Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

Mama, you should try Pinterest.
It is like receiving a new magazine every day.
[Rachel Smith]


I’ve had a long line of personal computers since 1982. Computers fascinate me and are now my main tool in my work. I spend hours standing in front of my Mac fiddling in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. I don’t use a cell phone. Frankly, I like being out of touch. I’ve never felt pressed to answer a ringing telephone. I maintain 5 wordpress blogs and I am working on revising my website, but I am not a member of Facebook or Twitter. In other words, I try to be a gatekeeper to filter that which bombards me from the outside world. Then came Pinterest.

Of course it has been around since 2010, but didn’t reach out and grab me until now. Oddly enough, a tip for cleaning the buildup off of my gas stove grates pushed me over the edge. In addition to shiny grates, I now have an unclogged shower head and plenty of advice for training my two new puppies. The industrial design section convinces me once again that humans can create instead of destroy. The gardening section almost makes me want to pull weeds. Pinterest reminds me of the 10-inch thick dictionary on the stand in my third-grade classroom—whenever I look something up, I am in constant danger of getting completely sidetracked.


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Art enables us to find ourselves and
lose ourselves at the same time.
[Thomas Merton]


Last Friday was girls night out for my niece, Katherine, and me. After supper, we shopped at Jefferson Point (Fort Wayne) and then went to the opening reception for the art show, “City Blox,” at ArtWorks. I was delighted from the start since Joel Fremion’s landscapes were displayed just inside the door. His craftsmanship, his technique and his vision have fascinated me for several years. He creates fabric collages in great detail and with amazing effect (above left). Among the paintings and objets d’art of other artists were paintings by watercolorist Diana Miller-Pierce. Her crisp technique, sense of geometric balance, and eye for detail drew me into her work (above right). Eighteen artists were represented in the show making it well worth one’s time to stop in and browse this lovely gallery.


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One must be an inventor to read well.
There is then creative reading
as well as creative writing.
[Ralph Waldo Emerson]


Since I live in relative solitude, my blog gives me a place to share things that one would normally share with a person in the same room. This is a, “You’ve just gotta see this…” post. The thought has crossed my mind that I’m likely the last to learn all of this, but I’ll share it anyhow. I’ll make bullet points of my disjointed thoughts.

  • The image is a screen shot of one of my iPad folders.
    • I’ve never seen non-Apple devices, but am confident that they have reasonable counterparts to this.
    • It is worth the effort to learn how to organize apps in folders so you can find your stuff easily on one screen.
    • The desktop image is either (a) my backyard or (b) a tourist stop near Cardiff, Wales (UK). HINT: I have no backyard.
  • About the first row of apps in the image—these are primarily text readers. iBooks reads books from the Apple store, Nook reads Barnes & Noble books, and Kindle reads Amazon books. The apps are free and many books can be obtained without cost as well. There are also sale priced books available from such sources as BookBub.
  • The second row of apps in the image—these are specialized readers. Audible (an Amazon company) is an audio book reader and not only reads books from Audible.com, but also reads non-Amazon books from iTunes. Overdrive accesses the local public library. Using my library card, I check out both text and audio books using Overdrive. GoodReader could also be called Knitter’sHelper. I use this for my PDF knitting patterns because it allows me to easily mark my place and make notes.
  • The third row shows apps from Blackstone. These audio books are well produced and are now available with a built-in player as apps—one book per app. I bought these in the App Store for reasonable prices. There are many choices. One of my favorite mystery writers is Louise Penny. Her books, set in Quebec, present characters in such depth and with such sensitivity, that they make me want to jump into my little roadster and drive to Canada in search of imaginary friends.

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It’s the great mystery of human life that
old grief passes gradually into quiet tender joy.
[Fyodor Dostoyevsky]

Grief Helps blogIt has been my good fortune that I have been able to spend my working life doing what I enjoy. My career has not only been fun, but it has also been enlightening, enriching and rewarding. Most of that is due to my clients. As an independent designer, every project I finish puts me out of a job. Fortunately, projects have materialized in adequate supply for the past twenty-eight years. This post is about one of my favorites.

I’ve produced print publications, electronic publications, and web-site work for Willowgreen, Inc., a publishing company, for over a decade. This company specializes in inspirational materials to help with illness, caregiving, transitions, and grief. Two of the greatest assets with Willowgreen offerings are Jim Miller’s writing skill and his magnificent photography. Recently, his publications have focused on helping folks who are experiencing grief.

