Monthly Archives: April 2016

Necking again…

While packing projects for vacation last summer I pulled this thrifted sweater out to unravel. But it felt so utterly buttery soft, so I tried it on…

The fit was decent – roomy but not too baggy – the color, definitely not my favorite, but better than pale pink or blue – but the neck, good god the neck – not quite a mock turtle, not quite a funnel; not quite ’60s mod-shaped, not quite ’90s – and it hit me right where I often feel easily choked (not to mention it didn’t really have shoulders and I do have them)…

So I decided to de-neck it instead.

necked-before

It unraveled in four sections – front, back, and the two shoulders.

I kept trying it on until the mock was sufficiently dropped.

necked-unraveling

But the front still felt too high, so I unraveled just that section for several more rows.

necked-rounding

And marked where I should pick up stitches to round it off.

(There’s probably a better way to do this, or I could have employed some steeks, but it was simple and worked for me.)

Then I then picked up and knit (with a few K2togs at the raglans) 1 x 1 ribbing for a few rows with US6 needles, then dropped down to US4 for the last three rows, finishing with a regular bind-off back on the US6s.

necked-neck

I bent back and sewed down the extra bit of triangle from the rounding off to the inside, and it is invisible from the right side – adds a slight bit of pleasant collarbone padding…

necked-tacked down

And now I have a comfy non-strangling sweater perfect to throw on over a t-shirt.

The wool has an almost cottony sheen and overall appearance, so it is a good stealthy wool sweater for the summer without looking too tweedily inappropriate for the season.

I opened up the side seams at the bottom to ease up the fit too…

necked-full

But then realized the culprit of the too-cinched band was near cobwebs of elastic running through it – finding those and ripping them out took far longer than it should have, but the fit is now good.

necked-fuzz

(The nearly invisible elastic in on the left).

And the only issue with the sweater now is it’s a bit pilly. Or fuzzy with a low nap – hard to explain, but it’s got some whitish fuzz fungus coming out of it (seen on right) that isn’t too much of a bother since this is more of a cabins and campfires kind of sweater, but it’s odd that it’s coming out a bit of a different color since (at least according to the tag) the yarn isn’t a blend and doesn’t appear to be heathered…

I suppose another issue is the color – we’ll call it what, celery?

I rather hate celery…

But I’m afraid of loosing the butteryness and sheen, and slouchy but not too sloppy fit, if I dunk it in a dyebath, so I’ll wear it as-is for now…

******************

Update: I’ve been wearing this for a few weeks now, and the pilling is entirely out of control – it looks like I rolled around in sheep trimmings or got caught in a wind tunnel with cottonwoods and tent moths – it is very comfortable, but I’m glad I didn’t spend the time unraveling and re-knitting it only to find out that this yarn is an utter mess…

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Filed under knitting, recycling, thrifting

$15 mistake; Middle-aged dreadlocks

I’ve gone to the last couple of fiber festivals with only $30 to spend on wool. This has actually been a blast rather than depressing because I take a penny candy approach to fiber and only buy an ounce or two of something here and there, and come home with a riot of color and new breeds to try out. If I’ve got a little extra cash after seeing all of the booths, I’ll go back for something in 4 ounces or so that caught my eye and spend my last $10-$15.

What caught my eye at the last NJ sheep festival was some Gotland – I had “gotten” some the previous year in a pale grey and loved spinning it. This was a darker chocolately grey – not too light, not too dark. I fondled some roving that was loose in a basket and asked if the breeder had more for sale.

gotland wad

I got it wound flat and sealed in a bag – it looked a bit odd to me, but I’m still a bit of a sheepy noob and figured it was just processed a bit differently…

But when I got home, it was what I feared – a felted mass.

It could have nearly been a sheepy collar as-is.

gotland collar

I’m not going to call out the breeder (who I spotted at Rhinebeck as well) because it was my fault for not inspecting  it before I bought it, and frankly, not exactly knowing what I was buying to begin with – perhaps this wasn’t really roving but woolen rope? Instant dreadlocks? A chair pad? When I asked for roving, the breeder thought I said, do you have a spiral of felted mess for sale?

So I ripped it apart and tugged it a bit to see if it could be salvageable into yarn.

(I didn’t want to leave it as felt – the point was to spin some more Gotland, and I wanted to get what I thought I got.)

gotland pile

The resulting “roving” was a limp yet stiff, lifeless mess.

So I tugged, and tugged, and tugged some more and managed to free a lock:

gotland staple

But I nearly freed some tendons and joints from their connective bits in the process, so it was not going to be worth it to try to completely free the fiber back into a softly spinnable state.

So I ran the whole shebang through the wheel to add a slight bit of twist to help round things out.

