Thursday, July 28, 2011

Moving to a different blog service

I'm switching over to using Wordpress; you'll find both the archived posts from this blog and future posts at this address:

http://stringgeekery.wordpress.com/

Monday, July 18, 2011

New Pattern: Paper Snowflake





I love cutting paper snowflakes, with twelve folds and six symmetrical points. This knitted snowflake looks very much like one of my paper ones.

Knit these from the center out in cotton, linen, or hemp and then starch to use as ornaments. Knit in any fiber and use as appliqu├ęs. Good for using up leftovers from other projects.

For experienced or confident knitters. None of the techniques used are particularly difficult on their own, but the combination of some of them is a little finicky.

Yarn:
8-10 yards of laceweight on size 0 needles; about 19 yards of worsted on size 8 needles.

Techniques used:
  • casting on for the center of a doily
  • knitted cast on
  • multiple yarn-overs in a row
  • knitting through the back loop
  • knit two together
  • bind off (knit two, pass one stitch over)


You could easily use Magic Loop or 2 circulars; I used double-points. The pattern is needle agnostic.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Secret Code Summary

(This is part of a series of posts on different ways of hiding meaning in your knitting.)

Table of Contents: Embedding meaning in Your Knitting | Converting Words to Numbers | Making a grid | Possible layouts | Converting grids into stitch patterns | Lace | Cables | Other Encodings | Summary of My Method | Further Resources

About a year ago I came up with an idea for turning Dewey Decimal library catalog numbers into knitted lace (hi, I'm a geeky librarian. :D). I'm still working on that shawl, but I've expanded my thoughts to general encoding of words and numbers into grids, and then knitting. This is a summary of my very long blog posts about this.

First, either pick a number you like or turn your words into numbers somehow. You can assign each letter a number from 01-26 (I like to convert mine into base 6 because it tends to make a better pattern) or use the ASCII codes or use some other method. I am particularly pleased by using Dewey Decimal numbers.

Then plot those numbers out on a grid. There are several ways of doing this, but the most straightforward is to make the length of one axis the same as the base you're using (so six squares if you're using base 6) and the length of the other the same as the number of digits you're encoding. A five letter word will be 10 digits long in most of the methods I use, so it will fit in a 6x10 grid. Then mark the squares in each row of the grid accordingly.

Now you have a grid you can play with layout (be careful if you're actually using secret code or you'll make it indecipherable), and then turn the marked squares on the chart into knitting stitch symbols. It's easiest for colorwork or purl stitches or slipped stitches. If you're doing cables or lace, there's more manipulation you have to do in the background.

Here's a quick sequence for you:

Peace becomes 2405010305 (using base 6). Using a 6x10 grid, that becomes


I decided I didn't care about decipherability, so I mirrored it on itself and then removed duplicate columns:


Used as straight-up colorwork, the chart produces


(There are more variants in the longer descriptions.)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Other methods of encryption

(This is part of a series of posts on different ways of hiding meaning in your knitting.)

Table of Contents: Embedding meaning in Your Knitting | Converting Words to Numbers | Making a grid | Possible layouts | Converting grids into stitch patterns | Lace | Cables | Other Encodings | Summary of My Method | Further Resources

Now we have come to the end of this series; I have finished describing my method for encoding words and numbers into grids and knitting. I'm going to finish up by summarizing some other techniques, both by other people and myself.

I have located two simple ways of knitting a block of text into a cipher that other people have come up with.

One is to knit as if you were writing, using purl bumps, colorwork, or slipped stitches. Writing is done in rows; knitting goes back and forth or round and round in rows. Admittedly, the mechanisms are slightly different. However, you can convert letters into binary and then knit the binary code in rows or rounds, where 0 is knit and 1 is purl. Take the word peace. Converted to binary, that's 01110000 01100101 01100001 01100011 01100101. In knitting, that would be k1, p3, k5, p2, k2, p1, k1, p1, k1, p2, k4, p1. You could go on to write other words as well and end up with a random-looking collection of knits and purls, or you could knit just peace as ribbing with a 40 stitch repeat.

Another option would be to convert the words into Morse code and make dots and dashes by purling or using colorwork and leaving gaps in between for the spaces between letters. A dash is three times as long as a dot. Here is peace in Morse code: dot dash dash dot, dot, dot dash, dash dot dash dot, dot. So that would be k1, p1, k1, p3, k1, p3, k1, p1, k3, p1, k3, p1, k1, p3, k3, p3, k1, p1, k1, p3, k1, p1, k3, p1, k1.

In fact, since I wrote the first draft of this post, Kate Atherley has published a pattern on Knitty for mittens with a Morse Code stranded knitting pattern.

