Monthly Archives: January 2016

Quilts and blizzards

There was a whopper of a blizzard when I was a child. Right smack in the middle of it, my siblings (including some sulky tweens) and I all had chickenpox (I still have a scar on the bridge of my nose like a drunkenly placed inverted bindi), the power was out (including the water), the snowdrifts were so high that the pony* walked up and out of her corral, and our smallish house still lacked the addition that came a year later that made it much more livable – and survivable with a serious Nordic wood stove.

If I had been my mother, I’d have abandoned us all (perhaps first letting the chickens into the house so we’d have something to eat – actually they may have already been in the garage).

Instead, she made a quilt for me.

childhood quilt

The fabric, unfortunately a cotton – poly blend, and now very faded in in parts, came from a fabric store a few towns away that had been devastated by a tornado a few years earlier – you could still see its path a decade later. The colors matched the wallpaper in my room that I think I hated for my entire childhood (early on I saw faces in it, later I thought too many of the colors were too close to excrement, snot, and sickness, and I was over the moon to be able to finally tear it off for my 13th birthday, but in hindsight, I think I like it now – I kept a square of it, but I can’t find it at the moment). The paper was mostly greens and blues and sicklier shades of yellow and brown, and my carpet was a green and blue berber, so it was a tight color family in there. But I still really like green, and I liked the outdoors and my parents moved to the country when I was an infant to do that back to earth thing, so the colors of earth and sky were good ones to have overdone.

childhood quilt-poultry

The embroidery was the best part, and unfortunately most of it has worn away and neither of us remember what all was there. Certainly most of it contained scenes and icons of country life – our country life.

childhood quilt-blue eyes

Although a few oddballs cling on – like this solid-blue-eyed blonde floating head. I think it was supposed to be me, but I had green eyes and auburn hair and pupils – I’ll just pretend the blizzard kept her from obtaining the appropriately colored floss…

childhood quilt-house

And some of the applique and its puffy stuffing has literally held on by a thread…

childhood quilt-cabbage

A bit of the fabric was also on this piece and retained its deeper color.

So during this blizzard nearly 40 years later, and several states away, though nearly the anniversary to the day, I repaired it.

childhood quilt-repair

I’d like to re-create some of the missing embroidery, but knowing what it was is impossible… though I’m pretty sure this was the dedication square and the sun I sewed back on had rays…

childhood quilt-inscription

Or perhaps just leave well enough alone…

And enjoy its warmth (although stuffed with poly) during this stupid blizzard slamming into and darkening the windows while I try to knit and ignore the howling wind and my fear of loosing power (mostly because of the water).

sugar & chick snow

*Sugar the pony with a feathered friend.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under home, quilts, sewing

Winter blahs…

It’s finally gotten cold, well sometimes cold, and sometimes just warm enough to turn the backyard to mud again and then refreeze overnight.

january-pecker

It’s been a pecker party outside the kitchen window – red bellies, downies, nuthatches- mostly policed by a downy pair.

Our house has been troublesome – hot water heater, newish refrigerator, and well parts giving up varying degrees of the ghost within a couple weeks of each other – as well as our bodies with a mild but lingering cold since just before the new year, and routine and not so routine medical tests which required healing downtime and acceptance scenarios involving amputations, but turn out normally abnormal in the end.

We’ve been thrifting and antiquing a bit more, though on weekends when crowds make it a bit more unpleasant, but perhaps improve focus and curb impulse.

We said we had enough Heywood Wakefield * in our lives, but then a decent china cabinet opportunity came up and we took it – the scale is perfect for our small but not too small dining room and overflow Fiestaware.

furniture - heywood wakefield china cabinet

We’ve also had good luck finding more cheap and fun mid-century lamps.

january-lamp

And I still haven’t culled my vintage china herd, but I’m rotating through it with a use it or lose it tactic.

january-cakes

These meat on a spit plates have been a favorite for years but I rarely use them because they are large – perfect for part of a roasted ribcage – and we tend to eat on a smaller scale. I only have three plates and two cups and saucers that don’t officially match but do, so a meal that requires a large plate and coffee cup is rare, and all I can come up with is pancakes, which we make only maybe twice a year and usually with a souvenir bag of Polly’s pancake mix from the summer before.

N has been building some built-in bookcases and doors to previously un-doored closets, so the house is becoming more our own and finally has spaces for things, but I’d gotten used to our still semi-packed minimalism, so striking the balance between delightfully interesting and my previous states of delightfully cluttered is a bit tricky. As much as I loved my previous live-in cabinet of curiosity life, it was awfully dusty and too delicate (and a grand bitch to move).

january-door

I’m still unpacking hastily thrown-together boxes of supplies and organizing my work space.

january-studio

And doing a bit of use it or lose it on some old WIPs – nothing much to show, just a bit of slogging through to see if I want to keep slogging through…

* When editing this post, I clicked on the link to make sure it was the right one – and good god, is my life so routine that every January has me shopping for vintage lamps, watching woodpeckers, and obtaining more Hey-Wake furniture?!?

2 Comments

Filed under collecting, home, home decor, thrifting

It’s a froggy party

I’ve had to undo, rip, frog and re-knit too many things against my will in the last few months.

I made a mistake in one slow-going sweater that I thought I could live with because I am accepting and generous of flaws that make an item look handmade, but this one was big enough that it would be stupid to let something like that go in something that was still going to eat up a lot of my time, so now it is even slower-going and I’m just now back at the point where I was in the autumn.

