Tag Archives: green

Path of totality

I can’t stop repeating that in my head – it sounds like a threat, an end game, a complete takeover – but also a great summation and completion of fragmented parts – it is frightening and reassuring. And I know it’s just the term for the visible swath of an eclipse. But it’s a shitstorm out there and it has been for some time, and we keep breeding and uneducating shitcloud seeders, and there will always be a changeable swath of stupidity and a great joining together to make that path more narrow or wide.

I started this knit this time a year ago – we were on a vacation made stressful by either my still jobless status or anxiety over starting a new one, recently taking on a reactive dog, my foot-dragging acceptance of a body that now hurts more often than not, and the election that seemed far off and the candidate who got inaugurated seemed enough of a joke that even the most dense should get, but I still felt uneasy and dubious it would work out in the end. I grew up in a town with a population of more ignorant folks than not. Folks who hid behind religion and “tradition” and practiced tokenism to prove that they weren’t “bad” people, but folks who also tolerated klansmen as neighbors. None of my family lives in that town anymore and few live in the state – we did what we could when we were there, but the path of totality of intolerance was too scorched and wide.

I’m erroneously remembering that this pattern, Isabell Kramer’s Paris Toujours, was designed in response, or as a memorial to (one of) the Paris attacks. But it looks like it was commemorating a happy weekend (maybe there was a knit-along with this after the attack instead?) Either way, I knit it because it was easy and side to side – just the way I like to make and wear scarf/shawls – I’d clearly confused the designer’s intent and blurred yet another violent act of many so I can’t say I knit this as a statement against ignorance. But this kind of knitting feels like my own little path of totality to keep my fingers calmly and constructively moving through another year of shit, coming out at the other end with something soft and warm – and I won’t say safe, since there are no “safe places,” and let’s face it, a scarf could be quite deadly as a garrote, or a gag, or bindings in the middle of nowhere without access to food and drink (though it would make it at least a cozy slow death).

I was a little surprised that I finished it by my secret deadline, and by the end of the summer. I’d started it in the mountains and planned to work on it in another set of mountains later this year, but I’ll likely be wearing it there instead – it’s already my new favorite even in the muggy dog days.

The yarn was from a thrifted JCrew cardigan, slightly felted, in a wool, cashmere, viscose, and rabbit (I’m assuming angora) blend – and it is mad soft and not at all sneezy, with great drape and enough definition.

I would have liked it to be a bit larger – I was hoping that the last band of garter would be twice as wide as the one before it, and I lost yarn chicken twice at the end and had to unknit a couple of times, but it is large enough.

A couple of heads up about the pattern that are obvious for those in the know, but need to be stated for those who aren’t (me), especially if you deviate from the stripe sequence like I did. The stitch counts will be off unless each section is done in even numbers of the pattern repeat, so after the set up, if you want to keep doing lace, then start with row 3 of the lace pattern. I was often off with this, randomly ending up with 2 (as per pattern) or 3 stitches at the end. It didn’t really matter to me since fudge is good to do and to eat, but I kinda preferred ending in 3 stitches – if I did it again, I’d keep up with the 3 (or more) stitches at the end of the lace since a tiny bit more of garter makes the edge a little more stable. And then I can’t really describe this but the first row of garter after the lace makes a row of stockinette, so the lace sections aren’t symmetrical – again, it didn’t bother me enough to figure out how to fix it (a row of purl somehow?) but I think it could make some itchy.

This (or rather another loose variation thereof) will likely be on my needles again. And I’ve got my eye out for another one of these sweaters – wondering if it came in other colors – not that I don’t love this olive though, it’s among of my favorites. And this finishing up older projects thing has been working for me these days although everything that is left is vastly more complicated – but my path of unfinished totality is pleasantly closing in…

 

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Filed under knitting, recycling, thrifting, unemployment

Handspun helmet

To kick off my last hatmaking binge, I started with a ball of one of my earlier handspuns…

yella&greenyarn

(I thought it was older than this, but I called it a year old in 2013, so it isn’t that old…)

But anyway, a few (or one or two) years before 2012, I bought a pound of variegated dyed roving online that I thought would be mostly mustard, and it ended up being mostly lime green. So I bought another pound of mustard only and did a spin with it as one ply green and one yellow, and two of green, to see which I liked better or both, and tried to achieve a not too dramatic thick and thin yarn that was mostly bulky overall. (I think the final project was going to be one of those open cardigans with the spiral backs.) Then, like many things, I ignored it let it marinate in creative fairy juice until I got around to swatching, then spinning more.

