Category Archives: Knitting

yarns made in Michigan

An unnamed reader of this blog searched for the phrase “yarns made in Michigan” and found some page here that wasn’t the best answer for that query; let’s fix that.

Spun and dyed in Michigan:

Stonehedge Farm and Fiber Mill in East Jordan, MI makes and sells the Shepherd’s Wool line of yarns,

The three-ply yarn is spun to 1000 yards per pound, which in 4-ounce skeins is 250 yards per skein. It knits like any commercial worsted weight yarn, about 5 stitches to the inch on size 6-8 needles. This yarn is worsted spun, meaning it’s very very smooth and almost shiny in appearance. It will give great stitch definition for intricate patterns such as lace, cables, and knit/purl patterns.

Happy Fuzzy Yarn – Riin Gill, Ann Arbor. Rovings, too. And she rides the bus too!

If you’re a knitter, the bus totally rocks! Someone to drive you everywhere you go and give you the gift of time to knit? Golden.

Dyed in Michigan

Briar Rose Fibers – hand painted yarns

Color Joy “Lynn from Lansing” – yarns, patterns, especially sock yarns and patterns

Joan Sheridan Hoover of Heritage Spinning and Weaving in Lake Orion also dyes some beautiful yarn, including luxury fibers like silk. Here’s her website but I cannot find a link to her hand-dyed yarns.

Spinner’s Flock is a group for hand-spinning enthusiasts, and the people who raise the sheep (and goats and rabbits) that provide the fibers.

thanks to freddyknits for the details – esp. the East Jordan store (hm that’s on our way up north…)


RSS feeds for searches from the Ann Arbor District Library

This is a new one in the catalog –

Do a keyword search of the catalog – a sample screen is here.


You’ll get back a result screen that looks a lot like this:


Note the result set – it has an RSS feed! Select it


and you’ll get a mishmosh (that’s RSS for you). Copy that URL into your favorite aggregator, and you’ll see something like this:


Presto, you’ll always be notified in your aggregator about new materials (or in some cases that I haven’t quite figured out yet, changes in availability of materials already in the collection) for your favorite topic.

Some URLs if you are following along at home and want to just construct the RSS feeds directly: – Knitting RSS search feed

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ERC-MAIN – Espresso Royale Caffe coffee shop on Main St

I had a nice conversation with Sarah (Sara?) who manages the ERC on Main St. We had talked ever so briefly during Art Fair (when it was impossible to get any sort of word in edgewise) so it was nice to talk.

ERC-MAIN (that’s their wifi ID) is one of the places I’m a regular. The coffee is good, the location just across the street from my office downtown is good, and there’s usually wifi so I can be online. They carry bagels (my favorite is salt) so I can get a morning snack that’s not sugary. There are usually a number of people here on laptops and there’s generally enough outlet space to stay plugged in.

This cafe is not as full as it could be during the day. I’m surprised that more people don’t use it as a gathering place for things like book groups, knitting groups, ad hoc meeting places, or a spot to just sit and be online or catch up on phone calls or reading.

For Sara, what would you do to bring people to the cafe?

Some reading:

Starbucks Gossip – just as it says, an active blog about SBUX with plenty of patron comments.

What’s on the bulletin board at Cafe Ambrosia? – a start at a “cafe blog” idea. This turned out to be hard to do at Ambrosia because there was no wifi.

Ann Arbor coffee shops with Internet – a 2004 survey and summary of what’s available in town – the #5 hit in Google for “ann arbor coffee”

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New knitting (or your topic of choice) books at the AADL

More in the line of catablog hacks —

Here’s a URL to search for new knitting books at the AADL. If you inspect it carefully you’ll see that it’d be easy to change for any subject you want. Note that a lot of the just-arrived books are already on reserve from a few people, so the best approach to this is to find the ones you want to see, put them on reserve, and then keep that pattern up until you start to always have books come in a la Netflix.

I haven’t found an RSS feed for that equivalent search yet, though I know it’s bound to be on the way; when it comes, I’ll update this page and feed in the list of items, and set up a Feedburner link for it.

Yarndex, the Yarn Directory

I was clicking through some links in my new gooooogle sidebar and uncovered this gem of information architecture: Yarndex, an online encyclopedia of yarn searchable by color, manufacturer, and weight. Every page has comments available and for wherever there are places that the yarn can be ordered there’s a link.

Finding the right yarn is at least as hard as finding the right wine – see peterme’s essay on shopping for wine online for a good illustration of the problems of describing something complex so that you can make some sense of it without overwhelming the reader with detail. And maybe the lesson of behavioral economics is that more choices leads to less satisfaction. I don’t think you’d be happy with a store that carried every color and every weight of every yarn ever made, how would you find anything good?

From laceweight to super bulky, they have something there, though there are no entries I could see for homespun from the neighborhood’s leading vendor.

new Ann Arbor District Library web site preview

As I mentioned earlier, I just got added to the Ann Arbor District Library’s technology advisory board. That means for me a chance to meet with a few patrons and staff and board members once in a while to talk about major new efforts, plus an online forum to talk to the same people between meetings. I went to my first meeting tonight.

The old library catalog is a DRA product running on OpenVMS on DEC Alpha hardware, with a Frontier front end for doing events and notices and reading lists and locations and hours and other library information stuff. The new catalog system will be Innovative Interfaces, and a Drupal events and notices system. That’s approximately a 5-10 year leap into the future right there.

There’s a plan to integrate library staff and patron book recommendations and discussion right into the catalog interface. The idea is that you’ll be reading along in a library blog about books recommended in a certain area (patchwork knitting, Middle Eastern cookery, or travel books about Vermont) and be able to click straight through to put a recommended book on reserve. Blogs will have RSS feeds, and there’s plans to have RSS feeds out of the catalog.

The site design is much cleaner than the old one, with much more consistent and predictable navigation. There are about 50 main pages in the current layout arranged on seven menus. Pages will have a spot on them for featured library programs and services that rotate (in sort of a rotating advertisement format) so that you can learn about what’s new and what’s going on at a branch.

No changes to the MILE interface, though there will be a simpler inter-library loan request box if you don’t want to navigate through a dozen screens and want a librarian to do that for you.

Once you log in to your account, you won’t have to re-authenticate.

There’s a module to (optionally) save your reading history and to save any searches, and to have the library automatically mail you when new books come in that match a search, kind of like an iTunes smart playlist for books.

The whole thing is promised to be much faster, in part just by running modern operating systems on modern hardware.

The system won’t be down overnight for processing, and you’ll be able to post a hold or check the catalog at 2am if you’re up then.

The library will have a float in the 4th of July parade, and the new system goes live the day after that.

I’m pretty excited about the whole thing – we are serious library users and any way that makes it easier to find out about new materials and to talk to other library patrons about books in the collection that they like will be great. With 40000+ active patrons and 70%+ of them email users, this could be quickly a great site for not just checking out books that you found elsewhere but also learning about what’s interesting to read.