Tag Archives: recycling

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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Is this lump outta my head? I think so.

I have an old cheap sofa that I’ve held onto longer than I probably should have because it’s so damn comfortable.

I bought it about a decade ago off an old apartment neighbor who got it as a gift from her boyfriend who later dumped her and she decided to move far away. It was a bit of a shame though, I hadn’t spoken to her except for neighborly pleasantries until that point, and only when she was moving did I realize she might have made for a good friend.

But her sofa, ugly as it may be, has been quite the comforting companion.

It was too big for my old tiny living room and one had to awkwardly maneuver around it when entering through the front door. But it made for decent sleeping accommodations when need be, and I had the perfect knitting nest in one corner.

I believe a good sofa must be deep and wide.

It is red, and I never much liked red, except for a bit in kitchens, and N never liked that it was faded red – it’s meant to be of the casual canvas aesthetic sort of thing, completed with cotton rag rugs and denim pillows, likely.

Unfortunately, just when I had the cash to buy a new, better colored cover, the big Swedish store discontinued the sofa and all its covers.

Somewhere along the line, I bought some fabric to make a new slipcover, but it wasn’t quite enough – so I bought some more, which still wasn’t quite enough either, but complemented the other, so I thought I would make it two toned, but then I never made it. (The fabric is still waiting to become something though – probably a slipcover for a chair instead.)

In our first house, it stayed propped on its end and shoved into the corner of the basement for a year or two until N took a job long distance and it once again reigned over a living room – a proper sized one, finally.

But then it spent nearly a couple of years in storage – I thought we’d need to trash it after it essentially stayed in a garage for so long, and who wants a sofa that’s been in a garage (especially one infested with stink bugs)?

But it came out fine.

Except the lumbar pillows.

lump-pillows

They were always a bit too lumpy – I think my neighbor had washed and dried them too often or too aggressively – I’d rather not speculate why, but the rest of the sofa is stain-free, so I’m not too worried. But the lumps made the pillows flaccid and ineffective, so I decided it was time for a revival.

lump-lumps

Should I be ashamed to admit I still kept the lumps? They’ll be good in a future dog bed, right?

I really hate to put anything in landfills.

And I wasn’t keen on stuffing it with plastics again, but wadded-up old clothes weren’t comfortable, leaves or straw too crunchy and a bit too earthy, and wool is too dear, so I got some more of the synthetic fluffy stuff.

lump-stick

It came with a free “tool.” Now I like free shit as much as the next guy, but for chrissakes, it’s just a chopstick – a single chopstick in a paper sleeve just like what chopsticks come in – did a chopstick factory accidentally package only singles and the stuffing company get a bargain?

Not to mention I already had a few random chopsticks kicking around in my sewing box along with a pencil or two with the lead broken off for the same purpose… A stuffing “tool” is probably the one thing people don’t really need…?

lump-during

So I crammed the pillows to their fill and made them a bit lumpy in a fluffy way, but that didn’t really matter. I like some poly fill brands over others but I buy it so infrequently that I forget which I like and I’m not certain this was the one…

But now our lumbar regions are properly supported once again when lounging in the basement – the perfect place for a less than perfect but still very comfortable sofa.

lump-after

A bit ago I ordered a pound of yellow dye to revive an old rag rug and turn this sofa cover orange – I figured the best options for overdying it were brown (but we already have a brown sofa upstairs), purple (meh, purple), deeper red, black, or orange – but I didn’t want to worry about potentially staining our clothes if I didn’t wash a dark dye out well enough, so I figured the yellow was the best option and I wanted a yellow rug anyway. But now I’m not so sure – the red sofa actually matches a rug for once and it is the basement, so a bit of a mishmash is warranted…

But I do like orange much more than red…

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From dirt to delicious

We installed a few rain barrels off of our gutters back in April.

N tapped into his Roman ancestral knowledge of aqueduct engineering and rigged a system to flow away from the utility meters and wiring at one corner of the house a barrel down a hill and close to one of the garden gates.

Then it didn’t rain…

Until the first week of June.

(In the meantime we rigged over 200 feet of hoses from a very stupidly placed spigot on the opposite side of the house to the somewhat delicate well and I had more than one fit of anxiety over the whole thing…)

But now the barrels are filled, the garden is going really well (except for a moderate skirmish with the three-lined potato beetle on our too-few tomatillo plants that seems to be under control now thanks to neem oil, and aphids or something on  the eggplant, but I’m not that crazy about eggplant* anyway) and we’ve been able to stuff our gobs from it a bit.

pasta-rapini

I was a vegetarian for most of the 1990s and early 00s and lived in a city that only caught up with food trends (and since far exceeded them) in the last decade or so. Going out to dinner meant getting the same delicious eastern/easternish ethnic thing over and over and over and over again (vegetable lo mein, falafel, veggie korma, etc. ) or something that was often disappointing and not worth it – especially in “Italian” (Italian-American) restaurants where my only option was

pasta primavera.

