I spied these toddler overalls at a local thrift store recently and couldn’t resist…how sweet would these be embellished with bright cotton print around the cuffs? The past couple of craft fairs had me wishing that I had more pieces for children, and indeed, they’re a lot of fun to put together. Much of the children’s thrift store clothing that I see is in hardly worn condition, perfect for a makeover. And many people really seem to enjoy seeking out special items for the children in their lives. Buttons in lieu of studs, and bright cotton print in lieu of lace and what do we have? Little Betty!
We’ve been back in Washington for about two weeks now, and what a blenderful it has been! Not exactly my favorite smoothie, either…
It did not take very long for the crummy old rented trailer to turn into the trailer debacle; we have now moved into my mother’s guest room. This has its good and frustrating points; I don’t know that I’ve ever felt the difference between visiting and living with someone so sharply. I also didn’t know that it was possible to value a mini fridge as much as I do right now.
Had to be selective about what to cram into the guest room….sewing machine or amp? Guitar or ironing board? Since I won’t be doing any sewing for awhile, I’ve been going through mom’s boxes of stuff and posting some of it for sale on eBay. What a trip down memory lane that’s been! That she has still, from the late 60s (I had no idea) a Mattel Liddle Kiddles Talking Townhouse
And then there are the vintage dresses that she has had closeted away for so long…I am going to be busy for weeks eBaying this stuff!
Real transition going on for Betty https://www.facebook.com/betterbettyrocker these days as well. We are now spread out over three states, and beginning to work on new material via Skype-it has been sad and exciting at the same time for all. All this followed closely on the heels of four songs recorded in August at Dogwater Studios http://www.dogwaterstudios.com/ over three memorable days! We hope to meet up in December to play a show-stay tuned!
So that’s my life at the moment…trying to maintain some creative flow and establish structure and routine while living out of my suitcase.
I’ve decided to write about my relocation experience from Nevada back up to Washington, where I lived prior to Nevada. This move will involve an interim stint in a rented travel trailer while we build a small apartment over a garage to live in. I have no idea how I’ll carry on with music, sewing and other creative projects in said travel trailer, but I’m going to try!
I’m writing on the road from Roseburg, Oregon. Today began with tears as I left the gas station in Carson City; people I’ve come to love are in Nevada, and indeed, most of my reinvented identity-how do I know it will follow, and if not, where the heck might it go? In other times I’m not troubled by such thoughts, but putting this scenario in motion has dragged up emotions I wasn’t aware I had. On this trip up I’ll drop my car off, fly back to Reno, and do the actual move next week…
Driving with such a heavy heart called for music that would take me out of my troubled head, and I’d packed a bag (yeah, the real thing, no Bluetooth or whatever for old-school me!) of Zeppelin cds.
Lately my head has been a jumble of all the things that come into play when I’m in song writing mode. That means swirling bits of all of the millions of hours of music I’ve ever listened to…I don’t even want to estimate those hours-it probably IS in the millions… The drummer in my band, Rick, is a huge 311 fan and the other day mentioned in a post how their music has carried and supported him when he’s needed it. I was thinking about that-how music can be a lifeblood for some of us- while reading a Rolling Stone article about the current Spirit/Led Zeppelin copyright infringement case http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/jimmy-page-testifies-as-stairway-to-heaven-spirit-trial-heats-up-20160616 . The line between being influenced by a song you absolutely love, perhaps a song you’ve had in your head for years, and actually playing nearly the same thing is a blurry grey one sometimes. Where do those particularly phrased notes and riffs come from? When I occasionally succeed in nailing down an idea for a new song, I know it means that the swirling bits have settled down into something I can use.
These thoughts brought to mind my now practically ancient music scrapbook. Really this is just an ugly old blue binder that I filled with notebook paper and taped clippings from favorite bands into back in the mid 70s. I’d like to share some of it here and in future posts. But back to music as such a force in our lives…I know it is why I likely began clipping, jotting down song lyrics and listening to the first of those millions of hours of music as a young person, and apparently why I’ve been unable to toss the old binder.
Boz Scaggs always did it for me, and my copy of Silk Degrees is just about worn through!
So many very personal memories attached to early Bowie. I still remember listening to Rebel Rebel from the cassette player in the truck of a boy my parents didn’t want me seeing. I’ve always experienced David Bowie as alternately defiant and lovely.
Oh, Blue Oyster, how I love you still. This has to be one of the records that made me want to make heavy guitar sounds (Dad said no, so this didn’t happen for another 35 years). Awesome, incredible band. The song Dominance And Submission https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiF8uSulVc0 on the record I have pictured here, Secret Treaties, is cool sounding still, with a great riff and jaw dropping outro solo. Buck Dharma is one of my heroes indeed!
So here I am, about to post this and then go listen to a rough track of a new Betty song and try to figure out the rest of my parts. The missing bits are probably already swirling around in my head.
