Tag Archives: sweaters

Early harvests

I’m having a hard time to adjusting to being sans job this time around. The last time it happened, I had to hurry up and deal with the sale of our old house and all of the packing up, storing, and moving to the next state over, so too much was going on to really feel the break. But this time, I’ve been getting up and going into my home office every day since we’ve lived here and I can’t shake the feeling that I’m slacking off if I’m not sitting at my desk. Though if I sit at my desk and try to do something mildly constructive like write a bit about fiber or put up some ebay listings, I’ll easily forget my train of thought. Or the dog starts to act nutty…

harvest - not a pastry

Or I’ll wander off for a snack and see a paper bag in the kitchen and think maybe I have a forgotten tasty sandwich or chocolate croissant ready to surprise and delight me with deliciousness but then remember it was just some random bit of home improvement I picked up at the hardware store a few hours previously…

But I’m trying to find a new rhythm and hopefully in another week or so things will lean to normal. (Though I started writing this over a week ago, so maybe I’d better hope for another few weeks or so…)

harvest garden full

The garden is finally fully planted and/or germinated. The only total failure so far was fennel, and I’m in a current aphid war in one tomato bed, but not the other, yet.

(The neighbors also just rebuilt their retaining wall near the property line – thanks neighbor, well done!)

May’s dirt is a time of impatience then sudden chaos – one day I’m thinning baby greens…

harvest - fresh greens

And enjoying their first meal-sized portion after N’s culinary intervention:

harvest - greens pasta

And then in a few days, we have a sudden, aggressive bounty of lusty, verdant young adults…

harvest rapini

And we’ll be crowded with green, barely able to keep up, but reluctant to share, for weeks (fingers crossed).

Gardening and unruly dog handling have left my wrists sore, so I’ve done little to no knitting, spinning, and sewing. (Worrying about the dog chewing up or swallowing fiber tools has also curtailed my activities – I can’t leave anything lying about at the ready as I’m wont to do.) But I hit the thrift one last time in the early spring to gather up some yarn-harvestable sweaters before they disappeared for the season.

harvest - bag o sweaters

One was a lovely olive wool/cashmere? blend – I already misplaced the label as that is one of the things I often leave out while unraveling. But I think this might become a Paris Toujours instead of the brown cashmere I’d planned, though I’ve a hundred yards or so less of the olive. This yarn begs for something garter-stitch-squishy though (and I’m thinking of a poncho-like thing in the brown instead… maybe.)

harvest olive yarn

And another was a printed cotton/rayon cardigan. I’d been wanting to play with a printed knit that would turn into variegated yarn, but I hadn’t finished the thought as to what I’d do with it. The kinks remained after washing – likely because of the rayon? but that doesn’t matter too much, since I’ll likely double or triple it with something else or itself. And I can’t accurately count the yardage to save my life…

harvest - printed yarn

The others are wool and wool or cotton blends – I went out of my comfort zone a bit in order to get some interesting yarns and have some wool-free options if I ever get around to selling things (either the harvested yarn or something made from it). And several of these were less than ideal since they were cardigans with cut and stitched buttonholes, so one panel is left on several that will need to be sewn into something, or if I’m desperate, I could still harvest a dozen or so yards between the holes.

(Of course I still have dozens of other sweaters waiting to be unraveled as well, but those are still packed up – much easier to just find new ones…)

 

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Filed under collecting, gardening, home, recycling, thrifting, unemployment

Biggest-assed yarn bomb

It’s all over and too late to see now, but Knit the Bridge was pretty cool (and record-breaking).

We went to Pittsburgh for a little jaunt over Labor Day weekend and caught the bridge on a bright summer morning.

Knit the Bridge 1

(Got the ass-end of one of those obnoxious duck tour thingamawhats too!)

It was quite a bit more Crochet the Bridge, rather than knit, but they certainly couldn’t call it [yarn] Bomb the Bridge, which would have been more accurate, inclusive, and alliterative, but sadly we can’t say such things these days.

Knit the Bridge 2

The cheery hanging flower baskets were a nice touch too and complimented the bright acrylic yarns.

The whole thing had a campy, homey feel which was nice, but also played a bit into the knitting/crochet stereotype.

Knit the Bridge 3

But I won’t criticize that too harshly – overall it was a good thing and acrylic had to be used as the blankets will be massively laundered and donated to people and places that don’t have the knowledge, time, space, or frankly have much bigger issues rather than proper care of woolen hand-knits.

(There were actually many people out too, I just chose the pics without them.)

See also Cosy’s blog for more pics.

