Of Rats and Jen

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Bargains I Found

Filed under: Books,Folkcat's Craft Library,Knitting,Shopping Adventures,Thrifty Shopping — folkcat at 5:44 pm on Friday, December 8, 2006

***Update!! See Bottom of Post!!***

Whew! I have been puttering around at Christmas Knitting, and almost forgot to post. So here, at last, is the final installment about what I did last weekend.

Late on Saturday afternoon, Gryphon and I decided to get out of the house. Just, you know, to get out of the house. We made up an excuse about browsing for a few things at one particular store, and set off.

While driving there, it occurred to me that the One-Time Only Westminster Fibers sale that I’d heard about was only a little further down the road. We’d get there in the last hour or two of the last day of the sale, but I still felt it might be worth a try.

Let me tell you – I wish I’d had a chunk of money to work with! Not so much for the yarns, though they were inexpensive and luscious (brands included Rowan, Schachenmayr, Gedifra, and more).

No, what I lusted after most was the books. Dozens of titles, all at 65% off of cover price. Being something of a kamikaze, unexpected trip, though, I made sure only to buy one or two things I knew I would regret leaving behind.

Folk Hats: 32 Knitting Patterns & Tales from Around the World (Folk Knitting series)Like this book: Folk Hats, from Interweave Press. This has been on my wishlist for a long, long time. When I saw the small stack of them on the shelves at the sale, I think I left a scorch mark as I grabbed it!

Another unusual item was wrapping paper in three designs – all photographs of Kaffe Fassett knitted materials! At 8 sheets for one dollar, these were a steal – I got two dollars’ worth.

Finally, I did get some yarn. Most of what was available fell into either the chunky or the novelty categories, and didn’t impress me as anything I’d want to knit with. But Gryphon spotted an open case of this Schachenmayr Micro yarn, and I formed a plan. It seemed like this should be suitable for a nice t-style top for me.

Westminster Fibers

The color I liked best was this bright lime green. (Regular readers know that I like bright colors!) At $10 a bag (10 skeins), this was a bargain. It’s an acrylic microfiber yarn, and oh, is it soft against the skin!

I did my best to make a quick guess in my head how much would knit a t-top for my large frame, and decided to go for two bags.

In the end, I only spent a few cents over $30 for all my goodies. I’m pleased with everything, though of course, I wish I’d had more budget to work with! But I made a couple of reasonably careful choices, and got a few things I know I can use.

I hope. Once I got the yarn home, I realized how thin it is – the gauge on 3.5 – 4.5 mm needles is listed as 24 stitches, 32 rows over 10 cm. And these are 50 gm. balls. Hmm. If I’d thought more about it, I would have purchased another bag.

I’m hoping to resolve this – I found the e-mail contact for the yarns at the company website, and explained my dilemma. I specifically asked if there was any chance of purchasing one more bag of this yarn. After all, I know where their offices/warehouse are now, and the sale was only a week ago. Maybe there’s still some left?

Of course, I’m sending this e-mail late on a Friday – so it will probably be no sooner than Monday at the best before I hear anything. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed. At least, so long as it doesn’t interfere with my knitting!

***Update – wow! I got a reply from the National Marketing Manager at Westminster Fibers already, timestamped 6:20 p.m.! Word is they have one bag of the yarn left, and they’re looking for it for me. Seems that, what with the sale being a week ago and the company moving to South Carolina, there’s a possibility it’s already down there. But it sure sounds like I’ll be getting it! Kudos to Westminster Fibers!***

What Came In The Mail

Filed under: Blogfriends,Books,Folkcat's Craft Library — folkcat at 5:17 pm on Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Saturday was a good day at the Post Office. First up was this little doggie:

Mitzy
Mitzy

I’ve been reading blogs for nearly two years now, and this is the first time I’ve ever won a blog contest! Over at Maize’s Diary, Crafty Mommy Maize Hutton (creator of the handmade, recycled silver jewelry known as Mommy Tags) has a drawing every week called Crafty Karma Tuesday. The prize is always some great little thing she handcrafted, and last week, it was the little felt doggy known as Mitzy. Mitzy has come to live with me now, and here you see her getting her household orientation from my Pointy Kitty, Blue Speckle.

