Monthly Archives: February 2016

String me up…

Gift knitting is wrapping up, work has been extra workful, I’m making a point of spinning for a little bit often to strengthen my wrist, and I feel like I’m not making enough progress in anything even though many things are finally getting my attention…

The mild winter had me fooled that I would be puttering about the yard now thinking about landscaping, digging some new beds, and playing with some of the great rocks we’ve unearthed around the property. But frigid temps, frozen ground, massive mud pits, and all around unpleasantness except for some brilliantly sunny days have kept me indoors and driven me partially underground to the basement.

Two more pieces of our Heywood Wakefield set are now refinished. Two more to go – the biggest and heaviest – two dressers – but those might have to wait until better weather so we can work on them outside, or at least with the windows wide open.

basement-refinishing heywake

And I’ve got these boxes and tubs still to unpack, redistribute (though there’s really no more room elsewhere), be rid of, or re-packed more efficiently and stored in a location I’ve yet to find or create. In our last house, the basement consisted of two rooms of piled boxes and tubs from hasty moves, art school crap, parental home downsizings, and childhood nostalgic detritus. We weren’t there long enough to deal with them, and now, though other things need to be done, I’m feeling done with them and have finally begun to tackle the heap.*


They’re full of art supplies, real photography supplies, rocks, shells, vintage tablecloths, a couple of washed fleeces, vintage dishes, paper making supplies, a few duplicate kitchen supplies, that blasted punch bowl, old rusty crap, sewing tools and notions, things from childhood, pots and plates I threw but don’t use but can’t get rid of, and a few more boxes of books outside the frame that I am able to cull without too much pain, as well as some giant photographs and paintings I just can’t figure out…

But with every one, surprises lurk inside.


In a tub that also contains chopsticks, drink stirrers, hanging hardware for picture frames I no longer have (or maybe re-stored in my folk’s basement?), clock parts for the clocks I used to make and sell, pez dispensers (why do I have so many fucking pez dispensers?), detached butterfly wings plucked from car grills, a series of vintage plastic robots, dried up tins of adhesives, glass bead making tools (some of them, others I gave away), the screwdrivers I’ve been looking for for two home renovations and was convinced I left in the old house, another staple gun (I think that makes 4 in our house now), tea balls, plaster tape for casts or sculpture, and finally a cigar box of old thread and trimmings from an estate sale, and a shoe box full of little spools of tatting thread from my once beloved thrift store.


The contents of the tub indicate it was thrown together in 2008 – kitchen materials mixed with tools and craft supplies – place it in my old apartment’s kitchen/dining room/hall closet area, an s-curve shaped space of quirky lets-carve-an-apartment-out-of-this-grand-old-home because it’s the depression and we got killed in the market architecture. Perhaps I dug around in it once since then, but mostly it stayed in our old basement, then the storage unit for a few years. I knew I had some collections of old spools of thread, but I thought I had them all with me already – I had no memory of having this much more. And the tatting stuff? Completely forgot, though now I remember I wanted to frame some of them…


I’m on the fence a bit about using vintage supplies – on the one hand, they are supplies, meant to be used and used up, and I have no qualms about using a few inches of thread here and there to to make repairs on like-colored clothing or for a pop of color on a button or something, but on the other, they’ve become artifacts. But in the case of the tatting thread, it’s an all-out stash in itself or hoard… I don’t plan on tatting or crochet, at least at these fiddly gauges and I don’t do much embroidery, so I do need to purge it – sell it, likely and not think about if someone uses it all up on their own ghastly craft project, or squirrels it away again, or actually makes something beautiful or appreciates them as artifacts as well…


And then I found my stash of deconstructed VHS tape that I meant to make into an “art” piece, but I can’t stand to touch the stuff, and I’ve yet to don a pair of gloves and see if I can handle it that way… and I’ve forgotten about it, so why the hell didn’t I chuck it yet?

*So this was a bit of a pre-written post – I’m back to ignoring the emotionally overwhelming contents of our semi-subterranean floor…


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Filed under art school, collecting, home, recycling, thrifting

Clicking and sticking

I’m in a particularly stressful period that began in November and should end in a few more weeks. Then an even more stressful time might follow. Or it might not. Or it might be something else entirely in some other maddening form.

