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.)