Based on a True Sweater

Feb. 18, 2007

Charting a Heel Turning

Zak keeps nagging me to blog about tech editing. I don't know if anyone is interested, but I really do derive a good deal of satisfaction from my job, and maybe it will turn out to be interesting after all. Let me know, all right?

I am not a sock knitter. I have knit exactly 3 pairs of socks, and only one of them used a conventional sock construction. I knit a mini-sock with a flap heel years ago, to better accquaint myself with sock theory, which is elegant and fascinating. However, when I started working as the technical editor for Knitty two and a half years ago, that was the only conventional sock heel I had ever turned.

I was rather daunted when I first had to edit a sock pattern. For a long time, I used to swatch the heel turning for every fucking sock pattern I edited, so I could be sure the directions were correct. And man, you guys like your socks, which is why Knitty publishes so many sock patterns.

By now I can work out almost anything knitting-related on paper, though I still have a working swatch in constant progress on my desk, which I use to test anything I'm not intimately familiar with. Though it is still punctuated by the occasional heel, I am pleased to say that I now have a better way to work out or check the numbers for the most common type of sock heel, the flap heel. Click for big, if you are so inclined.

Pretty, yes? This is the heel for one of the lovely socks in the upcoming Spring issue.

I do this in the OpenOffice spreadsheet program, which is also what I use to make the charts for Knitty.

I start by numbering the stitches at the bottom; this is the total number of stitches the heel flap has at the beginning.
The highlighted squares are the stitches that are knit or purled in each row, save the last stitch, which is just a K or P. I do it this way because it's the fastest and easiest for me, and because it gives me a chance to muck around with colour.

The k2tog and ssk symbols are surely familiar. Each time a stitch is decreased at the end of a row, I remove the borders from the column of stitches at the end of that row. This way I can see how many stitches are decreased within the course of a heel turning, and I can be sure the heel turning starts with the right numbers on those first two decisive rows.

I'm not sure why heel turning has remained more opaque to me than many other things in knitting, why I still need this kind of process and visual aid. I understand how they work and everything, but it remains something I can't break down easily on paper without going through the stitch-by-stitch process, on the computer or on my needles. I did have a epiphany moment when I was editing one pattern this issue, which started out with numbers that didn't quite work out evenly; I started to see how I could just reduce it to a formula, but it hasn't yet fully formed in my head.

Until it does, I have to admit I quite enjoy making these pretty striped charts. I also enjoy knitting all these socks in my head, though I have yet to convert to being an avid sock knitter with my needles.

Feb. 17, 2007

Reasons I Love my Husband, #4859

Tonight I was editing a pattern for a beautiful jacket by Jordana Paige. Zak came into my office, and I showed him some photos of the jacket.

"That's nice, what's the yarn weight?"

"It's a DK."

"Oh, okay, that makes sense."
(The stitch pattern makes the fabric look substantial, but it has a that nice DK drape. I showed him my swatch of the stitch pattern.)

"I love it, I think I'm going to make it, though I'll probably make it a raglan."

"Yeah, it would look look really good that way, because...." etc.

Life would suck if I couldn't talk to him about knitting.

Feb. 16, 2007

The Choice Game

Do you remember the Glad Game from Pollyanna? I have a similar "game" I play in my head. When I feel trapped in a situation or a course of acton, I find it useful to remind myself that I have choices, and to identify the choices I'm making.

For example, right now I am in a truly terrible state with work, where I absolutely must work more than 12 hours a day and cancel everything else, every day for the next week and a half (and the whole month has been basically like this), or I will fail to meet my deadlines.

Of course I know that I'm in this situation because I have managed my time and workflow badly, and that's useful knowledge if I want to self-flagellate (which is not very helpful).

But I have found it very useful to remind myself that I have an alternate choice to this insane state, which is that I could just let it go and not do the work.

I feel more relaxed and in control (at least for a few minutes) when I remember that I do have that option, and not taking it is my choice. I care about the people I'd fuck over by not doing the work, I care about the career I'm building, and I care about my self-respect; I don't want to sacrifice these things. I've tried the not-doing-the-work option before, and my relationship with myself really suffers.

I think many times we tell ourselves that we have no choice in a situation. It's very seldom true (though, admittedly, sometimes the choices are absurdly bad and dire). Most of the time, when we think we have no choices, it's because we made the choice for the situation a long time ago; we have long-established habits of thought and behaviour that we use to make decisions, and we're so used to this that most of the time we don't even realize the choices we're making.

I am grateful for moments when I realize this and identify these patterns in myself, particularly when I discover a habit of thought that's not working for me any more. It's excellent to be aware that the choices I'm making all the time are the choices that shape my life.

As I write this, I'm thinking of a lot more I want to say; I had intended this to be quite a short entry, just to get the thought out, but I keep thinking of more I want to say and this is getting long.

One more thing: I was also reminded recently that in fact, I like my job very much. This is also a useful and refreshing thing to remember when I feel like freaking out. But that's another blog entry altogether.

It's time to get back to work. Wish me luck. :)

(Incidentally, I think the upcoming Spring issue of Knitty is a winner.)

Feb. 9, 2007

A Pretty Thing

I made a pretty thing for my lovely friend Christina to wear at her wedding reception this weekend.

All photos can be clicked to take you to their Flickr photo page.

Capital-P Pretty

It's a crocheted, beaded capelet, which I worked using a pattern from Phildar magazine #440 (the same book this scarf is from). If you want this excellent magazine, you can find it here. Please note, though, it is only available in French.

Capital-P Pretty

I used less than 2 balls of Rowan Kidsilk Haze in Trance, and a bunch of clear tiny beads with silver centers.

Capital-P Pretty

It's unusual for me to make something pretty and delicate; generally, it fits neither my style of dress nor my lifestyle. I really enjoyed having an excuse to make this, and it was nice to be able to make something beautiful for my friend.

Capital-P Pretty

I hope she likes it.

Capital-P Pretty