It was the fastest spinning I’ve ever done.

glotland yarn

After a nice long soak, it looked even more like dreadlocks.

gotland dreads

I had to try them on – playing with them took up more time than spinning them…

gotland ball

But now I’ve got a tad over 20 yards of mega bulky Gotland…

gotland spiral

And I might end up needle felting it into a chair pad after all…

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Filed under home decor, knitting, spinning

Driving away

I had a full day of good bad luck recently.

The brakes in my car went out while I was driving…

…out of the state car inspection garage.

(Moments later, I’d have been on the highway, instead, I coasted into an uphill parking spot just outside the garage – and still passed the inspection!)

I had many other errands planned that day, but had to wait for a tow truck instead.

But I’d brought some knitting along at the last moment, so I had something to do while waiting.

I’d just downgraded our automobile club membership from the longest towing allowance because we hadn’t used it in years and the yearly fee is much higher now than where we used to be.

But it was still enough towing to get me back to my town.

I didn’t wear a coat when I’d left the house that morning because it was sunny and I would be running in and out of places.

But when I started the long walk home from the garage, it dropped 15 degrees and started snowing.

But I had inexplicably put on walking shoes instead of my usual clogs that morning, so at least my feet were fine.

The garage called to say my entire brake line was rusted out and my car would be in the shop for days.

And N had just left town for a three-day weekend with his.

So I was stranded in the house, which is where I’d normally prefer to be most of the time, but I was unmoored and annoyed to not be able to do the stupid running around crap I’d planned do, so with my thoughts on autos, and mood bend on frustration, I ripped out the van sock and removed the offending skein to overdye it.

van redo-before

I only had violet and yellow food coloring gels and a smattering of stinky drink mix on hand.

I wanted the neon to go away, and I was still going to knit it with the other burgundy/cranberry/orange yarn, so as long as I could turn it into some form of purple or brown, or a favorite of mine, purpley-brown, or at least just all toned the hell down, all would be fine.

van redo-dyeing

I started off with just the violet, but it turned the yarn very dull and almost grey – acceptably muted, but surprisingly unpleasant (I usually like muddy, dull, muted colors). So I jabbed in some yellow and liked that it was heading to a brown. But then for entirely unknown reasons, I tossed in a packet of grape drink mix.

I decided that fake grape is the only drink mix stink I can somewhat, just barely, not quite really, tolerate.

But I got something acceptably purple-ish.

van redo-rinse

And rinsing the whole shebang was fun – the colors broke in the wash, so at first the rinse water was pink, then cyan, and then green when I remembered to pick up the camera.

There was still some color left in the pot so I tossed in some natural white (not quite cream) roving for shits and giggles.

van redo - sop color

And it cam out an intense orchid that I would hate to wear alone, but will be a nice occasional addition in a spin.

van sopped

The yarn came out mildly nasty on its own, and has a bit of that lifeless dullness that comes with food color dyeing…

van redye

and you can see the areas I jabbed in the yellow vs. the violet…

van redye det

 but it’s just what this pair of socks needed for me to take off with them again.

van new sock

(While I’m waiting to get my car out of the shop… and on the water treatment equipment repair guys, and my new tooth, and now possibly the washer repair person or new delivery, and the lumber delivery that we planned before everything else went to hell… this is becoming a helluva expensive month.)

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Filed under dyeing, knitting, spinning

Lost on the stairs

I’m quite proud of all of my hand-refinished oak floors in the house.

And I like our cheap-fix painted basement floor – so much so, I’m not even thinking of what we’ll do to improve it in the long run.

But the basement stairs – those still really sucked.

stairs-way before

This was the state of things when we first bought the house – a toxic green tunnel leading roughly down into a cheap-paneled hellhole.

The unpainted/unsealed stairs and balusters were likely put in about a decade and a half ago when the original owners received a grant from the town to improve safety in the home. (At the time they also had a one-story drop off from the back door as well…) The wood used on the treads is a soft pine and is well-dented, gashed, and full of too-wide nail heads.

I thought about re-finishing (or finishing for the first time) the treads anyway, but the wood really sucked. I thought about painting them, and prepped and primed them to do so, but the color I picked out was too dark, and a lighter color was going to be too light, and the wood was still shit, so painting it would just be painting over shit, which would make it look like painted shit, which is only marginally better… And then I wanted to carpet them. I hate carpeting except on basement stairs. It’s a practical thing because I’m a klutz and most likely to fall on basement stairs and I don’t clean the basement often enough so carpet helps to trap dust and sawdust and whatnot from being tracked up into the house. So I went shopping for the cheapest, not too light, not too dark, low-pile grey carpet and didn’t find anything that would cost less than $100 which was my top limit on the project. (I wasn’t able to find a cheap remnant place around here either…) My next option was to find cheap jute or rag rugs to “carpet” the stairs, or else a fairly wide runner to cover up most of the painted shit – and though I came close, most options still topped off at or over $100, though those would have been nicer than cheap grey carpet. For half a minute, I considered weaving something myself, but since I don’t own much of a loom, that put me way over my budget, and then I considered knitting, sewing, or felting something, but that would mean I still wouldn’t have something covering up the stairs for at least another 7 to 10 years…

So clearly, I was craving a challenge for something super cheap and somewhat interesting, and with color but not too colorful, and light but not so light that every dirt clod would show, and somewhat fast.

