Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Neighborhood sighting

It's not every day a person sees the Oscar Mayer WienerMobile parked a block from her house. On a residential street. With nothing going on. In front of a mid-'60s ranch house. Very mysterious.

Busy Busy Busy

I've been piecing a quilt top for Owen the last couple weeks:

I plan to send it out to be machine quilted because otherwise, it will end up as a permanent UFO. One woman I found online charges about $75 on an average twin size quilt, which is a pretty good deal considering the hours of my life I would spend (not to mention the frustration) if I tried to do it at home. I did notice a business here in Madison with a sign in the window advertising "Machine Quilting" so I'm going to phone them up today and see what they say.

I made this quilt top from a lot of Mr. SABLE's old plaid and striped shirts that had ripped out at elbows and pockets and such. I also picked up a few more shirts at Digger's Outlet to throw in a bit more diversity in the color scheme.

There has been knitting, too, but I have to keep that under wraps a while.

In other news
Today is the Little Emperor's seventh birthday. Hard to believe how fast the time has gone!

Our lives are stressful these days. Mr. SABLE has some employment uncertainty ahead. His company wanted him to move to way-southern NJ by Sept 30. He decided that he really wasn't willing to go to those lengths to stay with that company. He's hoping to find other employment that keeps us in the Madison area soon, but he's considering jobs quite far away, too. As it currently stands, his last scheduled day of work is Sept 30, so after that, who knows? There is a severance package for those not willing to relocate, so we should have a cushion for a few more months after that, but it's a lot of stress and anxiety for us right now. Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Alt Knitting Camp 08

Or The Gourmet S'mores Knitting Camp

I took three group pictures. This one was the best for everyone but me. So, I pulled a fast one. I took my head off of one of the others and photoshopped it onto myself in this picture. But everyone else was smiling nicely!

A great time was had by all. We ate, drank, went yarn shopping, yakked it up, slept a bit. Some of us even went swimming!

Now I'm off to bed. Must rise early to fetch Owen from Geek Camp in St. Paul.

The Swap

Meanwhile, here's the yarn we all brought to swap around/destash.

Somehow, I came home with more yarn than I unloaded. Hmm.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

It's Here!

Soon I'll be getting some envelopes stuffed to those of you willing to help distribute to LYSs in your area.

But it's a crazy week coming up, and following on an utterly insane week just past.

So, the 'zine: well, I think it looks pretty good. There were a few glitchy things that happened right at the end, resulting in a bit of confusion (on my part) and a couple little edits and improvements that should have gone to press were left out of the final version. But it was a huge learning experience. It can only get better from here, right? This issue was a bit heavier on sewing, but the fall issue will be fatter and heavier on knitting. Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Butterfly Season

This Swallowtail emerged in our garden yesterday. I got this image of it while he was still drying his wings.

Here's a closer view of his face:

I tried stalking a monarch in the last couple days, but that one was too manic to stay put for even a second. Later in the season they settle down more and pose for pics.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Garden Pics

A couple garden pics to tide you over until I have more knitting to show. The top one is Bee Balm. I have been admiring Bee Balm in gardens all over Madison for many years and we finally have some growing in our own yard. When you see a big stand of it in full bloom in July, you know it's summer. We don't have a big stand, yet, but in a few years, I hope to have it all over the yard.

The second image is just a lily. We have several different kinds of lilies. I love how agreeably easy they are and they always put on a good show.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Material Culture

Regular readers know I'm a great fan of thrift shops. One particular store in my area holds a singular fascination for me: The Diggers Outlet, run by St. Vincent de Paul Society. Diggers Outlet is the last-chance store for merchandise that has run through the other thrift shops. Most goods are sold by the pound with only the most cursory sorting: clothes in giant boxes, household items of every type in another section, etc. Diggers Outlet is where you see first-hand the cast off material culture of modern American society: the clothing fads, the electronics that were cutting edge and now are obsolete, the particle board furniture that self-destructs after 5-10 years of regular use, the must-have kitchen gadgets of yesterday, and so on. A trip to Diggers Outlet jars me into thinking about how short our collective attention span really is.

I'm a textile nut. If you read this blog, you probably already know that. For most of human history, textile production has been slow and labor-intensive. Spinning was done on drop spindles and later, by hand on spinning wheels. The Industrial Revolution started the change that continues rippling today: toward higher efficiency in production, cheaper goods, viewing laborers as part of the machinery, toward ever-changing cycles of fashion and the disposable culture they foster. I'm not a rosy romantic about life in the years before the mid-18th century. I know that life was often nasty, brutish, and short, to borrow a phrase. But it was, by and large, more sustainable than the life we now live.

Textile production used to be so labor intensive that textiles had to be preserved and used up. Only the very wealthy could afford to have several sets of clothes. If you have ever made a garment, from fiber to fabric to finished object, either with knitting or weaving, you know how you feel about the resulting item: it's a treasure! If one use doesn't work out, you find a way to reuse it in another that does: unravel the sweater and reknit the yarn into something new or give it to a person it will fit, or something. Handmade fabric from handmade yarn is not something you want to discard easily.

Mass-produced fabric is so cheap that we generate tons (TONS!) of excess textiles in our society. Unbelievable excess. We shop for and replace clothes with little thought. Some items find their way into the landfills, though they are perfectly usable. Many get donated to charities for resale or distribution to the needy. While searching for images of baled clothing, I found this article.

In particular, I was struck by this quote:
The need to minimise all waste is more apparent when you consider that :

More than 80% of materials are consumed and waste generated by less than 20% of the world's population.

The growth in the world's population and the spread of wealth is rapidly exacerbating the problem.

In order to sustain human life under the present system, global environmental efficiency will have to increase by as much as 50 times.

The whole concept of product life cycle, design, fashion and the responsibility for re-use have to be reassessed. A culture built on the idea of wastage needs to be dismantled and a new way introduced.

Further search led me to another eye-opening article.

What if we all tried to stop thinking like Consumers and redefined ourselves in other terms? What if all our textiles were produced in ways that did not exploit the laborers or the planet? And what if we all recognized that the cost of a basic outfit would be higher, but our expectations about our clothes would be different? We would spend more, but spend more wisely. We would seek quality. We would reuse and re-purpose our textiles. We would choose clothes that wouldn't look dated next year at this time; clothes constructed with future alterations in mind; clothes from quality fabrics that stand up to hard use.

I wonder what our society will look like in 10 years. Or 30. Will we be buried in the excesses of the Industrial Age? Or will we learn to live as though our resources matter?

Note: image found on Buffalo Export website.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A Little 'Zine Teaser...

Just a peak at one of the Knitcircus patterns coming out soon! Tango!
Click here and scroll down for purchasing info. (New site coming soon!)