Fiber Fusion Festival Northwest!! Who says the kids need to go to college? (at Evergreen State Fair)
Fiber Fusion Festival Northwest!! Who says the kids need to go to college? (at Evergreen State Fair)
I’ve been spinning since the second week of August, when Greg bought me the Ladybug for my 40th birthday on July 31st. Why did it take me two weeks to get going? Because I was intimidated by the wheel. I kept looking at it, and thinking, “Okay, when I get the time, I’m going to sit down and spend a couple of hours just getting to know this thing.”
But we were just so busy, and those few hours to just sit and soak up the wheel never came. Meanwhile, it was driving me nuts to look at this wheel every day and not use it, so finally I just grabbed some roving I’d had stashed and I started in. I didn’t read the manual, I just went for it. I thought it would be so hard, but it wasn’t, it was just…..heaven.
And this, right here, is the best stuff I’ve made so far.
It’s Malabrigo, colorway “Archangel”. I love it. It’s going to be fun to weave with. I’d like to spin up enough to make an Elizabeth Zimmerman pullover, but first I have to finish the first “test” sweater I’m in the middle of (I’ve got one sleeve done, and one on the way, and then I’ll attach the arms, finish the chest and neck, and be done). I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do with this one, maybe weave something with it.
Spinning continues to bring me great joy. I took my first weaving class this past weekend, and bought a 15” Cricket loom. SO FUN! Watching the fabric come together is just elating, I love it. And it’s perfect for all the bits and bobs of yarn that are too small to use to knit up anything big. I’m going to be one of those old women with a giant loom in their living room, I can already tell. I keep telling Greg that I won’t want to buy one of those soon, but who knows. Maybe for my 41st birthday? Ha!
It’s finished! And here’s my goofy selfie, taken on a warm August day, of me in my very warm cowl. I knit it at home in two days, but got a lot done during a fun visit to Vashon Island, so I named it the Visit to Vashon Cowl.
A few weeks ago I had a visit from my friend Lindsey, who brought along her drop spindle and roving. I’d done a little bit of spinning on a drop spindle when my kids (now 9 and 11) were toddlers, after watching a woman at Burning Man work a drop spindle. It had seemed like magic, watching her create a beautiful thread out of a handful of fuzz. I learned the basics but never went anywhere with it.
Lindsey’s spinning inspired me, and we went over to one of my favorite stores, Bad Woman Yarn, where I bought a Turkish drop spindle. I’d used a high-whorl spindle before, and I never did get used to the Turkish and eventually set it aside, but not before I had this lovely green and blue single-ply spun from a braid of gorgeous hand-dyed combed top (the ID tag to which I’ve lost, dangit).
When my Woolery shipment arrived, I spun all this into balls, and left it on my desk for a couple of days, looking all pretty. I ended up deciding to make a cowl, thinking I’d probably have just enough yarn for such a project (thankfully I was right!). I chose Present because it was simple enough that a) I could do it, and b) the uncomplicated pattern would show off the handspun nicely.
I started with way-too-long cable on my Knit Picks Options needles, and ended up trying to get it going on Magic Loop. I did manage to do it this way, but I won’t do it that way again. With a CO of 95 stitches, it was far too hard, in all that thick-thin-thick art-yarn mess, to keep track of whether my knitting was twisted.
I’m a stickler about keeping my work on my circs straight, which is hard enough with regular circulars, but Magic Loop was just nuts. This was the first time I managed to twist my work. It was two rows in, and the yarn was so lumpy I could barely see it anyway, so I just knitted over it, and you can’t tell the difference in the end. Next time I’ll use the length of cable the pattern asked for. I switched over to that after a few rows, and breathed a huge sigh of relief. Magic Loop is great, but not here.
I followed the pattern very loosely, and just knit until I ran out of my yarn, and cast off. I love it! I’ve been wearing it around the house in the evenings. It’s soft, comfortable, and the colors are so soothing. With my super short hair, my neck gets cold easily, even on summer nights, and this little bit of warmth is just perfect.
Yay! I want to make a few more in different colorways. I have a feeling this will be a winter staple.
