Tag Archives: red

Old blue quilt

oldbluequilt-full

Many years ago, I found this old narrow reversible quilt at my old favorite thrift store.  I loved that it was made from scraps, improvisational, hand and machine-sewn, and the fact that it was just plain old, and I like old sh*t.

I sewed a sleeve on the opposite of what I considered the more public side and hung it in my bedroom to ward off the cold seeping through the walls in my old apartment – I loved that place too because it was old – but damn, it was also cold.

oldbluequilt-ties

It’s tufted with knots of white, blue, and reddish-pink (perhaps formerly red?) wool yarn.  The interior might be filled with wool as well as it’s just a mass of somewhat disgusting clumpy lumps now, but I’d need to perform a little surgery to find out.

(And I don’t think I really want to see what’s in it in case it’s nasty).

oldbluequilt-pinwheel

The reverse has a pinwheel and some nice fabrics not seen on the front.  This pinwheel got into my deep brain and caused me to make many half-demented pinwheels last summer, or maybe the summer before…  I think I probably have enough to make something from them… I should find them.

oldbluequilt-squiggle

I like this squiggly block.

The back has a few stained blocks, but were stained in their former life perhaps as clothing, as the stains were sewn over.

A few faint splotches look suspiciously like blood, or a really robust coffee mixed with a hearty and delicious red wine.

(That is also part of the reason I chose the other side to display).

oldbluequilt-plaid

And there are some lovely hand stitches too.

I also love that delicate blue pattern on the left side.

I can’t date it – there are definitely some old fabrics in it, perhaps from the 1910s, and the red, white, and blue color scheme could place it in WWII times, but some of the other fabrics have a 1950s and ’60s vibe?  Though the shape is also older – long and narrow – somewhat too big for a crib and too small for a twin bed.  It would probably best fit one of those narrow cot-like beds (don’t they have a name???).

But it seems that it could have been made from old clothes from a number of members of a family perhaps for a notable baby or a soldier – as a memento, or a comfort for someone leaving home.

But things are rarely as they seem, right?

When I was trying to pare down my things after I moved to N’s house, I gave it to him to give to one of his family members who was having babies at the time – I thought it would be nice for a wall in a kid’s room.  But he wanted to keep it, though we didn’t get around to hanging it up then.

Or in that apartment of late of which I’d rather not speak or remember.

And we still haven’t put it up in the new house (or anything else yet until the painting is done…

rather, all of the repairs that need to be done to the walls before I can even begin to paint them).

But I rescued it from storage a few months ago, and I’m  really glad I still have it.

And I love hate love hate love hate love that he enables me in the keeping of old sh*t.

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Neck stretches and why I’m not an archaeologist

waneka-no face detI can now reveal my Waneka cowl by the fabulous and fun designer Annie Watts (aka Wattsolak).  I used my recent Kool-Aid dyed yarn for a super bulky version and totally love its gargantuan squooshiness.  The pattern is easily and brainlessly adaptable to any weight of yarn – thinner yarn = more coils, thicker = fewer.  And it looks great with gradient dyed yarn – a perfect one-skein project especially for the thousands of beautiful indie dyed hanks out there at wool shows and in webworld.  I also made a  worsted weight version out of the maligned Lion Brand Amazing, and though I love the colors and the pattern, I still hate the feel of the yarn.

Waneka-with lamb

And I actually prefer my obnoxious-hued, still slightly noxious-smelling version.

waneka-no face

I can even wear it on my head.  Aging old-time Hollywood actress turban-chic.

This has had me remembering my youth (yet again – I guess I’m doing some mid-life thing) and the countless hours I spent traveling via National Geographic magazine.  I couldn’t stop thinking about neck rings worn by Kayan and Ndebele* women while I was knitting.

 400px-Kayan_woman_with_neck_rings ndebele1

Of course Waneka won’t ruin your collarbones or require marriage…

But as a child, I was utterly fascinated about the rest of the world – especially cultures that seemed unchanged or little changed for thousands of years.   When not reading or playing with animals, my other favorite pastime was digging up old sh*t – fossils in the creek, arrowheads in the field, or broken saucers, rusted scissor halves, and bottles in buried trash heaps in the woods.  By the age of nine, I was quite certain I wanted to be an archaeologist.  Luckily around that time, we had a class assignment of interviewing someone who was what we wanted to be when we grew up.  We lived in the sticks; I have no idea how most people were employed around there apart from service and functional jobs – teachers, undertakers, auto repair persons, farmers, and the like.  I don’t remember what my classmates wanted to be (and most girls were destined for early motherhood and possibly marriage anyway).  But my parents actually found a relatively local archaeologist at a university in the closest thing resembling a city 40 minutes away.  I was nervous about interviewing this professor – it was like meeting Indiana Jones or glimpsing into my certain glamorous and fulfilling future.

