Tag Archives: grey

Of politics and pests – a rant

We all know fast fashion is wrong on all counts – bad for workers, bad for the environment, bad for our psyche, and bad for covering up nakedness with its tendency toward wardrobe malfunctions due to poor quality and construction. But like fast food, it is affordable, yet it doesn’t seem as evil as a hormone/antibiotic/shit laced 99 cent burger. If you are poor, you can still buy new clothes that don’t make you look poor and they won’t give you diabetes or make you obese.

But you can also shop in thrift stores.

But this isn’t always the answer – many thrifts accept and stock absolute shit, sizing can be difficult, not everyone has the ability to repair items, or the thrifts are frequently more expensive than the fast fashion shop.

I’ve bitched about this before – a thrift prices something like a Thomas Thrillfingers sweater at $19.99 because it is a “brand” name. And it has holes and unidentifiable stains and looks a decade or two out of date – of course even I would choose a $12.99 sweater from Aging Army if that were my best option. Or Goodwills in my area price all sweaters at $8.99 regardless of holes, shrunkeness, goo, and fugliness – and tend to have lower-quality clothes to begin with – you couldn’t pay me $8.99 to own a faded acrylic sweater from the bigbox (actually you could – I’d do many things for money).

And as a recycler of wool yarn, I’m usually not going to pay more than a few bucks for something I’m going to take apart and not know until I’m doing it if it will successfully come apart or have to turn into felt scraps or stuffing, so I suspend my own strong opinions about religion and politics and choose to shop at a nearby Salvation Army over Goodwills and Red White and Blues and some odd and expensive independent ones because the prices are generally good for decent-quality used shit (and very good on the half-off days).

SA’s mission statement couldn’t be a stronger bushel of garlic to me if I’m going with a a vampire metaphor which doesn’t make sense in this context and I really love garlic, but people and things that do and say such things are utterly abhorrent to me – charity need not come with dogma. Yet, I know that they have fed and sheltered many in communities I care about, so I suspend my anti-evangelising standards when I shop there knowing that some part of my donation (though I’m sure not as much as I’d like) is going into bellies and blankets.

But it turns out this last line:

“…meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”

has been utter bullshit in dealing with LGTB employees over the last few years. I mean it’s not surprising because hello, “christian” organization, but somehow I’ve missed the news… And perhaps and hopefully they’ve cleaned up their act and do practice what they preach now, but it’s made me a much less frequent visitor over the past few months.

So I re-entered the smeary doors of this grand palace of abandoned things recently after a long hiatus and during a stressful time. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular – I have enough of everything at the moment – but I was looking for “thrift therapy.” (I can’t stomach other’s “shopping therapy” even though it’s essentially the same thing, just massively cheaper.) But it is a form of hunting, a time of touching pleasant fabrics (and accidentally some not so), imagining stories of others, nostalgia wormholes, and jackpot thrills…

I found a great mid-century enameled casserole dish and a huge grey sweater that should result in enough yarn to make myself a confidently ass-clearing one.

casserole and sweater

But then I think I found a bedbug.

At the time, I didn’t think it was – it was bigger and flatter than pictures I’d seen, and it was staring up at me from the shoulder of a silk blouse I was about to snatch up to examine. I still haven’t gotten a new vision prescription, so in order to take a good look at it, I took off my glasses and shoved my face six inches from it, but then realized that if it were anything evil, I should be more than six inches away from it, so I backed off and left, first vigorously shaking the sweater I still wanted to buy. But I thought it was more likely a baby stinkbug or something along those lines, though once I got home and looked up buggy mugs, I’m not sure what it was…

But bugs are always a thrift risk and I prefer to buy textiles and clothing only during the coldest and warmest months so I can freeze them outdoors or keep in my trunk to bake for several days before shaking them out and immediately washing. But even though I live in the east where bedbugs are probably here to stay and the thought of them makes me squirm a little if I ever feel an itch in a NYC theater, I’ve mostly just been concerned with moths and carpet beetles – two known enemies I’ve treated and controlled and eradicated over the years. Bedbugs are a foe I don’t wish to take on – I know no one does unless for scientific reasons, but they have definitely given me pause for my next thrift venture.

And I am to the point where I’m happily shopping my own yarn and fabric stash and finding what I need (although superwash is getting low) from my shelves and boxes and closets most of the time, but I do miss the calming time vortex of combing through someone else’s old fibery discards.

