23 June 2008

Monkey pictures

See pattern here.
See story here.

Here are the long-awaited monkey photos.

22 June 2008

Sockless Monkey Pattern

Sockless Monkey

See story here.
See pictures here.

Please Note: The yarn I used for the pattern did not wash so well. Poor monkey is now fat and *very* short.

Worsted weight tweedy grey yarn (Dalegarn Heilo 0007) – 100 g
Worsted weight cream yarn (Daledgarn Heilo 0020) – 50 g
Worsted weight red yarn – 2 yards scrap (I had some Lopi leftover from another project, colorway # unknown)
Size 4 dpns (two sets if possible, though not necessary)
Stitch holders (if not two sets of dpns)
Slippery scrap yarn for crochet provisional cast on.
2 large buttons for eyes.
Yarn needle

Gauge: Not really relevant as long as it is relatively dense so the stuffing doesn’t poke out between stitches.

Dpns: double-pointed needles
CO: cast on
K: knit
Yf: yarn forward
Yb: yarn back
Slip 2 tog kwise: slip two stitches together knitwise
Psso: pass slipped stitches over

CO 3 stitches in cream/white.
Knit front and back of each, dividing onto 3 dpns (6 stitches total)
Knit front and back of each stitch (4 per needle)
Knit front and back of each stitch (8 per needle, 24 total)
Knit 35 rows, switch to grey yarn and knit 40 more rows.
Transfer first leg onto stitch holders or scrap yarn if you have only one set of dpns.
Repeat for 2nd leg.

Leaving Leg 2 still on the needles, knit one round.
CO 3 stitches (27 total)
Knit all stitches of Leg 1
CO 3 stitches (54 total)
Knit 2 more rounds.

Re-distribute stitches so that half of each leg is on one needle, and the other half of each leg is on the other two needles. Leave the half on two needles be, you will be working the half on one needle. This helps avoid a ladder up the center of the bum. Unless of course you wish to define the cheeks.
Using cream yarn, knit 27 stitches, yf, slip one stitch, yb, slip stitch back onto left needle, turn.
Purl 26 stitches, yb, slip one stitch, yf, slip stitch back onto left needle, turn.
Knit 25 stitches, yf, slip one stitch, yb, slip stitch back onto left needle, turn.
Purl 24 stitches, yb, slip one stitch, yf, slip stitch back onto left needle, turn.
Knit 23 stitches, yf, slip one stitch, yb, slip stitch back onto left needle, turn.
Purl 22 stitches, yb, slip one stitch, yf, slip stitch back onto left needle, turn.
Knit 21 stitches, yf, slip one stitch, yb, slip stitch back onto left needle, turn.
Purl 20 stitches, yb, slip one stitch, yf, slip stitch back onto left needle, turn.
Knit 19 stitches, yf, slip one stitch, yb, slip stitch back onto left needle, turn.
Purl 20 stitches, yb, slip one stitch, yf, slip stitch back onto left needle, turn.
Knit 18, turn.
Purl 19, turn.
Knit 20, turn.
Purl 21, turn.
Knit 22, turn.
Purl 23, turn.
Knit 24, turn.
Purl 25, turn.
Knit 26, turn.
Purl 27, turn.

Body resumed:
Using grey, knit 50 rounds.
Using cream, knit 1 round.
K25, slip 2 tog knitwise, knit 1, psso, k 25, slip 2 tog knitwise, knit 1, psso.
K23, slip 2 tog knitwise, knit 1, psso, k 23, slip 2 tog knitwise, knit 1, psso.
K21, slip 2 tog knitwise, knit 1, psso, k 21, slip 2 tog knitwise, knit 1, psso.
K19, slip 2 tog knitwise, knit 1, psso, k 19, slip 2 tog knitwise, knit 1, psso.
K17, slip 2 tog knitwise, knit 1, psso, k 17, slip 2 tog knitwise, knit 1, psso.
K15, slip 2 tog knitwise, knit 1, psso, k 15, slip 2 tog knitwise, knit 1, psso.
K13, slip 2 tog knitwise, knit 1, psso, k 13, slip 2 tog knitwise, knit 1, psso.
K11, slip 2 tog knitwise, knit 1, psso, k 11, slip 2 tog knitwise, knit 1, psso.

Transfer stitches evenly to two needles, with each ending with the double decrease.
Using Kitchener stitch, graft ends together.

