26 July 2017

Knitted Coral

I've continued experimentation with the Y increase and hyperbolic knitting.

In this case, I started with 8 pairs in the round. I alternated one round 1×1 ribbing, one round Y increase in every pair of stitches (thus doubling). I started with 8 pairs and bound off with 512 pairs. The yarn is Lily Sugar 'n Cream kitchen cotton — sturdy, inexpensive, easy-care yarn that comes in a 2½ ounce/120 yard put-up. Some stores also carry it in a 14 ounce cone.

I would love to make a very large hyperbolic poof. I think it would be interesting to be able to fall into one, as if it were some strange hyperbolic version of a bean bag chair. Here is the problem:

Powers of 2
  21  =  2
  22  =  4
  23  =  8
  24  =  16
  25  =  32
  26  =  64
  27  =  128
  28  =  256
  29  =  512
210  =  1,024
211  =  2,048
212  =  4,096
213  =  8,192
214  =  16,384
215  =  32,768
216  =  65,536
217  =  131,072
218  =  262,144
219  =  524,288
220  =  1,048,576
221  =  2,097,152
222  =  4,194,304
223  =  8,388,608
224  =  16,777,216
225  =  33,554,432
226  =  67,108,864
227  =  134,217,728
228  =  268,435,456
229  =  536,870,912
230  =  1,073,741,824
231  =  2,147,483,648
232  =  4,294,967,296
233  =  8,589,934,592
234  =  17,179,869,184
235  =  34,359,738,368
236  =  68,719,476,736
237  =  137,438,953,472
238  =  274,877,906,944
239  =  549,755,813,888
240  =  1,099,511,627,776

This is where imagination bashes up against the laws of physics. You hit the million mark on the 20th increase round, billion mark on the 30th, and the trillionth on the 40th. There are 63,360 inches in a mile. If you got four stitches to the inch, then 253,440 stitches in a mile. That means that at the 20th increase round, you need 4 miles of cables, double-pointed needles, or whatever it is you are using to hold the live stitches. Crocheters do not have this problem. On the other hand, I like the greater drape of the knitted fabric. Crochet is stiffer.

My poof is just under 4 inches radius/8 inches diameter. It is 14 rounds tall: cast on round, 12 rounds pattern, one bind-off round. The next increase round + plain round will take about one skein of yarn. The pair of rounds after that will take about 2 skeins. I might be able to get to around 216 = 65,536. I've made a blanket with 80,000 stitches and a fine-gauge reversible lace scarf with 75,000. So I might be able to make a poof about 16 inches in diameter that weighs roughly 20 pounds (assuming 5 ounces of yarn gets me roughly 2000 stitches). This gives you a sense of why ruffles are a sign of conspicuous consumption. They devour yardage!

Another way of looking at this is that every time you increase, you are committing yourself to using as much yarn as you have already used in the whole rest of the project. I stopped at 512 stitches, which was a little over a full skein. If I had increased again, I would have needed a full skein of yarn just for that increase row and its corresponding plain row. So another approach is to weigh yarn, cast on, and when you have only about half left, bring the project to an end.

If I am understanding this form correctly, the center is the least dense. If I had started with one pair, the form would progress from a point to a cone to a hyperbolic pseudosphere. Since I started at 8 stitches in the round, the center is a circle that becomes a hyperbolic pseudosphere. Although the form ruffles around to fill up three-dimensional space, the edge gets longer and heavier and packs in faster than the radius grows. I am thinking that at some point, the mass of the fabric becomes a well-packed ball. In my example above, can you really crush 20 pounds of kitchen cotton into a 16-inch sphere? It is that packing problem that makes me think to comprehend the form fully, you need to keep knitting.

Of course, another approach is to add even more plain rows between the increase rows. This would allow the diameter to grow more quickly. But if you want one with an 18-inch radius/36 inch diameter, you are still looking at a massive project. (What I would really love is one with a 6- to 8- foot diameter, where I could touch it and interact with it.) Then again, maybe just commit to knitting 50 pounds of kitchen cotton into a hyperbolic beanbag chair and queue up streaming Netflix?

