Friday, January 06, 2006

Best Quote I Heard All Day
The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity--John Adams

Brought to you by the Brothers and Sisters of St. Matthew's Church of Tulsa, OK via the USPS.

Yes, it's the Jesus Prayer Rug, "soaked with the Power of Prayer for you. Use it immediately, then please return it with your Prayer Needs Checked on our letter to you. It must be mailed to a second home that needs a blessing after you use it. Prayer works. Expect God's blessing."

Oh yeah, and don't forget to enclose the check in the SASE.

All the way from Tulsa to Mine Hill, NJ. It's a fucking miracle.

I won't be blessed because the "rug" is going up on the wall by my computer. I can't bear to part with it.

Inspectress Gadget
I once sharpened a broken wooden needle point with a pencil sharpener and then sanded the point smooth. Desperate times require desperate measures. Good tools are everything; gadgets are expendable. There is a difference between the two words, in my opinion.

Gadgets have the connotation of something that has been created to "facilitate" a task that doesn't need it. I don't do gadgets, as a rule, because I find that generally using the gadget is more time-consuming than just doing it the traditional way.

Fortunately, there are few knitting gadgets (pom-pom maker does come to mind) but a fair number of useful tools.

The one gadget I don't use is a PDA. I had one and never used it. I stick to my Franklin-Covey, which I admit may be a bit outre. However, if you do use a PDA, Nancy's KnitKnacks is offering a free trial download of all of their new e-KnitKard PDA software that allows you to keep five of the 14 cards for free, even if you don't buy it.

NKK makes some good stuff. I'll be interested in seeing their forthcoming Andean plying tool.

JamaicanMeCrayzee, Part Deux
I'm now almost to the neckline shaping, so no picture. And I probably won't post a picture until the whole thing is finished. There's nothing more boring than progress pictures that don't show shit. However, I'll continue discussing the design process and I did promise to answer some of Bess's questions, which were quite relevant.

Bess asked: at the risk of sounding like a complete fool--when you knit in the round, how do you deal with arm holes? do you bind off and then add/graft sleeves on? can you recommend a book or article so i can learn--i have knit sweaters in one piece and tank tops in the round but never anything with sleeves.

You can deal with the armholes in two ways: You can steek the armholes if the colorwork is all-over or you can stop at the beginning of the armhole and knit the front and back separately, working flat. I chose the latter, simply because steeking plain stockinette makes no sense, unless you enjoy steeking. The shoulder seams will be joined using a 3-needle bind-off and then the sleeve stitches picked up from the armscye (that's a dressmaking term for "armhole") and knit in the round down to the cuff.

Off the top of my head, I would recommend Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Around and her Knitting Workshop. You'll learn plenty.

However, I was going to discuss the limitations of using sweater design software.

Nothing takes the place of knowing how to draft a pattern, including software. Having a program that will crank out directions for any given standard sweater shape and size is nice; however, if you are working with stitch pattern multiples or want to do some obtuse shaping, the software numbers immediately become obsolete.

This happened in small measure with the hoodie. The two charts were multiples of 10 and 20, respectively. When I plugged in my gauge, the size I needed and the sweater shape I wanted, Sweater Wizard gave me a body stitch number of 176.

That didn't fit my plans. However, fairly easy to rectify, since I would need 180 stitches to accommodate my needs. Working at 5 spi, I figured that an extra 4 stitches on a sweatshirt was not going to cause major fitting problems for a 13-year-old who wears oversized shirts anyway.

But do you see what potential problems using sweater design software can cause? Most of the time, I end up reworking the numbers calculated by the software because there is a design element that gets in the way. What I do like about the software is that it gives me approximate yardage for the project and the file can be exported into Word, where I can do my editing.

So don't expect design software to do the thinking for you. It won't. It's yet another tool that is only as good as the person who uses it. Understanding the math behind sweater design is critical if you want to do your own.

Next entry, I'll talk about how I'm going to handle the neckline for the hood and some decisions that I had to make.

If you want to use your heads, see if you can figure out what those decisions were. Based on the comments from the last entry, I can see you all like a puzzle. And besides, why should I offer you all the answers on a plate? It's all about thinking for yourself, in the long run.

Makes you a rare and handy knitter.

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