If my instructions have been clear enough to follow, You will have a shape that looks like a sock with the ankle and cuff divided into two legs. Stuff the monkey from his crotch, then seam it.

Make the arms exactly as you did for the legs, but when you get to the 40th grey row, bind off. Stuff, and sew to side of monkey about half way along “foot” part.

Using cream yarn, co 3 stitches.
Knit front and back of each, dividing evenly onto 3 dpns. (6 stitches total)
Knit front and back of each stitch (12 stitches total)
Knit 10 rounds.
Switch to grey and knit 50 more rounds.
Bind off.
Stuff if desired (I stuffed it as I knit it - every 10 rows or so I pushed some stuffing in there to just below my needles where it wouldn’t interfere with my knitting.)
Stitch to top of bum, centering it as well as possible.

Using a provisional cast on (I used crochet) and cream yarn, co 27 stitches.
Knit exactly the same as the bum.
Unpick the provisional cast on and transfer onto needles so you can work in the round.
Using grey, knit 1 round.
Using kitchener stitch, graft the mouth onto the face, with the bottom of the mouth about even with the top of the arms. Remember that this should be roundish.
Just before you finish grafting, stuff the mouth.
Finish grafting.
Using red, duplicate stitch a lip line across the mouth almost from corner to corner. I had only red yarn that was much bulkier than the rest of the monkey, so my duplicate stitch goes over two stitches at a time so as not to stretch out his mouth.
Stitch two large matching buttons on for eyes
Using grey, CO 30 stitches, dividing evenly onto 3 dpns.
Knit 3 rounds.
Knit 12, slip 2 tog kwise, k1, psso, knit 12, slip 2 tog kwise, k1, psso.
Knit 10, slip 2 tog kwise, k1, psso, knit 10, slip 2 tog kwise, k1, psso.
Knit 8, slip 2 tog kwise, k1, psso, knit 8, slip 2 tog kwise, k1, psso.
Knit 6, slip 2 tog kwise, k1, psso, knit 6, slip 2 tog kwise, k1, psso.
Transfer stitches evenly to two needles, with each ending with the double decrease.
Using Kitchener stitch, graft ends together.
Stitch ears to sides of head above arms, just below the white part of the head.

It may be easier to bind off the mouth after the one grey round and just sew the mouth on, but I wanted to make it look as seamless as possible. I grafted my arms and tail onto the body, too. Unfortunately, it was my very first foray into grafting, so my monkey has obvious armpits if you lift his arms. With his arms down, his shoulders look seamless. Next time, I will graft the tops and bottoms of the arms separately

19 June 2008

Sockless Sock Monkey

See pattern here.
See pictures here.

I have finished knitting a sockless sock monkey for my son. I had to make up a pattern as I went, because all the instructions and patterns I found involved cutting and sewing an existing pair of socks (hence the name sock monkey). I didn't have any of the "right" kind of socks, but I had bought some lovely wool yarn with which to knit the monkey. Also, I didn't want to knit up a pair of socks just to cut and sew them. Too wasteful for me. So I started knitting and tried to make my monkey at least resemble the appearance of the proper style of sock. I read up on the differences between the authentic vintage sock style and the more modern one using an updated version of the same sock. I studied the cutting pattern so as to most closely simulate the proper seams. I also tried to size the "socks" to something a little bigger than my foot, but not as big as my husband's, the monkey would be approximately the same size as a cut-and-sewn monkey.

It took me about two weeks of knitting. I knit in the playground while I pushed the boy on a swing, while standing in the kitchen waiting to flip pancakes, or just sitting at the table to get it done. The hardest part for me, strangely enough, was the ears. I got the legs and body knitted up, and the girls stuffed it with woollen fabric scraps. I knitted up the arms and tail, stuffed them with more woollen fabric scraps, and attached them. I knitted up the mouth and finally liked how it looked on the fourth (or maybe fifth) time I stitched it on. I kept stitching it assymetrically, and I am a stickler for symmetry. Then I knitted up the ears and stitched them on. And I had a cat instead of a monkey.

