Monthly Archives: January 2015

Went for a spin…

Last Saturday morning I woke up to this.*


I still have loads of unpacking and organizing to do, but I heard the siren song scream of some no longer patiently waiting cashmere.


It came from a lovely spot in New Mexico.

Rather, it came from a goat who lives there.

cashmere-guard hair

Some of it still had some guard hairs and bits of veg to be removed.


And I’m spinning it up rustic – who says cashmere needs to be fine and dainty?


But my view wasn’t so pleasant.

So it was only the briefest of spinning sessions, and then I got back to work on what I was supposed to be doing…

(I finally have a clear path through the room.)

*But we were mostly spared the brunt of the latest storm (and a word to the media – don’t call a storm “historic” that hasn’t even happened yet – shame on you)…


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Filed under home, spinning

Stash flash – the commercial yarn edition

I’m not a huge fan of stash flashing.

Sometimes it just seems like crass showing off, sometimes I think of the world’s starving people, sometimes I think it’s a little funny when a middle age woman poses naked with it in a bathtub*, sometimes it gives me anxiety of having too much, sometimes it gives me anxiety about having too much of one thing but not the needed thing, and sometimes I’ll admit I’m a little jealous.

But we reached a milestone on the house – the floors and walls are done in all of the main rooms – so I’m finally moving into my teeny tiny studio and figuring out how to cram everything in.


And part of that involves taking stock of my yarn stash.

It was in relatively decent storage – a few big plastic tubs – but sock yarn was mixed in with sweater quantities was mixed in with random cones of mystery fiber…


And of course there was yarn shoved into other yarn…

Everything needed to be aired out – there was the odd unfortunate odor of our old apartment’s carpeting trapped inside some of the tubs, and a few lavender sachets lost their pleasant one.  But all was well – no evidence of wool-munching crawling or flying f*ckers.


The sock and fingering weight yarns are now separated out into their own bin and I know I don’t need to shop for the stuff possibly ever again.  I’d been wanting to make some jolly-colored tights for years now, but I haven’t even considered casting on for them, so maybe it’s okay to just make one pair of socks from one of three skeins, or consider making a blanket.  I’d really like to make some pants, but though I’d like wacky tights, I’d rather have more dull pants (trousers to my friends across the pond) though I do adore my wool pants (underwear).


Need I remind you that I got everything really cheap?  Yeah, the internet is good for that, as are Italian markets and those newer craft/construction materials thrift shops.  I’ve been picking up the odd cone of stuff for a few years – I thought I’d be weaving by now and dying more too…  And I do intend to use some of it in spinning…


My old favorite Lamb’s Pride is all in one place now too – this is one of the few yarns I have sweater quantities of – large coat or king-sized afghan quantities…  I fell into a brief obsessive love with mosaic knitting several years ago and planned to make a cozy big long coat.  I got a billion yards of two shades of green on the cheap online, but the colors weren’t contrasty enough and besides, I never got around to finding or making up a pattern, so it sits and waits…

And the bulky green in the bottom right was, for a short time and twice, an Owls sweater, but I never got the sizing right, so I frogged it and gave up.


I’m in love with that old gold greenish shade “golden mushroom” in the upper left, so it’s high time I cracked it open… I love nearly every shade of green though, so I’ve got some thinking to do…

On the day that I organized this stuff I had one of those disturbing time warps wherein I missed lunch.  I never miss lunch. And the day was pretty much shot – I feel a bit guilty overall for “wasting” the time and that I have so much, yet I can’t part with it either.  I got some of it up on ravelry, so I may sell some things if asked.  But I also don’t really need any more clothes or blankets, so my knitting mojo for anything other than gifts, sales, or a few smaller accessories is pretty flat at the moment.

I’d like to replace a few commercial sweaters with me-knitted ones, but the ones I wear most often are grey.  Do you see any grey yarn up there?  Nope.

And since I work from home, I need nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  I don’t get the people who work from home or stay at home and are crazy prolific garment sewers and knitters… where and when do they wear the many, many things that they make?

(And I still have loads of yarn from unraveled sweaters, a nice bunch of that lovely Italian wool, and a smallish (relatively speaking) amount of handspun.)

And though I accomplished a needed organizing job that day, I ultimately failed when I realized that there’s still another box/bag/tub of the stuff somewhere…

*I’ve seen a few of these on ravelry, but sadly can’t find one at the moment for you – and no, I won’t do that.


Filed under collecting, knitting, thrifting

In praise of old wool socks

Since we finally got some furniture for our clothes, I’ve been unpacking and evaluating stuff I’ve had in “deep storage” and haven’t seen for years.  Some things are easily tossed – underwear with shot waists; some things are joyously recovered – an oversized thrift cashmere sweater perfect for wintertime pjs, though covered in holes, so it looks like a night terror was a reality, and I really should fix it, but don’t really feel like it; and some things have a stubborn endurance that gives me pause and I take them out to wear again, but they’re the first things to be crammed back in a bag if I’m short on storage space.

