Category Archives: charity

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So, this Sunday before past, I came down with the lung infection that everyone in Montreal is coming down with.  I have never hacked so much in my life – and what’s more, my partner got sick at exactly the same time.

I’m one of those people that turns into an enormous baby when sick, but I did manage to take some pictures of my armbands which I sent off to Boston last Wednesday.  Unfortunately, my sneezing and coughing buddy managed to delete them by accident, so the post I was banking on sharing with you isn’t entirely feasible.  I feel kind of silly; I even got a ravelry message from mmeadow reminding me to post them on my ravelry projects page, and I can’t.

I did get an awesome email from the 146+ crew today telling me that they not only received but really liked my armbands, so hopefully I’ll be able to link to some of the pics on their reBlog once it’s updated.

I’m very nearly done all the knitting on my knitted neckerchief, and my friend Maddy is letting me borrow Melissa Morgan-Oakes’ book, 2-at-a-time Socks which is awesome!  I’m pretty excited about the cables in that book.  I’m really excited to get the neckerchief off of my superlong 2.5 mm needle so I can try this out.

And, because it’s kind of lame to have a post without pictures…


A Thorough Update

I’ve been a bad, bad blogger lately, and I haven’t been thorough whatsoever in detailing my knitting projects.

Project the First:

The buttons weren’t sewn on when those pictures were taken, but they sure are now.  I’ll take another picture tomorrow, so you can see how awesome these are in person.

I knit the armbands with the handspun and hand dyed yarn that I got from a friend of a friend of an old woman who used to live in my borough.  Look at the tag;  that yellow yarn was dyed with turmeric and alum.

The yarn was over spun and dyed in an odd way.  I love how you can see her learning process.  As she learned, her yarn became more delicate and more consistent.  The dyes took better and you really got to see what she was going for.  That yellow yarn was all in pieces when I got to it.

I really like the symbolism of using her work as well.  The idea of a person becoming fascinated with creation (as opposed to participating in consumerism) at a late age at least twenty years ago simply points to how separated most of us have become from the creation of tangible and useful textile art.  I love that both she and I have had the same yearning to make cloth.

Project the Second

I’ve knit quite a lot of the ribbing, but I won’t know if I’m ready to bind off the ribbing until I try it on.  I’ve been crazy busy as of late, so I haven’t plunked myself down to slip all those stitches onto waste yarn to try it on yet again.  I think I’ll aspire to do that tomorrow.

Project the Third

The neckerchief is 7 inches long, and I think I’m going to knit for at least another inch.  I went to a bluegrass night at the Barfly in Montreal, and I dropped a bunch of stitches.  I ended up having to rip back about 3 rows to figure out exactly where I was supposed to be.  It’s looking lovely, though.

Project the Fourth

I don’t have any pictures of this project (my awesome flaming tea cozy) because I haven’t made any progress on it.  Alas!  I am dreaming of needle felting all over that thing.  Yeehaw!

Project the Fifth

I’ve recorded the first song I’ve ever written on my music project blog, ClairelyNow.  Please listen and let me know what you think!


International Women’s Day

Happy 100th International Women’s Day!

The first International Women’s Day was organized 100 years ago.  Less than a week later, (on March 25th) the Triangle Waist Factory fire happened in New York City.  146 women died in the manufacture of cheap textiles.

This December past, at least 30 people died in textile factory fire in Bangladesh – most of them women.

microRevolt is calling out for commemorative armbands so they can acknowledge those who were lost in these tragedies – and acknowledge the lack of progress we’ve made in the past century.  As microRevolt says on their website,

One hundred years after the Triangle fire, we find an insecure economy, a high unemployment rate and most of garment manufacturing outsourced to the developing world. Workers making products for American consumers are still victim to unfair labor policies and factory fires. We continue to struggle at home and abroad for the rights that galvanized the labor movement a century ago.

from microRevolt

Those of us that labour to make our own textiles I think can understand how much work goes into producing cloth.  It’s incredible how even my blog has gotten some responses about readers moving on to make their own armbands!  That’s amazing.  And Ariadne even donated the buttons for my armbands!  I’m sorry about the lack of pictures today;  I’ll sew the buttons on tonight and take some snazzy pictures tomorrow.

The struggle continues.  But we still have to celebrate and make art, right?

Flame On!

Okay, so without further ado, feast your eyes on the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen.

Isn’t that amazing?  I’m so pumped!

Now I’m going to go cast on for the armband for 146+!

