Monthly Archives: December 2013

The last things of 2013…

I’m greeting the new year with some all of my same old knitting and sewing UFOs, but I also finished a few new things just in time.

And I jinxed myself in my last whiny post (because of which someone suggested I re-name this blog Abitchmatism) – despite avoiding public gatherings, pot-luck foods, and public transit, I still wound up with an odd little cold/flu, so my end-of-year output is slightly less than I’d hoped it to be.

PRS-dragondays1

A few weeks ago, I did a quick spin of Pigeonroof Studios Mixed BFL in “Dragon Days” for a birthday gift a couple months from now.  The colors are downright nearly iridescent and change from turquoise to male-Mallard-head green depending on the light.  I spun it a little thinner than I intended, but I was a little out of practice.  I’ve already started another Hitchhiker out of it.

headband-button

And the leftover Dream in Color Classy yarn from my Honey Cowl became a Calorimetry headband.

headband-detail

I have to admit I don’t love it, and I’m pretty convinced the pattern isn’t the same as the one in the picture on the pattern – it has to have fewer rows.  I shortened mine by 8 rows and it’s still quite wide, and I didn’t do the hole-making version of the short rows except for the buttonhole either.  I’ve worn it a few times during a warmer spell here (in the 50sF) and that’s about as cold as it can get for wearing this thing.

And my nostalgia socks came together.

(The yarn, though I generally really like it for socks, had 7 knots in this skein – unacceptable!)

nostalgia socks

Over Thanksgiving, I found a picture of the sweater that the yarn reminded me of – and it was sort of close.

nostalgia sweater

The socks have some issues, and like the rookie mistake I made with twisting my Honey Cowl, I’m suddenly having rookie issues in my sock-making: ladders, weird toe grafting, and some general wonkiness with my ssk.  I really don’t know what’s going on, but they still work as socks and the fit ended up being okay after all (they are the same length, despite what you see in the pic).

nostalgia socks-full

I was playing with different ribbing patterns too – if I had more patience, I’d rip it out and just keep it to K3, P1, but I didn’t.

nostalgia socks-heel

And yes, they are proudly fraternal rather than identical.

And I’ve got the next pair lined up – some boring grey socks to replace some aging commercially-made boring grey socks.

grey sock yarn

I’ll be in sketchy territory for these too since I plan to go down two needle sizes… I’ll need to rip and re-start and repeat, I’m sure.  And I take that back about the boring color – I like grey and some days bright colors are obnoxious, and all of my socks are a very basic “boring” pattern, but they don’t bore me.   I love simple socks.

Here’s to many more made things in the new year!

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Save me January

It’s been a winter f*cking wonderland out there.

Winter-yard

I knew it was coming eventually, but I was feeling a little smug since it hadn’t happened here until a couple of weeks ago.

It’s not that I hate snow per se, it’s the immobility it causes.  Or like a bad pet, it’s not the beast itself at fault, but the owner.

Shovel your goddamn sidewalks!

I’m not doing well with the lack of light this year (I’m not sure I ever do, but this year feels like the worst ever) and I’m overjoyed with the arrival and passing of the winter solstice.

I’m not a fan of Christmas* either.

I’m just not into the religion, commercialism, consumerism, greedy children, gifts, worship of fat beardos (Santas, not you my bear friends), waste of materials and electricity, varieties of anxieties, bad music,  the pushing of the season to before Thanksgiving, and the food-sharing, traveling, and gathering of masses of breathing, snotting, vomiting bodies during the peak contagion period. But perhaps mostly because it is the deepest, darkest, dreariest time of year – and that is the reason people celebrate and I know worse winter weather is yet to come, but for me, the new year is what I’m excited for, and feel intense relief when it comes.  It signifies that the holidays are f*cking over, each day brings a few more seconds of light, and the anxieties and societal ho-ho-ho throat-cramming go away.

