Buttons

jenjoycedesign© buttons.JPG

I’m going through my numerous button jars, sifting and splashing about, trying to decide which one to finish the latest vest…

 

I really love the wild cat-eye buttons in square one, but there are tragically only three, and the other vest I have decided should have the same buttons. Two vests and ten buttons. Choices left then are either the wood, or the metal & plastic in third square.  I’m thinking I’ll go with the warm natural wood for both vests (the other one v-neck, this will be the crew-neck option). Which by the way , should both be done while racing against the clock, by this weekend. My personal goal is to have the pattern up and running by next week for test-knitters, so if you are interested, please say so!

Meanwhile, last night there was a spectacular storm-brewing and wind kicking up amidst a fantastic colorful firey sunset, with fog rolling in from the Pacific coast…sunset

I am still fighting a horrible cold, but fortunately I can stay home and get lots accomplished  with the knitting, while keeping the wood stove crackling, as its suddenly dropped to low 40’s outside. The blustery cold Autumnal mountain weather has finally arrived!

A really nice shirt.

jenjoycedesign© a really nice shirt

I love making new from old.

Upcycling something  from a $2 mens thrift linen-cotton shirt… into mine.

011

( I did get a little sloppy on the rolled hem at the neckline ~ I was rather in a hurry. )

I love simple utilitarian clothing, pleats, and especially lovely buttons. I have a jar of these natural shell buttons which have accumulated from years of thrift shop shirts, and I keep them just for this sort of occasion.

014

Only a few simple steps to transform from men’s button-up shirt to a rather casual boxy throw-over shirt,  which I love in linen, because after several washings, the boxiness begins to drape and all the sloppy bits will blend in with the original shirt’s crinkled old hems.

This is how I do it:  First I cut off the neck under the collar stand, the cuffs, and button bands, and as much length as you don’t need. From the cut-off length in body and sleeves,  you can make middle insert in place of button band, cuffs, or other details such as a collar.  This time I cut down a little from the stand in front  so the neckline in front of the new shirt rests a little lower.

Note:  How many extra bits you are able to make all depends on how long the shirt is and how much you can cut off length in body and sleeves after trying on and marking the length you would like it to be, plus hem allowance.

 

My thing lately is to take a strip off  cut-off length (the length grain will have to be inserted cross-grain fashion, which is a nice contrast, and sew it on to cut front pieces raw edge, using French seams.

004 (2)

I made a collar and lined with some other cotton/linen I had handy, but ended up hating it, so ripped it off.

018

Finishes:  The neck was way too gaping as the front insert was rather wide, as were the sleeves, so I pleated those loose areas after it was all finished, and sewed shell buttons on purely for aesthetic, not really doing anything, as you can see also on front pocket.

017.JPG

Over all it is a really fast way to upcycle and  make a really nice shirt for myself in less than an hour.  The best discovery I found in this make-over shirt is how buttons on pockets are really a lovely accent just sewn on, or to cover the opening of a pleat.   I just love shell buttons & linen!

Edit in, per request :   Link to all projects “New From Old”

Dorset Buttons

jenjoycedesign©Dorset Buttons
Here I present (finally) my best work thus far making Dorset Buttons. They are not my invention, nay, but an old-as-the-hills needle craft technique of a sort of tapestry wrapping of yarn or thread around rings, and spokes inside the rings, which once upon a time were made of real bone. I have for a long time wanted to experiment with them, and now I’ve nearly had my fill, yet,  I just want to make more because they are so fascinating and addictive !

These are made of a rustic heathered 2ply pure wool, Jamiesons of Shetland Spindrift , and I think they resemble petite four cakes a little. Or marzipan. I have enjoyed building up the centers in mine, the ‘hub’, especially here are two smaller ones, 1/2″ in diameter.

jenjoycedesign©mini-dorset-buttons

Medium sizes. 3/4″ , in one, two, and three colors.

jenjoycedesign©dorset-buttons

I have some rings which are 1″ and I am tempted to carry on , and on, and on, but I must stop this frivolous past-time of winding yarn around rings, even if I am merely striving to perfect a most simple and practical style, I must bring this all to it’s fruition now, and present my own tutorial on these.  Why?  Well because you’ll be seeing these buttons on more designs of mine which are in the working.

