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Friday, January 24, 2014

A Flaming Controversy

Oy.  I know...I just have a feeling that this is going to be a long blog post, so grab some...something you like to drink and settle in because I have a story for y'all.  As I promised this will be installment #2 of "Vegan Knitter Rant" but before I get started, I have some things to say about the internet.  Yes, the internet.

But let me back up a little bit.  I have a little slice of sad in my world right now as my best friend is sort of...unavailable.  It's a GOOD thing though, as she's finally pursuing her passion of being a beauty master (getting the paper anyways...she does NOT need it...) and it's a full time gig.  When we finally had a chance to talk the other day, she was telling me about this cool nail art stuff and one phrase....struck me as was just an "aside" but FUNNY. "Well there's the whole controversy about this nail polish...I know that sounds stupid...but..."

But it didn't.  I mean really, it didn't.  On the internet there is controversy about EVER-ER-REE-THANG! I used to think it was just the small niche world I personally inhabited (at the time, natural parenting) but as my interests changed and grew, I matter WHAT the subject matter....if there is a group of people gathered on the internet, there is going to be controversy and debate and all this craziness (by the way, have you ever seen the Forum Lightbulb Joke?) Funny.

So really, none of you should be surprised (even if you think knitting is lame...I'll forgive you, only because I probably held that same opinion at some point in my life) that there can be controversy....about....

YARN.  Yup.  All kinds of controversy.  (Stop laughing y'all, this is SERIOUS!!)

One of the biggest "hot topics" (oh...I'm dying...the pun'll see in a bit) is natural yarns verses synthetic, or man made, yarns.  There are those who SWEAR that if you do not knit with WOOL, you are not even worthy of the name knitter.  There are those who defend to the DEATH that Red Heart Super Saver (cheapest, roughest and nastiest yarn you can buy) is the only thing you should use if you want your hard work to live long past any type of nuclear incident and then there are those who just sit back and watch...and read....and laugh.  I would be the...well, you know (if you know me at all.)

And so a couple of days began.  An innocuous thread where a kind knitter expressed her joy at her friend's announcement she was expecting....asking all the wise knitters for a bit of help because her friend was vegan and would not want a baby item made with animal fibers.

I knew what was coming.  I mean, it ALWAYS does, but this got funny.

Let me tell you what happens in a thread like this.  People pipe up with their favorite non-animal yarns for about...oh...the first five posts.  Someone inevitably mentions acrylic.  Acrylic yarns, if you do not know, are completely man-made.  Out of oil.  They are about as far from anything natural as you are going to get.  There are definitely no animals involved in the making of acrylic yarn, the posters will point it escalates....

It's really bad for the environment (This is true.  It's a petroleum product and it's manufacture is really kind of gross.  And in case you DOUBT this VERY REAL INFORMATION, here's a you tube video to PROVE IT.  Okay, not really, I'm too lazy to look it up and I know no one is going to watch it, but in the interest of being honest, there was just such a video posted)

But, but, but....COTTON is even WORSE. (Yes, cotton is a pretty harsh crop in terms of what it does to the environment just because of the pesticides used...this is also true)

But....That is why I use ORGANIC COTTON.  It's the ONLY THING I will use because it's like the only thing that ANY responsible knitter would use if they really card about their children, and grandchildren...and so on. Anything else is just downright IRRESPONSIBLE!!! (Hey, I have some organic cotton.  It's lovely. Love it....great stuff)

BUT.....Did you KNOW...that in some areas where organic cotton is a lucrative industry, people are not allowed to use pesticides at ALL and because of that the indigent folk DIE of MALARIA.  Therefore, organic cotton is KILLING PEOPLE and anyone who cares about their child or grandchildren and so on...should only use....(fill in the blank, I have no idea.  This is news to me.  Mosquitos suck.  Literally.  I'm all for their death and demise, but I think bats are a way cooler way to take care of this problem, but the vegans would probably have a problem with that too since using bats for anything would be abusive...)

Then...then you get the "I don't get it.  Sheep and other fiber animals aren't KILLED in the process of collecting their fiber so why in the heck would you have anything against it..."