But the colors, though I loved them off of my body, still weren’t convincing me that they should be on it.

Fast forward to a few months ago – those aforementioned hats were a birthday gift for one of my brothers who has indirectly kept me in yarn making equipment over the years from some nice gift certificates to a big spinning place, so something in handspun seemed appropriate for him and he’s cool with bright colors.

So I grabbed the cheery ball, thinking a hat could also finally be a swatch and I probably had enough, but the stuff was stiff and unyielding, and not having his head nearby to assess the perfect fit, I went with the stretchy patterns in soft superwash instead and put this one aside.

handspun cloche

And later finished it up for me – albeit very slowly – the stiff yarn is hell on the fingers.

handspun cloche profile

(These pics are before blocking, so things look a bit bumpier than they should be.)

It is a close-fitting woolen helmet, or cloche-like thing and I like it, though I’m still not convinced the colors are best for me – I can wear most greens and some yellows, but some greens are tricksters and look fine in some light and tragic in others – I don’t really care though.

A nice long bath softened everything up, but it is still dense, but perhaps not dense enough on the ears, so I might line them, but need to get some more winter wear in first to test them out. The late winter flirtations told me it had promise, but I didn’t leave the house in high wind which is often the achilles heel of bulky knit hats…

But this was another reminder that I have to pay more attention to my spinning, and loosen the hell up more. My favorite handspun yarns have been singles (though I still often have to run them through to take out a bit of spin afterward), some made from rolags, and from the fluffiest merino rovings. Otherwise, I’m getting a stiffy – not pre-drafting or fluffing up enough beforehand (I do have a lot of dense roving though), and giving it too much spin – at least I think those are my biggest problems…

So it’s back to the books and the basics a bit for me, and I think I’m going to let go of the thoughts for a bigger project with the variegated green stuff and play with it a bit instead…

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Filed under dyeing, knitting, spinning

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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Filed under collecting, knitting, recycling, Uncategorized

New year, new projects

I don’t love this time of year with its certain few months of icy doom yet to come, but it’s my favorite change that happens in a year when the afternoon sunsets get pushed back little by little into their proper, later position.

finished-early dusks

I used to take off a week this time of the year, not to celebrate a holiday, but to work on and complete a major project – fixing/painting something around the apartment, or a quilt, or a major reorganization, cleaning, and purging – a defucking so to speak. It was a time to stay at home, away from shoppers and germy gatherings, garish decorations and terrible music, and enjoy some solitude, naps, Chinese food delivery, and the satisfaction of something large or looming being accomplished. But I haven’t done this for several years for various reasons, though I still have the twitch to accomplish something (even though the last several years have been nothing but fixing up houses…)

The tiling job earlier this month gave me a good dose of a similar satisfaction, and the rest will just have to come in the form of smaller-scaled projects finished and started in these weeks.

A couple of weeks ago, I finished up the gift hat I started on vacation:

finished-selbu for k

And that pair of socks I started last June despite some issues with the yarn:

finished-fancy feets

I cast-off them off a few rows prematurely (and I’m still on the fence about overdying them in yellow) so I could immediately start on a new pair based on my doubling experiments:

newyear - new sock

(And I’ve already lined up the yarn for the next after these).

And I’m just about to start a pair with a single strand on smaller needles.

And then I couldn’t wait to start yet another Lacy Baktus:

newyear - lacy baktus

This was also one of the very few yarn purchases I made in 2015 – I pretty much stopped buying yarn except for an immediate project need – and it was from a big Pigeonroof Studios seconds sale – high twist sock in an unnamed color, 2 skeins so I can make something extra large and squishy.

I’m also going to continue to not really buy yarn this year, or basically for the foreseeable future – I have a big enough stash, and I’m slowing down.

I’ve started to re-assess some old projects and will probably frog a few and get monogamish with some others and set those smaller socks aside for waiting room/travel knitting only so those probably won’t make their way on my feet until the light begins to come back next year…

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Filed under collecting, home, knitting

Necking

I like a GIANT squishy cowl neck.

I like scarves wound round and round and round my neck.

But I hate turtlenecks.

