Sunday, April 17, 2016

Mother Nature

One of my favorite scenes in Wagner is Wotan accepting the will of Erda. Yes, even the most powerful of the gods must obey "Mother Earth".

Most "scientists" dismiss me when I invoke Mother Nature, and that is silly, for we must obey "Mother Nature".  Here, I am going to suggest that a good number of my readers go back and read
(or reread) the first 10 of the Feynman Lectures .  Those remind us of how scientists think and work (or should think and work).  Too many of us rely on what some grade school teacher told us about how scientists think and work.  Now think!, did that teacher discuss data quality at the time? If not, there were problems with the teacher's data. The first 10 Feynman lectures are about how real scientists work out difficult issues.  Those lectures explain why no object can be precisely defined, why all data is imperfect, and how to tell if a particular set of data is good enough.

Mother Nature uses the math of probability, calculus, equations of state, finite element analysis,  catastrophe theory, and quantum mechanics to tell us what is likely. She imposes the forces of  gravity, and electromagnetic radiation on us within the constraints of thermal dynamics and rotational dynamics (including the orbital mechanics that give us ice ages, seasons, and tides). She sets the properties of matter and plasma, and the conditions when those properties change. She sets the biochemistry of life. We can calculate Pi to a trillion decimal places, but we cannot change it.  We can measure the size of a neutron, but we cannot change it. We can calculate gravity to one part in a billion, but we cannot say how gravity is different from the forces that hold a neutron together.

Invoking Mother Nature is a good shorthand for all of this.  It is a good shorthand for the fact that we need to be doing all the math, all the time, or we will miss part of what Mother Nature is telling us. (Richard Feynman was very good at math and he spent a good bit of time doing math.)

Setting Mother Nature as a cool entity of  math allows us to forget her power. She  lets us make nuclear bombs and wipe out species with abandon.  She will indifferently allow us to wipe out our  own species. She has reminded us, that with all of our ability to destroy species, we have a hard time dealing with Zika viruses,  Lyme disease,  MSA, cockroaches,  termites, volcanoes, or tornadoes and hurricanes -- much less global climate change. We have more hubris than power.

I think the scientists that dismiss me when I invoke Mother Nature are not doing the necessary math on a timely basis to understand the consequences of  human caused global warming.  They think humans are special, and Mother Nature will not enforce her rules.  Trilobites were special and they are gone. The big dinosaurs were special and they are gone.  That is why Mother Nature states her rules mathematically - those rules are are mathematically precise and are always enforced.

Climate models pass for doing math in climate science.  Just as a camel is a horse built by a committee, climate models are computer programs built by committees in an environment where there are large numbers of students and many echo chambers.  The number of students ensures that nothing too unpleasant is said, and that nothing too rigorous and time consuming is done.  I mean that one cannot have college students running climate models that predict the end of civilization within the  career of the student - the whole university community would need trauma counselling.

And yet, any kind of a reasonable model of seafloor clathrates in a warming ocean would have to include a fat tailed probability distribution of methane releases from the sea floor.  Some of those fat tailed probability distributions of methane releases would be at catastrophic levels, so the entire concept of  methane releases from sea floor methane clathrates is left out of the climate models.  As is also carbon dioxide from thawing permafrost.  This is not doing math, this is pulling the covers over our head to keep the monsters in the dark away.

Even the math that the climate models do, does not stand up to scrutiny.  Methane is about 86 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide on annual basis.  However, methane degrades in the atmosphere over time so over a period of 100 years, methane is only 24 time more powerful as a greenhouse gas.  The climate models set a time frame of  100 years and use the lower value as the CO2 equivalent of  CH4 over the entire time frame. However, climate change is a non-linear feedback system with later conditions dependent on earlier conditions. (See Jay Forrester's work on systems dynamics)  In a non linear feedback system, each time period must be calculated with the appropriate values for that time period, or subsequent time periods will be affected. Therefore this use of average methane  to CO2   equivalent is a catastrophic bug in the program.  Moreover, the assumption of declining CH4 concentrations in the atmosphere has NOT been observed in 27 years of CH4 monitoring.  I can think of several good chemical explanations, but the point is that the observed conditions  do not fit the conditions assumed in the climate models - and that is a deep failure of the climate models.

Review papers such as  Steve's  missed these catastrophic bugs in climate models. The methane/ carbon dioxide equivalent error is just one of several bad bugs in the science coded into the models. The models were written as tools to study narrow aspects of climate change, and not to predict the over-all effects of climate change. To use the current climate models to estimate climate changes from carbon emissions is a misuse of the models. (e.g., temperature rise and carbon budgets for treaties)  Even, to use the models to estimate effects of known climate forcing on human society is a misuse of the models.

This one methane / CO2 equlivalent issue means that the Earth is likely warming  ~35% faster than the climate models predict as a result of this one bug.   There are other problems with the climate models.   Consider:

The take away is that climate scientists are very surprised that climate change is unfolding much faster than they expected, despite many thousands of  climate model runs to establish boundary conditions.

All of the information in the sites listed above should have been expected if we had honest climate models. If we had honest climate models, the 2007 and 2012 Arctic Sea Ice melt events should have been expected.  The record  heat waves of the last decade ( including the July 2012 GIS melt event) should have been expected from honest climate models -- that appropriately accounted for current forcing from methane.  And, the evidence of increasing carbon feedbacks would have been anticipated.  In a system of nonlinear feedbacks, that last is a critical and urgent issue.

Honest climate models might well have resulted in a climate agreement 20 years earlier.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


I mentioned a while back that the Getty Center was having a exhibit of tapestries made gold and silver yarns.  However, I have not said anything substantive about the exhibit.

I was totally under whelmed by the associated materials.

For example, why tapestries?  Conventional wisdom is that they reduced the drafts and made stone buildings feel warmer and more comfortable.  Perhaps, but shuttle woven blankets would have done that and been much more practical.  In particular, the dyes in the tapestries tended to fade rapidly, and tapestries could  not be cleaned as easily as blankets to remove soot and smoke. Why gold and silver in tapestries? We are told it was to improve interior light, but the gold conducted heat through the fabric, allowing moisture to condense on the warmside, thereby requiring use of silver to act as an antifungal agent to keep the tapestry from mildewing and molding.  However, silver tarnished, reducing the reflectivity of the tapestry. No, when they had a practical need for more light, they used white marble as a wall facing as done in the rooms used for spinning fine thread in Bruges.

I assert that tapestries primary purpose was as displays of wealth and status. They were very valuable, but they were lightweight and compact. An 12' by 18'  wool and silk tapestry might weigh only 10 pounds (30 pounds with a linen backing).  It could be folded up and easily transported, or stored away somewhere safe. However, a tapestry was harder to steal than gold or silver per se, and not as threatening as weapons or armor.  Tapestries were a store of wealth that could be displayed  to all of one's guests.