Knit the Bridge 4

I sadly wasn’t able to cram in a visit to Natural Stitches which is among my favorite LYSs – it carries loads of good quality stuff in good colors plus some fancy things for the occasional splurge (but not fancy-pants things that are just plain fugly).

But that doesn’t mean I didn’t acquire yarn of some sort.  We also hit a couple of thrift stores and I found a few sweaters ripe for harvesting.  Many of the thrift stores around Pittsburgh don’t take away the sweaters in summertime like they do on the East Coast.  I hate when they do that.

Pgh thrift 9-2013 4

As usual, I don’t have immediate plans for these, but they have the same sized/weight nicely heathered Shetland-like yarn, so something stripey with the two sweaters combined might be in order.  Maybe even a traditional Shetland hap shawl… Purple usually isn’t among my top favored colors though…

Pgh thrift 9-2013 3

And I pretty much swore I wouldn’t buy thin merino to unravel again, but I liked the colors of these and they’re the exact same sweater, so color work is a possibility, though I’ve fallen down the orange-green hole many times already.

Pgh thrift 9-2013 1

And one to keep as-is to wear (as if I need another).

I love the pale green – thank you late ’70s, early ’80s (and yes, I’m sure it’s probably a man’s sweater, but it fits).

Pgh thrift 9-2013 2

And I love the slogan on the label: “Wool. It’s got life.”

Amen.

Pgh thrift 9-2013 5

And I got a few to full/felt.  Only some of them didn’t.  But that’s okay, I’ll unravel them instead.

The ones that did have already become phone cozys/socks/sleeves for some smart phone wielding friends.

I’ve got leftovers for sale too.

(My Etsy shop still isn’t stocked yet though.)

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Filed under knitting, recycling, thrifting, travel

Half-cool sweater weather

Earlier in the month, the days turned half-cool.  It was an awesome and welcome relief after the steamy summer inferno.

These are just a handful of days in the year when you can wrap a thin wool blanket over a silky chemise and comfortably drink coffee/tea on the porch (assuming you don’t have creepy neighbors).  Or don a fingering-weight wool sweater over a sundress when seated in the shade.  These kind of days are rare, yet so many knitwear designs are inexplicably styled and photographed this way.  I suppose other parts of the country and world have climates where these kind of days are more frequent – higher altitudes and northern coasts, but here in the Mid-Atlantic/East Coast and for the lower and middle parts of the states, it’s usually hellishly half-naked hot, or full bodily-coverage cold and only about three days of pleasantry on either end.*

I also think of it in terms of sock weather or not sock weather (or tights weather or bare legs weather).  And these rare comfortable days are also perfectly described in Toni Morrison’s Sula as “too cool for ice cream.”

The return of cooler evenings also stirs up a certain muscle-memory itchiness for the dozen and more years spent in school.  The summer is ending, freedom will go away, much needs to be crammed in before it’s all over – anxiety about unfinished novels, end to swimming days, late night bonfires, and playing in the creek; dread and depression of the impending virtual lock-down for most of the day, stupid classmates, stupid teachers, and stupid homework assignments**; and a slight glimmer of excitement since one more year is starting and it’s one more year closer to being done with the whole mess, a long-awaited class or teacher might finally be on the schedule, and perhaps it will be nice to see a classmate or crush again.  Here and now in my sh*tty apartment complex, some of the ne’re do well kids from the neighboring state are appearing again to attend the better schools on this side of the river, and the school buses are making their shortcuts in the parking lot that come maddeningly close to clipping my car.

Every year around this time I want to knit a thin sweater.  I own one cheap commercially (probably also unethically) made thin cardigan that I either wear for several days straight in a row or not at all during an autumn or spring.  I know a thin sweater could take me ages to knit too, or else I’ll get a bit obsessive about it and knock it out in a few weeks, but still couldn’t reasonably finish it until the next window of half cool days.

Half cool cardigan

I’ve queued the Featherweight Cardigan, paulie, and Autumnal Cardigan but none of these is quite what I’m after, though they’re all close.  I like the top-down construction of the paulie, (and I like this one as-is, just not for what I need at the moment) but with the drapey hang of the Featherweight or Autumnal, but none of these three patterns has the gauge I’d like to use.  I’ve got a few balls of Lion Brand Sock-Ease yarn in the stash that I got on the cheap and was saving for tights or a sweater.  I’d prefer to re-create the gold/saffron of my current sweater, but this “toffee” yarn will also work with what I usually wear with it.  Part of the reason I haven’t started this yet is the math needed to re-configure or create a new pattern from scratch – I am sorely lacking in math education and natural ability, so I rarely knit garments to fit because of this – especially since I need to modify most patterns to fit my weird body anyway (except something boxy I suppose).  So I prefer items I can try on as I go rather than having to work out everything on paper beforehand.