Bring on the PETA Saves the World Through You Tube videos showing all manner of animal abuse PROVING that any animal that has ever been used for fiber has been abused and mistreated.  Duh. (Okay, listen up folks.  I am very much against animal cruelty.  But I believe with every ounce of my being that humans are the creatures higher up on the food ladder and as such, we are the GUARDIANS of animals.  I do not believe in all this crap about how they are exploited if they are enjoyed and cared for.  Sheep...they need sheared.  Let to their own devices, they would not have survived this long on our planet.  They are an animal that greatly benefits from a symbiotic relationship with humans. )

Then you have the small farm people who immediately get up in arms because THEIR animals are treated well (and they are, I am one such animal owner, although truth be known, I have no idea what I'm even going to do with the fiber once it's ready.  I'm more interested in the fact that this crazy angora goat eats POKEY BALLS from my yard.  She's awesome!) and how horrible it is to lump all fiber animal keepers in with mass producers of ANYTHING.  (True, true...if you have an issue with yarn...know where it comes from. Not too hard, I promise you.  Anyone who sells yarn on a small scale....they are going to tell you everything you want to know and more about the animal it came from.  You think new grandparents are annoying with their stories and pictures?  Then you've never met a small farm fiber producers.  Those animals are their BABIES...)

But then....after all the controversy seems to have died down...after you think it's all been said...and everyone has been sufficiently scolded for their stupidity and their lifestyle and their beliefs...(and this happens in EVERY SINGLE THREAD I have EVER SEEN asking about babies and yarn...).....

"I only use natural fibers when I am knitting for any baby because of the flammability issue...."


The Flammability Issue. Duh.  You don't KNOW about the FLAMMABILITY ISSUE?   Holy crap.  I seriously hope you don't have children.  Because if you do and don't know about this VERY IMPORTANT issue you have putting those precious children in harms way every day of their LIVES.

Sheesh.  Let me educate you.

Sometimes things catch on fire.  This has happened to yarn, I think.  (It has to have happened to yarn because it's always brought up. It has to be really common right??) When wool comes near flame it will self-extinguish (in laymen terms, unless there is a direct flame....the wool will cease to burn.  It just goes out)  Cotton (which everyone seems to think is best) goes up like CRAZY (although the natural fiber snobs swear it's okay....they've obviously never been a yarn hunter and had to perform a burn test to determine fiber content, but I digress) Acrylic, on the other hand, being a plastic, melts.  (And stinks. Oh MY STINKS)  And so catches on could like...melt instead of...burn.  Which...if that was on a baby...that was in a fire...would be bad.

Okay, I get it.  Certain yarns burn differently.  Certain items in the entire natural WORLD burn differently, but why....oh the first thing people think about when talking about what babies will wear....FIRE?

I'll just let you think about that for a minute and see if you can logically come to the same conclusion I have....

Wait for it...

Babies should not EVER EVER BE NEAR FIRE.  Holy SHIZ people.  Really??  I mean COME ON.  In the event of a house fire (God forbid..seriously...) if...that fire...gets THAT CLOSE to your BABY, you have a very serious issue of smoke inhalation that has probably already taken the life of that baby (Okay this is SO MORBID, but the logic simply needs examined here)

So yesterday, as this thread is heating up surrounding whether or not vegans are stupid (I do not advocate putting down anyone who is sincerely trying to make the world a better place, no matter how misguided...that's their decision) someone throws out the standard "I never put babies in anything that will melt when they inevitably catch on fire" someone finally says....(paraphrasing, becaues I don't have permissionto quote)

"I just prefer keeping babies...out of fire...."

I wanted to stand up and cheer.  Finallly.  Someone said it.  Out loud So I replied

 "This always confuses me. The hyper-concern for what children are wearing if and when they catch on fire. Like it’s this very, very real possibility….the number of times it gets mentioned when people ask about knitting for children would have us all believe that fire is an inevitability or something. Totally off topic, but just something I find really odd….."

I got like 92 'agrees' and '14' funny clicks. So it's not just ME?? I am not the only one who wonders...wait, what?

And I thought that was funny.  And I read it to the kids.  And we had a good chuckle.

