July 24th, 2012

Why I love Smashwords

There are many places where I can buy or download e-books, and I will talk about them in another post, but today I want to focus on Smashwords.

All my life, reading has been my “go-to” inexpensive hobby.  I grew up respecting the public library, where I could sample books of all flavours.  Sometimes a popular book had to be put on hold and I’d wait in line, and that was how I grew up.

Now that e-books are a current trend.  I find most books by current, bestselling authors to be often quite pricey and many of them have that stranglehold known as DRM.

But Smashwords is a breath of fresh air.  Independent authors, some who are long timers and many new ones, offer their books for reasonable prices that I can download onto my Sony T1 epub reader.  Many of them have been freebies, and I often look for sales, but I have never felt taken advantage of as a customer.

I am sure many people also know about the free Public Domain books in websites like Project Gutenberg, which I will talk about in another post.

February 2nd, 2012

Getting back into spinning.

It’s been a while since I really have been interested in posting.  In my personal life, my mother passed away suddenly at the age of 66, and I’ve been doing more stuff with e-book reading and playing guitar and not much with spinning, until recently.

Here is some of what I have been doing:

The above is a project I picked up after letting it idle for several months, and plied 3 plies together.

And this one below is some that I am spinning on a supported spindle:

And this next one below is some BFL I have started spinning on a top whorl Bossie spindle:

December 7th, 2011

Gadget Peeves and Praise

I am going to talk about 2 gadgets I own, and why I like and/or dislike them.  The two gadgets in question are the Kobo Touch which is an e-ink book reader, and the Sansa Clip, which is an audio media player.

My ownership of the Sansa Clip has been pure and utter joy.  I cannot find any flaws in its firmware. My husband was also able to install RockBox on it so I have even more features on it.  But the best thing of all….. Even without Rockbox, the thing works FRESH out of the box.  I was able to download CBC podcasts as freely as I pleased, and when I inplugged the unit I could just listen and find them on my menu.  In other words unlimited personal use which is starting to become very important to me!! I did not have to enter my e-mail address or go to the “Sansa Clip Store” or download a silly desktop app to set it up.  It worked, as advertised, when I took it out of the box.

While I like the idea of my e-ink reader, the Kobo Touch.  The “big brother” proprietary issue really irks me.  First of all, I have to “register it” with the Kobo store, JUST to set it up.  It is very Linux unfriendly, and I have had to re-set it up a number of times. Setup requires that you download the Kobo desktop software which only is available to Windows and Mac users. I often have just skipped the setup, and the device “basically” works, but that means I don’t get the firmware upgrades.

Had I done my homework in advance and realized the song and dance I would have to go through just to have my expensive gadget work as advertised  I would not have bought it.  I will wait until e-readers (plain e-ink is fine with me) go down in price and also, work fresh out of the box without having to be linked to some store or silly piece of Desktop software I cannot, as a Linux user, obtain.   I don’t think complete autonomy and free personal use is too much to ask when I buy a personal storage unit.

I became attracted to e-book readers when I discovered Project Gutenberg.  I had just spent over $50 on printed copies of PUBLIC DOMAIN books I could have downloaded FREE of charge and read on Calibre.  (Naturally, i wished I could just take back the books and get my money back but I had ordered them from amazon and it was too much hassle).

So far, I like Calibre best as my preferred E-reader.  The next company that will get my e-reader spending money will be for an e-ink device which has these wishlist items:

  • Works as advertised, out of the box without registering personal information.
  • Does not require downloading of that company’s Windows software to set up.
  • Costs about $80-$100 CDN (or less, come on this is the 21st century!)
  • Has easy book organizing, and is compatible with Calibre (easy transfer of books from my computer via USB)
  • Allows equal treatment of sideloaded books vs books I may buy from an online store.  I prefer to download the epubs which do not have DRM, which I can get for free from Smashwords or public domain from Project Gutenberg, and still have it work.  Why should my device care where I got my books from?  My Clip doesn’t care where I got my mp3 files from!
  • To be for the e-book reader what the Sansa Clip is for the podcast user, easy.

So far every e-reader I have looked at requires I store my e-mail address on it.  I have never done that with my Clip.  So, Buy, plug into computer, add files.  That should not be so complicated.

July 8th, 2011

Tour De Fleece 2011 in progress!

For Tour De Fleece, I have been spinning purple mohair.  I am pondering adding another fiber from my supplies just to shake things up a bit.

Here is the Purple Mohair being spun on my Jenkins Turkish Meadowlark as well:  Each photo can be clicked to enlarge if you wish.

Tour De Fleece 2011 has motivated me to see just how much I actually do have in my stash of fiber.

I have enough to keep me spinning for a year.  I’ve decided after Tour de Fleece to take a mini-break from buying supplies all the time to spin.  The expense of the hobby at the rate I bought things can get too expensive if I let it.  It is hard when reading and eyeing all the pretty spindles and pretty hand-spun yarns that people post on Ravelry.  I want to pay more attention to the yarn I have in my stash and the handspun which I have made and not yet knitted.  The “must get more” mentality makes me uncomfortable.  I like to minimize a bit.

Also, my recent acquisition of a Kobo a few months ago has made my thirst for books practically take over!  There are so many classics which I “know about” but have never yet read.   I have many favorites that I have read, but so many that are waiting for me.

I’m not a prolific blogger, or even a very exciting/entertaining one.  My life is full with my family, and days just go by so quickly.  This sounds mushy and syrupy but sometimes I really just like to stop and really freeze time for a few minutes to photograph in my mind while my kids are breaking speed limits in growing up.  There are no brakes…

I have had this blog name for a while, and love the title and the fact that it’s mine but have often been timid to post very much personal content.  I like to keep it light and will continue to do so.  But I think getting more into more of my favorite things will be an incentive to blog more.

