Tag Archives: mending

[Late] spring cleaning

Spring finally slowed down, cooled down, and I’ve had a chance to line up with the season again. The house still needs a deep, very deep clean – there’s still dust from the bath reno underneath the furniture, and I don’t think it’s ever had a lift-up-the-rugs-and-wipe-down-the-walls cleaning yet. And the windows could do with some clarity and de-dogslobbering.

A couple of weeks ago I sadly had to say goodbye to the best little vacuum cleaner I ever had. When I left my first (technically second, but the other was brief) professional job out of grad school, my fellow co-workers chipped in to give me an incredibly generous gift card as a going away present. I treated myself to the vacuum cleaner, channel lock pliers, and a fancy saucepan. It merrily sucked away in my old squirrely apartment, our first house, our shitty but adequate apartment, and this house – for a lifetime of about 15 years. I even bought a few new parts for it a year or two ago.

N got the same model a few years later, but it sucks – not good vacuumy sucky, just doesn’t suck enough, suck. So I can still clean, but it doesn’t look like I did.

But the woolens come first, and all of my neck things are freshly washed and tucked in plastic bags for the season. Some of my sweaters are still needed at the office, but the others are mostly washed and tucked away now too.

Though I still have a fairly small closet by US standards, it’s bigger than my last, so the rest of the hung up woolens can stay and just be moved to the hard to reach side rather than encased and crammed into another closet on another floor that was always an avalanche when opened.

I still have some things (nostalgic and/or supplies) in boxes and tubs – I think all have been consolidated and I know what’s in them now, but I was happy to finally find a few things I thought were lost.

Those scissors were nearly new before they were packed up – in a place I thought would be memorable and handy but wasn’t – and I’m over the moon about that spool pin – it goes to my Red Eye Singer 66 that I recently turned into a hand cranked machine.

I whipped out a quick knit for a gift, and forgot to photograph it in its finished state…

But it was another Turn a Square in 2×2 charcoal and grey-green stripes.

And I finally tackled the mending pile – some things of mine, some of N’s.

Visible mending, or can't be arsed to change the spool? #visiblemending #zigzag #mending #notmybutt

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I keep thinking I’m going to unravel this cashmere hoody that is one of my favorites, but is a tad too short, and I blew out one of the elbows. But I knit up a patch from leftover yarn and it’s good to go again (as long as I’m wearing a long shirt underneath it).

Blew out the elbow on a favorite thrifted cashmere hoody, knit new one… #visiblemending #knitting #mending #patch

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And lastly, it was time again to toss the stash –  I never incorporated the yarn from the errant box I found last year (hell, that was two years ago now), and I’m maddeningly missing a small niddy noddy that has few places left to be hiding.

The niddy noddy was not there, but everything was in good shape, is now entirely organized, and in a reduced number of boxes – it’s a good stash now, not too overwhelming (though it could still loose several pounds), and enough to keep me busy with enough variety for some years to come.

And now I have a raging case of startitis…

 

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A call to arms; raise up your arms

I started this project and this post months ago – last January, I think – and I finished the project over the summer, and the post last week, setting it to publish today.

I hope we know who the president is by now, and more so, I desperately hope it is not that horrible horrible man.

So this is not about politics.

It’s yet again about thrifted sweaters.

tealcardigan-label

I got this cardigan during a thrift store run last autumn or winter and hit another small jackpot – I’ve been wanting a teal cardigan, but didn’t want to buy the yarn and knit one, or buy one new

– and I lucked out –

and I so wish I had grander luck than just finding an old sweater for $3 or so…

But anyway, this one was probably made for men – it’s got some unfortunately narrow/tight hips and broad shoulders, and some reaaaaaally long arms.

tealcardigan-before

And the lower half of both arms were quite shredded.

tealcardigan-damage

I decided to conduct a partial amputation of the lower sleeves and re-knit the cuffs.

