24 August 2005

How about a nice [complete] hysterectomy?

I provide for you this link, which contains bloody good commentary; much of which I can relate to. Especially now.

N.B.: You might not want to read it if you're eating. Then again, you might. But don't say you weren't warned.

My uterus hates me.

Normally I don't sweat that kind of thing, but this whole "Revenge of the Reproductive Organs" is really cramping my style. (Sorry--but not really).

It (along with my upstairs neighbors) jacked up my entire weekend by acting out, and ruining my plans. I apologize profusely for not attending the Montreal Knitting Thing on Sunday last, especially because I said I would. I awakened with a killer migraine on Sunday, and that basically put the kibosh on me doing anything besides eating 222s and keeping very still in a darkened room. The new neighbors upstairs invited four of their noisiest friends, and they spent 72 consecutive hours practising routines from Riverdance...

I hate them so much right now.

Once they were instructed not to park in the neighbor's parking space, they decided it'd be fun to park their hooptie in mine. (So what if my car is 3000 kilometers away?) I was feeling Extra Bitchy, given the PMS and migraine. Therefore, I told them to move the shit immediately, and Never, Ever, Do It Again. And for fuck's sake, stop with all the damn pounding on the floor!!!

That having been said, I'm currently enduring the joy of being a woman, and sincerely expect to be in attendance Sunday. I regret missing the opportunity to see Rolf in the flesh (might I add, his chest hair is nothing short of magnificent!), as well as the joy of watching their friend Thomas knit a sock. In public. Around a wad of females. He seems extremely comfortable with it in the photos, and that kind of thing is to be encouraged early and often.

If you wish to take a look for yourselves, follow this link...

21 August 2005

When good fellas make bad choices.

Anything that starts out with the words, "Former mobster-turned-chef" has got to be good. However, chef might be assuming far too much, in this regard; then again, I've never actually eaten there. God willing, I won't ever have to, either.

For reference, note the proximity to Brown Sheep Wool of Mitchell:

= Brown Sheep Wool (and white supremacists)

= Home of Henry's Ice & More

Yet another reason for me to steer absolutely clear of western Nebraska. (As if I needed any others...)

"Nebraska must be the most unexciting of all the states. Compared with it, Iowa is paradise."
Bill Bryson "The Lost Continent"

20 August 2005

How Brown Is My Sheep?

Panhandle-based Brown Sheep Co. produces yarns for high-end knitting shops.

Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2005 Omaha World-Herald
Byline: Chris Clayton

May 23--MITCHELL, Neb. -- Sometimes getting ahead of everyone else, even in a computerized world, means spending the morning on your hands and knees trying to figure out what's wrong.

The computer sensor wasn't reading the color marker, so the new-fangled Swiss labeling machine wasn't working.

"When it works, it can do the work of three people doing labels manually," said Robert Wells, vice president of Brown Sheep Co., south of Mitchell.

Beyond minor problems with new technology, Brown Sheep Co. is on a business high. The world might have iPods, BlackBerrys, cell phones with video games and plasma televisions, but one of humanity's earliest civilized skills knitting is trendy again. And any knitter worth her or his needles wants Brown Sheep yarn.

Yarns from the company mill are sold in about 2,000 high-end knitting shops nationwide, including a handful of stores in Omaha. At least 400 stores are on a waiting list.

With a wide array of yarn thickness, color and styles, Brown Sheep Co. is the largest producer of natural fiber yarns in the United States.

Brown Sheep Co. came to be just west of Scottsbluff because the family patriarch, Harlan Brown, who raised sheep for more than 30 years, grew tired of watching the ups and downs of the wool market. He decided 25 years ago to add value to the operation by manufacturing yarn.

The company now employs 40 full-time and six part-time workers.

About six years ago, Brown's daughter and son-in-law, Peggy Jo and Robert Wells, moved from Colorado to work in the mill after careers in the medical field.

Brown Sheep Co.'s focus on knitting yarns has provided steady growth in an era of continued decline for U.S.-produced textiles. As traditional textile mills in the Southeast close, sales growth for Brown Sheep over the past three years has exceeded 20 percent, company officials said.

And lately, Robert Wells said, "we've noticed the demand has been high year round."

