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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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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