Time to catch up on some reading

Last week I finally had time to catch up on my blog reading. Thus, it is time for another edition of Surfing the Knit, in which I point out some posts that have caught my fancy. Let’s start with the pretty: first a pretty sweater, and then a pretty blog.

1. Konrad, knitter extraordinaire and author of the blog Knitting Konrad, recently knit the wonderful Ordie sweater designed by Martin Storey. It is a great sweater which I have featured on these pages before in a Pattern Radar segment. As usual, Konrad looks smashing. You can see it here.

2. I love the blog Millefeuilles. Stephanie, who writes the blog, lives in the Loire Valley in France and is writing a PhD dissertation on Baroque Garden Design. Every one of her posts is beautifully designed – like an unfolding work of art. I recently knit a sweater for Leah which used the lovely Madelinetosh Merino DK in Candlewick – a very gorgeous burnished gold. Stephanie has been knitting with the same yarn, and here is a post inspired by Candlewick and Stravinsky’s The Firebird.

3. Anyone who reads my blog regularly will have noticed that I have a thing for stitch holders, particularly the kind which open (they look like modified safety pins). I use them in many ways and find them completely indispensable. Glenna, who writes the blog Knitting to Stay Sane (a great name!), wrote a post last month called “9 Ways Stitch Markers Will Make Your Life Easier”. I couldn’t agree more with this post – read it and make your knitting stress-free. Number 7 is new to me – I regularly use all of the other tips – why have I not been using this one as well?

4. The knitting universe has been buzzing lately about changes to the tax laws in the EU and their unintended consequences for knitting designers who sell their patterns online. Ysolda has written a very informative post about these changes which makes quite interesting reading. (Yes, it is a lengthy post about tax law and it is utterly fascinating!) Ysolda made three points I found very thought-provoking: first, that tax authorities had no idea of the type and number of small business who would be affected, second, that the new rules could be seen to be in conflict with the EU’s strict data protection laws, and third, that these changes could have a disproportionate impact on women.

5. And last, a post that has nothing to do with knitting. Sara, who writes the knitting blog Knot my Day Job, recently wrote a post about the Hampton Court Palace, which is a short train ride outside of London and was part of the court of Henry VIII. I love Hampton Court Palace! It is a short drive from my home and I have been there many times. It is a great place to spend the day. This is a very nice post, with lots of photos, about one of my favourite places.

Felted shop

Here is a quick drive-by edition of Surfing the Knit: the Guardian today has a short photo essay on Lucy Sparrow’s art installation, The Cornershop.  The shop is a typical newsagent’s shop with one small exception – each and every item has been made out of felt:

b8a488d5-3d8a-45cb-8865-5894fce47606-620x399That’s Lucy in the above photo holding a felt edition of the Guardian.  The shop will be open for business in Bethnall Green, London, for all of August.  Everything is for sale.  I am definitely tempted by the Bounty bars.

710a589b-d5bd-4a3b-a7e3-79dfd92e5e19-620x413And, of course, no felted shop would be complete without a donation can for the “Felt Knitted Cats Trust”.

5321b41e-6d21-402b-ac9c-ba0c77420202-620x412Photographs: Rosie Hallam/Barcroft Media

Mathematics, Science and Craft

Today’s episode of Surfing the Knit brings you two knitting-related posts from the fields of mathematics and science!

1. The Guardian hosts a blog by Alex Bello, Alex’s Adventures in Numberland.  In today’s post, he showcases some of his favorite images from a new book.  Alex writes:

The book 50 Visions of Mathematics is a collection of 50 short essays by 50 maths writers and a foreword by Dara O Briain. Launched on Wednesday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, it also contains 50 images supplied in response to an open call from the worldwide maths community.

He then shows us 16 beautiful images from the book. One of the images he shows involves crochet, which is enough of a connection for me to post it here.  This is a crocheted model of a hyperbolic plane.

Photo: Daina Taimina

Photo: Daina Taimina

The artist, Daina Taimina, is a Professor of Mathematics at Cornell, who experiments with crocheting mathematical objects.  She has published a book on the subject called Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes.

Here is a gorgeous image which bears the tag:  “A much-magnified detail of the Mandelbrot set, revealing what appears to be a procession of elephants. Image by Philip Dawd, using the program winCIG Chaos Image Generator developed by Thomas Hvel.”

copyright: Darwin College, University of Cambridge

copyright: Darwin College, University of Cambridge


I love this!  Astonishing, isn’t it? (I can’t help thinking of the Pink Elephants on Parade sequence from Dumbo; these fractal elephants are considerably more cool and mesmerizing.)

