Posts Tagged ‘yarn’

A bad economy

July 11, 2009

means a lot more Ebay goin on in my life.

I’m selling some yarn!  Check it out.  The first listing I’m doing is for 5 skeins of Lorna’s Laces Green Line DK Wool in Hope.  I may be adding some more in the next few days, which I’ll post about here as well.

This large bit of yarn is the 2nd half of a big batch I bought some time ago–the 1st half you may remember became my Cabled Capecho, which I love love love.  This yarn is wonderful (100% organic merino wool) but I’m not sure I want to knit with the same color again–hence the sellage.

It’s definitely time to downsize, and save, and sacrifice, and a whole bunch of other unsexy things, but this may just be someone’s opportunity to grab some yarn they may have bought anyway, but WAY cheaper.  Or your opportunity to impulse buy…ya know, whatever’s good for you.

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Wrap it up

July 6, 2009

the baby, that is.

This is why I’ve been away.

Well, that’s not completely true.  It is why I haven’t had anything crafty to share, because on the rare occasions I felt like knitting, I had to work on this, since I missed the baby shower deadline and just barely got it finished for the kid’s birth.  My lack of desire to knit is no doubt linked to the lack of freedom I felt on this project.  But, all in all, it was worth it.  It was for one of my closest friends who just had her first baby, a little boy named Caleb.  I hope he’ll enjoy this blanket forever (and that it will not unravel and blatantly disclose my lazy, half-assed “technique” in weaving ends in).

The blanket is the OpArt pattern from the Fall 2008 issue of Knitty, which I thought was perfect for this particular child and mom.  My friend is a speech pathologist, very tuned into the subtle developmental stages and patterns of babies and children.  While she’s tapped into the auditory and verbal development of children, this pattern touches on their visual development:

“This pattern also appeals to the developmental process of infant vision. Babies are born color blind, and with very poor vision (about 20/400 for a normal infant at birth. They are naturally attracted to high contrast, black and white images, since these are more distinct to them. From a distance of a foot or so, a newborn will be able to distinguish only the larger stripes on the edge of the blanket, with the thinner ones fading away into a solid gray, as the baby matures, the thinner stripes will become distinct.”

The blanket is made of Be Sweet Bambino (one of my most favoritist yarns ever) in sea green and natural.  I used two size 5 circulars and 5 balls of each color–which still left me short, but I cut off the pattern 2 stripes early rather than finding 2 more balls of yarn (which can be very difficult).  The blanket seemed big enough as it is anyway.

It’s really soft, organic and I think will be quite nice to its new owner–a very adorable and mellow little baby.

Pretty and Smart.

June 16, 2008

It is an exciting day.  While frantically searching for the yarn I need to make an emergency bolero/shrug/whatever for a wedding I’m going to in a couple of weeks (Habu’s laceweight bamboo in wine in case anyone has some and they want to sell it to me, please please), I came across something amazing on one of my favorite sites, natursongyarn.com:  Fleece Artist Organic Wool.  Fleece Artist and Handmaiden make some of the most beautiful handpainted yarns I’ve ever seen.  The colors are rich and interesting, but until now they didn’t meet my criteria for 2008: organic, local, socially responsible, or (in a pinch) naturally dyed.  Until now.  Naturesong says this about it:

It really is creamy soft, it is not superwashed, so you can use it for felting if you feel so inspired, it comes from sheep raised organically, and was processed in a certified organic mill. Its DK weight is ideal for just about everything and, now that it is robed in Fleece Artist’s flowing colorways, well, life doesn’t get much better than this.

Too bad the other thing (besides buying “green” materials) is buying less materials.  It looks like everyone’s coming out with their green yarn lines, which is fantastic but also tempting to the point of possibly negating all the positive effects of buying green by buying too much.  I just recently bought some unneeded Malabrigo Limited Edition Organic Cotton, which is lovely and comes in lovely colors.  My excuse is the limited edition really put that fear into me–God forbid I miss out…or have a strong will.

So one of you will have to let me know more about this stuff….at least for now.

Sheep and wool everywhere

May 4, 2008

and no Mona in sight.

