three for the new year

It was nice to be able to relax and finally sit and enjoy a novel or two and write two reviews I’ve been holding. They are both innovate books and very enjoyable. I didn’t necessarily want to slap something together. I want to give the thoughtful review I wish I could give every book I read to quench my insatiable book thirst.

In no particular order..

Respect the Spindle: Spin Infinite Yarns with One Amazing Tool Respect the Spindle: Spin Infinite Yarns with One Amazing Tool
by Abby Franquemont
1 star for book review1 star for book review1 star for book review1 star for book review1 star for book review

When you know an addition to your bookshelf will change your life and make something you enjoy doing much more enjoyable and easier, how do you write a proper review?

When I first started spindling I was very shy and scared and really really bad at it. Some people I asked for assistance had a very anti-spindle bias; they saw a spindle as a stepping-stone on the way to a wheel. I knew that was silly and that for many cultures there were spindles, not wheels doing the yarn production. I am very lucky that I have some very good friends who love spindling *and* wheels and they helped me get on the right direction. I’m still not very good.

When I heard Abby was writing a book I was thrilled. I found her articles and blog posts informative and very helpful over the years. A few months ago she had posted a video tutorial that introduced me to the concept of winding a butterfly and my spindling immediately got easier (there’s a photo tutorial on p 86).

When I finally got my hands on a copy (thanks to a surprise gift from my husband) and I actually had a chance to sit and read through this book while fondling holding my spindles I was thrilled and thankful.

This is a soft cover book, so it is light and could be taken along in a bag. It’s not spiral bound, but I don’t find I care about that in my spinning books. The photos are clear and if a technique is being demonstrated it is done so with very precise steps and I’m very thankful for the plain background and Abby’s simple clothing.

Just reading this book will not make you a better spinner overnight, you still need to practice but I think Abby has written a superb book. This book is valuable for anyone, whether you spindle or not, thought if you aren’t interested in spinning you might only like the first 47 pages of history, science, and other knowledgeable things. I think this will help me if anyone wants me to try to explain the basics of spinning to them. I wouldn’t go out and ask to be hired as a teacher, but when you spindle in public, people are interested and this book should help me figure out a clear and concise way to explain what I’m trying to do.

The most amusing part of the book was seeing two different ways to wind a cop and realizing that my other life prepared me for this one. I used to make my own bassoon reeds and the thread knotting method for that is very similar to winding a cop using the crossing method. I love it when my life experiences overlap!

Reversible Knitting: 50 Brand-New, Groundbreaking Stitch PatternsReversible Knitting: 50 Brand-New, Groundbreaking Stitch Patterns
by Lynne Barr
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Barr takes the innovations and lessons from her first book, Knitting New Scarves and takes a huge leap forward with this new title. While it is a traditional hardback book, I wasn’t upset as I sat on the train absorbed in the clear photos, unique stitch organization for the 50 included designs, and the unique patterns Barr and others have contributed to show the extreme flexibility and endless possibilities for reversible knitting. I can’t decide which new stitch pattern excites me the most, I’ll have to try them all. If you are looking for a unique dictionary or inspiration maker for either yourself or the knitter who has everything and likes to try it all, you will not be disappointed with this book.

Dreamships Dreamships
by Melissa Scott
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If one were to take a mash-up of my undergraduate degree (Computer Science:Artificial Intelligence, also Psycholinguistics wannabe) and crossed it with my graduate degree (Information & Archive Management) and mixed in my random interests you might come up with this book. I randomly picked it off the shelf at the used bookstore and am delighted to have found it. I enjoyed reading it and will look into Scott’s other writings.

beautiful tools, part I

If you were to ask my husband what I talk about most on the trip to a festival, he would probably reply “pretty wpi tool”. Sure, I could buy online, but for some reaosn this is something I wanted to buy at a festival. I wanted to touch. I wanted it to jump out at me and surprise me. I wanted it to say “I am the pretty tool you cannot make on your own. You have need of me. You find me beautiful and useful. I do not just do one thing, like the WPI tool you made.”

However, at most festivals I end up distracted by fibre, or animals, or the weather, or some combination. By the time I remember I want to look for a WPI tool we’re either halfway home or dripping wet and over budget because of some alpaca that befriended me.