At first glance, his office was full of books and sunlight was streaming down on piles of Very Important Documents about Very Intriguing Finds.  He was (and yes, I could be making this up) cloaked in a brown corduroy blazer with worn elbow patches, mussed with unclean hair and a lack of a shave, and sporting a timeworn look of fascinating experience and adventure.

Then he opened his mouth.

I don’t know much about children, but I know that up to a certain age you should deceive them into thinking that life is ok.  If you study and work hard you can achieve whatever you want within reason.  Money should matter less than happiness.  It’s best to do something you love and the world will embrace you and appreciate your effort.

But instead of encouraging my little sh*t self, he launched into an epic and exceedingly bitter rant about the profession.  It boiled down to: don’t do it because the pay is sh*t, the days are long, hot, and tedious to the point of self-immolation, your projects won’t be funded or so severely underfunded that you will pay out of your own pocket, you will have to resort to teaching and you will not be respected at the university and will have to sell your soul to campus politics, tenure games, and administrative delirium, you will loose your marriage, your kids will despise you, your dog will run away and you’ll die stinking in the streets.

So today, though I work somewhat in the history business, I am not an archaeologist.

Trash from woods

I still occasionally dig up old broken sh*t in the woods though… (when not knitting of course).

* Pictures (that aren’t mine) yanked off the web from here and here.

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Gradually getting kooler…

I’ve been wanting to start dying yarn for quite some time, but we currently lack the space, ventilation, and decommissioned cookware.  So I finally got around to dying with the stuff you can’t technically die from, but I certainly wouldn’t want to ingest, though millions do.

Kooldye

Yep, good old Kool-Aid – and I stand by my opinion that the stuff really is truly horrid, but I’ve been wanting to try gradient dying with this tutorial and it’s cheap and I thought readily available.*  A [not so] brief aside about my relationship to the beverage – the only positive thing I can associate with it is its endearing camp name of “bug juice.”  We always had bug juice at summer camp, though I don’t remember drinking it.  Why?  Because I barfed fruit punch flavored Hi-C** as a small child and have always carried the world’s worst aversion to the scent/smell/taste/whiff/hint of fruit punch (and bright red beverages to a lesser degree) into present day.  In fact, that is partly the reason that my only fear in life is anything to do with vomit – both my own and others’, and the pile on the sidewalk, or the remnants in the bowl in a public restroom, or boats, or amusement rides, or pregnant women, or drunks, or babies, or children, or hospitals and doctors offices, or even the offhand comment by someone that her/his stomach feels a little funny, can send me into a tailspin of fear and trembling.  The other reason is my second grade teacher had me clean another student’s puke off some wooden puzzles.  I was above average for my redneck school, so I was off quietly reading to myself – an Encyclopedia Brown book in fact – when the teacher was conducting a reading lesson to the rest of the class.  I was absorbed in my book, and didn’t notice what happened in the back and the subsequent sudden shuffle of students and a teary girl running out of the room.  Then my teacher sweetly asked if I could help her, and being a generally obedient child, I did.  Usually the teachers wanted to rub their excess hand lotion onto you (which seems mildly horrifying now), or help watering the plants, or straightening the [outdated] books.  No, I was presented with a stack of puzzles covered in chunky upchuck and told to take them to the restroom (or maybe she called it washroom) and clean them off.  I did.  I think I cried.  I think my mom raised holy hell at the school afterwards.  But all I remember is the spilled stomach contents and it haunts me to this day.

But back to the dye job.

kool-sweater

I started unraveling this thrift store sweater around the time we moved a year ago so I never finished it and have only recently found the box in which it was shoved.  I hate to unravel something hand-knit even from a big company that most likely exploited the labor (though I have no proof of that so don’t sue me) but this was a late 1980s, early 1990s monstrosity with gaping drop shoulders that reached the naval.  Maybe I killed something really important to fashion history – I killed it for its pelt.

kool-yarn

The wool is good – very sheepy.  It was knit with two strands held together to make for a bulky weight – unplied you’ve got twice the yardage at a still generous worsted weight.  I wanted at least 150 yards, so I wound off 100 thinking I’d go the worsted option and then have 200.

kool-dye

I bought several packets of the evil drink mix, though I was disappointed that there was no green or blue – what about lime or blue raspberry (even though there isn’t such a thing as a blue raspberry on this good green earth)?

