Category Archives: thrifting

Path of totality

I can’t stop repeating that in my head – it sounds like a threat, an end game, a complete takeover – but also a great summation and completion of fragmented parts – it is frightening and reassuring. And I know it’s just the term for the visible swath of an eclipse. But it’s a shitstorm out there and it has been for some time, and we keep breeding and uneducating shitcloud seeders, and there will always be a changeable swath of stupidity and a great joining together to make that path more narrow or wide.

I started this knit this time a year ago – we were on a vacation made stressful by either my still jobless status or anxiety over starting a new one, recently taking on a reactive dog, my foot-dragging acceptance of a body that now hurts more often than not, and the election that seemed far off and the candidate who got inaugurated seemed enough of a joke that even the most dense should get, but I still felt uneasy and dubious it would work out in the end. I grew up in a town with a population of more ignorant folks than not. Folks who hid behind religion and “tradition” and practiced tokenism to prove that they weren’t “bad” people, but folks who also tolerated klansmen as neighbors. None of my family lives in that town anymore and few live in the state – we did what we could when we were there, but the path of totality of intolerance was too scorched and wide.

I’m erroneously remembering that this pattern, Isabell Kramer’s Paris Toujours, was designed in response, or as a memorial to (one of) the Paris attacks. But it looks like it was commemorating a happy weekend (maybe there was a knit-along with this after the attack instead?) Either way, I knit it because it was easy and side to side – just the way I like to make and wear scarf/shawls – I’d clearly confused the designer’s intent and blurred yet another violent act of many so I can’t say I knit this as a statement against ignorance. But this kind of knitting feels like my own little path of totality to keep my fingers calmly and constructively moving through another year of shit, coming out at the other end with something soft and warm – and I won’t say safe, since there are no “safe places,” and let’s face it, a scarf could be quite deadly as a garrote, or a gag, or bindings in the middle of nowhere without access to food and drink (though it would make it at least a cozy slow death).

I was a little surprised that I finished it by my secret deadline, and by the end of the summer. I’d started it in the mountains and planned to work on it in another set of mountains later this year, but I’ll likely be wearing it there instead – it’s already my new favorite even in the muggy dog days.

The yarn was from a thrifted JCrew cardigan, slightly felted, in a wool, cashmere, viscose, and rabbit (I’m assuming angora) blend – and it is mad soft and not at all sneezy, with great drape and enough definition.

I would have liked it to be a bit larger – I was hoping that the last band of garter would be twice as wide as the one before it, and I lost yarn chicken twice at the end and had to unknit a couple of times, but it is large enough.

A couple of heads up about the pattern that are obvious for those in the know, but need to be stated for those who aren’t (me), especially if you deviate from the stripe sequence like I did. The stitch counts will be off unless each section is done in even numbers of the pattern repeat, so after the set up, if you want to keep doing lace, then start with row 3 of the lace pattern. I was often off with this, randomly ending up with 2 (as per pattern) or 3 stitches at the end. It didn’t really matter to me since fudge is good to do and to eat, but I kinda preferred ending in 3 stitches – if I did it again, I’d keep up with the 3 (or more) stitches at the end of the lace since a tiny bit more of garter makes the edge a little more stable. And then I can’t really describe this but the first row of garter after the lace makes a row of stockinette, so the lace sections aren’t symmetrical – again, it didn’t bother me enough to figure out how to fix it (a row of purl somehow?) but I think it could make some itchy.

This (or rather another loose variation thereof) will likely be on my needles again. And I’ve got my eye out for another one of these sweaters – wondering if it came in other colors – not that I don’t love this olive though, it’s among of my favorites. And this finishing up older projects thing has been working for me these days although everything that is left is vastly more complicated – but my path of unfinished totality is pleasantly closing in…

 

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under knitting, recycling, thrifting, unemployment

Ahoy, more scraps!

These days are busy.

The blizzard (was that just last week?) got things off track a bit.

