Archives for posts with tag: autumn




1 skein of Sundara Sock Yarn in Roasted Persimmon over Green Papaya, Seasons Sock Club, Autumn, October 2008 shipment: $25.

Average monthly per capita income in Cambodia: $24.16


Ashford Traditional single-drive, lacquered, single-treadle spinning wheel: $535

The gross national income per capita in Benin, 2006: $540

The theme of this year’s Blog Action Day is Poverty. All over the blogosphere, people are writing about poverty and how it relates to their little corner of the world.

I don’t hold a lot of illusions about people stopping their yarn stashing, eating out at restaurants, buying new clothes, going to the movies, or what have you, and donating all that money to charity instead while living a virtuous, ascetic life in the cheapest place they can afford. It’s just not the way things work in this day and age and place, for the vast majority of people. I’m certainly not saintly enough to live that simply. And despite their ideals, people have a strong tendency to want to spend their hard-earned money on fun stuff rather than donating it to someone they don’t know and will never meet.

Knitters, crocheters, spinners, weavers, let me suggest 3 simple actions that will change little about the way you live your happy, well-fed, yarn-filled life from day to day, but will make a difference (be it ever so slight) in fighting global poverty–and without making you feel guilty about spending your money as you please:
1) Download the AidMaker browser plugin and shop online as usual. When you shop from online stores like the Apple Store (or Ultimate Colon Cleanse, apparently!) while using this browser plugin, AGoodCause.com receives a commission, which (aside from operating costs) they then donate to the charity of your choice, at no extra cost to you. Let’s say you go to Amazon and buy Knitted Lace of Estonia or some Cascade 220 yarn–or even an Ashford Kiwi spinning wheel–they’ll donate 3% of your purchase price to the charity of your choice, without you spending an extra dime.
2) When you feel like you need a shopping fix, or decide you could use some retail therapy, consider going to a charity site instead and spending your money on a charitable donation. If you’re a stasher, you can just pretend you bought some yarn and it went straight into the stash, hidden under the bed or in a drawer out of sight somewhere. But instead, you can spend the money on a sheep, llama, or goat from Heifer International, a camel from Mercy Corps, or a loan to a textiles entrepreneur via Kiva.org (at the moment, one of the open loans seeking lenders is for a group of Peruvian weavers trying to start a textiles factory)
3) Or if you feel like you need something tangible as a result of your shopping spree, consider spending money on products that help the economies of developing countries. You could buy some yarns via The Hunger Site–that angora-cotton blend looks especially tempting, doesn’t it? In your LYS, a few yarn brands you can look at include the Snow Leopard Trust, Manos del Uruguay, Malabrigo, Shokay, Lantern Moon, and Mirasol. If you’re feeling indulgent, splurge on some qiviut from the Oomingmak cooperative. If you’re feeling even more indulgent than that, how about some vicuna at $300 per 28.5 grams? According to Peace of Yarn, after maintaining state control and protection of the wild vicuna herds since 1825, the Peruvian government “handed ownership of the animals back to the common villagers of the country, creating a viable and stable source of income for struggling villagers” by sponsoring traditional shearing days called chacus in which the vicunas are trapped using traditional methods, sheared, and released.

So in honor of today, I’m going to go install that plugin, lend some money via Kiva, and ogle qiviut on Ravelry for a while.

P.S. I just bought the Ashford Traditional used on Craigslist and it was actually closer to the GNI per capita of Afghanistan. I’m pretty excited about it–I’ll have enough bobbins to actually do a two-ply without having to wind off into centerpull balls! Lots of ratios! A nice big drive wheel! I can adjust twist and pull separately using the Scotch tension!–though I’m surprisingly feeling sort of anxious and attached about selling my old wheel. It’s prettier, and easier to treadle.

My next shipment of yarn from the Sundara Seasons Club (Autumn) showed up the other day. One hank of silk lace in “Mahogany over Marmalade,” 1000 yards, 100 grams, a gorgeous, shiny blend of rich copper, russet, and golden hues.

