Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The last knit

(Updated address)

Check this out! a funny little movie about knitting obsession--and dangers!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Has anyone tried Sea Silk yet?

I'm editing a lace shawl book for Martingale & Co. (not sure how much detail I can divulge at this point so I'll be vague for now). The shawls in this book made with heavier yarn than you'd think for lace -- fingering, sport, even worsted-weight -- and on large needles, and the designs are just gorgeous. I love the idea of using heavier yarns, because it's so much less intimidating than thread-like yarn and tiny needles for those learning to knit lace. After you make a few projects, switching to the smaller yarn and needles is a breeze. But that's hard to believe when you are trying your first lace project!

At any rate, one of the projects the author made using a new yarn called Sea Silk. It's relatively light weight -- a little heavier than lace weight, but maybe not as thick as fingering, made out of silk and seacell, which is a fiber somehow created from kelp seawead. The yarn is available in a bunch of hand dyed colors and colorways. It is ohsosoft and has a gorgeous sheent to it. Someone on the web said it smells like the sea, but to me it smells like raw silk. It's a pleasant aroma that would envelope you while knitting and will probably eventually wash away.

The manufacturer of the fiber (not the yarn) claims all kinds of health benefits from the nutrients of seaweed soaking into your body as you knit with and wear the yarn, but that sounds like a bunch of new-age woo to me. Here's what they say:

Seaweed is added as the active substance for a very good reason. The fact that this marine plant is rich in trace elements has been well known since the times of Chinese medicine, and seaweed has also been proved to protect the skin and have anti-inflammatory properties. It is seaweed which forms the basis of the SeaCell® fiber.

Furthermore, the structure of SeaCell® facilitates the active exchange of substances between the fiber and the skin – nutrients such as calcium, magnesium and vitamin E are released by the natural body moisture when the fiber is worn, thereby creating a complete sense of well-being.


Even though I think this is a bunch of marketing hooey, I MUST HAVE SOME OF THIS YARN. It is the most amazing stuff I've seen in a long time. The knitting yarn comes from Handmaiden Fine Yarns in Canada. It's available at a few places on the web, but it seems to be fairly hard to find in stock. None of my local yarn shops carry it (yet?). Here's a photo from the manufacturer's website:

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Bamboo yarn

I ran into bamboo-based clothing on the internet the other day, and tooling around this morning I decided to see if I could find sources of organic bamboo yarn. Sure enough, I found 'em: The Fiber Underground has something called TIKI organic bamboo fiber. There seems to be a lot of organic bamboo clothing available, but the organic yarn is a bit harder to find.
Earth Friendly Yarns sells something called "Spun Bamboo", a brand name yarn, but it doesn't appear to be specifically organic.

Bamboo is generally considered a sustainable or earth-friendly fiber. According to Nature Moms,
Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on this planet. While some think of it as a tree it is actually grass and it grows one third faster than the fastest growing tree; it reaches a harvestable size in three to five years. Some species grow as much as four feet a day. It requires no pesticides, is harvested with no impact to the environment, and is capable of complete regeneration without need to replant. Bamboo also helps mitigate water pollution due to its high nitrogen consumption. This is great news for those conscious of the environment.

Monday, August 07, 2006

organic wool

Just saw this press release:

http://www.emediawire.com/releases/2006/8/emw421478.htm - Release
http://www.o-wool.com/ - Yarn Company

Middlebury, VT (PRWEB) August 7, 2006 -- Just in time for the cool days of Fall and the gift-giving holiday season, Vermont Organic Fiber Company (VTOF) is announcing its new “O~Wool™ Classic” line of organic wool hand knitting yarn, offered in color-rich hues. This is the first time yarn made with organic wool has been made widely available to the hand knitting market. The worsted-weight “O~Wool™ Classic” yarn, made from organic Australian Merino wool and spun at a U.S. mill, is perfect for making holiday gifts or as a gift in its own right. The yarn is available in select stores nationwide as well as via major Internet yarn retailers (see retail locations under “O~Wool Yarn” at www.o-wool.com).

