Sunday, December 21, 2008

Have you ever bought a book on-line, then wished you hadn't? I usually read the reviews on amazon before I buy a book, but the front cover of this one  sucked me right in: Pretty in Punk.
Punk rock might have totally passed me by  (wrong generation!) but I was a Goth by inclination long before it became a non-fashion trend, and a free-former before that, so I was hoping for some magical and inspirational patterns that weren't tired old reproductions of tatt you can find in your local thrift shop. And not only that; I was hoping for a US written or published book that acknowledged the existance of knitters around the rest of the world and gave metric needle sizes as well as local ones; that uses non-brand-specific yarn so we don't have to do extensive research and swatching to find a local substitute, and hey! a few measurements wouldn't have gone amiss to make sure that mini skirt at least went around the person it was knitted for as a belt, even if it didn't cover what its meant to cover! Lack of consideration of other readers these days comes across as arrogance on the part of the authors.
I can wear my stupidity in buying it, we all make mistakes like that at some point, but if I sent back the books I have bought that ignore the needs of the vast majority of knitters, who do not use American terminology or American sizing, I would not have much of a library! I would also be better off, and probably banned from amazon!
This is not an anti-american rant, but an anti-editing rant. Its up to the editors and publishers to make pattern books more user friendly. Ok, its a bit  hard if the author is sponsored by Lion Brand or Berrocco, but would it hurt to have metric sizes in brackets beside the US needle size, or give how long a ball or skein is, or how many WPI for the yarn, as well as describing it as "chunky"? Particularly since books are no longer country-specific?
Congratulations to the authors, editors and publishers who do this already. Its those books that get re-read, used and recommended to friends. And as many more authors realise the value of catering for the whole of the English-speaking world, rather than the bit that lives in the USA, I hope my library will continue to increase in size with lots of inspirational books containing patterns I'd love to knit. Pretty in Punk will not be among them.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Rainy Day Musings

Its raining today! Nothing unusual you say? We have been in drought in parts of South Australia for several years now, so a whole month's worth of rain, which is what they promised us on the weather forecast last night, is very blogworthy; as rain, or rather the lack of it, affects my spinning.

I love raw fleece, and my favourite fleece enabler is also in South Australia, on the Eyre Peninsula, at Kimba, which can also be very dry.

I have been de-stashing, and washing the fleece as I go along, which is blowing my water allowance to pieces, but the really, really frustrating part is that just as I think the fleece is ready to come inside, it rains. Not a lot, but just enough to make my fleece damp again, and to ensure that the milkweed in my backyard is thriving. It might be summer, but we get better drying weather in the middle of winter!

So while my latest fleece tries to dry in the bathroom (this is day number 3, grrrr, and I got it indoors BEFORE it started raining yeaterday), and while I am waiting for my latest wheel to arrive, I shall update you on Arnie, photo above.
Arnie is the Ashford Country Spinner I acquired at the equipment sale last month - big and heavy like his name-sake. Don't get me wrong - I like the wheel and I love the yarn he produces, but since I spin while seated on the settee in my small lounge room and watch TV while spinning, I have to go with the seating arrangements available. And its all wrong for Arnie. Maybe its that I don't have skinny thighs, or my knees are too big, and I know my feet are definitely far too small, but I like to treadle with both feet firmly on the single treadle. Which I could do with Arnie, if that frame didn't get in the way!

So, I have one foot in front of the other, which puts me slightly off-balance for finding the sweet spot where not much effort is needed in order to treadle, and away I go, and away go my thigh muscles! Which is another reason for calling the spinner Arnie.

The solution of course is to find a different seat or wheel, but I did say that my lounge room is very small, and here in Australia we have been very limited in the style and brand of wheel available. To some extent we still are. Once a wheel is built, it often doesn't move very far because of freight charges, and many wheels are simply too awkward to fit in the back of a car. Even Arnie came home in pieces, and the wheel I am patiently waiting for will arrive in pieces, to be lovingly re-assembled this afternoon. I have already tentatively fixed on a name for her: Mary. (Big wheel keeps on turning and all that!), Since she has a motor, I hope its a good omen for the future!

This won't mean the end of Arnie, because Arnie was bought with a specific purpose in mind: plying fancy beaded yarns that won't go through a regular orifice. I have also discovered that I can control the yarn being spun almost to the inch as I go, which as any spindle spinner knows, is a big, big plus. and the default tension on the wheel is perfect for thick, soft, bulky yarns with lots of loft!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

When do wheels become a collection?

My sunday morning laze-around was interrupted by the newest entry at the Bellwether: suggesting that my foot size was as long as the distance between my elbow and wrist on the ourside of my arm; foot sole to outside arm is not the easiest of positions to maintain before my morning coffee, but it does beg the question: who decides what average measurements are? And who decides that clothes that sit beautifully on an anorexic model are ideal for the more Juno-esque?
This was not supposed to be a rant against fashion designers with tunnel vision, but to lead nicely into the supersized spinning wheel I have just bought myself - an Ashford Country Spinner. I'm a sucker for Fairs, particularly when they are to do with spinning, and there was one at Littlehampton in the Adelaide Hills on thursday to sell excess equipment. There were three of us from the Elizabethan Spinners, in a tiny car, with an elderly traddie to sell, as well as my spindles, and I was determined I did NOT need any more fleece.
I resisted temptation! I ignored all the luscious bags of fresh fleece displayed about the hall! but the wheel was too much for this little black duck! I've been searching for one for a few months, and anyone who has ever picked one of the older ones up knows they do not travel well by mail! I also picked up an Ashford bulky flyer with matching bobbins, and my favourite Finn breeder was there....................fortunately we sold the elderly traddie, because there was not much room in the car on the return journey!
The Country Spinner works well, although I am still a bit tentative as to how few twists I can put in the yarn before it drifts apart. I wanted it for bead plying among other things, and its nice to think I can spin longer skeins without having to worry about joins! A few tweaks, and it will work better than ever before, which just goes to prove the adage, one spinner's junk is another spinner's treasure!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Once more with feeling!

I'm an expert at blogging! I have started several, but forget the passwords, lose track of time and pouf, they vanish into cyberspace, never to be seen again! So here we go again......

My business registration arrived today: Spinning Down Under, to match my domain name, my ebay store, and now this blog, so I am making a blind leap of faith into the unknown.

Why start up a small business at all when the world as we know it is collapsing around our ears?
Well why not? I've been selling on Ebay in my niche market for several years now, so this is the next logical step, and if the world really is collapsing around our ears, I have a feeling that spinners and fabric makers may just be in great demand as humanity tries to recycle its way into a brave new world of climate change and resource shortages and carbon neutrality.
I make and sell drop spindles; recycling new and often useless items of little value into far more useful tools that bring great pleasure and satisfaction to the user and tap into the creative urge that we all possess. Some people use the term reconstructing rather than recycling, perhaps because its new items being used for a different purpose, but either way, its a fact that small wheels make good reliable spindles that are ideal for learning on, taking travelling and using at demonstrations, and will not reduce you to tears if it gets lost or stolen. and I'd be right in assuming that these days theres not much else available that can give so much satisfaction for such a tiny cost. And helps, in a tiny way, to reduce the amount of rubbish in land-fill.
I also sell spinning fibres, recycled silks and reconstructed banana leaves and, all pretenciousness aside, I aim to stock recycled and designer yarns as well, once I sort out exactly how to work this blog, which neatly brings me back to my opening statement.
dear reader, and I promise to do my best to update this blog on at least a monthly basis, and even write down my password not in a safe place so that this time I do not lose it.