Oh hello, and nearly goodbye, September…

I thought that by going back to a physical workplace after telecommuting for the last four years, I’d magically have more time. I know that’s not how things actually work scientifically, but I generally get more done the busier I am, and some of my best/most complicated/largest projects have happened when I was working more than full-time and/or more than one job and didn’t know up from down.

But I’m still settling in to the new routine I suppose, as is the dog (who is making progress somewhat but not enough yet), and the house and garden still need much more attention than just a bit of maintenance here and there…

But I’ve also got a case of raging startitis, with no accompanying secondary infections of focusitis or finishitis, so I need to reign things in a bit.

***

My all time favorite LYS recently closed – technically it wasn’t local to me anymore, but I occasionally ordered from them over the phone, and stopped in when passing through my old city – the news about it was sad, and perhaps moreso because it was one more severed tie to the place (and the shop was possibly a victim of the ever-increasing hipsterization and gentrification that is utterly ruining the city).

The Garden State Sheep Breeders festival came and went – I nearly missed it because I hadn’t registered that it had turned September (apparently I did that last year too) – and it was a little disappointing this year – fewer vendors and fewer unique breeds of wool for sale (if you want Romney, Jacob, or Alpaca, NJ is the place for you).

(Not that I don’t like Jacob and Alpaca especially, I just have enough for now.)

So I only picked up a few braids of atomically-dyed Dorset…

to make a superhero flaming cape-like shawl I guess?

And a couple of ounces of grab-bag fiber here and there from the fiber folks – I hate to call these pity purchases, but that’s what some are, and the rest are more of a penny candy approach…

But this means I need to oil up the wheel again and get spinning – it has been montionless for months – and it’s finally cool enough to start back up.

 

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Work it!

I say I don’t really care about clothes, yet so much of my fiber time is spent on things to go on my body, and I poke around ravelry and blogs from people making nothing but clothing, so perhaps it is more that I don’t give a damn about fashion, but I am interested in what covers my hide – especially plant and animal fuzz in variations not found off the rack.

During our last couple of moves I got rid of nearly all of my warmer weather work-work clothes – most were looking a bit shabby, many never fit well or as comfortably as I’d have liked, and the rest were useless for working from home. I kept a couple of things for the rare warm weather meeting or conference, but the majority of work events in my then field took place in colder times or colder cities so my uniform of thrift store cashmere sweaters and woolen trousers or skirts was vast and has endured. The rest of my current duds were best for actual work (gardening or home improvement), hiking and other outdoor pursuits, or a few “nice” pairs of yoga pants and jeans for running to the grocery.

But…

I finally landed a new job – albeit part-time and temporary, but enough to keep my head above water until I figure out what comes next – but I had exactly two warm-weather work-work appropriate outfits for three days a week, and the late summer heat has kept them sweaty and in the wash.

work-thrift-shirts

So I raided my fabric stash for new clothes to sew (still haven’t made anything yet*), my thrifted clothes in the fabric stash for things I could actually wear now instead of cutting them up for quilts and whatnot (a few shirts are good to go, and another few could be altered), and my current clothes that needed to be mended or improved.

work-thrift-pants

A pair of old pants with newly cleaned-up hems failed to make the cut – and I’m thinking about undoing them to go back to their pleasant shreddiness, but my time would be vastly better spent doing other things, right? And there’s a small hole in the butt that will probably send them into the gardening/home improvement only category soon anyway.

And linen, once well worn and oh-so-soft and floppy (especially if purchased used to begin with) needs to stay in the hammock or beach.

But now two other pairs of pants have that annoying interior button again (that sometimes causes me to forget to zip my fly since I’ve already just dealt with two fastenings) but prevents wardrobe malfunction and helps the button band to lay flat. And a cardigan has a top button again after a few wonderful hours spent in my button stash (that were entirely for naught since I found the perfect matching spare button still attached to the inside hem).

And I rescued a few of my old blouses for more practicality (rather than just being worn under sweaters) by sewing the button band closed so it wouldn’t gape open – this is something I should have done to several of them even before I had increasing fit issues. And depending on the shirt and/or the temperature and humidity outside, I can’t bear to wear a tank top underneath otherwise, so this was an excellent fix.

work-closed-blouse

I stitched both sides of the button placket closed, with the inside one in doubled thread and ugly but sturdy stitches, and the outside one in more delicate single thread stitches so they wouldn’t show and the edge wouldn’t crumple inward.

work-it-closed-shirt

(And now I can retire a few safety pins too…)

But in the end, I also went shopping – for a few new things, not used.

And I bought several items for cheap made with dubious fiber blends, made in dubious ways (though a few things were made in USA with “imported” fiber) and I feel bad – but only sort of – I haven’t the time or the money or the wherewithal to make meaningful choices at this point. But now I have enough to tide me over into my old, mostly used, but still in good condition cold weather clothes.

