Monthly Archives: November 2015

Necking

I like a GIANT squishy cowl neck.

I like scarves wound round and round and round my neck.

But I hate turtlenecks.

Even though they pop back in and out of style, I generally view them as always out – and smelling of elementary schools in the 70s and overly religious Midwestern mothers who dress decades beyond their age. But mostly I don’t like the feeling of my neck being oh-so-slightly constricted.

I’ve de-turtled a few necks over the years.

neck-flappy

(This one also got de-epauleted and de-shoulder padded, and de-gold buttoned – then I sewed the epaulets into the fake pocket to make a whimsical detail of sorts.)

Very often, there is a convenient seam running up the side of the neck that merely needs to be unzipped or picked and voila! A constricting turtle becomes a floppy…

manta ray? collar.

I’ve been going through my bins of thrifted sweaters to see what should be cut up into mittens and such, unraveled, or mended enough to wear…

neck-before

And I found this horribly weird pinkish, orchid? one that fits really well and lies on the “professionally” appropriate side of the fine line that it skates with  comfortably slouchy – partly because it’s actually a decent length on me and many thrifted cashmeres fall a bit too short.

But even after the turtlectomey, I’m debating about tossing it into the to dye pile, but I run the risk of loosing the good length… and though I think I hate the color, I think I can wear it without looking ill, and it goes well enough with browns or greys…

(I’d probably dye it yellow to turn it orange, or go the burgundy or brown route…)

neck-after

Turtles are also often the easiest part of a sweater to frog since they’re often knitted in rib stitch and don’t felt/full as much as the body. I’ve had several moth-eaten thrifts that were too holey or felted to frog as a whole, but still gave up good bits of usable yarn from frogged necks and cuffs.

Or merely extracted, they make good headbands or hat brims…

neck-headband

And once in awhile, a decent cowl will get detached too – most often from my own sweaters that have generally ceased to function as intended.

neck-mohair

And it can remain cowly, just no longer attached to a body…

neck-cowl

This was actually a favorite sweater of mine for about 10 years, so I’m happy to save part of it now that it is done being part of my wardrobe due to damage and too tight sleeves that always annoyed me but now are entirely unacceptable after the home reno and summer of gardening (big guns don’t play well with sheer skinny mohair). And I’ll attempt to frog the rest even though I swore off frogging mohair – if it works, I might knit more rounds onto the cowl to make it GIANT.

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Filed under collecting, dyeing, knitting, recycling, sewing, thrifting

A tiny experiment

While cleaning up the autumn yard messes recently, I gashed open my main knitting finger – the top joint just above the nail where the yarn slides over just before it becomes a stitch.

So I switched to spinning and sewing quilt hexes for a few days and pissed off my wrist again…

But none of these bodily harms could prevent me from continuing to unpack and organize our house…

but I really didn’t want to…

The main part of our house is smaller than the last, but has more storage space, sort of. We also have more storage furniture of sorts. But everything doesn’t have a space, and there’s not a space for everything… I’ve gotten rid of many things lately, and haven’t acquired much in the last few years, so I’m not sure what’s going on here…

And in the time that I procrastinated from further unpacking, and mulled over things to no viable solution, my finger healed enough to start fibering again.

The verdict is still out if I like the tiny circular needles, but I’m leaning heavily to not

sock experiment

I think my hands are too big for them and they get crampy pretty quickly, but they’re size US 0 and I’m not crazy about dpns in that size either. I thought the tiny circs would make knitting faster without the pause to change needles like with dpns, but the stitches don’t slide very well, so I’m actually spending more time shifting shoving them around. The greatest advantage however, is on the gusset – they eliminate the chance for laddering, so I would potentially use them just for this part of the sock and switch back to dpns for the rest. Oh, and another big minus for them is you can’t try the socks on as you go – a brief aside: I can’t understand why toe-up socks are lauded for their ability for being tried-on as you go when top-down are just as able?!?! And better, I think too – you can mush your heel around a bit and situate your foot in active poses to know exactly when to start the toe.

But I think the biggest problem is the size 0-ness of the tips. I don’t dislike the journey in making a sock, but I’m not joyful/delightfully challenged about it either – I like making plain socks because I make them when I can’t pay much attention and just want my hands to move, and then I get a bit of pleasure in seeing that bam! suddenly half the foot is done when I’m pissy about sitting around waiting somewhere and in turn, I got one quarter of a sock for my troubles.

These particular tiny needles are a tiny struggle with only a tiny result in a not-tiny amount of time.

experiment-balls

So a day late and a dollar short, I finally came to the realization that I should knit my skinnier sock yarn held double and get bigger, faster socks.

Perhaps I’ll get some bigger shorties to try out at some point, or magic loop some socks for shits and giggles.

(I also like that this will be a cheap pair of socks – the mostly white yarn came from a stall in the market in Sulmona – it was either 1 euro per ball, or for two; and the green was from the big box with a big coupon or big sale and acquired in my old days of stash building, or perhaps for an old now-dead desire for colorwork socks.)

experiment-swatch

And it also solves my problem of not loving certain colorways – blended together, almost anything is better.

And I wasn’t liking the too-white tiny sock above anyway – I don’t have a need for white socks in my life anymore.

