Sunday, March 11, 2007


So. I am sitting here contemplating knitting a pair of cotton pants, trying to calculate the gauge I need, the effect of gravity on cotton that I need to account for, the effect of humidity on cotton that I also need to account for, the eccentric orbit of Pluto (as well as its new non-planetary status), the migratory patterns of purple martins, the inexplicable and profound disagreement between the scale at the YMCA and the scale at our house, global warming, and other factors that might come into play regarding the fit, drape and potential attractiveness of said pants when they are actually applied to my personage.

Yup. I am knitting a pair of pants. Cotton pants.

I can't be the only knitter out there to fall off the deep end of knitterly OCD contemplation and consider what it might be like to replace nearly every item in my wardrobe, with things I have knitted myself.

What might it be like to actually have this pursuit of nearly complete wardrobe self-sufficiency as a sort of side-mission in my life?

Okay, the Levis and Hawaiian shirts stay, as well as the T-shirts and Haynes undies and the cotton turtlenecks for under-sweater wear in winter. And the medical scrubs I need for work. But most everything else?

I am reminded of an old '70s BBC sitcom ... the name escapes me ... it involved a young couple working on "self-sufficiency." In a town, somewhere in England. In various episodes they grew a garden, canned vegetables, wove clothing ... all with hilariously disastrous results. Does anyone remember it? I am utterly drawing a blank, and I admit a bit of shame here, because I am a hopeless BBC junkie. I should recall the name of this show. After all, I can quote many Monty Python episodes verbatim.

Regardless, I like to think what it would be like to slowly replace most of my wardrobe with things I have made myself. Specifically knitted things. I don't enjoy sewing very much, unless it's something quite plain and flat, like curtains. I'll leave the mastery of seamtressing to LornaJay.

I've been thinking about this self-sufficiency thing a fair bit lately and I've considered that, although in real life I work for government and non-profit animal welfare agencies and as a result do not earn the sort of income that affords me a whole lot of power and influence in the world ... I do have a set of skills that would make me a highly valuable commodity in a post-apocalyptic situation. Of course, I hope this never happens. Just sayin.'

But have you other knitters ever sat down and considered the skills you could use if, for some horrid reason, this whole techno-bubble that we all inhabit came crashing down around our ears one day?

Have you ever made a list of what low-tech skills you could offer for trade in desperate times?

I actually made an inventory of mine the other day, and was actually quite surprised at the extent of the list.

  • I can raise and care properly for a wide variety of animals, both for domestic companions, transportation and farm use. In my post-apocalyptic world we'd have lots of milk and eggs and cheese and wool.
  • I can grow a garden. It is not my favorite pasttime, because the beastly summer and billions of bugs and weeds are major components of gardening where we live, but I can do it. If you could do a garden with only the spring-planting and fall-harvesting parts, and none of the de-weeding and de-bugging in July, I would even enjoy it.
  • I have only sheared one sheep, but I have the general idea, and could get better at it with practice.
  • I can wash, process and card a fleece.
  • I can dye wool.
  • I can spin wool/alpaca etc. into yarn, both on a drop spindle and on a wheel. I am considerably more adept at spinning wool and other animal fibers than I am at spinning cotton.
  • I can knit any kind of garment. Know a chilly octopus? I can help.
  • I can weave presentably, if not with great skill. That could improve.
  • I can fish quite well.
  • I can cook, I know how to can vegetables, and I know how to salt and pickle things.
  • I know how to find edible mushrooms and other wild food. Not that there would be much of that in a post-apocalyptic urban world, but perhaps if we had to hide in the woods...
  • I can train dogs and horses.
  • I know a fair bit about healing herbs and home remedies.

So I think if things ever got desperate, I'd be in high demand.

I would hope.

Anybody else ever go off on knitterly wanderings like this?

I've also, when stuck in slow traffic and unable to knit, created a Sci-Fi world in which I am at the helm of a starship full of artisans engaged in the interplanetary trade of handmade goods.

In my future-world, Earth has gone off the deep end into a babbling techno-hell, as if Tokyo and Times Square had conspired to do a complete Techno-Terraforming, so the entire planet is covered in huge glass buildings bristling with squawking plasma TVs and hideous traffic, like that in which I am stuck while I imagine all this.

