Wednesday, April 11, 2007

"For the Love of Yarn", an online knitting magazine, has now published my Cielo baby blanket pattern in their spring '07 issue. Oh the fame!

Seriously I did get a query already about yarn substitutions. I knit this with "Den-m-nit" but that appears to be discontinued. There are two special effects inherent in this yarn: one is that it will fade like blue jeans over time as it's washed and used, and another is that it will shrink %10 to %20 the first time it's washed. Rowan Denim yarn behaves the same way and is widely available, thus it's a perfect substitution -- but expensive. Another less-well-known option is Twilleys Freedom Denim Yarn. I found a couple online vendors for this:

  • Texere in the UK
    sells this for 2£/50g, which is currently about $3 US. Even with the shipping, for 13 balls (what the pattern suggests) this is cheaper than US sources.

  • Erica's Yarn sells and ships in the US for $5/50g.

It should be easy to substitute other worsted weight yarns to get other colours besides indigo, although of course the faded jeans effect won't happen. Note that there are two main kinds of 100% cotton yarns, mercerized and unmercerized. Mercerized cotton yarns do not shrink, therefore behave differently than the denim yarns. Still, some of these can be wonderfully cheap and colourful, like Sonata, which has great stitch definition and sheen and is $1.98/50g. It's also possible to use cotton blend or non-cotton worsted weight yarn for another kind of look. To substitute a yarn that doesn't shrink, the knitter just has to stop knitting the main body when the blanket is big enough, and knit the edging on as written.

Some unmercerized cotton yarns do shrink and others don't. Worse, unmercerized cotton yarn isn't always advertised as such. For example, I've used Mission Falls 1824 cotton and Blue Sky Organic cotton without any noticeable shrinking (and they're both great yarns though with the Blue Sky you have to live with some pilling and fuzzing). Knitter's Review confirms that Mission Falls 1824 cotton is unmercerized and various blogs say that the Blue Sky cotton is unmercerized. So just getting an unmercerized yarn doesn't guarantee that it will or won't shrink.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I hadn't yet seen the talk by Hans Rosling, last year at Ted 2006. It's fascinating from a technology perspective but even more so from a political or social welfare perspective.

I browsed a little further into other Gapminder presentations, including one given by Ola Rosling at Google a year ago, where he talks about the significant differences made by left vs. right politics in achieving health advances vs. wealth advances -- a point which didn't appear in Hans' talk.

What is news is that Google bought the Trendanalyser software and hired its team from Gapminder, announced last month. The Gapminder foundation continues its mission separately although I'm not entirely clear what that is now.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Needed: Web 2.0 Hackers

CommerceNet (my employer) would like to start a bunch of Web 2.0 projects in the areas of calendaring, security, schemas/standards and health information. We're looking for some hot Web 2.0 developers to help us prototype some of these sites. The job descriptions and address to apply to are here but you can ask me directly for information if you'd like -- I'm a hiring manager.

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