Welcome to Annie’s Wool Land
Professor Annie Lang has a special activity in her life… and it has not only taken on a life of it’s own, but an entire room in her home. While she has been knitting since she was 9 years old, it is only recently that she began spinning her own yarn. Annie is now not only a dedicated knitter, but a confirmed spinner and fiber maker.
Once she caught the spinning bug, she became interested in not only making yarn but in following the process all the way back to the animal from which the wool comes from. Her sitting room now holds containers of wool, fiber from animals besides sheep, and fleece in various stages of processing. Her most recently acquired batch of wool came from a sheep named Scooter, a fleece she got for free. Once the wool is sheared from the sheep, it goes through a washing process (called scouring)
in order to “desheep”, or remove the oils, dirt, and vegetable matter from the fiber. The oils in the wool serve to waterproof the fabric, so “desheeping” can clean the wool to a wide range of textures. “The wool sweater that I knitted for my son was intended to be warm and somewhat waterproof, so I didn’t completely ‘desheep’ the fiber.” After the wool has dried completely, it can either be dyed or left as is. Annie has used food coloring or Kool-Aid packets to dye her wool. After the drying and dying stage, the wool must be carded, or brushed free of knots and debris. This part of the process can be done with hand paddles or a mechanical carder. Annie owns one of the simplest types of machine carders, called a hand crank drum carder. After the wool is carded, the spinning can begin.
Spinning is the process by which single strands of carded fiber are twisted together to a desired thickness. Annie has experimented with different fibers and weights to produce different textures in the knitted fabric, including beaded yarns that she strings by hand. She enjoys working with silk fiber because it not only lightens and softens the fabric, but it also drapes much better. The spinning wheel that Annie uses was a Christmas gift last year, which commenced the Year of Spinning. “This year is the Year of Spinning. Next year will be the Year of Weaving. I’m interested in making woven rather than knitted fabric and in the fact that one can spin the fibers used to make woven fabric.” She often spins projects while listening to audio books or while watching Green Bay Packers football games. Yes, the spinning wheel is mobile enough to move in front of her television.
Annie is also becoming more familiar with the textures of a variety of fibers. Wool, nylons, and plant fibers all offer varying weights and feel. She also owns a book that details the differences in the weight, length, and feel of the fleece for many sheep breeds. But, she’s not restricted
herself to sheep alone. At the Hoosier Hills Fiber Festival, she purchased a fleece for $20, wool that came from an alpaca goat named Stormy. She explains that the investment will be well worth it, as alpaca yarn is often more expensive and much finer and softer than most wool yarns. Annie continues her search for other interesting wools and fibers. But what about the original, Scooter the sheep? “I don’t know where Scooter is. I know his parents moved to Indianapolis, so he may have followed them there.”
Fletcher Bell’s Three in a Row
PhD student Mark Bell always tells his students to finish things. Unfortunately, doling out that kind of advice normally requires the one doling it out to actually follow it. As it applies to Mark Bell it also applies to his novelist alter-ego, Fletcher Bell.
Bell graduated college with an English degree and aspirations of becoming a novelist. He wrote a few books, but none really measured up. Motto in mind, he recently revisited some of his old writings. If they were good enough, he decided he would finish them. While most didn’t make the cut, one book stood out – Three in a Row, a detective story. As Bell read through the pages, he was unable to put it down, even though he knew the ending. In Bell’s words, “Oh crap, its not bad.” Determined to finish it, Bell had his book professionally edited, a friend of his designed the cover, and he recruited a group of students to put together a trailer to be posted on Youtube. Bell decided to take the self-publishing route largely because he wanted to test its viability and learn a bit more about the community. Much to his surprise, he discovered a huge community of self-published writers who were incredibly supportive and willing to help. In addition to finding a supportive network, he also found a willing audience. Thus far the sales of Three in a Row have largely come from those involved in the self-publishing community.