So the only way for us artisans to survive and preserve our skills (as well as our fleece-bearing animals and companion animals) was to load a bunch of us up onto: Art-Ark.

For example, amongst our many trade adventures, we buy rare fleeces from the mountain goats of the Klingon homeworld, and we knit and weave them into magnificent things that we sell to the Vulcans for fair prices and for which we totally skin the Ferengi. We have also created a major upheaval in Ferengi culture, having convinced them that keeping their females unclothed does little to show off their vast wealth. The Ferengi females have taken to this notion quite well, so we have lots of gold-pressed latinum on Art-Ark with which we can purchase plasma cores and other things we need to get along out in space.

We also have the occasional battle in which we soundly tromp the Borg, who, in addition to being evil, also have no appreciation for Art in any form.

Generally I have a mental Borg-tromping battle when some jerk in a Hummer cuts off my little Golf.

Black Hummers are always driven by the Borg.

An essential perk to being the Captain of Art-Ark is that there is an awful lot of knitting time sitting there at the helm, in between planets and battles.

I could go on, but I promised to answer a few questions from previous posts. I'm usually spotty at best about answering questions, so I'll tackle a whole bunch at once by way of repentance.

Criquette .... thanks for the thoughtful burning of king cake scented gris gris candles. I need all the luck I can get with this clinic endeavor.

Joan, I'd be delighted to take a bit of your nasty winter weather off your hands. We don't have snow plows or salt machines, so that would mean I could have all kinds of excuses to sit home and knit.

And Gae, our Tessie sends warm, purry greetings to your Vegemite (I've always wondered what it tastes like -- the spread, not your cat -- as anything yeasty gets my interest in a hurry). You are so fortunate to have your dear old gal for so long. I wish her several more happy, healthy (if a bit creaky) years. Tessie wants Vegemite to know that she is eighteen and mightily annoyed that she cannot vote simply because she is a cat, as she is certainly much smarter than most of the peeps out there.

Barbara Kay, the clinic will be somewhere in the Baton Rouge area. I need volunteers for everything from fund-raising, to actual daily help in the clinic, to hooking me up with people with fat checkbooks.

Jo, we are eagerly awaiting your official state visit as Ambassador of West Cork and do I have an itinerary planned for you! Don't be surprised if you have an entourage of your local fans besides myself, either.

Southern Gal, I will mail you some details of the clinic quite soon -- and thanks ever so much for your kind offer.

Carol: Dave rates socks because somebody has to wear them, eh? And is was his birthday, after all.

And Diann, thanks for your offer to help with clinic funding ideas. Every idea helps. I'll contact you soon. I also can't wait to read more on your blog about Stitches!

I hope all this reading material makes up a bit for the lack of photos, until The Mighty Jake is done with my regular computer.

Jake, of course, is the Computer Officer on Art-Ark and gets to wear lots of handknit sweaters on the show.




At 1:16 PM, Blogger ambermoggie said...

BBC programme the Good Life? Felicity Kendal, Ricard Briars, Penelope Keith and Paul Erdington(SP??) Still showing on satellite TV here in UK:)
amber in scotland

At 4:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was Good Neighbors !! I loved it - it truly was hilarious most of the time & serious about 1.5 % of the time !! Marietta

At 3:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pretty sure title was "The Good Life" - although funny, their schemes often worked, although the pottery one proved too successful for them in the end and they gave it up as they had become commercial.
Nancy in Alice Springs

At 6:40 AM, Anonymous Barbara-Kay said...

Ooh, Art Ark - take me, take me!

Clinic - I'll be glad to lend whatever help I can. Best Wishes.

At 1:21 PM, Anonymous Barb in Texas said...

"Black Hummers are always driven by the Borg."

I love it!

At 4:33 PM, Anonymous Ruth said...

Good Neighbors, of course. It was called 'The Good Life' in England. In successive episodes they carded and spun wool, dyed it with nettles to a virulent green, then Tom wove cloth and Barbara made Tom a suit. They used ping pong paddles with nails for the carding. What a great show. It's one of my favorites.

At 11:17 PM, Blogger Dez Crawford said...

Good Neighbours. That's what it was caled in the States. Thanks ever so much to all of you. And yes, Rith, the green-suit episode was what reeally stood out in my mind!


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