Monday, July 23, 2007

Cats, Tornadoes
and Time Management

Some random things from this week:

Tessie, our eldest cat, she of the achy joints and great fondness for all things soft and warm, loves her new, felted pad. You can make one for your cat, too -- my Critter Cozy pattern is just a few posts back, on July 4, 2007.

On Thursday, I took a weekday off to visit my Mom in New Orleans, and while I was there, a storm front came through the city, and this is what appeared over Lake Pontchartrain. It's a waterspout -- a tornado over water -- a couple of miles offshore and about 5 miles north of downtown New Orleans. The weather goddess was merciful, and the horrid thing both touched down and spent itself out over the vast lake. If you look closely, can you see the huge white wake of high waves and white foam it created in the water as it moved from right to left? Pity the folks fishing, and the leisure boaters out there. That is actually a column of water -- many tons of water being sucked up into the sky. It was HUGE -- consider that the shoreline is several miles away from the photographer, who was high up in a downtown building -- a close call, and terrifying to behold:

And no, I didn't take the picture. The credit belongs to New Orleans' key newspaper, the Times-Picayune, copyright 2007. For more on the waterspout story, you can click on and search for "waterspout." The city has already suffered a couple of devastating tornadoes since Katrina. They didn't need another one.

And ...

Look, cats on laundry!

Why don't you admire these lovely cats for a moment before I go off on a rant?
Jigsaw (the muted tortoiseshell) and Guinness (the tuxedo) are shown here, making themselves useful. Somebody has to keep the laundry from escaping.

I've had another uninspiring workweek, so my creative streak is sorely strained. The downside of grant-writing for humane non-profits is that so much time is spent waiting for answers,waiting for requests for more information, waiting for feedback. And as I am not working actively in a shelter or clinic at the moment, I get dispirited during long spells with little feedback from the prospective funding agencies. If you like swimming through peanut butter, consider a career in the non-profit sector!

In addition, our little spell of Seattle-like weather passed as quickly as it came. So I've been indoors most of the weekend, working on a shawl and spinning, and reading the knit lists as well as other people's blogs. Which brings me to my ....

Yarn Diet Spoiler

Those of you who know me personally know that I'm the sort of person who's the first to point out that you're probably not going to lose weight and keep it off on that new celebrity diet, and you won't end up looking like a celebrity or hanging out with one on the weekends, either. Call me a spoilsport, but it's my nature.

I'm also likely to point this out while chomping on a mouthful of chips.

So I need to know ... what's going on with this "no buying yarn for a year" fad? On the KnitList, KnitU and on many, many blogs, knitters are fretting out loud over their stashes, determined to buy no more yarn. Those who have a moment of weakness berate themselves publicly after indulging in a paltry skein of sock yarn. Many people are also de-stashing.

This wouldn't bother me if a few individuals in posession of seriously out-of-control stashes were providing the knitting Internet with amusing descriptions of their space-saving woes.

But it's not just a few people with comically unmanageable stashes who are going public with this. One knitter after another seems to be jumping on the de-stash wagon, for what seems to be no good reason. Why?

Everyone else is doing it.

Many people with stashes of a perfectly modest and humble size (say, a closet full or less) have suddenly found themselves wracked with guilt and have jumped on the idea of self-flagellation with acrylic I-cord: "Bad knitter! Self-indulgent! Too much yarn!"

What's going on with this? Why the guilt? Is it another excercise in womanly self-denial?
If I look around real hard under my own saddle, I think that's the burr I'll find. So many of the women I see de-stashing just happen to discreetly mention that a husband or boyfriend has decreed that they have "too much yarn."
Some of these self-appointed yarn managers have found the knitter "disorganized," insisting that she chose only one project at a time and buy only the yarn needed for the desired garment. Others declare that too much money is being spent, and demand that spending cease immediately.
One young knitter, who I know from the LYS, confided that her husband decided that she was spending too much time knitting, and that he was uncomfortable with her knitting in front of his friends because he feels that knitting is "dorky and behind the times," and (here's the kicker) "why don't you find a sexier hobby?"
Which begs the question, what is she supposed to do with all the "free time" she'd have without her knitting? Scrub flooors on her hands and knees? And how is she supposed to demonstrate a state of sexy and au courant non-dorkiness? Should she pole dance instead of knitting?

Sadly, none of these knitters write about what the complaining husband or boyfriend is doing to contribute his share of self-sacrifice to the family budget, household storage space, or self-improvement through austere hobby management. There is no mention of sadly foregone titanium golf clubs, no discussion of the sale of surplus computerized gadgets, no sportscars going up on Ebay, and no talk of cancelling any subsciptions to Playboy or Sports Illustrated.
And that bugs me. I do not intend to be sexist in this little rant, but so far I have not found one male knitter who's jumped on the de-stashing wagon because his wife, partner or significant other has drawn a line in the sand and laid out the ultimatum of No More Yarn.

