One from the scrap heap

I need to lighten my stash, I’ve been wanting to start some scrappy projects, and I needed a gift, so once again my mother will soon be the recipient of a project that might go very wrong, but I’ll still finish it and give it to her (like this hat).

scrapheap

On the heap are several unraveled thrift sweaters including a few that had [abandoned] intentions of becoming pussyhats, one or two from last spring or early summer, a never-ending cone of (I suspect, but I still haven’t tested) faux or partially faux, mohair – fauxhair? from the Cascine market in Firenze several years ago…

boot-redo-firenze

…a few balls of wool from the big box craft store that I got on the cheap nearly, or over, a decade ago to make into felted bags (I still haven’t put the handles on a couple I made around that time, but I do see myself eventually making more, so it’s not urgent I use it all up), the last bit of my kool-aid dyed yarn, and finally, and possibly regretfully, some novelty yarns – yes, a “fur”(must be under the other stuff in the pic) and some metallics. I kinda sorta like metallic yarns – if mixed well enough with wool, they feel okay and fancy up a handknit – I wear this batkus with a tiny silver thread that never shows up in photos at least once a week:

baktus3-restaurant

And recently unraveled this one…

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

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…but I’m not so sure about gold since I don’t wear it, and I should put it in this project, but it’s just enough to make a shawl-thing on its own, so I don’t want to shortchange it. But I think I got a few balls of metallic yarns with the intention of making some knitted jewelry – ropey lariat things – but the coppery one seen above and below is fairly thick and unpleasant on its own, and most times I’d rather have a scarf, so that is no longer an intended project…

But for a long time I’ve been wanting to make some grand, chaotic, scraptacular feather & fan/old shale shawls.

A perimenopausal aesthetic has taken over and I want more drama in my knits.

I took a baby step toward this with this shawl from a few years ago that I thought I was going to sell, but have kept to use while being utterly stationary at the computer.

spring-shug or shawl

It’s made up of two sweaters – one was a blue Shetland thrifted one, and the other (I wore in the ’90s) was an Italian multicolored mohair mix that I doubled, and that was a mistake – I ran out of it before I got the length I wanted. But it’s wide, and some days I think of making a dramatic shrug out of it, or just adding more length with the blue wool, but it functions well enough for what I use it for, so best leave well enough alone.

But my mom needed a more practical scarf and I needed to finish it in a reasonable amount of time, so I’m going sideways on big, but not too large, needles with nearly all garter stitch except for a wavy-making row every 4 or so.

It now has the fun fur and hot pink silk from an ’80s skirt and it’s drunkenly teetering on the line of fuglytown…

…so it’s time for more metallics and even louder colors, right?

 

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February follies…

Yes, I jinxed it.

After a gorgeous day in the 60s that permitted a few moments of bare vitamin D-sucking arms in the yard…

They say snow's a'headed our way… #sunset #winter #clouds #treeskeleton

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We woke up to this, and a snow day:

Much ado about not too much… #snowday #snow #treeshadow #yard #snowdaysarentfunifyoudontgetpaid

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And snow days are not the barrel of monkeys when you don’t get paid for them, and then have to go in to work on your normal day off, and have to reschedule the electrician, and everything gets pushed back a week, and it’s not that big of a deal but yet sets your nose out of joint for a bit.

But the snow was only half of what they predicted and over halfway gone now.

I broke my commitment to finish shit first and cast on for a new project.

In my defense, it is a gift, or might be a gift…

It will either be fabulous or fugly – if the later, it should breathe its last breath in a few more rows, but each row takes me about 20 minutes.

And my wrist is acting up again – I started another spin last week too – I need to find a good balance of a bit of spinning to keep my wrist strong, but not too much, or not to rough/hard/nasty wool to exacerbate it.

This is rough/hard/nasty wool – bit’s o’shit I’ve gotten for a buck or so at the fiber festivals –  and a bit of some very lovely soft alpaca that I feel like I’m wasting, but I never had a good plan for it.

