Tuesday, May 25, 2010

In the meantime...

While you're voting on which hat to knit for my current boss/postdoc advisor, I offer up an FO. A toddler-sized Baby Surprise Jacket, modeled by one Toddler Wily. This sweater is not for her, but for a wee one yet to be born.




Friday, May 21, 2010


There are no mathematics in the world to help me predict which hat my current boss/mentor will like the best. Perhaps the very select readership of Knitting Rage can help?

First, a description of the recipient. Think tornado with a pony tail. Think Hilary Clinton in hiking boots. Think Peter, Paul and Mary with extra wheat grass. Got an image of someone like that? Now, would that individual prefer (warning: Ravelry links ahead):

1. Opus Spicatum (or here)
2. Entomology Hat (or here, but scroll down)
3. Beaumont Beanie (or here)
4. My Mum's Fair Isle Hat
5. Other (leave suggestions in the comments)

Vote on it - upper right-hand corner poll. Remember: vote early, vote often.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Road Rage!

Well, not really. I wanted to document the construction occurring directly outside my building this summer. The signs indicating the construction start date went up in early May. Construction start: May 10. What was happening as I biked into work yesterday? This:



And more than a few people doing something like this:

I hope to chronicle the progress over the next 2 months. BTW, the construction is for an addition to our current building. The removal of the road is to presumably access pipes and wires.

Oh yeah, I've been knitting - another pair of Monkeys.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


The owner of this blog is currently engaged at a workshop on Complex Systems (kindly ignore that bit about Geosciences. I am not a geoscientist, nor do I play one on tv). Please leave a message at the beep commenting on your answer to that little poll in the upper right-hand corner of the blog.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Skew Askew

This blog's been all numbers for a few posts now, but I thought I'd remind my gentle readers that indeed, I do knit (albeit slowly) and occasionally, I have an FO to share. Today is one of those fantastic days. An FO! Skew, that fabulously unconventional sock from Lana Holden. This was an incredibly fun knit - and really, not too challenging once I let go of any sense of control over the pattern. This is a good pattern for striping yarn (although the logistics of the pattern did result in a small amount of pooling around the ankle). The socks fit quite well - though as many, many knitters note, they are tight to get on. Full details of my Skew available on Ravelry.

Sadly, the only picture I have of my beautiful skew was captured with my computer's built-in Photo Booth. Ho hum, I know. I'll try and do better this weekend.
Photo 18

Imagine, however, my surprise as I was editing the project details when up popped this little gem:

Be still my heart - dynamic analytics from Ravelry? I swooned! Then I checked out the data - nearly 90% of respondents rated Skew a 4 or a 5. What an endorsement! (Disclosure: I gave it a 4 for 2 reasons: (1) the kitchner stitch around the heal was fiddly and (2) a normal cast-off for the cuff? Really, after all that?). The mean difficulty rating was a 4.3, which places it as an interesting but not mind-boggling knit. (I rated it a little more difficult because I couldn't intuit my way through the pattern.)

Finally, a little appreciation for how quickly this pattern has spread. Released as a Knitty Winter surprise in early February 2010, this is the little pattern that could. As of this writing, there are 1000 Skews in progress or completed. 3194 members have queued this origami-like sock. All told, that's 4194 possible skews, roughly 28% the number of Fetchings... okay, that's a little misleading. Looking at the queuing figure, the rate of queuing looks fairly chaotic over the short term, but following the spike upon release (wow - 1062 in nearly a day?!), it's actually leveled out - sort of.

I can't help but wonder what might have been if Skew'd been released nearer to the summer Olympics...

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Won't you be my neighbor?

Have you ever looked at your neighbors on Ravelry? Go ahead - take a look. Click the 'People' tab, then scroll to the bottom of the page. You'll see a section titled 'your neighbors: Ravelers with similar taste in patterns'. Basically, Ravelry compares your FOs/WIPs and queued projects with the rest of the member's FOs/WIPs and queued projects*. The ten people with whom you overlap the most are your neighbors.

