Sunday, April 09, 2017

Of Sticks And Strings

After a little time away from the blog, I decided I wanted to talk about knitting this morning. There are a few reasons for that. One of them is that if I listen too closely to the news, I get depressed, and it takes me days to snap out of it. So I try to balance that out with knitting, which is therapeutic for me. So lately I've been on the hunt for a knitting podcast I could enjoy. I have found one in 'Grocery Girls'. Sisters that are in my age range, are funny and smart and generous...and they drink tea too! So I've been bingeing their podcast lately, starting from #1. I have a year's worth of episodes to go!

As part of an effort to do something different, I started a group on Ravelry called the 'HBC Knit-along'. The basic premise is that everyone finds a Hudson-Bay-inspired project and we all knit on our chosen item at the same time, checking in for support from time to time. I chose to knit a throw for my sofa, which will look like a miniature version of an iconic Hudson Bay Blanket when it's complete. Here's how far along it was as of last week.

I've also decided to commit to making blankets for our 'local' abused women's shelter in town. Simple construction; knit a bunch of strips, sew them together and repeat until the blanket is the correct width for a single bed. Then repeat.  (I thought I had a shot of one of the strips in the computer, but it turns out I don't)

I've also recently picked up sock knitting again, thanks to the enabling-ways of the Grocery Girls! Last night I dug out my eldest son's 'Kerbal Socks', made from Loops & Threads 'Woolike'. Hopefully I'll be finished these soon and I'll be able to show you a picture of the pair being modelled!

While I don't remember the exact colourways, these socks, 'To The Journey' were made on order from the same yarn. The recipient still gushes about them!

So, short of rambling on about the cardigan I think I want to start soon, that's it for my knitting news.
So tell me, dear reader, is there a knitter in your life?

Saturday, February 04, 2017

First He Came...

I found this on the web today, and I thought it was absolutely perfect since I was seeking the original poem.
I did not write this, credit is given at the end.
Obviously, a couple of these apply to me but ignore that. The point I want to make is that we should ALL stand up for each other. Because one day, it will be YOUR rights that are taken away.
It is irrelevant which country you call home, this fight belongs to ALL of us, because what happens in the U.S.A affects us ALL. 

First Trump came for the women
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a woman.
Then Trump came for the people with disabilities
And I did not speak out
Because I did not have a disability.
Then Trump came for the African Americans
And I did not speak out
Because I was not African American.

Then Trump came for the Mexicans
And I did not speak out
Because I was not Mexican.
Then Trump came for the Muslims
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Muslim.
Then Trump came for the gay, bi, and trans people
And I did not speak out
Because I was not gay, bi or trans.
Then Trump came for the Jews
And I did not speak out 
Because I was not a Jew.

Then Trump came for the journalists

And I did not speak out
Because I was not a journalist.
Then Trump came for the judges
and I did not speak out
Because I was not a judge.
And now Trump is coming for the Constitution of the United States
And if I do not speak out, what am I?

Written by Gideon Lichfield

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Thoughtful Caring Against Chaos

One of my favourite design houses for knitting is Tin Can Knits, and this year, they’re focusing more on what they call thoughtful knitting. There must be something in the air, or maybe it’s a reaction to all the negativity and chaos around us, because they aren’t alone.

After many months, I’ve stepped away from a fun crafting competition on Ravelry called Nerdopolis.
(In a nutshell, the crafter competes in a specific set of challenges for both personal points and team points, and prizes along the way. There’s more to it, but I’ll stop there so you don’t get confused, okay?) Anyway, as much fun as I was having with that, I decided to step away from it so that I could focus on more important things than just fun. There is a local shelter for abused women and their children that I want to knit for (there’s a long story behind it), as well as knitting for family and friends. Churning out little things as much as I could every month just wasn’t allowing me to do that, so something had to give. So Nerdopolis went.

I’ve cast on a throw for my sofa, not out of a selfish need (although my living room is the coldest room in the house), but more from a desire to try out a new idea. If this one goes well, I’ll reproduce it, only in double knitting, for the shelter. The throw is modeled after the historic Hudson’s Bay Blanket, and it’s even more fitting that I knit this since Canada is 150 years old this year! That’s a butt-ton of history! As I’ve knit the first few rows tonight, I’ve been thinking about all that we’ve been through as a country, all that those women and kids in that shelter have been through, what they have yet to struggle through before they’re free to feel safe outside the shelter. It’s a lot to ponder.

To make a very long story short, I know what those folks in the shelter are facing, and I want to make it a little easier on them. They deserve to know someone, even a stranger, cares. So I’ll knit for them. I’ll knit blankets for their beds, socks to keep their feet warm, and mittens, hats and scarves to cut the cold wind, even though I can’t do anything for the coldness in their abuser’s heart.

While I knit, I’ll reflect back on their struggles, their courage and their long, long road they have yet to travel. While I knit, I’ll pray to anyone listening  that the current chaos abates and that peace and common sense prevail again.
We could all use some more peace.

Now if you excuse me, I have to ponder that while I knit a blanket for someone.

Spread peace, my friend.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

How To Take Back Your Power

While the world falls to hell around us, think about this today, and ponder how you can apply this wisdom at your house.

