December Sassy Holidays: Warmest Regards

Warmest Regards

Dear Sassy Holidays participants, 

We wanted to thank you, from the bottom of our colorful hearts, for being a part of this Sassy Holidays journey. Over the past two years, we’ve celebrated so many holidays, from the mundane (National Bubble Bath Day, January 8th) to the tasty (National Watermelon Day, August 3rd and National Donut Day, June 1st, to name a few) to the socially important (International Day of the Girl Child, October 11th; Indigenous Peoples Day, the second Monday of October). We’ve celebrated Bikinis (National Bikini Day, July 5th) and Hobbits (September 22nd) and friendship (both Galentines Day, February 13th and Best Friend’s Day, June 8th). We’ve made Bloody Marys for New Year’s Day, Lemonade in May, and Sandwiches in November. We’ve picked up Lucky Pennies (National Lucky Penny Day, May 23rd) and we’ve stopped and taken a minute just to look at the sky for National Look Up at the Sky Day in April. And now, for our December Sassy Holidays, we are sending a Thank You Letter to you for making this club such a fun journey. 

December 26th is known as National Thank You Note Day, a time to let folks know you appreciate them and you are thankful for any gifts you might have received. Our greatest gifts with this club these last two years have been hearing from you about how much you’ve loved the colorways, how the holidays have spoken to you (or just plain gave you the excuse to go out for donuts on a random day in June). 

Our December colorway, Warmest Regards, is inspired by a set of watercolor Thank You cards I had years ago, ones I relished writing thank you notes on. Just think, you could use this skein to knit a thank you to someone who means a lot to you (even if that someone is yourself!)

This will be our final Sassy Holidays missive, and more than anything, we want you to know that we thank you for being a part of our Knitted Wit community, and for supporting the fantastic yarn shop you’ve been picking up your Sassy Holidays yarns every month.

HerStory December 2019: Teri Rofkar

Raven's Tail

For the final HerStory of the year, we are honoring Native American artist-maker Teri Rofkar, whose Tlingit name was Chas’ Koowu Tla’a. She was born into the Raven Clan from the Snail House of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, and was first introduced to traditional Tlingit weaving by her grandmother. It wasn’t until years later that she became, as she said, a “basket case,” consumed by weaving and immersing herself in traditional maker practices. Throughout her career, she explored the juxtaposition of the modern with the traditional, always striving for the connection of the traditional, but sometimes using modern techniques and technology to make a statement. Traditional Tlingit weaving is done on a very basic frame, not a loom as we know them today. For garments, mountain goat fur is the primary fiber used, and all of the dyeing is done using bark and lichen and moss that is found in the weaver’s natural surroundings. For traditional basket weaving, the weaver gathers spruce tree roots and ferns. The connection of the weaver and her materials to the natural world is just as important as the final pieces that are created.

A master at weaving in any medium, it was the traditional robes Rofkar wove that garnered the most attention. She would spend between 800 and 1400 hours on each robe, between foraging for materials, processing and dyeing the wool, using a drop spindle to hand spin all of the yarn, and then the actual weaving of the robe. She threw herself into learning traditional techniques, while retaining her modern sensibilities: “I listen to heavy metal when I work,” she explained during one interview. “Change is the one thing that is constant. Traditional arts continue because they adapt and change with society. I’m not changing the methodology. It is the same as it was thousands of years ago. My technique and my intent are still there.”

The colorway we created to honor Rofkar, Ravens Tail, is inspired by the robes she was best known for, the robes that took a year (plus) of her life to create. The Lituya Bay Robe that inspired Ravens Tail features a visual representation of the DNA strands of the mountain goat whose fiber was used to weave it. (Be sure to check out our website, so you can see the joyful photo of Teri Rofkar spinning in this stunning robe.) Rofkar passed away in 2016 at the age of 60, but her work lives on through a renewed interest in and passion for traditional weavings. When she first started weaving as an artist, there were fewer than 10 people exploring this art, but today there are many more, and they are teaching more (mostly women) to carry on this tradition. It’s what an artist like Teri would have hoped for; for an art so important to her culture to gain more ground and more practitioners.