But I also haven’t started yet because at the moment I am soooo busy with portfolio pieces and will be for a few months more, although I’m absolutely dying for a side project, a distraction, mindless knitting…

And most importantly, it is hot again and thoughts of a thin sweater are mothballed.

My legs and feet are bare once again.

*I omitted air-conditioning.  I often need sweaters in air-conditioning, and interior environments often mimic half-cool weather.  Since I half-work from home now, I can control my own thermostat, and thus no longer need the air-conditioning sweater.  And in my previous gainfully employed life, I usually left the air-conditioning sweater in the office and rarely wore it outside, so it was more of a tool rather than a wardrobe component.

**I like school, school is good, but my primary school was bad, so stupid was a reality on all fronts.

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Filed under art school, knitting, unemployment

Long term UFOs – part II

The sweater quilt.  I joined Ebay in 1996 – those were the good old days before the vintage market got utterly saturated and you could sell stuff for a decent profit and find great stuff to buy.   There were a few awesome thrift stores around where I lived, and I scoured one in particular weekly or more.  At that time I was working in a gallery, putting off grad school, and convincing myself that I could be an artist even though I made little art and showed none of it.  To supplement my meager income, I produced a few craft items for shops and fairs and sold vintage stuff online – mostly dishware, printed tablecloths, and some clothing.  For a couple of years life was good, and my Ebay earnings paid for a few trips to visit friends and family scattered from coast to coast, but then I noticed a problem – namely I had a thrift-store problem, and for every item I bought to re-sell, I bought another or two or three to keep…  This also coincided with the bottom falling out on things like Jadeite dishware and the like, so it was time to quit.  But.I.Just.Couldn’t.Stop.   I loved the sensory experience of whirring through a rack of old sweaters and my fingers landing on cashmere or something sturdy and sheepy, never mind the other senses tweaked from mothballs or a neighboring browser or her shrieking kid.  I couldn’t quit the hunt for prime fiber, so I continued to go, but less frequently and I tried to stick to just the clothing racks and electronics (did I mention I also collected sewing machines?  Yeah, back then I rarely moved…).  I started to believe it was my destiny and responsibility to “rescue” sweaters of beautiful fibers that couldn’t be worn  any longer, and I still do to some extent.  But back to the 1990s, I had amassed a stack of sweaters in a pleasing color palette that I determined should be a quilt.  I also determined that it should be a king-sized one, which I don’t know why – did I expect to get a bigger bed?  Did I have a buyer in mind? Was that just the amount of fabric I had?  I don’t remember.  I also don’t know why I didn’t consider fulling [felting] them first, though I had to use the laundromat then and only did so when the need was dire, so my disdain of the place, and not wanting to do it by hand was probably it.  So I started sewing (on one of my many vintage thrifted machines) and in a day or so, finished the top.

DSCF6996 - Copy DSCF7013 - Copy

And then all movement on it ceased.  I remember showing it to a few people who really liked it, and one in particular probably would have bought it for a decent price, but I just couldn’t figure out how to finish it.  I had a stash of old army blankets that I thought I would use for the backing and I experimented with one but the stretchiness of the sweaters wasn’t playing well with the stiffness of the blanket.  The blankets were also fairly heavy and I wanted this to continue to have a sweater-like drape.  I also remember seeing a bolt of thin knitted material (wool & angora) in a antiques/junk store that would have been perfect, but it wasn’t there when I went back for it.  Then I think I thought I would back it with a cotton/wool plaid material that just never went on sale, or a cotton flannel plaid that never existed in the colorway I’d desired.  And then I hadn’t addressed a few of the holes that were in the sweaters from the beginning – I believe I was thinking about embroidery, but now I’d just like to repair them.  So here it is about 15 years later, or maybe I’ll say nearly 20 since that sounds more dramatic.  I actually still like it too, but its lack of a backside or trim is still troublesome.

DSCF7007 - Copy

If I had fulled the sweaters beforehand (and some are a bit already) I wouldn’t worry about it and would leave the rough side naked, but as it is now, I can see little bits of sweater coming off everywhere and making me bats, and the seams probably aren’t the strongest.  The thought of attempting to back something so stretchy makes me ill, and I don’t really like a tufted look, but that would be easiest.  I’m considering maybe using a jersey sheet, but haven’t looked for a giant cheap one yet.  So this is the UFO that might fail my attempt to make it not so, but I will think about it, and maybe live with it on the bed for a bit…

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