Look, ma, I’m on Kindle!

Check it out! How to Knit in the Woods is now available on Kindle!

Since I got my own Kindle — heck, since I heard about them — I have been needling my publishers to get my books onto it. And now one of them is. Hurrah! Just you wait…there’ll be more soon, I’m sure. As for knit patterns on the Kindle, I’m thinking it might make more sense to package the knitting patterns in “booklets” of 3-5 patterns. What do you think?

Mailing list subscriber friendly reminder

If you’re a member of the Knitgrrl mailing list (and if you’re not, what are you waiting for? seriously, you just missed a top secret huge pattern sale!) and you’ve recently changed your email address, you’ll probably need to resubscribe. I know I’ve been using Gmail the past 3+ months for all my accounts save one, since its spamfiltering is just fantastic.

Looking over the list, I recognized a few names and know they’ve left that work address, etc — like Stephanie! HI STEPHANIE! and my former editor at Interweave — but for the rest of you, I don’t want you to be sad when you miss out on cool things like the pattern sale. It takes just a second. The form is right under the Felt School badge in the sidebar at the moment.

If you get an error that says “The requested URL /already-on.htm was not found on this server,” you’re on! If you aren’t on already, it’ll come back with “The requested URL /email-confirm.htm was not found on this server.” Either way, mailinglisty happiness will ensue. I really have to figure out a workaround on that mailing list/WordPress goofiness. But for now, you’ll know.

If you haven’t been on the mailing list before, it’s super low traffic, so don’t worry, I’m not going to jam your inbox full of stuff. And as mentioned above, you get access to supersecretfantastic things, so…

Knitting markup language

The knitter in me is excited about this. The geek in me is excited about this. Knitting markup language! Why, just the ability to translate and render patterns into new languages for international knitters alone makes this a fantastic idea.

See the post that started it all, and the original developer’s concept page. Wow.

Integrate it with Ravelry — the geekery! my gosh, the geekery! I mean this in the best possible way, of course. It’s astonishing. And believe me, after my recent spate of book pattern writing, I would love to see something like this in online software form that could generate patterns which aren’t one given item (sweaters, socks, whatever).

Or something that could generate custom knit patterns from a base formula using numeric inputs (as Art of Crochet does with crochet), except that the markup would also enable simultaneous multiple-language translations and other gewgaws.

It makes my head spin and wish I was a programmer, all at the same time. Fortunately, my boyfriend is. Hey, now I know what to put on my birthday wishlist…

You ask, I answer: herbs & fiber breathing

Carolyn writes in with a question about my fall Knittyspin article:

I enjoyed your article in Knitty about yarn storage options. In the section about hanging wool in pillowcases from an attic ceiling, you mentioned adding a sachet of anti-moth herbs. What herbs do you recommend using? This certainly sounds more pleasant than mothballs.

Also, I have my stash in the storage bags that you vacuum the air out of. Am I doing a disservice to my yarn by doing this? Do fibers need to breathe?

The absolute best-smelling, most-effective, yummiest herbal anti-moth concoction I have EVER smelled/used is Simpler Thyme’s Herbal Moth Beware (available here or at fiber shows in their Got Soap? booth — the soap is awesome, too). Herbal Moth Beware smells great and it works. I found it the first time I went to Rhinebeck many moons ago.

Barring that, try cedar chips, mint (which is not only exceedingly easy to grow in your yard or a pot, but a snap to dry) or any super-strong smelling herb.

Fibers do benefit from the occasional airing out, I think, especially if you’re storing them somewhere that gets a little warm. Why? If there’s even a smidge of lanolin/etc remaining on the fiber, I’ve noticed it gets melty and “glues” things together. So take them out occasionally, fluff them up and doublecheck to make sure all is well. Re-wash if necessary, or give yourself an excuse to spin!

Numeric yarn weights vs. CYCA classifications

Sometimes, you’ll see yarn weight referred to numerically instead of descriptively — is it a 4/8 yarn or DK weight? Well, it could be both! The Craft Yarn Council of America’s Yarn Weight System is sometimes less than helpful if you’re dealing with a yarn not usually used for handknitting. Try this at your next fibery gathering: give everyone the exact same yarn, and I mean from the same skein, along with the exact same size and brand of needles. Knit swatches. Check them against the chart. Ok, now tell me, is Cascade 220 a CYCA #3 (“DK, Light Worsted”) or #4 (“Worsted, Afghan, Aran”)? Sigh.

Sometimes if you’re aiming for real descriptive precision, or if you’re knitting with yarns that are more generally used by weavers, you may run into the “nm” conventions in your yarn shopping. (WEBS and Habu are two places you’ll frequently see this used to describe yarn weights — for example, 2/14 Alpaca Silk, or this 2/10 silk yarn)

Here’s how the nm system works:

One nm equals 1,000 meters of yarn per kilogram (1,000 m/kg), no matter what (whether it’s wool or bamboo — it’s a constant). This equals 50 meters per 50 grams. A 1/8 nm yarn(usually just called “1/8,” without the nm) tells you that the yarn has been spun 8 times longer than the standard, and is therefore finer. You will get 8,000 meters per kilogram if your yarn is a “1/8.”

The first number in the name, or the “1” in “1/8” indicates the number of plies in the yarn. A “1/8” yarn has one ply, a “2/8” yarn has 2 plies, etc.

Here’s where it gets tricky: a “2/8” yarn indicates the yarn was spun to 8,000 meters per kilogram, but then plied into a two-ply yarn. The finished yarn will therefore measure 4,000 meters per kilogram. A “3/8” yarn will have 2,666 meters/kilogram, or 8000 divided by 3.

How does the general numeric system compare to the CYCA chart? From thick to thin:

4/8 yarn yields 1,120 yards per pound and is closest to what handknitters consider a DK weight yarn.

3/8 yarn yields 1,490 yards per pound, or “sport weight” yarn. Similar to a DK weight, but slightly thinner.

2/8 yarn yields 2,240 yards per pound, for a fingering weight yarn.

2/18 yarn yields 5,040 yards per pound, and is considered laceweight.

2/20 yarn yields 5,600 yards per pound, and is also considered laceweight. The difference between 2/18 and 2/20 is slight for a handknitter, akin to the difference between 4/8 and 3/8.

2/24 yarn yields 5,960 yards per pound, and again, is considered laceweight. (Really, what else are you going to do with something that thin? Unless you’re one of those US size triple-0 Sock People. You know who you are).

Hopefully this will help you when shopping for yarn online that isn’t labeled in the way you’re used to, because I’m nothing if not a serious enabler!