You could even chart out your words using Braille (thanks to Pat Ashforth for this interesting idea).

There is also a web page by Wayne Batten which speculates about a potential way that Madame Defarge could have encoded names in her knitting on the fly.

The Binary scarf (on Ravelry) by Christine Dumoulin uses colorwork to write binary numbers. Similarly, you could borrow the binary cables from the Binary Cable Hat by Firefairy.

Another straightforward method of turning numbers into knitting is to make stripes. Take the word knit. If you use the simplest decimal encoding, then k=11, n=14, i=9, and t=20. Knit 11 rows of one color, 14 of the next, 9 of another color, and 20 of another. Alternately, you could knit ribbing that was k11, p14, k9, and p20.

Two anecdotal methods of knitting ciphers from World War II that I haven't found definite confirmation of and that seem more complicated to use involve modifying the yarn, knitting with it, and then unravelling it when it reaches its destination. In one case, the yarn might have been painted (in a long string, not a skein) with the dots and dashes of Morse code. In the other case, knots might have been tied in the yarn with the space between the knots indicating different letters.

Now for some thoughts I haven't seen elsewhere (though that certainly doesn't mean these are new ideas).

A somewhat more subtle method is to make stripes in both directions on a baby blanket. Here's a short name for an example: Ed. This becomes 5 and 4. If you do a k5, p4 ribbing for 5 rows and then a p5, k4 ribbing for 4 rows, it makes a reversible check pattern.

Another way to make stripes is to pick cable patterns that have stitch repeats that match the numbers.

I hope you've enjoyed my tour of a variety of methods of embedding and encoding meaning--I'd love to see any projects using my techniques!

(If you'd rather comment on Ravelry, I have a thread for this post in my group.)

Cables

(This is part of a series of posts on different ways of hiding meaning in your knitting.)

Table of Contents: Embedding meaning in Your Knitting | Converting Words to Numbers | Making a grid | Possible layouts | Converting grids into stitch patterns | Lace | Cables | Other Encodings | Summary of My Method | Further Resources

As with my post on lace, I'm not going to go into a great deal of detail about my design process. Among other things, I'm not sure I have a clear enough conscious grasp of how I do it—yet. Maybe someday. In the meantime, I can only suggest copious swatching and trying things out. Even failed attempts will teach you things about design.

Cables

For cables or twisted stitches, each square on the grid should be thought of as taking up multiple rows and stitches, so that it outlines a crossing and the minimum vertical space before the next crossing should happen. For cables, you'll want the cells from the grid to be at least four stitches across and four rows vertically—the cross from a marked cell will happen on just one of those rows. Twisted stitches require at least two cells horizontally and vertically.

Original grid followed by the subdivided grid






Chart Symbols & Abbreviations:

knit symbol k knit

purl symbol

p

Purl.
RT Cross the 2nd st in front of 1st st, knit the 2nd st, then knit the 1st.
LT Cross the 2nd st behind the 1st st, knit the 2nd st, then knit the 1st.
RT with the back stitch purled. Cross the second stitch in front of the first and knit it; purl the first stitch; take both stitches off needle.
LT with the back stitch purled Cross the second stitch behind the first and purl it; knit the first stitch; take both stitches off needle.


Chart



Once you've got your basic chart, you can play around with variations. The simplest variant I came up with is to put a purl column in between every pair of columns with a twist, like this:



The result is the left-hand swatch shown in this photo:

P5022295


peace twist 1
Round 1: k2, p1, RT, p1, k2, p1, RT, p1, k2, p1
Round 2: k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1
Round 3: k2, p1, k2, p1, RT, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1
Round 4: k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1
Round 5: RT, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, RT, p1
Round 6: k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1
Round 7: k2, p1, RT, p1, k2, p1, RT, p1, k2, p1
Round 8: k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1
Round 9: RT, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, RT, p1
Round 10: k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1
Round 11: RT, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, RT, p1
Round 12: k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1
Round 13: RT, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, RT, p1
Round 14: k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1
Round 15: k2, p1, k2, p1, RT, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1
Round 16: k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1
Round 17: RT, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, RT, p1
Round 18: k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1
Round 19: k2, p1, RT, p1, k2, p1, RT, p1, k2, p1
Round 20: k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1


On the right is the beginning of more complicated playing around. I declared to myself that the coded crosses would mean anywhere that a knit stitch crossed over a knit stitch; otherwise I could place a knit stitch crossing a purl stitch anywhere I pleased, including on return rows.


