Sunday, October 13, 2019

Sunday Wool Blog

Superwash wool 
First a couple answers on the why of superwash wool. Why do people want it?
A big reason is washability. Non-superwash baby gifts can end up doll clothes, and socks that have been tossed accidentally in the washer and dryer barely fit a big toe. Dyers and knitters also love the intense color produced by dyeing on superwash. Lots of folks also say that superwash yarns are softer; they are certainly smoother.
Only a very small percentage of the superwash produced in the United States goes to the hobby market (that’s us knitters).
Much of the US-made superwash wool goes to ready-to-wear fashion, and to the military for uniforms. Wool for military wear is praised for its durability, its suitability in a variety of climates, and its fire resistance. The superwash process makes it washable, and it makes the United States wool pool (a variety of sheep breeds mixed into one yarn) soft enough to wear. The military uses a lot of wool and helps keep wool farming viable in the United States.

What Exactly Is Superwash?

Superwash is a process that makes wool less susceptible to felting when it is washed and dried by machine. There are two ways most commonly used to make a superwash yarn. One is to strip or dull the scales of a fiber, then fill the irregularities left behind with a polymer to smooth the fiber. The other is to coat the fiber to suppress the scales. There are many scientists working on developing new ways of shrink-proofing wool. Most methods are the super secret, proprietary information of the companies and labs developing them.

Felting: It’s All About Scales

Each individual wool fiber is covered with tiny scales, like a snake’s skin. When these little suckers are agitated, literally, that’s how felting happens.
Felting needs moisture, friction, and sometimes a change in temperature like accidentally putting things in the dryer. Wool relaxes in water, even more if it’s warm or hot: the scales open like the hatch on the back of a car. Agitation makes the fibers scootch closer together so that the scales hang on to each other. As the fiber dries the scales slam shut, locking out the ability for fibers to move past each other and locking in the new shrunken size. Your beautiful knitwear is now smaller, stiffer, and not so soft. If you’ve ever knit and then felted a bag or slippers on purpose, you know exactly how much the felting experience can change knitting.

Superwash and the Environment

There are environmental issues with many superwash processes, but not all superwash or anti-felting processes are the same. Different companies use different processes and chemicals, and different countries have different environmental regulations for their wool industry. The only way to know what process your favorite yarn company uses is to ask them.
While many yarn companies don’t know the process their suppliers use, some do, and a growing number are making it a priority to be aware and to choose supplies with the environment in mind. This is true about yarns processed in North America and the rest of the world.
For example, in most countries there are strict regulations on the cleanliness of water that gets dumped from any  industry, and there are companies that go beyond what the law requires to remove chemicals from their wastewater.
One of the most used methods to make a fiber superwash is to remove or reduce the scales on the fiber with chlorine, either as a gas or as a solution. Then the modified fibers are smoothed with a coat of a polymer.
Chlorine gas is the most toxic way to make superwash, both for the people working in the plants and the environment. A chlorine solution in water is less toxic to workers, and chlorine in this form can be filtered from wastewater.
The polymers used to smooth the fiber are made from different types of plastics. The type most commonly used is also used in paper processing. It’s a polymer that keeps paper from reverting to pulp when it gets wet.
Newer, more environmentally friendly methods of creating superwash are being developed and used in several different countries. I’ve read about some scientists experimenting with heat, and others working on a coating that biodegrades quickly, making the shrink resistance temporary. All of this work is industrial and secret.
One environmentally friendly method is used by O-Wool. They use a natural (and proprietary) polymer to coat the fiber to keep scales from interlocking. They do not remove or reduce scales, but only smooth them down—like using pomade on unruly hair.

With a regular and a shrink-proofed merino side by side, you get a visual to help connect all the words.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Tuesday Book Reviews

50 States of Consciousness

4 star review of 50 States of Consciousness by DJ Jones

DJ Jones is a tall, African American woman who loves her children, country music and her motorcycle, Big Bertha. She describes her adventures and the people she met as she took that 800 pound bike to each of the fifty states in 2006. The story of her journey is accompanied by great photographs. The reader also gets a glimpse of her backstory.

