3.16.2013

local hand-knit


black, hand-knit wool/alpaca cardigan with bone buttons; Hunter heeled rubber rain boots

It feels silly taking pictures of myself with a tripod out in the driveway where the neighbors can see—especially after the daylight drama I missed yesterday, according to my roommate, when a new neighbor across the street cried on the shoulder of another neighbor, "I'm going to kill myself—call the police," and laid out all her meth paraphernalia on the sidewalk, thereby getting herself handcuffed and hauled away. But it's been too wet and cold this winter to be trekking around on foot down by the train tracks where all the nice brick backdrops are; plus, I haven't had much free time between full-time work, long commuting, and all the sickness. So here's the garage front and a knitting project finished a few months ago, a favorite FO (finished object, for non-knitters), even if the collar doesn't stand up well.


black wool/alpaca Imperial Stock Ranch Desert Exotic yarn, made in Oregon

The (now-discontinued) wool/alpaca yarn is from an eastern-Oregon producer, Imperial Stock Ranch, purchased several years ago from a Portland yarn shop, Close Knit, up on Alberta Street, back when I was married and had more disposable income. Even the big, brown bone buttons were bought new and local, again years ago, at a yarn store called the T-Spot in Manzanita on the Oregon coast. But life circumstances and priorities change, so now I buy yarn primarily vintage at thrift stores, only finding the natural, non-acrylic stuff rarely, which is better for both my budget and stash since I don't need yarn spilling out of every closet and cupboard.


brown bone button, close-up

Unlike those knitters who knit useless squares of fabric (the productive squares being called swatches) to try out new stitch patterns or yarn or just to keep their hands busy, I knit less for relaxation (because often it's not) or challenge (because usually it is) than for the outcome, being what knitters call a product knitter rather than a process knitter. I can't afford to buy new—let alone hand-knit—wool, alpaca, or cashmere sweaters and accessories—and neither can most anyone else, even with slave-wage labor, which is partly why clothing stores are full of cheap Chinese acrylic, along with the inability or lack of will by most Americans to properly care for natural fibers, as well as the overarching, revolving-door Western approach to fashion and consumer goods—meaning, if fashion didn't constantly change or fall apart and gadgets didn't stop working in planned obsolescence, we wouldn't need to replace so much of our stuff.

However, I'm self-taught and fairly slow, and only knit sometimes while watching Netflix or sitting on the bus, rather than at every spare moment, even while in line at the bank or post office (such people exist). I suppose I could speed things up by buying a knitting machine for the tedious parts, except the boring parts that don't require much attention to pattern or shaping are the only parts of knitting I find relaxing, certainly not the indecisive starts, the midway puzzles of technique or worries about fit, or the often time-consuming finishing. Plus, a knitting machine would cheat on the whole handmade boast. And so it can take me, off and on, a year or more to knit a sweater, thousands of stitches looped together. That's why I've had three-quarters of a beige cabled wool cardigan started last summer sitting in pieces in a basket all winter, though I'd really like to be wearing it already. This garter-yoke black cardigan is seamless and nothing complicated but warm, practical, and a little sexy. And I made it myself. And that's why I knit.

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