In knitting knews

My knitting project monogamish practice continues – it’s been around a year, and my number of projects has dropped and remained stable – I still need some variety for finger comfort, portability, and a very small allowance for rodent brain, but hopefully I won’t have any more years long sweaters in which my body/tastes change in the duration.

Rocco got a new sweater made from the sleeve of N’s old sweater during the last days of winter.

I just picked up stitches from the wide unraveled end, joined, and knit round and round, reducing for a bit to snug up the neck. Then picked up stitches at the waist for a belly band. Done.

The yarn to add the extra bits was the unraveled stuff, so it matches and looks like a legit dog sweater rather than a sleeve with just a few evenings worth of work.

Also from the previous previous post, I finished a summer cardigan in time to wear it for the appropriate season.

It’s a super-easy Amiga in the discontinued yarn “Bamboucle” from Elsebeth Lavold, which is a shame since it’s a good one (so far) – interesting texture, and a comfortable cotton/bamboo/linen/nylon blend. I got it in a remainder bin X years ago, and didn’t quite have enough, so I shortened the front bands in order to get 3 or so more inches of essential butt-covering length. So it’s slightly odd (vaguely tuxedo-shaped?) in appearance, but perfect for office air conditioning.

There’s a good chance I’ll make another one of these, but the next one will be slightly sized up (I had some funny numbers in between two sizes), and the front bands will be full-length. My other mods of narrowing the sleeves after the elbows and taking out waist shaping (was it in the pattern? maybe not) will stay, and buttons will be up for grabs – this one doesn’t have them. I think I need to thrift another cotton sweater first, but I do have a weird sparkly green one that would be good held with something else.

And speaking of unraveled thrift sweater knits, my mom got a Rosa’s Caponcho earlier this year too.

I loooove this pattern – easy, fast, and practical – I’ll probably make another for myself at some point – it’s great for handspun. This one is from an old favorite wooly commercial sweater that became too tight in the bust and a little too short, and a thin strand of a few plys of black nylon? and one of metallic from a thrifted ribbed turtleneck.

Currently on the needles: a handspun shawl, giant handspun blanket, dog cushion, scarf that might get frogged and is mostly a travel knit, and the ubiquitous pair of socks that just need long cuffs are now mostly beach knitting.

Spinning has ended for the season, and sewing has been in a suspended state of I want to do it, but I run of of time every day – the garden and tiresome office work is mostly to blame…

(This post brought to you by yet another morning/day home with the plumber…)

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My chair

I got my grandparent’s c. 1939 club chair  and ottoman over 15 years ago, intending to make a new slip cover within a year or so…

It is where I knit and sew by hand (usually while watching TV), read, and occasionally nap. It’s the one piece of furniture that the dog isn’t allowed on (though he doesn’t always agree), and I feel I have a right to boot the other household member off (it’s also the spot with the brightest light in the room).

It showed up here once already when we finally moved out of the too-long held storage locker – and it’s a beast, but N thusfar has moved it with seemingly little effort, but with follow-up of ibuprofen and tiger balm…

My mom states the original fabric was something like a mohair velvet in dark green, then it was reupholstered in a nubby boucle, also in a dark green?, then my aunt had it rebuilt and reupholstered in the ’70s (or maybe early ’80s) in a loosely woven rust-colored acrylic, then finally, my mom had a professional slipcover (seen above) made for it in the early 1990s. I never liked the slipcover – too stodgy? or maybe because I’m just not a fan of navy? But it worked in their house, and it never looked horribly out of place in ours, until it finally became utterly threadbare and faded. The rust fabric underneath actually works fine in our room, but it is heavily pilled and continues to do so even after grooming, and is a fiber/dog/people hair and dust horder.

I stocked up on a few upholstery-appropriate fabrics around 15 years ago as well, both for this chair and my old sofa, though all were various remnants and/or one-of-a-kind bits from other’s stashes found at thrifts and such. Originally I had a floral faux barkcloth and complementary orange velveteen stuff picked out for this, but I was about a yard too short on both, (or I still have and like this woven orange) but we’ve ended up with a muted, earthy color scheme in the living room at the moment, so I narrowed it down to two browns:

The folded-ish wad on the right is actually a fabric I like – a nice woven with several shades of brown – but I didn’t want to “waste” it since it was over 7 yards and could still be used to cover that old sofa. And the other is a medium to heavy weight cotton canvas in a faded tobacco-spit color.

