April 16, 2012

Sorry Savages, life’s been crazy so I haven’t been able to get a new post up. However I’ve been thinking about you and all the new stuffs I wanted to update for you. I had my spring break for two weeks and I got a lot done while also coming up with some great new ideas. I also moved into a new apartment in downtown Olympia and it’s fabulous! I have a huge space with great tall windows and so much sunlight. My living room and front porch are the perfect space for knitting and spinning. I set up my craft armoire in the living room.  I built two years ago in schools wood shop. Check it out! My living room is basically becoming a  huge craft studio.

 craft armoire, sewing table, craft room, craft area

          …and soon savages, very soon I will be interviewing the dangerous knitter known as Leathal! http://leemeredith.com/  She’s living in Portland and makin’ some wild knits that I just love.

 

Most of what I’ve been making I haven’t finished, ugh, but I have been doing a lot of sewing since I got my craft armoire out storage. It’s a great set up to quickly stitch something I want to immediately wear out of my closet. Which by the way, is huge. My new closet is the size of a small bedroom. I feel I’m famous every time I walk in there and am now shopping even more accordingly.

 

Triacetate, skirt, cellulose fiber

Inside the label it actually says it's made out of Triacetate.

There are many things one can buy to make themselves feel wonderful. Recently I have purchased some cozy lingerie. A set of satin shorts and v-necked top. I got them from dumpster values down town and they have a classy vintage look them. I’ve also purchased an antique mini dress that is reminiscent of something form Breakfast at Tiffany’s. All I need is my cigarette

skirt, triacetate, cellulose

The bottom fringe of the skirt.

extension and a martini. Next on the purchase list was a little dress that I was willing to die for to own since I nearly was hit running across the street to be the first in the shop to have it. It’s made out of cellulosic fiber and looks like I’m wearing a flower over my butt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This past week has been the nicest weather here in Oly-andia since August and I haven’t been able to do much else but get outside to enjoy it. With my boyfriend in tow we’ve been hanging out in the parks, playing fetch with the dog and yes, knitting.

Yesterday he decided he wanted to try it out. I handed him my current project and what do you know, he’s a natural. We quickly headed to the local yarn shop and got him some colours he liked. Soon enough he started on some of my circular needles making his first cowl. I couldn’t have made it better myself. The colours he picked worked well together and the pattern was simple but brilliant. He worked all day on it till sundown and then some and finished by about mid-night. It’s super warm and looks great on him. I think if he keeps up with this he’s going to be teaching me something things in the future.

 

men knitting, cowl, army knits

Making his first knit piece ever. He was able to begin his first project working in the round. This is usually very complicated for a beginner. If you look closely you can see that he is knitting continental style. I did not teach him that, I knit in the English style. He just picked it up that way and he isn't even handed.

 

So here is a cowl that looks great as is but not on or around anyone’s neck. Why! Why can’t this cowl be the raddest one I’ve made yet! I made it from a sarong I bought overseas that I never wanted to wear because of the pattern of elephants on it. 

fabric yarn, red cowl,

See how great it looks! I love it, but it looks ridiculous when anybody wheres it :(

So I decided one night to tear it into pieces and tie the ends together. I found an adorable pattern on line and just started making it. I love the pattern and knitting it was pleasurable. However it may only look good on the dog as far as I can tell.

 

Moving on, I’m finally reaching the end of a project I made for working on in class lectures because it’s a very simple knit and I don’t have to think about it while I’m making it. I love the yarn . It’s lambs pride and the colour reminds me of somewhere between a penny and yellow curry paste.

leg warmers, curry colored,

Almost finished

 

Now I’m really not a fan of corporate craft shops but I wanted to find the price on a knitting machine and so headed to one of them the other day. Whilst there I found a great deal on some cotton yarn. One dollar a skein! Jeeze! The brand name is Sugar n’ Cream. Now who could argue with a name like that? I love the colours and I do like working with 100% cotton yarns. I figure I will make underwear out of them…

 

Sugar n' cream, yarn, cotton, 100% cotton

100% cotton

That’s it for now Savagaes. I have a lot more to share with you including an interview with one my favorite people and friend: Julie. She lives in Wisconsin, in a yurt, on forty acres where she plans to practice perma-culture and raise her own food. She’s a great knitter and spinner. Last year she stayed with me for a few weeks and taught me how to spin yarn and about three years ago opened my mind to possibilities beyond just making scarves. She’s a real d.i.y. person and I just love her for it. I’ve missed you all and hope you stay in touch. See you in two weeks!

