176 pp. + 13 new illus. + 3K + support ticket 070712-001810 + fiber

176 pp. + 13 new illus.

Ethnic Knitting Discovery: I am laying out this book, which will
be released this October, at 176 pages. Not 160, as planned and
announced. Decision made yesterday and updated in databases (BowkerLink = Books in Print; distributor’s database; those two will link to myriad other databases; some of the databases out there will never catch the change).


Contacted illustrator to see about getting 13 additional illustrations.
Seven were already needed but hadn’t been done because they required
careful technical evaluation first. Finished that, along with some reference samples and snapshots. Another six will be
used to provide augmented coverage of techniques. Augmentation has become
possible because of the additional pages—only really six new pages,
because ten were already used (the ten I’d been trying to condense out
of the layout in order to get to 160). The cool part is that one of the techniques will really shine now.

The illustrator thinks she can do the new images by the end of next week. I’m extremely grateful that she can adapt her schedule to take care of these. As it is, I’ll probably be ordering this book’s galleys (preliminary review copies) at about the same time that I order its first print run—my own schedule got seriously out of whack over the past few months! Life got in the way. No regrets, but I still have to meet the upcoming deadlines.

A sign that I’ve made the right decision is when the layout suddenly
starts to fall into place and feel natural. That happened half a dozen
times yesterday after I’d made the decision. I’m breathing a little more deeply, despite the limited time that I have to complete the work.

+ 3K

Yesterday I also ordered the fifth print run of Arctic Lace. We’re not out of copies yet (again), but the printer’s schedule is full through July and August and we will be in serious need of books by early September if I don’t get a run scheduled now.

It is wonderful how people are discovering this book, and through it the treasure that is Oomingmak and the delight that is qiviut. From the first rumors of this fiber in the 1970s to publishing a book about it more than thirty years later . . . thanks to Donna Druchunas for making her passion into a wonderful and well-illustrated manuscript!

+ support ticket 070712-001810


Last night at about 9 I made the fourth call to tech support in about ten days. Despite the number of calls, I’ll give the support team credit. The techs were knowledgeable, they were apologetic about delays (when they put me on hold while they asked their supervisors for additional info), and the problem is finally solved. I have no idea where in the world they were, which is always a weird feeling. I don’t think that at home they go by the names Justine, Eddie, or David. I think they have work personas that include alternate names.

I did have to do several interesting pieces of troubleshooting during the first two calls, and then wait while they shipped the replacement part, which has a 3-pin 8-mm-wide connector unlike the original’s 4-pin 25-mm-wide one.

And yesterday I needed to just about stand on my head on the concrete floor next to the open computer and try to locate connectors on the motherboard in bad lighting with what I was seeing through my bifocals not quite in focus no matter what I did. (I have a service contract on this particular machine that would have sent someone to the house to fix the problem, but I’d rather mess around inside a computer than make an appointment . . . or wait until a service firm can fit in the minuscule job.)

The tech support folks offered to either help me figure out where else to plug in the replacement fan or send me a fan that would connect like the old one did. They asked my preference. I said, "I want a fan that’s quiet and does its job well. I don’t care how it gets done." So we proceeded. The new fan is plugged into the motherboard (the old one cabled over to the power supply).

Now the computer is humming mildly instead of whirring like a bunch of locusts, which it
has been doing to a greater or lesser degree since I bought it. I may be able to have a phone conversation in the same room (my office). I’ve been too busy to deal with the noise and until a couple of weeks ago it wasn’t so loud that I couldn’t ignore it (except during phone calls). . . . But it’s so good to move a task from the to-do list to the done list. . . .

+ fiber

After I’d called tech support the first time yesterday, and after I’d made the 176-page decision and e-mailed back and forth with the illustrator and ordered more than a ton of new books (recycled-content paper), I went back to Abby Franquemont’s Franquemont Fibers (which I’d browsed my way through briefly on Wednesday as a break from and encouragement for my layout efforts) and ordered a bit of fiber + color. The good news is that between my two visits a bunch of folks had bought stuff, which meant I could make my decisions more easily!

Reading about, editing, and writing on fiber doesn’t make sense unless you actually get to spin, weave, knit, and otherwise play with some yourself. It’s not like I don’t have fiber here to mess with. It’s just that I mostly have fiber that is (1) in large chunks that should turn into large projects and (2) in colors that aren’t cheerful enough to meet my current need and (3) packed away.

What I have done for the past few days doesn’t count as playing with fiber, although technically I have been knitting. I’ve chugged through making lots of reference materials for the illustrator. Cast on and knit a few stitches. Stop and take a photo. Repeat multiple times. Upload photos to computer. Adjust contrast (color accuracy doesn’t matter for these). Add arrows, outlines, and notes to the illustrator. Save in a small enough format that I can e-mail a batch without clogging the data channels. Batch, list, explain, and transmit.

The text on the photo below is not a caption. It points out, for the illustrator’s information, what the illustration really needs to show. It’s essential that the illustrator knows how to knit!


The goal of illustration references is not to be pretty or fun to knit. Illustration references are made so the illustrator can see EXACTLY what she needs, clearly, so she can draw the piece correctly the first time. Much better for everyone’s nerves, as well as the schedule.