Organic wool is part of the rapidly-growing $160 million U.S. organic fiber industry, which grew 44 percent in 2005, according to the Organic Trade Association 2006 Manufacturer Survey released in May. For wool to be certified as organic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires that the sheep be fed organic feed and forage from the last third of gestation and be raised without the use of synthetic hormones or pesticides (internal or external). In addition, organic livestock producers are required to ensure that they do not exceed the natural carrying capacity of the land on which their animals graze.

“With the increasing interest in organic fiber products, organic wool sweaters, blankets, throws and the like are becoming more and more commercially available,” says Matthew Mole, VTOF president. “What was missing was the ability of hand knitters to make their own beautiful organic wool products, and in a wide range of colors. With “O~Wool™ Classic” yarn, hand knitters can enjoy using organic wool yarn with the knowledge they are supporting organic production and processing both in the U.S. and around the world.”

To enable the nation’s 53 million knitters to make the most beautiful items, “O~Wool™ Classic” yarn is available in thirteen rich colors perfect for all seasons, including cornflower, plum, sumac and willow. The nature of the yarn gives it excellent stitch definition and the long staple length prevents pilling. The wool is processed in accordance with the Organic Trade Association’s Organic Fiber Processing Standards (http://www.ota.com/polls/21.html).

In addition to hand knitting yarn, VTOF currently supplies commercial yarn and fabrics to manufacturers from North America to Europe and Asia, including Ecobaby (San Diego, CA), Fox River Mills (Osage, IA), IBEX (Woodstock, VT), Jasco Fabrics (White Plains ,NY), Maggie’s Organics (Ypsilanti, MI), and Patagonia (Ventura, CA). This year’s organic wool marketplace includes blankets, diapers and diaper covers, gloves, socks and sweaters manufactured from O~Wool™ organic wool. On September 9, 2006, “O~Wool by Jasco™” organic wool fabrics donated by VTOF will be highlighted at the Academy of Art University fashion show as part of Olympus Fashion Week in New York City.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Organic color cotton

One of the niftier organic fibers I've seen is undyed cotton that is naturally soft orange or green. Inua Wool Shop hereabouts has it. Cotton is one of the nastier crops for the environment, with tremendous amounts of pesticides used to grow it. The pesticide-resistant varieties have actually made way for new pests, because the pesticides were too specific to the boll weevil. So organic cotton makes a tremendous difference in the health of the land. According to the Organic Cotton Directory, cotton provides half of all the fiber in the world. So going organic in your clothing will make a significant dent in the poison load of the world.

There's an interesting article on the resurgence of color cotton and organic cotton and breeding at the Organic Consumers Association website.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Knitting book

I'm going to be publishing a knitting book, probably. Depends on the manuscript, which I don't have yet. I'll need a reviewer or two. (My press has only produced one book, Cake: Selected Poems and a newspaper, so it's a pretty eclectic little publishing house. Anybody care to review the manuscript?

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Natural dyes

Today I went to the centennial celebration for the Fairbanks Experiment Farm, not something I'd ordinarily do, except that for the last four years I've been working for the School of Natural Sciences & Agricultural Sciences (fondly known as the School of Ag!), so I've been involved in all kinds of things agricultural and naturally scientific. So I was working today, setting up displays, carting water and lettuce seed packages, making signs, etc. There were several demonstrations and activities throughout the day, including one done by Gail Mayo on dyeing with natural plant dyes. I didn't recognize her at first, it's been so long since I've seen her.

She had a little propane stove set up with a couple of pots of plant part stew, with hanks of wool from her own sheep. She sends the wool Outside to be spun at a mill that creates a characteristic almost plaited, knobby sort of yarn. It's very nice yarn (I have some myself from when she was selling it: Tanana Wool). She also had numerous samples, mostly in yellows and browns, but a few greens and blues and reddish dyed bits of wool, too. The mordant she used for most of them was alum. Other things can be poisonous: chrome, tin, copper. The alum is apparently fairly innocuous. She also uses vinegar for some dyes.