Thanks, Maize!

The other postal arrival was a complimentary copy of the new book, Threadbared. I’d been surprised a couple of weeks before to receive an e-mail from an editor at Random House offering this to me, but, hey – I enjoy the Threadbared blog, so I thought, why not?

Threadbared Comp Copy

What this is not: It’s not a how-to book, there are no patterns.

What this is: More of an “oh, dear god, please don’t!” book.

It’s a tongue-in-cheek look at vintage pattern flyers and books, sewing pattern packets, and more. While in some cases the designs themselves are worthy of mockery, more often than not it’s the styling of the photos, or the poses of the models themselves, that brings the laughs.

I haven’t sat down and read this book extensively yet, but have been dipping into it here and there at random. (It lends itself well to that approach.) So far, I have exactly one complaint about the book. And true to the spirit of Threadbared itself, it’s a problem with the styling of the book, not the content.

Here’s the issue: every single photo inside is presented in a vintage-looking blue-on-tan color. Granted, many patterns in early decades (40’s, 50’s) were actually published that way. But this book also includes dozens of pictures of patterns that were originally presented in full color.

The error in judgment becomes even more clear when you read the accompanying text – which clearly presumed that the pictures would be shown in full color. Here, for instance, the text specifically references the “pink-clad Casanova at the bottom right” in the “amber-colored glasses.”

Threadbared Interior Pictures

This color choice is clearly a stylistic one, but I think it was a bad decision. Much of the fun of the patterns they mock in more recent decades came in the color choices the pattern designers made, and that effect is completely lost here. You just know that the big-shouldered sweaters shown from the 80’s weren’t printed in black-and-white! And what about the psychedelic patterns from the 60’s and 70’s?

If you can look beyond that issue, however, Threadbared promises to be an amusing, nostalgic look at past styles in the sewing, knitting, and crafting world. I just hope they one day offer a Colorized version!

My Portrait

Filed under: Folkcat's Craft Library — folkcat at 1:06 pm on Wednesday, August 30, 2006

“Your library is your portrait.” – Holbrook Jackson

Is it any surprise that the most active portion of my library is made up of craft and art books? I didn’t think so.

This is the most noteworthy thing I accomplished yesterday:

Folkcat's Craft Library Progress

I’m far from having all my craft books on these shelves yet. The real thing to see here is the shelf dividers we created that help me sort the books by category. Of course, I can organize them by category even without physical dividers – but it’s so much quicker and easier to have a visual clue where “BEADS” actually ends and “COOKING” begins.

Once I’ve organized all the books that can be found in the house, I’ll start sorting and organizing the magazines. I’ve got years worth of Bead & Button and Beadwork, and I might actually do some of the projects if I could ever find them!

It’s Tuesday, Isn’t It?

Filed under: Daily Life,Folkcat's Craft Library,Spinning,Yarn Recycling — folkcat at 1:00 pm on Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Yesterday was a bit scattered for me. I did enough productive things to count, but I also found my allergies kicking my asthma in again. Breathe Easy tea and cough syrup do the job of getting me through the day, but the recurrence of my asthma after many years is disturbing me. It’s our third summer in this home, and the first with an asthma problem. Is it just a crappy allergy year, as I seem to see on many peoples’ blogs? Is it one of my medications causing a problem that it didn’t before? I’ll be seeing my doctor in a couple weeks anyhow and will bring it up then.

Among the productive things I did yesterday:

Started Organizing the Craft Library

Books Being Organized
Folkcat’s Craft Library: A New Beginning

I only spent 20 minutes on this (that’s how long it took for my back to start complaining), but it’s a good start. My craft books have been scattered in multiple locations throughout the apartment for a few years now. Some are in boxes, some are on shelves in various places, and some are just in stacks. There are even a couple of boxes still buried in the storage locker someplace that I keep hoping Gryphon will dig out for me – I know I have some really cool books there that I want to be able to use again!

