Feb finds

Winter went away for a few days a week ago and suddenly it was mud season.

And m&*#$*^%)#**&&$%&$!!!!! TICK season.

And of course, it’s always deer season…

early feb phil (2)

And our yard smells like a barnyard, and the dog loves to eat the poop and lick our faces, and all of our recently planted deer-resistant shrubs still need ugly cages to protect them from being “sampled” to death, and…

early feb phil (2) - detail

See that open, spilled-out compost bin in the back?

That is not ours.

I really like our neighbors – great people – but we’ll never be able to discourage the gathering of beasts in our yard while open compost and birdseed left on the ground happens just over the border…

But that’s why we had to fence in our garden and compost piles. And once again it’s time to think about the garden again – some seeds were saved and are ready to go, a few more are on order. Something went wrong with our seed starting last year – more like a few somethings, so more attention and care (and documentation) need to happen this year.

Everything out there is frozen again, and that’s okay – I’m not ready for the growing demands just yet.

I’m still officially cold-sheeping and generally frugal, but I can’t resist the pull of the thrift store entirely – and it’s paid off well in the last week or two. I found some good yarn on the cheap – the thrift yarn in my area is usually the nastier acrylics or something decent but way overpriced – and I’m itching to knit up big scrappy things, so it all fits in my collecting policy as well.

And then I had one of those rare, serendipitous, delicious scores…

Around the time I first moved out here, I was having a thrift pick-me-up and found a hooded wool duster/cardigan (with pockets!) from a pricey brand of shapeless and mildly dumpy clothes (that are now becoming quite appealing to me as middle age ascends…) but it was priced out of my range – maybe something like $16? Which I would consider if it was something I could wear for work or was very well made, but I wanted it for lounge wear, a robe of sorts – and I’ve already got several oversized sweaters in the name of comfort. So I passed it up, and I regretted doing that (and I might have gone back for it?).

early feb phil (3)

And then around four years later, it is mine. For about $3.

Is it the same one? It very likely could be…

Was it involved in a violent knife attack? Perhaps… or maybe a spray of gunfire?

I saw one of the holes when I picked it up, but it didn’t matter – I loved it more for its imperfections – and I didn’t bother to inspect it at any great length apart from eyeballing if the shoulders would fit me. But when I pulled it out of the wash, I finally saw that it was full of holes a couple of sizes larger than the US’s largest coin.

It’s a slight shame – the fit is so perfect – loose but amazingly not too frumpy – so it could be public wear, but my mending might not cut it for more polished needs. The placement of the holes is random, yet spaced out enough so some interesting embroidery or patches of some sort could look really good, but for now unraveling is mitigated and it’s oh so comfortable…

 

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What happened to the month…?

Yeah, apparently time is flying.

Gotta be the live one's worst nightmare… #tree #trash #wood #discarded #deadoralive

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Work, some play, and still too short days…

I’m trying to get as much spinning in as I can – it’s a wintertime activity for me – the movement keeps me warm and my hand’s aren’t sticking to the wool – although they’re very dry and sandpapery at times and snag the stuff too.

I finished the Jacob gradient and finally got a good rhythm for chain-plying. I spun it from light to dark, and the light is a fairly piss-poor yarn, but the darkest is fairly decent, so much more practice is in order, but I’m not sure how often I’ll choose this kind of ply…

The new Jacob yarn was supposed to become a medium-ish poncho, but I haven’t swatched it yet – the yardage and weight are both less than I thought they would be, but maybe it will work? Otherwise I keep looking at vest-things, but I don’t wear the one I made that often.

But no sooner was that off the wheel than I started a fun spin.

It’s a kitchen sink deal with a bunch of natural wool in greys and browns and a bit of dyed stuff in blues and teals with a touch of yellow and white. There’s a little more Jacob, but mostly Romney, Gotland, unregistered “Silkwool,” and a little Mohair, Merino, Angora, and mystery stuff. It must end up a sweater quantity, and I’m pretty sure I have to up the teal percentage a bit more and hit the stash for a few more ounces for insurance purposes, but I’m about 25% there.

And actually, this wasn’t the next spin after the gradient – I sampled the black alpaca, and decided that I can’t/don’t want to spin it in the raw and must send it out to be processed into roving or batts – I can’t/don’t want to hand card more than a few ounces here and there. If anyone has recommendations for a reasonable alpaca processor in the US, let me know!

