Wednesday Miscellany--My Desk

The December issue of Vanity Fair magazine featured a beautiful photo of Oprah’s desk. Fresh flowers, a Mont Blanc pen and a precious porcelain tea cup share space with Barack Obama’s new book, architectural renderings of the girls’ school she’s building and the other charming bibelots associated with what it means to be Oprah. I thought it might be fun to share our non-art directed desks. I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours…!

My desk

To see the text and full image, expand by clicking.

My desk


Guilty pleasure time

Let’s forget all this green stuff for a minute and talk about something fun. Lucky Magazine. I love it. Love, love, love it. Why? Because it’s easier to digest than cream of wheat. And it fulfills its promise as pure, unadulterated shopping voyeurism. It is the bible of girl consumer culture in all its superficial glory. It is so not green.

But I saw this really cool sweater.


Charlotte Ronson Wrap Cardigan

I’ll be recyling the magazine in the morning.

Sweet mitts

We’ve had the button conversation. Initially I had thought to do some kind of girly edging on Audrey’s mitt, such as a ruffle or picot bind-off. But the Violet’s Pink Ribbon sock yarn seemed to cry out for vintage green buttons. Anyway, I hope they’re not too funkadelic for a 14–year-old.


Pattern: Adapted from The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns: Basic Designs in Multiple Sizes & Gauges

Needles: US Size 1

Yarn: Lisa Souza’s Sock! in Violet’s Pink Ribbon

In media res

I suppose there's stuff I could show--one mitt for Audrey and a design I've thought about submitting, which requires the total brain damage of writing it up and fixing all the uh-ohs from the beta version, an expensive proposition. If I decide not to submit it, trust me, you'll see it in all its imperfect glory.

Anyone watch “Men in Trees“? We're quite smitten. But I've got to say--the characters are supposed to be plunged in the middle of an Alaskan winter and yet the sun's always shining and Anne Heche bounces around wearing these low-cut cashmere sweaters. I can tell you right now, my decollete isn't seeing the light of day until May, at the earliest. Brrrrrr.

P.S. Good news for those of us freezing our decolletes off: Punxsutawney Phil predicts an early spring.

Sporty knits

The new web preview for Knit.1 is up. See?


As always, I’m proud to be associated with this clever mag. My piece is called, “Just Do Knit,” and profiles a series of athlete-knitters who are just as likely to shred as stitch. An impressive lot. Me? I burn calories typing and cat wrangling.

Wednesday Miscellany: Living la vida verde

In keeping with this week’s theme, here’s a list of some organic yarn manufacturers and suppliers. I’m not sure what makes them organic exactly, but suspect it has something to do with antibiotic-hormone-free sheep dining on organic green pastures. (Is that what sheep eat? Pastures?) 

All I know is that if you were to put me on a grocery shelf, I’d be wearing the “conventional” label. Antibiotic and hormone free? Hah!

Tierra Wools—New Mexico born and bred.

Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton—I’m assuming it’s from South America?

EcoKnit—Organic cotton from Peru.

Vickie Howell— Click on the Vickie Howell collection for yarns like Craft—65 percent organic cotton/35 percent milk fiber.

Treliske Organic Woollens—From New Zealand.

Vermont Organic or Main Organic—Born in the USA at Green Mountain Spinnery.

O-Wool—Comes in a useful Aran weight in 13 colors.

Hope Spinnery—Yarn spun using wind power.

Living not-so-lightly at Casa de Nake-id

Let’s talk some more about this living-lightly-on-the-planet thing.

A number of years ago, the Wall Street Journal ran an article about a gentleman who wanted to buy footwear that caused as little harm as possible. Obviously leather was out. I don’t remember the exact issue with tennis shoes. Too toxic maybe? Oppressive labor practices? There were problems with rubber and plastics, too. Anyway, every type of shoe he investigated had a questionable provenance. Finally, he settled on a pair of those Chinese canvas shoes. These he considered a compromise.

Wool, as we all know, comes loaded with political baggage. Austrailian and New Zealand ranchers practice mulesing, a horrific practice that mutilates the sheep while ostensibly saving its life. It can’t be great to be a silkworm, either. I guess if you had to pick you’d want to be one of Jen’s goats. Or my friend Meredith’s alpacas—great views and a pack of floppy dogs to keep the coyotes at bay.

If you surf enough in the knit-sphere, you’ll find this cool group of vegan knitters. I occasionally take a spin through their web ring. For the most part, they’re young and hip and cool, and while I might be cooking chicken for dinner I visit hoping some of their youth, coolness and hipness might rub off.

Then there are the problems with dyes. Natural dyers use cochineal (Dude, bugs!) to get those great crimsons. And the acid dyes make me worry about the health of our fabulous handpainters.

Clearly, I have no answers. And like you, I’m not about to stop knitting. What I’m saying is that “voting” with our dollars is fraught with complexity. Does “Fair Trade” make something “green”? Does “organic” guarantee that workers are treated fairly? It’s all a bit like American Apparel, which manufactures goods in the U.S. and pays a decent wage. They even sell organic goods. The dark side? The CEO is an alleged poster child for sexual harrassment. 

