Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Pictures! Lots of them. Better late than never, I have a report from the Michigan Fiber Festival.

I stopped by, family in tow, on the way home from Chicago last Sunday (Aug. 22). Some of you may know, or remember from my earlier postings, that the MFF was the same four days this year as Stitches Midwest, held about three hours away in St. Charles, Illinois. The impact of this scheduling was very obvious -- I would estimate that MFF lost about half its vendors to Stitches. From my untrained perspective, it appeared that MFF snagged the mostly-spinning vendors and Stitches got most of the yarn shops.

The yarn at MFF was great stuff, though. I came away with a little:

The two skeins on the left are merino sock yarn from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. On the right is a cormo/silk blend from Foxhill Farm. That was the second most expensive skein of yarn I've ever purchased. I love the color, which is "seaside." Now I have to decide what to do with it.

That's the only yarn I bought. I restocked my spinning fiber, just in case I ever finish spinning that Romney I bought there last year. Take a look, first at some alpaca roving:

and some beautifully-dyed merino:

and finally, a cashmere/silk blend on the left and an alpaca/merino blend on the right:

With all of that gorgeous stuff waiting for me to spin it, I'm eager to finish the Romney. I still have a lot of that. Here's a skein in 3-ply:

I haven't finished knitting anything this summer, but I'm close on two projects. I am an elbow-to-cuff shy of finishing Donegal and I have a couple of inches left on the second of the self-patterning socks. I am determined not to start anything else until those are done. I'm also still crocheting the afghan with the Tierra Wools yarn, and that's a long story involving running out of yarn and not being able to get the same colors and ripping back almost to the beginning to blend in another color, but I won't go into that now.

My sister's best friend had a Norwegian grandmother who knitted a sweater for her as a Christmas gift every year until she died. My sister's friend has all of these sweaters lovingly stored; I hope to see them sometime when I'm visiting in North Carolina. Ever since I heard about this, I have had a goal to knit my own children sweaters at Christmas. Last year my daughter got the Starmore dragon cardigan, and the year before that my son got a Dale sweater to match one I had knitted previously for his dad. This year I want to knit sweaters for both of them. I've decided on a fair-isle cat motif sweater (from Norsk Strikkedesign) for my daughter, and I will probably knit a gansey for my son. I haven't started either, so I really need to finish this Donegal and get with it. I've also promised my daughter I will knit a dress for her doll to match the blue Scandinavian dress ("Midnight Sun") I knit for her last winter.

There's also the variegated cashmere, which I suppose will become a hat and mittens, and the yarn I've collected for several sweaters. And I want to do a beaded something from the latest Lily Chin book.

I guess I figure if I put all of these ideas in writing and then publish them on the Internet in my blog(!) I will be forced to actually do them!

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

It's not that I haven't had anything to say for a month, it's just that... well, it's summer, you know. Here at the 45th parallel in Snow Belt country, we spend far too many gray and cold days dreaming of July and August, when it will be 75F and sunny with nice lake breezes that don't bring lake-effect snow. It would be a crime to spend beautiful summer days at the computer.

So why am I here now? It's a chilly, cloudy day with reports that this may continue all week. What's up with that? This is summer, not April!

Not much knitting has been happening at this house lately. I made one toe-up sock in a self-patterning yarn (no pictures today; maybe next entry) and I've started the match. Other than that, my knitting has been strictly a little Donegal at night, although not every night. I'm on the last sleeve.

Next weekend is the Michigan Fiber Festival. As I've mentioned previously, it also coincides with Stitches Midwest. I've never been to a Stitches event and thought this might be the time to try it, so I planned a trip to Chicago for the weekend, stopping first at Stitches and picking up the Fiber Festival on the way back. It's my husband's birthday and seemed like a great way to celebrate it (he he he!) He had no complaints since I suggested we go to a baseball game or two on the trip. But I looked at the schedule of classes still available at Stitches and nothing appealed to me for the days I could be there, so I decided to skip it and just go to the Fiber Festival. If I went to Stitches, the only thing for me to do would be go to the market and buy more yarn, and who am I kidding? I have enough yarn to last the rest of my life. Uh, yeah, yarn shopping is the main activity at the Fiber Festival, too. But there's lots of animals and my kids will enjoy that, and I may eventually finish spinning the fleece I bought there last year, so I probably ought to get another to avoid running out of spinning material (like that would ever happen either).

For my daughter, the Chicago excursion is all about a visit to the American Girl doll store. I've never been there, but from what I can detect on the website, it appears to be a plot to deprive parents of their money. A friend whose in-laws live in Chicago confirms this is the case. She said it violates everything I stand for. Well, I never said I wasn't a hypocrite. I don't feel comfortable talking about my daughter's issues in public, but suffice it to say, if a visit to the doll store will bring her joy, then I can suck it up for an hour or two and, yes, even get her the expensive doll she wants. Her birthday is coming up after all.

And this entire entry was the opposite of voluntary simplicity. C'est la vie.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Urgent Breaking News!!!!

Just thought some of y'all might like to know that a trailer is finally available for Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Colin looks gorgeous, as usual.

Talk amongst yourselves.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Finally summer is coming to northern Michigan. It's supposed to get into the 80s today -- a significant improvement from the low 60s we had as highs last week.

This is obviously the weather for cotton tank knitting as evidenced by most other blogs, but I am still plugging away in Shetland wool on Donegal. I have finished the body, except for the neckband. I should have a photo for my next entry.

The cleverest yard sign in my neighborhood these days says, "Support Our Troops -- Vote Bush Out".

Rant of the day: lawn chemicals. Why do so many people risk the health of their children and their pets by spraying their lawns with herbicides and pesticides? What is the value of a uniformly green lawn? I don't get it. I don't even find a monoculture of uniform grass attractive. My interest is drawn to yards that feature a variety of plants; those that are haphazard and somewhat wild in appearance are the most interesting of all. One neighbor has a front yard totally devoted to flowering native perennials and herbs; her front-yard garden is a bounty of color, texture and scent and always a pleasure to pass. By contrast, the ChemLawn-aided lots of neatly-manicured grass punctuated with a few well-behaved shrubs and annuals are boring.

Yesterday an acquaintance told me he had spent 3 hours mowing his grass. He has a riding mower; if he had done it with a push power, he said it would have been 6 hours. I can't even contemplate this without shudders of horror. But in fairness, I should suppose that if I told this acquaintance I had spent more hours than I care to count knitting Donegal, he would have been equally horrified that someone would devote dozens of hours to making a sweater when sweaters can be purchased at Wal-Mart for a few dollars. As a former neighbor said, "We all have our sicknesses."

