Archive for November, 2013


Posted: November 26, 2013 in Ramblings

Recently I bought a bunch of Elsebeth Lavold’s “Silky Wool” to make a skirt on the knitting machine, and I did, and had 9 skeins left over. I offered it for sale in my Ravelry stash, but there were no takers; it sat around, and since the colors are so great I kept trying to think of something to make with it.

Last night I had an idea for a pullover; it would have to be done with colorblocking, because the two colors of Silky Wool in the stash didn’t go well together. Luckily I had some mustard-colored Lang Seta Tweed to break up the two greens.

This morning I decided to challenge myself to see if I could complete an entire sweater (from cast-on to blocking) in one day. Yes, the knitting machine would have to be used.

I did it!

Seta Tweed is the yellow; the other 2 colors are Silky Wool.

Seta Tweed is the yellow; the other 2 colors are Silky Wool.

First I knit the back and the front as identical rectangles. After removing them from the machine, I bound off the shoulder end with a straight bind-off and the hem edge with a picot bind-off. Then I took the front piece upstairs to the sewing machine, marked and machine-stitched a neckline, and cut the excess knitting away. (I have to do it this way because I haven’t yet mastered ‘necklines on the machine.’ That is my project for the holiday season.)

Then the shoulders got seamed, and for the first time I tried hanging the sweater on the machine and knitting the sleeves right onto the body. (Usually I hand-knit sleeves, even on machine-knit bodies.) This was awkward and annoying, and probably next time I’ll just knit separate sleeves on the machine and seam them to the body afterwards. But at any rate, once the sleeves were done, I bound off the sleeves with a picot bind-off, and then seamed the sleeve seams and side seams. Lastly, I picked up around the neckline in such a way that the sewing machine stitches would be hidden, and knit a tall mockneck which then got folded down to the inside of the garment and tacked in place (again, to hide that sewing machine stuff).

The picture does not show it blocked – I’m going to steam-block it later. Ended up with about 3 yards of excess yarn. Now THAT’S what I call stashbusting!

(And ballbusting. Going to have a glass of wine now.)

The Perils of Altering Clothing

Posted: November 24, 2013 in Ramblings

I don’t do this often, but once I get started I’m sort of in this destroying mode for a week or two. Well, last week I went to Macy’s and purchased a pair of brown corduroy jeans. I tried them on in the store, and they fit fine except for being about a full foot too long. I wore them once or twice and ended up with the hems fraying in the back. Since I was in altering mode this week (due to the Derby Swirl Jeans project) I decided to change these.

Since the only thing I wanted to do was shorten them, it seemed I had a choice of hemming or just cutting off the excess. Naturally I took the lazy way out. But my brown-themed clothing is all chosen to have an irregular, organic look, and so the raw frayed edges would go along with that. I cut 6″ off the hems and flung them into the laundry (for the first time) to get the fraying going.

Yeah, well, they shrunk a little in the wash. Not so bad in the waist/hips, but they shrunk enough in the length that I now own a pair of frayed brown cropped corduroy jeans. Pfft!

However! This is not technically a problem, since I actually prefer a cropped length. They will show off my Luxons nicely, when they get here.

But it did warn me to launder things before making irrevocable adjustments. Maybe a simple laundering would have shrunk them properly in the first place. I may go buy another pair, because they were relatively inexpensive, but if I do, it’d probably be a different color.

Deconstructing Jeans

Posted: November 21, 2013 in Ramblings

I have these awesome Fluevog Derby Swirls which are a beautiful blue-red faux pony hair. They are quite bright, and I’ve not yet been able to find anything to wear with them that doesn’t make them look like clown shoes. So, I spent some time considering what style would look best with them, and punk seemed to be about the best. Couldn’t find any red plaid or Union Jack jeans in my size, so today’s project was deconstructing an old pair from my closet.

Fluevog "Red Pony" Derby Swirls.

Fluevog “Red Pony” Derby Swirls.

The first step: laundering them, since they were in the laundry pile already. Here they are after the initial laundering.

After laundering.

After laundering.

The second step: applying random blobs of bleach. This was actually the toughest part, because the Clorox “Bleach Pen” didn’t do a thing. I had one opened and one unopened, and neither one of them did anything after 5 minutes on the fabric, so I busted out another Clorox product and could see it working immediately. They were then laundered again to stop the bleaching action. Here they are, front and back, bleached.

Front, after bleaching and laundering.

Front, after bleaching and laundering.

Back, after bleaching and laundering.

Back, after bleaching and laundering.

Third step: applying random areas of red dye. I don’t have a lot of MX dyes around here (that’s what you need to dye cotton), and my craft store hadn’t had any in stock. Instead I purchased Jacquard’s “Tie-Dye Kit” for red tones and used one of the colors in there. It was either Red or Ruby; both were in the kit, and I just grabbed one without looking at it.

First, the bleached jeans went into a bucket of soda ash and warm water for about 15 minutes while I gathered all the other stuff I’d need – towels, rubber gloves, dye pot, stirring stick. These light grey jeans bled a lot in the soda ash bath. They bled a lot. I had planned to do the next bit with the original soda ash bath, but I was afraid it would simply redeposit all the grey back onto the bleached sections, so that stuff went down the drain. I laid out the wet jeans and sprinkled random splotches of dry dye powder here and there, rubbing it into the wet fabric, and then flipped them to do the same on the back. Then I wadded them up in the dye pot and poured new soda ash water all over, and let it sit for an hour. This was followed by a hot-water laundering, to get rid of any excess dye.

