Planting Sequoias

In which I blog about a life (hopefully) well lived.


Sweater-Sleeve Mitten “Tutorial” (in which I detail the correct way to make really ugly, non-functional mittens)

I like to think of myself as crafty and resourceful, good at repurposing items for whatever I need or want.

But lately I’ve been having to rethink my whole crafting identity.

It all began with thrifted sweaters. (Yes, there were two.) I used the first for this sweater pillow and these leg warmers with moderate success.

All that success went to my head, though, and I became a little too confident and decided to make myself a pair of mittens.

Part of the irony of this post is that I (along with my Grandma D) have cut and sewed and sold HUNDREDS of pairs of mittens out of sweaters (the kind with the 3-part pattern and a cuff) over the past few years. But I decided to deviate from our normal pattern and go with something a little different.

“It will be easier,” I thought.

“They will be cute,” I thought.

“It could revolutionize the way I live my life,” I thought.


WRONG. I was so, so wrong.

Here’s the story, in pictures (and some words, because hey, I’m a writer).


I took the sleeves of the sweater and cut them off.

I then repurposed a political flyer and created a pattern for my hand. I censored the guy because this blog is not about politics and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings in case he saw what I did with his nice mailing. I also thought this could make a nice blog post title. “Mitten Tutorial: In which I propose an alternate use for mailed political flyers.” I have begun to put way to much thought into these titles.

I then began to sew, oblivious to what was to come.

Things were looking good at this point. In my mind, it closely resembles a mitten.

But then, once I trimmed up the seams and insided it out, I was horrified to find this:

I’m not sure what it looks like, but it is definitely not something I would wear in public (which is, of course, the mark of a successful craft).

So, yeah. Back to the drawing board on this one. I might blame it on a number of things, like the chunkyness of the sweater or my ancient sewing machine, but it really is because I do not have the proper skills nor motivation to tweak this into something wearable at this point.

Lesson learned. I need to stop the sweater madness. Or at least spend more time on making a successful end result.

At this point, all this mitten is good for would be losing it in the woods:

Please tell me someone else has heard of this book?

At least this book is really cute, even if my mitten is… slightly less cute.


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Sweater Pillow (in which I succeed in not cutting off any fingers)

When we left off, I had just cut up a thrifted sweater to make* some boot socks with the sleeves.

*I use that term loosely. It was an easy “project.”

Documented here is the project I tackled with the rest of it. Poor thing didn’t stand a chance in my house as a real sweater. My apologies to Wet Seal.

I have another project in mind that involved the neck and the (front) hem, so once I cut those off, here’s what I was left with. Ignore the gourds. They had no bearing on this project, other than getting in the way.

Not pictured: The mounds of sweater fuzz that each cut of my scissors produced. I think I vacuumed inches of lint off my floor during the aftermath.

It didn’t take me long to come up with an idea of what to do with the rest of the sweater. Many subliminal childhood memories of stuffing a pillow “baby” into my shirt (and yes, birthing it. TMI? You know you did it too!) probably were contributing factors.

We had a pillow (Ken’s) that I wasn’t loving anymore, and the sweater was just the right size to cover it. And Kenny was not around to voice his opinion, so this was the perfect opportunity to make a switcheroo.

Now with the idea part of this project out of the way, I merely had to figure out how to execute it.

Surprisingly for me, the execution phase didn’t take long either. I cut off the bottom of the sweater to make the edge even, insided-out (is that even a thing?) the sweater and gave it a quick sew with the Singer. I turned it right-side-out and stuffed in that pillow. At this point, it resembled a torso a little too much for my liking.

In the interest of not freaking out Kenny with a dismembered torso pillow when he arrived home, I pressed on. I trimmed off the top and then whip-stitched that end closed by hand, like I did with this pillow.

Basically, I’m giving Pottery Barn a run for it’s money.

The other pillow there is one of a pair of removable pillow covers that I made from some  thrift store fabric, back in the day before I was married. What is it with me and secondhand textiles? Weird, I know. It’s not on purpose.

And look at me–I even took these pictures while it was still light out. Keep your expectations low though. I feel that this is probably a rare occurrence. Photography blog this is not!


Sweater-arm Boot Socks (in which I contort myself into a pretzel to take pictures of my own legs)

I pretty much included all of my appendages in that post title. WIN.

Last year, I got a big fluffy sweater from a thrift store for a project that I have yet to finish. In my defense, it was a Christmas project, so once Christmas was over, it would have been weird to tackle that one again. I still hope to finish it before this Christmas, but we’ll see.

But when the sweater  (which I’d precariously perched atop a stack of boxes on the top shelf of our closet) fell onto my head for the umpteenth time last week, the idea hit me.

It was only 7am, and since bursts of inspiration are rare at that hour, I chose to embrace it. Keep in mind while reading this post that my faculties are not all that they could be at that hour either and that 7am is not the best time to take photos (although for me, taking good pictures is always a challenge, no matter what time it is).

Grace, people. I need lots.

Here’s the topic of this discussion:

I liked the chunky cable-knit, but it had outlived it’s usefulness as a traditional sweater.

So I did this. To my credit, I didn’t cut off any of my own body parts, despite having gotten out of bed only moments earlier.

The goal was to make these:

Image from here.

I obviously didn’t have time to break out the ole’ 1950’s Singer to hem the bottoms of these (besides, using a zig-zag stitch would have been best to preserve elasticity, but unfortunately, my sewing machine was invented before zig-zag), so I just threw them on over my pants.

Uhh, that’s awkward.

I don’t know if any of you fully realize how hard it is to take a picture of one’s legs.

This picture was not the first attempt, or the second. The early hour and my general bleariness were probably factoring into the poor photography as well.

But in the interest of getting to work at 8am, I pressed on towards the goal and shoved my feet into my boots.

Oh, wait, you probably wanted to actually see my boots? That’s a big request, people. I can’t emphasize it enough; self-pictures of legs are difficult.

I finally contorted my body enough to snap this pic. Let’s just call the blurriness and the off-centeredness artsy, okay? Oh, and I did get this less blurry close-up:

I snapped this and zoomed off to work, and luckily, no one questioned the fact that I was wearing a sweater on my legs.

Eventually, I plan on mooching off someone whose sewing machine has zig-zag capabilities coughmomcough and using up more of the mangled sweater on another of my great ideas. Check in tomorrow for that story and to make sure I still have all of my fingers.