geek geek

"we're ready for our closeup, Mr. DeMille."

Gentle Readers, may I present the new Unpattern lineup?

Bottom-Up Sleeveless Pullover

Bottom-Up Drop-Shoulder PulloverBottom-Up Set-In Sleeve Pullover

Top-Down Sleevless Pullover

Top-Down Raglan Pullover (not new, but a favorite)

Top-Down Set-In Sleeve PulloverWe're ready for the ride in the back of the station wagon over the Grapevine into LaLa Land for the Big Show! Stay tuned for their début... they're sure to be giddy.

you know you're hooked when...

... you're headed out the door for the day and seriously think:

"Pack my lip balm?
Naah. I'll look for a lip balm app."

(Oh yeah, and a hairbrush app, too.)

There's this, so I'm not that crazy, right?

Proof that too many app developers are boys. Beer before lip balm? Really.

three new things

... that make my heart go pitta-pat.

  1. Evernote: a piece of software with matching web functionality that lets you clip screen images, grab .pdfs, .jpgs and .docs, and archive them for reference later. I'm seeing people use them to snap photos of wine labels in restaurants and upload them to an Evernote folder so they can remember them later. But really, it's for anything (ANYTHING!) you want to make a note of and remember. (That's why their icon is an elephant – get it? get it?

    Geek that I am, I immediately started using it for the two things foremost in my mind today: our upcoming trip to Europe, and (what else?) knitting.

    The Travel folder has .pdfs of downloaded walking maps around Bath; a screenshot of the directions to our hotel in Bath; directions to our hotel in London; the website with contact info. for our rental apartment in Germany, etc. etc.

    The Knitting folder has .pdfs of the sock patterns I've downloaded from Ravelry, and I'll archive in there some other .pdf'd patterns I've purchased (like the Somewhat Cowl, which I might find yarn for overseas – you never know!).

    Geek heaven, I tell ya. Check it out. There's a free version, with a little bit of storage, and capability for storing .pdfs, .jpgs, and I think screen shots only (no .docs). But the paid version is $45/year if you pre-pay for the year. I can see myself getting WAAAY more than $45 worth of fun outta this one, so I'm on board.

    Interestingly enough, one of the most practical uses for me is pattern writing: I don't always like to un-dock my big-dog laptop to pull it into the living room to write, but I do a lot of my knitting and pattern writing on the sofa in there. So far, I've been scribbling down notes on paper (how 19th century!), or taking notes on the little laptop we have in there (remember the Great Laptop Meltdown of 2007? the little iBook I used for months is now our travel/accessory computer. Yeah, I know. Nice work if you can get it, eh?). But transferring files back and forth on a flash drive, and cutting and pasting into my main pattern file got to feel a little awkward, hard as that is to believe. Now, I can start writing patterns in Evernote on the other computer; Evernote syncs itself automatically every so often, and I have the note itself on the hard drive on my big dog. If I'm writing patterns in Evernote, there's no need for me to cut and paste, and then when I'm done writing the draft that way, I can dump the whole thing into InDesign and format the pattern! Too fab.
  2. ColourMart. Knitters, you have been warned. Scroll on and look away, if you value your pocketbook. But (psst!): Cashmere. Mongolian Cashmere, spun in (wait for it) Scotland and Italy. I read the words "Loro Piana yarn" and I just about lost my mind.
    Registered, prowled, shelled out... and now I have two pullovers' worth of glorious lace-weight/fingering-weight cashmere winging my way from the UK.
    Here are my new babies:

    Left: 3/28NM Cashmere Heavy Lace weight, which I plan to turn into a 2-ply ON MY WHEEL because I WILL KNOW HOW TO DO THAT!
    Right: 6/28NM Cashmere Fingering weight.
    Apparently, the reign of grey continues.
  3. Last, but certainly not least: Falafel Chips. (It's not every day I get to eat a food with its own website.)

    Why, oh why, did I not try these before? They claim there are 13 different vegetables crammed into these babies; just enough of an aroma of virtue to make me want to hug them before I eat them. Potato chips? Feh. Bring on the Falafel, baby!

because the Universe is kind...

I won't keep y'all in suspense.

 Does this give you an indication how the Big Transfer went?