I’ve been selling off a lot of my old stuff online – both vintage old and cool – and my old still-usable discards. It’s kind of a drag, but more is leaving the house than is coming in, and I’ve got a little more cash. It’s weird though, the more recent stuff is selling better than the vintage things – kinda sad.

Another thing that is slightly sad is the craft supply thrift store place in my town closed down – I learned just a day after they’d had the last weekend clear-out sale too. I certainly didn’t help keep them in business – I think I spent $18 there once, but mostly it was about $6 every couple of months on a wad of fabric scraps and old sewing notions.

I didn’t get this there, but it was the kind of thing I’d find – a bag full of someone’s potential quilt pieces, or quilt scraps.

I found this at one of our regular antique mall in the sticks haunts – a gallon sized bag of a decent stack of pieces/scraps.

The fabric could date to WWII, or maybe a bit later, but probably not much into the ’60s? I’m not sure, but it “feels” ’40s to me.

Some days I think they’re the negative space pieces cut away from something else.

Some days I think the two curved pieces are an undersized sail and jib for the striped boat.

Some days I think about selling them.

What little swelling of patriotism I’ve ever had is utterly deflated now, so the mere juxtaposition of red, white, and blue makes me shudder.

But I “feel” that they’re older and their other pieces were lovingly made to comfort someone going away, or being welcomed home, or for a baby who might never meet its father (or less possibly, mother). Or maybe these are the pieces and the project was futile – the person never came home?

Perhaps the next step is to search for WWII era patchwork patterns and see if something makes sense.

Or just sell them.

Probably for a least a little more than $2.50.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under collecting, sewing, thrifting

Failures and fluff

I still haven’t gotten the hand-cranked Singer up to speed – I was waiting to order more cleaning/greasing supplies (and the blasted always forgotten spool pin) until I knew I didn’t need anything else…

Because another sewing machine came home with me.

This one just followed me home… #vintagesewingmachine #singersewingmachine #sewingmachine #ihavetoomanysewingmachines

A post shared by astitchmatism (@astitchmatism) on

There was a label on it that read: “works, needs new belt.”

I cleaned the case and the machine, picked out the motor belt and other belt that I thought I might need, and just before I placed my order, I figured I should plug it in…

The light works, the motor is blown.

But whatever – it was only $12, I didn’t need it, (and why didn’t I test it at the store like I usually do?) but I have it now, and perhaps I’ll try to replace the motor, or perhaps I’ll take it right back to ReStore – only with proper identification of its faults this time.  It’s also a bit young for my machine tastes, but it is the next version of my mom’s sewing machine, and it’s got a zigzag (I just have one machine that can do that now), and it actually dates to around the years of me, so there’s a bit of a nostalgia thing going – if I get it back up and running, perhaps I can go whole-hog authentic on my ’70s quilt (that I haven’t started yet).

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

In a moment of frustration and brain failure a few weeks ago, I took a break to make a cheery pompom.

Absolutely failed pompom; pompom, eviscerated #craftfail #pompom #ithoughtiknewwhatiwasdoing #yarn #recycledyarn

A post shared by astitchmatism (@astitchmatism) on

I thought I knew how to make pompoms, but like the sewing machine, some shit from the 70s doesn’t work anymore…

I’m not enamored/charmed/giggleful with them, and I certainly didn’t embrace their bombastic return a few years ago, but I have some thoughts on their usefulness now that may or may not come to fruition.

And I wouldn’t mind topping a hat with one, once in a while…

Unfashionably late to the pom pom party… #pompom #wool #recycledyarn #shadows

A post shared by astitchmatism (@astitchmatism) on

But a second try (and a video) brought success.

