Saturday, December 13, 2014

Copyright, Copy Wrong

I am no expert on copyright law. I let one notion guide my actions: stealing is wrong.

I write knitting patterns. Not many, but some. And I sell those patterns. (You can find them on Ravelry.) I would hope that no one would make copies of my patterns without my permission. I would hope that if a knitter is interested in knitting one of my designs then that knitter would be willing to pay a modest fee for the effort I put into the design and pattern.

In the course of my knitting life, I have purchased many patterns. I mentioned one in a recent blog post: the Classic Elite pattern, Ruins of Dunstaburgh Castle vest. A few days later, a friend of mine told me she found the pattern quite interesting but she was having trouble finding a copy to purchase. She asked if I’d be willing to send her a copy.

I responded, “I feel uncomfortable copying the pattern, but I’d be happy to give it to you. I don’t plan to use it again.” So, I sent off the pattern to its new home. I’m thinking that I’ve at least held to the spirit of copyright if not to the letter.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

New-To-Me Stitch Dictionary

I’ve mentioned before that I volunteer for a couple hours on Tuesday afternoons at the Almira Township Library. It’s a small library. Anywhere from 0 to 10 folks will patronize the library on any given Tuesday afternoon. I typically while away my three hours by knitting.

A couple weeks ago, I finished my knitting and still had some time left. So I wandered over to the non-fiction section to see if there were any knitting books. There were a few books on needle crafts that included some knitting. But there was only one book specifically about knitting: Knitting Dictionary 800 Stitches and Patterns.

Jackpot! I love perusing stitch dictionaries. A good chunk of my personal library is dedicated to such books. The book I found on the library shelf is an older book. There is no explicit publication date, but it does say, “english translation and adaptation by Margaret Hamilton-Hunt (I.W.S. Knitting Design of the year Award Winner 1963) for MON TRICOT…”

The first 35 pages contain technical information. The rest of the book is filled with stitch patterns. Most of the patterns I’d seen before, many I’d knitted. But there were some that were new to me, or were variations I’d not noticed before, such as: Window Stitch, Wheat Germ Stitch, Slipped Granite Stitch, Swarm Stitch, Grain of Powder Stitch, Ladders, Fancy Zig Zag Stitch.

Not only were the patterns interesting to me, but I was totally charmed by the names of the stitches.

I had fun exploring this new-to-me knitting book.

The following Tuesday, when I arrived at the library, I chatted for a bit with the librarian, Shirley R. I mentioned that I’d looked over that book and that I had felt – and resisted – the urge to pinch it. (After all, this library is so small, there really is no card catalog, analog or digital. The last time the book had been checked out was 2005. No one would know…)

Her response was to ask if there were any other knitting books in the library. I mentioned the needle craft books. She then took the stitch dictionary off the shelf, blacked out the logo for the Almira Township Library, removed the library card from the back of the book, and handed me the book.

She gave it to me!

Oh boy oh boy oh boy!

I’ve already started swatching some of the stitches. And I’m finding some interesting tidbits in the technical section too. I love knitting books.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Old Dog, New Tricks

It must have been during my stint as a post-doctoral fellow in Ann Arbor, 1993-1995. I distinctly recall upon reading a certain scientific paper, I wrote on margin of the front page, “old dog, new tricks”. Although I remember my reaction clearly, I can’t remember the title of the article, what year it was published, which scientific journal it was in, or the authors’ names. I can’t even remember the methods, design, or results of the paper. (Ten years ago, when I was still in academia, this type of information would have been a breeze to remember.) I just remember that my quick conclusion was that new motor patterns can be learned even by the very elderly. It was convincing evidence to me that old dogs can learn new tricks.

My last blog post garnered a few comments about left v right, habit, and movement patterns. That made me think about issues of habit and motor learning. And about “rules” for spinning.

I may be a keen observer of rules of the road, but I am a scofflaw when it comes to rules of spinning. I do hold to just a very few rules:

  1. Don’t hurt yourself….or anyone else.
  2. If what you are doing results in what you want, then keep doing it.
  3. If you don’t like your results, change what you’re doing. (Yes, Dr. Phil.)
But to “change what you’re doing” can be difficult for some. Just know that it’s not impossible. To change movement habits is just like learning a new movement skill: it requires:

  1. A willingness to change/learn.
  2. Accepting that you will be clumsy, slow, and error-filled at first.
  3. A lot of mindful practice. Be aware. Pay attention. Adjust.
About a year ago, I read a post on Facebook about the issue of double spacing after a period in typing. I learned to type in High School and was taught to double space after a period. That was on a typewriter. Now, computer fonts allow for easy reading of sentences and it is recommended that only one space follow a period.

After 40 years of a well-learned habit, could I change? It took about two months of concerted effort, but now the single space is as natural to me as the double space once was. Two months of awkward hesitations in my typing. And a conscious effort to change. That’s all it took.

I will admit that I relish learning new movements. I trained as a dancer for 20 years. I immersed myself in the neuroscience and biomechanics of movement for another 20. I fundamentally value movement and learning new movements. I can accept that not all folks will have the same attitude about movement. That’s ok with me.

Here’s another perspective on the left v right sided flyer: My friend, Sylvia VM, who is selling the wheel, sent me an email today in which she commented: “Kinda like how to hold chop sticks? It’s about getting the food to your mouth.”

So, whether the flyer is on the right or the left, whether you’re right-handed or left-handed, whether you hold the right hand in front or the left….it’s about spinning fiber into yarn.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Used Spinning Wheel for Sale

My friend, Sylvia VM, has several lovely wheels. She even has a Reeves upright castle wheel just like mine. She has too many wheels. And she wants me to help her sell one of them.

She bought a Schacht-Reeves wheel new in 2005. This wheel was made by the Schacht Spindle Company . It’s serial number is #1-0170. It’s got a 24” drive wheel with the flyer on the right, it’s double-treadle, and it’s made of cherry wood. It comes with 2 whorls (for 4 drive ratios), a lazy kate (in ash), the owner’s manual, and 5 bobbins (in cherry). The original orifice hook is missing, but I’m contributing an original Reeves orifice hook (in cherry). The wheel can be used in either double drive or Scotch tension. It is currently set up in Scotch tension.

This wheel is very handsome, beautifully engineered, and in very good condition. I’ve just oiled it, and put new leaders on all the bobbins. It treadles very smoothly. New, this wheel and extra bobbins would cost about $1600. Sylvia is asking $1000 (other reasonable offers will be considered). I would rather not ship this wheel, but if I did, the buyer would cover shipping and insurance costs. I am willing to drive a bit to deliver or meet. I live in Lake Ann, MI.

If you are interested in buying this wheel, you can contact me at

A Note on Left Versus Right

When Sylvia ordered the wheel she asked the folks at Schacht whether she should have the flyer on the left (most typical for a Saxony-style wheel) or on the right. They asked her which hand she uses in front, closest to the orifice. She uses her left hand in front. They then suggested she get the wheel with the flyer on the right.

Some folks would argue that the location of the flyer matters, but I don’t agree. Whether you use your left or your right hand forward, or whether you are left or right hand dominant, I think you can get used to – and become skilled with – whatever spinning wheel setup you have. It may take awhile; facility and skill do require practice.

I understand that a spinner might have a preference. I’m ok with that. However, I’m pretty well versed in the scientific literature of neuromotor control and motor learning (MS and PhD), and I know of no evidence that would suggest there is a physiological or mechanical rationale for location of the flyer on a spinning wheel.

I can say that I had no trouble spinning on this wheel, even though I mostly spin on upright wheels, and the Saxony-style wheels that I have owned in the past have all had the flyer on the left.