Now I will instantly blow my veneer of cool and reveal that I'm looking forward to doing admin. tomorrow and entering our financial stuff into Quicken (after this 2-week blip).

Yeah, Boyhood gave me that same look when I suggested alphabetizing our CDs as a fun way to spend our Thanksgiving holiday.

Some people just don't know how to party.


pride goeth before a brick

Quietly, in the background where y'all cant see it, Casa Akabini has been hurtling into the twenty-first century.

First, there was the new cell phone, because late last month I thought I'd lost my phone somewhere at the shop. In the ensuing days of phonelessness, I was prompted to call up Verizon and ask them if I were due for an upgrade. Sho 'nuff, I was overdue -- FOUR YEARS overdue.
(Okay, so maybe I don't like change.)

The new phone really is all that and a bag of chips: it's an LG enV.

(*Of course* I got it because it was orange.)

Then, Boyhood and I sprang for a new Airport Extreme when we were down in The Land of Apple for a weekend trip... and managed to install and configure it our very own selves, even down to remote wireless printing from either computer to either printer.

Now that's some space-age technology.

At this point (about a week ago), we were feeling pretty smug: Himself had gotten a new cell phone, too - one he doesn't feel like bashing with a hammer 12 times daily, and we were printing and wirelessly surfing and texting on our new phones...

And then yesterday morning, I was brought face to face with that Greek term: HUBRIS.

For lo, my trusty laptop, holder of all my secrets, keeper of all my pixels, guardian of my most private thoughts (and Quicken accounts!) - BRICKED.

Just plain wouldn't restart.
Zilch, nada, nessun dorma.
Gray screen, Apple logo, and spinning gear of doom.

You don't notice how much you depend on something staying the same until it's just plain not there.
And now, of course, I'm realizing some vulnerabilities in my systems: like how can I print patterns and fill orders while it's down?
I have some workarounds that are possible, like loading the software onto Boy's computer here, but they're clunky and would require hours of work.

So before y'all get too concerned, let me reassure you:
* I back up onto a remote hard drive DAILY. (Lessons from the Harlot's recent bricking were taken to heart.) (Thank god.)
* I have an appointment this afternoon a my nearest Apple store (a mere 2 hours away) with a Genius at the Genius Bar to see if he can shock it to life. (I'm imagining paddles, like in House, M.D.: "Clear!")

So, all things considered, it could be worse.
I keep telling myself that.
Maybe this afternoon, I'll believe it.

Wish me us luck!

a sleeve tutorial

In Which We Discuss the Various Merits of Picking Up Stitches for Sleeves Around the Armhole and Knitting Them from the Shoulder Down.

Several months (!) ago, I last left Rosemarkie in a sleeveless state. In June, I had picked up her button bands at Knitting Camp and worked some lovely buttonholes to accommodate some great buttons from Victoria. [Teaser: photos to follow... perhaps by Sunday?]

The next phase required some ol' fashioned figgerin': the kind I do all the time for my Unpatterns, but which somehow here created a little road block toward progress. (The wedding knitting provided the other road blocks necessary to bring this and other projects to a screaming halt.)

Before Rowan discontinued their fabulous "Rowanspun 4-ply," I procured many skeins of it in my favorite colorway from Churchmouse. And, since my taste in yarn is screamingly consistent, this yarn matched not one, but ALL the colors in Rosemarkie. And also since knitting a garment with Rowanspun 4-ply would take size 00 needles and more time than God has, I elected to use it *doubled* for Rosie's sleeves.

Swatching ensued. I, unlike the Harlot, love a good swatching. Much swatching was had by all. I tried smaller needles single-stranded, larger needles double-stranded, and swatched away furiously until I had the right combination of strands and needle sizes to get a fabric that matched the (double-thick) consistency of the Fair Isle work in the body.

The winning combination? Two strands of Rowanspun 4-ply and size 4 needles. (My favorite size, incidentally.)

Now comes the geeky part: picking up stitches and working the sleeves from the shoulders down.

My aunt who taught me to knit does this all the time; in fact, it's the only way to do sleeves that makes sense to us in our family. Why the *@&% would you cast on for the cuff and head up to the armpit, hoping and praying that your sleeve will be long enough? Why would you do that, when you could work the sleeves down to the cuff so you can try it on as you go?

