Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Not just Granny Squares anymore

Long time, no post.  Sorry 'bout that.   I'm in new hobby heaven and have not yet come up for air.  A couple of weeks before the Indiana trip the Monkey found my old knitting needles.  Many years ago I'd attempted to dive in to this most ancient of domestic arts and made several washclothes.  Then promptly lost interest in the knitting and the pearling and whatnot.  Until I was faced with the prospect of 8 days of awkward 'introvert visits the in-laws' time and knew I wasn't going to get away with the old coping mechanism of hiding in a corner reading a book.  Which, by the way is always an acceptable substitute for meaningful conversation in my family (well maybe just the introverted side.)

Since getting married and growing up, etc. I've been informed that this is in fact considered rude behavior in other families.  So the old coping mechanism wasn't going to cut it.  It's not that my in-laws are not lovely people and I don't enjoy spending time with them.  Quite the contrary.  But like most introverts, I get exhausted having to be social for any long period of time and need to have some kind of mental escape to take the pressure off the small talk.  Otherwise, I tend to fill the void with really boring Cliff Clavenesque trivia facts in a pathetic attempt to impress with my vast store of totally useless knowledge. 
Besides which, for some reason Mr. Stang and the Monkey feel particularly shut out when I settle into the trance-like state of devouring a good book.  But  they don't seem to mind knitting as much.  So my little free time has been taken up with knitting and crocheting and checking out this great little local yarn shop in downtown :  http://www.stitchcraft.us/ .  And surfing for free patterns on ravelry.com

And drooling over all the yummy hand dyed, hand spun yarns and fascinating twists on the craft that are now available on the 'Net.  Like yarn made from plastic bags (Plarn).  Yes, it may seem like one step above recycling cardboard for that home improvement project but as a grocery bag?   Or beach or laundry bag? Perfect.   And recycled silk.  From Indian Sari fabrics!  Made by women's co-ops in Nepal and India.   When you think about all those poor little baby silkworms that had to die to make millenia's worth of luxurious silk fabrics, recycling existing work out or scrap fabrics is the only humane thing to do (besides which, silk scarves are infinitely less itchy than wool.  Sustainable as sheep may be....)

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.  There's yarn made from hemp, banana fiber, yak, and all kinds of sheeps and bunnies and other cute little furries.  And something called "qiviut".  What the hell is "qiviut" you might ask?  This:
That's right.  The underwool of the ARCTIC MUSK OX.    And according to the official qiviut coop webpage, it's supposedly eight times warmer than wool, extraordinarily lightweight, NOT scratchy and won't shrink in hot water.  But at about $40 a ball I won't be playing with it any time soon. 
 I used to think crocheting was all about toilet paper covers decked out with super campy granny squares and really hideous sock puppets.  But, NO!  Since it's inception (apaprently around 1800) crochet has really taken off.  My step-mom even crochets beautiful fine wire jewelry.  
And if you really want to nerd it up, there's a mathematician (Daina Tamina) who discovered crochet was the perfect way to create three dimentional models of hyperbolic planes - something other (**ahem.... male**) mathematicians could never duplicate with existing modeling techniques.  


Gettysburg Mom said...

I love to knit. I've done it since I was 6 or so. Mindless repetition of row after row is quite soothing. But it takes forever to finish a blanket. As a result? After 30 years, I've just started doing washcloths.

And my mom brought me home a scarf from New Zealand made out of possum. So warm, so soft, so wonderful! But I asked her like three times... possum? Are you sure? Possum?

Elizabeth said...

I LOVE that you're doing this! I've wanted to for many years, but just haven't kicked myself in the pants enough.

Can't wait to see all your creations!

Mustang Sally said...

possum? Really? Are they domesticated? How do they harvest the fur? Wait until they play dead and brush it off? That's actually pretty clever!

E - don't worry, you'll be seeing ALOT of them :) Though I'll spare you the plarn bags.

Sofiya said...

I'm a knitter too, though a very unadvanced one. I completely know what you mean about needing an introverted pastime. For the record, you can retreat into a corner with a book at my house any time you like, and I won't think it's rude. (We did that in my family too. Nothing beats a good book.)