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Obsession Thursday: There is no substitute for intelligent, human copy editing and proofreading

A quick glance at this lazily worded headline might alarm my fellow geeks

A quick glance at this lazily worded headline might alarm my fellow geeks

As a recovering proofreader and editor (20 years in the advertising business), the hairs on the back of my neck go way up when I see something like the news headline at left that I spotted this morning.

No, Doctor Who didn’t survive Ebola. He didn’t get it. Keep reading. But our internet-trained brains scan text for key phrases, and when we see “hero” a few words later, it only serves to extend the period of confusion.

It’s actually a simple news story. But a little more attention to the headline probably was warranted.

When services like Grammarly claim to be “automated proofreaders”, I want to wave my hands in the air and flail about like a deranged muppet.  There is no such thing. We all know how fallible spellcheck is without a human to watch over it and choose which changes to allow. Nothing yet invented can replicate the skill of a properly trained (and caffeinated) proofreader or copy editor. See, Grammarly recently published a scathing (ha) critique of the lame writing in that 50 Shades novel based on the “errors” its service found. I’m sure you’ve seen it all over the place. Except what they wrote is wrong. This thoughtful rebuttal by a mystery writer explains why. If you can’t trust the article, not sure how you can trust the service.

Proofreaders and Copy Editors are often first against the wall when the revolution comes. (They’re the first to be laid off when the budget is cut or money suddenly becomes tight because so many companies see them as a luxury.) It’s a crime against language. If we don’t defend our words, who will?

Note: I don’t claim that Knitty is error free. We do our best, but we don’t have a dedicated proofreader. That’s why I’m so glad we’re online…we can fix typos after a launch without requiring new film, a new press run and a huge loss of revenue. 20 years of stress over typos that went to print was enough for me. We do our best, and we fix the rest.

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Obsession Thursday: DIY surf spray and body oil mist

When I went from short and flippy hair to past my chin and wavy, I started to need surf spray to make the hairstyle work. Stuff costs $20 a bottle and is MAGIC. You know how your hair is after you come out of the ocean? (Not a lake…has to be salt water.) This stuff does that, but is better for your hair and cheaper than airfare.

Enough ingredients to make countless bottles of Surf Spray and Body Oil Mist

Enough ingredients to make countless bottles of Surf Spray and Body Oil Mist

Guess what? All the ingredients to make many, many, MANY bottles of this stuff costs about the same as one bottle of the name-brand stuff. I’ve made and used up several batches and it always works. Spritz it into damp hair, scrunch and when it’s dry, finger combing gives me the wavy hair I always wanted.

I started out with some of the recipes on this page, and tweaked. This is about what I do now.

Amy’s magic hair scrunch spray:

  • 1/2 cup warmed distilled water
  • 1 tablespoon Epsom salts
  • 1 teaspoon hair gel
  • ½ tablespoon leave-in hair conditioner
  • 4-5 drops of coconut oil or Argan oil

Warm water helps dissolve the rest of the ingredients. I use less water than other recipes recommend, because the water is just there to carry the rest. It just slows down the drying time of your hair so why add more than you need? Choose your conditioner carefully — it seems to be most fragranced of everything and if you’re fussy about smells, that’s where you can control it best.

Next up, winter skin crawlies. All body oil mists I found had some kind of fragrance and they all have preservatives I didn’t want. Plus $$$. So now I make my own based on this recipe, and it’s amazing. It has no scent by choice — check out the recipe link above if you want to fragrance it.

Unscented body oil mist:

  • ¼ cup distilled or filtered water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vegetable glycerine
  • 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
  • 4-5 drops Vitamin E oil

I spray this on my arms, back and legs after every shower and I no longer want to rip my skin off.

I got most of the supplies at my local drugstore. You don’t need to buy huge amounts. It lasts a long time, and takes up just a little space in my closet until it’s time to make a new batch.

 

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A big anniversary!

Isn’t it funny how time passes online? We launched in 2002, and just 3 years later, the immensely clever Tina Newton (one of my favorite people) launched her Rockin’ Sock Club with her company, Blue Moon Fiber Arts. Tina is the woman that invented Socks that Rock. The yarn that has caused more hours-long lineups at Maryland and Rhinebeck than (possibly) any other. It’s pretty gorgeous stuff.

Holy cow, look at all the cool stuff you get!

Holy cow, look at all the cool stuff you get! And that doesn’t even include the yarn!

