Tag Archives: winter

Lion or lamb wham…?

We’ve had four nor’easters in three weeks.

At first it was gearing up to be an early spring – the blackbirds were hanging out, the buds filling out, and I wasn’t quite ready, but at the same time itching to get out.

And then foot after foot of white stuff – the heavy kind, not the fluffy kind, and now I’m fearing our Magnolia blossoms have been damaged again – we had exactly one last year – one bloom on a giant old tree…

But then again, we’re a little too north for Magnolias anyway…

I started a linen stitch scarf for N out of yarn from one of his old sweaters.

Then I realized I couldn’t finish it before the season was out, so there is no hurry…

View this post on Instagram

Late winter afternoon. #shadows #horse

A post shared by astitchmatism (@astitchmatism) on

Then I got out a very long-suffering sweater that has a serious game of yarn chicken going on, and less than ideal options for the bottom hem. After hemming and hawing about the hem, I’ve set off for sleevetown to knit down the yarn. If there is any remaining, I’ll unknit the current hem and re-knit it in the way I’m thinking will drive me crazy the least.

I forgot to note when I finished this spin – I’d meant to keep track since I’d like to know how long it takes me to spin for a sweater when just spinning for 30-45 minutes or so here and there, but at least around 3-4 days a week. I think I finished at the end of February, but February is short – maybe early March? Either way, it took around/a little less than, two months…?

Not unreasonable – a good pace actually since I don’t need to make yarn faster than I can knit it. But it’s only 1,200 yards, so about the minimum I’d need for the bigger/longer things I like to wear these days. I haven’t done any swatching yet, but I was aiming for a worsted/aran generally (it’s got an intentional thick and thin thing going on) and I’m thinking it might be slightly less, so I’ll start with a US 7 needle first…

Debating about a very basic pullover or a cardigan (really need cardigans)…if it is a cardigan, I’ll probably need to spin more or more likely use commercial yarn for the button bands and such.

(And perhaps it’s worth a mention that the yarn almost exactly matches a felted bag I made probably around 10… 10! years ago but have yet to finish. And should I admit that part of that is from bedbug fear? I’d made it as an overnight/light traveling bag but then imagined that the felt would grab and hold thousands of bedbug eggs from overhead compartments and hotel surfaces… That, and it is a bit heavy too, so it defeats the purpose of traveling light…)

The garden is almost ready – I started writing this last Wednesday thinking the snow would melt by the weekend, and it didn’t, but it has today, but it’s still fairly cold and I’ve got a little cold.

But the storms have also caused other delays – the farm store I get bagged compost to supplement ours has had their scheduled dirt delivery overdue for a month…

But I’ve got babies growing in the basement (let’s hope I didn’t start them too soon) that should be ready to be outside by the time everything else is…

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under home, knitting, spinning

Not mittens for kittens

I finally knit a pair of mittens for myself.

The pattern is The World’s Simplest Mittens and they are, but perhaps not yet a go-to, never-fail, can knit it in my sleep pattern for me.

I spun the yarn last summer from fibery odds and ends acquired mostly from the NJ wool fest – some of it was an ounce or so pity purchase, much of it came from $1 or so an ounce grab bags containing matted bits of roving, second cuts, and all around mystery fiber both happy and nasty – it’s likely about 60% alpaca and 40% sheep – the most common breeds around here are Romney and Jacob.

Something went wrong in my weights and measures department because I thought I had over 8 ounces of fiber, but ended up with around 160 yards of yarn – granted, it’s a 3-ply and I wanted a thick, denser yarn – and I got that, but not too dense that it was painful to knit – and apparently I’m too lazy or forgetful to weigh my mittens, so we’ll just say that these took much or many beast/s. And the yarn was mostly fun to spin – just when I was annoyed with some rough and sticky or filthy stuff, I hit some angelic alpaca – and it transformed into a plump beaut after its first bath.

I spun the yarn for mittens or slippers and decided on mittens since I’d yet to make some for myself, and commercially made “warm” mittens often aren’t – or they’re too expensive and poor-fitting for me.

I cast-on for an adult medium (fearing that it might be too small) in worsted because I usually wear men’s gloves or largest women’s (I did a provisional CO so I could later pick up and knit the cuffs down in case my yarn ran short) and I wanted them to be dense – the yarn was more of a bulky weight.

And they were way too big. Part of that was a brain fart on my part – I was doing the thumb gusset as a Kf&b since the fuzzy yarn wouldn’t show the less neat increase as much, but I forgot that makes an extra stitch between the markers, so I ripped back and did a M1R and M1L like I should have in the first place, thinking the too-bigness was mostly due to the too-much-thumbness.