Tights vs. Leg Warmers, Power for the Consumer…

There is a lot of mythology that goes into selling a product, but there is always a true story behind it. In my closet I have two items with contrasting existences. In comparing them I’ve realised their differing values and my power as a consumer. 

In my closet exists a pair of tights and along side them a pair of leg warmers. The tights are made of nylon in China by a machine that knits items at a rapid pace. But the leg warmers were hand knit and made with a natural fiber of alpaca by a woman in Peru. I ask the questions; what sold these two items and what’s the real value of each?

The story of the tights isn’t told, because if it was, they wouldn’t sell. The story of the leg warmers is a good story and is always told to the consumer.

The tights real story

TightsI purchased the tights from a thrift store in Seattle for four dollars. I love the tights, I wear them often, but they are spandex, a new invention of the 20th century made from oil. It’s a plastic. It’s nonrenewable. Oil is a refined product made by factories and it takes a ton of chemicals to make it. This refinement will eventually produce a thread that needs dying. Most fabric dying is disastrous to the water supply because after wards the fabric has to be rinsed of the chemicals used in the process. That water then gets put back into the riverbeds where it came from and is extremely hazardous to our environment and our health. It’s also a lot of water being destroyed that the creatures of this planet need to survive. “The textile industry is one of the most chemically intensive industries on earth, and the No. 1 polluter of clean water (after agriculture).” (http://www.oecotextiles.com/PDF/textile_industry_hazards.pdf) Still this product isn’t whole yet. The fiber needs to be shipped to another factory where it will be woven by a machine then shipped to another factory where the fabric can be cut and sewn into it’s final product…and it’s still in China! Another shipment to the U.S. and one trip made by me two hours north of my home to pick them up. Do you think they’re only worth the four dollars I spent on them?

I do love the tights,I wear them often. That’s not always the case for most people, especially with a cheap pair of tights. In some cases they get worn once or twice then discarded of and tossed into a land fill to break down after some thousand years.

On the whole; it’s an incredibly selfish buy. And people buy them for selfish reason’s. To be hip, stylish, to be apart of a social, elite structure of their society. I am not saying that this is exactly why I bought them, but it is why a lot of people buy stuff, because their self-esteem tells them they have to.

The leg warmers story

Leg warmers made of Alpaca, Fairtrade.The leg warmers are beyond attractive in appearance, they’re attractive because of they way they are made, delivered and sold. They uphold a little important concept in the industry known as traceability and transparency.

The leg warmers are a unique item with few replicas of it, unlike purchasing something from a mall where you can be assured that hundreds if not thousands of others will be wearing them. They were hand made and therefore each unique. The manufacturer designs each product individually. Imagine what a factory for a huge clothing manufacturer might look like… a person goes to work every day to make the same piece of clothing over and over again, just like the person sitting next to them. It’s an assembly line, and many are wearing that product. Imagine a life of work where you are not part of the creative process at all. Not to mention being underpaid and treated terribly.

In the case of the leg warmers, each stitch was done with skilled, nimble hands and were thoughtfully put together under the intention of quality and style. The fiber of the leg warmers came from an animal that the maker was familiar with and depended on for their wealth. Thus the health and well being of that creature is important to the manufacturer. That means I’m getting a better fiber and a better product. The fiber was hand spun, so every inch of that fiber went through someones hands once in the spinning of it, then in the hand dying and thrice in the knitting of them. I should add that under Fairtrade regulations, care for the environment is essential so that the process of making these items is sustainable for the family’s farmland and that they are able to continue using that land for generations to come. I know this when I buy them,I know I am supporting a fair economical trade and most importantly to me; I am support a tradition of clothing making that supports creativity and health to the manufacturer.

Myth and method have value

Leg warmers made of alpaca, FairtradeA company could not talk specifically about where the the tights came from, who made them or how they were made and still be able to sell them with the same consumer demand. The demand for this product would go down because this story does not make us feel good.

The story behind the fairly traded leg warmers is told to the consumer upon purchase. One knows where this item is coming from and can feel good about buying it because it is sold under the standard of traceability and transparency. The reason this can be guaranteed is because of a social movement and organisation called Fairtrade which developed a method of international trading that is focused on dialog and respect between consumers and manufacturers. Fairtrade is not just a brand or a product; it’s a story. It’s the story of who’s doing the manufacturing and where your money’s going. This way of doing business contrasts so immensely to the common ways of doing business. CECE is an acronym that stands for: consumers, employee’s, communities and the environment. This is an important acronym because it represents where the power belongs: with the producer’s and consumer’s! These four factors determine the certification for Fairtrade. This assures that everyone involved get’s a fair price and is respected in the process.

