Saturday, December 4, 2010

They should have stuck with Cookbooks

Learn to Knit Socks and Learn to Knit in the Round

By Company's Coming

These two books are just not good enough.  They look fairly nice, bright covers, wire bound which works for home use if not for a public library, the project photo's are Okay, the patterns are well written but uninspiring. There are much better books available.
There is no personality or passion for the craft present, they read like they were written by a computer or a committee, there are designer names with each pattern but all the writing is the same, bland.
The sock book has only two types, top down very standard and toe up, and two working methods, double pointed and one sock at a time on magic loop.  The illustrations of how to do these methods are mediocre.  A particular irritation is the positioning of the fingers, in one drawing page 22 the yarn is held continental style in the left hand, a page later on the same sock the yarn is poised to knit in the English way.
Knitting in the round has what might have been a good lesson plan for beginners but the drawing are inadequate, they show mostly the  needles and yarn but not the hands working. What does show is probably English style but there is no mention of there being two or more styles.  Curiously they cover magic loop in the sock book but not in the knitting in the round book.
Either book give information about different types of needles, how can a book about knitting in the round not mention interchangeable needles?
Pull them off the shelf at your local library if you see them but don't waste energy taking them home,  there are much better books.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Happy Dance in the October Leaves

I am delighted to say that I am teaching at Olds Fibre Week, the summer camp for grownups, a 8 day long celebration of all things fibre.  Rock bottom beginners can take my one day course on Friday June 24, here's the description that will be in their brochure and on the website, which will be out in January sometime, with registration probably starting early in March.

Learn to knit, cast on, the knit stitch, the purl stitch, casting off, creating flat material and knitting  in the round, using the Continental or pic method with circular needles.  For spinners who need to use their yarn, for weavers who want to create with a tool smaller and more portable than a loom.  Make simple fingerless gloves.

It will be similar to the class I have taught at the Calgary Public Library but longer and more intensive,  7 hours instead of 5 1/2  but one day rather than 3 evenings, more time to learn and less time to practise.  It would be good for people who already knit using the English or throw method too.

On Saturday and Sunday I will explicate Entrelac, here's the 50 words or less description.

Entrelac is a mysterious method that creates texture and colour but once you understand it is both easy to do and leads to designing your own patterns.  As a bonus, and because it makes Entrelac easier you will learn to knit backwards and use the tentative cast on.  The class will be making a small bag.

Olds is an agricultural college, in the small town of Olds (surprise, surprise) Fibre Week  is when the gardens are at their best.  Participants can stay quite cheaply in the student accommodation, book early for a townhouse, or at hotels.  For just one day you could drive from Calgary and back, but you'd miss a lot of activities.  

Monday, September 20, 2010

Handout for Knitting Class

You’ve got to be knitting

Yarn, Equipment and Information Suppliers

Custom Woolen Mills  yarn, spinning fibre, a local Alberta supplier

Elann Vancouver based, bargain yarns, patterns and needles

Knitpicks source  of the needles I use for classes,  good yarn and books too

Shuttleworks just south of Calgary, great store, yarn, books

Ram Yarn Coop source of the yarn used for classes, great people

Techknitting is a blog that has had more than a million viewers, great information

 Learning to Knit is the site put up by the craft yarn council,  a nonprofit organization of most of the big yarn companys

Elizabeth Zimmermann founded Schoolhouse Press in the 50's and it is still going strong, yarn, books, advice.  She and her husband collected schoolhouse, hence the name.
 Russian knitting is taught at this site,  I haven't learned this method yet. But someday.

Raverly is a huge social web site, you must be a member to use it but I encourage everyone to become members

Books and DVDS are available here by these and other writers
Elizabeth Zimmermann, Sally Melville, Debbie New and Barbara walker

One of the best local resources, a week long adult summer camp

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Babe's Three Bobbin Kit for Country Spinner

This was my first effort, some of the thick bits were by design and some were me loosing control of what I was doing. I've had the Country Spinner for 4 years but I have never spun much on it, I mostly used it for plying and love it for that. The fibre wasn't the best, even in this picture the amount of straw bits shows, the both the dyer and the mill should be ashamed of themselves, sheep have no shame. But the bobbin set up was fine. I spun quite fine singles, 8 to 10 wraps par inch in places and I could do better with practise. I don't think I would spin much finer than 6 wraps on the original Country. The plastic bobbin is smaller and lighter, much lighter, much easier to turn.

Here's the kit on my wheel. Wish I had taken a picture of the wheel with the original Ashford wooden bobbin on it %20wheels/4/spinning/country/moredetail.html the Ashford site has all the specs and a good picture.

