Tuesday, January 26, 2016

For a Good Time—Have a Sweater Day!

I have a theory that certain inanimate items have the ability to breed. I'm positive that mugs do this; put two mugs in a cabinet, close the door, and when you next open it there will be five or more. (Admit it, you’ve noticed this phenomenon too.) Stuffed animals do it. Small picture frames. Lots of things.

Wire hangers multiply, yes, but I ran across another explanation for those. Several years ago I was at a yard sale in California and got into conversation (as I am wont to do), and the guy explained his theory to me: socks have a tendency to disappear, while wire hangers increase. So he decided that socks are the larval form of wire hangers. Made total sense to me.

Of course I am inordinately fond of a good crackpot theory.

Anyway, I realized recently that sweaters might possibly be another category of multipliers. I admit I do buy them and bring them home and felt them, and that Judy has given me several from her closet clean-outs. But I actually went through my garaging spread sheet that now dates back ten years (ten years! how is that possible?!), and the data there does not support the amount of sweater material in my stash.

Too much! Too many! Let’s have Sweater Day!

And so I gathered together my buddy & SIL Linda and pals Judy and KK last Thursday to make things with sweaters. My goal, I told them, was to drastically reduce these three chock-full boxes. And to have a good time.

Oh my, did we have a good time. And we made things. But my sweater stash still fills three large boxes. They all brought more sweaters with them!

Judy arrived reminding us that she does not sew. No matter, we kept saying. And within five minutes she had come up with the first upcycle – a new hat from one of the sleeves I took off of ZoĆ«’s latest garment.

I just whapped a rubber band around it for the moment and later cut off the top and gathered and stitched the top shut. It can be worn at least two ways, and the rest of the sleeves can be matching fingerless mitts.

Judy was also the inspiration for another idea we’ve all embraced. She mentioned a while back that she wears an old holey cashmere sweater for an undershirt when it's cold. I had picked up a kitten-soft cashmere from the Goodwill bins a while back and found I just kept petting it. Too small for me to wear, but then that light bulb went off. Undershirt! 

I removed the sleeves and opened them along the seam, opened up the side seams of the sweater, and sewed in the sleeves to make it big enough for me. It's the perfect extra layer of warmth and took all of about ten minutes to make. We all now have cashmere undershirts. Linda liked a two-toned look for hers.

Judy spied a little cream color cashmere that already had one short sleeve missing. (I have no idea where that sleeve went!) Since you want your undershirt to fit close to the body, all she had to do was snip off the other sleeve and voila, hers was ready to go. (I told her she would be able to upcycle without sewing.)

KK brought a too small, too short black wool that had some holes. She also brought her felting tool (gotta get me one of those). A few snips from a scrap of an old wool blanket (most of which was used in my husband’s car to replace the felt under the carpet that a certain young dog joyfully shredded) and she had leaves to felt onto the sweater. 

A pale green cabled cashmere became sides and sleeve cuffs. Can’t wait to see what else she does with it!

Linda worked on another undershirt (pale gray, 85% silk, 15% cashmere)—we’re all interested to hear how warm that one turns out to be.

She also began a sweater upcycle that includes a felted wool from Peru and a long alpaca muffler.

Judy brought along a few favorite sweaters that didn’t fit just right. This one was easy, cute but just too boxy. A couple of tucks in the back, secured with buttons she chose from my stash, and now it feels perfect to her.

This V-neck we pulled this way and that, trying for something asymmetrical, but finally realized all it really needs is to be taken in under the arms.

Another cashmere had three little holes in one sleeve. 

Turns out that cashmere fibers are so smooth they don’t really felt well, so KK’s felting tool didn’t work for an applique. But I took this little cashmere cord that was just the seam trimmed off of Linda’s undershirt

and couched it over the holes. Goodbye holes, hello artsy sweater!

There is SO much you can do with felted sweaters. I’ve barely scratched the surface over the years with slippers, 

mitts (fingerless mitts are ideal for reading in bed at night!), hats and mufflers. My cameras have cases of felt.

One year all my friends got felted roses for Christmas.

My cats are quite fond of felted wool pillows.

Noll particularly liked the alpaca one.

If you go on Pinterest or Flickr and search for felted sweater projects you’ll find a lifetime of inspiration. I have to admit, making that first cut into a lovely piece of wool or cashmere can be hard. But since none of our materials had cost more than a dollar, we went for it, and had a ball.

We even had a fabulous lunch. I made soup and bread, KK brought fresh fruit salad, Linda brought homemade brownies. And Judy brought wine!