Chart: peace twist 2
Round 1: k1, p1, LT, p2, LT, p2, LT, p2, LT, p1, k1
Round 2: k1, p1, k1, LT with back stitch purled, RT with back stitch purled, k1, p2, k1, LT with back stitch purled, RT with back stitch purled, k1, p1, k1
Round 3: k1, RT with back stitch purled, p1, RT, p1, LT with back stitch purled, RT with back stitch purled, p1, RT, p1, LT with back stitch purled, k1
Round 4: k2, p2, k2, p2, k2, p2, k2, p2, k2
Round 5: RT, p1, RT with back stitch purled, LT with back stitch purled, p1, RT, p1, RT with back stitch purled, LT with back stitch purled, p1, RT
Round 6: k1, LT with back stitch purled, k1, p2, k1, RT with back stitch purled, LT with back stitch purled, k1, p2, k1, RT with back stitch purled, k1
Round 7: k1, p1, LT, p2, LT, p2, LT, p2, LT, p1, k1
Round 8: k1, RT with back stitch purled, k1, p2, k1, LT with back stitch purled, RT with back stitch purled, k1, p2, k1, LT with back stitch purled, k1
Round 9: RT, p1, LT with back stitch purled, RT with back stitch purled, p1, RT, p1, LT with back stitch purled, RT with back stitch purled, p1, RT
Round 10: k2, p2, k2, p2, k2, p2, k2, p2, k2
Round 11: RT, p2, k2, p2, RT, p2, k2, p2, RT
Round 12: k2, p2, k2, p2, k2, p2, k2, p2, k2
Round 13: RT, p2, k2, p2, RT, p2, k2, p2, RT
Round 14: k2, p2, k2, p2, k2, p2, k2, p2, k2
Round 15: k2, p2, RT, p2, k2, p2, RT, p2, k2
Round 16: k2, p2, k2, p2, k2, p2, k2, p2, k2
Round 17: RT, p1, RT with back stitch purled, LT with back stitch purled, p1, RT, p1, RT with back stitch purled, LT with back stitch purled, p1, RT
Round 18: k1, LT with back stitch purled, k1, p2, k1, RT with back stitch purled, LT with back stitch purled, k1, p2, k1, RT with back stitch purled, k1
Round 19: k1, p1, LT, p2, LT, p2, LT, p2, LT, p1, k1
Round 20: k1, p1, k2, p2, k2, p2, k2, p2, k2, p1, k1

Next post in series: Other ways of making knitting codes

(If you'd rather comment on Ravelry, I have a thread for this post in my group.)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Lace

(This is part of a series of posts on different ways of hiding meaning in your knitting.)

Table of Contents: Embedding meaning in Your Knitting | Converting Words to Numbers | Making a grid | Possible layouts | Converting grids into stitch patterns | Lace | Cables | Other Encodings | Summary of My Method | Further Resources

Turning a grid into a lace chart can be very satisfying, but is also a bit more complicated. I'm going to present an introduction here, but not go into details, as this could involve a full article by itself.

If you want to knit lace from one of these grids, it's obvious that the marked squares can become yarn overs. There are other considerations as well: do you want to have a plain row after every row with yarn overs? Do you want to knit garter stitch lace or stockinette? You also need to figure out where to put the decreases, because the location of the decreases will affect the appearance of your lace. The key thing is that you need the same number of decreases in your stitch pattern as you have yarn overs. Be prepared to swatch a lot to see what happens, but do try a lot of variations – you'll learn a lot about lace and might get surprising and interesting results. (If you are keeping your code decipherable, you'll want to have the decrease in the same line as its corresponding yarn over.)

This is the grid I worked with:

All these stitch patterns are multiples of 12. The return rows are all purl stitches, except that I knit one and purled one into each double yarn over.

Chart Symbols & Abbreviations:

knit symbol k knit
yo yarn over
k2tog Knit two together to make a right-leaning decrease.
ssk Slip one knitwise, slip the next knitwise, then knit two together through back loop. (Or otherwise make a left-leaning decrease.)
RT Cross the 2nd st in front of 1st st, knit the 2nd st, then knit the 1st.
LT Cross the 2nd st behind the 1st st, knit the 2nd st, then knit the 1st.
RTssk Slip each of the 1st two stitches knitwise, slip back to left needle. Cross the 3rd st in front and knit it; knit the 1st two stitches together through back loop.
LTk2tog Bring the needle behind the 1st stitch, knit the 2nd and 3rd stitches together. Knit the 1st stitch



Peace Lace: Swatch 1


In this first swatch, I started out by putting a decrease next to every yarn over in the chart, but then I moved them around as I swatched to make sinuous lines (also, I started six stitches over from the edge of the grid):

