If all synesthesia is idiosyncratic, then why doesn’t anyone like 9?

Since I was very little, each letter has had such a distinct personality and relationship between its nearest letters. As soon as I knew letters, I knew who they were, just as if I’d met someone.

There’s handsome G, stuck between sweet, gentle F who he pines for, and on the other side: H who he’s committed to. Will they break off the engagement?? H treats G¬†horribly! And always snickers behind his back in¬†her bitchy clique with I and J. KL are such snobs anyway, they don’t even seem to notice. They’re older and really can’t be bothered with all that nonsense….¬†etc!

I don’t think I understood the complexities when I was that little. But the story became embellished as I learned more and got older. My understanding deepened but the situation was the same.

I’ve asked others if they had dramatic stories behind the arrangement of letters in the alphabet. When I kept on getting weird reactions, I stopped asking. I assumed I’d taught myself this little tale to remember the order of the letters. ¬†26 letters. And a tale I’ve never forgotten.

Now I see that I wasn’t alone in¬†assuming I’d “learned” it.

“I figured that numbers must have been taught that way to me at a time when I was so young that I could no longer remember the teaching of it.” – Do you have Synesthesia?

I didn’t recall meeting anyone who had¬†a similar experience. Until today, my friend MizzAdamz¬†said that letters and numbers had personalities, complex back stories.

She’s a synesthete, and she said one of the rarest with¬†Ordinal Linguistic Personification Synesthesia.

Apparently, the reason I have no trouble remembering this convoluted 26 character story because I can perceive the relationships.

I am also a synesthete.

Synesthesia comes in various forms

It turns out if you’ve got one kind of synesthesia, you may have another kind.

I was sitting here researching and I’ve just yelped out loud. “NO WAY. WHAT?! Doesn’t EVERYONE feel a touch on their body when they see someone else being touched?”

Turns out not everyone does feel it. This is¬†Mirror-Touch Synesthesia! “I can feel other people’s pain.” I can feel if someone across a room touches their cheek gently. I feel if someone gets punched in a movie.

Turns out I also have other types of synesthesia, and I may have others.

  • Colour to sound¬†synesthesia¬†
    • I hear pure tones from colours. Moving and flashing images are very “loud.” Sounds are apparent when they “switch” – it’s like hitting a tuning fork. It fades.
    • For example, I use an app that darkens my screen as the night goes on. And the screen changes “tone.” If I ALT+tab to another app where f.lux is disabled, the screen goes brighter and bluer. And the pitch goes higher.
  • Spatial sequence synesthesia
    • I “see” time and numbers. This is also how I see temperatures and conversions.
    • Times and dates advance to my right, and recede to my left. Past is left. “Now” is centre, where I am. Years, months, days, hours, all ticking along bands around this drum.¬†The furthest right and left are darkened, in shadow, because I can’t see around the disk.¬†The calendar and numbers work this way. And temperature works this way.¬†EVERYTHING lines up at new years!! It’s so cool.

I wonder if other people with spatial sequence synesthesia¬†also get this sensation of everything “clicking” when it lines up together. It sounds unlikely.

Turns out these idiosyncratic traits mean no two synesthetes see the same colours.

That question intrigues me.¬†For me, F is a shy and kind girl. She’d never stick up for herself. And then I came across an article on synesthesia¬†which¬†said “F is shy, hesitant, some would say spineless.”

Are there patterns?

Why is 9 such a jerk?

MizzAdams told me about the number characters which go into the hundreds and even thousands. As soon as you say a number, she intuitively knows it. She said “9” for example was a total bitch.

I came home and started reading about it.¬†I saw a video which said “For Gayle, 9 is an elitist girl.” (TedEd video below)¬†There seems to be a pattern of negative associations with 9.¬†Emily, a 13 year old, wrote¬†Me and My Synesthesia. 9 is an annoying boy. ¬†Another blogger write “Nine looks down on everyone. He thinks they’re a pack of idiots, and treats them all with barely disguised contempt.” in¬†Do you have synesthesia?