But ass that I can be, I kept knitting when I could tell that they were still too big. I justified this with the intention to line them with old cashmere sweater scraps and/or felt them a bit. But… the fit seemed slightly short. I started the the decreases after I’d cleared my little finger like I do with my little toe when making socks (and interestingly both are a little over 1 1/4 inches in difference) but this mitten decrease is faster than the toe one I use, so I added a knit every other row once I was a few rows in. Either the whole thing should be knit every other row, or I should wait until the cuticle of the next finger from the end to decrease.

My hand isn’t in the right place and my fingers look more aligned than they are, but I’ve got at least an inch or more of width I don’t need – if I knit them again, I’d take off at least 4 stitches. The other issue I’ve always got with mitts and now mittens, is the that palms are never long enough, so I automatically always add at least 4 or 5 rows, maybe at least an inch or so before starting the thumb gusset.

Then there’s the issue of the pointy tops. I don’t like perfectly rounded mitten tops because my middle finger does poke up (in its resting state, not just when gesturing), and I don’t love the sharply-pointed tops you see on some colorwork mittens – so by adding a few knit rows my tops are more of a relaxed point, but if I cup my hands, I still get a pointy nubbin.

That looks like a rooster beak.

And I don’t want to mix my wool and poultry – I’m a little grossed out by the thumb gusset that resembles a chicken leg even though I’m sure it’s a more practical one – and really this might be the pattern I should try next…

But back to my current mitten bitchin’ – this combo of pointy top and side thumbs (not left or right specific) does not work. I knew this going into it – I’ve made several fingerless mitts and the side thumb is fine for a plain top. But one pair I made has a singular design element that twists in when the thumb tucks toward the palm – and the decrease lines of the top twist in toward the palm. So to correct this, either the thumb needs to be left and right specific and needs to be in more, or the pointy decrease needs to happen in more, or the top should have more spaced out decreases so it can spin a bit (though I don’t like the ones that align and end up a bit pinwheeled)…

But whatever, I knew the risks but I wanted mittens quick.

So I’m a little concerned about loosing length if I felted them, and they aren’t as itchy and in immediate need of a lining as I thought they might be, and figured I needed to test drive them first to find out how water and wind tight they were on their own and maybe I needed to do nothing and I had arctic-ready hand protection and I just needed to wait for next winter (or clean out the freezer) to test them out.

Then we had a nor’easter with not-too-much precipitation but way too much wind, and our power was knocked out for 4 days – a bone-chilling, smelly (no water either), very long four days. And the sun came out and it was in the 40s in the day and I still couldn’t get warm – even the dog wanted under the blankets. So the mittens got their test – and failed – the wind still comes through a bit and they are stretching out a little too, so rather than re-knit them, a lining and a little bit of felting should do the trick – or at least improve them enough.

And wearing them made me think of street festivals in the 1990s with Central and South American flute players and hand-knit goods and crystals and shit and I had a very strong suspicion that perhaps I already once owned some hand-knit rustic alpaca mittens…

But I think I was thinking of these – that have seemed to have gone AWOL…

And in the end, I don’t think I need a solid-go-to vanilla mitten pattern like I have with socks – I don’t really need or want another pair of knitted mittens soon (have thoughts of sewing a pair anyway) though perhaps I do need one for fingerless mitts since I wear those very frequently and always have to scramble around a bit to determine stitch counts and whatnot.

For now though, I’m just hoping we’ll have power while another storm is upon us…

Leave a comment

Filed under knitting, spinning

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…

 

5 Comments

Filed under collecting, thrifting

February follies…

Yes, I jinxed it.

After a gorgeous day in the 60s that permitted a few moments of bare vitamin D-sucking arms in the yard…

We woke up to this, and a snow day:

And snow days are not the barrel of monkeys when you don’t get paid for them, and then have to go in to work on your normal day off, and have to reschedule the electrician, and everything gets pushed back a week, and it’s not that big of a deal but yet sets your nose out of joint for a bit.

But the snow was only half of what they predicted and over halfway gone now.

I broke my commitment to finish shit first and cast on for a new project.

In my defense, it is a gift, or might be a gift…

It will either be fabulous or fugly – if the later, it should breathe its last breath in a few more rows, but each row takes me about 20 minutes.

And my wrist is acting up again – I started another spin last week too – I need to find a good balance of a bit of spinning to keep my wrist strong, but not too much, or not to rough/hard/nasty wool to exacerbate it.

This is rough/hard/nasty wool – bit’s o’shit I’ve gotten for a buck or so at the fiber festivals –  and a bit of some very lovely soft alpaca that I feel like I’m wasting, but I never had a good plan for it.