Our small patch of lawn is due for a mowing, but the clover is blooming with lots of pretty clumps of white and I can't bring myself to shave it away. If I don't mow it soon, I will be sorry because we have a push reel mower and it doesn't work well if the grass gets too tall.

Speaking of push reel mowers, I've long been tempted to lobby all of my neighbors to get them, or at least borrow mine. On my block, three houses mow with push reels; the rest use gas-powered mowers, except for one electric mower. All of the power mowers are extremely noisy and unnecessary on the small lawns in my neighborhood. It would be so much more pleasant to lie in the hammock reading a book on a nice summer day if everyone would give up their power equipment!

Monday, June 28, 2004

Last week I heard an NPR report about blogging and I was surprised to learn that some people post to their blogs as much as 12 times a day. Can you imagine? I've been in awe of the knitting bloggers who manage to post more than once or twice a week. Obviously, I'm not much of a blogger, but I suppose 10 days between posts is really pathetic. In my defense, I ask my regular readers (all 5 of you) to understand that summer in northern Michigan is really, really special, and it only lasts a couple of months, and the rest of the year has snow and gray skies and cold, so sitting in the house by the computer is hard at the moment.

But I do remember my promise in the last blog entry to post a photo of the ugliest skein of handspun yarn ever seen on this planet, so here it is:

Well, no, it's not actually in skein form anymore. I wound it into a ball, but it is so ugly that even my cats won't touch it.

However, my spinning skills are progressing rather nicely, I think, and I'm currently spinning up that Romney fleece I bought at the Michigan Fiber Festival last summer. Here is a swatch of it in a 3-ply:

and a single still on the bobbin:

I swatched it in hopes that it would work for the long tunic with detachable hood and backpack from Lavold's Viking Patterns for knitting. The answer is ya! So in 5 years, when I have spun enough of it, I will start knitting.

And that's the end of the spinning/knitting content of today's entry. Now on to the important stuff.

All of my babysitters were unavailable this past weekend, so I haven't yet seen Fahrenheit 9/11. I'm thrilled at its strong box office showing and will be happy to help it have a great second weekend.

In other news, CNN is reporting a mountain lion attack on a hiker in California. This is not an attempt of mine to commecialize this tragedy as I have no vested interest, but I want to recommend my aquaintance Dave Barron's excellent book, The Beast in the Garden. It's an in-depth look at a mountain lion attack near Boulder in which a jogger was killed about 10 years ago. The book reads like a fast-paced, page-turning detective novel, and Dave has a lot to say about the human relationship with the wild. Check out the reviews on amazon, but if possible, always buy books from your local independent bookstore!

Reader's Questions

I hope Joe will not mind if I borrow his style of answering reader questions and comments at the end of the blog entry. This method prevents half of the comments from being mine!

Max, Alain Delon is new to me; I will have to check him out.

Leslie, Colin Firth may be the only man on the planet for whom I would leave my husband AND my children. Not much chance I'll get the opportunity.

Diane, walking is better exercise than biking in my circumstances. Nearly all of my usual destinations are within a mile of my house and are on flat terrain. Biking is so fast and efficient that I barely exert myself. Ivan Illich in his book Energy and Equity described the bicycle as the most efficient form of transportation ever devised in terms of calories/fuel spent per distance traveled. This is great for transportation and makes the bicycle truly one of the seven wonders of sustainability; the more people we can move from cars to bicycles, the better! BUT I'm trying to stay off mine because of its wonderful efficiency. I want to burn a lot of calories and I don't do that with one-mile bike trips on flat paved streets. And I'm not completely parking my bike; I'm still using it when I have something to haul (a kid or groceries in the trailer) or when I'm in a hurry. To get a good workout on a bike generally requires at least an hour of hard riding and/or hill work.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Not much knitting news to report lately as not much knitting has been happening at my house. I'm almost up to the neck steeks on Donegal, and I've started a pair of self-patterning socks for take-away knitting, and I've decided to frog the cashmere scarf and do something else with the year. But that's it.

I have been spinning a little, and early next week I will post a photo of the ugliest yarn to ever show up on a bobbin, so check back.

In other news... A new film version of Pride and Prejudice is in the works. Keira Knightley has been cast as Lizzie and Matthew MacFadyen will play Mr. Darcy. I think the Austen-groupie world breathed a collective sigh of relief on learning that the rumour that Brad Pitt would play Darcy was just a nasty joke. Matthew MacFadyen? At least he's British! But we know he can never replace Colin the Great.

Here they are:

He's not bad, but he's not:

Still, I'm sure I'll go see it!

I've also been wearing a pedometer for the past two weeks. I was curious to see how my activity level compares to the Amish. According to a news report, the average Amish woman logs 14,196 steps per day, compared to a range of 2,000 to 3,000 for the average American adult. The first week I wore the pedometer was the last week of school, so I was still making a 1.5-mile round trip twice a day to walk my kids to school and back. The pedometer was counting between 10,000 and 15,000 steps those days. I wasn't doing much of anything else, and most of my other walking was shorter (3 blocks to the video store, 2 blocks to a friend's house, etc.) So I couldn't figure out how 2,000 to 3,000 steps per day could possibly be an average. Wouldn't everyone get at least that much just by getting off the couch and walking to the kitchen or the bathroom a few times? Surely it must be a typo! Then I figured it out. This week, with the kids out of school, I have not been walking outside the house at all. When we have to go somewhere, it is easier for me to toss my 7-yo in the bike trailer, so I've replaced walking with biking. One day I had less than 3,000 steps on the pedometer. So now, when I consider that the average American adult uses the car in the same way I use my bike, I can see why the average is so low.

Now I've set a goal of at least 15,000 steps a day, so I'm putting the bike away and keeping the sneakers on. I'm not at all impressed with the accuracy of this pedometer, however. Last night I was not at 10,000 yet despite a lot of walking, and I tested the pedometer and found it had been counting less than half my steps. I don't think it was doing that all the time because I also tested it on a longer walk and it was only lopping off about 10%. But it was a freebie, so what can I expect? Once I get a good idea about what makes up 15,000 steps, I won't need it anymore.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

After numerous tries, I was finally able to view the newly-released trailer for Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. Some of the scenes are chilling, particularly near the end when Bush says with a determined and serious face "I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers" and then turns non-chalantly to the golf course and says, "Now watch this drive." And don't you think John Kerry should make a campaign ad from the footage of Bush at the fancy dinner? I can't believe the shrub said that with cameras rolling: "This is an impressive crowd -- the haves and the have mores. Some people call you the elite; I call you my base."