Today, Jim will release a new blog called Grief Helps. It is designed especially for grieving individuals and families. It is simple to navigate, easy to read, and beautiful to view. Jim writes:

Grief Helps includes only fresh resources that are found nowhere else. Only Willowgreen’s own resources—not a copy of anyone else’s work. And the new blog provides an unusually wide variety of resources, unlike what you’ll find on any other blog: lovely mini-videos, bright mini-books, and meaningful PhotoThoughts, all absolutely free. In addition there are the more customary posts you’ve come to expect on blogs everywhere. A section also is provided for individuals to share with others their own “grief helps”—acts or practices or approaches that have assisted them personally on their journey through loss.

Working on Grief Helps has been such a healing experience for me that I wanted to share it with you.

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Any sufficiently advanced technology
is indistinguishable from magic.
[Arthur C. Clarke]

My first criteria for a good app is, it is simple. I’m a graphic designer and not a computer scientist. I look for apps that behave themselves (they work without bugs), and apps that are intuitive to use (they have a small learning curve). I spend my main self-education time keeping myself up to speed with my major software tools. I want my smaller apps to be more like a manual screwdriver than an electric drill with multiple bits. These two apps fit the criteria and are affordable.

CalculatorMyScript© Calculator is magic for sure. It was free! How does Vision Objects© do that? Also it works well and is fun to use. Write numerals and function symbols (+, -, =, etc.) with a finger on a touchscreen and then watch your writing change into real equations with the correct answer. It even charmed my five-year old grandson. When I used it in a knitting class to help people figure their stitches and rows from their gauge, it was fast and accurate. Some students even downloaded the app for their smart phones during class.

TaskTimerDesktop Task Timer by Erik Asmussen is also a winner in my book. I track my design time for billing purposes. In the past 30 years, I have tried using a number of methods to accurately record time and translate it in to an invoice. This app ($0.99) is the best I’ve found so far. I’ve even started tracking my non-chargeable tasks just out of curiosity.

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Win as if you were used to it,
lose as if you enjoyed it for a change.
[Ralph Waldo Emerson]

I just mailed the new book to Caitlin in Minnesota, the winner of the drawing. However, I want the rest of you folks to win something too so I’m emailing a PDF file to each of you. It is my newest pattern that I developed for a workshop here in Fort Wayne. It is written for any size yarn, needles and feet. It is also written for both magic loop and a 5-needle sock set. Three of the folks who commented are among the only 14 knitters who have seen this pattern so I’ll dream up something different for you.

Thanks so much to everyone for playing along.

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All things are difficult before they are easy.
[Thomas Fuller]

I took this book to a sock-knitting class, and the seven class members insisted that they each had to have a copy for reference to carry with them. I listened to their excited discussion about what they liked best about the book. Here’s a partial list:

  • The photos are so clear and easy to understand
  • The binding allows the book to lie open easily
  • There are so many variations to choose from
  • The charts and diagrams are useful
  • The stitch samples stimulate sock design ideas
  • The book size is easy to handle and carry . . .

The Sock Knitter’s Handbook, Expert Advice, Tips, & Tricks by Charlene Schurch and Beth Parrott was published this year (2012) by Martingale and Company. At first glance, this book seems quite simple, but simple usually requires more thought, organization and effort to produce well than something lengthy and wordy. This handbook hints at that underlying effort which has made it very useful.

The authors introduce color-coded photos for parts of socks in the “Sock Architecture” chapter then proceed through the various sections using the color coding to present a number of ways to knit each part of a sock. They also present charts for such information as yarn yardage and foot measurements. Diagrams show how to execute specific stitch techniques, and a stitch dictionary presents a variety of decorative ideas for jazzing up a sock.

Since my day job is working as a graphic artist in publication design, the first thing I notice about a book is its production features. Not only does this book have a pleasing page design that enhances its message, but its binding and paper choices make it user friendly. Since I also design knitting patterns and I want to avoid being influenced by other people’s designs, I must confess that I rarely look at knitting pattern books or magazines. I’m delighted I had a reason to review this one. It will go directly into my knitting bag for future use.

Book Giveaway Contest

Ms Schurch sent me an extra copy of this book to give away in a contest. In one week, I will collect the names from the comments to this post and have a drawing. Then I will email the winner for a mailing address and send the lucky knitter the new book. So, do enter the contest by leaving a comment.

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