Monthly Archives: March 2013

An improved jacket

Lately I’ve been re-working woolen clothes – both my own old ones and new thrift shop scores.  Or rather, I have an overflowing box of items I intend to re-work, but have only managed to completely finish a few lately.  I found this jacket or blazer  in early January and it perfectly matches a scarf* I made a few years ago.  And yes, I previously raged against pink a little when it falls under a raspberry or pepto influence, but I love this dirty old lavender-ish rose.

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The jacket had some issues though – the plastic buttons looked wrong and cheap and were probably a replacement, there was a large hole in the bottom hem, the sleeves were hack-hemmed way too short, and at first I liked the little brown triangles at the pockets because I thought they were suede and I like mixing browns and greys thank you very much, but on closer inspection they turned out to be Ultrasuede or other sort of microfiber… ick.   And then the label puzzled me as well:

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It looks like an older style, but the little content tag underneath it looks more recent, but the sizing is oldschool too – says it’s a 14, but fits more like a 4 or 6 – or is it foreign?  I can’t find anything online about Ms. Alice Carol except a few other pieces [mis-dated in my opinion] on Etsy, so my best guess is that it’s from the late 1970s…?  I also feel that it was sufficiently altered from its original state so I could continue to monkey around with it.  It doesn’t look like I did much now, but I:

let out the cuffs to the bitter end removed the sleeve buttons stitched up the side wrist gap re-hemmed the cuffs re-attached the sleeve lining repaired the hole on the bottom took off the Ultrasuede triangles cut new grey wool triangles but then didn’t like they way they looked and didn’t feel like sewing them on then made and attached my own covered buttons** out of a pair of my brother’s old grey wool pants of about the same age that match the grey stripe that you really don’t see in the pictures [did you get that in one breath?]

Much better.

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* For those who are savvy or nebbie, you could find this scarf pattern for free on ravelry, but I’m in the middle of re-writing and charting it and hope to re-post it soon as a buy-it pattern (never mind that only very few have made it for free so far) but one can hope [or have the right to have delusions] right?

** Oh how I love you, DIY button blanks – why were you waiting so long to come into my life?  Will I ever tire of you?  But have you been in my life long enough to know that you’ll hold up through many unbuttonings and buttonings and banging into things?

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Not so gawful now, or perhaps just a little less so…

Gawful in NYC

This is my first winter wearing this scarf made from recycled sweater yarn especially selected to match my red coat.  (Stupidly, I also wore it in NYC when all the kids dress like slutty, sexy, and sloppy Santa and go bar-hopping – I fear I may have been mistaken for one of them at a distance).

Gawful sweaterBut all Santas aside, last year I found this moth-eaten semi-fulled [felted] cropped turtleneck sweater at a thrift store.  I thought it was god-awful, or “gawful.”*  I like bright colors, wool, and three big cheers for gay pride rainbows, but I thought this was just something that few should wear – it might just be best for a child.  Since it was already ruined by holes and aggressive washings (and had the magic unzippy seams) I happily frogged the bitch.

Gawful balls

Nice balls, eh?  It then dawned on me that half of the colors** matched a Harris Tweed coat I scored months earlier.

Gawful balls and coat

I don’t wear much red – I prefer orange, and I think red generally washes me out.  I have nothing against it per se, I just don’t choose it, and don’t have anything to wear with it – green would look way too x-masy, yellow would make it mustard and ketchup, and my rusty murky colored things don’t work.  I have a grey scarf languishing on the needles, and another dark cowl that would look decent enough with the coat, but I decided it needed an equally loud accessory.  I wanted a sideways constructed scarf or cowl so I could have long skinny rows and few, if any tails to weave in.  I was also itching to do a large project in linen stitch – I found Cerus Scarf by Hilary Smith Callis in ravelry, and though it’s not so much a pattern as just cast-on-this-many-stitches-and-then-do-this-stitch, I linked to it for the sake of conformity, much like the drunk Santas do every year.

