Knit one, purl one, chill out

I’m working on a pair of socks right now and I’m thinking about one of the major reasons why I took up knitting in the first place: to stay away from screens and digital information overload.

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I’m an information junkie by trade and by nature. I spend most of my work day in front of a computer with an internet connection. On my off time, my smartphone and tablet are always near. I’m on Facebook and Twitter just as much as the next person.

But all that has changed in the past month.

I’m finding all the news from the United States quite depressing and distressing. The news from the rest of the world isn’t particularly cheerful either.

It’s getting to the point where I’m feeling panicked as I scroll through the alarming headlines I see shared on social media or on respected journalism sites.  The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert don’t seem that funny to me anymore.

I know I need to stop worrying about things I can’t control.

If I already hadn’t started knitting, I would be starting now.

Google “knitting and mental health” or knitting and stress reduction” and you’ll find many articles, such as this one and this one, which confirm what knitters already know: knitting is good for you.

Which brings me back to knitting as a way of pulling the plug on information overload. .  

The more I knit, the more my fingers and brain are occupied and NOT surfing the web. 

And when I’m not knitting, I’m retraining myself in my online habits.

If I want to do some aimless internet surfing, I have moved my bookmarks for Ravelry, Knitty, and online yarn shops to the top of my browser.

If I’m watching television, it’s home decorating and nature shows, and more soothing Netflix fare. I’m really getting into The Crown!

I’m glad I started knitting a couple of years ago simply out of my own curiosity and as a bit of a self-improvement project. That way, I don’t associate knitting as something I started as a result of something stressful.

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Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a heel to turn and an episode of Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party to watch. Martha is wearing an intriguing knitted sweater. 

 

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A Visit to Baynoddy

It’s been a while since my last post – and I have no excuse. I fell off the regular writing wagon, what with work, life, knitting, etc. But I’m back!

And I’ve been thinking about the whole locavore thing.

Occasionally for a treat, I’ll go out for a nice meal at Mallard Cottage, or another of one of the happening restaurants in St. John’s that specialize in local food.  Who would have known that root veggies and cod would be so trendy?

The meal is always delicious, the atmosphere and service makes for a lovely evening out, but for my wallet, it’s pretty expensive. A meal for two, with wine, comes in at around $150. So, it’s not every week I can do this sort of thing.

I got to thinking about this when I paid a visit to the Fahey Farm recently, out in Chapel’s Cove, home to Baynoddy Knitwear, Spinning and Weaving.  

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Linda Lewis creates the gorgeous Baynoddy knitwear and woven textiles I’ve seen at craft fairs for years. Her husband is part of the Fahey family, which has operated this farm since 1789, which makes it oldest heritage farm in Newfoundland and Labrador.

These days, the Fahey Farm’s main crop is fibre.

Linda and her husband raise sheep, goats, and alpacas who provide the raw material for the Baynoddy sweaters and scarves.  

It was great to spend a couple of hours with Linda, touring the small farm, meeting the animals, and seeing the process of getting the fibre from the backs of the animals, through the cleaning, carding and spinning process, and then, finally to the sweater.  

See that hand spun skein of yarn? That came from Henry the Alpaca!

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That woven scarf over there? Half Clover the Sheep and Gertie the Goat.

It’s also really hard, time consuming work. They run a friggin’ farm. That means year round early mornings, late nights, and everything in between.

Washing, cleaning, carding, and spinning wool is a slow and careful process which requires a lot of time and even more patience.

That’s before Linda even gets to the weaving and the knitting.

It’s one thing for me to knit for fun, as a diversion at the end of a work day, but it’s another ball of wool to make a living from it.

I can totally understand why yarn and the finished products from Baynoddy are a bit pricey. Even so, I’m still amazed – and impressed – that Linda and her husband are making a go of it.  

In an ideal world, me and all the other local knitting fanatics would be buying all our supplies at Baynoddy and a handful of other local wood producing spots.

But for me, on a modest budget, artisanal yarn is a special occasion thing, just like having a meal at Mallard Cottage.

Then again, when I’m gonna splurge, I’m gonna splurge local.

So, while I was at Baynoddy, I picked up two skeins of 50% mohair and 50% wool, which means half Gertie the goat and half one of the sheep (I can’t remember which one).

I made a set of fingerless gloves and a matching earwarmer headband.

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Fashion and function!  

I’ll use them to punch up an otherwise blah outfit in the middle of winter.

Just like a meal and a night out at Mallard Cottage can punch up an otherwise blah week anytime of the year. 

P.S. Here is the result of my visit to Baynoddy from my day job.