They must just be coincidences?

As described in the video below, the first shock for synesthetes is to discover no one else who perceives your sensations. Then there’s a shock when you find someone else that does. The final shock is when you learn that they do not have the same exact associations.

So I’m curious:¬†Do you have it? You can take this quiz to find out.¬†

The Dominos Effect: Own your shortcomings and they’re yours.

If you know anything about me, it’s that I love pizza. Pizza was such a priority when we lived in Japan, we bought an oven specifically so we could make pizza. The pizza there was expensive, and not awesome.

I love pizza. Yet, until recently I wouldn’t have eaten a Dominos pizza. Ever. I would make my own before I would get one of those. They were horrible. I was a pizza snob. Until recently. I tried it again and it seems they’ve made improvements. The crust is better, the sauce is better.

What they changed: They listened to customers. I learned about this listening to Tom Shapiro’s talk on “Using Neuroscience to Optimize Customer Acquisition,” and I had to read more about it.

In 2009, they ran a commercial showing the negative feedback they got in their ad.¬†Their stand-out feature– delivery in 30 mins– wasn’t remarkable anymore.

In “Dominos Pizza Turnaround” the CEO says, “There comes a time when you know you’ve got to make a change.” The feedback they show from customers is cringeworthy stuff. In grainy video, you can see customers complaining about the bad quality.

And then you see the staff respond.

They used the negative comments to get excited about making improvements. “We want people to love our pizza.” After they made improvements, they got to come back and say: Yeah! People said our crust tastes like cardboard! Now we’re fixing it! It’s a great story.

And now I want pizza. (Actually after drafting this we ordered Dominos. I got a Dominos pizza with a little bottle of chili oil, and rocket to put on top from their Italiano range.)

Own your shortcomings and they’re yours

My friend and I¬†discovered this saying by mishearing or misinterpreting another common adage. 80’s feel good author Richard Bach said “Argue for your limitations, and they’re yours.”

What I heard was “Own your shortcomings” as in know your shortcomings, and be master of them. And “They’re yours” meant to me, no one can use them against you.

I think that can be applied here. Products or services can always make improvements.

Listen to customers, be upfront about the shortcomings, and show where you’re making improvements. After you make improvements you can show the new positive feedback.

It takes some bravery though to own your shortcomings. But if you don’t, your competition will.

 

A few of my favourite things

I’ve tried a few times to do photo 365. I can’t commit to a daily anything.

I decided to pick a photo theme not dependent on frequency. My theme is “My Favourite Things” and I will count up to 100. I mean to capture things as I come across them.

To start, my first few are absolutely intentional, starting with my absolute favourite things. These are things that if you really know me, you know these are my favourite things.

I want to use them for reflection.¬†I love Thurzday Adamz’s¬†Gratitude posts she puts on Instagram and FB.¬†She writes

Today is a good day; I can greet the sunrise with a smile, I have a fireplace to keep my house warm, candles to light the dark evenings, oils to scent my space, and inspirational books to read. These are things to be grateful for. These things make life worth living.

Today is a good day… These are things to be grateful for. These things make life worth living.

I’ll start writing a little longer in the posts too. It’s only a little thing, but feels like a big deal to me.

One of my #favouritethings 1/100 #tinyhouse

A post shared by Heather McNamee (@nearlythere) on

2/100

3/100

4/100

Dotted fossil rocks. One of my favourite things. And I have quite a collection. #favouritethings 4/100

A post shared by Heather McNamee (@nearlythere) on

5/100

6/100

This guy. 6/100 #favouritethings #tinyhorse. Actually #flocked things could just be an entry on its own.

A post shared by Heather McNamee (@nearlythere) on

7/100

Organic Reach is Dead -Pay to play

In the Golden Age of the Algorithm the networks have complete control over what you see.

The move to things like Facebook instant articles, and Google’s AMP pages mean that readers may never even reach your site.

Soon they will control all of the traffic, through their paid portals. Is it like AOL all over again?

