Tag Archives: thrift store sweaters

Randomly, near the end of another year

I’ve been trying to feed a few thoughts to bulk them up for a bit more substance – so I can chew on them for a bit, but all of the social and political static and noise has been throwing off my appetite.

And so it begins… #snow #backyard #greyday #monochrome #december

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The house has been up to its unpleasant hijinx again as well – the boiler finally shat the bed, and gave us a couple of cold weeks followed by a couple of long days with the plumber followed by a much thinner wallet. And then my docile old car got a whiff of the spirits and acted out unexpectedly, but at least not too extremely…

Wool thief. #ohtherocco #wooldog #iwastryingtosellthat #sweater #dogsweater

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But the silver lining that really isn’t, is that I was already in the middle of another round of selling off shit online. I’m now unburdened of a few more pounds of old art supplies and bulky thrift sweaters that would have made lovely yarn once unraveled, but that were still in perfectly good wearable shape. And I feel better about that too – yes, I feel better about getting a few extra dollars when I need them, but I sometimes feel guilty about unraveling perfectly good sweaters and usually just try do it to ones that are already damaged or misshapen. I’ll miss a few of these – more accurately, I’ll miss the cardigans and bulky pullovers that they would have been re-knit into and became my favorites, but only existed in my brain and likely would have never come close to fruition – so I can’t really miss something that never was and would likely never be, right?

Old sweater = new shawl/scarf #knitting #thriftstoresweateryarn

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But I still have plenty in the rougue’s gallery of moth-eaten and slightly felted/fulled – all are of varying degrees of unpleasant to unravel, but all will be more truly “rescued” and recycled. I started a new gradient shawl out of a striped Shetland sweater and a few others in greys and purples (it’s not really yellowy-beige as seen above) and it’s a fun little sheepy finger journey right now.

(Other things on the needles have been on them for a bit and have already shown themselves here.)

A good amount of mending has been going on in these parts too – old wool socks that refuse to give up the ghost, outdoor wear that seeks out every thorn, and our beloved wool underthings that wear like iron until they pop an inexplicable hole.

And disappointingly, one of my top wool underthings companies is going under itself. Most of my most worn t-shirts are wool – the non-sport cuts are nice enough to wear where I work and then they can do double-duty under sweaters in the winter or on the trail – I could get by with a minimalist wardrobe with them if I was in to that kind of thing (but when traveling I do). And I pretty much need a layer of sheep’s clothing over most of my body surface once it drops below 75F. And the clothes were largely made in the USA, and pretty much the only things I bought (or received) new (on sale) once a year or so. I really like another company’s wool shirts that are 100% USA wool and manufactured, but their selection is more limited and I’ve sadly had two shrink to crop tops. I am too long-trunked for crop tops.

So ’tis the season for being a little more bummed out (and broke) than usual, but at least the solstice is soon and the ho ho hoing bullshit will go away soon too…

 

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Mutt warmer

This is a common shape of a sleeping pet:

dogsweater-dogball

But this is the first dogball Rocco has made since he’s been with us since May.

I figured he’s getting chilly – he’s from South Carolina and perhaps has never seen snow, or been through the annoying shoulder seasons when it’s colder indoors than out.

dogsweater-trying-on

So I tossed on a felted/fulled thrift sweater on him for shits and he seemed to really like it. So I half-assedly started to make a dog sweater thinking he’d likely try to eviscerate it as soon as it was finished and I didn’t want to pour too much time and energy into it.

dogsweater-before

The sweater must have been a more recent (yes, from April or early May as seen here) acquisition since it was at the top of the wad on the floor and I know I liked the zipper and its reharvestable potential, and while the color isn’t my favorite, it goes well with greens and whatnot, so I think I was planning to make mittens and fingerless gloves out of the rest (I didn’t want to touch felted wool for most of the summer, so I haven’t thought about it much or dug out the rest of the felted stash to check for coordinates).