The tights on the other hand sell on a method of ‘more is less’. Telling as little as possible. It’s a story of dishonesty, greed and destruction. The environment was compromised and so were the workers, even you: the customer. The people who ran the factories didn’t care if the customer was better off because of them. They just wanted to find a way to make a profit. This is very typical. But the consumers don’t want the story of the tights because it reminds us of parts of ourselves we don’t like. It reminds us of motives of that are deceitful, greedy and destructive. It’s a horrible story.

The story that sold the tights is built on myth. That they are a good buy because they will make you important. That’s a lie, those tights can’t do that for you, you have to do that for yourself! Now the leg warmers…buying those made me an important consumer in the market because I supported a person, their family and community and respected the environment in the process. No one got ripped off, not even me.

Madelinetosh, Colinette & Silky Wool

Last summer I went to Europe. Which you may know if you’ve read my previous articles(see: http://savageknitting.wordpress.com/2011/09/05/antwerps-unravel-exhibit-2011/). Whilst there I found myself a yarn shop called Art et Fil. Inside was not so unusual for a yarn shop as the ones in the states, but there were some beautiful differences. Every shop is unique really. For instance my local shop here in Olympia: Canvas Works, I’m pretty sure does not carry Madelinetosh yarns…and really how could they not? If I were in the yarn business and could buy any yarn in the world, you better believe I’d be selling that woman’s stuff. 


http://madelinetosh.com/  

Madelinetosh Yarns

Madelinetosh yarn, from her facebook fan page. Check it out!

Unfortunately I have never worked with her stuff due to a lack of ability to easily obtain it and an ignorance on my part to just order the stuff online…I’ll add it to my to do list for next quarter.

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Anyways, the shop in Brussels, city of exuberant sexually charged and engaging french speaking Belgian’s, I found myself some Collinette skeins. I bought two kinds. Both called the colour Fire. One skein was as thin as thread and the other jumbo and inconsistent in gauge. I made cowls with both of them. The jumbo one took one evening and the thin cowl took about a month. (Imagine knitting with thread on size four needles.) It was a delicate and probably the smallest gauge of yarn I’ve ever worked with. I enjoyed doing that piece so much is because of the colour. It’s bright like fire, fulfilling it’s namesake. The cowl is delicate and I wear it often as it’s so comfortable and elegant. It goes with most light sweaters and creates a great accent to any outfit. I’d love to make a bunch for friends and to sell on Etsy, but it takes so long to make. I’m also not a fan of long winded knit projects. With so many ideas I really just want to finish and move on. 


V-day came and went. It was the first one I’ve celebrated. I’ve had boyfriends during v-day prior to this, but being with Brent, I am compelled to celebrate. Same for him he says.

We surprised one another with homemade gifts. From him I received a drawing, that vaguely looks like a vagina. I love him for his visions…he also purchased me some wonderful chocolates that were so good I allowed myself to eat only one a day. I was sad when the last one was over. He also got me tea candles. All in all, he did well.

For him, I busted out the madness. Yes I did…and why? Because I started his gift the day before V-day! Well I had class all weekend you know…

handwarmers, silkywool, charcoalI made him some hand warmers from a yarn called Silky Wool. It’s a dark charcoal gray colour and consisted of wool, silk and elastic. Two, hours before he came over on V-day I also decided to make him a box with a photo of us on the inside to deliver the hand warmers in. Clever as I can be, I cut paper bag paper up for enough sides to create a box, glued them together, then used mod podge to coat them. I used my furnace and hair dryer to finish them andhandwarmers, silkywool, charcoal sewed the joints together with yellow cotton thread. The photo of us glued on the inside. I at least finished one of his hand warmers (and the box) just minutes before he arrived. I’m still working on the next one…he keeps nagging me to get it finished ;)

‘Tiss the end of the quarter at school for me Savages and I’m busy, stressed and not really sleeping. Last week I was staying up every evening with a cold, chain smoking in my bathroom. I know how logical that sounds. It was my savage thoughts doing it to me! Freaking me so much I couldn’t even knit. You know this girl’s sick if she’s not knitting. Things are coming together and spring break will hit at the end of it all. To celebrate I will be taking a trip to Portland, city of knitter’s if you didn’t know. I know because I went to google trends and typed in ‘knitting’. That word is, throughout the world searched the most in that city. I can’t wait to go and discover the yarns. And who knows who I’ll meet! Maybe someone who creates brightly coloured twisty patterns! Maybe someone by the name…leethal! She produces her work out of that city and I intend to knock on her door and hopefully retrieve an interview to share with you savages. Keep your calendars marked, more ravaging knit’s to come your way, bi-weekly, on Monday’s. Thanks for reading. See you in two weeks!