Tapestries came in different grades. The exhibit contains a pair, both made to a similar cartoon by the same shop in Paris. The one for the King of France was much larger and much more finely worked with much gold (and silver).  I estimate the grist of the weft in the smaller tapestry to be in the neighborhood of 5,600 ypp, while the grist of the weft in larger tapestry was closer to 15,000 ypp. Thus, the yarn in King's tapestry took on the order of  100 times more effort to spin without counting the large effort to core-spin the gold and silver onto the weft.   Many of the tapestries that were less finely spun and had less gold work, had the gold work protruding slightly from the surface of the tapestry.  At first, I though this was a lack of craftsmanship.  However, reflection tells me that this was a design feature, to make sure that everyone saw that the tapestry did have gold in it.  The gold protruding from the surface, made reflective bands that were visible from any angle and at a greater  distance -- than the much finer work in King's tapestry where the finer gold work produces a more uniformly lustrous field.

At first, I was very impressed with the quality of the English spinning and disappointed with the quality of the spinning in Paris, but then it became very clear that what mattered was the rank and wealth of the person ordering the tapestries, and not where they were made.  Likely, elite craftsmen went to where the wealthy were ordering new tapestries. It was a uncommon set of skills that took a long time time to develop and refine.

Anyway, the exhibit runs to May 1, and it is likely the only place we will ever be able to do such a close comparison of such a range of fine tapestries.

 Remember the Huntington collection is also nearby.


Specialized: for 12" sock needles and a belt around the waist as defined by jeans. It works for an over stuffed chair, or knitting in the car as my wife drives.  With 6 needles, it works for sweaters, but has the spring action and speed of long gansey needles. It does not fall out and get lost, when out and about.  Is it different?  Only by fractions of a millimeter, and that makes it better for some specialized purposes.

Given modern a costume of jeans, I would say it has taken me a long time to spiral toward an optimum knitting sheath design. It attaches to a belt as used in modern pant design, it allows use of long (12") needles, and it does not get lost when one is out and about.

Mostly, knitting sheaths allow me to knit  objects from fabrics that I would not consider with hand held/ circular needles.  Note that I did not say that circular needles are bad, only that I do not consider them as practical tools for some objects knit from some fabrics.

The sock fabric above is good for hiking socks. It is a 6-strand cabled, 840 ypp yarn knit on 2 mm needles at 7.6 spi and 10 rpi for 76 stitches per square inch.  That fabric can be knit on circular needles, but the progress will be slow and arduous.   I like fast and easy knitting.

Note that this knitting sheath also fits the 1.6 mm needles that I use for other sport socks knit at 11 spi and 13 rpi for 142 stitches per square inch from 6-strand cabled 1640 ypp sock yarn.

And, I use the 12" - 2 mm needles for sweaters these days, so it is has become my work-a-day knitting sheath, and it is not really that specialized - it is worth getting right.

Monday, March 28, 2016


I mentioned the other day that it was hard to use my 18" "gansey" needles in the overstuffed chairs in front of the  TV.  Thus, when watching TV I used shorter needles.  I fixed that.  I made yet another knitting sheath that works well in those overstuffed chairs.

My knitting sheaths in current use. On the right a Durham, which is excellent for sock needles or swaving, in the center is a sheath that works well for 10" to 12" needles, and on the left the new sheath that facilitates the use of longer needles in an over stuffed chair.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Wool as a Miracle Fiber

It is a process of elimination:


And Patagonia is about the best!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations

Now published as: Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations that 2 °C global warming could be dangerous
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 3761-3812, 2016

Leading Climate Scientists: ‘We Have A Global Emergency,’ Must Slash CO2 ASAP

In looking over the published version, I  noticed the use of an older climate model that reduces computational loads by using a simplified method of calculating CH4/CO2 equivalents.

In the atmosphere, CH4 is 84 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas on a current basis, but CH4 oxidizes to CO2 with a CH4 half-life of ~12 years.  Thus, over a 100 year period,  CH4 is only 25 times as powerful a greenhouse gas as CO2.  The model simply converts all the CH4 into the 100 year CO2 equivalent by multiplying by a factor of 25.

Looking at atmospheric monitoring data last for 25 years, I note that the concentration of CH4 increases, rather than declining as the model assumes.  Calculating annual forcing using the monitoring data, results in forcing ranging from 3 w/m^2 to 3.6 w/m^2. Using the 100-year modeled conversion factor gives forcing of 1.8 w/m^2 to 2.5 w/m^2 over the period 1990 - 2015. Note the annual data number is 44% higher.

Looking at Fig. S16, it seems that the model takes until ~2060 to arrive at forcing of 3.6 w/m^2.  Thus, I expect to see weather in the next 30 years, that Hansen et al. does not model as occurring for another 50 years.

Temperature rise of 2C is likely to arrive much sooner than any of the standard climate models project, and coming faster as a result of more intense forcing will produce more intense temperature gradients, which will drive more intense storms than Hansen et al offer.  

Greenhouse gas driven climate change is different from climate change driven by orbital mechanics (e.g., past ice ages and past interglacial periods). In greenhouse gas driven climate change, the lower atmosphere gets warmer while the upper atmosphere gets colder.  Thus, in greenhouse gas driven climate change, there is always a nearby source of very cold air to drive very intense, cold storms.

Wicked storms are coming, and we will need better knitting to stay warm.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Pile of lies

My last post was a pile of lies.

People often come after me, when I tell the truth, so I thought I would tell a pile of lies and see if anyone noticed.

They seem not to have noticed.

 First: "Ouvre", she said coyly. 
 (Gladys Thompson on page 5 of Patterns for Guernseys, Jerseys, and Arans, third edition, copyright 1979 by Dover Publications.) is true.  Note well, that she does not mention "Spain or Portugal".  What authors do not say is often as important as what they do say.  Experts often know what their audience wants to hear, and make a point of not saying what their their audience does not want to hear, but they got to be "experts" by by being careful not to lie.  They dance around the truth, and the astute reader must learn to recognize the dances.

Gladys Thompson, seems to define "jersey" as having a warmer and usually denser fabric than a guernsey, but the rest of the post contained nonsense.  Nobody seems to have noticed much, but I am sure that now MANY will come out of the woodwork saying "Oh, I saw the error of Aaron's ways, but Aaron makes so many mistakes that I did not bother to enumerate these!"