Like a few pairs of my old wool socks.

old wool socks

I can’t kill these things…  And they’re actually from the 1980s, so on that aspect alone they should be banished…

Wool socks used to be a rough, no-frills, utilitarian item of clothing.  They weren’t even dyed, and were made of mostly wool with a teeny bit of nylon for strength.  The soles weren’t cushioned or contoured, and silk liners were essential when wearing them for hiking.

 Some of them lost their shape and got dumb baggy ankles and some are lightly felted and all the cozier for it.

old wool socks-baggy ankles

These things tromped around Midwestern forests and fields, endured a month without washing high in the Rockies 25 years ago, and slid around on old wooden floors in old creaky old urban houses.

I don’t like wearing them to hike now – I’ve gotten too soft these days and prefer the squishier kind, and I have enough hand knit socks to wear when out in public, so these are pretty much the sock equivalent of sweatpants.

old wool socks-heels

All of them have balding heels and toes, yet there still hasn’t been a full break…  Some of them look nearly as delicate as hosiery, but despite my recent frequent wearing and washing, they’ve held on tight.

(And they also made it through my horrendous slaughter by moth ordeal 10 or 15 years ago…)

old wool socks-thin heels

I’m really trying to get rid of things – to throw away things that truly no longer serve a purpose to anyone and to donate those which do – but these fall in neither category.

I’m actually considering (when they finally do have peep-heels) unraveling the cuffs and combining a few old pairs to make new ones…

But I don’t think I’d survive the bomb/apocalypse/undead uprising that would be required to finally destroy these things.

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Filed under collecting, knitting, recycling

My Australia is broken

The socialist sister of my more gentle post celebrating the end of 2014 – fair warning –  this is a rant – and a reminder I have no respect for the right-winged of the species.

(Unless you are Icarus and favor your right side.)

knee 028 - Copy

A brief re-cap (pun intended) and update of my knee troubles.

By June of last year I was unable to walk without considerable pain in my knee.  I went to the doc and she suggested it was a torn meniscus and sent me to PT.  PT was good (and really cheap, thankfully) but my knee didn’t get much better.  In the autumn, I went to see an orthopedic doc and my insurance company finally consented to an MRI – but – it called to give me a guilt trip because the place my doc booked it charged $3,000, and a place difficult to get to only charged $400.  I was irritated, but I get it – it is an utter crime that hospitals inflate costs – despicable – and as consumers we should be aware of such crimes.  But it was hard to get to the recommended place, so I settled for one in a remote-ish suburb that charged $700.   I had the MRI on a Friday, and wouldn’t get the results in the mail until the following week, but they enabled my armchair diagnostician self by sending me home with a CD of the images that day.  I spent the greater part of that weekend correctly identifying my torn meniscus and finding several other dire and crippling conditions.

 (And I also became very put-off by meat – I’d seen too much of my own.)

I called the office Monday morning and asked if the person on the line if she could tell me what was actually wrong over the phone.

She couldn’t do that.

I asked if I had the suspected torn cartilage, and she didn’t confirm or deny…

I asked about other things and got the same non-committal results…

This poor woman finally became flustered and said:

“It’s not fatal, but you can’t go skiing.”

(I was confused if she meant water skiing or downhill skiing because it was the season for neither…)

But in the end, it was just a meniscus tear, and the other weird things I saw and diagnosed incorrectly were just some run-of-the-mill deformities (thanks mom & dad) and the doc plumped up my joint with cortisone and told me to schedule a minor, common surgery to fix it.

Only when I called my insurance company to find out the co-pay for it, I learned that it would be a “co-insurance” cost and I’d have to pay 40% of the entire procedure and all those involved and the facility and so forth… so I couldn’t afford to schedule it and decided to get a better plan from the insurance marketplace for 2015.

I’m thankful that there has been some effort on healthcare reform and we now have greater access to healthcare as individuals, but…


I make a wage just enough to sustain myself (N thankfully covers the mortgage) and I pay our utilities, half the groceries, and my insurance premiums.  I do not make enough to be able to pay over a thousand in deductibles and up to $7,000 in “co-insurance.”

A person who essentially lives paycheck to paycheck does not have extra thousands lying around.

I can budget for a monthly premium of a few hundred dollars – yes, I can’t really afford that either, but it is a known and reliable expense, and I’m willing to forgo a real cell phone and cable TV and new clothes and fancy cheeses and turning up the heat and yarn and haircuts and happy hours for it.

But I can’t just shell out thousands of dollars if I happen to need something expensive – especially if I’m unconscious when it happened and have no choice where I’m taken.

Throughout the mid-late 1990s I had private insurance that offered the same amount of coverage as the plan offered by my future employer and it was good.  Yes, healthcare costs more now since they can no longer deny anyone and schleps like me have something mildly expensive to deal with, but come on – I have not needed surgery, been hospitalized, given birth, had any conditions requiring continual medications, and I have a healthy low-risk lifestyle.

 I’ve been doing nothing but contributing to the profits of insurance companies for decades!