The plan for this is a bulky, uneven, rustic 2-ply yarn to be knitted up into mittens, and likely lined with an un-unravelable thrift cashmere sweater. At least that’s the plan now – I do need some mittens, but this yarn will be hell to knit up.

And does anyone need the bottom part of a Morse sewing machine case?

morse-case-bottom

It’s a pretty standard case, so it would fit most average-sized vintage machines (I had a Singer 66 in it) but it won’t necessarily match up to other Morse tops – I had this issue – and it’s in semi-rough shape, but still sturdy. It’s free to a good home, but I’d appreciate shipping reimbursement or some sort of trade. I’ve offered it on ravelry too, and will likely drop it off at the ReStore (or possibly try to sell it online) by the end of February otherwise.

(And I’ll likely find a cheap-can’t-be-passed-by machine that needs a case right after I get rid of this… but that kind of thinking has left me with 25+ years of shit to purge/sell now…)

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What Phil* had to say

It’s a bit disorienting to be in February and have only been through an extended mud season – mud from rain, not snow (except for a tiny bit). I don’t mind a mild winter per se, but the ticks haven’t died (have I already bitched about the ticks still hanging on – on the dog – this winter?) and I’m sure the garden’s not-frozen foes are planning their evil attacks…

Go back to sleep! #january #itsnotspringyet

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But there is still ample time for a blizzard or two, so I’ll shut the hell up.

Thanks to N with his speedy PVC erection skills, we’re good to go with seed starting this year – just need the electrician to add a plug, and a few more supplies.

feb-grow

The signs of spring are urging us to eat up last summer’s bounty – we’ve barely touched the frozen veg, but we’re down to just one butternut, and the last of the juicy peak of season blueberries made their way into a pie.

Last summer's blueberries in a wintertime pie. #sometimesibake #blueberrypie #pie #foodface

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None of my current knitting projects wrapped up by the end of January, so they’ll be finished when they are – soon, likely, for the socks, and I have to really force myself on the sweater – I need the needles from it though (to start another likely long-suffering, but less painful to knit sweater) so that might be the needed kick to the finish line.

I put the hand crank on the Singer red eye.

feb-crank

And it will hopefully be awesome – now, not so much – the machine is far more gummed up than I thought and the movement is sluggish (I think I last used it in 1999? and it’s been in and out of basements and storage units) – and I have to learn a bit more about disassembling parts and well-greasing and whatnot. “Fixing” old sewing machines for me has just been a good wipe down, oiling, and replacing a missing part or two, so it’s time I get a few more mechanical skills on that front – and at some point, I’d like to be able to restore the finish and whatnot, but maybe not – I want to use these machines, not look at them being pretty.

*as in Punxsutawney.

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In the closet

Home improvement continues around these parts…

I called in a contractor for shits to price out the bathroom reno I’ve been having trouble with, and of course he charged in with the rallying cries of:

Gut it!

Take it down to the studs!

And I get that when a place really needs to be insulated and the plumbing and wiring needs to be replaced – to a degree – but for a very simple remodel? I shudder to think what would unnecessarily be going into the landfill, and all of the older, better built things replaced with newer crappier things. But we’ll see when the quote comes in – I am willing to pay a bit more for the convenience of showering within a day or two rather than a week – and we know our limits with some plumbing re-installation, so we’ll need at least some professional help, but without seeing the quote yet, but knowing it’s going to be at least 3 times what I budgeted, I’m gearing up for another DIY job with the help of our friendly (but not cheap) plumber instead of a crew… But we’ll see.

During this process, I went to the bathroom store the contractor uses to price out the fixtures. We’re in a weird area of big wealth, muddy farmers (some wealthy too), and semi-scrappy “artists” and ageing hippies (again, either wealthy or hand-to-mouth). In our little town at the fancier hardware store and green building center, everyone is friendly and doesn’t make assumptions based on how you look on your budget – sometimes I want the fancier, better quality higher-priced things, sometimes I want the budget line, but I want to talk about both to see which is the best option. But the bathroom store was out in the vast mcmansion acres and the salesperson pegged me as a penniless shack-dweller and rushed me through to get to the next (bejeweled) customer. This sets my teeth to grind – I want to support the local businesses and I’m willing to pay a bit more for them, but when I can get the same toilet/tub/sink/faucets at the big (blue, not orange) box for a bit less and without attitude it’s hard… but one shit salesperson isn’t the whole business, so I’m thinking too much about it.