They have been laying the groundwork for this.¬†Facebook started increasing the mix of friends and family in newsfeeds. They knew this would provide a better experience.¬†Companies were penalised.Their¬†followers weren’t getting their updates.¬†They asked people to make sure to “get notifications” – but no one bothers.

Brands were finding their audience was even less than they thought it was because Facebook was fibbing about the view numbers on videos.¬†Also in Nov 2016, a bug in Facebook showed that organic reach was even¬†STILL lower than that. Your organic reach counted on Facebook includes people who don’t view your entire post. ¬†Less than 5% of page fans see your content.

And no one is clicking! Did anyone ever click on Twitter? This article from 2011 complained about the widespread issue. And nothing has changed.

A natural reaction would be to increase your output. Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner says:¬†Don’t. (The whole episode is great. #134: Preparing for Future Traffic Declines: What Content Creators Need to Know.)¬†Now, he explained, Facebook penalizes¬†companies that are trying to increase the volume of organic reach.

You have to pay to play!

Guardian argued that human “gatekeepers” still hold the key. They act as curators to trawl through the mediocre stew of information, and serve up delightful selections.¬†Yet even now tools like Pinterest can predict what you want. Will you even need to do the curating yourself?

Pinterest uses “deep learning” to analyse the data you have already give it (the pins you pinned). And then it takes that to predict which pins you’ll most likely pin.¬†And it can suggest the board you would like to pin it to.

Here’s an idea. Why doesn’t Pinterest just pin them for me and I’ll sit in front of my computer and watch a steady stream of digital crack cocaine?

Since brands will soon have to pay to play. It would reduce all of my entertainment down to a slow stream of advertisements. How grim.

A simple spinning on a stick demo for shows

In my previous rant about the student spindle, I pointed out you’d be better off showing people to spin with a CD spindle, and showing them how simple it is to make one, than giving them a way-too-heavy spindle.

You really can spin with anything, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money.

And spinning with a stick is a great way to teach anyone the power of twist.

How to give a simple handspinning demo with a stick

I did this demo when we went with my guildies to the Rare Breeds Show & Sale¬†recently. This is basically a very condensed version of¬†Abby Franquemont’s Make yarn with a pencil demo. I found I could make it shorter, because you I had¬†lots of takers¬†coming over and waiting to have a go!

Probably all¬†of the terminology will go over someone’s head when you demo this. But the idea of adding twist to keep fibres together will be¬†clearly understood at the end. It looks long, but takes about 7 mins¬†do the demo with groups of 3-4.

Supplies: Good combed top. I used BFL, and it was nice and not compacted. Very important. Sticks. I used sticks from cat toys, chop sticks, etc. Stick should be somewhat smooth if possible?

  1. Set up the challenge: Using combed top, show how to take the very end of the tip and pull a tiny bit out from your fibre supply. Everyone gets a tiny floating piece, which they pull out from the end.
    • Explain this grew from a sheep.
    • Staple¬†length:¬†You can’t pull it apart if you keep your hands close, but if you put your hands at the ends, you can slowly draft out, and pull it apart. Let them see how gently they pull it until it comes apart.
    • OK now we have a challenge! We don’t want it to pull apart. We need twist.
    • At this point they understand that the top is made of fibres that would come¬†apart if you pulled them.
  2. The fibre: Using combed top, rip down a thumb’s width strip about 16 inches long. Give one to each kid, and one for you! (this will come in handy later.)
    • Drafting: Show how you can gently pull the fibre again, but don’t pull too hard because you will pull it apart. Move along the length, and show how you can draft.
    • If someone breaks theirs, hand them yours.
  3. The stick: Now add the stick.
    • With your thumb holding down¬†on the end of the fibre, show how you take the other end and wind it around the stick.
    • If they run our of space they can push it down.
  4. The magic reveal: Check the twist!
    • Take someone’s example, and unroll it. Show how the twist was added when they wrapped around the stick, and it’s not lost when you unroll it.
    • Show you can tug it and it won’t come apart.
    • Ask: Why is that?¬†At this point they can see they added twist and the fibres won’t come apart.
    • You might need to add a little twist as you unwind, to help it along!
  5. Plying and tying
    • You hold both ends and ask them to hold the centre point. Then you bring two ends together to fold it. You can explain this is “plying” which means to fold.
    • And you tie the two ends together to lock the twist.
    • Then they can see their little fibre strip now looks like yarn!
  6. Let them take it home. They are¬†delighted to have something they can take with them. So simple ūüôā