Next time, after the cootie heebie jeebies subside, I’ll give the Goodwills around here another look…

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Catch-up, but no ketchup…

Going on vacation is great, but the aftermath is a bit of a struggle…

I’ve been doubling up on work-work to make up some hours and the house-work doubled, tripled on its own.

catch-up tomatoes

We’ve canned even more tomatoes – certainly enough to get us through to the season next year – I think. Some of the heirlooms didn’t produce much, but I’ve been especially fond of the green stripey ones this year for eating fresh. The green beans exploded and have been eaten in all cooking methods liked by us as well as frozen and pickled – I put in another crop in early July, and I don’t want to say I regret that, because it’s one of the few veggies not being attacked by something or another out there, and the neighbors will be happy for more bounty, but I wish I’d put in a dried variety instead…

catch-up-painting basement floor

And the basement is coming along – the floor is now half teal. And I am an idiot and decided that the orange didn’t work after all, and have to hurry up and re-paint it with the original yellow, or a boring white, or more grey… (The pic above shows the floor color fairly accurately, but the walls are more grey-green rather than the yellowy putty they seem to be on my screen). So as long as I get on that soon, we’ll be able to finally install N’s library by the end of the month and unpack most of the rest of the boxes.

I’d like to overdye a large old cotton rag rug (old meaning faded and from the 1990s, not vintage) and a large old cotton sofa cover but not sure how to do that… I’ve only got a small front-loader washing machine, a well that is going a little precious this time of year, and I’m sure the laundromats don’t want me to do that there, but I don’t want to spend much to revive these things – probably be cheaper to get some cheap sisal/jute rugs in the end, unless there’s some sort of paint-on, no rinse or little rinse fabric dye out there…?

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And yet another thing that isn’t quite what it started out to be…

While I was trying to get my mojo back last week, I was working on a few other things that I hoped were likely to turn out as I expected.

I made a big mess of these Botanic hats recently and was left with one that was a bit on the smaller side.

I know a kid who likes yellow, and his father was one of the recipients of the recent ones, so rather than knit yet another (and buy more yarn which I’m really trying not to do) I got some Wilton’s buttercup yellow food coloring for transformation purposes.

A's hat before

The yarn is superwash, so I went to town without worry, glopping in about a quarter of a teaspoon of color to a liter or so of not quite boiling water and dumping in the room temperature vinegar and water pre-soaked hat.

And as usual, the whole process was already underway before I considered gloves….

A's hat on my fingers

I was expecting to have to use more and more color, but the little bit did the trick.

I’d love to dye more often but I hate how much water it takes to rinse… I suppose water tainted with food coloring would be safe to use watering plants and whatnot, but I don’t want to dye my plants, and I don’t eat anything with artificial food coloring, so I don’t want it on my vegetables…

A's hat in the wash

The color worked in pleasantly surprising ways – the dark charcoal became a shimmery brown with almost navy blue accents and a slight yellow haze.

A's hat damp

And whether it was from the vinegar rinses or hot water baths, it has become wonderfully soft.

A's hat after scrunched

I think it is my favorite version of this hat yet.

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What I know or thought I did but still don’t

 bowbanister

I’m wrapping up the worst of the house, meaning almost all of the walls and ceilings are repaired and painted, and floors refinished painstakingly by hand.

I am an experienced fixer-upper, but I still don’t understand the darkest secrets in the universe of home improvement.

Such as:

I never could predict just how much hard wax oil I needed to use per floor, and ended up paying in shipping small cans what would have cost for the large can.

The smallest room used the most paint.

grey walls

Despite its trendiness, I like yellow and grey.  And that yellow door is the living room color – the living room is the largest room, yet took the least amount of paint…

And we still haven’t figured out which room is for what – this room will probably be N’s office, though it may be my “studio” but it is a really tight space – the other wall is pretty much the right margin of the pic – but it has the best natural light.

We did end up covering the knotty pine paneling in one of the rooms, and the room is much better for it, though it will stay in the living room for now.

green walls

And though I’ve previously held an unyielding “choose paint colors for the middle of an ungodly dreary winter” stance (meaning only warm tones on all walls) I went outside of my comfort zone and painted cooler hues in these last few rooms and I really like them.  The color of the smallest room, above with the yellow door, even has the terribly depressing name of “November rain.”  But I would prefer rain in November to some icy slop.

Every time I sand wall patches or floors, despite how well I meticulously seal up the room, I’m blown away about how much dust still escapes and ends up in rooms on the opposite side of the house.