So yeah, back to the anniversary thing. 10 years. TEN YEARS, people! This is huge. To celebrate, the 10th Anniversary Rockin’ Sock Club is going all out this year! Members get a kit every other month, and you can read all about what’s in that magical package here. One of the things that caught my eye was the special bag Tina has commissioned from Queen Bee Creations — it’s an optional add-on to the Club, and as someone who is a proud bag ho™, there’s no way I’d miss out on that.

Here’s something I really liked reading on the site about the club — this note on the FAQ page. “Note: Before purchasing, please take a minute to consider very carefully about whether or not a Sock Club that chooses the yarn, pattern, and color is right for you. We promise to challenge your color boundaries and expand your sock knitting horizons.

I love how beautifully honest this is. Be prepared to relinquish control and wonderful things will find their way to your mailbox every two months. It sounds pretty good to me.

To find out more about the Rockin’ Sock Club and sign up for the special 10th Anniversary edition, visit the Blue Moon Fiber Arts website.

Editor’s note: We’re not being paid to write this blog post, and we’re not getting free kits, either. We just love Tina and what she’s created at Blue Moon, and want to share the news about her Club with our readers. That’s one of the cool things about running your own magazine. We get to do stuff like this for good people who make good products.

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The new love of my life

Eureka, I love you.

Eureka, I love you.

It’s almost embarrassing, but I am in love with my vacuum.

It’s not a Dyson. (I can hear the gasps.) No really. It’s a Eureka. It cost me $59 at my local vacuum store (who I love supporting because he only has good stuff and gives me solid recommendations every time I need something) and it’s possibly the most wonderful thing ever to enter the apartment of a woman who was stupid enough to buy a black fabric couch.

Why do I love it so?

It’s corded, so there is none of that “the battery life sucks”, like I read in every online comment of every cordless vac I researched.

It’s bagless.

It sucks like you would not believe and has a rotating brush for fabric/carpet/upholstery.

Mostly, it WORKS. I live with two mini-rex rabbits (well, actually one mini-rex and one rex, but that’s another blog post). Their fur is finer than baby hair and clings tougher than any pet hair you will ever encounter. I had a cushion that I hadn’t cleaned since before the move. COVERED in an embarrassing amount of clumpy super-fine fur. This thing cleaned it like new in less than a minute. LIKE NEW. And then I popped the plastic dust cover off (that clear thing in the pic above), and the super-fine fur was neatly gathered in the filter. Which is washable, btw.

I wish I had a before and after pic to show you, but I was so excited to test this thing, I completely forgot.  I did the couch, too.

Yeah, it’s heavy. I can deal with that. The thing WORKS.

Appliance love, ftw.

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Knitty’s 2014…what a year!

Darling Knitty readers, this post is a week late thanks to whatever  horrific bug has been travelling around my home town, striking down innocent editors and chaining them to their beds. What would I have done without knitting and Netflix?

So we’re into the brand-new year. 2015. What will it bring? Not even the Amazing Kreskin knows. So instead, let’s look back at some of the highlights of 2014 from our perspective:

We began including crochet in Knitty, and the world didn’t end.

crochet is our friend.

Crochet is our friend.

 

We continued to see designers innovate the construction of the humble sock with patterns like Carry on Solefully and String Theory

Carry On Solefully by Betty Salpekar

Carry On Solefully by Betty Salpekar

String Theory by Anita Grahn

String Theory by Anita Grahn

And introduced you to the world’s newest sock design star, who is only FIFTEEN YEARS OLD. Josiah Bain, designer of Mirror and Tauriel (so far…)

Josiah Bain, high school student and sock designer.

Josiah Bain, high school student and sock designer.

Paid tribute to cephalopods everywhere with Opus and Octopodes

Opus the Octopus by Cate Carter-Evans

Opus the Octopus by Cate Carter-Evans

Octopodes by Jennifer Raymond

Octopodes by Jennifer Raymond

One of the things that made a big change for the three of  us, was that our Knitty principals (me, Jillian Moreno and Kate Atherley) all finally had Craftsy courses available so that we could spend time on your computer screens, sharing our favorite subjects with you…

Kate started it all with Blocking Handknits:

Blocking Handknits with Knitty's Senior Tech Editor, Kate Atherley

Blocking Handknits with Knitty’s Lead Tech Editor, Kate Atherley

I popped in with my Plug + Play class

Plug+Play Custom Scarves and Shawls with Knitty Editor Amy Singer

Plug+Play Custom Scarves and Shawls with Knitty Editor Amy Singer

And Jillian completed the triumvirate with Ply to Knit.

