29 March 2010

Fiber, fiber everywhere... and no time left to spin.

These are the eggs I have for breakfast.
The names of the hens that laid them are written in pencil.
I know EXACTLY where my food comes from.

I miss spinning. I miss the rhooooom-whirrrrrr-whirrrrr of my wheel. I miss the hypnotic treadling and the clack-clack of the footman-treadle join.... which, come to think of it, might be something that needs fixing.

My poor wheel -- my beautiful, shiny wheel -- has been sitting under a striped sheet for a long time. No one has recently wiped it down with oil after a long spinning session. No one has checked to see that it hasn't been suddenly attacked by termites. I am guilty of spinning wheel neglect -- the only saving graces are that (1) I cared for it very well before it went into the corner with a sheet and (2) it has been kept out of the sun and inside a climate-controlled house, where the temperature and humidity never vary significantly, thanks to the ridiculously complicated HVAC systems.

I know it hasn't suffered physical harm, but I still feel like I've fallen down on some sacred duty... It's times like these that I'm pretty sure I don't deserve a wheel as gorgeous and well-made as mine. My wheel was lovingly made by hand, and now it sits in a corner, unnoticed. One would think that I'd at least have the decency to drape it in a hand-loomed shroud, not a cheap twin-XL sheet leftover from the two years of undergrad that I lived on campus.

I have gigantic plastic storage bins full of fiber -- hand-dyed silk hankies, mounds of fluffy buffalo down, piles of silky angora, three whole alpaca fleeces, goat and sheep fleeces in various states of nature, prime first-clip mohair, and seemingly endless balls of dyed top in various blends of merino/silk -- in an endless holding pattern.

I am not a skilled spinner. I am proficient, but I have not practiced enough to be truly skilled.

With Spring in the air and a definite house-moving coming up, I pause to reflect on this.

Do I need to keep my beautiful Reeves wheel? Do I need these pounds and pounds of fiber that may never become yarn?

Is it something I can let go? Perhaps it was important in the past but I no longer feel the need to cling to it. Maybe it is something unnecessary and weighing me down. Is it something I need to shed? Will I regret the absence of something I barely noticed (except with vague feelings of guilt)?

I am thankful to have owned and had the pleasure of working on such a marvelous, luxurious wheel. It's sorta like having had an exotic sports car in your garage, that you drove once for five miles, detailed and fussed over, and then put on those special curved tired blocks and under a cover, and haven't jingled the keys since. I know how nice it is to spin on a Reeves wheel.

But if I don't spin regularly, why do I have one? I'd get much more use and enjoyment out of an etching press. And I know there are spinners out there who drool over, covet, and would cherish having this wheel.

I'm not going to make a hasty decision on this, but right now I'm leaning toward selling my wheel and getting rid of my fiber stash. I don't think it's necessary at this point in my life.

22 March 2010

Notes from the Inside

Day 453. No cars in the parking lot this morning, except those that have been parked there for nigh on two years. It's 10am. Where is everyone? Aren't they working today? Am I alone here?

Day 462.
Rain today. Think today is Monday, but can't be certain. At times, I'm pretty sure it's Thursday. Don't ask the clients for fear they'll think I'm crazy. Postman came by today, so today is definitely NOT Sunday. Unless they started Sunday delivery and I was so busy working I didn't notice. The adding machine still has a 9+4 keypad in the main section (1-9, 0, 00, 000, .) I have used approximately 2,356 meters of adding machine tape since my time here began. Have processed God only knows how many returns. Well, God and my timesheet.

Day 245346836. Think porcelain coffee cup is permanently stained from green tea. Have possibly measured out life in tea-spoons, but lost count and therefore cannot be certain.

Day 23478! (23478 factorial) . I woke from my nap on the office floor. I had a dream that I was... knitting. I think that's something I used to do, a long time ago...

Day 235φq09Φ20456ЖΔ². Am nearly out of yarn.

15 March 2010

Cookies for Africa -- Easter Cookie Giveaway

Cookies for Africa is an online bake sale to raise money for ChildAlive, a nonprofit that buys mosquito nets for children in Western Africa. I know the woman who runs Cookies for Africa; she is incredibly kind and generous, in addition to incredibly talented.

She is trying to raise awareness for her fundraiser by giving away cookies. The cookies are totally free, with no strings attached. The ulterior motive is, of course, to raise awareness for the charity. To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment on her blog entry for the giveaway. I won her St. Patrick’s Day cookies (swiped picture below); they are as delicious as they are pretty.

Have you been to Becky's blog yet? Have you commented? DO IT NOW! WIN COOKIES!

