Monthly Archives: November 2016

Boot redo-redux

In the mid to late aughts, my student loan was paid off, I had a healthy not yet teen-aged car, a decent enough job, and I bought a lot of shoes.

Not really a lot – maybe at or just under a dozen pairs, and not fancy-pants impractical heels and such, but sturdy and comfortable European-made clogs and rubber-soled boots and shoes. It was also the heyday for a few online shops with good brands that have since been bought out and aren’t really worth the time anymore…

I’m finally killing some of those shoes – the clogs have always had a maddening indeterminate self-destruct date – you might get 3 years, you might get 15, but they will crumble beneath your feet at an incredibly inconvenient time. And the others are on a scale of still pretty damn good, need more frequent polishing but have years left, or something needs to change in order for me to continue to wear them and/or I should just sell them.

boot-redo-firenze

I don’t take pictures of my shoes very often – I haven’t drunk that IG kool-aid – but I found a fiber-appropriate image of a pair of boots I’ve been giving the side-eye recently, taken as I shopped for 1 euro cones of yarn in Firenze several years, and much less grey hair ago.

(I still haven’t knitted up the yarn I got, but it’s on the novelty spectrum, so I was waiting for the middle-aged desire for an abfab shawl to kick in, and I’ll be damned if I’m pretty much there now.)

Anyway, these old boots (El Naturalistas acquired for a song) had an annoying top knitted portion that looked like a chunky sock peeking up – I liked it for a bit – I had several orange thrift sweaters that went well with them, but then they started to look matted and pilly. I shaved them a few times, but by then the boots were stretching out a little and the laces were fake so I couldn’t tighten them, and the boots devoured my socks more and more.

boot-redo-before

The design also sucked a bit because the top was attached, so they pulled on and then zipped, like an uncomfortable business dress.

I unpicked the knitted part and found some blue suede underneath – I kinda liked it and left it for a few weeks but got annoyed by the sock munching and pull-on thing again. And at this point, I was still considering dying them black too.

boot-redo-during

I unpicked the suede and freed the zipper – luckily it was the closing/locking/whatever you call it kind.

And unpicked the fake sewn-on laces that you can’t really see.

boot-redo-after-detail

I cut off the zipper ends and trimmed the lining, and ran a line of stitches through the holes left by the suede and knitting that secured the lining and covered up the ugly holes.

boot-redo-after

And with functioning laces (though the boot doesn’t open there) they’ve got a better second life, though they still need a polish. I really need black boots now, so I’m still slightly  flirting with the idea of dying them, but likely not…

 I have a much-loved cobbler who could clean up the tops a bit more with a band of leather trim, but let’s see if the soles hold up a bit first.

(And I’m thinking of knitting another couple of cuffs…)

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Better, not great…

I still can’t hear the term “president-elect tr…” without my bowels loosening and my chest tightening.

All of the past hostile and toxic environments I’ve been in, stalkings I’ve gone through, rictus grins through mansplaing and talkingovers, and yes, even getting my pussy grabbed in broad daylight on the way to work and when filing a police report about it being told that I could be charged since I punched the man and thus likely left a mark and he didn’t….

is all coming up GERD-like and simmering at the back of my tongue.

So fiber really isn’t on my mind.

And the wind is howling like January.

And my computer is possibly in its death throes, so I’m busy backing it all up.

sewing-4-b-flag

Here’s a less stressful time – I’m sewing 4-B flags for our sister 4-H group in Botswana – complete with tomato pin holder, yarn bows on pigtails, and my mom’s early-mid 1960s Singer sewing machine in the background, and of course, a perfect example of the absolute worst decade for eyeglasses (not to mention the mole I had surgically removed after I was sick of being called “moleface” but then became “scarface” but that was more badass and not as bad, but I regret removing it now unless it ended up taking over the whole side of my face like the kids said it was doing…). Our 4-H club was called “A Better America” and I think of it every time I hear “Make America Great Again.” And both bother me because most “Americans” aren’t actually including the whole of the Americas north and south, continent-wise, when they say it, but tr… means us, just us, just our jaggedy wide midsection of North America and only those citizens who worship him, but our 4-H club included the whole shebang and beyond, and meant that we as Americans needed to do our part to make it a little bit better for everyone. We welcomed new immigrants and citizens, helped out our poor townspeople, mentored youth, played entirely too many games of Uno with our elderly and mentally handicapped (somewhat warehoused in hindsight) neighbors in group homes, and connected with others in the world (along with the typical 4-H litany of farm animals, bake-offs, forestry projects, and camp).

