Tag Archives: cotton

Lunchtime Update

3 Jan
The Chevron Baby Blanket by Purl Soho.

The Chevron Baby Blanket by Purl Soho.

I have completed the knitting on my Chevron Baby Blanket. I’m totally smitten with this afghan and I wish it were my size. It could make a great lap blanket, but I think I’d like to save it for a baby.

I say I’m finished with the knitting because I’d like to line the wrong side of the afghan with some cotton fabric. This will make it even warmer and will help keep the ends from unweaving as the blanket gets washed repeatedly.

I think this project is great for both beginners or advanced knitters. The stitch pattern was easy to memorize and the neat design is a great payoff for a new knitter, while the bulky-weight guage offers fast satisfaction to a seasoned knitter who’s burned out on a shawl or more complicated patterns.

This pattern called for seven skeins of Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Cotton, which I have used on several occassions. However, this yarn is a bit pricey and the afghan would have cost more than $100 if I’d used it. I opted for Knit Picks Simply Cotton Worsted, which has been discontinued and was on clearance. In total, I paid $21 for the yarn (plus a little stash white cotton I had sitting around.)

The only adjustments I made to the pattern had to do with how much yarn I had. The pattern calls for 20 rows of each color (10 garter ridges), but I wasn’t sure I had enough yarn when I started, so I did 18 rows of each color. To make up for the lost length I added the white cotton stripe in the middle, and my afghan is just four rows longer than it would be if I’d followed the pattern.

I will definitely make this afghan again the future, though I’ll have to find some new yarn. I love the organic cotton feel, but Knit Picks Comfy Worsted (cotton/acrylic) or even the pricey Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Cotton would be great choices.

I did estimate incorrectly on the amount of yarn I had, so I have leftovers of each color. I think I’ll make a matching bonnet!

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Stripes

22 Dec

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I tried to post this photo another way, and it didn’t work. I’m continuing to make progress on my Chevron Baby Blanket, and every stripe I add makes it even prettier. After the white comes two greens and a dark gray. I can’t wait to finish this up. The final size will be about 2’x3′ and will weight nearly 2 lbs. I wish I could shrink down to baby size so I could cuddle under it.

To market

12 May

The Green Grocery Bag is a quick pattern from Ann Budd’s “Knitting Green”.

I’m continuing to work on a special present, which is by far the largest thing I’ve ever knit. Because of this I don’t have much to show right now, but this morning I did get to use something I knit last summer.

My Green Grocery Bag – from Ann Budd’s book Knitting Green – was a fast project that used up some extra bulky cotton yarn I had laying around. This bag stretches out beautifully, and is perfect for my favorite summer event: The farmer’s market!

This morning my bag brought home a haul of onions, fingerling potatoes, Swiss chard, yellow tomatoes, salad greens and handmade soap.

I’ll continue to knit away on my present, and sorry I can’t show it to you yet!

Why Vegan?

23 Jan

Cotton is the most common vegan fiber. Photo by scottchan.

You may have noticed that there is one common theme for all of my projects on this blog: The yarn is vegan. Veganism is a lifestyle in which you abstain to the best of your ability from eating or using any materials derived from or tested on animals. This includes meat, dairy products, most mainstream toiletries brands, leather, silk and wool.

I’ve lived a vegan lifestyle for four years, and was an ovo-lacto vegetarian for 6 years before that, which means I didn’t eat meat or fish, but I did eat eggs and dairy, and I used products made from and tested on animals. The switch came from my belief that human veganism is most in-line with my views on morality and biology. I believe humans are meant to be herbivores – though we can tolerate omnivorous diets – and I believe that I should respect the web of life that I am a part of by not causing any harm to other living creatures. This belief is also called “ahimsa” in Sanskrit, and literally means “to do no harm”. It is a term many people are familiar with because Mohandas Gandhi applied it to his non-violent revolution in India in the 1940s.

I have a tattoo on my forearm of "Ahimsa" in Sanskrit as a reminder to respect all life. Though many tattoo inks contain animal fat, this brand of tattoo ink is vegetable-based.

In the knitting world, I belong to a small, sometimes unwelcome community. Knitters who use animal fiber – wool, mohair, angora, silk, etc. – may believe that animals are intended for human use, and others still may work with those animals and have close relationships with them, seeing to their welfare and treating them fairly. I understand that some farms do treat their sheep, llamas or rabbits with respect and love. However, the idea of veganism promotes the respect of all animals, and not just the lucky few who live on nice small farms.

Say for instance that a small farm with less than 20 sheep produces high-quality yarn from their herd. This yarn will cost significantly more and be produced in tiny batches. Large companies that ship yarn to every craft store in America will need much more wool. They will likely use factory farms to get their wool. These factory farms are pretty much exactly what they sound like: Factories. The animals unlucky enough to be raised in these factories are not treated as individuals and often live short lives in filthy, cramped conditions. Because sheep are also killed for meat, much of this wool comes from sheared sheep on their way to slaughter, or even from their skin after slaughter. This mass production of wool means that skeins of yarn cost significantly less for the consumer, and many knitters will buy these brands because they are budget-friendly.

I don’t believe that these knitters are evil, careless people. But we live in a mass-production society, and often animals are caught in the cross-hairs of consumerism. If I purchased and used a wool yarn from a small farm where the sheep were loved and lived out long and happy lives, I would break solidarity with the unfortunate sheep serving their lives as cogs in a factory farm. If I knit a cute wool hat made with yarn from well-treated sheep, I may inspire another knitter to make that same hat out of factory-farmed wool.

Silkworm cocoons are boiled with the worms inside them to create silk (with the exception of “wild silk”, which uses found cocoons). Factory-farmed angora rabbits are tied spread-eagle and shaved, not carefully plucked by a hand-spinner. For every single animal raised with love, a thousand are treated with no regard for their life or comfort.

Some animals are harmed indirectly in the production of crops for plant fibers like cotton, bamboo, soy and corn silk. However, through vocal opposition of careless farming and harvesting practices, veganism continues to support a harmless alternative to animal fiber. Cotton may not be nearly as warm as wool, but at the end of the day I can wear my handknits and know that I did my best to live according to ahimsa.

I hope that non-vegan knitters read my blog. I want to share the joys and frustrations of knitting with all of you. But if anyone is turned away from my work because of my vegan lifestyle, I won’t apologize. I try my hardest to lead a good life, even when it places me out of the mainstream.

To learn more about veganism and mass wool production, visit the Vegan Society website.