As a knitter and the proud new owner of a spinning wheel (a Schact Ladybug, for my fellow spinner enthusiasts), I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the ethical source of fiber. On Tumblr today I began surfing through fiber and spinning blogs with the simple purpose of looking at all the pretty yarn pictures, and was stopped by this wonderful blog, written by Lisa Rayner. She has a wonderful variety of interests (she makes great clothes!), and we seem to share similar values. I especially appreciated this post, which I re-blog below:
The Human (Plastic) Era
We have written before (http://on.fb.me/1nyNfLn) about the Anthropocene, the geologic Era that some scientists have taken to calling the time we live in now. But how would it be defined by future geologists?
A new abstract by Corcoran et al. (seehttp://bit.ly/1tsf45e) says plastic, especially melted plastic by fire or lava, may stick around long enough to be used as a marker one day.
-Mr. A Image via Wikipedia
Making moral choices about textiles in the Anthropocene Era
I recently bought a pound of synthetic nylon faux cashmere to dye and spin into yarn. The above earthstory post brings up a conflict I have long had between my desire to not use brand new animal products when possible, and my desire to only use completely non-toxic and biodegradable materials. I took a permaculture design course in 1993. I also have an academic background in geology and ecology and have been following the literature on peak oil, climate change and related subjects for 15 years.
I have eaten a vegan diet for nearly 30 years. My lifestyle is mostly vegan as well. I became vegetarian and then vegan back in the mid-1980s primarily for animal rights reasons. I did undercover videotaping at Pennsylvania stockyards for Farm Sanctuary. I know what animal abuse in the agriculture industry looks like up close, maggot-filled wounds, deliberate torture with electric prods, and more. Yet, I spin wool fiber and buy some wool/hair-based yarns, most of it purchased second-hand. I consider anything bought second hand to be ethical (freegan, as opposed to vegan).
Many items are considered “vegan” because they are not animal products per se, such as plastic, including nylon, cocoa, and diamonds, often are exploitative and result in the injury or death of humans or non-human animals. Synthetic materials nearly all all derive from petroleum and do not decompose into organic materials. They will remain in ecosystems and geologic sediments for tens of thousand of years, if not longer. I dithered over whether or not to buy the faux cashmere. I have a number of real cashmere sweaters from thrift stores. I love their softness. Yet I have been hesitant to buy new cashmere spinning fiber or yarn. Not only is it expensive, but the goats that produce cashmere as an undercoat (angora goats) are not necessarily treated well. Furthermore, the global demand for cashmere from the richer segments of society have caused the angora goat population to soar in the Himalayas; the goats are causing extensive ecological damage through overgrazing. I chose to buy the faux cashmere fiber for budget reasons; if both are similarly questionable I might as well choose the cheaper option.
I have yet to see an in-depth look at what are truly the most ethical individual lifestyle and societal-level choices for meeting human needs in a post-fossil fuel era. There is the vegan camp and the anti-vegan permaculture/slow food/Transition Movement/Paleo camp and the two camps aren’t really speaking to each other. I don’t belong fully in either camp. The anti-vegan view is based on claims coming from unscientific places like the Weston Price Foundation. I believe in peer-reviewed research published in reputable scientific journals. However, while there are vegan permaculturists/Transition Movement activists out there, I also have yet to see many vegans take a serious look at how the world will change as we move into a period of energy descent and economic contraction caused by climate change, peak oil and peak everything non-renewable. I want to see a public discussion on how to live our lives while causing the least violence and disturbance to the lives of other species and ecosystems.
I live in an arid, high-elevation climate with very cold nights and some very cold days during colder months. I need warm clothes. As I previously mention, wool is compostable while synthetics are not. My animal fiber-based clothing and blankets will one day compost into soil. If the wool is coming from sheep treated like the best-treated household pets in America I think the wool is the better alternative. And without a massive industrial infrastructure at the global level to extract, refine and turn fossil fuels into fuels and products, my high-tech synthetic clothing, such as biking gloves, would not exist.
Buying fibers and clothing second hand is easy now. But as new items become more scarce, so will the availability of cheap second hand materials and items. Moreover, factory farming is reliant on cheap fossil fuels and synthetic nitrogen fertilizer made from natural gas; animal products will become more scarce and expensive as industrial agriculture unravels. How will our options be restricted this century? As our industrial infrastructure crumbles, hard choices will need to be made.
On my spinning wheel right this moment….
Navaho ply! First time! Went pretty well. Used my first single from some combed top @fifileroux gave me! Followed a few YouTube vids and voila – it isn’t perfect but a good first attempt.