With hand-held needles, one way to get a denser fabric is Eastern Stitch Mount which is perhaps best handled with Portuguese knitting.  (Most of the time it is really Portuguese purling.)  If you must make traditional Eastern Crossed Stitch fabric (ECS) with hand held needles, then Portuguese knitting is the way to go. At this time, you should review the discussions in Knitting in the Old Way and Mary Thomas's Knitting Book.  However, better is and

If you need a lot of ECS fabric in a hurry, then stop; and - well the best use of Eastern Crossed Stitch fabric is socks, and the best way to make small tubular objects such as socks or gloves is swaving - using a knitting sheath with bent needles called "pricks".  In the past, I had trouble with pricks longer than 6" jamming and not turning easily in their knitting sheath. Now, pricks as long as 8" are working well for me. With a knitting sheath and pricks, Portuguese knitting will just slow you down.  With the high leverage of a knitting sheath, there are smaller motions that will do the job much faster   The virtues of practice.

If you do not need Eastern Crossed Stitch fabric, but only a denser fabric, then any stitch mount can be used with a KNITTING SHEATH and finer needles. Stitch mount ceases to be an issue.

Particularly with knitting in the round, I can switch from eastern stitch mount to western or vice-versa, and a hour later, I cannot tell which stitches were knit with which stitch mount. I can only tell by looking at the transition row. If it is a finished object, then I must look at the cast-on row to determine stitch mount. And, if it is finely knit, I need my linen tester.  I do not think that GT always got a chance to examine the cast-on row with her linen tester and thus often made her guernsey/jersey classification by the geometry of the patterns and the density of the fabric.

The fact that finely knit stitches become change shape as the fabric is knit more finely is the reason that I moved from "stitches per inch" to "stitches per square inch".  In finely knit fabrics, the stitches per inch does not convey the density of the fabric.  That is,  there are different fabrics that can be knit from the same yarn that will have the same number of stitches per inch, but have very different densities, warmth, durability, and hand/drape. Defining both spi and rpi does define the fabric, and stitches per square inch does define both spi and rpi.

Inspection of of the patterns in Patterns  tells us that Gladys Thompson considered fabrics with moderate density to be  "guernsey".  If we then take "gansey" to mean knit from fine yarns, (e.g., more than 2,000 ypp), then a sweater knit from ~1,650 ypp for Dunraven 3-ply could be a guernsey.  Guernseys knit from finer yarns  (e.g.,  ~2,500 ypp for Paton's 4-ply Behive used on pg 85),  would  also be considered ganseys. Thus, it  would be possible to have a "gansey guernsey". Note that modern Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift also has a grist of ~2,500 ypp, but being only 2 plies, produces a stiffer fabric than the old Beehive 4-ply when knit at 12 spi by 20 rpi. See  Patterns for Guernseys, Jerseys and Arans, 3d ed. pages 83, 84 and 85.  

Note also that Weldon's also provides patterns for both seamen's guernseys and jerseys, allowing additional refining of the definitions.   Weldon's does not use the term "ganseys" 

This concept of finer plies producing finer fabric is why I bother to make my own 6-ply yarn at 1,650 ypp instead of just using commercial 3-ply sock yarn.  And, with all due respect to Alden Amos, more plies means a better hand/drape when knit fine. They used 5-ply for seaman's sweaters because it was warmer AND because it gave a better hand, AND because it was more durable. Real 10-ply Aran yarn makes a nice fabric when knit tight, 2 or 3-ply  Aran yarn makes less pleasant fabric when knit tight.  One can knit a very warm jumper from Jamieson's 2-ply Shetland Spindrift , but  4-ply Behive is about the same grist and will produce a warmer fabric with better hand when knit to the same gauge.  However, good luck finding commercial 2,500 ypp, 4-ply knitting yarns these days.  Good luck finding hand spinners that can produce 2,500 ypp 4-ply yarns these days.  You will likely have to order such a yarn from a mini-mill.  That is the difference between a skilled professional spinner, and a hobby hand spinner.  I am somewhere in between.  I am a hand spinner with a DRS wheel that makes spinning 2,500 ypp, 4-ply yarns easy.  I wish we had such spinning wheels for more hand spinners. with such a wheel, one can learn to spin such yarns in a few days.

I do think, the Channel Islands got knitting from the Islamic world very early, and started buying wool from England by the time of Henry Beauclerc, and knit/ sold sweaters to English seamen fishing the Icelandic waters in the 14th century, Portuguese fishermen taking cod in the North Atlantic in the 15th century, and the seamen that explored for Henry the Navigator.  I think it would be VERY odd if the origins of guernseys and jerseys were not knit eastern stitch mount. However, that was 70 generations ago.  Since then, knitters on the shores of the North Sea, the Baltic, the Finnish Sea, the Irish Sea, the English Channel, the Mediterranean, the China Sea, the Atlantic, and the Pacific have all been linked by sea commerce.  In the way of commerce, they have sought to produce better products faster and cheaper. Improvements include knitting pouches, and at least 3 rather specialized forms of knitting sheaths. 

With a proper knitting sheath, very fine fabrics can be knit at a practical pace using any stitch mount.

Hobby knitters like to pretend that they are knitting as fine and as fast as the knitters of old, and they have told each other this since the days of Queen Victoria.  Hobby knitting is an echo chamber. Experts dance around the truth and do not say differently.  They take traditional finely knit patterns and revise them to be less finely knit. (e.g., Nancy Bush and  Alice Starmore take patterns for utilitarian objects and convert them to make very pretty, but fragile objects.) Thereby, hobby level knitters can pretend they are knitting "ganseys".  I certainly took part in this echo chamber, and knit what everyone else was calling "ganseys". They are very good sweaters, but I no longer consider those sweaters to be "ganseys".   P. A Gibson-Roberts,  D. Robson, and E. Zimmerman have  likewise been careful not to tell some truths.  One such truth is that long DPN ("gansey needles") are not useful without a knitting belt or knitting sheath to help control the long needles.  These experts set-up generations of knitters to fail by telling them that guernseys and jerseys were mostly knit on long needles, and failing to mention that using a knitting sheath was more important than the length of needles.  For example, the commercial pattern, A Channel Islands' Guernsey / Patterns for Guernseys, Jerseys, and Arans specifies 11 DPN. I usually knit this pattern on 6 +1 DPN  that are 12" long because that knitting sheath works well in the stuffed chair in front of the TV.  However, when I am in a hurry I use 18" gansey needles because they are faster. (Piece work knitters always wanted more speed.) However, with the 18" needles,  I need to sit in the wooden chair by the kitchen window where that knitting sheath works. (It rubs on my overstuffed chair.)  Nevertheless,  I can make good progress on  "A Channel Islands' Guernsey", in a doctor's office, or in the car or on an airplane using 8" DPN and (another) knitting sheath, or even just a leather knitting belt. The 8" needles provides less leverage, so there is more stress on my hands, but not enough extra stress to be a problem in less than a few weeks. (I noticed again this morning that the 12" needles used Friday evening, produce a more uniform fabric than the 8" needles used for KIP yesterday.  This was not a surprise.  The 8" needles with sheath produce a better fabric than I can knit with hand-held needles, but the 12" needles produce an excellent fabric.)