Tea Cozy

Does anyone remember me talking about the wonderful housewarming gift we got when we moved into this apartment?  Long story short, an elderly woman who used to live in this neighborhood decided to take up spinning and dyeing yarn years ago.  The mother of the woman who used to rent here knew her, and when the old woman passed away, her estate gave her the old woman’s hand dyed, spun, and plied yarn.  The woman who received the yarn never knew what to do with it, so it sat in a bankers box for years.  She saw some stuff I knit when she was helping her daughter move out of this apartment, so I was given the yarn.

There were two marled skeins in the box.  One was  a pure black/white mix, and the other, chocolate/cream.  These skeins weren’t fully washed of lanolin, so they smell really strongly of sheep and they’re almost greasy.  I don’t think I want to make clothes out of them for that reason – the greasiness is useful for other things, and it’s unpleasant to wear rough, greasy cloth, waterproof though it may be.

But, in other news, we have recently acquired a tea pot chez nous, so I’m going to make a tea cozy.  But not just any tea cozy!  Nay, I will make a tea pot of epic proportions using a favourite website of mine.  Knit Pro 2.0 is just about the coolest website ever.

knitPro is a free web application that translates digital images into knit, crochet, needlepoint and cross-stitch patterns. Simply upload jpeg, gif or png images and knitPro will generate a graph sizable for any fiber project. knitPro digitally mimics the tradition of pre-industrial craft circles who freely shared patterns and passed them down from generation to generation.


Isn’t that amazing?  Also, microRevolt is a really cool group.

microRevolt projects investigate the dawn of sweatshops in early industrial capitalism to inform the current crisis of global expansion and the feminization of labor.

microRevolt since 2003.


I think they’re awesome, and have used their website on a number of occasions.  I have also signed up to participate in their 146+ campaign;  I’ll be knitting the 149th armband, in honor of Ms. Tania Sultana.  She died in a factory fire in Bangladesh making clothes for Wal-Mart, H&M, and JC Penny.  I encourage others to knit armbands.

I made an image from a Julia Child quote by typing the words into Paintbrush (a program similar to Microsoft Paint) and saving the file as a .jpeg.  I then uploaded it onto the knit pro 2.0 website, and whammo! A chart! But the problem with trusting a computer program to make a knitting chart is that computers aren’t as crafty as most knitters out there (see what I did there?) so I spent some time last night going over the chart with a black pen.

The best part about being a person and not a machine is that I can make mistakes and then fix them.  See that second ‘o’ in ‘blowtorch’?  I made a note that it needed to be moved over one stitch.  But there it is; one half of my colour chart.  I’m getting a pretty big gauge with 5 mm needles so I’m going to have to try with 4.5 mm and see how everything fits – not that you want a particularly small tea cozy or anything.

An overview on how I’m making this tea cozy.

  • Step 1: Acquire a tea pot.  Tea as well, if possible.  Measure a loose circumference around said pot.
  • Step 2: Choose a charming image; perhaps a quote, perhaps a graphic.  Make sure it’s in .jpg, .png, or .gif format.  Upload it onto microRevolt’s knit pro app 2.0.  Have realistic expectations about how many colours you want and the definition of the image – after all, you’re smarter than any computer.  Then, print off the resulting .pdf!

  • Step 3: Knit a gauge swatch.  Make sure that the number of stitches provided makes sense for your project.  As you can imagine, having a 154 stitch round tea cozy with a gauge of 3.75 sts/inch is pretty silly, so I’m going to end up doing some math tonight.
  • Step 4: Highlight the chart you’ve printed off using a bright pen.  I used black to clear up my quote because the font was teal.
  • Step 5: Knit cozy, making sure to decrease at some point.  Is there any purpose for a tea pot sized cowl?
  • Step 6: Put kettle on.
  • Step 7: Drink tea.
  • Step 8: Knit an armband in commemoration of a fellow textile worker who has passed away because of the western world’s desire  for cheap clothes.

Any questions?

You’re more than welcome to use the chart I made as is, by the way.  Best of luck!

The Project is Finished! Long Live the Project!

I finished Greg’s mittens on Wednesday, and boy did I feel clever.

Now I just have to find Greg so I can give them to him.  I hope he likes them.  Someone at knit night last night tried them on and said that they may be too small, but my partner has been trying them on all week and says they’re cozy.  I hope they fit okay.  Personally, I despise mittens that are too big. I hope I’ve struck upon a happy medium.

