Sunday, May 25, 2008

A bit of this, a bit of that

Remember my post-apocalyptic booklist? Well, it seems that Booklist magazine has totally copied my idea! I opened the 5/15 issue to find "Core Collection: Before and After The Road" which contains many of the same books on my list. Hmm. Very suspicious if you ask me.

Have you seen this survey on the value of an MLIS? Please go fill it out!

In related news, and to further substantiate my belief that librarianship is becoming deprofessionalized, I recently found a job posting here in MA for a reference position that doesn't require an MLS. To their credit they say "MLS or extensive library experience" (emphasis mine) but still, you are just opening a can of worms there, Nevins Library!

Also - I've won more sock yarn! I know, crazy, right? Just a month after winning some Dream in Color Smooshy Sock Yarn I have now won...more Smooshy Sock Yarn! Unbelievable luck, and it happened on the last day of work before vacation just when I thought I'd lose my mind. Thanks so much, Heather!

That's right, vacation! I'll be gone all week, whisked away to the woods of Maine with very limited internet access. So no updates from me, but hopefully when I return I'll have lots of book reviews and knitting progress to show you. Because, you know, there's not a lot to do up there.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Puzzled by sock yarn

Since I began knitting socks, I've been frustrated by the fact that many yarns do not clearly state on the label that when knit up the colors will form stripes. I know there are some beautifully variegated yarns out there, but every time I think I'm buying some it turns out to be striped. For example, the Tofutsies I used for my Monkey socks. There are so many colors that not only didn't I realize it was striping yarn when I bought it, I didn't even notice it as I was knitting. I'm so daft that I first noticed the stripes when the socks were completely done and I tried them on.

I have nothing against yarns that stripe, but I do like to have some idea how a yarn will look knit up before matching it to a pattern. Yarn stores are full of swatches of their various yarns so you can see how they'll knit up, but sock yarn remains a mystery. No swatches. Do the yarn manufacturers and yarn shop management think that because the yarn is just for socks, we care less how it will look than if we were knitting a sweater?

A couple of weeks ago I was at Webs and saw what I thought was a bunch of swatches stuffed on a shelf, but turned out to be Flat Feet, sock yarn sold in knitted flats. Hey, I thought, what a great idea! Finally, I can see what the yarn looks like knit up. But no, that would make too much sense in the bewildering world of sock yarn. It doesn't look anything like the flat once it's knit up. Why, you may ask, does it come as a piece of knitted fabric?

Because it is portable.

Just think about that for a moment.

I mean, it is such a BURDEN to carry around sock yarn that is wound into a ball, right? Seriously, a ball is more compact than one of these flats which presumably must be folded to fit into your knitting bag and thus will be *more* annoying to unwind than a ball (what with having to unfold it), so I fail to see how one could argue that it is more portable.

Also, "no tangles!"

So, same as a ball, right? There are no tangles in balled yarn until you pull it OFF the ball to use it. Just as this will tangle once you pull it out of the flat. Plus it's all crimpy from being knit up already.

You know how you feel when you're the only person who doesn't get the joke? That's how I feel about sock yarn, especially Flat Feet. Perhaps I just don't truly understand sock knitting yet. In all fairness to Conjoined Creations, the colors are lovely. I just think they could have done without the silly gimmick.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

May: Mother

The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond: a review

A photographer named Abby has recently become engaged to Jake, a single father and is trying to bond with his 6-year-old daughter. Abby takes Emma to the beach one day, looks away for a few seconds to take some photos, and when she turns back Emma is gone. Abby and Jake launch into a full-scale hunt for Emma, but the very few clues they have don't lead anywhere. The strain takes a toll on their relationship and the wedding is postponed indefinitely as their search continues with ever-dwindling hope.

I picked this book for the BAM challenge because the theme for this month is "mother" and I thought the book was about a mother who loses her child. Instead, it is a woman who hopes to soon becom a mother to a child, but instead makes a mistake and loses her. Abby is racked by guilt and questions why she ever believed she could be a mother when she can't even keep a child from harm. Woven into the story of her search for Emma are some of her childhood memories about her own mother and the rest of her family; meanwhile, Abby receives updates from her younger sister who is pregnant with her first child. There are many mothers in this story, and women who want to be mothers, and people without mothers. It fit into the theme for Mother's Day month even more than I expected.