But we’re still a few weeks out on that project.

In the meantime, I finished the wood of N’s cubby for the “cloakroom.”

closet-cloakroom

This coat closet added an endearing element to the house during our search – too many of these mid-century cape cods that we saw around here lacked any interesting nooks and crannies apart from the ubiquitous knee wall closets, but this place has a few more closets and turns than the others. Some days I’m tempted to put a little desk in there ala a  windowless cramped dickensonian accounting office or something, and occasionally the dog wanders in to consider making it his den.

It still has evidence of the original children that I didn’t have the heart to paint over.

closet-kid-graffiti

(But I did get rid of the original lime green also seen here.)

And then there are the bedroom closets that aren’t so great. One is large and was built-out with shit paneling in the ’70s or so that I painstakingly spruced up (still need a better solution for the sliding doors, but at least they’re painted nicely now) that N uses. Another is a small, but not-too-tiny size, but with a fairly narrow door that makes reaching for anything not in the middle absolutely annoying, especially before dawn. This one is mine. It is lined in thin dark plywood that should have been some sort of wallboard but wasn’t, and I should have installed some but didn’t, so I thought painting it was the best other option – a lighter color could help me see in there a bit better and the acidic wood needed to be sealed to protect my clothes.

closet-early-during

But I should have used the shellac-based primer, but I didn’t want to get gassed out, but instead got slowly gassed out by three coats of the regular stuff… And I went against my always-should-be-followed advice against cheap paint – it’s like trying to coat the walls with skim milk even after all the primer. But I wasn’t satisfied with a fresh coat of paint and the seams caulked up – the floor was still gappy in a few places at the bottom edges and the plywood didn’t reach all the way down, or evenly.

closet-trim

So I added some trim – a bit of over finishing for a closet perhaps, but it’s something I feel oddly strongly about – if something looks sloppy, then it brings down the place – it shows thoughtlessness, carelessness, and makes you wonder what other hidden things are wrong like a fancy meal made with factory farm meat…

And I’d also like to pause here for some unashamed bragging – the closet floors still have the original finish on the oak , and I managed to match it perfectly – seen in the doorway and to the left. (That BFA paid off, right?) The hard wax oil I used has been holding up well and I would use it again, but I just touched up several areas of scratches after two or so years – mostly from felt furniture pads capturing a piece of grit, and a few from the dog, but his claws seem to slightly dent it more with the finish intact rather than scratching the finish off.

closet-floor

And now I’m waiting for paint to dry so I can put on a second, maybe third coat, let it cure, and then put it all back together (and maybe have the electrician put in a light if they’ve got a bit of time left after their next job here.)

closet-almost-after

So instead of a project that should have been done and dusted in a day and a half, it will have taken nearly all of a four day weekend and some time off of my lung lifetime.

And there’s another just like it in my workroom that is next, along with trim for the pantry, and hall (kitchen equipment) closet, and linen closet, and maybe the office, but I’d have to move the filing cabinets out first to check…

(And that big Heywood Wakefield double dresser peeking in from the left still needs to be refinished as well, but it is so impossibly heavy and it would be stupid to sand and refinish it in place, right?…)

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Cranked

Just thinking I was nearing the finish line with a few long term projects by the end of January jinxed it… but I haven’t cast on anything new in the knitting department so at least my focus on finishing should carry over into February.

But I also started to act on a few other long term projects (and yes, that’s how I don’t get things done for ages).

I’ve been wanting to convert one of my old sewing machines (seen here and here) into a hand cranked one and finally acquired the supplies.

