Randomly in autumn

It’s been a wonky autumn.


Last week’s laundry basket held corduroy pants, thick wool socks, shorts, and a bathing suit.

I didn’t go to Rhinebeck this year and I didn’t really miss it…

My schedule has been a bit erratic, and my making stuff time has been as well, (not to mention my brain), so I’m still sticking to easy mindless things for the moment.

I helped design a functional c. 1959 living room for a museum exhibit and whipped up some pillows with a nice vintage European fabric to match a new but vintage-inspired sofa.


(I forgot to take pics of the finished pillows…)

And made another pillow for myself out of little upholstery samples.


(I don’t give a damn about matching seams – the samples were oddly not quite the same size too – and it’s for one of the various chairs in my work room.)

I’m unraveling as fast as I can since it will soon be too cold to do it outside, though I keep doing it inside, and none of that really makes any sense, but I consider it a cool, not cold, weather activity.


I thought I wanted to use this perfect purply brown for one of my current work-in-progress scarf/shawls, but I’m glad I went with the green – this ended up being more lace than light fingering.

Sweater parts waiting to get their kink on… #yarn #recycledyarn #thriftstoreclothes #unraveling #withsparkles

A photo posted by astitchmatism (@astitchmatism) on

And I’m still oddly attracted to metallic yarn.


This was a short-sleeved sweater that I almost kept as-is, but I still can’t find the correct atmospheric conditions to wear heavier-weight wool short sleeve sweaters (and it didn’t look right with a long-sleeved shirt underneath). So I don’t know what this will be yet – it’s a sport-ish/light worsted weight and I like the muddy pink/sometimes dirty lavender color – I’m a little tempted to hold it with the brown above and make a loose-gauge drapey sweater, but I’m also seeing too many other scarf/shawls I’d like to make.

I’m back to spinning again now that the heat and humidity have gone – trying for at least 15 minutes or so a day – and now I’m getting even more good yarn for scarf/shawl things, but I seem to be unraveling and spinning far more than knitting these days…



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Filed under home decor, knitting, recycling, sewing, thrifting

Mutt warmer

This is a common shape of a sleeping pet:


But this is the first dogball Rocco has made since he’s been with us since May.

I figured he’s getting chilly – he’s from South Carolina and perhaps has never seen snow, or been through the annoying shoulder seasons when it’s colder indoors than out.


So I tossed on a felted/fulled thrift sweater on him for shits and he seemed to really like it. So I half-assedly started to make a dog sweater thinking he’d likely try to eviscerate it as soon as it was finished and I didn’t want to pour too much time and energy into it.


The sweater must have been a more recent (yes, from April or early May as seen here) acquisition since it was at the top of the wad on the floor and I know I liked the zipper and its reharvestable potential, and while the color isn’t my favorite, it goes well with greens and whatnot, so I think I was planning to make mittens and fingerless gloves out of the rest (I didn’t want to touch felted wool for most of the summer, so I haven’t thought about it much or dug out the rest of the felted stash to check for coordinates).

Rocco continues to be very difficult for us at times – I used to solidly stand by the statement that “there’s no such thing as a bad dog, just bad owners,” and while I still believe that is sometimes true, reactive “bad” dogs are very challenging and oh-so-slow to become “good” despite good constant and consistent training, expensive behaviorists, and medication.

But he’s made remarkable progress with obedience and communication and general fond companionship in the house (let’s not talk about the counter surfing though). I’ve just allowed him in my tiny upstairs workroom on supervised visits and he’s the dog friend I’d hoped to have – calmly lying in the only open space on the floor as I spin or dick around with fibery things. He also doesn’t mind the noise of the sewing machine (though the food processor and blender are still monsterly).


The back piece of the sweater seemed to be just about the same size as his back, so I cut it along the seams, and then cut a few pieces to use as straps. He was being unusually patient and non-wiggly throughout the whole fitting process so I risked safety-pinning it together and having him wear it for a few minutes and he seemed game and the fit was good enough.


I trimmed up the pieces to fit his contours a bit better, sewed both ends of the chest strap so it could go over his head, and sewed a piece of the grabby side of velcro to the body strap – it attaches to the felt easily so there was no need to use the other velcro half. (I also made sure there weren’t any pokey edges on the stiff velcro.)


And in a few minutes, he was happily wearing his new sweater.


And I think it’s got a bit of a thundershirt effect on him as well – he was noticeably a bit more relaxed wearing it – though it could have just been the novelty and coziness factor. I’ll wait and see how this one holds up or doesn’t get chewed before I knit one or sew something with better fit and coverage – he’s going to need it if we have a repeat of last year

(We got his DNA results back recently and found as we expected, he’s a Heinz mutt, but he’s got a Husky grandparent, so hopefully he can tap into that when the cold comes – and it’s likely the source of his markings, or else his black and tan came from a Cocker Spaniel grandparent… Definitely not the “Shepherd mix” the rescue claimed, nor the “Rottie mix” his original shelter claimed and the rescue whitewashed… so we’ll just settle on “Spaniel mix” since he’s got the most of it.)


