Sunday, February 20, 2011

Dream Cowl

...everything I thought it could be and more.

Recently I dyed some yarn with food coloring. You can read all about the process here in Turquoise Dreams. I searched high and low for a project that would really show off the gradient colors. A shawl made the most sense but I already have a turquoise shawl. And I'm currently knitting a dark blue one. Too much of a good thing. My friend Angie had made this cowl that I found stunning. It changes stitch patterns so you don't get bored easily. Perfect!

Name: Turquoise Dreams
Weight: fingering
Modifications: I wanted to be able to see the color gradients so instead of knitting straight stockinette stitch, I used seed stitch instead.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Why I Kept My Sons Intact

Happy, Healthy and Whole

Circumcision has been in the news lately for a few reasons. The bill in San Fransisco that would prevent routine infant circumcision for example. As a parent, trying to navigate the internet for information can be overwhelming. There is so much data out there and whose facts do you trust? I decided to write this post after someone recently asked me why I chose to keep my sons intact. They wanted just a few of my top reasons. So this is it. It's our story, our reasons in no particular order. I want to say that while we have two sons, I will be using a daughter in some examples.

  • Foreskin is normal. Funnily enough in our decision not to circumcise we didn't look around us. While I am very happy to live in the Northwest where circumcision rates are very low, where almost every single one of my boy's playmates are also intact I didn't care. The same reason why I think to circumcise because everyone else around you did is wrong. The reason here we left them intact is because foreskin is normal. Every single male born on this planet in the entire history of mankind was born with foreskin. It reminds me of the saying If God had wanted me to be born with foreskin, I would have been. Now if you believe in evolution or adaptation, notice that after all these thousands of years, males still are being born with foreskin. It must serve a purpose. And it does.

  • Amputation on a minor is illegal as a first response to preventative health care. Doctors are not legally permitted to perform any surgery on a minor unless there is clear medical need and more conservative medical treatment has failed. So what gives? If I wanted the doctor to remove a daughters breast buds because of the risk of breast cancer, they can't do it. Even if her risk for breast cancer is higher than my son's risk for HIV or cancer. What about aesthetic reasons? Can a parent take their newborn baby in and request that they want the fingernails surgically removed because they prefer the look? No. Can I take a daughter in and have the doctor perform a surgery altering her vagina to look more like mine? No. I would be denied and most likely child protective services would be called. I would not remove any part of my daughters vagina for any of the reasons given for a benefit of male circumcision. And I would not remove any other part of my children's bodies for any of those same reasons. For my husband and I, the logic to circumcise for preventative health would encourage removal of body parts for any reason. Poor Bailey! You stubbed your toe! Here, let's get it removed so you can't ever stub it again.

  • We're poor and lazy. Seriously. Most health insurances don't cover circumcision since no medical organization in world recommends routine infant circumcision. The going rate at my clinic is $300. We figure that if our boys want cosmetic surgery, they can pay for it themselves. The care for a newly circumcised infant penis is demanding. Check for bleeding, check for swelling, lubricating the raw area, making sure the ring doesn't fall off too early or doesn't fall off at all, giving pain medication. To care for an intact boy is simple. Wipe clean. That's it. Like most parents, my husband and I choose to spend as little time at the changing station as possible.

  • It's a human rights issue. We are parents. We don't own their bodies. And it is our responsibility to make decisions for our children until they are old enough to make those decisions for themselves. But there is a big difference between choosing a surgery for cosmetic reasons and medical necessity. Remember, no medical organization in the world recommends routine infant circumcision based on any reported health benefits. And we parents do make mistakes. Constantly. But there are very few decisions we make for our children that are as permanent as circumcision. Permanent. You cannot undo a circumcision. My husband and I strongly believe that our sons, and every child should be able to choose for themselves what their body should look like. If our sons choose to circumcise themselves as adults for any reason at all, I will fully support their decision. If you don't own your own body, what do you own?

  • We thought ahead to the future. Again, we are lucky to live in an area of the United States where circumcision rates are low. And our sons were lucky to be born at a time where circumcision rates nationwide are dropping and pediatricians are speaking up against circumcision. Unlike their father, born in the 1980's were circumcision was performed on nearly every male child. When we first discussed circumcision as expecting parents, my husband asked his mother why she had him circumcised. The reasons were that it was thought beneficial and that it was normal. Now in the future, if we had circumcised our sons, what would we have said? Well, at the time that you were born, circumcision wasn't thought beneficial by any medical organization. And well, no it wasn't normal. In fact most of the boys being born that year were kept intact. You can see where this was going. What would we honestly say? It was the best decision for our family? It goes right back to the human rights issue.

Here are some of my favorite sites with lots of information.

Still unsure whether to circumcise?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

... All You Knit is Love

I am absolutely in love with my knitting group, The Knotty Knitters. Amazing, talented, loving, creative, funny, awesome women. We've been meeting for about a year and a half now but I've known the members anywhere from 1 to 15 years. My soul sisters. Be
my valentine?

Yesterday, The Knotty Knitters completed their fourth yarn bombing. We knit, crocheted and sewed a huge display ALL YOU KNIT IS LOVE onto a fence. This fence is protecting a big giant hole where a building once stood. It's called The Pit. And it needed some love. This fence faces the Eugene public library. You can read more about it on The Knotty Knitters blog.

A lot of people ask us why. Why do we do it? Because it's fun. Because it makes people smile. Because it might inspire someone else to create. Because I'm a huge believer in Pay It Forward. Because there is something incredibly satisfying in giving away your art to the public. If you come across this, how could you not stop and smile? Everyone needs more love and more art in their live. And also because I have way too much yarn not to cover parking meters, door handles and fences with it.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Turquoise Dreams

...dreams really do come true.

