Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Then, last night I had a little knitting get together. Josee brought a book to give away (no one wanted any of the yarn I pulled out to try to give away! Boo Hoo), and I ended up with it. "Double Exposure" by Bonnie A. Franz. It's an interesting idea--patterns shown in different colourways, sometimes with slight differences. But really, I don't think MOST knitters need a whole book encouraging them to knit something in a bright colour when the original pattern is shown in grey. And some of her colour combinations are a little extreme. The section with the knitting info is quite good, and many of the patterns are quite good too, but a lot of book also show the same pattern knitted in different colour schemes.
One sweater on the front caught my attention. Lots of ruffles. I looked it up, and it uses KnitPicks Shimmer, 50g=440 yds, the same as the Shadow I have. And my size would need 3 balls. It's knit at 16st/4" so there's lots of stretch so I can knit a size small, LOL. And I can always knit it a bit shorter, like I usually do. The great thing is, I can knit all of it (except the ruffles) on my knitting machines! I had been thinking about doing that, but having a pattern makes it much more likely to actually happen. To be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if many of the patterns were knit on machines for the book.
So, when do I start? Well.....there's something on the standard gauge one (been there since before the cruise), nothing on the KnitSmart or LK150. I think I want to use the Singer 327, maybe even use a tuck st for some texture. I don't think I'll get the project that's already on it done till after Christmas, so don't hold your breath waiting for the new Shadow sweater!
Friday, December 14, 2007
Can you see what I didn't? I made these mittens for Huey. I did a cast on with cotton, then switched to a wool and knit the hand. Then I felted them, picked out the cast on, and did the ribbing. I made the one on the right first. I had Huey try it on at one point, and he asked why the ribbed part was a different colour. I insisted that it wasn't, it was just cause the hand was felted and fuzzy, and the ribbing was smooth. I had thought the colour looked a little different, but I was strong in my belief that it was the different texture playing tricks.
Part way through the second ribbing, we went tobogganing and then some running around while Megan slept in the truck. I took the mitts out to start working, and in the daylight, the difference was VERY obvious!! OMG. The mitt on the right has a navy blue ribbing!
I showed them to Huey, and he said he'd wear them (this way he will always know which is the left mitten). I added a cord (done so quickly on the knitting machine), but after one day I had to cut the cord off because it hurt his back and neck! They are a little big on him (he wears 'magic gloves' underneath, and they almost fit me), but they are so warm and fuzzy, I want my own pair! Unfortunately of course, mittens are usually worn outside, in DAYLIGHT. LOL.
(Can anyone tell me how to delete a picture after it's in this box? I tried right clicking on it, but then it became unselected)
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Sometimes though, through the wonders of blogland, we come across wonderful organizations that need help. Every knitter seems to have a charity of choice...Warm Up America, Project Linus, Let's Blanket Canada......I'd like to add one more I just found this morning.
The Soaring Eagle Project is touching to me I think, because it originated with a teacher, for her students. She'd like to have each student in her school receive a handknit gift at Christmas. She's in Oklahoma, in a very impoverished district. These might be the only gifts some kids get. As of today, she still needs over 200 pairs of mittens, but there is time before the deadline (I think it's Dec 12 or 17). And if not this year, perhaps next year? Or maybe adopt a school near yourself and see if they'd be interested. One year I made one pair of mittens each month to donate to a mitten tree. Kids mittens don't take very long, or very much yarn, and are very appreciated. What more could you ask for?
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
I finished it sometime before Lucy turned 3 (Nov 2005). I only remember that because we had a party and I took my mom over to see a house we were trying to buy, and I let her wear the jacket (hoping it fit her cause I didn't like it on me). I think I won the cream Shetland Chunky in February of 2004, although it could have been 2005. Raffle prize from the Georgetown Knitting guild. I wasn't sure if it'd be enough, and I was in love with Patons Divine, so I used that for the arms and knitted at the same time trim.
Issues! Oh boy, were there issues. The Divine has a slightly different gauge. Not an issue when I used it in the bottom piece as that was done with rows, but continuing the look of the band up the upper piece was challenging. It was 7 sts (why can I remember that?), but every so often I would do an extra short row in just the band. Or was it I did a row without knitting the band? LOL.
The Shetland Chunky has a different gauge than what the pattern called for, but it's pretty easy to go by dimensions for this pattern. I did make it a little shorter, I don't mind it, but as it's mostly acrylic, it hasn't stretched much and a little longer would have been fine.
I didn't knit buttonholes. I wanted to use clear snaps but I couldn't find any that were large enough. I don't want to fiddle with tiny snaps when it's cold out. And once it was finished, I knew it was too big/square, so I didn't have much desire to finish it off.
Another modification--I didn't use all the upper rows to pick up sts for the sleeve (it's knit downwards). I left about two inches which I just seamed up. Even still, the armhole/sleeve is huge.
I did wear it one day soon after finishing, and a woman stopped me in the store and said it was a nice Einstein! It's very recognizable, but like most patterns in that book, doesn't look like a 'beginner' project. I would contemplate making it again....with a much nicer, more interesting yarn! Although I did not like knitting miles of plain, straight, garter stitch. I felt like such a beginner, so I never took it out in public, LOL.