After lunch, KK found a twin set in the pile of sweaters, and we thought she was putting together an undershirt for herself. But no. She was making a KK Original for Judy. Two short sweaters became a long artsy tunic and bolero.

So my goal of reducing the sweater stash was not realized, but everyone wants to have another Sweater Day soon. We may even make it a slumber party! And oh my goodness, did we have fun.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Fifteen Seconds of Fame

Judy and I made the Sunday paper! No, not in the comics either. Though that might have been appropriate; I think there’s a certain Laurel and Hardy flavor to our pose.

You can see the article here, along with all the pictures. The print edition had the article on the front page of the Mid-Valley section, with the two of us taking up the entire top third of the page.

Judy says she’s practicing her pose for next time. Me, I’m just practicing standing up straight!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Another First for My Thrifting Scrapbook

Ooohhhh, four sales programmed into the GPS for Friday = two happy women. (Judy was out of town or it would have been three.) The first was at a lovely Fifties home on the West side. I very much wanted to take home the spotlessly clean original tile kitchen counters, but had to content myself with some crafty supplies (pipe cleaners, knitting stitch holders, embroidery thread) and some vintage yarn that’s so old it’s not in Ravelry’s yarn database.

But at fifty cents a skein for wool and mohair, I don’t see how I can go far wrong. And I couldn’t resist a pair of little handmade gnomes (felt glued onto a wine cork)

because Judy and KK both told me recently that they like gnomes. So, a tiny gift for each of them! And I may have to try my hand at making cork gnomes.

Then we tootled over to an estate sale in Monmouth, where KK was thrilled to find the vintage Viewmaster she’s been looking for. I picked up some ornaments (I'm afraid the bagpipe-playing Scotty made my husband groan out loud)

(isn't this the cutest bottlebrush tree ever?)

and a 100% alpaca scarf

and over a yard of yummy fabric that was fifty cents.

The last two sales of the day were meh. But that’s okay, because I was waiting for Saturday morning. In fact, I'd been waiting all week, ever since I saw the headline for an ad on Craigslist:

Historic Funeral Home going out of business, 80 yrs of accumulation

I tell you, I've been doing this thrifting thing a long time, and this is the first estate sale I've ever seen for a funeral home! The ad went on to say

Historic Barrick Funeral Home is being sold. Over 80 years of accumulation needs to go, lots of variety here. Vintage ephemera, oddball antiques, artist finds, lots to see with something for everyone. We are still uncovering more every day until the sale.

I couldn’t even tell you what some of the things in the pictures were, but here are a few from the ad.

Yes, that is a pine coffin. I'm not sure if anyone had bought it but it was still right in the foyer when I was there!

Their building appears to have been remodeled in the Sixties. The lower part is covered with pale green panels, possibly aluminum, and the upper portion is this amazing three dimensional metalwork. I've never seen anything like it, and admire the building whenever I drive by.

I arrived a few minutes before the scheduled start time. Big crowd out front waiting to get in. Had to park a block away. Judy was already there, and we had plenty of time for a nice long chat, since they were letting in about thirty people at a time and our number was…85!

Predictably, what there was had been pretty picked over when we finally got in, but sharp-eyed Judy spotted this great MCM ceiling light on one of the pews in the chapel, which I ended up buying for ten bucks.

Can’t wait to put this up somewhere in my house. MCM fixture, good; MCM fixture with a story, great!

It’s probably just as well that this light had already been sold. We might have had to fight over it, even though it was way too large for either of our homes!

Judy spotted another light a bit later, a pull-down counter-weighted lamp very similar to this one.

The lamp swings out from a piece of teak that fits over a wall cleat; unfortunately the cleat was missing. But as we were walking out, I noticed an identical piece of teak (sans lamp) lurking quietly on a wood paneled wall, reached up, and slid it off – and there was the exact cleat she needed. Evidently there had been another of these lamps, but we were told it went on the fritz recently. So they went and found a screwdriver, and Judy got the cleat!

While we were looking around, a young woman was taking pictures. We figured she was just interested in a piece of furniture and tried to stay out of her way. But a few minutes later she came up and told us she’s from the newspaper and got our names. She’s only been there a couple of weeks, and today got sent out on assignment to cover a funeral home’s estate sale.

You just have to love Salem! And you just have to love Judy. You know how most of us shrink from having our pictures taken? When we walked away from the reporter, Judy's comment was, "I didn't know she was taking our picture. If I had--I'd have posed!" 
Pin It button on image hover