Knitting Green

Touching the Sun

Of the many essays in Knitting Green, Touching the Sun Through Fiber is the most meditative. It is written by Carmen S. Hall, a dear personal friend and sometime spiritual mentor. Carmen doesn’t have her own blog, so I’ve invited her to share her thoughts on how she “touches the sun” through knitting.
Here’s Carmen:
My family and I just finished driving from Colorado to Cape Cod. I, of course, brought along a knitting project to pass some of the hours, but this project was not planned with my usual attention to detail . . . and it didn’t take long for me to realize that this lack of attention was precisely what enabled me to have a sun-touching knitting experience.  
Normally, I spend a lot of time selecting the fiber with which to knit. I then spend a lot of time selecting just the right shade. Then, I agonize over selection of just the right pattern. Finally, I studiously analyze the gauge swatch to make sure the needles are exactly the right size. At last, I’m ready to cast on.
My recent travel project involved none of this prep work. In fact, yarn and pattern were selected rather blindly. If you’ve ever had the good fortune to travel to Taos, New Mexico, you may have met Martie Moreno, owner of the Taos Sunflower, which has morphed into the Taos Sunflower Too on Etsy. If not, you can get to know Martie through her blog at www.taossunflower.blogspot.com. I could write several pages on Martie’s humanity and explosive creativity—simply knowing that her footprints are set on this planet at the same time as mine gives me deep comfort. Recently, Marty posted about some of her handspun: “I don’t know how to begin to tell you about this skein. It was my passion for an entire week. I have approximately 28 hours spinning and plying time invested in it, and my goal was to try to spin something close to a lace weight, just for the fun of it.” With that introduction, I honestly didn’t care what the yarn looked like—I knew it would be full of seriously good juju and I bought it on impulse. 
A week later, I happened to be celebrating a dear friend’s 50th birthday along with a group of amazing friends (including Ann Budd). We visited a local yarn shop together and were having one of those rare and wonderful times possible only amongst true friends and confidantes. At the shop, I saw a pattern for a    lace shawl (called Traveling Woman and designed by Liz Abinante and available at http://feministy.com) and without so much as a close examination, I paid the copy costs and put it in my bag. Then, with only a cursory gauge swatch, I started knitting the described pattern with Martie’s yarn. 





I immediately understood that I was creating something special—I was touching Martie’s spirit at the same time as I was surrounded by women who mean so much to me. It was a powerful sense of time shared with people who bless my life and, I realized, I was knitting this very experience! No doubt, this shawl is destined to be one of my favorite projects…ever. I’m glad it’s still on the needles and, like a favorite book, I’ll be sad to see it come to a close. However, I rest easy in the knowledge that I can touch a beautiful spinner and deeply treasured friends and can wrap myself in this kind of warmth and goodness whenever needed. Yes, I am touching the sun.  –Carmen S. Hall

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More on Knitting Green

KnittingDaily.com is sponsoring a 10-Day Blog Tour of Knitting Green, which will include stops with many of the book essayists and contributors. The timing couldn’t be better.

A couple of days ago, my sister called to rave about Knitting Green. The idea for Knitting Green came about when she visited and we mused about what my next book might be. Initially, we focused on the projects–things like shopping bags to replace paper or plastic bags; kitchen cloths to replace paper towels; and of course, sweaters, shawls, socks, and scarves to replace turning up the heat. But as the book took shape, I wanted to include something about the ecological dilemmas surrounding the yarn itself, similar to the issues brought up in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, in which Michael Pollan investigates the carbon footprint of four very different meals.

Although she leaned to knit before I did, my sister didn’t take to it in the same way and I’ll wager she hasn’t picked up needles for a couple of decades. But I was interested to hear that even as a non-knitter, she found the book interesting and informative. Besides pointing out her favorite projects (ones that I suspect she hopes I’ll knit for her), she was most enthusiastic about the articles. Like a lot of people, she hadn’t given much thought to the “greenness” of knitting other than the idea that it was more ecologically sound to make something yourself than buy it a big box store. Before reading Clara Parkes’ essay The Gray of Green, she hadn’t considered that yarn itself has a carbon footprint, which can vary greatly depending on how the fiber was raised, processed, and distributed. I don’t think she’ll ever look at bamboo fiber the same, and she’ll certainly expect me to know the origin of the yarn in anything I knit her from now on. She found Pam Allen’s essay The Meaning of Organic equally enlightening. With so many regulatory hoops to jump through, it’s no wonder organic yarns cost a bit more. And she felt that Kristen Nicholas’s article Ode to Sheep is essential reading for anyone who gets lamb (or any other meat) wrapped in plastic and styrofoam at the grocery store.

I encourage you to digest the other educational articles in Knitting Green as well. In Darlene Hayes’s article It’s All About the Color, you’ll learn about the joys and pitfalls of natural dyes. A Shop Owner’s Dilemma by Lisa R. Myers offers insight to the practical limitations of running an environmentally conscious shop and explains how you can help your local yarn shop grow in a green direction.