In Omaha's Countryside Village, String of Purls got on the customer list about six months before the company stopped taking new shops. Robyn Hubbard, one of the store co-owners, said she and the other owners wanted to sell U.S.-produced yarn.

"A lot of people come in and ask if we have any local yarn and we tell them about Brown Sheep," Hubbard said.

Joe Wynn, manager of Personal Threads, 8025 West Dodge Road, said the store stocks a small amount of yarn from Brown Sheep Co. but has eight specialty orders waiting for customers. Personal Threads plans to expand into a bigger space, and Wynn said he hopes to stock more products from the Mitchell company.

Another shop, Touché at 6053 Maple St., has stocked most Brown Sheep colors and weights since the store opened in the Benson area three years ago, owner Glenda Stone said.

Although considered a high-end yarn, Brown Sheep Co. products are priced reasonably for all-natural fibers, she said.

"I wouldn't say they are high priced, no," Stone said. "You can definitely get higher prices from other companies."

Retail prices for 245 yards of thin, lightweight yarn can start at about $3.95, the same as for a Peruvian competitor product that offers less overall yarn. Much heavier yarn weights can run $20 or more.

Discount chains and craft shops may sell yarn at comparable and lower prices, Stone said, but they often have synthetic materials. The synthetics may make the product easier to wash, but take away from the "heirloom" nature of the homeknitted product and don't have the same texture, she said.

"There is a quality difference, and you can feel it," Stone said. "You can see it. If you are going to spend the time working on an heirloom sweater or other item, you also are going to take the time to hand wash it and care for it to preserve it as well."

Knitting is trendy again after a generation of downturn. According to the Craft Yarn Council of America, knitting has increased 150 percent over the past two years among young adults, though participation is up in almost all age groups with 1.4 million new knitters added last year.

"Knitting now is on an incredible increase," said Peggy Jo Wells. "The most exciting thing now about the new knitters is they are 35 and younger."

The knitting bug even has hit college campuses, where groups of students gather to knit.

"It's a return of the old quilting bee concept," she said. "It's a way to unwind and a way to deal with today's stress."

She also attributes the rise in knitting to the "hurry-up and wait" pace of society. Knitting can fill idle time, and it's easy for people to carry knitting bags, she said.

Brown Sheep Co., gets its wool from producers in mostly Western states, including Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming. The company also imports from countries such as Chile.

Wool then is shipped to one of the few remaining mills in South Carolina, which cleans and prepares it before sending it back to Nebraska to be put on the spinners, dyed, packaged and shipped to customers.

The company stocks various yarns in blends using wool, mohair, cotton and silk. Yarn with a mohair component is particularly desirable, because it has a special texture that knitters like. Most mohair comes from goat ranches in Texas, which are declining in number, the Wellses said.

Brown Sheep Co. is banking on the growth of knitting to be more than just a short-term fad. The company has invested millions of dollars in new machinery, making it one of the few remaining U.S. textile companies to expand production.

Two of the biggest improvements were in drying and spinning capacity. The company's old drying machine dried 900 pounds of yarn over 24 hours. A new dryer handles 1,600 pounds in eight hours. New spinning machines, meanwhile, twine yarn twice as fast as older models.

Almost all the new equipment comes from overseas, including Turkey, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. Distributors and repairmen are often far away, which can be a problem when, for example, a new Swiss labeling machine isn't functioning.

Brown Sheep is the first company to use the machine for its retail yarn labels.

"Somebody had to be the first, and we were the ones," Robert Wells said.

The Mitchell company has captured its share of the new knitters but doesn't plan to change its marketing practices. Its products are sold exclusively by high-end knitting shops, not general craft stores or large discount chains.

"Our desire is to stay in the high-end yarn shops that provide the services with the yarn," Peggy Wells said.

Robert Wells said he has received e-mails from people in Germany who have used his yarn, but he doesn't know how they got it. The company, which has decided not to sell yarn on the Internet, will sell directly to customers in Great Britain and Australia.

"We don't want to undercut the shops," Robert Wells said. "There's pressure to do that sell directly but we don't want to do that."

Knitting Web sites promote Brown Sheep Co.'s mill and small adjoining retail shop as being worth the effort to veer off Interstate 80. The store can't keep in stock such products as hand-painted yarns with color flaws, called "seconds," that sell for $24 a pound, Peggy Wells said.