Great news that it will open June 25. I'm anticipating that opening with the same eagerness that my kids are displaying for tomorrow's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban debut.

In other entertainment/knitting news, I called upon the spirit of my Depression-era grandmother and proved that yes, it can indeed be a good idea not to throw anything away because "you never know when you might need it." (And this relates to entertainment/knitting how? Hold on, I'm getting there.)

My daughter snagged the lead role in her first grade class play, "Hey Diddle Diddle." She was cast as the cat with the fiddle. Needed: one kitty costume. Fortunately, she already had a leopard-print dress, handed down from a friend. Ears and tails would make her purrfect. So I finally found a use for some coarse and bulky brown yarn I had badly spun and attempted to Navajo-ply. Voila! Ears! I made two, in garter stitch, and attached them to a black headband.

For the tail, I needed a firm core. Flexible wire would have been great, but I didn't have any. I found an old phone/modem cord and folded it in thirds. Then I took some scoured gray Romney fleece that I was sick of carding and wrapped it around the cord, securing it with some leftover gray yarn from the stash. Brown ears, gray tail, didn't look like any cat we would want to know. So I took the rest of that hopeless brown yarn and crocheted a long band to wrap around the fleece for a striped effect. Here it is:

Even though it looks like it belongs to a mangy animal, my daughter loves it so much she wanted to sleep in it.

She was great in the play, too.

Otherwise, knitting is stalled right now. The only thing I'm actively knitting is Donegal, which is upstairs-with-a-movie knitting since I have to frequently look at the chart and use the organizer to keep all 11 colors straight. I still haven't cast on for Aubrey because, well, because I still haven't lost weight for the smaller size or given up on my plan to do so. I'm waiting on more yarn for the rippled afghan, and I've decided to frog the would-be-scarf in the beautiful variegated cashmere. It was taking too much yarn and I didn't really want a $90 scarf. I'm still thinking about a $40 qiviut scarf (just to try qiviut). Instead, I think these cashmere will go back to my original intention for it: a hat and gloves. Although I am toying with the idea of designing a lacy, yarn-frugal vest.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Thanks for the terrific comments from last entry. Dianne, be careful about encouraging me or I'll never get off my soapbox! And Max, you will have an easy time ditching your car in the D.C. area. We started our one-car lifestyle when we lived there in the late 80s-early 90s; if we were to move back, I think it would be much easier to do without a car entirely because the area now has two car sharing operations. Check out FlexCar or ZipCar and you may find you don't need a personal car at all. For out-of-town trips and vacations, on the weekends you can rent a compact car from Enterprise for less than the cost of wear-and-tear on your own vehicle.

For those who don't know about car sharing, it is a membership scheme making cars available in neighborhoods for rent by-the-hour. Learn more and find out if car sharing is available in your town at the CarSharing Network. Ooh, and I see from clicking on the link to Traverse City that I need to send a new message to the network coordinator. Our local group exists only very informally now.

OK, off the soapbox and on to mostly-knitting content.

Knitting readers: if you scroll down to the May 14 entry, I have replaced the cloudy photo of Fjalar with a sunny one.

Thanks to the Traverse City Commission giving bus station opponents unlimited time to speak (which resulted in an 8-hour public hearing spread over two nights), I finished The Rebozo on Monday night:

And the bus station was approved, which was also good news.

In other knitting news, I finally decided to use the gorgeous cashmere yarn I bought at Lost Art's January sale for mittens and a hooded scarf, basically following a pattern in Candace Eisner Strick's Beyond Wool. I have started the scarf, which is now my take-away knitting.

I haven't cast on yet for Audrey. I am hesitating because I'm tempted to make it one size smaller as an incentive to exercise more and eat less.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Warning to those who read this blog for its knitting content: none in this entry.

Today's musings are about hardship and sacrifice, or what passes for it in modern U.S. culture.

Regular readers (if there are any) of this blog may recall that my family attempts to do what is widely regarded by most of our neighbors as an enterprise in pure folly: we "get by" with "only" one car. My husband (I want no part of it) owns a 1999 Ford Escort wagon and the mileage reimbursements he gets from his employer cover its costs in gas, insurance, maintenance and even the oft-overlooked opportunity costs (the money we could be earning if we sold the car and invested the proceeds).

I rarely use the car, but it's available to me when I need to travel outside my walking and biking range. For the past 10 days, it hasn't been available as my husband has been away with it for work. Several of my neighbors have generously offered me rides or the use of their cars. While I am grateful to live in a neighborhood in which people know and care for each other, I can't help recalling Bill Bryson's wonderful essay, "Why No One Walks," in I'm a Stranger Here Myself. Bryson described how his well-intentioned neighbors reacted to his walking habits when he first moved to New Hampshire:

"People have gotten used to this curious and eccentric behaviour now, but several times in the early days passing acquaintances would slow by the curb and ask if I wanted a ride.

"But I'm going your way," they would insist when I politely
declined. "Really, it's no bother."

"Honestly, I enjoy walking."

"Well, if you're absolutely _sure_," they would say and depart
reluctantly, even guiltily, as if leaving the scene of an
accident without giving their name."

(For those who haven't read it, an excerpt of the essay is available here.)

We've lived in the neighborhood long enough that most people know I don't need a ride, but I suspect the proliferation of offers in the past 10 days has been a result of the weather. It's been an exceptionally wet spring and those who are traveling in the comfort of a metal cocoon must naturally assume that exposure to the unpleasant elements outside constitutes a particularly nasty hardship.

When I'm walking my children to school in a downpour, or biking my daughter to ballet class in the drizzle, I know it may look like a hardship to my neighbors, who might justifiably wonder if I'm unfairly sacrificing my children's welfare to my sense of environmental responsibility. A little perspective is in order. True hardship is walking 5 miles every day to get drinking water, wedging yourself into a packed cargo truck for a long hot ride across the border for work, or seeing a loved one hauled off to Abu Ghraib prison.

My life is one of comfort, ease and security. I have umbrellas and rainwear to shield me from the rain, boots and parkas for the snow, and even sunscreen for those rare and blessed sunny days. I have a warm, comfortable house and too much food in the kitchen. Getting wet or cold occasionally is not a sacrifice; it is the least I can do.

As for my children, their welfare is always my concern. I think they have more to fear from our car-centric culture than from raindrops, and I'm not just talking about the statistics that show automobile accidents are the leading cause of death for children. The fossil-fueled prosperity to which we've grown accustomed in the U.S. is coming to an end and my children are learning the skills and attitudes they will need if they are to help lead our society away from war and self-destruction and into peace and long-term sustainability.

