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Small and easy status report

I still haven’t settled on the next new big knitting project, though vests and ponchos and cabled sweaters are in the queue – part of it is my insistence on finishing up a sweater that I’ve procrastinated on for months, but most of it is that I don’t have, or don’t know when I’ll have some good chunks of daylight knitting time to get over the humps of understanding and executing a new-to-me pattern’s fiddly bits.

A new Rosa’s Caponcho was on my needles for a couple of evenings, but the yarn didn’t have enough drape – I think – I may put on another row or two before frogging it, but I’m pretty sure I want to start it again with some as-yet-to-be-spun yarn, or unraveled stuff (or yet-to-be-unraveled stuff). There are a few things in the stash that might be good as well, but the one with the best drape seems pretty sheddy and light colored, so that would probably be a mistake in the end…

So I’ve been putting rows on the small and easy traveling projects while at home here and there instead.

An eight-hour flight delay turned the mesh test scarf into a thing that is now the circumference of my neck.

I’m not sure if this was the best mesh pattern to use – I wanted one with character that stretched and retreated, but I keep seeing other patterns that I wished I’d started that are a more stationary fishnet, but whatever, this one doesn’t have any p3togs or other awkward-for-me maneuvers. However it’s not great for bleary eyes – I managed to catch most of my mistakes, but one made it through so far, and the slick and variegated yarn will make repairs at the end a bit more difficult. And lifelines might be a good idea – I’m too cocky/lazy to do them lately, and I’ve tinked back without drama several times on this one since it’s only a 2 row repeat, but I might be pressing my luck….

I thought I hated mesh – several years ago I slogged through a Midwest Moonlight scarf and it’s been the only knit that I remember actively hating the entire time – I kept being plagued by one dropped or accidentally knitted together stitch, and wouldn’t immediately realize that the whole thing was thrown off until a row or two later. But lifelines saved me in the end, and this was probably the last project I did on straight needles, so I was still figuring shit out.

I still wear it too – the yarn is cotton and wool, so it also sucked to knit for that reason too, but it’s good to wear in the shoulder seasons. And I’d recommend the pattern – it’s very easy, though if I had to do it again, I’d go with a bulkier/chunkier yarn so I wouldn’t have to keep at it as long.

And I have been re-evaluating the rectangular scarf lately – I swore them off for knitting, I don’t wear them as much as my side-to-side triangles, but I what, miss them? They seem to have fallen out of favor, but I’ve been looking at them again. I used to have a fairly intense yoga practice and the instructors were always repeating that the positions you hate now might be the ones you love later. Though I never learned to love the ones that always made my toes pop out of joint, I do feel that I’ve come around to mesh (especially after this) and back to rectangular scarves in a similar way.

And socks, how could I have been so lukewarm about socks a few weeks ago?

When it officially becomes a sock. #sockknitting #socks #sockyarn #foot #dpns

A post shared by astitchmatism (@astitchmatism) on

I love socks.

I do kinda sorta have enough, but fuck it, I should always have a sock on the needles. It’s comfort knitting- it’s mostly brainless, somewhat sightless, and something comes of it relatively quickly, though I have no issue with a pair taking a year or more if only knit on occasionally.

So socks=no stress.

And last, that orange cream cashmere tube…

No new pictures because it is the same only a few inches longer. It’s a blast to knit in an endless meditative spiral slide kind of way-

weeeeeeeee around and around we go…

But suddenly I wanted more pattern.

I also remembered I wanted to make a big mosaic tube, but then I remembered I wanted simple, and while my memories duke it out, that one is sidelined now. (I could mix it up with various patterns, but I’d have to jigger the stitch counts and the stranding or slipping would probably be tighter than the striping, and I wanted something simple and nondescript, right…?)

So perhaps I’ll have some socks by the year’s end, instead of next like I’d originally thought, and hopefully I’ll have that silky mesh thing for spring (unless the long rectangle becomes beastly again…)

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Here but away

The blog is on a brief hiatus – the garden needs, doubled-up work hours, beach days, birthdays, less screen time, and dental work is leaving me hungry and bitchy at the moment instead – but instagram is still happening a bit…

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For the time being…

The computer has gone tits up and writing on a tablet is not for me, though phone typing is even more horrendous. Perhaps I’Lloyd be up and running again soon, and oh Lloyd why the hell are you autocorrect for I’ll…?

