Monthly Archives: January 2013

Quilts in my past – part II

Yasmina’s quilt.

As with my family, my friends didn’t have any children either, but when my best friend from college told me she was pregnant, I happily started quilting away even though she lives in a tiny house on a tropical island and doesn’t need one.  At the very least I thought it might be good for tossing on the tiled floor when the babe crawled around.  The fabrics were partly left over from the first crib quilt I made for my nephew plus a few others – mostly though they came from a stash of reproduction cotton feedsack fabric that I collected in the late 1990s.  I loved the stuff, but a lot of it seemed too “baby” for the quilt I had intended to make for myself.  I still have some of it left, so at the very least it will re-appear in something in the future.  I think I was also thinking of a millennium* postage stamp quilt back in the day, which could still happen, but I’ll take out the millennium part of it.

yasmina's quilt 1

yasmina's quilt 2

I also neglected to photograph much of this one as well, which is also too bad since I can’t remember what I did with the back, and I spent a little more time to finish this one a bit better.  I believe the quilting was a random wavy line pattern.  She too has had another child who I have neglected with craft, but hopefully the quilt was used again, or at the very least was re-gifted to someone in a colder climate.

*My thoughts of a millennium quilt would have been one made of 2,000 unique pieces of fabric, or maybe I’d cheat and just have 1,000 unique used twice only…I have no idea how much fabric I already have though, so certainly I’d need hundreds more scraps…I guess people who made these were either social or rich, I am neither.

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Fiber high

I have other things I should be doing, other things I should be finishing, more important life/money/job things that really need my attention, but instead I started another project.  A very simple one with very lovely fiber from Pigeonroof Studios.  I spun it last summer when I should have been doing other things then too, but I couldn’t resist its siren song of buttery sproingyness.  I bought it on impulse, wondered why others praised it, and spent more than I normally do for just a few ounces (but I normally buy rough raw stuff or cheap rejected bits).  And then it came and I realized it’s fiber crack (or whatever is better than crack but just as addicting).*  Seriously, I don’t want to go back to my cheap street farm-level habit now.  The fiber basically spun itself and the colors popped through my fingers – spinning happiness at its best.  So now in the frozen days of winter, I couldn’t stop myself, and I’m enjoying every bright and buttery-kitteny-soft moment of letting it slip through my fingers.

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The pattern I’m vaguely following is the Lazy Daisy Shawlette by Orange Flower, and alas, I can’t afford to buy any more of the fiber at the moment, unless I start pawning selling some of my things.

*Drug addiction is serious stuff, I apologize for making light of it, but what other colorful exaggerations about addictions can be made? Saying it’s like a nice stiff drink on a thirsty day actually makes me sound like an alcoholic (and making light of alcoholism is bad too), saying it’s like having a [insert good poker hand here] when the pot is huge sort of endorses gambling and I hate casinos, saying it’s like a daily mega-hunk of chocolate while under the throes of PMS would alienate a male reader, and I don’t even want to get into the sex-addict analogies… [hee hee anal is in analogies]…addictions of any sort are bad, get help.

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Sock, you suck

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As I was finishing up the second in a pair of socks, I was thinking about how I would write them up on my ravelry page.  I was going to be brazen and claim that I was never afflicted with second sock syndrome –  in fact, the second usually flies off the needles.  This one flew alright, and I was so brazen that I didn’t try it on once…until just now.  What insult can you hurl at a sock?  It has no mother to wear combat boots, it’s sexless so it can’t go f*ck itself, it has no religion and thus hell isn’t a place it can go…  But I want to hurt this second sock, make it feel very low and very bad, but all I could do was rip it out.    Now the sock pictured above, in near perfect knitted glory, is its older twin (older by nearly three years)!  I was going to call this an UFO, but I figured I could whip it out in a week or so.  I knit socks only in the spaces of time that I wouldn’t knit otherwise – they are the perfect little project I can tuck inside a purse and work on while traveling and waiting.  I haven’t done much waiting lately, and these were started on metal needles, so I was afraid of the TSA and thus didn’t take them traveling much, so my sock knitting timetable nearly screeched to a halt on this pair.  So what happened in the meantime?  I think I forgot that my new aforementioned metal needles were a size smaller than my normal ones and that the first sock was an experiment to see if I could go down a size and still use my standard stitch counts.  Then I probably ripped out the first sock and started again with four or so more stitches (I still need to count) but by the foot section I could in fact go down to my regular stitch count on the smaller needles, so I forgot the business about the top.  At least that’s what I think happened.  I can’t look at the pile of kinky ripped yarn anymore, and that’s too bad, the first one fits soooo well, and I can’t wait to wear it…maybe I can sneak it on with one from another pair if my pants are long enough, or I am bold enough…maybe it need not ever have a twin (maybe that was its plan all along and it sabotaged its twin in knitero!)

