Monday, January 21, 2008

It ain't easy being green

Boy, Kermit sure had it right, but I don't think he was talking about the environment when he sang those words so many years ago.

For three years, my husband and I have shopped every Sunday at our local farmers' market. In addition to the usual fare, our market has several vendors who sell artisan soaps. We like these soaps very much, but much to our chagrin, every time we buy it, we have to FIGHT not to get a bag.

I heard today on NPR that one trillion plastic bags are produced every year, about 1,000 for every person on the planet. Even before I knew that horrifying piece of trivia, I've been a fan of reusable, canvas shopping bags. I mean really, it's not that hard to say, "I don't need a bag." Five simple words that can do a lot of good for our seriously diseased planet.

Five simple words that are simple to say, but not so easy to hear, at least not for any of the three different soap vendors at our market. Every other vendor at the market has always respected the fact we bring our own bags. Soap vendors really have an issue with it, even when I show them that one of our canvas bags actually has a separate pocket where the soap can sit all by its lonesome, safe from whatever terrifying injuries our tangerines might want to inflict on it.

We've tried all sorts of tricks to avoid arguing with the soap vendors. At one vendor, we've learned to always have exact change --that way we can pick up our bar and scoot away while he's still waving a plastic bag at us. Yesterday, however, we bought from a vendor who has to cut the bars from a large brick. Despite our objections, our soap was wrapped in a cardboard take-out container, which I have now set aside to bring back to the market so I can avoid having another one forced on me next week.

What are these soap vendors so in love with their packaging? Is naked soap really so offensive? Or perhaps they are afraid that without a bag, their beloved soaps might -- gasp! -- get dirty???

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Before and After

My friend Geraldine started a scarf and then abandoned it because she had run out of yarn before the scarf reached the desired length. When she got tired of this unfinished piece taking up space, she handed it off to me to see if I could do anything with it.

The scarf was curling in on itself because she had worked it in stockinette stitch with no edge stitches. The yarn was very bulky and she had cast on 23 stitches, resulting in a VERY wide scarf. After looking at it, I realized the only option was to frog it and start from scratch.

Geraldine is a fashion designer, so I wanted to make her a scarf with a little pizzazz. I toyed with a few ideas, including mixing the bulky yarn with a lighter weight one to create contrasting textures.

Ultimately, I decided just to use the existing yarn. I cast on 120 stiches and knit the scarf lengthwise, in the round, in seed stitch. After reaching the desired width, I cast off all but 10 stitches and unwound those 10 columns. The resulting yarn was cut at the center point, creating the fringe.

Even though I cast on and off loosely, the edges of the scarf are a tad stiffer than I would have liked, but they give the scarf a bit of structure and Geraldine seemed to like it!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Bang, bang! Merry Christmas?

I stayed up until 4 in the morning on Christmas Eve finishing Rob's present. Around 3, I heard a guy who lives in the building next door talk another guy out of shooting him.

From what I could hear of the conversation, the guy with the gun had been driving around looking for someone who had "done him wrong." He came across our neighbor drinking 40's with his friends in their front yard and pulled a gun. Our neighbor very calmly explained he had the wrong person and the guy eventually drove off without firing a shot.

I considered calling the police, but decided it wasn't worth the effort. Over the summer, shots were actually fired into the courtyard next door and when our downstairs neighbor called, the cops came half an hour later. Their "investigation" consisted of driving down the street once with a floodlight on.

Gotta love Hollywood.

Back to Rob's present. I used the "Hero" sweater pattern in the fall issue of knitscene for inspiration. Rob likes his clothes to be fitted, so I did the whole sweater in a stretchy 3 X 1 rib instead of doing the front in chevron as the pattern called for.

Here's a picture of Rob modeling it in our front yard. He wore it to a New Year's Eve party and Jenny Ryan, who runs Felt Club commented that it was a "nice fit." Coming from such an expert, that seemed like quite a compliment!