Monthly Archives: May 2012

Knit an Elephant, Save an Elephant

I’d thought I’d never be ready. Ellie put on her crankiest pants especially for these pictures.

not happy

E is for Elephant

Available on Ravelry and Etsy. Early adopters, always always pick Ravelry so you can get updates easily.

India is home to almost 60% of the remaining Asian Elephant population. In Northern India, large numbers of elephant babies are stolen from their wild families by poachers, trained and held as captive workers. Asian Elephants are endangered, their survival in India is critical to their survival as a species.

Which is why $4 from the purchase of each “E is for Elephant” pattern will go to Wildlife SOS. This organization specifically targets captive ‘working’ elephants in urban areas to help the wounded, malnourished and dehydrated. Wildlife SOS offers medical services to all injured elephants, teaches humane handling and is working to remove the neediest elephants to an elephant sanctuary. It takes many thousands of dollars to rescue a single elephant, but every little bit helps. For more information, please visit

What I’ve Been Doing

Ellie asked me to knit a “Mama Doll for me to sleep with.” So I moved one of next year’s projects up in the queue.

spitting image

Spittin’ image, right?

She’s got her little undies on already (modest soul that she is), but I still need to make her nightgown/sundress.

whole thing

Cat included for scale.

You may not know this about me: I hate designing doll clothes. My critters are made to look good naked. With their arms and legs joined like they are, they are almost anti-clothing. But when you make a person, you’ve got to have clothes. I’ve got half a nightgown finished, but I’m out of yarn because those little dresses take way more than you’d think. I have no idea what the yarn is or where it came from so I have to start ALL OVER. I think this one is going to be “G is for Girl” and not “P is for Person” because I don’t want to deal with boy clothes too. P can be for Penguin or something. Unless I have an overalls epiphany in the next few days.

Anyway. I’ve almost got all the pictures in the pattern, so if you’d like to test knit a doll, the pattern will be ready some time this week. The hair isn’t fringe, you make her a little wig and sew it to her head and her heels have a couple short rows. Besides that, finding a main color for pallid dolls (Ecobutterfly’s Farfalla is my top suggestion for skin tones) is the biggest challenge. I’ve got my test knitters! Thank you!

P.S. If you want clothed animals, Barbara has done that so much better than I ever could. The little cabled cardigan is my favorite. Or maybe the hoody.

P.P.S. Don’t forget about May’s Mindful Fiber – I missed the news-cycle but that doesn’t mean you should miss the giveaway.

12 Months of Mindful Fiber: May with O-Wool

To date, the wool aspect of Mindful Fiber has been focused on small farms and unique handspun yarns. But what if you are in the mood for a more ‘predictable’ yarn? A yarn that will define each stitch and highlight every cable. Something with the smooth texture that only a commercially mill spun yarn can provide. All that and sheep-friendly too? It’s not impossible. I’d like to share one of my all-time favorite organic yarn producers:

Begun by the Vermont Organic Fiber Company in 2000, O-Wool is now distributed by the Tunney Wool Company in Philadelphia where the yarn is also skeined and dyed. Fleece is spun by mills in Wisconsin and Massachusetts and grown by free-range sheep in South America and Australia. Sheep that are not mulesed.

That needs a little bit of an explanation.

Mulesing is when strips of skin are cut off of a Merino sheep’s bottom (typically without anesthesia) in an effort to control blowfly infestations called ‘flystrike’. Mulesing is common practice in Australia where blowflies like to lay their eggs in moist, stinky, woolly places like the wrinkly bottoms of merino sheep. When those eggs hatch, the maggots eat the live animal’s flesh. So why not just hack the wrinkles off every single sheep? Shiny scar tissue is blowfly resistant. The Australian Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals advises that mulesling (with anesthesia) is a method of last resort to save an animal and shouldn’t be used in all-purpose animal husbandry. PETA organized a boycott of Australian wool over the practice in 2004. In spite of retracting a promise to “phase out” mulesing by 2010, Australian wool growers are slowly turning to other more humane methods of preventing flystrike. Possibly because alternatives are better publicized or possibly because the public is becoming better educated about how domestic animals are systematically abused by growers and farmers. And now you know more than you ever wanted to know about sheep bottoms.

toy stash

Representatives of the colors in my O-Wool toy stash. To take the edge off.