I must admit I've had a fascination with powers of two since I was very young. I can remember learning to multiple at school. Second or third grade, maybe? We had a big green blackboard with yellow chalk in the basement play room at home. I sat on the floor and multiplied by two over and over again until I filled up the blackboard. I was fascinated. And here, decades later, I am still enthralled.

13 July 2017

Many Choices

I know right now is summer, filled with summertime distractions. But, there are knitting distractions coming up in the calendar.

This Saturday 15 July is North Georgia Knitting Guild's annual Beat the Heat Retreat in Woodstock. This is a day of knitting camaraderie with workshops, activities, food, and just general socializing.

The next weekend on Sunday 23 July is Christmas in July at The Whole Nine Yarns. This is the annual day to acquire lots of gift-appropriate patterns. Many of us who teach at the shop will be there to demonstrate the techniques, too.

Intown Quilters in Decatur is bringing Patty Lyons for a weekend of teaching Friday 18 August through Sunday 20 August. Classes are:
Friday night lecture: Oops, I Accidentally Knit a Dress (Tales of Lies, Heartbreak and Denial)
Saturday classes: Finishing Seams Simple & Best Buttonholes
Sunday classes: Secrets to Spectacular Sweater Success & Knitting ER Tragedy & Treatments

The September calendar overflows.
Yarn Rhapsody in Gainesville has scheduled Beth Brown-Reinsel for the weekend of September 9 & 10. Beth is a specialist in traditional knitting techniques. If you love classic Old World mittens, gloves, and sweaters, give the shop a call. Classes are Latvian Wristers on Friday morning, Introduction to Twined Knitting on Friday afternoon, and Top-Down Aran Cardigan all day Saturday.

The same weekend is Georgia FiberFest in Columbus. The festival runs Thursday 7 September through Saturday 9 September. (Hint: You could attend the festival and still squeeze in a class with Beth on Sunday.) This year Georgia FiberFest has put the spotlight on knitting. The headliner is Franklin Habit. Also attending is Russian lace expert Galina Khmeleva.

Franklin's classes:
Thursday afternoon: Knitted Tesselations: Playful and Powerful Patterns in Practice
Friday morning: Embroider Your Knitting: Level One
Friday afternoon: Garter Party: Garter Stitch Gone Wild (with Special Guest I-Cord)
Saturday morning: Introduction to the History, Methods, and Styles of Lace Knitting
Saturday afternoon: Now You See It, Now You Don't: Shadow Knitting

Galina's classes:
Friday day all day: The Fundamentals of Orenburg Knitted Lace
Saturday morning: Spinning the Orenburg Way
Saturday mid-day: Plying Orenburg Style

I am also on the schedule with two of my favorite classes:
Friday afternoon: Oops! Now What Do I Do?
Saturday mid-day: Now How Do I Finish?

And there's always Varian Brandon:
Friday morning: Converting Flat to In the Round
Friday afternoon: Using Steek Stitches

If Varian's steek class weren't opposite my mistake-fixing class, I would already be signed up.

If you are north of the city — specifically all the way in South Carolina — then that same weekend South Carolina Knitting Guild is bringing in Edie Eckman. In this case, classes are Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Classes are:
Saturday morning: Go Bi-Textural: Combine Knitting and Crochet
Saturday afternoon: Mix It Up Miters
Sunday morning: Where do they Get Those Numbers? (or Math for Knitters)
Sunday afternoon: 5 Knit Buttonholes You Need to Know Now
Monday morning: From Start to Finish: Finishing Techniques

And then we get to October:

You can sign up for those classes here.

Marly's classes are also the same week as Spinzilla, which starts at 00:01 on Monday 2 October and runs through 23:59 on Sunday 8 October. Doh!

And at the end of October is Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair. This year's dates are Friday 27 October through Sunday 29 October plus an extra day on Thursday for workshops. As usual, this show is a bounty of workshops, shopping, competitions, demonstrations, and sweet animals. It is, however, a longer drive from Atlanta than Georgia FiberFest. Of course, if you don't want to drive, you can sign up for Yarn Rhapsody's Saturday bus trip to SAFF.

