Monthly Archives: October 2014

The hat with the incurable case of wanderlust and amazing feats of reproduction

We got a surprise in the mail last week.

botanic is back

N’s favorite hat came back after being left behind in our August vacation cabin.  I wasn’t too terribly upset when he lost it – I felt sympathy for him, but not anger because he lost something I made.

(And this isn’t the first time he left it behind somewhere – it regularly has alone time far away from us.)

It was the first of a series of Botanic hats from Stephen West that I’ve made over the years.  N picked the pattern too – riffled though a big box of printed ones while I tactilely browsed in a LYS in the state where we now live, but haven’t been back to since (it’s a good shop but a bit far away still).  But when I made it, I messed up by making an unnecessary and unsightly seam where you alternate between the two colors – in fact, I messed it up on more than one hat, but this was the first before I knew it was wrong, and the one that didn’t get ripped out.

botanic with seam showing

And though I love knitting with you, oh Malabrigo, you really suck in the long term.  I pay too much for you to collapse in a miss-spent pile of pills, though I did get this batch of yarn with my customer loyalty discount (meaning I’d spent too much previously) at my old beloved LYS.

And the pattern has a weird habit of scrunching upwards and flailing outwards – so even though it’s long enough just off the needles, a few weeks later it exposes the ears.

So even though I have to routinely pick and brush and shave the hat, I was willing to make him another in the same yarn (I have some left anyway) only this time without the mistaken join seam thing that annoys the hell outta me every time I see it.  But he didn’t want a longer brim on the new one – this is mostly an indoor hat to keep his hair out of his face and take off a bit of chill, and to wear to bed which is where it usually likes to go rogue and fling itself between the wall and the bed frame.

My other Botanic hats were one for one of my brothers out of Cascade 220 superwash in two shades of green.

(And yes, my blog banner was on this same chair with the yarn for N’s first hat).

botanic in progress

This is is the unnecessary seam issue I’d had (you have to drop the the old yarn before picking up the new rather than wrapping around it) so this hat got ripped and re-made.

botanic mistake

And I had enough yarn left for another for N, though he doesn’t like this one quite as much as the other – but I like it more since the yarn is virtually pill-less, though more prone to stretching out…

botanic -green

Then one for me.  Oddly, the grey of the ribs is the same as the non-rib part in N’s first one – it’s my favorite colorway in the yarn – “Pearl Ten” – and though the color is greyish, tanish, lavenderish, in his hat it turned tan, and in mine it looks grey (and he calls his hat his “brown hat”).  I think the peach color in mine is “Applewood.”

Botanic-me

One day I might add more length to the brim, though I too like to wear mine indoors or only when it is just a little bit cold – I can’t tolerate exposed lobes even within 15 or so degrees of freezing…

botanic in the mist

And finally, one for an old friend at work who underwent chemo.

botanic for coop

I didn’t know if he was a wool person or not, so this is a synthetic blend, and though a single color defeats the purpose of this pattern, the texture is still interesting, and it is especially soft when the ribs are worn on the outside.

If you count the green one I ripped and re-knit, I’ve made this hat 6 times – my most knitted pattern besides my vanilla sock recipe.

So I’m slightly relieved to not have to make a replacement hat for N, but can you truly replace a “favorite” something anyway?  A new one might be a little more tight or loose or feel generally different without the several years wear (and probably not enough washing).  So I have to deal with looking at that ugly-ass seam again.

But I do enjoy making this hat and really like that it is reversible, so I’m sure another will find itself on my needles again…

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Quilts (okay, a pieced top) in my past, part V

The last (I think) in a series including part I, part II, part III, and part IV.

grundge duvet

I had a few contractor bags of textiles in storage.  Normally, I would never store textiles in what was essentially a garage, nor recommend anyone to do so, and if I was staying at someone’s house and knew the bedding I’d be using had been in storage, I’d really consider sleeping uncovered on the floor, or in my car.

Of course I am thinking of bedbugs, lice, scabies, mold, crabs, moths, cooties, fungal infections, anal worms, stranger’s aerosolized sneezes and vomits, rats, mice and their hantavirus, cockroaches, and anything that can crawl, slither, hop, or stroll from someone else’s locker full of filth and dead bodies into mine.  But I thought it would just be for a few months – but then it wasn’t…

But we checked on it three or four times a year, and I monitored it for stench and discolorations and chew marks and desiccated insect corpses (there were a few stinkbugs, but I’m used to those mysteriously making their way into our houses old and new anyway).  But everything was fine – even the upholstered furniture.  Everything that could be was washed was, and the furniture sprayed with diluted white vinegar and set out in the warm sun for the better part of a day.

One of the items bagged up for the last few years was a randomly pieced flannel duvet cover I made around six years ago.

grunge duvet close-up1

The fabric is entirely N’s and my shirts and pajama bottoms – most dating from the Grunge era.  Among my eclectic-dressing high school chums, we called a plaid flannel shirt “flaid plannel,” as in:

“What are you wearing to the show tonight?”

