Tag Archives: felted

$15 mistake; Middle-aged dreadlocks

I’ve gone to the last couple of fiber festivals with only $30 to spend on wool. This has actually been a blast rather than depressing because I take a penny candy approach to fiber and only buy an ounce or two of something here and there, and come home with a riot of color and new breeds to try out. If I’ve got a little extra cash after seeing all of the booths, I’ll go back for something in 4 ounces or so that caught my eye and spend my last $10-$15.

What caught my eye at the last NJ sheep festival was some Gotland – I had “gotten” some the previous year in a pale grey and loved spinning it. This was a darker chocolately grey – not too light, not too dark. I fondled some roving that was loose in a basket and asked if the breeder had more for sale.

gotland wad

I got it wound flat and sealed in a bag – it looked a bit odd to me, but I’m still a bit of a sheepy noob and figured it was just processed a bit differently…

But when I got home, it was what I feared – a felted mass.

It could have nearly been a sheepy collar as-is.

gotland collar

I’m not going to call out the breeder (who I spotted at Rhinebeck as well) because it was my fault for not inspecting  it before I bought it, and frankly, not exactly knowing what I was buying to begin with – perhaps this wasn’t really roving but woolen rope? Instant dreadlocks? A chair pad? When I asked for roving, the breeder thought I said, do you have a spiral of felted mess for sale?

So I ripped it apart and tugged it a bit to see if it could be salvageable into yarn.

(I didn’t want to leave it as felt – the point was to spin some more Gotland, and I wanted to get what I thought I got.)

gotland pile

The resulting “roving” was a limp yet stiff, lifeless mess.

So I tugged, and tugged, and tugged some more and managed to free a lock:

gotland staple

But I nearly freed some tendons and joints from their connective bits in the process, so it was not going to be worth it to try to completely free the fiber back into a softly spinnable state.

So I ran the whole shebang through the wheel to add a slight bit of twist to help round things out.

It was the fastest spinning I’ve ever done.

glotland yarn

After a nice long soak, it looked even more like dreadlocks.

gotland dreads

I had to try them on – playing with them took up more time than spinning them…

gotland ball

But now I’ve got a tad over 20 yards of mega bulky Gotland…

gotland spiral

And I might end up needle felting it into a chair pad after all…

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Filed under home decor, knitting, spinning

Save me January

It’s been a winter f*cking wonderland out there.

Winter-yard

I knew it was coming eventually, but I was feeling a little smug since it hadn’t happened here until a couple of weeks ago.

It’s not that I hate snow per se, it’s the immobility it causes.  Or like a bad pet, it’s not the beast itself at fault, but the owner.

Shovel your goddamn sidewalks!

I’m not doing well with the lack of light this year (I’m not sure I ever do, but this year feels like the worst ever) and I’m overjoyed with the arrival and passing of the winter solstice.

I’m not a fan of Christmas* either.

I’m just not into the religion, commercialism, consumerism, greedy children, gifts, worship of fat beardos (Santas, not you my bear friends), waste of materials and electricity, varieties of anxieties, bad music,  the pushing of the season to before Thanksgiving, and the food-sharing, traveling, and gathering of masses of breathing, snotting, vomiting bodies during the peak contagion period. But perhaps mostly because it is the deepest, darkest, dreariest time of year – and that is the reason people celebrate and I know worse winter weather is yet to come, but for me, the new year is what I’m excited for, and feel intense relief when it comes.  It signifies that the holidays are f*cking over, each day brings a few more seconds of light, and the anxieties and societal ho-ho-ho throat-cramming go away.

Winter-1970s

I sort of liked winter as a child.  However, I hated it as a very small child because of the tortures of plastic bread bags on my feet inside my boots and socks on my hands over my mittens.  I looked forward to Christmas, though my excitement was tempered with dread that it would all be over too soon, and a feeling of watching something beloved die.  In hindsight, my favorite day of the holiday season was St. Nick’s on December 6th when we woke to a few little presents in a sock – a tangerine, a couple of walnuts, a candy cane, and a little trinket like a flavored lip gloss or novelty eraser.  I loved the simplicity and the lack of anxiety surrounding the day and some connectedness with the past.  Didn’t the Little House on the Prairie girl savor only a nibble or two a day of her sole simple cookie gift?  Or one of those characters in one of those books…  Children can bizarrely identify with, and intensely feel, the grand sufferings of others – Anne Frank, dirt-farmer kids, sooty-city orphans – without ever having a moment of true sufferings themselves.  Or maybe it was just me and a f*cked-up upbringing in an old religion where suffering and self-martyrdom was supposed to be a good thing.  Either way, I still crave and appreciate the most simple aspects of the holiday – not much fuss and some citrus fruit.

