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See, Knitting! I keep my word …eventually.

03/12/2007

A Mountain of Wool
A Mountain of Wool

Look what I found hiding behind the Stock Pavilion on campus: a veritable mountain of freshly-sheared wool. I only wish I had been in time to see the parting of wool from sheep (that is assuming the action went down on-site), as I suspect the spectacle of students, sheep and shears would have made wonderful photo-fodder. Unfortunately, I arrived once the fun was over and the wool all stacked and abandoned- I was tempted to hurdle the fence and make off with a fleece, but I think instead I’ll inquire around and see if I can get one cheap and legitimately. Not that I’d know what to do with it- I don’t know how to clean it, or process it, or dye it, or spin it. I just have the vague understanding that all those piles represent, potentially, a hell of a lot of yarn.

If you’ve always wanted your own freshly sheared incredibly dirty fleece, this may be your chance to score. Being that this was on campus and that I had just gotten out of my Medical Bacteriology lecture, it brought not only yarn-greed but a little anecdote to mind.

Bacillus anthracis
Bacillus anthracis

This is anthrax. Anthrax lives (or more appropriately, seeing as bacterial spores are inert, waits) in dirt.

Baa.
Baa.

This is a sheep. It may not live in dirt per say, but it can sure get dirty. Once upon a time not so very long ago, this connection led to the phenomenon of “Woolsorter’s Disease”– often-inhalational anthrax in people who play with wool (also common was cutaneous anthrax -anthrax of the skin- which came from handling the wool, but that’s far less deadly). It’s rather simple, actually: those who beat and spread and clean a sheep’s fleece get to breathe in all the dirt and bacterium that they beat and spread and clean out of said fleece. Inhalational anthrax requires an infectious dose of between 2,500 and 50,000 spores, but once caught, is very deadly even with treatment- the CDC’s Anthrax FAQ doesn’t even give a rate, and my notes place the mortality of Inhalational Anthrax at over 90%. It is by far the deadliest of the three forms an anthrax infection can take.

The last natural case of inhalational anthrax in the US was in the 70s, and was tied (no pun intended) to a ball of yarn.

This pleasant story of one of the many places where my love of microbiology and my love of knitting messily collide is brought to you by a big fat pile of dirty wool and this:

Look, Ma!  Sleeves!
Look, Ma! Sleeves!

Tempting has sleeves! This calls for much, much celebration. There is an end to the endless stst, and I can see it glowing faintly on the horizon, a bind-off beacon of hope.

I’ve also swatched and cast on for a hat. This hat is the mystery design mentioned in the post about my Knitpicks.com order. Can you guess what I’m ultimately hoping it will look like?

Wuzzat?
Wuzzat?

While very simple and not a new concept, it’ll be the first work of knitting I’ve designed myself that’s actually been made (I’ve got piles of knitwear designs sketched up which may never be made- I’ll have to share them sometime). No instructions or patterns were consulted in the making of this hat. Woo!

And what’s a post without a kitty to finish it off? Tigger was very helpful with my progress on both Tempting and the Mystery Hat (OF DOOM!!!eleventy!) yesterday, in that he slept on my lap as I knit and periodically woke up in order to chew/slobber on the yarn.

Yay Sunshine
Yay Sunshine

The weather is gorgeous and the cat in my lap is warm and purring. Life is good.

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