I really didn’t mean to tell you all about mulesing and how O-Wool is very very conscious and very very careful to pick wool from animals that haven’t been tortured this way. I meant to talk about the advantages of scouring fleece with biodegradable soaps to clean it rather than “carbonizing” it with an acid bath that burns the vegetable matter away. I meant to talk about how super soft merino is super soft because of chemical softeners, not because of the quality of the wool. With minimally processed merino, the act of knitting and that first bath in a mild soap before blocking are the final steps in ‘finishing’ the yarn. I meant to talk about low-impact dyes and testing waste water to reduce the environmental impact of the dye process. But by now you know that I tend to default to the animals so you get what you get.

Speaking of what you get…

O-Wool produces three yarn lines (although I just saw a sneak peek of a new yarn on their blog): Classic, Legacy and my personal favorite, Balance. Made with a 50/50 blend of organic cotton and organic merino, Balance is the perfect all-season yarn. I’ve used the bulky weight for toys and the worsted for Ellie’s pink cardigan (Did I show you that finished?). It wears fabulously – since it’s combed during processing, the short fibers are removed to minimize pilling. Plus it comes in some really fabulous colors. I picked three in May flower shades for this giveaway.


Rhodonite, Uvarovite and Zircon.

**This giveaway is closed! Come back in June for more Mindful Fiber!**

Three winners will each receive one skein of Balance Bulky in one of the colors above. It’ll be a surprise as to who gets what – I’ll seal the packages before I add the mailing labels. But what can you do with a single skein of Balance Bulky? Two things:


One! Two! Ysolda Teague’s Not-So-Tiny Slippers!

A quick knit to keep those toes covered when the air conditioner is just a tiny bit chilly. With Balance, you’ll have just the right about of warmth. So three winners, one slipper ‘kit’ to each – just add needles.

To win May’s Mindful Fiber Giveaway, just leave a comment on this post. The random number generator will take it from there. For more chances to win, refer your friends and have them mention your name in their comment (this is to raise awareness after all). May’s Mindful Fiber Giveaway will be open for almost two weeks (until Thursday, May 31).

**This giveaway is closed! Come back in June for more Mindful Fiber!**

All the yarn pictures are mine, the Not-So-Tiny Slippers pictures are copyright Ysolda Teague.

The Man

You were supposed to get a new Mindful Fiber this morning. Instead site5 (my gracious host) decided to shut down Yarn Miracle for a single spam comment. It was a WordPress exploit, of course. I’m not a spammer. I don’t have time.

I spent several hours yesterday afternoon and evening working on a post that WordPress wasn’t autosaving because my site was FORBIDDEN. And WordPress didn’t bother to tell me that it wasn’t autosaving until I went to set the publication date. When the page reloaded there was nothing there.

I’m not going to fix it today. It’s too depressing. But next week I’ll have Mindful Fiber and an Elephant pattern for you. And this weekend I’ll show you what I’ve been working on since I finally finished up all the special orders for Roger’s Cousin.

Hint: It’s not purple. And it’s not what I meant make next.

Kitty Girl Ivey

My friend, Melissa, has caught a Waldorf doll-making bug. This isn’t a huge surprise for me since she is all-around Ridiculously Talented. I mean it. I have no idea how she finds the time to create the all the things she creates (and test my poorly-numbered patterns at the same time)! The fun part is, that since Melissa is ‘practicing’ her doll-making skills, Ellie had the opportunity to have a custom doll made. She chose everything; size, skin, eyes, clothes…


…hair, ears…


Ellie knows what she likes: cats and pink.

Ellie’s doll is named Kitty Girl Ivey. I am sure you are not at all surprised.


Ellie LOVES HER! Aren’t her toes cute?

Thank you, Melissa!

April’s Mindful Fiber Winner is…

My very special Random Number Generator has picked Kathy B of Irisheyesknitters: My Yarn Garden as April’s Mindful Fiber recipient! Three cheers for you! Your yarn will be on the way directly.

I’d also like to thank Kathy for the valuable tip about using distilled water instead of tap water on my little bamboo plant. She has saved it from unintentional annihilation.

Many thanks to all who participated in the giveaway! Stick around for May!

…everybody knows what April Showers bring…