 “Oh, a flaid plannel and my oxblood docs.”

(And do I need to remind you that was before docs were made in China?)

The orange and green shirt was a favorite of mine in high school (and paired well with reddish boots.)

grunge duvet close-up2

And the yellow and black a favorite from college (paired with a secondhand and smelly, but awesome, pair of black docs).  Some of the patches have oil paint and darkroom chemical stains.  The grey and black was one of N’s shirts and one of the softest flannels I’ve felt, but also several sizes too large for him as was characteristic of the ’90s.

grunge duvet close-up3

I don’t use actual quilts very often – in the summer I prefer a coverlet (or I need to make a lightweight quilt) and in the autumn, winter, and spring I have to have a down duvet.  On the coldest nights, I’ll throw a wool blanket over the duvet, but down is the only thing that gets warm fast and stays evenly toasty but not too hot, and makes me a happy snoozer.

So this is not really a quilt, but a duvet cover with a pieced top, and since it’s washed more often than a quilt, some of the seams have popped open and are in need of repair.  It’s also a bit too small – I hate that full/queen size in standard manufacturing since queen is bigger than full, they are not interchangeable – so I’d like to add another few inches to the width for better drape even if the feathers don’t fill it out.

Eventually.

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The UFO has landed!

 cottonblanket-finished

So yeah, I think this is the second-longest project I’ve had going, and it’s not amazing, and it wasn’t difficult, and I guess this is a great example of me going off on a tangent, getting sidetracked, distracted, moving-on-to-other-things-before-finishing-something-else-first, etc., etc., etc.  In my defense, cotton is painful to knit and I got the confidence (or my sometimes slow brain started firing up) to move past plain old garter stitch when I was halfway through it. (I still do love garter though, especially since it rhymes with farter).

I first mentioned the blanket here, as one of my publicly declared UFOs I sort of intended to finish that year, and it was also somewhat responsible for the start of my blogging.

DSCF3594 - Copy

In the beginning, I wanted a cotton blanket for summertime sofa use.  I wanted it to be reversible, and portable, so I made stripes/strips to sew together – only I didn’t pay attention to how long I made them and ended up with several (stupidly bound-off) in different lengths.  The above image shows the way it looked c. 2008, and I don’t even know when I started it, but it was around 2001, and most of it was done c. 2001-2002.

(I’m tempted to go though my actual physical photographs to see if I can find one with it visible – crumpled in on the side table in my old apartment, but that would be yet another massive distraction).

I finally started back to work on it and came up with the plans for its final design in the Adirondacks last year – we traveled a lot when we lived in our last shitty apartment – if not for these fun weekends away, I probably would’ve have been eaten alive by the ner-do-well teens that spent too much time in the parking lot.

cotton blanket

And I made a little more progress in the White Mountains last year when the power went out.

campfire knitting

Then I put it down for a year while I worked on other things, but I left it in a handy place when we moved this last time so I wouldn’t have “loosing it in the move” as an excuse not to finish it.

I worked on it in the White Mountains again this summer – this time I had a nice chunk of time since I could’t hike.

newhampshire-blanketinprogress

I forgot to bring the yarn for one too-short multicolored stripe (I actually wondered why I had the stuff, and forgot what it was for!) and just finished it in white instead, which ended up to make for a better design in the end anyway.

And then I f*cked it up – I forgot that I had planned to do the two white stripes in the center (I even had photo evidence of the plan!) and I thought about keeping it as-is, but I ripped and re-sewed instead.

newhampshire-blanketfuckup

I got back on track, though sometimes I think I prefer the mistake version…

newhampshire-blanketbackontrack

And went I home with most of the ends sewn in and only the border to do.  I don’t love that knitting on the border made it no longer reversible, and I considered sewing on the border too, but I wanted the satisfaction of running the last few laps round and round, though they were very long and painful ones.

cottonblanket-corner

 So it got a simple mitered corner.

cottonblanket-done

And it actually matches our living room again – at least the yellow walls, and the [temporary] beige linen curtains.

Though we already need wool – the cotton doesn’t cut it for more than a few degrees of chill…

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Deer john and the changing seasons…

toms&flowers

Random things of late…

Our garden is done, but the CSA is finally paying off – we completed a massive tomato and tomatillo salsa canning session last weekend.

canning-after

The deer called Doe [rhymes with  Zoe] might have had some babies, joined up with a larger family group, and has been bringing along another five or six to nibble at our backyard smorgasbord and leave an astounding number of shits – making me re-consider putting in a perimeter fence.

I found another alarming pile of poop of another kind when N moved one of our new window-unit air conditioners.  I identified it possibly as:

1. bat guano

2. squirrel turds

3. roof rat droppings…

Amazingly, all of these beasts leave remarkably similar scat.  I’m leaning toward bat though, because of the height of the window and I don’t want rats in our roof.  Perhaps a bat took up residence in or under the air-conditioner while we were on vacation?  But it didn’t stick around (at least I don’t think it’s in there still).