My classes include:
Thursday: Conquering Kitchener and Brioche Rosetta Stone
Friday: Liberating the Labyrinth, Sonic Boom Möbius Cowl, and Italian Perfection
Saturday: Modular Mystique and Small Rounds + Two at a Time
Sunday: Daring Double Cables and When to Combination Knit

So, if you have been thinking it is time to learn something new, there is plenty of opportunity!

03 July 2017

Initial Experiments with the Y Increase

A couple months back, I posted a video showing how to work the k-yo-k increase in reversible lace. I mentioned that one of the interesting things about reversible lace is you can knit into the same stitch twice. Each "stitch" is actually a knit-purl pair. You can knit, purl, then back up and knit again, then purl again.

I've tentatively named this a Y increase because it is one stitch that splits into two stitches. When I sketch it out as a stitch chart or stitch map, it looks like a Y.

I've begun experimenting with this increase.

One of my plans for reversible lace is to turn circular shawls into swirl jackets. Circular shawls are fabulous lace projects. But how do you wear them? For so many people, the first thing you do is fold the shawl in half. When worked reversibly, you could insert sleeves and have a swirl jacket instead. I decided to test the idea with a teddy bear jacket.

It turns out that an 8-section polygon was a little hyperbolic. The 7-section design worked better. I suspect 6-sections will also work. In fact, I might need to make some swatches in 5, 6, 7, and 8 sections to see clearly what happens. For this project, I increased every-other round. The increases alternated between double yarn-overs and Y increases. For an even number of pairs on a section edge, I used the double yarn-overs because even numbers have a center gap. For an odd number of pairs on a section edge, I used the Y increase because odd numbers have a central pair.

Christmas in July is coming up on Sunday 23 July at The Whole Nine Yarns. As typical, I am contributing a pattern.

If you crochet, you may recognize this as a basic crochet hyperbolic plane. Stitches are doubled every-other round by working a Y increase into every stitch. The one on the left is five rounds tall and worked with the sample of Cedar Hill Farm Journey I received in my goodie bag at the Yarn film showing. The one on the right is seven rounds tall and worked from a Madelinetosh Unicorn Tail.

Those of you who follow knitting minutiae may notice they don't have the same bind-off. On the left I've simply bound off in pattern. On the right, I've worked Japanese three-needle bind-off (flat three-needle bind-off). A plain in-pattern bind-off is easier and faster and also a little more ruffled. The three-needle bind-off is cleaner and more structured. Both work.

If you have admired the crocheted coral reef projects but don't crochet, now you can knit your coral reef instead if you work in 1×1 ribbing and use the Y increase. As per my usual practice, I'll hold the pattern back for a couple months before posting it on Ravelry. If you want it sooner, you'll need to attend Christmas in July. This would also make a fine shower poof if worked in dishcloth cotton.

11 June 2017

Persistent and Stubborn

It all started with cleaning out the stash.

After I acquired significant new stash at the fire sale, I needed to put it all away. I do have a wall of not one but two Ikea 5×5 cubbies. That's 50 cubbies! (By the way, while you can fit two of these flat-packed into a 2007 Honda fit along with yourself and a 6'2" cuddly hubby, it is maybe not the best idea. Re-roll that Wisdom check.) Revisiting the stash reminded me of dreamed-about projects yet unrealized. And I needed to use up yarn and fiber so I could make more room. There were six skeins of Noro Kureyon Big, a bulky-weight yarn. I knew I wanted them to become an up-sized Jester Tentacles Bag. As that looked like a quick way to generate open storage space, I gleefully cast on.

I had made a previous Jester Tentacles Bag that turned out too small to be useful. This time, I changed the math a little from what Cat Bordhi wrote:
MCO 70 90 becomes 140 180
     k 75 95
   wy 25 35
     k 5 (unchanged)
   wy 35 45

I worked the möbius cast-on. I made the strap. I made the interior bag at the same size as the outer bag in the original pattern. I worked three of the eight tentacles. And by this point, I had used up 4½ skeins. I began to suspect I might need another skein. I ripped and re-knit the strap so it used less yarn. I asked five different people on Ravelry if they could spare, sell, or trade any Kureyon Big. No luck. I let the project languish in time out for a month. Then one day, I decided just to go for it! I finished the remaining five tentacles and knit towards the bottom. As expected, I came up short.

