Upbraided

Knocked another long term publicly declared UFO off the list. The braided rag rug that I started for our old house, picked up and worked on again for our future house, then started to undo in craft defeat a few years ago, is now a functioning rug, albeit a knitted one.

Lessons learned? I still can’t crochet – it bothers my wrists, so I’m okay with not pushing myself to stick with it. Braiding is not tanglely if you move one ball – don’t think I knew that for the first 80 yards or so. I’m open to making another braided and sewn rug one day, but out of wovens, not knits. I’m definitely up to making another knitted rug, but there’s no need to braid beforehand. I’ve since learned how to cut t-shirt yarn more quickly and cleanly, but the all the rough bits of seams and bands and such are fine in a rug and make no waste.

First yards of braiding
When it started to be sewn
Swatching for knitting braid

Details – started with around 120 yards of braid, but ended up making ~60 yards more to finish. Used size US 50 needles. Cast on 33 stitches, ended up with X rows/purl bumps (can’t be arsed to count). I could only knit 2 rows at a time before I had to take a break – a third row made pain that lasted longer than progress was worth. But as long as I stuck to just 2 at a time, I was able to do several 2-row knitting sessions a day, so it was done in a couple-three weekends because of extra braiding time. How many shirts? Eh, don’t feel like counting those either but most of them were on the smaller side though there were also a few XL men’s and maybe a dress. And there’s always at least one strand of black or near black throughout.

The finished project is very thick and squishy – great dog mat and also nice for human ass bones, so I’ll probably keep it in the room I often sit on the floor (until I find the small chair of my vintage dreams). If it is tread on more, I’m thinking it might stretch a little (as would washing it) but since the goal was to finish it rather than make it a specific size for a specific spot, size & shape doesn’t matter too much, though I’m not washing it until it absolutely has to be – it weighs… over ten pounds? At least a couple bags of flour? Other potential places for it would be bedside, under the desk or sewing table, or the basement.

The only publicly declared long-term UFO left is the sweater quilt I started in the ’90s – I’ve got it on my list of shit to do for this year but I still haven’t repaired and embiggened the pieced flannel duvet cover, so I think that’s going to be my priority (along with seeing if there are enough scraps left to make a quilted throw – note to self to thrift a sheet to use as a backing for the pieced top since the fraying of that flannel is never going to stop).

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Wooly vest

I’m up to my tits in wordpress fuckery – hate the new editor, hate the IG pics disappearing, then when trying to replace those my text disappears..??? So I’m kicking myself for using this as my notebook – should have stuck to analog, or should have kept this in a tidy little doc on my own pc.

But figuring it out will be for another day or never.

In the meantime, catching up, I made a Burton Vestigan by Ela Torrente last fall and love it. It took me a loooong time to finish – I’m not a fast knitter and moss stitch slows me down even more. The yarn is Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride bulky in oregano, but I bought the yarn over a decade ago in a seconds batch, so the color might not quite be the same as today. The collar opens up to a wide one and looks good that way too.

I’m thinking about making another, though I’m not eager to do all that moss again, but if I do I need to remember to size up, way up – don’t know if my gauge was messed up or I just prefer a looser fit. (I think I also used 10.5 needles instead of the 10.75 or whatever that in between size is in metric that falls in the middle of US 10.5 and 11). The armholes could be a little wider too, though blocking helped (I think I might have sized them up even more though? I definitely made the pockets larger and sewed fabric ones instead of knitting them, and added more buttons. (Note: top button needs to be high, or maybe don’t make V as deep – it’s okay now, but if it stretches more it will be weird falling further underboob. Overall the pattern was a good one – there may have been some weird stitch counts and/or starting and stopping a row with a knit or purl when it didn’t make sense, but all of that was probably me not paying attention.

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Maybe not so hip anymore? hat

Hat knitting is starting to get jabby elbows at my sock knitting. For the past few years I’ve liked to make a hat during a cabin vacation – usually have it cast on and a few rows knit to make sure all is well before leaving, then knit furiously for a couple of days and be wearing it by the last couple while there. But in the year of no vacations, I snuck one in, and had little to no other travel & waiting room time, so my sock knitting lagged and then took on meaning that it really doesn’t have. And my sock drawer is a little jammed (but my hat storage isn’t much freer) so maybe I should build some new furniture – a nice chest or something instead, but you can’t shove lumber in a bag and go.

I missed the two fall wool festivals this year – partly because of being away (for the local one) and I’m still not cool enough with covid and all the other back-to-school cooler temps germs to go to the big one. So I used my $30 annual festival budget at Green Mountain Spinnery on the way home for some of their Sylvan Spirit tencel & US wool yarn. I had a shawl-ish sort of thing in mind but couldn’t swing a third or fourth skein, but then the pleasant floppiness wanted to plop on my head.

I also did the thing where I selected a color just out of my comfort zone, though I think purples are entirely in my comfort zone now, but this one ended up a little too pale for my mug and I also wanted to add a little more warmth.

