or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk


Leaving Location-Specific Messages Seems Like A Neat Idea

   August 21st, 2014 Brian Herzog

screen568x568People probably get tired of me saying this, but in cases like this I feel like I need to apologize for not having a cell phone but talking about apps anyway.

I read on LifeHacker last week about an app called Knit. It lets users tie a message to a specific location, so that when another user gets to that spot, they see the message.

It can't be as seamless and effortless as my imagination makes it out to be, but I think this is an awesome idea. And since libraries are all about providing contextually-relevant information, this seems like a very useful idea.

My guess is that it's not accurate enough to use in the stacks, but wouldn't it be neat that if someone walks into the local history room they'd get a message about online resources?

But even better would be to use it outside the library. Leave notes with historical information around town and create a self-guided tour; if the library has off-site events (which we sometimes do), leave notes in those places for the upcoming events; leave notes in parks and train stations about downloading ebooks or digital magazines. Like an automatic QR code people don't need to scan, or a virtual sign someone might actually read.

Of course, there's got to be some catch, because it seems this will immediately become a new form of spam advertising, with every step or highway exit being inundated with who knows what (if you can broadcast to all users, rather than picking a specific person). So it'd be neat if this functionality could be integrated into an existing library app, to provide some control over what patrons are sent. Still though, I thought this was a neat idea.



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Reference Question of the Week – 11/11/12

   November 17th, 2012 Brian Herzog

Knitted diceI've said before that one of my favorite types of reference questions are those I can answer from personal experience. This time, unfortunately, I fell short of living up to my reputation.

A women I had worked with at another library emailed me this question:

...Have you got a pattern for a whistle cozy? ...I need one. And saw your dice pattern on ravelry...so... Got one?

She's referring to a pattern I created to knit a set of Yahtzee die for my brother. That actually wasn't far off from a whistle, but without getting myself a whistle and figuring it out, I had no idea how to modify the pattern to accommodate it.

So, I hoped I could find one online. But when I searched for "knit whistle cozy" (and variations), I kept getting patterns for cozys for penny whistles:

Super Simple whistle case pattern

That pattern is basically a thin sock (with no foot), so it shouldn't be too hard to make. However, when she said "whistle," I was thinking more of a referee whistle - and now I wasn't sure what she wanted.

So, before I emailed her back, I kept looking to see if I could find a referee whistle cozy. I searched through Ravelry, a lot of other websites, and checked the index of all the library's knitting books, but I couldn't find one.

Inhaler Sock to the Rescue!However, I did find something close (if you sort of squint your eyes and hold your tongue just right) - a pattern for an asthma inhaler sock.

That seemed shaped more or less like a whistle (and as the creator also noted, more or less like a small foot), so again the pattern is more or less a very small sock pattern. And the best part is that she came up with the pattern herself.

I wasn't sure if either of these patterns would help my friend though, so I put them both into an email, said I wasn't sure about the penny whistle/referee whistle thing, and sent it off.

Shortly thereafter, she wrote back to say it was indeed a referee whistle she was talking about. It turns out a friend of hers is a security guard, who could use something to keep the duty whistle warm and clean. Awesome.

The success of this answer really depends on my friends knitting skills, but hopefully one of these will work. If I were to try it, I think I might just go with the dice pattern and put a little spout on one end - but thankfully, I don't have to. Good luck, E.



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Knitted Cleveland Browns Stocking Hat

   January 22nd, 2008 Brian Herzog

Browns HatMy younger brother pointed out that I've never made anything for him, so for Christmas, I decided to knit him a Cleveland Browns stocking hat. This is how it turned out.

I had made hats before, but never with vertical stripes, so I had to make that part up on my own (and it took a few attempts to get it right). To knit each color/stripe I worked a different yarn end (2 white, 4 brown, and 2 orange) and then joined them at the top. It was a lot of yarn balls to work with, but it's manageable.