Ply to Knit with Knittyspin editor Jillian Moreno

Ply to Knit with Knittyspin editor Jillian Moreno

Oh, yeah — and after doing this wonderful job for 12 years, we hit our FIFTIETH issue. Which was such a big deal, I kind of got a little silly with the issue’s banner. Did you spot it?

it's fun to be your own boss. you get to do stuff like this.

it’s fun to be your own boss because you get to do stuff like this.

On a personal level, I became a single girl again and much re-adjusting of addresses and perspectives resulted. Knitty is now brought to you from the new Knitty world headquarters: a lovely little 2-bedroom apartment in Leslieville. Do not fret — the rabbits settled in quickly. I knew you would worry.

I want to thank Kate and Jillian for keeping this blog vibrant and relevant with their posts…Kate takes charge of the WWW news from every corner of the web (every Wednesday), and Jillian’s Tuesday spinning updates are a big highlight in my week. I can’t believe how she never stops creating. Behind the scenes — along with Kate Atherley — Ashley Knowlton and Ruth Garcia-Alcantud continue to make sure our patterns are knittable and follow our easy-to-understand standards. To all the designers who continue to inspire us with their creativity and innovation — we love you!

And finally, to you, our readers, our biggest thanks. Without you, there isn’t much of us. Stick around. We have big plans for 2015 and we can’t wait to share them with you.

Oh, can we ask something of you? We’ve been heavy into Twitter for ages (well, I have, here: Twitter ), and I also decided our Facebook page needed more love, so we’ve been having a blast over here:  Facebook But we’ve never made a big fuss about hashtags. Guess what? That’s silly. That’s a wasted opportunity! So we’d love you to start hashtagging everything #knittymag wherever you post your Knitty projects in any form, whether it be on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, or any other place hashtags are sold. Because one way to help keep Knitty strong is by letting people (who might not otherwise) know that we’re here. The internet is like a gazillionty times larger than it was when we launched in 2002. Your support, as always, is what feeds us. That and a nice tuna melt.

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Obsessed with: resurrected gadgetry

A glorp of Nabaztags (that's the correct term because I just made it up)

A glorp of Nabaztags (that’s the correct term because I just made it up)

This happens a lot nowadays. Something gets invented, people get excited and buy it and for whatever reason, the company that made the thing gives up on it, or goes bankrupt and it’s pretty much a paperweight after that. That happened with Nabaztag, the robotic rabbit that I fell in love with back in 2006ish. Since Nabaztag rabbits relied on a central server to make them do anything at all, white plastic rabbits all over the world just stopped working around 2009. Creepy.

I recently moved into a new apartment and couldn’t bear NOT to bring my dead plastic friend with me. Instead of unpacking boxes one day, I googled. And found that a whole bunch of Nabaztag lovers had started their own server! My robotic bunny has returned from the dead! (Props to Violet, the company that went under, but was kind enough to release the code into the open so that obsessive geeks could make this happen.)

So now, at the top of the page, you see a link to “Send Amy a message”. When you fill out the two fields and click “Send it”, this is what happens:

Want a Nabaztag? Good luck. You might find one on eBay. Or you might want to take the risk on Karotz, the successor (and soon to be unsupported as well) to the Nabaztag. Nothing techy-cool can work forever.

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How to keep up with the companies you actually Like…Courtesy SpaceCadet Creations

Knitty readers are powerful. I linked to this awesome post on SpaceCadet Creations’ site and you guys took down their server.

Sorry about that, SpaceCadet.

Since SCC’s site is now out of commission for the next 72 hours, we thought it would be handy to repost the information here, where (hopefully) our server can handle the demand.

I know so many of us are frustrated with the way Facebook shares information. This informative post will help you understand what the heck is going on and how you can actually follow the news from your favorite companies, like Knitty and SpaceCadet, on Facebook.

Take it away, SpaceCadet Stephanie!


Facebook is an amazing resource — a way for everyone to keep up with their friends’ news, family photos, hear about upcoming events… and maybe even look up an old boyfriend or two.