This is the ugliest piece of spinning equipment I have ever seen, it has no charm, it's plastic and junky looking plastic at that. It's junky feeling plastic, there is one piece of wood and it's crude, the whole thing reminds me of phentex yarn. The country Spinner is plain but good wood and has the beauty of a piece that does it's job.

But, ugly is as ugly does and these bobbins do a really good job.

Start with price, 57.30 for three bobbins and adaptor kit, one bobbin from my Ashford supplier is more than that, shipping was cheap 9.35, shipping was quick even across the border, it's a great deal.

The instructions are not great. I often get irritated by instructions that tell me to much, "what kind of an idiot do these people think their customers are?" but in this case I am that kind of an idiot. But I did figure it out. And no, there are no better instructions on the site. I am sure that if I had emailed or phoned Nils would have helped but the instructions should be better.

Plying, ah, plying, that why I wanted more than one bobbin in the first place,  and that's why Babe's sells them in a set of three, very sensible of them.  So why the devil don't they design and sell a kate, either separately as of part of the whole thing.  I made my own quite easily but well, what can I say.  This is ugly too but it works.
There are all kinds of possibilities that open up,  an regular 2 ply with a large amounts of continuous yarn, 3 ply, fill the babe's bobbins and then put the larger Ashford bobbin back on to ply.
A Country Spinner takes some getting used to,  it's harder to start, more work to pedal and the spinner need to really pay attention to which direction it's going.  But it's the best choice I know of for a second wheel, even if the only thing you ever do is ply singles spun on another wheel.
And those ugly, really really ugly bobbins?  They are great, they work.  I'd like to try 3 bobbins in the original Ashford wood for comparison but not enough to buy them.  And price is not the only advantage,  the lightness of the plastic bobbin really makes an improvement.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Twitter part of CPL 2.0

What can a person say in 140 words that is really worth reading, Fire! Flee at once, everthing is known!   CPL is using Tweets to redirect users to other things mostly, an attempt to get the attention of teens expecially.  Is it worth the time and effort?

But it's just one more thing, not a website and I can't keep up with the websites I like, not a blog and I can't keep up with the blogs I like,  one more thing to RSS, Information fragmentation.

I'd rather knit and I am knitting.  June 13 is World Wide Knit in Public Day, L'Arche is the Charity Sponsor and I am taking pledges to support their good works.  Please support me.  

I'll be knitting Entrelac Hats and would be happy to give one to my biggest supporter.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Silly Rule, silly sign

This is a garbage can. It is at a bus stop.

It is a garbage can of high standards, rigid principles, only the users of mass transit can use it, no walkers, no cyclists, no users of privately owned motor vehicles.

Can I use it all the time, I am a regular transit user or can I only use it when I am there waiting for a bus?

And exactly how is this going to be enforced?

How much of my tax and ticket money went to pay for this?
Posted by Picasa

Dyeing for Entrelac

I don't like writing posts from Blogger, could be this layout, could be me.  Now I can't even get the pictures in the right spot

This is yarn natural dyed with cochineal expecially for an entrelac sweater.

I did a wonderful post using My Journal software and the pictures didn't come though.

Used 100 gms of finely ground cochineal from Maiwa 7 skeins of wool Soho Bulky Tweed 2 skeins of different handspun, and roving. The trick to getting the skeins different shades is putting them in one at a time about 20 minuties apart.
Used Jenny Dean's method but forgot the lemon juice.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Library Thing

Library Thing might be my favorite site on the Internet. 

I record everything I read as I read it, and rate it, even if it's so bad I don't finish it, hopefully this helps me not to be attracted to the same book again.  I review only occasionally mostly books that don't have any or not a lot of reviews and try to balance good and bad comments. Collections are part of the entry, some basic and some member created, I track books I own, books from CPL, books I want (mostly paperbacks in a series) and books I read years ago and don't own.  Tags most users use for subjects, I tag things I will want again for programs, this replaces the wish list that one could keep on the CPL site. 

LT has lists of series and charactors which is handy. There is a forum for asking help finding books from whatever details one remembers,  one for knitters, and one for librarians.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Office and others

Today Microsoft is releasing Office 2010, right on time to consider productivity suites, free or expensive, computer based or in the cloud.  My favorite technology writer has an interesting article on the free parts of 2010.