Now that I’m properly clothed, I just have to figure out how not to catch every aerosolized germ from being among other humans in a cube farm again…

*There’s just enough air-conditioning to thwart my plans for some easy cotton skits and dresses, but I’ve got a courdoroy-ish skirt that I started years ago and would like to finish now, and a reason to finally figure out how to use my buttonholer.

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Perhaps this one is one too many…

The last time I got a mid century chair on the cheap we actually needed it despite my slight chair collecting issue, but I stated that any more after that would be unnecessary.

I now have an unnecessary chair – though it isn’t quite, it’s more of an aspirational piece – meant to go in a corner of my workroom that is currently the home of a tall stack of quilt batting, large cuts for quilt backs, upholstery fabric, a couple of old quilts and bedspreads, and this still unfinished quilt.

(When arranged neatly, this stack can serve as a sort of chair in its own right, but things encased in plastic storage bags tend to squirt out of the middle.)

The chair can’t go there until there is another space freed for the aforementioned pile which means a small closet or several tubs of supplies needs to be emptied/disposed of/made into something/sold first.

But a few months ago this chair caught my eye – it was only $10 – but with newfound minimalist resolve, I passed it by…

another-chair-restore

But then it was still there weeks later, and half off, and in my hands without a thought.

(That glorious and giant coral formica table was still there too, but too big for my hands, and finally gone by the time our last visit.)

I liked the bright plaid cover – it was something I’d probably have chosen in the late 60s? too, but it was threadbare in parts and a bit too acrylic. So I went digging for the original cover knowing I’d likely need to reupholster anyway.

another chair-worn cover

And the original cloth was revealed to be a pleasant nubby tan/gold – it was in decent condition but a bit stained, and I decided to re-cover it rather than try to clean it.

another chair-old & new cover

I still had that lovely large sample piece of grey and yellow linen (or linen and silk? blend) that I considered for the last chair, and I decided to use it on this one – I think it looks pretty damn period appropriate if I do say so myself – and depending on the light, it looks green too.

I added another layer of cotton batting on top first to make it slightly more comfortable and protect the original fabric.

another chair-rocco roll

And discovered that my plan to be able to lay out large quilts for basting on the wide open basement floor will be foiled/spoiled by the dog – he loves to roll on anything new. It’s likely an undesirable behavior – perhaps marking to claim as his, but it’s cute and I’ll take any time he seems to be having fun rather than expressing rage.

(And all the more reason I regret not getting the giant coral table…)

I always get very mildly grossed out when seeing images of people’s pets lying on their fresh knitting/sewing/projects – thinking about hair, poop paws, ticks, burs, poison ivy oils – being deposited even on microscopic levels, but like with babies (I’d imagine) it’s less gross when they’re yours, right?

(But if this was something I was making to sell, I would keep him away from it – he’s banned from my tiny upstairs work/stash room, mostly for his own safety.)

another chair-bottom

I left the old peeking out from the new, and in less than 20 minutes, I had a freshly re-covered but currently purposeless chair.

another chair-done

But there’s still room in the basement for it, right?

another chair-in basement

(Actually, this new chair ended up where the last chair was and the last chair is now in this spot in the basement and looks good – like it belongs – so I suppose I haven’t quite filled my chair quota yet, right?)

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Yarn bowling

Yes, I suppose one could make a sport of slinging balls of yarn at something…

But this is about the receptacle.

I don’t use yarn bowls – the often pretty hand-thrown vessels with a curlicue cutout through which the yarn is dispensed, or fun and vintage and beehive-shaped things – my yarn balls usually nestle in my lap or at my side, and if caked, don’t usually roll away.

But I do use bowls for storing works-in-progress or the yarn waiting to be added to a project.

I’ve got a vintage wooden salad bowl that is a nice size for this purpose.

beetle-balls

As well as an array of old ceramic and glass dishes – lidded casseroles are definitely the best since they offer beast protection.

yarn bowl casserole

(I’ve yet to start this project.)

But these wooden bowls on stands have been catching my eye off and on the last few years and I finally came across one at ReStore a bit ago.

yarn bowl

Perhaps we can have the lovely Vanna White demonstrate it:

But the funny thing is no one seems to know what exactly these particular ones were made for, yet they aren’t so old as to be out of memory. Various discussions on ravelry have been humorous but disappointing, and my other attempts at identification have been futile due to being wildly unpopular in this online world.

What I know:

Mine (maybe not Vanna’s, but many others I’ve seen) isn’t that old – likely mid-centuryish up to the ’70s – and it’s not a piece of fine craftspersonship.

It’s not a standing salad bowl (too short), or dough bowl, or meant to hold food stuffs.