Those two words in combination are a quick ticket to destroying my appetite.

The veg was almost always out of season, overcooked, under or over seasoned; the pasta was always bland and overcooked, and then there would sometimes be an overwhelming inappropriate flavor – dried herbs or an entire grove’s worth of lemons.

But N recently whipped up a little variation with some baby rapini I just thinned from our dirt, and local veg from a new-to-us organic farm just a couple of miles away, and my faith in the dish is restored.

pasta primavera

(Though I’ll still never order it again in an American restaurant…)

Since then, and after perhaps too much rain, (but I’m not complaining at all, but have had to try to air out the dirt a bit) the whole edible green-goodness has gone gangbusters. That baby rapini went big fast and has replaced our need to purchase any supplemental greens. I’m a bit worried about the zucchini only still producing male blossoms, but there’s still time for the ladies, and the dudes are at least tasty in the interim.

blossom salad

(And I don’t want to jinx it, but we might actually have ripe tomatoes in a couple of weeks which I can’t believe and I’m so excited about, but it almost doesn’t seem real, and it could all utterly fail before then…)

But for not expecting much in the first year of our dirt, I’m exceptionally pleased.

Although weeding and general garden-tending has taken a considerable bite out of my sewing/knitting/puttering time…

*Eggplant Parmesan was also one of the few dishes I could get as a vegetarian, and was most often a disaster, so it killed my taste for the veg all together – I’m only just now warming back up to it, though I’d rather have it grilled or mushed up into baba ghanoush, or baba ghannouj, or babaganouj or however the hell it’s spelled…

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Fiber recycling, international edition

This video has been knocking about the fiber sphere

With its lilting life-affirming soundtrack, it straddles a very strange position of being a quasi-anti-capitalism statement and pro-slavery propaganda piece…

See the poor workers in the big factory with wide smiles on their faces?

Don’t you feel good knowing that when you discard your bejeweled panties they end up in the hands of a beautiful woman in India making something new from them?

Recycling is good and right and necessary.

Clothing becomes worn or misshapen beyond repair, and it should be reused for new yarn, moving blankets, and insulation and the like…

But how many of those garment slashers have slashed themselves? Have become unemployed after loosing fingers?

Exposed whirring circular saws and scimitar-like blades…

And oh, good god, the fiber dust – one woman wore a scarf over her face – does she already have asthma or worse…?

And India gets hot, really, really, really hot.

And how many hours for how much pay?

And the kids – do they work there too? Do the parent not make enough for school or their care? (Yeah, there might be cultural differences on that one, but probably not.)

And what about benefits?

And what about retirement?

And what is the environmental cost of all that shipping and water and waste from re-manufacturing?

Oh, but they have hope! And quaint comments about our excess! And big smiles!

Textile recycling should exist and does because we’re wasteful fatcats but it probably wouldn’t be viable to the capitalists unless it’s cheap, and it can only be cheap if it’s done like this…

kinda sounds like that old American cotton argument…

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When the drapes became the bedspread

It’s been the time of year when I have to give up my much loved down duvet for a lighter bed covering for a few weeks now.

I have to shamefully admit that we’ve been using a plain green store-bought quilt for the last few summers since buying a bigger bed. (And I still haven’t gotten around to finishing a bigger quilt… yes, that shirt one I started years ago isn’t any further along, and it is even further from my thoughts.)

I’m thinking of other quilts I’d like to make, but I don’t really have the space or patience right now to make one as big as I’d like – at least king-sized, though the bed is a queen – so I accepted another summer of the boring commercially-made thing.

Then a week or two ago, I stopped by the thrift store to find some summer pants to replace the ones I intentionally (and not) turned into paint pants, and happened to wander by the home textiles – a land of either intimately disgusting, or wonderfully fabulous, textilely things. In the past I’ve scored vintage drapes and tablecloths that I’ve re-sold well online, and our current perfect-condition woolly throw blankets are pre-owned.

bedspread-curtains

This time, a set of jacquard toile drapes – two panels and two valances – caught my eye and passed my it’s-pleasant-to-the-touch, seems to be natural fibers, and doesn’t stink or have gross stains test (though the dye had bled and the fabric was a bit puckered from a hot wash or dry). I passed them by, but came back just before leaving, figuring I could use the fabric to make knitting bags…

or perhaps, a bedspread?