I own Office 07 and dislike it mildly, I own it because the Library does and because some of my other software, Inuit's Quickbooks  will only export to Excel and only email though Outlook.  Ah, Outlook, I loathe Outlook.  Without these constraints, I'd probably use Google docs more.  I will certainly not pay for Office 10 but I will probably download the free part, not today though.
Google Doc's are free, Google Doc's are accessible anywhere there is internet, reasonably private, and quite safe.  I think the Library is doing it's patrons a disservice teaching Office instead of Google, and a harm teaching Office 03.
But I use a small word processing and calendar program called My Journal,  the writing part is easy to use, the calendar kind of clunky, I might switch to Google, it started as a very secure program for journals and is designed to be installed on a Flash drive.   Private and portable but vulnerable to loss.  It actually is easier to blog on and then export to Blogger than using Blogger.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Facebook or not

To Facebook or not to Facebook, I dithered.  When one person joins an organization, becomes one of the statistics an organization can point to to say how successful they are,  it is a sign of ethically approving of an organization, agreeing with their policies and actions.  I don't approve of Facebook.  They only do as much as they are forced to do about protecting privacy, they do nothing about controlling on line bullying whcih has lead to several deaths.  And there are alternatives, and hopefully there will be more,  wired has a wonderful article about the whole issue.

But using Facebook is part of this whole CPL 2.0 experience, Sorry, I can't bring myself to be one more stat that Mark Zuckermann can point to with pride.

 CPL has chosen to make Facebook a major part of it's 2.0 outreach, has chosen not to use some of the other sites that might be a better fit like Librarything, and I am ashamed of CPL.

Edited to add more nformation from my favorite techie about Facebook and it's great respect for the privacy of it's users.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Well worth using to follow blogs, makes reading them easier, good tutorial here. 

flickr, youtube and me

Flickr is nothing great, I prefer Piscassa Web Albums. 

YouTube though, YouTube is great.  The instructional video's about knitting are mostly wonderful, with the usual consider the source problems,  if you ever want to knit with Ramen noodles this is it.  And then there is the glass spinning wheel, utter lovely.  I don't search for videos using YouTube though, I use Google.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Remix and Wikipedia

I like and respect Wikipedia, have for years, it has articles about subjects that no sane person would expect a serious and accurate, neutral point of view article about,  Eve Dallas, a fictional person, a list of books that have never been written , viking methods of torture using simple household equipment.  It has some odd gaps, there is no article on the Old Y Center for Community Organizations, it has some weak entries, not inaccurate but not good enough like the one for Calgary Public Library.
Remix; making art and commerce thrive in the hybrid economy by Lawrence Lessig is about music copyright law, a subject about which I know very little and care very little.  Lessig makes me care more than I did but it's the other subjects that he touches in passing that intrigue me. Why people contribute to Wikipedia, how it achieves that accurate, neutral point of view and it's history.
Lessig is a law professor who writes for law journals and blogs, he is very funny about the difference in readership and makes some interesting points about the value of blogging, not to the reader but to the writer.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Spinning at Ecopalooza, CPL 2.0

Between high tech and low tech, the picture is me spinning on an Ashford Traveller Wheel using merino wool produced in Alberta, slow clothing locally sourced from very renewable resources. The display behind me is .
The blog entry is created by Google Blogger directly from inside Picassa, one of the best Google programs and it's free. Using a digital camera, mine is a Canon, computers for picture storage and display using things like Web Albums, that's a very green change in how we all live that doesn't get mentioned much as a paper saver.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Wild Quaker

I am trying blogging from Picassa. Don't like it.  But it's easier to find and post the pictures and then edit the blog than compose the blog and insert the images,  that could be just me,  I always have trouble finding my pictures.

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Raverly Post

I have to write a blog, and one of the first entries is about why, my employer a large public library wants me to. And they are willing to let me do some of it, the part that they require while I am at work, so it's quite fair.
But it leads to a rather mixed and thematically confused blog. Web sites reviews, including one of Raverly, book reviews, my musings on doing blogs and private journals, and my knitting and spinning. I am going to try to title entries so that if a reader is only interested in the knitting they can avoid me going on about Lucy Maud Montgomery and her journals. But she was a knitter, so maybe knitters would be interested.

I plan to write about what interests me at the moment, and for the next 12 weeks what interests my employer, I'd like to be read but it isn't the only reason I am doing it.
I just posted this to a large social site called Raverly mostly to find out if it would work.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Public and Private Journals

One of the many definitions of blogging considers it to be a public diary or journal, Pepys on the Internet. Pepys is on the internet and I think he'd love it. But he intended it to be a private diary, one that no one would read. Other famous diarists intend their journals to be published and read but after their deaths. Lucy Maud Montgomery's 5 volume set of her journals is an example. They were her trusted confidante but she edited them and she shaped them for publication especially the last volumes. She wanted her version of events to be published, so she deprived herself of the benefits of a private journal. Queen Victoria wrote a diary which had the potential to be an astounding book if published, one of her daughters Beatrice spent 30 years copying out the parts that were published and destroyed the two thirds she thought unsuitable.

