense, meaning not much lace if any… Might end up with a simple garter something or other… It’s about 650 yards if anyone has any suggestions?

spring-grape hyacinth

In the meantime, I dig and dig and dig and now weed too, and get awfully distracted making wreaths out of pruned wisteria vine… I can’t wait for it to bloom to find out if we’ve got the native stuff or the evil import…

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A catalog of curtains

I finally finished sewing and hemming curtains (for now).

curtains-hemming

I sort of like making curtains – barely like, definitely not love – and sometimes find it a happy challenge to pick out a good fabric to make the room more interesting, or calm down too many interesting things.

I can also usually make curtains for less than buying them – something somewhat rare for sewing these days in times of big box cheap home shite and pricey designer fabric.

But I just realized my curtain-making burnout is because I’ve had to make or hem every single curtain in the house (I refuse to say All The Curtains!). Our last house had long windows and high ceilings, so anything pre-made fit as long as it was long enough. In this little cape cod squatbox, I can take one curtain and cut it into two and still need to hem it.

I first made these for the kitchen,

kitchen curtain

this fun one for the half bath

blue light curtain

and this pretty one for the full bath.

curtains-bath

Then I got several single unpackaged Ikea curtains from the “as-is” bin and either cut them in half to make two,

curtains-ikea hack

or checked it a few trips in a row and found another to make a pair – always look in that bin!

(That is yet another newly refinished dresser too – it’s not Heywood Wakefield like the others – anyone recognize it?)

Then N bought a floral rug for his study/guest bedroom but wanted mid-century looking curtains – quite a challenge for coordination, but another mustardy colored quilting cotton worked well enough.

curtains-guest

(Oddly, it’s from the otherwise not mid-century inspired Jan Patek for Moda Castlewood line. And also the most expensive pair since I bought the fabric only a little bit on sale. And yes, that is the wall that was once fugly paneling – still holding up just fine!) 

curtains-guest detail

And finally, the cheapest curtain hack?

curtains-dining

A discounted cotton shower curtain halved to make dining room window curtains.

Yes, the pattern is big box trendy, but it really goes well with my favorite wool rug we’ve been carting around for years.

My studio still has some temporary curtains, but I’m waiting to see if I end up making a dress out of the fabric that would work best in there… but I have plenty others in my stash that would look nice too…

eventually.

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Randomly, as the season begins to change…

 daffydills

We’ve got a rogue patch of overachieving daffodils that bloomed weeks before their cousins.

And immediately it becomes spring.

Our bodies are still confused about the seasons…

turkey devonshire

Still craving heavy winter food – like the disgusting-looking, but oh-so-delicious turkey devonshire sandwich – better with smoked turkey and yes, you can make cheese sauce with soy milk, and of course, lots of cheese, and I’m not one to believe bacon makes everything better, but in this case, it does…

jeni's

But also finally feeling warm enough to eat ice cream…

last of the 2014 salsa

But disappointed because last year’s home-canned tomatillo salsa ran out way before we can make more…

New tin

Still not quite willing to give up indoor activities like thrifting – especially when I can add a new tin to my collection

lamppad

Or a crocheted thing to protect newly finished furniture

Little quilt

And sewing little things because my physical space and current brain can’t handle anything much bigger…

Morandiesque

And continuing to unpack and arrange long stored things (Morandi, anyone?)…

whitewash not

And dragging my heels in deep about finishing the basement…

I experimented with whitewashing the ugly paneling, but only succeeded in making it uglier.

More painting, again? Now, so soon after all the rest…?

Noooooo……………

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And yet another thing that isn’t quite what it started out to be…

While I was trying to get my mojo back last week, I was working on a few other things that I hoped were likely to turn out as I expected.

I made a big mess of these Botanic hats recently and was left with one that was a bit on the smaller side.

I know a kid who likes yellow, and his father was one of the recipients of the recent ones, so rather than knit yet another (and buy more yarn which I’m really trying not to do) I got some Wilton’s buttercup yellow food coloring for transformation purposes.

A's hat before

The yarn is superwash, so I went to town without worry, glopping in about a quarter of a teaspoon of color to a liter or so of not quite boiling water and dumping in the room temperature vinegar and water pre-soaked hat.

And as usual, the whole process was already underway before I considered gloves….

A's hat on my fingers

I was expecting to have to use more and more color, but the little bit did the trick.

I’d love to dye more often but I hate how much water it takes to rinse… I suppose water tainted with food coloring would be safe to use watering plants and whatnot, but I don’t want to dye my plants, and I don’t eat anything with artificial food coloring, so I don’t want it on my vegetables…

A's hat in the wash

The color worked in pleasantly surprising ways – the dark charcoal became a shimmery brown with almost navy blue accents and a slight yellow haze.

A's hat damp

And whether it was from the vinegar rinses or hot water baths, it has become wonderfully soft.

A's hat after scrunched

I think it is my favorite version of this hat yet.

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More things that aren’t what I thought they were or what they started out to be…

I seem to be on an uneasy roll wherein I can no longer trust anything…

Including the season…

grackles

Clouds of grackles and redwing blackbirds have been stopping over in the yard, and the hyacinths began to pop up – it’s been grey but warming.

fresh snow

Then more of this – more than I thought was coming (but it didn’t last long).

mesh yarn

We’ve been talking about dressing more safely/noticeably when walking on the road to a little trail head nearby and considered buying some of those neon vests construction workers and police officers wear, but then I saw a bag of neon yarn at the big box and thought I could whip up some sort of vest/cowl/bib thing that could be more fabulous than the plastic vest.

