Like I needed more yarn
A member of my knitting group occasionally turns up wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the message: “I’m a yarnoholic on the road to recovery”. In smaller letters underneath a suitably yarny image it says, “Actually, I’m on the road to buying more yarn”. I know how she feels. How can you not buy yarn when it calls to you? And so it is that I now have another 400g of yarn after going to the British Wool Show in York yesterday with a couple of fellow knitters.
This was my first trip to the show, which was held at an auction mart – much like Skipton’s Yarndale – with the stalls in the livestock pens. It’s smaller than Yarndale, but there was still enough to keep us occupied for three hours. I went with a list of the yarns I need for four or five projects and ended up with two yarns which I will probably use to make different versions of the same pattern, the Adrift open cardigan that I’m currently knitting in a cheap, unbranded yarn. The yarns are a lime-greeny Bergere cotton/linen blend and Araucania’s Botany Lace in a fabulous melange of oranges interspersed with grey, yellow and green.
The Botany Lace, despite its name, is a 4-ply (fingering), like the Bergere Bigarelle. I’d like to be knitting Adrift in one or other of my new yarns, instead of persevering with the acrylic that is on my needles, but I shall continue and regard it as a toile, then I can make any tweaks that are necessary when I knit versions 2 and 3.
I saw a new (to me) method of hand spinning being demonstrated at the show, which looks like a step up from using a drop spindle. It is a method that was apparently used by the Mayans to make twine and involves a simple device that you spin around in one hand, like a football rattle, while drafting with the other. I’ve made myself one – the glue is setting as I write – and I am dying to have a go with it. Spinning is one of those (many) things I’ve always wanted to do but have never got around to. Until now.
This is what the “blade” part of the Mayan blade looked like before I waxed it and assembled it onto the handle. I used the instructions on the Spinning Down Under website and some more of the scrap hardwood that I pinched from my brother’s log basket. It really is far too good for burning.
Something else I’ve been meaning to do for a while is learning Java programming, with the aim of developing Android apps. I mentioned recently that I had my eye on my dear husband’s new Android phone, as a potential tool for my ambitions. I learnt a bit of Java last year but got completely frustrated by having to run my embryonic programs on a laptop-based emulator. It was terribly slow and often fell over – running the emulator as well as the Java development software on my laptop was more than it could take. I ran into lots of problems and was never sure whether the cause was my deficient code or the vagaries of the software.
Now we have a real, tangible Android device in the house I’ve been motivated to pick up where I left off, and things are going much better this time around. I’m working through various free courses on the Udacity platform. They have been developed by Google and I really like the approach: the videos and written tutorials proceed step by step to build skills, yet there’s lots of encouragement to go off and explore the wonderful world of Android development alone. Having an actual phone to connect to my laptop to try things out on makes a big difference, the thrill of seeing something work for the first time is immense. And the Google courses make use of Android Studio, which seems a far more stable integrated development environment (IDE) than the one I used previously, Eclipse. But maybe that’s because I’m not overburdening it by running an emulator.
So far, as well as working through the various app-building projects in the courses, I have made myself a simple row counter for knitting. All it does is keep the display turned permanently on while keeping track of the number of rows by incrementing the total every time a “+” button is tapped. The number of rows can also be reduced with a “-” button, to allow for frogging, and it can be reset to zero with a third button. That’s it for now, but I’ll add extra functionality as my skills develop. For a start, I want to enable the total to be reset to a value other than zero, which will be useful when working repeats, and also to prevent the total going below zero if the “-” button is pressed repeatedly. In case you’re wondering, the “+” button is meant to be larger because that’s the one to use most of the time.
I’m also working on an app to calculate who owes what to whom at the end of our fortnightly wine group meetings. Performing the calculation manually isn’t a difficult exercise – basically, those in attendance pay the same amount each time with whoever has bought the wines being reimbursed from the money gathered in. In addition, the host for the evening provides cheese and biscuits after the tasting, and a fixed amount from everyone’s payments goes to cover the cost of that. A kitty takes care of any surplus or deficit on a particular night. Normally we build up a surplus and spend it on a bottle of something really good every now and again.
I say that the calculation isn’t difficult, but of course it requires to be done at the end of the tasting when we’ve all consumed somewhere between 8 and 12 different wines and those reliant on catching a bus or train home are in a hurry to leave. An app would definitely make things simpler, and could keep a running total of the amount in the kitty as a cross-check against the physical kitty. I’m quite excited at the prospect of building something that should be within my current capabilities and will actually be useful.