Decoupage was my answer, my cheap savior.

63050463502674595_HcReHRQr_c

For a moment, I wanted to use fabric, but as much as I love the above, my fabric stash isn’t so vast and a little too precious for the floor.

Then I looked hard at the paper bag floor. There are many, many tales of successes and surprises (hi Grackle & Sun, I bumped into yours!) and techniques and alternates with colored kraft paper and red rosin and the like… But I didn’t want brown – I love brown, but there is enough of it in the house already, and I didn’t want just one color, or one stair in one color and another in another, in a motley sort of way…

So how about paper maps?

stair papering-test

I had a few too many in my car, so I made a test step.

stairs-with shoes

(The obligatory shoes with something on a floor pic I would have posted on my instagram if I had a smartphone of my own and posted regularly and ironically.)

I let it dry, gave it a coat of poly, let that dry, and in a few days deemed it successful.

stairs-edge

I started decoupaging all of the edges first – I used the map’s edge against the riser and tread’s edge to mimic the look of a runner and reign in the scrappy visual chaos a bit.

stairs-during

After the edges were all framed out, I tried to do a couple of treads and risers every evening, and in the morning, I’d give them one coat of poly. This made the stairs still functional for a few hours a day…

stairs-up left

And after a week, I was done, and gave the whole thing another coat of poly.

stairs-up right

Though I still need to do another coat… and perhaps one more on the treads only after that, but maybe not…

stairs-top

I’m quite pleased – the transition from our lovely upstairs oak to the painted cement works – casual but not too crude – and the subject is appropriate for our basement library too…

stairs-down down

The functionality is good – not too slick in sock feet, but it might be a bit slick for dog paws, so we still might need a runner at some point.

stairs-texture

Since the map paper is thin, and I used a self-leveling poly, the texture of the wood still shows through – I like that it does.

stairs-equipment

And the final cost?

About $13.00!

(Because we only needed more poly)

The nitty gritty: I used plain paper maps – the kind you get from AAA – I could brag about recycling and whatnot, but I’ll spare you. The glue for the decoupage was some fancier acid-neutral PVA leftover from my book repair and binding years (roughly 15) ago. It was fairly lumpy, but still usable, and I cut it with water maybe at a 1:3 ratio – but mostly it was globbing some in a yogurt cup, filling it with water halfwayish, and stirring it somewhat until it looked milky. I brushed it on the back of a torn piece of map with one of my old fancy oil painting brushes, positioned it on the stair, and brushed over it again. I couldn’t brush it or re-position it too much or it would tear. I tried to distribute colors and leave meaningful places in visible spots, but after the first step or two, it was a  geographic free-for-all except for color distribution. It was also very uncomfortable for me to be sitting on a step in a spinal twist, so even if I wanted to work on bigger chunks at a time, it was painful, so spreading it out over a week worked for me. I used a triple-thick, self-leveling, satin finish polyurethane and I’d brush on the first coat about 24 hours after the decoupage to insure it was well-dried (our basement currently has about 50% RH).  After the whole thing was decoupaged and had its first coat of poly, I coated the whole shebang again. I am about to put on a third coat. And I might put on a fourth just on the treads. We already had about a half of a quart on hand, so when it’s all said and done, it probably took about a quart and a half.

Some things to consider: the acid-neutral glue I used will not yellow (I can’t say the same for standard white school glue – I think that stuff might yellow) and the water-based poly should not yellow either (oil-based most certainly will). I don’t know if the map paper is acid-free or not, so that could yellow though it is no longer exposed to air, and the stairs were sealed with primer, so they shouldn’t leach too much yellow-inducing acid either. I like the triple-thick poly because you don’t have to use as much and the coats go on thick enough that you can safely sand between them if so desired – but it goes on translucent and if left too thick, could dry with a bit of a milky haze – again, not a problem since the maps had a white base, but if it was dark surface, I’d be more careful about thinner coats. (But generally for wood that stays wood, I only use oil-based products – yellowing only adds depth and richness over time.)

And how will it wear?

It should be fine – the same as poly over finished wood – it will scratch and gouge under extreme circumstances, and will eventually need to be re-coated. If there’s a particularly bad spot, I can patch it with more map. Dirt can be swept/vacuumed up and ick can be wiped up with a damp cloth. You could probably even decoupage the whole thing just with poly instead of glue, but it would be messier, dry more quickly making re-positioning harder, and perhaps the paper might dry more translucent instead, but I’ve no idea.

I’m eyeing a few other things in the basement that could benefit from some decoupage now too…

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Filed under collecting, home, home decor, recycling