Three in a Row is a detective story set in a college town in Indiana. Ben Hudson, a campus policeman, discovers the body of a dead girl, naked, with a game of tic-tac-toe carved on her torso. Teaming up with professor Tristan Clarke, the two set out to find the murderer. The mood of the book is dark, incredibly dark. In addition to the story, Three in a Row has a corresponding soundtrack written by Bell exclusively for the book. Written in D minor, “because that is the saddest most depressing key of all time,” the music sets a mood familiar to anyone who has survived a Bloomington winter; cold, wet, and claustrophobic. In the process of writing, Bell would play the soundtrack over and over again for inspiration. As Bell states, “the book is meant to be read with the soundtrack playing.”
So why the pseudonym? The answer is pretty simple. Mark Bell has a publishing track record in both the academy and in the software business (he has sold over 25,000 books). Dropping his first name in favor of his middle name, allows Bell to separate work from play and prevent any confusion on part of his readers. That said, Fletcher Bell is not just a publishing name. With a website, and a twitter page that boasts over 1,000 Fletcher Bell has taken on a life of his own.
You can purchase a kindle copy of Three in a Row from Amazon here. If you feel inclined don’t be shy about leaving a review on Amazon. They are more important for the sale of self-published books than you might think.
An Update on 3D@IU
When not busy with classes, Chris Eller and Sean Connolly are busy turning IU into one of the premiere 3D destinations in the country. 3D@IU, their unofficial title for all the activities going on around campus that relate to the production of 3D, is slowly but steadily growing. In the spring the department once again plans on offering a special section of T452 that focuses exclusively on 3D production and storytelling. So far 28 students have been through the class, and their work has been featured at the IU Cinema, the Hoosier Heartland Film festival, ESPN 3D, and Beijing’s 3d China Experience Center.
Recently, Connolly was invited to serve on a panel at the 4th annual 3D Entertainment Summit with some of the biggest names in 3D including Bill Chapman, director of 3D production at Turner Studios, Buzz Hays, director of Sony’s 3D technology center, and Howard Postley, COO & CTO of 3ality Digital.
On the production end, Eller has installed a 50 megapixel video wall in the advanced visualization lab.
This week’s brown bag presentation featured new Telecom faculty member Paul Wright and Professor Bill Yarber from School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation and The Kinsey Institute. Their presentations focused on male pornography in the United States; what it is, how it is consumed, and what it predicts. You can listen to the complete audio of the session here.
Paul Wright: “U.S. males and pornography, 1973-2010: Consumption, predictors, correlates.”
Paul Wright joined IU this year as Assistant Professor. Graduate education: California State University, Fullerton; University of Arizona. Teaching interests include sex in the media, telecommunications processes and effects, media and health, and communication technology theory. Research interests include media effects and health communication, particularly sexual socialization and sexual health. Some representative publications of his work in this field have appeared in The Journal of Sex Research, the American Journal of Media Psychology, the Journal of Family Communication, and Sexuality & Culture.
Bill Yarber: “What is pornography?”
William L. Yarber has authored or co-authored over 130 scientific reports on sexual risk behavior and AIDS/STD prevention in professional journals. He and colleagues from The Kinsey Institute, the University of Kentucky, University of Guelph, and Oxford University are currently focusing on research concerning male condom use errors and problems. At the request of the U.S. federal government, Bill published the country’s first secondary school AIDS prevention curriculum, AIDS: What Young People Should Know (1987). His secondary school curriculum, STD: A Guide for Today’s Young Adults (1985), is considered to have set the standard for a new health behavior approach to school STD prevention education. He is co-author of the textbook: Yarber, W. L., Sayad, B. W., & Strong, B. (2010). Human Sexuality: Diversity in Contemporary America, New York: McGraw-Hill. This text is used in over 250 colleges and university throughout the United States. Bill chaired the National Guidelines Task Force which developed the Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education: Kindergarten – 12th Grade, published by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). Bill is past president of The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS) and past chair of SIECUS board of directors. His awards include the Professional Standard of Excellence from the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists; the SSSS Award of Distinguished Scientific Achievement; the Research Council Award from the American School Health Association; and the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching and the Graduate Student Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award at Indiana University.
Random Quote of the Week
“A dirty book is never a dusty one.” – Bill Yarber, at this week’s Brown Bag Presentation
Nicky Lewis: Welcome to Annie’s Wool Land, Brown Bag
Mike Lang: Fletcher Bell’s Three in a Row, An Update on 3D@IU