Nor is it a spitoon as some have suggested, though something involving sacrificial fluids isn’t ruled out…

What I’m thinking:

It could just be a colonial-revival, Americana, early American bit of semi-useless home decor – most would have stuck a plant in it or turned it into a lamp.

(It seems likely to have been an actual thing in ye olden times, probably often a married piece of an old bowl attached to a stand to hold needlework or spinning fiber or yarn but I can’t find an historic reference about them, though I haven’t looked that hard…)

Or it would work well as a fiber holder when spinning since the wheel is free-standing and often in a corner or such and you don’t want to put your fiber on the floor (I use a magazine rack) and could have actually been sold for such purpose.

What the dog thinks of it all:

yarn bowl-say ah!

What I want to know:

Was this actually made and marketed to spinners by wheel (or other spinning gear) manufacturers?

Was this made and marketed to needleworkers as a project holder?

Or was this just purposely made for early American decor?

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Not a Paris vacation

We headed north to the Adirondacks for a much needed vacation recently.

adk-weathervane

We packed up our hiking gear, the dog and his gear, and lots and lots of our garden’s bounty.

adk-tomatoes

We usually stay in the High Peaks region where good grocery and produce options are few, so we usually bring a week’s worth of food with us.

N still manages to make fancy stuff with limited ingredients.

adk-tuna tomatoes

(Tuna balsamico is a regular staple either in a sandwich on the trail or stuffed into things, or both).

adk-rain

The trip up sucked, and the weather was somewhat crummy on and off, but thankfully the cabin had a generous covered porch. And the rain brought somewhat cooler temperatures that seemed downright lovely for our heat-soaked hides.

Cabin bathroom was a wee bit humid… #fungusamongus #toilettoadstool #shrooms #mushroom #mushroominthehouse

A photo posted by astitchmatism (@astitchmatism) on

(And mushrooms in the floor.)

But it was cool enough to consider touching wool again, so I immediately cast on for a Paris Toujours.

adk-stitch marker

The beginning wasn’t without incident and I might go into detail later – a very minor pattern issue – and it’s a pattern that doesn’t really need a pattern anyway. And of course I forgot my stitch markers again – and I think I prefer the twist tie now…

The yarn is frogged from a thrift sweater and is kitten/bunny/puppy/mouse soft.

I ended up frogging a few more short sections from between the button holes before we left and I’m glad I did – I got nearly a foot of shawl for it and the yarn easily accepted the spit (hot air huff) splice.

adk-rocco model

The dog failed as a knitwear model.

And as a trail dog on the busier park trails – he’s still too much of an asshole to be around others – but he made a good porch companion and was so much calmer that week without kids on bikes, runners, dogs, cats, certain kinds of jalopies, mail carriers, and garbage trucks going by.

adk-porch with dog

I didn’t get much time on the trails but I got a good chunk of knitting done – the most I’ve done in months. I knocked out a heel and instep on one of the pair of yellow & teal very occasional socks, a few more rows on the last washcloth, and worked a bit on a very long-term hexagon quilt.

adk-shawl start

The weather was the most glorious on our last day and I felt like the vacation had only just begun – yes, a common feeling, but this time it was too real.

adk-shawl in sun

And now this oh-so-soft shawl has remained untouched since we returned – the garden called for too much tendon-aggravating attention and the temperature has once again soared…

Too short vacation. #sunset #latesummer #adk #adirondacks #highpeaks

A photo posted by astitchmatism (@astitchmatism) on

 

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Late summer garden

I’m still having issues with the phone line/DSL and I’ve been on vacation, so more random garden notes for now…

late summer-cicada shells

There were many early successes and now some dramatic hits – the early tomatoes came down with late blight and the late came down with the early – at least I think that’s what happened.

Squash vine borer took out the zucchini just when I figured out what was happening (there weren’t any obvious early telltale signs)…

late summer-vine borer

and to some degree at an okay time – we were getting tired of it and my most hated garden pest – squash bugs – hatched.

late summer-squash bugs

Despite squishing their eggs every morning, I still missed a bunch.

(And the dog will miss eating portions of the missed monster zukes daily.)

Now we’re worried about the butternut squash, but we’ve already got a few near maturity, so if they get hit, it won’t be a total loss.

The cucumber beetles (both spotted and three-lined now) continue to be a massive plague and introduced their bacterial diseases again which the plants have mostly powered through – I squished these daily as well and used sticky traps, but neither made much difference…

The dried beans will only amount to a meal or two – totally not worth the effort, but I could have been a bit more attentive to them and thinned them out a bit better for better air circulation – but – their close-togetherness keep them happy during the heat so either way it was certain doom for them this year.