I did a whole bunch of steps for another technique, of which this is one:


I ended up doing one set of demo pieces with rope and another set with nylon mason’s twine because when I use these crisp, unyielding materials it’s really obvious where the "yarn" travels as each stitch gets formed. The mason’s twine isn’t perfect. The plying twist is a bit too obvious and distracting. But it was what I could get my hands on fast after the rope got unwieldy.

So yesterday, as a reward for all this stiff, stop-and-start, functional but aesthetically unpleasing knitting, I ordered the following: some Falkland wool (two puffs of different quantities and colors); a "luxury sock batt" of superwash, alpaca, silk, and shiny stuff; and some hand-painted Merino/silk laceweight yarn.

I have liked what I’ve seen of the wool grown by sheep in the Falkland Islands although I haven’t spun much of it. I’m not a big superwash fan, but I think I’ll like spinning the blend—I’m a sucker for alpaca and silk (especially tussah; see dog above left) and I get a charge out of shiny stuff now and then, even when it’s not silk.

[Aside: Falkland is not the name of a breed of sheep. It’s a geographic designator of where the wool was grown, although the Falkland Islands are small enough and the sheep industry there is important enough that the simple geographic designator does give us useful information about the quality of the wool—for example, that it’s fine, most likely in the 22 to 29-micron range. Wool is a major product of the Falklands. Growers there want to produce bountiful quantities of fine-diameter wool and are breeding to those ends. Historically they have used Corriedale and Polwarth—the National Stud Flock is maintained as pure Polwarth—and are looking at further experimentation to increase yield and fineness. Here’s more information (I think it’s fascinating) on sheep breeding in the Falkland Islands.]

The handpainted Merino/silk yarn counts as total indulgence (as if the fiber doesn’t). I bought both available skeins because I couldn’t leave the second one there all by itself. I have no idea what I’ll do with the yarn, but. . . .

Completely irrationally and for whatever combination of reasons, I couldn’t leave it there on the site for a more deserving soul to find. (This is probably related to the completely irrational combination of reasons that has
me publishing knitting and spinning books, against all common sense but
in line with some sort of apparent powerful calling.)

Even if I just pat and look at it the fiber, it will be put to good use. . . . Although I’ll probably make things with it.

Now I need to go back to cash flow, bits, bytes, chips, picas, points, pallets, bills of lading, cash flow, databases, . . . .

But some time next week I am very likely to receive a packet containing small but spirit-saving amounts of silk, wool, alpaca. . . .

If any part of this post doesn’t make sense, that’s because I wrote it in scraps of time over two days and now need to get back to work. Post was written 7/12, actually posted 7/13 and I revised because I thought it would have a 7/13 date, so the yesterday/today stuff got squirrelly. Oh, well.


4 Responses

  1. I hope you realize the puntas picture teaser a) sells me on the book and b) guarantees my recommendation of it. I know *exactly* what that is, and there are NO books about it right now.

    I’m also likely to point folks to your explanation of Falkland; I largely explain “Well, it’s Corriedale and Polwarth combined, basically, which boils down to being easy to spin, and getting fatter in the wash due to the way the crimp is.”

    The kind I have, which I do like, is a commercial combed top, with a slightly tan tinge to it that I find shades dyes attractively, without really changing the hue. By and large I find it a pleasant, casual spin; there’s no great commitment to it, it’s not fiber for super-laceweight stuff, it’s not the softest thing ever, it isn’t lustrous and locky; it’s a good, comfortable, springy midrange wool. It’s, well, Polwarthy Corriedale, in my opinion!

    The yarn… I’m amused to think of it as a self-indulgent purchase, as the truth is, as a product, it was a self-indulgent “I feel like painting some of that” product for myself. I hope you enjoy it!

  2. OK, something in your post (not sure what) reminded me of our discussion about CVM sheep. What were their forebears, etc. Here’s a link that explains that. I can’t remember what we discussed, maybe you can?!

  3. Hi, Joanne:

    Yep, CVMs are basically colored Romeldales. Glen Eidman was an extremely knowledgeable sheep man. Great judge at shows. http://www.cvmsheep.com/history.htm

    Both are considered “critical” on the rare breeds list ( http://www.albc-usa.org/cpl/wtchlist.html#sheep ).

    Recently developed, true breeds, unusual in being American in origin.

    I’m sure what reminded you was the talk of Falklands. . . . Although that’s *not* a breed. . . .


  4. Well, this is a kick seeing who’s commenting here! I just stopped by. Abby: Yes, I don’t like stark whites. They can be nice for jewel-tones, but I would think the slight tan shade would be nice in a dyebath. And I like midrange, pleasant wools for comfort spinning.

    Yep, puntas. I wondered if anyone would recognize them. And they’re getting a two-page, fully illustrated explanation, courtesy of the added half-signature. Fun for me to be able to highlight one piece of Donna’s manuscript that way. . . . I really like puntas, and I learned how to work them from editing this book.

    And Carol Leonard! Hi! That’s terrific that you got to visit with Donna. I miss seeing you!

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