I don't know much about dyes and mordants, but it's always intrigued me.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Marrhaven Yarn, Organic Wool


Marrhaven Yarn, a small farm in Michigan, sells chemical free wool yarn from their Merino-Rambiollet cross sheep. Their yarns are spun on a spinning mule, which is a 19th century invention that creates a yarn much more like handspun than today's spinning machines. The yarn is very lofty and fluffy, and it has a wonderful give on the needles.

They also offer heather colors, which have a small amount of dyed yarn blended with the chemical free yarn. The resulting yarn is much more environmentally friendly than yarn that includes 100% dyed fiber. Because they are a small farm, they are not certified organic, but I believe their yarns are more eco friendly than many others that are certified. I enjoy buying products from small companies and cottage industries, and what better way to support wool growing in America, than to buy wool directly from the farm?


Visit them on the web.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Tooling around

Yeah, yeah, cliched pun, I know, but I couldn't resist. Well, I could, but I didn't want to.

I love wooden knitting needles and wooden crochet hooks. I found a silvery piece of old weathered wood many many years ago, I'm not sure what sort, and carved it into a crochet hook. I didn't have one, and I wanted to crochet, and there it was, lying around with a suggestive knob at one end. I still have it. It's one of the most comfortable hooks I've got.

Same thing with the knitting needles I have. I bought some metal and plastic circular needles, but I just don't like the feel. Too slippery, too hard. Besides which, mining is rough on the environment and plastic isn't renewable or earth-friendly either. The only times wooden needles have been problematic is when the cats decide they want to get involved in my knitting. Archie and Miss Puss in particular like to grab them and chomp down, leaving little puncture marks with their cute pointy teeth...it makes it a bit hard to knit, and then the needle points or ends get rough. So I've taken to shooing them away when they get too rambunctious.

The other problem is actually one with my yarn. I have some lovely gray Australian mohair, but it must be dyed, and not very well, because I'm knitting a lace scarf from it and the needle tips are getting a sort of grayish look. I'm assuming I will need to wash the scarf very thoroughly when I'm done. Anybody else run into this problem with wooden needles?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

More yarn reviews coming soon

Hi All, sorry I haven't posted any more yarn reviews in a while. I've been really bogged down with work. I'll be back soon to post info on some other really cool green yarns.

Donna

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Candidates with sharp pointy tools

Eva Ince, Alaska Green candidate for U.S. House, is a woman who knits. She gets together with a group called Chicks with Sticks in Anchorage every once in a while, apparently, aside from running for office. I wonder about other Green knitter/politicians?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Mohair

Many folks in Alaska raise goats. They're tough, relatively easy to care for, and provide milk, meat, and--if you get the longhairs--mohair. I've been knitting with mohair lately, which I always thought of as scratchy stuff, but last week I discovered kid mohair: soft and wonderfully light. And mohair doesn't shrink. Not good for felting, but good if you accidentally wash that scarf in warm water. A friend of mine has been knitting with bison wool. It feels almost like cotton.

Alas, the mohair I've been finding in the knitting shop is from New Zealand. Not exactly low-energy fiber, hey what?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Puppy sitting

Yesterday my husband and I puppysat a couple of blue heeler/coon hound cross puppies, VERY cute and friendly, for a friend of ours who had to do jury duty and needed someone to look after her not-yet-housebroken baby doggies. We had a great time, and sure enough, they are not yet housebroken. But we were warned. What has this to do with knitting or spinning or fiber arts in general? Well, not much, except that they made a beeline for the giant bag of dog wool I have sitting on the floor, and proceeded to deposit an infantile bowel movement tidily right next to it. I suppose this means that dog smell MUST be washed out of the wool THOROUGHLY before I decide to actually use it....