The main thing that a knitting belt or knitting sheath provides is stability that facilitates  the use of very fine needles. And, a steel needle with a knitting sheath allows knitting faster, so that the greater number of stitches that a fine fabric requires can be accomplished in a reasonable time. Knitting sheaths allow knitting a higher quality fabric. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Guernseys vs. Jerseys

"Ouvre", she said coyly.
 (Gladys Thompson on page 5 of Patterns for Guernseys, and Arans, third edition, copyright 1979 by Dover Publications.)

Guernseys were knit with either Western Stitch Mounting or Combined Stitch Mounting.

Jerseys were knit using Eastern Stitch Mount.

The Eastern Stitch Mount produces a tighter fabric; and, a stitch that is more more square.  How the stitch is mounted affects the shape of the knit stitch.

Western and Eastern Stitch Mount do produce different fabrics, that can be distinguished by folks that have worked with both knitting methods.  The folks in Yorkshire often confuse these fabrics, and are not careful with what they call these fabrics. Jerseys have won "guernsey" knitting competitions, so even knitting judges in Yorkshire are willing to call a "jersey", a "guernsey". Their failure to be precise and accurate in their textile nomenclature is not my problem.

Rather my goal is to knit better fabrics, and understanding how stitch mount affects the  fabric is important. For me,  guernseys and jerseys are different fabrics, with different virtues, made with different knitting techniques.

However, knitting the gauge of guernseys and jerseys does require a knitting sheath or knitting belt of some kind to provide the leverage to pack the yarn tightly.  Thus, here we have two different knitting methods that produce different fabrics, but which use similar knitting sheaths.

I have been thinking about for "Ouvre" for sometime now.  Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, is the solution.  In this case. it also involved realizing that there is a serious error in Mary Thomas's discussion of stitch mount in her Knitting Book.  It is still a very good book.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The best fabrics I have ever knit

Worsted spun 5-ply knit on 2 mm needles.

Gauge is 35 stitches per 4" and 50 rows per 4" for ~109 stitches per square inch. It is a nice jersey fabric.

The fabric is about the same weight, hand, and drape as your favorite knit sweat shirt from Nordstrom, but it is wool, so it is warmer in the wet than cotton, and less flammable than polyester. It is long wool, so it is very durable.  However, the wool is fine enough to be skin soft.  And unlike many of the synthetic fibers, it does not stink.

This is the fabric that I set out to knit 16 years ago, hand knit, but warm enough to keep a fisherman warm on the North Atlantic.  It is,in fact, the fabric seen in some of the patterns in Gladys Thompson.  This is the yarn and gauge that makes Pattern 1, A Channel Island's Guernsey fit the size given.   Moreover, with long needles and a knitting sheath the pattern and the knitting is easy. 

It is not easy on circular needles.

To get here, I had to learn about long needles and knitting sheaths that provide the leverage and speed to make such knitting practical.  You are not going to knit like this with circular needles.  I know, I tried for years and years.  I moved to long needles and knitting sheaths only after it was clear that circular needles are not practical for such knitting.  I am not saying such knitting cannot be done on circular needles, I am saying circular needles are not practical for such knitting.  Think about it, do you know anybody that produces such objects on a regular basis using circular needles?

It is too warm?  Not if one is determined to do interesting things in interesting places, regardless of the weather.

It is too much bother to knit?  One must be somewhere,  while you are there, you can be knitting.

Related fabrics include:
 This is based on woolen spun, 2-ply yarn of about the same grist and also knit on 2 mm needles to produce a lovely Guernsey fabric.  Again, about 110 spi^2.   Knit on finer needles, the surface becomes much  smoother and the fabric more water repellent.

These are my answers to the question: "How did the old seamen manage to stay warm?" They used long needles and knitting sheaths to knit the kind fabrics noted above. Given the warmth and durability of the fabric, it was worth the effort, because with long needles and knitting sheaths, it is not really that much effort.

These both happen to be commercial yarns. Am I sorry that I put the effort into learning to spin?  Not at all.  I had to learn about yarn to become a better knitter.  

Monday, March 07, 2016

Old Gauge

I have long used the needle size chart at the Fiber Gypsy ( as my standard for knitting needle sizes and conversions. It worked for new needles that I bought in the US, Canada, Great Britain, Europe, and Hong Kong.

However, the 'UK' sizing never quite gave me gauge for patterns from Gladys Thompson's, Patterns for Guernseys, Jerseys and Arans or for patterns from the old Weldon's Practical Knitter.  I found this very strange as a long time ago, I put a lot of effort into learning to "knit to gauge".

There are a lot of images of old knitting gauges on the internet, however few show the actual dimensions, or provide the diameters of needles as gauged.  See for example .

At this time for knitting patterns written prior to WWI, I am using American Wire Gauge (AWG) to size my steel needles.  I find this a better starting point for swatching than either the Old US or UK needle sizing systems.  For knitting patterns written after WW1, I find the UK needle sizing as given by Fiber Gypsy's chart to be better.

Conversion is as follows:

AWG  =>    metric / mm

8       ~ 3.26
10     ~ 2.50
12     ~ 2.05
14     ~ 1.63
16     ~ 1.29
18     ~ 1.02

There are detailed conversion tables all over the internet.

Good AWG gauges are available at hardware stores, Cheaper ones at hobby shops and over the internet.  The one on the desk in front of me cost $2  The good gauge in the top drawer of the needle stash was $25.

Sure enough, when I swatch Gladys Thompson's, A Channel Island's Guernsey (recommended needle size 12 or 13) with commercial worsted 5-ply, and needles that are AWG 12, I get the chest sizes in the pattern.  I do not get gauge with UK12 (2.75 mm) needles. More surprising is that the Norfolk II Sheringham pattern suggests a 15 or 16 needle size.  For me, this pattern swatches out perfectly with a yarn of the grist of the Paton's 4-ply Beehive ( ~ 2,500 ypp) when using AWG size 15. I do not get gauge when using the UK needle sizing given by the Fiber Gypsy (e.g., 15 is stated as 1.75 mm, 16 is not given an equivalent, and UK 17 is given as 1.5 mm.  I got gauge on 1.5 mm needles which would be Old US 15 or AGW 15.

Likewise, swatching some patterns form Weldon's Practical Knitter, convinces me that AWG gauge numbers work better for their steel needle numbers given than do the UK needle sizes.  This clue into Weldon's makes it much more friendly, and make it possible to effortlessly get gauge with the suggested needles.