Thursday Midnight (Immortal Wake #2)

5 star review of Thursday Midnight by Zachry Wheeler

The sequel to Transient picks up the story of mortal humans and vampires several years later. Jonas is in hiding with Anna, but has kept his pledge to NExUS, the worldwide ruling body. He thinks the few remaining humans can work together with the dominant vampires until a human commits a gruesome axe murder. Turns out to be the tip of an iceberg of humans targeting large congregations of vampires, bringing Jonas out of hiding. The story is filled with tension, thrills and chills. The only thing I didn't like were the number of humans (and vampires) died, especially the ones I liked.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Tuesday Book Reviews

Three star review of KiMo Theatre: Fact and Folklore Jacqueline Murray Loring Writer/Editor

Some of the writing in this anthology of pieces was fascinating and I loved the pictures, but there were a few that lacked the ‘feel’ of the old theater. The KiMo is an art deco theater in Albuquerque that has lived many lives in its over ninety years. From conflicting stories about how it got its name to its heyday presenting live shows and first-run movies and to the present, the book shows how the history of the KiMo and of Albuquerque are intertwined. The theater has retained much of the incredible d├ęcor it started with.

Mass Effect: Initiation (Mass Effect: Andromeda, #2)

Five star review of Mass Effect: Andromeda by N.K. Jemisin

Cora is one badass soldier. Technically, she isn't military, but she's been trained. And she has a personal AI. Sent to recapture the source code, she proves her worth and abilities. Jemisin's amazing writing gives the reader an exciting story, part of a series of stories. I'll have to read more of them, because I'm curious about how the Andromeda initiative plays out.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Listening With My Eyes: An Abused Horse. A Mother With Alzheimer's. The Journey To Help Them Both.

5-star review of Listening With My Eyes by Patricia Conoway

Pat Conoway needed to learn non-verbal communication to help her mother with late stage Alzheimer’s and found it working with her horse, Dream. The challenges she faced with both Dream and her mother are told with honesty and sensitivity. It should be essential reading for every horsewoman and everyone dealing with a parent or other loved one who is fighting the battle of Alzheimer’s. Well-written and fascinating book.

Relative Fortunes by Marlowe Benn

5-star review of Relative Fortunes by Marlowe Benn

This historical fiction takes place in 1920’s New York. Julia Kydd has returned to the city to resolve a dispute with her half-brother over her share of her father’s fortune. She gets caught up in a murder mystery involving the feuding family of a friend from school. She also has to deal with a flower-filled proposal from her lover back in London. Wonderful characters and loads of references to the period in which it’s set. Although a bit slow to start, I enjoyed this read.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Interview with M.D. Neu

What genre(s) do you write in and why? Do you write flash fiction, short stories, novellas and/or novels? Graphic novels, anime or comics? If you do multiple genres and/or lengths, which do you prefer? Have you ever written any poetry?

The genres I typically write in are: Sci Fi, Urban Fantasy, and Paranormal, these are the stories I love to read, so these are the stories I enjoy writing. I love starting with a ‘what if’ and going from there, it’s a lot of fun. All my novels and stories contain strong LGBTQIA+ characters, which may set some people off, but I write my stories for everyone and to date most of my books have been very well received, representation is important and I think people understand that. Also, I like playing with what we think we know, our world is huge as is our universe, we don’t even know what we don’t know yet and to get to play with all that is great.

I have written two short stories; The Reunion and A Dragon for Christmas. My first novella is T.A.D.-The Angel of Death. Mostly, I write novel length books like: The Calling, Contact, and Conviction, I find I can be a bit wordy so I like the flexibility of having plenty of room to play with and not have to worry about word count… well not much.

When I comes to poetry I do write some, in fact I have some on my website for people to read. I don’t get to write as much I would like, but I enjoy it and I like to share it, when I feel it’s good enough.

What are the hardest kinds of scenes for you to write? Romantic? Sex? The death of a character? Fight scenes? Others?

When it comes to the most difficult kinds of scenes for me to write, it’s a toss up between sex scenes and fight scenes. There are so many aspects to both of those scenes that they can easily cross the line from good, to cheesy, to unreadable. It’s tough to find the right balance. When it comes to both of these scenes I tend to go for the ‘emotion’ more so then the actions or the mechanics. We all know how sex works so, for me, I don’t need to give the details. Why? It’s not the audience I’m going for. It’s the same with a fight scene, we all know what a gun fight looks like or a fist fight, but what we don’t always know are the emotions behind it, which I find much more interesting to write. Plus, like I said above, I want my stories to be read by the masses, so especially with a sex scene I try and limit them or leave them out completely.

If you had unlimited funds, how would you advertise your work?

Unlimited funds (ah it’s nice to dream) I would hire the best PR/Marketing firm in the world and let them go to work. They are the experts so I would pay them and get out of their way. If I were left up to my own devises I know I would blow it, so that is why I would use the money to bring in the pros. For me, it just makes sense. Although, I wouldn’t mind seeing some TV spots or billboards. That would be cool too.