I will tease you with one more image, but then you should really click on the link and see the others.  Or maybe even buy the book.  At first glance, I thought this was a photo of ripples in sand caused by the wind:

00fa14db-9875-409c-af01-adb6e80e4e74-620x413The caption states: “The complex folding patterns that arise when a layered material (paper) is put into a test machine and squashed. Created by Timothy Dodwell and Andrew Rhead, University of Bath.”

I love mathematics and love the art of visualizing mathematics.  I think this is part of what draws me to knitting; certainly my conceptualizations of knitting and knitting design are very mathematical.

2. If you are interested in both knitting and science, you should have a look at this post on Dayana Crawchuk’s blog.  Dayana writes a beautiful knitting blog; you can tell that an enormous amount of effort goes into each post.  Dayana is a scientist in her day job.  Her husband, also a scientist, specializes in hearing and deafness and studies hair cells, a type of cell found in the inner ear which is central to the hearing process.  I have long been a fan of the Hearing Cell Sweater which Dayana knit for her husband some time ago which incorporates stylized images of the hair cells (follow the link to find photos).  She recently knit him a model of the hair cell as a good luck charm (thus the post title, Amigurumi for Nerds).  To make a cool story even cooler, Science magazine featured it on their webpages!  Even if you are not into hair cell science (and how could you not be!), check out Dayana’s blog – you won’t be sorry.

Tour de bunting

I saw this article in the Guardian this morning and it made me smile.  Thus, I bring you a short and fast edition of Surfing the Knit.

Photo: Baa Ram Ewe

Photo: Baa Ram Ewe

Last November, Harrogate Borough Council asked members of the public to donate little knitted jumpers to make a bunting for the town’s hosting of the Tour de France.  According to the article, the idea was put forward by students at York University and the pattern for the bunting jumpers was designed by Baa Ram Ewe, a local yarn shop.  The Council were hoping for 3,000 mini-jumpers but have so far received 22,000.

I particularly liked this comment:  “and of course, there has been a significant amount of testing to see just how much rainwater they can take before they become too heavy for their supports.”

Craft and Science, Science and Craft

This episode of my series, Surfing the Knit, is a bit of a fudge.  This occasional series is one in which I point out interesting, or fun, or bizarre items of knitting interest that I pick up while surfing the internet.  In truth, I found this while browsing through my latest hard copy of Science, the weekly journal of the AAAS which describes itself as The World’s Leading Journal of Original Scientific Research, Global News and Commentary.  But it’s online too (link below) so I could have found it while surfing the knit.

One of my favorite issues of the year is the one in which they announce the winners of the Visualization Challenge.  Winners and honorable mentions are made in a number of categories, such as photography, games and apps, etc.  The winner of the 2013 Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge in the Posters and Graphics category (also winning the People’s choice award) is a poster detailing research into smart fabrics being conducted at Drexel University.

The poster is called Wearable Power, and is by Kristy Jost, Babak Anasori, Majid Beidaghi, Genevieve Dion, and Yury Gogotsi, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  This research group, in effect, is making knitted batteries (in their words a “wearable capacitor”). Scientific posters are a mainstay of the science community; having seen hundreds of them I can tell you that it is very hard to produce one that both conveys the science and is visually arresting and interesting.

copyright Science Magazine

copyright Science Magazine

If you are interested in this poster, and indeed the rest of the winners, I urge you to either pull out your copy of Science magazine (doesn’t everyone have one?) or check it out online here.  The science behind smart fabrics is really fascinating and, well, smart.

The part I like best?  This bit of the blurb accompanying the article:

“Jost spends much of her time in Drexel’s knitting research laboratory—yes, you read that right—which boasts state-of the-art equipment donated by Shima Seiki, a Japanese company that makes computerized 3D knitting systems. The machines can knit an entire seamless garment in 20 minutes, and Jost has become adept at using the design software that drives them—although she admits sheepishly that she has not yet learned to knit by hand.”

from Science Magazine, 7 Feb 2014, vol. 343, no 6171

Go check it out and see some of the amazing work being done in the field of visualizing science.  Don’t miss another very cool entry by Lorrie Faith Cranor of Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Called Security Blanket, it is a quilt displaying the 1000 most common security passwords from a games website as a word cloud.  (You will be astonished by the total lack of creativity and, hence, lack of security of the passwords.)  This is another fabulous example of the creativity that crafters can bring to science and science can bring to craft.

