Monday, September 29, 2008

Review: E-book Christmas Stockings

Christmas Stockings
7 Classic Holiday Treasures to Knit
Edited by Elaine Lipson
Intereweave Press

Linda Ligon
Lynn Gates
Nancy Bush
Susan Strawn Bailey
Dee Lockwood
Ron Schweitzer
Candace Eisner Strick
Ordering information here

E-books and patterns are a great innovation for knitters, designers, and publishers. While I will always love the substance of a physical book, the handiness of instantly downloaded pdfs cannot be denied. The customer can buy the book at any time, even at midnight on a weeknight, and cast on right away. The designer can self-publish with much less overhead than conventional printing demands: no inventory, no upfront costs for large print runs, and the ability to instantly make corrections in files if necessary. Many of those same advantages carry over for the established publisher. It suddenly becomes possible to envision a world in which a book need never go out of print.

It’s no surprise that Interweave Press is jumping into this market. They have been steadily adding to their catalog of down-loadable individual patterns over the last year and now are branching into e-books. Christmas Stockings contains 7 of the most popular patterns from the original 2001 print book of the same title. (The original contained 18 patterns.) A book like this, with a strong seasonal emphasis, is a great choice for pdf download sales. If you start now, you might make all 7 stockings by late December!

At $14.95 for the pdf download, the price is reasonable, especially considering the book also contains the supporting technical information that Interweave includes in print books: illustrations of general knitting techniques, appendices of methods and materials, and sources for the yarns.

The patterns represent a range of techniques, from Fair Isle to cables, lace to Bavarian twisted stitches. The skills required range from basic to advanced-intermediate. The patterns offer generic yarn recommendations, i.e. a class of yarn with yardage per 50 or 100 grams, fiber blend, and any particulars about the original yarn that would affect substitution choice.

Above all else, though, these look like fun projects. They’re the kind of projects that are enjoyable for the knitter and likely to be appreciated by the recipient. Christmas stockings offer all the fun of socks with two great advantages: 1. they are often worked at a bigger gauge, and 2. you only need to make one of them!

Happy knitting.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Snapshots of the Recent Past

None of these photos were taken by me.

My husband has taken to petting bumblebees. This one was particularly mellow.

This is the famous "The Cake is a Lie" cake, from the game Portal, baked and decorated by Owen. It was not a lie. Except I photoshopped the chocolate shavings on the side of the cake, because it's very very hard to apply chocolate shavings to the side of a cake. So, kind of a lie.

Last Saturday night, on my way to bed, I noticed that one of poor Ossie's eyes looked a little funny. Sunday morning it was clear to me that we had to deal with it that day. Mr. SABLE took him to the Emergency Vet Clinic. One day of eye ointment and an Elizabethan Collar (that's the official name for cone-heads), and he was on the mend. This picture was taken on Sunday afternoon.

And this is a happy image.
The Little Emperor had one or two falls last season, trying to master the bike. He wasn't badly hurt, but he sure wasn't eager to keep trying. Over a year later he finally decided it was time. He had a few small spills, mostly when cornering too sharply, but overall, it's fine. He loves his bike now and rides endlessly around our cul-de-sac.

In Other News
Not much to show on the knitting front. Knitting for publication sure does cut into the blogable projects, doesn't it? I also tried a few versions of an experimental project I thought would make a good gift, but it was kind of flawed. Back to the drawing board on that one. And I can't post about it because the would-be giftee reads the blog.

Mr. SABLE is counting down to the end of his employment. This has been a very hard time for him, and the rest of us. Because he's a private kind of guy, I don't want to say too much, but I will say that this summer has been fraught with complicated emotions, including fear about the future and bitterness about some of the way things were handled at the corporate level in the recent past. Our money situation will be ok for at least several months if it comes to that. Yesterday we signed up for a reasonably-priced insurance plan to cover this time. We opted for a very high deductible and figured our main concern was that we be ready for a medical catastrophe over the next six months. The COBRA plan through his work would have run over $1000 a month for the family. He found a plan through Blue Cross/Blue Shield that was about $140 a month, but really would only be useful if something very bad happens.

Onto happier stuff: Knitcircus #4 has been shipped from the printer. Yay! They are scheduled to arrive here on the 30th. I hope they get here a day or two early. It's very hard to wait.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Non-knitting FO!

Over the last couple of days I finished putting the binding on Owen's quilt. I had enough of the dark blue sashing fabric for binding on the two long edges, but not enough to do the ends. "No problem," I thought, "I'll just pop back over to Hancock Fabrics and pick up some more." Ha! I ended up with a different dark blue, in a different 100% cotton fabric. But whatever, it's done.

While I was taking pictures, I was reminded of my husband's grad school days, when pictures like this one occupied much of his time. (I just lifted that one off someone's website, not sure whose proteins are being run through that column!)

