This year, as events have conspired to keep petroleum prices (and, thus, prices in general) on the upswing--the Hezbollah-Israeli conflict (though, thankfully, at a temporary ceasefire), the BP gas pipeline mess in Alaska's Prudhoe Bay--it's an opportune moment to explore conservation measures, as well as petroleum alternatives.
I recently stumbled across a petroleum alternative in the realm of fabric. That's right, while lolligagging around the Takoma Park Farmer's Market, I strolled around the nearby storefronts, which were having sidewalk sales. One such place, the store Now and Then, was having a special on yarns. Hip-looking feathered yarn is a product I always assumed was completely synthetic--you know, all petrol. Was I wrong! (OK, the yarn is partly petrol, at 12% nylon.) The material is however, mostly bamboo, 88% in fact. More to the point, this yarn is soft and shimmery, and I got the notion to crochet a scarf after purchasing a couple of skeins. It only took two days (three hours spread over the two days, in reality), looks and feels fabulous, and cost less than $12 to make! However, I wouldn't advise that crochet newbies attempt to use a feather-type yarn, as it's tricky to handle.
Bamboo is the up-and-coming environmentally friendly darling of the moment, because the grass (who knew?) grows extremely quickly, making it a renewable resource, potentially. Of course, if you're a gardener, you've heard about the difficulty (in fact, the near-impossibility) of eradicating bamboo once it's established, so much that it's considered an invasive plant. Its tenaciousness and proto-weediness gives credence to the old saw that a weed is merely a plant that's out of place.
However, a dilemma presents itself with the use of bamboo products, as almost all of them hail from China, land of institutionalized prison and otherwise non-unionized labor. While some commercial bamboo is grown in other countries, much of the industry is sino-centric. (Unfortunately, so many other items are manufactured there, including many petroleum-based products, it makes the head spin as to when to try to choose an alternative to the old polluting order.)