Tag Archives: thrift store clothes

Feb finds

Winter went away for a few days a week ago and suddenly it was mud season.

And m&*#$*^%)#**&&$%&$!!!!! TICK season.

And of course, it’s always deer season…

early feb phil (2)

And our yard smells like a barnyard, and the dog loves to eat the poop and lick our faces, and all of our recently planted deer-resistant shrubs still need ugly cages to protect them from being “sampled” to death, and…

early feb phil (2) - detail

See that open, spilled-out compost bin in the back?

That is not ours.

I really like our neighbors – great people – but we’ll never be able to discourage the gathering of beasts in our yard while open compost and birdseed left on the ground happens just over the border…

But that’s why we had to fence in our garden and compost piles. And once again it’s time to think about the garden again – some seeds were saved and are ready to go, a few more are on order. Something went wrong with our seed starting last year – more like a few somethings, so more attention and care (and documentation) need to happen this year.

Everything out there is frozen again, and that’s okay – I’m not ready for the growing demands just yet.

I’m still officially cold-sheeping and generally frugal, but I can’t resist the pull of the thrift store entirely – and it’s paid off well in the last week or two. I found some good yarn on the cheap – the thrift yarn in my area is usually the nastier acrylics or something decent but way overpriced – and I’m itching to knit up big scrappy things, so it all fits in my collecting policy as well.

And then I had one of those rare, serendipitous, delicious scores…

Around the time I first moved out here, I was having a thrift pick-me-up and found a hooded wool duster/cardigan (with pockets!) from a pricey brand of shapeless and mildly dumpy clothes (that are now becoming quite appealing to me as middle age ascends…) but it was priced out of my range – maybe something like $16? Which I would consider if it was something I could wear for work or was very well made, but I wanted it for lounge wear, a robe of sorts – and I’ve already got several oversized sweaters in the name of comfort. So I passed it up, and I regretted doing that (and I might have gone back for it?).

early feb phil (3)

And then around four years later, it is mine. For about $3.

Is it the same one? It very likely could be…

Was it involved in a violent knife attack? Perhaps… or maybe a spray of gunfire?

I saw one of the holes when I picked it up, but it didn’t matter – I loved it more for its imperfections – and I didn’t bother to inspect it at any great length apart from eyeballing if the shoulders would fit me. But when I pulled it out of the wash, I finally saw that it was full of holes a couple of sizes larger than the US’s largest coin.

It’s a slight shame – the fit is so perfect – loose but amazingly not too frumpy – so it could be public wear, but my mending might not cut it for more polished needs. The placement of the holes is random, yet spaced out enough so some interesting embroidery or patches of some sort could look really good, but for now unraveling is mitigated and it’s oh so comfortable…

 

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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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One page of a field guide to handknit thrift store sweaters

Several years ago (it seems like a few, kinda like how 2005 was just 5 years ago) so maybe this was 2009? My extended family got together in the small Midwestern city we (sort of) used to call home. A couple of my cousins and I hit our old thrifting stomping grounds – vast warehouses of the discarded in near dead areas of a long dying city. I didn’t expect to find much – the wealth in my current eastern home is apparent in the quality of rejected goods in the thrifts around here – but I was pleasantly surprised to find a few good sweaters to frog and to wear as is out there.

thriftid-cable-cross

One of the sweaters was clearly hand-knit and somewhat vintage, but I couldn’t tell from when – the longish and leanish shape could have been 1960s, more likely ’70s, but slightly possibly ’90s – I had a similar cotton version from Pear Monarchy back in the day. But it was slightly fulled/felted so it was hard to say the precise shape and fit the original was meant to be. And the color was perfect – I’d been hemming and hawing about knitting a dark charcoal grey cardigan then, and my skills were just beginning to finally progress past garter stitch rectangles, but I was still intimidated by things that have to fit (and still am to some degree) so finding this cardigan was a jackpot – double or triple jackpot too since it was old and used but still usable, not to mention the fit was perfect – hip-bone clearing and no waist-shaping – roomy, but no bulky armpits and linebacker shoulders.

(And it has a mis-crossed cable you can only sort of see in a prominent spot on the front, so the maker either wore it proudly, or didn’t notice until after all the careful finishing and was sorely irritated and perhaps why it ended up at the thrift…?)

I wore it as a light jacket and/or office sweater for a few years, and have since mostly worn it indoors – it’s still in great shape but needs some attention to a few pilled areas and perhaps an aggressive blocking to try to eek out a bit more arm length – they look long enough, but don’t quite feel it – and I’m probably to blame for that – since it was already a bit felted, I likely washed it on delicate in the machine in the last apartment, and delicate it was not – so I think it shrunk a tiny bit more… The buttons had a way of falling off too – I seemed to remember taking them all off and reaming them out so they’d stop cutting the threads, but perhaps I thought about doing that and instead sewed them with heavier-duty thread? Either way, a few are missing – I think only one more since I acquired it, but I took the useless ones off the bitter end of the front and off the collar and sewed them on the body and no one is the wiser unless you’re awkwardly close enough to me to see the buttonholes – they never would have functioned buttoned all the way up to the tips of the collar though, or at least on my apparently thick neck.

