I like a GIANT squishy cowl neck.

I like scarves wound round and round and round my neck.

But I hate turtlenecks.

Even though they pop back in and out of style, I generally view them as always out – and smelling of elementary schools in the 70s and overly religious Midwestern mothers who dress decades beyond their age. But mostly I don’t like the feeling of my neck being oh-so-slightly constricted.

I’ve de-turtled a few necks over the years.


(This one also got de-epauleted and de-shoulder padded, and de-gold buttoned – then I sewed the epaulets into the fake pocket to make a whimsical detail of sorts.)

Very often, there is a convenient seam running up the side of the neck that merely needs to be unzipped or picked and voila! A constricting turtle becomes a floppy…

manta ray? collar.

I’ve been going through my bins of thrifted sweaters to see what should be cut up into mittens and such, unraveled, or mended enough to wear…


And I found this horribly weird pinkish, orchid? one that fits really well and lies on the “professionally” appropriate side of the fine line that it skates with  comfortably slouchy – partly because it’s actually a decent length on me and many thrifted cashmeres fall a bit too short.

But even after the turtlectomey, I’m debating about tossing it into the to dye pile, but I run the risk of loosing the good length… and though I think I hate the color, I think I can wear it without looking ill, and it goes well enough with browns or greys…

(I’d probably dye it yellow to turn it orange, or go the burgundy or brown route…)


Turtles are also often the easiest part of a sweater to frog since they’re often knitted in rib stitch and don’t felt/full as much as the body. I’ve had several moth-eaten thrifts that were too holey or felted to frog as a whole, but still gave up good bits of usable yarn from frogged necks and cuffs.

Or merely extracted, they make good headbands or hat brims…


And once in awhile, a decent cowl will get detached too – most often from my own sweaters that have generally ceased to function as intended.


And it can remain cowly, just no longer attached to a body…


This was actually a favorite sweater of mine for about 10 years, so I’m happy to save part of it now that it is done being part of my wardrobe due to damage and too tight sleeves that always annoyed me but now are entirely unacceptable after the home reno and summer of gardening (big guns don’t play well with sheer skinny mohair). And I’ll attempt to frog the rest even though I swore off frogging mohair – if it works, I might knit more rounds onto the cowl to make it GIANT.

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A tiny experiment

While cleaning up the autumn yard messes recently, I gashed open my main knitting finger – the top joint just above the nail where the yarn slides over just before it becomes a stitch.

So I switched to spinning and sewing quilt hexes for a few days and pissed off my wrist again…

But none of these bodily harms could prevent me from continuing to unpack and organize our house…

but I really didn’t want to…

The main part of our house is smaller than the last, but has more storage space, sort of. We also have more storage furniture of sorts. But everything doesn’t have a space, and there’s not a space for everything… I’ve gotten rid of many things lately, and haven’t acquired much in the last few years, so I’m not sure what’s going on here…

And in the time that I procrastinated from further unpacking, and mulled over things to no viable solution, my finger healed enough to start fibering again.

The verdict is still out if I like the tiny circular needles, but I’m leaning heavily to not

sock experiment

I think my hands are too big for them and they get crampy pretty quickly, but they’re size US 0 and I’m not crazy about dpns in that size either. I thought the tiny circs would make knitting faster without the pause to change needles like with dpns, but the stitches don’t slide very well, so I’m actually spending more time shifting shoving them around. The greatest advantage however, is on the gusset – they eliminate the chance for laddering, so I would potentially use them just for this part of the sock and switch back to dpns for the rest. Oh, and another big minus for them is you can’t try the socks on as you go – a brief aside: I can’t understand why toe-up socks are lauded for their ability for being tried-on as you go when top-down are just as able?!?! And better, I think too – you can mush your heel around a bit and situate your foot in active poses to know exactly when to start the toe.

But I think the biggest problem is the size 0-ness of the tips. I don’t dislike the journey in making a sock, but I’m not joyful/delightfully challenged about it either – I like making plain socks because I make them when I can’t pay much attention and just want my hands to move, and then I get a bit of pleasure in seeing that bam! suddenly half the foot is done when I’m pissy about sitting around waiting somewhere and in turn, I got one quarter of a sock for my troubles.

These particular tiny needles are a tiny struggle with only a tiny result in a not-tiny amount of time.


So a day late and a dollar short, I finally came to the realization that I should knit my skinnier sock yarn held double and get bigger, faster socks.

Perhaps I’ll get some bigger shorties to try out at some point, or magic loop some socks for shits and giggles.

(I also like that this will be a cheap pair of socks – the mostly white yarn came from a stall in the market in Sulmona – it was either 1 euro per ball, or for two; and the green was from the big box with a big coupon or big sale and acquired in my old days of stash building, or perhaps for an old now-dead desire for colorwork socks.)