Dusty wheel

 And I hate the fact that I now have to do a thorough furniture-moving, rug-lifting deep clean because I just did that, and everything is fresh and new but now looks like dusty hell.

What is left?

A full-bathroom re-do (more thoughts on that soon) that will either be a placeholder just-work-with-what-we-have-and-slap-several-coats-of-paint-on-everything for now, or a reexamination of the budget to see if we can contract some of the work out – it’s not a major job, but the floor is the worst part of that room and it’s a major pain in the ass.

Improving the “finished” basement that really isn’t.  It needs a floor and a new/improved ceiling* and is ripe with the shit version of paneling which we will likely paint, but again, the budget and our energy levels will play a huge role in its outcome.

It’s got some snazzy vintage fixtures though.

basement light

(And  sadly, I don’t think those are our fingerprints and dust – we haven’t touched the things…)

Improving the yard – we need a bigger garden with better deer fencing and possibly pooch fencing, and some attempts at landscaping.

And then 89, 783, 2311+ weekend projects – tiling the kitchen backsplash, painting closet doors, stripping room doors, installing some thresholds, touching up paint, touching up paint, oh, and touching up paint, building shelving, insulating random little places, hemming more curtains, etc., etc., etc…

etc., etc., etc….

curtains

(And maybe I should add ironing curtains to the list too…)

*Anyone have ideas for improving a drop ceiling on the cheap?  It’s got those large rectangular panels, so I can’t just replace them with something interesting like record sleeves… cover with fabric or textured paper?  Paint?  The current panels are stained Styrofoam and I don’t know what stained them or continues to stain them, I want to get rid of them but hate to toss them in a landfill, and the new ones are only marginally better and more than I want to spend…

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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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Knight of the Deep

The Noble Hero balaclava pattern by Annie Watts of Wattsolak has just been released!

Last year I test knit this fun to knit, and to wear pattern.

Noble Hero-Close Up

I finished it while on a bizarre early summer week-long vacation in the White Mountains that started off with a snowstorm and ended with temperatures in the high 90Fs, so it was too icy and cold to hike in the beginning, and too hot and humid by the end.

But it gave me more knitting time.

Though it would compliment and complete your awesome new space suit, I thought it also looked like a knight’s chainmail coif:

Noble Hero-Knight

Or a deep-sea diver’s helmet:

Noble Hero-Deep Sea Diver

Either way, I really enjoyed knitting the piece, learned a new technique, and N has taken it and enjoys wearing it, so I’ll have to make another for myself!

The pattern is well-written and was very clear even in the testing stage.  I had gauge and made no modifications.  The only thing I’ll keep in mind for next time is to loosen up on the applied icord, or go up a needle size for it – I learned how to do it on this project and I started out a little too tight.

This was also my first time knitting with Quince & Co., and I liked it – I chose these muted colors because I’d love to have a larger garment made from one of them at some point, and wanted to see the colors in person.

Now to think of colors for a Noble Hero for myself – perhaps handspun…?

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Second things sometime need a little attention too…

…a sequel to In praise of first things.

Years and years ago, after I made a few more garter stitch scarves for friends and family, and falling just as hard for knitting with wool as I did for alpaca, not to mention all of the other fibrous beasts, came what seemed at the time, a very massive project.

firsthingsshawlfront

Yet I did not stray from my comfortable garter stitch.  I may have started this as a poncho, or at least a shawl, but I don’t remember now, except that I didn’t have a pattern and I was afraid of them then.  But ponchos were popular then, and then weren’t, and maybe they came back, I don’t know?  Originally it was just going to be solid charcoal, though I ran out of yarn before it was a good length to wrap.  Then something happened at the Brown Sheep/Lamb’s Pride mill?  A fire?  I can’t remember that either, but for a year, or years, worsted weight yarn in deep charcoal wasn’t available.  When a new LYS opened in my old neighborhood, I bought four skeins (including a deep charcoal) in bulky weight.  I got the only four colors available that weren’t some ghastly shade of pink or pastel blue (but I kind of liked the pastel sage).  I didn’t really think about (or know?) the difference in yarn weights either, but ploughed through to the end, or enough of an end when I ran out of yarn again.

firstthingsshawlbackIt too has a beautiful drape.

The bulky striped end is thick and especially warm.  We use this most as a throw blanket lengthwise, with the bulky end wrapping shroud-like whichever is the colder end of the body.

I’m tempted to frog this once in awhile to get to the sweater’s worth of yarn, but it is the best way to stay warm when supine and corpse-like in the dead of winter.

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