But to rewind for a moment – I wanted a nice well-fitting professional slipcover – I can sew, I can use a sewing machine, but I can’t fit, or rather have the patience and determination to make things fit. So I called around to some reupholsterers who said reupholstering would be cheaper than slipcovering (it wasn’t), then I called some seamstresses whose rates were reasonable, but they wanted the chair in their shop* (renting a truck or paying an additional fee), and preferred I buy their preferred fabric (limited choices and $$$ – and I get that’s so they don’t have to sew with shit and the customer gets angry if it doesn’t hold up). And I sat on this for a bit – the chair is worth it – it’s in perfect condition structurally, has built-in nostalgia, is timeless, and the most comfortable piece of furniture I’ve ever had – but – dog. And flying bits of fiber. And coffee cups on arms. And not realizing my knuckle is bleeding. And the internal workings and foam cushion are fine now, but I can see the need to replace/repair them in another 5-10-15 years so it will need a full treatment in the future anyway.

So then I shopped for pre-fab slipcovers – I won’t go into the weeds about finding them for the chair but not the ottoman, or the ottoman but not the chair, then nearly settling on one boring drab sage-green (other choice was chino-khaki – no, or white – no) for the chair and resigning myself to sewing one for the ottoman out of a complementary fabric and making a cushion for the chair out of the same, and all could be done for around $50…

But why spend $50 when you don’t have to, and get a temporary cover that won’t fit right and annoy you, when you can make that shit yourself and have the same annoyance and not be $50 richer either?

So before most projects, even though I can flip the suck it up buttercup switch and get it done, there must be a self-sabotaging period of procrastination. This one involved sewing machine choices. I wanted to use the hand-cranked machine, but it was still sluggish and I figured it needed to be fully dismantled and cleaned and greased-up, but I’d never done that before, (and I found and lost and ordered? and lost the spool pin for it) so in the interim, I ordered heavy-duty needles and thread and forgot to order machine grease.

Those came, so I opened up the innards, saw everything was sticky and blackened, wondered what else I could buy to make it worth my while for a trip out, or order of grease, and tried to watch a video about properly cleaning old machines, but said fuck it and doused the whole shebang with oil.

It worked.

So in theory I was ready to sew, but I still didn’t know if I had enough fabric. (I think it was just 5 yards, but wide ones, and I lost the paper I jotted it down.) So I cut out chunks roughly the size of the parts. It seemed that I had exactly enough (minus the seat part that would always be covered). I tried using the old slipcover as a pattern and marked and measured for about 3 minutes, but that’s tedious, so I just started pinning shit together and sewing as I went.

That worked surprisingly well, though I had to remember left vs. right shit on the arms, but I didn’t have to pick out a single stitch, so that deserved a triumphant lap (or lying on my back on the floor until the light noticeably shifted). I used what was trimmed off of a too-long curtain for the seat part, and got good use out of a fancy letter-opener for turning out corners.

Somehow I got through it – start to finish on a weekend (probably 3-day weekend) – the hemming in place was probably the worst part and shredded my fingers and back ligaments. There was a moment of staple gunning on the side panels, but it had no purchase, so a few pieces got sewn to the chair, and it fails as a removable, washable slipcover.

A newly covered pillow rounded everything out, and yes, I didn’t bother ironing the fabric when my back will eventually do that job, and yes, the ottoman has nipples, but my heels will eventually smash those down too.

I’m still not happy with the color (I wanted something in the muted aqua/dirty teal/not quite forest families), and it still looks like its wearing a somewhat baggy slipcover even though it isn’t, but it’s not preppy/nautical/90s faded threadbare anymore, so that’s what counts and that’s what it will be until I get around to getting it reupholstered for real in a few more decades…

*When my mom got the navy slipcover, a woman went out to their rural house, took a shitton of measurements, and came back with a perfectly fitting cover with strategically placed zippers a short time later. The cover has been washed and dried and abused and still fit like a glove decades later. She knew her shit.

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New year, old projects

I’m in a knitting project monogamy binge and it seems to working – though I want to have many more, more, more!, things on the needles, all things are coming off of the needles now instead of languishing. Not counting 2 small travel knits, (should just be one) I’ve only got two cardigans and a blanket in the nice WIP pool now (there’s another blanket out there in the scummy one).

