Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mea Culpa

I must confess.  I have committed a grave act that haunts me day and night.  I bought this sweater...

...which looks the picture of innocence.  But don't let looks deceive you.  This little sweater is...THE DIVIL!

You see, I am trying to reduce my carbon footprint.  I know that I am only one little person, but if I can reduce my dependency on petrochemicals and teach others to follow my example, I will feel that I have made an impact.  So, to that end, I have begun to walk to the grocery store and the post office, I have eliminated single-use plastic shopping bags from the household, I carry my own cup to Starbucks, I buy bulk groceries when I can to reduce the packaging waste...I do what I can.  But my big, soap-box rant-inspiring,
save-the planet action is to avoid clothing and textile products made from petrochemicals.

You know their names.  Polyester.  Nylon.  Acrylic.  Polyamide.  And the dreaded poly-vinyl-chloride.

Oh, they've gotten sneaky, these petro-textiles.  They hide behind names like "micro-fibre".  Spandex has snuck into the blue jean supply chain.  Petrochemicals are now being used to coat natural fibres, like wool -and cotton, to make them "shrink-proof" and "wrinkle-free".

But I see them out there, lurking.  I read the labels, and I put that super-sexy little top back on the rack because I don't trust those sneaky petro-textiles one bit.

Now, I live in an petrochemical community.  Fort McMurray is the home of the Oilsands, and we have a lot of debate about the rightness and the wrongness of the methods of extraction used around here, and the environmental impact.  Greenpeace shows up every now and then and rails about the dangers of "dirty oil".  All those activists, dressed in their acrylic fleece vests and Spandex pants, rappelling down nylon ropes to hang a vinyl banner protesting the extraction of oil from the ground were clearly not paying much attention to what that oil is being used for.

And nothing burns my biscuits like the animal-rights activists who protest the shearing of sheep by telling us that there are plenty of man-made alternatives, like polar-fleece and polyester, that do no harm to animals.  Tell that to the dolphins and sea turtles of the Gulf Coast.

All this talk about the dangers of oil extraction, and the ever-looming threat of peak oil, and we are wearing the stuff on our backs.  We are sitting on it.  We are walking on it.  We are carrying our groceries home in it.  We are wrapping our newborn babies in it.  Oil is everywhere.  (It really is!  Check out this list, which is actually pretty entertaining, to find out some of the other places petroleum products are used.  My favorite is pole vaulter poles!)

So, instead of wasting it on clothing, that can be made out of renewable resources like linen, cotton, wool, and even wood pulp, let's save our oil for driving our vehicles and heating our homes.  The supply will last longer, and development could slow down and take the time to be kinder to our environment.

Whew!  Soapbox rant over.  Now back to the sweater.

I will preface the conclusion of my tale with the defense that I was in a hurry, on my way to meet someone.  I saw the sweater in a store window and popped in to look at it.  It had a lovely hand, crisp, yet soft, like cotton.  And it was on sale for a price I couldn't resist.  So, I tossed it on the cashier's counter, then popped it into my re-usable cloth shopping bag and dashed to my appointment.  As the evening cooled, I pulled out my lovely new sweater and wore it.  Then I wore it the next day, loving the cuddly feel and the warmth it provided.  The sweater wound up in the laundry basket eventually, where it languished until yesterday.  As I sorted my laundry, I debated whether to put the sweater into a regular wash or the gentle cycle.  With trepidation, I checked the tag to see if there were any sneaky petro-fibres lurking that might require particular care.  And that is when the bombshell hit.

The label read 100% ACRYLIC!

I hang my head in shame.

But I'll probably wear the sweater anyway.  'Cuz it's a really nice sweater.

Mea Culpa.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Whole Lotta Nothin'

That's what's been going on round here for the past few days.  Oh, stuff has been happening...laundry, food shopping, weeding, dog walking, know, stuff.  I've been slowly redecorating our bedroom, which is long overdue, but that is a work-in-progress.  Steve and I celebrated our 28th anniversary last week  We have been to Edmonton a couple of times.  But really nothing blog-worthy.

I seem to be unable to blog regularly for two really good reasons either nothing is going on, like now, or too much is going on.  My life just seems to be like that.  I suppose I should work on my pacing.