Bottom line, knitting needle standards have changed over the last 150 years in ways that are poorly documented.  Our only recourse is to swatch like crazy.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

The Evil of Drink

I was at a Christmas party a few years ago, and lost my knitting sheath.  I got it back a few days ago, it reminded me of the "evil of drink".

 An old goose wing retrofitted to take
2 mm lace needles.

It is a goose wing knitting sheath. Goose wings are a brilliant design that work very well for all kinds of knitting.  The evil is that if you get up and start dancing, they may fall out of your belt or apron strings and get lost.

In particular, they work very well with shorter needles, and hence are very suited for knitting in tight quarters.

Goose wings work better with apron strings or narrow belts than with wider belts. In fact, almost any kind of a soft belt or sash will hold a goose wing in place if you do not get up and dance. I often use the narrow leather belt on my knitting belt to hold a goose wing knitting sheath:

So, with both a knitting belt and a knitting sheath at the ready, which do I knit with?  Well if I was going to use the leather knitting belt for knitting, I would not bother with the knitting sheath, now would I?  However, the narrow leather belt does a very good job of  holding the goose wing in place.  And, on the other hand, the knitting belt is much kinder to wooden needles.

Admittedly, the short needles used with goose wings require more needle changes than long needles, but goose wings are ever so much more convenient for knitting in an overstuffed chair. And, if you are lounging there, with the telly on, speed is not paramount.  And, if you must knit a fine sock from beginning to end while sitting in the coach section of an airplane, a goose wing is the tool.

I made a bunch of goose wings in the days when most of my knitting was done on US1 needles. Now, I often use finer needles, and I am retrofitting my old goose wings with needle adapters to accept the finer needles.

An old goose wing retrofitted to take 
US000 sock needles.

And with the needle adapters they also accept larger needles.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Love and Hate of the Classics

Over the years, I have had a love and hate relationship with Paton's Classic Wool (PCW).

A large swatch of Paton's Classic Wool knit on 2.4 mm needles was the  was the first clue that I was on the right track.  However, ultimately I generally decided that  the fabric that I was producing was not worth the effort, resulting in a large number of WIP sitting around.  Finer needles seemed like more effort for not that much better fabric.

Exploration of blunt needles over the last few months has allowed exploration of knitting PCW on finer needles.

Knit on 2 mm needles, I get 9 spi and 12.5 rpi for 112.5 stitches per square inch, and on 1.6 mm needles I get 9.5 spi and 12.5 rpi for 118.75 stitches per square inch.

While the numbers are similar, the fabrics are different. In fact, the numbers would seem not that far off of the 7 spi by 10 rpi (70 stitches per square inch),  that I get with 2.38 mm needles, and yet the 3 fabrics are very different.

Knit on the 1.6 mm  needles, the fabric has a smoother surface that allows water to just run off in ways that just does not happen with the fabrics knit on larger needles. It is also surprisingly abrasion resistant.

Knit on the 2 mm, the fabric is thicker and has more surface texture, but is still very weatherproof.  The extra thickness/ softness gives better drape, and the surface can be brushed into a very nice nap.  Over all, the fabric knit on 2 mm needles is softer and wickedly warm.  It is a nice Guernsey fabric, that is much, much warmer than what most folk knit as "gansey" fabric.

These fabrics are firm, so they need to be knit to fit, rather than knit from a generic pattern.  However, these fabrics have more stretch and elastisity than woven fabrics.  They can form a warm second skin that allows free and easy movement.  And, they have tremendous warmth for the weight.

In many ways, these are fabrics that I have been trying to knit since 1998, but I did not have the tools and skills to knit.  Oh, there were hints, such as the fact that "mak'n pins", were often only 1.5 mm in the old days.  When I first read that, I should have jumped forward to 1.5 mm needles.  And, when I read about how long it took a professional knitter to make a set of needles.  That should have told me that they are not tapered to the tip, but rather blunt.

And, you are not going to get to PCW knit at 70 stitches per square inch with circular needles. I have knit small swatches of such fabrics on circs, but that convinced me that sweaters from such fabrics were not plausible. I tried over and over. Swatches of these fabrics can be knit with a knitting belt, but those swatches told me that that it imposed significant wear on my knitting belt. so I moved on to wooden knitting sheaths.  Maple, rosewood, and even cherry, endure the stress very well. I got here using 12" blunt needles with my latest generation of knitting sheaths.

My point is not that PCW is the best yarn, only that it is a very good yarn, and a great value. And it sets new standards for hand spun - it tells us that rather generic woolen yarns can be knit into great objects. It opens the door for finer fabrics knit from finer woolen yarns.  And, it suggests that generic worsted spun yarns can produce great fabrics. And, if that is the case, why is there such a variance in price?

The evolution of my knitting sheaths, 
with newer sheaths to the left.
The needles on the left are old.

The horizontal knitting sheaths were made in the last 3 months, and the vertical sheaths are older.   The gansey needles are 10 years old. (And, for large objects, longer needles are faster!)  Sizes of needles in photo range from US1 to US0000, and all can be accommodated with various needle adapters in the photo.  Special needle adapters are made for swaving.  Number and color of bands on the adapters indicate size, and placement of the band(s) indicates gansey or swaving. These needle adapters work better with the swaving needles than the knitting sheaths that the swaving needles were originally made to fit.  (However, currently the swaving needle adapters work better with my Durham style knitting sheaths. The Durham sheaths put the swaving needles into a better ergonomic zone.)

Note that the needle adapters allow use of one sheath with many different sets of needles.  The knitting sheaths work much better when they are made to fit one style of work belt, and are then used with  the belt they were made to fit.  Between the old and new knitting sheaths are (on the block of maple)  examples of  the threaded inserts currently used to attach the needle adapters to the knitting sheaths.

In the context of thousands of hours of planned knitting, taking a couple of hours to make a knitting sheath that might increase productive by a couple of percent is perfectly rational, regardless of the discount rate.   When those same knitting sheaths move better fabrics from the realm of plausible dreams into practical reality, it is silly, not to be making better and better knitting sheaths.

I keep the old knitting sheaths around to later, check, verify, and validate the data related to each transition.  As Feynman said, "It is important not to  fool yourself."

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Best and Brightest on SLR

Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations that 2 °C global warming is highly dangerous

We suggest that ice sheet disintegration is a highly nonlinear process and poses a danger of rapid sea level rise. We find evidence in paleoclimate observations and in global climate simulations supporting the existence of amplifying feedback processes that would contribute to nonlinear ice sheet response. Modern observations reveal that these processes are already underway, including cooling of the Southern Ocean surface. We conclude that a 2°C limit on global warming is not a safe “guardrail".