Winter-1970s

I sort of liked winter as a child.  However, I hated it as a very small child because of the tortures of plastic bread bags on my feet inside my boots and socks on my hands over my mittens.  I looked forward to Christmas, though my excitement was tempered with dread that it would all be over too soon, and a feeling of watching something beloved die.  In hindsight, my favorite day of the holiday season was St. Nick’s on December 6th when we woke to a few little presents in a sock – a tangerine, a couple of walnuts, a candy cane, and a little trinket like a flavored lip gloss or novelty eraser.  I loved the simplicity and the lack of anxiety surrounding the day and some connectedness with the past.  Didn’t the Little House on the Prairie girl savor only a nibble or two a day of her sole simple cookie gift?  Or one of those characters in one of those books…  Children can bizarrely identify with, and intensely feel, the grand sufferings of others – Anne Frank, dirt-farmer kids, sooty-city orphans – without ever having a moment of true sufferings themselves.  Or maybe it was just me and a f*cked-up upbringing in an old religion where suffering and self-martyrdom was supposed to be a good thing.  Either way, I still crave and appreciate the most simple aspects of the holiday – not much fuss and some citrus fruit.

candied citrus

And speaking of citrus and to break my no-cooking-in-the-blog-rule, I’ll share my candied peels.  They’re tasty but take a long time to make – mostly because of multiple blanchings to temper the bitterness and then the hour+ cooking time in simmering sugar water.  We needed some for a recipe but can’t find them in our suburban groceries – and if I did find them, I’m sure they’d be dyed and full of pesticides.  I used organic pink grapefruit, orange, and lemon, and cane sugar – and then dipped some in dark chocolate and rolled some in pecans for good measure.  (Yeah, the sugar coating is kinda clumpy, but whatever.)

And I am solidly anti-craft for the season.  I don’t want to make something only usable for a few weeks out of the year.  And I don’t really believe in exchanging gifts (especially to every known person) beyond a few edibles or drinkables.  However, over my lifespan I’ve made exactly one ornament, one stocking, and this tree skirt.

xmas skirt under tree

N has a soft spot for the holidays, and will occasionally erect a tree.  His tree needed a skirt and I didn’t have any appropriate fabric, nor wanted to waste a good yard or so on something that would be rarely used, so I cut up some felted/fulled sweater scraps.   I think my original plan was something like a penny rug, but the cutting took long enough, so I just tied it all together.

xmas skirt

I don’t know where it is now – probably in still in storage five hours away (and we no longer have lovely wood floors).

But things will be better soon, we’ll have the tiniest amount of more light day by day.  And we’ll eventually get out for some winter woods activities.

*Our Christmases are a pleasant low-key affair limited to time spent with just a few family members, good food, dogs, a cool kid, and walks, so I’m quite thankful and look forward to them.  It’s the larger sense of the season (and some past holiday events) I abhor.  My second favorite Christmases were the years I spent alone with Chinese take-out in a quiet apartment with the neighbors away – sounds bleak, but it was awesome and always the most productive few days of the year for me.

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Yell-eew

I’ve never had an all-time favorite color.  I went through a shameful lavender and pink phase as a young tween which sharply questioned my tomboyhood.  Then I chose all colors at once, or no color at all, in my punk/grunge/post-hippie  “alternative” years.  These days if asked my preferred color, I usually say greens, or browns, or oranges, or greys since I like nearly all of the varieties of these colors, whereas I’ve established that I’m finicky over others.

yellowish honey

But all along, I’ve generally preferred the secondary colors over the primary – maybe it’s the underdog name or their need to be blended to exist.

I’ve been reading Alexander Theroux’s The Primary Colors over the last decade or more.  I can only read a few lines, or maybe half of a page, in one sitting.  I’ve also misplaced the book in a few moves (including now – I’ve no idea of its whereabouts) and go a few months or years without opening it.  I’m occasionally irritated that the book tries to sneak in secondary colors at times, but I also feel relief to see my old friends green and orange when it happens.  Unfortunately, I also just read that there’s some controversy with the book due to some bits of plagiarism, yet with the fact-listing style of writing, I can almost accept the author’s excuse of sloppy note-taking, but bad editor, bad publisher!  Theroux next wrote a book on the secondary colors, but I don’t have it yet, nor am I sure I want to commit to another decade-long read.

