knitting update

Thank you to everyone for your kind words / thoughts after my last post. I'm actually doing pretty well, much better than I was about a month ago. I go through cycles, like we all do with everything I suppose, but this week has been far from terrible and I'm even taking this Friday off. To say I'm looking forward to it would be an understatement. I'm trying not to make any plans, not to put any pressure on myself. I want to work on whatever I work on and just enjoy it.

It's March already, people. Is it warming up where you are? We've had some shockingly nice days, particularly around Kai's birthday. I worry so much about this little planet of ours. Thanks to this drought, food prices are going to be madness this year. I read today that scientists are predicting a 40% drop in avocado production over the next 20 years due to rising temperatures in California, our lovely state, and the Holy Land of the Avocado. You probably don't have to be a long time reader on this blog to know that I love me some avocados. These issues keep me up at night, and I don't write that as a little joke about an avocado-less life. There are choices I make everyday that so many people around me (okay, let's be honest, everyone around me except my husband and mother-in-law) think are "drastic" or outright nuts, and all I can think about is how I'm not doing enough.

But I don't mean to be a downer. So while it's still supposedly winter, how about a knitting update.

At the recommendation of a friend and knitter extraordinaire, I ordered some Rowan Fine Tweed for the sweater I've been promising Kai for ages. I was looking for a substitution for Brooklyn Loft, because I read so many reviews about breakage and got nervous. So even though I've never seen or touched Rowan tweed in person, I ordered some online - and I'm so happy I did. My swatch blocked out so soft and beautiful, I just can't wait to have the whole thing finished. But if you want some advice on how to knit a sweater, here's a thing you should never, never do: use a stop watch to time yourself finishing a row, and then multiply that information by the number of rows in your pattern. Just. Don't. Do. It.


I also finally sent some knitting out in the mail, long overdue. (Probably everything I send in the mail should have that stamped on it: Long Overdue.) The herringbone stitch cowl was a christmas gift to my sister, and the second photo includes my first pair of teeny tiny baby booties. Knitting baby booties is insanely fast - i.e., highly satisfying. These ones are on the way to some family friends but I already know some people with large bellies that I could make a few more pairs for. And what a perfect way to use up a ball of pink superwash I bought so long ago that I don't even remember what it was for.

And the hat! This is none other than the insanely soft cashmere handknit gift I won from Nicole at cocoknits through the advent giveaway on abutterflyinmyhair. This hat is so beautiful and comfortable and I am a very, very lucky girl. Nicole's shop is currently closed, but you can check out some of her other absolutely gorgeous handknits here.

Lastly, these little golden beauties were my mom's christmas gift this year. She specifically requested fingerless gloves, though she has regretted it - they had a nasty winter in PA this year. These were my first time trying the linen ridge stitch and I'm really happy with how they turned out. The colorway is candlewick by Madelinetosh, which I think is just gorgeous. Have I told you that I have a strange tendency to love certain colors and simultaneously hate them? Case in point, I love ochre, mustard, gold - but I don't personally own anything in these colors and I'd absolutely never wear it. I'm kind of a yellow-hued person though. There are just some things that make me look putrid.

Oh, friends. This post has kind of come full circle. Those worries and complaints about our little planet, and references to things like my eating and commuting habits - well, wool is a big issue on my plate right now. I love knitting. I love the act of knitting, the results of knitting, the community of knitting, the gift-giving aspect of knitting, and I really love the idea that in the future I could make a lot of our clothes (between knitting needles and the sewing machine). But I eschew animal products in food for a reason, and let's not kid ourselves, wool production is a nasty, nasty business. I have tried researching ethically sourced yarn online, and it seems to be a spiral I can't hit the bottom of. A lot of companies claim things like proactive sustainability practices, but almost no one will tell you where their yarn actually comes from. I know very basic big pieces of information, like that Australia is the biggest worldwide producer, and mulesing is par for the course there. I also know the UK has much stricter animal welfare laws than the US, so that gives me hope - but. But.

I found out today that the Certified Humane standards for chickens includes beak trimming. Yes, you read that right; Certified Humane eggs come from chickens that had their beaks cut off. If you don't believe me, you can check out all their guidelines here. The "Physical Alterations" section relating to egg laying hens can be found on page 20 of the corresponding pdf.

I don't know why you choose to visit this blog, you guys. And of course I accept your right to disagree with me on these issues - or even just to not care. You don't have to give a shit about this stuff, what you give a shit about is up to you.

But nonviolence is extremely important to me.

Nonviolence is central tenant of my life.

So here it is at 9:00pm and I'm up trying to write a non-dramatic, non-touchy-feely blog post about knitting and I just can't. I can't because I read about what qualifies as "humane" today and, well, I'm just not over it.

So please, give me hope. Especially you, you Europeans, you. I'm looking at you! Your standards are higher, your guidelines are stricter, and you're all born with knitting needles in hand, aren't you? Surely some of you. How do you navigate this woolly world? I'm open to any and all insights about this yarn / wool / sheep business. Please and thank you.

And with that friends, I'm off. Time for tea and... some knitting.


  1. Continue being so honest and spreading awareness. I sometimes feel as though humans can do nothing but fill the world with cruelty, pain and plastic but I hope our slow progression in some areas of animal welfare and conservation will change all that one day. There's a brilliant article about not giving up on it over here.

  2. I love rowan yarn!! beautiful color and the stitch of your cowl is amazing and so complicated :))

  3. I had my eyes opened when I read (started to read) the book Eating Animals....after chapter one I had to stop (I was physically sick) and I haven't eaten chicken since (a year and a half ago now)....I just finished reading the China Study and think I'm ready for the vegan eating life it recommends. Maybe then I can finish reading Eating Animals and commit to the lifestyle for both physical and moral reasons.

    I am always so pleased when I come across young people who are finding out all these things far sooner than I did----and committing to them.

    (Great projects, by the way. Knit on!)

  4. Have you ever attended a fibre festival? You can often buy yarn from small scale producers who are raising their sheep organically and having the fibre spun in eco friendly mills.

  5. It's funny that Steph mentions Eating Animals. I'm reading it right now (it's a tough, but essential read for all humans imho) I do wrestle with the ethics of yarn. There are a lot of environmental issues around anything produced by humans (plant-based or synthetic yarns are on the surface cruelty-free, but they often have very deep environmental impacts that don't always make them a good choice. It's sooooo hard to live an ethical, ecologically-minded life. But I think it's important to try. Annie's suggestion is a good place to start!

    I'm so glad to hear that you are enjoying the hat!!!

  6. Hi Elizabeth, I'm am an Eureopean reader, who wasn't actually born with knitting needles in my hands (for which my mother is very grateful) - but I learned from my grandmother at the age of 6. At the age of 12 I made my first sweater in a weekend. I love sheep, wool and knitting. And I really do understand your concern with the unethical treatment of sheep (and all other animals in the 'human' money making industry). I agree with the comments above: buy from small, local, organic and ethically healthy producers. There are so much beautiful yarn out there, but really, I don't even want to buy it any more. To really enjoy a knitting project (or any project involving wool), I need to know the sheep. And so I'm happy to have a small flock just outside my door, that I can shear. I'm actually the only one enjoying the wool from my sheep, but your post made me think, that I ought to locate some people to share the wool with. They could meet the sheep, see how they live, and together we could have the wool spun (it's quite expensive) - and then we could dye the yarn with plants from my garden or the local 'wilderness'. Maybe you could get together with some likeminded people, and a likeminded sheep owner and together you could create the perfect, lovely, ethically produced yarn of your dreams?