I was interested in what projects my neighbors and I were knitting. Did we overlap on popular projects? Was there a tribe of like-minded individuals who had also knit lingerie, sea stars and tea lights? I also wanted to know a little more about my neighbors - how long had they been on Ravelry? Did they blog? How long had they been knitting?

On March 27, I recorded the following information about my neighbors:
  • Name
  • Knitting experience
  • Ravelry experience
  • Website (if any)
  • All our common FOs, WIPs and Queued projects
I then tallied how many of the common projects were common to all 10 of my neighbors (e.g., how many of my neighbors also knit a Baby Surprise Jacket?). I grouped the projects into: baby/toddler, socks, shawls/scarfs, sweaters/jackets and hats.

I also recorded the top 10 ravelry projects, as identified by the number of projects in Ravlery.

Results and Discussion

Neighbor Analysis

Figure 1. Common projects by category.
  1. My neighbors and I have, on average 13.8 years of knitting experience (+/- 4.8 years). We have all been on Ravelry since 2007, with most of us signing up in the spring/summer of that year (Ravelry launched in May of 2007 - we were early adopters!). Nine of us have blogs. Clearly, we are a group dedicated to knitting for the long haul and we rather embrace technology. We are modern women.
  2. We are sock knitters. Of the 69 common projects, 45% are socks (Figure 1). Two of those projects (Monkey and Jaywalker) appears in the top 10 list on Ravelry.
  3. We are also people who knit for small folks. Again, of the 69 common projects, 22% are tagged as baby/toddler. One project (Baby Surprise Jacket) appears in the top 10 list on Ravelry.
  4. Scarves and shawls are a close runner up to babies and toddlers (garnering 17%).
  5. The number one common pattern is... Embossed leaves by Mona Schmidt. Eight of my neighbors have knit this pattern - a lovely lace sock pattern that comes in at #39 on the top 100 in Ravelry.
  6. Coming in at a close second is the Jaywalker pattern. I find this particularly amusing since I have long since frogged my Jaywalkers. But still, I was smitten with the pattern enough at one time to cast on!
  7. In general, we are not knitters of the Ravelry top 10 (or at least, if we are, we knit different items!). Only three of our common patterns appear in the top 10. Another 5 patterns appear in the top 50.
  8. A few of my FOs/WIPs have only one neighbor. These include: Moderne Log Cabin blanket, Helleborus and Na Craga. Interestingly, these are three of my favorite knits (even if one (Na Craga) is my longest languishing WIP).
  9. There is only one adult sweater that appears in the common WIP/FO list - Sunrise Circle Jacket. I am not, by nature, a sweater knitter. Don't get me wrong - I wish I were. I've knit a few but never been happy with the result. Even the Sunrise Circle Jacket, I don't wear (not happy with how the decreases make it look like a naked watermelon). So I stick to hats, scarves, socks and shawls.
  10. One of my neighbors is knitting royalty. Yes indeed, it's none other than the Yarn Harlot herself! We have 10 common WIPs/FOs, including the Sunrise Circle Jacket, Moderne Log Cabin blanket and the BSJ.
There you have my analysis of me Ravelry neighbors. Quite a nice group, don't you think? Now go take a look at your neighbors. What are they knitting? Why are they your neighbors? And are any of your neighbors knitting lingerie?

*There's something odd going on though. Ravelry says neighbor 1 and I have 16 projects in common. However, when I click through, I see 8 FOs/WIPs in common and 2 queued projects in common, which does not sum to the 16 projects Ravelry says we have in common. There is a similar discrepancy for a few other neighbors. I am wondering if the algorithm also takes into account favorited projects.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Trend analysis, the collaboration edition

Many thanks to the commenters on last week's post. As someone who has done limited colorwork and as someone who did not watch the Olympics (I know, gasp!), I was constrained in my ability to explain that particular pattern in the data. Colorwork often requires more attention to both a pattern and the process of knitting - which distracts from watching the curling gold medal round (thanks, Kristy). Further, there really isn't a current must-knit colorwork pattern (thanks, Teresa). Finally, lace knitting may be an upward trend these days, thus it would be well-represented in the Ravelympics (thanks, Kimberli).