The internet, as well as your local library, has a vast amount of information and essays on this topic; try googling "end of oil" for starters. One of the best books offering practical solutions is Divorce Your Car by Katie Alvord. She lives not in transit-friendly N.Y.C. or San Francisco, but 11 miles outside Houghton, Michigan, where the annual snowfall is around 200 inches. She offers useful advice for minimizing car usage even for those who live in car-centric suburbs. Highly recommended.

Transportation accounts for more than half of the oil consumed each year, so efficiency in that area can have a big impact. But don't forget to take steps to reduce energy usage in other areas, such as heating (turn the thermostat down and knit more sweaters!), food (organic and local whenever possible), and consumer goods (reduce, reuse, recycle). Take the Ecological Footprint Quiz and learn what you can do to live more lightly on the planet. Then, if you'd like to discuss your progress with others, consider joining the LessIsMore discussion group (warning: high e-mail volume).

A little bit of voluntary hardship and sacrifice now may save us from catastrophic hardship and sacrifice later on.

Monday, May 17, 2004

A little blog housekeeping to start. I noticed this weekend that the referral system appeared to be out again as my blog did not have the usual list of referring web pages. Then this morning when I was reading Wendy's blog, I noticed that her referral list was working and I wondered, what's up with that? So I clicked on the link to the referral service, copied and pasted the code back into my blog template, and saw that the address has changed. Either I wasn't a registered user and didn't get notified (very possible) or I did get notified and deleted it as spam (also very possible). Anyway, you other bloggers who have been using the referral system and have wondered where your list has gone may want to check it out!

No pictures today. I know I said I would take another photo of Fjalar in the sun, but I missed my opportunity yesterday and now the sun is gone again. I'm almost finished with The Rebozo and I'm almost to the armhole steeks on Donegal. I also swatched for Audrey and got gauge the first time with the recommended 5.0 needles. The Rowan Calmer feels so good!

Friday, May 14, 2004

Finally, a Finished Object to show! This is Fjalar, a design from Elsebeth Lavold's Viking Patterns for Knitting, in Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece:

Here's a detail of the cabled band:

Thanks to Joe for the photography tips. The last time I attempted to photograph Fjalar, the texture did not show at all. Joe recommended photographing it with the morning or afternoon sun, without a flash. Since I live in northern Michigan, the odds are not good that the sun will peek out when I happen to be home with my digital camera ready, but I did at least take it outside for natural lighting. The sky is so gray and drippy today that I could not stop the flash from going off, but I think the texture is somewhat visible. If, as promised, we do get some sun tomorrow, I will try again. And I suppose the one good thing about the current weather is that I don't have to wait until fall to wear the sweater (45F as I write this!)

As long as I'm trying to find silver linings... While the horrendous events that have brought this about still make me nauseated, I'm somewhat heartened to see that at least Bush's poll numbers are starting to drop. Maybe people are finally getting a clue! How many people have to die or be tortured before the remaining 44% stop approving of the way Bush is handling his job?

Monday, May 10, 2004

In knitting news: I joined the Audrey knit-along and I'm very eager to begin, but I've promised myself not to even swatch it until I've finished at least one current WIP. Thanks to a rainy weekend that was perfect for movies and knitting (finally got to see "Love Actually"!), I am just a few rows short of finishing the sleeves for Fjalar (from Lavold's Viking Patterns for Knitting), and thanks to T-ball games and various meetings, I'm only 3 stripes away from finishing "The Rebozo" (here's an old photo of it):

If all goes well, I should be swatching before the end of the week.

But sadly, if I can't learn to control myself around Green & Black's chocolate, I may not be able to fit into Audrey or any other sweater! This stuff is insanely good, and last month my local food co-op had it on sale and I "stocked up." At least I thought I stocked up; it's all gone now. I was eating it at the rate of two bars a day. My favorite is Almond, which is whole roasted almonds in a yummy milk chocolate. But my local store doesn't have the toffee, which is probably a good thing for me. I also highly recommend the Maya Gold. Actually, they are all delicious. Does Calmer stretch much?

Friday, May 07, 2004

Because I am procrastinating on something else I need to do, and one reader of this blog expressed an interest in voluntary simplicity, and Wendy is getting grief over her penchant for luxury yarn, it seems an appropriate time to address the role of money in knitting and in life.

This issue goes much deeper than the usual "yarn snob" flap over acrylic vs. natural fibers, but let's get that out of the way first. I will confess to being a yarn snob, although it's partially by default. I have never knit with Red Heart or Lion Brand, primarily because I have three excellent yarn shops within walking distance of my house so I've had no need to look for yarn in discount stores. I did not even know Red Heart existed until I subscribed to knitting lists! But now that I know, I still have no interest in it. Even though my family income is very modest, I don't mind buying the "expensive" yarns because:

* I value my local yarn shops for their expertise, excellent customer service and commitment to my community. For yarn or anything else, I patronize locally-owned businesses whenever possible.

* I don't knit because it is a thrifty way to get clothes (does anybody?) If I just wanted a sweater at the lowest possible cost, I would go to Goodwill. And actually, that's where I get most of the clothes I don't knit myself, which is a big reason I can afford the luxury yarns.

* I don't waste money on stuff that isn't important to me. A major savings in my family is transportation. We have one small car (a Ford Escort wagon) that we use primarily for out-of-town trips. Otherwise, we walk or bike. We spend several thousand less a year on transportation than most of our neighbors. I've always wondered why people feel a need to get a minivan or SUV when they have a baby. We took the Great American Road Trip last year -- coast-to-coast twice, 31 states, 5 provinces, a dip into Mexico -- with two kids and a large dog and all our camping gear in the Escort! I won't say it wasn't cramped, but if we had purchased the large vehicle that most people claim you need to do this, we couldn't have afforded to make the trip! There are many families who spend more on car payments than on rent or mortgage payments. If anyone would like guidance on how to reduce this huge expense, I recommend Divorce Your Car! by Katie Alvord. Or let me know and I'll point the way to more resources.

But there is another ethical dimension to this. Is it right to indulge in Rowan when people are going hungry? Probably not, I say as I eye the 8 skeins of Calmer I purchased 3 days ago. I don't have an easy answer, but I turn to environmental writer Stephanie Mills for an elegant wording of this dilemma. From her book Epicurean Simplicity:

"A source of bad conscience, however, is the knowledge that my way of life, austere though it may appear to the richer folk, is still ruinously exploitive of nature -- not in my backyard, where I practice harmlessness toward even the wasps, but in the atmosphere, where my fossil fuel combustion's carbon dioxide is helping change the climate; in all those mountainous places where the metals and minerals that structure and drive my American life are torn from the earth; and in the flesh of fish and birds, mammals, and reptiles, where the chemicals that made the paper and plastic I use bioaccumulate, deforming reproduction.