For a large portion of the book very little is happening other than Abby's internal struggles and the impression that she and Jake are doing the same things day after day as the search for Emma stretches on for the better part of a year. But somehow it was strangely compelling and I found myself spending every moment I could spare reading this book. It was dismal, for obvious reasons, but also completely satisfying.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Beaded Rib Socks

Or, the Socks that Would Not End.

The socks are nice. (Wish I could say as much for my floors. Ugh!)

I really love this colorway of Tofutsies. It's a combination of off-white, tan, and grey that overall looks very pebbly. I used the Beaded Rib Pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks. It's rather similar to the pattern for another pair I made recently, which I think is why this pair felt like it took so long. I just got bored, and it didn't help that my other project is off-white. I need to knit something colorful now!

This is only my second pair of toe-up socks and I think I can definitively say that I don't like that method. Short-row shaping is so awkward and messy, and look how terrible the heel looks:

Definitely not the neat orderly sock heels that I love. No! Big gaps and loose stitches on both sides of both heels. I still like the socks though. I'm wearing them now and they are quite comfy, which I suppose is the most important thing.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Libraries and self-published books

I've been reading a lot the last few days about why libraries don't purchase self-published books. Vanity presses are being discussed on Publib, and the Librarian In Black posted about the elitism and laziness of libraries that won't purchase these materials. I disagree with "elitism" but maybe not with "laziness." This is part of a larger issue of collection development. It is too often a reactionary process - librarians look at reviews being fed to us from a small number of review journals and order what the reviews recommend. It should be more than that: we should be examining the collection, determining what is missing, and then finding it. Otherwise, your collection will be incomplete. There are entire subject areas absent from review journals.

In terms of self-published books, there are good reasons why libraries traditionally don't purchase these books. Generally they're not very good, hence the reason they are self-published. Libraries have a limited amount of money to spend and will spend it on the books that are popular and in demand. Historically, self-published books haven't generated demand as there's no publisher creating that demand through marketing. Although books of quality have been self-published there is no way to find out which ones are worth purchasing without reading them, and libraries simply shouldn't be gambling with their budgets.

But the publishing industry is changing, and libraries need to change with it. Some books are gaining popularity through online resources without traditional marketing or reviews. A Thingology article illustrates a perfect example of this. Getting Real, a book about building web applications, was originally made available in pdf, then released in print through It is a big seller, but according to WorldCat only 3 libraries own it. If it's popular, libraries should have it, but how are we to know it even exists without looking for it? There is a growing need to start looking at non-traditional sources to guide our collection development and luckily this is becoming easier.

But there's another hurdle: even if a library is willing to purchase a self-published book, ordering it isn't easy. Public libraries order with purchase order numbers and then pay the invoice later, which isn't the way that self-published books are sold. How fantastic would it be if we all had corporate credit cards and could order what we want from any vendor we want? Alas, it is not that easy. Even small presses are difficult to order from using a PO. Sadly, purchasing policy is determined by the cities we work for, so the needed changes have to happen at a higher level than the library. We just need to convince our governing bodies that it's in their interest to evolve. Good luck to us with that!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Aran sweater progress

I haven't shown you any progress on my knitting in a while and, in fact, it doesn't feel like there's a lot of progress to show. But I'm forging slowly ahead on the St. Enda sweater.

This is a fun project to knit. I like following charts! I changed the hem at the bottom, which was originally supposed to be the honeycomb pattern. I wanted it to look different but wasn't sure what to do. Finally, I decided to just knit it as written, but made an error and liked the result. I don't like knitting the honeycomb - it is tiny little cables, but they are very tight for some reason. I also have to keep checking the key because I get the symbols mixed up. It's starting to get easier though.

I'm getting nervous about whether it will fit. I took a lot of measurements, did math, and thoroughly I should have no reason to worry, right?