But after reading about yellow, I found myself considering the color more often, and a specific nasty bilious yellow has been tugging on my sleeve lately.

My main thoughts on the color are quite negative – it reminds me of pus, snot, stomach bile, infection, illness, sulfur, poisoned water, smoggy air, insanity, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, tarnished things, slimy things, pissy snow, stench.

yell-eww slug

But it also makes me think of wheat fields, green-golden light during magic hour in the late afternoon, summer turning to autumn, gilded things, tarnished things, slimy things, mosses, eyes, and old flannel shirts.

yell-eww portland

So with my mind in a mildly insane yellowish haze, I whipped up a Honey Cowl out of Dream in Color Classy Strange Harvest (my dye lot is more green) and Cascade 220 Birch Heather (my dye lot is more gold).

Yell-eww long

This was one of those projects I felt like I had already made, and more than once actually looked for it to wear – especially with my plaid jacket.

yell-eew covered face - cropped

But now I actually have it.

I liked the pattern and might make another eventually.  However, for the first time ever, I twisted the round when I joined and accidentally turned it into a mobius (maybe it’s not technically, but I don’t know).  I left it that way because I don’t have a twisted cowl yet and thought I’d like to play with the different draping possibilities.  But it’s a little disconcerting that I’m making a lot of rookie mistakes lately that I never made in the beginning…

But back to yellow.  I had this awesome mustardy-saffron merino sweater for a year or two (you can see just a peak on the left).

yellasweater

Before I shrank the hell out of it.  And how could I possibly make the mistake of shrinking a sweater?  I really don’t know how it happened.  And I also don’t know where it is now, but I know I saved it to turn it into something else.  The scarf is a Drop Stitch Scarf – I really love it, though I don’t wear it as often these days, but it has a bit of gold in it too.

My favorite yellow project was the shawlette from last winter.  I wear it often, and still think about making it bigger.

Pears bandana

And people are calling grey and yellow “grellow” these days.  I hate color fads, but I like grey and yellow.  This is an opportunity to fess up to another UFO – a sweater I cut up, re-sewed and I’m knitting the cuffs and trim in grey.  Or rather I started to, didn’t like the gauge, re-started and still didn’t like the gauge, and then put it aside for the last year or so.

cardi3 - Copy

Maybe grellow is also green and yellow.  This has been a favorite color combination of mine for vintage-inspired kitchens like this one:

kit-yel-vintagedeco1-435

(Pic from here).

And influenced my purchase in New Mexico last Spring:

New Mexico yarn

And some spinning from a year ago that I need to finish.

(Also one of my favorite color combos in Fiestaware).

yella&greenyarn

And an early natural dying attempt with saffron, turmeric, coffee, and god knows what else on bulky yarn frogged from a hand-knit thrift store scarf.

z dye

I’m still not sure if I can wear yellow though, sometimes I think I can pull it off due to my own semi-sallow complexion, sometimes it gives me a surprise ill-like pallor.

I remember my beloved high school teacher discussing The Yellow Wallpaper and vehemently denouncing the color as sickly and maddening; at the time she was wearing a beautiful buttery colored pair of paints and coordinating sweater.  When someone pointed this out, she was mildly shocked to discover it was true that even she liked some of the yellow family members.

Such is the sneaky dual nature of yellow – I’ll continue to let it tease me a bit.

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Anniversary assessment

November 2013 007 - Copy

I first posted to this blog a year ago today.*

I wanted to keep a journal of the things I make and get into the habit of writing again.

On that point, I’ve stayed on course.