Now I just need to control myself from trimming them down to nothing…

2 Comments

Filed under collecting, recycling, sewing, thrifting

One from the scrap heap

I need to lighten my stash, I’ve been wanting to start some scrappy projects, and I needed a gift, so once again my mother will soon be the recipient of a project that might go very wrong, but I’ll still finish it and give it to her (like this hat).

scrapheap

On the heap are several unraveled thrift sweaters including a few that had [abandoned] intentions of becoming pussyhats, one or two from last spring or early summer, a never-ending cone of (I suspect, but I still haven’t tested) faux or partially faux, mohair – fauxhair? from the Cascine market in Firenze several years ago…

boot-redo-firenze

…a few balls of wool from the big box craft store that I got on the cheap nearly, or over, a decade ago to make into felted bags (I still haven’t put the handles on a couple I made around that time, but I do see myself eventually making more, so it’s not urgent I use it all up), the last bit of my kool-aid dyed yarn, and finally, and possibly regretfully, some novelty yarns – yes, a “fur”(must be under the other stuff in the pic) and some metallics. I kinda sorta like metallic yarns – if mixed well enough with wool, they feel okay and fancy up a handknit – I wear this batkus with a tiny silver thread that never shows up in photos at least once a week:

baktus3-restaurant

And recently unraveled this one…

Sweater parts waiting to get their kink on… #yarn #recycledyarn #thriftstoreclothes #unraveling #withsparkles

A post shared by astitchmatism (@astitchmatism) on

…but I’m not so sure about gold since I don’t wear it, and I should put it in this project, but it’s just enough to make a shawl-thing on its own, so I don’t want to shortchange it. But I think I got a few balls of metallic yarns with the intention of making some knitted jewelry – ropey lariat things – but the coppery one seen above and below is fairly thick and unpleasant on its own, and most times I’d rather have a scarf, so that is no longer an intended project…

But for a long time I’ve been wanting to make some grand, chaotic, scraptacular feather & fan/old shale shawls.

A perimenopausal aesthetic has taken over and I want more drama in my knits.

I took a baby step toward this with this shawl from a few years ago that I thought I was going to sell, but have kept to use while being utterly stationary at the computer.

spring-shug or shawl

It’s made up of two sweaters – one was a blue Shetland thrifted one, and the other (I wore in the ’90s) was an Italian multicolored mohair mix that I doubled, and that was a mistake – I ran out of it before I got the length I wanted. But it’s wide, and some days I think of making a dramatic shrug out of it, or just adding more length with the blue wool, but it functions well enough for what I use it for, so best leave well enough alone.

But my mom needed a more practical scarf and I needed to finish it in a reasonable amount of time, so I’m going sideways on big, but not too large, needles with nearly all garter stitch except for a wavy-making row every 4 or so.

It now has the fun fur and hot pink silk from an ’80s skirt and it’s drunkenly teetering on the line of fuglytown…

…so it’s time for more metallics and even louder colors, right?

 

2 Comments

Filed under collecting, knitting, recycling, thrifting, travel

Something about color shifting…

I’ve been away.

And my computer is still dying and/or I haven’t figured out what is wrong with it, but most likely it’s dying.

I finished that gradient spin – kept it as a single and fulled/felted it.

color-change-spin

(The color is more accurate in the linked post.)

I was thinking of knitting it up as a superhero cape to get through my trumpdisgust but I’m still not in love with the colors, though there is enough blaze orange for something to be worn in the woods during hunting season (but I don’t usually wear handknit shawl/scarf things in the woods due to snagage) but maybe something sorta tacky/vintage in a feather and fan/old shale…?

And I found a vintage cardigan at the thrift store earlier in the autumn that I thought my brother would like.

color-change-green

Even the clerk commented on its blinding lime…

color-change-brown

But when I got it in natural light, it was excrement colored mustard and brown.

At some point I had something to say about sneaky color changing and artificial light – I’ve purchased more than one set of lovely pale sage green sheets only to find that they’re nicotine-stain yellow in the daytime bedroom – and worry about the color lies being fed to our brains, but that rant is somewhere behind.

And I need to buy more lamps.

 

2 Comments

Filed under spinning, thrifting

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under collecting, knitting, recycling, thrifting

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…

 

Leave a comment

Filed under collecting, knitting, thrifting