Thursday, July 22, 2010

My stuff!!!!

So, as I said, I've been doing a lot of etched metal lately! Yay! It's SO cool. Below are some of my most recent things, mainly the "create" pendant (which is my current all time fave) and the three curvy rectangle things on the left which are prototype shawl pins. I think they work really well. The other stuff is older (except for the curvy rectangle pendant on the right).

Here are a few more pieces. The etched pendants are older. The spindle is polymer clay on a chopstick. It works really well, actually! I love it! I can't wait to spin more on it, but I need to do something about the hook. The bookmark is probably my newest new thing, lol. I shaped and hammered the bookmark itself and filed it up and made it kind of rough so that it actually stays in the book instead of flying out at the slightest resistance (like, you know, AIR). These bookmarks are SO pretty and I love them, but I hate that they never stay in the book. So I decided to make my own and, yeah, it's better. I'm not surprised. ^_~

Up close shots of two of my favorite of the etched pendants, a nickel peacock and a copper butterfly:

My knitted hat from the boutique knits book:

Having so much fun!!!! Still no desserts! AAAAAGH! I'll run off and make some more stuff.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It's a wonderful life, even when it kind of sucks.

SO. I've given up desserts as a first step in trying to detox my body from an excess of sugar. Gotta say. I'm addicted. There, I said it. There's definite, definite withdrawal, too, when you begin to purposefully eat less sugar. I'm experiencing it. Irritability (excessively!), headaches, and other things. Also, the fact that I WANT SOME CANDY. But, yeah. Gotta break the cycle. I'm sick of this stuff being such a big deal in my life.

Anyway, aside from all of that, I'm quitting my JoAnn job. I'm quitting my card exchange. I'm focusing more on knitting lately because it's so calming and nice. I don't make any money off of it, so it feels more relaxing than jewelry at this point. Not that I'm giving up on my jewelry or my polymer clay. It's just about choices.

So I suppose the main thing is the sugar right now. I feel awful. But I know that eventually it will all work out. Life is still good. God is still good, duh. And eventually I can look on all of this and laugh. Pretty soon I'll post some pics of all the new stuff I'm working on. It's actually pretty cool. I can't believe I haven't shown off my etched metal yet!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Interesting Fiber Facts

This is a largely informational post of stuff I found out about various fibers while doing research for vegan fiber information. The general message: animal fibers are probably best for the environment, and best for the animal. You don't have to eliminate all animal fiber from your clothing/knitting/crocheting hobbies in order to do what's best for the planet or for the little critters. Lemme 'splain.

Plant fibers such as Bamboo, Corn, Soy, etc, are actually NOT really the most environmentally friendly thing to choose for your clothes. The processing of many of these plants is actually more harmful on the environment than just using the stuff that naturally makes good fiber (Bamboo [not contradicting myself, more on that later], Cotton, Hemp, Linen, and pretty much any animal fiber out there). The processing uses really harsh chemicals to bind and form the pieces of the plants into yarns, essentially binding them with plastics and resins. The fibers are usually the farthest thing from natural or safe.

Bamboo, although it is renewable and is pretty good for fibers, is actually being harvested in irresponsible ways because of consumer demand! This was a bit of a shocker for me. Bamboo is one of my faves. It's so ridiculously soft. But now we've got to make sure we're buying even Bamboo from good sources. Cotton, hemp, and linen are great plant fibers, but not for everything. So if you're really paranoid about the animals, you should stick with those.

And about the sweet widdle critters. Wool, alpaca, cashmere, angora, silk, and others come from animal sources. With the exception of the silk, no animals are killed to get this fiber. More on the silk later.

Wool is so naturally amazing, it's almost miraculous. It's naturally very warm, it stays warm even when it's wet, it freaking EMITS HEAT as it dries if it does happen to get wet. It's great. You can pick it up in superwash varieties so that you don't have to worry about it felting anymore. It's also available as glorious merino wool which I would seriously defy anyone to find itchy. Wool, more so than almost any other animal source, forms fiber so naturally that there's virtually no processing. Just shear, comb, spin, dye, and you're done.