Kimberli also pointed out some differences between Ravelympics 2010 (winter edition) and Ravelympics 2008 (summer edition). Socks were quite popular in 2008, which seems reasonable given the season, the heat (at least in the northern hemisphere), and the travel. Socks are light, portable and go well with the beach, barbecues and fireworks.

I truly think the February Lady Sweater represents a first sweater project for many knitters - thus the appearance in both the 2010 and 2008 Ravelympics. What is it that makes the FLS so approachable that it is consistently queued in Ravelympics? It is knit in one piece and the shaping is minimal - and there is lace!

Finally, my thanks to the visitors this week - see below for the impact of a friend tagging a post on the Ravelympics discussion board on website traffic! I hope you enjoyed my analysis and follow-up. Return next week when I explore my neighbors on Ravelry!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Casey, co-founder of Ravelry, recently posted some simple summary statistics of Ravelympics. I did a quick glance - and then a double-glance. Just over 50% of all projects tagged with Ravelympics were completed. I don't know if this is good or bad, but it got me thinking. Do the Ravelympics reflect Ravelry in general? Why do folks pick the projects they do for Ravelympics? Here's my pseudo-scientific analysis.

Casey posted summary data for the Ravelympics on March 17, 2010. On March 18, I performed an advanced search in patterns (empty search box), which returned all patterns in the Ravelry database. I then sorted the patterns by 'most projects'. I recorded the number of projects, row gauge (and converted to stitches per inch) and publication date. For each project, I tagged it as lace or not-lace. This was purely subjective, based on my own definition of lace (i.e., lots of holes).

About one third of the top ten projects appear in both Ravelry and Ravelympics (Table 1): February Lady Sweater, Clapotis and Baby Surprise Jacket. These three projects are knit at approximately the same gauge (4.5 - 5 stitches per inch), though the yarn weight is variable. Two (FLS and BSJ) are Elizabeth Zimmerman or EZ-inspired patterns. All three are tagged as low difficulty on Ravelry.

Ravelympics projects are newer. The mean publication date is 2002 for Ravelry and 2004 for Ravelympics (if we remove BSJ, which has a publication date of 1968, the mean publication dates are 2006 and 2008, respectively).

Of the top 10 projects in Ravelympics, 6 could be classified as lace (February Lady Sweater, Ishbel, Citron, Traveling Woman, Clapotis and Multnomah). Three projects in the top 10 of Ravely could be classified as lace (Clapotis, February Lady Sweater and Swallowtail Shawl).

Two socks appear in the Ravelry group and one sock appears in Ravelympics. Only one project on either list could be classified as colorwork (Olympic Reindeer Hat, Ravelympics). Further, only one project on either list could be classified as cabled (Fetching, Ravelry).

The mean gauge for Ravelry projects is 5.9 stitches per inch (+/- 0.6) and for Ravelympics is 5.2 (+/- 0.5). There is no statistically significant difference between these two groups (t-test, p=0.34).

Table 1. Top 10 projects in Ravelry and the Ravelympics.
Ravelry (No. Projects) (Pub Date) Ravelympics (No. Projects) (Pub Date)
1 Fetching (14,805) (2006) February Lady Sweater (166) (2008)
2 Clapotis (14,482) (2004) Ishbel (131) (2009)
3 Monkey (11,455) (2006) Citron (126) (2009)
4 Baby Surprise Jacket (10,866) (1968) Traveling Woman (116) (2009)
5 Calorimetry (10,809) (2006) Clapotis (115) (2004)
6 February Lady Sweater (8,540) (2008)     BSJ (81) (1968)
7 Saartje’s Bootees (7,339) (2007) French Press Slippers (74) (2009)
8 Jaywalker (7,284) (2005) Multnomah (73) (2009)
9 Noro Striped Scarf (6,919) (2007) Olympic Reindeer Hat (72) (2009)
10 Swallowtail Shawl (6,457) (2006) Skew (68) (2009)

Ravelympics projects only partially reflect general Ravelry trends. Ravelympians choose newer projects and gravitate towards lace. Many knitters list lace as difficult, requiring extensive time and attention. Thus, lace is seen as a perfect challenge for Ravelympics. However, the same can be said of color work and yet we find only one project in the Ravelympics top ten. Do knitters see color work as less challenging, and therefore less worthy of Ravelympics? Or do knitters see color work as even more challenging and beyond the constraints of Ravelympics? Or were there few enticing/exciting/enigmatic color work patterns released in the last year?