And it also solves my problem of not loving certain colorways – blended together, almost anything is better.

And I wasn’t liking the too-white tiny sock above anyway – I don’t have a need for white socks in my life anymore.

I’m not sure when I did, and why I’ve had some in my drawer for too many years.

experiment-color balls

(The top ball is one of the greatest color disappointments in my online purchases – it was supposed to be a nice 1920-30s stripey combo in mustard, olive, dusty rose and medium brown – the medium brown is right, but the candy colors are disgusting… it was in my pile of things to overdye, but I’m thinking it might blend well with the burgundy, cranberry, orange on the bottom…)

Now I’ve just got to resist playing with all of the color combination possibilities and casting on for several pairs of socks before I finish the current in-progress ones…

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Closing time…

I won’t add to the legion of voices bitching about this time of year when the light is left behind and we’re slammed into darkness all too soon. I’m not adjusting quickly enough, though I never do, and I’m cranky and mad about falling asleep over my knitting most nights. I’m working more at the moment now too, so the loss feels even greater, but at least my home office has viewing windows to the wild antics in the yard.


The weather has been hinky too as evidenced by the laundry basket which contains woolen base layers and snot smeared gloves as well as sweaty t-shirts and cotton socks (I don’t go to a gym).

And I’m shaking my fist at the rain gods who still haven’t smiled upon us much this year.

Thankfully we packed some tomatoes when we went on vacation because those were the last tasty vine-ripened fresh bits of the garden that we enjoyed.


There was a light frost while we were away that took out the green beans, and a heavy one the night we returned, so we were forced to pick everything immediately or cover it and hope for the best.


We opted for the acquisition nearly 20 pounds of green tomatoes which were then promptly pickled and canned. Unfortunately, the additional delicious small batch of crispy refrigerator pickles we also made are already long-consumed… I’m not as much of a fan of the squishier canned ones, but I’ll still take them shoveled onto a cheesy sandwich. The lettuces and greens turned bitter and were cooked in a massive heap with lots of garlic and oil and gamely choked down. I’m nursing the last of the borlotti beans hoping a few will mature in time, and a few carrots decided to finally (quite belatedly) show themselves, but I have little hope for them.

Now the non-work daylight is spent pulling out the dead garden plants, moving the deer-chomped yard plants to safer digs, raking and raking and raking leaves and shredding them a bit to spread and dig and dig and dig into the garden… We’ve probably got another two weeks of this nonsense that felt good at first but now seems like it’s eating up too much of the precious daylight…

But the birds are passing through or setting up their winter digs and I’m happy to hear the white-throated sparrows calling out their Sam Peabodys all over the place and the screech owls are more often purring at early dusk instead of too early dawn.

And I’m hoping that the buck who’s been showing up in the yard is the same young “Bucky” that we’ve seen from the previous year – may he make it through hunting season…


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What I was thinking; what was I thinking?

I dip in and out of various media for scattered amounts of time, but I probably think about sewing the most.

I feel like I’ve made hundreds of quilts, but most of those were in my mind – the reality has only been in the double digits.

I still haven’t reconciled the disconnect of quilts falling farther on the craft side of the art scale and my desire to just whip out some for practical reasons, but not fully committing the time to do so because time should be used for art or making money to live. But that doesn’t reconcile the fact that almost all of the knitting I do is practical and most decidedly pure craft since I’m often using other’s patterns. I feel at odds with much of the quilting “community” both on social media and what can be had with guilds and such locally, though I’m not much of a community person to begin with… And I could go on with my discomforts on precision and technique versus visual interest, weird bandwagons and fad fabrics, and the pacing – slow down and make slow shit versus be sure to crank things out to keep up interest…

But I’ll rest here since I don’t have much time to ponder all of this, and frankly I don’t really care – I’ve been making a few quilts that will either be finished or not, be practical or hang on a wall, and I’m sure I’ll start a few more in the meantime…

But there was a time (late 1990s) when I wanted to really study quilts, and I forgot about it until I unpacked some old sketchbooks a few months ago.


I specifically chose an art program for my undergrad that focused on classical art “training.” We had an obnoxious amount of drawing classes and a somewhat rigorous prescription of moving up and through various media before finally focusing on our chosen one after a couple of years of fundamentals. I roughly still feel a sense of “you have to know the rules to break the rules” about making or doing most things, but my interactions with fiber have shoved most of that in its face. I spin but I don’t know shit all about twist; I knit but still knot when I shouldn’t; I sew but I don’t understand most of what anyone is staying about various seams and stitches and grains and biases.

Okay, I do know a bit, but from trial and error rather than a slow concentrated graduating effort.