Also, the main thing is that virtually all of these animals (especially sheep and alpaca) NEED to be sheared to be kept healthy and happy. You can imagine if you were never allowed to get a hair cut, how you'd feel, and that's just on your head. Their hair is like that, only it's all over their bodies. They will grow and grow and grow their hair until they end up unable to move, or get caught in things and die. (My yarn shop owner told me that there was some poor sheep that got lost in New Zealand. Apparently it was lost for a long time. When they finally found it, it had 200 pounds of fleece on it and it was stuck in a bush! They sheared it and I'm sure that was the happiest day of the little sheep's life.) So shearing them is something that is GOOD. It keeps them happy. I know I said that already, but I felt like really stressing the point.

The other thing I learned was that sheep and other animals are really a lot like us, too, in that if they're stressed or unhealthy, their hair growth sucks. Stress causes hair to fall out of our human heads, and it does the same thing in the animals. The quality of the fiber shows the health/happiness of the animal. So it doesn't kill them to take their fleece. It actually helps them. And if they weren't happy, said fleece would suck anyway. And this is a seriously renewable resource, as natural as hair growth.

So, seriously. I know some people out there have all of these convictions about not using stuff from animals. But it doesn't seem to make sense in light of the information. At least not to me.

And we get to the silk, which is something that even non-vegans have shunned for it's "cruelty" to the silk worms. First of all, we're talking about worms. If you spray your house for bugs, you're pretty much already killing the same kinds of creatures. If you purposefully plant certain things in your garden to attract certain predatory pests to kill plant munching pests, you're also just doing the same thing. Killing. Causing death. Whether by manipulating the natural order of things or by using chemicals, your results are the same. So there. If you just live in peace with all things, though, and truly never even step on a bug, and never even drive your car for fear of smooshing some poor creature with your windshield, then good on you. But most of us do some of these things. So I'm not sure why the silk thing is a problem. But after learning more about it, I'm even more inclined to think that silk is a good thing for the little worms. Read on.

Silk is made from two kinds of worms that form two kinds of moths. I won't get into the differences too much, but just know that one kind has been bred for 4,000 years and is so dependent upon humans that they must be hand fed certain foods from the moment they're hatched to the moment they form their cocoon. The others are wild. Obviously the first kind makes the best silk, but the other kind is good, too. Basically, each silk worm forms a cocoon with a single thread that they wrap all around themselves. This is anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 feet in a single cocoon of a tiny, tiny thread. Cool, huh!? Basically, to get the silk uncut, you've got to kill the worm inside the cocoon. This is where the morality of it all comes in. Oh, poor little wormies, boiled or steamed as they sleep.

The other option is silk called, I believe, "ahimsa" silk, which means that the worm is allowed to go through its normal life cycle. It forms a hole in one side of the cocoon and comes out as a beautiful little moth with no mouth which will mate and then slowly starve to death one or two days later. (Because, seriously, they have no mouth... they die once their internal food source, built up during the worm stage, is exhausted.) The silk from this process is not as good because, obviously, the fibers are shorter, and it's harder to make the yarn or the cloth with shorter fibers.

So there you have it. Either the wormies die quickly in the cocoon, or they must slowly starve to death if they're allowed to become moths. And that's the way the cookie crumbles and all of that. So I find myself totally fine with either kind of silk now.

And, obviously, the silk harvested from wild moths is totally environmentally and moth friendly and all of that. Basically they go and grab all of the holey empty cocoons off of the trees and make the silk out of it. So they could either let all of these things go to compost or use it. So why not use it? Same thing with the sheep. They NEED to be sheared. So you can either throw it away or use it. So why not use it?

And there's the truth, and the info, and all of that. And maybe someone's view has changed, or maybe someone got mad, or more probably, nobody read this whole thing. But it was good for me to get my thoughts down. And there you go. Animal fibers rule, even silk. Plant fibers aren't what they're said to be.