Earthquake in Yushu Province, China. Linda Cortright

This was written by Linda Cortright

Often times I feel like a lone voice in the fiber community. I don’t have time to talk about sock patterns or colorways, much less indulge in an entire weekend of lace knitting. My job as editor of Wild Fibers is to try and get the millions and millions of knitters around the world to care about where their fibers come from. I try to get them to care about the animals, I try to get them to care about the people, and I try to get them to care about how their choices – their precious yarn stashes – impact the lives of complete strangers around the world. In fact, I truly believe that to not care about these things just reinforces a sadly held view of American culture. That many Americans are deeply committed to their own comfort and choose to either ignore, or acknowledge the world that revolves beyond their backyard.

And so with that in mind I will tell you that I have just gotten off of Skype with a man in Yushu Province, China. A severe earthquake struck his “backyard” several hours ago and has initially been categorized as a magnitude of 6.9-7.1. We chatted very briefly as he had to leave to take water and supplies to the WEAVERS and SPINNERS who create his yak yarn.

I don’t imagine anyone will be blogging very much about how this natural disaster effects the fiber community, but that’s exactly why I’m writing this here. I am holding a plane ticket for Yushu scheduled to leave in six weeks, it just so happens this is the cover story in an upcoming issue. My reason for choosing this story is because of the huge Muslim underground that is literally controlling the price point of wool in the Tibetan plateau. And now I have just learned that the buildings, to say nothing of the people themselves, may be standing (if they’re lucky) amidst a pile of rubble.

I know the fiber community is full of people with incredibly large hearts. I witnessed that first hand last year with the efforts they gave towards Keep the Fleece. But I can’t help but think that if even one tenth of the people on Ravelry (and that is thousands and thousands) had an interest in learning about the origin of their fibers, we could help make the fiber community not only a place with a big heart, but one with an informed mind as well.

Please check back for updates on Yushu.

Completed Ravelympics project

ravelympicsravatarravelympicsnordic,jpeg

Sally’s Medals

I was thrilled to receive my two medals today. It was a lovely surprise to find them in my Ravelry mailbox. What a way to learn a new skill and in such a fun way. Now I have attempted a garment with Fair Isle in small areas I will look for an all over vest pattern and prepare to make that during the year for next winter.

progress made on my Ravelympics project
progress made on my Ravelympics project

While this is clearly not the best photo I have put on here it is at least showing the progress I have made since the start of the Ravelympics began on February 12th.

I have completed the Fair Isle around the bottom of the sweater and the textured pattern repeat has 12 rows and I have completed 5 repeats so far.

The pattern by Alice Starmore is well written and the graphs are a pleasure to work with. There will eventually be Fair Isle around the sleeve cuffs and also around the neck band too.

While this sweater will not be completed by Sunday February 28th I achieved my goal which was to learn and finish the Fair Isle band so am very pleased. As Folsom has a mild month of March I suspect that the first time I will wear this sweater will be the Winter of 2010/2011

Folsom Ravelympic Party

Oh we had such a good time on February 12th 2010 for the start of the Ravelympics held at Lorna Miser’s club house. We each brought food for a pot luck and there certainly was a great variety of dips, salads, main courses and dessert.

Official start time was 6pm and while I spent a while casting on my 216 stitches, several others in the group took full advantage of  that time available to eat instead! My idea was to get my project started and do at least one row and then my reward was some food!

Finally at 7.30pm well fed and watered we all sat down and commenced our individual challenges. Alan made a little video and included everyone who had entered the competition so that will be ready to air shortly. A cross section of projects, many WIP or UFO may end up becoming finished items, also a cross section of sweaters and shawls were included.

Alan and I had another place to call on before heading home so we left the club house at about 10.30pm. I was very happy to have managed to knit 4 rows of the graph to set up the design. I did hear later that there were knitters reluctant to go home and the party finally closed up for the night around 12.30am

Thanks Lorna for making the club house available and I know we all had a great evening.

Ravelympics 2010

Well tonight’s the night we get to the starting line here in Folsom at 6pm.

My entry for the Ravelympics 2010
My entry for the Ravelympics 2010

I have wanted to make this particular sweater by Alice Starmore since I purchased this book from Matthew Wright who used to own The Yarn Garden in San Francisco in 1996.

This will be my first attempt at Fair Isle since a disaster in 1976.  My guage in that pattern was too tight and I also used to knit very tight so the  v neck all over Fair Isle vest fitted a large teddy bear instead!

This sweater is knit in the round so there is absolutely no way I will have this completed in the two and a half weeks we are allowed to spend working on the projects. All I am hoping for is to have the Fair Isle border completed and perhaps be part way up the textured part of the body.

Have to admit to being very excited but also a little nervous – have I taken on more than I can do . But while I do have a couple of WIP on needles that well and truly qualify for that event, I decided that I need to branch out and learn another technique this year.

Even Obama Knits

obama-knitting

I saw this cartoon by Gary Varvel on the front page of Newsblaze.com and because of the content thought it was a giggle.

So how many of us knitters can identify re knitting from an old project? I know I can as I am currently knitting a sweater that has had a previous life as a jacket.