Since I am a spinner, I decided to try making my own matching yarn.

I started by scanning Kureyon Big at 12,800 dots per inch (the picture below is about 0.2 inch/0.5cm diameter). What looked like purple and black at normal magnification looked like this instead:
If you read my post last summer about optical illusions in spinning, then you know a little about optical mixing. Part of why Noro colors are so beautiful is because they are optically mixed. When magnified, dark purple and blue-black become bright green, fuchsia, purple, violet, and aqua. This is also part of the joy of spinning. Many yarns are dyed after they become yarn. When you dye fiber and then blend, you get the complex color beauty of optical mixing.

I decided to use a freebie merino fleece to mimic Noro. Please add "recalcitrant" to a long list of reasons this was a free fleece. I even tried letting the dye baths soak overnight, but the color would … not … take. Finally, I gave the already-scoured fiber a rinse in Dawn dish washing liquid. I put about 5 grams of fiber in each jar, added dye bath and a splash of white vinegar, and set the jars in a large pot with water. I brought the water up to a simmer and let it stew for an hour, similar to what you would do for canning. That worked. I got the fiber to take the color.

But even with the dye taking and some play with mixing different colors,  I still couldn't quite get a color match. And I began to worry that my handspun wouldn't felt at the same rate as Noro.

Finally, in a fit of pique and frustration, I decided to search the Internet. Surely there would be some Noro Kureyon Big out there somewhere.

No. No, not so much.

But, there were some Noro products on Webs. They had something called Noro Rainbow Roll, which is basically Noro pencil roving. Ah, ha! Except, it didn't come in the colors I needed. Phooey! But they also had Noro Kureyon Air. Kureyon Air is a super-bulky yarn rather than bulky yarn; but it came in a coordinating colorway. I purchased one skein.

When the yarn arrived, I took it to my Majacraft Rose wheel and, using the slowest whorl (4.25:1) and a large (plying) bobbin, I deconstructed the yarn. It divided into two pairs.

This looked suspiciously like barely-twisted pencil roving. Using the same whorl, I ran the pairs of roving back through the wheel, this time twisting to hold it together. There was a lot of editing to maintain the gradient by breaking off and rejoining back and forth between the two separate sources. But in the end, I had transformed a 2×2 cable yarn into a 2-ply yarn. I ended up with 210 yards.

At that point, it was easy to finish the knitting by simply working round and round to the bottom. I used dental floss to tie in plastic bags resists (to keep the tentacle pockets from felting closed). Then it was just a matter of throwing the whole floppy purple octopus-thing through the wash.

The bottom of the bag looks a little different — the colorways weren't identical. But I think it looks like an intended design feature, rather than a mistake. And I am pleased with the size. The largest tentacle took an entire skein of yarn. It is, however, large enough to accommodate my favorite no-spill travel mug. And other tentacles will accommodate a cell phone or wallet.

03 June 2017

Binding Off at a Point

In the Kennesaw Kudzu pattern, each multiple of pattern is worked back and forth and decreased to a point. This shaping creates the pretty leaf edging. But it does raise questions of how to deal with those final two stitches and where to hide the tail when you are out at land's end?

To graft that final knit-purl pair, start with “wrong” side facing:
  • plunge a blunt tapestry needle into the base of the final stitch
leaving needle in place, pull tail up and out
  • poke eye of tapestry needle from purl side to knit side of penultimate stitch
thread tail in eye of tapestry needle
pull needle to bring tail through penultimate stitch and to re-complete final stitch.

I prefer to duplicate stitch ends. In this case, I don't have any horizontal fabric that I can use for duplicate stitch. Plan B is hiding the ends vertically. Identify a knit wale and thread the tail down through a vertical column of stitch legs. This isn't my favorite way to deal with an end, but it will work in a pinch.