 I (think, hope) I still have the letters that my 4-B penpal from Botswana, Bertha, wrote over 30 years ago, but I’ll never forget her first which she opened with: “My country is not as beautiful as you may think.”

I’m feeling that about mine too.

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Unspun

What’s the point of another post full of trumpdisgust?

Boobs not balls. #election2016 #hillaryclinton #ivoted #president #electionday2016 #vote

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And an earnest plea and pledge for doing more good and wearing safety pins?

I am absolutely sick to my pit that 42%  of (mostly white) women voted for that dangerous sack of meat and guts – not because as being women they should automatically vote for a woman – but they have such a low opinion of themselves and their fellow sex…

And what are they teaching their poor children too?

I’m terrified about healthcare – especially because of my femaleness and desire to be childless – and a man should have zero input in that one…

And this man should have zero input on everything.

And I’m just terrified, and many voted for him because they’re terrified for entirely different and unfounded and utterly ignorant reasons.

And a whole bunch of other things are just shit at the moment too – some new sadness, some of the same ongoing frustrations, the lack of daylight, and the approaching least wonderful time of the year.

I’m not particularly productive now, but I’m selling old crap again a bit, keeping a few last roots and greens in the garden alive, and mostly spinning and unraveling.

I finished up a long-suffering single – I’ve been concentrating on learning/forcing myself to spin singles more slowly – but this one is shit for the last 20 yards or so.

Spinning – good for stress, bad for yarn. #spinning #wool #wovember #yarn #handspun #overspun #blackandgold

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Stress is bad for spinning singles.

And I’m nearly done with those couple of atomic/molten lava/flames/superhero braids I recently got.

But I’m likely going to have to unspin this one too…

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A call to arms; raise up your arms

I started this project and this post months ago – last January, I think – and I finished the project over the summer, and the post last week, setting it to publish today.

I hope we know who the president is by now, and more so, I desperately hope it is not that horrible horrible man.

So this is not about politics.

It’s yet again about thrifted sweaters.

tealcardigan-label

I got this cardigan during a thrift store run last autumn or winter and hit another small jackpot – I’ve been wanting a teal cardigan, but didn’t want to buy the yarn and knit one, or buy one new

– and I lucked out –

and I so wish I had grander luck than just finding an old sweater for $3 or so…

But anyway, this one was probably made for men – it’s got some unfortunately narrow/tight hips and broad shoulders, and some reaaaaaally long arms.

tealcardigan-before

And the lower half of both arms were quite shredded.

tealcardigan-damage

I decided to conduct a partial amputation of the lower sleeves and re-knit the cuffs.

At least 8  inches were completely unnecessary – even for my monkey arms.

tealcardigan-sleeve

But the damn thing had cut/serged seams, so I was only left with short lengths of yarn – great to nearly invisibly repair the other various holes and moth nibbles, but not great for knitting for length.

tealcardigan-cuff-after

So I knit them in some dark charcoal wool and have paused to see if I like them as-is…

The bottom of the sleeve doesn’t poof quite as badly as it appears – some of the original cuff is still folded back inside – but I may end up narrowing them a bit. I may also knit the cuffs longer so they fold over. I might add an icord trim around the front so I can move the buttons over 1/2 inch to eek out a bit more width and add a decorative element. I might knit a shawl collar. I might take the short teal yarns and splice them all together and re-knit the cuffs. I might entirely re-knit the sleeves in charcoal. I might open up the side seams and add charcoal side stripes…

I have to admit I’m not feeling this one completely yet, but mostly because I’m still in need of another ass-clearing cardigan and this one stops short – I already used up my luck finding one of those a few years ago.