I took this picture indoors and it came out too dark.

The ones outside came out better, but a little too light.


I’ll have to keep trying.

Now, I posted before about the feeding frenzies inspired whenever Sundara’s yarns are posted for sale. I just got an email from her about how they’re going to try to remedy this: by going subscription-only, and making it impossible to buy just a single skein.


“Below you will find as much information as we currently have on the first three yarn Collections Sundara Yarn will be offering in the next few months. There are LOTS of details here, so you may want to read through this carefully.

Please note:

  • The price of these Collections reflects an increase to the cost of sock yarn, now $25/skein and aran silky merino, now $32/skein.
  • These are just the first of many new Collections. If these are not quite right for you, we suggest waiting to subscribe, as new Collections will be opened monthly.
  • All of this information, plus photos, will be on the Sundara Yarn website shortly.
  • We are doing our best to meet the demand of several thousand of you, with only a few of us. With this in mind, we are requesting that you hold off asking us questions until we post this information on the website, as we’ve got a lot to get done in the next few days.

Best,
Sundara, Avery, Carol and Mikaela

Sundara Yarn Sock Collection
This Collection is for sock yarn only and all selections will be shown on the website so subscribers know exactly what they will receive. There will be five color groupings from which to choose. Some colors are new, we will post these photos to the Sundara Yarn website before sign ups open.

Sign ups open on September 15.
12 skeins of sock yarn in 4 mailings over 12 month subscription.
$28/month, slightly more for shipping to Canada and internationally.
Mailings are in early December, early March, early June, and early September.

Color Groupings:
Lights
Mailing One: Orchid, Granite Falls, Celestial Skies
Mailing Two: Daffodil, Robin’s Egg, Candied Chrome
Mailing Three: Blossom, Sky, Lemon Chiffon
Mailing Four: Tickled Pink, Pale Sky over Sugared Violet, Crème de Menthe

Darks
Mailing One: Black over Violet, Charcoal over Blue Lagoon, Evergreen over Lime
Mailing Two: Graphite, Ivy, Caribbean
Mailing Three: Black, Ruby Port, Eggplant
Mailing Four: Arabian Nights, Midnight Meadows, Green Olive Tapenade

Warms
Mailing One: Brown Sugar over Buttermilk, Wine, Bronzed Forest
Mailing Two: Autumn Rose, Prickly Pear, Plum
Mailing Three: Bronzed Sienna, Basil over Buttercup, Ember over Flame
Mailing Four: Spiced, Mahogany over Marmalade, Green Tea

Cools
Mailing one: Winter Skies, Grape over Grey-Violet, Marina over Icicles
Mailing Two: Viola, Sour Apple, Crushed Cherries
Mailing Three: Raspberry, Blooming Fuchsia, Mint Julep
Mailing Four: Lilac, Delphiniums, Glacier

Mixed Palette
Mailing One: Pine over Gold, Cobalt over Mediterranean, Grass
Mailing Two: Thriller, Crimson, Tuscan Rose over Lemon
Mailing Three: Sunshine, Guava, Jungle Boogie
Mailing four: Honeyed Hibiscus, Blush, Toasted Orange over Pistachio

Each color grouping will be mailed at different times, so shipping cannot be combined for different color groupings, only for multiple subscriptions of the same color collection. For example, if you want to subscribe to the Warm grouping and want additional skeins, you can choose to receive 2 skeins of each Warm color for a total of 6 skeins each mailing and any other color groupings would be mailed separately. There will be an option to double or triple your subscription in any one color grouping selection but no more than 3 subscriptions will fit in one box so we are limiting subscriptions to 3 in any one color grouping.

Artist’s Choice Sock Yarn Collection
This Collection is sock yarn only and all colorways will be unplanned and done in limited runs of 10 skeins a batch. Subscribers will choose from three color groupings. Colors within those color families will be developed by Sundara and in the spirit of creativity, surprise and spontaneity, subscribers will not chose specific colors.

