Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Soccupied Spring 2012

So being an eejit I forgot to check my login for Interweave to find that there were more magazines I could download and review (for free!) so the next few posts are going to include a fair number of these to play catchup.  I'm going to do these in reverse availability, starting with the newest and working my way to the oldest.

Impressions: Like the previous eMags you look at the number of pages and you start thinking that maybe you're not getting value for money, but as you scroll through you realise that many of the pages scroll down.  For 6 socks and a lot of info and videos and techniques it's actually quite good.

The magazine starts with some photographs of socks around the US. Then we have some supply favourites from Joanna Johnson, the cat with yarn ball measuring tape is cute and I want to try hiya hiya needles, she's not the first person to recommend them.
Next up is some yarn reviews, well photographed with the same lace pattern on each.
The war between toe up and cuff down is discussed.  Something I have to admit my only stance is that everyone should try at least one of each and that while I prefer cuff down other people's mileage may vary.  This is basically an ad for Donna Druchanas class on Craftsy.

Next up we have how to adapt a short-row heal to make it a bit deeper, followed by (a)symmetry socks using this technique.
Donna Druchunas looks into some Balkan socks that were the legacy of Edith Durham, a Victorian traveller who collected textiles during her travels. Kilmeni  socks are inspired by Albanian inner socks.  The Frost Flower Stockings are lacy socks that go up to the thigh and are fastened by ribbons
A variety of cast-ons for toe-up socks are explored with videos on how to do them
The Leapfrog socks are suitable for either coloured or plain yarns
An interview with Cat Bordhi is followed by a toe-up or cuff down sock Flutterby Socks designed by her.
Our Paths cross socks are a toe-up pair of socks
Some sock knitting poetry from some readers finishes the magazine

Types of patterns: socks

Colour/Black and White: lots of colour

Schematics: no

Target Audience: Intermediate to advanced knitters

How to knit guide: No

Experimental/Classical/Modern: Fairly classical.

Comments on patterns:
(a)symmetry socks - using the naive gusset Kate Atherley plays with cables and unusual movement

Kilmeni Socks - toe-up socks inspired by the inner socks worn by Albanian men  Designed by Donna Druchunas.

Frost Feather Stockings - thigh high socks designed by Deborah Newton inspired by wedding stocking ideas.  Starting from the top and fastened by ribbons

Leapfrog Socks are designed by Debbie O'Neill, a pair of socks that are designed to work with both plain and handpainted yarns.

Flutterby Socks- either toe-up or cuff-down socks with a slip-stitch pattern a Cat Bordhi pattern.

Our Paths Cross Socks - a toe up sock with carried strands of yarn to create ribbons of colour by Lorilee Beltman

My verdict: I would have been quite tempted to buy it if I didn't get it for free.  There's a lot of information here and it's interesting reading.

Bags of Bags

Bunch of bags

Now this isn't a knitting post, but it's a record post, these four bags are the most used bags I have.  If I was to knit a bag it should fall into one of these sizes as I have more bags but they don't get used as much as these sizes.

Starting with the Biggest
Big bag exterior
It's solid leather, tooled and I got it for a little bit cheaper because it has a minor cut on the top, I think it's the most expensive bag I own, however it's also mostly waterproof, and it can hold my knitting socks bag, a book, my purse and wallet.  Perfect if I'm planning to go into town and to do some shopping by bus.
Bag Back
Big bag back
It's 30 cm (just under 12") across the back, approximately 32cm (12.5") from bottom to top back, 30cm front(12"), sides are 11cm (just over 4") the front pocket is 22cm (8.5") 4.5cm (just under 2") deep and 20cm (just under 8") high.  Interior measurements are 28cm (11") wide, 29" High and approx 9cm (3.5") deep, it weighs 1.2kg.  The open pocket across the back is great for leaflets or maps when on holidays.