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One page of a field guide to handknit thrift store sweaters

Several years ago (it seems like a few, kinda like how 2005 was just 5 years ago) so maybe this was 2009? My extended family got together in the small Midwestern city we (sort of) used to call home. A couple of my cousins and I hit our old thrifting stomping grounds – vast warehouses of the discarded in near dead areas of a long dying city. I didn’t expect to find much – the wealth in my current eastern home is apparent in the quality of rejected goods in the thrifts around here – but I was pleasantly surprised to find a few good sweaters to frog and to wear as is out there.

thriftid-cable-cross

One of the sweaters was clearly hand-knit and somewhat vintage, but I couldn’t tell from when – the longish and leanish shape could have been 1960s, more likely ’70s, but slightly possibly ’90s – I had a similar cotton version from Pear Monarchy back in the day. But it was slightly fulled/felted so it was hard to say the precise shape and fit the original was meant to be. And the color was perfect – I’d been hemming and hawing about knitting a dark charcoal grey cardigan then, and my skills were just beginning to finally progress past garter stitch rectangles, but I was still intimidated by things that have to fit (and still am to some degree) so finding this cardigan was a jackpot – double or triple jackpot too since it was old and used but still usable, not to mention the fit was perfect – hip-bone clearing and no waist-shaping – roomy, but no bulky armpits and linebacker shoulders.

(And it has a mis-crossed cable you can only sort of see in a prominent spot on the front, so the maker either wore it proudly, or didn’t notice until after all the careful finishing and was sorely irritated and perhaps why it ended up at the thrift…?)

I wore it as a light jacket and/or office sweater for a few years, and have since mostly worn it indoors – it’s still in great shape but needs some attention to a few pilled areas and perhaps an aggressive blocking to try to eek out a bit more arm length – they look long enough, but don’t quite feel it – and I’m probably to blame for that – since it was already a bit felted, I likely washed it on delicate in the machine in the last apartment, and delicate it was not – so I think it shrunk a tiny bit more… The buttons had a way of falling off too – I seemed to remember taking them all off and reaming them out so they’d stop cutting the threads, but perhaps I thought about doing that and instead sewed them with heavier-duty thread? Either way, a few are missing – I think only one more since I acquired it, but I took the useless ones off the bitter end of the front and off the collar and sewed them on the body and no one is the wiser unless you’re awkwardly close enough to me to see the buttonholes – they never would have functioned buttoned all the way up to the tips of the collar though, or at least on my apparently thick neck.

But that’s also because it wasn’t meant to be buttoned all the way up –

thriftid-cover

I found the original pattern book while thrifting this summer!

I’m always on the lookout for vintage knitting patterns – I’m actively collecting older Minerva books for their loveliness rather than any intention to make a tiny-gauge fitted suit or flowing gown, but I like the fit of some garments from the ’60s and ’70s, so I snatch up those with the intention of possibly making something from them, or at least using them as a jumping off point.

This one caught my eye because I’ve been hemming and hawing still about making a heavily-cabled sweater – something fishermanish, but not to “Celtic” looking, something roomy but not baggy, something vintage-looking but not cropped or high-necked, and preferably something top-down and already written up so I don’t have to work it out, but so far, I haven’t quite found it… But this seemed on the right track – good length, slim but not fitted, armpits didn’t appear to go halfway down to the bellybutton, and there was a v-neck option – all good things to consider. But when I flipped it to the back cover, bam! My thrifted cardigan appeared!

thriftid-match

Bucilla Arans, volume 59, 1982.

I’d made a half-hearted attempt to find the pattern over the years – I figured if it fit and has held up well for at least 30+ years it would be worth repeating, but nothing ever came up in ravelry and I figured it was from the 1970sish, I have a helluva time finding it since so many millions patterns exist from then.

It was once sold for $3.00, then on final sale for $ .50 at Hess’s department store (based out of Allentown, PA, but with a chain of stores in the East). And I was off on the date – 1982 – but many commercial knitting patterns seem to lag a year or few behind, so it does fit the slimmer 1970s silhouette rather than the burgeoning boxy or big-sack one of the 1980s – and the interior patterns must be worn with feathered hair. But it could have been knitted fairly recently after all? Perhaps it was made in the 1990s? (Or even the early aughts?) I certainly have 10-year-old patterns I still intend to make, and perhaps will a decade and a half or more after their publication…

My sweater has reinforced button bands and the bottom ribbing is folded up and stitched on the inside – perhaps to reinforce the bottom hem, or it flared or otherwise misbehaved- both pattern modifications I’ll keep if I ever make it. The upper arms are still slightly wide for my taste – not too terribly, but the felting probably helped them a bit, so I’d take them in a bit. And I have a complicated relationship with bobbles – I like them, but I don’t love making them, or that many.

But maybe I’ll just enjoy my sweater and sell the pattern book and get on with other things…

 

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