Sign ups open on September 15.
3 month subscription for 3 different skeins of sock yarn in 1 mailing sent out in early December.
$28/month, slightly more shipping international and to Canada.
3 color groupings: warm, cool and mixed palette.
Warm colors: red, orange, yellow, green, brown
Cool colors: green, blue, purple, blacks, pinks
Mixed palette: all colors possible

There will be an option to add 1 skein of each color to your subscription for combined shipping within each color grouping. For example, if you subscribe to the cool colors and want 2 skeins of each color, you can subscribe to receive 2 skeins of each color for a total of 6 skeins. Each color grouping will be mailed at different times, so shipping cannot be combined for different color groupings. This 2 skein limitation is due to the high variability of colors within each batch of this yarn.

Sweater Collection

Opens on October 15 for subscriptions.
9 month subscription.
Aran Silky Merino (ASM) will be mailed in January.
DK Silky Cashmere (DKSC) will be mailed in March.
Fingering Silky Merino (FSM) will be mailed in June.

$50/month for X-Small: 4 ASM, 5 DKSC, 2 FSM
$69/month for Small: 5 ASM, 7 DKSC, 3 FSM
$78/month for Medium: 6 ASM, 9 DKSC, 3 FSM
$95/month for Large: 7 ASM, 10 DKSC, 4 FSM
$103/month for X-Large: 8 ASM, 11 DKSC, 4 FSM

Prices for Canadian and International mailing will be approximately $3-7 more a month.

Color Groupings
1) Daffodil ASM, Prickly Pear DKSC, Orchid FSM.
2) Marina over Icicles ASM, Mint Julep DKSC, Viola FSM.
3) Green Tea ASM, Plum DKSC, Ember over Flame FSM.
4) Black over Violet ASM, Graphite DKSC, Wine FSM.

Our apologies, but multiple subscriptions will not be combined for reduced shipping.
DK Silky Cashmere is a new yarn base. Each skein is 160 yards and 55 grams 4-ply 55% silk and 45% Mongolian Cashmere. It knits at 4.75-6 stitches per inch on US 3-5/3.25-3.75mm needles. Hand wash, tepid water. $40/skein.”


I’m surprised by this decision, and a little dismayed. This yarn was never cheap, but it’s really quite a lot to expect anyone who wants to get their hands on some Sundara to commit to a $90 purchase at minimum. I suppose it’s better for them than trying to deal with the frustration of countless users clicking “buy” and crashing their website, then posting angry, disappointed diatribes about how they would never be able to get their hands on Sundara yarn and how unfair it was that other people owned more than one skein and hadn’t left any yarn for everyone else. But it shuts out a lot of potential buyers.

Also, I think there’s kind of an embarrassment of choice in the color groupings. I’m sure I’m not the only person whose eyes started to glaze over trying to picture the different combinations of color + base yarn in each group; and ultimately, I think the huge selection of choices may be detrimental.

I read this book recently, The Paradox of Choice, that talked about the pitfalls of providing too many choices (and Rahul blogged about the same topic here). People will just shut down if you give them too many choices. Faced with trying to maximize the value of their decision, they’ll end up agonizing over their choices for so long that they wind up completely paralyzed and buy nothing.

There have been studies done that show this. At a gourmet taste test, people given twenty-four different jams to sample were far less likely to actually buy a jar of jam than people given only six choices. This seems counterintuitive–with twenty-four to choose from, wouldn’t you be more likely to find something that suits your palate perfectly? But it’s too many. People don’t like to make those decisions.

Even one choice too many can have serious consequences. In another study, physicians were given a case study and asked if they would, in this case, prescribe a certain medication or refer the patient to a specialist. Almost 75 percent said they would prescribe the medication. When asked to make a choice between two medications and a specialist, the percentage of physicians who prescribed either medication went down to less than 50 percent. The decision got pushed off onto someone else.