The plan for this is a bulky, uneven, rustic 2-ply yarn to be knitted up into mittens, and likely lined with an un-unravelable thrift cashmere sweater. At least that’s the plan now – I do need some mittens, but this yarn will be hell to knit up.

And does anyone need the bottom part of a Morse sewing machine case?

morse-case-bottom

It’s a pretty standard case, so it would fit most average-sized vintage machines (I had a Singer 66 in it) but it won’t necessarily match up to other Morse tops – I had this issue – and it’s in semi-rough shape, but still sturdy. It’s free to a good home, but I’d appreciate shipping reimbursement or some sort of trade. I’ve offered it on ravelry too, and will likely drop it off at the ReStore (or possibly try to sell it online) by the end of February otherwise.

(And I’ll likely find a cheap-can’t-be-passed-by machine that needs a case right after I get rid of this… but that kind of thinking has left me with 25+ years of shit to purge/sell now…)

Leave a comment

Filed under home, knitting, recycling, spinning

Snowed in… AGAIN

I’m done with this winter.

snowy trees*

Last week we lost power for a few days.  My brain became more fogged than usual and I started shifting to the left.  I guessed I was getting hypothermia in my own apartment so I laid under a couple of down duvets until clearer thoughts came back… if you could call them that.

N keeps getting snow days from work; I don’t since I work from home.

We’re also sick and I’ve been feeling too crappy to make stuff.

I used to be used to being snowed in from time to time.

I’d take it as an opportunity to do wonderful things like take a bunch of random knitting needles I’ve gathered from thrift shops and yard sales –

needles-pile**

And pair them up.

needles-paired

And of course put them back in the old pasta tin I keep them in and they jumble themselves up once more.

I almost never use straight needles anymore, at least the long ones, but I like them as artifacts.

My red Formica table is in storage and I miss it.

I made a little heat-able pillow filled with cherry pits a few years ago.

cherry-pit-bag

I love cherries and eat pounds of them each June and early July.

It’s about 6″ x 8″ and filled with nearly a pound of pits.  It’s great for warming knitting-sore wrists or cold hands.

I’d like another, but I don’t think I want to go through boiling and scrubbing and scouring and sanding pits again.

It’s useless when the power goes out too.

*That picture isn’t even the most recent snow – I’ve given up, I can’t be bothered, I don’t want to have any documentation of this sh*t anymore…

**This doesn’t look right, seems like it should be the other way around, but that didn’t look right either and this is the direction I took it – deleting and re-attaching the variously oriented pics was the high point of the day.

2 Comments

Filed under collecting, knitting, recycling, sewing, thrifting

Come armageddon, for everyday is like swants day

The other day N mentioned he was culling some old sweaters and asked if I wanted any – of course I did (all of them).  And to my surprise, he had a swants-able one in the pile – a forgotten cosy but quite misshapen semi-felted/fulled thrift store find from a few years ago.

I immediately began to cut and sew.

swants-unworn-detail

I didn’t follow the official swants tutorial because I wanted to make some interesting shapes with the pattern, and the shoulder seams already conformed to my hips.

Swants-apocalypse

And then I impatiently set off for the beach, not quite accepting the fact that you can’t really shoot your own trousers while wearing them.

I love the beach in winter.  I love the emptiness and sometimes the ugliness.  I love that the surf washes away the ice and snow and sloggy sh*t that prevents you from walking normally and safely on an inland path or sidewalk.

And when I’m at a wintertime beach in a semi-urban area, I can never stop Morrissey’s Everyday is Like Sunday from playing in my head…

So while the day was chilly, but the sun warm, I filled up a thermos, packed up my ass pad and some knitting* and hit a favorite spot while it was at its most opposite of a smooth summery romping ground.

Swants-beach

One of those rusty pipes helped hold the camera, but all of my swants photos are shite.

But the swants aren’t – I love them!

Swants-pipe help

  Mine are more knickers though – swickers.

Swants-front

The color is truest here – they are cranberry and maroon.  The front has a somewhat provocative triangular point – though how sexy can sweater pants really be?

Swants-ass

And the back has a squared-off shape not unlike old-timey ass flaps on union suits.

I practically had the beach to myself, but the boardwalk was busy with those just waking up from cabin fever and those who have jolly thick-coated dogs (who must suffer through the hot summers).  But no one bothered me – there’s usually a small motley band of panhandlers and nutters who think being unwashed and under various chemical influences is appealing to a woman – but the swants proved an effective repellant!

Swants-cocksoxonrock

Perhaps my new cock socks** helped too…

Now I look like the nut-job.

Maybe on a colder day I’d wear these under my swirt

swants-unworn-front

Now I can’t get everyday is like swants day to the tune of the above out of my head…

swants-unworn-back

*Yeah, still a little too chilly for outdoor knitting – but it was a good place to take photos of it too – coming soon.