For now, I have begun to view these little things as the basis for artful button making and the answer to quandary of the hand-knit sweater faced with the task of hunting for just-the-right buttons. Never again will I have to settle for less than a perfect match.

plastic rings

Edit In:  I have made a tutorial on my own variation of a Dorset Button, which can be viewed in my Tips From The Table HERE

Good Things

jenjoycedesign©first-darns

Wholesome and necessary are words that describe two materials known to humankind for thousands of years;  linen & shell.  I shouldn’t  crave these things, these essential objects as I do, but  I do love the little  unworldly things in life…  like ice cream, linen, and shell buttons.

jenjoycedesign©shell-buttons&linen

Let me begin with my love of linen.  This is not just a fondness, but an intimate part of me, and the way I dress.  I could happily wear a fine white linen blouse every day of the year.  I hardly can begin to describe why, or when this became so.

So in my limited & dwindling number of linen shirts,  there have been more given up to the linen shirt graveyard than I care to face.   I am a thrift shopper, and take the time to sleuth out fine linen shirts for dollars, alter when I must,  and have cause to celebrate when I find one perfect just as is.  I have come to face another fact, that I’ve been long overdue in learning to use this odd  wooden thing . . .

jenjoycedesign©my-darning-egg. . . a darning egg.

In above photo is my first attempt at darning, and I am so pleased with myself I can’t even tell you ! After two darned ‘holes’ , and switching from off-white to white thread, I started to get the knack.  I managed to close up and fill in the underarm disaster areas which my favorite shirts began to show, after near constant wear, and the final darning jobs were alright by me.

jenjoycedesign©linen-darned

Satisfied that my work is pretty much unnoticeable when not back-lit,  I decided to try the small holes which happened to riddle my favorite shirt,  one with a label that reads the beautiful words  “100% Irish Linen”.  I managed to darn all the wee holes in it,  ‘it’ which is my favorite linen gig shirt which has not been  worn, but hanging in the closet for a couple of years now.  I was floating for a whole day from this darning epiphany !

jenjoycedesign©favorite-linen-shirt

But sometimes one must surrender a great linen shirt , in the end, to the scizzors   (as I had in this post ), for it becomes too thread-bare.   I made a fine linen hand kerchief, and I even got to collect the lovely shell buttons from it.  Those pearly surfaced little treasures are put in a little jar , a present-place destination, an artful limbo, for buttons of linen shirts past and future.

jenjoycedesign©shell-buttons

 My Good Things,

 unworldly, and essential.

jenjoycedesign©100%-Irish-linen (2)

Knitting Couture


Some vintage buttons I bought from Knitterly in Petaluma last February, especially for this sweater. They are wood, not sure what kind, but one thing is for sure, they are lacquered well. They were in the vintage odd bits bin, wired together and rather spendy. Twelve bux for twelve (and I will use nine), but you know, they were the only buttons of the seemingly thousands at Knitterly, which seemed to enhance the colors in the yoke. I’m so predictable to choose the natural materials when making things.  What do you think? Shall I sew ’em on???


I’m performing cosmetic ‘surgury’  with a steam iron, on this badly fitting sweater.  I’m doing things with moist rags I probably ought’nt, but I’m hopeful I can gently coax and block the fit into the right proportions for my shape.  The couture of knitting, I’m finding is more and more important , as each project seems to have it’s own couturesque challenges. This one, as we know, has a whole nest of them !

Treasures from The Basement

At first , there was a vest. That is to say, the vest was the absolute first thing I spun and knit, during the Autumn of 1987, and it was my first project in my Wednesday morning spinning class. But to start, a little backstory is needed.