P4292279

Chart I made before starting knitting:


Row 1: k1, yo, ssk, k6, k2tog, yo, k1
Row 3: k3, yo, k2tog, k2, ssk, yo, k3
Row 5: k4, k2tog, yo2, ssk, k4
Row 7: k3, ssk, yo, k2, yo, k2tog, k3
Row 9: k4, k2tog, yo2, ssk, k4
Row 11: yo, k2tog, k8, ssk, yo
Row 13: k4, k2tog, yo2, ssk, k4
Row 15: k2, yo, k2tog, k4, ssk, yo, k2
Row 17: k4, k2tog, yo2, ssk, k4
Row 19: k3, ssk, yo, k2, yo, k2tog, k3

Finalized version of that chart, with an eye to making everything flow:


Row 1: k1, yo, k1, k2tog, k4, ssk, k1, yo, k1
Row 3: k3, yo, k2tog, k2, ssk, yo, k3
Row 5: k4, ssk, yo2, k2tog, k4
Row 7: k3, ssk, yo, k2, yo, k2tog, k3
Row 9: k2, k2tog, k2, yo2, k2, ssk, k2
Row 11: yo, k1, k2tog, k6, ssk, k1, yo
Row 13: k3, ssk, k1, yo2, k1, k2tog, k3
Row 15: k2, yo, k1, k2tog, k2, ssk, k1, yo, k2
Row 17: k4, ssk, yo2, k2tog, k4
Row 19: k3, ssk, yo, k2, yo, k2tog, k3

Peace Lace: Swatch 2


In the second swatch, I made most of the decreases line up vertically in the chart, swerving only to go around the yarnovers in the same line:

P4292280


Row 1: ssk, yo, k8, yo, k2tog
Row 3: k2tog, k2, yo, k4, yo, k2, ssk
Row 5: ssk, k4, yo2, k4, k2tog
Row 7: k2tog, k3, yo, k2, yo, k3, ssk
Row 9: ssk, k4, yo2, k4, k2tog
Row 11: yo, k2tog, k8, ssk, yo
Row 13: k2tog, k4, yo2, k4, ssk
Row 15: k2tog, k1, yo, k6, yo, k1, ssk
Row 17: ssk, k4, yo2, k4, k2tog
Row 19: k2tog, k3, yo, k2, yo, k3, ssk

Peace Lace: Swatch 3


In the third, I added in some twisted stitches for the fun of it:

P4282244


Row 1: ssk, yo, k8, yo, k2tog
Row 3: k2tog, k2, yo, k4, yo, k2, ssk
Row 5: LT, k2, k2tog, yo2, ssk, k2, RT
Row 7: k1, RT, ssk, yo, k2, yo, k2tog, LT, k1
Row 9: k2, RT, k2tog, yo2, ssk, LT, k2
Row 11: yo, LTk2tog, k6, RTssk, yo
Row 13: k2tog, k4, yo2, k4, ssk
Row 15: k1, ssk, yo, k6, yo, k2tog, k1
Row 17: k2tog, k4, yo2, k4, ssk
Row 19: k2tog, k3, yo, k2, yo, k3, ssk

If you would rather comment on Ravelry, I've posted this to my group as well.

Next post in series: Cables

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Converting grids into stitch patterns

(This is part of a series of posts on different ways of hiding meaning in your knitting.)

Table of Contents: Embedding meaning in Your Knitting | Converting Words to Numbers | Making a grid | Possible layouts | Converting grids into stitch patterns | Lace | Cables | Other Encodings | Summary of My Method | Further Resources

The first question is what sort of stitch pattern to knit.

Each of these grids is essentially a chart. Knit with two colors of yarn with one color for the background and the other for the marked squares, and you have stranded knitting. (Also called Jacquard or more inaccurately, Fair Isle.) Some grids might also be suitable for mosaic knitting.

Otherwise, you might try substituting a chart symbol for each marked square. The choices that come to my mind immediately: purl, slipped stitch, yarn over, bead, and nupp. Really, if you can put a chart symbol in a single square, try it. Yarn overs do present a special problem--and cables another--which is why I'm going to cover them in a separate post. For this post, I'm going to stick to stranded knitting, purl stitches, and slipped stitches. I would love to see what else people do, however!

Another consideration is whether to knit pattern stitches on every row or on alternating rows; both have their merits. As with any stitch pattern, you may need to add selvedge stitches at the edges when knitting flat and might want to add a partial stitch repeat at one side to balance things.

For the examples here, I am going to use the Base 6 grid for peace, mirrored on itself (and thus not a proper cipher).