Current knitting is still the same as before, and sewing has still been more mending than making.

Though there was one recently sewn hat with my first pompom, and became the first item where I actually used a pompom.

Otherwise, I’m trying not to be on this machine much and have been burned by a recent online sale – a buyer publicly accused me of sewing fancy labels on cheap sweaters all because she bought one from me that was “too itchy” and wanted to return it when I didn’t accept returns – and it was a handknit Irish sweater with a rustic wool tweed yarn made in one of those crafty co-op deals (and certainly not a recognized “fancy” label) that I priced at only $9.99 forfuckssakes…

People suck.

 

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Undoings…

Apparently, I’ve got a history of pulling out long-suffering undone projects this time of year.

This braided rug was one of my early publicly declared UFOs – I thought I’d started it earlier than I said then, but I remember the hours I spent cutting and braiding and sneezing in my old work room, and where it sat in various-sized balls and braids gathering dust in an old, but not interesting old, plastic milk crate.

Then I vaguely remember evaluating it a few years ago, deciding I wanted a black center and it had to have green, but I have no memory of cutting and braiding even more – likely more than I’d done the first time around. I guess I finally felt like I had enough snake braid then, and started to sew it (slowly and painfully I recall).

And I got it out once more when I finally scored a zigzag sewing machine, but the distance between the zig and the zag is too narrow, so my thoughts of finally finishing it on a machine went poof. (Though if I’d found another machine with a wider swath of zigging and zagging I’d be back in business.)

Now, we no longer have a need for another rug, though there are a few spaces where one would fit better than a large plastic shopping bag with a heavy round object that is far bigger than a sport ball, but smaller than one of those sitting balls, and the removal of said unwieldy bag of pre-rug would free up space for folded batting or a wine-case sized box.

So once more, I hauled it out, determined to finish it for good.

But I have no desire to continue to sew it together, and I don’t really like it.

But I’d wanted some more tarn to make containers or something, and the new bath could use a rug, or at least a new absorbent black bathmat… so I started to unbraid it…

And now it’s back in its shopping bag – unbraiding apparently takes me about 73% as much time as braiding it, and it’s still sneezy.

I’m thinking that it’s possible I just might have a lifetime supply of tomato ties instead…

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Randomly, at the very end of the year

As usual, I stay away from too much reflection (remorse?) of the past year, and resolution-making for the new year.

Yep, that just about sums things up… #2017bestnine

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I have a few things in mind with a fairly strong commitment to finish or frog, several small house projects that still need to be wrapped up (I’m still looking at you, you bastard threshold!), but things will start growing again, and it will all be a busy blur once more.

I haven’t been sewing much recently except for a few minor clothing repairs/alterations. For the past couple of years I’ve also been drawn to hand-pieced things, but the bigger reality is that up until yesterday all but one (the one I keep ready for repairs) of my sewing machines were on time-outs which usually magically fixes them, but my luck finally ran out on that practice. (I’ve also had the on again, off again issue of work space, but that’s usually my own messy fault, and/or access issues for home repair.)

So though I intended on working on the long-ignored quilt above yesterday, I set up one machine, sewed three inches, got a snarling bobbin tangle, got out another and got another thready mess, got out another and forgot it needed a serious greasing instead of a little oil and also couldn’t find the spool pin I just found again for it, thought about checking out another, but it was two floors up and in a closet, and didn’t bother getting out the other two that need to be re-wired.

So I took a nap.

But it was a quick one, and I spent the next hour or two cleaning, oiling, and futzing with the goddamn tension to get it to behave. It’s still not great, but it’s mostly holding two pieces of fabric together now.

I hope to finish the quilt? It has a few weird memories from the last time I spend a good chunk of time on it, I really hate the quilting part of quilts – at least big ones, and it doesn’t really go with our decor so to speak, but I’ve got everything I need to finish it (provided the machines behave) and as an amalgam of stuff, it will easier to store and of course use, as a finished thing. So we’ll see.

And I don’t really need to buy any yarn again this year – I’m still spinning the last of a big wad of Jacob – and perhaps finally got a good chain-plying action going on. The only new yarn I might shop around for is reflective stuff.