09 March 2010

Knitting in the Time of Taxes

The Baltic Sea Stole is chugging right along. Er, it was, when I had time to work on it. Progress is slow lately because most of my waking hours are spent calculating how much money Big Daddy Plantation System the government is stealing taking from its sharecroppers my clients*, and trying to mitigate the damage as much as legally possible.

This means I don't get a whole lot of sleep; I work long, long shifts; knitting is therefore squeezed into remainder time, and there isn't a lot of that until mid-April. Anyway, here's what I've been up to:

not exactly 3 feet long.

Lisa Souza Petal, 50/50 silk/merino, colorway "Sapphire." Gorgeous, isn't it? It feels as beautiful as it looks. Can't wait to block it out.

Oh, and that carpet on which it is resting? Yeah, that's in the latest annex to Knit Goddingdom, a province known as The New House. More on that later.

*Note from the editor: the "Taxation = Slavery" rhetoric has been deleted from this post.

02 March 2010

Tuesday Eye Candy

Like I said, we have a LOT of catching up to do! Future posts include the knitting workshop I recently attended with Anne Hanson of Knitspot.

Welcome back! Here's some eye candy to tide you over until a meatier post comes along.

This is Araucania Ranco Multy. It's a semi-coarse sock yarn that I bought for its colors.

I knitted it up into a half-width Clapotis. It turned out okay. I was not satisfied with the texture, and therefore do not recommend Ranco Multy for this project.

I've been knitting LOTS of socks! I haven't yet taken photos of all of them. Here's an in-progress look at a pair of candy-striped beauties with yarn from Holiday Yarns.

My current project is a Baltic Sea Stole, using a pattern Pearlsmother sent me in a Knitters Tea Swap some time ago. I'm using Lisa Souza Petal, a 50/50 silk merino in colorway "Sapphire." It's soft, gorgeous and has perfect stitch definition. Below is a picture of the beginning. I've been trucking along on this and have about three feet now, and will post an updated picture soon.

Stay tuned!

01 March 2010

Etsy and the art of FAIL

I was surprised this evening to see Health Care as the featured story on Etsy's front page. Figuring it couldn't possibly be about the current US healthcare debacle, I clicked on it. I was wrong.

What followed was a watered-down, left-leaning synopsis of the current state of health care legislation in the United States. It provided no salient details while it omitted a lot of important ones. It was how you might explain the healthcare debate to a third-grader, while trying to stay neutral. The problem is, nobody can stay neutral when discussing such a politically-charged issue. And third-graders aren't going to make informed decisions.

Regardless of your stance on the issue, it has no place on Etsy. What's next, reproductive rights and the art of handmade? I can see it now:

Reproductive Rights: An Etsy Guide.
Since many of our patrons and sellers are female, we thought we'd discuss reproductive rights. The right to an abortion is an issue that affects many people. People have differing opinions about this. Right now,
Roe v. Wade legalizes some types of abortions. Some people don't agree that this should be the case, but they have not been successful in overturning the Supreme Court decision. We here at Etsy thought we'd do a five-part series on abortion, to let you know the ins and outs of women's reproductive rights and how it might affect your life.

Maybe it's just me, but I can't see any way in which that would be appropriate. Frankly, I'm not that comfortable posting that fake paragraph here, on my blog. Did it make your blood boil a little bit? Do you find it offensive that I've even mentioned abortion in an uninformative, neutral fashion on my knitting blog?

It illustrates my point perfectly, doesn't it?

I would not want to direct buyers to my Etsy shop, encourage them to poke about the site, only to have them balk at the political discussion. It's not what you look for when you're shopping for a party dress, or a landscape painting, or some vintage housewares. I would like a disclaimer at the top of the article that Etsy in no way represents the political views of the individual sellers. Better yet, why not represent no political views at all, and keep that stuff for the editorial coffee break?

I commented on the article that discussion of such a divisive issue was inappropriate for a community of the handmade. That I enjoyed political discussion elsewhere, but Etsy was not the place for it. Two minutes later, the editors had deleted my comment -- no wonder it had been the sole dissent.

I repost the quote I have kept on the sidebar of my blog, in which I still firmly believe:
"If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. . . . But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error." -- John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

Etsy welcomes discussion of topics -- as long as you foster discussion that agrees with them. Maybe Etsy should run for Congress -- they'd fit right in.

It's disappointing and disheartening to see this from a site I had liked so much. I'd write them a letter and explain why I don't want to shop there any more, or why I am considering closing my shop and not putting up the new listings I had planned, but I know they won't actually care. They're going to go right on in their happy, green, urban, veganized, shiny, sterilized, unilateral, and in some ways ignorant, world. Etsy in no way represents my political beliefs, and I want no part of it.


Your regularly scheduled knitting blog will resume shortly. We have a LOT of catching up to do.