Gawful detail

Thankfully I didn’t wear any green so as not to be confused with the drunken masses attending the St. Pat’s day parade in the city yesterday.  I would have worn this cacophony of reds in opposition and protest of toxic colored alcoholic beverages*** and the assholes who spew them on the streets and trains, but alas the weather was a bit wicked and I lurked about in my muds and rusts.

*I didn’t realize this was already a used term, see here.

**This was another project that surprised me in terms of color and color dominance.  I only did one row of the pale yellow and it absolutely screams out and takes the pink along with it, bleaching it down.  And where is the orange?  Though I did an extra row of orange, you almost don’t even see it.  If I had more yarn, I’d like to try a version without the yellow and pink and see if that gives it more of a murky glow.  And I’m still on the fence about removing the kinky fringe and stitching it into a cowl… I usually opt out of fringe, and I’m not sure why I don’t sorta like it, but I think it’s because if it’s too close to your face on a windy day it goes into your mouth?  Or maybe it is something from childhood.   I don’t have a specific plan for the harvested blues and greens yarn yet, but the smaller balls make them excellent for sideways designs…

***Nothing wrong with a good alcoholic beverage, just those that involve dye, or a culture of mass sloppy public drunkenness.

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On color and vests

So I admit, I was whiny about my inability to get what I wanted with the redwood roving mix, but I keep thinking about color and I’m trying to understand it in terms of spinning.

vest

This is made from some of my earlier handspun yarn that I mixed myself and liked. Some will think of it as Pepto-B, bubble gum, and berry & orange sherbet barf, but I think of it as campfire embers.  This was also (in my mind at least) a success with taking a color I don’t really like (the pink) and mixing it up with others to tone it down.  I’ve got some strong and opposing feelings about certain colors – some pinks and yellows I abhor, some I love, some that I abhor I love on others, or love knowing that others love them.  This was also made up of souvenirs from nearly one coast to the other.  The burgundy and bright orange were some crappy batts seconds from a now forgotten booth at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival and some goldish-lavenderish roving came from there as well; the pink was a bag of dyed  Border Leicester locks from SuDan Farm at the Portland, OR farmer’s market.  We were in Portland during one September when it was being its characteristic grey and damp self, and the colors in the market happily screamed out:

portland toms

portland fiori

portland peps

The booth with the locks also screamed out to me since it was the only one I saw with wooly goodness and I was immediately on it like the fly on sh*t.  I first selected a bag of cheery bright yellow locks and then decided I wanted another to keep it company, but I’m not sure why I picked the pink – this particular pink falls into my category of not liking it, but glad it exists.  But I think at the time it was just showing off at the moment in super-saturated glory amidst the grey.  When I got home, it didn’t appeal to me so much, so I knew it would have to take second seat to some of my other more loved colors.  However, I wanted to retain the bright warm mood to turn it into a garment or accessory best worn on grey days which my old city had aplenty.  The yarn turned out to be pretty stiff and scratchy and felt most like baling twine, so it wasn’t going to be something I could wear next to my skin, but I didn’t have enough to make a sweater, so…. enter the vest.

This brings me to ranting territory, and by the way, the vest above is loosely based on the  East-Knit Vest in 5 Sizes pattern by Kathy North – but I improvised most of it, so don’t use mine as a reference for the pattern.  But, why are vests often inherently frumpy?  I wish to exclude the long flowing designer-y ones, those that are more practical as an outer-garment, and anything for men or children and just focus on the basic waist-ish length knitted vest for women.  There is almost no way that I can wear this and I don’t look like: a matronly frump, a homeschooler of the creepy variety, a media stereotype of a spinster in the making, an aging woman who still sleeps with teddy bears and a unicorn nightlight, someone who wears mom jeans, or someone who still wears what granny made in the ’70s even though she shouldn’t.  Part of the problem could be that it doesn’t suit my body shape* and the yarn is bulky and loud and attention-grabbing, but there is still this [nearly audible to others] underlying drumbeat of frumpity dump dump, frumpity dump dump, frumpity dump dump…** whenever I wear it.  I’m not particularly fashionable, I don’t give a damn how others judge the way I look, and I frequently wear a down vest, but I just can’t rock this one…  I still wear it though, occasionally.