Socks are an incredibly popular project for many knitters. Yet the only sock to make Ravelympics was Skew. For most Ravelympians, I would suspect that socks do not pose a significant challenge. At the time of Ravelympics, Skew was an incredibly new pattern and offered a unique construction (hence the name, Skew), making it a popular choice for many athletes.

The lack of cable projects in Ravelympics is a bit mystifying.  On first blush, it may be that many knitters consider cables insufficiently challenging. However, as for color work, it could also be that a sufficiently challenging cable project (e.g., Na Craga) was beyond the scope of Ravelympics.

The February Lady Sweater is an interesting project appearing in both groups. FLS is an easy knit and makes a great first sweater for many. I would predict that many FLS are knit by new knitters or as a first sweater project by more experienced knitters (some who have sweater-phobia). As such, it represents an outstanding challenge for Ravelympics.

In summary, it seems that lace projects are quite possibly the perfect project for the Ravelympics. Challenging and beautiful, lace embodies what it means to knit, to compete and to achieve gold.

In the coming years, we might expect a few of the Ravelympics patterns to make their way into the Ravelry top 10 - although the enduring aspects of a project are open for discussion. I look forward to 2014, when we can again ask: what are knitters knitting and why?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


Am I crazy that I think these would be fun to knit? Yeah, I thought so.

BTW, update on the pop resolution: Monday was day 1 for purchasing only one bottle o' caffeine a week. It was tough, but I made it. I expect day 2 will prove much more difficult.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Sporadic, at best

It took just under 10 hours on Friday for my work life to go from manageable to out of control. As a result, work will, for the foreseeable future, bleed uncontrollably into all aspects of my life. It means no weaving, no sewing and very little knitting. It means I will neglect this blog, like an unfit mother, posting sporadically when I need a break from writing, thinking and crunching numbers.

(ps The Jaywalkers are a fun knit, but I do see why Cookie A.l's Monkey's are #1 on Ravelry.)

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Total cop-out

No post because I am sick, exhausted and so very busy. A better blogger would have posts written for just these times. Not me. Catch you next week.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Happy Groundhog Day

And what a better day to revisit ye old New Year's Resolutions. Let's start with the


  1. Knit less. See the sewing and weaving. Sure, nothing is finished, but it was time spent on crafts other than knitting.
  2. Knit in color. Cha-ching my blog-reading friends! Bonus story: walking across campus with my boss. She turns and asks what brand my hat is - she likes it, looks warm. I held out my hands and said I made it - with these. A priceless event.
  3. Finish Na Craga. No where near completion, but I at least excavated the basic parts.
  4. Finish the tea lights. No comment.
  5. Finish the plain gray sweater. No comment.
  6. Knit more Christmas gifts. Check - started my first pair of Jaywalkers, which will end up a gift for someone.
Personal resolution
Step 1 - success to date. I have purchased no soda in the grocery store, not even the 99 cent cups at the checkout. Well, almost. My boss has started bringing 2 liters to work - for everyone to share. I do partake one or two (or three?) cups a week. I think it's only fair that I purchase a bottle in exchange. Don't you agree?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Think of the Knitting

My oldest daughter is three and going through a phase where she does not want her little sister (15 months) to play with any toys (it matters not to whom they belong). Screaming matches, tug-of-wars, and pushing episodes have all ensued. We agreed that Jeneric could name three toys every day that were hers and hers alone for the day and if she chose, she could put these up high where Toddler Wily could not get them.

Tuesday night:
Jeneric asks me what things I want to put up high, so Toddler Wily can't get into them. Like the sainted mother I am, I reply that there's nothing I want to put up high. I'm happy to share with Toddler Wily. Jeneric calls my bs. She tilts her head to the side and says, "Hmm. Mama, I think you want to put your knitting up high, don't you?"