Got a good compromise out there?

Green jeans?

I tend to think of myself as a bit of a fashionista--albeit without the budget. So when this came across the transom last week, it put my Costco knickers in a twist. The New York Times reported that fast fashion, trendy items from the Targets and H&Ms of the world, contribute to global warming because of how the garments are manufactured and then cared for--that is repeatedly washed, dried and then discarded.

Living on Earth recently did a fine piece on the environmental devastation wreaked by the denim industry; how the chemicals and processes used in “distressing” jeans are polluting nearby waterways. The water is blue, but not in a good way.

Obviously, all these amazing yarns we love aren't so green either. What's a girl to do?


Some late breaking thoughts in the comments:

1. Move to a farm. I suspect many of us, however, might still want to wear cute cropped trousers while tending our crops.

2. Recycle yarn. There's an intrepid knitter at The Lamb, who is forever scouring thrift stores in search of cashmere and wool sweaters she can rip, restyle and knit.

3. Hang clothes to dry. Even in the midst of this ferocious winter, Mitch has been hanging laundry in the basement, Lord love him. Your jeans turn out a bit crunchy, but the added moisture in the house is certainly welcome. Another benefit: Our natural gas bills have plummeted.

4. Donate. Give older clothes to charities such as Goodwill Industries, ARC or women's shelters.

5. Knit or crochet old tee-shirts into rugs. Invest in a rotary cutter and slice those “non starters“ into super-absorbant strips and stitch up a rag rug.



Wednesday Miscellany--Luddite City

We don’t have Netflix, which to hear my friends talk is like saying, we don’t have indoor plumbing. We don’t have Tivo, expanded cable or satellite TV. And we don’t live in a sod hut, either.

It’s not like we’re anti-TV, quite the contrary. We love TV. In fact, I think Mitch would fall weeping to the floor if he couldn’t see Ann Heche Thursday nights. It’s that here in this self-employed household, we spend so much on telecommunications—two phone lines, high-speed Internet, two cell phones, not to mention health insurance—to incur extra monthly expenses seems like a commitment.

So instead of Netflix, I request films from the library online. Granted I’m like 500th in the queue to get An Inconvenient Truth, but I should have Transamerica by the weekend. And it’s free, if you don’t count city taxes.

The lesson here, if there is one to be had, is one of patience and serendipity. I have no idea what books or films will show up at the library or when. And, it’s not that important, since we’re likely to fall asleep watching or reading anyway.

So, while we’re off warming our bones in Scottsdale (for those of you unmarried gals, choose inlaws in a balmy place), your assignment is to read or watch something not published or released in 2006–7. I just finished 900–pages in eight-point type of Herman Wouk’s 1962 novel, Youngblood Hawke. Women wore gloves. Everyone drank afternoon martinis. And cigarette smoke filled the restaurants and publishing houses of New York.

Can’t wait to see the movie.









I’m not much of a charity knitter. This isn’t something I’m proud of, and faced with so much generosity in Knitville, I suspect I feel a might guilty. The tradition of charity knitting runs deep in our craft. Whether it was socks for soldiers or sweaters for orphans, knitters have always clicked away for people in need. This is one of the things that make knitters so cool.

Bear with me while I rationalize a bit: I’m more likely to knit for a loved one who’s sick or in need of comfort than I am to knit for a cause. I made a lavender alpaca shawl for a friend who suffered a miscarriage, a colorwork kippah for my father-in-law after his cancer diagnosis (thank God, he’s doing well), a gaggle of yarmulkes for a family wedding, and the community afghan for my sister-in-law in the wake of her husband’s death.

Of course, sometimes I get all selfish, too, and want to knit cute wardrobe items exclusively.

But then I ran across this (originally spied on JenLa’s blog): Socks for Audrey. Even a hard-hearted knitter such as myself softened when reading about this young girl undergoing so much treatment—only 14 years old! So I went about trying to find pink sock yarn—Audrey’s preferred color—ordering two skeins of Memories in Geranium from Knit Picks. These, unfortunately, turned out to be more red than pink. Clearly this wouldn’t do.

Then, feeling absolutely dreadful about Ms. Violet’s breast (Miss Violet of the eponymous “Lime and Violet” knitting podcast), I purchased a skein of the Violet’s Pink Ribbon colorway from spinner/dyer Lisa Souza. (A portion of the proceeds go to help defray Miss Violet’s medical expenses.) The divine Ms. V still doesn’t have a diagnosis, so keep your needles crossed. I liked the idea of combining Violet’s Pink Ribbon sock yarn with the Audrey knit-a-long.

Demand was so great for the Violet’s Pink Ribbon that Lisa completely sold out (there’s that generosity thing again). Dying stalled as she awaited a fresh shipment of yarn. Happily, mine arrived in the mail Saturday, and I decided it’d be perfect for a pair of girly fingerless mitts for Audrey; a young woman can only use so many socks. It’s not really charity knitting, but it is, sort of.

Antone is unimpressed. He just wants to gnaw on the swift.


Still life of Violet’s Pink Ribbon on swift with wild life