And, I ended up have quite a bit of the Shetland Chunky left over. Even though it's only 25% wool, I dyed it....that would have been Easter.....2005? It was in the old house, and I don't think I would have done that Easter of 2006 when we were in the process of packing to move!
Friday, November 23, 2007
I scooped out as much fuzz as I could several times. Here's your Knitting PSA of the day...after collecting a pile of fuzz on the edge of the washing machine, DO NOT OPEN the lid during the spin cycle!
They're still quite fuzzy, but not as wild looking as when they were wet! These will be going in a gift exchange game one side of my family does. Everyone is so different, it's hard to know what to put in. Last year, my mom got an XXL bathrobe....she's barely a L!
Monday, November 19, 2007
(although it's not purple like that!). One thing I thought I might make with it is this:Although the pattern actually calls for mohair, which is usually listed as a thicker gauge cause of the fuzz.
So how did this happen?
It's the Trellis Lace scarf from Interweave Knits awhile ago. I started this in August just before we left on vacation. I wanted it more stole like so I added one repeat, although it's still not near stole width; but I don't wear scarves or stoles anyway, LOL. This picture was taken Sept 2, and I've only done maybe two or three more repeats of the pattern. Although I have to follow the pattern somewhat, I'm already bored. I like lace, but this isn't bringing much enjoyment or enthusiasm. It's not easy enough to be brainless, and not hard enough to be challenging.
So what do I do now?
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
When I realized she was picking her nose for the first photo, I told her to smile:
Nope, that didn't work. We tried again:
And once more....but still no smile :(
Sunday, November 11, 2007
In late September, Lucy and I decided that we would get a simple dress pattern, and some cheap Halloween fabric, and make a dress for her. We could make a dress for EVERY holiday! I did get it done in time for Halloween, although the hem needs to be turned once more, and it needs a button at the back neck, but all in all, other than the extremely cheap cotton from Wal-Mart, I'm quite pleased. I wish I had made this dress before I made my "EASY!" dress!I made a size 7 cause that was the easiest size to cut out some of the pieces (some of the pieces were 3/5/7 and 4/6/8), and although she's closest to a size 5, it still fits pretty well. In fact, most of Lucy's measurements were actually slightly bigger than Huey, despite the fact he weighs 10lbs more and is 10 inches taller! You can click on the pictures to see the Halloween fabric close up!
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
This is called "Victorian Shawl". One member of the Georgetown group studied machine knitting at college and gave me a few older magazines (1999/2000, LOL). This was the only pattern in the four magazines labelled Beginner (as different from "Advanced Beginner"). I tried it first back in April when I was still farily new to that machine. I knew how to work the machine, but the pattern was so badly written that I just could not figure it out! I was so fustrated!
But I decided to try again in late summer and just 'fake it till you make it' LOL.
The big issue is that the pattern uses the word 'row' to mean two different things. You make this shawl by having 2 sets of 2 needles in work, separated by 2 needles not in work. Then, you work 8 mini rows on these 4 needles. Then, skip 2, and pull the next two to work, move the carriage to the right, and put the furthest most 2 that you had just been working on, in hold. Now, you have 2 groups of 2, and do eight rows. You keep doing this, going across the needlebed....that is ALSO called a row! DOH!
You can see how one 'row' slants to the left, then the next row is slanted to the right. You can also see how there is two little columns separated by 'floats', each of these blocks joined to the next. You can vary how many needles in work you have, how many inbetween that are out of work, how many times you go back and forth between the two groups (which makes the rectangle higher or squatter). You can do increases, or keep the piece all one width. Very versatile, it can be done on any gauge machine too.
This was the yarn I used. It's a cone I got at the Spinrite sale in August, for $10. It's too large to weigh on my little scale (it's on an Interweave Knits for comparison). It doesn't look like any has been used now! It's not exactly soft, and it's very white, so I don't know what else I'll use it for. There are little slubby's that got to be very annoying too.
That picture of the cone is taken Sept. 2, after I frogged the following:
I realized that the angle of the increases was way off, and the shawl would be 6ft before I got the depth I needed for the middle back! Indeed, I was supposed to increase two groups of two everytime I got to the end of a right moving row, and I had only increased one group. So I ripped it out and started right back. It went pretty quickly until I got to the full width part. Then it dragged on, and I had other projects to work on....blah blah blah. I finally finished it the weekend before our cruise I think, at which point I immediately cast on for another cruise item and ran into lots of other issues with the simple pattern....but that's another day!
Monday, November 05, 2007
Except, now I can't find the photos I transferred, saved, editted, saved, etc last week using the old system....the photos of Lucy in the Halloween dress I made, and the photos of the shawl in progress on the knitting machine (which is no longer on the machine, so I can't re-take the photos). They've got to be somewhere. I know I cropped them, which means they did get saved as .jpg so maybe they got re-routed somewhere.
So, supposively this means I should have NO reason to not have photos with each post. LOL. I haven't knitted much this past month, having been so sick (okay, now I have a sinus infection too! And man, this new keyboard is wierd, the backspace key is set to turbo speed). But I think I'm going to spend a bit of time with the other blogs, get the cruise pictures up, etc. But check back here often. Especially since I don't dare ask about my list of bookmarks, LOL. I have a very long list of blogs and other sites bookmarked....I even had to think this morning if it's 'yarnharlot.ca' or .com!