The well-dressed tortoise

Today’s episode of Surfing the Knit brings you the tortoise suit:

Solent News & Photo AgencyYes, this is a photo of a tortoise in a chicken suit.  Today, the Guardian had an “in pictures” segment called “Wooly suits for tortoises“, tag-lined “Keen knitter, Katie Bradley from Vancouver, Canada makes woolly suits for pet tortoises”.  (We shall politely ignore the fact that these suits are crocheted, not knitted.)  There is no text, only fourteen photos each showing the above fearless tortoise posing in a different outfit.  The outfits range from the odd (a reindeer costume):

Solent News & Photo Agencyto the disturbing (a cheeseburger costume):

Solent News & Photo AgencyThe photos are credited to the Solent News & Photo Agency.

A quick internet search shows that Ms. Bradley not only crochets costumes for tortoises (which she sells on Etsy) but rescues them as well.  You never know what you will come up with when Surfing the Knit.

On giant squids, gnomes, and garland

“Surfing the net” has become a major time-sink for many across the globe.  It is an incredibly addicting past-time.  As a knitting fanatic, my surfing tends to be rather topic-specific.  This post marks the start of a new series here at Knitigating Circumstances called “Surfing the Knit”.   The series will be a forum for me to point out the stories and photos that have caught my eye during my frequent forays into knit surfing.

1. Giant knit squid

WordPress have a feature called “Freshly Pressed” in which they pick a few posts every day from the millions of WordPress blogs, and highlight them.  This week one of the Freshly Pressed posts was about Knit Bombing.  It is from the blog Knits for Life, and you can find the post here.  Here is a photo of the amazing knit bombing project that Lorna and Jill made:

img_2196Isn’t it fabulous!  I think this is among the best knit bombing that I have seen.  Check out the post on Lorna’s blog linked above, and also Jill’s post on her blog, The Dapper Toad, which you can find here.  These posts give lots of photos and a detailed tutorial into the making, installation and reception of this great example of street art.  By the way, Lorna notes that the city arborist told them the tree had been improperly pruned, which exposed the bark to sun damage, so the squid is actually good for the tree.

2. Gnome mittens

Spillyjane is a Canadian designer best known for her whimsical mitten and sock designs.  You can find her on her website, Spillyjane Knits. In March 2010, Spillyjane released a pattern for the marvelous Gnome Mittens:

4404471837_827673e99c_nThese mittens went right into my favorites file on Ravelry.  I have enjoyed looking at the projects people have made using this great pattern.  SpillyJane includes instructions for fingerless mitts in the pattern, and later released a pattern for Gnome Socks.

Today, as I was busy Surfing the Knit, I found some other designer was offering a virtually identical pattern for sale. (It is featured on Ravelry and on her website and her Etsy page.)  I must admit to being flabbergasted!   As far as I can tell, the new person claims to have come up with the design independently.  I  know that this happens sometimes (in knitting and in science).   I was surprised enough to do a little digging and found a good post on the subject on  Dull Roar.  I am not going to delve into a discussion here of copyright (which I am by no means an expert on), or of probability or design features or identical charts.  Instead, I thought I would direct you to look at Spillyjane, who makes some of the cutest mitten patterns ever devised IMHO.  If Gnomes, don’t do it for you, how about her Flamingo Mittens:

flam02_small2Or the lovely peacock design of her Mystery + Manners pattern:

mysmanfla01_medium2This design is available for free, by the way, in the Fall 2010 edition of Knitty: you can find it here.  Incidentally, Spillyjane released a brand new mitten pattern just days ago, called Circuit:

KAH12_medium These are published in the excellently-titled Doomsday Knits: Projects for the Apocalypse and After.  If you are after an interesting mitten (or fingerless mitt) pattern, then head to Spillyjane and spend your money there.

3. Garland

Stefanie Pollmeier writes the blog reWOLLuzza.  She is a long-time follower of Knitigating Circumstances and a frequent commenter here.  Stefanie has recently made the foray into knit designing.  I like the fact that she posts about design and also about the whole process of responding to calls for submission and the intricacies of bringing a design to market.  Here, for example, is a discussion of the submission stages for a hat design.  I don’t know a lot about these aspects of the design process, so I find it useful.  I also admire the fact that she writes these posts in English (if I tried to write this blog in German you would be laughing, believe me).  This week in my knit surfing, I noticed that the lovely new-ish knitting magazine, Pom Pom Quarterly, has a new issue out.  And on the cover, is a beautiful design by Stefanie called Garland:

cover-358x500Here is a better picture to show off the design elements:

image_medium2Isn’t it lovely?  Congratulations, Stefanie!

And that, dear readers, concludes Surfing the Knit today.  Stay tuned for further segments!