I just made this hat up as I went along, but here's pretty much what I did (A printer-friendly version of this pattern is also available [pdf, 80kb], and so are more photos):

Materials
Needles: 5 double-pointed #7 needles

Yarn: To find the right color orange, I used Caron Perfect Match 100% acrylic medium (4) yarn. Their 355-yard skein was plenty, and I got one in orange, one brown and one white. Before starting, I rolled the orange skein into two orange yarn balls, and did the same with the white. For the brown, I rolled four yarn balls. I kept them all in a bag, and the hat works easiest if you keep them from getting too tangled. Also, I brought up all yarn ends through the hat, so that as I worked, all the working yarn strands were inside the hat (instead of being between you and the work).

Pattern:
Brim:
I did the brim in a solid color to give myself a foundation to work from. I think it would be neater to have the colored stripes as part of the brim, too, but that felt a bit beyond me (nor did I attempt to knit a facemask).

  • Cast on 90 orange stitches (20 sts on needle 1, 25 sts on needle 2, 20 sts on needle 3, and 25 sts on needle 4)
  • Knit 1, purl 1 in the round for about 1-1/2" to 2", depending on desired height
  • Knit three rounds in orange (this is so when the brim flips up, the joined-in colors of the stripes won't show)

Hat Body:
Now it's time to start the colored stripes. From now on, the hat is no longer knitted in the round. Instead, one row is knitted all the way around, then the next row is purled back.

  • Knitted Row (odd rows):
  • Start with needle 1 (which should have 20 sts on it). Knit 3 orange sts, then switch to brown. To do this, drop the orange yarn and pick up the first brown yarn end through the inside of the hat. To twist the brown to the orange, carry the brown around the right side and then over the top of the orange yarn before starting to knit. Knit 4 brown sts.
  • Switch to white (drop the brown yarn and pick up the first white yarn end [again, through the inside of the hat] and twist the white to the brown [carry the white around the right side and then over the top of the brown yarn before starting to knit]). Knit 6 white sts.
  • Switch to the second brown yarn. For every switch, be sure to twist the yarns (and for the first row, make sure you bring the new yarn though the inside of the hat). Knit 4 brown sts.
  • Switch to orange and knit 31 sts (3 to the end of needle 1, 25 on needle 2, and 3 on needle 3)
  • Switch to brown, k4
  • Switch to white, k6
  • Switch to brown, k4
  • Switch to orange, k 31 sts (3 to the end of needle 3, 25 on needle 4, and 3 on needle 1)
  • At this point, there should be sts on all five needles (3 orange on needle 5). Now it's time to purl back.
  • Purled Row (even rows):
  • The first row was knitted, or worked on the "right side" (in this case, the outside of the hat). The next row will be purled, or worked on the "wrong side" (the inside of the hat). Hold the work so needle 5 is in your left hand, and purl the 3 orange sts from needle 5 onto needle 1. Then purl normally the 25 orange sts on needle 4, then the 3 orange sts on needle 3
  • Switch to brown, p4 (again, be sure to twist the brown yarn with the orange)
  • Switch to white, p6
  • Switch to brown, p4
  • Switch to orange, p31 sts (3 to the end of needle 3, 25 on needle 4, and 3 on needle 1)
  • Switch to brown, p4
  • Switch to white, p6
  • Switch to brown, p4
  • Flip the work over and continue with the Knitted Row directions above
  • Continue knitting and purling consecutive rows until the hat body is about 7" tall, or to desired height
  • End having just worked a purl row

Decreasing the Hat Crown:
Normally, the hat pattern I use calls for decreasing 1 st PER multiple of 10 sts PER row. So, for a hat with 90 sts casted on, there are 9 multiples of 10 on each row, so we'd evenly decrease 9 sts per row (to decrease, just knit [or purl] 2 sts together). But in this case, since the stripes cannot be part of the decreasing (they have to stay the same width), all of the decreasing will be done on the orange sts.

To start with, I did all of the decreasing on needles 2 and 4, leaving the 3 orange sts on the ends of needles 1 and 3 alone until needles 2 and 4 were down to 3 sts each.

Another note on decreasing: I chose to randomly space my decreases on needles 2 and 4, instead of spacing them evenly. I tried doing it evenly on my test hat, but it was a pain. So for this part of the pattern, I'm not giving explicit instructions. I'll tell you the number of sts to decrease in each row, and you space them out along that row however you like (just don't put them all together).