And so while staring at a cheery mum on a unseasonably warm autumn day after a grim day back in the cube farm though not back full-time yet though maddeningly setting restart dates and rescinding over and over, I remembered this ball of thrifted mohair from a few years ago. It is this stuff (probably – you can’t always trust that the label matches the yarn when buying used) and the color ranges from fuchsia to orchid-y purple depending on the light (but not the candy red as below).

So the two of them held together worked – deeper color and extra warmth.


Then on to pattern searching – it had to be utterly uncomplicated, autopilot knitting – I had a few oldies, I searched for a few newbies, I couldn’t use rav for more than a few minutes, so I spent a little more time on the web searching and landed on Drops’ Winter Smiles Hat. I nearly abandoned it when the needle size wasn’t what I wanted and didn’t want to recalculate, but thankfully the stitch count for the small/medium size (I usually take a large) matched or was close enough to my trilobite hat which was on needles two sizes up. (That hat has since become a favorite though as a slouch, so the fun trilobite part ends up smurfy or condom-tippy.)

And despite knitting for days, I didn’t get it quite finished – I never remember how slow I am at 1×1 ribbing (or moss stitch as I’m still plodding though a years long vest, or linen stitch which I love/hate/love). But it quickly wrapped up a couple of days later and I’m happily wearing it now. I’m slightly concerned it might stretch out a bit too much eventually but I’d be willing to reknit it.
(Also might add a small and/or lightweight easily removeable pompom…?)

Details:

1+ skeins of Sylvan Spirit (and maybe 20-30 yards of the second?) and 1 ball of Aloft (some leftover yarn, but not much, but I don’t think it was a full ball to begin with) so somewhere around 200-220 yards of each held together.

US 6 needles throughout.

Cast on for S/M with the stretchy CO I learned from J that isn’t cabled, but close to it, and I don’t know what it’s called.

Knit as per pattern.

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The mask scraps quilt

Here we are still.

We suck.

I started making masks out of fabric I already had – the largest, ugliest pieces were 3-5 yards of $1/yard cottons that I bought a few years ago on a trip to Maine to use as foundation fabric – inside unseen stuff, for practice with dying/printing/whatever, or quilt backing if I couldn’t afford better later. This fabric became miles of bias tape for mask ties.

The face parts were made from a decent collection of fat quarters and half yards I’d collected over the years to line felted bags (that I used to sell at craft fairs). I chose the patterns that I liked the least or didn’t have something else in mind for them. All of these were the pleated surgical style and I was always left with a piece just a bit too small.

The second round of masks had me sacrificing prints I really liked, figuring they’d make me a little happier to wear, and more likely for recipients to wear. Many of them were souvenir fat quarters that I could remember buying from places I didn’t know when I’d visit again (there’s some Brooklyn, New Hampshire, and my original hometown in there) and with them came happy/sad/apocalyptic feelings, but ultimately it was good to let some go. But I still used the same three or four bias tape ties as before.

For the third round of masks, I treated? myself to some new fabric – most of these are the boldest geometric prints, and the skulls. I took to wearing the skulls exclusively and scared a little kid at one point, but at that point little maskless kids should not have been out in that particular public place, and there were scarier things going on. This was also the time I met my doppelganger in the supermarket muttering profanities under her mask with the same cadence as I was. I began experimenting with different styles and shapes of masks, so my scraps started to become jagged and swooped, and more wasteful.

The fourth round were smaller batches here and there, special requests, or us wanting one or two more of a newer style, better fit. By this point I finally ditched the bias tape and switched to elastic ties and toggles and sewed in little pockets for aluminum nose inserts.


All of the leftover bits were enough to fill out a quilt…

And now all of those masks are mostly unused, since we switched to commercial ones with better protection.

(Which are now starting to pile up and I can’t just feed them to a landfill, so until there’s a good recycling option, I may turn them into a dog mat…)

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See the light

This Singer Fashion Mate 252 has been waiting patiently in a corner of the basement since I thrifted it in 2017. I tested it then and diagnosed a blown motor, and apparently there was also a note on it about it needing a new belt. But I’m guessing that I pressed the pedal before turning on the light…?

20210403_132830

Because yeah, the light switch is the on switch…

(None of my sewing machines (serger not included) have power switches – not used to the new-fangled ones.)

After a generous application of oil and some confident but utterly inexpert turning of knobs and dials, it sews again, and fairly well – I might not replace the belt just yet.

Made a few card sleeves intending to make many more, but sewing clear polyester is hard to see and I’m overdue for new specs as well…

Now that I’ve got this ’70s machine up and running it’s probably time I start thinking about starting that ’70s quilt I’ve been chewing on for some time…

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Goodbye ravelry

A baker’s dozen or so of years of organizing projects, adding content, and enjoying virtual worldwide education and socialization ends when the original ravelry website on Internet Explorer is killed March 31st along with the “classic” interface.

The owners refuse to believe that their site is now unusable by many and silence all comments, suggestions, and complaints.