November Sassy Holidays: National Sandwich Day

As the days get shorter and cooler, we think more and more about food. Food is a very important part of our life here at Knitted Wit, and, if you’ve been taking part in our Sassy Holiday celebrations for any length of time, you know that we are almost always down to celebrate a holiday that centers around food. We’ve mostly focused on sweet treats, but this month, with the cool weather, we want something savory, which is why we are celebrating National Sandwich Day on November 3rd (not that sandwiches can’t be sweet, too…)

Legend states that in the 18th century, the Earl of Sandwich would order his meat and cheese served betwixt bread, so he could more easily play cards without dirtying those cards. Folks became intrigued by this new way to package their food, and started asking for theirs to be made in the style of the Earl of Sandwich, which was eventually shortened to sandwich. Voila!

Here are recipes for two of our favorite sandwiches; November 3 might be a good day to host a sandwich party with your favorites!

Classic PB&J:

Take 2 slices of white bread (a seedy multigrain if you want to add a little extra), and smear nut butter, either creamy OR crunchy on one half. Peanut is the most classic of classics, but almond or even a mixed nut butter takes it all up a notch. Smear jam or jelly on the other half. Go classic with grape or strawberry jelly, or add a little pizazz with raspberry or even (gasp!) a marmalade. One of our favorites is mixed nut butter and grapefruit marmelade on toasted seedy multigrain bread. 

Grown-Up Grilled Cheese:

Take 2 slices of seedy multigrain or fresh-baked sourdough, and spread one side of each with a thin coating of butter. Put one slice on a preheated pan (we like a cast-iron pan), butter-side down, and add a layer of brie, then a layer of thinly-sliced pears. Add the other bread half, butter side up, and cook until the bottom bread is toasty brown. Flip and cook until that bread is toasty brown. Enjoy!

Now that we’ve gotten everyone nice and hungry, enjoy celebrating the humble sandwich today. 

Next month is our final Sassy Holiday shipment; we are discontinuing the club, but my, have we had fun making these colors for you! We’re focusing next year on HerStory, and a new club called the ShannaJean Club, so ask your LYS if they’re taking part in either or both of these clubs in 2020. Thanks for learning all about these holidays with us, and enjoy your sandwich! The Final Sassy Holiday is December 26th, which is National Thank You Day

Here are some extra sandwich recipes we ran out of room for in the love letter!

Lotsa Veggies on a Bagel:

Take an everything bagel, and toast it if you like. Thinly spread both sides with hummus, then add thinly-sliced cucumber, thinly-sliced tomato, sprouts, and avocado. Eat!

Caprese Sandwich:

Take 2 slices of seedy multigrain or a baguette, and spread fresh basil pesto along one piece. Add slices of mozerella and fresh tomato. Enjoy!

HerStory November 2019: Alice Waters

Our November HerStory recipient is Alice Waters, who is known for her advocacy of local, organic, and healthful eating. She opened her restaurant, Chez Panisse, in 1971, and helped to pioneer what’s now known as California cuisine, a food movement based around on using local and sustainable ingredients with a focus on foods in season. Immersing herself in local and sustainable food set Waters apart from much of what was happening in the food scene, and inspired her food activism. 

In developing Chez Panisse, Alice Waters realized that she had to create her own network of farmers and food producers, because the framework for organic, local foods simply did not exist. Her advocacy for organic foods arose as a matter of taste. Simply put, she discovered that organic foods just plain tasted better, and that’s why she started to use them and seek them out.

In 1996, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Chez Panisse and to further promote and expand on her own food activism, Waters created the Chez Panisse Foundation, with the mission of transforming public education by using food to teach, nurture, and empower young people. The foundation created the Edible Food Program and the School Lunch Initiative, both of which began in the Berkeley Unified School District in Berkeley, CA, but have been adopted by limited school districts nationwide. The Edible Food Program involves students in growing the food that is served in their school cafeteria, and promotes school gardens and gardening being incorporated into the daily curriculum. The School Lunch Initiative is focused on providing healthful school lunches to students. Waters is a vocal critic of existing American school lunch programs, and has been pushing for healthier options, based in organic ingredients. She inspired Michelle Obama’s planting of a White House garden, and was one of Obama’s inspirations in her Let’s Move campaign.

