This is my favourite card. Andy knows me so well! The other thing I got for my birthday, with a gift card from work and some supermarket vouchers, is a DVD player. What's that to do with knitting? Read on!
Americans have wonderful resources - including knitting DVDs. Elizabeth Zimmerman's TV series is available. You can buy DVDs where Meg Swanson talks you through all the stages in a lace shawl or a fair isle vest. You can buy the Knitting Daily TV series which features the authors of your favourite books and knitters you'd love to meet. You can buy a DVD by Andrea Wong showing you how to do Portuguese knitting, which is even faster than Continental, so I hear. You can buy them, but if you are British you cannot play them without a head-aching plunge into the world of technology.
I tried contacting the knitters, and they would reply sweetly and pass me onto their tech guys. This never helped, because the techie guys speak another language and assume you have a level of knowledge and gadgetry that would, if you were so inclined, enable you to launch a small satellite, but really doesn't apply to the average knitter.
Next I tried hunting on the Internet for information and Lo! After a several months determination, all was revealed. If you are in the UK and you wish to play DVDs from the USA, here is the situation as I understand it:
The producers of DVDs divide up the world into regions and make DVDs which will only play on equipment set for that region. This is, they say, to combat piracy, but personally I suspect that all it does it make life difficult for innocent British people who want to watch American DVDs. Anyway, to continue with the solution:
DVD players are made so they can play anything and be sold anywhere, but because of this anti-piracy thing, before the unit leaves the factory, it is set to play one region only. But, and this is the important bit, it has the CAPACITY to play any disc from any region. Enter the clever and generous people who make up the Internet community. If there is a way to make your machine play a disc from any region they will post the solution on the Internet. This is called a hack. Type in the model number of your model and the word 'hack' and see if there is an answer.
If your machine is new, then applying a hack will invalidate your guarantee - so do not do this with new and expensive equipment. Instead, head for your local supermarket/favourite bargain shop and look for a cheap DVD player that advertises it will 'play it all'. Then check on the Internet to see if a hack is available, and if it is, buy the machine (mine is a very neat Phillips machine that was under £30) take it home, apply the hack and BINGO! You can play American knitting DVDs in your own home at last.
Today I sent off for Andrea Wong's DVD at last. I may or may not take to Portuguese knitting - but at least I can explore the option now.