Friday, May 31, 2013

FO Friday: Custom gloves

A friend of mine doesn't have full fingers on her right hand, so she asked me to make a set of gloves with one fingerless glove and one shortened mitten.

I used Rico Essentials Soft Merino Aran on 2.75 needles, so while the fabric is very cosy, it doesn't have a great deal of give. I'll err on the side of bigger needles or finer yarn in future.

I borrowed the cable pattern from Spruce Tree Mittens, and I think it looks quite well. I wanted something which would suit both the gloves and the mitten, which effectively limited my choices to simple cable designs.

It's always a little disappointing to finish a project in what feels like the wrong season - we've had whole days of Summer in the last week - but when I started them less than a fortnight ago it was still scarf weather, and probably will be again within the week. I finished reading The Witches of Eastwick yesterday (I realised too far in that I wasn't really enjoying it, and then had to finish it), and there's an exchange where two characters are trying to work out whether another character's paleness means she's sick. One of them says something like, "But it's May, everyone should have a little colour by now," and ahahaha, hahaha, hahahahaha. Aha. Heh. Imagine living in a place where you know day-to-day whether you will need Summer or Winter clothes. Fiction certainly transports one to fantastic realms.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Yarn That Would Not Become a Jumper: Volume IV

This is a gripe about a specific project, and probably not interesting to people who aren't me.

Third time around, I finally turned this yarn into a jumper. I had to buy an extra ball of yarn to finish the sleeve, and didn't have enough to do hemming around the neck, but it was finished.


I like jumpers to be slightly oversized, but my efforts at sizing my own clothes that way always come out larger than intended. It's possible I should enlist someone else's help in measuring myself, or at least look in the mirror to see that I'm holding the tape measure in a straight line.

I finished the jumper, and while the body is comfy, the sleeves were too baggy. For aesthetics they were only a bit too big, and I would have left it but for the fact that I wouldn't be able to wear trailing sleeves in a lab, and given the time that I've put into it, it seems silly to only be able to wear it on weekends. And it's a raglan-sleeve jumper (which is lovely and straightforward! Who knew?), which meant undoing the sleeves meant going right back to the start.

What is up with my fingers? The gods themselves, they do not know.

So my evening of rewatching Sherlock while finishing the jumper as it rained outside did not go to plan. I ended up with a bag of yarn, again,  instead of a jumper, and my heart hurt because John thinks that Sherlock is dead, and it was raining. Apparently I'm a masochist, but I was also raised Catholic, so in practise I just do conventionally unpleasant things, and the resulting joy and shame cancel each other out and I feel neutral about the whole thing.

On the positive side, for a generous definition of 'positive', I'm going to Sunshine House in a few weeks, so I can bring that down as my night-time project.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dublin's fair city

He wasn't even trying to be funny:

"I really like Dublin. It's not a Paradise, but it makes you not mind that you're going to die."

From one of the visiting American playwrights at the Dublin Gay Theatre Festival. (He actually said it this morning and was pushed to recount it by their techie. I feel it still counts.)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

In progress

I have a few bits and pieces ongoing at the moment.

I stopped by This Is Knit's sale with a friend (I think it's fair that I don't have to be Not Buying Yarn if there's a sale on) and he bought this Debbie Bliss Winter Garden for me to make him a hat. I'm using the Hat Fit For A Fella pattern (Ravelry pattern page here), which I've made before, removing the brim and using my modification from the last time I made it. The cables have eaten the yarn and I still have a few inches to go, so while I've been failing to go back in and get some more, I've started working on...

a jumper! I bought this yarn (Debbie Bliss cotton, I do like cotton) as an end-of finals-present to myself last year, started this tunic (Ravelry pattern page here), realised half-way through that it was the wrong sized and ripped it out, re-started it, realised half-way through that it was the wrong size and ripped it out, and then left all the yarn in a bag until now, unable to bring myself to touch it. I think it was a good move, as a third failed attempt would have bred supervillainy-inducing levels of frustration and resentment, and that would be a very underwhelming origin story.

In the year's interim I went off the pattern - or at least how it would look in this shade - and decide to make this v-neck instead. I think I'll get more wear out of it than I would the tunic.

It's top-down and has raglan sleeves, both of which are new to me in a jumper, and I've already had to restart once because "At the same time" is my enemy. I like how it's turning out, and now I don't feel guilty for having the bag of yarn sitting in the corner of my room, silently judging me.

I spent Saturday and Sunday hiking some forty kilometres of the Wicklow Way with some members of my volunteer group. It's easy to forget, especially living in Dublin, that Ireland is quite breathtakingly stunning, despite the national pastime of complaining about Ireland.

The second photo is of Powerscourt Waterfall from a height and distance, and the last one is of Glendalough valley. When we were walking across the planks in the fourth picture, the wind was so strong and the hill so exposed that I had to lean into the wind to end up somewhat vertical, and still nearly got blown off into the bog a few times. (You might think bogs are for low-lying flat land, not the top of hills, but you would be wrong.) We got very lucky with the weather, and I got sunburned wearing the one racerback top I own, because of course I did. It's not Summer until I have uneven tan-lines.

I'm currently a a tech volunteer for the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival. So far this has meant moving props between shows, but they were important props. I've sat in on two plays so far, because I am the kind of very cultured and important person who sees two plays a week - premieres, no less. Bash: Latterday Plays is very intense, dark, harrowing and excellent. My Second Self is awfully sweet, quietly hopeful, and funnier than I was expecting. The program changes next week, so I'd recommend either or both if you're in Dublin this week!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The dullest conversation I have on a regular basis.