Waters continues to advocate for healthier school lunches for children in the USA. She is working to expand both the Edible Food Program and the School Lunch Initiative nationwide, and has been working toward free school lunches in all public schools in the US. She is also working with Yale University on a sustainable-food program, and is an integral part of the Slow Food Movement, which is dedicated to preserving local, sustainable, small-scale food programs around the world. Our Chez Yarn colorway is a playful celebration of good food, sustainable choices, and fibery tastiness. We hope you enjoy something local while knitting up this skein.

HerStory October 2019: Elsie Allen

Born in 1899, Elsie Allen spoke only her native Pomo language until the age of 11, when she was ripped from her family and forced by white American authorities to attend a boarding school for Native American children in California. After a few miserable years, she was able to leave the school and rejoin her family. It was then that she reconnected with her mother and grandmother and with the Pomo tradition of basketweaving.

The Pomo are indigenous to what is now California. They are known for their artistry in basketweaving. Baskets were essential to daily life: the Pomo didn’t have access to the clay that would have given rise to a pottery culture like many Native American tribes. Elsie was born into this rich tradition, passed down matrilineally from her mother and grandmother. As 20th century white supremacist America relentlessly encroached upon the lands and lives of the Pomo tribes, there was a very real danger that this tradition, along with the tribe itself, would fade out; even the plants used to create the baskets, considered weeds by the colonizers, were being eradicated. Added to these factors was the fact that when a revered member of the Pomo tribe dies, baskets are buried with them. When a Pomo basketweaver dies, the entirety of her work is buried with her. Thus there were not many examples of the craft for a young Elsie to use as inspiration and instruction. When Elsie’s mother was on her deathbed, she implored Elsie not to bury her life’s work, but instead to use it to further her own art. Elsie respected her mother’s wishes, and the family’s basket collection has been used to showcase the talent and artistry of the Pomo basketweaving culture. 

Throughout her life, Elsie Allen promoted Pomo women’s rights, carrying on a long-standing tradition of her tribe. She fought against racism and prejudice against Native Americans, and used her basketweaving skills to fundraise for organizations providing aid and support to Native American women and to raise awareness about Native American life and culture. She wrote books and taught workshops and worked at ensuring that the art form didn’t fade into the past. She fought for the rights of the First Nations people and was an advocate for Native women. She lived in a time of deep racism against Native Americans, but she chose to lift up her people through celebrating their amazing functional art and advocating for the human rights of her tribespeople.

Our October HerStory colorway, Pomo Basket, is a way for us to honor Elsie Allen’s work. We painted the skeins as if they were Pomo baskets, paying homage to the functional art of the Pomo tribe and to Elsie’s furthering of that art and knowledge.

October Sassy Holidays 2019: Indigenous Peoples Day

Once upon a time in the United States of America, there was a holiday called Columbus Day. It was a day to honor the man who so-called “discovered” the Americas, and it was all a sham. Columbus was, in fact, a horrible person, who saw the generosity and friendliness of the Native Americans he encountered as an invitation to dominate them. A person who perpetrated disease and slaughter onto the people who already lived in the places he supposedly discovered. A person who promised his bosses back in Spain gold and slaves in exchange for more ships and men. A person who has long been celebrated and lauded as a hero to America. In fact, most people raised in American schools can easily name the three ships he “sailed the ocean blue” with. (Howard Zinn wrote a great article about the real Christopher Columbus:

Fortunately, as the US has gained more self-awareness about its own history, fewer and fewer folks think that Columbus Day is a valid National Holiday, and have supplanted it with Indigenous People’s Day, a day to honor and celebrate Native Americans and commemorates their shared history and culture. Indigenous People’s Day started in South Dakota in 1989, and is now celebrated across the United States. There are still only three states that don’t celebrate Columbus Day at all (yay, Oregon!), but many states and cities have adopted Indigenous People’s Day on the second Monday of October. 

Our Indigenous People’s Day colorway was created after a deep Google dive of images of Native American Regalia. There were so many gorgeous and inspiring pieces to choose from, but we decided on a more traditional color scheme. 

We hope you’ll spend the day knitting with this gorgeous yarn, and thinking about ways America can do better in regards to its Native population. A few organizations that are going good works include: 

Indigenous Peoples Day colorway

Why “menstrual products”?

Some folks may wonder, as we advertise the menstrual products drive we’re hosting as a part of our Halloween Harry Potter Pub Quiz Extravaganza, why we’re using the phrase “menstrual products” instead of “feminine hygiene products.” Well, it’s because not all people who use menstrual products are females.