What follows are notes to myself that I’m sharing so use the tutorial or check out the What a Kool Way to Dye group on Ravelry for technical details.

kool-little ball

First bath was two packets of lemonade, and one of watermelon.  The lemonade was basically useless as yellow, but it helped turn the pink slightly more coral.  My ball was pretty dense and I was sure the dye didn’t get very far so I wound off all of the first color.

kool-balls&pot

Then I left it out of the pot and stuck the bigger remaining ball in.  Second bath was a packet of tropical punch and one of orange.  This is where I nearly lost it, and unfortunately only later found out that cherry is basically the same color and I never had to endure the fruit punch in the first place.  I can’t even begin to describe the odor – artificial flavor and scent, wet wool, the sh*t that was stuck to the burner and burning, and the remnants of eau de thrift store. (The sweater had already been washed once but the yarn hadn’t had its second bath yet).  I couldn’t take it for very long, so before the liquid had gone clear, I rinsed and wound this around the little pink ball so the last undyed layer was on the top.

kool-mold

Then added one grape packet to the pot and sprinkled on another directly to the ball.  It looks like mold.  It smelled like hell.  But the grape covered up the worst of the fruit punch stink.

kool-soak

Then I soaked it a couple of times in cold water and vinegar.  I hoped that the vinegar would help with the stink, and it did to a degree, but I’m still picking up a whiff I’d rather not.

KOOL-SKEINED

I don’t know the color fastness of the final product, and it’s faded a bit after drying, but I don’t mind if it fades a bit more.  I suspected that the plies would felt and they did, so I’ll probably end up using this as 100 yards of bulky weight yarn.

And yeah, wear gloves.  I did except for the one time I really should have been (see top pic).

*The fancy grocery stores that we as food snobs frequent do not stock the stuff, so I had to visit a grocery on the other side of the tracks to find it.  But it is one that I will return to as I found lower prices on a few things I buy, and smaller sized things – though that is a crime – the smallest portion is always the most expensive in terms of the price per serving and the poor gets screwed with that, but for some things, I only want a little bit since I end up having to throw larger portions out.

**Never give a child with a stomach ache anything that contains food coloring.

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New England travels – increasing my fiber…

While in the White Mountains, we decided to use up a rainy day in Portland, Maine.  I recently bought some Quince & Co. Osprey yarn and was anxious to hit a yarn store near its hometown to buy fondle some more.  We underestimated the drive down to the coast on slow and winding country roads so by the time we got there, we were too hungry to do anything else.  So we got some tasty-as-all-get-out lobster rolls at Fisherman’s Grill (and you can spot my old cardigan in action, or at least knotted around my waist and waiting for action, along with a tiny peek of my old sh*t “rain”coat, aka the sucky soaker).

New England-lobsta roll

And ate them (along with some badass insanely delicious onion rings) in the car!?!?!  This is a strange and rare thing* for us and it felt very very wrong, but the food tasted very very good.  And after our onion and roach of the sea feast, we were sleepy so we decided to drive all the way back to nap away the rainy afternoon in the cabin and skip the rest of Portland.  (Sorry Portland, see you more next time).

But back to the Maine-based Quince & Co. yarn.  I loved the stuff.  At first I was a little unenthused about it since they offer few tweeds or heathers and their advertising is beautifully photographed with feminine and ethereal and often pastel colors, and I feel a little too mannish for the stuff.  If I see another baby chick yellow or sea rose pink drapey cardigan paired with a demure sundress I may sprout a chin hair.

New England-Quince & Co.So I chose some of the murkiest colors they had to offer, but I must say I love murky and they did a great job with a green that sometimes looks brown (Marsh) and a grey that sometimes looks blue (Storm).  And the yarn base feels soft but durable and has a wonderful spongy sproing factor.  It reminds me a lot of the wool I bought in Abruzzo last year about which I have yet to write and made a huge impact on the products I buy.

New England-Osprey

The yarn also has a great stitch definition and does that thing where the stitches appear in column-like rows on one side, but I can’t remember the term for it…  But regardless, I’m in love with the stuff and will buy more at a later date.  I’ve pretty much taken a blood vow to only buy domestic/North American products when I can, especially wool, and especially buy wool from places and people I visit.  I’m making an exception for a couple of American indie dyers who source globally but have an incomparable and awesome product, but for the most part it’s all red white and blue (and just white and red for Canada) sheep for me (and of course the colors of another country’s flag when I’m visiting said country…. you get the drift).

So of course I wanted to make a short detour on our way back through Vermont to Green Mountain Spinnery.  Sadly I wasn’t there at a time they gave tours, but I happily inhaled the lovely sheepy perfumes and peeked at some of the equipment.   I was also exceptionally restrained in my purchases since I knew I could always buy online from them, so I just picked up a few skeins of their Yarn Over yarn.  I love the stuff – it’s made from leftovers spun together in unrepeatable muted colors and is sheepy and rustic and feels like a good strong wooly yarn (my camera liked it too and got excitedly saturated, but it’s a bit more faded in life).  I’m sure I’ll regret not buying a sweater’s worth, but I really don’t have the dough or a lack of sweaters to justify it now.

