Saturday, October 30, 2010

Silk Socks--More Bargain Shopping from Long Ago

There was a lovely yarn shop at Dupont Circle called The Woolgatherer, and I haunted the sale bins there in my grad school days. There was a line of Rowan yarns, silk and wool, with subtle mixes of glorious colors, priced well above my reach. It was seductive on the shelf, and I bought odd dye lot skeins as they turned up in the sale basket. Sadly, these subtle skeins produced knitted fabric that was simply "brown," or in this case, "navy blue." Pairing it with other colors failed to awaken the colorful slubs and neps.

I've used it as a background for these odds and ends of mohair. I love knitting Fair Isle patterns, but the silk yarn is too inelastic to make comfortable socks that way. The simple pattens here are slip-stitch.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Year in Socks--Pink Mohair Pizazz

I bought this partial skein of variegated pink mohair yarn in the 1980's, long before the development of commercial self-striping yarns that are so popular now. It was on sale, and I was sure I would blend it with some other yarns for a lovely sweater. Unfortunately, the shades of pink never matched anything else (except this old quilt of mine).

Spring cleaning and organization inspired me to pair it with a partial skein of white to knit these striped socks. Of course, they're not simply striped--they're dappled, pink, "plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough." They have pizazz.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Joy of Gravel

Last fall, early snows kept us from graveling the driveway. We waded snow and mud until April, when it finally got dry enough to have this work done.

The muddy wagon ruts are replaced with a lovely, smooth driving surface, which we enjoyed at least as much as apple blossom season.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Taming Bookshelf Bulge

The last few months, I've been exploring the world of Internet book-swapping sites, specifically Bookmooch and Paperback Swap. To my surprise, I find I've given away 106 books since April. That means that I can request 106 books and some nice person will wrap each one up and stick it in the mail addressed to me. Pretty cool, eh?

Moving to the new house forced me to sort through my books, and identify the "keepers." Sadly, some old friends were in such poor condition they were of no use to anyone, and I reluctantly sent them to the landfill. (Sorry, Mr. Dickens. See you on Project Gutenberg!)

That left another large pile that I was not going to read again. They were unlikely to interest the local libraries or to sell on-line, but an enthusiastic friend had described Paperback Swap, so I thought somebody somewhere might be interested in a few of them.

I'd also heard of Bookmooch, and decided to try them both. I picked out the ten books I thought most desirable and listed them on both websites.

This was a mistake. I had a cookbook instantly scarfed up both places, so I had to refuse someone's request the very first thing. I've since discovered that Paperback Swap has an automatic hold feature, allowing people to reserve books they want in advance, while Bookmooch sends out emails to members if your book is on their "wish list." I have the best luck listing books on one swap site one day, the other the next. It's also not a good idea to list a lot of books at one time, unless you're feeling flush with cash. The weekend I listed 20 books at one time, I had a shocking total to pay at the post office.

I've found it worthwhile to participate in both sites. It's easier for me to find books I want instantly on Paperback Swap , while it's much easier for me to give books away on Bookmooch . Paperback Swap is a for-profit enterprise, with a slick e-commerce interface, automatic holds, and options to buy books through their site. They also have busy forums and a variety of ways for genre enthusiasts to interact.

Bookmooch is less slick, and has no commercial aspirations or detailed rules about the sorts of things you can list as a "book." I've given away vintage knitting brochures and magazines on Bookmooch--in fact, people started requesting them before I'd finished listing them. Bookmooch also lets you describe the book's condition in as much detail as you wish, so you can crow about a book's excellent condition or warn prospective moochers about its flaws. Paperback Swap has very specific rules about types and conditions of items that can be traded, but there's no simple way to add condition notes to your listing.

It seems I am no good at predicting what books people will request from me on either site. Most of the books I've given away are nonfiction--knitting, crochet, food, nature guides....but a bird book and a nutrition book have languished on my "bookshelf" for months with no takers. Some genre paperbacks aren't moving, while some obscure novels were requested right away.

The whole sorting process also left me with a pile of books I bought long ago but haven't read yet. These forgotten finds, along with some books I've mooched from the swapping sites, have given me a nice stack of "new" reads for the winter. If I don't like a book, or if I don't anticipate rereading it, I can offer it on line, and slow the inevitable bulging bookshelf syndrome.

Be a book trader at

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Shaking Out the Cobwebs

I'm back! Don't adjust your RSS feed. Pocahontas County Fare is being served once again.

Gainful employment is a feast-or-famine affair around here, and for the last few months, I've enjoyed an over-full work schedule. At this point, I've enjoyed about as much as I can stand, so the upcoming work-hiatus is quite welcome.

Please excuse me while I knock down some cobwebs and sweep out the dead June bugs.