"That guilty knowledge is another argument for material simplicity. The less I consume, the less harm I do to that which I love. In a consumer society, harmless living may be simple, but it is not easy. I make no claim to exemplary harmlessness or simplicity."

When it comes to knitting, the most ethical approach would probably be to purchase all fibers directly from local organic sources, handspin the yarn, and give the resulting knitted items to those in need. I am far short of this ideal! But I suspect this is not the model that most of Wendy's critics had in mind. I do not wish to judge anyone who truly struggles to afford yarn from discount stores; I know that many people must carefully track every penny and have no room in their lives for even slight luxuries. But I also do not think those who have some financial flexibility should be criticized if they opt to skip the discount stores and support the merchants and artisans who are contributing knowledge and beauty to our world.

Monday, May 03, 2004

As the calendar now indicates we are now in the month of May, I suppose eventually warm weather will come again to northern Michigan and I will be spending more time outside and less time inside watching TV and knitting. That is a good thing, if the first night of May sweeps is any indication of what is in store on the boob tube. I am embarrassed to admit I watched the last 45 minutes of last night's disaster movie on NBC -- "10.5". We turned it on in time to see the Golden Gate Bridge collapse. But apparently this was a teaser quake and we have to tune in again tonight if we want to see California fall into the ocean. I think not.

Especially since "Love Actually" came out on video a few days ago and I have yet to see it. I tried on Saturday night, but all the copies were checked out at my neighborhood rental score. This is a bonanza week for Colin Firth fans as "Girl with a Pearl Earring" is released on video tomorrow. All Colin, all the time. What more could a girl want? (pun intended!)

I know that some knitters dislike Lily Chin, apparently because she is popular with the new hip urban knitters. Well, get over it and check out her new book, Knit and Crochet with Beads. I picked it up last week at Lost Art and I have to say there are some tempting projects in it. The Bogus Bohus Cardigan might interest a few KBTHers, although La Chin promises that "it's a lot easier to do" than it looks. The cover design, a lacy mohair stole, is gorgeous. There is also a very pretty tank top in which beads give the illusion of cables.

No pictures today. I plan to update and redesign my web page in the near future (I hope that by announcing my intentions, I will actually be compelled to do it).

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

I found the camera, so here is a photo of the second acquisition to my collection of Turkish socks:

Compare with the first pair:

My brother-in-law, Altug, said the new pair is more authentic, but not being a knitter, he wasn't sure why. I've been trying to figure it out based on the photos and information in Anna Zilboorg's Fancy Feet, which does not include any pattern resembling this one, but does have this:

"I have been writing as though knitting patterns and styles were essentially the same throughout Turkey. This is by no means the case. In areas where mohair is the dominant yarn, socks are mostly white, with fine lace patterns. They are made fluffy by being placed inside a freshly baked loaf of bread. In the eastern, Kurdish parts of the country, the socks are loosely knit from undyed, unspun yarn, somewhat similar to Icelandic lopi. ... The collection shown in this book contains one authentic Kurdish sock but is otherwise composed of multicolored stranded patterns of the type found throughout central Anatolia."

I'm not about to pick apart one of the socks to get a better look at the yarn, but in its knitted state, it appears to my untrained eye that the natural colored yarn could be a mohair blend. The contrast yarn -- a black and a dark green -- appears to be commercial two-ply, but the natural is undyed and almost certainly handspun as some vegetable matter is still present.

The multi-colored socks, the original pair in my growing collection, are knitted from commercial yarns, and some of the yarn may even be synthetic. But the patterns are similar to those in Fancy Feet.

I look forward to Altug's next visit to Turkey!

I haven't been knitting much lately. I'm almost to the armhole steeks on Donegal, and I would be finished with the back and front of Fjalar if it were not for a mistake. It appears I cast on five too many stitches for the right front (or was it left front?), although I followed the pattern. So I've been trying to decide whether to frog it or just make a few decreases; obviously, frogging is probably the way to go, but I'm such a lazy knitter. Because the pattern is already somewhat assymetrical, I think the decreases would not be obvious at all. But while I think about it, it sits in the basket.

So the only WIP I've made much progress on lately is The Rebozo, which is my mindless take-away knitting. It went with me on spring break and is 2/3 finished. I have a PTO meeting tonight, so it will increase a few more rows. Here it is:

Monday, April 12, 2004

I've been browsing the contents of the Michigan Fiber Festival magazine, and I have to share with you some questions from a very cute quiz. The "Giggles Quiz" on page 38 seeks to determine if the Michigan Fiber Festival is the right place for you. I would never violate the copyright by including the whole quiz, but here's a question that gives the flavor:

"2. I own enough fiber for ...
a. My current project.
b. My current project and one or two more.
c. Lots and lots of projects.
d. Me to use for the rest of my life if I never buy any more fiber and I quit my job and devote all of my time to working on projects and I live to be at least 120 and I only sleep 4 hours a night."

OK, one more:

"10. You shouldn't buy fiber unless ...
a. Your doctor recommends that you eat more bran.
b. You need more materials for your current project.
c. You really like it.
d. It's for sale."

Needless to say, I scored a lot of "d"s on this quiz, and my results are that I should attend the festival. What a shock! Well, this quiz by Donna Myers scores everyone as needing to attend the festival. Those who receive 15 or fewer points "should definitely come to the festival. You need to get started with your fiber activities as soon as possible."

While I may be a bit fiber-obsessed, I discovered in my reading yesterday that I am not very productive. Here's an excerpt from Nordic Knitting by Susanne Pagoldh:

"The hands of the people of Jutland were not allowed to be idle. One had to be doing something useful every minute. The children of the Jutland moorlands learned to card and spin by the age of five. The men knitted while they rode, plowed, or carried manure; herders knitted while they were out on the moors with the sheep. Women knitted when they worked outside or walked, even while on the way to church on Sundays. Industrious women could knit, ply yarn, churn butter, and rock the baby all at the same time, and some women even knitted while they ate."

Hmmm. I'm not sure I would want to wear the sweaters knitted while carrying manure. And I'm not sure I really believe that anyone could be so ambidextrous as to knit while churning butter. But I do feel like a slacker after reading that.