The current project is this cardigan – the body is now just over halfway done – I barely started it back in 2017, then a series of needle issues stopped it until I started back on it last month. I’ve moved on to the sleeves before finishing the body because I’ll need every last bit of yarn to make it long enough and the collar/edging wide enough. My gauge was off and my numbers fudged, so while the fit still works, it’s more fitted than intended, and I’ll need to gain some extra width in the chestage. If the sleeves (just past elbow) only take a ball each, I think I’ll be okay.

The finished projects are:

N’s linen stitch scarf – I thought this would be a quick knit, and it wasn’t too bad, but there’s always that almost halfway point where the stitches begin to compress a little and you’re knitting your way out of a loose sand dune.

I was able to dig out and nearly finish during a cabin week in the summer. There are a few mistakes – I never count rows right, or the same way? in linen stitch, so even though it’s meant to have equal stripes, one or two have one more or less row than the other. Instead of fringe, I wove in the ends, and they seem to be staying put, so I may end up doing that to mine, but I’ve only worn it once? this winter so it’s probably not worth the time (or maybe even the drawer space to keep it at this point…)

The yarn came from one of N’s old oversized 1990s sweaters, and thankfully the yarn for the stripes (except beige) were run continuously up the sides, so they unraveled into big balls (except where there was some breakage (moth holes?).

There’s still an unraveled sleeve that with a few knitted additions could become a matching dog sweater…

And still have some yarn left over – maybe some boot cuffs for me, or hat/mitts for N, or just scrappy bits for scrappy knits.

(And there was a  total triumph long-term finished project that deserves its own post, so this isn’t really a list after all.)

The spin I started a month or so ago failed.

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Spin, [not span], spun… #spinning #wool #roving

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Not failed, really, just didn’t work as I’d intended and is going in another direction. The wools weren’t like enough to be combined without being combined in a blended sort of way – I’m spinning long sections of different rovings instead of short, so a section of shiny and smooth stuff is up against matte and lumpy stuff and I don’t think it will knit up the way I wanted in the end. So I’ll be left with 8 oz of smooth in two different, but hopefully complimentary, colorways plied together, that hopefully will coordinate enough with another skein of orphaned handspun, and the lumpy will be paired with some other lumpy in the stash and hopefully become nearly a pound of stripey single along the lines of this project, only this time in greens and browns and all that is earthy and murky.

Some sewing has happened too – perhaps that too should be its own post…

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Ending of autumn ’18

The season’s first snow happened, but we were away…

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#sunset

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….part of the time we were where we used to be (just two blocks away from recent tragedy), and homesickness moved back for an extended stay for the first time in a long while.

The needles are all in WIP land – mostly that’s a good thing, but I’d rather be doing other things, so I started a fresh spin…

The garden hasn’t quite gone to bed – a few greens and root veggies are still hanging on – but I am done with it, and not ready to think about starting seed babies even though I’ve still got another month and some. And we just managed to eek in some apple-picking – still need to crank out a pie (or two).

I was also on the other coast for a bit – filling myself with tacos and seeing folks I rarely see.

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The other coast. #ocean

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And I’m still pondering the next things, though finally getting back to some of my past things…

…including looking at old photographs again, and maybe collecting them (on a reasonable, very cheap basis) once more.

Around the house things are slowly getting purged and organized, and the new deck still needs to be sealed but the the weather hasn’t agreed, but I’m spending most of my time wiping up muddy dog paintings and other domestic repetitions, so our home renovation, though not entirely complete, has entered the we’ll need to replace that in a year, or two, or three and require other people more than us (roof, etc.) stage.

So ’tis the season for staying in, hunkering down, and getting a lot of little shit done!

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End of September

Eh, I don’t want to play catch-up, nor look at the horrid f-book to reconfigure publish settings, my files are all still a mess between machines, and I’m sunk in sick of the goings on of today…

But I’m happily knitting up that mass of camelid into a truly giant blanket or two smaller ones…

I’m going to have to make that decision fairly soon – my hesitation for making it giant is that it is very sheddy, somewhat pokey (both from vm and guard hairs), and will be a bitch to wash, so I don’t really want it on the bed – but – it could still be a throw/deck blanket, just folded over… but it will still be a bitch to eventually wash. But I didn’t keep track of which skeins I’ve used, so if I do a second, I run the risk that it might come out a little smaller than I’d like. It’s mostly a pleasure to knit though – despite the occasional pokiness and seed splinter, it’s buttery soft and fun to watch the stripes form.