The book also draws a distinction between “maximizers” and “satisficers”–people who try to extract the maximum possible value from every decision, and people who go with the first thing that meets their basic criteria and stop thinking about the decision afterwards. Guess which group winds up better off empirically? But guess which group is happier? The more choices you lay out, the more second-guessing your customers may wind up doing, and the less satisfied they’re likely to be with their choice in the end. I certainly agonized a lot about which Season to choose (though I’m very happy with my choice of Autumn so far.)

Who knows, maybe all the rules are off with hand-dyed yarns in high demand. Maybe they’re in a tulip-like bubble and nobody cares so long as they can buy them.  We’ll see how this whole subscription thing goes–I’m in a couple of Sundara groups on Ravelry and have been reading the reactions with great interest.

Bolstered by the success of my first Infinity Dress, I have gone on a huge sewing and fabric-buying rampage lately. (Apologies in advance for the quality of the photos in this post. They almost all came out very bright and overexposed. Just pretend it’s a halo of heavenly light and I am about to ascend into a hovering spacecraft, and you are an exclusive witness to this special moment.)

First, Rahul and I biked out to Wal-Mart the other day–a harrowing 4.5 mile ride along narrow, busy roads, on the west side of town, across a freeway. My bike nearly fell in a ditch and when I corrected to stay out of it, I nearly got hit by a truck. It was scary. But my reward was 4 yards of 1×1 ribbed black knit fabric for only $1 a yard. I went home and made another Infinity Dress, and then made a drape neck top with the leftovers. Because my fabric was only 45 inches wide, I made a gathered skirt instead of a circle skirt, so this one has a slimmer silhouette.

I also accidentally sewed the band on top of the straps instead of underneath, but I think it’s still OK.

Here’s the drape neck top. It is sewn together rather poorly. The rib knit was much stretchier than the jersey, so I ended up with a lot of lettuce edges where there shouldn’t have been any. The pattern is Simplicity New Look 6470, View B.

Here’s the new dress.

“Oh my god, that looks SO WEIRD,” said Rahul this morning, as I was going out to water my basil plants on the balcony, and took this picture of the back of the dress to demonstrate how weird it was that my dress had no back. I thought it looked fine, but the sleeves fell off when I was bent over my plants, so I retied it to cross over in the back.



Because the skirt has a pretty slim silhouette, I just wore it underneath my next two FOs instead of changing into a new top.

These are both made with quilting cotton I bought a while back at Shiisa Quilts, from their $4.99 bed sale.

This one is made with a dark purple fabric printed with white dragonflies. I made it into a circle skirt with ties and a zipper at the waist. Because I only had about a yard of 45″ fabric, it came out shorter than I would have liked and the overall silhouette is a little bit 80’s. A learning experience. I should have stuck with a plain A-line wrap skirt like I had originally planned.

This one I’m very proud of. The fabric is a Rowan/Westminster Martha Negley cotton, dark red, striped with tree trunks. I drafted my own pattern according to the A-line skirt, fitted waist directions in Sew What! Skirts, an excellent book for the beginning skirt-sewer like myself–highly recommended. I went on to cut the pieces on the bias to make chevron stripes, put in side pockets (these need some work–for some reason, I cut them so the pockets don’t really dip down, just go straight in, so I can’t put anything in them, though I can use them to warm my hands) and installed what I think is an invisible zipper in the back. I just need to put in some snaps to secure the waistband.


After all that, I went to Jo-Ann and back to Shiisa Quilts, where they’ve dropped the price of the bed sale fabrics to $3.99 a yard and are having a buy one yard, get one yard free offer through today, so I scored a bunch of nice fabric for just $2 a yard.

Here’s some of what I got:

Cloud fabric (not on sale, but I loved it. This is Moda fabric, named, puzzlingly, “Bears just wanna have fun”)

Gray fabric with chartreuse hydrangeas, Kaffe Fassett Lille Arbour. I loved this fabric last time I was in the store, but Rahul prevented me from buying it with his protestations of how hideous it was. So I went back without him and bought several yards of it for half price. I think I might make the Anna Dress with it.