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Is there a way to transfer blog posts from one blog to another? Including the comments? I suppose I could copy and paste, but how would that work for comments? I'd like to take the non-knitting posts from this blog and put them on my other blog.
And how do you find out how many people have looked at your blog? Cause I know you're not all leaving comments! LOL.
I promise I will have some knitting content soon. It's been a very rough month and I haven't knitted a whole lot.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
We're back from our lovely cruise on (unbeknownst to us when we booked) the newest and largest cruiseship in the world. And yes, we did "Get Out There" and we "Climb(ed) The Wall". Picture evidence to follow :) (at a later date).
Over (Canadian) Thanksgiving, I became ill---nausea, stomach pains, and then the lovely diarrhea. I RARELY get issues like that. On October 4th, I had an eye exam, and the usual drops to dialate my eyes. But they took forever before they began to contract again (the drops went in around 2:40 and at 6:30 I was still very dialated) and I was getting nauseous--from the extra sun, I thought. Thanksgiving Monday was really bad, but then I felt better for a few days. But on the Thursday, it all came back. We had to leave for the airport at 2:30AM Saturday Oct. 13 (we were going to leave at 3AM but Rob forgot to pay the hydro bill). I was nauseous and couldn't eat.
Over the week, I was all shades of green. The diarrhea would come and go, slowed by Imodium which I hated using but I wanted to enjoy our trip! But by the time we got back on Saturday, there was no stopping it. I couldn't eat, or drink, and could feel myself getting dehydrated. I'm usually a big water drinker, so I was feeling BAD.
Yesterday I got in to see the doctor, who thinks it's a bacterial gastrointeritis. Similiar to a 'stomach flu' but bacteria instead of viral. I guess viruses have fairly short lifespans (well, except for HPV and HIV), and bacteria love to multiply. I took one antibiotic late Monday night and one Tuesday morning, and had NO bowel action until about 4:45pm on Tuesday! I'm less nauseous, and most importantly, I can get fluids down again.
I'm the only person I know to go on a cruise and lose weight. But my clothes are still tight; I guess from bloating (oh, the gas has been horrible. Totally horrible. Imagine my fear with a 3hr plane flight?).
I'm going to try to set up another blog for vacation photos and whatnot. Just to further illustrate how sick I was--I knitted for only about an hour on the flight down, not again until the next Sat. as we waited our turn to disembark, and only about 30 minutes on the flight home. So, there, you have some knitting content :)
Friday, October 05, 2007
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
I did put the back darts in this time, and like the trimness they give. I'm proud of them too. Just before doing them, I read in a book how to do them--sew from the center to the point. I would have started at the point and ended up with a pucker. More ends to tie off, but a much better look!
And now, the Bad:
I had totally passed over it, even though it said it could be worn with a halter bra. Then I saw Rachel's sweet version and thought, it looks good on her! And it didn't take too long! Then I saw it on Lisa. I could use the Patons Fresco I have kicking around! I thought the verigated would add some interest, and when I first tried it on, I liked how the stripes go upwards. The first time I tried it on I was braless and I thought it looked okay. I don't know what the hell happened for that photo there! OMG. Looks like my surgeon should be on the "When Good Docs go Bad" shows on TLC, LOL. I didn't know what size to make, but Rachel made the 29" size for her 38" bust so it would be snug. I also made the 29" size, I think I was planning to some how increase a bit extra for the bust, because I didnt' want larger armholes. But I think I forgot to do that.
I think it's too snug around my ribcage, where I have some extra padding that I really don't like.
And then, I ran out of yarn. I don't know yet if I made it to gauge, or even how long it ended up, but I'll check that later. The problem is (other than I don't think the blues look as good with jeans as I was hoping) that the bottom rolled edge hits the waistband of my jeans, and gets pushed up. And even when worn with something else, it's too small to pull down over my belly/hips.
I like the pattern. It was quick and easy for maximum results. But the yarn I used is too thick--not gauge wise, but it's a flat, tubular ribbon yarn that knits up thick. And I think I needed more ease to compensate. And more length. So this item won't be cruising with us in 10 days time (what happened to losing 8lbs before the cruise?!). I'll finish it up (weave in the ends) when we get back, and maybe I'll think of someone just as short as (or shorter) me but skinnier. And I do think I'd make it again, but I'll be more careful about gauge and yarn choice and sizing.
And for tomorrow's post, come back and see ANOTHER Knitty.com disappointment!
Edited later--I realized after the cruise that I DO have a halter back bra, although it doesn't fit all that great. Maybe I'll try the top on again, now that I lost those 8 pounds, LOL
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
And ain't that a pretty sight (NOT!). My bust is in the wrong spot or something, and the post-4-pregnancies belly....So, while I CAN button it up, I can't do anything but breathe shallow and hold my arms still :)
You know what's funny? When I edited the picture, on the bookcase behind me, I could clearly see Dr. Phils' Weight Loss Solution book, LOL!
And you want to know the REALLY funny thing? I was getting ready for bed, and as I moved the dress off my bed....I put a BIG Oreo cookie smudge on it! LOL. Perhaps if I laid off the Oreos...