Even though they pop back in and out of style, I generally view them as always out – and smelling of elementary schools in the 70s and overly religious Midwestern mothers who dress decades beyond their age. But mostly I don’t like the feeling of my neck being oh-so-slightly constricted.

I’ve de-turtled a few necks over the years.

neck-flappy

(This one also got de-epauleted and de-shoulder padded, and de-gold buttoned – then I sewed the epaulets into the fake pocket to make a whimsical detail of sorts.)

Very often, there is a convenient seam running up the side of the neck that merely needs to be unzipped or picked and voila! A constricting turtle becomes a floppy…

manta ray? collar.

I’ve been going through my bins of thrifted sweaters to see what should be cut up into mittens and such, unraveled, or mended enough to wear…

neck-before

And I found this horribly weird pinkish, orchid? one that fits really well and lies on the “professionally” appropriate side of the fine line that it skates with  comfortably slouchy – partly because it’s actually a decent length on me and many thrifted cashmeres fall a bit too short.

But even after the turtlectomey, I’m debating about tossing it into the to dye pile, but I run the risk of loosing the good length… and though I think I hate the color, I think I can wear it without looking ill, and it goes well enough with browns or greys…

(I’d probably dye it yellow to turn it orange, or go the burgundy or brown route…)

neck-after

Turtles are also often the easiest part of a sweater to frog since they’re often knitted in rib stitch and don’t felt/full as much as the body. I’ve had several moth-eaten thrifts that were too holey or felted to frog as a whole, but still gave up good bits of usable yarn from frogged necks and cuffs.

Or merely extracted, they make good headbands or hat brims…

neck-headband

And once in awhile, a decent cowl will get detached too – most often from my own sweaters that have generally ceased to function as intended.

neck-mohair

And it can remain cowly, just no longer attached to a body…

neck-cowl

This was actually a favorite sweater of mine for about 10 years, so I’m happy to save part of it now that it is done being part of my wardrobe due to damage and too tight sleeves that always annoyed me but now are entirely unacceptable after the home reno and summer of gardening (big guns don’t play well with sheer skinny mohair). And I’ll attempt to frog the rest even though I swore off frogging mohair – if it works, I might knit more rounds onto the cowl to make it GIANT.

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Anatomy of a hex

I’ve yammered on about my love of the hexagon shape for a bit now, and have finally put needle to cloth and started to play…

hex-green

I’m still obsessed with the hex-tile floor and passing though my old city recently, I was shocked to see more lovely old buildings ripped out and re-planted with soulless new shitboxes. All of the other lovely and unique architectural details destroyed aside, I mourn for the very likely loss of hex-tiled entrances, halls, coatrooms, mudrooms, bathrooms, and maybe even kitchens. I still dream of living in a house that was untouched by vinyl, paneling, laminate, textured paint, beige ceramic tile, and all other destructive DIY – unless it was carpeted and paneled in a way that preserved everything underneath and it would be a matter of unwrapping a lovely surprise room to room…

But  I digress…

To date, all of my fiber hexing has been via the English paper-piercing method. I ordered some pre-cut little buggers last year and was on the lookout for some plastic ones I’d seen that require basting stitches cinched up, but weren’t stocked in my area until I forgot about them. I started cutting some shapes out of mylar to try out the general idea, but got distracted and moved on.

hex-plastic

The plastic ones reappeared at the big box recently, and at a time when I had good coupons, so I finally got some thinking that I would fall in love with them and they would last forever and I was happy that they were manufactured in the USA… But sadly, I just couldn’t get them to work for me (or I’m too set in my paper-piercing ways).

The main problems were: I had to run too many basting stitches, it was fiddly to get the tension right and the corners sharp, they are too thick to finger-press the fabric, they are slick, and the whole thing took longer.

I should back up first – I’m working on a project that needs to be very portable and not require electricity (will take on a rustic vacation later this summer) and I’m making it out of old shirts that have some poly or stretch that makes the fabric harder to control. The plastic shapes did work better with rougher, stiffer quilting cotton or  good lay with a hot iron, so all hope isn’t lost for them, but they’re just now what I need right now.

(And in general, I’m usually working on pieced things on another floor from the ironing board, or on a hot day when the iron is banned.)