So in the meantime, I’ll be fiddlyfucking around on instagram – astitchmatism there too…

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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…

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On getting rid of things, part III – thinking more than doing

tiny car

I’m suffering from a self-diagnosed bout of tendonitis.

That marathon session of curtain hemming, followed by countless hours of weeding the garden, some mad hex sewing sessions, some warm-up spinning for the tour de fleece, then knitting with cotton, and finally holding a paint cup in my taloned index finger and thumb for hours on end while painting the basement made some niggling occasional tweaks turn into a sizzling iron inserted into the flesh of my left forearm and wrist.

I haven’t touched needles of any kind for weeks, even my new little shorties, and this year’s tour de fleece is crawling at a snail’s pace as I’m learning to spin with my opposite hand and for just a few minutes here and there as to not damage that one too.

PRS-treescum1

So I’m back to sorting through my unpacked boxes of shit and book collection that I thought was already heavily culled…

My nostalgia problems and issues of practicality aside, how did I end up with so much?

And do I really have that much – certainly less than many Americans, but much, much more than most of the rest of the world…?

Most of it can be blamed on art, and if I take that which I describe as “materials” away, I’m left with a few small collections of old or odd things, a semi-reasonable amount of books for my field, and a variety of tools and gear that are used enough to justify.

I’ve been watching a few hoarding shows, and find them fairly distasteful/exploitative/I-don’t-know-what-it-is-but-I-know-it-when-I-see-it and have only identified with just a few of the folks – the kind that scavenge for re-sale or art – the rest with their excrement-soaked abodes are in a sad, much different sort of way. And I’ve also been reading some sites on downsizing and living in small houses.

I don’t understand why many of us have trouble getting rid of things.

I don’t understand the self-help guides and formulas – things that tell you to only wear a few things for a few months, then get rid of what you don’t (not taking into consideration that having too many pairs of socks means you don’t have to shop for socks for years); or get rid of a number of things according to the day of the month (i.e. get rid of 15 things on July 15) and then the people who publicly post their progress and count throwing the junk mail into the recycling as one of the things – or even worse multiple things – when it isn’t getting to the heart of the matter unless your problem is hoarding junk mail or expired foodstuffs or that terrible-smelling product you accidentally bought.

And why must our things thrill us or make our hearts sing in order to keep them?

(A drill isn’t thrilling unless you’re into something kinky, and if I heard my heart sing, I’d probably shut it up with the drill).

Why do we have to be supported or told how to do this as if we are terrible little children or untrustworthy junkies, or cling to others for approval and praise, or subscribe to a bullshit view of things (and life in general) as precious when none of us or anything is special?

Each and every one of us is merely a bag of bones and meat and our stuff rots away along with us.

And why am I even thinking about this out loud here, publicly declaring my own difficulty obtaining a more minimal life while criticizing others who seek out some form of help?

I saw a reference the other day about someone who was downsizing to a more modest 2,200 square foot house. I wouldn’t have considered modest and over 2,000 square feet in the same breath unless you had a family of ten or more.

I once knew a woman who lived out of three suitcases, and just bought a new bed, table, and one chair whenever she moved.  I was slightly jealous, but then she spent more and more time at my apartment, mooching off my atmosphere of live-in cabinet of curiosities until she seemed drunk with gee gaws.

I find myself looking at tiny houses and gleefully make fun of those earnest folks who believe they’re living the dream while fighting to breathe from cooking smells, the loft bed being 2 feet from the hot ceiling, farts, and the composting toilet.

(Don’t get me wrong, I’d love a tiny house on a trailer to park in the woods or the beach for a holiday or a private space for guests when at home.)

But those folks don’t get it – living minimally and simplistically doesn’t mean leaving a footprint – even a tiny one. We can be simple without as much as a single birch bark vase in an apartment or house already built, and work on making it far more efficient or entirely off the grid so that when that body beneath the vintage plaid shirt becomes dust, the next person who needs to live in a house will do so more efficiently. I imagine that tiny house will just be driven off a cliff or bulldozed by a municipality or turned into a suburban playhouse before long…

But perhaps again, I’m a tiny bit jealous.