And this is the "EASY!!" dress I've been working on. The front's not too bad, as long as I stand up straight and don't lean forward, but the bodice straps are too long and instead of it tieing with the satin ribbon behind my neck, it's actually catching the fabric in the bow. But here's the money shot! LOL. After struggling all week, worrying about some issues that were fine, and being shocked with other issues that weren't fine, I got the zipper in. Even after the reduction, my back is still too narrow for my size! I've got to take out at least 3 inches of the back. I have to re-do the zipper anyway, so I don't feel too bad.
I used to wonder where my extra 20lbs are. Yeah, my boobs had at least two pounds, LOL, and my belly has another ....10lbs....but look at that back padding! Yah know, it would be totally fine with me if gravity would affect THAT and slide it down to my butt to make it more porportional! LOL.
I've pretty much come to terms with my weight/shape/size. I eat mostly healthy, I'm pretty active, and the meds help my cholesterol and blood pressure, LOL. It would take much more work than I'm comfortable with to get back to where I was 18lbs ago. I know the statistic is 5 lbs per kid....I just put it on BEFORE I had the kids ;)
Bones are for the dog; meat is for the man!
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Complete with a little red worm! Advice? Never stuff with polar fleece scraps if you need to be able to get a needle through it (like, to dimple the top of the apple). Even Rob couldn't do it. So I had to pick it open and find the real stuffing, and try again. It's a small apple, and I have lots of yarn left, so what else should I make?
Monday, September 17, 2007
My other thought/issue is this. I'm still narrower across the back, and this shirt is full. The same pieces are used to make a mini dress, which has back darts. Should I put the darts in this one, or take in the sides/center back seam (and dart the next top)? I need to know before I hem it!
She was right though, it's a cute top that's fairly easy to make (the sleeve instructions confused me!). It looks good without having to fuss with a collar (scary). I'd like the body more fitted, but it's still okay. Crinkle gauze is hard to cut though! I got some more fabric from the marked down cart, so I can make more! I also have some beige crinkle gauze, but it's not wide enough to do the front in one piece. Do you think doing it in two pieces would make it look odd/homemade?
Right now I've started a dress that was also labelled "Easy". I don't know who decides if it's easy....I had a hard time figuring out how to lay the pieces out!!
Thursday, September 13, 2007
As mentioned, the Good Buy Yarn booth was MUCH better this year. However, you have to know what the yarns are worth, and what you're willing to pay. There was a single ball of Zara, and the price was $10. Not a good price. But, I found this bag of 5 balls of Kureyon for $35. That IS a good price, normally it's about $10/ball. PLUS....the $35 includes tax! I only saw one bag of this colourway, and I really liked it so I snatched it up before Cindy saw it because I knew she was looking for Kureyon. There was quite a bit of GGH Safari, a linen yarn, quite fine, in colours I like, and Estelle 100% silk in beautiful colours, but it was out of my price range. This booth is a great place to go if you want odd balls for afghans like you can get the $200 kits for.
I wanted books, but this was the only one I bought. I love lace, but am still not quite a shawl person, so I thought some lace clothing books would be nice. The cover sweater did not interest me at all until I saw a lady at a booth wearing it, done in a soft, flowing, marled yarn with a slight fuzz. Then I fell in love and was glad I had chosen that book!
The FiberTrends pattern was not a deal, but was there, was one I wanted, and no shipping.
The yarn in the picture.....I decided on Friday that perhaps I would take a look at Handmaiden Sea Silk. I know everyone seems to love it, and one skein makes a decent sized project. But I had never seen it in real life. The first booth that had it, I found that colour and was swept away (haa haa). Cindy suggested I make a nightie for my anniversary cruise, so that's what I'm experimenting with. You might notice that I double stranded it (trying to match the colours) and that it's crocheted! I searched high and low for lingerie patterns, but they just don't come in the right gauge. I emailed Joan of http://www.whiteliesdesigns.com/ and she said that handknitters don't like knitting smaller than 20st/4 inches. I LOVE her lingerie designs, but I wasn't about to triple strand the yarn. I paid $35+tax for the Sea Silk, and saw it later at $50. I wouldn't have paid $50, and if someone had said that's what it goes for, I wouldn't have looked at it. But I was happy with the $35.
This is beautiful yarn, I first saw it several years ago at a workshop. It's regularly about $18-$20/skein (300m for 20g!!). Cindy spotted a little basket with a few skeins in it marked down. She grabbed two skeins in a really nice plum/purpley hand dyed. There were two skeins of this one, but I only bought one, for $10. So that was another great bargain. I love blues/greens.
We took the long way around and Grand River Yarns was near the end. Their booth was smaller this year, but again, everything was up instead of on the floor (maybe I'd look at the Briggs and Little booth if they'd stop putting it in bushel baskets on the floor!). She had a special of buy 4, get one free. Again, Cindy scooped up some beautiful skeins, and I had a hard time choosing what to get. There was some nice black/silver yarns, but it was $7.95/skein, which is fine for one skein, but not to buy 4 (for me, anyway. I'm just frugal). So I dug around and found the blue rayon. It's 253 yds, so I think I will get a nice plain, sweater/top out of it. For $4.95 a skein, I was happy! My free skein was the one on the right, it's kinda crinkly and is 400 yds. It's quite fine so I think it will be a shawl/stole. Maybe on the SInger 327....I'm doing something really neat on it right now that's a lace shawl.