"To let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them."
Bill Mollison

Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Renewed And Urgent Need

The current state of affairs in the United States has me concerned about the potential for economic collapse, so with that in mind, I've begun to examine how that might affect those of us up here in Canada, and more specifically, my own household. Now before you think I'm being selfish, I see this as a part of being self-reliant. Examine all the potential threats to the safety of my home and family, and plan acccordingly.

Because I know that preparing for something so frightening can be overwhelming, and I'm aware I'm not alone in this endeavor, I'll be documenting my efforts here. I'll share the inexpensive, the successful, the failures and the concepts that deserve further examination.

This blog has focused on things parallel to this idea before, but I feel there is a renewed and urgent need for this kind of informaton and experience.
In the short time since the presidency has changed hands, the United States has been pulled backwards, and as been said here before, when the United States catches a cold, Canada sneezes.
It behooves us all to learn how to do more, creatively, with less.

How do you think upheaval in the States might affect your household?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What Food Challenge Are You Facing?

Food instability is everywhere.
I don't know what challenges you're facing this year, but up here in the north, one of ours will be to deal with the growing cost of groceries.
Not just fresh fruit and vegetables either...all groceries. It seems that the healthier a food is, the more expensive it is! So many folks reach for items with empty calories, rather than veggies. As convenient as it is to grab a box of Kraft Dinner, how many of us have the time and budget to think about making that same dish from scratch? Sure, there's less chemicals and crap in it, but how many of us reach for a brick of cheese, a little milk and a package of elbow noodles instead? Is it worth it to buy four loaves of bread and trust that it's not mostly filler, when we can make our own?

I'm fortunate to be able to make that choice.

But what about the food items we can't make? Like peanut butter? The price on that comfort food jumped a few years ago, and of course, it's never come down. Coffee is outrageous, and to counteract how much we were spending on it, I started drinking tea.
Fresh veggies are mind-blowingly expensive. I need to get off my arse and plant lettuce and spinach again, to grow inside. No, I won't be able to grow a massive head of romaine, or a large bag of spinach, but it's better than going without because we can't afford that big bag of greens.

So, what food challenges do you have to contend with this year? Any ideas how to ease the pinch?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Let There Be Peace, And Let It Begin With Me

When I was still young, I thought I understood what peace was. I was convinced my world was a pretty safe place. In my early twenties, I used to work in an area of downtown Toronto I didn't know was dangerous. I just walked around like I owned the whole neighborhood. No one ever hassled me on my short walk to the subway, or on the train either. I thought it was a peaceful commute. And it was.

But these days, there are a rising number of unsafe places. And far less peace than I remember. But maybe my understanding of peace has changed? Let's check...

  1. 1.
    freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility.
  2. 2.
    freedom from or the cessation of war or violence.

Yup, that's pretty much what my definition is as well.
So why is there less of it? Is it, as a friend on the phone last night suggested, because fewer people care about the effect their words and actions have on others? Perhaps.
There is more violence today, more war, more judgement and more hatred. Using the definition above and physics, when there is more violence on the opposite scale, there must be less peace. Like a glass that's filled with water. More water -- less air space. 

My phone call with a friend last night was enlightening. At some point in the conversation, my friend said, "It comes down to one thing -- is that person's choice to do what they want with their body harming me in any way? Will it impact my life if a woman chooses to have her baby even if that baby is a product of rape? Will it impact my life if you choose to love someone of the same gender?" So why aren't more people asking themselves these kinds of questions before they judge others? Maybe it's too much work. Maybe it's easier for them to judge before trying to understand? I don't have the answers. But I'm mighty glad that I and my family are out here in the bush!

Some of you might remember that I can go on for hours about Ravelry, the knitting/crocheting/weaving/fiber website. Today, one of the hot discussions was the upcoming world-wide knit-in for peace. The event was born from one simple comment about the potential for peace if a few hundred knitters all decided to knit for peace. From the concept creator, Christina Campbell,

"Last year after conducting the first “peace-along” I jokingly said “if we could get knitters around the globe to focus on peace for 21 days we might create world peace.” At this point I say, no joking, what have we got to lose?
I’ve created a cowl pattern that has a bit of a soothing stitch pattern. It’s a 4-row repeat. Knit 1 repeat per day and at the end of 21 days (or close to it) you’ll have a peaceful cowl. Optional i-cord edging."
What’s a peace-along? There will be a daily tip on how to infuse more peace into your life. These tips will be available on my blog each day from December 1-21. They’ll be simple things, some from me and others from a few guests.  

So obviously, the idea spoke to me as a knitter. And who knows if we'll change the minds of angry people afraid of those who look or act, or pray differently. But in the 21 days that we'll be knitting that cowl, we will be thinking and talking about peace. And if the teachings of Buddha are correct, we'll cast peaceful ripples out into the world around us. And that's not a bad goal!
Each of us needs to do what we can to promote peace, no matter if that's knitting, writing poetry, peaceful protests, letter writing, feeding the homeless...we can all do a little something to reduce the mistrust and judgement and hatred in our world.
Maybe it won't start with a flower, or a stitch, or a knitted cowl...but it might.

Here's some music to help get you in a peaceful frame of mind.

"Let there be peace, and let it start with me."