My work on this project will be in short spurts because of my back. See, the asthma returning this summer has made my exercise routine nearly impossible to do. It’s hard to do exercises that make you breathe harder when you’re already breathing hard because of asthma. But we’ll get past that eventually, and reintroduce the exercise.

Washed Six Skeins of Yarn with Eucalan

Skeins Hanging to Dry
All in a Row

The purple on the left photographed more red than it really is, but everything else in this picture came out about right in color. The purple is my first handspun, finally washed and hung to dry, and the five skeins of pink are 100% lambswool from a pink Ann Taylor sweater I’m recycling.

The handspun bloomed nicely with a soak, and has softened a lot. The pink yarn is just beautiful and soft – I think it’s going to make a lovely shawl.

Worked on Christmas Knitting

For which, no photo. But I got a comfortable amount done, enough to feel like I’m keeping up with things.

Short and sweet – that’s today’s post, every bit of it. If I stop here, maybe I’ll have enough time to do something worth blogging about for tomorrow!

I Haven’t Gone Anywhere

Filed under: Folkcat's Craft Library — folkcat at 4:16 pm on Thursday, November 10, 2005

Or rather, I have gone around doing lots of things, which I’ve been blogging about over at I Knit Around and Confessions of a Chantraphile.

Thing is, I’ve had little time and energy left for continuing the book reviews here. But I don’t consider this an abandoned project – just one on a long hiatus.

Administrivia Day

Filed under: Folkcat's Craft Library — folkcat at 5:43 pm on Friday, September 23, 2005

I am removing the “Recently Updated Blogs” frame from the side bar. Since I have retired five blogs – and consolidated their subjects under a single new blog – there is far less for readers to keep up with.

Here’s the list of currently active blogs:

  • I Knit Around – This is now my primary blog, covering knitting (and other fiber-crafting), cooking, geocaching, and anything else that happens that isn’t beading. This will likely be posted to from 3 to 5 times a week.
  • Confessions of a Chantraphile – My beading blog remains as a separate entity. I expect I’ll post here at least once or twice a week.
  • Folkcat’s Craft Library – You can still browse through my craft book collection – at least as fast as I get it entered. Since each entry is a catalog listing for a book, this could be posted to once a week, once a month, or ten times in a day.
  • The Milford Memory Box – Once we have items worth collecting from the Memory Box and posting, this will be where to find them. Posting here will likely be very sporadic, as the Memory Box collection doesn’t grow quickly.

My retired blogs will remain available as archives. You can reach them through my web hub at Jenny Kubeck on the Web.

Books/Beads/Knitting/How-To: Bead Knitted Pendant Bags Etc. 1

Filed under: Folkcat's Craft Library — folkcat at 9:49 pm on Friday, September 9, 2005

Title: Bead Knitted Pendant Bags Etc. 1
Author: Williams, Theresa
Publisher: Bag Lady Press
Copyright: 1996

Available from the publisher at http://www.baglady.com

Bead Knitted Pendant Bags Etc. 1 is the second book in Williams’ Beaded Bag Series. Instructions are given for knitting two small pendant bags, as well as a larger handbag.

For more about bead knitting and Theresa Williams’ books, please see my review of Bead Knitted Pendant Bags.

Books/Beads/Knitting/How-To: Bead Knitted Pendant Bags

Filed under: Folkcat's Craft Library — folkcat at 7:35 pm on Thursday, September 8, 2005

Title: Bead Knitted Pendant Bags
Author: Williams, Theresa
Publisher: Bag Lady Press
Copyright: 1995, 1996, 2002

Available from the publisher at http://www.baglady.com

Bead knitting is the process where beads are strung on the knitting material, then put in place in groups of 1 to, well, several beads (depending on how much of a swag effect you want) in between knit stitches. It’s different from beaded knitting, where beads are also strung on the knitting material, but in a specific pattern according to a chart. In beaded knitting, a bead is placed in every stitch, and the beads ultimately make a picture or design.

