Friday, March 06, 2009

Over and over and over again

It is finally Friday in a week that has often seemed as though it won't end. Even it being Friday hasn't really changed that--I only remembered last night that I have an exam meeting after all of my classes for the day, which will add another two hours to what I'm doing. :(

The weather has been very strange in the last day or so. It seems we are limping towards some kind of spring, so it has been slowly getting's not quite four seasons in one day, New Zealand-style, but it is strange. Yesterday, we had snow squalls in the afternoon, followed by hail, then freezing rain, and then a thunderstorm. It's quite odd to see lightning and hear thunder when there's still a good six feet of snow on the lawn...

The Watchmen is out in theatres this weekend; the boyfriend is quite excited. I am not. I know everyone who reads graphic novels is all like "OMG watchmen=best thing ever" but it's really never done all that much for me. I like some of the pieces, but I can't say that the whole quite adds up for me. The misogynism might be part of that.

Monday, March 02, 2009

I Hate the Recession, or, It's Called "Common Sense"

One of the things that irritates me most about this recession (aside from the big picture worries of the world coming to an end/the economy actually imploding/not being able secure another job) is the veritable pantheon of "Survive the Recession" advice that is flying at us from all corners. As a society, it is of vital importance that we be told not to buy $9 coffees (sidebar: I'm shocked that Kinder Bueno commercial is still on the air), because we certainly can't figure it out ourselves.

The advice bugs me mostly because it is impractical: Have a staycation (gag) instead of a vacation. Do your nails yourself instead of going to a salon. Consider buying a smaller model car. Well, if I couldn't afford to do any of those things in the first place, how does continuing not to do them save me any money?

And don't even get started on the terminology people invent for this. Recessionista? Srsly?

Some of the worst advice yet comes from the Knitting Daily newsletter, which comes from Interweave Press. Mostly I enjoy Knitting Daily: with free patterns, helpful columns, and the gallery so you can see how stuff actually fits real people, what's not to like? Sure, they do shill Interweave's books/magazines/etc. a lot, but it's a small price to pay for what you get in return.

This week's newsletter is "Knitting Creatively On A Budget." Apparently, one does this by only buying one skein of yarn at a time from their local yarn store (to make sure they stay open, of course) and then making hats, wristwarmers, iPod cozies, neckwarmers, and baby clothes out of them. Or, one might purchase Leigh Radford's One Skein (published by Interweave) to access a number of one skein projects, including (!) some tiny knit cupcakes! They're adorable!

So here is my dilemma: why am I buying yarn for the sake of buying yarn, and why am I using it to make stuff with varying degrees of usefulness? Sure, as KD points out, I can make several iPod cozies out of one skein, and give them as gifts to my friends, but surely each friend only needs one, and don't most people already own some kind of iPod cover? Why am I making knit cupcakes? Sure, they are cute, but they're also useless. Aren't I supposed to be trying to cut down on waste here?

Here is my advice on how to survive as a knitter during times when money is short:
1) Knit from your stash. You already own it, so it doesn't cost you anything.
2) If you hate the colours in your stash, dye them yourself. This can be done relatively inexpensively when compared with the costs of buying all new yarn.
3) Save all of your leftover yarn for use in future projects. Learn to make mitered squares so that you can make squares for a blanket. Try to do one or two a week. If you start now, you'll have something ready to put together by the time December rolls around.
4) Don't knit things just for the sake of knitting them, or because Someone Famous is. Yes, the Yarn Harlot has fabulous taste in patterns and yarn, but you don't need to make a Clapotis/Jaywalkers/February Lady Sweater just because EVERYONE ELSE is making them. Which brings me to my next point...
5) Make things that you like AND that you'll wear/use. If you like shawls and wear them, by all means, make a Clapotis. I like to look at shawls more than I like to wear them, so it would be a bad choice for me.
6) Only buy yarn when you know what you're going to use it for. When you are looking at it, think "I will use this for _____". If the blank remains blank, or you change the sentence to "I want to buy this because it's soft/pretty/cheap/I want to buy something", put it back, and think about it for a couple of days.
7) If you're a book buyer, ask yourself how likely you are to knit more than one pattern in the book. If you're not, don't buy it.
8) Similarly, only buy online patterns that you already have the yarn for.
9) Look for sales. This applies to both yarn and books. Again, though, don't think, "OMG, Kidsilk Haze for $5/ball. Must buy." if you hate mohair. Yarn you hate or won't use is never a bargain, no matter how cheap it is.
10) Use the destash function on Ravelry. If you play your cards right, you can either get rid of stuff from your stash, and use that money to fund other yarn, or you can pick up yarn you need (for a project, of course) for less than you might pay at a store.
11) If you belong to a knitting group, arrange a destash night. My guild did this in January and it went really well. We had a table for stuff that was free, and a table for a stuff for trade. If people had anything really valuable, they were allowed to put a figure on it ("I want $40/equivalent trade for this skein of Blue Moon Ribre Arts Luscious Single Silk".)
12) When knitting for others, make things that are appropriate for the recipient. Don't use luxury fibers for newborn gifts. I know you want to make something awesome, and a cashmere layette makes a great statement, but no new parent will thank you for a gift that requires such delicate treatment. Similarly, if you are going to make something for an adult, make it something they will use.
13) Prioritize. If you really want to try that Tilli Thomas or Wollemeise, think about what you're willing to go without to get it.