Tag Archives: frumpy

Vested, or not my b[v]est

Once again I got to contemplating my frumpy vest.*

vest-front

I thought I fixed it enough to be happy enough wearing it at the time of that last post. I had added more length, replaced the buttons, and I thought I re-knit the shoulder edging with fewer stitches or smaller needles, but I’m guessing I just gave it a good block. But after unpacking it from summer storage (from a few summers ago, actually) it had reverted back to its stupidly pointy shoulders.

vest-side

This is not acceptable.

It would be almost okay if the vest was wide and boxy and I wore it open to just hang there and flop around, but I figured something so rustic should be more fitted to take down the frump factor a bit.

Only now it seemed a bit too fitted  in other parts too – the buttons at the bust gaped a bit.

vest-bust

So once I again, I set out to modify it.

vest-yarn

I had so little yarn left after making it the first time around, I was hesitant to just frog the whole thing and start over again. I’m still not crazy about vests, but this was the perfect amount of handspun yarn for one. The yarn matches my bike too, but there is too much of it that even if I pimped out the seat and handle bars and other things I’d still have an even more awkward amount left over. And I don’t want pillows or bags out of it, and it’s too rough for next to skin wear, so hats and scarves are out…

So I tried yet again to make it work.

I ripped out the garter armhole edging, opened up the side seams and added a little triangle at the pit for more bust ease, and reknit the armhole with an applied icord.

vest-moss

That worked out to be the perfect solution – much better fit with no pointy stuff on the shoulders.

vest-armholes

And I discovered I can wear it over my orange hoodie if I’m invited to march in the garish parade.

But if I wear it open as more of an outerwear thing, it should have a pocket. I won’t go into the rationalization except I think of fitted things having a degree of implied misery, and open things comfort and convenience and of course, that means having a “snot pocket” – someplace big enough to store a hankie for my ever dripping nose once it falls below 70 degrees.

vest-deck

I think I have just enough yarn leftover for that…

*The color is most accurate in the old post – the thing is a bit more subdued and overall burgundy-ish in real life.

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Sock monkey

I finally got that sock monkey off my back.

monks

No, not you friends.

Remember this?  My first failure with a very basic pair of socks.  Now I can call them done (after three years).

sox 016 - Copy

I just had to take the ubiquitous shot of hand knit socks with (sorta) high-heeled shoes.  Does anyone actually wear them this way?

sox 021 - Copy

This is my way.  Yes, I know it is approaching frumphood, but practical – hand knits are a little grippier in shoes that slide on and off and clogs, orthopedic as they may be, are the most comfortable footwear for standing and such.

I first learned to knit socks in 2008.  That means I spent at least eight years (let’s just call it a decade) only doing garter stitch and timidly and slowly adding simple hats and a new stitch or two at a snail’s pace.  I can’t remember why I wanted to knit socks – perhaps to fit my mismatched feet, perhaps I thought it was the perfect manageable project to project myself off my lazy knitter’s ass, or perhaps I was talking about it and N encouraged me to take a class – either way I know he paid for it as a gift.  At the time, there was only one LYS in my old neighborhood and it was well, a bit strange.  They carried some gorgeous yarns but only in the worst colorways – way too much pink, bad pink, and some of the high-end novelty yarns… not much I ever wanted to buy.  I signed up for the (over-priced in my opinion*) two-session class, bought a skein of meh sock yarn from the sale bin (and I swear it was the only skein that wasn’t pink or candy-colored in the whole shop) and a terrible set of bamboo dpns that have since broken.  The class was described for beginners with basic skills who wanted to learn basic sock construction which described me.  The first session had four attendees – two of us were there for the stated purpose, one only wanted to learn how to knit entrelac, and one was there purely as a substitute for a therapy session.  (There’s always at least one, right)?  Things got off to a sketchy start – the instructor said we could buy a book with a sock pattern, use class time to download a pattern, or buy her basic pattern for $5.00.  I was annoyed at having to buy a pattern on the spur of the moment, but I thought since she was the instructor, her’s made the most sense to buy and I wanted to cast-on immediately.  So the first session amounted to nothing since none of use could get past a cuff in an hour (and bad teacher, she didn’t suggest making an anklet or child’s sock, and bad me for not thinking of it either)!  The second session (when not of course listening to the sad messed up life of the one attendee or entrelac instructions) was a whirlwind of before-to-me-unknown ssks, gussets, and heal-turnings.  I left feeling frustrated and quite under-taught and not much better off than I was before.  I spent the next few weeks poring over the $5.00 basic sock pattern and slowly churning out a legitimate first sock.  By the second one, I basically had it down and realized the pattern was sh*t and it wasn’t just me – some of the simple numbers didn’t add up and a few crucial instructions were missing.  Shortly thereafter, I was poking around in a big box craft store and discovered the $5.00 basic sock pattern was just a poorly copied version of the free pattern that came on the ball band of Lion Brand Sock-Ease sock yarn.  So, lesson learned I guess?  What lesson?  Um, so N and I wasted some money but in the end in a round-about-way it was the catalyst that got my knitting up to speed.  And the basic pattern I first used is still the one I occasionally reference today only now I carry around the ball band rather than the stupid $5.00 version.

Socks - first

The pair that changed it all, spawned several more, and yes, I do have two pairs of the same shoes in different colors…  I actually have several pairs of shoes in duplicate but for their colors (I mentioned I have mismatched feet, so I embrace acquisitions when the shoe fits).  I prefer fraternal to identical twins in sock making and it is sheer coincidence that the two pictured (my first and latest) happen to be identical in terms of stripe placement, with exception of an additional stripe on the toe of the longer one.

sox 018 - Copy

Yeah, I got me some freak feet.

The socks are bit wonky at the moment since they’ve yet to be washed and were tinked and re-knit.  The yarn is Lang Yarns Jawoll Color Aktion which I’ve loved for its durability but isn’t mentioned on their website and is possibly discontinued???  That would suck though I think I still have some more in the old stash.  It also comes with a spool of matching reinforcing thread which I love but have never used in the three pairs I’ve made with the stuff – I always forget about it!  But it will be good for mending.

And the brownish background fabric?  It will eventually become the backing on N’s shirt quilt.  It’s actually more of a caramel color but my camera sucks and needs to be replaced.  The socks aren’t quite the right color either, but at least they are consistent…

Next sockly challenge?  I keep wanting to focus on learning to do two-at-a-time from the toe-up with either magic loop or two circs.  Toe-up makes way more sense to me and I’ll never have leftover yarn or run out at the toe… but I’m really stuck in my cuff-down comfort zone and I would have to buy more needles…

*I’m not against paying a healthy fee for a class, but at the time there wasn’t much competition so they got away with charging more than usual and the teacher was bad to boot…

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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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