I knit up this hat out of Red Heart for N. It’s not warm enough, it felt gross (though soft) to knit, and I’m dubious the wear will make it worthwhile for hand work. But he walks the dog in the dawn dark and we walk on country roads, so we need things with a ramped up visibility factor. I also have a spool of the reflective filament that can be held with any yarn too, but it was a little pricey I think, and/or the yarn was cheaper- I can’t remember now, and I think I was concerned about yarn dominance and loosing the thread in something wooly, so then I need to experiment with using it in duplicate stitch or as embroidery… something along those lines. And I’m also playing with some ideas for using it on dog accessories.

Has anyone else worked with this stuff?

Bathroom reno time? #miniature #dollhouse #childhoodthings #idontneedanotherhobby

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And then I’m still finding myself drawn to miniature stuff – I’m oddly mildly traumatized by home renovations/repairs these days, so maybe it’s a psychological thing in that I  actually want to feel in control and spend almost nothing (but time) on a renovation project, even if it is just my childhood dollhouse to get over it?

Eh, we’ll see on that one too –

Happy New Year!

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Randomly, near the end of another year

I’ve been trying to feed a few thoughts to bulk them up for a bit more substance – so I can chew on them for a bit, but all of the social and political static and noise has been throwing off my appetite.

And so it begins… #snow #backyard #greyday #monochrome #december

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The house has been up to its unpleasant hijinx again as well – the boiler finally shat the bed, and gave us a couple of cold weeks followed by a couple of long days with the plumber followed by a much thinner wallet. And then my docile old car got a whiff of the spirits and acted out unexpectedly, but at least not too extremely…

Wool thief. #ohtherocco #wooldog #iwastryingtosellthat #sweater #dogsweater

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But the silver lining that really isn’t, is that I was already in the middle of another round of selling off shit online. I’m now unburdened of a few more pounds of old art supplies and bulky thrift sweaters that would have made lovely yarn once unraveled, but that were still in perfectly good wearable shape. And I feel better about that too – yes, I feel better about getting a few extra dollars when I need them, but I sometimes feel guilty about unraveling perfectly good sweaters and usually just try do it to ones that are already damaged or misshapen. I’ll miss a few of these – more accurately, I’ll miss the cardigans and bulky pullovers that they would have been re-knit into and became my favorites, but only existed in my brain and likely would have never come close to fruition – so I can’t really miss something that never was and would likely never be, right?

Old sweater = new shawl/scarf #knitting #thriftstoresweateryarn

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But I still have plenty in the rougue’s gallery of moth-eaten and slightly felted/fulled – all are of varying degrees of unpleasant to unravel, but all will be more truly “rescued” and recycled. I started a new gradient shawl out of a striped Shetland sweater and a few others in greys and purples (it’s not really yellowy-beige as seen above) and it’s a fun little sheepy finger journey right now.

(Other things on the needles have been on them for a bit and have already shown themselves here.)

A good amount of mending has been going on in these parts too – old wool socks that refuse to give up the ghost, outdoor wear that seeks out every thorn, and our beloved wool underthings that wear like iron until they pop an inexplicable hole.

And disappointingly, one of my top wool underthings companies is going under itself. Most of my most worn t-shirts are wool – the non-sport cuts are nice enough to wear where I work and then they can do double-duty under sweaters in the winter or on the trail – I could get by with a minimalist wardrobe with them if I was in to that kind of thing (but when traveling I do). And I pretty much need a layer of sheep’s clothing over most of my body surface once it drops below 75F. And the clothes were largely made in the USA, and pretty much the only things I bought (or received) new (on sale) once a year or so. I really like another company’s wool shirts that are 100% USA wool and manufactured, but their selection is more limited and I’ve sadly had two shrink to crop tops. I am too long-trunked for crop tops.

So ’tis the season for being a little more bummed out (and broke) than usual, but at least the solstice is soon and the ho ho hoing bullshit will go away soon too…

 

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A lazy post about another pair of socks

Eh, shit’s busy – working more to make up for vacation time, dealing with more house malfunctions, putting the garden to rest, and feeling the need for more rest that comes with less light.

Once again (as always) just as I though that the cuffs would never end, they did.

And since it’s cold now (several premature-ish killing frosts here already) there are always wool socks in the laundry, so I have room in my wool sock drawer for them after all.

When it officially becomes a sock. #sockknitting #socks #sockyarn #foot #dpns

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I’m still not in love with the colorway, but I’m happy with them and their process to completion. I bought the yarn somewhat on impulse and very much on sale just a couple of years ago – in fact, I think it was the last time I bought any sock yarn, and it was knit up within a reasonable amount of time and became something I will wear often.