Anyway, I just received this book. It's out of print, and I had it on my wish list at abebooks.com and half.com but figured it would be one of those obscenely expensive OOP books if it ever showed up. Just before spring break, I got a notice from abebooks.com that Powell's had it in stock for $12.95, so I ordered it immediately. And, wanting to get the free shipping deal, I had to get a couple more books, so I also picked up Knitting in the Nordic Tradition by Vibeke Lind and World Knits by Jean Moss. The Moss book I had perused at my LYS many times and wasn't very impressed, but since Powell's had a cheap used copy I figured WTH. Adding a used copy of The Encyclopedia of North American Indians put me into the free shipping level (and do you see why we need more bookshelves?)

I think I may have gotten a good deal on the Pagoldh book since the only other notices I've seen for it had it in the $40-plus range. But this is not my best-ever bargain find. I scored Andean Folk Knitting off of e-bay several months ago for $15. I had seen this book in the Boulder Public Library last year, and when we got home last summer, I started searching for it on abebooks and e-bay. After 3 or 4 weeks, I finally got a hit -- there was one offered on e-bay with a $7.50 starting bid or a $15 Buy Now. I had no idea how much it was worth, but I thought the $15 didn't sound so bad, and since I hadn't been able to find a copy on abebooks, I figured I'd better go ahead and take it. A few weeks later, one of my other stored searches informed me that a copy was being offered on half.com for $180!

So what have I learned? First, sometimes luck is on my side. And second and most important -- buy the darn book before it goes out of print!

Anyway, the Pagoldh book is well worth the $12.95 and I would be happy if I had paid $50 for it. The information and history is very interesting, and the reproduction designs are gorgeous. There is one sweater, "Korsnas," which I simply must make if I possibly have the skill. It uses a combination of knitting and very fine crochet. The model was made with naturally-dyed yarns.

Sorry, no photos today. I spent Friday and Saturday cleaning out my home office. I moved two bookcases and the books therein to the living room, which freed up 78" of wall space. My plan is to purchase a lateral file with a hutch, which will be used to store the files and books for my hubby's freelance project. All of that stuff is currently filling the office closet. The soon-to-be emptied closet will become -- I'm sure you fiber addicts out there can guess! -- my yarn storage area. Yay!

The point of this story, for blog purposes, is that in all of the reshuffling, I seem to have misplaced the camera, so I still don't have the surprise photo yet. I will, however, spoil the surprise -- and hopefully whet the reader's appetite to return to this blog -- by telling you it will be a photo of another pair of Turkish socks brought to me by the world's best-ever brother-in-law. These socks, he tells me, are more authentic than the last pair, of which I posted a photo in early January. It appears to me that the yarn is possibly hand-spun, although obviously by someone who is a more consistent spinner than am I.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Just back from Spring Break in North Carolina. It was great to escape the Michigan cold and see actual green things, plus dogwoods and azaleas in bloom. The weather could have been a bit warmer, but we still had a good time visiting the relatives.

I have two fiber highlights from the trip. On the way down, I dropped off a Romney fleece I purchased last summer for processing at Zeilinger in Frankenmuth. I finally gave up the idea of scouring and hand-carding it because I realized it would take forever and all I really want to do is just spin the darn thing. The roving should be arriving next week.

The other highlight was a visit to Shuttles Needles & Hooks in Cary, N.C. This is the kind of shop I would probably own if I ever were insane enough to own a yarn shop. It's in an old house in the "historic" downtown. Everything is in total chaos and yarn is falling out of every nook and cranny. An upstairs room is devoted to weaving, and it looks like the shop may hold classes there as the looms are reasonably accessible. A back room has spinning wheels, but they are somewhat hard to reach as yarn and other items are stacked on top. Another room has books and pattern leaflets and a table to sit and browse or knit. It's a very fun place. When I stopped in, I had my hubby with me, so I couldn't spend the whole afternoon there like I might have if I had been alone. I didn't buy yarn (shock!) I purchased the new Elsebeth Lavold cotton book and a small bottle of oil for my spinning wheel.

Btw, the oil -- which comes in an ingenious little bottle made by Schacht -- worked great. Now my bobbin is flying off its holder almost every two minutes. I want a new wheel! Although I've been ogling the beauties at Michigan-based Winsome Timbers, I think probably a Lendrum is more in my budget, plus practical as a fold-up traveling wheel. I also like the large bobbins.

I only took one project on vacation -- The Rebozo. I'm now 2/3 finished and will post a photo soon, along with another special treat. Check back in a day or two!

Oh, the schedule is out for the Michigan Fiber Festival. Lots of good classes and teachers, including Anna Zilboorg. It is the exact same dates as Stitches Midwest. I suppose one could go to both.... hmmm.....

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Today is one of those days when I am really missing the West. Last winter we were living in Colorado, just west of Boulder, courtesy of my husband's journalism fellowship. During our nine months there, I fell in love with the Southwest, particularly New Mexico. I have regular fantasies about moving to Santa Fe. Today I am nursing those fantasies by crocheting the mosaic afghan from the yarn I picked up last March at Tierra Wools and I'm burning some Southwestern incense in a little earthenware kiva. Tonight I will make green chile for dinner.

Here is the finished "Incan Figures" bag, front:

and back:

I also stitched in a lining and zipper, which the ever-curious Dani inspects here:

I've made some more progress on the front of Fjalar and I've started the third repeat of Donegal. My mindless take-away knitting is The Rebozo shawl, but as I'm slowly working my way off of boards that have a lot of meetings, progress on that is slowing down.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

No finished objects to show today, but I've made some progress on Donegal:

I've also cast on for a bag, "Incan Figures" from Folk Bags. One of these days I'm going to figure out how to make a nifty "current projects" link on this blog, but in the meantime, my WIPs include the mosaic afghan, "The Rebozo" shawl from Cheryl Oberle's Folk Shawls and the Fjalar pullover. Plus, I've swatched a couple of things for Level 1 in the TKGA master knitting course.

This blogger would like to congratulate John Kerry for securing the Democratic presidential nomination. Although I did not vote for him in my state caucus, I admire him and will be thrilled to cast my ballot for him in November. Godspeed, John Kerry.

The outrage of the week, or of last week more precisely, is the Resident's cynical endorsement of the proposed constitutional amendment -- you know the one. I wish someone would explain to me, in simple terms that I can understand, how a same-sex marriage threatens my heterosexual marriage? Sorry, I just don't get it! Personally, I don't need the help of the religious right to defend my marriage. May I be so bold as to offer my gay and lesbian friends this response to those meddling self-righteous villains, in the immortal words of Elizabeth Bennett when confronted with the demands of the imperious Lady Catherine de Bourgh that she promise to not enter into an engagement with Mr. Darcy: "I am resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me." Much more eloquent than my generation's "mind your own damn business."