I wanted to publicly declare my unfinished objects (UFOs) in order to shame myself into finishing them.

On that point, I’ve utterly failed.**

And I wanted to keep true to my mission statement/manifesto.

That one had mixed results – I’ve slipped up on whining about my personal woes.

But woes affect workflow and the creative process – occasionally for the better, but most often for the worse.

Of physical states and habitation, nothing has changed from last year.

Of mental states, artistic paths, and new careers, I’m still lost.

This was also a year spent in mountains around the country and world and those were the good parts.

Otherwise the suspended animation-ness of the rest is maddening.

But I’ll continue to putter about and ramble on all things fiber for a bit – I’ll even fess up to some more UFOs in the new year.

sept. 09 031 - Copy

*Thank you for reading.

I won’t brag about my reader statistics because I can’t – I know most of you in life or ravelry, so consider yourselves a special, intimate, elite group!

**In case you’re keeping track, I have not finished Long term UFOs – part I, part II, part III, or part IV.  And I recently and completely forgot about part IV, but I’m closest to finishing that one and the quilts will have to wait until I have more space.

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Doin’ the but… tin…

I had to save my biggest and best tin for a post of its own.

But-tin closedI first saw this tin in a photographic negative I was cataloging in my old job.  The tin was on the counter in someone’s kitchen in the 1940s.  I read the writing through a tiny loupe and was aghast at the boasts of “scientifically processed” and claims of healthy hydrogenated vegetable shortening!  And what is that graphic?  A woman on a scale inferring that potato chips were diet food?  Hells yeah!  I love potato chips, though they’ve done nothing for my figure, unless of course I eat enough to cause severe anal leakage, but I’m a snob for the olive oil chips anyway.  I started seeing this tin in antique/junk stores but they were often rusty, or the lid didn’t easily come off, or were just too damn overpriced.  Generally, if I want something that isn’t really needed, I wait for serendipity to take over or to lose interest in it.  However, after a year of looking for this in the right condition for the right price, I broke down and found one on Ebay, so it all worked out.  Maybe serendipity is just an online market.

But in my quest for simplicity and curing former impulses and diseases of the hoarding of neat sh*t variety, I have a general rule for visiting antique/junk shops – buy nothing bigger than what would fit into my hand.*  In theory I like some kinds old jewelry so that could be allowable, but I’ve never actually bought any old jewelry and it is usually more than I want to spend.  I have more tchotzkies than years left in my statistical lifespan, so I generally resist the cute/weird but useless item.  And I have nearly a zero interest level in military, presidential, I-am-man-and-hear-me-roar (or just destroy your lives and countries) artifacts, so old bullets, campaign buttons, coins, pins for distinctions, etc. don’t get the slightest glance from me.

But what else is little and can be extremely practical, and thus 100% approved?

Let’s open that giant tin, shall we?

But-tin openOh yeah, hells yeah, buttons!

I buy buttons that I think will look good on knits I’ve never knitted (nor will).

I buy buttons that I think I can re-sell for decent money (though I haven’t yet).

I buy buttons to replace those already on my clothes (which I’ve done once).

I buy buttons to use in my “crafts” (I do this occasionally with singles, but would never break up a set).

I buy buttons to repurpose them as jewelry (though not to make country button necklace shittery).

I buy buttons to one day feed my burning desire to amass them in a giant heap and then catalog them one by one.

But-tin cardAnd I buy buttons because some are nearly art and quite frame-able or worthy of display on their own.

(I didn’t tear off that one button in the upper left, it came that way)

But-tin jarI’ve had to start a new jar nearly the same size as the tin for the buttons I remove and save from clothing I cut up and turn into other things.

(And yes, I do have another boxful of buttons that you don’t get to see).

*I’ve got some big paws, so my fingers can really wrap a decent-sized find, and I do break this rule constantly if I find things that are fiber-oriented and thus can be considered a business, art, or research expense (but really, I can only kid myself so far…)

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