Tag Archives: repairing

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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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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An improved jacket

Lately I’ve been re-working woolen clothes – both my own old ones and new thrift shop scores.  Or rather, I have an overflowing box of items I intend to re-work, but have only managed to completely finish a few lately.  I found this jacket or blazer  in early January and it perfectly matches a scarf* I made a few years ago.  And yes, I previously raged against pink a little when it falls under a raspberry or pepto influence, but I love this dirty old lavender-ish rose.

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The jacket had some issues though – the plastic buttons looked wrong and cheap and were probably a replacement, there was a large hole in the bottom hem, the sleeves were hack-hemmed way too short, and at first I liked the little brown triangles at the pockets because I thought they were suede and I like mixing browns and greys thank you very much, but on closer inspection they turned out to be Ultrasuede or other sort of microfiber… ick.   And then the label puzzled me as well:

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It looks like an older style, but the little content tag underneath it looks more recent, but the sizing is oldschool too – says it’s a 14, but fits more like a 4 or 6 – or is it foreign?  I can’t find anything online about Ms. Alice Carol except a few other pieces [mis-dated in my opinion] on Etsy, so my best guess is that it’s from the late 1970s…?  I also feel that it was sufficiently altered from its original state so I could continue to monkey around with it.  It doesn’t look like I did much now, but I:

let out the cuffs to the bitter end removed the sleeve buttons stitched up the side wrist gap re-hemmed the cuffs re-attached the sleeve lining repaired the hole on the bottom took off the Ultrasuede triangles cut new grey wool triangles but then didn’t like they way they looked and didn’t feel like sewing them on then made and attached my own covered buttons** out of a pair of my brother’s old grey wool pants of about the same age that match the grey stripe that you really don’t see in the pictures [did you get that in one breath?]

Much better.

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* For those who are savvy or nebbie, you could find this scarf pattern for free on ravelry, but I’m in the middle of re-writing and charting it and hope to re-post it soon as a buy-it pattern (never mind that only very few have made it for free so far) but one can hope [or have the right to have delusions] right?

** Oh how I love you, DIY button blanks – why were you waiting so long to come into my life?  Will I ever tire of you?  But have you been in my life long enough to know that you’ll hold up through many unbuttonings and buttonings and banging into things?

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My grandmother’s gloves

My grandmother was a fun-loving petite woman who, as many women of that time, sewed her own clothing and maintained a stylish appearance even through the lean economic times in the post-depression and post-war Midwest.  I recently discovered in the 1940 census, a year after this photo was taken, she was earning only slightly less as a stenographer with large railroad company than my grandfather who sold insurance.  Go grandma!  But alas, the first of several babies came shortly thereafter and she no longer needed to sport a working woman’s wardrobe, though that’s not to say she wasn’t still stylish.  My only memories of her are of a very sick and small woman who appeared much older than her middle age.

Image

Recently my mother gave me a pair of old gloves that were my grandmother’s.  I have memories of them being at the bottom of the box of our family’s winter accessories – the glove that you always grabbed while fishing blindly for another, and tossed back annoyed. But now the palms are dried out and coming unstitched and the knitted portion battled with moths or barbed wire or another prickly country thing.

ImageThey appear to be a humble everyday glove, better for sweeping flurries off the stoop rather than going shopping downtown.  But a label still survives in one…

ImageWhat an odd mix of posh and not… though in its early years acrylic had a much better reputation than now and was used to make “cashmere-like” twinsets.  But the raccoon is interesting – I keep thinking how short the fibers must be, though perhaps not unlike an angora rabbit.  And the horsehide palm…yes, we Americans are squeamish about all things horse that aren’t riding off into the sunset, but it’s still leather just like from any other leather producing beast.  The gloves seemed to be knitted in a shaker rib, and I hope to be able to stitch up the holes without needing to actually replicate the stitch as I will never find a suitable yarn to match, though they feel a bit like a baby alpaca blend.  They also have maintained a beautiful shape and are a testament that wool has memory (I will not acknowledge that the acrylic probably brought something to the table as well).  I am curious, however, about their size – as seen from the picture above, my grandmother had tiny hands, and these are labeled a sized medium and in fact fit my man-sized paws.  My mother believes that they are from the early 1970s or late ’60s, and thinks they couldn’t be much older since they still exist, and in fact still exist as a pair, but I wonder if they might be older.  (But I’m also secretly hoping they weren’t actually my aunt’s…)  Either way, they will go back to a life being worn and won’t be the lonely pair at the bottom of the box.

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