For lighter reading, Sandi Wiseheart considers the difficulties inherent in eco-friendly knitting in It’s Not Easy Knitting Green; Carmen S. Hall offers a meditative look at how natural fibers connect her to past generations of knitters and bring her closer to inner peace in Touching the Sun Through Fiber; former earth-mother Kristeen Griffin-Grimes muses about the days before electricity and there was no time to knit for fun in Knitting Stone-Age Style; and Amy R. Singer suggests ways to use leftover yarn in earth-friendly ways in Too Much of a Good Thing?

For more ecological food for thought, I invite you to join the Knitting Green Blog Tour (sponsored by KnittingDaily.com), where you’ll hear from many of the book’s essayists and contributing designers in the days to come. Click on their names and visit them on the dates below:
June 6: Kristeen Griffin-Grimes (Knitting Stone-Age Style, page 109; Caterina Wrap, page 110)
June 7: Kristen TenDyke (Soap Nut Vessels, page 22)
June 8: Mags Kandis (Paris Recycled, page 142)
June 9: Cecily Glowik MacDonald (Solstice Skirt, page 18)
June 10: Veronik Avery (All-(North) American Hoodie, page 50)
June 11: Kimberly Hansen (Knitting enthusiast and reviewer)
June 12: Sandi Wiseheart (It’s Not Easy Knitting Green, page 67)
June 13: Carmen Hall (Touching the Sun through Fiber, page 89; Carmen doesn’t have her own blog so you’ll visit her via Ann Budd)
June 14: Katie Himmelberg (Eco Vest, page 14; Better Baby Rattle, page 56)

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Desperately Seeking Becky

I imagine that at least some of you know that sick hollow feeling that comes from planning a party that nobody attends. I have to admit that I’m having similar feelings now that it’s been a week since I announced that Becky McKnight is the winner of the drawing for Knitting Green and she hasn’t contacted me with her mailing address. Imagine the explanations that I’ve come up with—Becky really doesn’t want the book; Becky is on an extended cruise to some remote south sea islands; Becky passed out in a fit of delight when she learned that she won the drawing and no amount of wool fumes can revive her; Becky lost interest in reading my blog; etc., etc.

If any of you dear readers knows Miss Becky, please, please beg her to respond to me at annbudd@annbuddknits.com so that I can stop imagining the worst. Her copy of Knitting Green is all packed up but has nowhere to go.

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Earth Day

Today is Earth Day. Here in Boulder, Colorado, the daffodils are up, ornamental fruit trees are flowering, leaves are making their way out of the buds giving a green halo to other trees, and the grass has turned from brown to green. I love the promise of renual hearlded by this time of year. We do live on an amazing planet.

And to help keep this planet beautiful, take a minute to check out my new book Knitting Green: Conversations and Planet-Friendly Projects. It’s full of essays and projects that show how knitting can be included in the green revolution. You can learn about it (and purchase it online) at the Interweave Store.

I think this is cause for another give-away. Write a green tip in the comments box below and I’ll put your name in the hopper for a drawing for a free book (autographed if you like). If your computer won’t let you respond in the comments box, send your tip to me at annbudd@annbuddknits.com. I’ll draw a name and announce the winner on April 30, 2010.

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Advance Notice: Knitting Green!

Advanced copies of Knitting Green arrived at Interweave Press last week. The other 15,000 copies are on the slow boat from China (literally) and will be available next month in time to celebrate Earth Day.

Needless to say, I’m pretty excited about this book. Instead of judging between “right” and “wrong,” Knitting Green will help you understand the complicated issues so that you can make educated choices for yourself. Articles by Pam Allen (former editor of Interweave Knits and creative director for Classic Elite Yarns) and Clara Parkes (editor of Knitter’sReview.com) explain some of the misconceptions about organic and “green” yarns. Essays by author and shop-owner Lisa R. Myers, natural-dyer Darlene Hayes, and author/designer/sheep-breeder Kristin Nicholas bring to light some of the pros and cons of putting green practices into use. Additional essays by Sandi Wiseheart (former editor of knittingdaily.com), Amy R. Singer (editor of Knitty.com), Kristeen Griffin-Grimes (frenchgirlknits.com), and avid knitter Carmen S. Hall provide a smorsgasbord of food for environmental thought.

In addition, there are 22 terrific projects (it’s photographed here with my Blue Cloud Afghan) that either make use of an organic or “green” yarn or are designed for an earth-friendly purpose. The projects include Veronik Avery’s All-North American Hoodie that is knitted with yarn that is grown, processed, and distributed only in North America; Nancy Bush’s Videvik Shawl that provides a lightweight layer of warmth; Deborah Newton’s Commuter Knapsack that encourages travel by bike or public transportation; my Honor-the-Buffalo Socks and Mitts that make use of buffalo fiber that would otherwise go to waste, and Kristin TenDyke’s Soap Nut Vessles that just might change the way you do laundry forever.

And talk about green–if you order this book through the Books page on my website, the kind folks at Interweave will give me a kickback of “green” currency!

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