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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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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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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