This year at Rhinebeck it was different. I limited myself. I set guidelines. I went looking for two things and wasn’t too concerned about my budget for them, however if I could not find one, then I needed to really think about looking for the other. Having just set up a whole room for my fibrey needs I knew there was very little I truly needed.

I knew I needed to give serious search for a WPI tool and a I knew I would like another lightweight spindle.

Why did I want a WPI tool when a ruler or a pencil can work? I’ve made a few of them and I’ve not yet set up wood working tools to provide me with the tool I see myself using in my head. After I’ve put all this effort into my handspun, I want to figure out its weight with a nice beautiful tool that feels nice in my hands and is nice to look at.

How did I know about the spindle? That’s a story for next week. It involves the temptress Limonene.

So I set off with my prioritized wish list and slowly made my way from vendor to vendor. As I began to despair and allow for spindle distraction, I was thrilled to find my WPI tool. It is better than I expected as it includes both of the gauge measures I was looking for and it includes a diz! As you probably know by now, I like my tools multi-functional, well made, practical, and appealing to as many senses as possible. This mixed exotic wood beauty does not disappoint. It’s not the sort of wood choice I would generally make, but by the time I got there Sunday morning I was already feeling fatigued so I went with it. I think it appeals to me because it so so very different from my normal choice.

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With luck I’ll write up some of the yarn I’ve spun recently. However, next week look for my new spindle love. Bonus? Dating him won’t break the bank. I was surprised too, thinking he was used to a much more extravagant lifestyle. I’m feeding him BFL at the moment and he’s enjoying it.

summer spin preview

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I will try spin 10 minutes daily summer with Dave in his Summer of Spinning challenge. My goals are simple:

  • remember to oil Mr I’m-no-longer-Squeaky
  • relax and not treadle as if it’s a race.
  • spin up as many different stash fibres as I can. Learn what they are.
  • Learn how I spin them. Learn what I like. Write down my thoughts and experiences

In short, finally get to know my wheel. Sure, there’ll be days when I only get a bit of spindling time in, but I want to try to improve my spinning. The wheel received a lot of TLC from Dave (a different one) on Sunday. He spins wonderfully and squeaks just enough to remind me when and where I should oil.

You’ll be able to track my progress at this page and I’ll try to make a nicer interface shortly.

currently in progress

I do have quite a few finished objects to share, but haven’t written them up to my satisfaction yet. So below is some commentary on a few projects I’m currently working on.

365.054 ... 20090414TBut first, I’ve been falling for some different colours in the shops. Some are brighter. Some are different and outside my normal palette (LB Superwash Merino in Dijon, I’m looking at you). Not all have come home with me (oh dear, that would be a disaster) but I’m finding excuses to add them to the stash. I think it’s that spring is finally here and once again I’m excited. I love grey. But I love blue sky and warmth as well.

I’ll post the rest after the jump as this became pretty long and while most of you seem to read through an rss reader – of sorts – I’ll try to keep the front index page shorter… Read More about currently in progress

a cabled river but the squeak is back

Reversible Cabled Brioche Stitch ScarfReversible Cabled Brioche Stitch Scarf
by Saralyn Harvey
from FireFlower Knits
knitted as a gift for Britt
320 Yards of Mission Falls 1824 Cotton in Indigo purchased online from Webs
4.5 mm needles
6×72″ (approx)
CO 20081025
BO 20081226

I prefer reversible scarves (even if I don’t always knit them) and this was a lot of fun to knit. Brioche isn’t hard but the cables required a bit of thought to make sure I put them in (mostly) the right place. You can see the cables in more detail here. This was the project that taught me why a chunk of $2 plastic (aka a stitch counter) can be more efficient than paper & pencil at keeping track of which row of the 21 row repeat I’m on.

It seems that this is the time of year that Squeaky likes to squeak, though this time he sounds like he’s croaking. I oiled all places I know to oil so it’s something else rubbing and driving E and I crazy. How do I know that Squeaky is squeaking? I’ve been spinning! I know, I’m surprised too. I finishing spinning the singles and am finishing plying up (between looking for that squeak) some very lovely BFL I bought from Jessica a while back. I need to WPI but I have about 120 yards so far.