Touché, little one. Touché .

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Will wonders never cease?

If you can believe it, dear readers, I have taken up Na Craga! Over the weekend, I excavated the WIP stash to unearth two sleeves, a front and the ribbing on the back. I ripped the ribbing (and found a broken yarn, to boot), cast on and knit the ribbing and first pattern repeat. The picture is horrible, but that's what you get at 10 pm using PhotoBooth!

Photo 6

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Star Towels

A few years ago - maybe four? - I had a lot more free time on my hands. I also had grand ideas about weaving a project a month. Towels, place mats, runners, ordinary cloth, you name it. It's taken a while, but I'm starting to make time for hobbies (other than knitting). Eric and I turned out 2 rugs over the last year (simple log cabin rugs that are really nothing more than a slight of hand for the eye). We also wove one shawl - our first project using tencel. I am sorry to admit that we took pictures of nothing.

The weaving stash has long contained some cones of cotton - red and white:

We plan to use these together to make a few Star Dishtowels:
(a free project available from Handwoven.)

Before we warp, we do have a decision - which towel? The all-over star pattern, pictured on the right? Or the striped version, pictured on the left? Readers, care to weigh in?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Norah, FO

This past weekend was far busier than I expected. Although I'd hoped to finish a hat, wind a warp, piece a quilt back and begin quilting said quilt. Instead, I:
  1. Advanced from white to yellow belt and broke a board. I study at the Mid-Michigan Academy of Martial Arts, which is a mixed martial arts school. I love it. And for a beginner, I'm pretty decent.
  2. Finished Norah!
    Photo 20
    I cast-off Norah with angst. It looked too tall, the tick/lice patterning was bumply and it looked distinctly homemade. Indeed, the hat could stand to be about an inch shorter, but it fits and is warm (I wore it to work today). Blocking smoothed out a lot of the bumps and frumps. I like the hat. In time, it may just replace my beloved Kittiwake. Full details on Ravelry.
  3. I did manage to piece the quilt back. Two cuts and one seam. Easy. A little more challenging with a toddler helping, but it got done. Said toddler also wanted to help with making the quilt sandwich, but since she couldn't help but walk all over the quilt, well, that was not about to happen.
  4. No warping, but I did pull together the necessary materials, including the pattern and the yarn, both of which had been marinating in the stash for several years.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The other, other fiber craft

Sewing, that is. I don't sew nearly as often as I'd like, in part because my sewing room is also the kitchen.


This weekend, I managed to find a little inspiration. For two afternoons, I cleared the clutter from the table and got down to business. The first step was to remember where I was in this project. I had sewn strips together, but could not remember how I'd arranged these blocks of fabric. So I laid everything on the floor and flipped and positioned and flipped again until I found an arrangement that mostly, sort of worked. Then, I labeled it. Should have done that back in July when I started this quilt! Lesson learned.

And yes, it is critically important to color coordinate your socks with your quilting project.

From there, it was a lot of pinning and alignment and repinning and alignment.

And a bit of sewing until...
A complete quilt top - look Ma, it even has the borders! I hope to spend time this weekend reteaching myself how to piece together the back - then executing that maneuver. After that, it's off on an adventure of quilting on my own machine with a finishing maneuver of binding. Note to self: invest in an obscene number of safety pins, pronto.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Year, New Resolution

Previously, I outlined my knitting resolutions. Today, I’m going all-out with the boredom factor to detail my one and only personal resolution (aside from getting a new job).

Resolution: Stop drinking so much soda*.
Odds of succeeding: nil.

Merriam Webster defines resolution as:
  1. The act or process of resolving.
  2. The subsidence of a pathological state.
  3. Something that is resolved.
No wonder most resolutions fail. Goodness, what is a resolution but crossing your arms, stomping your foot and saying, ‘There. I fixed it.’ There. I stopped drinking soda. Except no, I haven’t.

Resolution is such a vague term that this year I’m going to use the much more apt terminology of goal setting.