At least 8  inches were completely unnecessary – even for my monkey arms.

tealcardigan-sleeve

But the damn thing had cut/serged seams, so I was only left with short lengths of yarn – great to nearly invisibly repair the other various holes and moth nibbles, but not great for knitting for length.

tealcardigan-cuff-after

So I knit them in some dark charcoal wool and have paused to see if I like them as-is…

The bottom of the sleeve doesn’t poof quite as badly as it appears – some of the original cuff is still folded back inside – but I may end up narrowing them a bit. I may also knit the cuffs longer so they fold over. I might add an icord trim around the front so I can move the buttons over 1/2 inch to eek out a bit more width and add a decorative element. I might knit a shawl collar. I might take the short teal yarns and splice them all together and re-knit the cuffs. I might entirely re-knit the sleeves in charcoal. I might open up the side seams and add charcoal side stripes…

I have to admit I’m not feeling this one completely yet, but mostly because I’m still in need of another ass-clearing cardigan and this one stops short – I already used up my luck finding one of those a few years ago.

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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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Favorite sweater re-do, third time around

My favorite old cardigan was due for another round of repairs.

cardigan full

The elbow patch I put on a couple years ago was no longer covering all of the worn areas on one arm, and the other finally gave out.

New England-elbow

So I returned the sweater to a more somber state with matching charcoal elbow patches from a thrifted felted sweater.

oldsweater-elbows

(And our “cloakroom” doorway ended up being the perfect place for a vintage curtain I’ve had for years.)

I sewed up a few holes in the cuffs and weak spots in the arms – thankfully the nubby fabric is entirely forgiving and I didn’t need to worry about making perfect mends.

But the beige thread in the buttons seemed to stand out too much, so I sewed some black over it.

oldsweater-thread

And now the cardigan is stable once more, albeit a little less quirky, but still one of my favorites…

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Darn it pills and lint

I spent an evening this week closing up the holes in some of our sweaters.  I’ve been seeing beautiful and skillful examples of mending in the blogisphere lately and though lovely, they make me feel anxious.  Must I learn to do everything perfectly?  To have textile conservator-level mending skills to make repairs nearly invisible or mad creative ones to do a perfect herringbone in a cheeky accent color?  Don’t get me wrong, I love these things and love that someone is doing them and doing them well, but for me, I still embrace  absolute utilitarianism and efficiency when it comes to darning/mending/repairing.  I also usually wait until I have at least three garments that need to be fixed before I sit down to do them, even though it means I’ll probably need three different thread colors and it would have taken just as much time to do them one at a time.   All of the items that got a new lease on life were thrift store finds (some decades old) and I’m always what- amazed, impressed, happy?  I don’t quite know the feeling, but that these things have endurance and history, both unknown and our own, and can outlive us.

Darn-elbow

N’s favorite cashmere sweater is just a few years old and was probably fairly new when it was given up by its original owner.  (Unbeknownst to me my sister-in-law gave my brother the exact same as a [new] gift around the same time I found N’s in the thrift store.)  He wore it for work and not-work and everything in between several times a week and this year his elbow popped through.  It’s now been patched but retired from work-wear.

darn-pills

I’m also chief pill-picker.  I hate pills but I somewhat, and somewhat perversely, like picking them off.  I’ll periodically give an item a good pick and then a vigorous brushing and I’m always amazed about how much fuzzy detritus comes away… how much crap we carry around on us and how a sweater can continue to shed yet never feel as if it’s going bald overall.  But I do really hate pills on hand-knits (I’m looking at you Malabrigo!) especially when you’ve done a textured stitch and the pills hide in little valleys.

darn-lint

That little pile of pills and fuzz got me thinking about hoarders (and my fear of becoming one, though I do draw the line with things that rot and stink as being only for trash/compost).  And then N bought some new kitchen towels – some white, some red – that gave off this nice rose-pink lint in the dryer.  I know dryer lint has many uses, and once upon a time when I made paper I often used the stuff, but to keep it now seems a little excessive.  I can’t compost, don’t have a pet, haven’t spilled any oil, don’t need to start a fire, and I’m not making paper or papier mache at the moment…

…or will I be?

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