I had a little time this afternoon to do a quick and easy mod to a plain guitar gig bag. Most gig bags have an outer pocket for accessories, and that single layer is easy to go through when attaching studs. I happened to have a few of these unusual star studs and couldn’t resist putting one on along with the pyramid studs, arranged in triangular fashion. This bag will be a small donation for a local fundraiser this weekend, Marianarchy http://www.renohipsters.com/events/marianarchy-xii-day-two-a-benefit-for-kula-dunn/ from Betty https://www.facebook.com/betterbettyrocker. Looking forward to playing some new songs at this show!
Most of the time I seem to have too much on my plate to commit to a major creation, so I lean toward simple ones that can be completed in a single sitting. Alas, this same situation applies to the songs I come up with, but I feel happier completing something rather than nothing, and I suspect that this is true for many. I also lean toward reuse, and simple hats certainly qualify here.
The three hats pictured are super easy creations that are fun to do and can be put together in under an hour. Below is a stretchy beret style hat that consists of six pie shaped panels cut from an old sweatshirt. These were sewn together to make a circle, which was then gathered and pinned onto the band, which is simply two old socks less the feet. Stitch these two pieces together, and you’ve got a new hat!
The retro brown-orange hat with green band was put together in the same way, both fabrics from stretchy knit ts and tanks. Doubling the band fabric gives it stability and a more finished look.
The last hat has a little bit of a backstory to it…
A few years ago my band https://www.facebook.com/betterbettyrocker was planning a casual photo shoot, and naturally the topic of what to wear came up. We decided on black and white, with some sort of hat. I thought I might like to wear a pillbox style hat, but found vintage ones to be more than I wanted to spend just for this occasion. After band practice one day, I was lamenting this situation to Carolyn and she said that I would probably just make one out of an oatmeal box…it’s exactly what I did!
With a glue gun I attached an old linen napkin, lace, braid and faux pearls. It was a bit heavy, not perfect, and indeed had to be pinned to my hair for the photos but for that purpose was just the ticket-and so much fun!
If time ever permits I’d love to try my hand at a more serious endeavor. Do you have a favorite funny hat of your own?
You can make these comfy, cozy slipper socks in a single afternoon! The really great thing about this easy knitting project is that it’s calming, gives you a chance to catch up on your favorite listening and results in a great handmade gift for a friend!
Even if you’re unfamiliar with loom knitting, you can do this. I would recommend first viewing this video, which will show you in a few minutes the basic e wrap stitch, which is used on the slipper sock from ankle to toe. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DVRbwzQm7A
A few words about yarn. I doubled the lighter weight green yarn used on the cuffs. It more closely follows the medium bulk of the heel and foot. For the toe I went to a lighter yarn and a single strand. The toe, of course, is cinched up and makes the decrease easier with less bulk. All the yarn shown here is washable wool blend, lovely soft. You can use whatever you like, but I find the 100% acrylics not quite so soft a feel.
Onward to the cuff…
E wrap a single row, referring to above referenced video if you need. For the next 12 rows, you’ll alternate knit and purl stitches in each row. k,p,k,p,k,p etc. If you’ve not done this on a loom, you’ll work to the right with working yarn in front. The first peg to the right of the anchor will be knit. For the knit stitch the hook reaches under the wrapped loop, and grabs the working yarn from above, gets pulled down and knit off. The next stitch is purled, and the process is reversed. The hook will go behind the loop from the top, reaching down to grab the working yarn. Knit and purl alternately for 12 rows. Leaving a tail five inches or so, cut the cuff working yarn and double knot to ankle/foot yarn.
I would be so lost without my little knitting counter friend!
The ankle is simple and quick…just e wrap knit 5 rows. This usually takes me two or three songs to do.
The next thing to do is mark the 13th peg. I’ve used a green wire tie here, and this works fine. Now is the time to leave a yarn tail, cut the cuff yarn, and double knot the heel yarn. For the heel, you’ll only be working pegs 1-12, and will e wrap back and forth between them for 4 rows. Always start on adjacent peg, and do knit the last peg.
To decrease heel and reattach to loom, you’ll leave your (13th peg) marker on and, beginning at the 12th peg, pull that loop onto the adjacent (11th) peg. Go to peg one, wrap (peg 11 as well, even though it will have three loops on it) and work the row, treating the bottom two loops on peg 11 as a single loop. Then go to peg 1, moving it to adjacent peg 2 and following the above instruction until there are three empty pegs per side.
To reattach your knitting to the loom, with your hook take a top edge loop of yarn closest to peg that’s holding the ankle knitting and put on that peg (it will eliminate holes). Same thing for remaining six empty pegs. This part can be a bit of a challenge, but take your time to “see” the best way to spread out the heel knitting over the pegs and it will be fine. Also, if there are any holes in the heel/ankle/foot area, those long tails from changing yarn make stitching the hole shut an easy matter.
Once you’ve got your knitting reattached, cut a long tail and switch back to yarn that was used for the ankle. Double knot, and e wrap all round the loom. You’ll now remove that marker from peg 13, and notice that your number one peg is now on peg 4. There will be three loops on a couple of the pegs, treat the bottom two as if they were a single loop.