It took me probably half an hour to figure out why I had a cat instead of a monkey. See, I had done something strange with the top of the head, (which would have been the toe of the sock) and used adjacent paired single decreases instead of a single double decrease to shape the toe and I ended up with ladders between the pairs. I had then knitted ears just the right size to cover up those ladders, and of course, putting smallish ears on the top of the head gave me a cat instead of a monkey. Once I realized my mistake, I knitted up new, bigger ears, but then I had to figure out what to do about the unsightly ladders. So, after having stitched on the eyes by sewing in from the back of the head and anchoring my thread knots in the fabric stuffing deep inside the head, I frogged the whole top of the head, snipping the monkey's stitched on eyelashes as I went. I had to set it down to put Eirik down for a nap, and when I came back downstairs, Moira asked me if I was doing brain surgery on the monkey. I said I supposed I was, and gently picked up all my stitches onto my needles again and started the toe-top all over, this time using one double decrease on each side of the head. The result was a much better looking head. I stitched the ears to the side of his head, and voila, I had a monkey.

I gave the monkey to my little punkmonkey son and we went out to the swing. He had much fun throwing the monkey on the ground while swinging and making me rescue him. He then would coddle the monkey for a few moments before throwing him down again. Finally, at one point I picked the monkey up off the ground and put him in the next swing over, which was empty. He left it there. We got down and went and played at the slide where Monkey was hurtled headlong down the slide. Eirik and Monkey returned to the swing where the coddle/rescue cycle began again. This time, Rowan was swinging right nest to him, so I put Monkey next to her. This time, he climbed down out of the swing and walked right under Rowan to get Monkey back. She was on her back swing and he got kicked in the head and went sprawling on the woodchips. Poor guy. Being only 20 months old, he was resilient and was soon playing Throw the Monkey again. He seems to really like it, which makes me very happy. There is little that is more disappointing than spending so much time and effort on an unappreciated gift.

I will try to post some pictures here if I can get my camera to work. I suppose I should also try writing out the pattern, too.

15 June 2008

100 Item Challenge

There is a challenge to pare one’s belongings down to 100 items total. I did this once some time ago and the paper I am copying this list from has 58 items on it. I have added some things on here that I didn’t think of then, and separated some things that I think now should be listed separately. I am unsure if this means per person or per household, so I am going to combine the two. I am going to list items by type with no duplicates within the type unless so noted. So for instance, I list my sewing kit, which includes measuring tape, needles, pins, scissors, etc. But I only need one measuring tape, one pair of scissors, and so on. I do not include consumables. So here is my list.


  1. my pots/pans
  2. extra stockpot
  3. baking sheets and pans
  4. measuring cups and spoons
  5. 2-3 assorted mixing bowls
  6. 1 place setting per person (cup, plate, bowl, silverware)
  7. cutting board
  8. 2-3 wooden spoons
  9. ladle
  10. large fork
  11. chef knife
  12. paring knife
  13. bread knife
  14. sharpening stone
  15. spatula
  16. pitcher
  17. 2 wash basins (one to wash, one to rinse)
  18. can opener
  19. scissors/shears
  20. coffee filters and holder (for straining debris out of collected water)
  21. portable fire pit (if not in a house or for summer cooking)
  22. grill brush
  23. case of matches or flint
  24. 3-4 cookbooks (just the ones I already own and use on a daily basis)
  25. gardening book
  26. foraging book
  27. 5-6 dozen assorted canning jars (probably would need more if I can all our harvest)
  28. brewing supplies
  29. teapot
  30. wood cookstove (if in a house)


  1. 4-5 dozen washcloths (they also currently double as our TP)
  2. 1 Towel per person
  3. comb/brush
  4. hair ties for each
  5. razor
  6. toothbrush for each
  7. non-toxic cleaning kit (includes 2-3 spray bottles, washing soda, borax, etc.)
  8. 5-7 cleaning rags
  9. wash tub
  10. plunger
  11. wringer
  12. laundry basket
  13. cloth pads (there are/will be multiple women in the household)


  1. tents (if not in a house)
  2. sleeping bags, pillows
  3. 3 changes of clothes for each
  4. kids’ dolls (1 each)
  5. cold weather outer gear for each (coat, mittens, etc.)
  6. baby sling (at least until youngest is 3 years old)
  7. handkerchief per person


  1. axe
  2. saw
  3. hammer
  4. spade
  5. trowel
  6. bucket
  7. clothesline and pins
  8. field guides to plants and animals
  9. tote bags/backpacks for each
  10. utility knife
  11. hand crank flashlight
  12. bow and arrows
  13. fishing net
  14. skinning/tanning book
  15. maps, atlas, directions to loved ones’ homes


