Friday, May 22, 2009

Sheep, Cotton, Guerillas -- It's a Knitters World, and You Just Live In It

The Product Review Part of the Entry:
Sadly, I am a knitter who is allergic to wool. Not deathly allergic. 10% wool, I can handle. Much more than that, however, and I begin to itch like a 6-year-old with chicken pox. Soon, attractive hives begin to burst into flame wherever the wool touches my skin.

Therefore, I'm always on the lookout for new yarns that won't turn me into Poxy the Hive-adelic Fairy. I'm completely jealous of my friend Darci and all the amazing felted creations she makes (for you non-knitters, felting must be done with 100% wool), not least of all because felting hides mistakes. I often use Lion Brand Wool-ease, a 10% wool-90% acrylic blend which has some of the softness and stretchiness of natural fibers. And really, I can't say enough good things about it -- it's cheap, comes in many beautiful colors, and knits up perfectly. However, as an eco-warrior, I'm always on the lookout for more natural products.

I knitted this baby sweater with organic cotton yarn made by Lion Brand. The color is called "pistachio." The pattern is super-easy for beginners who are ready to exit their scarf-knitting phase.

That's where Lion Brand Nature's Choice Organic Cotton yarn comes in. Now, there are lots of fabulous companies that make organic fiber products, local spinners creating hand-dyed yarns and selling them on Etsy, and LYS's (Local Yarn Shops, in fiber artiste parlance). They are all awesome. For big projects, however, I just can't afford that stuff. And while Lion Brand is a megalith in the yarn industry, they are moving into more creative products as hand-crafting gains momentum amongst the hipster crowd, and expands beyond the realm of grandmas.

So, how's that yarn? (Here comes the knitter talk. Andy H., if you've stumbled here, you can skip to the next paragraph). Well, Nature's Choice Organic Cotton is a worsted weight yarn with a bumpy texture, which is available in many pretty, muted hues. It is best for patterns that don't involve too much precision - it makes a beautiful garter stitch, but retains its bumpy quality when knitted up. It's also good for baby items -- we all want our babies to have happy, pesticide-free products against their skin. Nature's Choice, while worsted weight, seems a bit chunkier than your average worsted -- so it knits up quickly. Drawbacks, however, include a rather stiff feel, and a tendency to break if you pull on it too hard.

All in all, this is a good product; I applaud big companies who move into the green market. I don't care if they're doing it just for profit. Every time organic takes over a market nook or cranny, it's good for Mama Earth.

In other knitting-related, creative-living, barrier-busting news:

The other day I was driving around looking for a place to get my oil changed, and lo-and-behold, I looked up and saw this sight:

So? You might think. Shoes hanging from a telephone line ... so what?

But this is Houston, and those shoes, upon closer inspection, looked like this:

Those shoes were encased in knitwear.

Houston, happily, is home to the Knitta Crew, an underground group of guerilla knitters who tag trees, posts, signs, etc. with knitted signatures. In my neighborhood, Montrose, it's not uncommon to be strolling along and to see a young sapling wearing a sweater. Then you know -- the Knitta Crew has been there. The Knittaz are constantly expanding their whimsical experiment (and seriously ... who doesn't need more whimsy in his or her life?) to dress up America's cities in sweaters, shoes, and caps. In my mind, this is exactly the sort of thing America needs -- a little pointless, a little serious, and guaranteed to make you smile.

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