Oh, sorry, I can't have those, I'm vegetarian. Thanks for the offer though! No, not that long, about three years now. Mainly the environmental side of things. Em... Beans are pretty good for protein, and eggs, and then there's tofu and quorn. Yeah, I still eat eggs and dairy. Why yes, I suppose I am still indirectly supporting the beef industry. No, I think morally there's nothing wrong with eating meat. Well if I were keeping my own animals and knew they had a decent quality of life, I don't think there'd be anything wrong with eating them, but I think I'd get attached, so I wouldn't want to. Well yeah, if I were stranded on a desert island I'd eat whatever I could catch. I don't know, eating roadkill seems like a sketchy idea anyway, if you have alternatives. You know what, I'm going to go grab a drink, I'll talk to you later!

I like to ascribe people the best possible intentions, and most people who ask about being vegetarianism are authentically trying to be nice, and to ask me about something they think I am interested in. Unfortunately, I find the vegetarianism debate pretty dull, and I think the only points worth making come off preachier than I care to be at a casual get-together. (My stock answer used to be "Mainly environmental reasons, plus you can't know without checking what conditions the animals are kept in" but I whittled it down to be considerate and avoid potentially making people squirmy.)

To set my terms, I am vegetarian for the following reasons:

  • Meat production accounts for some 25% of industrial carbon dioxide emissions. (25% was the last figure I heard from a scientific source some years ago, it may have risen or fallen since then without altering the underlying point.)
  • Factory farms are pretty rotten, and the laws in some countries are quite lax with what constitutes 'free range'.
  • I am pretty into reducing the net suffering I cause before I die.

I am an unabashed hypocrite in the following regards:

  • I still wear leather shoes. (I could say that this is because leather shoes last longer than fake leather, so it's more environmentally sound, but I haven't looked into the figure for that at all. Really I just don't like shoe shopping, and don't want to spend ages looking for something non-leather which will fall apart in six months anyway.)
  • I'm not vegan. The factory farm argument I made above applies particularly to battery hens, and buying free range eggs might be rather meaningless. Also, according to someone smug at a party, the male calves of dairy cattle are still sold to beef farms if they're suitable, so really I'm not solving anything.

If people are thinking about going vegetarian, or like vegetarian cooking, those are perfectly fun to talk about, I really like food! If someone is treating it as an exciting intellectual debate, in which they try to pick holes in an argument I never made, that is simply not interesting, and there's no way to leave the conversation that doesn't come across as rude or conceding that my worldview is flawed and I am terrible.

But really, shouldn't you be looking for farms that treat the animals well and supporting those, so that they can thrive and not get pushed out of business by factory farming? What about raising your own animals? Do you check where your produce comes from, because some farmers in Third World countries get a pretty bad deal. Are you saying you care about animals more than people? What if the animal died of natural causes? But, like, meat is SO GOOD. Shouldn't you be eating the most sustainable meat? You know some people can't be vegetarian, so what are they meant to do? But we evolved to eat meat! EVER THINK OF THAT?

Some valid points, except I never claimed to be practising the optimal form of reducing meat-related carbon dioxide while also not supporting cruel living conditions. (Also: what people who can't be vegetarian and healthy should do is not be vegetarian. I don't know why people even put that to me, or anyone. And meat is delicious! That is also a non-point.) Given that the answer I give when people ask why I'm vegetarian carries the moral weight of turning off the tap while you brush your teeth, the fact that some people use me to pick apart arguments I haven't made (deliberately, because they lead to tedious conversations) rather makes it seem as though they think I believe myself to have the moral high ground, they themselves believe that on some level, and if they can get me to admit I'm not one hundred per cent consistent and rational then I will be one hundred percent wrong, and they will be the most rational and correct person in the world forever, and have no need to change their behaviour.*

That is a really big mess of insecurities to throw on a stranger just because they passed on the rummy bears.

Short story long, I don't see any moral issue with eating meat. I also don't see any moral issue with wearing shoes. I do think that buying, say, Converse is not morally neutral, as you're implicitly supporting Nike's factory conditions. Going vegetarian or vegan means a few weeks or months of eating boring food while you try to find new recipes, means all but always getting the pasta option in a restaurant, and may not be financially or physiologically feasible for everyone. I don't think there's some moral onus on anyone to become vegetarian or vegan. (Especially vegan. No-one loves a vegan.**) I do think that people should be honest with themselves about where there food comes from, and make an intellectually honest decision, but I would rather they not bounce the thought process off me, because good Heavens, it is simply not interesting.

(I could also gripe all day about angry vegans/vegetarians, but I'll leave it at saying that the term 'carnivore' really grinds my gears because humans are omnivores, and also the term 'bloodmouth' for omnivores is hilarious, as well as a handy red flag that an argument is going to be codswallop.)

*I also get this a lot with volunteering. "Well, going to a homework club for two hours a week isn't exactly solving the problems in the education system and the disadvantages experienced by schools in underprivileged areas, is it? And some charities are more for the volunteers to feel good than to actually fix things in the long-term, and obviously there's no way to check out any charitable groups, so I'll just take the high road and do nothing at all."

** I have known and been fond of several vegans.