Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Saturday Sky, July 8, 2006

Filed under: Folkcat's Fotos,Thrifty Shopping,Uncategorized — folkcat at 7:02 pm on Saturday, July 8, 2006

Saturday Sky, Wilton, 070806

10:00 a.m. – bright and sunny. This photo looks from our yard out over Main St. Gryphon and I were about to head out to pick up a friend for a day of yard saling.

As I type this, it’s coming up on 7:00 p.m. We found lots of good stuff today, including yarn, crochet hooks, yarn, a froggable sweater, a huggable frog, some vintage circular knitting needles, crochet thread, a needlework mystery novel, and some beads.

I don’t even entirely know what I have, really. Sometimes you look in a box of yarn or crochet supplies just long enough to know that you’re willing to pay X dollars for it, ’cause you can see at least that much value without digging too hard. Then when they ask for X-2, you try not to act too excited as you peel off the bills, pick your items up slowly, and stroll casually back to your car.

I am pretty sure that I’ve got some high-quality 100% wool (dyeable, even!). I know I’ve got a froggable lambswool sweater that will yield a nice, almost laceweight yarn – probably enough to do a shawl. Oh, yes – and a never-been-opened counted cross stitch kit with a design of cats sleeping in a sewing room, which only cost 25 cents.

More about the yard sales later – probably Monday. To include pictures, of course, and a tally of final costs. Stay tuned!

A Saturday Well Spent

Filed under: Daily Life,Thrifty Shopping — folkcat at 4:46 pm on Tuesday, July 4, 2006

And for very little money spent, too.

Gryphon and I found the Saturday weather to be as predicted – warm and sunny. So we scoured the classifieds for yard sale ads, made a vague plan, and set out.

Most of our best finds came from unadvertised sales, though. It always pays to watch for additional signs as you drive around. Our first sign of the day, for instance, was found so early we hadn’t yet stopped at the post office or the bank.

The sale turned out to be about 3 doors past the corner at the end of our block. Not much of interest, except for a fairly large pile of music CDs for only 50 cents each. Including titles like Hotel California, The Very Best of Dire Straits, and Aerosmith Big Ones still sealed in the shrink wrap. $4 total – score!

Music Medley

We went next to an advertised sale at the extreme south end of Wilton – almost in Mason, in fact. The only things that caught my eye there were a bead crochet necklace and a book about the movie business that you’ll see in a photo later. $1.25 total here

Next, an unadvertised stop in Milford, down the road from Market Basket a little. Turned up a still-in-the-box, never used Sewing Genie for only $4.00. I’ve been wanting one of these mini sewing machines for a while – after all, most of my sewing is small crafts rather than whole garments or slip covers. It still remains to be seen how well this item works, but I noticed that it comes with a lot of bobbins that happen to be the same type used in my full-size Kenmore.

Mini Sewing Machine

We followed some signs near Hayward’s Ice Cream in Milford looking for another sale, only to find out they had put them up a day early for a Sunday-only sale. I hate bad yard sale signs! Most people don’t realize that people searching for sales by looking for signs don’t have time in a moving car to read every last detail. They see the big words YARD SALE and look for an arrow, and they follow it. We even found the right house and everything, and were very confused that there was clearly nothing going on. Only on the way back out again were we able to see the part of the signs that said “Sunday”.

However, on the way there we spotted yet another unadvertised sale. I think to make things a little easier we’ll start calling those YAUS. Anyhow, at this YAUS I found a zipped blanket bag full of yarn. They were only asking $1, so into the car it went!

Yard Sale Yarn Part One

The bulk of the contents was this 100% wool fingering weight yarn from Red Heart. Yes, Red Heart. I didn’t even know they made non-acrylic yarns! Except for the pale green, these are all nice earth tones – I’ll bet I can think of something to do with it.

Yard Sale Yarn Part Two

The rest of the yarn in the bag. In the top left, we have some green and gray tweedy cotton yarns, along with a natural colored ball of what looks like Sugar-n-Cream (or it could be Peaches & Creme, you never can tell without a ball band). You already can guess that the Christmas stuff is acrylic, and so is the white and pink.

Somewhere around here we stopped at home again, dropped off some things, and then set out for more. We found a YAUS at a local storage facility, and stopped in. This may have been one of our best and worst ideas of the day. The large room the sale was held in appeared to have spread out in it the contents of several storage lockers, probably people who defaulted on payments. And the place reeked of mildew, one of my more serious allergens. I should probably have left, but I didn’t think it was going to be much problem. I’d be getting out in the open air quickly again, after all. (This was the worst part of “best and worst.” I had some coughing and labored breathing that night that I am presuming were a slightly delayed reaction to all that mildew. Guess I didn’t get out in the open air quick enough.)