On a happy note, we’ve been back to salads with some nice lettuces again and the bush and pole beans are doing fine.

late summer-lettuce

And despite the tomato plants taking the huge blighty hit, we canned and froze at least 100 pounds and probably ate the same… Most are still hanging in there after aggressive pruning and organic fungicide, but we’ll have to be far more proactive next year – I was too cocky about not getting hit with blight before. We’ve thankfully got enough beds to rotate everything well, but the southern ones are getting the least amount of sun starting in mid-July, so they aren’t a great place for them.

The yard didn’t get the attention I said it would have this year – we’ve got a couple large (maybe expensive) projects that I feel should be done before I spend time doing other things that might have to be undone, so hopefully we’ll figure that out soon, but in the meantime, the deer have been parading their babies through the yard.

late summer-deer

And the dog continues to be an asshole to them and other beasts, but we’re still trying hard – many dollars of behaviorists and prescription drugs later… (he’s kinda making me feel like I’m the one in need of prescriptions) and the issue of fencing for him is one of the yard holdups – he’s a jumper, the town has height limits, the back yard is pretty big, and the front the perfect size but probably wouldn’t work after all… and so it goes.

I’d hoped to start a few plants indoors for a fall crop, but we’ve yet to set up the grow station – it will happen for spring though – but I’ll be trying for some more root veg and greens – perhaps attempt keeping kale and whatnot through the first frosts – it’s been to hot to put in anything yet and I’ve still got to clean up a few beds first.

And nature has helped a bit too – we’ve got the resident praying mantis or two back, perhaps some assassin bugs (one baby snuck in on some veg), and birds that I’m also keeping my eye on – good now, but once we get blueberries I’ll likely be raging at them with a broom…

late summer-assasin bug

I let some volunteer watermelons do their thing as well as some more butternuts – we’ll see how well the mostly ignored, unwatered volunteers do vs. the painstakingly tended intentionally planted ones (squash that is, I didn’t plant watermelon this year).

late summer-watermelons

And there have been a few interesting surprises as well.

The swallowtail butterflys (I’m pretty sure this is black swallowtail) are snugging up to the garden again – this oddball preferred nothing natural to make her home:

And the damp weather brought out the mushrooms.

I know very little on the mycology front and only trust myself to pick morels in the wild, but I’m becoming slightly more interested – enough to try making spore prints next time I find some – and these in the bean patch are likely boletes of some sort, but I can’t quite determine which one…

late summer-shrooms

But the best has been a stinkhorn that popped up in the tomatoes – unfortunately we left the day after so I didn’t get to watch, or rather smell, its life cycle.

late summer-stinkhorn

The hot and humid weather finally broke a couple of days ago, but is likely headed back soon, so I’ll be busy in the meantime…

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The sewing station south

Hot, humid weekend days sent us to ReStore again over the last month and some. Wintertime usually means thrifting time, but when it’s too hot to hike or work in the yard, it is the second best option to staying cooped up in the house.

I don’t like spending much time in our basement during the day, but I was drawn to it regularly this summer – seeing bright daylight day after day became inexplicably depressing to some degree for me – I yearned for a rainy grey day (then we got a bunch and they nearly killed the garden). But I finally took N’s advice and set up a work area down there despite my earlier protests that I hated being down there in the day and needed bigger windows to work.

On our first summertime run, we encountered a motherlode of old school furniture – desks, tables, horrid attached chair-table hybrids that brought back lunchroom nightmares, and some awesome lime green lockers that almost came home with us, but didn’t because we’d have to rent a larger vehicle.

But this little desk did.

I thought it would be perfect for my not-used-enough serger.

And it is – the serger was previously on a nightstand or side table of sorts and I had to sit at it uncomfortably side-saddle. Moving it out of my tiny upstairs workroom freed up some much needed space too and hopefully by wintertime I’ll actually be able to go up there and work rather than spend most of my time organizing and re-organizing it or shifting the piles that covered one rare surface or another… And then pop down to the basement to use the serger when need be. (I’ll also be able to iron fabric more comfortably in the space, and I have my other machines that need work down there, so perhaps it will be the main work area and upstairs will be more for spinning, stash, and whatever else “art” I might get up to).

There was another table that I wanted very badly – a not too wide, but wide enough for quilting cotton, and gloriously long – 8 feet or so, mid century table with a coral formica top – possibly from a lunchroom too, or perhaps an art classroom… It was cheap (I don’t remember how cheap, but at or under $50) but again, we’d need a truck of sorts to get it home (not to mention we didn’t really have room for it – yes, it could go in the basement, but then the basement would have a giant table in it and we already have one largeish library table down there anyway).

So I forgot about it.

But then it was still there about a month later and only $10!!!!

But I still didn’t get it, but took a picture instead. Someone will be lucky and happy with that thing.

(I’m still having connectivity issues – apparently my phone line is hooked into a buried line at a cookie-cutter condo complex down the road – I like the aesthetics of buried lines, but when I’ve lived with them, they’ve had way too many problems…)

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