Some other stuff: from Shiisa, some blue Rowan Martha Negley fabric with green plums, some blue striped fabric, the aforementioned Kaffe Fassett fabric, and blue fabric with delicate geometric traceries–this is Free Spirit Mendhi Lotus, and is much drapier and silkier than the other fabrics. I haven’t decided what to do with any of this yet, though the default is “knee-length skirt.”

The linen print with brown embroidered flowers is from Jo-Ann (was also on sale) and is destined for another simple A-line skirt.

This is my new favorite summer dress. It was so fast and easy it hardly counts as an FO, since it’s essentially putting together a kit. I saw the fabric on sale at Jo-Ann and bought it on impulse: they sell a big roll of cotton gauze pre-smocked with elastic thread, and you just buy a piece a couple of inches larger than your bust size, sew a tube, add straps as desired, and hem it. I made nice wide straps to cover up bra straps and this dress fits perfectly, aside from the fact that I didn’t pre-shrink my fabric so I ended up with a dress an inch or two shorter than what I had wanted.

Edited to add, since I had some comments about this: if you’re in the US and don’t have a Jo-Ann Fabrics nearby, it looks like you can get pre-smocked fabric online via Hancock Fabrics. I couldn’t find this specific fabric on the Jo-Ann website, but when I was in the store they also had the same stuff in pink and green, and some tropical Hawaiian-looking smocked fabrics.

I also have some brown jersey (not shown) for yet another Infinity Dress and another try at that drape-neck top. All I can say is that it’s a good thing sewing is so much faster than knitting.

Speaking of which, here is the current progress on the Loquat Shawl:


Apparently, as maid of honor, I’m going to have to make a toast at this wedding, which fills me with a deep sense of terror and anxiety (I would rather eat bugs than do any kind of public speaking). If only they were traditionalists and left all the public speaking to the best man and all the fussy lady’s maid duties to the maid of honor. I’m sure I can carry bobby pins and straighten hairdos like nobody’s business.

I must soothe myself with admiring my newest yarn acquisition, the first shipment of the Sundara Seasons club, June 2008, the Autumn season. This is Sundara Sock yarn in Arabian Nights, a rich, warm brown shot through with henna highlights. Isn’t it gorgeous? I have a pattern idea in my head for this already, but can’t start anything new till I’m done with the shawl.

And a knitter’s PSA: Knit Picks is having their annual 40% off book sale, and they’ve just posted a bunch of new yarns for sale: delicious-looking semi-solid kettle dyes, new colors of many yarns, Imagination hand-painted sock yarn, Swish Bulky superwash, and more.

Argh, I’ve been feeling so busy, I have been wanting to take lots of pictures of stuff and knit and blog but I haven’t had a chance. A few of the things that have been occupying my time–pictureless, because I’m just taking a break from work:

Non-yarny stuff:

– Work and class (The Anthropology of Tourism. Lots of readings.). Not much to say about that, except that our last reading was about Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi as a postmodern, hyperreal tourist destination/Baudrillard simulacra. I was simultaneously interested in the ideas and annoyed with the ivory tower uselessness of critical theory. I bet this comes from being the daughter of an engineer and a literature professor–I swing between attraction to the useless-but-fascinating and the practical-but-uncreative. Also, I’m doing an extra job this month for the business school, so I spent last Friday night from 8:30 to midnight grilling undergrad business students about the idea they were trying to sell me.

– Biking in the midst of blazing fall colors and hunting for mushrooms in the Brown County woods. The trees are all kinds of orange and yellow and red right now–much better than last year, when they had just started to turn and then a big storm blew all the half-turned leaves off the trees. It rained last week but was dry last weekend, so we thought it would be a good time to go mushroom-hunting. We were looking for chicken of the woods mushrooms and found two huge yellow shelf mushrooms–one of them weighed probably 20 pounds!–but decided we didn’t have a positive ID on either one, and threw them away. At least we got some nice bike rides and hiking in.