  1. Circle Round book
  2. 3-4 health books (just the ones I already have)
  3. family photo album
  4. some kind of lamp
  5. fire-safe with legal documents such as birth certs, etc.
  6. sewing kit
  7. string
  8. knitting needles, crochet hooks, and accessories (such as darning needle, cable needle, stitch holder, etc.)
  9. god and goddess statues
  10. Book of Wisdom (my own homemade book that contains this list among other things)
  11. knitting pattern books
  12. sewing patterns
  13. pleasure reading books
  14. spinning wheel
  15. loom (probably warp-weighted, since it takes up less space)

I could expand this out to 100 if I divided up things that I consider go together. I’m not listing my individual knitting needles, for example. But this is a great exercise to determine what exactly we truly need.

12 June 2008

Write to your Representatives

Here is the letter that I just sent to my Congressman. Feel free to copy it, personalize it, and send it off to your own representative.

Dear Mr. Hodes,

Ms. Shea-Porter recently sent out a survey to her constituents regarding energy prices and I wished to address this issue with you as one of your constituents.

I understand that everyone is focusing on our need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but I think we are missing the point, which is that we should be reducing our dependence on all oil, foreign or domestic. Instead of pouring money into the bottomless pit of oil exploration and development, we should instead focus on helping people transition to a low-energy lifestyle, where the price of oil will be mostly irrelevant since we won't need it anymore. As I see it, trying to be more self-sufficient for our oil needs is like the drug addict who tries to produce their own drugs instead of seeking a rehabilitation center. Instead of more drilling, we need to create an oil-addiction rehabilitation system.

We can encourage people to save energy at night by going to bed earlier instead of sitting up watching 24-hour television. We can encourage people to purchase well-built American-made products that will last instead of cheap plastic from China that will break within a month of purchase. We need to rebuild a new, sustainable economy out of the ashes of this destructive one that is dying before our eyes. We need to allow the price of oil to rise to the point that everyone finds ways out of necessity to do without it.

Please don't waste our time and effort trying to keep our addictions fed. Instead, use our resources to help us make the inevitable transition so that we don't crash, so that we can learn the skills we will need now while we can still afford to make learning mistakes instead of when those mistakes mean the difference between life and death.

Respectfully yours,
Judith Anderson

10 June 2008

What is survival, anyway?

Dmitry Orlov said recently, "But the tragic thing is, to prepare for collapse, you have to start living as if it already happened, and very few people are willing to do that. They will wait until it is too late, and then expect somebody to come to their rescue." Sharon also has a challenge (that I am not fully participating in this time) that involves learning new skills, so I decided to add laundry 100% by hand to my list of skills. Don't get me wrong - I love my washing machine. With 5 children who love to get dirty, I do a lot of laundry. I have no intention of giving it up any sooner than I have to, especially since water and electricity are included in my rent. Drying by hand is a cinch - a clothesline outside in nice weather, an empty closet left ajar, several hangers and a box fan in the house in wet weather and that's all there is to it. But actually getting the clothes clean is another matter.

I have some minor prior experience. Six years ago when Lauren was a baby, we got our first set of cloth diapers. We lived in an apartment and had no washing facilities, normally doing our laundry at the laundromat down the road. We had a total of 24 diapers; enough for 2 days, not enough to justify a washer load at the laundromat. So every night after I put the kids to bed (after working a 10-hour workday a 45-minute commute from home), I plunked all the wet and dirty diapers in the tub and washed them by hand. I had no washboard, and didn't know how helpful a plunger could be. I just swished the wet diapers in the tub first, and wrung them out by hand. Then I washed the dirty ones in order from least poopy to most poopy. She was exclusively breastfed, so the poop wasn't too bad to deal with those first few months. I took a handful of diaper on each side and just rubbed them together until they came clean. Then I wrung them out by hand. We had no clothesline then, so the clean diapers were draped over the shower curtain rod (it went all the way around) until we got a clotheshorse. Altogether, the process took me about an hour each day. For eight to ten flat diapers.