Rocco continues to be very difficult for us at times – I used to solidly stand by the statement that “there’s no such thing as a bad dog, just bad owners,” and while I still believe that is sometimes true, reactive “bad” dogs are very challenging and oh-so-slow to become “good” despite good constant and consistent training, expensive behaviorists, and medication.

But he’s made remarkable progress with obedience and communication and general fond companionship in the house (let’s not talk about the counter surfing though). I’ve just allowed him in my tiny upstairs workroom on supervised visits and he’s the dog friend I’d hoped to have – calmly lying in the only open space on the floor as I spin or dick around with fibery things. He also doesn’t mind the noise of the sewing machine (though the food processor and blender are still monsterly).

dogsweater-fitting

The back piece of the sweater seemed to be just about the same size as his back, so I cut it along the seams, and then cut a few pieces to use as straps. He was being unusually patient and non-wiggly throughout the whole fitting process so I risked safety-pinning it together and having him wear it for a few minutes and he seemed game and the fit was good enough.

dogsweater-velcro

I trimmed up the pieces to fit his contours a bit better, sewed both ends of the chest strap so it could go over his head, and sewed a piece of the grabby side of velcro to the body strap – it attaches to the felt easily so there was no need to use the other velcro half. (I also made sure there weren’t any pokey edges on the stiff velcro.)

dogsweater-model

And in a few minutes, he was happily wearing his new sweater.

dogsweater-long

And I think it’s got a bit of a thundershirt effect on him as well – he was noticeably a bit more relaxed wearing it – though it could have just been the novelty and coziness factor. I’ll wait and see how this one holds up or doesn’t get chewed before I knit one or sew something with better fit and coverage – he’s going to need it if we have a repeat of last year

(We got his DNA results back recently and found as we expected, he’s a Heinz mutt, but he’s got a Husky grandparent, so hopefully he can tap into that when the cold comes – and it’s likely the source of his markings, or else his black and tan came from a Cocker Spaniel grandparent… Definitely not the “Shepherd mix” the rescue claimed, nor the “Rottie mix” his original shelter claimed and the rescue whitewashed… so we’ll just settle on “Spaniel mix” since he’s got the most of it.)

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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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Necking

I like a GIANT squishy cowl neck.

I like scarves wound round and round and round my neck.

But I hate turtlenecks.

Even though they pop back in and out of style, I generally view them as always out – and smelling of elementary schools in the 70s and overly religious Midwestern mothers who dress decades beyond their age. But mostly I don’t like the feeling of my neck being oh-so-slightly constricted.

I’ve de-turtled a few necks over the years.

neck-flappy

(This one also got de-epauleted and de-shoulder padded, and de-gold buttoned – then I sewed the epaulets into the fake pocket to make a whimsical detail of sorts.)

Very often, there is a convenient seam running up the side of the neck that merely needs to be unzipped or picked and voila! A constricting turtle becomes a floppy…

manta ray? collar.

I’ve been going through my bins of thrifted sweaters to see what should be cut up into mittens and such, unraveled, or mended enough to wear…

neck-before

And I found this horribly weird pinkish, orchid? one that fits really well and lies on the “professionally” appropriate side of the fine line that it skates with  comfortably slouchy – partly because it’s actually a decent length on me and many thrifted cashmeres fall a bit too short.

But even after the turtlectomey, I’m debating about tossing it into the to dye pile, but I run the risk of loosing the good length… and though I think I hate the color, I think I can wear it without looking ill, and it goes well enough with browns or greys…

(I’d probably dye it yellow to turn it orange, or go the burgundy or brown route…)

neck-after

Turtles are also often the easiest part of a sweater to frog since they’re often knitted in rib stitch and don’t felt/full as much as the body. I’ve had several moth-eaten thrifts that were too holey or felted to frog as a whole, but still gave up good bits of usable yarn from frogged necks and cuffs.