*My vintage dress dummy is not me – she/it has impossibly high tits, though we do share the same approximate waist size.

**Phrase coined by my old [former, not elderly] co-worker and knitting friend F. W.!

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Quilts in my past, part IV [and an update to part I]

Henry’s baby quilt (toes not included).

Hank's babyquilt1

No, this is not another picture of Yasmina’s quilt, but many of the fabrics are the same, though with hers, the “blocks” were smaller.  This one came a few years before that one, and was my first “crib quilt.”  I remember getting the roll of pre-cut cotton batting and upon opening it, had a WTF moment when I saw how big it was… I was thinking cribs were small and babies were small, and the whole thing would be small and quick, but it was about four times the size I thought it would be.  And aren’t babies not supposed to sleep with blankets anyway?  But regardless, it was still smaller than a twin, so I got some more fabric and soldiered on.  Much of this is from my original stash of reproduction feedsack, and my personal favorites are the blue border with the geese and the yellow pinwheely things.

And an update of Henry’s twin-size quilt with current pictures after a few years of use.

Hank's twin2

Hank's twin1

See, I thought that binding sucked – it was too wide and folded over… ah well, as I mentioned before I hate that part of the quiltmaking process.  Actually, I sorta like hand-sewing the back part on when done in a different way [insert proper term here] but this was an act of speed and I sewed both sides through like a sandwich [insert another appropriate term here].  If you haven’t noticed already, I’m a self-taught quilter, and I am a bad teacher who hasn’t assigned much book learnin’ except for looking at pictures.  Lots and lots of pretty pictures of quilts from way back when…  I hesitate to delve deeper into the actual mechanics of the thing because I tend to either loose interest or become completely obsessed when faced with loads of new knowledge.  Knitting took over my life after I forcibly removed myself from only the garter stitch, and hence a monster was born.  I want to keep quilting a bit more in check I suppose, but I do need some more skills in the binding department – mitered corners perhaps?  But I also do have limitations on what my vintage sewing machines can do – none of that long-arm freestylin,’ freewheeling, happy-go-lucky, devil-may-care quilting for me, though I’d like to….

Thanks to my sister-in-law for sending the pics and Charlie for modeling!

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Even quicker and more practical…

I can’t even really call this a project (unlike my previous one) – take a slightly fulled* sweater (preferably cashmere) chop off the arms and pull them up over your knees and thighs under your pants – done.  For the thin-thighed, you might consider attaching them to a garter, sewing in some elastic at the top, or keep shopping at your favorite thrift store until you find the absolute perfect size.

kneewarmer

I love the outdoors and I love wool, but I don’t quite love winter yet, though I’m slowing warming to it, all puns aside. I could bring myself to near financial ruin over the fabulous items of clothing made from whisper-thin and oh-so soft-merino wool from brands that rhyme with dicebreaker, fartwool, and especially the one named after a lithe four-legged mammal.  Who knew wool underwear, yes, the underpants kind of underwear, are the awesomest things ever in cold or hot weather and dry fast too making them perfect for minimal travel?  But alas, I have only purchased a few items here and there and have yet to obtain the perfect woollen base-layer bottoms.  I have an older pair that is a little too small in the waist, just enough to cause discomfort and make me grumpy – in ye olden days of corsets and girdles, good god, I would have been grumpy… But I also don’t quite like the pants under pants feeling – part of it is the doubled up waist feeling, and part of is two pieces of fabric occasionally in opposition.  This solution is to treat the underparts in segments like an insect.  Previously I was just relying on knee-high ski socks and some floppy old woolen men’s trousers, but my knees would get chilled and achy, but these sleeves-turned knee-warmers were the perfect hack.

kneewarmer detail

I am not an exceptional one-legged snowshoer even  though it appears that way in these pictures…  The gaiters were a recent acquisition too – forget the big-bucks gearhead brands and look at Swiss army surplus – wool and cheap!

*The improper use of fulled vs. felted is driving me bats, but felted is a more often heard term so I’ve got it down here for the sake of keyword searching, but shrunken knitting is fulling dammit!

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