But that’s also because it wasn’t meant to be buttoned all the way up –

thriftid-cover

I found the original pattern book while thrifting this summer!

I’m always on the lookout for vintage knitting patterns – I’m actively collecting older Minerva books for their loveliness rather than any intention to make a tiny-gauge fitted suit or flowing gown, but I like the fit of some garments from the ’60s and ’70s, so I snatch up those with the intention of possibly making something from them, or at least using them as a jumping off point.

This one caught my eye because I’ve been hemming and hawing still about making a heavily-cabled sweater – something fishermanish, but not to “Celtic” looking, something roomy but not baggy, something vintage-looking but not cropped or high-necked, and preferably something top-down and already written up so I don’t have to work it out, but so far, I haven’t quite found it… But this seemed on the right track – good length, slim but not fitted, armpits didn’t appear to go halfway down to the bellybutton, and there was a v-neck option – all good things to consider. But when I flipped it to the back cover, bam! My thrifted cardigan appeared!

thriftid-match

Bucilla Arans, volume 59, 1982.

I’d made a half-hearted attempt to find the pattern over the years – I figured if it fit and has held up well for at least 30+ years it would be worth repeating, but nothing ever came up in ravelry and I figured it was from the 1970sish, I have a helluva time finding it since so many millions patterns exist from then.

It was once sold for $3.00, then on final sale for $ .50 at Hess’s department store (based out of Allentown, PA, but with a chain of stores in the East). And I was off on the date – 1982 – but many commercial knitting patterns seem to lag a year or few behind, so it does fit the slimmer 1970s silhouette rather than the burgeoning boxy or big-sack one of the 1980s – and the interior patterns must be worn with feathered hair. But it could have been knitted fairly recently after all? Perhaps it was made in the 1990s? (Or even the early aughts?) I certainly have 10-year-old patterns I still intend to make, and perhaps will a decade and a half or more after their publication…

My sweater has reinforced button bands and the bottom ribbing is folded up and stitched on the inside – perhaps to reinforce the bottom hem, or it flared or otherwise misbehaved- both pattern modifications I’ll keep if I ever make it. The upper arms are still slightly wide for my taste – not too terribly, but the felting probably helped them a bit, so I’d take them in a bit. And I have a complicated relationship with bobbles – I like them, but I don’t love making them, or that many.

But maybe I’ll just enjoy my sweater and sell the pattern book and get on with other things…

 

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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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A time to dye

I had one of those stupid frustrating telecommuting days last week wherein I couldn’t connect with my work computer…

and couldn’t connect with a person there who could re-connect my computer to me…

So I couldn’t work, but I had plans to work so that I’d have time later in the week to do some non-work work, and I really couldn’t stand not being able to get the work work over and was frustrated and pissy and feeling like I didn’t exist – a feeling probably common to telecommuters, but I don’t know any others so it might just be me, and there are times when in fact, I do not exist…

So I did something I hadn’t planned on doing any time soon to ease my unease.

I thrifted some comfy but insanely red linen pants  last year, and though I like bold color, I have a few red t-shirts, many green t-shirts, and most often wear a pair of yellow sandals, so I either looked like a cardinal (bird), Christmas, or condiments if I wore any of them with the pants.

(And I don’t really like yellow mustard, especially next to ketchup).

I also had a sorry once lavender t-shirt, and a commercially sewn floral canvas bag that served its purpose at the time, but I never use anymore and keep almost getting rid of it…

teal dye-before

I also have a few old boxes of that powdered dye knocking about, so I simmered the threesome in teal (which really was more turquoise).

I wanted the pants to be anything other than bright red, and was hoping for burgundy, purplish, brown, or some murkier variation thereof.

teal dye-during

And now all is well, except for the bag – I’m really ready to get rid of it finally.

I know the dye won’t stick around forever, and I know well enough to only wash these things with darker things, but since the pants and shirt were already old, the dye should hopefully hold up for the rest of their lifespans, or else the yellow sandals might wear out by the time the pants become red again…

teal dye-after

And it also became evident that the pant’s manufacturer made no effort to match the inside button to the outside and/or made the inside button match the outside, but the outside button an odd beige (now pleasingly turquoise) accent piece…?

teal dye-button

Or perhaps the original owner replaced it…

Either way, now I’m either a giant gradient when wearing a red t-shirt, pleasantly almost-complementary when wearing green, and let’s just say I’m enjoying a robust red with something mustard-schmeared…

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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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