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

I have pictures! First, the completed "Midnight Sun" dress and cap:

You would not believe how adorable my daughter looks in it!

And, next, I've finished the back of Fjalar, which is from Elsebeth Lavold's Viking Patterns for Knitting:

I've tried several times and can't get the cables to show up well in the photo. It's in Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece, same as the little dress and Lochinver, the Starmore gansey I finished a few months ago. I got a great deal on all of this cotton fleece, but I'm getting so tired of it and very ready for the feel of something else.

So the next thing I'll probably be sick of is J&S jumperweight yarn, since I bought enough for two big projects: "Donegal" from Starmore's The Celtic Collection and "The Rebozo" from Cheryl Oberle's Folk Shawls. I've already cast on for both, but I didn't like some of the colors I chose for Donegal, so I'm waiting for the arrival of two replacements.

Oh, another photo:

That's the long-languishing crocheted afghan project, which I was inspired to begin last month with all the cold and snow we've been having. It's "Rich Ripples" from Lily Chin's Mosaic Magic: Afghans Made Easy; I wrote about it my last blog entry. I love working with the Tierra Wools yarn, and I'm even enjoying crocheting.

Plus, I have two eager helpers:

Dani, the world's most inventive yarn thief, and:

George, who always wants to cuddle up right under my chin, in a very inconvenient place between my eyes and my knitting. Hmm, now that I've posted photos of my cats, maybe I should join the knitting kitty webring.

Finally, one last photo for today:

This was my haul at the Super Bowl yarn sale at Lost Art. It is 6 balls of variegated cashmere. What luxury! I bought enough to make gloves and a hat, but now I'm not sure exactly what I want to do with it. Any ideas?

And one comment for the "think" part of this blog. We had the Michigan caucuses on Saturday, and I voted for John Edwards. I will be very happy to support Kerry in November if he's the nominee, and all of my friends have shared the same sentiment, regardless of who they're supporting now. It was kind of fun having a caucus and seeing so many of my friends out on Saturday, energized and happy to be taking the first step in getting our country back on track.

Incidentally, I don't know how Blogger works the advertising space at the top of this blog, but I noticed that after my last blog entry, it changed from being yarn advertising to political advertising. But today it's back to yarn. Go figure!

Saturday, January 24, 2004

The Michigan primary is looming and we here at Knitnthink have not yet made our decision. While all of the Democratic hopefuls are vastly superior to the current incumbent, some may be stronger candidates than others. Now I respect my almost-neighbor Michael Moore's argument in favor of General Clark , especially his assertion that the election will be decided by a handful of voters in a handful of states. It's not that the rest of our votes don't count -- it's that a huge majority of voters are not up for grabs. Take me, for example: I would write in my dog's name before I would vote for Bush. About 40 percent of the voters will go with whatever Democrat heads the ticket and about 40 percent will back Bush, no matter what. Each party claims another 5 percent or so likely voters. That leaves roughly 10 percent or less that are truly ambivalent. You might know one of them. If so, consider what makes them undecided. Think about it, real hard. That 10 percent, especially in states that are evenly balanced between parties, will decide the election.

Who can best appeal to these undecided voters? I don't have the answer to that, but I'm getting a hunch lately that it could be John Edwards. The more I see of the guy the more I think: "He's just darn likeable." I think likeability is an important criteria to that 10 percent who are less concerned with policy distinctions than the rest of us. We'll see what the situation is by Feb. 7, when Michigan has its primary, but I'll be watching Sen. Edwards closely until then.

Now on to knitting. I've been very busy this week and I've finished "Midnight Sun" save for a little stitching and darning in ends. I'll try to get a photo up in a day or two. I've also restarted the mosaic ripple afghan, which is my first crochet project in about 20 years. It looks nothing like the afghans my grandmas used to make! The yarn is just gorgeous; I purchased it last spring at Tierra Wools in Los Ojos, New Mexico. I'm also still working on the Lavold pullover. I'm on a long stretch of stockinette stitch, so it is now my designated carry-along project.

And the yarn arrived for Donegal. I've wound most of it, but not swatched yet. I've also collected yarn for a Peruvian sweater/skirt/hat set in an OOP book, Sue Bradley's "Around the World in 80 Sweaters," Mendocino from Alice Starmore's "Pacific Coast Highway," and a cute little kitty-cat fairisle for my daughter from "Norsk Strikkedesign". Oh, plus the Rebozo shawl from Cheryl Oberle's "Folk Shawls." I've also been spinning and finally started washing the beautiful Romney fleece I bought at the Michigan Fiber Festival this summer.

Needless to say, I have enough yarn in my house or in transit to my house or waiting for me to spin it that I could knit for 5 years without making another yarn purchase. Yet tomorrow is the annual sale at my usual yarn shop so guess where I'll be when the doors open?

Which brings me to Lara's question -- what are the best knitting shops in Traverse City? Well, Lara, it really depends on what kind of knitting you like to do. All of them are worthy of your attention. Let's run down the list, shall we?

Lost Art is on Front Street in the downtown business district and its proprietor, Gerhild Uld, is a no-nonsense woman of German birth who has many years of knitting experience and superior knowledge. Gerhild machine-stitched a seam and cut the armholes of my first Dale sweater. She is skilled in most forms of fiber work. She sells Rowan, Cascade, Baabajoe's, Mountain Colors, Reynolds, Adrienne Vittadini and many other popular yarns. Probably due to the shop's prestige location in the touristy strip of downtown, Lost Art has acquired many new customers in recent years who enjoy the trendy, instant-gratification forms of knitting. You will see evidence of this by the fuzzy scarves on display in the store window. That is the yarn shop of the aforementioned sale tomorrow.

Yarn Quest is in a strip shopping center on Garfield Avenue. It also has Rowan yarns, as well as Brown Sheep, Dale (not a huge selection), Philosopher's Wool and many other high-quality yarns. I purchased a Poetry in Stitches kit there recently. It's also the only T.C. shop to stock Brittany needles and has the best selection of buttons. I don't go there as often because it's a longer walk.

While we were away for our year in Colorado, a new yarn shop opened just a block and a half from my house!! It is Baa Baa Black Sheep on 8th Street. I've found this most convenient, far too convenient. The owner stocks Bartlett and Debbie Bliss yarns, as well as the new Elsebeth Lavold silky wool, and others. She also sells some spinning supplies.

