This is mostly a knitting blog. Sometimes pictures of things I've made, sometimes not. I'm a guy who knits, I usually attend a men's stitch 'n' bitch on Monday nights, and I prefer natural fibres to artificial ones. I have a love-hate relationship with bamboo yarns: I love what they can do and how they look, I hate how they are made. I've been knitting since about 2003, though I really didn't get into it until 2005, while convelescing with a broken leg. I must have discovered something good, 'cause I'm still knitting years later.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Lies, Damned Lies, and PETA

Today, my friend Hugh posted this on his Facebook page, from someone named John Acuff.
Let's be perfectly clear: Sheep, alpacas, llamas, goats, bunnies, and other fur bearing critters do not die when they are sheared for their wool. And in fact, shearing the animal is helpful to it, since many breeds of sheep and goats do not lose their hair in a spring molt (yes, there are some which do, but most domesticated breeds don't), and the fleece keeps growing, which must be very uncomfortable in the summer. A couple of years ago a sheep was recovered in New Zealand which had escaped its paddock. It hadn't been sheared in a couple of years, its wool content was HUGE and it could barely walk. It looked something like this:

The vegan group which put out this advert should include the tagline, "Go Vegan, Wear More Polyester," since vegans don't wear the wool or fleece of what they consider enslaved animals. I'm sure we all want to have more dead dinosaur artificial fibres wrapped around our bodies. Honesty alert: I am a vegetarian and I have not eaten meat in almost 25 years. I also don't give a damn what you eat and will never castigate you for eating meat. That said, I wear wool. And alpaca. And llama. I eat cheese and ice cream made from milk, too. I have only knit in acrylic once, at the request of a friend to make a hat with yarn that reflected light. Good for an early morning or late night jogger, I guess, though my friend didn't jog. I can also say I hated knitting it because it didn't feel right. I always knit with natural fibres, and often turn down yarn with nylon in it (yeah, I know it's great for making socks, but I don't make socks, and so I don't want nylon in my shawls). I guess a vegan could knit with cotton, and a cotton sweater would be fine for life down here in Louisiana, but I come from New England, and I would not want to brave some of our sub-zero days with a cotton sweater. Give me wool.

I remember seeing a video (which I cannot find on Youtube) of a shearer in New Zealand who, fed up with the lying propaganda from PETA, stripped down to his Wellies and sheared a sheep while naked. The owner of the farm filmed him doing so. His action was in response to this advert from PETA:
Aside from the fact that they're using a fake sheep in the photo, most shearers are careful (and fast) and do not nick or cut the sheep, Certainly not to the extent that this toy lamb has been modified. I have seen sheep shearing demonstrations, and while the sheep might suffer a bit of a bruised dignity, it is no worse for the wear after shearing. Besides, electric trimmers don't inflict this kind of damage. Farmers who are raising sheep for fibre know that if they damage their sheep like this, they won't have sheep very long. These beasts are an investment that has to provide a return on that investment. A quick Google search shows that a breeding female alpaca sells for anything between $1000 and $5000 and more. I can't imagine someone wantonly damaging an animal this expensive to get a fleece. Having spoken with various farmers of various animals at fibre festivals, the people who raise and breed these beasts really take good care of them, want the best for them, and don't want to damage them. I think the best summation I can come up with is PETA lies.

Acquiring the wool with which we knit doesn't kill the animal. No one has to die to make a sweater. These adverts are as untruthful as they are ridiculous.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

A Very Much Belated Update

I never thought I'd say this, but it is too hot to knit. No, seriously. Yesterday it was 104 degrees F, and I have no idea what the heat index was, but the entire summer has been on simmer. And if it's too hot, I don't knit. And if I don't knit, I don't have anything to write about in this here blog thingy.

I have been working on a couple of projects, in a desultory sort of way. On Wednesdays, when I go to Miss Betty's for knit afternoon, I bring the shawl I'm working on. I'm on stripe number 20, and I reckon it will take a total of six skeins of yarn, three of each colour. It's probably two and a half feet long now, and it feels like it's taking forever. Which it is, because it's too damn hot to knit.
Good Karma Farm, Spruced Goose and Steel Grey

I picked up the bear hats in Mad Tosh I was working on. The pattern is Polar Bear Hats & Mittens, by Susan Flanders. Obviously, I'm making Grizzlies, rather than Polar Bears. Hadn't touched them in a while, and when I opened the bag, the scent of mordant was intoxicating. I love the smell of mordant, especially in the morning. I've worked quite diligently on this hat, but discovered my stitch count was off, then discovered I had dropped a stitch. I'm not sure what to do. Since it's stranded knitting, should I tink back all these rows to fix the mistake, or should I ladder down with a crochet hook and try to fix it that way? I've only just learned the laddering down thing (I know, shameful, especially since I've been knitting for over a decade), and I'm not sure how the stranding will affect the fix. On the other hand, the idea of tinking back this many rows has made me put the project aside, even though I'm quite keen on finishing it. I am on the horns of a dilemma, between a rock and a hard place, betwixt Scylla and Charybdis.
Madeline Tosh, Celadon and Whiskey Barrel.

I haven't touched the Death of the Moon in several weeks, mostly because I can't get enough light to work on the black yarn. Next time I think I want to make something with black yarn, would someone please slap me upside the head? Especially if it's on wee, tiny needles!
Baah! La Jolla, Black Pearl and Framboise

But enough angst. A friend posted a link on Facebook to pictures of Irish farmers with cute animals. One of the pictures shows a guy sitting in a field with sheep, knitting!
Because who doesn't want to sit in a field of sheep whilst knitting what looks like an Arran sweater. (Oh, did I mention that all the men are, um, shirtless? If you really want it, you can buy it here.)

So I have my work set, because I'm coming up with all sorts of projects I want to do, but because I want to finish these three, at least! then I'm not allowing myself to cast on another project. In the past, I'd just sweat it out, but even with air conditioning in the house, this heat is wearing me down. Perhaps I just need to tune into my local NPR station, get some bright lights, and knit, heat be damned!