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Dr. King, President Obama

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Brilliant statement.

(Not so brilliant job writing it down, but it was in Zuccotti Park, so perhaps the maker was tired from Occupying Wall Street)

Onward, and hopes for real, positive, and radical change in the next four years!

And for a daily dose of fiber, knit yourself an Obama!

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Quilts in my past – part I

Henry’s quilt.

My family used to be uniformly non-breeder (except for my parents of course) or maybe I should be kinder and call us child-free by choice.  We’re still largely so, but around nine years ago my oldest brother (and the one most irritated by the little buggers) surprised us all with a son, and then another.  This first child born into a family exclusively of adults caused quite a ruckus.  My parents soon became giddy this-child-is-perfect grandparents and I got an unexpected nesting/estrogen/crafty-auntie boost.  I made soft toys, a crib quilt, and later a twin-sized quilt.  I can’t find pictures of the crib quilt, and don’t even really remember it, but the twin-sized one is the last one I made in my old little apartment on the dining table.  It was made from cotton homespun purchased at a small town fabric shop and a few from the fabric big-box.  The quilting and binding was sloppy, but I had no room to properly lay it out and baste it, and I don’t like that step anyway, so I rushed it.  I have several vintage sewing machines, but this Atlas is my good old standby.

henry's quilt 1

henry's quilt 2

henry's quilt 3

I never took a picture of it when it was finished which is too bad, since I really liked the fabrics in this one, and I think I used them all up.  Funny thing about babies though, by the second one, I no longer had the motivation to make anything for him apart from a few simple knitted items which is sad?  But then again, I figured a crib quilt and toys and anything washable can be used over and over again….  But I do feel a little obligated to make a larger quilt for him sometimes, but my SIL now sews too so…

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Long term UFOs – part IV

The cotton blanket pooling experiment.

Would this be an anniversary or a birthday? Regardless, I started this blanket around [actually over] 10 years ago shortly after learning to knit, shortly after making too many garter stitch scarves, so this was the same thing only sewn together to convince myself I had improved as a knitter.  I never finished it, I never cared?  I think because shortly thereafter I finally got the courage, motivation, balls to learn to move past the garter.  Also back then summers in my old city were cool, and I often needed a blanket while reading/knitting on the sofa in the evenings –  but a on a few warmer nights I needed something a little cooler than wool, so I had cotton snuggling thoughts.  But then global warming ramped up and summer blanket thoughts began to go away.  Maybe I should finish this before I’ll only need a cotton blanket in the winter, or maybe menopause will make me want it again, and shed it, and want it again, and shed it, and want it again?

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I took this picture in the old house, and we don’t have this sofa anymore – it actually stayed in said house, so the whole package with the cotton blanket on the cotton sofa in a pleasing color scheme can’t be repeated anyway…  Meh.  I’m also a bit snotty about the yarn – bought before the new wave of LYSs, so it came from one of the big boxes which I generally avoid now, and I’m not a giant fan of knitting with cotton these days – too hard on my hands.  I would consider donating this or gifting it, but much still needs to be done if I finish as I envisioned it.  However, I could just finish the last green stripe, sew it together and just call it done, but then it would be an awkward size – too big for lap or crib, but too small for throw…well see… I’m not going to commit to finishing it as yet.  It might be a good project to take when I’m away somewhere and is the only thing I’ve got.

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A quick and pratical project

Somewhere I saw something like this – maybe exactly like this, at least in terms of application.  Cut up an old felted sweater and use it to sit on the cold wet ground… maybe it was someone on Ravelry, Pinterest, Etsy, Flickr, a blog, or, or, or*…  oh my, many days I just want to kill my devices.   But regardless, I’m not super keen on winter hiking if there is snow or ice involved, but the warming winters are having less of the stuff and making for pleasant and cool outdoor ventures.  On a recent hike through the New Jersey Pine Barrens, we found a large plastic bag of “wildlife feed” on the trail and picked it up to dispose of it properly.  I don’t know what wildlife it was intended to feed, or if there is a one-beast-fit-all kibble, but the dregs were a disturbing fleshy liverish color, so maybe it was a modern Soylent Green for the Jersey Devils.  The bag had a phone number on it so I could have returned it for a refill which probably would be the most ecologically friendly thing to do, but we’ve been watching a lot of Portlandia lately and my urge to make stuff out of trash is especially high.