So... hey cowgirls, are y'all listening?

If your kids and pets are not in danger of starvation ...

If you are not accumulating massive credit card debt...

why jump on this particular bandwagon?

Think about it:

Your local yarn shop counts on your business.

Employees count on the LYS for jobs.

When yarn shops close, employees lose jobs and yarn companies don't get orders.

When yarn manufacturers don't get orders, they cut back on production.

When they cut back on production, employees lose jobs and wool producers lose orders.

When wool producers lose orders...

Do you see where I am going with this? If everyone joins in on a fad of self-deprivation at once, the whole yarn and wool industry will suffer.

Rant over.

Me, I am counting on my yarn and fleece stash for retirement entertainment. Dave and I live in a cluttered house full of yarn and books and records and cats, as well as Dave's Museum of Obsolete Technology. He has manual typewriters, and I have spinning wheels.

And, speaking of which:

That lovely Oussant fleece sample from Jo is ready to be spun. The drudge of the past week was pleasantly interrupted by a spinning windfall. More on that later.


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At 2:29 PM, Blogger the book faerie said...

i've tried the yarn diet--briefly. there's always something that's soft and pretty that needs to come home with me. heck, 12 skeins followed me home today! i do try to knit it up as quickly as i can so that it doesn't overflow. (that's not working, either...)

on a slightly different note, my cats are enjoying the tuffet! except, of course, the *one* cat for whom it was intended. i've got more wool...i can always try again! :)

At 3:20 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

Diet schmiet. I live in the Chicago suburbs and we need all the extra insulation that we can get. I'm going to Stitches next month and put a big dent in my available credit!

At 6:55 PM, Blogger Joan said...

Today is my birthday and my DH gave me yarn money. For yarn even though my wool room overflowith. I have a keeper and never minds stumbling over the bags and baskets of projects around the house.

At 5:26 AM, Anonymous Mary Lou said...

And you didn't mention the entertainment of neighborhood children aspect of stash - there are a few kids who periodically ask if they can see my yarn. One little boy is sure to grow up to be an artist of some sort - he loves all the colors. Somtimes I let them wind yarn with the swift and ball winder as a special treat. Particularly when I have yarn that needs winding for a current project!

At 8:04 PM, Blogger Ronni said...

I think one valid reason for going on a yarn diet might be the knitter herself/himself feeling overwhelmed by the choices available to them and not wanting to make it worse. When you can't decide what to knit next because you have too many choices available I can see wanting to not make it worse.

I can really sympathize with someone feeling that they are overwhelmed for choice and need to stop buying for a bit. I myself am starting to feel a tad overwhelmed by my sock yarn stash considering I just started really knitting them within the last year. And I now have enough sock yarns to knit socks well into my dotage at my current rate of actual sock production. I'm ever the optimist though and confidently expect to get faster at socks so that I'll still need more sock yarn. So when I see something lovely I'll continue to buy it. Just, as you say, not with the grocery money. Unless it's really really nice sock yarn. In which case, beans on toast is actually quite tasty.

At 5:32 PM, Blogger Ann said...

I yarn dieted for about 6 months this year. It was like Ronni described--a feeling of being overwhelmed by choices.

Sale! Woo Hoo! Patons Kroy in 10 colors? Let me have 3 of each. Bag sale at Elann? 3 of the 5 colors (full bags), please. New baby on the way? Encore! Encore (and I don't mean, "Brava, do it again!")

Yep, I was out of control (and there was no one complaining). Six months later, I allowed myself an indulgence. A well-thought out indulgence with a project in mind.

Will I stop stashing.? Not a chance. But I am thinking it through a little more carefully these days.

At 8:16 PM, Blogger shirleyknits said...

I agree completely with you about this fad. Are we lemmings, or are we able to think for ourselves? I view my yarn stash like a painter who has many colours on hand for when creativity strikes.

Thank you for this well-written and timely article!

At 8:04 AM, Blogger Brittany said...

Okay, I barely have a stash compared with most women I know. 3 under the bed boxes and one tote basket of roving to spin. I practically have nothing. I haven't bought yarn all summer not because I've been dieting, but because I've been home with 2 bratty kids who will literally throw tantrums to keep from going to the yarn store.

I have been knitting STASH all summer!!! Anytime hubby says anything about yarn, knitting, spinnig, or anything having to do with fiberand me buying it, I say, "Really?" (In a way that conveys, "Are you &#$@ing kidding me?") and walk over to his $2200 racing bike that is encroaching upon my kitchen/dining space and wordlessy point at it for a moment and walk away.

He would also never a say a word about me knitting anywhere in public, which I have done in restaraunts, at the museum,and in the park with the kids, for fear of getting stabbed in the eye with one of the pointy sticks in my hand. The guy that said his wife needed a "sexier" hobby? Really? (said in the above noted tone)


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