Now, the fabric really isn’t my thing. I collected blue and white dishes for only a half a second in my past, once put a cobalt blue wine bottle on the kitchen windowsill for a few weeks, and only have just a few toile pieces in my stash. I like deer, but don’t like hunting scenes, and the over-the-top romanticism?

No, because it falls in with things I don’t like such as the paler pinks and purples, some peach (but not peaches), pearlized things, potpourri, Precious Moments, things with panache, plump, perfume, things with poof and pounce, pathetic romance novels, and most of all:

putti.

bedspread-putti

And our house is an amalgamation of mid-century modern, late 19th century office, Italian/Moroccan/New Mexican fusion, and art school detritus – nothing frilly or froofy or sickeningly sentimental between our walls.

But I wanted this perfect-weight cottony thing on the bed.

bedspread-no binding

And so it is.

bedspread-binding detail

I cut the curtains in half, alternated the right and wrong sides, and added one of the valances.

I wanted it to be reversible, so I sewed twill tape over the seams. I wanted to dye the tape, but I figured that would set the project back days or years. The seams on the tape are a bit wonky due to my impatience and the difficulty in shoving this huge heavy thing into my old machine on a too-small table, but it is a practical piece that will get laundered and abused, so perfection is pointless.

bedspread-binding

And I think I like the tape side better as the public side…?

bedspread-deer

So now I can slumber under slaughter-in-progress deer, and hope the putti don’t plunk down in my dreams…

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For the birds

I found this in the yard.

yarn litter

It isn’t mine.

[Sniffs and tilts head upwards] I don’t do acrylic.

But in all seriousness, don’t leave this shit out for the birds.

Yes, I know you feel like you are helping your little feathered friends (even though your cat might be killing them too) and seeing a nest with brightly colored bits brings a little puff of joy to make your earnest heartstrings quiver and sing, but really you are polluting our fine earth.

Yes, creatures feathered and furred like to help themselves to our freshly washed fleeces and fluff drying in the yard, but there are millions of us knitting and crocheting and weaving away, and millions more children overseen by overly smug adults providing hands-on enriching [cheap-ass] “craft” projects, that there’s just too much of this stuff knocking about out there now.

Birds have happily had sex and hatched eggs for millennium without our plastic scraps lining their nests – in fact, they are some of the oldest beings on this planet and no doubt preferred life without our smokestack shenanigans and DDT dirt.

This bit of blindingly colored yarn will not break down, biodegrade or otherwise become safe and tolerable in our lifetimes – not to mention it’s already been rejected by the neighborhood birds here and would likely wash down the sewer into the river which drains into the ocean.

If you really feel the need to contribute something to nest building and you are in an area starved for plant diversity, consider the following instead:

Clip your dog’s (as long as it isn’t treated with pesticides, or your own if it’s also chemical-free) hair outdoors.

Leave a few puffs of undyed fleece behind on wash day.

Leave the spiderwebs under the eaves for a few days.

Let a few of the weeds stay and go to seed – hell, I’d like a milkweed bed myself…

And if you must, only very occasionally leave behind a snippet of yarn, make sure it is 100% wool.

And keep in mind too, rodents love the soft stuff just as much, if not more, so you are really contributing to the nesting behavior of rats and mice – do you want rats and mice in your home? Or Squirrels in your attic? Chewing on wires, pissing in the walls, and leaving potentially disease-ridden poops in your precious darling’s cereal bowl?

Otherwise stuff those scraps in toys and pillows and draft snakes and pincushions and pet beds (or give them to someone who will).

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In like a lion or, a fox…?

March arrived with a couple of little back to back icy storms, but it held the promise of a thaw…

blue-fox

And then we had a satisfying morning watching the neighborhood fox hunt (unsuccessfully) in the yard…

blue-shovel

Followed shortly thereafter by more f*cking snow.

So it’s back to the wintertime blues.

Quite literally – I realized much of what I’ve been working on lately is blue, which is a little odd for me…

blue-sperry

Like this Sperry sweater (I’m a little afraid it doesn’t have as much ease as I’d like, but I’m not quite far enough along to know for sure…)

blue-velvet

And this scrappy little quilt made from clothes that were both mine and not that’s much farther along than this now…

blue-stole

And finally, this big “old shale” stole out of recycled yarn.  I wanted to restock my etsy shop with some handknits like this, but I think etsy has gotten too evil for me – do you have a suggestion for a new marketplace site to use for handmade goodies?

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