The other problems in other projects were ones of poor focus, forgetfulness, inadequate lighting, and a desperate need for an updated eyeglasses prescription.

I rather like to unravel things, but the last few rows in a still-actively-knitting piece are quite nerve-wracking, and I hate putting the stitches back on the needles.

So after too much forced-frogging, I thought I’d cheer myself up with some empowered unraveling.

Remember this?

Baktus on rock

It wasn’t going anywhere – I hadn’t touched it for a couple of years and I knew it was developing problems – I spun the troublesome yarn much thicker toward the end, so I would have to go up a needle size or two when knitting it, which would have thrown the shape of the piece off too much (or I’d have to suffer through knitting something getting too stiff and loosing drape). So I’ll start again on a different shaped pattern that will allow the needles and gauge to grow (like a increasing-only triangle) or alternate balls of the thicker and thinner yarn throughout a piece. (I may need to wash the sand, dirt, and pine needles out of it first since it was knit mostly outdoors.)

An aside: I’m also currently not loving the way YOs look with handspun – a little too wonky – but I still love the lacy baktus, and love trucking away on my current one.

froggy-before

I had no regrets when I took it off the needles, so frogging was the right choice.

froggy-during

I love noodles from every continent, so yarn in this stage makes me hungry.

froggy after

And it is back to balls.

While mohair isn’t fun to frog, and I was seeking pleasure only, this wasn’t too bad after all, and I’ve got the satisfaction that I didn’t let it sit around too long. (Though it will be some time before I knit with it).

frog-fuzzy cakes

I can’t believe this was once an entire adult-sized sweater. The amount of yarn seems so tiny and weighs almost nothing – makes me wish I had the tolerance for knitting and wearing lace weight.

(Tolerance isn’t the right word for wearing – something more along the line of destructionlessness…)

frog-bag

And that partial sock became food for my latest sock.

frog-foot

(It did fit though, so at least I know I need 80 stitches for a sock on US 0 needles, not that I plan to make any any time soon…)

I usually prefer unraveling commercial sweaters in the warmer months so I can do it outside and reduce the fuzzy dust in the house. But with a few days at 70F in December, it was warmer outside than in (but now it is truly winter and cold as non-yarn balls).

frog-yellow

So I finished unraveling and washing a sweater of a good shade of yellow (wool with a pinch of nylon and a subtle tweed) that I’d like to turn into an open-front cardigan, much like an old commercial one I’ve got…

(And yes, I did start a Paulie too, but haven’t touched it in ages – I’m just not an enthusiastic fingering weight sweater knitter.)

froggy-round yellow

Though I’m not sure I have quite enough to make it as long and and roomy and butt-covering as I’d like – it’s a bit over 1,300 yards, so it should be enough for something mostly stockinette and without a generous collar. I’m still trying trying to figure out a good pattern for it – I don’t have the brain-power at the moment to significantly modify anything, so I’m looking for something top-down, probably on size US6 needles, but I still need to swatch so that could change.

And I also might change my mind about wanting it to button up or just flap around…

And I’ve got a bamboo yarn in my stash of a similar color that I was also planning on turning into a summery open front cardigan thingie… they’ll have to duke it out to see who comes first…

2 Comments

Filed under collecting, knitting, recycling, Uncategorized

New year, new projects

I don’t love this time of year with its certain few months of icy doom yet to come, but it’s my favorite change that happens in a year when the afternoon sunsets get pushed back little by little into their proper, later position.

finished-early dusks

I used to take off a week this time of the year, not to celebrate a holiday, but to work on and complete a major project – fixing/painting something around the apartment, or a quilt, or a major reorganization, cleaning, and purging – a defucking so to speak. It was a time to stay at home, away from shoppers and germy gatherings, garish decorations and terrible music, and enjoy some solitude, naps, Chinese food delivery, and the satisfaction of something large or looming being accomplished. But I haven’t done this for several years for various reasons, though I still have the twitch to accomplish something (even though the last several years have been nothing but fixing up houses…)

The tiling job earlier this month gave me a good dose of a similar satisfaction, and the rest will just have to come in the form of smaller-scaled projects finished and started in these weeks.

A couple of weeks ago, I finished up the gift hat I started on vacation:

finished-selbu for k

And that pair of socks I started last June despite some issues with the yarn:

finished-fancy feets

I cast-off them off a few rows prematurely (and I’m still on the fence about overdying them in yellow) so I could immediately start on a new pair based on my doubling experiments:

newyear - new sock

(And I’ve already lined up the yarn for the next after these).

And I’m just about to start a pair with a single strand on smaller needles.

And then I couldn’t wait to start yet another Lacy Baktus:

newyear - lacy baktus

This was also one of the very few yarn purchases I made in 2015 – I pretty much stopped buying yarn except for an immediate project need – and it was from a big Pigeonroof Studios seconds sale – high twist sock in an unnamed color, 2 skeins so I can make something extra large and squishy.

I’m also going to continue to not really buy yarn this year, or basically for the foreseeable future – I have a big enough stash, and I’m slowing down.

I’ve started to re-assess some old projects and will probably frog a few and get monogamish with some others and set those smaller socks aside for waiting room/travel knitting only so those probably won’t make their way on my feet until the light begins to come back next year…

2 Comments

Filed under collecting, home, knitting