Farther afield is Inish Knits in Cedar. As I rarely drive anywhere, I've only been in this shop one time, but I'm thinking another field trip may be in order once the snow melts. Peggy, the owners, stocks Jamieson shetland yarn (very little 2-ply, however) and even has a stash of Starmore campion (sshhhhh....) She also has Jo Sharp yarns and is a Schact spinning wheel dealer. It is a lovely shop with old hardwood floors and a sleeping cat. You could stay for hours.

Also, there's a yarn shop in Glen Arbor or Glen Haven, but I've not been in it as I never get to that area without the hubby and kids in tow.

And, sadly, I could probably operate a yarn shop out of my house, but I remain convinced I will eventually knit it all!!!!!

Friday, January 16, 2004

If it weren't for knitting, I'm sure I'd go insane! Last night as I was sitting through yet another interminable meeting, happily knitting away on the easy part of the Lavold sweater, I wondered how all the other attendees could tolerate it when all they could do was just sit there.

But the major contribution knitting makes to my sanity is in getting through the winter. It is cold here in northern Michigan and, usually, completely cloudy. Today is an exception -- the sun is at least shining, even though the temp is still in single digits Fahrenheit. Brrrr. So I just hunker down with my knitting and try to feel grateful that I live in a place that enables me to make good use of the warmest woolies.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Today's sermon is about walking. For those who want to skip ahead, there is a photo of a pair of gorgeous Turkish socks below. But bear with me -- you might find this interesting.

There was a Washington Post story making the rounds on a couple of my e-mail lists this week about the near-impossibility of simply walking to a destination in the suburbs. No news there, at least not for me. But it did get me to thinking about the subject again. I'm fortunate to live in a town and a neighborhood in which walking is not only possible, but usually very pleasant. My neighborhood is 100 years old, complete with sidewalks and just a few blocks from the walkable downtown business district. There are 3 quality yarn shops within walking distance of my house, including one a mere block and a half away (way too convenient!!). Yet with all of this accessibility, I'm stunned at how few of my neighbors ever actually walk. I have seen some even drive to my house to pick up their kids.

Of course, walking in the U.S. is something that primarily takes place on treadmills and hiking trails. Bill Bryson has a very amusing essay on this in his book, "I'm a Stranger Here Myself," in which he shares the cultural shock of returning to his native U.S. after 20 years in England. For those who don't already, Bryson is now moving his family back to England.
Another excellent read on walking is Rebecca Solnit's book Wanderlust: A History of Walking.

My family owns a car now, and we do use it occasionally, but mostly we walk. We chose our house because of its location -- the vast majority of our regular needs can be met within a mile of the house. We have two groceries -- a mainstream and a natural foods co-op -- within a mile, also my hubby's office and the kids' school. I walk my children to and from school every day, regardless of the weather. Today was heavy snow and most of the other usual walkers received rides from parents, which puzzles me because I would much rather walk in it than drive in it. I will be pulling the sled to the feed store soon to get dog food. On the way back, I can stop by one of those yarn shops and get a skein for mittens -- my son complained that his hands are cold in his thermo gloves, so I told him I would knit him a pair of mittens tonight. I recently knit some for myself in GGH Aspen, a chunky merino-acrylic blend, and wow are they warm.

Back to walking. Why is using one's feet and legs as transportation considered such an exotic activity in the U.S.? I can certainly understand why people who live in scary asphalt covered suburbs wouldn't want to walk anywhere, but why is it unpopular even in a great walking town like mine? I know people are in a hurry, but some of their choices don't make any sense. One neighbor (who has since moved) used to drive two blocks to the health club to work out! She would also run 5 miles a day, but walking a few blocks downtown was never even considered because she was too busy (I don't think it takes much longer, maybe 5 minutes, to walk there). Another neighbor told me she felt like she had to drive 3 blocks to work because she needed her car at lunchtime to run errands. I try not to be judgemental about things, but I don't really find much merit in their reasoning.

There are so many good reasons to walk. In addition to the obvious benefits -- personal, financial and planetary health -- there is opportunity for family, spiritual and community growth. My best conversations with my children come during walks, I think because we don't have the usual distractions of home and they have no choice but to talk to me. When you're alone, walking is a great form of meditation. And it's a great way to meet your neighbors, who, while not walking, might be out working in their yards and open to impromptu conversation.

Now, the promised sock photo. Disclaimer: I didn't knit these, although I wish I had and, as an owner of Anna Zilboorg's "Fancy Feet" and a healthy yarn stash, I ought to be plotting out a pair right now. These were knit by an anonymous Turkish woman and purchased by my brother-in-law for roughly $10. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

It's January and everyone seems to be on a diet. I hope those contemplating the Atkins diet or any that relies on meat will read this first. It's a very blunt essay by one of my favorite writers, Michael Pollan, on the sorry state of industrial meat. Actually, I don't bring this up to blast meat-eating or low-carb diets -- in fact, I'm trying to restrict my carbs, too, along the recommendations in The Schwarzbein Principle. And, after many years as a vegetarian, I'm eating small quantities of meat and fish again. My rule in eating meat is that it must be organic unless I purchase it directly from the farmer. I have a good local source, a young farming couple that raises drug-free livestock on pasture. Yes, it's more expensive than the meat at the supermarket, but isn't the health of my family and the planet worth it? I think so. Also, the extra cost forces me to keep meat from becoming a significant portion of my diet. In my grandparents' day, meat was a luxury consumed in small quantities. The industrial factory farming method has made it so cheap that now it's an everyday food item even for the poorest in the U.S. (I know this because I volunteer at a local soup kitchen and it's always on the menu there). I think that's too much meat-eating, and definitely too much consumption of toxins and drugs for those eating industrial meat.

Now, on to knitting. I have pictures! I'm close to finishing the body of "Midnight Sun," front:

and back:

Also, I'm working on pullover from Elsebeth Lavold's Viking Knits. It's in Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece, here:

And, finally, the fish bag. I haven't quite finished the embroidery, and I forgot to sew on the fins before I felted it, but my daughter likes it anyway. Here it is:

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

We're back from our holiday trip to North Carolina. Later, I will post a photo of the Turkish socks my brother-in-law brought back for me from Turkey. They are awesome!

In other knitting news, I had a little impulse buy at the LYS yesterday, purchasing a yarn pack for the vine motif cardigan from "Poetry in Stitches." It was just calling my name from the top of the shelf. I don't know when I'm going to start it. I cast on for a sweater from "Viking Knits" last night, and I still haven't collected yarn for the Donegal knit-along.