From here until the toe, knit as many rows as desired. On a medium bulky yarn, I find 22 rows equates to about a womens 7.5. As you approach the end of the foot, make certain the knitting is not too tight. The toe will consist of three additional rows.
When you reach the toe, cut a tail several inches long and tie on the yarn you’ll use for this. Best to use a yarn about half the thickness of the foot yarn. Double knot, and move every other peg onto the adjacent peg to the right. Then “weave” the working yarn in front of the pegs with loops and behind the empties. Not too tight. Then knit the double loops over. Pulling one peg over at a time is easier than both at once.
Do the next two rows the very same way, remembering to keep yarn loose for ease.
Leave a tail about one and a half times the loom diameter and thread onto your flexible yarn needle. Go through all loops, and once again through first loop. At this point you can remove knitting from loom and turn inside out to close (drawstring) as well as weave in all tails and stitch any holes that may exist. If you’ve not used this drawstring method, here’s an excellent lesson in doing so http://www.loomahat.com/how-to-loom-knit-a-hat/close/ .
This week I am taking a look at another tool I like using in conjunction with small knitting and sewing projects. It is a spool knitter, also called a French knitter. The cute one I have pictured above isn’t vintage at all, but they’ve been around for a long time https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spool_knitting and are a quite flexible, and useful form of knitting. With a tiny knitter like this, the cable that comes out of the tube goes quickly. I found a great tutorial using this same tiny version that I have https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzjGPRWAaRU .
The silk handle on this small fabric bag was easily fashioned:
A longer handle made from the same yarn the bag was knit from:
Like the flower loom, I like having this in my toolbox for its compact size.
I’d enjoy seeing and hearing about your own spool knit projects!
Did you enjoy making square loomed potholders with yarn loops when you were a child? There are some fun retro crafting tools in circulation, as well as new takes on some of the older ones.
This round Hazel Pearson flower loom from the 1960s was a lucky thrift store find a few years ago. In fact there were two identical looms included in the purchase; the other was gifted to my very clever friend Mary, who seems able to craft anything out of thin air-loom or no!
Check out this page on knitting-and.com http://www.knitting-and.com/small-looms/loomsandyarns.htm to see what’s possible with these flower looms-beautiful things that could be used in conjunction with many projects. Apparently the loom was designed originally for use with raffia to make the straw flowers so popular back then, and indeed some beautiful examples are to be seen on knitting-and.com.
I’ve not yet made raffia flowers. These simple yarn flowers I’ve made are sewn on casual fabric and knitted bags, but I’ve also used them to jazz up the side of a basic knitted hat.
Clover has some great knitting tools (I have their little counter that I love), and indeed they make a modern version of the flower loom https://cloverusa.wordpress.com/tag/flower-loom/ should you desire one and are unable to find an original.
I enjoy this compact little vintage Hazel’s Loom down to its lovely pale yellow color! Do you have a favorite old school crafting tool?
Next week I will look at another useful little vintage crafting tool.
If you have a favorite old t shirt (perhaps an old concert t for rock and roll flavor) that you’re unable to part with but are no longer wearing, you can easily fashion it into a casual slipcover for a round ottoman, such as this one:
For this project you’ll need a basic sewing machine, an old t shirt, a round ottoman (although this method will work on an oval shape as well), fabric shears, a marker, piece of fabric for ottoman top plus a couple of inches for seam allowance, thread, pins and a measuring tape. A steam iron is helpful but not necessary.
Slip t shirt over ottoman and decide where the bottom edge will be. You’ll be using the existing hem as the bottom edge. Measure, adding two inches for seam allowance. My ottoman is 11″ and so will be cut to 13″
Lay as flat and evenly as you can on your cutting surface. (It’s helpful to align edges and press first)
Cut at predetermined distance from bottom hem. Mine was 13″
Set aside the side panel, and lay your top piece face down on your cutting surface. Put the ottoman upside down on this fabric and, using a felt marker lightly draw line around ottoman. (Holding marker parallel to ottoman side makes it easier) This line will serve as your seam guide when attaching top. Measure and mark at several points 2″ out from this line for your seam allowance.
Cut out top piece along those points.
Moving your attention back to the side panel, measure circumference of ottoman. If your shirt exceeds this measurement, cut it down the side, measure and add one inch to the circumference measurement. Then pin and stitch this side. Press seam open.
You can skip this step if your t shirt already “fits” your ottoman.
Turn side panel inside out and pull over ottoman and adjust so that hem is as even as possible. Then take top piece and place face down on top of ottoman. You should have your inked line facing you. Pin along this line, making sure that t shirt edge is as even as possible with top piece edge. The t fabric tends to roll a bit.
With top piece facing you, carefully stitch along your ink line, keeping under fabric from bunching. Trim excess seam allowance fabric to about 1/2″.
Turn inside out and pull over ottoman. This cover is fairly plain, but imagine the possibilities, and so easy to do!