So I attempted to make them more usable by drilling some holes to provide better stability with a piercing method. That helped a good deal, but I was still slow in finding the drill holes with the needle, the thickness still prevented a good finger press, and they were still too slippery.

hex-drilled

So I tried to drill some bigger holes and score the surface with a variety of rasps, but that was an utter failure…

hex-fail

So finally, I just used the shape as a template on the other half of the coupon used to purchase them (and lifted from the recycling bin) and voila, success!

hex-samples

But that was the only piece of scrap card stock in the house, so I have to wait for the mail to arrive (for a few days likely) to obtain more…

hex-templates

This piece might end up into something finished, and perhaps something with a bit of meaning… but the green hexies at the top are just a doodle for now.

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Stash flash – the commercial yarn edition

I’m not a huge fan of stash flashing.

Sometimes it just seems like crass showing off, sometimes I think of the world’s starving people, sometimes I think it’s a little funny when a middle age woman poses naked with it in a bathtub*, sometimes it gives me anxiety of having too much, sometimes it gives me anxiety about having too much of one thing but not the needed thing, and sometimes I’ll admit I’m a little jealous.

But we reached a milestone on the house – the floors and walls are done in all of the main rooms – so I’m finally moving into my teeny tiny studio and figuring out how to cram everything in.

stash-mound

And part of that involves taking stock of my yarn stash.

It was in relatively decent storage – a few big plastic tubs – but sock yarn was mixed in with sweater quantities was mixed in with random cones of mystery fiber…

stash-cone

And of course there was yarn shoved into other yarn…

Everything needed to be aired out – there was the odd unfortunate odor of our old apartment’s carpeting trapped inside some of the tubs, and a few lavender sachets lost their pleasant one.  But all was well – no evidence of wool-munching crawling or flying f*ckers.

stash-sock&fingering

The sock and fingering weight yarns are now separated out into their own bin and I know I don’t need to shop for the stuff possibly ever again.  I’d been wanting to make some jolly-colored tights for years now, but I haven’t even considered casting on for them, so maybe it’s okay to just make one pair of socks from one of three skeins, or consider making a blanket.  I’d really like to make some pants, but though I’d like wacky tights, I’d rather have more dull pants (trousers to my friends across the pond) though I do adore my wool pants (underwear).

stash-cones

Need I remind you that I got everything really cheap?  Yeah, the internet is good for that, as are Italian markets and those newer craft/construction materials thrift shops.  I’ve been picking up the odd cone of stuff for a few years – I thought I’d be weaving by now and dying more too…  And I do intend to use some of it in spinning…

stash-lambspride

My old favorite Lamb’s Pride is all in one place now too – this is one of the few yarns I have sweater quantities of – large coat or king-sized afghan quantities…  I fell into a brief obsessive love with mosaic knitting several years ago and planned to make a cozy big long coat.  I got a billion yards of two shades of green on the cheap online, but the colors weren’t contrasty enough and besides, I never got around to finding or making up a pattern, so it sits and waits…

And the bulky green in the bottom right was, for a short time and twice, an Owls sweater, but I never got the sizing right, so I frogged it and gave up.

stash-greenlambspride

I’m in love with that old gold greenish shade “golden mushroom” in the upper left, so it’s high time I cracked it open… I love nearly every shade of green though, so I’ve got some thinking to do…

On the day that I organized this stuff I had one of those disturbing time warps wherein I missed lunch.  I never miss lunch. And the day was pretty much shot – I feel a bit guilty overall for “wasting” the time and that I have so much, yet I can’t part with it either.  I got some of it up on ravelry, so I may sell some things if asked.  But I also don’t really need any more clothes or blankets, so my knitting mojo for anything other than gifts, sales, or a few smaller accessories is pretty flat at the moment.

I’d like to replace a few commercial sweaters with me-knitted ones, but the ones I wear most often are grey.  Do you see any grey yarn up there?  Nope.

And since I work from home, I need nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  I don’t get the people who work from home or stay at home and are crazy prolific garment sewers and knitters… where and when do they wear the many, many things that they make?

(And I still have loads of yarn from unraveled sweaters, a nice bunch of that lovely Italian wool, and a smallish (relatively speaking) amount of handspun.)

And though I accomplished a needed organizing job that day, I ultimately failed when I realized that there’s still another box/bag/tub of the stuff somewhere…

*I’ve seen a few of these on ravelry, but sadly can’t find one at the moment for you – and no, I won’t do that.

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