June 13th, 2011

How you thrill me….

(Continued from my “Honey Honey” post)

Here are a couple of views of my Honey Tussah silk before I give it its bath:

I counted the wraps in the niddy noddy, carefully, and it came to 274 yards.  This is a 14 g skein!  I love how the fineness of silk gives me a LOT of yardage.

June 11th, 2011

Honey Honey

I tried to resist the call of the Spindler’s Spin-along on Ravelry, this month, but then I picked up from my stash some lovely Honey Tussah Silk which I had bought from http://crownmountainfarms.com, and started spinning it on Meryl, my canary Delight:

Things were going just fine and dandy, and then Canada Post decided to let a parcel through, given that my birthday had passed and a friend had this gorgeous spindle for my birthday:

The photo above is a bottom whorl/supported spindle made with Ash Burl for the whorl and gorgeously turned walnut for the shaft.  It was made by Spindlewood. I of course wanted to spin on it right away, and so carried on with the silk from there:

(see the pretty underside of that breathtakingly gorgeous whorl?  I love it!)

It did not take long, because I could not put the spindle down, to add more to it:

And then, since I had an even amount (more or less, on both spindles, I wound both strands onto a core for plying and started to ply.  I like to do silk plying in smaller skein amounts because the yardage is massive due to its fineness.  The plying ended up on Meryl because there was more on the Spindlewood’s cop.

The theme for this month’s Spindler’s challenge was “Music to my Ears”. When I took out the Honey Tussah silk, I couldn’t stop thinking of “Honey Honey, how you thrill me”, by ABBA.  I’ll post another photo when this little skein is finished.

May 9th, 2011

Curling up with a good….. Kobo?

When digital book readers first came out, I will admit to being quite a skeptic.  After all, I was able to read and download public domain Gutenberg literature just fine on my little net-book.

One day, while on public transit, I sat next to an acquaintance who was reading from her Kobo.  It looked very nice, and the pages looked slick and readable.  She had received gift cards for Chapters and decided to use them to buy one.  Very seldom to I see someone with a device (Blackberry, cell phone, etc) and find myself unable to stop thinking about it.  When I got off the bus, I couldn’t stop chattering with my husband about it.

This is not going to be a review of a particular e-reader vs others – to be honest I am not good at official reviews (much like official graded book reports in school.  I was able to read a book and convey it, but it was often too “dear diary” to get a good grade…sigh) But I couldn’t resist relaying my experience with my new Kobo and all of the realizations it brought to light about me and my relationship with reading.

It comes with 100 Gutenberg classics pre-installed, which perked my interest a bit.  I enjoy the classics, and many of the titles it comes with were among my favorites.  The page in the photo above is from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, one of said favorites since decades ago.

Then, by coincidence I happened upon a sale they were having.  After doing a bit of search into other E-readers, I realized that for the price, this one met my immediate desire and fit my budget.

As I got used to working this device and reading books from it, it brought to light many problems I had had for years with paper books but had never actually said outright because I hadn’t realized that they were actually what had inhibited me from reading as much, to begin with:

  • configuring font size and style (5 sizes in serif or sans serif): Not all books are printed in a size or style that pleases me visually.  I often would be slowed down reading due to getting to the end of one line, only to find the beginning of the very next line not be obvious to me, so I would read and re-read the same sentence over and over again before I connected one line to the next.  Yes, I have used the bookmark to scroll down method, but that was often clunky and tedious.
  • holding heavier books for a long period of time.  The physical issue was often shoved under because well, what can you do?  I didn’t like sitting at a desk to read, and I didn’t like holding books in my lap.  I didn’t like carrying books around when I went out (Since I also like knitting, a small knitting project was often my default sedentary waiting amusement).
  • A few years back I broke my wrist, and while it is healed of course, and I can do many things in my daily life, holding a book still for the duration of reading tires me out physically.
  • My reading moods change rapidly: I could toss a book in my bag before getting to the bus stop, and then by the time I got on the bus, realized I wasn’t really in the mood for that book.  Since a Kobo stores hundreds of books, (plus has room for a data card should you fill it all up) I can read a few pages, think, “maybe later”, and then select another book.
  • The screen is very easy on the eyes, and reading is very pleasurable.  Before I know it, I am clicking for the next page.  I am able to absorb what I am reading far more easily and feel like I have just had fun reading.
  • I am able to borrow any available e-titles from the public library with it.
  • I am not always careful and have at times cracked the binding or pages of physical books.

What can I say?  It seems like an exaggeration to say that this device, which I have had for a few weeks now, has changed my life, but in that sense it really has.  I now look forward to those moments when I can read even just a few paragraphs of a chosen book.

March 30th, 2011

Jenkins Aegean spinning silk

Nothing much to say here, will let the photos speak for themselves.  It will be pretty when all the singles are spun up and plied.  The spindle is a Jenkins Aegean style Turkish made with Walnut wood, and the mulberry silk is from Crown Mountain Farms. Here are some belly shots:

and a couple of overhead shots:

February 8th, 2011

Really getting into DIY

Ever since I discovered supported spindling, I’ve realized that I can start having fun with crafting clay (polymer oven bake), dowels, sandpaper, etc.  Yesterday I enjoyed doing it with the bit of leftover clay.  Click on the image to view the full size picture:

January 17th, 2011

Have a Drink!

I made a goal for this year, and that is to participate in every month’s Spindler’s Challenge.  This month’s theme was “Have a Drink”, and I picked the brown colors for some of my favorite drinks, spiced caramel lattes, tea, and of course coffee.  Click on photo to view full size.  But I just finished it today.  It is 3 ply (not chain plied), 113g/460 yards/420 m and 19 wpi.  It is Bluefaced Leicester wool.