I poked around, saw only a few things that might be worth something if they weren’t mildewed or corroded, and was feeling pretty discouraged, until I spotted a rock on the main table.

Imagine a geode the size of a grapefruit half. That’s what I found. No label on the stone, nothing to identify it, but Gryphon and I looked at the crystalline structure and our first impression was selenite.

Selenite & Graphite Geode

Gryphon took it out to the cashier table and asked “how much?” The lady responded, “Oh, good, someone likes the rock! Well, that’s FREE, because it’s God’s creation. I’m just passing it along.”

Gryphon and I understand that sentiment – there’s been many a time that we were certain we were only there to pass an object along to its next keeper. So we thanked her, expressed our appreciation for it, and wrapped it in an old towel.

On later study at home, I’ve concluded that this geode contains mostly selenite, but also some graphite. Not only that, but a fair bit of the graphite is present as phantoms in the selenite crystals.

Graphite Phantoms in Selenite
Graphite phantoms in Selenite Crystals

The geode is certainly the rarest find of the day.

In this next photo you can see the book about the movie business and the green bead crochet necklace I got at the earlier sale. The necklace is laying on top of the three hard cover cross stitch books – and one baby knits booklet – that I scored at our next YAUS.

Yard Sale Books and Necklace

Celtic Cross Stitch : Over 40 Small, Exciting and Innovative ProjectsJill Gordons Cross Stitch PicturesThe books look like they’ve hardly been opened. Treasures in Cross Stitch, Celtic Cross Stitch, and Jill Gordon’s Cross Stitch Pictures. I believe the miniature covers to left and right are the same books as in my yard sale photo above, just different editions.

I don’t do as much cross stitch as I knit, but I do like it, I’m good at it, and I have several WIPs in cross stitch. The designs in these three books appealed to me – they’re richly textured and colored, and lots of good detail – and they were a bargain at only $1 a piece. The knitting booklet looks to have some nice baby designs, and was only 25 cents.

Also at the same sale, I picked up something I’ve been hoping to find for a while – a folding metal music stand. The reason I want one? Handy for when you’re working on a project, and don’t have a place to prop up the pattern near by! This one only cost 50 cents, so I grabbed it. I realize it’s a bit hard to see against the busy background here, but, well, it’s hard to come up with a non-busy background in our house!

Music Stand/Pattern Stand

We were then looking at a total of $3.75 for this sale. I’d spotted something on another table I thought I could work into the deal, too – this handknit poncho in a bulky weight wool yarn. I suggested adding it to our lot and making the total $4.00 – they went for it!

Yard Sale UFO - Wool Poncho

It was only then that I discovered this was actually a UFO – the knitter never got around to doing the edging. The plastic bag under the poncho contained the unused yarn. So this was an even better deal than I expected.

After this YAUS, Gryphon and I drove around and around in Merrimack, trying to find a likely looking multi-family sale that had been advertised. We kept getting lost, re-tracing our steps, trying another route, but with all the odd little streets, the frequently missing street signs, and the badly marked forks in the roads, we finally gave up looking 15 minutes after the sale was advertised to end.

So we set out sights on one last sale, that was scheduled to go until 4 p.m. This one was much easier to find – it was near a friend’s home. We got there with over a half hour to spare, and found that these yard salers were already starting to pack up early! They announced that anything left was free. We looked things over, and actually took a couple of things that we might have left if we’d have to pay for them.

That’s how I wound up with my second sewing machine of the day. Mind you, I already have a sewing machine, and a slightly better model than this one. My reasoning was that I might be able to pass it on to someone who could use it. Any takers? (In the NH area, please – I don’t think I want to try shipping this!) At the sale, they said it works, and it’s a good, basic Kenmore. It doesn’t have a manual or accessories, but if you go to the customer service site for Kenmore, you can put in the model number and order any parts you want – it’s still supported.

Yard Sale Freebie Sewing Machine

Gryphon’s freebies from the same sale was a small box with a few tools and accessories for homebrewing. A bottle capper, a bag for the hops and barley, a few bottle caps, etc. He already had everything, but for free, he figured it didn’t hurt to have backups.

Whew! We spent the whole, beautiful, sunny day out and about making discoveries, we found some good bargains, we had a fun time.

Overall, the only items that came from advertised sales were the necklace and movie book, and the Kenmore sewing machine that I got for free. Everything else was from unadvertised sales that we stumbled across along the way.

Oh, yeah – total dollars spent for this relatively large haul?

$14.25. Not bad, huh?

Frugal Friday

Filed under: Daily Life,Rats!,Thrifty Shopping — folkcat at 4:27 pm on Friday, June 23, 2006

Today was the monthly rummage sale at the 2nd Congo Church down the block. Not much in the way of crafting supplies this time, just one piece of floral fabric, but we scored big time on shirts for Gryphon. Two long sleeve dress shirts, and three short sleeves, with names like Pierre Cardin, Perry Ellis, and Ralph Lauren. Five very nice shirts in good condition – and the fabric – for a total of $3.00.


