Saturday, March 21, 2009

Do You Love Books?

I must admit, I was born a booklover. Both my parents were avid readers. My Dad belong to several “…of the Month” clubs, and one of my favorite photos of him is where he is seated at his desk, and nearby there is a pile of books stacked almost to the ceiling. I do come by it naturally. When I was four I had my very own bookcase filled with books. I still have it, as well as some of those favorites from way back when. That's me on the left, in my favorite dress at the time, with roosters all over it. Over the years I’ve purchased many books, and while some have been brand new, most have been used books, ex-library books, or vintage books. I seem to prefer older books. Once I read an author I like, I like to find all their books. Or collect all the books on a particular subject. I have bookcases in every room of the house except the bathroom, which only houses a magazine rack.

Collecting books, like any other hobby, can be expensive, even when looking for bargain priced books. A few years ago, I was made aware of the website PaperbackSwap, and over time, my library has increased while my book budget has shrunk!

Now, before you jump to the first conclusion, let me tell you: this website isn’t just for paperbacks. I don’t even like to buy paperbacks, because usually I want to keep the book and therefore want a hardcover. But PaperbackSwap has all versions of books: paperback, hardcover, audio cassette, and audio CD.

The basic rules are this: You create an account, and list five books that you would like to give away. Right up front you are given three credits, which you can then use to “order” books from other members. When someone requests one of your books, you get an e-mail message. If you agree to send the book, then on the website you will be given the requestor’s name and address on a printable label. You pay the postage cost to send out the book. When the book is received, you get a credit for it. That, basically, is it. If you see a book you want, you can request it, and soon it’s on the way to your address. For free!

Although part of the idea can be to receive a book, read it, and then re-list it for someone else to claim, you are not bound to re-trade any book you receive. I’ve kept over 95% of the books I’ve received.

Most of the books I’ve requested have been hardcover, and with only a few small exceptions, many have been in very good to excellent condition, many being like-new. These books would have cost a pretty penny to purchase new in the store, even at a discount. I’ve been able to use several as gifts.

The books I list for trade are books that I’ve decided I no longer have an interest in, or have duplicate copies of, or are paperbacks that I’ve replaced with hardcover editions.

Some categories on PaperbackSwap are less well-stocked than others. If you are looking for current fiction, you’ll find it, although there might be a wait for the really popular books. No problem, just add the book to your wish list, and when it’s available, you’ll be notified. Knitting books, however, are scarce as hens’ teeth, and get snapped up the moment they get listed.

Of course, browsing the site has led me to discover all sorts of new books and authors that I’d never even heard of. And, since there are books of every age, I’ve even found a few vintage editions to add to my collection.

This little narrative just scratches the surface of how PaperbackSwap works. They also have sister sites for CDs and DVDs. If you’re interested in books, and in saving money, check it out!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Stash Busting - March Update

Stash Busting is going well! The only thing is, I’m not sticking exclusively to that bucket o’ yarn that I featured last month. I’m trying to focus on those yarns, but sometimes I just need to work other projects, still busting stash, but not necessarily that stash.

However, I have managed to complete four more projects from that particular collection of yarn. First of all, here’s a photo of that stash today:

I pulled out most of the small balls and took the ones I wouldn’t use to the local Goodwill.

Out of the remainder, I made the following:

Two hats for charity. I had this rainbow hat started last month. I was intending it to fit a child, however, I got carried away, and it’s actually a little large even on me. I added it to the charity box. That yarn was Red Heart Worsted. The black hat is from the one ball of Phentex Angorel. This is also acrylic, but a brushed, fuzzy yarn. I started at the top, aiming to make a tam style, but changed that midstream, to a hybrid style hat. It fits an adult, and went into the charity box as well.
A felted bowl. This crochet project used up the 1+ balls of Lion Wool. I had fun crocheting it, and like the way it turned out. A pair of socks. There was only one ball of Cervinia Jacquard in the container, but I knew there were more balls elsewhere in the house, so I found another one and knit this pair of socks, mostly during lunchtime at work, and while on the treadmill. I like making the socks a little longer and shaping the leg. This pair will go in my Etsy shop. Projects in the works are a crocheted market bag, and another water bottle cozy. More on those in the next update.

There are a few balls in the bucket that I’m going to store away where they belong. For instance – that pink chenille from Hobby Lobby. I know there are three other balls elsewhere in the house, and why this ball got separated, I don’t know. And that pale blue Brunswick cotton has some companions in a box upstairs. So part of stash busting is actually stash management. But don’t worry – once this container is empty, there’s another one lurking just around the corner!