Or merely extracted, they make good headbands or hat brims…

neck-headband

And once in awhile, a decent cowl will get detached too – most often from my own sweaters that have generally ceased to function as intended.

neck-mohair

And it can remain cowly, just no longer attached to a body…

neck-cowl

This was actually a favorite sweater of mine for about 10 years, so I’m happy to save part of it now that it is done being part of my wardrobe due to damage and too tight sleeves that always annoyed me but now are entirely unacceptable after the home reno and summer of gardening (big guns don’t play well with sheer skinny mohair). And I’ll attempt to frog the rest even though I swore off frogging mohair – if it works, I might knit more rounds onto the cowl to make it GIANT.

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Continuing randomly…

Those premature daffodils finally fell to some conquering beauties.

spring-daffodils

I’ve been puttering about the yard, finally paying attention to what is what out there and making plans to move some things around and add more. My research on native deer-resistant plants is just beginning, but I’ve got a decent list so far – at least for this year. The big project is expanding the vegetable garden 4-5 times the size it is now and installing a beefy deer fence… More on that later, I’m sure (after my arms recover from post hole digging, even though N is doing most of it).

My studio/workspace is still a partially unpacked mess, but I’ve run out of storage room, and once I start working on things, it will probably always look like a partially unpacked mess. But I need to clear a table to cut out a few simple patterns for summer clothes I intend to make but likely the seasons will change again before I get around to that…

spring-frogged mohair

I wanted some mohair to add to an upcoming knitting project, so I found it in this boxy 1980s bright beauty at a thrift store last year.

Remind me to never, ever, harvest mohair (at least this particular mohair mix) again. I’ve only finished the sleeves, which I think will be enough – especially since I took it an asinine step further and separated the plys to make even more… But perhaps the leftover body parts can be sewn into an enormous baby chick.

Speaking of baby chicks, I keep seeing them in the farm stores and I’ve got some serious baby rabies of the poultry strain…

But not this year – too many things to continue to get in shape and major fortifications would need to be made for some hens – I’m looking at you, you beautiful but murderous fox (and the hawks and raccoon and cats).

spring-shug or shawl

I finished that old shale (or feather and fan, but that’s wrong, right?) thing. It was supposed to be a dramatic drapey wide shawl – something that could be whipped around and trailed behind – but I ran out of yarn. It was harvested from an old mohair blend sweater (this one was easy to rip) and an old Shetland one, so there was zero chance of obtaining more, and I wasn’t interested in adding another color, though as I write this, perhaps I will consider adding something more blended with the Shetland at either end…? But more likely, I will turn this into a shrug – somewhat still dramatic with wide scalloped sleeves and a back at a reasonable length – I hate cropped shrugs, at least on me. The problem is, I was planning on selling this, I don’t like the color on me and don’t have the appropriate flowing navy or brown or black outfit with which to pair it. But it fits my weird ape-armed curvy but lanky body, and for many, the sleeves would be too long…. So perhaps I’ll try blocking it wider rather than longer, but I wanted the scalloped ends to pop out more…

spring-scraps

And even though I ran out of yarn for the length I wanted, the fiber gods smiled down on me for allowing the finishing to happen with the appropriate number of repeats and bind-off with only 6 inches of yarn to spare… that’s satisfaction.

cashmere-skein

I finished spinning that beautiful New Mexico cashmere.

But this picture is a lying liar about its tumultuous youth.

Yes, it is beautiful now, finally, but…

spring-kinky cashmere

…things got a bit kinky for a bit…

I wanted a rustic, bumpy, somewhat thick and thin single. But I still, always, over spin singles. So I had to run it through again to take out twist. But short staple + too thin parts = break, break, breaks!

In the end, it is good – goodly soft – but thin, something from cobweb to light fingering. I haven’t decided on a good pattern for it yet – I want a neck thing, preferably something simple and relatively dense, meaning not much lace if any… Might end up with a simple garter something or other… It’s about 650 yards if anyone has any suggestions?

spring-grape hyacinth

In the meantime, I dig and dig and dig and now weed too, and get awfully distracted making wreaths out of pruned wisteria vine… I can’t wait for it to bloom to find out if we’ve got the native stuff or the evil import…

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