Who knows.

But I’ve been foggy, as has been the weather, bringing the end of snow and more snow and too cold to snow and rain and icy crusted over snow…


I was planning on continuing to knit more socks, my most recent scarfy thing, and some long suffering sweaters – easy, comfortable, brainless knitting things, but some gift needs popped up and I relaxed into a spell of more hat knitting.

I only needed one, but I’m on the third, and am going to throw in a fourth for N.

One is my old standby, and three are variations on Jared Flood’s Turn a Square, wherein instructions are given for a tubular cast on which is new to me.

I didn’t want to try something new – I didn’t want to think, just knit. But a lazy Sunday afternoon found me curious, then skeptical for six rows (feeling annoyed that it was six rows instead of one before the actual knitting started) but when it was over, I was looking at the perfect hat edge that has been missing in my life.


It’s the kind of edge you might find on commercial, but well-made hats, or done by the knitterly grand dames of the last century. Not that I want anything I make to look like it was made by anything other than a pair of hands, but I need to step up my edging and finishing game and this seems more durable and stretchy – possibly without the danger of getting stretched-out – and oh so perfectly reversible…

However, I prefer to knit hats top-down, so I am going to have to change my comfortable ways, or think harder about alternative engineering and grafting…

Speaking of which, even with my mind in a semi-shutdown state, I realized I finally memorized how to graft/kitchener my toes closed on my second to last pair of socks.


For years I had to watch the same video over and over to remember where to start in the sequence. Often I’d finish a pair of socks while traveling and either sew them shut in some unsightly but functional way or pack them home with open toes. Or at home, I’d finish everything in the evening but have to wait for daylight – usually during my lunch hour (and one of the rare times I’ve got my knitting anywhere near the computer) to close it up. The video I used was fine, and watching for the first few seconds got me back on track and soon I finished, but it just never stuck in my head.

Then I watched a new video, this video,* and bam, something in my brain clicked and it’s in there – no more unfinished toes until I get to a computer (I still don’t have a smartphone). Sure, I might need it again if I don’t need to graft for some time, but I’m confident that I don’t need a crutch for the next few pairs.

(I still use a cheat sheet for turning heels, but I think I’ve got that one down now too finally.)

I wish I could pick up and retain things in a few minutes or after a few times rather than in many years and after many projects…

*Maybe this one worked somehow subconsciously because I have the same sofa?


Filed under home, knitting

Of politics and pests – a rant

We all know fast fashion is wrong on all counts – bad for workers, bad for the environment, bad for our psyche, and bad for covering up nakedness with its tendency toward wardrobe malfunctions due to poor quality and construction. But like fast food, it is affordable, yet it doesn’t seem as evil as a hormone/antibiotic/shit laced 99 cent burger. If you are poor, you can still buy new clothes that don’t make you look poor and they won’t give you diabetes or make you obese.

But you can also shop in thrift stores.

But this isn’t always the answer – many thrifts accept and stock absolute shit, sizing can be difficult, not everyone has the ability to repair items, or the thrifts are frequently more expensive than the fast fashion shop.

I’ve bitched about this before – a thrift prices something like a Thomas Thrillfingers sweater at $19.99 because it is a “brand” name. And it has holes and unidentifiable stains and looks a decade or two out of date – of course even I would choose a $12.99 sweater from Aging Army if that were my best option. Or Goodwills in my area price all sweaters at $8.99 regardless of holes, shrunkeness, goo, and fugliness – and tend to have lower-quality clothes to begin with – you couldn’t pay me $8.99 to own a faded acrylic sweater from the bigbox (actually you could – I’d do many things for money).

And as a recycler of wool yarn, I’m usually not going to pay more than a few bucks for something I’m going to take apart and not know until I’m doing it if it will successfully come apart or have to turn into felt scraps or stuffing, so I suspend my own strong opinions about religion and politics and choose to shop at a nearby Salvation Army over Goodwills and Red White and Blues and some odd and expensive independent ones because the prices are generally good for decent-quality used shit (and very good on the half-off days).