I’ve had a string of needle failures – and even more hijinx with size 8s – my two once trusty sets of interchangeables are finally showing their wear, so I’m transitioning over to another brand with hopefully stronger cords, but in the meantime I’ve got a motley crew of  works in progress on various sticks and strings, and a pileup on the 8s. And a few things are being packed up for the pond. This cotton blanket just came off the needles, but I haven’t frogged it yet – I still want to make a cotton blanket, and I’d still like a thin one, but that want and like don’t go together – I think I want to start it again with the yarns doubled and on size 8s or 9s to make it speedier, but not now.

I want to finish living with this beast of a fleece – I’ve nearly finished picking the best of it, the rest of it requires more patience than I’ve got now. What I don’t finish before the cold weather hits might just end up in the compost pile – it’s mostly what should have been skirted off anyway, and will probably only amount to less than a couple of ounces. My original plan for the yarn was to knit a bulky, dense coat, but there will probably be enough for that and a giant blanket, or two… But I still need to card at least some of it, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to finish spinning it by the end of winter. I know I won’t be able to finish it, but at least the worst/messiest part will be over.

The NJ wool festival happened and I’m just a few ounces richer in dyed wool, and one brand-new skein of indie dyed yarn that will pair well with another I’ve had in my stash for ages. I’ll probably do a (chemically) colorful quick-ish spin before starting on the beast.

Sewing basically hasn’t been happening at all, and that is making me slightly nuts – perhaps when the garden goes to sleep I’ll have more time…

Perhaps, maybe, one day, eventually, later on…………..?

Some of that shit just isn’t happening.

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Weeding and wheeling

Oh, it’s past mid-summer, or is this mid-summer now…?

My old computer finally shat the bed, the new one took nearly a month to arrive, I’m still struggling with transferring files and software and the like, we were on vacation, the garden and yard are nuts, I finally finished a few little house things, and less screen time has been good.

Those great big balls of llama (maybe alpaca?) I flashed last fall are now yarn.

I was aiming for a rustic spin, intentionally a bit thick and thin, but overall bulky weight – I was aware that I began spinning thinner and thinner, and the more aware that I was about doing it, the more I thought I was intentionally bulking back up…

But in the end, the last few skeins were more sport to worsted…

But it doesn’t matter – I plan to knit a throw blanket and will alternate the skeins to even out the weights a bit. There’s a bit under 2,000 yards and I had planned to be able to knit on US 11 or so needles, but my “bulky” spins often work best on 9s, so we’ll see – hopefully it’s enough yarn to make something the length of toes to tits and wide enough to tuck the sides underneath for encapsulation. I love the warmth and squishiness of garter stitch like this blanket (that is slightly too narrow at times and I flirt with the idea of adding another stripe lengthwise, but instead I’ll just knit a whole new blanket or more…) but I’ll get more size out of stockinette, so I’m pretty sure I’ll just do up something ultra easy and in the round like this baby blanket again. Though I’m still tempted to add in some waves or do a modular block thing, but the clock is ticking, and I’ll need to knit this outside because it’s full of veg still – and the blanket itself will be for sunny winter day porch lounging… at least that’s the plan.

It’s been hot as balls and humid as a piehole, so my spinning has ceased for the moment – I’m down to a reasonable amount of fiber too (except for that shorn-too-short alpaca) so I want to be a bit more organized for my next spins – I’ve already grouped a few things together, but I’d like to revisit what I thought would be sweater vs. scarf/shawl amounts since I don’t seem to be finishing a single sweater…

My knitting mojo has just been off – part of that is from garden weary and damaged hands and the joint/tendon pain and swelling I seem to get every time it’s hot and humid now, and part is I want to finish some things before moving on, but I just need to put in a lot more hours of knitting and several thousands stitches to finish…

But part of that is I really just want to knit some socks – so I started another pair. It’s my last ball of my preferred yarn – everything else in the stash is too thin, so I’ll knit that stuff up doubled or maybe one day suck it up and knit it on US 0s, and I really don’t need socks (maybe they’ll end up being a gift?) but fuck it, if that’s what I want to knit to keep my fingers happy, so be it.