According to a few blogs I read, I’m missing the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Given that it’s about an hour drive away, I feel like I’m missing an opportunity to be really irresponsible with my money.

I thought maybe today I would make it up there, but I couldn’t really get my act together.  I decided to tell myself that I couldn’t handle it. I think I probably share this attribute with a lot of people–I love to buy things, but I hate to shop. That is, I hate shopping after about an hour tops. In the past this feeling actually hasn’t extended to fabric shopping, which I could do for a VERY long time and be happy buying just a small bit of fabric.  Fabric shops are like museums to me, in fact my most favorite space in New York City is the Costume Institute at the Met and I also just found out that there’s a textile museum in DC.  But I’m not sure I have the same eye for yarn that I (think I) do with fabric. I’m still not sure how things will look knitted up, while I can have a pretty good sense of how a fabric will drape or look sewn up in a certain style. Experience has also taught me that the gravitational pull of a knitting design is way stronger than that of a particular yarn. So yarns I buy for the hell of it live forever untouched in my box o yarn unless by some stroke of luck they actually seem like they can work with a pattern I want to try out. That never happens with fabric–it’s always the opposite.

I also found that there was something that kind of irked me about the festival.  There are a few events or tents or something dedicated to lamb and sheep meat.  Duh, right? It’s a SHEEP and Wool festival.  The thing is I always forget about that element of things.  Like when I was researching wildlife management areas in Maryland and the main page I found (run by the state) was mostly focused on encouraging people to get them a hunting permit and hunt them some Maryland bear.  I was kind of incredibly shocked and appalled.  It’s possible I let the urban, liberal bubble close up around me every once in while, but hunting and the like also aren’t really a part of Indian culture…so it surprises me every once in while.

I think everyone has a line somewhere when it comes to animal cruelty/rights/welfare/whatever. For some the meat industry and hunting falls within their moral limits and for others using wool doesn’t even do that. I’m in between. I don’t really have a problem with using wool, though I completely understand the argument that animals should have agency — especially when the animal itself is presented solely as a product. I can imagine a sheep on the auction block where its value is in the flavor of its flesh and the softness of its fleece. And that makes me sad, because I think it becomes a spotlight for how we view everything, including ourselves.  I often fall into that trap of assessing my worth based on how valuable I think I am to others or how “marketable” I am (ewwww!).   But unfortunately I think every living thing on this earth is viewed to some degree by what they can offer the world — a product, an expertise, an attractive appearance, whatever. There’s just something unsettling when what you’re offering to the world has to be your life.  So that’s where I draw the line. For myself.

In any case,  I have a strong feeling that veggie/vegan knitters still enjoy the festival despite the meat offerings.  And the thing is there were a bunch of events not involving meat and not involving buying yarn that I really would have found fascinating — like the sheep shearing demonstration, or “Hands-on Basic Shepherding”, or the parade of sheep breeds!!  All in all I wish I had been able to pull it together and go see what festivals like this are really all about.  Next year maybe.  I’ll be excited to see the blog posts and pictures from those that went.

You know when I really think about it, it’s my use of wool yarn that makes me interested in sheep at all….I’m not sure I ever thought about sheep much before.

Can’t stop, won’t stop

April 24, 2008

I bought more yarn.  Can’t even take my own stupid advice.

This is for the Cabled Capecho I mentioned last week. It’s Lorna’s Laces Green Line DK in Hope (or off-white).  I ordered it from Jimmy Beans Wool.  I wouldn’t normally plug an online retailer, but I’m pretty pleased with them.  I got the yarn yesterday…and the package was soaking wet.  The yarn was soaked and stained in some places, as was the pattern I had ordered too–ripped and soaked through.  So I called them today, told them that I got the package damaged, and they were kind of amazing.  I’m getting a new package in the mail with my order again and I don’t have to send the old stuff back.  I can try and use it or donate it or something, she said.  Amazing.  So I washed it and am hoping the stains come out…if not I think I could have some fabulous Etsy dyer dye it for me.  It’s kind of a sweet deal actually.  The most educational part is that in order to prevent the problem in the future I can ask them to wrap my orders in plastic in the special instructions.  I’m not so excited about asking for more plastic…but I couldn’t find the yarn anywhere else.