There is a group on Ravelry called What a Kool Way to Dye. This group is for yarn dyeing enthusiasts who prefer to dye with Kool Aid and food coloring. I love this group. It provides great inspiration as well as techniques. Every month, they have a DAL- Dye A-Long. You can choose to participate or not, but there is a theme that you use to dye your yarn with. This February the theme is gradients. I tried to dye some socks I knit last year in a gradient style and failed miserably. I know now that I had the wrong technique, not enough dye and I didn't allow for enough time. This time, HUGE success. I freakin' love this yarn. Here's a Knitty tutorial showing how to do it. I followed it, mostly, but will explain what I did precisely so you can try it too!

In Knitty's tutorial, they wound the yarn into a really long skein. I did not. I weighed my yarn and then divided it into 5 mini skeins of equal weight. I did not cut or separate the mini skeins- they were all attached to each other by one strand of yarn. I then soaked this in lukewarm water while I prepared the dye bath.

In my crock pot, I poured in 8 cups hot water and 3/4 cup white vinegar. I added 1 teaspoon McCormick's blue food coloring and 1/4 teaspoon green food coloring. Stirred it in, put the lid on and turned it onto high. I waited until it was nice and hot and there was steam on the lid.

I took my yarn out of the water and gently squeezed the water out of it. I lowered all but one mini skein into the pot (make sure that the one you leave out is one of the ends.) I then quickly plunged the end mini skein into the hot dye bath and pulled it right out (please DO NOT forget your rubber gloves!!) I layed the mini skein into a bowl next to the crock pot, put the lid on the rest of the dye bath and set the timer for 10 minutes.

After the 10 minutes, I gently squeezed the water out of the first mini skein that was in the bowl. I now placed it onto a plate next to the bowl. I reached into the dye bath and took out the next mini skein- #2. I laid it in the bowl. I took a 2 cup measuring cup and scooped out at least a cup of water/vinegar solution from the dye bath (the liquid was nearly clear- the dye was all used up.) I microwaved the liquid until it was boiling and added 1/2 teaspoon of blue food coloring and 1/8 teaspoon green food coloring. I poured it into the crock pot dye bath and gently stirred it. I replaced the lid and set the timer for 20 minutes.

After the 20 minutes, I again gently squeezed out the water from mini skein #2 and put it on the plate with #1. Pulled out mini skein #3 and placed in the bowl. Got more water from the dye bath, heated it until boiling and added 1/2 teaspoon blue coloring and 1/8 teaspoon green coloring. Stirred it into the dye bath, replaced lid, set timer for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, do the same thing with mini skeins #3 and #4. With the last skein in the crock pot, I set the timer for 40 minutes but checked on it at 30 minutes and saw that the dye bath water/vinegar solution was already mostly clear. I went ahead and pulled it out at that time.

After the skeins were all cooled, I gently washed them in lukewarm water with some wool wash. Then just hang to dry and skein or wind it up and enjoy! In the end it took about an hour and a half of dyeing time and 2.5 teaspoons of blue food coloring and 5/8 teaspoons of green food coloring.

Later this month I plan on doing another gradient dye with a friend. I haven't decided what color to do but I'm extremely excited. Let me know if you have any questions on what I did.

Name: Turquoise Dreams
Weight: fingering
Yardage: 382 yards

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Divine Cupcakes

All of the cuteness, none of the guilt.

My knitting group meets at Eugene's first cupcakery, The Divine Cupcake. Organic, vegan and amazing. Flavors like Cherry Bomb, The Electric Pumpkin, Thai Me Up and my favorite Peanut Butter Cup. Inspired to knit cupcakes and the fact that Valentines Day is approaching I wanted something cute and sweet.

Knit in the round, these little cupcakes "bake" up in just a couple of hours and are guaranteed to make someone smile. You knit a little cupcake "paper" cup for it to sit in then peek-a-boo! Unwrap your cupcake for a little smile.

Divine Cupcakes
size US 4 (3.5mm) needles- double point or circular- use whichever method you prefer to knit in the round
3 colors worsted yarn
fiber filling
embroidery floss
size 6 seed beads

CO with Color A 6sts, join in round.
1: *kfb* 12sts
2: knit
3: *k2, m1* 18sts
4: knit
5: *k3, m1* 24sts
6: knit
7: *k4, m1* 30sts

Knit for 10 rows. At this point I like to embroider the face on the cupcake using embroidery thread and seed beads.

Switch to Color B
1: *k5, m1* 36sts
2: *yo, k2tog*
3: knit
4: Create picot edge: Pick up stitch directly 2 rows below (same row as color change.) Put on left needle, knit with live stitch. Repeat for all stitches.
5-6: knit
7: *k4, k2tog* 30sts
8: knit
9: *k3, k2tog* 24sts
10: knit
11: *k2tog* 12sts Weave in ends and stuff cupcake with filling.
12: *k2tog* 6sts

Switch to Color C
1: knit
2: *kfb* 12sts
3-4: knit
5: *k3tog* 4sts

Cut yarn, thread through live stitches. Pull tight and pull down into the cupcake and secure to create a little cherry. Sew sprinkles on with embroidery thread.

Cupcake liner:
With Color C, CO 32sts, join in round.
*k1,p1* ribbing for 10 rounds
next round: purl
Start decrease:
1: *k2, k2tog* 24sts
2: knit
3: *k1, k2tog* 16sts
4: knit
5: *k2tog* 8sts
6: *k2tog* 4sts

Cut yarn, pull through live stitches. Weave in end.

Divine Cupcake pattern belongs to Maiya Becker. It is a free pattern. Please do not sell pattern or sell product made from pattern. Be cool. Make lots of cupcakes. Give them away. They make people smile.