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Green knitters

Green knitters
Here is an interesting Web site
http://www.localharvest.org/
Right on the first page there is a link to yarns and fiber - you can avoid those long shipping delays. Only one fiber site in Alaska, though.

Linda

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Spinning

Well, relearning to knit wasn't enough. Now I've got all these bags of dog hair and I have to do something with them (the big shaggy dog's fur hasn't arrived yet, this is just from the medium-sized shaggy dog who lives next door, and from the deceased Shetland sheepdog of my childhood). So I called up my neighbor who spins and asked her if she'd teach me. She said sure, but we'll start with actual wool (easier to learn on, apparently). She's got a spinning wheel I can borrow.

I'm a loon. I've got too much stuff to do as it is. But do I learn? no! I keep bounding feet-first into project after project, joyfully and knowing full well the trouble I'm getting myself into. Still, this is also the fulfillment of a childhood wish--all those fairy tales involving spinning women, myths with the Norns and the Fates and all that. Very feminine and powerful, and probably skills we'll all need as the great and cheap manufacturies of today get less cheap. But perhaps I'm being apocalyptically paranoid.

Hubbert's Peak isn't that far off, though, and it's got to have some effect on us.

I wonder if the windjammers will come back to the shipping lanes, bringing us silk from Cathay and vicuña from Chile, precious rugs and fabrics and spices from far away, taking months to arrive once again. We'll send our exotic Alaskan dogwool sweaters and qiviut scarves to Europe and Japan in exchange. Ah, the mystery of far-off places will yet return!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Missed Opportunity


I can't believe no-one posted anything about green knitting on St. Patty's day! What a missed opportunity!


St. Patty's Pin

My grandmother made this for me when I was a kid. She made all kinds of these pins for every holiday and event you can imagine. Christmas trees and easter bunnies (even though she was Jewish), snowmen, pumpkins, and even St. Pat here. She made hundreds of them and gave them out to all of her friends.

Yesterday was also a great day to do a Google search for "green yarn". Check it out.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Green Yarn Review

Hi,

I'm going to try to post a review of an eco friendly yarn every couple of weeks. Based on the conclusion of my article on organic wool, I'm not going to focus exclusively on certified organics, but also will take a look at some small eco-friendly producers. I'm starting with wool, because that's what I know most about, and maybe will take a look at some plant fibers like hemp and organic cotton later.

Today, I'll start with a short review of Green Mountain Spinnery.

The spinnery, located in Putney Vermont, produces several different lines of eco friendly yarns and one line of certified organic yarn. They have developed a special GREENSPUN process for washing and spinning yarns using vegetable-based soaps and oils instead of petroleum products. According to their website, "No chemicals are used to bleach, mothproof, shrink proof, or remove chaff. The GREENSPUN process, developed at the Spinnery, is an extension of the environmental concerns basic to our founding in 1981."

Here's a brief look at a few of their GREENSPUN products:

Vermont Organic is mande from 100% organic wool from sheeps raised in Vermont. It comes in natural white and gey. This is a worsted weight yarn that can be used to make textured and cable knits.

Alpaca Elegance is made from 50% wool and 50% alpaca fiber. It is a DK weight yarn that comes in several natural alpaca colors including cappuchino, black, charcoal, and white.

Green Mountain Green is 40% mohair and 60% fine wool. The mohair gives the yarn a high lustre and soft texture. The colors include, "Variegated skeins [that] range from off-white to medium grey . . . each is unique. White and silver-brown skeins [that] are uniform in color." This yarn is worsted weight.

Maine Organic is made from 100% certified organic wool from Maine. It comes in creamy white and dark chocolate (yummy!), and is a 2-ply smooth yarn that shows off texture stitches beautifully.

For those who like to see ideas of how to use different yarns, there's also a book called The Green Mountain Spinnery Knitting Book by Margaret Klein Wilson and the Green Mountain Spinnery. It is full of texture and colorwork patterns that take advantage of the spinnery's yarn unique features and colors.