Only it turned out to be mesh yarn… So I can make scruffly safety boas instead?

lovely flannel

And I ordered what I hoped was the last bit of fabric for curtains for the near future and on impulse added a few yards of a lovely colored plaid flannel to my “cart.”  I’d been thinking about making some loose tunic-like shirts in plaid… Only it ended up being this incredibly thick, luscious stuff without the drape of cheapass flannel… What now? PJ bottoms, pillow cases…? Or do I need to sew an actual shirt that fits well and has buttonholes? I don’t feel like paying that much attention to detail now, but this stuff deserves something nice.

selbu pancake

I like berets – I have thin hair and berets don’t smash the top front down, so I whipped up a Selbu Modern because it is called a beret.  But in the pattern pictures it looks like a floppy hat – whatever those are called – floppy berets? The kind of hat good for dreadlocks or stuffing thick hair?  But it looked like some people blocked theirs to look more like a tam sort of beret. But no, even after some intense blocking mine is floppy… it’s fine, I like floppy hats, but I already have enough hair-smashing hats, and still need another that isn’t – especially this time of year.

Little shelf-before

So I turned to some predictable projects. I picked up this sad little shelf/nightstand/table thing at a thriftstore recently. It had a terrible hack plywood shelf and a crackled paint that may have been intentional, or may have been the result of a fire, or may be evidence of something evil and toxic and brain-robbing. But I love old stuff. And I love that it was $7.00. And I love small light furniture that is still wood and yet it takes little effort to move around.

Little shelf-during

So I stripped and stripped and stripped (the furniture) and took out the crap shelf, debated about putting in a better one but didn’t, and painted the whole shebang.

Little shelf-done

I’m still not sure where it’s going to go, and the aqua works in some rooms and not others (I just mixed up some old sample paints) but I’m happy with it – and happy to feel a bit less off-kilter again.

little shelf-in situ

For now, it’s here.

Can you spot the other thing with the Selbu Modern pattern?

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On getting rid of things, part II – of prom dresses and punch bowls

prom dress detail

I still have my prom dress.

I still have two of them actually, but the other one is a very basic and classic black crepe cocktail dress that still fits and no one is the wiser that it’s over 20 something years old – I was a practical, though still obnoxious, teen.

But I really don’t have a really good reason for keeping this one.

My prom wasn’t magical – my date wasn’t my teen heartthrob soul mate (though he was very nice guy), I don’t even remember the venue or the dinner, I’m sure too many country ballads were played followed by metal ones – especially the kind that had a confusing beat of neither slow nor fast, or started slow but ended fast…  And I’m pretty sure I was still suffering from an extended bout of mono, or pneumonia, or other disease that would have finished me off had it been a century earlier.

I remember getting the dress at a small department store, and it was certainly on sale – I wanted something vintage-looking, and I can’t remember why I didn’t actually wear vintage since I had a few 1950s party dresses, but maybe it was because I’d already worn them to other mediocre small-town high school dances?

I considered myself of the counter culture and was non-conformist, so I’m not sure why I didn’t go in drag – I had a lovely old tuxedo from my great uncle Oscar and a sleek pair of grandpa’s wingtips that my freaky feet and lanky frame filled out sufficiently.  But I think I wanted to do something a little more classy – a little more normal – which was abnormal for me.  But then again, this was the ghastly time of the giant hair and jarringly bright, or sickeningly pastel colored gowns, so a black and white dress was different…

But, I’m wrong.

BrenKellyCamera

Apparently, it’s damn close to the most popular prom dress of 1991 thanks to Beverly Hills 90210.

But, in my defense, I never saw the show, and I doubt many others in my ass-backward town did… And I think my dress was from the year before anyway?

So I’m not sure why I still have it, or what to do with it – it’s not the style of teens today, nor does it scream 1980s to allow for ironic wear – and simply dropping it off at the thrift store hasn’t happened. I don’t have the desire to wear it while vacuuming, or cut it up for a satiny small quilt, or buff the car with it, or line a dog’s crate, or wear it as a Halloween costume of myself in my youth, or save it in case one of the nephews might be inclined to wear it fabulously, or modify it in some way to make it acceptable formal wear again…

In the meantime, I’ve been using it as padding wound around an old punch bowl – something else I haven’t used in over a decade…

And an update to part I:

dictionaries - Copy

I still haven’t decided whether or not to get rid of my print dictionaries, but I see that others have…

(And you gotta love a thrift store that actually categorizes their books!)

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In like a lion or, a fox…?

March arrived with a couple of little back to back icy storms, but it held the promise of a thaw…

blue-fox

And then we had a satisfying morning watching the neighborhood fox hunt (unsuccessfully) in the yard…

blue-shovel

Followed shortly thereafter by more f*cking snow.

So it’s back to the wintertime blues.

Quite literally – I realized much of what I’ve been working on lately is blue, which is a little odd for me…

blue-sperry

Like this Sperry sweater (I’m a little afraid it doesn’t have as much ease as I’d like, but I’m not quite far enough along to know for sure…)

blue-velvet

And this scrappy little quilt made from clothes that were both mine and not that’s much farther along than this now…

blue-stole

And finally, this big “old shale” stole out of recycled yarn.  I wanted to restock my etsy shop with some handknits like this, but I think etsy has gotten too evil for me – do you have a suggestion for a new marketplace site to use for handmade goodies?

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