Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Because It's There

I've never been sure about what to think about that quote from Edmund Hillary. Why climb a mountain? 'Cuz that's what they're for! Why not climb them...apart from the crevices, avalanches, altitude sickness, frost bite and other painful-sounding-potentially-horribly-lethal obstacles... I totally get that, over the course of human history, people have done some climbing - to escape from enemies, find new territory, retrieve an extra copy of the Ten Commandments (stupid golden idol party!), get reading lessons from angels or whatever. I think it's safe to say that modern mountain climbers don't have any of those things on their agenda. Doesn't it seem a bit odd to do something so expensive in terms of time and energy and other resources when you don't have to?

Take knitting for instance (Hah! I bet you didn't see that coming!). Ok, it's not dangerous - unless you're severely uncoordinated and poke an eye out or something like that - I'll grant it does have that advantage over climbing. But in the industrialized world, knitting, like climbing, is pretty much just a big ole time suck. There are machines that do this sort of thing you know, quickly and cheaply. In comparison, handknitting is slow, expensive, and completely unnecessary. I have yet to hear of a "John Henry" (or given the demographic in question, a "Joan Henrietta") of knitting that could keep pace with even a low-end knitting machine. I'm not really willing to risk a bunch of knitter heart attacks to test this out empirically, but it's probably safe to say machine knitting won that race hands down long ago. Plus think of the cost of even one modestly-sized, relatively simple handknit item. It doesn't seem worth it, really, does it? I mean, is "just because" a good reason to do something?

Now I do love my free time. Like most people I know, I have a job which, with my commute, takes up about half of my day. Then sleep takes up a big chunk of time too. Can't do too much about that one either, nor would I want to. That leaves me with about 4-6 hours of unscheduled time. That's not very much, if you think about it. That probably explains why it seems so precious. It's my time, to spend as I choose. So why do I spend time on an unnecessary activity like knitting? Maybe Hilary's quote and the title of this post should really be, "because nobody made me." Yeah, that's why I'm on the top of this stupid mountain with only three toes left to my name. It's not altitude-induced euphoria; I'm genuinely happy. I didn't have to do it. But I did it anyway. Cuz I wanted to. So there.

Here are some of my current self-gratifying little expeditions:

1. Hand Spindling
I recently showed a few people how to spin with top whorl spindles, which got me to revisit my own long-neglected spindling. The fiber is bamboo I found at Springwater. It's a bit tricky to spin but I luuuurve the faint celery color!

2. Dyeing
The darker skein on the right is multi-tone and the lighter one on the left is a mostly-solid minty green, both made with icing dye.

Anyone know a good sherpa?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Thank You, Debi!

It's been a busy two weeks full of technical issues at home, so I must apologize for this post being so late. I've been itching to post about my ISE4 package from Debi, the bestest scarf pal ever!!! Behold:
My jaw dropped when I received it last Friday. I bow to the queen of package wrapping! Ok, I'm no Martha Stewart, but I thought I could hold my own in gift wrapping. Faced with handmade papers and ribbons galore, I must admit: I am so not worthy! The doggie (you can see a bit of him in the background) and I had a great time unwrapping each and every one.
First of all, the scarf:
Isn't it lovely? The color is totally me, and so is the lace and cable pattern. I absolutely love it! Then, there was an amazing handmade card (with a baby version of my scarf no less lol!) and lots of beautiful calligraphy.
Check out the lacy handknit bookmarks to go with four (!) knitting books:

The copy of Friday Night Knitting Club is autographed too. How cool is that?! Then there were turtles galore:
and a stylish Knitpicks KIP bag:
Can never be without a good knitting bag, can I? And this one's really nicely designed too, with handy pockets and a nice long shoulder strap. Oh yes, and there was yarn!
Three luscious skeins of Art Yarns Ultramerino and Louisa Harding alpaca. Along with these fabulous treats for the eyes are some treats for the ears: 4 CDs of some of my favorite musicians to keep me entertained!

Thank you, thank you, thank you sooooo much, Debi! I love everything! You've been such an awesome scarf pal. I hope that you get the ISE scarf of your dreams too :)

Saturday, June 02, 2007

It's the socks, stupid!

Thanks so much for the comments on the last post. I totally didn't expect to hear from other closet M & M sorters. Well I guess we're not in the closet anymore, so sort to your heart's content! You're not alone (and apparently there are even more, um, dedicated sorters than us).

In non-candy news, I've been working on this:
How about this for Sockapalooza? It's the "Stems" pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks. The yarn is Socks That Rock lightweight (color: Olive Garden), which Bethiee sent me a few years ago. Yes, I am slow, but gimme a break - I just learned to knit socks this year! It's not too busy a combination right? The pattern itself is a four-row repeat, only one of which is a lace row. I think this one's a keeper. Speaking of socks, I saw this article in the NY Times last week (don't you love slow days at work?). Socks that helped bring down the Yankees? Hooray socks!

Have you noticed a lot of buzz about typefaces lately? I totally failed my font quiz:

What Font Are You? (Standard Fonts)

Arial - You're pretty normal. That's certainly not a bad thing, as a lot of people like you.
Take this quiz!

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I am so not an Arial. Non-serifed fonts are harder to read and should be in titles and signage only. Those cute little font feet serve a purpose! Seriously, try reading a long document in 10 pt Arial and see how quickly your eyes get tired. End rant.