The Swedish bag was bought on holidays in Stockholm, the small bag I was carrying at the time couldn't handle all the other stuff I kept being handed.  So I bought a bag, Fowadi Brand (whose domain seems to be up for sale) somewhere in the streets as we were walking around.
Swedish bag exterior
There's a open front pocket (great again for maps and guidebooks) with a magnetic clasp, a back pocket with a zip and a center zipped pocket.  You can see the pockets to a degree in this picture Swedish bag pockets there are some pen loops, a mobile phone pocket and a zipped small pocket inside.  The strap is plenty long to go across my body.
29cm (11.5") wide at base 32cm at top, the strap is just under 2.5cm or 1" wide and the body of the bag is about the same, It has a reinforced base that's 9cm (3.5") wide

Next up is my Ness Bag (and yes I have a matching hat, visible in the top picture) Ness bag It has no exterior pockets, a small interior pocket, fastens by a zip. It has a comfortably wide strap and is about the same size as the Swedish bag.  It's a little shorter at 25cm (10"). I picked it up on holidays in Edinburgh, sadly they had no clothing that could fit me.

The last is my small utility bag Small bag exterior it fits my phone, my purse, my keys and in an almost hidden interior pocket it regularly holds my passport while on holidays, this one needs some professional attention as one of the leather loops is starting to give, though the interior is also starting to show wear visible here Small bag interior
it's 15.5cm (just over 6") 20cm (8") high 6cm deep (just over 2") the front pocket is 10.5cm (just over 4") 15cm (just under 6") high and 4cm (just over 1.5") deep the strap is 1cm wide and the bag fits quite comfortably across my body, I've also carried it under a coat when I thought I needed to hide my bag. I've brought it to several countries and many airports have allowed me to carry it separate to my single carry-on, but if I have to put it in a bag it does collapse quite flat.

These are just 4 of my bags but these are the four I reach for on a regular basis.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Podcast update

So this is what I'm currently listening to.  My pattern is to download a podcast as I listen to the last one I loaded, IIRC I'm at a rotation of about 21 days at this stage.  I'm always kinda behind which is why I'm willing to listen to older stuff.  Anything with * are podcasts I really look forward to when they come up on rotation.  The Links are mostly to whatever way my MP3 RSS feed works from my spreadsheet (why yes I'm a librarian), I accidentally posted this before finishing, I should get this done shortly

Knitting/Craft podcasts to be honest Knitting Podcast is the best list of current/podfaded knitting and crochet podcasts.
AJ Knits
Bell of the Ball
Brass Needles * a sci-fi fan who knits, this would appear to be made for me
Caithness Craft Collective * a scottish woman podcasts with humour
Cast On * she's a US journalist living in Wales and while occasionally intermittent it's interesting
Cloudy with a chance of fiber *
Counting Sheep
Craft Lit - while this is current I'm ages behind because I'm listening to Pride and Prejudice...
Electric Sheep * the adventures of the sheep are simply hilarious and she's entertaining
Fiber Beat -  a bit intermittent but can be very entertaining
fluffy fibers - a French sewer and knitter who podcasts in English, very good English
Geek Girl Crafts - geeky women crafters talk geekery and crafts.
iMake - a Guernsey crafter talks about a lot of crafts
Just one More Row
Knit Knit Cafe - a mother and son knitting podcast
Knit Naturally
Knit Obsession
Knit One, Crochet too
Knit Picks' Podcast
Kniting Pipeline
Knitmoregirls - currently on a minor hiatus due to pregnancy
Must Stash Yo - very few episodes this Canadian podcast can be very funny
Ready Set Knit - a lot of this is advertising for stock at Webs but some interesting interviews and comments about what's current
She Knits small talk podcast
Subway Knits

Treacle and Ink
Yarn Thing - some of her verbal tics can take some getting used to and assumes all listeners are regular listeners
YarnCraft - Lion Brand podcast so can be lion-brand biased

yarns from the plain

It's a purl man
Never Not Knitting
Stash and Burn
Sticks and String - Australian man who knits
The High Fiber Diet - Coggie and the Sarge can be hilarious
The Manic Purl
The Pagan Knitter
The Savvy Girls* - two sisters who talk and some hamsters who occasionally interrupt and sing

Ceased and I've run out of episodes
Arie Thornbird Knits
Avocado Knits
Emerald Stitch and Knit
Knit Misadventures
Knit Wit
Knitting History - well it's been a while since the last episode but I'm holding out for more!
Stitch It podcast

Knitters Uncensored - 2 Canadians and a Thai man knitting in Germany, when they meet alcohol is involved and a lot of giggling.
Pointy Sticks
Revenge of the Knits
Sidders Knits
Sweaters for Dragons Podcast
The Knitting Librarian Podcast
Whiskers in a Twisted Stitch
Y Knit

Deleted for other reasons
KnitKnacks - the Knit Doctor changed format and I deleted it from the previous phone, I have no impulse to add it to the new one
KnitPurlGirl - has moved to video.
Knits Up - has moved to video
Stringchronicity - moved to video
Elegant Economy Designs - I just couldn't keep going with it when she insisted that babies had to be colour-coded.