So I think it was with this in mind that I started really looking at quilts – mostly old ones, especially depression-era, since I was collecting reproduction vintage feedsack fabric at the time. I think I wanted to make a grand all hand-stitched “traditional” quilt. At the time (and still now) I’ve only made pattern-less [I guess the kids are calling them] “improvisational” quilts.

So I printed off pictures of vintage quilts up for sale on ebay and pasted them into a sketchbook.


And checked out lots of books from the library and copied the traditional squares. I’m not sure if I was too cheap to make photocopies or I thought sketching them would help me decide if I liked them or not…


And I’m pretty sure I came really close to choosing the “storm at sea” as my traditional quilting masterpiece…

But then what?

Grad school intervened? I took up knitting? I didn’t have enough of the right kinds of fabric in my stash? (I still don’t) I didn’t have the focus to start cutting out the same shape over and over and over again? I couldn’t choose the colors?

I still don’t have the focus or proper stash to execute something more traditional, but I’m thinking about it again…

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Not a Roman holiday

Autumn gets me itchy for the opposing forces of nesting and travel.

Autumn is my favorite time in Italy because it is the most familiar – I spent the most time there over the years during these months – and the tourist season calms down a bit. When the leaves begin to crunch, I automatically sniff for roasting chestnuts, but alas, for most of the United States, I’ve got to settle for woodsmoke and cider, which I love too. But we decided not to go again this year for a number of reasons, and headed back north to the White Mountains, then the sea, instead.


Only we headed straight into the belly of American tourism, or more specifically, an army of leaf peepers. We thought we’d be ahead of them, but instead we hit at the peak – don’t get me wrong, it was a glorious multi-hued autumn bomb – but the more accessible trails were like Fiumicino airport. But luckily, we were tucked away again in our now very familiar rough and tumble-down rental cabin on the lake in near solitude, and I’m finally getting back to slightly more moderate trails.

The cabin owners left some knitted and crocheted afghans for us that we haven’t seen in the summer.


But I brought our big guns – vintage wool bed blankets that kept us perfectly warm sitting outside watching birds, otters, beavers, and this time, a mink, although several mornings had frost.


I did just a little knitting – started a gift hat that is identical in color, but hopefully sized down, to the selbu modern I made last year – and the second sock of the pair I’ve occasionally worked on since June, some sewing, and this time I also had work work, which wasn’t really unpleasant to do while away – in fact, I felt more focused.

(And was well-fueled by my favorite licorice allsorts and chocolate nonpareils snagged on the way up.)


After a week in entirely non-internet ignorant bliss (though marred by a knife through N’s finger (I didn’t do it), a septic issue that further confirmed my certainty of never wanting to live with one, and a bizarre key issue on our way out that took half the day to not resolve and led to the elderly cabin owners having to shimmy through a window several days later) we headed further north and east to a comfortable seaside cottage near Acadia National Park.


We knew we’d hit crowds there, and with gorgeous weather and colors, everyone should be out, but we happily managed to have several choice trail lunch spots to ourselves and a few excursions without road noises or children screaming for ice cream in the middle of a lovely quiet forest.

We hiked, we biked, we ate a shit-ton of fried clams, chowder, and lobster rolls. The season officially ended at Columbus day, so many of the lobster pounds were closed after that much to our dismay, but the island noticeably got a bit less tourist-peopled.

I saw more sunrises in two weeks than I have for at least two years – it either comes too early or I’m not paying attention – and I shot most of them…

north-maine dawn

I’d been wanting to go to Acadia for a bit – I love moss and the juxtapositions of forest and sea and got just that – more kinds of moss than I’d ever seen before, squirrels on the beach, seaweed smells in the trees, the sounds of the surf in the pines, and chickadees and forest birds at the water’s edge.


I figured we’d be annoyed with the over populated trails and cruise ships and it would be a once and done trip, but I’d come back – and definitely in the autumn…


And Rhinebeck just happened to be on the way home… maybe more on that later…


We left the frosty north just in time, but unfortunately, it hit at home too… more on that next time, or later…


Filed under hiking, home decor, knitting, sewing, travel

Vested, or not my b[v]est

Once again I got to contemplating my frumpy vest.*


I thought I fixed it enough to be happy enough wearing it at the time of that last post. I had added more length, replaced the buttons, and I thought I re-knit the shoulder edging with fewer stitches or smaller needles, but I’m guessing I just gave it a good block. But after unpacking it from summer storage (from a few summers ago, actually) it had reverted back to its stupidly pointy shoulders.


This is not acceptable.

It would be almost okay if the vest was wide and boxy and I wore it open to just hang there and flop around, but I figured something so rustic should be more fitted to take down the frump factor a bit.

Only now it seemed a bit too fitted  in other parts too – the buttons at the bust gaped a bit.


So once I again, I set out to modify it.