  • Starting on needle 1 (having just ended a purl row), k3 orange sts
  • k4brown, k6white, k4brown
  • Switch to orange, k3 (needle 1), decrease 5 (all on needle 2), k3 (needle 3)
  • k4brown, k6white, k4brown
  • Switch to orange, k3 (needle 2), decrease 4 (all on needle 4), k3 (needle 1)
  • Flip work over to purl back
  • Purl 3 orange sts (from needle 5 onto needle 1), decrease 4 (all on needle 4), p3 (needle 3)
  • p4brown, p6white, p4brown
  • Switch to orange, p3 (needle 3), decrease 4 (needle 2), p3 (needle 1)
  • p4brown, p6white, p4brown
  • Flip work over to knit
  • k3 orange sts (needle 1)
  • k4brown, k6white, k4brown
  • Switch to orange, k3, decrease 3 (on needle 2), k3
  • k4brown, k6white, k4brown
  • Switch to orange, k3, decrease 4 (on needle 4), k3
  • Flip work over to purl back
  • Switch to orange, p3, decrease 3 (on needle 4), p3
  • p4brown, p6white, p4brown
  • Switch to orange, p3, decrease 3 (on needle 2), p3
  • p4brown, p6white, p4brown
  • Flip work over to knit
  • k3 orange sts (needle 1)
  • k4brown, k6white, k4brown
  • Switch to orange, k3, decrease 3 (on needle 2), k3
  • k4brown, k6white, k4brown
  • Switch to orange, k3, decrease 2 (on needle 4), k3
  • Flip work over to purl back
  • Switch to orange, p3, decrease 2 (on needle 4), p3
  • p4brown, p6white, p4brown
  • Switch to orange, p3, decrease 2 (on needle 2), p3
  • p4brown, p6white, p4brown
  • Flip work over to knit
  • k3 orange sts (needle 1)
  • k4brown, k6white, k4brown
  • Switch to orange, k3, decrease 1 (on needle 2), k3
  • k4brown, k6white, k4brown
  • Switch to orange, k3, decrease 2 (on needle 4), k3
  • Flip work over to purl back
  • Switch to orange, p3, decrease 1 (on needle 4), p3
  • p4brown, p6white, p4brown
  • Switch to orange, p3, decrease 1 (on needle 2), p3
  • p4brown, p6white, p4brown
  • Flip work over to knit
  • At this point, there should only be 3 sts on needles 2 and 4. Continue decreasing each row by 2 orange sts, but now include the 3 sts on the ends of needles 1 and 3. After 8 more rows, there should be only 1 orange sts on each side

Finishing
Now all that's left is to close off the top and weave in the loose ends.

  • Break off all yarns, leaving about a 6" tail. Pull them all out to the outside of the hat, through the top
  • Slip one orange st to needle 1 and one to needle 3, and hold the needles parallel
  • Pull the orange yarn through the orange loop, and slide the orange st off the needle. Leave orange end loose for now
  • Using the Kitchener Stitch (below), bind together an off the 8 brown sts. Before starting, be sure to twist the brown yarn around the orange yarn
  • Switch to white (twist white and brown) and continue with Kitchener Stitch
  • Switch to brown (twist brown and white) and continue with Kitchener Stitch
  • Twist orange and brown and pull orange yarn through orange loop and off needle
  • Pull all loose ends (top and bottom of hat) to the inside of hat to tie off and weave in

This seems a lot more complicated written out than when I was knitting. If you have any trouble, or see any errors in my pattern, please let me know. Good luck. A printer-friendly version of this pattern is also available [pdf, 80kb].

Kitchener Stitch:
Tread yarn through tapestry needle. Hold needles parallel. Pull tapestry needle through first st on FRONT needle as if to purl & leave on needle, pull yarn through first st on BACK needle as if to knit & leave on needle. *pull tapestry needle through first st on FRONT needle as if to knit & slip st off needle, pull yarn through second st on FRONT needle as if to purl & leave on needle. Pull yarn through first st on BACK needle as if to purl & slip off needle, pull yarn through second st on BACK needle as if to knit & leave on needle*. Repeat from * to * until all sts have been used. Illustrated instructions available at http://www.knitty.com/issuesummer04/FEATtheresasum04.html and http://www.stitchdiva.com/custom.aspx?id=50.

browns,

See more patterns and projects on my Knitting page.



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