Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Cash Out Your Cashmere

Dear me. I just lost all four of my subscribers.

What's that? My mother's still reading? Well, she might not even welcome me home for Christmas after I post this.

According to an interview the Colbert Report on 7/30/07 --

-- and yes, I realize that all non-watchers of the Colbert Report instantly criticized the veracity of all this because Stephen Colbert is a comedian. However, his interviewees are not, and they typically have something of substance to get across, if they can make it through his wit. --

-- the cashmere trade is causing a great deal of environmental harm.

Here's the thing: cashmere has historically been very expensive, because cashmere goats have historically been very rare.

Now the Chinese have upped the number of cashmere goats to increase the supply. However, now vast areas of former pasture have suffered from overgrazing. In addition, goats have small, sharp hooves. Many goats with small, sharp hooves wandering around has killed the vegetation.

As a result, dust swarms have started that make their way across the Atlantic and negatively affect the western U.S., particularly the Pacific Northwest.

(Stephen Colbert simply suggested giving the goats some cashmere booties.)

I'm a natural skeptic, so I'll be double-checking this as soon as I come across my next ball of cashsoft on sale. (But it can't be that bad, can it?) However, the fact that I could ever afford a cashmere blend at all means that something has happened at the supply end to make cashmere more affordable.

Looks like we'll have to stick with other fibers, fellow knitters, at least until the supply becomes more limited again.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Reason 617

Reason #617 why I like Austin:

Tonight, I accompanied my fellah on a fairly dull errand to buy some padded envelopes. We went to the nearby HEB, which is the large supermarket de rigeur for Texans on a budget.

Sitting inside the front door was an employee on a stool, playing an accoustic guitar and smiling at people as they came and went. He was playing fairly well -- just finger-picking some blues and enjoying himself. He was wearing the red polo shirt with the nametag, just like everybody else.

How beautiful! As a marketing strategy, it worked. It put me in a good mood (when's the last time you were put in a good mood when you entered a supermarket?) and I'll happily revisit that branch*. All they had to do was give an employee the chance to enjoy himself with a guitar and smile at people, who all seemed to appreciate and enjoy the humanizing touch.

Lessons to be learned, people.

(My good mood lasted until we went back to my fellah's place and watched the Stephen Colbert Report, which was hilarious but contained some upsetting news about cashmere. I'll delay that for as long as I can, people, but the truth must out.)

* Southbound Research Blvd, near the Arboretum.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

On the needles

I finished one project, a hat of my own design:

It is fairly simple, with ribs and a few cables for snugness.

The yarn is Blue Sky Organic Cotton (100% organic cotton, color 84, 100g, 150 yds). I hope I made the hat small enough that even when it stretches it will still fit; we'll have to see if this one will turn out to be fair or frog.

I am a week and a half and only 2.5 inches into Thermal. Yes, a sweater out of fingering weight yarn is likely nothing more than a dream, given how slowly I knit, but you can't blame a girl for trying. I'm knitting it from Knitpicks Gloss, same as in the pattern.

On Saturday morning, I looked in the Austin Chronicle for something to do, only to learn that on Friday night there was a yarn swap at a new store called Craft-O-Rama. They have beginning sewing classes for only $48, and sewing machines you can use for $8/hour. I may try it. After all, you can never have too many hobbies, right? (Shyeah.)

In other news, on Sunday, I joined the ranks of those who have finished the Harry Potter books.
I will keep my mouth firmly closed and fingers very still as to the events of the last book, but if anybody out there is ready to go gaga with me over what happens, let's get on that! I'm bursting at the seams.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Laughing Buddha

Currently, I'm watching Himalaya, a BBC travel documentary with Michael Palin (of Monty Python fame) as host. It's remarkable, beautiful, and I highly recommend it.

There is one scene in which Palin obtains an audience with the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama can barely stop laughing the entire time. He says he knows Palin from watching the BBC, which he does frequently. Every time Palin asks a question, the Dalai Lama starts giggling again.

Before Palin's interview, The Dalai Lama held an audience with some pilgrims from Tibet, who all bowed their heads respectfully. The Dalai Lama would ask them a question like, "How was your journey?" And then he would giggle.

You have to wonder: what would Roman Catholicism be like today if Pope Ratzinger couldn't stop laughing? Better yet, just think how much better off all of us would be if the Ayatollah Komenei had gotten the giggles as a matter of habit.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A treat after the flood

The pipes have been fixed. The hole in my wall is closed; the water on my floor is mopped. The carpet is vacuumed, and the smell is almost entirely gone.

As I was tidying, however, I noticed this:

Somebody deposited his power flashlight in all the boxes and bags that comprise my stash. That plumber better not have been eyeing my yarn!

A short detour to the pastel side of things

I don't often work in pastels, but I did enjoy working on this
MaryElla bracelet in ecru last week:

You can get kits from Earthfaire for this project for only $5.50.

I'm very glad I also have another kit (this one in chartreuse), because the thread is 100% cotton and therefore stretches. What started as a perfectly fitting finished object at 6 inches is now 7.25 inches (that's about a 20 percent increase).

When I make the chartreuse bracelet, I plan to knit it to be 5.25 inches long so it still has a little give but doesn't sag and flop when I type.

Another note: I used fewer beads on the reverse side than the pattern calls for, because you can't see them and especially because stringing beads is really dull.

I suppose I should show some detail of the closures...

What can you say, it got the job done.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

All dressed up and no way to shoot!

I finished something else!

I would show it to you, but... I left my camera at my friend's place. A brief blog hiatus is in order until my schedule (three plays* and a movie this week, four articles on deadline) and hers (an insane six weeks in which she learns all of Portuguese and works full time) can mesh.

On the upside, however, she (and her husband) concoct a lovely pear leek bisque. And let's not even talk about that chocolate concoction of hers. Ooo-eee!

Also on the upside, I can't take a picture of my kitchen right now. The plumbing got cranky this a.m., and my floor has smelly brown water on it now. Tonight I take my laptop (and knitting) somewhere less malodorous.

And one more for the upside: I live in an apartment where someone else has called the plumbers.

* The Constant Wife, The Pillowman, and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. Yup, I'll be a happy camper come Sunday.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Finished Object!

Check it out: Bella Blouse is done and seamed and blocked!

Here is what I learned from this project:

1. Life lines save your knitting, relationships, and furniture from utter turmoil and destruction.

2. The pattern lied: you don't need five skeins of Berrocco Touche to knit this in size small. I didn't even touch the fifth skein! (Anybody need dye lot 79022 in color 7906?)

3. For the neck pieces, the pattern directs you to bind off in six separate rows. I suggest combining the fifth and sixth so that the final bind off row includes seven stitches instead of four. It makes seaming easier.

4. I flipped the lace pattern on the second shoulder.

5. Seaming sucks. No wonder people put it off.

To those who are keeping score (who are also me), this is my first knitted top and lace pattern. I shall now wear it out to a 4th of July cookout!

(And may the gods of ketchup look kindly upon me and all my knitting.)

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


(At my day job yesterday.)

I'm going over to the courthouse. Does anybody need anything?

You can have me declared incompetent.

Please do.