Hundreds of comments addressed by the authors 

We use numerical climate simulations, paleoclimate data, and modern observations to study the effect of growing ice melt from Antarctica and Greenland. Meltwater tends to stabilize the ocean column, inducing amplifying feedbacks that increase subsurface ocean warming and ice shelf melting. Cold meltwater and induced dynamical effects cause ocean surface cooling in the Southern Ocean and North Atlantic, thus increasing Earth's energy imbalance and heat flux into most of the global ocean's surface. Southern Ocean surface cooling, while lower latitudes are warming, increases precipitation on the Southern Ocean, increasing ocean stratification, slowing deepwater formation, and increasing ice sheet mass loss. These feedbacks make ice sheets in contact with the ocean vulnerable to accelerating disintegration. We hypothesize that ice mass loss from the most vulnerable ice, sufficient to raise sea level several meters, is better approximated as exponential than by a more linear response. Doubling times of 10, 20 or 40 years yield multi-meter sea level rise in about 50, 100 or 200 years. Recent ice melt doubling times are near the lower end of the 10-40 year range, but the record is too short to confirm the nature of the response. The feedbacks, including subsurface ocean warming, help explain paleoclimate data and point to a dominant Southern Ocean role in controlling atmospheric CO2, which in turn exercised tight control on global temperature and sea level. The millennial (500-2000 year) time scale of deep ocean ventilation affects the time scale for natural CO2 change and thus the time scale for paleo global climate, ice sheet, and sea level changes, but this paleo millennial time scale should not be misinterpreted as the time scale for ice sheet response to a rapid large human-made climate forcing.

Selected passage
6.2 Southern Ocean, CO2 control knob, and ice sheet time scale
Our climate simulations and analysis of paleoclimate oscillations indicate that the Southern Ocean has the leading role in global climate change, with the North Atlantic a supporting actor. The Southern Ocean dominates by controlling ventilation of the deep ocean CO2 reservoir. CO2 is the control knob that regulates global temperature. On short time scales, i.e., fixed surface climate, CO2 sets atmospheric temperature because CO2 is stable, thus the ephemeral radiative constituents, H2O and clouds, adjust to CO2 amount (Lacis et al., 2010, 2013). On millennial time scales both CO2 and surface albedo (determined by ice and snow cover) are variable and contribute about equally to global temperature change (Hansen et al., 2008). However, here too CO2 is the more stable constituent with time scale for change ~103 years, while surface albedo is more ephemeral judging from the difficulty of finding any lag of more than order 102 years between sea level and polar temperature (Grant et al., 2012). Here we must clarify that ice and snow cover are both a consequence of global temperature change, generally responding to the CO2 control knob, but also a mechanism for global climate change. Specifically, regional or hemispheric snow and ice respond to seasonal insolation anomalies (as well as to CO2 amount), thus affecting hemispheric and global climate, but to achieve large global change the albedo driven climate change needs to affect the CO2 amount. We also note that Southern Ocean ventilation is not the only mechanism affecting airborne CO2 amount. Terrestrial sources, dust fertilization of the ocean, and other factors play roles, but deep ocean ventilation seems to be the dominant mechanism on glacial-interglacial time scales.
The most important practical implication of this “control knob” analysis is realization that the time scale for ice sheet change in Earth’s natural history has been set by CO2, not by ice physics. With the rapid large increase of CO2 expected this century, we have no assurance that large ice sheet response will not occur on the century time scale or even faster.

Emphasis added by Aaron
Note that on a current basis, CH4 is 80 times more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2.  Thus, 404 ppmv of CO2 plus 1.8 ppmv of CH4 is the same as 548 ppmv of CO2, However, because CO2 and CH4 work at slightly different spectra the mixture is a slightly more powerful greenhouse gas than pure CO2.  A conservative estimate of the current setting on the CO2 "control knob" is actually ~550 ppmve of CO2. CO2 plus CH4 was => 486  ppmve twenty-five years ago.  Even with the great thermal inertia of ice sheets, we should be seeing some melt, AND WE ARE!  Even 50 years ago, CO2 plus CH4 added up to more than 400 ppmve of  CO2.  It is legitimate to use the higher equivalence value of  CH4 for CO2 because the concentration of CH4 has increased, rather than the declining concentration as assumed in the IPCC models that allows their use of an equivalence factor of only 20 for a hundred year period.

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Transition(s)

It took me 3 or 4 years to transition from hand held needles (e.g., circular needles) to knitting sheaths and knitting belts.

I would knit something with circs, and see if I could knit it with a knitting sheath.  Here the greatest challange for the knitting sheaths (with DPN) was Moebius knitting.  Ultimately it was clear that any Moebius knitting could be done with a knitting sheath, and some Moebius objects that are not practical to knit with circular needles and can be knit expeditiously with a knitting sheath.

Then, I would knit objects with knitting sheath technology and see if I could knit them with hand held needles. First, it was clear that knitting with a knitting sheath was easier on my hands and wrists, allowing knitting to be done faster, easier and with less stress on the hands and wrists. Then,  I was able to knit fabrics that were much tighter and more weatherproof than anything I could knit with circular needles. Third, Fair Isle and stranded techniques were much faster and easier. The difference in productivity and level of effort was huge.  Over all, it took about 4 years to convince myself that anything that could be knit on circular needles could be knit faster and easier with a knitting sheath. That is it took me 4 years of serious effort to set aside the teaching of the experts that I had so carefully learned. However, I was still knitting things that I could, in theory, knit with circular needles.  I was simply using a knitting sheath because it is faster and easier.

I knew I was on the correct track when I took a large swatch knit from Patons Classic Wool into the knitting instructor at a very high-end yarn shop, and she looked at it for half a minute, with her mouth open, turning it over and over and feeling it, but saying nothing for a long time.  I thought she was going to berate me for bringing cheap wool into her high-end shop, At long last, she asked, "How did you every knit anything so wonderful?  Can you show me how you knit?  "

About halfway through my transition from circular needles to  knitting sheaths, I started looking for better yarns, and spinning, Yes, better yarns lead to better knitting, but most importantly, a better knowledge of yarn leads to better knitting.  Today one of my favorite sock yarns is a 1,650 ypp, 6-strand cable that I make up from commercial 5,600 ypp, 2-ply warp yarns.  I would never have found that yarn if I had not learned to spin.  I would not be able to ply it up quickly, as a high quality knitting yarn if I had not learned good spinning skills. 

Spinning also taught me about the glories of fine yarns. 