Filed under home, recycling, sewing, thrifting

Garden end days

(I’m sick over this election bullshit and low maddening hum of misogyny like a high voltage wire stretching over the continent here, so let’s stick with some light “lunching ladies” garden talk for now…)

The garden broke me this year – there wasn’t a single plant (except the hot peppers) that wasn’t hit with disease, multiple diseases, and pests – even the fresh dirt in the new raised beds now harbors various evils.


There was some balance – some of the new pests attracted some new predators – but not enough, and/or not in time and I’m going to have to be even more proactive next year with using more or other organic interventions.


The fall crops mostly failed from no rain and continued heat through September, but a few sprouts are gamely hanging on, and the poor embattled (nearly zombie) tomatoes are desperately trying to ripen their very last fruit.


We had a few more butternuts than last year, but not enough for the work we put into them to keep them alive, and my experiments with letting some volunteer plants grow failed miserably since they were a month or more behind and maturing at the height of pest season.


Google took new satellite images of our town and our garden can be seen from space! Near space, that is, and luckily it was captured after a fresh batch of straw in the aisles and before the plants got big, so there’s good contrast.


The new garlic is now in, and the old garlic is already half consumed – unfortunately we’re definitely not going to make it until next year’s crop.


And the canning is finally wrapped up – just tomatoes in various consistencies, jalapeno salsa, and a tiny batch of overly sweet hot pepper jelly. The rest of the bounty is tucked away in the new chest freezer. I experimented with blanching or not with a few things, so we’ll see what worked best, and anything too mushy to eat is heartily consumed by the canine, so it’s not a total loss.

Now starts the month or two of raking and shredding leaves…

(And a heads up that I agreed to put “a subtle message” urging Americans to register to vote in my posts, so if you see it, it should be there, and please vote unless you like Trump or any of the other election-throwing candidates, then please stay home.)



Filed under gardening, home

Cruel crewel world…

Too hot and humid Saturdays sent us to ReStore many more times than usual over the summer. 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.

(We sadly only made it to the beach once this year – the dog wasn’t ready to be on his own for more than an hour or so for much of the time, and Sundays are the better day to go around here to avoid the crowds somewhat anyway…)

I’ve already yammered on about some of my recent thrifted fiber, functional storage, and furniture acquisitions of late, but I also picked up some more knitting pattern books (a tale for another day) and other’s abandoned stitchery works-in-progress.

I’ve been mildly interested in doing some woolly embroidery projects over the last couple of years – not enough to actually plan and start any, but enough to pick up random skeins of crewel wool.


Again and again…


(There’s an antique mall in the sticks close to family we visit that has a never-ending supply of the stuff for like $1 a baggie – it’s also the home to other great fiber finds – especially this basket and this basket.)

But I haven’t gotten much further than this except to page through my mother’s old bargello book and idly think about re-creating her optical illusion pillows of my youth (that no longer exist – at least one was partially consumed by the family dog) only in colors I like rather than the popular ones of excrement in the ’70s – browns and golds, while lovely on the forest floor, will always be poo and pee to me in home decor – though I think one of the pillows (the one that was chewed beyond repair) was browns and oranges or just orange with ombre browns, which I do like…

But regardless, I guess I did think about it some, but not overly so, until I found a complete, just started crewel kit over the summer.

I really liked it – squirrels and frogs and owls and caterpillars and all weirdly similarly-sized – what’s not to love? And I imagined stitching it up in a cabin on vacation and then making a pillow for my spinning chair out of it. But for shits I looked up what it might sell for and though it varied widely, it could easily bring over $10. $10 is usually the limit by which I bother to sell something online. But I figured it was an okay sacrifice since I’d only paid $1, and I’d be honing my embroidery skills and getting something I truly liked.


But then I looked closer…


And the original stitcher used the wrong colors – the frog was supposed to be more grey-green, and the bunny grey not brown…

Now, I am so not about “the rules” and I rarely follow instructions completely (though there are times when I should a bit more) but in a kit,* I get a bit itchy  about this stuff – is there enough spare wool in the right colors to fix it, or if I don’t, will I end up with a grey instead of a brown stick? And though it’s minor and I could let it slide, I’d still like better contrast between the greens of the frog and the greens of the reeds, and then the fact that this kit has such a wide range of colors is partly why I found it so appealing, so use the whole range of colors, dammit!

But then it could be sad – the original stitcher could have been loosing her eyesight… Abandoned projects found at the thrifts always come with a bit of melancholy – either whiffs of things coming to and end with fingers and eyes and minds, or frustration, or death and disposal – but that is also what I find appealing about them – a chance to resolve themselves and become the things they set out to be, or different from their earlier failure and abandonment but redeemed nonetheless.

But this little froggy and bunny will probably go to auction after all…

*I’ve never made something from a kit beyond a latch hook horse pillow 30 something years ago, so kits in general make me itchy.




Filed under collecting, home decor, sewing, thrifting

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.



Filed under gardening, knitting, spinning

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


(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.


Filed under collecting, recycling, sewing, thrifting, unemployment

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…


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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Filed under collecting, home, home decor, thrifting