Some vendors weren't there this year. Fiddlesticks Knitting, The KnittingNimrod, RedBirdKnits, NeedleArts Book Store....but there were others that were new.
So there you have it. I didn't go crazy, but I got some good bargains. It would be fabulous if they offered more in the way of workshops, but there's the Knitter's Frolic in Toronto in April for that.....hey.....Cindy.....I don't drive in the city......but I can buy lunch...
I've really got to get some things done, it's the first night for the Georgetown guild, AND it's meet the teacher pizza night.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
And there's no way I can buy anything! OMG. I forgot to pay cash at one booth at the K-W Knitter's Fair and another didn't have debit, so I used 'our' Visa just a little bit too much. Then I placed an order for 'one cone' of machine knitting yarn, about $40. I asked if she had any odd cones kicking around (I was hoping for a little sample selection of machine knitting yarns as I told her I'm new), and she found 3 odd cones, equalling almost a full cone.....and gave me no discount for clearing out her odd cones! AND then....today I bought some swim passes.....the leaves have officially fallen off the money tree!
And here's me! I hate asking Rob to take a picture. He wants me to pose like the http://www.elann.com/ model!
I wore the top, still damp, to the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter's Fair on Saturday. I so rarely make anything for myself, and even more rare--something from a published pattern. And to top it off, it was a COVER pattern for Interweave Knits, Summer 2006. I was quite pleased with it, but I was a little bashful when people complimented me/it. I'm not exactly the most outgoing gal, LOL.
I did do some modifying of the pattern though. I added some short rows after the last garter stitch ridge. Even with the reduction, I'm still on the fuller side, and I didn't want the tank to be too short, especially in the front (gotta hide that belly). I was worried at first that I had done too many short rows, but it came out perfect.
I was worried about the armholes being too big, but it's fine. The armhole edging does roll a little; a combination of not enough rows of garter st, and it extending into the armpit a little too far (but this happened on the model one too). I was looking for tops I could wear braless finally, but chickened out and wore a bra. The straps showed at the front, LOL.
The biggest modification....a yarn switch, of course. As I mentioned, I bought this yarn two years ago, from Grand River Yarns--a great site where you can buy yarns by the gram, and odd balls, and other great deals. I was standing in the GRY booth, Cindy was talking to Rochelle about poodles, and Rochelle looked at me and says, excitedly, "That's Yo-Yo!". I think Cindy was a little confused for a moment, LOL. It's a strand of unspun cotton (terrible for sewing up), wrapped with two shiny strands (rayon?), one in white, one in different shades of blues. I bought more of the yarn back then but haven't made it up either. I would suggest though that a slinkier yarn might be nice for the pattern, the original was bamboo, which I didn't realize is very slinky. The cotton is a bit more structured, and the lace is a little blurred by the textures.
So there you have it. A finished object, AND a picture of me!
Monday, September 10, 2007
“The truth is, breastfeeding is nothing more than normal. Artificial feeding, which is neither the same nor superior, is therefore deficient, incomplete, and inferior. These are difficult words, but they have an appropriate place in our vocabulary.”
The lactation consultant says, “You have the best chance to provide your baby with the best possible start in life, through the special bond of breastfeeding. The wonderful advantages to you and your baby will last a lifetime.” And then the mother bottlefeeds. Why?
In part because that sales pitch could just as easily have come from a commercial baby milk pamphlet. When our phrasing and that of the baby milk industry are interchangeable, one of us is going about it wrong…and it probably isn’t the multinationals. Here is some of the language that I think subverts our good intentions every time we use it.
Best possible, ideal, optimal, perfect. Are you the best possible parent? Is your home life ideal? Do you provide optimal meals? Of course not. Those are admirable goals, not minimum standards. Let’s rephrase. Is your parenting inadequate? Is your home life subnormal? Do you provide deficient meals? Now it hurts. You may not expect to be far above normal, but you certainly don’t want to be below normal.
When we (and the artificial milk manufacturers) say that breastfeeding is the best possible way to feed babies because it provides their ideal food, perfectly balanced for optimal infant nutrition, the logical response is, “So what?” Our own experience tells us that optimal is not necessary. Normal is fine, and implied in this language is the absolute normalcy–and thus safety and adequacy–of artificial feeding. The truth is, breastfeeding is nothing more than normal. Artificial feeding, which is neither the same nor superior, is therefore deficient, incomplete, and inferior. Those are difficult words, but they have an appropriate place in our vocabulary.
Advantages. When we talk about the advantages of breastfeeding–the “lower rates” of cancer, the “reduced risk” of allergies, the “enhanced” bonding, the “stronger” immune system–we reinforce bottlefeeding yet again as the accepted, acceptable norm.
Health comparisons use a biological, not cultural, norm, whether the deviation is harmful or helpful. Smokers have higher rates of illness; increasing prenatal folic acid may reduce fetal defects. Because breastfeeding is the biological norm, breastfed babies are not “healthier;” artificially-fed babies are ill more often and more seriously. Breastfed babies do not “smell better;” artificial feeding results in an abnormal and unpleasant odor that reflects problems in an infant’s gut. We cannot expect to create a breastfeeding culture if we do not insist on a breastfeeding model of health in both our language and our literature.