Side note: Sorry for all you picture lovers that I don’t have more. I really wish I did, but till I find my camera, this is all I have. I will add pictures of the hand warmers soon!

Monday, February 20, 2012

 Recent projects, Cowl collection, Leg warmers and more…

I love cowls. I recently bought a book featuring twenty or so different cowls. I don’t even like the collection, but I love cowls so much that I just impulsively bought the thing. I plan to use the patterns inside, but I will restructure them and use natural fiber yarns and prettier colours. The book is called: Cowl Girls…eh.

Hand Made Cowl

Hand made fabric yarn. I cut fabric into strips, sewed the ends together then spun it. After the fabric set, I knitted it into a Cowl.

What’s to love about cowls anyways?

Even Pickle loves Cowls.Well, like socks, they are quick, quicker than socks actually. And you can wear them like jewelry around your neck. I wear cowls as my winter jewelry. I enjoy quick projects because then I have more time to work with more yarn. I can usually turn out a cowl in under two hours. I prefer them over scarfs because they don’t get in the way hanging all over the place. Who wants to wear a scarf when you’ve already got enough clothes on to feel like a fully endowed sheep…? Personally, I don’t like having to wear clothing all the time. Whenever I come home I strip down to my scivies. As much as I love clothing, it’s just as much fun to sit knitting in the nude…

Back to cowls…no, let’s talk about leg warmers…

I finally made my first pair. They are short, more like ankle warmers. Perfect for wearing under rolled jeans. I borrowed a section

Ankle/Leg Warmers

Debbie Bliss Yarn, Wool & Angora, From Ireland.

of a pattern from one of my favorite knitting books by; Judy Summer. Did you write that down? Her patterns have a synchronistic beat that makes knitting them a harmonious act. Though many of the patterns in her book: Knitted Socks East and West, are pretty detailed and complex. They are an utter pleasure to work with, even as a beginner.

Knitted Socks East and West, Judy Sumner

Knitting can be a terrible task at times if you aren’t comfortable with your pattern and materials. I prefer to work with natural fibers and crystal palace bamboo dpn’s. I deteste synthetic yarns and not just because they are environmentally hazardous, but because they are worthless when it comes to keeping you warm. Now wool and silk can do amazing things. They are my circus friends. Wool is water proof and fireproof…it’s warmth is unprecedented. Silk can perform similar acts too, but is popular to me by it’s own amazing feel. If you’ve ever spun with silk, you’ll understand. Spinning with it feels like being a spider spinning a web. Spiders, like acrobats, move with grace and silk is there preferred medium.

My second attempt at making leg warmers are five times as long as the first. They are made by a less superior yarn too; lamb’s pride. Though equally efficient because it’s one hundred percent wool. The project started because I wanted to make some really thick socks, but I just kept knitting them longer and longer till I decided to covert them into epic thigh warmers.

Extra long leg warmers

These aren't finished yet. I only have one completed. I'll have a better picture when I have both of them.

The colour is amazing. A glowing rust with intermittent black chunks. Lamb’s Pride is willing to allow chucks of other yarns to slip into unintended batches. Some people, most people probably dislike this, but I’m a huge fan of beautiful mistakes. I love messes and I hate planning. These things are necessary in life, I’ve always learned the hard way, but when it comes to knitting and any other kind of creative expression, I can fool around and turn disasters into long lasting beauty.

Lamb's Pride 100% Wool

Let’s talk about slippers, if you don’t own a pair…I pity you. Your probably suffering from cold feet…

I once was slipper-less. I still remember the day I found my beloved pair of leather with wool lined slippers…at the mall. My honey bunny Brent was in a similar situation with his cold toes. Too broke this season to spring for new ones, I decided to make him a pair myself.

