Tag Archives: fashion

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

Trend cringe…

I don’t follow trends in fashion or home decor or electronics or cars or diets or, or, or…

And I don’t usually like what is trendy anyway.

I like certain colors and color combinations and sometimes they pop in and out of popularity, but never has the popularity merged with my need to buy.

I bought a huge wool rug for a song in 2007ish – normally I don’t go for stuff that looks like it came from stores like Ceramics Shed or Box and Bucket, but I like yellows and greys and greens and browns and of course wool, so I got it for our then large green and yellow dining room.  But now it fits best in our living room, with brown furniture and soon-to-be yellow* walls.  But we need curtains, and we need really wide curtains, so making them seemed like the likely option, so I ordered some fabric samples.

yellow grey ikat

Then I went to the obnoxious store named for the thing at which you shoot arrows for something dumb and little and unavailable in our little town, and there were so many yellow and grey and ikat-like patterned things everywhere…

I don’t like that – I usually go against the tide – my home decor and self-presentation usually make people who follow trends cringe and look at me pitifully, and that’s the way it should be – I don’t like them, I don’t want to be like them.  My car is from the ’90s and isn’t an SUV, shopping is not a hobby, I hate big-box-made-in-china-inflated-prices-for-low-quality-sh*t-especially-things-called-designer-but-just-generally-suck, and I know that in itself makes me a stereotype and stuffed in another big bag of the same folks, but at least it’s smaller one – a biodegradable, non-bleached, organic, waxed paper one perhaps?

In the end, I found cheap linen curtains that will have to do for the meantime, so I just ordered a little of the ikat fabric for some pillows.

*Oh holy hell, I can’t find a good pale mustardy yellow paint!!!  They either look to lemon, or too grey, or too orange (I like orange, but the dining room is likely to be an orange variant) or shite under artificial light, or shite under natural light…

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Filed under home, home decor, sewing

Half-cool sweater weather

Earlier in the month, the days turned half-cool.  It was an awesome and welcome relief after the steamy summer inferno.

These are just a handful of days in the year when you can wrap a thin wool blanket over a silky chemise and comfortably drink coffee/tea on the porch (assuming you don’t have creepy neighbors).  Or don a fingering-weight wool sweater over a sundress when seated in the shade.  These kind of days are rare, yet so many knitwear designs are inexplicably styled and photographed this way.  I suppose other parts of the country and world have climates where these kind of days are more frequent – higher altitudes and northern coasts, but here in the Mid-Atlantic/East Coast and for the lower and middle parts of the states, it’s usually hellishly half-naked hot, or full bodily-coverage cold and only about three days of pleasantry on either end.*

I also think of it in terms of sock weather or not sock weather (or tights weather or bare legs weather).  And these rare comfortable days are also perfectly described in Toni Morrison’s Sula as “too cool for ice cream.”

The return of cooler evenings also stirs up a certain muscle-memory itchiness for the dozen and more years spent in school.  The summer is ending, freedom will go away, much needs to be crammed in before it’s all over – anxiety about unfinished novels, end to swimming days, late night bonfires, and playing in the creek; dread and depression of the impending virtual lock-down for most of the day, stupid classmates, stupid teachers, and stupid homework assignments**; and a slight glimmer of excitement since one more year is starting and it’s one more year closer to being done with the whole mess, a long-awaited class or teacher might finally be on the schedule, and perhaps it will be nice to see a classmate or crush again.  Here and now in my sh*tty apartment complex, some of the ne’re do well kids from the neighboring state are appearing again to attend the better schools on this side of the river, and the school buses are making their shortcuts in the parking lot that come maddeningly close to clipping my car.

Every year around this time I want to knit a thin sweater.  I own one cheap commercially (probably also unethically) made thin cardigan that I either wear for several days straight in a row or not at all during an autumn or spring.  I know a thin sweater could take me ages to knit too, or else I’ll get a bit obsessive about it and knock it out in a few weeks, but still couldn’t reasonably finish it until the next window of half cool days.