SA’s mission statement couldn’t be a stronger bushel of garlic to me if I’m going with a a vampire metaphor which doesn’t make sense in this context and I really love garlic, but people and things that do and say such things are utterly abhorrent to me – charity need not come with dogma. Yet, I know that they have fed and sheltered many in communities I care about, so I suspend my anti-evangelising standards when I shop there knowing that some part of my donation (though I’m sure not as much as I’d like) is going into bellies and blankets.

But it turns out this last line:

“…meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”

has been utter bullshit in dealing with LGTB employees over the last few years. I mean it’s not surprising because hello, “christian” organization, but somehow I’ve missed the news… And perhaps and hopefully they’ve cleaned up their act and do practice what they preach now, but it’s made me a much less frequent visitor over the past few months.

So I re-entered the smeary doors of this grand palace of abandoned things recently after a long hiatus and during a stressful time. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular – I have enough of everything at the moment – but I was looking for “thrift therapy.” (I can’t stomach other’s “shopping therapy” even though it’s essentially the same thing, just massively cheaper.) But it is a form of hunting, a time of touching pleasant fabrics (and accidentally some not so), imagining stories of others, nostalgia wormholes, and jackpot thrills…

I found a great mid-century enameled casserole dish and a huge grey sweater that should result in enough yarn to make myself a confidently ass-clearing one.

casserole and sweater

But then I think I found a bedbug.

At the time, I didn’t think it was – it was bigger and flatter than pictures I’d seen, and it was staring up at me from the shoulder of a silk blouse I was about to snatch up to examine. I still haven’t gotten a new vision prescription, so in order to take a good look at it, I took off my glasses and shoved my face six inches from it, but then realized that if it were anything evil, I should be more than six inches away from it, so I backed off and left, first vigorously shaking the sweater I still wanted to buy. But I thought it was more likely a baby stinkbug or something along those lines, though once I got home and looked up buggy mugs, I’m not sure what it was…

But bugs are always a thrift risk and I prefer to buy textiles and clothing only during the coldest and warmest months so I can freeze them outdoors or keep in my trunk to bake for several days before shaking them out and immediately washing. But even though I live in the east where bedbugs are probably here to stay and the thought of them makes me squirm a little if I ever feel an itch in a NYC theater, I’ve mostly just been concerned with moths and carpet beetles – two known enemies I’ve treated and controlled and eradicated over the years. Bedbugs are a foe I don’t wish to take on – I know no one does unless for scientific reasons, but they have definitely given me pause for my next thrift venture.

And I am to the point where I’m happily shopping my own yarn and fabric stash and finding what I need (although superwash is getting low) from my shelves and boxes and closets most of the time, but I do miss the calming time vortex of combing through someone else’s old fibery discards.

Next time, after the cootie heebie jeebies subside, I’ll give the Goodwills around here another look…

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Filed under collecting, knitting, recycling, thrifting

Camo for crocuses in the snow; Blizzard socks


Our cars decided that they wanted to become zeppelins during last week’s blizzard.


And N had an excuse to break out his awesome vintage plaid wool pants.

blizzard-sock inside

And I had the time to sit on my ass and finish my latest socks while watching the snow fall and then get shoveled away while my toes stayed propped up and toasty.

(Yes, that is snow piled against the window, even after it was knocked down several times – the storm wanted darkness).

blizzard-sock before

But I too eventually went to war with the frozen shit – donning my swants over some wool long johns and stomping my way to uncover various vents and utility meters and paths to compost piles and sheds and garbage cans…

blizzard-sock after

(And I really should have put on my gaiters first.)

When I was making the socks, the colors reminded me of crocuses popping up through the snow. The multi-colored yarn also came from a market in a town in Abruzzo known for its saffron crop.

Now I see that they are perfectly coordinated with my snowshoes.

They could have been longer.

They could be warmer.

Next time maybe I’ll drop another needle size while holding the yarn doubled, but I’m starting to think I just need 100% wool socks – screw the bit of polyamide and/or nylon which I think is the culprit for clamminess…


Filed under hiking, home, knitting