So, this afternoon, here I sit on my patio, in the sun, blogging about having nothing to blog about. 

Of course, I am spinning...

...this yummy silk blend, handpainted by Barb at Luscious Luxuries.  The beverage in the picture is Ribena and soda, cool and refreshing on a day like today.

And I'm watching my garden grow... lazy bumble bees and butterflies poke around the blossoms on the scarlet runner beans and rather cheeky little finches dart in and out of my cat-infested yard.

Even Molly seems to have caught the summer ennui...

...watching the birds from a little fort she has built from an up-ended garden gnome under a spruce tree.

I know things are going to get busy around here really soon.  They always do.  But, for now, I'm just going to enjoy doing a whole lotta nothin'.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

To Olds and Back Again

Yes, I know Fibre Week ended over a week ago.  But you should know by now that you are dealing with a delinquent blogger.  And a lot is going on, besides the making of string.

Like my new website  Who knew writing lines and lines of code and learning FTP protocols would take so much time.  But there you have it.  Good-bye, June.  Go ahead and check it out, if you haven't already.

And then there is the garden.  This time of year brings out the horticulturalist in me.  I plant pretty flowers, and though I don't specifically grow a dyer's garden, I do harvest a lot of nifty colors all summer long.  And veggies.  My childhood was filled with fresh garden veggies all summer long.  I had decided to turn the wee plot in my back yard into a veggie garden with peas, onions, beets, beans, corn and carrots all carefully lined up in pretty rows.  My cats, however, had different ideas, and now I spend a lot of time discovering new plants where other plants should have been.  And weeding.

And then, of course, there was Fibre Week.  Every year, I enjoy this event more and more.  And this year topped them all.  Not only was there fabulous enrollment in the workshop program (which makes me, as the coordinator, look pretty good!), but a record number of entries in the fleece shows, enormous community support, and fabulous weather.  Who could ask for anything more?  (Okay, edible food in the cafeteria would be nice...)

My favorite thing about Fibre Week, however, is the people.  Some of my very best friends in the world are people that I have met at Fibre Week.  And I keep meeting more and more wonderful people and adding to that list of friends.  People who play with fibre are the very best kind of people.  They are kind and generous and adventurous and hilarious.  They are smart and loyal and just seem to be happier than the rest of humanity. 

We gathered for classes... this one with Sharon Costello.  Look a them working away!
We gathered for speakers and for the fashion show...

...hosted by yours truly, which is why there are no photos of the awesome garments we saw!

We gathered for potluck dinner...

We welcomed new spinners...

And new-to-fibre-arts-in-general folk...

I managed to find myself room mates with three of the most remarkable fibre folk I have yet to meet:  Joan Ruane, Sharon Costello, and Cat Bordhi.  Talk about a nexus of fibre brilliance.  All three of these women are remarkable human beings and very gifted in their fields, and I got to sit in and converse with them each evening.  Sheer bliss!

Then, I got to meet the Master Spinner Level 3 Class of 2010.  I could not have had a better group if I had gone out and handpicked from the entire spinning population.  Smart, funny, and fearless, these nine women soaked up all that I had to give and came back for more each day.  And one of them actually said that she loved tpi and would never spin without it again!  My work here is done...

Okay, there was a little bit of stash enhancement done, too.  Seriously, where else are you going to find cashmere,  and cashmere blended with alpaca, and quiviut blended with bison, merino, and silk?  Oh, and a wee bit of handpainted merino yarn from Ellie at Rabbitworks Fibre Studio.   And a little handpainted silk.  And that Viking Santa spindle that I picked up at the Silent Auction.  And the Dukhobor flax tools. get the picture...

Yep, that's worth a thousand words.  And several hundred dollars.  It's a darn good thing they pay me to go to Fibre Week, but, apparently, most of that money gets left there!

So, all in all, I had a wonderful time, came home broke and brain-dead, then turned around and went back to Edmonton for medical appointments.  This weekend is finally a chance to try and recover.

And make some string.

Goodness knows, there's some fibre around!

P.S  I am scheduled to teach a class in spinning flax out at Gibson's Landing, but it is in danger of cancellation due to low enrollment.  If you will be in the vicinity of the Sunshine Coast around August 21 and want to find out how fun and friendly flax can be, go to and register a.s.a.p.!