Half cool cardigan

I’ve queued the Featherweight Cardigan, paulie, and Autumnal Cardigan but none of these is quite what I’m after, though they’re all close.  I like the top-down construction of the paulie, (and I like this one as-is, just not for what I need at the moment) but with the drapey hang of the Featherweight or Autumnal, but none of these three patterns has the gauge I’d like to use.  I’ve got a few balls of Lion Brand Sock-Ease yarn in the stash that I got on the cheap and was saving for tights or a sweater.  I’d prefer to re-create the gold/saffron of my current sweater, but this “toffee” yarn will also work with what I usually wear with it.  Part of the reason I haven’t started this yet is the math needed to re-configure or create a new pattern from scratch – I am sorely lacking in math education and natural ability, so I rarely knit garments to fit because of this – especially since I need to modify most patterns to fit my weird body anyway (except something boxy I suppose).  So I prefer items I can try on as I go rather than having to work out everything on paper beforehand.

But I also haven’t started yet because at the moment I am soooo busy with portfolio pieces and will be for a few months more, although I’m absolutely dying for a side project, a distraction, mindless knitting…

And most importantly, it is hot again and thoughts of a thin sweater are mothballed.

My legs and feet are bare once again.

*I omitted air-conditioning.  I often need sweaters in air-conditioning, and interior environments often mimic half-cool weather.  Since I half-work from home now, I can control my own thermostat, and thus no longer need the air-conditioning sweater.  And in my previous gainfully employed life, I usually left the air-conditioning sweater in the office and rarely wore it outside, so it was more of a tool rather than a wardrobe component.

**I like school, school is good, but my primary school was bad, so stupid was a reality on all fronts.

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Filed under art school, knitting, unemployment

On color and vests

So I admit, I was whiny about my inability to get what I wanted with the redwood roving mix, but I keep thinking about color and I’m trying to understand it in terms of spinning.

vest

This is made from some of my earlier handspun yarn that I mixed myself and liked. Some will think of it as Pepto-B, bubble gum, and berry & orange sherbet barf, but I think of it as campfire embers.  This was also (in my mind at least) a success with taking a color I don’t really like (the pink) and mixing it up with others to tone it down.  I’ve got some strong and opposing feelings about certain colors – some pinks and yellows I abhor, some I love, some that I abhor I love on others, or love knowing that others love them.  This was also made up of souvenirs from nearly one coast to the other.  The burgundy and bright orange were some crappy batts seconds from a now forgotten booth at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival and some goldish-lavenderish roving came from there as well; the pink was a bag of dyed  Border Leicester locks from SuDan Farm at the Portland, OR farmer’s market.  We were in Portland during one September when it was being its characteristic grey and damp self, and the colors in the market happily screamed out:

portland toms

portland fiori

portland peps

The booth with the locks also screamed out to me since it was the only one I saw with wooly goodness and I was immediately on it like the fly on sh*t.  I first selected a bag of cheery bright yellow locks and then decided I wanted another to keep it company, but I’m not sure why I picked the pink – this particular pink falls into my category of not liking it, but glad it exists.  But I think at the time it was just showing off at the moment in super-saturated glory amidst the grey.  When I got home, it didn’t appeal to me so much, so I knew it would have to take second seat to some of my other more loved colors.  However, I wanted to retain the bright warm mood to turn it into a garment or accessory best worn on grey days which my old city had aplenty.  The yarn turned out to be pretty stiff and scratchy and felt most like baling twine, so it wasn’t going to be something I could wear next to my skin, but I didn’t have enough to make a sweater, so…. enter the vest.

This brings me to ranting territory, and by the way, the vest above is loosely based on the  East-Knit Vest in 5 Sizes pattern by Kathy North – but I improvised most of it, so don’t use mine as a reference for the pattern.  But, why are vests often inherently frumpy?  I wish to exclude the long flowing designer-y ones, those that are more practical as an outer-garment, and anything for men or children and just focus on the basic waist-ish length knitted vest for women.  There is almost no way that I can wear this and I don’t look like: a matronly frump, a homeschooler of the creepy variety, a media stereotype of a spinster in the making, an aging woman who still sleeps with teddy bears and a unicorn nightlight, someone who wears mom jeans, or someone who still wears what granny made in the ’70s even though she shouldn’t.  Part of the problem could be that it doesn’t suit my body shape* and the yarn is bulky and loud and attention-grabbing, but there is still this [nearly audible to others] underlying drumbeat of frumpity dump dump, frumpity dump dump, frumpity dump dump…** whenever I wear it.  I’m not particularly fashionable, I don’t give a damn how others judge the way I look, and I frequently wear a down vest, but I just can’t rock this one…  I still wear it though, occasionally.

*My vintage dress dummy is not me – she/it has impossibly high tits, though we do share the same approximate waist size.

**Phrase coined by my old [former, not elderly] co-worker and knitting friend F. W.!

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