From the publisher.....

"The Green Mountain Spinnery was founded twenty years ago with a distinctly Vermont mission: to produce the highest quality all-natural yarns, to help sustain regional sheep farming, and to develop environmentally sound ways to process natural fibers.

Since then the collective has grown and thrived, designing and producing richly colored all-natural yarns in alpaca, mohair, wool, and organic cotton that are known and loved by knitters and weavers across the country. The yarns, produced in their mill in rural Vermont with vintage equipment and untouched by bleach or chemicals, are available in a spectacular array of over 75 natural and dyed colors.

Now, in this inviting book, the Green Mountain Spinnery has collected for the first time 30 of their best loved contemporary and classic patterns including new designs exclusive to this book. Beautiful full-color photographs, pattern charts, and schematics accompany detailed knitting instructions for appealing sweaters, vests, cardigans, children's sweaters, and accessories: hats, scarves, socks, and mittens in sizes for all ages."


Green Mountain Spinnery has a long history of producing environmentally friendly products. Their yarns are beautiful and have a luxurious hand. I am especially fond of their mohairs. In addition to the GREENSPUN yarns I've mentioned above, they also produce several lines of dyed yarns. Obviously the dyes are chemicals, which puts these yarns into a different category than the GREENSPUNs, but with the company's dedication to being environmentally friendly, I can comfortable recommend these yarns to anyone who is concerned about being a green knitter.

Donna Druchunas
www.sheeptoshawl.com

Monday, February 27, 2006

Big shaggy dog

My neighbor, Hank, has a fondness for Mackenzie River huskies. Mackenzies are noted for being very large and strong (the dogs are freighters) and for having very thick, long coats: potentially excellent sources of wool. He had one of these enormous dogs, Sgt. Pepper, for many years. Sgt. Pepper looked like a giant malamute to me, and he was one of those dogs you could go right up to and hug and he loved it. Very tolerant, easygoing, gentle dog. The village was sad when he finally died of old age.

Then Hank got Scoby, not quite as big as Sgt. Pepper, but much shaggier. Scoby is also an even-tempered canine, and his fur is about a foot long on his flanks in the winter. I heard through the grapevine that Hank was looking for someone to take away the wool they would brush from him (and Scoby takes a LOT of brushing), so I called him up. Alas, Hank had given up and recently tossed a bunch of wool that he and Myrna had collected. But Scoby continues to shed (a lot), and Hank is quite willing to save more for me. So soon I will commence adventures in spinning!

Introduction

Hi all, my name is Donna and I'm a member of the Green Party in the US. I live in Colorado. A couple of years ago (I thought), I wrote an article about organic wool. I just found the file and it's from 2002, so I'll have to update it. But the general idea is still current so here's my conclusion from my research and a few links to places that sell organic or eco-friendly wool yarn.

Donna Druchunas
www.sheeptoshawl.com

SHOULD I BUY ORGANIC WOOL?
The benefits of certified organic and eco-friendly wool products are similar. Deciding whether or not to purchase only certified organic wool products is not simple.

For large-scale consumers and product manufacturers, buying certified organic wool may be the only viable method for ensuring eco-friendly products. In addition, consumer demand and export requirements may dictate that large-scale producers and manufacturers obtain organic certification.

For the small-sale consumer, there are options. When you buy certified organic products, you are supporting the organic industry and encouraging other wool producers to adopt practices that support a healthy environment. However, many small non-certified farmers and wool producers offer products equal or excel certified organic products in quality and ecological soundness.

For now, the best option may be to shop around and study the farming techniques and wool production processes used by the producers of fleece or yarn you are interested in purchasing.

SOURCES FOR ECO-FRIENDLY FLEECES AND YARNS
While this list is not comprehensive, it does include a variety wool growers, producers, and organizations across the spectrum of eco-friendly and organic methods. Organically certification is indicated by a *. For additional information on the practices of each farm or mill, visit their web sites.