(And another mini-rant is the health insurance exchange is very different in each state, so you may hear something in the media about it being all hunky-dory for someone somewhere, and it is, just not here… And my options for plans in 2015 are worse than 2014 – yes, there are more from which to choose, but the maximum out-of-pocket costs are higher.)

So, I’m soldiering though my torn cartilage without surgery – it has gotten more manageable now 9 months later, though I still can’t hike – so I don’t know if I will eventually recover enough, or I’ll have to wait to repair it indefinitely…

So, is that really healthcare?

No, it is not.


Filed under unemployment

Welcome January…

nuts&bolts done

I’ve bitched about the holidays before, so I’ll spare you my annual rant and expressions of joy that it’s all over.

Except… the armchair epidemiologist in me was especially piqued and horrified this year following various blog and f*ckbook posts wherein a family gathering/food decorating/potluck event ended in various shared and publicized GI viruses – and many that started at Thanksgiving continued to pass around through giftmas…   My worst of the worst nightmare.

People, keep your hands and all of your juices, exhalations, coughs, schmears, sneezes, and hearty wet laughs out of food and away from others.

(And if a baby pukes it is because he is sick and is entirely and hugely contagious and everything and everyone around him much be bleached and quarantined and all gatherings cancelled until the incubation period is over.)


Moving on, and a brief public service announcement…

A heads-up to those reading this through ravelry and/or if you have a blog fed through there as well – the feed thing hasn’t been working right, so posts haven’t been updating since November – not sure what’s going on, but I re-entered my address and it seems to be working now.

I’m glad to see 2014 go – for no specific reason, I’m not a fan of years ending in 4.

Yes, we got out of a shit apartment and finally snagged a house, but it’s been a helluva lot of work.  The more fun part of working in the yard will come this year.

pileated pecker

(A yard that contains many beasts such as this finally spotted Pileated Woodpecker, deer, and a still yet elusive fox.)

But I’ve been hobbled by a torn meniscus and been made entirely weepily furious about the American healthcare system… And that does require a rant – I have elaborated in this sister post.

I made some stuff and will make some more this year – that’s the summary and the resolution.

And I have a deep, burning desire to become a minimalist…


But I can’t when we still need to get stuff for the house.

I misjudged the interrogative harshness of the new ceiling light in our dining room and missed the window of time to return it, so we’re lighting the room more tolerably with a few vintage lamps that we snagged on the cheap from junk shops in other states over the last couple of months.


I didn’t want to get too many new things for the house since it is smaller than our last, and I’m not a big enough fan of the mid-century aesthetic, but we were lacking in lighting already, and more than one lamp suffered in our various moves.  And these few bits of mid-century do help to tie the rooms with the house, albeit eclectically, but eclectic is the only way for me.

But I’m ready to re-paint the dining room already – it was the one major paint color fail.  It was our favorite color in our old house, but for whatever mysterious reason, it just doesn’t work here… it’s supposed to be a soft earthy orange leaning to yellow, but it’s beige in daylight and gold with the lights on… odd and disappointing.

But though I’m not really in love with the mid-century, I do really like Heywood Wakefield furniture from that time period – it’s pretty much the only mid-century furniture I do like, and I don’t like anything later than their lines that started in the late 1940s.  I’ve been on the hunt for a reasonably priced dining room set since we were in the older house and we’ve been trolling the usual internet sites and cheaper (though they really aren’t) antique stores around us, but we’re just too damn close to too many cities with residents willing to pay way more than they should for anything.

So it came as an utter whopping surprise that we recently won an auction of a mother-lode of Heywood Wakefield “Encore” (1948-1955) bedroom furniture!


And we needed nearly all of it – we didn’t have any dressers (left them in the old house because they were too heavy), and N’s current desk is falling apart – the headboard will go on a guest bed.

We got all of it for less than what new really cheap furniture would cost even after factoring in the truck rental – nay, it was pretty much the price of buying it all from a thrift store!  However, I was immensely fearful because it was an online auction… the furniture could reek of mothballs, unwashed clothing from unwashed bodies, cat piss, cigarettes, and Shalimar…

And we knew the finish was a bit worn in places, which is usually the case with this furniture, but I can’t deal with stench – cat piss and mothballs are deal breakers for me….

But all is well – it is all in the house and full of our stuff now.

heywood wakefield drawers

It does stink a little – by way of something like Shalimar or Jean Nate – a certain old lady scent, but it’s not too strong – not like thrift store costume jewelry.  And one half of the headboard smells like coconuts.

Vintage contact paper is adhered to every drawer as well, but it is okay and will stay.

heywood wakefield finish

The finish on the tops is really pretty bad though – we’ll need to address that at some point, but for now, that’s what dresser scarves are for.  The desk is pretty poor though – looks like there was a leaky plant pot on top – we’ve already started to sand it a tiny bit, but we’re not sure how we’re going to finish it yet.  The original finish is impossible to duplicate and the top coat was balls to begin with, so I’m doing some research…


Filed under collecting, home, home decor, thrifting