When Kate Davies first published the Miss Rachel's Yoke a couple of years ago, I knew I had to make it. I quickly bought the kit, intending to cast on right away.
Of course, life intervened, as it does, and by the time I was ready to knit there were a few roadblocks in my way:
But mostly, I was convinced I didn't have enough yarn. (Side note - I've decided always buy/spin more yarn/fiber than I think I need from here on out. I always end up picking the projects that require tons of yardage...)
Earlier this month, we had a snowy day that had followed a very gray week. It was one of those weekends where I can't think of a reason to leave the house, and I was downright grumpy. My husband, in an attempt to cheer me up, suggested a trip to the movie theater. The only problem was, I didn't have anything to knit - at least, nothing I could knit in the dark.
When I first learned to knit, I taught myself to knit without looking so that I could knit on the dark schoolbus, in dark cars riding home from dance lessons, and in the movie theater. Now, my "movie theater knitting" is always very basic. I can knit and purl in the same row if it's not a fancy pattern, but anything that might require a chart is out of the question. Usually I keep a sock on the needles for just such an occasion, but the socks I had going were too close to being done to entertain me for a whole two hours.
I dove into the stash to see what my options were, and the Miss Rachel kit jumped out at me. I figured that even if I didn't have enough yarn, at least I'd have something to knit in the movie theater. And though I'd originally meant to make it a cardigan, I've realized that I wear pullovers a bit more often than I did when I first bought the kit, so a pullover it was.
One benefit of waiting so long to cast on is that plenty of other Ravelers have had the chance to knit and write about this pattern, so I could let go of some of my anxiety about how it would turn out. Some standouts are:
Uncrossed has incorporated a great short-row detail into the yoke.
Ltnknitter, Agameda, and Lizoid have an interesting trick for hiding the jog.
Crochet-Julie made the darker version, and managed to do her modeled shots in front of a photograph of the shawl that inspired the design.
My project page is still in progress, but you can find it here.
I recently finished a little rug punched piece from loom waste. Instead of turning it into yet another mug rug, I plan to use these instructions to make it into a little bag. Because we all can use another bag, right?
This isn't exactly a solution for the piles and piles of trash we're accumulating on this planet. But it's super nifty.
More interesting tech - weaving meets 3D printing.
This video from the BBC archives is fascinating - how flax was processed into linen in the 1950s. It's an interesting look - there's plenty of mechanization, but plenty of traditional hands-on work happening too.
Wool prices are going up. Yes, that means our yarn is about to get more expensive, but this post shares why that's not entirely a bad thing.
Dryers aren't so great for your clothes. The short answer is abrasion weakens fibers. The longer (and really interesting) answer is here.
This article on ancient Artic spinning was really interesting. I really wish I had been more aware of the intersection between textiles and archaeology when I was younger.
Speaking of archaeology and totally not fiber related, I'm in love with this. Basically anything with someone in one of these t-rex costumes brings a smile to my day.
These three videos from Bobbin Boy are on my watchlist. One, two, and three. (Flax is so fascinating!)
And last, but definitely not least. I've been sitting on some thoughts on "CRAFT," based on my readings of Folk Fashion* and Craeft**. Felicia, as always, has an insightful post here.
Today I want to share a different kind of "link love." I want to talk about our hands, and how we can take care of them. But first, a little bit about why this is so important to me:
Did you know I have a whole 'nother business? It's over here. Or, if you prefer Amazon, we sell there too. In 2016, we quit our full-time jobs to work on our business. In February of this year, my husband was asked back to his old job, and he accepted. (Health Insurance! 401(k)! Adulting!) Of course, that has meant a lot more work for me in our business. There has been all sorts of new stuff to learn that I hadn't really needed to do before. Paperwork. Emails. Navigating the different selling platforms. Figuring out the post office. The hardest part? Packing boxes.
All those products that come from Amazon or our website or even eBay? They're packed by human hands. From February to July, they were packed by my hands. I knew right away that this was no small task for me. All of the motions were small and simple. I rarely spent more than two hours packing boxes. I knew I was generating a lot of income for my business every time I packed boxes. I knew this should be easy.
But still, my hands were sore. So sore that knitting was almost impossible. I'd hold knitting needles in my hands for about five minutes before everything froze up. At one point, the pain in my hands was so bad that all I could do was clutch a mug of hot tea, because the heat was the only thing that felt good on my hands. One night, I was in so much pain that I laid down in bed with a mug of hot tea in my hands, balanced on my belly. I woke up soaking wet and cold after having rolled over and spilling the now cold tea all over my bed. I lived in a constant state of worry that I would develop De Quervain's tenosynovitis, something that has bothered my mom's hands for years.
Unmoored from fiber art as a refuge, I had to figure out how to keep my hands healthy so that I could work and play with my hands.
The biggest thing that helped me was to hire someone else to do the work. Seriously, if you have a task in your business that's causing you pain (mental or physical), it's so worth it to hire the work out. My employee is much faster than I am at packing boxes, and has even come up with several innovations to make it faster and easier. I can still jump in and help if I have to, but most days, he's got it covered, and I have more time to work on other bits of our business, plus write to you all!
So - I promised links, and here they are:
This video helped me a ton. And I wish I had incorporated the exercises from this video a little bit sooner.
Esther Rodgers (aka Jazzturtle) has a great Craftsy class called Fiber Preparation for Spinning. Don't let the title of the class fool you - she shares lots of ergonomical tips and exercises for taking care of our most precious equipment - our bodies.
We Are Knitters has this handy infographic. It moves! (Is gif-o-graphic a word?)
If you're more into the written word, Carson Demers is the expert on ergonomics for knitters. He has this fantastic book, and he's written a few great articles for Ply Magazine, too. He also has an interview on the Fruity Knitting Podcast. (Interview starts at about the 41 minute mark)
Everything we do with our bodies has a cumulative effect, which is why I love "spoga," aka Spinners' Yoga. Also great for knitters, weavers, crocheters, rug hookers...basically anyone who sits down and uses their hands to craft.
I'd love to know if there are any other resources you find really helpful for keeping your hands in tip-top shape!
Prototypes in the fashion industry used to be considered essential. But with the rise of 3-D rendering of clothing designs, they're quickly becoming obsolete.
That's the focus of this article, which I read with great interest earlier this week.
My immediate response was "Great. Another way for fast fashion to get even faster. And cheaper, and lower quality. Another way to destroy the planet, faster." And it's quite likely that a lot of fashion brands will use the technology exactly in this way.
My second thought was that there's a lot of opportunity here - less cost and less waste being chief among them. Fashion brands can (and are beginning to) market using 3-D renderings that are so good, it's hard to tell they only exist on the screen. They can then decide whether there's enough consumer demand to go forward with a design, rather than spending the time, money, and resources on producing garments that just sit on shelves.
Given the fashion industry's current trajectory, it seems like the cost and waste reduction benefits of this technology will be overshadowed by the moremoremore mentality. Fashion brands eager to revive dwindling profits will use everything in their power to get back on top. But a few brands will hopefully grasp that more and better aren't the same thing. That they can gain more profit by streamlining their processes to produce(and waste) less, while selling substantially all of their stock every season.
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