candied citrus

And speaking of citrus and to break my no-cooking-in-the-blog-rule, I’ll share my candied peels.  They’re tasty but take a long time to make – mostly because of multiple blanchings to temper the bitterness and then the hour+ cooking time in simmering sugar water.  We needed some for a recipe but can’t find them in our suburban groceries – and if I did find them, I’m sure they’d be dyed and full of pesticides.  I used organic pink grapefruit, orange, and lemon, and cane sugar – and then dipped some in dark chocolate and rolled some in pecans for good measure.  (Yeah, the sugar coating is kinda clumpy, but whatever.)

And I am solidly anti-craft for the season.  I don’t want to make something only usable for a few weeks out of the year.  And I don’t really believe in exchanging gifts (especially to every known person) beyond a few edibles or drinkables.  However, over my lifespan I’ve made exactly one ornament, one stocking, and this tree skirt.

xmas skirt under tree

N has a soft spot for the holidays, and will occasionally erect a tree.  His tree needed a skirt and I didn’t have any appropriate fabric, nor wanted to waste a good yard or so on something that would be rarely used, so I cut up some felted/fulled sweater scraps.   I think my original plan was something like a penny rug, but the cutting took long enough, so I just tied it all together.

xmas skirt

I don’t know where it is now – probably in still in storage five hours away (and we no longer have lovely wood floors).

But things will be better soon, we’ll have the tiniest amount of more light day by day.  And we’ll eventually get out for some winter woods activities.

*Our Christmases are a pleasant low-key affair limited to time spent with just a few family members, good food, dogs, a cool kid, and walks, so I’m quite thankful and look forward to them.  It’s the larger sense of the season (and some past holiday events) I abhor.  My second favorite Christmases were the years I spent alone with Chinese take-out in a quiet apartment with the neighbors away – sounds bleak, but it was awesome and always the most productive few days of the year for me.

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Filed under home decor, recycling, travel

Winter hoarding, Spring sewing, a change of the light…

Thrifting over the last few months has provided some bright weekday moments in my otherwise bleak and depressing winter of vast underemployment.  I obviously have a thing for wool, but especially for tweeds and plaids.  I once had a crush on someone because of his worsted houndstooth pants – take away the pants and he was just an ordinary, rather boring, man – with the pants, he might as well have been Adonis.  Luckily, N appreciates a good piece of wool clothing, so he is practically turning into a man-sheep with my woolen finds in his size (and the occasional score on his own)…

But back to the new additions to my stash.  Most of these fabrics will be re-used, re-purposed, recycled into other things for other lives; some for sale, and some for me.

I love the yarn in these two pieces.  Some tweed yards have primary colored neps [those little color balls] and I hate those – primary colors = 1980s or preschool, ’nuff said.  I love these secondary colors, and you gotta love orange and turquoise – 1970s tube socks!  But with the beige and black yarns they are reined in.  The black is a vest that doesn’t fit me right – I may try to alter it as-is, but I’ll likely frog and re-knit it.  The beige is another unfortunate cropped sweater that also has some shrinkage, definitely a frogger or a fuller.

tweed sweaters

And some various woolens.  One (I won’t tell you which) I cheated on – it’s got a lot less wool than what I usually require, but I liked the colors and pattern too much to walk away from it.  Two of these will probably become bags.  And I was excited to find the brown herringbone Harris Tweed jacket and had plans to sell it, but I sadly discovered many little holes – perhaps too many to keep it as-is, but we’ll see.

three plaids two plaids

But let’s be honest, eh?

studio wooly pile   studio cotton pile

This is how matters really stand – piles of sh*t and blurry images.

studio corner

My shooting gallery (say hi to the dummy) is also my sewing corner and is also the only spot in the room that gets any natural light from its one dirty window.

studio window

A dirty window that will soon be even further blocked by leaves.  Don’t get me wrong, I love leaves and love them even more for blocking the parking lot that attracts unsupervised juveniles who like throwing rocks at cars and the adolescent ne’re-do-wells who lurk about drinking and sucking at skateboard tricks.  I just won’t be able to take many pictures indoors soon.

studio label

I hope to have my new and improved Etsy or other online shop up and running in another month or two and possibly do one booth at a small fair this year.  I’m discouraged though, the crafting biz ain’t what it used to be… And you know, I’ve never felt like such a stereotype more in my life.  Educated urban/suburban white female in early middle-age, gone through job crisis, deludes herself thinking she can turn to craft for substantive* income.  In an attempt to be slightly more competitive,  I bought some “professional” labels since my hand-printed ones looked well, too handmade (which is how they should look dammit) but I didn’t calculate the size very well in the order.  They are too long and unwieldy, but I don’t want to waste them, so on they will go.