Now setting a goal can also spell trouble. However, I am flush with incite into goals. In scientific teaching, we say that a goal is something with a measurable outcome. Revisiting my Resolution, I need to add some component that I can quantify. For example:

Goal: I will drink soda only when at a restaurant.
Measurable component: I can count the number of times I buy soda in the grocery store or a vending machine on campus.

That’s very nice, you might say. Let’s call it a day. Unfortunately, I don’t know how or when I’ll get to that goal. At the dojo, we say that a goal is a resolution with a written plan and deadline. Once again, let’s revisit that Resolution, now a Goal.

Goal: I will drink soda only when at a restaurant.
Step 1: I will not buy soda at the grocery store. This means no cans or bottles AND it means no 99 cent cups at the checkout counter. Deadline: January 1, 2010.
Step 2: I will buy no more than one soda from a vending machine in any given week. This means I will need to bring something from home – likely water or iced tea. Deadline: March 1, 2010.
Step 3: I will buy no soda from vending machines. Deadline: May 1, 2010.

The astute reader will notice that one deadline has passed. I am holding steady after 1 shopping trip and successfully resisted purchasing either a case of soda or a cup of soda at the checkout. I feel okay about this knowing I can still buy a bottle of soda at work, if I need to. I’ve got some time to survey my beverage options (are Margaritas okay at work? No? Are you sure?), make sure I’ve got proper vessels for transport and get past those withdrawal headaches.

There you have it. My over-analyzed, three-step program for kicking the soda habit.

*You should know that I am ashamed to admit that when I first typed this, I used pop instead of soda.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Rage

Lest you think I’d forgotten the complete title of this blog – Knitting Rage – let me assure you I have not. In New Jersey, rage was easy and superficial. Yell about the bad drivers, crazy maneuvers on the Garden State and call it a day. Although Michigan hosts an unusually large number of Sunday drivers, it’s nothing to get worked up about. I could whine about the lack of culture, our inability to find decent pizza, bagels or Indian food. But that’s whining, not rage.

Today’s rageful thought of the day is about choices and the inward rage that sometimes accompanies those choices. Every evening, after the girls are in bed and have had their 93rd drink of water, I put the kettle on for tea and curl up in my big brown chair. Most nights I cruise blogs for 20 minutes and then turn to knitting. Occasionally, I get off my duff and hit the sewing machine. But every night, I struggle with guilt. My work chirps at me: read a paper, analyze that data, write up those results, think of something brilliant! As a postdoc in science (albeit it biology education), there is a common stereotype that we (a) have no life, no hobbies, no interests outside of the lab and the corollary (b) all we do is work, work, work – 80+ hours a week. Even within my field, there is the perception that hobbies and family are unfortunate and only detract from one’s research.

So that is my rage – at the stereotypes, at the departmental perceptions, at my own inability to clearly define myself, my life, my research. There is rage at society and the trend to work more, harder, longer. There is rage at the growing perception that our work defines us.

This semester, I’m sitting in on a graduate seminar that’s all about the Mommy track – how to balance family and a career. As a mother, I am hoping to gain incite into balancing work and family and guilt. As a scientist, I’m interested in whether the what, why and how we teach can prepare our students to better maneuver this evolving landscape. I expect to pick up this thread several more times this spring. The role of gender in science and education is becoming increasingly interesting.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Norah Hat, Redux

Fair Isle knitting. Well. It has long daunted me and I can't quite explain why. Not that it is easy - but it is not hard. And not that my little Norah Hat is perfect. My first attempt was way too tight - a 16" circumference hat rather than 20". My second attempt is, perhaps, too loose but blocking fixes many sins and it may just help the two colors meld together better than they currently do.

I knit with both colors in my left hand. I tried briefly to hold one in my right and failed completely. It just didn't work for me. Ravelry to the rescue with a techniques video (which I can't seem to find just now)... in any case, two colors, one hand and away we go.

It's given me confidence to look a little more honestly at the the Endpaper Mitts. I have 2 skeins of Louet Gems Fingering Weight in a pale blue and a gift certificate to Threadbear... might have to swing over there for some contrasting cream or white!