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New Home 532 zig zag sewing machine manual

I got a request for a copy of my New Home 532 sewing machine manual, and since I didn’t see it on Janome’s website of manuals (Janome now owns New Home) I thought I’d share it here since it grinds my teeth when folks sell scans of these. I’m breaking copyright law, so I may have to delete this at some point, but you can download a pdf of the whole manual here:

New Home 532 sewing machine manual

And page by page images follow – scans aren’t the greatest, but I don’t want to wreck my original copy and it takes too much time to make it perfect – just click to embiggen.

I think this is the only manual I have for any of my vintage sewing machines, but I do have a manual or two for machines I don’t (yet?) own, so I may eventually scan those here too if they aren’t available otherwise online.

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Something to show for it

I finished two big knits this year along with a couple of hats, still have some partial socks, just started a vest, and just ripped what should have been the third big knit I wish I was able to wear now.

But I’m wearing the shit out of this beast I finished last spring.

I’d been wanting to use up this odd amount of handspun – very early stuff and a little too unpleasant for next-to-skin wear, but the collar is against skin, and it isn’t too bad, so it could have been a scarf kind of thing after all…

And I have a decent amount of unraveled old sweater yarn that’s been sitting around too long, so it was time to start playing with it all. This ended up being a combo of the roughly 320 yards of handspun, a light grey small and short bulky zip OldNavy wool cardigan I wore the shit out of when I was smaller (~500 yards?), and a medium/dark grey mens thrift store sweater (Gap or the like). I held the medium/dark grey yarn with both of the other yarns and still have some to spare, but used up all of the handspun and old cardigan so the total equivalent to a bulky yarn was less than 1,000-maybe ~800+ yards?

I looked at a few patterns for stitch count reference, but mostly winged it – very simple with no shaping – and with a few rips and restarts. Last winter was unseasonably warm, so I worked on it outside quite a bit too.

The pockets have leftover mask fabric for lining – I think I got this at Brooklyn General – and was thinking about the city while in the early days of the lockdown…

The buttons came out of the stash – I might replace them at some point, but that’s getting less likely…

At first I feared it was stretching out too much, but it’s good – roomy and thick – and the cuffs can fold over now which they didn’t at first – I was worried about running out of yarn and made the sleeves to the minimal acceptable length which didn’t seem as acceptable the first time I wore it.

I’m probably going to make another one soon, though I wish I had a better idea about yarn amounts. Next one can be a little less wide and/or maybe have a little shaping to save yarn but still be boxy, though I’d like a wider collar too…

But I need to finish what I started first, or at least get to the part when I know I can keep going or have to rip.

That’s probably some sort of metaphor for life and all…

 

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And I forgot to title it

I’m out of the habit of being here, but need to park my project notes and such someplace other than ravelryfuckyouverymuch now…

But time is elusive, my photos are a mess, and blah, blah, blah…

(And I’m hating the ads here, but can I afford to pay to make them go away…?)

But I finally finished something I originally came here for (public shaming/accountability for long-suffering WIPS).

Quilt made from old shirts in a random pattern hung from deck with sunburst

N’s quilt made from his old 1990s button-up shirts.

I decided it would end more quickly as a throw rather than a queen size, but then it ended as a wide twin/not quite wide enough/but long enough full.

(The other long term unfinish shit from 2013 is still unfinished.)

mutt sitting in front of scrappy quilt on deck

I didn’t photograph the quilt after its wash, so it looks a little crappier here than it does now (and it’s decorated with dog hair) but between it and making nearly 200 masks, I’ve got my sewing mojo back.

But not really for clothes, though I cranked out one pair of PJ pants that are too big but comfy and a half-done skirt that was clearly too small.

Knitting and spinning are still happening and a new fiber beast came to take over the house.

blue and white cotton weaving with shuttle

More on that later.

And the garden which got destroyed this year but recovered.

I’m lucky to live in a blue state.

I voted.

I hope you do too unless you support the piece of shit there now.

 

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Autumn, winter, spring, quarantine…

Shit’s bananas.

(I miss fresh bananas.)

For the last half year or so progress has been slow on everything I’m working on – a few things are nearing completion but not nearly enough to warrant mention.

Instead I’ve been sewing masks.

And more masks.

And more masks.

I hate that I have to sew masks – I hate what our country has become and the vile creature at the helm.

Public health is everyone’s business and everyone needs to do their part, but not like this…

The actual making of masks has been good though – I’ve got a system down and it’s easier to make a bunch rather than one – I’m plowing through my stash – and the big surprising bonus is that I learned something incredibly useful about my machine/s.

There is such a thing as a bad bobbin.

Unfortunately, the only bobbin that works well is the vintage one that came with the machine/s so I have to stop and fill it often rather than gather a troop beforehand.

And cheap machine needles aren’t worth the time – there’s a reason why they ended up at the thrift store.

So at some point when I’m not trying to get my money refunded from a toilet paper scam, washing groceries, planting a full garden, and not dying from the plague, I’ll get back to some old sewing projects – now that I know it’s the goddamn bobbin and not a tension issue…

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