A non-credit and free community college class , was the bright and lucky beginning of my love of spinning and of textile creations. On the brochure it was listed in its first semesters as just “Hand Spinning” , then later “Textile and Fiber Arts”, but the long-standing class which spanned two decades at the Goat Hill Farm was just one of those legacies which aren’t realized until they are gone. When one stepped into the class for the first time, it might be like falling into a dream, and stepping a hundred years back in time. I feel I was very lucky to be one of the people involved, even if mostly just in the first decade.

We gathered in the basement of Joanie’s Victorian house, there on the farm, a room she made incredibly charming for the classes and a delightful hybrid of yarn studio , livingroom, and country kitchen all in one. There were many places to sit in a circular fashion, of antique couches, loveseats, and chairs, with trunks and baskets of wool overflowing about the place, an electric drum carder, picker, carders and niddy noddys and impliments of spinning everywhere one looked. A section of the basement was partitioned into a kitchen with stove and sink whereby we dyed fleece, roving, and yarns , and there was usually a dyepot simmering . And if that wasn’t enough, there was always coffee, tea, and cakes or pies made gratis usually by Joanie, but also we ‘students’ would contribute, so there was always a bounty.

A photo clipped from a feature article I’ve saved, which ran December 2005 in the local newspaper about Joanie’s class during the height of it’s popularity, and just before it came to its end after 20 years.

I remember each Wednesday morning the basement room would crescendo into a loud cacophony of laughter, whirring spinning wheels, and gossip, and over those genuinely influencial classes, and fresh cakes, we more or less evolved into a bonded group of friends for a time. This group of spinners I met up with on and off for well over a decade.

Ahem …. back to the vest.

For this vest I spun some Lincoln-Corriedale wool fleece ‘locks’ I purchased from the stash of fleece for sale at the Goat Hill Farm, my first spinning project on my brand new Peacock Wheel (also purchased through Joanie) and I spun the lock-like fleece uncarded and unpicked ! I had dyed the locks in the group with RIT dyes of greens and burgundies and browns (I still have those notes !). I had worn it throughout several winters in a row, washing it only ever once. A moth got to it, twice, and I’ve had to darn those holes. All in all, it is my most treasured knitted thing I have ever knit to date, having my mother’s instruction to shape the flat-knitted sections, sew together, and knit on neck, arm, and button bands. Her instruction is etched into my memory forever with this vest.

Another rather remarkable thing associated with this vest , is recalling a bout of tonsilitis I had come down with as I had been bicycle commuting all winter and on antibiotics and off of work (working at a bakery at the time) , and luxuriated in bed for two weeks, long enough for to knit this from beginning to end, with the help of my mom. A third and perhaps most special thing about this vest, was that in the excitement and encouragement of my first handspun & handknit project, my friend and duo-mate John made for me a set of deer horn buttons, from an antler I brought to him.

I watched in amazement …

… as John cut squares off of the antler on his band saw, shaped them so nicely on his sander, drilled holes in them with his drill press, then torched the edges, then gave them some wax. They absolutely make the vest the most beautiful thing in my cedar chest, like something from a museum !

* * * * *

Next…

This pullover is very dear to my heart, made in ’91. I carded a blend of fleeces from my own animals ! Among the fleeces used were ; a brown Lincoln- Corriedale fleece from my ewe named Hazel, mohair from my angora goat named “Nash” , dyed greens and turquoise and teals, and angora hair from two of my fawn colored angora rabbits, dyed old rose tones and maroons. The most memorable thing about this sweater is the fact that I had knit it three times !

I knit it first into a v-neck cardigan, shortishly cropped, which didn’t do, as the yarn was rather bulky and it looked very stiff and wrongly proportioned, and I had a ton of yarn left over. I then ripped that out and reknit into another v-neck cardigan style, longer(or maybe doubled the yarn?)… but didn’t do either, as I just looked and felt horrible in it. Finally ripped out and knit over into a pullover, tried hard to use up all the yarn I had spun, with the neckstyle crew and hemmed over. Not sure I like the neck, so I may still change the neck to a turtleneck, as I have still about a half ball left over and hiding in the cedar chest with it.