Bead knitting is the specialty at Bag Lady Press, and Theresa Williams is almost single-handedly responsible for the current popularity of the technique. This book, which I believe was her first, gives the how-tos, the whys, and the wherefores for how to make two different styles of bead knitted pendant bags. By the time you’re done, you’ll understand the process and be able to produce endless variations on the basic bags.

Recommended for those who love little bags, but are in a rut making peyote-stitch amulet bags; or for knitters who are tired of sweaters, scarves, and socks.

Books/Fiber/Paper/Handmade Paper/How-To: Handmade Silk Paper

Filed under: Folkcat's Craft Library — folkcat at 9:28 pm on Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Handmade Silk PaperTitle: Handmade Silk Paper
Author: Russon, Kath
Publisher: Search Press
Copyright: 1999

This is a book that was only recently given to me as a gift, and I haven’t had much opportunity yet to evaluate it. Let me, then, offer you instead some quotes from the Introduction by author Kath Russon:

Paper is such an ordinary thing. We use it every day, usually without thinking about it. Silk, on the other hand, has always had an aura of mystery about it; it is extraordinary. Its lustre stops you in your tracks and makes you long to touch it. Imagine, then, making something as ordinary as paper out of something as extraordinary as silk.

There is nothing new about silk papermaking. Whilst paper as we know it is thought to have been invented by Cai Lunn, a Chinese eunuch in the court of Han emperor Wu Di in the year 105 AD, silk had been used long before this to record events for posterity. Apparently, by the second century BC it was widely used in China for official letters and documents. However, it was very expensive, so a method was developed by which old silk rags could be pulped; the resulting mixture, thinly spread on a frame, produced a material which could justifiably be termed silk paper.

In the course of this book, we shall try to copy the Chinese ancients in producing paper; in our case, not from pulp, but from actual silk fibres which are now available in a variety of formats, either undyed or dyed. The process of silk papermaking could not be simpler; you need no special tools or equipment and the process takes minutes rather than hours.

Kath Russon is a papermaker first, and this book thoroughly explores using silk to make paper. She covers the different varieties of fiber you could work with; how to dye the fiber; and how to incorporate non-silk fibers in your work. She even gets into how to mould three-dimensional shapes, and how to make felted silk leaves which take their shape and details from real leaves.

I’m not sure if or when I’ll actually get to making silk paper, but I think I’m awfully glad I’ll have this book to refer to when I do.

Books/Children’s Crafts/How-To: More Things To Make and Do

Filed under: Folkcat's Craft Library — folkcat at 1:38 am on Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Title: More Things To Make and Do
Adapted by: Wycoff, Joan
Publisher: Golden Press
Copyright: 1960, 1969

Out of print. Adapted from the earlier work McCall’s Golden Do-It Book, this small paperback is a collection of projects for children. It’s a great nostalgia trip as well.

Techniques include papier-mache with newspapers, making marionettes out of thread spools, and decorating boxes, among many others. The age of the book is revealed with projects that require “berry boxes” made of thin slats of wood, the assumption that all thread spools are made of wood, and the use of the term “pipe cleaners” instead of the modern “chenille stems”.

In spite of its age, I think that books like this offer much to families of today. There is a simple, magic sensibility to the concept of making things from materials around the house. I fear sometimes that the level of imagination displayed in books of this type has been lost in a day when people can readily go to any craft or discount store and buy pre-packaged, clean, prepared ice cream sticks, and wooden spools that have never seen thread.

There’s no guarantee you’ll be able to turn up this little volume, but it’s worth keeping your eyes open for similar craft books at yard sales, used book stores, and even thrift shops. And don’t just hand it over to the kids – do the projects with them! You’ll be sure to enjoy it as much as they do.

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