And it’s a great way for me to keep in contact with you. Not only can I share with you what we’re up to at the SpaceCadet studio (or just what I’m up to on a Saturday morning) but, unlike many other channels, Facebook gives you and me a wonderful opportunity to interact — to ask and answer questions, to have a conversation, for everyone to share thoughts as a community.

Hydrengia

 

Where has SpaceCadet gone?

But maybe you haven’t seen so much of SpaceCadet in your Facebook stream lately? Maybe you think I’ve gone quiet? Maybe we’re not up to much lately?

Hapa

Nope, the real reason you don’t see much of SpaceCadet any more is that Facebook recently changed its policies for business pages like ours. Whereas in the past, our posts used to show up in the news feed of everyone who liked our page, Facebook now shows our posts to only a tiny fraction of the folks who follow us.

Let me show you what I mean. The SpaceCadet page has over 1200 followers, but look at the number who got to see these recent posts:

Collage,  how many people reached

200? 100?!? Sometimes it’s been as low as only 50! That’s hardly any of our followers, and it’s really disappointing when I want to share stuff with you guys but I know that only a few people are going to get to see it.

Now, the reason Facebook is doing this is that they want me to pay to “boost” my posts and to be honest, as a business person, I’m ok with Facebook wanting to make money. SpaceCadet has an advertising budget and I’m happy to spend it, but paying Facebook to “boost” every single thing I post is not really the best use of that budget, so I don’t do it very often.

Besides, if Facebook is a community, it feels a bit creepy to turn every comment I make into some kind of a paid advertisement. A lot of times, I’m just sharing cool stuff with you guys.

Saturday office

There’s an Easy (and Free) Solution!

BUT there is an better way for you to receive SpaceCadet posts again. I can’t increase the number of posts you see without paying for “boosting”, but YOU can pull our posts back into your news feed easily — and for free! All you have to do is start clicking “like” on our Facebook posts (or, even better, leave a comment or share the post). The more you interact with our posts, the more of our posts Facebook will share with you. That’s all you have to do — just start clicking “like”.

And it’s not just your timeline you’ll be affecting. When you click “like” and “share” or comment on a SpaceCadet post, everyone else gets to see more of what we’re up to as well. Want to see how powerful it is? Check this out…

The Power of Likes on Facebook

When you click “like” or share and comment on my posts, you’ll begin getting all the latest SpaceCadet news in your timeline again (along with behind-the-scenes pictures from the studio and some random shots of my lunch or my WIPs…). And, y’know, I’ll be so excited to see you again! I love sharing all the cool stuff we’re working on each day — and I love it even more when I get to hear back from you about what I’ve posted.

So here, hop over to our Facebook page right now and just click “like” on a bunch of posts (or please, leave us a comment or share a couple of posts). And before you know it, SpaceCadet will be back on your Facebook radar again!

 

Mauna Kea

PS –I really do love the interaction that happens on Facebook, and so I’d love for SpaceCadet to have more followers. If you think something I’ve posted would interest your knit-friends on FB, I’d be really grateful if you’d share it with them by clicking “share” as well as “like”. Thank you for spreading the SpaceCadet love!

 

 

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Amy’s Plug+Play magic…finally revealed!

(Thank you to Jillian for letting me hog the blog today. I have a big announcement! And our darling Jillian has an awesome spinning post for you this Thursday. She’ll see you then!)


Squee!

Squee!

You may have heard me talking about my Plug+Play method over the years. It’s my simple, friendly approach to designing with stitch patterns, and I’ve been teaching it all over the place since 2008…from a cruise ship filled with knitters in the Pacific to events like Vogue Knitting Live, Yarnover, the Glasgow School of Yarn and Yarndale, and at shops in the US, Canada, England, Scotland and Ireland! The P3 retreats, run by Brenda Dayne and myself and held in Wales over a span of 3 years, were based on the Plug+Play system. It’s empowered so many knitters to make their knitwear reflect their own design inspiration without having to tear their hair out!

Well, if you haven’t been able to take one of my classes but wanted to learn more about this user-friendly method of designing, today I get to make a big, happy announcement! My Plug+Play: Custom Scarves & Shawls, class has just launched on Craftsy! Just now!

In this class, you’ll learn my easy and intuitive method for turning the stitch patterns of your choice into your own scarves and shawls. It’s a simple but surprisingly effective way to create uniquely beautiful scarves and shawls by plugging complete stitch pattern units into your knitted fabric, rather than designing a stitch at a time!