So as I was thinking about how life will be without electricity, I realized that meant no washing machine. Laundry for 7 people was going to take me about 30 hours each day, then I still had to cook, do other cleaning, garden, and try to squeeze in a little shut-eye, too. Yikes! I gave thanks to the gods for my washing machine and tried to never think about laundry again. Then I learned about using a plunger to do the agitating. Whew! What a relief. So now I am on the hunt for a clothes wringer, since that really will probably be the most time-consuming aspect.

I began to call local hardware stores, but that isn't an item that is kept on hand. It can be special ordered for me, or I can order online. I checked Lehmans, but wanted to find something a little lower-priced. Ebay had lots of them for sale, but they all praised the aesthetics, with no mention of functionality. I don't care what it looks like, does it work? Then I remembered that LATOC has a preparedness store. No laundry solutions, though. That got me to reflecting on other people's idea of "survival". Yes, hunting knives and food stocks are very important. There are several items for creating electricity, but nothing to get you clean. How close to an animal are you going to when hunting it with your knife if you are wearing clothes saturated with sweat and blood? Maybe it is the difference between men and women. I want to be fed, clothed, sheltered, AND clean. Is that really too much to ask?

Toilet Paper on the Clothesline

This past winter, we decided to finally get rid of the toilet paper. My husband has, over time, brought home over 100 washcloths from work where he uses them to mop his brow. At one point I counted nearly 200, some of which I promptly gave away. So now I put a small stack of washcloths on the toilet tank behind the seat and we use those as our TP. I keep a bucket in the downstairs bathroom, and the washing machine is immediately outside the door to the upstairs bathroom. I can't put more than a few in each bathroom at a time or else the boy will take the whole stack and dip it in the toilet, which gets flushed every two or three uses.

So the other day I was hanging the laundry out to dry and realized that up to 1/4 of my clothesline space was used for drying toilet paper. How many other folks hang up their toilet paper to dry? Not many. I did notice that more of my neighbors are starting to use their clotheslines, though. Every apartment here has three lines run from the house across the patio, to the fence on the far side. They weren't ideally placed however, and the lines for my building are on the south side of the patio, right up against the fence. This means very little sun. On dry days at this time of year, though, I can still hang two sets of clothes, sometimes even three. I can fit anywhere from half a washerload to a full washerload at a time if I push things close together. If it is just adult clothes and/or towels, I can fit the whole load. If it is mostly kids clothes and/or washcloths, I can only fit half the load.

It is nice to know that we use almost no paper products now except paper to write on. We have an abundance of towels and washcloths that get used for everything that most people use paper for. I made up some nice muslin napkins for the table, and I haven't had a roll of paper towels in the house for over a year. Now to get rid of the last of the plastic. I still use ziplock bags for dividing up larger purchases into more manageable sizes, and gladware for leftovers.

09 June 2008

Another Year

It looks like it will be a year before we can get out own place. We met with Habitat for Humanity and they say we qualify for their help. The problem is that they are busy through the end of this building season, so won't be able to start anything new until next spring. I'm crossing my fingers in hopes that the farmland will still be available then. I have noticed that many large land properties are staying on the market for quite some time. One we have been watching has been on the market for nearly 1½ years, I think.

I got a garden planted this year finally. The maintenance guys rototilled a nice big patch out back for us. I have 4 tomatoes, 2 peppers, 4 broccoli, 4 cauliflower, 2 cucumbers, 8 peas, 16 carrots, 3 strawberries (one of which sent out a runner that has developed roots), 2 onions, 9 potatoes, 1 pumpkin and 1 watermelon. I wanted a large variety, but I also didn't want to overwhelm myself, either. Some I bought as seedlings, some I planted from seed. Some were things that had started to sprout in my pantry, namely the onions and potatoes. The seeds may or may not be sprouting. It is hard or me to tell if the green I see is the seed I planted, a seed from the mostly composted cow manure I planted them in, or a seed from the field that was dug up. So I will nurture them all until I can identify them.

We are having horrible hot weather here. It has hit 90 degrees a couple of times, and close to it every day for the last week or so. The forecast keeps promising thunderstorms, but they dematerialize before they get to us. We got one rainstorm overnight last week, but it did nothing for the heat. Until the weather breaks, I am keeping the kids in the house. The TV is on more to keep them still so they don't work up too much heat. I can't wait until it rains so I can send them outside. The garden will appreciate it, too. I have been watering it both in the early morning and the later evening, using almost 1.5 gallons each time.

So that is the news from here. I will try not to wait a month again for the next post.