Non-Knitting Podcasts 

A Way with words * - two word lovers talk about words and phrases
Adventures in SciFI Publishing - often has interviews with SF writers
Between the Earth and the Stars * - a thoughtful Pagan podcast
Celiac Disease & Gluten Free... - largely an ad but some info very useful and honestly I like the podcasters voice
Coverville * - music covers some amazing some terrible, largely interesting
Dear Bitches Smart authors the blogs Dear Authors and Smart Bitches Trashy Books join forces to talk about reading Romance, only recently started to listen so can't really judge.
Documentary on One * there are hundreds of them, RTE's Doccumentaries on Radio 1 (for authors, full of backgrounds on Ireland, Irish People and a variety of Irish accents)
Dragon Page - fantasy writing comments
Frenetic Friday - great for getting me up and moving.  Music podcast.
Ghost in the Machine - Gail Martin, an author interviews other authors, fairly short
I should be writing Mur Lafferty talks about writing and getting up and doing, interesting
If you're just joining us - deep interviews, interesting podcast
Irish History Podcast - quite intermittent but good Irish History Podcast by an Irishman
Medieval Archives - interesting but oh good gods pronounciation....
Mystic Lit Paranormal Lounge - book group talking about mostly young adult paranormal books
Pagan FM weekly pagan radio show
Pagan Hooligans
Renaissance Festival Podcast - can be quite good but OMG the Irish pronunciation with some of the singers makes me twitchy. (yes this is one of the podcasts liable to have me ranting on Twitter)

RTE Best of Lyric FM - Lyric FM is RTE's classical music station
RTE Drivetime * - news snippets occasionally attract my attention and Olivia O'Leary and Joseph O'Connor comment occasionally on the news or whatever occurs to them.
RTE History Show * - History mostly Irish, a lot of academics talking entertainingly
RTE Mooney Show - variety of information, has a fair amount of science done light.
RTE Playback * - snippets of Irish news that entertained a commenter and made headlines.
RTE Sunday Miscellany - the radio show also has music and some poetry that isn't included in these short stories and tales of life
Savage Love - sex advice column
Scibernia - Irish Science podcast
SF Squeecast* - multiple SF/Fantasy Authors skype and talk and are very entertaining
Slice of SciFi * this often has me doubled up giggling, I love these guys, they talk about Scifi mostly media
Spilled Milk * - they cook, record themselves eating it and commenting and it isn't recommended if you want to diet.
Standing Stone and Garden Gate - some interesting commentary about paganism and pagan philososophy.
Tech Radio - technology quick commentary by an Irish Team of techno-savvy types
The Adventuring Party a bunch of Irish Gamers talk role-playing and board games
The Alternative Kitchen Garden * a short podcast about one woman and her kitchen garden
The Babylon Podcast * - you needed more proof of nerd-dom?

The FuMP comic songs refreshed regularly
The History of Rome
The Mitch Benn Podcast - comic songs
The Rosie View - two Irish women talk about Irish TV, mostly.

The Signal * - a Serenity/Firefly podcast
The Skiffy and Fanty Show
Wander Radio
Witches Brew HAHA - another pagan podcast

A history of the world in 100 Objects * - while finished this is an excellent series done by BBC Radio 4
DragonHearth - Tracy Hickman talks about writing and roleplaying
Medieval Podcast - old podcast a more academic look
View from the Quad - Irish Geek Podcast with a SF flair
tor.com geeks guide

Audiobook Podcasts
Billibub Baddings and the Case of the Singing Sword - I finished listening to this and don't have the link at the moment, a dwarf from a fantasy world enters Al Capone era Chicago.
Guild of the Cowry Catchers - fantasy story with anthropomorphic animals, I got caught up in it.
Morevi: The chronicles
Nova Star Hunters
The Dreamer's Thread
The Gearheart
The Metamor City Podcast * Fantasy short stories and serial fiction
The Secret World Chronicles * Superhero serial fiction
Tor.com Tor.stories 
Dark Matter Audiobook - a slow start but it's starting to get interesting
Calfkiller Old Time Radio - shows like The Shadow, The Saint and The Green Hornet from the past.  Starring a lot of interesting people