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And besides it was a good lightweight damp-proof material – I cut it up, sewed it to some felted sweater chests, and done.

Butt warmer

trail seat

Field tested and approved – not too heavy to pack along for a short to medium trip and allowed us to linger longer over our still steaming coffee for a legitimate break.  The plastic is woven though, so it would not be ideal in a sopping wet situation, so I’m considering making some backed with oilcloth, though that would make them heavier and less bendy; or some fused plastic.  In a pinch, they could also be used for staunching the flow of a serious wound or added warmth shoved into a jacket…

And the knitted hat is Stephen West’s Botanic Hat pattern.

* If anyone knows the original source for this, please let me know!

*UPDATE*

Ravelers are fantastic creatures and came up with my reference in a snap!  I saw it on Hanna Breetz’s Ever green knits blog.

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Long term UFOs – part III

The boyfriend shirt quilt.  I don’t have a good reason for why I never finished this, or why it barely got started for that matter.  When N bought the house, he had a window of time where the lease on his apartment ended before the closing on the new place, so he moved to my tiny weird but wonderful apartment.  In his last days before moving in with me, he tossed out half of his wardrobe (mostly over-sized 90s clothes) in a frantic windmill action – as he tossed, however, I snatched up.  He was irritated, my apartment was already crammed, so why did I want to make it worse?  I reassured him that it would turn into a nice quilt that he would have as a housewarming gift.  I was already in the middle of making a quilt for my nephew, so I didn’t start on it right away.  Then I began to enjoy N’s cooking more and more so I didn’t get out the sewing machine/s as often since I had to use the dining table that was previously minimally used.  Then the newly purchased house need work, a lot of work, so we spent the next year sanding, staining, tiling, painting, reconstructing, digging, and whatnot so I don’t think I sewed at stitch of anything.   Then I moved out of said apartment into the house and everything got boxed up and banished to the basement.  Eventually, I dragged everything out and up to my newly restored third floor studio.  I opened the beer box that held the shirts, cut up and ironed them, then made one patch and sort of started another.

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Then what happened?  I know there was still work to do on the house and much to do with the yard, but I still had time in the evenings…  but I think my knitting obsession was taking off, then I was producing other things for craft fairs.  And then N took a job across the state but we kept the house with me in it.  I thought about making the quilt again for him to use in his new depressing apartment, but we were always traveling to see each other on weekends, so there never seemed to be any time.  Now I am here with him, so it’s time I made this quilt!  I started on a few scraps and will continue with my usual hodge-podge style.

N's quilt blocks

I’m not sure if I have enough for a queen size, but if I need to augment, I’d like to thrift a few shirts that at least look like ones he had before or have now.  I really should give myself a deadline.

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Long term UFOs – part II

The sweater quilt.  I joined Ebay in 1996 – those were the good old days before the vintage market got utterly saturated and you could sell stuff for a decent profit and find great stuff to buy.   There were a few awesome thrift stores around where I lived, and I scoured one in particular weekly or more.  At that time I was working in a gallery, putting off grad school, and convincing myself that I could be an artist even though I made little art and showed none of it.  To supplement my meager income, I produced a few craft items for shops and fairs and sold vintage stuff online – mostly dishware, printed tablecloths, and some clothing.  For a couple of years life was good, and my Ebay earnings paid for a few trips to visit friends and family scattered from coast to coast, but then I noticed a problem – namely I had a thrift-store problem, and for every item I bought to re-sell, I bought another or two or three to keep…  This also coincided with the bottom falling out on things like Jadeite dishware and the like, so it was time to quit.  But.I.Just.Couldn’t.Stop.   I loved the sensory experience of whirring through a rack of old sweaters and my fingers landing on cashmere or something sturdy and sheepy, never mind the other senses tweaked from mothballs or a neighboring browser or her shrieking kid.  I couldn’t quit the hunt for prime fiber, so I continued to go, but less frequently and I tried to stick to just the clothing racks and electronics (did I mention I also collected sewing machines?  Yeah, back then I rarely moved…).  I started to believe it was my destiny and responsibility to “rescue” sweaters of beautiful fibers that couldn’t be worn  any longer, and I still do to some extent.  But back to the 1990s, I had amassed a stack of sweaters in a pleasing color palette that I determined should be a quilt.  I also determined that it should be a king-sized one, which I don’t know why – did I expect to get a bigger bed?  Did I have a buyer in mind? Was that just the amount of fabric I had?  I don’t remember.  I also don’t know why I didn’t consider fulling [felting] them first, though I had to use the laundromat then and only did so when the need was dire, so my disdain of the place, and not wanting to do it by hand was probably it.  So I started sewing (on one of my many vintage thrifted machines) and in a day or so, finished the top.