I went back to read the thread again, but at this point, it was locked. Uh-oh.  That can't be good....what happened?

You want to know right?  I know you do...

Well, someone else had a VERY PERTINENT piece of information to add to this thread.  I mean, seriously guys, this is....Serious...Again, I'll paraphrase...

"So time...this guy...set my really long hair on fire...and at the time...I was wearing this sweater. It was an ACRYLIC sweater.  It burned me badly.  So, yes, you should never, ever, ever use acrylic yarns for babies..."


I mean....what?  Because?

When some dumb ass sets YOUR BABY'S hair on fire...that acrylic blanket you made....will like...melt your baby.

Oh. My. Gawd.

Y'all.  This is not FUNNY.  I am NOT LAUGHING that this person was harmed.  That is awful.  I mean, really it is....but then...when I thought it couldn't get any better....the person who said she didn't advocate keeping babies "in fires..." says...

"What kind of idiot sets someone's hair on FIRE?"  Exactly!!!  LOL!!  And so, this poor girl, with her heartfelt plea...trying to save people from catching on fire (who didn't enough after school specials to realize her message should have been 'Choose who you hang around wisely...they may set you on fire...') started getting 'funny' clicks on her post....FUNNY CLICKS and she was indignant.  I mean, hello?  She could have DIED (she said this actually, in an edit) and how could anyone click her FUNNY button after sharing something so important....

I don't think she understood how not relevant her having her hair....set...PURPOSELY on fire....was (I have to believe that's why the funny clicks were given because I do believe humanity isn't THAT horrible.  Being set on fire is NOT all...but I think we can all agree...if that happens, you have bigger problems than what the fiber content on your clothing says...right?)

And so the thread is locked now.  Because it "derailed...."  You think???

But that's ago, because this morning, a new one ALL about babies and their flammability and the history...and why wool already morphing into a debate about chemicals put on clothing and how silly it is to make sure your child is safe WHEN you let them PLAY around fire....

The internet.....


Monday, January 6, 2014

Living With....Me

The past few weeks in the Coffey  house have been tumultuous in terms of stuff.  Not emotional stuff, but tangible, physical stuff. Clutterty stuff, unused, guilt-inducing stuff.

Guilt. My constant companion since becoming a mother.  An uninvited guest...haunting every occasion...every day...every activity.  Anyone else out there have that?  Not like "Oh I did something wrong..." guilt, but this sort of nagging feeling that when I'm doing one thing I should be doing another.  Or being more....or better.

And so I've been sorting through things in my  house as well as my head and I am not sure if it's the new year, all the events of last or just realizing life isn't forever....but things are changing around these parts.

Decluttering  is nothing new here.  We declutter and rearrange all the time.  This time, though, I've had pen and paper in hand and am making notes about what is leaving, why, how it makes me feel and what it means in terms of future decisions and letting go of this person I always thought I SHOULD be.  It's part frightening and part freeing.

Some things I've had to get really honest about....

Homeschooling.  When I stared I had my little school room and bins and curriculum, a map and alphabet on the wall.  Tidy and neat.  Perfect and structured.  I've come to find out it just doesn't work that way.  I mean, sure, you can read blog after blog with picture perfect "pinable" scenes of a homeschool Mom's BEST day, but the reality is....homeschooling just isn't school at HOME.  It's not.  In my house we school all over the place...we search for pens and pencils and crayons and kids disappear for a couple hours and filter back to me when they have questions.  I do not stand in front of a chalkboard and write anything and very rarely do we do "tests" or raising hands or any of that nonsense.  My olders work independently, my littles sit on my lap.

And curriculum. Oh how I wish I was that mom that did all the fun activities with those big curricula and liked making homemade slime and mixing and crafting and all that crap.  But I don't. I never have.  I've been at this for 11 years and I am still not into making school that hard.  I want to get it done.  I want my children to understand commas and question marks, speak intelligently, read good books and know how to change a tire.  That is what SCHOOL is for.  Life is for everything else.  That's where we learn about animals, how to cook, clean, manage time, money and relationships and learn to be the people we are supposed to be (yes, even me...I'm still learning too!)