Below you can see all the lovely new yarn they made. Usually, the kids were automatically comparing and could see some were better than others.  If they start comparing, you could ask what they think they could do to improve Рand they can usually figure it out!

Troubleshooting

In this example, where mum is helping, they are wrapping it the wrong way, letting the fibres slip so they wrap flat.  She was leading the fibre to wrap around the stick without adding twist. You can see the fibre is flat against the stick. We spotted that and then the kid got set up and was able to do this on her own. She was 4!

Handspinning with a pencil

Abby Franquemont breaks down a demo of teaching spinning on a pencil. You can learn enough in this demo to understand staple length, drafting and the power of twist.

Handspinning from the tip of a stick

This technique is an upgrade from that would be to spin off the tip from a stick. This is nearly how the Navajo Spindle works, except without the whorl. It would work if you had people sitting down, so they could get to their lap easier.

 

 

 

The scourge of the heavy “student spindle”

For the third time in as many weeks, on Saturday a would-be spinner told me of her woes trying to spin on a spindle. I diagnosed her problem: a way-too-heavy spindle.

I have been delighted recently to demo spinning and learn more about how to break down the steps and condense my tutorials down to get people spinning happily as quickly as possible.

I’ve learned that giving students the right tools can make this much faster and easier.¬†I also do think the beauty of a spindle is part of the joy of the craft. I’m delighted to share handmade¬†tools with beginners. I don’t think they should be relegated to using something brutally plain.

So why, please tell me, is the first spinning experience most people have (including me!) with ugly, heavy, lumbering spindles that take two twirls before they conk out?

Why so HEAVY?

I remember teaching someone spindle spinning at a show, and an hour later she came back with the dreaded Student Spindle. That brute is 85¬†grams? Apparently it’s not just Ashford, because Kromski also makes a heavy student spindle at 80 grams. It spins¬†reluctantly, and the weight means it’s physically limited in the size of yarn it can spin.

Can someone explain this to me??¬†Great for plying, I guess? Yes, I wish they sold it as a plying spindle. Does anyone actually use this beast of a student spindle? ¬†Even the “Maxi”plying ¬†spindles sold by Bosworth top out at 56g.¬†I assume it’s for making bulky yarns?

I think it’s a terrible shame to give learners¬†such as HEAVY spindle.¬†These heavy spindles¬†seem to be the only spindle on offer when someone is looking for an inexpensive spindle to learn on. If a vendor is going to only carry a few spindles to help people get started, they will tend to veer towards the only “student spindle” option out there.

In fact it is the one that was sold to me on the first spinning workshop I went on. ¬†I tried to spin when I got home without a teacher’s help, and I created¬†some horribly over spun heavy yarn. It was awful and I didn’t touch spinning again until years later.

This great article on Knitty.com about selecting spindles gives a helpful table. They recommend you would spin a worsted weight yarn on a 70 gram spindle. ¬†Making a worsted weight single is¬†a challenge on its own. Mechanically this means you need to draft out more fibre to make your yarn. You need a thicker fibre supply. If you have a compacted hand-dyed fibre, then you can’t do much pre-drafting.¬†From my experience a lighter weight spindle will mean you have to draft less fibre¬†and¬†you can use a looser fibre supply, and even do some pre-drafting.

I would say you want to stay in the range of 28-50 grams for a beginner spindle. This will be in the range of spinning fingering, sport and DK weight yarns.

Trying to save money?

OK I can understand if people want to give learners a chance to learning spinning without having to make a major investment. Paying £10 or so for a spindle *seems* better than buying a handmade spindle for £30. But to me, that is money wasted.