I’m not sure when I did, and why I’ve had some in my drawer for too many years.

experiment-color balls

(The top ball is one of the greatest color disappointments in my online purchases – it was supposed to be a nice 1920-30s stripey combo in mustard, olive, dusty rose and medium brown – the medium brown is right, but the candy colors are disgusting… it was in my pile of things to overdye, but I’m thinking it might blend well with the burgundy, cranberry, orange on the bottom…)

Now I’ve just got to resist playing with all of the color combination possibilities and casting on for several pairs of socks before I finish the current in-progress ones…

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Filed under collecting, knitting

Closing time…

I won’t add to the legion of voices bitching about this time of year when the light is left behind and we’re slammed into darkness all too soon. I’m not adjusting quickly enough, though I never do, and I’m cranky and mad about falling asleep over my knitting most nights. I’m working more at the moment now too, so the loss feels even greater, but at least my home office has viewing windows to the wild antics in the yard.

closing-buck

The weather has been hinky too as evidenced by the laundry basket which contains woolen base layers and snot smeared gloves as well as sweaty t-shirts and cotton socks (I don’t go to a gym).

And I’m shaking my fist at the rain gods who still haven’t smiled upon us much this year.

Thankfully we packed some tomatoes when we went on vacation because those were the last tasty vine-ripened fresh bits of the garden that we enjoyed.

closing-redtoms

There was a light frost while we were away that took out the green beans, and a heavy one the night we returned, so we were forced to pick everything immediately or cover it and hope for the best.

closing-tomatoes

We opted for the acquisition nearly 20 pounds of green tomatoes which were then promptly pickled and canned. Unfortunately, the additional delicious small batch of crispy refrigerator pickles we also made are already long-consumed… I’m not as much of a fan of the squishier canned ones, but I’ll still take them shoveled onto a cheesy sandwich. The lettuces and greens turned bitter and were cooked in a massive heap with lots of garlic and oil and gamely choked down. I’m nursing the last of the borlotti beans hoping a few will mature in time, and a few carrots decided to finally (quite belatedly) show themselves, but I have little hope for them.

Now the non-work daylight is spent pulling out the dead garden plants, moving the deer-chomped yard plants to safer digs, raking and raking and raking leaves and shredding them a bit to spread and dig and dig and dig into the garden… We’ve probably got another two weeks of this nonsense that felt good at first but now seems like it’s eating up too much of the precious daylight…

But the birds are passing through or setting up their winter digs and I’m happy to hear the white-throated sparrows calling out their Sam Peabodys all over the place and the screech owls are more often purring at early dusk instead of too early dawn.

And I’m hoping that the buck who’s been showing up in the yard is the same young “Bucky” that we’ve seen from the previous year – may he make it through hunting season…

 

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Filed under gardening, home

What I was thinking; what was I thinking?

I dip in and out of various media for scattered amounts of time, but I probably think about sewing the most.

I feel like I’ve made hundreds of quilts, but most of those were in my mind – the reality has only been in the double digits.

I still haven’t reconciled the disconnect of quilts falling farther on the craft side of the art scale and my desire to just whip out some for practical reasons, but not fully committing the time to do so because time should be used for art or making money to live. But that doesn’t reconcile the fact that almost all of the knitting I do is practical and most decidedly pure craft since I’m often using other’s patterns. I feel at odds with much of the quilting “community” both on social media and what can be had with guilds and such locally, though I’m not much of a community person to begin with… And I could go on with my discomforts on precision and technique versus visual interest, weird bandwagons and fad fabrics, and the pacing – slow down and make slow shit versus be sure to crank things out to keep up interest…

But I’ll rest here since I don’t have much time to ponder all of this, and frankly I don’t really care – I’ve been making a few quilts that will either be finished or not, be practical or hang on a wall, and I’m sure I’ll start a few more in the meantime…

But there was a time (late 1990s) when I wanted to really study quilts, and I forgot about it until I unpacked some old sketchbooks a few months ago.

thinking-scrapbook

I specifically chose an art program for my undergrad that focused on classical art “training.” We had an obnoxious amount of drawing classes and a somewhat rigorous prescription of moving up and through various media before finally focusing on our chosen one after a couple of years of fundamentals. I roughly still feel a sense of “you have to know the rules to break the rules” about making or doing most things, but my interactions with fiber have shoved most of that in its face. I spin but I don’t know shit all about twist; I knit but still knot when I shouldn’t; I sew but I don’t understand most of what anyone is staying about various seams and stitches and grains and biases.

Okay, I do know a bit, but from trial and error rather than a slow concentrated graduating effort.

thinking-blocks

So I think it was with this in mind that I started really looking at quilts – mostly old ones, especially depression-era, since I was collecting reproduction vintage feedsack fabric at the time. I think I wanted to make a grand all hand-stitched “traditional” quilt. At the time (and still now) I’ve only made pattern-less [I guess the kids are calling them] “improvisational” quilts.

So I printed off pictures of vintage quilts up for sale on ebay and pasted them into a sketchbook.

thinking-redblocks

And checked out lots of books from the library and copied the traditional squares. I’m not sure if I was too cheap to make photocopies or I thought sketching them would help me decide if I liked them or not…

thinking-storm

And I’m pretty sure I came really close to choosing the “storm at sea” as my traditional quilting masterpiece…

But then what?

Grad school intervened? I took up knitting? I didn’t have enough of the right kinds of fabric in my stash? (I still don’t) I didn’t have the focus to start cutting out the same shape over and over and over again? I couldn’t choose the colors?

I still don’t have the focus or proper stash to execute something more traditional, but I’m thinking about it again…

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Filed under art school, quilts, sewing