Tag Archives: clothing

Work it!

I say I don’t really care about clothes, yet so much of my fiber time is spent on things to go on my body, and I poke around ravelry and blogs from people making nothing but clothing, so perhaps it is more that I don’t give a damn about fashion, but I am interested in what covers my hide – especially plant and animal fuzz in variations not found off the rack.

During our last couple of moves I got rid of nearly all of my warmer weather work-work clothes – most were looking a bit shabby, many never fit well or as comfortably as I’d have liked, and the rest were useless for working from home. I kept a couple of things for the rare warm weather meeting or conference, but the majority of work events in my then field took place in colder times or colder cities so my uniform of thrift store cashmere sweaters and woolen trousers or skirts was vast and has endured. The rest of my current duds were best for actual work (gardening or home improvement), hiking and other outdoor pursuits, or a few “nice” pairs of yoga pants and jeans for running to the grocery.

But…

I finally landed a new job – albeit part-time and temporary, but enough to keep my head above water until I figure out what comes next – but I had exactly two warm-weather work-work appropriate outfits for three days a week, and the late summer heat has kept them sweaty and in the wash.

work-thrift-shirts

So I raided my fabric stash for new clothes to sew (still haven’t made anything yet*), my thrifted clothes in the fabric stash for things I could actually wear now instead of cutting them up for quilts and whatnot (a few shirts are good to go, and another few could be altered), and my current clothes that needed to be mended or improved.

work-thrift-pants

A pair of old pants with newly cleaned-up hems failed to make the cut – and I’m thinking about undoing them to go back to their pleasant shreddiness, but my time would be vastly better spent doing other things, right? And there’s a small hole in the butt that will probably send them into the gardening/home improvement only category soon anyway.

And linen, once well worn and oh-so-soft and floppy (especially if purchased used to begin with) needs to stay in the hammock or beach.

But now two other pairs of pants have that annoying interior button again (that sometimes causes me to forget to zip my fly since I’ve already just dealt with two fastenings) but prevents wardrobe malfunction and helps the button band to lay flat. And a cardigan has a top button again after a few wonderful hours spent in my button stash (that were entirely for naught since I found the perfect matching spare button still attached to the inside hem).

And I rescued a few of my old blouses for more practicality (rather than just being worn under sweaters) by sewing the button band closed so it wouldn’t gape open – this is something I should have done to several of them even before I had increasing fit issues. And depending on the shirt and/or the temperature and humidity outside, I can’t bear to wear a tank top underneath otherwise, so this was an excellent fix.

work-closed-blouse

I stitched both sides of the button placket closed, with the inside one in doubled thread and ugly but sturdy stitches, and the outside one in more delicate single thread stitches so they wouldn’t show and the edge wouldn’t crumple inward.

work-it-closed-shirt

(And now I can retire a few safety pins too…)

But in the end, I also went shopping – for a few new things, not used.

And I bought several items for cheap made with dubious fiber blends, made in dubious ways (though a few things were made in USA with “imported” fiber) and I feel bad – but only sort of – I haven’t the time or the money or the wherewithal to make meaningful choices at this point. But now I have enough to tide me over into my old, mostly used, but still in good condition cold weather clothes.

Now that I’m properly clothed, I just have to figure out how not to catch every aerosolized germ from being among other humans in a cube farm again…

*There’s just enough air-conditioning to thwart my plans for some easy cotton skits and dresses, but I’ve got a courdoroy-ish skirt that I started years ago and would like to finish now, and a reason to finally figure out how to use my buttonholer.

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Filed under collecting, recycling, sewing, thrifting, unemployment

The [once] ubiquitous roll neck sweater

I found my old XL charcoal roll neck sweater about a month ago.*

rollneck-neck

I got it for Christmas in the very late 1980s or early 1990s and wore it and wore it and wore it.

I wore it with leggings, I wore it with baggy army surplus pants, I wore it with the 1990s version of skinny jeans but the waists were still too high so they were really tight black mom jeans, and I wore it with long skirts and Docs.

A college boyfriend “borrowed” it for awhile until I had to “steal” it back.

I was pissed when I smeared a bit of PC-17 on it in a sculpture class (a bit of crust of it still remains, though I’ve no idea of what happened to that sculpture).

It was the only sweater I packed to study in Italy.

I wore it on an overnight train to Oktoberfest (a dumbass American move on my part – I got confused with the 24-hour time table and missed my original train with my fellow students) but I partied with a fun group of newly-made Italian friends in my compartment, drinking most of the night, and shoving the sweater under my head for an hour of sleep after watching the Alps at dawn.

I wore it when I worked in a doomed-to-fail gallery during long hours hovering in the drafty front entrance in wintertime. (It closed after I quit).

I wore it wandering in the woods near the former family home.

And I occasionally wore in grad school during night classes.