If the cost is the main issue, I think a much better student spindle is one made of materials lying about the house. Handmade and simple.

Don’t have a spindle but you¬†have a pencil handy?¬†Yes you can spin wool with a pencil.¬†Abby Franquemont has proven you can pretty much spin wool with anything. But the mechanics of a spindle with a whorl makes spinning much faster and more efficient.

There are some great tutorials about making spindles. Such as with CD and a dowel or toy-wheel spindles in this Spin Off free guide on DIY spinning equipment. Though even these requires a trip to the hardware store.  (oh! here you can make a CD spindle without the grommets if you have some blu-tac!)

How about making one out of a door knob and a chopstick! Or just whip a turkish spindle together with some twigs! These homemade spindles show that you can spin with anything, and if someone is inspired they can see this can be done with a low-cost and easily with what they have lying around.

Affordable spindles

I’m so keen on getting people to spin,¬†I’ve given away some of my spindles in the past. Now I need to get new ones specifically for teaching and demoing spindle spinning, and I want something affordable but still really beautiful.

You don’t have to get a gem-studded¬†Golding spindle for over $150 USD. (Though if you’re trying to figure out what to get my for me birthday, the¬† “BLACK EYED SUSAN” would be lovely, thanks!) There are lots of really nice affordable spindles.

My search is focused on spindles in the UK.¬†Woodland Turnery has hand-turned¬†bottom (approx 45-60grms)¬†and top whorl spindles (approx 30-50grms)¬†for ¬£13.95. Kevin Rhodes has a beginner spindle at 35-40g and it’s only ¬£13.95. Most of Adelaide Walker’s spindles are under ¬£20.

Luckily, the UK Spinners for sale board on Ravelry  has come through.  Buying secondhand equipment can save you about 10-25%. The nice thing is, if you keep your equipment in good condition it holds its value better than most things you buy!

I got a great deal on two Kerry spindles. Even still, brand new, they are great value. Look at this one, a beautiful wood, and a cool 30g for £20. I think that is a great spindle.

In a search on Etsy for sellers in the UK with spindles £25 and under I found several vendors. ThomasWoodandWool has a 40g hand turned beeswax finished spindle for £8.50.

You can also check out the UK Spindlers group on Ravelry for some good deals.

Find a special spindle

The best place to choose a special spindle would be at a fibre festival. Ideally you could hold the spindle in your hands to choose it.

Pro-tip: Make sure to check the vendors at the shows you’re thinking about attending. I was disappointed after trawling all over Edinburgh Yarn Fest that few vendors were selling spindles, and of course¬†there were no¬†specialist spindle makers. The spindles¬†available were too heavy, poorly made or uninspiring mass produced spindles. (Nothing wrong with mass-produced, but I’m talking about finding that beautiful spindle.) ¬†But EYF¬†aren’t claiming to be a fibre fest per se, it’s more of a knitting fest with a few bits of other things.

So check and make sure you’re headed to a fibre fest!

I had the best experience at Fibre East with all the spindle vendors. I remember seeing these crafts people’s¬†hands all gnarly from woodwork. They also let you¬†have a go! I felt a bit shy about trying them, but Ian of IST encouraged me to give a¬†tiny Turkish spindle¬†a try. It went on spinning and spinning and spinning. And I fell in love. SOLD!

The Interweave¬†Guide to choosing a drop spindle¬†mentions the option of getting either a low or high whorl spindle. I’ve noticed some actually have both possibilities. With hooks to spin high-whorl and¬†notches to spend low-whorl on the other end. To me that seems like the best option, since you won’t know until you try which suits you best. I really liked a high-whorl spindle when started, but now that I have the half-hitch down, I find it’s easier to slide my hand along the thread, and flick the top of the spindle.

However if you can’t try it in person stick to some tried and true highly recommended spindle makers:

Conclusion: Stop the spread of The Student Spindle

OK my rant is OVER. If you can explain to me why student spindles are so heavy, please enlighten me.

If you know of some great, affordable spindles, I’d also love to hear!