* - places that had organic certification when I wrote the article

FARMS, FIBER AND YARN
Beaverslide Dry Goods, Montana--www.beaverslide.com
Marr Haven, Michigan--www.marrhaven.com
Spring Creek Organic Farm, Idaho--www.romneywool.com
Spruce Haven Farm, Meaford ON--www.bmts.com/~beggs
*Thirteen Mile Lamb & Wool Co., Montana--www.lambandwool.com

FIBER PROCESSING AND YARN
Bartlett Yarns, Maine--www.bartlettyarns.com
Belle Vallée Wools, Belle Vallée, ON--www.bvwools.com
Custom Woolen Mills, Carstairs, AB--www.customwoolenmills.com
*Green Mountain Spinnery, Vermont--www.spinnery.com
La Lana Wools, New Mexico--www.lalanawools.com (natural dyes)
*Taos Valley Wool Mill, New Mexico--www.taosfiber.com/woolmill/

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Eco+ Yarn

This is my first attempt at a yarn review, so please excuse any clumsiness on my part, and let me know what I can do to make this more useful to you.

This is the first attempt to use the yarn I mentioned in my post about the Local Yarn Store. Here are my thoughts on it so far.

First of all, I usually buy yarn which is already in a convenient form. This is only the second time I've had to wind a hank of yarn into a ball in order to use it. This took a long time, and ended up with a very large ball (fortunately I have a very patient and loving 10 year old, who was willing to act as my swift!). At some point in my future, a ball winder will undoubtedly become necessary.


Then, in my eagerness to do it 'right', I went ahead and swatched. I started off with size 11 needles (remember the package called for 10 1/2). I really wasn't satisfied with that, so I frogged the whole thing and jumped right down to size 9 (my largest circulars). I really like the look of the yarn at this tension. I think it will make a beautiful hat. At this point, the gauge was 16st/4", which works for the pattern that I'm using. I washed my swatch gently by hand, with Woolite, set it out to dry, and ironed it. Yup, still 4 st/inch, so it's good to go.

My biggest concern with this is that the hat will be a donation. It needs to be reasonably easy to care for, and wool, unfortunately, is titchier than synthetics. I think that, since it's a hat it won't need to be washed that often. Also, I'm giving it to a half-way house, not a homeless shelter, so I *know* the recipient will have access to facilities to care for it properly.

I *love* the feel of this yarn. It's light weight and soft, no scratchiness at all, and the color is rich and deep. I don't like the slight tendency to 'shed', and it's a bit light weight for a sweater, I would think. Still no explanation of why the name Eco, and whether this actually is organic or not. I wish we had 'Fair Trade' certification for yarn in the States.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Cast On!

If you don't already listen to the "Cast On" knitting podcast, this week (Episode 12: Green) is the perfect time to start. In the midst of her usual discussion of knitting, and "this week's sweater", hostess Brenda Dayne introduces a new, green, business model for advertising on podcasts.

Deirdre Flint's song is a 'must hear' as well.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Let's hear it for supporting your LYS!

Before now, I've only found organic yarn online.

Yesterday, I bought the following two yarns at my local yarn store:

1 skein Ecoknit yarn - 21 sts/4" 3.5mm needles (US size4) - 50g/100m. Grown in Peru. 100% organic cotton certified by EKO.
This particular skein is a tan to white. I plan to use it for dish towels, at least at first. It might also make some nice layette items down the line.

Also 1
skein of "Cascade Yarns ECO+" which is NOT certified. 14 stitches/4" on size 10 1/2 needles. 250g/437m. 100% Peruvian Highland Wool.
It was the last skein, and it was on sale, and I thought it would be a good investment for some charity knitting I want to do. I knew I wouldn't have a chance to research it first, so I picked it up. Checking through the blogosphere, it's bought by people who also look for certified organic.