I had so little yarn left after making it the first time around, I was hesitant to just frog the whole thing and start over again. I’m still not crazy about vests, but this was the perfect amount of handspun yarn for one. The yarn matches my bike too, but there is too much of it that even if I pimped out the seat and handle bars and other things I’d still have an even more awkward amount left over. And I don’t want pillows or bags out of it, and it’s too rough for next to skin wear, so hats and scarves are out…

So I tried yet again to make it work.

I ripped out the garter armhole edging, opened up the side seams and added a little triangle at the pit for more bust ease, and reknit the armhole with an applied icord.


That worked out to be the perfect solution – much better fit with no pointy stuff on the shoulders.


And I discovered I can wear it over my orange hoodie if I’m invited to march in the garish parade.

But if I wear it open as more of an outerwear thing, it should have a pocket. I won’t go into the rationalization except I think of fitted things having a degree of implied misery, and open things comfort and convenience and of course, that means having a “snot pocket” – someplace big enough to store a hankie for my ever dripping nose once it falls below 70 degrees.


I think I have just enough yarn leftover for that…

*The color is most accurate in the old post – the thing is a bit more subdued and overall burgundy-ish in real life.

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Is this lump outta my head? I think so.

I have an old cheap sofa that I’ve held onto longer than I probably should have because it’s so damn comfortable.

I bought it about a decade ago off an old apartment neighbor who got it as a gift from her boyfriend who later dumped her and she decided to move far away. It was a bit of a shame though, I hadn’t spoken to her except for neighborly pleasantries until that point, and only when she was moving did I realize she might have made for a good friend.

But her sofa, ugly as it may be, has been quite the comforting companion.

It was too big for my old tiny living room and one had to awkwardly maneuver around it when entering through the front door. But it made for decent sleeping accommodations when need be, and I had the perfect knitting nest in one corner.

I believe a good sofa must be deep and wide.

It is red, and I never much liked red, except for a bit in kitchens, and N never liked that it was faded red – it’s meant to be of the casual canvas aesthetic sort of thing, completed with cotton rag rugs and denim pillows, likely.

Unfortunately, just when I had the cash to buy a new, better colored cover, the big Swedish store discontinued the sofa and all its covers.

Somewhere along the line, I bought some fabric to make a new slipcover, but it wasn’t quite enough – so I bought some more, which still wasn’t quite enough either, but complemented the other, so I thought I would make it two toned, but then I never made it. (The fabric is still waiting to become something though – probably a slipcover for a chair instead.)

In our first house, it stayed propped on its end and shoved into the corner of the basement for a year or two until N took a job long distance and it once again reigned over a living room – a proper sized one, finally.

But then it spent nearly a couple of years in storage – I thought we’d need to trash it after it essentially stayed in a garage for so long, and who wants a sofa that’s been in a garage (especially one infested with stink bugs)?

But it came out fine.

Except the lumbar pillows.


They were always a bit too lumpy – I think my neighbor had washed and dried them too often or too aggressively – I’d rather not speculate why, but the rest of the sofa is stain-free, so I’m not too worried. But the lumps made the pillows flaccid and ineffective, so I decided it was time for a revival.


Should I be ashamed to admit I still kept the lumps? They’ll be good in a future dog bed, right?

I really hate to put anything in landfills.

And I wasn’t keen on stuffing it with plastics again, but wadded-up old clothes weren’t comfortable, leaves or straw too crunchy and a bit too earthy, and wool is too dear, so I got some more of the synthetic fluffy stuff.


It came with a free “tool.” Now I like free shit as much as the next guy, but for chrissakes, it’s just a chopstick – a single chopstick in a paper sleeve just like what chopsticks come in – did a chopstick factory accidentally package only singles and the stuffing company get a bargain?

Not to mention I already had a few random chopsticks kicking around in my sewing box along with a pencil or two with the lead broken off for the same purpose… A stuffing “tool” is probably the one thing people don’t really need…?


So I crammed the pillows to their fill and made them a bit lumpy in a fluffy way, but that didn’t really matter. I like some poly fill brands over others but I buy it so infrequently that I forget which I like and I’m not certain this was the one…

But now our lumbar regions are properly supported once again when lounging in the basement – the perfect place for a less than perfect but still very comfortable sofa.


A bit ago I ordered a pound of yellow dye to revive an old rag rug and turn this sofa cover orange – I figured the best options for overdying it were brown (but we already have a brown sofa upstairs), purple (meh, purple), deeper red, black, or orange – but I didn’t want to worry about potentially staining our clothes if I didn’t wash a dark dye out well enough, so I figured the yellow was the best option and I wanted a yellow rug anyway. But now I’m not so sure – the red sofa actually matches a rug for once and it is the basement, so a bit of a mishmash is warranted…

But I do like orange much more than red…

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