We must not let inverted phrasing by the media and by our peers go unchallenged. When we fail to describe the hazards of artificial feeding, we deprive mothers of crucial decision-making information. The mother having difficulty with breastfeeding may not seek help just to achieve a “special bonus;” but she may clamor for help if she knows how much she and her baby stand to lose. She is less likely to use artificial milk just “to get him used to a bottle” if she knows that the contents of that bottle cause harm.
Nowhere is the comfortable illusion of bottlefed normalcy more carefully preserved than in discussions of cognitive development. When I ask groups of health professionals if they are familiar with the study on parental smoking and IQ (1), someone always tells me that the children of smoking mothers had “lower IQs.” When I ask about the study of premature infants fed either human milk or artificial milk (2), someone always knows that the breastmilk-fed babies were “smarter.” I have never seen either study presented any other way by the media–or even by the authors themselves. Even health professionals are shocked when I rephrase the results using breastfeeding as the norm: the artificially-fed children, like children of smokers, had lower IQs.
Inverting reality becomes even more misleading when we use percentages, because the numbers change depending on what we choose as our standard. If B is 3/4 of A, then a is 4/3 of B. Choose A as the standard, and B is 25% less. Choose B as the standard, and A is 33 1/3% more. Thus, if an item costing 100 units is put on sale for “25% less,”the price becomes 75. When the sale is over, and the item is marked back up, it must be marked up 33 1/3% to get the price up to 100. Those same figures appear in a recent study (3), which found a “25% decrease” in breast cancer rates among women who were breastfed as infants. Restated using breastfed health as the norm, there was a 33-1/3% increase in breast cancer rates among women who were artificially fed. Imagine the different impact those two statements would have on the public.
Special. “Breastfeeding is a special relationship.” “Set up a special nursing corner.” In or family, special meals take extra time. Special occasions mean extra work. Special is nice, but it is complicated, it is not an ongoing part of life, and it is not something we want to do very often. For most women, nursing must fit easily into a busy life–and, of course, it does. “Special” is weaning advice, not breastfeeding advice.
Breastfeeding is best; artificial milk is second best. Not according to the World Health Organization. Its hierarchy is: 1) breastfeeding; 2) the mother’s own milk expressed and given to her child some other way; 3) the milk of another human mother; and 4) artificial milk feeds (4). We need to keep this clear in our own minds and make it clear to others. “The next best thing to mother herself” comes from a breast, not from a can. The free sample perched so enticingly on the shelf at the doctor’s office is only the fourth best solution to breastfeeding problems.
There is a need for standard formula in some situations. Only because we do not have human milk banks. The person who needs additional blood does not turn to a fourth-rate substitute; there are blood banks that provide human blood for human beings. He does not need to have a special illness to qualify. All he needs is a personal shortage of blood. Yet only those infants who cannot tolerate fourth best are privileged enough to receive third best. I wonder what will happen when a relatively inexpensive commercial blood is designed that carries a substantially higher health risk than donor blood. Who will be considered unimportant enough to receive it? When we find ourselves using artificial milk with a client, let’s remind her and her health care providers that banked human milk ought to be available. Milk banks are more likely to become part of our culture if they first become part of our language.
We do not want to make bottlefeeding mothers feel guilty. Guilt is a concept that many women embrace automatically, even when they know that circumstances are truly beyond their control. (My mother has been known to apologize for the weather.)
Women’s (nearly) automatic assumption of guilt is evident in their responses to this scenario: Suppose you have taken a class in aerodynamics. You have also seen pilots fly planes. Now, imagine that you are the passenger in a two-seat plane. The pilot has a heart attack, and it is up to you to fly the plane. You crash. Do you feel guilty?
The males I asked responded, “No. Knowing about aerodynamics doesn’t mean you can fly an airplane.” “No, because I would have done my best.” “No. I might feel really bad about the plane and pilot, but I wouldn’t feel guilty.” “No. Planes are complicated to fly, even if you’ve seen someone do it.”
What did the females say? “I wouldn’t feel guilty about the plane, but I might about the pilot because there was a slight chance that I could have managed to land that plane.” “Yes, because I’m very hard on myself about my mistakes. Feeling bad and feeling guilty are all mixed up for me.” “Yes, I mean, of course. I know I shouldn’t, but I probably would.” “Did I kill someone else? If I didn’t kill anyone else, then I don’t feel guilty.” Note the phrases “my mistakes,” “I know I shouldn’t,” and “Did I kill anyone?” for an event over which these women would have had no control!
The mother who opts not to breastfeed, or who does not do so as long as she planned, is doing the best she can with the resources at hand. She may have had the standard “breast is best” spiel (the course in aerodynamics) and she may have seen a few mothers nursing at the mall (like watching the pilot on the plane’s overhead screen). That is clearly not enough information or training. But she may still feel guilty. She’s female.
Most of us have seen well-informed mothers struggle unsuccessfully to establish breastfeeding, and turn to bottlefeeding with a sense of acceptance because they know they did their best. And we have seen less well-informed mothers later rage against a system that did not give them the resources they later discovered they needed. Help a mother who says she feels guilty to analyze her feelings, and you may uncover a very different emotion. Someone long ago handed these mothers the word “guilt.” It is the wrong word.
