I tried to post a couple times over the weekend, but Blogger was doing their scheduled outrage (I assume related to the stupid time change), and I finally gave up in disgust. So here are answers to questions, rude commentary, and other things I've been thinking about.
There were some questions about drop spindles. They're a great way to try spinning, without the horrendous outlay for a spinning wheel (unless, like me, you have funky hand problems and all the twisting bothers your fingers). Essentially a stick with a weight on it, the construction is easy enough that you can get learn-to-spin kits from different places that include a spindle, directions, and wool to get started, for about thirty bucks. I suggest Halcyon Yarn, they're good people. Nice.
Of course, being me, I couldn't leave it alone and started poking around the 'net for information on the history of spinning. Spinning with a drop spindle goes back to the stone age. (Short video of someone using a drop spindle, here.) The spinning wheel was invented around 1000 CE somewhere in India or China. Around 1500 CE, someone in Europe got the bright idea to add the foot-pedal drive. Up until then, you spun the wheel with one hand and drafted the fiber with the other. (Which sounds utterly insane to me - the whole advantage of a spinning wheel, to me, is having both hands free to draft the fiber.) This old method with the hand crank wheel can still be seen in Great Wheels (mostly antique, but at least one company still makes them) and Indian 'charkas', which they use to spin cotton. ('Cause cotton spinning isn't hard enough with all those short little fibers, no, you gotta do it one-handed.) Excellent video of a Great Wheel being used here. You can see the evolution from spindle to wheel easily - this is sort of the platypus of spinning wheels, catching the whole thing in mid-shift from spindle to 'modern' wheels. (For contrast, you can go here and watch a woman using a modern wheel - watch her hands. You can see the major advantage.)
I'm thinking a history of spinning article for KnittySpin might be in order.
The husbeast got a photo over the weekend that perfectly captures the Goober's attitude:
That's her toy basket she's sitting in. Of course she dumped it out all over the floor, first.
I've decided on using the Newgrange pattern for my mother-in-law. In shades of blue or green or in-between, with accents of gold silk. It'll give me a chance to try this idea I have for pattern writing, and also to experiment with some silk, which I've been meaning to do. (I want to get weaving silk, and ply it on my wheel. And see if I can save money at it.) Plus that leaves the Taotie pattern to knit for myself. Possibly with silk. Mwahahaha.
On a related issue, the test knitting, I was thinking of sending the yarn to the test knitter (with the pattern of course), and then once the sweater's done, send it back to me, I'll take photos and stuff for the formal, for-sale version of the pattern, and then return it to the test knitter to keep. The test-knitter could make it in whatever size they wanted - I'd need to know ahead of time to provide the yarn, of course, but ALL the sizes are supposed to work, after all. Of course, that might make the test knitters a little picky about what they knit, if they're going to keep it, but that's all to the good - I want to write patterns people like.