And I forgot to shoot the shit.

And speaking of bats, I do love them, and we’ve got plenty around here – I love watching them swoop in in the evenings and take out a sizable chunk of the even more sizable population of ‘skeeters.  Eventually we’ll get around to building some bat houses.

I found out by accident that the giant spotty crickets that I found living near our well (that I was so startled by and didn’t bother to photograph in case I was the only one who saw them and they didn’t really exist) turned out to be another Asian invasion and quite common in the area.  And now I’m wondering if they’re edible…

And we’ve finally experienced the yard in every season, and have identified all of the flora.  The last hold-out was a large Burning Bush – I suspected that it could be one, and hoped it was so because otherwise it was a somewhat boring green thing.

sunchoke-maybe

Some of the weeds I never got around to pulling ended up being lovely flowers.  I see the stuff around the roadsides here, so perhaps it’s native, or perhaps it’s an invasive beast?  I wished I’d paid more attention to what it looked like when it was coming up, so I don’t pull it out next year, unless of course it is something to be rid of… I think it’s a Sunchoke.  Anyone know if this variety is native to the Eastern states, or a nasty invader?  I haven’t gone digging for the tubers yet.

And I have another pair of socks on the needles – these might end up being a gift.

socksonatrain-window

I’ve been traveling for work a bit, and have enjoyed going by train, even though it adds another three hours to the trip.  But the leg room is astounding, the cars are nearly empty (come on Americans, use it or loose it!) and the scenery on this particular route is nice.

socksonatrain-withball

I never wrote down (or can’t find my notes) my formula for going down a needle size or two for my standard socks, so I have to go through the misery again of figuring it out.  In the meantime, I’m just using a heavier yarn and my old numbers…

Abruzzo October 2013-trail

And because of the new-to-us house and its ongoing expenses and labor (and my continued hobbled state) we decided not to go to Italy this year.  The weather turning to autumn reminds me of my boots crunching along the trail in the warm central Apennine sun, so I’m a bit bummed out about it, but hopefully we’ll be back next year.

I also decided not to go to Rhinebeck to save money too – and since we’re often in Italy when it happens, this year was good timing for it – but I got enough of a fix at the New Jersey festival a few weeks ago.

I’ll have my own personal wool festival when I can finally unpack my boxes of the stuff soon…

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In praise of N…

I’m taking most of the credit for our house fixing-upping, and since I only work work part-time at the moment, I do put in several more hours/days a week on it, but N isn’t just sitting around on his ass either (unless I am too and we’re taking a much needed break).

His work is often stealthy and surprising – like whipping up a work bench while I’m painting a room (and possibly cursing under my breath that he isn’t helping, but then I find out he he was doing something very useful and necessary).  Or taking care of some little annoying paint/patch/trim detail in the morning when he’s up at an ungodly hour and I’m still snoozing.

workbench

He’ll take out toilets and do some minor electrical tinkering – things I either really don’t want to do, or don’t feel comfortable doing.

And take care of all of the floor and ceiling trim cutting – something I’m quite capable of doing, but waste more and bitch about a lot more.

And he’s a machine when it comes to hacking out massive patches of invasive species – at the last house it was bamboo, this one is Japanese Knotweed (of which we still haven’t quite gained the upper hand).

And please, anyone who is reading – never plant bamboo and Japanese Knotweed!!!!!

And the part I find most crucial on a daily basis is that he’s the cook (again, I am capable of doing so, but I could exist most nights on scrambled eggs and some greens, or pasta-all-the-time) so he keeps it interesting and delicious (I do supply the occasional enormous pot of chili or spontaneous vegetarian concoction).

sagefritters

(sage fritters with an anchovy surprise inside)

But the most kudos go to his willingness and ability to haul my shit.  When we first got together, I was bemoaning the fact that I lived in such a small apartment crowded with too many things, and instead of telling me I should purge, he said I just needed a bigger place… though it was possibly one of the most destructively enabling statements anyone has ever tossed at me, I loved it and it was endearing and actually inspired me to get things in better order to some degree, but after three hurried moves in the last few years, things have gotten out of control again.

Our albatross has been a storage locker 5 1/2 hours away that we thought we’d only have for a few months… It turned out to be two years and a few months.

storage empty

But now it is finally empty and no longer ours!

stored sewing machines

And I found a couple more sewing machines that I thought I had

NtheHulk

And N was a total beast hauling it all out of the locker, into the truck, out of the truck, and into the house.

Don’t be fooled by the ugly 1980s cover on that chair – it has to weigh close to 200 pounds, is nearly large enough for two, and is from c. 1940 when furniture was made to last out of iron and oak.  I’ll be sewing a new cover for it eventually.

truck full

And it is a little shocking to see how much stuff* we lived perfectly fine without for two and some years…

And yes, that’s a box of rocks on the bottom…

I promise those won’t be around when and if there’s another move.

(Or else I’ll hide them better).

*In my/our defense, we had two separate households for a few years and needed double the stuff.

[edited to correct some typos]

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