**Smartwool, a gift from N.  I told him I didn’t need anymore socks, he told me I needed these.  He was right.  In the few seconds Morrissey leaves my head, cock socks on the rocks repeated chant-like over and over comes in…

2 Comments

Filed under hiking, recycling, sewing, thrifting, travel

Save me January

It’s been a winter f*cking wonderland out there.

Winter-yard

I knew it was coming eventually, but I was feeling a little smug since it hadn’t happened here until a couple of weeks ago.

It’s not that I hate snow per se, it’s the immobility it causes.  Or like a bad pet, it’s not the beast itself at fault, but the owner.

Shovel your goddamn sidewalks!

I’m not doing well with the lack of light this year (I’m not sure I ever do, but this year feels like the worst ever) and I’m overjoyed with the arrival and passing of the winter solstice.

I’m not a fan of Christmas* either.

I’m just not into the religion, commercialism, consumerism, greedy children, gifts, worship of fat beardos (Santas, not you my bear friends), waste of materials and electricity, varieties of anxieties, bad music,  the pushing of the season to before Thanksgiving, and the food-sharing, traveling, and gathering of masses of breathing, snotting, vomiting bodies during the peak contagion period. But perhaps mostly because it is the deepest, darkest, dreariest time of year – and that is the reason people celebrate and I know worse winter weather is yet to come, but for me, the new year is what I’m excited for, and feel intense relief when it comes.  It signifies that the holidays are f*cking over, each day brings a few more seconds of light, and the anxieties and societal ho-ho-ho throat-cramming go away.

Winter-1970s

I sort of liked winter as a child.  However, I hated it as a very small child because of the tortures of plastic bread bags on my feet inside my boots and socks on my hands over my mittens.  I looked forward to Christmas, though my excitement was tempered with dread that it would all be over too soon, and a feeling of watching something beloved die.  In hindsight, my favorite day of the holiday season was St. Nick’s on December 6th when we woke to a few little presents in a sock – a tangerine, a couple of walnuts, a candy cane, and a little trinket like a flavored lip gloss or novelty eraser.  I loved the simplicity and the lack of anxiety surrounding the day and some connectedness with the past.  Didn’t the Little House on the Prairie girl savor only a nibble or two a day of her sole simple cookie gift?  Or one of those characters in one of those books…  Children can bizarrely identify with, and intensely feel, the grand sufferings of others – Anne Frank, dirt-farmer kids, sooty-city orphans – without ever having a moment of true sufferings themselves.  Or maybe it was just me and a f*cked-up upbringing in an old religion where suffering and self-martyrdom was supposed to be a good thing.  Either way, I still crave and appreciate the most simple aspects of the holiday – not much fuss and some citrus fruit.

candied citrus

And speaking of citrus and to break my no-cooking-in-the-blog-rule, I’ll share my candied peels.  They’re tasty but take a long time to make – mostly because of multiple blanchings to temper the bitterness and then the hour+ cooking time in simmering sugar water.  We needed some for a recipe but can’t find them in our suburban groceries – and if I did find them, I’m sure they’d be dyed and full of pesticides.  I used organic pink grapefruit, orange, and lemon, and cane sugar – and then dipped some in dark chocolate and rolled some in pecans for good measure.  (Yeah, the sugar coating is kinda clumpy, but whatever.)

And I am solidly anti-craft for the season.  I don’t want to make something only usable for a few weeks out of the year.  And I don’t really believe in exchanging gifts (especially to every known person) beyond a few edibles or drinkables.  However, over my lifespan I’ve made exactly one ornament, one stocking, and this tree skirt.

xmas skirt under tree

N has a soft spot for the holidays, and will occasionally erect a tree.  His tree needed a skirt and I didn’t have any appropriate fabric, nor wanted to waste a good yard or so on something that would be rarely used, so I cut up some felted/fulled sweater scraps.   I think my original plan was something like a penny rug, but the cutting took long enough, so I just tied it all together.

xmas skirt

I don’t know where it is now – probably in still in storage five hours away (and we no longer have lovely wood floors).

But things will be better soon, we’ll have the tiniest amount of more light day by day.  And we’ll eventually get out for some winter woods activities.

*Our Christmases are a pleasant low-key affair limited to time spent with just a few family members, good food, dogs, a cool kid, and walks, so I’m quite thankful and look forward to them.  It’s the larger sense of the season (and some past holiday events) I abhor.  My second favorite Christmases were the years I spent alone with Chinese take-out in a quiet apartment with the neighbors away – sounds bleak, but it was awesome and always the most productive few days of the year for me.

2 Comments

Filed under home decor, recycling, travel