I began by following a pattern out of slipper pattern book, but I add many features as I went. Like the leather bottoms and the spun draw string. I also added a knitted lining to the inside for added warmth and cushion. All of the yarns are of wool and silk except the drawstring and some elastic in the insole. I stitched the leather sole on with a carpet thread, so it’s super durable and weathered the leather with conditioning creme. The drawstring I made on my spindle by giving the yarn so much spin that it wanted to double over on itself. I let it and then tied the ends together. Viola! He loves his slippers and wears them every where…His toes are happier.

Knitted Slippers

Knitted SlippersKnitted Slippers

Talk about pleasant messes and zero planning… 

I was in Seattle for new years and went yarn shopping that day. I spent the night knitting with my new sumptuous yarn. I had just enough to make a cowl and all I had were some big dpn’s. I knitted six different sized rectangles and connected them with loose pieces. I was trying to get this all done before the clock struck twelve. Two minutes left and I still had a few chunks to connect. Oh Well! It was still wearable. I ran outside with my glass of champagne to watch the fireworks over Seattle. After that I was three sheets to the wind for the rest of the evening. By the time I got back to the project, I decided just to leave it as is…

Cowl

Cowl

Road Side Knits

Cowl

The Yarn Book

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     I’ve been collecting my tags from the yarn I buy because you never know when you’ll need to reference them again in the future. For instance; perhaps you start a project, set it down half way through making it only to come back to it a year later to realize you just want to undo it and try another project with that yarn. It’s really helpful to know what the gauge,fiber or length of that yarn was. Perhaps it’s the last half of bit of skein you are using for a whole new project… the reasons are endless, plus, scrap booking, collaging, journaling, however you refer to it as is so much fun.

     I only had a hot glue gun on me when I started creating this book, so everything that was put into it was done with one. It’s actually a lot of fun to work with. I think in fact I actually prefer the hot glue gun over regular glue because the visual outcome. The hot glue dries quick, unlike with most glue where it has time to puddle onto the page before drying. So the outcome actually looks like a glue sculpture of un-spun fiber. Take a look, you’ll see what I mean. It gives my book a really cute appearance.

     It addition, I should add that this book isn’t solely for yarn tags, it’s for anything I do related to working with fiber. I put my pamphlet from the Unravel exhibit I went to in Antwerp, Belgium last summer inside the main fold of the book, because I refer to it a lot. I also love saving even the simplest of clothing tags. They are interesting to me because I can see what I spent on some item of mine. It reminds me of the fact I’ve purchased new clothing lately and that makes me happy. It satiates the little shopper in me I guess. I’ve also made lists inside detailing the things I want to remember to pick up in the future when it’s possible. Things like a Russian spindle, which I recently saw a woman on youtube working with. I should post the video for you. It was really pleasant looking actually. It also seemed more efficient than the current Turkish spindle I work with. My second list is a “to-do” list to help me stay on track with all the projects I’ve got going on. Plus it’s helpful to look through such a book occasionally to remind myself of what I already have open to work with. Its a pleasant reminder of what I’ve accomplished and have currently to be proud of and feel good about.

     So I’m posting about this to my readers because of all the reasons I love doing it, perhaps it will be an inspiration for you to start one yourself, if you haven’t already. Otherwise it’s also just a pretty piece of art work for you to look at. Enjoy!

Feel free to leave a comment below – and please share this with your social community on Facebook. 

Why knitting is Feminist, good for you and your community.

I found this article in the Seattle Times through a web site of one of my local yarn shops: Stitches (http://stitchesseattle.com/).

The article explores the why’s and how’s of the DIY movement that is particularly strong in the NW. It was an interesting read though written a bit sloppy. Regardless, here it is: http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=20050206&slug=crafts06

Making Yarn out of the business section of the new york times.

I spent all afternoon looking at tutorials online that I found through websites such as; ravelry, youtube and spinningdaily.com. Ravelry has many groups you can join where people like you can post questions so others can respond. Through that site I found amazing results for articles and videos about techniques in spinning fiber. Amongst my searching I also found a video on youtube for  making newspaper yarn. It was super easy and fun to make.  It took me about an hour to complete it sent my mind soaring with new ideas of what to make next. 

 

An instructional video for you to make your own paper yarn:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKAnC1cW6zA
 

One of the many Ravelry.com groups I joined that contains excelent information for spinners at any level:

http://www.ravelry.com/groups/spin-tech#
 
 

The business section of the New York Times in a more creative light.

Step two! I wound the newspaper yarn off my spindle and around my book in order that the yarn would set into it's twist. I will keep it in this state for a bought a week or two at least. Until I can figure out what to do with the yarn. Any Ideas?

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