Massive fun, filming this class for Craftsy! Anyone spot the appropriate set decoration over my left shoulder?

Massive fun, filming this class for Craftsy! Anyone spot the appropriate set decoration over my left shoulder?

In the class, over 7 lessons spanning more than 2 hours in total, you’ll learn about the Plug+Play method, how to apply it to simple rectangular and triangular shapes as well as rectangles built on the bias! You’ll learn about full motifs and half/offset motifs and how to use them effectively. You’ll get a good handle on how to build your own custom cowls in a variety of directions, and finally we’ll talk about all my favorite tools and tips that will make designing your own scarves and shawls much more enjoyable!

One of the neatest things about Craftsy is how interactive their classes are. If you have a question, just ask! I’m there to help you with any challenges you encounter, so that your projects are successful. And I can’t wait till knitters start uploading their FOs to the Craftsy site. There’s lots of places to interact with me and the other students in the class. I hope to see many of you there!

Is this a sales pitch? Yup. Unabashedly so. I’m very proud of the Plug+Play method, and this opportunity to share it with you via Craftsy has been a dream come true for me. So many knitters have asked if I could come teach this class in their part of the world, and now through this online class, I can!

To learn more about this class and get started today, just click this link. Hope to see you there!

The ukulele my producer chose for the set (to add Amy-like ambience, no doubt) was gifted to me at the end of the shoot. Signed by the crew, surrounded by all the tools of the make up artist who made me pretty every morning.

The ukulele my producer chose for the set (to add Amy-like ambience) was gifted to me at the end of the shoot. Signed by the crew, surrounded by all the tools of the make up artist who made me pretty every morning.

 

 

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WWW: The Great London Yarn Crawl; Franklin Habit wows in Vogue Knitting; Meet the Tech Editors!

glycLogoThe Great London Yarn Crawl is returning on Saturday 20 September 2014! As last year, their proceeds from the event will be donated to Refuge, the UK’s leading charity supporting women and children victims of domestic violence.

Brought to the UK by two North American ex-pats, Allison Decker Thistlewood and Rachel Brown, the Yarn Crawl is a great way to see lots of London’s Yarn Shop treasures and meet like-minded knitters during the journey!


Franklin Habit designed this beautiful vest for Vogue Knitting's Early Fall issue.

Franklin Habit designed this beautiful vest for Vogue Knitting’s Early Fall issue.

We couldn’t be prouder of our Franklin Habit — look at this delicious thing he’s concocted for the lucky people at Vogue Knitting magazine! Stunning, exquisite and really, just perfect.

We’re proud to know you, Franklin.


It’s your turn to get to know someone…two someones, actually. Our Garment Tech Editors, Ashley Knowlton and Ruth Garcia-Alcantud! You’ll find their lovely mugshots and bios on our Staff  page. Without our crack Tech Editing team (which includes, of course, Managing Tech Editor Kate Atherley), Knitty would, basically, suck. So go learn more about these amazing, skilled women.

We think they’re awesome.

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Uncharacteristically personal post from Amy

Life has gotten hard and complicated over the last while, and just after the New Year, something happened that I think it’s time I shared with you all. The husband and I decided we shouldn’t be married any more.

We’ve been together for more than 2 decades, so this decision was a hard one to make. But it’s the right one for us both.

As a result, you won’t be surprised to hear, I’ve been trying to get through the challenges this has presented. Life will continue to be complicated and challenging for a while longer, but I’m fine and want you all to know that. I’ll be staying in Toronto and moving to my own place shortly, with one very large box of ukuleles and two cranky rabbits. Excited for my new future.

I’m turning off comments because I know you’ll send love and I appreciate it. And that’s enough. I have some wonderful friends and am so grateful for their support.

If I’m slower than usual in answering email, my apologies. I’ve also decided that my already booked teaching gigs in 2014 are all that I’ll be taking on, and won’t be looking for new gigs until 2015.

I hope you understand that my current state is a temporary one and I’ll be fully back on the horse as soon as I can. Knitty will continue to be my primary professional focus and I’m grateful for the work, and the loving and supportive community that has arisen around Jillian, Kate, Ashley, Ruth and I. We all love you.

Thanks to you all,
Amy

p.s. Should you know of an amazing east-end (Leslieville would be ideal) 2 bedroom condo, apartment or part of a house to rent, please let me know. If it’s elsewhere but still amazing, I’d love to hear about it too. Tweet me @knittydotcom

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