Since moving firmly to knitting sheaths, I have started knitting things that I cannot imagine knitting on circular needles. Knitting sheaths allow me to finely knit large objects in a reasonable rate.  When I first came across Jamieson's Spindrift, I was as still using circular needles, but I did not like the fabric as produced at 7.5 spi on US3 needles.  With a knitting sheath, today I knit Spindrift on 1.5 mm needles, and I like the fabric. Now, I knit Spindrift at ~13 spi and ~16 rpi for about 200 stitches per square inch. On a 4" by 4" swatch, that is 3,200 stitches.  Most importantly, Spindrift taught me  what I could do with 2-ply, 2,000 ypp, woolen spun yarns.  Knit on fine needles, such yarns produce wonderful fabrics.

I may lack imagination, but I cannot dream of knitting a sweater with 200 stitches per square inch on circular needles. However, it is very feasible with a knitting sheath.   I also knit my 1,650 ypp, 6-strand cable yarns on 1.5 mm needles at ~ 10 spi by 17 rpi, and it makes a nice fabric that I love for a multitude of uses. It is a great sock yarn,and works when ever I need a wool jersey.  I knit commercial 5-ply gansey yarn on US00 / 1.6 mm needles to produce a fine dense fabric - that is weatherproof.  You may not like it (or need it),  but, I find that it far out performs the products by Marmot (, which I use as standard.

Today, knitting sheaths allow me to knit such objects on a practical basis.  I love the fabrics.  If you can knit such fabrics with circular needles on a practical basis, then more power to you.  I do not find it practical, and I love fine fabrics,so I keep using knitting sheaths.  On the other hand, I do not stop looking for better ways to knit  -- as in my transition to blunter needles over the last couple of years. Even last night I was grinding blunter points on 6" steel sock needles that I made 10 years ago for use with Dutch style knitting sticks.  Yes, pointy needles can be faster than blunt needles when hand held, but with a knitting stick, blunter needles are much more productive.  And, many of my old knitting sticks have been upgraded to take 1.5 mm needles.  And, when knitting sock fabrics at 170 stitches per square inch - I need the speed.

My finding of knitting sheaths as a more productive way to knit finer fabrics is not a "belief'", it is the summary of hundreds of tests relating to knitting productivity during my transition period, and subsequent feasibility testing as I have moved to finer yarns over the last few years. Moreover, it is consistent with the use of knitting sheaths by many generations of professional knitters.  And, it is consistent with the physics and ergonomics of knitting.   Any reasonable assertion that circular needles are as good for knitting should be supported by substantial tests of knitting productivity by both methods,  address the use of knitting sheaths by professional knitters, and the physics/ergonomics of knitting.

I do not see such testing and analysis. The people that I have taught to use knitting sheaths knit faster - without exception. And, some of these were awe inspiring, fast knitters from childhood when they met me. Some of them were teaching me to knit faster, a few hours after they got their knitting sheaths. When somebody says that a knitting sheath does not allow  her to knit faster, I know she has not bothered to learn the technique.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Old stuff

Team discovers fabric collection dating back to Kings David and Solomon

"The possession of copper was a source of great power, much as oil is today," Dr. Ben-Yosef said. "If a person had the exceptional knowledge to 'create copper,' he was considered well-versed in an extremely sophisticated technology. He would have been considered magical or supernatural, and his social status would have reflected this."
To support this "silicon valley" of copper production in the middle of the desert, food, water and textiles had to be transported long distances through the unforgiving desert climate and into the valley. The latest discovery of fabrics, many of which were made far from Timna in specialized textile workshops, provides a glimpse into the trade practices and regional economy of the day. 
"We found linen, which was not produced locally. It was most likely from the Jordan Valley or Northern Israel. The majority of the fabrics were made of sheep's wool, a cloth that is seldom found in this ancient period," said TAU masters student Vanessa Workman. "This tells us how developed and sophisticated both their textile craft and trade networks must have been." 
"'Nomad' does not mean 'simple,'" said Dr. Ben-Yosef. "This discovery strengthens our understanding of the Edomites as an important geopolitical presence. The fabrics are of a very high quality, with complex designs and beautiful dyes."

Read more at:

And, fuel to smelt the copper!  They all miss that point.  They used Holm Oak charcoal, and in the process turned the "wilderness" into a desert.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Ridge and Furrow

A famous pattern for gasney sweaters, also works to keep debris out of hiking socks, and to give added flex and stretch at the ankle to avoid wads, creases, or stress on the heel that can result in wear.

On low socks, a ridge and fur pattern can keep the sock from slipping down into the shoe.

Ease and Durability of hand knit sock.

I knit my socks to fit.  That raises the question of how much negative ease to avoid the wads and creases that can cause blisters.

The thing is that too much negative ease causes socks to wear quickly.  Thus, negative ease should be minimal.  And, a firmly knit fabric requires much less minimum ease to avoid blisters.

Firmly knit fabric, knit to fit, works well for socks.

Then, put a clock on the ankle to make the sock easier to put on and take off.

Clocks on Socks

These days, clocks on socks are mostly seen as decorative.  However, clocks can also be functional.

Clocks can provide extra padding around the ankle to protect the ankle.  They can provide extra warmth around the lower leg which can be very helpful in cold environments and particularly for fisherman's rubber boots.  And, pattern at the ankles can provided extra ease for putting on  and taking off firmly knit (warm) socks.

Between the extra thickness and the extra ease, clocks can greatly increase the warmth,, wear ability, and speed of knitting socks for cold weather wear.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Must Read British Bronze Age Life

British Bronze Age Life

Bronze Age textiles and boats in Britain along the shore.  This was before the cod were fished out. The Channel was full of cod.  Big cod came up into shallow water in the winter. Britons have been fishing the Channel for a long time.

Britons had wool and they had bronze.  This is where I would look for earliest English knitting. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Six things that raise your blood pressure

Keeping your blood pressure under control can mean adding things to your life, like exercise, that help lower it. But, you may not realize that it also means avoiding things that raise your pressure. A healthy blood pressure level means you're less likely to have a heart attack or stroke.

 read more at:

My take is: 

  • Get/Stay thin, and you do not have to worry about salt nearly as much.
  • Treadle wheels are much better than e-spinners. Long draw is healthier than inch worm.  Great wheels are even healthier.  An hour of spinning very fast (on a double treadle wheel) is healthier than 4 hours of gentle, slow  spinning. 
  • Use a knitting sheath so effort is transferred to the upper arm and shoulder when knitting - then knit like a demon to keep the blood flowing.

I still do not like great wheels for my own spinning!

It is the Fat who get fatter

Research sheds new light on whether we are all getting fatter

February 17, 2016

A study of trends in Body Mass Index (BMI) since 1992 for England has found that whilst BMI is rising across both sexes and within all social groups, there have been larger increases in those who already have the highest BMIs.
Researchers from the University of Liverpool's Department of Geography analysed data from the Health Survey for England, an annual health survey that captures health information including height and weight measurements for adults aged over 20.

Get thin, live long, and prosper.