– Making vodka apple pie. I found information about a new pie crust recipe from Cook’s Illustrated from one of my regular blog reads (but now I can’t remember who! sorry). It uses vodka instead of water to moisten the pie crust, under the theory that gluten doesn’t form in alcohol, only in water, so you create much less gluten in the crust by moistening with vodka. The crust came out pretty well–very buttery, no taste of alcohol. However, the dough was super-soft and friable, and fell apart when I tried to weave the lattice top like I usually do. I used dark red Winesap apples and the “Apple Pie I” and “Flaky Pie Crust” recipes from The Joy of Cooking, substituting vodka for the ice water in the pie crust. Jeanne brought over some Musgrave cider she had fermented and we had an appleicious evening.

– Sewing. I’m trying to follow a sewing pattern for the first time: I fell in love with this dress called Shari from Burda Style, and armed with some cheap fabric remnants, I’ve been diligently working my way through the pattern and its puzzling assembly instructions. I also learned how to use the bobbin winder on the sewing machine Rahul’s mom gave me. Yay! Figuring out the zipper foot is going to be a whole new world of frustration, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. The main body of the dress is red cotton with white polka dots. The lining and yoke insert are a white cotton with tiny white circles printed on it. (The print reminds me a lot of quinoa.) In theory, if the piping doesn’t defeat me, it will be trimmed in turquoise–turquoise bias binding piping and some turquoise ribbon with red flowers for the edge of the skirt. I find sewing a very tedious process, even though it takes much less time than knitting. All that cutting out of pieces and ironing and sewing and threading and rethreading the machine… it may produce nice finished objects, but the process is not nearly as soothing as sitting down with needles and yarn.

– Buttons. I experimented with polymer clay picture transfers the other night (another good use for vodka) and made the most fabulous dodo buttons. I am going to find something small and round to use to cut them out, and make a whole set. I think I might use the two buttons I made for another Giftblitz Basketweave Neckwarmer.

– Tonight I’m going to canoe on Griffey Lake in the moonlight, tomorrow I’m going to a Halloween party, and on Saturday I’m going to see the Dalai Lama give a talk.

– I finally got the new Terry Pratchett book, Making Money, from the library! I was like 10th in line on the holds list. I can’t wait to quietly hole up somewhere and read this.

Yarny stuff:

– I finished my Ming cowl and I’m wearing it now, unblocked. It’s lovely!

– I got some buttons for my Jess jacket. I dragged Rahul to Jo-Ann and he helped me pick them out–silvery/pewter reproduction antique buttons molded with a posy of daisies. They only had 4, so I’m going to have to go back for a 5th one in about a week. When we were at Jo-Ann buying the buttons, we saw a saffron-robed Tibetan monk carrying a big roll of red fabric to the cutting table for replacement robes. I love Bloomington.

– I have been swatching and adjusting charts, and I think I’ve sorted out the lace charts I’ve been working on and will hopefully have produced a finished object from them soon. Why is “no stitch” such a bitch to figure out? I guess technically I could just put them anywhere I want on the chart, but I feel like that’s bad form. Still not sure I’ve placed the “no stitch” symbols optimally, but you live and you learn.

– Robynn sent me the most beautiful shawl pin as a Storytellers spot prize. Thank you so much, Robynn–it’s perfect, I love it! I need to take some pictures of it with my Lara sweater and/or my Sea Silk Swallowtail shawl. (The shawl really deserves a better photoshoot than what I’ve given it so far.)

– I signed up for a Knit Picks sampler a while back on Ravelry. The idea was that you would send in a skein of yarn to the organizer and she would make a little card with snips of each contributor’s yarn so you could see samples of all the different types without paying for all the color cards or sample skeins. Then you would get your leftovers back at the end. The cranberry Decadence on the sample card is especially lovely, but I think they discontinued it–I don’t see it on the site anymore. Anyway, I started laughing when I opened the package because it contained a note attached to a mangled Gordian knot of alpaca laceweight: “Sorry, my cat got into your yarn. Here is $5 so you can buy some more.”