Here is the grid:



Stranded Knitting


It's a fairly dense pattern, with about a third of the squares marked. Since there's no really long stretches of one color, it's highly suitable for stranded knitting, so I tried it out.



It's actually reminiscent of a number of traditional patterns; I like it. (Note to cross stitchers--wouldn't that make a nice border?)

Purl Stitches


For this chart, I decided to alternate pattern rows with plain rows to help the purl bumps stand out better and to keep the vertical lines of purl from receding. It still forms a slight ribbing effect, but not as pronounced.





Chart & Abbreviation Key

knit symbol

RS: k, WS: p

Knit on right side, purl on wrong side.

purl symbol

RS: p, WS: k

Purl on right side, knit on wrong side.

Multiple of four stitches plus one.

Row 1: k1, p1, k1, p1
Row 2: p4
Row 3: k2, p1, k1
Row 4: p4
Row 5: p1, k3
Row 6: p4
Row 7: k1, p1, k1, p1
Row 8: p4
Row 9: p1, k3
Row 10: p4
Row 11: p1, k3
Row 12: p4
Row 13: p1, k3
Row 14: p4
Row 15: k2, p1, k1
Row 16: p4
Row 17: p1, k3
Row 18: p4
Row 19: k1, p1, k1, p1
Row 20: p4


Slipped with Yarn in Front


When you slip a stitch, you can either hold the yarn in back so that the stitch looks like a regular stitch stretched out (which it is) or with the yarn in front, so that it makes a horizontal line.

This example mostly makes use of the horizontal line effect and has pattern stitches on every row. There are two rows where the yarn is held on the wrong side because the same stitch is slipped for multiple rows and this makes the slipped stitch weave in and out. If the yarn was always held on the right side, the slipped stitch ended up being mostly hidden. Another alternative for the really elongated stitches would be to hold the yarn in back entirely for a completely different effect. Try it!

One thing I like to do if I'm going to be slipping the same stitch over more than two rows is to add extra wraps to the stitch to be slipped; this helps prevent distortion. I've included that in the chart and instructions below.





Chart & Abbreviation Key

knit symbol

RS: k; WS: p

Knit on right side; purl on wrong side.

knit elongated symbol

RS: k1 elongated ; WS: p1 elongated

Knit or purl as usual, wrapping the yarn around the needle twice instead of once. (Extra wrap to be dropped on next row.)



RS: sl wyif; WS: sl wyib

Slip with yarn in front on right side; slip with yarn in back on wrong side.

wyib symbol

RS: sl wyib; WS: sl wyif

Slip with yarn in back on right side; slip with yarn in front on wrong side.

Multiple of four stitches plus one.

Row 1: k1, slip wyif, k1, slip wyif
Row 2: p1, slip wyib, p2
Row 3: slip wyif, k3
Row 4: slip wyib, p1, slip wyib, k1 elongated
Row 5: slip wyif, k3
Row 6: p3, slip wyif
Row 7: slip wyif, k3
Row 8: p1, slip wyib, p2
Row 9: slip wyif, k3
Row 10: slip wyif, p1, slip wyif, p1

For many of these stitch patterns, it's worth turning work over and seeing if you like the back too. Here's the back of this one:



(This one makes me want to have kept the slipped stitches all on the back after all.)

And here how this pattern looks in variegated yarn, which is often nice with slipped stitches:




Slipped with Yarn in Back


In this last example, all stitches are slipped with yarn on the wrong side. Pattern rows alternate with plain rows, and there are stripes of color. Each stripe starts on a pattern row so as to have the slipped stitches show up a bit more.



chart for slipped with yarn in back pattern

Chart & Abbreviation Key

knit symbol

RS: k; WS: p

Knit on right side; purl on wrong side.

wyib symbol

RS: sl wyib; WS: sl wyif

Slip with yarn in back on right side; slip with yarn in front on wrong side.

Multiple of four stitches plus one.

Row 1: k1, slip wyib, k1, slip wyib
Row 2: p4
Row 3: k2, slip wyib, k1
Row 4: p4
Row 5: slip wyib, k3
Row 6: p4
Row 7: k1, slip wyib, k1, slip wyib
Row 8: p4
Row 9: slip wyib, k3
Row 10: p4
Row 11: slip wyib, k3
Row 12: p4
Row 13: slip wyib, k3
Row 14: p4
Row 15: k2, slip wyib, k1
Row 16: p4
Row 17: slip wyib, k3
Row 18: p4
Row 19: k1, slip wyib, k1, slip wyib
Row 20: p4

If you would rather comment on Ravelry, I've cross-posted there.


Next up: Lace.