Sometimes very talented, lovely people reach out to me and send me presents, with no catch. Cate Carter-Evans of Infinite Twist sent me Opus because she knew about Lala’s obsession with cephalopods.
This is Opus:
She sent it to me as a spinner's kit, with green fiber because that's what I wanted, and look at what I got:
All the notions and EVERYTHING. It's gorgeous.
But you know what? I know what’s on my needles now, and I know what I have queued up. I couldn’t find time to work this in, as awesome as it is, and I couldn’t just donate it along with my cotton dishcloth yarn, you know? Not Opus.
So I asked her to answer a few questions (she’s fascinating! fair-trade spinning, dudes!) and then, with her permission, I’m giving it away, as is, with all the notions needed to get starting spinning and knitting your own Opus. Not only that, but she’s throwing in a full set of all the Cephalopods patterns (Horatio the Nautilus, Tako the Bobtail Squid, Opus the Octopus, and Inkling the Squid) for a 2nd prize.
So, Cate. Your yarn is spun in China by women who are provided training and mentoring, and who are able to work from home making a living wage. That's pretty amazing. What's that like, to be involved in something like that?
It’s been a fascinating journey. I started out doing spinning training in some very remote corners of China, only to find talented spinners very close to my home in Shanghai!
Hand-spinning is an endangered craft in China, and I suspect that it will be gone entirely within twenty years. China is in the middle of the largest rural-to-urban migration in human history. Spinning, along with other rural women’s work such as weaving, making baskets, and making traditional shoes and hats, is neither urban nor modern, so it’s a craft that isn’t being taught to the next generation.
I am deeply honored to be able to provide jobs for these amazing craftswomen, and to share their yarn with knitters who appreciate the time and care that goes into every skein.
Taken while Cate was training spinners in Qinghai
Cate in Qinghai
2. How did you start knitting?
I’m proudly bistitchual, and my path to knitting started with crochet. My mom was an avid knitter (as well as a quilter and tailor), and made treasured sweaters for my dad and I from yarn spun by my grandmother from her flock of Romneys, but she died before I was old enough to figure out how to manage two needles at once.
I earned pocket money in elementary school giving crochet lessons during recess, and a friend taught me to knit to I could make a Christmas stocking for a wholly undeserving 7th grade crush. Unfortunately, my friend taught me to knit into the wrong leg of all my stitches, which meant I twisted them all – it took a number of years before I figured out what I was doing wrong!
To enter: Please leave a comment telling me your favorite sea creature and whether you like it in the ocean or on your plate! I'll draw two winners next week! Thank you, Cate!!
Another Clutter Clearout update!
There are some of you who are passionately loving reading about this! I’m getting emails that there are lots of us doing this, GETTING RID OF ALL THE THINGS.
I’m at a strange place in my decluttering now. I didn’t predict this. As I explained in previous posts, I got rid of the majority of my stuff. I’m just guessing, but I’m thinking I got rid of 60-70% of what I owned. (Gobsmacking, right? Damn.)
Here’s the strange thing. I kept stuff. Of course I did. I kept the few books I can’t get rid of. I kept the first copies of all my own books. Some knitting tools. Various things that I love just because I love them. Those things are all boxed up on the front porch, waiting for me to make a place for them. I think there are four or five boxes, all told (not including boxes of things like photos and writing that have to be digitized). I bought shelves to hang above the picture rail in the office, to make use of that usually unused space.
But I’m completely loath to get moving on bringing stuff back in here. I have nothing hanging on the walls. I have empty space in the closet. And there’s this huge part of me that wants to keep it that way.
Yo, I think this is my mid-life crisis! Don’t laugh — I think it really might be! Surgically-hormone free since 2012, I don’t have to worry about peri- or actual menopause. I’m past all that (it was rough, getting through it in six months at 39 rather than over ten years, but I think it was worth it). So that’s not what this is about. I don’t want a Ferrari or a bigger house. I don’t want things. That’s the whole shift.
I want more time, both for myself and to spend with my family and friends. I want more space. I want more words, all the words in all the books. I want music and laughter and impromptu picnics (who does that? I want to do that!)
I’m just not interested in stuff, that’s all.
I like it. It feels right. So I’m moving forward (and I'm trying not to listen to that little voice that says “Get rid of the porch boxes. Take them to the thrift store without opening them. Do it, Rachael, do it.” Never fear, I won’t do it. I’ll look first. Probably.)
So in time-honored method of Putting Things Off, I’ve been tackling other parts of the house. No, I’m not getting rid of Lala’s stuff, not when there’s so much of mine to get rid of! But there’s a lot of “our” stuff that crept in while I wasn’t looking.
Corner of the kitchen before, mostly cookbooks and crappy Tupperware:
A whole new counter to use! Roy Rogers is much happier now. I got rid of stuff in the cupboards above and stored the cookbooks we like but rarely use and got rid of all the raw cookbooks I’d bought during a time when I'd lost my damn mind.
And here, the laundry area before:
We use old towels for cleaning, and while I love that we do, somewhere I’d internalized my mother’s belief in never ever ever ever getting rid of a towel. HELLO. They had to go. (I had an entire contractor’s bag full of old clean towels that I took to the SPCA where Clara came from! They need them there!)
And the fire extinguisher? This is true: once I took a 911 call of a dryer fire (which is very fun to say – dryer fire dryer fire dryer fire). Dryer fires scare me. They do happen. (Don't run your dryer at night, please.) But by the time the fire department got on scene, the fire extinguisher the resident kept on top of the dryer had exploded from the head and PUT IT OUT. Since then, that's where ours lives.
Onward! To the porch! Don't forget to leave a comment to enter to win either the handspun Opus kit or Cat's patterns!
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