Try this on: You have been crippled in a serious accident. Your physicians and physical therapists explain that learning to walk again would involve months of extremely painful and difficult work with no guarantee of success. They help you adjust to life in a wheelchair, and support you through the difficulties that result. Twenty years later, when your legs have withered beyond all hope, you meet someone whose accident matched your own. “It was difficult,” she says. “It was three months of sheer hell. But I’ve been walking ever since.” Would you feel guilty?
Women to whom I posed this scenario told me they would feel angry, betrayed, cheated. They would wish they could do it over with better information. They would feel regret for opportunities lost. Some of the women said they would feel guilty for not having sought out more opinions, for not having persevered in the absence of information and support. But gender-engendered guilt aside, we do not feel guilty about having been deprived of a pleasure. The mother who does not breastfeed impairs her own health, increases the difficulty and expense of infant and child rearing, an dismisses one of life’s most delightful relationships. She has lost something basic to her own well-being. What image of the satisfactions of breastfeeding do we convey when we use the word “guilt”?
Let’s rephrase, using the words women themselves gave me: “We don’t want to make bottlefeeding mothers feel angry. We don’t want to make them feel betrayed. We don’t want to make them feel cheated.” Peel back the layered implications of “we don’t want to make them feel guilty,” and you will find a system trying to cover its own tracks. It is not trying to protect her. It is trying to protect itself. Let’s level with mothers, support them when breastfeeding doesn’t work, and help them move beyond this inaccurate and ineffective word.
Pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages. Breastfeeding is a straight-forward health issue, not one of two equivlent choices. “One disadvantage of not smoking is that you are more likely to find secondhand smoke annoying. One advantage of smoking is that it can contribute to weight loss.” The real issue is differential morbidity and mortality. The rest–whether we are talking about tobacco or commercial baby milks–is just smoke.
One maternity center uses a “balanced” approach on an “infant feeding preference card” (5) that lists odorless stools and a return of the uterus to its normal size on the five lines of breastfeeding advantages. (Does this mean the bottlefeeding mother’s uterus never returns to normal?) Leaking breasts and an inability to see how much the baby is getting are included on the four lines of disadvantages. A formula-feeding advantage is that some mothers find it “less inhibiting and embarrassing.” The maternity facility reported good acceptance by the pediatric medical staff and no marked change in the rates of breastfeeding or bottlefeeding. That is not surprising. The information is not substantially different from the “balanced” lists that the artificial milk salesmen have peddled for years. It is probably an even better sales pitch because it now carries very clear hospital endorsement. “Fully informed,” the mother now feels confident making a life-long health decision based on relative diaper smells and the amount of skin that shows during feedings.
Why do the commercial baby milk companies offer pro and con lists that acknowledge some of their product’s shortcomings? Because any “balanced” approach that is presented in a heavily biased culture automatically supports the bias. If A and B are nearly equivalent, and if more than 90% of mothers ultimately choose B, as mothers in the United States do (according to an unpublished 1992 Mothers’ Survey by Ross Laboratories that indicated fewer than 10% of U.S. mothers nursing at a year), it makes sense to follow the majority. If there were an important difference, surely the health profession would make a point of not staying out of the decision-making process.
It is the parents’ choice to make. True. But deliberately stepping out of the process implies that the “balanced” list was accurate. In a recent issue of Parenting magazine, a pediatrician comments, “When I first visit a new mother in the hospital, I ask, ‘Are you breastfeeding or bottlefeeding?’ If she says she is going to bottlefeed, I nod and move on to my next questions. Supporting new parents means supporting them in whatever choices they make; you don’t march in postpartum and tell someone she’s making a terrible mistake, depriving herself and her child.” (6)
Yet if a woman announced to her doctor, midway through a routine physical examination, that she took up smoking a few days earlier, the physician would make sure she understood the hazards, reasoning that now was the easiest time for her to change her mind. It is hypocritical and irresponsible to take a clear position on smoking and “let parents decide” about breastfeeding without first making sure of their information base. Life choices are always the individual’s to make. That does not mean his or her information sources should be mute, nor that the parents who opt for bottlefeeding should be denied information that might prompt a different decision with a subsequent child.
Breastfeeding. Most other mammals never even see their own milk, and I doubt that any other mammalian mother deliberately “feeds” her young by basing her nursing intervals on what she infers the baby’s hunger level to be. Nursing quiets her young and no doubt feels good. We are the only mammal that consciously uses nursing to transfer calories…and we’re the only mammal that has chronic trouble making that transfer.
Women may say they “breastfed” for three months, but they usually say they “nursed” for three years. Easy, long-term breastfeeding involves forgetting about the “breast” and the “feeding” (and the duration, and the interval, and the transmission of the right nutrients in the right amounts, and the difference between nutritive and non-nutritive suckling needs, all of which form the focus of artificial milk pamphlets) and focusing instead on the relationship. Let’s all tell mothers that we hope they won’t “breastfeed”–that the real joys and satisfactions of the experience begin when they stop “breastfeeding” and start mothering at the breast.