What are you working on now?

Currently, I have a few drafts I’m working on. I have the sequel for The Calling that has been written and is now being read through and edited. The sequel, at this time, is titled, The Called and it will pick up right where the last book left us. I’m hoping it’s as fun as the first one. I’m quite proud of the story and the new characters I bring in. I’ve also finished the editing and have book three of my A New World series ready to send to the publisher. Book three is called Conspiracy and this new installment picks up a year after the end of Conviction. Other than that I’ve been working more on the business and marketing aspect of the book industry, which takes a lot of time and effort.

As far as new writing I have a couple of new ideas floating around in my mind but nothing has jumped out at me yet, but who knows these ideas may start getting fleshed out a lot more and we’ll see where it takes me.

Have you sold your work at book fairs or conventions? What kind of experience did you have?

I love book fairs, signings, conventions and other engagements. They are great fun. This year I’ve started to do more of that (it’s part of what I’ve been working on in the back ground). I’ll be honest I get nervous and feel like a bit of an imposter, but once I’m in it, I have a good time. Overall my experiences have been positive. As an unknown author with a small back log of books, I’m not a big draw, yet, but with the more works I publish and the more events I do, I believe it will start to pay off. I have an events section on my website ( people can check out as well to see where I’m going to be. They can also follow me Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as I post to these regularly.

For the overall experience, I have been lucky, at each of the events I’ve done I’ve managed to sell books and get my name out there, which is all good stuff. It really surprises the people who are reading the books. I get everything from hardcore SciFi and Fantasy fans to the casual readers who pick up the book, read the blurb, like it, and buy it.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Tell us about yourself.

When I’m not writing my husband and I love to travel and spend time with friends. We both love Disney so we try and get down to Disneyland once or twice a year if we can. We’ve been lucky to be able to travel to places both in the United States, North America, Central America and the tip of South America. We’ve also made our way (separately) over to Europe and Asia, but we hope to go there together at some point.

More locally, we both enjoy movies, cooking, and baking.

Over on my blog and on Instagram I’ll share photos from our trips and even some of the things we cook and bake, so you never know what I’ll post and share, so check it out: and on Instagram

Also, I do enjoy photography, but I’m not very adept at it, but every so often I get a good photo that I’ll share around, especially on Instagram.

What kind of support do you get from your family and friends?

I have the best family and the most wonderful friends around. They are so supportive of me and my writing. I couldn’t do any of this without them. My husband has been awesome, he goes with me to all my events and he helps me out so much, even if it is something as simple as getting me a glass of water and helping me pack up and tear down. The rest of my family are just as amazing I have a feeling I wouldn’t have sold nearly as many books without them.

My friends are also some of my biggest supporters and they keep after me about when my next book is coming out, which is fun, but it’s always a little scary, because they are so invested that I don’t want to disappoint them.

Where can readers follow you to find out more about your work?

Readers can find me at all the following:

My website:

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Tuesday book reviews on Wednesday

A Life in the Law: A Woman Lawyer's Life in Post-World War II Albuquerque, New Mexico

4 star review of A Life in the Law by Mary M. Dunlap and Mary Kay Stein

The struggles of woman lawyer Mary M. Dunlap, who started a practice in Albuquerque in 1949, make for interesting reading. This memoir follows her trials and triumphs as she faced the male-dominated law field and at the same time raised her young children. Mary Kay Stein, her eldest daughter, covers her mother’s more than forty-year career representing a vast assortment of characters.

My Plunder: Westerners and Warriors

4-star review of My Plunder – Westerners and Warriors by Myles Culbertson

What makes this book enjoyable is the voice of the narrator. He has so many interesting tales of the cowboys who continued to operate in northeastern New Mexico and southern Colorado into the twentieth century. As one himself, he has an appreciation of the difficulties of that life. He also talks about his experiences during the Vietnam War. Illustrated with photographs and drawings, it’s the words that paint the pictures of these stories.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Sunday Knitting Blog

Now that I've finished both projects I was working on, I had to choose another one (or two).

This is the blanket I finished and blocked last week:

And this is the sweater. It still needs buttons and blocking.

Next, I'm going to tackle a pair of socks, as described in a Bluprint class called Next Steps in Socks: Fiesta Socks.

Image result for bluprint fiesta socks

They start with a horizontal cuff knit in a solid color and a variegated one.