About to have a cranky sewing machine… #handcranksewingmachine #sewing

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Now to chose which machine…

This Singer 66 hasn’t gotten much love or use even though it’s a beaut. It’s the one machine I think about selling or giving to a new sewer sometimes but when I get it out, I love it and want to keep it and I always forget about the huge set of attachments I’ve never used for it and oh boy will I have a ball with those attachments one day when I remember them and have time on my hands…

sewingmachines-singer

I thought this 99 was toast since it was missing a few things and I was afraid to plug it in, but it was my initial candidate since it is a bit lighter and smaller than the others and I have a fantasy about taking it with me on cabin vacations or out in the yard on a picnic table we don’t have, but it’s still no featherweight, and the crank adds on another pound or so… But it turns out, this machine just needed a good cleaning and a new bobbin slide plate, so it’s pretty sweet on its own and is currently in use in the basement near the serger.

machines3

And this lovely old red-eye already has the spoked wheel that makes the hand crank possible (and dammit I forgot to order a new spool pin for it again!) but I’ve wanted to convert it back to a treadle for ages, but I still could eventually – the crank should be easy enough to install/deinstall.

machines2

So I need to spend some quality time with the two 66s and chose the one with the worst motor I think, or perhaps I’m deciding on the red-eye as I type this…

Either way, there’s other work to be done at the moment…

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Some time in January

I’m on a wrap-up bender and actually might be able to stick a fork in a couple more things by the end of the month, but I don’t want to jinx it…

But I’m here to keep track of things, so you might want to hit snooze for the next few posts…

One thick sock is 90% done (still needs top ribbing, I always do that last and at the same time as the other to maximize yardage) and another is fast on the way – first socks are usually a very slow, very occasional project for me, but I get a burst of impatience after one is done – I have the opposite of second sock syndrome – second sock mania?

jan-thick-sock

And there’s still a bunch of tasks to do around the house – some tiny and doable in a day, others still make me want to weep.

jan-tiles

I thought the official bathroom re-do could wait another year or too, and while the painted floor is still just fine, the underneath is not… I’m still not 100% on tile though, originally I wanted marmoleum to keep the weight to a minimum and still think it’s an issue, but it’s got some issues too (mostly $$$) and the sink I’d been pining for isn’t made anymore, and our water stains in a dirty rainbow, so I can’t accept wanting white fixtures but not being able to fully clean them and/or willing to constantly clean them, but the beige has got to go and dark grey fixtures would be hella expensive and potentially scare off a buyer and/or my favorite toilet is white only, and I can’t figure out the shower walls, and… no other house project has been so frustrating for me…

But I finally replaced the floor in the pantry – from this godawful “vintage” vinyl:

jan-old-floor

To this contemporary godawful vinyl:

It’s awful because it’s vinyl and I oppose vinyl in nearly every circumstance, and I wanted black-ish stuff and this is faux soiled metal of some sort – but – it was only three tiles and it’s where the recycling can and back-up water supply goes, so it doesn’t really matter except that it is no longer annoying to see that nasty old stuff. The original linoleum is still holding up, but if we’re still here coming up on another decade, it will likely need to be replaced, so we’d probably just run the flooring into the pantry too (the old linoleum was there, just gouged up beyond repair).

(I’d also like to get some lighting in said pantry, but then the floor would look annoying again.)

In the same weekend I finally got around to fixing the caulk around the kitchen sink that I should’ve done better the first time around, touching up paint, oiling the counters, and N built a nifty cubby in our cloakroom.

(That I still need to finish, but I’m waiting on the oil wax.)

I’m still in full-on cold-sheep mode again for yarn this year except for festivals and legitimate need – usually that ends up being superwash for gifts and whatnot – my superwash stash/scraps only fit in the equivalent of a shoebox at any given time – but this reflective yarn caught my eye recently and I got both some godawful nasty acrylic on the cheap, as well as filament/thread stuff that I can hold with a better yarn. N walks the dog in the dark on sidewalkless roads so they both could use some items made of it.

jan-reflective

The orange yarn also broke my buying made-in-China ban (could have sworn it said made in Turkey, which I know nothing about the conditions and regulations there, but at least it’s not China?) But the dog’s fondness of mud and brambles limits things to the very cheap and warm-washable. There are some reflective wool blends out there too, but I’m hoping the spool of filament stuff is the way to go for human wear – especially since I scored both an orange cashmere and another orange wool sweater perfect for unraveling at the thrift a few months ago…

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Pussy

I don’t have a pussyhat on my needles, though it seems I should…

pussy-balcony

I get it, I generally support it, and I definitely believe that everyone who can should march, speak out, do what they can to preserve and improve our rights.