It's going to be a while before I get a chance to start to swatch either of these. It's just nice to know that there is a local supply.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Sweater challenge

I've so far made three (3) scarves, two (2) hats and am working on a shawl. I am a rank beginner. Notwithstanding my neophyte knitter status, I am attempting an Icelandic sweater for my husband, made with Lopi 100% wool yarn. I'm having trouble finding much about how this yarn is made. I did find a review of the bulky weight yarn (I'm using the regular worsted) on Knitter's Review. And from Camilla Family Farm I found a bit of information about the colors and weights available, and found this:
ISTEX was formed in October 1991 to take over the scouring plant and yarn division of woolen manufacturer Alafoss...Istex is the only company in Iceland which selects its wool directly from farmers for washing and spinning into top-quality Lopi yarn. At sorting stations around the country, wool is gathered to be expertly graded according to colour and quality before being taken for washing at the company's scouring plant in the garden town of Hveragerdi.

While processing the wool, the use of detergents and artificial substances is kept to an absolute minimum, ensuring the preservation of natural wool fats.

Neither the ISTEX nor the Alafoss pages give much information on how the wool is treated. I found quite a lot about Icelandic sheep, however.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Knitting for Katrina

From Knitting for Change come these links on knitting or crocheting as a way to aid victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita:

Knit for Katrina is making blankets, and has patterns, guidelines, photos, and a forum on it. People from across the US are sending in squares to be assembled into blankets.

Purls of Hope has a beautiful site, with news, patterns, and information on what to send.

Go Knit, also known as Knitting Arts, also has a relief drive going.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Obligatory Knit Olympics Post

By now, every knitter who keeps up with the blogsphere has heard about the Knit Olympics. We've pretty much chosen patterns, bought our yarns, and made our swatches. All that's left is choosing 'Teams'. So, why not one of our very own? It's a great way to show everyone what we're all about.


Green Knitting Team

Who can join?

Anyone who's event fits any of these categories:

  1. Project knit (in part or in whole) with organic* yarns
  2. Project knit (in part or in whole) with Fair Trade yarns
  3. Project knit (in part or in whole) with recycled yarns
  4. Project will aid in reduction of waste or recycling (i.e. 'string' market bags to avoid using the plastic supermarket ones)
Post your comments here, describing your green project, and download our button to your own server. Deirdre and I hope that you will also explore the 'blog, and find other things that you like here.

I will update the blog with our team members.**



* For the chemists out there: Yes, I know that in chemical jargon the term 'organic' would encompass pretty much anything one could possibly knit with. Agricultural jargon is equally well established, and there should be no ambiguity in this context. The term originally meant 'deriving from organs' in any case.

** In the interest of full disclosure, I have a confession to make. Green Knitting is not, yet, a habit for me. I will be a cheerleader for this event, and use all of you as an inspiration to improve my own knitting. It's a learning process for all of us.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Bundle Up New Orleans: Activism Opportunity

(This will be my last post today, promise.) This isn't a Green Party project, especially, but it's a place Greens could make a difference right away (well, not right away, it takes a while to knit or crochet a scarf or a pair of mittens). Here's the description of the project:
Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city at the end of summer, when few people were concerned about winterwear. And yet, now that winter is upon us, those who have been trying to put their lives back together are in need of hats, scarves, mittens, and other winterwear.

We will be partnering with distribution sites (such as churches, community clothing centers, senior centers, etc.) as those service agencies already know the needs and can properly distribute the goods we create. Distribution sites have not confirmed yet, although we expect commitments within another week or two.

There will also be collection boxes placed at sites both in Uptown New Orleans, as well as across the lake in Mandeville, thanks to individual members of the New Orleans Knitting Meetup.

We might try connecting up with Common Ground to see if they could use winter wear. It looks like they still need blankets and baby clothes. Take a look at their wish list.