Being thin and living without meds is easier than being fat and taking meds.  In particular, the meds for blood pressure have nasty side-effects.

And, high blood pressure kills.  Fat causes high blood pressures; therefor fat kills.

Fat has a direct link to high blood pressure

Researchers reveal new links between heart hormones, obesity, and diabetes

February 17, 2016

A new research study has revealed an important relationship between proteins secreted by the heart and obesity, glucose intolerance, and insulin resistance. The findings, published today in Obesity, offer a new approach to treating metabolic disorders, including type 2 diabetes, by targeting the pathway that controls the proteins' concentration in the blood.


Another nail in the coffin of the "Fat and Healthy" myth.

A BMI of 25 is good, a BMI of 23 is much better.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Fat causes cancer

Fat people can expect to get cancer.  That is not healthy.

Study finds mechanism by which obesity promotes pancreatic and breast cancer

Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators may have uncovered a novel mechanism behind the ability of obesity to promote cancer progression. In their report published online in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, the research team describes finding an association between obesity and an overabundance of a factor called PlGF (placental growth factor) and that PlGF's binding to its receptor VEGFR-1, which is expressed on immune cells within tumors, promotes tumor progression. Their findings in cellular and animal models, as well as in patient tumor samples, indicate that targeting the PlGF/ VEGFR-1 pathway may be particularly effective in obese patients.

Read more at ( )

Note, it holds for both men and women.

OK, the only diet that I know of that allows fast and sustained weight loss is Dr. Fuhrman's Diet ( )   You can get his book Eat for Health at your local used book store for ~$8.  Eat for Health does not have as many cites and references as his earlier books, but it has more useful stuff that works. If you must have the references, go to his earlier books, find where he discusses that topic, and there are the references. Or, just look up the topic on Google Scholar.

If you need meds to get a normal blood pressure, then you are not healthy.
If you need meds to get a normal lipid panel on your blood test, then you are not healthy.
If you need meds to get normal blood sugar, then you are not healthy.
If you are fat, you will need meds to get normal blood pressure, normal lipid panel, or  normal blood sugar.  Perhaps you do not need the meds today, but if you stay fat, then, someday soon, you will need the meds to get into the normal range.

My Dad (age 91 ; BMI ~25) has been "pre diabetic" for years.  And for years, he bragged about keeping his blood sugar under 120.   (In fact, it frequently pops well over 120.) He came out and stayed with us for 10 days, and when he got home his blood sugar was 78 - same as mine -- both without meds.  (We did not even stay within level 1 diet guidelines.) He went back to his previous diet, and his blood sugar went back to 116.

Now, my Dad very is interested in the Fuhrman Diet.

The core of the diet is :

  1. A large salad every day (no limit on size, but no oil in the dressing)
  2. A serving of beans every day (in soup, or salad, or main dish)
  3. At least 3 servings of fresh fruit every day (may be from frozen if no sugar added)
  4. At least one ounce of raw nuts or seeds every day
  5. At least one large (double sized) serving of steamed green vegetables every day

All summarized as G-BOMBS 

(Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, and Seeds)

Do that, and you can pretty much eat anything you want as long as you avoid:
  1. barbecued, processed, and cured meats and commercial red meat
  2. fried foods
  3. full fat dairy, butter, cream, whole milk, and trans-fat (margarine)
  4. soft drinks, sugar, and artificial sweeteners.
  5. white flour products.

 Umm, if you have Lyme Disease, getting rid of the LD, makes losing weight much easier.

The Answer

I get complaints that I do not answer questions.  That is not quit correct, rather I do not answer the question in the format expected. They want a brief, direct quote, as one quotes  Bible scripture to support a view.  I am more likely to have drawn on a variety of sources and made both deductions and inductions.

My answers are more like that of  a Shoalin  master addressing a Shoalin monk. I assume that you know all the scriptures and are seeking deeper meaning.  My answers may be either technical points from my notebooks, or broadly philosophical, but they are not going to from a single cite.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

When the path starts to spiral into a point

Will we know when we get to the point where knitting is the best that it can be?  I take historical knitting as a standard, and try to reverse engineer the skills and technology, so I can knit like they did.  I will never achieve it, because they learned details and skills as children, so the could do their best work while still bright eyed, and nimble fingered.  In contrast, I am still struggling with the technologies as I am past my prime. Somebody should have taught me all of this when I first learned to knit in back in 1972.

 I  often say that one of the hardest points of using a knitting sheath is knowing how to secure it in place.  To a certain extent this is controlled by the choice of knitting sheath and other wardrobe.

When KIP or doing a bit of knitting, it does not matter much which tools I use.  Any of my current cycle of knitting sheaths:

Tools from beside my knitting chair

and, any belt will work, allowing me to knit faster and more uniformly than I can knit with hand held needles.  For KIP, the rosewood knitting sheath:

3-ply sock fabric
Also very good for sweaters
 threaded onto a belt worn with jeans, is very effective and not conspicuous. It does not go astray (or over board) when KIP.   And, with different needle adapters it works with different needles to for different gauges.  It is usually on my belt.

5-ply guernsey fabric

However, if I need to get substantial knitting done as fast, and as well as I can, then I use my best tools and my skill at fastening the knitting sheath in place to make the session as productive as possible.

The hint is in Figure 1 of Mary Thomas's Knitting Book, the Knitters of Gayle.

 At this point, my best solution is a soft leather welder's apron with soft leather work belt holding the sheath against it, as in:

Leather support for knitting fast.

The combination of the soft, split leather apron and the soft leather belt provide enough stability to hold the knitting sheath and give a very good spring action to the steel needles within the ergonomic zone.  I find this system holds the knitting sheath firmer, than any cloth apron, and is much better than just a belt through the belt loops in a pair of  pants, and is less stiff than my full grain leather, wood turning apron. For just practical knitting, it cannot get much better.  Ok, it is ugly, but it works. You   know me, "First make it work, then make it pretty".

When I have to get some knitting done, I put on my welder's apron, and belt my knitting sheath on over  the apron, under my right elbow. I look funny, but it lets me get more knitting done, faster.

This also means that I am using flat-tipped 12"-  long UK18 needles for much of my knitting rather than rather than the pointy 18"- long UK13 needles that I previously favored.   I knit faster, but have more needle changes per round.  The needle instructions in the first pattern in Gladys Thompson (PGJA), suggests that this may be a worth while trade off for fine knitting,and actually lead to greater over all productivity on many objects. However, If I could have only one set of needles, and I HAD to knit a lot of  lace, then I would have to go with pointy needles.

The old knitters were very smart.

I bought this apron when I first started working with fine, pointy lace needles and they went through my pants into my thighs.  In truth, this is not my welder's apron, it is my "Lace Apron"!