I love the swirly tops against the striping pattern, and I love how soft and solid the finished fabric is.  I will definitely be getting more Ultra Wool by Estelle.

I think there’s enough left to make up a little pair of mittens for me.  I have little hands, after all.

The weather is absolutely abysmal today.  Police were telling people not to drive over certain sections of Sherbrooke because of the black ice.  I can’t believe it – winter has come again.

But in brighter news, my Lamb’s Pride Worsted Superwash in Lichen showed up at Ariadne on Wednesday!  It’s a 100% superwash wool.  I have eight balls of pure magic that will someday become the test knit of the cabled sweater I designed back in September.  I’m pretty excited about it.  I’ve already had to whip out a calculator to help me figure out my extensive notes, but that resolved the mystery of the two missing stitches that has bothered me for months.

I’ve knit about two and a half inches already; considering the amount of math I’ve done (and the width of the fabric), that’s pretty good.

I’m trying really hard not to twist my purl stitches.  When I started purling, I learned what is called a ‘half purl’ or a purl through the back loop.  Then I was shown the proper way to purl, but by the time I got home, I had decided that the proper way of purling took too much yarn and since then I’ve wrapped the yarn around the needle in the opposite direction.  This resulted in twisted purl stitches which made my stockinette stitch look all funny.  When I purl properly, the purls are still much more tight than the knits, but it does look a lot more uniform.  I’m also hoping that it will result in fewer rows per inch when knitting on the flat.

I’m pretty enthused about this new project which, when you think about it, is rather odd.  I just finished knitting those mittens, after all.  What is it about knitting that’s so addictive?  I think it’s also the need for knitwear that keeps me going.

Also, delicious yarn.  Now, it’s time for a nap.

Bumblingly Busy

I’ve been much busier than usual as of late.

And by “much busier than usual”, I mean “I work more than one day a week and am therefore required to wear real pants.”

My partner went away for the weekend, and I was forced to entertain myself for about 28 hours.  Unfathomable, isn’t it?

I went to work last night and came home reeking of restaurant.  This morning (because of the time change) I woke up an hour earlier (I love DST) and cleaned all the things.  I normally get up and clean things, but I was in an exceptionally good mood because I know I’m going to see my partner tonight.

I’m busy in the evenings, but my partner gets up really early and comes home exactly when I’m leaving.  And I miss him.  He misses me too.  It’s crummy, but it feels like we’ve just met again.  I almost had forgotten how funny and smart he is, or how handsome he is.

He’s headed home now, and I’m making dinner.  I’m hoping for a garlicky oniony beany stir fry thing.

I’ve also been knitting mittens for a houseless man in my neighborhood named Greg.  He’s 61 years old, and has been without a house for over 25 years.

I was going to use my Superfine Alpaca from Estelle, but then I thought about it and I figure that a 61 year old man isn’t going to want to wear a green that, well, feminine.  So I’m using the Ultra Wool, and I’m thinking about putting green Superfine Alpaca stripes.  Alpaca is so warm and soft, it’d be perfect for cold nights.

the start of Greg's mittens

I just can’t understand why this man has been without a home for so long.  He doesn’t drink or smoke, he’s sociable, and he’s just a very sweet person.  Obviously, being without a home and without much companionship makes it hard to stay… I don’t know how to say it.  I guess cohesive?  Practice makes perfect with most things, and conversation is one of those things.  I’ll leave it at that.

He just impresses on me the importance of keeping your friends close;  you’ll never know when you’ll fall and need some help getting back up again.

But then again, as I was walking to the grocery store this afternoon, I saw a young woman take a picture of a squirrel that had been hit by a car.  Another young woman was absolutely disgusted, and the aspiring photographer was laughing at this reaction.  I don’t understand that interaction, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.  Yes, the afternoon sunlight can make most colours blaze, and yes, death is a fascinating thing, and yes, it’s incredible how man-made things can destroy what used to be alive in an instant, but what’s artistic about taking a picture of some poor animal that isn’t alive anymore?  It’s also not the most original idea.  Seriously. And one more for the road. Is there a sanctity to the lives of squirrels that we would otherwise disregard?  Or maybe they were both missing the point of either being fascinated or sanctimonious, because, after all, Greg usually sleeps on a park bench immediately across from where that unfortunate squirrel died.  I think that someone should do more art for and about these disenfranchised people.  And that more people should be up in arms for their rights.

And in a final note, here’s my third skein of handspun!  I’m kind of proud of myself.  It kind of looks like real yarn.

third try!