[Of course, there are several situations in which it makes good, clean sense to do sleeves from the cuff up: were I doing the same Fair Isle colorwork on these sleeves, I would need to knit in the same direction here as I had in the body. But stockinette sleeves? On a drop-shoulder sleeve shape? No problem.]

So here you have
Karen's Basic Approach Toward Knitting Sleeves from Shoulder to Cuff:
[Beware: Beyond Here Lie Dragons Numbers.]

1. Use a 16" needle in the size you'll need for gauge in your sleeve, and a strand of your yarn. Begin at the center of the armpit, pick up and knit 3 stitches for every 4 opportunities all the way around the armhole. (Note: due to the squashy row gauge of the Fair Isle body, I needed a different rate of pickup for Rosie. I compared the # of inches in the circumference of my sleeve opening to the # of sts/1" from my swatch and divided things out to see what I needed. Turned out to be 5 stitches picked up for every 6 opportunities.]

[Note: my needle tips are up at the upper shoulder because I knit partway around in the first round before taking this photo. Do not be fooled.] 

2. If you have some bound-off stitches creating a flat bottom to your armhole opening, place a marker before and a marker after the stitches picked up along that flat bottom area. I decreased all these stitches away in an armhole gusset (in the same manner as a traditional Gansey sweater), because my armhole width was a full 11", pretty wide for a sweater these days. Didn't need those underarm stitches hanging around any longer than was necessary, nossir.

3. Begin working in the round, working 2 decreases every round as follows: knit all the way around the armhole, up to the first marker flanking the flat bottom of the underarm. Slip marker, K2togtbl (or SSK, if you prefer), knit to 2 sts before second marker, K2tog, slip marker. Repeat all this, thus decreasing 2 sts each round, until you have no sts remaining between your markers. (If you end up with 1 stitch left, just remove one of your markers – doesn't matter which one – and carry on as if nothing was the matter.

4. Now stop and count the total # of stitches on your needle.

5. Take the bottom hem of your garment (which is probably edged in the same edging you would use for the cuffs, right?) and wrap it around one of your wrists, pinching the fabric together to create a comfortable circumference for a cuff. Count the # of sts in the pinched-off portion: that's the # of sts you will need for your cuff.

6. Pull your garment on and (gently) slip your arm into the sleeve in progress (the one with the needle(s) in it). Measure from the stitches on the needle along your (slightly bent) arm and note where you'd like your sleeve to end. Subtract out the depth of the cuff, and you have the length of your sleeve (minus cuff).

7. Now the only number we are missing is your row gauge; it translates the number of inches of knitting left in your sleeve and 'translates' it into the number of ROUNDS left to knit in your sleeve. Using your sweater body (or your swatch), check your row gauge.

8. Time to put it all together! With 2 simple calculations, you can figure out your rate of decrease to work down your sleeve. Here goes:

[# of inches left in sleeve to cuff: _____"]
TIMES  [Row gauge]
EQUALS the # of ROUNDS left to knit in your sleeve: ________

[# of stitches currently on sleeve needle: _____]
MINUS [# of stitches desired in cuff: _____]
EQUALS the # of stitches to decrease.

But we always decrease stitches 2 at a time as we work down the sleeve, so take the:
[# of stitches to decrease: ______] and
DIVIDE them by 2 (2 @ a time)
EQUALS the # of ________ SETS of decreases.

Now it's simple:
[# of ROUNDS left to knit]
DIVIDED BY [# of SETS of decreases]
EQUALS [probably some number with a lot of decimals after it.]

Don't panic. Take that number, round it up or down, and that will give you your rate of decrease for this garment.

Other garments will vary; you have to do this calculation every time. It's interesting how often I get a rate of decrease that's about every 4 or 6 rounds. But on Rosie, it's every 9. Huh.

But the super-cool thing about all this is that you just work round and around, decreasing as you go, and you can keep checking the sleeve for length and fit as you go! Here is Rosie's left sleeve in progress.


Cool, huh?
And after the number-crunching, totally painless.

Happy to answer questions in the comments, and follow up in a later post.