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And then all movement on it ceased.  I remember showing it to a few people who really liked it, and one in particular probably would have bought it for a decent price, but I just couldn’t figure out how to finish it.  I had a stash of old army blankets that I thought I would use for the backing and I experimented with one but the stretchiness of the sweaters wasn’t playing well with the stiffness of the blanket.  The blankets were also fairly heavy and I wanted this to continue to have a sweater-like drape.  I also remember seeing a bolt of thin knitted material (wool & angora) in a antiques/junk store that would have been perfect, but it wasn’t there when I went back for it.  Then I think I thought I would back it with a cotton/wool plaid material that just never went on sale, or a cotton flannel plaid that never existed in the colorway I’d desired.  And then I hadn’t addressed a few of the holes that were in the sweaters from the beginning – I believe I was thinking about embroidery, but now I’d just like to repair them.  So here it is about 15 years later, or maybe I’ll say nearly 20 since that sounds more dramatic.  I actually still like it too, but its lack of a backside or trim is still troublesome.

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If I had fulled the sweaters beforehand (and some are a bit already) I wouldn’t worry about it and would leave the rough side naked, but as it is now, I can see little bits of sweater coming off everywhere and making me bats, and the seams probably aren’t the strongest.  The thought of attempting to back something so stretchy makes me ill, and I don’t really like a tufted look, but that would be easiest.  I’m considering maybe using a jersey sheet, but haven’t looked for a giant cheap one yet.  So this is the UFO that might fail my attempt to make it not so, but I will think about it, and maybe live with it on the bed for a bit…

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Long term UFOs – part I

I was inspired by Completely Cauchy’s post about her long-term relationship with George, a beautiful (now finished) quilt.  Hers was a relationship of nearly three years that reminded me that I have some so old that they’re common law now, or maybe they could even claim abandonment and neglect.  But in my head, I see them finished and functioning in my life and I forget why they stalled.  I know that I’m only to blame for my very whimsical approach to making things (whim in a bad unfocused sort of way, not one of quirkiness and smiles) and that is why I take months rather than days to finish some things, but other things came up too, right?  I needed more materials, or thought I did, or if it was intended for a gift, the event passed by and then way by, or I thought it was something I could sell until I realized it took too long and I was my own sweatshop bastard boss, or, or, or…?   So I am going to attempt to find out why a few select projects have languished (one for more than a decade!) and resolve* to finish them or send them to the scrap pile.

The t-shirt rag rug.  I started this shortly after I moved into the house I moaned about in the first post, so that would make it around 6 years old, not too bad.  I bought a giant crochet hook to make it and I told myself this was the excuse I needed to finally commit to learning how to crochet.  I vaguely remember watching a few videos and starting it, but then I stopped…I think it was because I had cut up the shirts without any regard to keeping a uniform strip size, or else I just encountered my weird mental crochet block.  So I started braiding the scraps.  This was not an unfamiliar act for me – when I was around 10 or 12, I made a braided rag rug out of my mom’s old fabric and clothes scraps (including a 1960s era cotton paisley, and some suit wool) to rest on a brick dais of sorts where the wood stove was in our old house.  I sat on that thing next to the stove nearly every day in the wintertime, then it became a favorite place of the dog’s as well.  Needless to say, it was well-worn and probably thrown away when they sold the place.   I had the intention of using my newly created t-shirt rug in my studio, but I ended up liking the bare floor since it was an easier surface on which to cut and smooth out materials.  The shirts were all mine and mostly from the 1990s and early 00s and had become cropped from the dryer or had some other fault I couldn’t tolerate.  And I have a vague memory of becoming annoyed with the balls getting twisted up while I was braiding them…but I quit the project about three years ago, though I think I may have gotten it out once in the meantime.  Yesterday, I emptied out the box of rug snake:

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It is much bigger pile than it appears, so I had the giddy sensation that maybe it was closer to being finished than I had remembered, so I tested it out.

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Nope, it is still too small – larger than a doormat or bathroom rug, but too small for under the desk or kitchen table, or as I had originally wanted, a decent middle of the room-sized beast.  But I’m also conflicted about not really loving the look of rag rugs – I abhor country decor for the most part, so now I think I’m remembering why I really stopped….

But I will finish it since I still have some balls of t-shirt and it requires no mental capacity.

 

*This is not a New Year’s resolution – the timing is pure coincidence.

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