The front, after dyeing.

The front, after dyeing.

The back, after dyeing.

The back, after dyeing.

Finally, I wanted them to be destroyed as well as altered in color. I took my small scissors and cut slits and holes in them, here and there, and used a pumice stone to rough up and fray the cut edges, for that really worn look.

On me, with the boots.

Finished and on me, with the boots.

I’m about 99 and 44/100% happy with them. The only thing that really irritates the hell out of me is that these jeans are 2 sizes too small!

Today’s Geocaching

Posted: November 17, 2013 in Ramblings

We didn’t go very far abroad this morning because it was drizzling, and I was glad of it, because by the time we found the cache, it was actively raining. This one was near Beaver Lake, just a few miles from home, and after beating the bushes for a while Alex finally found it.

The box was rusted shut.

The box was rusted shut.

After that, Alex and I spent some exciting time excavating in the foothills of Mount Laundry. Chris made beef stew and I made some bran muffins. Another lovely domestic day here with the US Picks.

Buyer Beware

Posted: November 15, 2013 in Ramblings

I’ve learned some kind of a lesson recently. Not sure what lesson, but something.

For several years I’ve been trying to find a handbag with no obvious modern elements: no logos, buckles or other bling, no funky colors, made of leather. This has proven surprisingly difficult, until this year when I finally found a gorgeous one on Etsy and ordered it.

When the handcrafted bag arrived, I was thrilled. It’s gorgeous, very well made, and a great size – big enough to carry all my things without being gigantic. I immediately put all my stuff in it and went to Safeway, and that’s when the love affair ended.

1. There’s no organization at all. It’s just a big empty bag. I’d known this before ordering, of course, but hadn’t appreciated the annoyance of having all my stuff jumbled up in the bottom of the bag. And of course the thing I want (phone, lipstick, wallet) is always at the very bottom of the pile.

2. It’s heavy. Nearly three pounds when empty. Loaded, it’s so heavy that I get a headache when wearing it cross-body. “Don’t wear it cross-body,” I hear you say…

3. It is made of a hard, ‘molded’ leather, and has a half-flap closure. Because it’s hard and molded, the flap wants to stay flapped shut even when the button closure is open. If I don’t wear it cross-body, I need at least three hands! One to hold the bag, one to hold the flap up and out of the way, and one to rummage around at the bottom of the pile and find my stuff.

4. The button closure is very stiff and requires two hands to open, though the maker tells me this will loosen up in time.

5 (a corollary to #1): Since there’s no organization, I’d need to spend money on a protective cell case, and maybe a cosmetics bag or something.

So, in a nutshell, I hate this gorgeous, well-made bag, that cannot be returned.

Like I said, I’m not sure what lesson I’ve learned. Only buy bags I can see/test beforehand, I suppose…?

If any readers think they might like this bag, please contact me via email. I don’t want to be nasty and point fingers here on the web; the craftsmen who made it have been very helpful to me. It’s simply not a style that will work for me. I paid $189. It has a long crossbody strap and a shorter shoulder strap (you can’t attach them both at the same time), and it is black with black hand-stitching.

Marlon Birdo

Posted: November 11, 2013 in Ramblings

The Godfather of pigeons was at the birdfeeder this morning.

We gave him some bird seed he couldn't refuse.

We gave him some bird seed he couldn’t refuse.


Posted: November 9, 2013 in Ramblings

A while back, Kristi told us about geocaching. It always sounded fun, but we never got off our butts to try it. But now that I have the camera, and the weather is still cool and dry, and it’s the weekend with nothing to do…we thought we’d try it.

You can find out more about it at, but in a nutshell it’s scavenger hunting, with the aid of a GPS, to find hidden ‘caches’ that others have hidden in public areas. Since we were up in Kenmore to visit the camera store, we decided to start at Saint Edward State Park, to get a little hiking done, and a little easy geocaching to start out.

Just starting out in the parking lot.

Just starting out in the parking lot.

We discovered that our old Garmin GPS unit is only suited to driving, and not to fine nuances of walking. Using this unit and putting in the coordinates told us that we were “at destination” even while we stood at the information kiosk. Luckily, Mr. P. had his fancy-dancy cell phone and used it to find us a map to the coordinates.

Found our first cache!

Found our first cache!

Behind this big tree Alex and I opened the cache container and signed the logbook while Chris took photos.

Alex wanted to do another one, so we did; this one was in an apple orchard. The cache was a ‘micro’ size, just a log sheet inside a pill container, inside a foam apple, hidden in a hollow stump, so we didn’t sign the log sheet because there was no pen or pencil. We also failed to get a photo of that one.

The third one was a ways away. We got to the point where the phone GPS said “0 feet to destination” but it still took us a good ten minutes to find the actual cache. This one we didn’t open and log.

The third cache of the day.

The third cache of the day.

We all agreed on a few things: 1), we need better preparations, including a pen in our bag; 2), this was a lot of fun, 3) Garmin units are no good, and 4) we’re going to do it some more! So, I have joined the Geocaching website (above) and we will buy a Washington State Parks “Discover Pass” to allow us to park for free. (We got lucky today – being Veteran’s Day weekend, we got free parking anyway.)

A fun and photo-filled day!

He finally let me take a real picture of him.

He finally let me take a real picture of him.