So the yarn.  It’s 100% organic merino and comes in DK and worsted weights.  It’s beautiful and so so soft. We’ll see how the capecho turns out but I foresee a lot of future projects using this lovely lovely yarn.  I high recommend it just by the feel and look.  And it’s 100% organic!

I also did recently frog the puff sleeve jacket I was sort of working on and made Teva Durham’s Steek Vest from Loop-d-Loop:

I knit this up in a few hours on Saturday morning with some of my Savannah Bulky on 15s.  It came out a little shorter than I wanted…but I was (and am) too lazy to do anything about that.  I love the design, but it’s not quite what I thought it would be.  The yarn is a little too “earthy” for me…no sheen to it, which I don’t like so much.  It’s super soft though so I think others would love it.

These days I’m working on another Norah project (slightly obsessed), the Medallion Shawl from this past winter’s Vogue Knitting.  It’ll be a Mother’s Day gift for my stepmom, so I’m currently on a 1 hexagon per day minimum rule.  I currently have 4 done.  11 more to go.  I’ll just make it just in time at this rate.

Loudoun County is good for something.

April 7, 2008

Yarn!

I apologize for the obvious insult in there…but I’m a city, anti-sprawl, sustainable transportation advocate. I believe in personal responsibility and choice that should reflect more than wanting an enormous, cheap house on what could otherwise be productive agricultural land…which for non-Washingtonians, is what is largely happening in Loudoun County.

Thankfully, some of the farms of Loudoun County persist and provide local fibre, meat and produce alternatives for the DC area. I found this fantastic website for the The Loudoun Valley Sheep Producers Association, which:

exists to promote and support the Northern Virginia area’s farm flocks, providing education on all sheep issues including health, management and marketing; promoting lamb and wool; encouraging and mentoring youth and promoting fellowship and comaraderie among the members.

You can look for farms that specifically sell yarn here, which lists the farms in the Loudoun Valley and attaches nice little picture symbols for different products they offer, from fibre to meat. There aren’t many websites listed–most have email contacts, which requires a lot more effort and inquiry than most, including myself, are often willing to do. So I did find a few that provide useful websites:

Solitude (They’re having an open house on Saturday April 12th at Redgate Farm in Round Hill, VA)

Wooly Booly Cormos (More for spinners)

Willow Hawk Farm (This one may be my personal favorite. They offer handspun yarns, but also all sorts of services adhering to a love for 18th century living and techniques–like fibre arts instruction)

It seems local may be more possible for me than I thought…looks like I can’t be so lazy anymore.

Welcome to my stash, linen my love!

March 15, 2008

The newest edition to my yarn stash, soon to become the Meridian Tunic Dress from the new Twinkle book. So this blog was really started to keep me from straying from my goal of buying only environmentally/socially responsible yarns. And this may be my first real success: Linen yarn, specifically Louet Euroflax sport weight.  It’s beautiful yarn.  Apparently linen takes dye really well, so the colors are so vibrant and it has this lovely sheen to it.  When I first started knitting with it I felt like I was making a dress out of twine, but the more I go the lovelier it becomes.  And apparently it’s supposed to soften with washing–though I do like it the way it is.

I spent a few weeks searching for an organic linen yarn, but the search strangely turned up nothing–I got a lot of sites selling organic “linens,” which of course are generally no longer made of actual linen. I finally took the question to my Ravelry Greencraft group and asked what they knew, and I learned that the process for conventional linen is pretty close to organic making the certification an unnecessary extra cost. So linen may just be good all around.

I of course tried to do some of my own research on the subject just to make sure and found out some interesting stuff on linen and also some generally interesting sources of information on green yarns and textiles.

It seems that the reason linen is considered environmentally friendly is that it’s made from the flax plant, which requires very little fertilizer and has a lot of the same properties of hemp, where it’s normally grown without the use of chemicals.  But it may be better than hemp in that it can be grown in the US, or anywhere really, instead of mainly in China…which is far far away to be transported to my home in Washington DC.