Language is so powerful, so important. That old phrase “sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you” is a big lie. Words CAN hurt. Words DO hurt. Just look at the current occupant of the White House, and tell all of folks who have been victims of hate crimes since he started spewing his racist rhetoric that his words will never hurt them.

If we, as cis, white women, who have so many privileges just by dint of our outward appearance, can help folks who don’t share those privileges feel even just a wee bit more comfortable in the world, you know we’re going to do it. And that’s why adopting more inclusive language is so important, and it’s something we’d implore all of those in our orbit to do, as well. It is completely and totally painless to change our language surrounding menstrual products. Look, I said menstrual products and it actually felt good.

Now, let’s get rid of as many of these exclusionary (and outright racist/sexist/othering) words and phrases as we can, ok? I, for one, have taken to saying y’all instead of you guys, because we are not all guys, and y’all sounds cute. What else can we do to make language a bit more inclusive?

September Sassy Holidays 2019: Hobbit Day

Who doesn’t love the Hobbits, those adorable and tenacious humanoids from JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy? Who wouldn’t love to celebrate Frodo and Bilbo Baggins’ shared birthday with a big party, complete with food, friends, fireworks, and frivolity? Indulging in elevenses, entering their cozy Hobbit holes, and hearing Frodo and Bilbo regale us with tales of their very un-Hobbity adventures? Well, we can all celebrate on September 22nd, which, along with being the birthday of the two most adventurous Hobbits the Shire has ever seen, is also celebrated as Hobbit Day, smack-dab in the middle of Tolkien week. 

In Tolkien’s writing, Hobbits, which are about half the size of humans, are often referred to as Halflings. Our Halfling colorway plays homage to these very special Hobbits that captured our imaginations as children (and adults). The Hobbit was written as a children’s book, and is a wonderful adventure to share with the kiddos in your life. We listened to it as a family on a long road trip, and mine were captivated by it. I remember the first time I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy as a young adult; I cried, because I was so sad I would never read it for the first time again. If you haven’t read the books, we highly recommend you do. And, on September 22nd, indulge in a bit of the Hobbit life, if you will, in honor of the magic that Tolkien shared with us.

HerStory September 2019: Joana Choumali

We’d love to introduce you to Joana Choumali. Her Awoulaba/Taille Fine project is so amazing, and the statement it makes about beauty standards and ideals is so powerful, that we had to share it with you all for our September HerStory. The image that most inspired the Crafted Perfection colorway we created is the final image of the project linked here:

Joana Choumali is a visual artist based in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire whose work often explores issues of identity and womanhood, mostly in African culture. She is currently delving into the use of embroidery over photography as a medium, and her most recent work is a stunning look at a town in trauma, as well as an inspiring artistic marriage of two different crafty art mediums. For HerStory, however, it’s her Awoulaba/Taille Fine project that grabbed us, and the statements the project makes about standards of beauty across the world. 

Awoulaba/Taille Fine explores the variances in standards of beauty among African and American/Western cultures using images of “perfect” body parts and Awoulaba mannequins all mixed together as indicators of a culture’s prevailing beauty ideals. In the early 2010s in Africa, mannequins began being produced/crafted that reflected a more African standard of beauty: wider hips, fuller breasts, heavier arms and legs. Called “Awoulaba,” meaning “Beauty Queens,” these mannequins were so unlike the more common “Taille Fine” (a term used to describe a more Western standard of beauty) mannequins usually seen that they inspired this project. The project blends the two in a way that is both jarring and beautiful. Choumali juxtaposed images of body parts of women in popular culture who embody different combinations of the two standards, making a powerful statement about aspirational beauty and the damage it can do. She asks of viewers the question: why are we aspiring to the generic, mannequin-like perfection society wants us to? Why not celebrate our uniqueness instead? And maybe most importantly, who is the keeper of the standards? From her website:

“They evoke the venus celebrities who embody perfect beauty in popular culture: Kim Kardashian (the white Awoulaba); Nikki Minaj (the light skinned Awoulaba); Naomi Campbell (the black Taille Fine); Lupita Niango (the black Taille Fine); and Beyonce (the light skinned Awoulaba).”

We hope you take some time to explore Joana Choumali’s visual art, and that we all realize that those standards of beauty that we aspire to are baloney.