*At least enough to cover health insurance – do you realize how breathtakingly expensive private plans are, or how much most of them suck?  And forget about the fact that I’ve spent my entire career in non-profits and have precious little saved for retirement, but what is that anyway?  Do enough diners still exist to hire crusty old cantankerous broads?  Can you still get a trailer in Florida cheap?  Are there any knitter-friendly flophouses?

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Filed under knitting, recycling, sewing, thrifting

Even quicker and more practical…

I can’t even really call this a project (unlike my previous one) – take a slightly fulled* sweater (preferably cashmere) chop off the arms and pull them up over your knees and thighs under your pants – done.  For the thin-thighed, you might consider attaching them to a garter, sewing in some elastic at the top, or keep shopping at your favorite thrift store until you find the absolute perfect size.

kneewarmer

I love the outdoors and I love wool, but I don’t quite love winter yet, though I’m slowing warming to it, all puns aside. I could bring myself to near financial ruin over the fabulous items of clothing made from whisper-thin and oh-so soft-merino wool from brands that rhyme with dicebreaker, fartwool, and especially the one named after a lithe four-legged mammal.  Who knew wool underwear, yes, the underpants kind of underwear, are the awesomest things ever in cold or hot weather and dry fast too making them perfect for minimal travel?  But alas, I have only purchased a few items here and there and have yet to obtain the perfect woollen base-layer bottoms.  I have an older pair that is a little too small in the waist, just enough to cause discomfort and make me grumpy – in ye olden days of corsets and girdles, good god, I would have been grumpy… But I also don’t quite like the pants under pants feeling – part of it is the doubled up waist feeling, and part of is two pieces of fabric occasionally in opposition.  This solution is to treat the underparts in segments like an insect.  Previously I was just relying on knee-high ski socks and some floppy old woolen men’s trousers, but my knees would get chilled and achy, but these sleeves-turned knee-warmers were the perfect hack.

kneewarmer detail

I am not an exceptional one-legged snowshoer even  though it appears that way in these pictures…  The gaiters were a recent acquisition too – forget the big-bucks gearhead brands and look at Swiss army surplus – wool and cheap!

*The improper use of fulled vs. felted is driving me bats, but felted is a more often heard term so I’ve got it down here for the sake of keyword searching, but shrunken knitting is fulling dammit!

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Filed under recycling

A quick and pratical project

Somewhere I saw something like this – maybe exactly like this, at least in terms of application.  Cut up an old felted sweater and use it to sit on the cold wet ground… maybe it was someone on Ravelry, Pinterest, Etsy, Flickr, a blog, or, or, or*…  oh my, many days I just want to kill my devices.   But regardless, I’m not super keen on winter hiking if there is snow or ice involved, but the warming winters are having less of the stuff and making for pleasant and cool outdoor ventures.  On a recent hike through the New Jersey Pine Barrens, we found a large plastic bag of “wildlife feed” on the trail and picked it up to dispose of it properly.  I don’t know what wildlife it was intended to feed, or if there is a one-beast-fit-all kibble, but the dregs were a disturbing fleshy liverish color, so maybe it was a modern Soylent Green for the Jersey Devils.  The bag had a phone number on it so I could have returned it for a refill which probably would be the most ecologically friendly thing to do, but we’ve been watching a lot of Portlandia lately and my urge to make stuff out of trash is especially high.

DSCF7131 - Copy

And besides it was a good lightweight damp-proof material – I cut it up, sewed it to some felted sweater chests, and done.

Butt warmer

trail seat

Field tested and approved – not too heavy to pack along for a short to medium trip and allowed us to linger longer over our still steaming coffee for a legitimate break.  The plastic is woven though, so it would not be ideal in a sopping wet situation, so I’m considering making some backed with oilcloth, though that would make them heavier and less bendy; or some fused plastic.  In a pinch, they could also be used for staunching the flow of a serious wound or added warmth shoved into a jacket…

And the knitted hat is Stephen West’s Botanic Hat pattern.

* If anyone knows the original source for this, please let me know!

*UPDATE*

Ravelers are fantastic creatures and came up with my reference in a snap!  I saw it on Hanna Breetz’s Ever green knits blog.

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