Estonian Lullaby Baby Blanket

I have just completed and mailed this gorgeous baby blanket and hat to the United Kingdom. I am hoping for its safe arrival by the end of next week because the baby who will use it arrives January 22nd 2010.

Estonian Lullaby Baby BlanketEver since the pattern arrived in the LYS where I used to work I have wanted a reason to knit this stunning lace baby blanket. When my dear friend Sue Medlycott told me in 2009 that her elder daughter Lisa and husband Craig were expecting ab baby in early 2010 I knew immediately that a baby blanket would be made by me and I would finally get to use the Estonian Lullaby Baby Blanket pattern at last.

When I resigned from the LYS in early 2008 I made a decision with myself not to buy any yarn until I could see the tops of the window seats.. Shopping in that stash I found 8 balls of Sirdar Snuggly Babycare DK yarn. The pattern wanted 1050 yards and with the 8 balls at 147 yards I had 1176 yards. This yarn is a combination of acrylic and cotton in a white/cream colour and the label describes it as being machine washable.  I am hoping that it will be an easy care yarn for Lisa to take care of.

I started the project in October using #8 addi turbo needles and got gauge straight away. As we don’t know the sex of the baby I chose the design with the garter stitch border rather than the more lacy border. The pattern is extremely well written and the graphs are very accurate and easy to read.

Like most lace projects I have made once I start they become an obsession as I have to do a pattern repeat each time I pick the knitting up during the day. This with DK weight yarn and #8 needles seemed to fly along and I found myself doing a repeat quickly. I did complete the blanket  in November but as I had eye surgery the finishing had to wait until I could see comfortably to do that.

There was some yarn left over so I made a little toddler hat using Ann Norling pattern #55 that needed 140 yards of DK weight yarn. Now I am not sure if that will be too small or too large for the baby, but it was one way of using the left over yarn.

Because of the yarn mixture the blanket and the hat are very soft but also extremely light in weight. I knew that an all cotton blanket would weigh quite heavily on a new baby so am delighted with the choice I made as it really does look and feel both light and airy.

Toots LeBlanc & Co.

Michele Camacho and Carl Brittain
Michele Camacho and Carl Brittain

One of the nicest yarn companies I saw at Stitches West 2009 was a sister and brother team, Michele Camacho and Carl Brittain  of Toots LeBlanc & Co. a family owned business located in Oregon.

We had stopped to look at another booth and as I turned around I noticed an Alice Starmore designed hand knitted fair isle sweater hanging up on the booth opposite. The sweater knitted in two soft natural colours using Toots LeBlanc yarns was really lovely and of course I then had to touch and feel everything they had in their booth.

Carl Brittain
Carl Brittain

They sell roving in a blend of Jacob/Alpaca and then several blends of yarn including, Merino/Angora, Jacob/Alpaca, Jacob/Alpaca/Mohair, and Blue-Faced Leicester/Pygora Goat. Looking at their website they have yarn from lace weight up to bulky weight in a selection of natural colours and blends. In this day and age when everyone is looking for natural plant and animal fiber it was nice to find out that this company use just the natural colours from the animals. And also no harsh soaps or chemicals were used in the processing of the fiber or yarns.

Michele Camacho
Michele Camacho

When I looked at the website for Stitches West 2010,  Toots LeBlanc & Co is listed on the vendor site so will be visiting their booth again this year.

They have some very nice patterns for sale including, a felted tea cozy which I think would be great for gift for the 2010 Holiday Season…. And if you notice Michele has a ‘bracelet’ hanging on her left arm which holds a wound skein of yarn safely while knitting anywhere. I bought one and find it great when knitting outside as I don’t have the fear of my yarn falling on the ground or on a dirty floor inside a store. An added bonus is that  Chester and Lester my two Maine Coon cats ignore the yarn when it is not loose on a chair, a sofa or table and I can knit in peace.

A Stitch In Time

I was very lucky to get the book A Stitch in Time by Jane Waller and Susan Crawford for Christmas. We had to order it directly from a company in the UK as it was not available anywhere in America. The original edition we found through one business in the UK was being sold for 215 pounds so we decided that a newer version with apparently less patterns was good enough for 29.99 pounds.

The book is very well presented with the ‘original’ pattern from each era reprinted with the updated 2008 version of the knitting pattern. So many of the really old patterns only came in one size – usually tiny – and in this book they have added several sizes and modern yarns. I like that they have put the yardage/meters on the yarns they have used because I can then use a substitute when I go through my stash of yarn.

All the photos are very nice and the patterns can easily be seen in the yarns they have knitted them in.  Many times companies will do a stunning design, then use gorgeous yarns only to do the sample in navy blue or black which makes it very difficult to see the design in the photographs.

Every pattern in the book needs to be knitted as far as I am concerned. So many choices that I am going to keep reading the book for another week or so and then make a decision after I have completed Alan’s sweater.

The blog has not been kept up to date because I had been having problems with eye sight. This had to be addressed and finally after a few tears I had cataract surgery on my left eye. The surgery was December 10th and now with corrective lenses I have 20/20 vision in my left eye. My eyes will be retested January 15th and will then have new glasses made which hopefully will allow me to drive again and also use the computer comfortably with no glare.

Mustang Sally's Yarn Adventures