So I’m striving for simple but not sterile, practical and affordable, homey but not belongs-in-a-home, relationship with my stuff…

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In like a lion or, a fox…?

March arrived with a couple of little back to back icy storms, but it held the promise of a thaw…

blue-fox

And then we had a satisfying morning watching the neighborhood fox hunt (unsuccessfully) in the yard…

blue-shovel

Followed shortly thereafter by more f*cking snow.

So it’s back to the wintertime blues.

Quite literally – I realized much of what I’ve been working on lately is blue, which is a little odd for me…

blue-sperry

Like this Sperry sweater (I’m a little afraid it doesn’t have as much ease as I’d like, but I’m not quite far enough along to know for sure…)

blue-velvet

And this scrappy little quilt made from clothes that were both mine and not that’s much farther along than this now…

blue-stole

And finally, this big “old shale” stole out of recycled yarn.  I wanted to restock my etsy shop with some handknits like this, but I think etsy has gotten too evil for me – do you have a suggestion for a new marketplace site to use for handmade goodies?

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What I know or thought I did but still don’t

 bowbanister

I’m wrapping up the worst of the house, meaning almost all of the walls and ceilings are repaired and painted, and floors refinished painstakingly by hand.

I am an experienced fixer-upper, but I still don’t understand the darkest secrets in the universe of home improvement.

Such as:

I never could predict just how much hard wax oil I needed to use per floor, and ended up paying in shipping small cans what would have cost for the large can.

The smallest room used the most paint.

grey walls

Despite its trendiness, I like yellow and grey.  And that yellow door is the living room color – the living room is the largest room, yet took the least amount of paint…

And we still haven’t figured out which room is for what – this room will probably be N’s office, though it may be my “studio” but it is a really tight space – the other wall is pretty much the right margin of the pic – but it has the best natural light.

We did end up covering the knotty pine paneling in one of the rooms, and the room is much better for it, though it will stay in the living room for now.

green walls

And though I’ve previously held an unyielding “choose paint colors for the middle of an ungodly dreary winter” stance (meaning only warm tones on all walls) I went outside of my comfort zone and painted cooler hues in these last few rooms and I really like them.  The color of the smallest room, above with the yellow door, even has the terribly depressing name of “November rain.”  But I would prefer rain in November to some icy slop.

Every time I sand wall patches or floors, despite how well I meticulously seal up the room, I’m blown away about how much dust still escapes and ends up in rooms on the opposite side of the house.

Dusty wheel

 And I hate the fact that I now have to do a thorough furniture-moving, rug-lifting deep clean because I just did that, and everything is fresh and new but now looks like dusty hell.

What is left?

A full-bathroom re-do (more thoughts on that soon) that will either be a placeholder just-work-with-what-we-have-and-slap-several-coats-of-paint-on-everything for now, or a reexamination of the budget to see if we can contract some of the work out – it’s not a major job, but the floor is the worst part of that room and it’s a major pain in the ass.

Improving the “finished” basement that really isn’t.  It needs a floor and a new/improved ceiling* and is ripe with the shit version of paneling which we will likely paint, but again, the budget and our energy levels will play a huge role in its outcome.

It’s got some snazzy vintage fixtures though.

basement light

(And  sadly, I don’t think those are our fingerprints and dust – we haven’t touched the things…)

Improving the yard – we need a bigger garden with better deer fencing and possibly pooch fencing, and some attempts at landscaping.

And then 89, 783, 2311+ weekend projects – tiling the kitchen backsplash, painting closet doors, stripping room doors, installing some thresholds, touching up paint, touching up paint, oh, and touching up paint, building shelving, insulating random little places, hemming more curtains, etc., etc., etc…

etc., etc., etc….

curtains

(And maybe I should add ironing curtains to the list too…)

*Anyone have ideas for improving a drop ceiling on the cheap?  It’s got those large rectangular panels, so I can’t just replace them with something interesting like record sleeves… cover with fabric or textured paper?  Paint?  The current panels are stained Styrofoam and I don’t know what stained them or continues to stain them, I want to get rid of them but hate to toss them in a landfill, and the new ones are only marginally better and more than I want to spend…

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