A Study in Contrasts

HighlandTriangleShawlDespite my attempts to shop local, leave a small footprint, etc., I am a study in contrasts.  (Or perhaps I’m just inconsistent.)  For instance …

  • Early mornings after rising from bed, instead of a bathrobe I don the lovely Highland Triangle Shawl (designed by Cheryl Oberle pic from Folk Shawls, p. 88) that I knit (from locally raised wool) well over 10 years ago.  But then I sit in front of either my iPad or laptop to catch up on correspondence.
  • Eschewing the pod-coffee-machines (excuse me – brewing systems), I make my coffee in a stainless steel Bialetti stovetop espresso maker.
  • While I buy “bird-friendly” organic coffee beans, I buy them at a Kroger-owned grocery store.
  • breadloafI buy all organic grains for making bread but now make our bread in a bread machine.  (As you can see from this picture, I sometimes don’t slice from the correct side.  :)  We had very tall slices of bread that week.)
  • Amazing modern artwork created by Thor’s talented artist-cousins shares wall space with an array of traditional Norwegian wall hangings either needlepointed by various relatives of mine or woven by me, but the living room bookshelf came from Ikea.
  • A basket of carded fiber waiting to be spun sits next to our router.
  • I never travel (or even go any place where there will be at least a 10 minute wait) without two items:  my iPhone and a knitting project.
  • I prefer to graph knitting designs on graph paper with lead pencils and color pencils (with a large eraser nearby), but I have an array of powerful hardware and software (on different platforms) at my fingertips.
  • All our dishware is handmade by local ceramic artists, but most of our cookware is made thousands of miles away.

There is a big movement in the fiber community to buy locally sourced products.  While I increasingly buy yarn spun or dyed by local artists, I wondered just how “local” is the fiber part of my life.  Hmmm ….

  • photo 2 (2)My floor loom and my spinning wheel are U.S. made (Schacht in Colorado), as is my ball winder (Fricke in Washington), and drum carder (Clemes & Clemes in California).  Most of my hand carders are US.
  • My older Susan Bates and Boye crochet hooks were made in the US; I am unsure where the new ones are made.
  • All of  my shuttles are made in the U.S. and, in fact, I’ve met the creator of each of them, even the Gilmore shuttle!  (Many (many) years ago I drove to Stockton, California, with a friend of mine who was buying a brand new loom from the founder of GilmoreShuttleGilmore Looms, Mr. E. E. Gilmore!  I wasn’t in the market for a loom, but I bought a couple of his shuttles.)

But here I start going international:  My 8-harness table loom (Varpapuu) was made in Finland, my swift (Glimåkra) in Sweden, my skein winder (Louet) in Canada, and my knitting needles (well, most of mine are Addis) in Germany.

<Sigh>  I guess I have to embrace my inconsistencies in my attempts to think globally and act locally:)

About sweatyknitter

Fiber artist, author, and amateur artisan bread baker.
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14 Responses to A Study in Contrasts

  1. Expecting all your specialist weaving equipment to be made locally would be like expecting all your computer equipment to be made less than ten miles away though…


  2. My needles too and some yarn is imported.


  3. salpal1 says:

    I also try to use as much locally produced “stuff” in my life as possible. But there are some things that are just made better elsewhere – like addis. So I try to keep my consumables as locally produced as possible – food, wool, birthday and Christmas gifts. And I don;t worry if a particular tool that will be used many times comes from farther away. I figure it will be used enough to make the investment in carbon worth it. I think if everyone is just more conscious of sourcing products locally, the world will feel the change. We don;t need to be 100% perfect at it to make a difference.


  4. knitnkwilt says:

    I try to be conscientious but not obsessive; I gave up on being a purist long ago. I avoid big box stores as much as possible–which is quite a lot. I mostly shop at local brick and mortar stores instead of online. If I find two similar items, I buy the US made one even if it costs more. I remember once when all clothing seemed to be made abroad I thought to make clothes for myself only to find out that the fabric had been made abroad. Sigh.


    • That’s probably a good guideline: conscientious but not obsessive. :) (It reminds me of all the students I had who were vegetarians and vegans and they’d get into strong arguments with meat eaters (to the point where I’d had to intervene). I noticed, however, that most of the vegetarians/vegans were wearing leather shoes or carrying leather bags.)



  5. needleandspindle says:

    These are curious complex times where it has become difficult to live simply. How lovely that your country still manufactures things. There is only one spinning wheel made in Australia now and that is electric, one small company that makes combs and no one is left to scour and spin for small scale wool producers…a local yarn now has to go to NZ and back. Forge ahead with pure intentions.


    • Well said, though I am very surprised that there’s only one wheel maker and one combs maker in Australia … I always thought of Australia as a major “sheep” country! Outside of fiber-related tools:) however, he U.S. manufacturing base has declined at an amazing clip … starting around 1980s. Globalization and technological innovations have provided an unprecedented boom for capitalism. Corporations seek to make their product at the lowest possible cost thus increasing owners’ profits. Historically, employee cost is the largest expense to any business so in order to increase profit and remain “competitive,” U.S. manufacturing has moved out of the U.S.



  6. cleo14 says:

    I mainly try to buy from the lys. We don’t really have anyone selling yarn or fiber around here.😦


  7. tgonzales says:

    Hi Katherine! I think you are doing the best that you can and especially love that you are so consciences of who and where you buy your things. Hugs, Tamara


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