Monday, April 17, 2006

Chugging Along

The never-ending afghan is going strong. I'm a few rows away from skein 8 of 12. My goal is to finish by June 1, so that I have a month to get to the laundromat, wash the sucker, let it dry, and wrap it up for the wedding. I bought the new Mason Dixon Knitting book and was tempted by the gorgeous throws and afgahns, until I realized how long I'd been working on this afghan--more than two months so far (with occasional forays into other projects, for sanity's sake). I need a break from huge projects before starting another of this magnitude. The Manos I bought at the yarn sale is calling to me, though.

On Sunday night, as I was chugging along on the afghan, my beloved Crystal Palace circular broke--one of the needles popped out of its brass holder. Nothing that a little super glue won't fix, but I took it as a sign from God (on Easter Sunday, no less) that it was time to start a new project. Inspired by Wendy at Knit and Tonic I started knitting this lovely top with some Cotton Fleece from the stash. This is replacing the boring socks as my commuting project, although I know I'll work on it on weeknights, as well.

I have finished two projects, one knitting and one spinning. The second baby sock was knitted and gifted within three days, after I realized that the mother is due at any time. It's pictured with the t-shirt I bought to go with the socks.

Remember the blue-purple Corriedale I dyed using icing colors? It's now this:

That's around 320 yards of approximately fingering weight 2-ply, which will hopefully turn into socks for me. This was my first real experiment spinning color, and I like how it turned out. Because the roving had been dyed in shades of blues and purples, the plying gave it an interesting, subtle shaded look. I'm anxious to see how it will look knit up.

I think my spinning is improving somewhat. It's definitely not beyond very basic beginner level, but every skein seems to build on what I learned with the last. I still feel tied more to what the fiber wants to be rather than what I want the yarn to look like, but I'm not too upset about that. You know, I barely remember what it felt like to be such a beginner at knitting, because I knew the basics when I came back to it a year and a half ago. The knit and purl movements were there; I had only to refine them (and how hard is it, really?). But spinning has a dozen different movements, combined with machinery that must be adjusted, and tinkering with just one aspect changes the end product. It's a process, and mastery must take a lifetime. But I'm learning, a yard at a time.

Before I forget, congratulations to Laura, who knit the sample of Annie Modesitt's Bias Corset! (And can I add that there are a number of promising designs in this one, based on the tiny pictures?)

Next time: progress photos of Green Gable and the never-ending afghan.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Blogging and Professionalism

A recent episode involving a popular designer/teacher/blogger and a yarn store owner (with a blog) made me start to think about blogging and professionalism. I've read some about this lately (the anonymous big law firm associate who outed herself only after she got a book deal comes to mind). That lawyer's blog, though, is different from the subject I'm addressing here. There is a difference between a professional venting about a situation at work on an "anonymous" personal blog (which can still be unacceptable in a number of circumstances) and a professional using a blog for mixed personal and work-related purposes venting about the same kind of situation. I'm discussing the latter here.

I'm a late-comer to the blog phenomenon, but I read blogs for awhile before beginning my own, and I still read a number of them daily. Some are purely personal, generally knitting-related with some mentions of family and daily life. Others mix professional and personal lives--I include the knitbloggers with books or other knitting-related internet businesses in this one (the Yarn Harlot, Mason Dixon Knitting, the Knitty blog, Wendyknits, etc.).

These bloggers have special challenges, I think. Each chooses to post a certain amount of personal information on their blogs, yet those blogs are also used for business purposes (promoting books and designs, listing events, selling patterns, etc.). What do you do, then, when personal and business collide? For example, what do you do if you have a problem with your editor or publisher? A yarn store owner cancels your appearance at the last minute, without any warning? Or, alternatively, you have major life issues that could affect your work?


I wrote the above last week and let it marinate for awhile before continuing. I find this a really compelling and thought-provoking topic, even if others are ready to dismiss it as a blogger's "right" to say what she/he pleases. I won't get into the legal existence or non-existence of freedom of speech on the Internet (the Google China site is a good example of the lack of free speech), and I'll assume for purposes of the argument that bloggers do have the right to say whatever they want.

Because a person has the ability and "right" to make a statement does not mean that the statement is wise. For example, suppose your boss is a complete idiot who sends you off on mundane, useless tasks that you despise. Nevertheless (and leaving out all possibility of libel/slander), you would probably not take out an ad in the local newspaper or trade journal to describe what a total wanker your boss is and how he has caused your high blood pressure. It would not be a wise thing to do, assuming you wanted to keep this job or work in the same field or location.

That is the crux of the blog problem--mixing professional and personal information on a blog requires the blogger to make determinations about what is appropriate or not appropriate, given the blogger's readership and profession. Maybe it helps to think about two kinds of readers for an average "mixed" blog. In the knitting world, there are (1) potential customers (which could include yarn store owners, book or pattern buyers, and/or advertisters) who read your blog and (2) casual readers (which could include non-knitting friends or family members). To some degree, your blog is advertising to the first class of readers--new products, appearances, etc. While blogging about your latest health issue or a bad experience you had at a yarn store or with a customer may help you vent your frustration and be great entertainment for casual readers, that information may turn off potential customers. High drama is fun but not professional.

People disagree about what constitutes too much information in the professional world every day, and I'm not saying that blogs should be sanitized to exclude all non-knitting content. I think that would harm some of the bloggers I listed above. However, there has to be some consideration taken by a "professional" blogger as to what information is appropriate or inappropriate under the circumstances. Would you want a potential customer to read about a terrible experience you had with a customer (in which you disparage the customer, fair or not)? If you were in that potential customer's shoes, what would you think? These bloggers are, in many ways, selling their personalities as much as their wares.

Next time, I'll be back with something more interesting!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

A Stash Flash Addendum

Karen and I went to a yarn sale today. A man was selling his aunt's stash. I'm glad I went, and not only for the bargains. This woman had many, many skeins tagged for specific projects. It made me a little sad, thinking about how many projects I have planned and wondering how many will be lingering in the stash for years to come.

But I will cease with the sad parts and go on to the good parts. I bought a LOT of yarn, and I may go back next week to buy a bit more. At these sales, I usually expect to find a lot of crap and a small amount of worthwhile things. This was just the opposite--a lot of beautiful yarns and very few bad acrylics. I don't think there was a single skein of Red Heart Supersaver.

On to the purchases!

That's 11 skeins of Manos, 3 skeins of Bartlett, and 3 skeins of a funky 100% wool called Flaminia, by Schaffhauser Wolle.

11 skeins of Pingouin Fleur de Laine, a lovely, soft 100% wool. (I know the photo is blurry; this yarn did not want to photograph well.)

12 skeins Filatura di Crosa Kinair, which feels very similar to Kidsilk Haze.

41 (yes, 41) skeins Rowan Designer DK. Destined to become 2 sweaters from Alice Starmore's Fishermen's Sweaters. There will probably be enough left over for a third sweater.

10 skeins Anny Blatt angora. The green is 50/50 wool/angora; the pink, blue, and yellow are 70/30 angora/wool.

Last but not least, 22 skeins Anny Blatt No. 4. Likely destined to be a fair isle something.