All of us within the profession want breastfeeding to be our biological reference point. We want it to be the cultural norm; we want human milk to be made available to all human babies, regardless of other circumstances. A vital first step toward achieving those goals is within immediate reach of every one of us. All we have to do is…watch our language.
Olds D. L., Henderson, C. R. Tatelbaum, R.: Intellectual impairment in children of women who smoke cigarettes during pregnancy. Pediatrics 1994; 93:221-27.Lucas, A., Morley, R., Cole, T.J., Lister, G., Leeson-Payne, C.: Breast milk and subsequent intelligence quotient in children born preterm. Lancet 1992; 339 (8788): 261-64.Fruedenheim, J.L., Graham, S., Laughlin, R., Vena, J.E., Bandera, E., et al: Exposure to breastmilk in infancy and the risk of breast cancer. Epidemiology 1994, 5:324-30.UNICEF, WHO, UNESCO: Facts for Life: A Communication Challenge. New York: UNICEF 1989; p. 20.Bowles, B.B., Leache, J., Starr, S., Foster, M.: Infant feeding preferences card. J Hum Lact 1993; 9: 256-58.Klass, P.: Decent exposure. Parenting (May) 1994; 98-104.
Across the street from us is a typical suburban family. Overweight mom, overweight dad, kids on the way to being overweight. The kids are the same age as Lucy and Megan, but the mom returned to work last fall. They bought their house a few months before we did, from a guy Rob knows at work. Apparently they REALLY wanted the house. One of the nice features is the deck off the kitchen and the basement walkout, and it backs onto protected greenspace. But, they spend ALL their time in their garage and driveway! Even the BBQ is in the garage.
At some point this past summer I notice that the dad seemed to be home alot. Sometimes the kids were outside with him, but not always. And then I started noticing something freaky. Often, shortly after I'd go outside, his garage would open and there he was, sometimes smoking, sometimes on the phone. It was getting a little concerning. It doesn't happen every time I'm outside (with taking the kids to school, that means I'm getting in/out of the truck six times), but it seems to happen most on days that it's hot out.
Mmmmm....compliment, or criticism? LOL.
And thanks Z for the kind words! I can't believe you're starting with Fleece Artist roving!
PS...what's with the 'Word Verification' to publish posts?! That's fairly new, and it NEVER works on the first try for me. I know my glasses need replacing, but I SWEAR I am entering the correct letters!!! Now I'm on to the third try!
Friday, September 07, 2007
I have been wanting a subscription to Interweave Knits for a long time (although I'm not too keen on the new layout, or the more fashion-oriented projects; leave those to Vogue Knitting!). They advertised a back issue sale, but I didn't want to just buy any old four to get one free. I regretted not buying the spring and summer issues, so I selected those. Then I thought I'd do the subscription thing at the same time. I noticed that the subscription would start with the summer issue. Great, I changed my back issue order to just the spring one, and hit send. Then I realized that the shipping amount had stayed the same, at $9! That's US dollars! I sent them a little email saying how shocked I was that it was costing that much. I never heard back. It came quite quickly, in a flat rate envelope. So, they charged me what they get charged for the flat rate envelop and why should they care that it's rediculous to pay $9 to ship ONE magazine. I should have just searched the internet hoping someone (like, maybe Camilla Valley Farm, a local place!) would have one.
So, now I'm waiting for my subscription to arrive. And waiting. After a couple weeks, I look at the confirmation email. I ordered it on July 26. " The current issue is Summer 2007 and it will be mailed August 15." is what the confirmation says. How can it take them twenty days to mail a current magazine? And it's taken twenty more days and it's still NOT HERE! The fall issue will be on stands (if it's not already) before I get the summer issue! I should have ordered it as a back issue and waited on the subscription!
Of course, I do have enough patterns collected that if I never see another new pattern I can still knit for the rest of my life....
Thursday, September 06, 2007
When I was baking loads of stuff for Mom and Dad's 40th anniversary party, I realized I would need more containers to cart the stuff up there (I did NOT want to use 20 Quality Street tins, which are my usual containers). I asked on Freecycle for the loan of containers, and Judy came through. We've passed a few things between us and she's the one who sold me the Singer 327. When she delivered the containers (an very unexpected and very welcomed surprised), she also brought along a few cones of Size 3 cotton she found (it's amazing what she finds in her house. Looks small from the outside, but there must be some secret rooms in there!). She also mentioned that she is moving out of our area.
So, having been raised to never return a container or a dish empty, I made these up, using the yarn she gave me. The one on the right is plain white and a little larger (done by changing the tension, but this yarn still gave me headaches. There might have been some thin waste yarn caught in the tension dial of the yarn mast though).
The one on the left is white with a silver strand in it and was the first of the two that I made. I hadn't made these dishcloths in awhile, and never on the standard gauge, and I messed up the first wedge (on the right side, from 2:00 to 3:00). It has too many short rows. But some steam blocking with my great Shark iron made it behave!
I included these along with some leftover squares, when I returned the containers. We chatted for a bit, and she took everything inside....I haven't heard anything back, so I hope she realized there was something in one of the containers (it was a large, translucent Tupperware box; there were two of them, so I think she'd notice that one was heavier and looked like something was in it!). I know she's extremely busy, but I really hope she's not going to get a nasty surprise when she goes to store her Christmas baking, LOL.