Politically correct Pastafarian wear for the crochety

Okay, got this off of Skepchick via Knitting for Change:
a crochet pattern (sorta) for a Pastafarian Flying Spaghetti Monster (may you be touched by His Noodly Appendage) Hat! (the page is copyrighted, but I got permission to post the photo from Sparky, the creator of the not-quite-pattern)

Ah, but how to make such a deliciously ridiculous and pious piece of millinery politically (as well as religiously) radical?

Lessee:
1) use organic wool and recycled chenille (or better yet, real SILK chenille)
2) make sure your meatball yarn is dyed using organic natural dyes (tomato sauce might work, but it's probably not red enough; might have to use something else to get the right shade)
3) use wooden or shell buttons for the pupils

Activist knitting!

Here's an example from 2002 of how knitting can be a powerful statement for change:

G8 Protesters Turn to Knitting Blankets to Needle Heavy Security Presence
CALGARY -- Anti-globalization protestors hit the streets here to protest this year's Group of Eight summit, armed with knitting needles instead of the bottles, petrol bombs and stones that rocked last year's meeting in Italy.

More than 1,000 protesters turned to creative gimmicks Wednesday to press for Third World debt relief and to denounce corporate greed -- a stark contrast to the militancy expressed by the 150,000 protesters who descended on last July's G8 meeting in Genoa, Italy.

Last year, window-smashing and car-burning protesters left the streets of Genoa in tatters. One protester was shot dead by a policeman.

This year, several dozen protesters, seeking to needle the city's heavy police presence, gathered on a stretch of Calgary's main pedestrian street to collectively knit in protest.

"I'm knitting 12-inch (30 centimeter) squares that will get into blankets for the homeless," said 74-year-old Patricia Grinstead.

"What we're doing is symbolic. Another thing about the blankets is that they represent warmth and security because we feel we are losing our security."

Grant Neufeld, the young founder of the Revolutionary Knitting Circle, said knitting was symbolic of "community independence."

"We need as communities to be able to take care of ourselves because when we are not able to take care of ourselves, we end up dependent on others -- in this case the corporation -- to survive."

Here's another article, more recent, about guerilla knitting, that appeared in the Guardian on January 31.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Locally grown

One of the biggest, if not THE biggest user of petroleum is transportation. Cars, planes, trucks, ships: they use petroleum-based fuels, adding tremendously to air pollution and global warming. So buying whatever one can locally helps reduce one of the worst wastes of this valuable nonrenewable resource and helps keep the world healthier, to boot. Thus, getting your yarns from local sources is one way to help.

But where? Up here in the Frozen North, there aren't too many sheep, and musk oxen, though available, produce really expensive (tho' ever-so-wonderful) wool.

Ah, but there are lots of dogs. Rummaging around in my trunkful o' yarn the other day, I happened to discover a bag of soft doggy wool that I had saved many years ago from my Shetland sheepdog, Piccolo. She has long since gone to that squirrel-chasing forest in the sky, but her fur remains behind, possibly to keep me warm. I have a neighbor who mixes dog wool with angora rabbit wool and makes the most lovely soft and fuzzy hats with the blend. She says the dog wool is a bit slippery (and takes a few washes to reduce that wet-dog smell), but that it works fine in blends.

There's a book out there called Knitting with Dog Hair, and I found a couple of websites for businesses that specialize in knitting or spinning pet hair. One of them, VIP Fibers, even has free patterns. Dog hair is also called chiengora (chien = dog in French). If your interest is in spinning rather than knitting, here's some guidelines for spinning chiengora.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Welcome to the Green knitworld!

For those mad needleworkers among us who just can't keep our politics out of our handicraft, here is a knitting blog where we can share patterns, share our triumphs, and commiserate on our fiber flops. Links to organic and alternative fiber sources and to great Green blogs and websites are also here.

Got a pattern for a sweater with a green message? Found an excruciatingly politically correct cooperative making 100% organic hemp rya rugs? Post it here!