Flax is also kind of like bamboo in that it’s one of those plants that we can use for so many things. The entire plant is used – “the leftover linseeds, oil, straw and fiber are used in everything from linoleum and soap to cattlefeed and paper. Waste is kept to a minimum during processing” (from a site about Irish Linen).So I can eat my flax cereal while wearing my linen dress. Win win in my book.

But, after some research I finally found what can be wrong with linen production from a great site, The Lazy Environmentalist.  It seems that it really is like bamboo, where even though the crop may be rapidly renewable and the agricultural practices environmentally friendly, the processing of the yarn is not as green as people would like to believe.

Although the actual growing of linen is free of the extensive spraying and use of pesticides used on cotton, it is the production process that can be environmentally damaging – the extensive water consumption and the chemicals and mordants used in the dying process.

Another point made on the site is that a lot of linen is actually now made in China, like hemp. The Louet linen is spun in Belgium, but I’m not sure where the flax is actually grown.  I hope somewhere closer to me than China.

Some other interesting tidbits about linen I came across:

  • Interesting scientific research examining the possibility for using waste from linen yarn production (spinning and roving losses) to make recycled plastics…it’s known to be an extremely strong fiber, so it did prove useful in this context. I won’t go into specifics…because it’s boring.
  • Interesting, particularly for my fellow knitters:  “Traditionally, pure linen yarn was uneven and could only be woven. This produced a fabric that was very comfortable and long lasting but one that wrinkled very easily. However, in the last decade, spinners have finally found ways to make linen yarn even enough so that it can be knitted. This, in turn, has allowed the production of linen garments that do not wrinkle easily.”

In true Twinkle fashion the dress is actually almost done, so I’ll be sharing it soon.  Linen has amazing stitch definition, so it’s coming along swimmingly.

Am I organic?

March 8, 2008

I’ve mentioned a few times that I have a craft goal to only use “green” materials: organic and/or local and/or socially responsible yarns, for example. I think the trick in accomplishing this is to identify all the choices available to me so I know it’s doable, which I’ve started to do with my “green supplies” list. Turns out there are more choices than I had previously thought and I think I’ll be fine.

In fact, before I had really just considered organic cottons and the like. But come fall I’ll get to experiment with what seems to be a wealth of organic wools, which got me thinking…I’m a vegetarian, so I’m completely familiar with organically grown crops: tomatoes, apples, cotton and the like. But an organically grown animal? We grow animals?

It’s just weird terminology, but yes…I guess animals can be “grown” organically. Organic livestock must conform to these requirements:

  • Livestock feed and forage used from the last third of gestation must be certified organic;
  • Use of synthetic hormones and genetic engineering is prohibited;
  • Use of synthetic pesticides (internal, external, and on pastures) is prohibited (sheep cannot be dipped in parasiticides (insecticides) to control external parasites such as ticks and lice), and
  • Producers must encourage livestock health through good cultural and management practices (organic livestock producers are required to ensure that they do not exceed the natural carrying capacity of the land on which their animals graze).

So, awesome. But this brings me to my question…if animals can be organic, am I organic?

1. I eat organic. But not everything I eat is organic…and I’ve definitely as a child (and maybe even as an adult) eaten my fair share of processed grossness. Pesticides and all that good stuff have definitely made into my system. I think I get a NO on this one. Sad.

2. I definitely don’t use synthetic hormones and don’t think my parents had me genetically engineered. But I eat cheese and yogurt…I don’t drink milk or put it in anything, but I’m assuming all those crazy hormones are in the 2 former dairy products. Damnit. Another NO.

3. I don’t think I use synthetic pesticides internally, externally, or in my home…I think I’m safe in this one. Finally, a YES.

4. I’m an urban dweller, so I think I often live in areas where the carrying capacity for humans could be considered to be exceeded–especially when factoring in the huge ecological footprints of cities, which are dependent on amounts of land far exceeding the city limits. But, I think cities are the most sustainable model for human living given that we’ve probably exceeded the carrying capacity of the globe with our 7 billion or so people. I also I’m culturally sensitive and manage my life pretty well–good cultural and management practices, yes? So, I defy my first point and give myself a YES.

    This is pretty simplistic analysis of my organic-ness. But with a 50% I think I fail.

    Maybe I should tell my boyfriend I’m not organic. He’s really into being healthy.