I hate that women have been assigned pink, but it’s too late to change that now, and at least pink has a wide range of cools to warms so leaning lavender to peach can take away some of that insipid pale petalness.

I like that there’s a physical thing that people can make that shows solidarity and better yet, is practical.

I even unraveled a few red and pink things in my shallow unravelers stash, and was planning to dive into the deep stash end for a skein or two of dusty rose cheap stuff I got to felt, to make a pussy of my own and perhaps a few to pass along…

But then I started to get itchy and it wasn’t from the wool. And I got chased out of a ravelry group for saying grown women in kitty ears was a pet peeve of mine though I still supported the project…

pussy-lounge

I’m staunchly non-conformist (I usually put these posts out on Wednesdays in rejection of “Wordless Wednesdays”), I don’t really follow trends (some knitting patterns aside), I never felt the need to dress the same as my friends, and I automatically tune out  when I hear something along the lines of “let’s all wear…” It just stinks too much of follow-the-leader conformity, everyone wearing tiaras at a hen party, women in outings all in red hats, and cliques in high school. But there is a male equivalent – Shriners in fez hats, Lions in vests – and a genderless one – identical t-shirts for a fun run or charity project, so groups of any kind do adopt uniforms of a sort – it’s stupid, but it can happen to anyone. So I understand that there are some positive aspects of visually joining the crowd in terms of team-building and positive uniformity in certain circumstances, but wearing pink hats while marching isn’t the point – marching is the point. Being a woman is the point. Someone mentioned wearing the hat at the march would show to others that you were there to march, but most women who identify as female look like women, and if you’re a woman walking down the middle of the street in DC next Saturday with a bunch of other women, then it’s highly likely that you are marching. So I don’t buy that one – wearing one out and about if you can’t be on the streets, or before or after can show support and awareness, so I get that and support that.

Some have issue with the word “pussy” which is just asinine. I don’t have patience or tolerance for those who take words too seriously (except for the truly few hateful and/or racist ones). Except out of the wrong mouth where it can be a bit lasciviously lewd, pussy is generally playful and has the male counterpart of weenie (or maybe dick and prick in some contexts). We need nicknames for things, and pussy is somewhat accurate in terms of describing a furry thing – I’m also fond of the nickname “mouse” found in hard-boiled dick novels (or was that just Mickey Spillane?) but the scale is off for that one too – guinea pig or dwarf rabbit is perhaps more accurate. But if you say you’re mouth is tired from eating dwarf rabbit last night, then folks would just think you weren’t a very good cook…

pussy-trail-cat

But back to my feminist itch – I can’t quite scratch it – I feel a bit of what’s being said in this article but not the whole. I do hate seeing grown women in kitty/bear/deer/any ears – anything that would look cute on a baby – and I hate that kinderslut style from the ’90s, and more recent babydoll dresses especially modeled in a knock-kneed inward-facing toe pose, and women wearing baby powder scented things – and I hate women calling each other girls – grown women have left their girlhood, and anything that diminishes our matured state doesn’t help our situation. But in this case, it works because of trump’s use and abuse of pussy – I get that, and the pussyhat needn’t have ears, just be pink, so only part of the itch is about the infantilization of wearing a second set of knitted ears.

But I think most of it falls in a realm I can’t quite explain… Women often do for others at the expense of themselves. We feel like we could and should always be doing more. It’s not enough that we show up to march, we also must spend hours making a hat to wear at the march. Or we’re less inclined to do something or speak up unless others are doing so too – perhaps more the former than the later though…

pussy-quiet

What I’d most like to see is that these hats were for men – women don’t need to don a hat to say they’re women and they’re still getting the shit end of the stick – but we don’t see outward signs of support or recognition of our still shitty side of things from men.

So dudes, don the pussy!

pussy-roar

 

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