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Slow Knitting

Recently there's been a plethora of whittering about the growth in handknitting and how it's a product of the recession.
Please stop writing this!
Seriously. Please look at the numbers here.
Apart from the pleasure and value for money aspect of the hours spent, in no way, shape, or form is knitting a garment cheaper than what you can buy in an average supermarket. It is cheaper than couture but that's not the cheap end of the market anyway.
Let's pose an example.  I knit socks, usually in wool or a wool blend. I pay, on average, €10 per 100g of yarn, which will make a pair for myself or my husband, with some leftovers. If I push myself I can knit a plain set of socks in about 2 weeks, and this is hours of my life.  Now go to a camping store. That €10-€15 pair of wool socks? Cheap in comparison. Those very cheap pair in Dunnes/Penney's/wherever? That's what people with no money wear.
And yes, I could knit for cheaper, and I occasionally do, there's enough yarn in my stash that I'm slowly knitting through. And I think that's the key.
Slow Knitting.
It's from the same root as slow food, a want to get back in touch with how things are made, a yearning to get involved. An understanding that the cheap clothes actually are produced in conditions we find appaling and that we want to think about it.  I also think that there's an element of people for whom work is a largely virtual experience wanting to have something tangable at the end of the day.  For whom sitting in front of another box at the end of the day isn't restful.  Our sense of touch is largely relegated these days to keys on a keyboard but there is something about the feel of a yarn as it slides through our fingers... or as we rub it on our skin.
And you hear knitters and crocheters talking in those tactile and other sensory terms. People talk about the squish factor of a yarn, yarn fumes, fondling yarns and stash diving. They also use it to comfort themselves and others and feel both agreeved and annoyed that people dismiss their efforts as 'cheap gifts' not getting that often every stitch, particularly for children, contains well-wishes for that childl sometimes subconsciously, or rate them against others who sell below genuine costs.  We rate crafters in this country against commercial sales, not against enjoyment or the creative effort.
And to those who dismiss crafts as useless in education I say feh! Well taught Clothing Crafts teach people about how their clothes come about, how there's actual effort involved, how to spot good quality from bad, how to size something properly to you and how not to accept imposed fashion, but to look to yourself and suit you. But all of this is often dismissed and not seen as useful.

Written from my phone with no spellchecking and just from the top of my head.  It's been building though.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Colour Trends

Every year a set of colour trends are published.  Interweave links to it and on a knitting list someone linked to it, thinking that people would be interested.  And they came in for a hailstorm of criticism and people talking about other people being sheepish.

And I wondered what they were thinking.  I mean, I largely ignore the colours of the season.  Criticising people for wanting to know or wanting to work with the colours of the season ignores the reality of the market.  I usually look at what's available and try to see if it's a colour I like or a neutral that would compliment what I like. Then I buy a few items in colours I like, clothing gets rotated out of my wardrobe when they're too stained, aged, worn, torn etc. not because they aren't fashionable.  There are a few which should probably be got rid of but I'm not bothered, stuff comes in and out of fashion.  Occasionally what I wear coincides with fashion but I'm honestly not bothered.

That orange that's the colour of the year would be bad on me.  The '70's Appliance' range only has one colour I'd touch with a bargepole, the almond colour, still it's marginal.

Now the 'Layered neutrals' do represent a chunk of my wardrobe, I'm now looking forward to more dark brown trousers, also that dark reddish brown (or that's what I see on my monitor) looks like it could have potential.  The oatmeal and tans will be nice neutral tops.

The Pastels have two that might work as neutrals in my wardrobe, the blush pink and duck's egg blue, which I would expect to have some green undertones could be an interesting shade.

Lastly the graphic black and white, nope, not touching this, my skin tone doesn't work with black and white.

So I let the colours guide me when I'm shopping, I use it when I'm hunting for something, informing me about what's around, what I could hope to find to go with other things.  If I fish in the stash for colours what I have a hope of getting contrasts for, yeah, many companies don't really change their colour palette but some follow these trends closely and that's what you can expect from some of these companies.  Also some vendors also follow these trends and only really stock these colours, or colours that compliment this range.  It's business and it's how things go.

So no, I don't let the year's colours dictate to me how or what I dress in that year but it does inform me of colours to watch for or to think about and also to consider when the sales come around.