(Incidentally I got an email that this yarn was on sale again, but by the time I went to get it, it was all sold out, so I still haven’t bought any yarn for I don’t know how long…?) Well, that isn’t quite true, I’ve thrifted a little bit lately, but that doesn’t count.

The garden is a demanding, but tasty bitch. I need to jot up notes for next year, but the nutshell is Squash Vine Borer is hitting now, but we’ve already had a decent crop of zukes – I’m going to attempt some surgery and bury the vines today, but frankly, I’ve had my fill of the stuff for the year, though N hasn’t. The high humidity and frequent splashy rains brought in the blights the last week or so, but we’ve gotten about 50 pounds of tomatoes so far, and there’s another round ready by week’s end, so I hope I can keep things going, but at the least, we’ve got a decent amount to finish putting up. Three batches of jalapeno salsa and one of crushed toms was canned yesterday. The jalapeno plants were all started from seed, looked like utter shit for several weeks after I put them out and they were devoured by slugs? but then perhaps they were all the stronger for it and grew into these gorgeous, lusty plants. And the blueberries are coming in very well (the blackberries are very sour though, and the gooseberry was less productive this year).

And the closets are all finally done – hot, cramped, messy work I put off for a bit – all needed to be primed and primed and primed, caulked, trimmed out, some needed some shelves, and all needed many coats of paint.

Large projects that need to eventually be addressed are: installing central air, taking down trees, fixing/removing retaining wall, fencing, removing and re-installing attic insulation, some tweaks to the well equipment/set-up, and some other things I’m blanking on at the moment…

Small projects include: repair and painting around doors, scrubbing the siding; patching (painting?) some stucco, replacing some interior doors (maybe, if we can find vintage matches), improving the area underneath the deck, replacing the storm doors, of course more and more landscaping, and more things I’m blanking on…

And a medium project – sometimes large and overwhelming, sometimes a small, chip away at deal, is continuing to purge my shit. I have yet to come to any conclusions or at least stalemates on my art/crafting/collecting issues, but I’m slowing letting go of things, as well as still selling some of my vintage shit. I’ve a collection of old photos I might start to cull for cash, but it’s the only collection that fits neatly inside of a few small boxes, so it doesn’t much count…

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Hit the deck!

We finally did something for the house that wasn’t just a repair… scratch that, it was a repair/replacement, but less necessary than a boiler, or sewer, or toilet, or everything else… but it’s something we can enjoy (not that a sewer isn’t enjoyable when needed). The house finally has a balcony/deck on the back instead of a ridiculous set of rickety stairs.

From this:

To this:

And yes, no stairs now – we hotly debated the feature – but maybe they’ll come later if we [I] really can’t live without them. We do have yard access through the ground level/basement, and it is nice to not have mud tracked on the deck and not worry about the dog getting loose (fingers crossed, he’s a jumper). So it is very much an extension of our living and dining space (right off the kitchen). I’ve lost the view of the back yard from one of the office windows, but I can still see the garden out of the other, and otherwise it’s just the treetops – I’m cool with that. It stretches the length of the house, but only comes out 10 feet, so we barely lost yard space, and instead gained a good shady spot underneath where the hammock will be.

And this spring has been so wet, that I wouldn’t have been sitting out in the yard anyway, so it’s perfect timing…

The whole thing was entirely done by others – that’s a first for us too – there was going to be too much engineering/working at high-ish height/expertise beyond our ability for us to tackle it ourselves – and that was a nice change – sign some papers, permits, payments and in a couple of weeks it’s done. (Well, not 100% done as we’ve got to seal/stain/something TBD it in a few months.) But even if we had buckets of money, I think I’d still prefer to do the work we can do to houses ourselves – at least while my limbs work enough.

There’s been a bit of a shitstorm going on as well – some electrical problems, air-conditioning problems, family matters, work, and quite literally with the dog – he got massively ill and had to be hospitalized a couple of times last week – we still don’t know the whys, but the hows are slowly getting better – gave us a massive scare.

So we’re all enjoying the moments when we can – thankfully it’s been cool and dry lately (when it’s not raining…).

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