So...yesterday I sorted through it all.  I touched books that induced such guilt I struggled hardcore to let go.  I had to ask myself...does this reflect OUR life..or the imaginary one I think I'll live someday.  Is the life I already do live THAT bad and would it be THAT good if I used THIS BOOK in our homeschool?  I mean really that's what I'm holding onto if you really bottom line it.  Maybe...maybe with NOAH...or the new baby, I'll be that Mom that spends 3 hours on the Phonics Game...and not be that Mom that uses the 100 Easy Lessons (in 15 minutes a day!!....and all my children can and do read by the way!)  Going through workbooks with like 10 pages done because we realized this was NOT going to work was HARD.....or those with HALF done because by half the book my children were too advanced to continue without being bored....those books, half used, dog-eared to page 100, pristine until 203....killed me.  It felt so wrong, so ICKY.  With each book I tore pages out of (for porfolio purposes) and didn't feel better ,it felt worse, to be perfectly honest.  Until I sat down with pen and paper and wrote down what I threw away, what replaced it and WHY I could let go.  That felt good.  I gave myself written permission to be okay with who I really, really am and what I am doing with my childrne for real...not in fantasy land.

This extended to other parts of my persona and who I really am.  I love to scrapbook. I haven't in like a year. Why?  Too much crap to sort through to get to it.  I realized, through writing it all out scrapbooking is NOT a "creative outlet" for me. Not at all.  I enjoy it because I enjoy going through the memories and I enjoy spending time with my children who help me and I enjoy the finished product and watching them go through their books.  But I am not that crafter that wants to paper piece embellishments to paint chipboard letters to perfectly match the paper I selected specifically for the layout.  I want to crop my pictures, put them on pretty paper, write down what's going on, stick some pretty stickers on the page and be done.  That's enough for me.  And so I got rid of not only supplies....but the expectation to USE them because I had them (And Mallory is having a  heck of a time with all the paper and stickers she's been given)....and with that, all my scrapbook magazines with "Great ideas.." I NEVER refer to them.  I never use them.  So again, the girls got them to cut up (they are making collages and if you are ever doing something mixed media, the graphics and text in scrap magazines are unparalleled!!)  Also, I don't have to be a perfectionist about my photos.  I can delete, toss and get rid of MUCH of what I take.  Digital technology has been like mega overload for me in terms of pictures, and so as an "allowance job" I directed my almost 14  year old daughter to our dropbox and showed her how to sort through all the pictures and get rid of blurry shots, headless people, Mom looking like she's on a bender (why is it that everytime I make it into a picture I look drunk??) and I didn't.....even...supervise.  I trusted her.  I needed these sorted and didn't have time.  And lo and behold, even though I didn't micro-manage this task, no one in my family mysteriously disappeared because a photo I wanted got deleted.  Who knew??

Bin after bin, box after box, choice after choice has been examined and left me a little raw.  Who am I exactly?  What do I value?  Does my life reflect that or am I still just waiting for that life to happen.  It's a tough question to answer.  There are a million choices I make on a daily basis and some I learn from, some I cling to, some I am not sure about....

Last night though, I sat and stuffed all my pocket diapers for Emory.  I hadn't used them in awhile.  I found myself wanting to get back to that choice because it reflects what is important to me on a level most people probably think is lame.  But still, it's a choice I made a long time ago that got brushed aside in favor of other things...things that don't necessarily even get in the way of using them, but when you're cluttered of mind and spirit, you tend to follow the path of least resistance...and we all know, cloth diapers ain't that path ;)

I am not sure all I will accomplish this year, but I think journaling about what it is I am doing and why is cathartic.  Why am I buying THIS?  Why did I avoid doing THIS? Why do I think THAT?  For the rest of my life I'll be living with me and I'd really like that person to stop being a stranger I think I'll get to know if only I make all these choices I never do make.  For better or worse, I am who I am and while I welcome and accept growth and change, I need to be realistic about what that process is and what it produces over the LONG TERM, not the right now....and that nothing I hold on to, or start doing, or BUY will produce any lasting, meaningful change anyhow.

So here's to a 2014 where I start to like living with me, myself and I....