I briefly considered taking a picture of Owen's old favorite comforter, but thought better of it. In 1980, when I moved into my first apartment in college, my apartment mates and I took over the lease of a bunch of students who were leaving early. They left a bunch of crap in there, and because it wasn't a landlord-approved transition, there was no official clean out. Among the items were a couple of ugly 70s comforters. They were quite dirty and unappealing even then. I took them to the laundromat (the one on 53rd and Ellis with lots of huge front loaders) and washed them and used the better one until it fell apart. The uglier one, I kept in the car and took camping etc. After Owen moved into his first real bed, somehow he ended up in possession of it. I figured it would be temporary. As it turns out, it became the favorite comfort-object that he moved on to, after the baby blankies. Now, it is just about disintegrating. It has been washed so much and is so threadbare, that I think only molecular memory is holding it together. It definitely needs another washing now, but I don't dare. Owen tells me that he won't be parting with the old one, just because the new quilt is done. That's ok. As long as it stays in his room.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Deep Breath

Last night we uploaded our Knitcircus #4 files to the printer, so that's done. Now we wait about 2 weeks and then we have the 1000 copies to mail out and deliver to the LYSs.

So, on to other stuff.
I have a couple stealth projects in the works for Knitcircus #5, to be released in February '09. And some other ideas for stuff that I'll be able to show'n'tell about, once I get the "show" part done.

Meanwhile, the kids are home for a teacher service day!! Can you believe it? We had one partial week of school, one normal full week, and now, a day off.

Mr. SABLE has had some nibbles on his job search. He did get one very low offer (a federal agency job for which he wasn't exactly a highly-qualified candidate) and some biotech prospects for this week. He's been carrying a lot of stress and it's taking a toll on the rest of us, but I hope it will resolve soon. The best possible outcome would be for him to line up a new job that starts some time after mid-October. Then he'd get a nice long break before starting, and it would involve some school days, which would be nice.

Our weather here is just about perfect today: high in the low 70s and a bit breezy, very sunny. I'm amazed at how perfectly the weather correlates with the nominal season. We're going along through August: hot hot hot and humid. Then BAM, Sept comes and it's like the weather gods got the memo. The temperature and humidity drop (well, except for those two days it rained, but we did need that) and it's instant fall.

Here are some random photos taken over the last month or so.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

More about Knitcircus

I've been formatting until I'm cross-eyed! Yowza. But I'm excited about the upcoming Issue #4 of Knitcircus. Jaala and I hope to email it to the lovely and talented Beth tomorrow afternoon/evening for a fine-tooth-comb editing. She's really good at that! She knows when we have a sneaky extra space to delete, finds all those hyphens that should be em-dashes, knows when to bold , when to italicize, and remembers all the formatting things that we set up on p.3 that are being done differently on p 38. After Beth sends back all the big and little things she finds, then we do a final check for any formatting problems that the printer won't like. Then, make the huge mega-file pdf (bigger than my first hard disc!) and off it goes to Texas. Then we wait seven business days for turnaround and about 4 more business days for shipping, and boxes will appear.

In Other News
We have been in the throes of a full-fledged machine conspiracy Chez SABLE. The focus of this one is cars and computers. Must be C is the letter of the week, eh? Both our vehicles have required very expensive repairs and maintenance of the mandatory kind. You know, the "Don't drive until you fix this" kind of stuff. The computer issues have been more annoying than expensive. Owen's laptop has gone in twice for a backlight issue (under Apple Care warranty) and my mouse needed replacing. Mr. SABLE found his PC had over 365 viruses!!! He thinks he got them all, but they were seriously messing with things over there.

The kids are settling into their school routines, which is a blessing. So far, so good.

I haven't knit at all in a week or so. I've just been plugging away at the 'zine. I'm eager to get back into it.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Sliding Into Home

We're in the big-push stretch of Knitcircus Issue #4. It's very exciting and I think we have a very strong issue. We plan to have this available to ship October 1. (If your local yarn shop doesn't carry it, ask them to think about it!)

Here's a little preview of some of the goodies you'll find inside:

There's more to come!

Click on through and pre-order your copy today!

Monday, September 01, 2008

I Sense a Theme Here...

Kathy, from Milwaukee came over to Last Saturday Knitting with her friend Lynne. Kathy wanted to give me this perfectly apropos gift that she bought for me as a "Thank you" for organizing the Alt Knitting Camp aka Gourmet S'mores Camp. Now, when I see the WienerMobile in my neighborhood, I'll be ready!

Last Saturday Knitting was a gas, as usual. We had just about the largest gathering yet! It was all the usual suspects, only all of us were there. Usually, we top out around 6 knitters, but this time we had 10, plus Owen! Thankfully, the nice young man who works weekends seems happy to have us there.

I've been spinning on the Mixed Berries yarn and working on the plain grey knitting project. And of course, counting down the seconds until school starts tomorrow (for the little guy) and Wednesday (for Owen). And I've been sitting around on the porch, under the fan, waiting for this little heat wave to pass. Tomorrow will be steamy again, then nice cooler weather blows in. Ah! True autumn can't be far behind, right?