"We have built up quite a reputation for people coming to the mill. We have people come all the way from Omaha to shop here."

Last summer, Brown Sheep Co. froze its client list because increasing demand threatened to overwhelm the company.

"We won't take on any new account until we can service the accounts we have," Peggy Wells said.

Copyright (c) 2005, Omaha World-Herald, Neb.

16 August 2005

Unfinished Bidness.

This is to clear up a matter discussed at Sunday's Montreal Knitting Thang. Please pay particular attention to the paragraph detailing the Scottish "pervert who attempted to have sex with a frozen chicken..."

Next, I've posted a photo of my grandmother, grandfather, and family pooch, who looks suspiciously like Nadine's dog, as seen in her blog. (Although, my dog and grandparents are no longer on this earthly plane, I'm fairly certain that the two are not the same dog--note the date on the photo). They might, however distantly, be related. Then again, maybe not. Whatever.

Finally, my work continues on one of my eventual Dropped Stitch Shawls which I'm doing in Stacy Charles Ritratto, as per the pattern (for a change). I arranged it in a casual pose on the piano, because I'm tired using the floor as a backdrop. Check it:
As you can see, I have a long way to knit, but hey--no hurries, no worries. I'll finish it when I finish it. But now, I'll close with a photo that has been making the e-mail/dirty joke rounds for some time. For some strange reason, whenever I see it, I fall out in uncontrollable fits of laughter. Perhaps the reason is that I get off on a irreverent, tasteless humor that ridicules public figures whom I don't particularly like. This one fits those categories quite nicely, doesn't it?
Meanwhile, everybody stay real. I'll post more when the spirit moves me. Ciao.

11 August 2005

Neil Young is a Fucking Genius.

The more I listen, the more I hear. For real. He's so amazing. Can't sing on key to save his life, but hey--that's not really why I'm posting. The headline is mostly an attention getting device. Although, I do believe Neil is a Fucking Genius, (man).

First of all, I'm sick-to-fucking death of hearing about Terrell Owens and whatever he feels like doing to get more jack. I don't give a shit about the Eagles (Philadelphia, not the group), and furthermore, Donovan McNabb is kind of horse-faced, if you ask me. And frankly, I don't care if you do or not.

While I'm on a rant, can somebody please do something about all the crosswalk lights that have burnt out in this town? How am I supposed to know precisely when to jaywalk without them? That needs to be taken care of, pronto.

(There isn't really a point to this post, it's largely a reflection of the PMS from which I currently suffer.)

I think it's time for my meds. I gotta go now.

08 August 2005

Why did I attempt this while Mercury is in retrograde?

It's true--I should have known better. But I felt the need for a little sprucing up in a graphic way. As usually, my timing suck'd, so I've decided to return to the former 'generic' version of this blog until I can get the code straight enough to display my new, punchier banner.

Meanwhile, here are a few photos of some of my many, many, WIPs. I've decided if I can't get my eyes to focus, why should anything else about me follow suit?
Big Ass Baby Blanket (made with huge needles)

Either a Capelet or Shawl (I haven't decided yet)

The Trinity Shawl (in hemp, naturally)

Cleo (from Knitty.com)

Drop-Stitch Shawl with Knit-PicksYarn (in Prairie)

Some kind of tank
made with 100% cotton yarn
graciously donated by Mona

06 August 2005

Don't You Hate It When...

You try to update your site, and in the meantime blow everthing else on there straight to hell? I know I do. If you're attempting to leave a comment, or look at something that is in the archives--but can't; please accept my apologies, because I inadvertantly jacked things up, earlier this week.

Hopefully things will work the way I want them to in the very near future.

Thank you, and holla!

03 August 2005

You might call it corny...

Over the weekend, I found out that one of the preeminent musical influences of my youth died. While he will be dearly missed, his broad smile and virtuosity will stay with me always. In his youth, he was invited to sit in with one Mr. Lawrence Welk, the Champagne Music Maker himself, and amazed everyone there so much, that he was offered a job with the band, right there and then. (He played a killer-version of "Lady of Spain" which forever changed the repertoire of bar-mitzvahs all over North America). There will never be another one like Myron Floren--but as a tribute, this guy in Minnesota made a portrait of him, entirely from corn. That's right--corn. Click on the photo to read more.

Adios, Myron...We Adore You.