Gryphon and I also went on a small local retail exploration to locate one of those big clear exercise balls for the Rattie Sisters. I’ve been having a sense that it’s high time we introduced a new element into their days to keep their bright little brains active and interested. As luck would have it, we found the Giant Clear Run-about Ball that we wanted over at Agway, our second stop of the day.

We also picked up a little seed to grow winter wheat grass for the rats to play about in. Then we dropped into the greenhouses at House by the Side of the Road and picked up two little trays to plant the grass in, some potting soil, and a morning glory plant to put out by our chain link fence. (It’s our hope to cover the fence with flowers by later in the summer.)

Knitting Around at Panera last night resulted in a complete, cast-on to bind-off rat hammock to add to the supplies. I’ve now got five hammocks total, only two short of our goal of seven (to allow for daily changes if needed). I also began another ball band rat rug.

The bad news is, my left thumb that was dislocated in our car accident seven years ago was aching by the end of the evening. And in spite of the minor successes of our shopping at the rummage sales, Agway, and greenhouses today, I’m still feeling a bit of general funk. So I’m going to take a quiet Me Day today, and give both my thumb and my mind a bit of a rest.

Besides, I easily found Gryphon over $100 worth of shirts today for only $2.50. I think I’ve earned a break.

Last Weekend’s Thrifty Crafting Report

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Knitting,Sewing,Thrifty Shopping — folkcat at 3:42 pm on Thursday, June 22, 2006

It’s the usual Thursday rush – lots of errands to do because it’s both payday and Knitting Around at Panera day.

Gryphon and I went out yard saling last week, and I never have told you what I got yet. There were some good deals to be had this time.

First up, for the newly discovered sewer within me, a couple of McCall’s craft patterns to make stuffed toys, for only 25 cents each:

Yard Sale Craft Patterns

Then, at the same yard sale, proof that it’s worth looking at the raw materials when you find kits for sale, and evaluating the item based solely on those:

A Fugly Sweater Kit

This is certainly one of the fugliest sweaters I have ever seen.

On the other hand, the kit was completely intact, and contained all this yarn:

Cotton Yarn from Kit

That’s enough Reynolds Saucy mercerized cotton yarn to knit a size 5-7 sweater. For the grand total of $1.00.

Reynolds Saucy Cotton Yarn

It’s not enough to knit a sweater for my somewhat larger body, but I’m guessing I can think of something to do with all that cotton yarn. Knitted knitting totes is coming to mind, for instance. Maybe something based on a project somewhere in Mason-Dixon Knitting. Mitered squares could be fun with all those colors…

Our last stop of the day was a Moose Lodge Rummage Sale. We got there just as they were starting to pack up, which annoyed us a bit – the sale was scheduled to run until 2 p.m., and it was only 1:45! I don’t care how slow it’s been, you should stay open the hours you said you’d be there!

That minor annoyance aside, they did let us browse through the items that were still out. And I’m glad we did! There was one table that they almost apologetically explained was higher priced, because it was all the better sweaters. Everything there was $2 each. Horrors! 8^)

I didn’t take a picture of it, but I found a nice, denim blue Land’s End sweater in a 60% linen, 40% cotton blend. Good seams, hugely froggable. You’re not missing anything by not seeing it, it’s the most boring of stockinette stitch, crew neck, long sleeve sweaters. But that yarn will be nice to work with once I’ve unraveled it, I’ll bet!

The other item I spotted on that table was a bulky knit, natural wool hooded sweater from Ecuador. Llamas on the tag, etc. 100% wool, froggable, and dyeable.

As I added it to my little stack, and moved on to another table, Gryphon spotted it and took a notion to try it on.

Gryphon's Wool Sweater

And he liked it. Even if he does look a little like the Unabomber here. *giggle*

It fit well, even with his long arms, it looks good on him, and he has been wanting a warmer jacket for those days somewhere between a light windbreaker and a heavy winter coat.

Gryphon's Wool Sweater, Back

And this would be one less sweater I’d need to knit for him.

Gryphon's Wool Sweater, Back Detail

And I suppose, with nice texture stitches and cables like this, it would be a shame to frog it for the yarn. It is actually a very well made sweater.

So I’m letting him have it. The only price I asked was that he put it on outdoors in 90 degree weather so I could take these pictures.

Good sport that he is, he did just that. I think he earned the sweater!

I’m hoping for more thrifty finds this week. Tomorrow is the last of the season, monthly rummage sale at the church down the block from us. Never know what I’ll turn up there!

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