I've read a lot of journals and books about how to keep a journal, most of the diarists are very ambivalent about having their journals read. There are coy protests about it being boring but mostly we hope it's scandalous, and worth reading. I think I have some things to say that are worth reading, almost everybody does. And this leads me to a blog, a public journal. It's some of the good bits, I bother more with grammar, try to express myself clearly, check facts. I looked up Princess Beatrice, if I had been writing purely for myself I would not have found the details about it taking her 30 years and that she destroyed two thirds, and I enjoyed that.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

How much is to much, soft ware and the brain

How many software programs and web sites can one person be reasonably expected to be able to use, to know how to use?

This blog was begun as part of an educational program for Calgary Public Library staff, for details go to , I mention this for people if any, who come to this blog because of the knitting or the book reviews or because they are members of my family. The program is designed to train staff in a number of social websites, the internet 2.0 so that we can help the public. It's a version of .

I started to think about this question because I don't like, don't use well, and don't really want to put the effort into learning to use well a site called On my ToDo list are a number of items that boil down to "learn this", I use a number of sites and programs that I don't use as well as I would like, and that list is getting longer not shorter. Getting an avatar on my social sites has been on my ToDo list for about 2 years.

What do I already have in my elderly brain?

The Cpl circulation program, the Cpl homepage the catalogue and my account, Windows Internet Explorer, Google, Gmail, Google Maps, Yahoo mail, and 2 versions of Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, both the 03 and the 07 versions, Quick books, Quicken, Quick Tax, , Windows Photo Gallery, Flickr,, and Blogger. That's just the ones I use and/or teach regularly. Some of these programs I love, some I dislike, some are not my own choice, but there they are in that gray mass.

What's your list like?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

CPL 2.0 week 3

What ever happened to the pleasent, easy to use, alphabetical CPL best Web sites, it got replaced with a complicated and ugly, hard to use but trendy,

About 5 years ago the web site that delicious developed from was marketed at a way to carry one's favorite's list around to all computers, trade lists with friends, recommend sites to others, I used to have a site with a list of the 10 best sites for Calgary Not for Profits, and put it's address on the back of my business cards, 10 sites not 400.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Blogs and journals, books of one's own

I have kept personal journals, on and off since I was in my twenties, and I have most of what I have written in various formats, never reread it all though I'd like to. This blog is going to be an expansion of those journals, the parts I am willing to have other people read and that I am willing to put enough effort into grammar and spelling that they are fit to read, maybe not interesting.

Personal journals vary as much as people do, Thomas Mallon's collection of journals, A Book Of Ones Own divides them into 6 categories and is an excellent guide to how and why people keep journals. He keeps a journal himself. His father is a good example of an unwritten journal:

"My father never kept a diary, but he never threw away a canceled cheque either. When he died a few years ago I came across thousands of them in perfect order in a series of shoeboxes. Amidst stacks of others that took the family from the children's milk through his own bifocals, I found the one that paid the doctor who delivered me. My father knew they didn't audit you for 1951 in 1980: he kept those checks for another reason."

Page XV, introduction
A book of one's own, people and their diaries
Thomas Mallon

This book came out in 1984 and without going though all my handwritten books I don't know when I read it. Now I use a differnt format for my journals,  a computer program called The Journal I highly recommend it.  There is a one month trial, and then a 50.00 or so charge, buy a flash drive and install the program and your files on it, another level of security and you can carry it with you and use the calendar.  I like the word processor better than Microsoft Word. 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

CPL 2.0

I am very fond of computers both personally and professionally, a computerphile as it were, I've been using them and teaching how to use them for 15 years, back to when Yahoo Directory was the very best thing.  One of the reasons I am a computerphile is my memories of the horrors of manuel typewriters, carbon paper and library catalogues on little cards.  Will the people who take computers for granted, who never centred a heading by backspacing, who never filed or pulled those cards, will they love and appreciate computers, don't think so.

One of the things I love that really didn't exist before the internet are blogs. the closest equivalent were some newspaper columnists, Richard Needham in the Mop and Pail, Gary Lautens.  Some of my favorites are knitting blogs, Stephanie Mcphee from Toronto, Franklin and Dolores they are a mix of personal details and great knitting pictures and cartoons.  For a more serious insight into the world I read William Salatin but he is one of the writers that confuses the issue of what a blog is, it's part of the magazine Slate it's editoral in nature.  A friend of mine from northern alberta whose yarn makes great socks has a blog about her life, and cute grandkids. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Knitting with your hands behind your back

Yes, it can be done, it has to be one of the most useless knitting tricks imaginable but it's not hard.

Doing a you tube video, that's going to be hard.