I’d come off a stretch of not knitting any socks for a few months and wasn’t particularly excited about starting this pair.

But then they took off and I favored them over other projects.

I finished the feet and the first couple of inches of cuffs while on vacation.

Most of the time I sat on a footstool in front of an open window listening to a neighbor dog sing along with church bells and feeling the autumn sun warm on my shoulders while my fingers did their thing.

(And there was a memorable several-hour knitting session at the base of a mountain I couldn’t climb while N could.)

Then suddenly we were home and it was cold and the light was gone and my fingers did their thing in the dim in front of the boob tube.

And now cold rain falls and they’re on my not cold feet.

Next pair? These left me with enough scrap that I finally have enough total scrap for a scrappy pair. Or I can suck it up and finally make some boring fine-gauge “business socks.” Or I can double up the yarn for another thick pair. Or I think I’ve got one more ball of this same yarn kicking around somewhere so I could do a quickish repeat, but it is a brown/light colorway and I need more greys and darks. So the last option is probably out, but the others are all up for grabs.

Knitting notes: ONline Supersocke (sport weight) on US 2 dpns. The yarn was a mess – many knots and color breaks – it could have been a seconds batch since I got it cheap, but the label didn’t have any seconds/defective markings…? Provisional cast-on 64 stitches, plain knitting to toe while reducing 4 sts on foot, then unpicked CO and knit cuff up. I decided to do a p3, k1 ribbing so more of the smooth side would be against my leg and for the sake of something different, but I didn’t want to p3, so I knit on the inside stitches first, then turned the sock inside out so it was k3, p1 after all.

 

 

 

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Autumn home and away

We finally made it back to Italy.

I17-fonte pacile

New needy house, new needy dog, future uncertainties, and the fluctuating costs of travel kept us away for the last few years. It was all over in a flash though, and I’ve never been less interested in returning to my home country…

I17-monte amaro

But for a few brilliantly sunny days we hiked some familiar and new trails, ate some familiar and new food, and stuck much closer to the familiar little city, but in a new little house.

I like mountains. #italia #appenini #abruzzo #majellanationalpark

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We were oddly thwarted from many planned days – mountain passes closed (since just after we were there last 3 years ago!), restaurants too crowded for lunch, other places inexplicably shuttered – but we found other routes and other places and all was fine in the end.

I17-celano golle-n & tree

Even better than fine – my shredded knees kept their complaining to a minimum and I finally felt their restrictive grip released a bit for the first time in years.

(And Italy is always downright magical in terms of taking away all of my allergies and mild dairy/digestive issues…)

But there’s always one hike that flirts with going very wrong in every trip, right? One new-to-us trail that was supposed to be an easy/lazy couple hour meander suitable for infants and elderly (according to a tourist map) took a turn for the tired, sweaty, and absurd and involved mildly frightening encounters with wild boars, an unavoidable boot-sucking mud pit, and hand over hand scrambling underneath power lines.

I17-endurance

It all went tits up when the trail markers ceased and all signs pointed (inexplicably in english) for endurance in all directions. But the tourist map was still accurate for way finding, though it left the infants and elderly in the dust looking for their broken glasses.

And several hitchhikers joined me for a few excursions – the mantis population seemed to have exploded and grown to monstrous proportions.

I17-mantis

And we sought N’s ancestors and ancestral places – finally finding a house (or what was left), but not graves – most of the town was pointlessly annihilated in WWII.

I17-interior

I missed visiting with a few fiber folks and buying wool, but I ate the beast from which it comes and sipped from the same fonts.

The weather was entirely perfect, the autumn in full color, and the markets still stocked with the peaks of harvests.

But autumn is still here at home – even a bit slower perhaps – and the white throated sparrows are back, and the garden is still giving us patty pans, carrots, greens, and a few last winter squash…

But we also returned to a dead boiler, yet more job rejections for me, and my need to re-enter the shitzoo that passes for public healthcare in this (currently really fucked up) country.

I17-gelato

So while my mountain sunshiny vitamin D high wears off, and I’m not making up work hours, I’m getting my nesting game on – clearing out (or at least organizing) the clutter, shaking out the woolens, considering baking a bit, debating yet again if one of those light alarm clocks is worth the clams, and knitting and spinning with more ferocity to keep my hands warm.

And snuggling with the beast.

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