New England-GMS

And I really couldn’t justify spending much at the great local gear store Farm Way but you bet I nearly spun around in the-hills-are-alive fashion in the Ibex section.  Yep, wool, mostly American-made (except it’s Australian Merino), Vermont-based, comfortable, practical, and sadly, pricey even when on sale, and what I do have of it fits a bit strangely since the really on sale stuff isn’t usually in my size.  So instead I bought a pair of Vermont made Darn Tough wool socks and N became my Sugar Daddy for a new rain jacket.

New England-socks

It’s a little weird to buy wool socks since I knit them, but I’ll never want to knit (or be able to) really fine-gauge ones or cushy-soled hiking ones.

And my old and continued favorite of domestic wool yarn is Brown Sheep’s Lamb’s Pride – I can’t neglect to mention them and I have a huge aging stash of the stuff…you can find it on crazy sale sometimes.

DSCF6391 - Copy

Now I’m putting some pressure on myself to come up with some White Mountain inspired patterns, but for now I must finish other things.

* We/I eschew and abhor many aspects of American culture, especially in regards to its foodways and habits of eating fast “food” shite in cars.  Yes, we are snobs but love our tasty tasty Euro-centric, farm-to-table, fresh out of the garden, local, locavore, low on the food chain, sustainably raised, only when in season, not from a factory or feedlot, organic, chemical and preservative-free, not-out-of-a-box-or-bag, Mediterranean-inspired, stuff that has been eaten for thousands of years and should be for thousands more, grub.  Although I have to admit I cringed violently when a server at my favorite restaurant mentioned that the veal they were serving that night was hand-fed by children… I call that 4-H, or child-labor, or just plain f*cking ridiculous, or Portlandia come to life (only it wasn’t in Stumptown)…  And those onion rings above?  Yeah, I watched the guy take an onion and slice it up, dredge it by hand, and dunk into the fryer – they didn’t come pre-breaded and frozen, yee hah!

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Not so gawful now, or perhaps just a little less so…

Gawful in NYC

This is my first winter wearing this scarf made from recycled sweater yarn especially selected to match my red coat.  (Stupidly, I also wore it in NYC when all the kids dress like slutty, sexy, and sloppy Santa and go bar-hopping – I fear I may have been mistaken for one of them at a distance).

Gawful sweaterBut all Santas aside, last year I found this moth-eaten semi-fulled [felted] cropped turtleneck sweater at a thrift store.  I thought it was god-awful, or “gawful.”*  I like bright colors, wool, and three big cheers for gay pride rainbows, but I thought this was just something that few should wear – it might just be best for a child.  Since it was already ruined by holes and aggressive washings (and had the magic unzippy seams) I happily frogged the bitch.

Gawful balls

Nice balls, eh?  It then dawned on me that half of the colors** matched a Harris Tweed coat I scored months earlier.

Gawful balls and coat

I don’t wear much red – I prefer orange, and I think red generally washes me out.  I have nothing against it per se, I just don’t choose it, and don’t have anything to wear with it – green would look way too x-masy, yellow would make it mustard and ketchup, and my rusty murky colored things don’t work.  I have a grey scarf languishing on the needles, and another dark cowl that would look decent enough with the coat, but I decided it needed an equally loud accessory.  I wanted a sideways constructed scarf or cowl so I could have long skinny rows and few, if any tails to weave in.  I was also itching to do a large project in linen stitch – I found Cerus Scarf by Hilary Smith Callis in ravelry, and though it’s not so much a pattern as just cast-on-this-many-stitches-and-then-do-this-stitch, I linked to it for the sake of conformity, much like the drunk Santas do every year.

Gawful detail

Thankfully I didn’t wear any green so as not to be confused with the drunken masses attending the St. Pat’s day parade in the city yesterday.  I would have worn this cacophony of reds in opposition and protest of toxic colored alcoholic beverages*** and the assholes who spew them on the streets and trains, but alas the weather was a bit wicked and I lurked about in my muds and rusts.

*I didn’t realize this was already a used term, see here.

**This was another project that surprised me in terms of color and color dominance.  I only did one row of the pale yellow and it absolutely screams out and takes the pink along with it, bleaching it down.  And where is the orange?  Though I did an extra row of orange, you almost don’t even see it.  If I had more yarn, I’d like to try a version without the yellow and pink and see if that gives it more of a murky glow.  And I’m still on the fence about removing the kinky fringe and stitching it into a cowl… I usually opt out of fringe, and I’m not sure why I don’t sorta like it, but I think it’s because if it’s too close to your face on a windy day it goes into your mouth?  Or maybe it is something from childhood.   I don’t have a specific plan for the harvested blues and greens yarn yet, but the smaller balls make them excellent for sideways designs…

***Nothing wrong with a good alcoholic beverage, just those that involve dye, or a culture of mass sloppy public drunkenness.

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