I mostly stopped wearing it in public by the end of the century, but still threw it on at home.  It’s got a few crudely patched spots and a few more that need to be sewn up – victims, I think, of a long ago moth attack, and some encounters with brambles and rusty nails.

One spring in the mid to late oughts, I packed it away with other non-public woolens, and never unpacked its particular bag until now.  It also has a brown sibling – one I was slightly wiser in ordering a large instead of XL, and I wore it fairly often, but mostly saved it for “good” – but I couldn’t tuck my knees under it as comfortably, so it never gained household status.

rollneck

When I was triumphantly lounging about in it again, N thought that it was his – party because I always sneak his wooly discards out of the charity bin – and he’s still eyeing it with skepticism and perhaps a little jealousy, but I can identify every mark on its wooly corpse and prove without a doubt – and with the help of many photographs – that it is, in fact, mine.

I look for them in thrift stores to unravel since I know the yarn is sturdy stuff (with the exception of a newer lighter grey one my mom had that shed great clumps of darker dingleberries and felted a  bit) but I recently saw the “vintage” ones going for a decent amount on ebay.  It’s odd to think of things I owned as an adult, or near-adult now deemed vintage, but it had to happen sooner or later…

My first sweater knitting project was almost a roll neck, but the years since the 1990s were then too few, and I abandoned it.  But now I’m seeing a few recent patterns with the neck and the bagginess and they feel familiar and friendly.  I’m also always attracted to simple top-down stockinette patterns that show off handspun and don’t have much fuss with construction or shaping, so I may knit one in the near future, just not one with armpits that hit my waist and a body large enough in which to tuck all of my body.

So now I’ll see if my decent old brown one will fetch a decent amount of some much-needed cash, as well as any older thrifted ones I have or will find, and save only the holiest of the old ones to unravel.

My baggy, poorly patched, crusty, old charcoal sweater isn’t going anywhere though – you hear that N?

*Need I say it’s the brand with the oarsman?

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Filed under art school, collecting, home

Doin’ the but… tin…

I had to save my biggest and best tin for a post of its own.

But-tin closedI first saw this tin in a photographic negative I was cataloging in my old job.  The tin was on the counter in someone’s kitchen in the 1940s.  I read the writing through a tiny loupe and was aghast at the boasts of “scientifically processed” and claims of healthy hydrogenated vegetable shortening!  And what is that graphic?  A woman on a scale inferring that potato chips were diet food?  Hells yeah!  I love potato chips, though they’ve done nothing for my figure, unless of course I eat enough to cause severe anal leakage, but I’m a snob for the olive oil chips anyway.  I started seeing this tin in antique/junk stores but they were often rusty, or the lid didn’t easily come off, or were just too damn overpriced.  Generally, if I want something that isn’t really needed, I wait for serendipity to take over or to lose interest in it.  However, after a year of looking for this in the right condition for the right price, I broke down and found one on Ebay, so it all worked out.  Maybe serendipity is just an online market.

But in my quest for simplicity and curing former impulses and diseases of the hoarding of neat sh*t variety, I have a general rule for visiting antique/junk shops – buy nothing bigger than what would fit into my hand.*  In theory I like some kinds old jewelry so that could be allowable, but I’ve never actually bought any old jewelry and it is usually more than I want to spend.  I have more tchotzkies than years left in my statistical lifespan, so I generally resist the cute/weird but useless item.  And I have nearly a zero interest level in military, presidential, I-am-man-and-hear-me-roar (or just destroy your lives and countries) artifacts, so old bullets, campaign buttons, coins, pins for distinctions, etc. don’t get the slightest glance from me.

But what else is little and can be extremely practical, and thus 100% approved?

Let’s open that giant tin, shall we?

But-tin openOh yeah, hells yeah, buttons!

I buy buttons that I think will look good on knits I’ve never knitted (nor will).

I buy buttons that I think I can re-sell for decent money (though I haven’t yet).

I buy buttons to replace those already on my clothes (which I’ve done once).

I buy buttons to use in my “crafts” (I do this occasionally with singles, but would never break up a set).

I buy buttons to repurpose them as jewelry (though not to make country button necklace shittery).

I buy buttons to one day feed my burning desire to amass them in a giant heap and then catalog them one by one.

But-tin cardAnd I buy buttons because some are nearly art and quite frame-able or worthy of display on their own.

(I didn’t tear off that one button in the upper left, it came that way)

But-tin jarI’ve had to start a new jar nearly the same size as the tin for the buttons I remove and save from clothing I cut up and turn into other things.

(And yes, I do have another boxful of buttons that you don’t get to see).

*I’ve got some big paws, so my fingers can really wrap a decent-sized find, and I do break this rule constantly if I find things that are fiber-oriented and thus can be considered a business, art, or research expense (but really, I can only kid myself so far…)

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Filed under collecting, home decor, knitting, recycling, sewing, thrifting