Theramin in the Wild

Son, age 13, wanted a theremin. My dad is a classical electrical engineer, who grew up pulling apart vacuum tube radios.

I made Son call Dad a month before vacation.

Dad found the schematic for the minimum theremin. He had Son redraw it, replacing logic gates of one type with the type he had on hand. (Yes, Dad has logic gates on hand.) Then he reviewed Son’s soldering skills, helped fine-tune them, and turned him loose with a bunch of parts, including a resistor colour-code chart and a magnifying glass. They used an oscilloscope to track down stray oscillations, removed an unnecessary bit of the circuit, added a filter, and added a diode to save the device in case the user puts the battery in backwards.

Unlike my one-and-only electronics course, they did all this without a single derivative or integral. They used a calculator once, to find the current, V=IR. (Dad could only find his HP, with Reverse Polish Notation. Son learned.)

I’m proud, and a bit jealous.

Daughter, age 10, spent her Grandpa time fishing. She caught more fish than he did. She also arranged a photo-shoot with a 3D puzzle.


Skew Socks

Long time in stash and printout. A fairly fast knit, except for redoing the heel several times. My own fault. I was modifying the pattern and didn’t catch all the places it needed changing.

Pattern is in Knitty.
Changes as suggested by the designer. Increased ankle band and higher instep.

Evenstar Shawl — Finished Pics

Yep, it’s finished. I’ve worn it twice (and found and repaired a dropped stitch — a k2tog didn’t take) and love it.

This time it’s on a properly contrasting background.

Click to make bigger. Click again to make even bigger.

Socks Story, 1st Performance

This is the first live performance of my knitting story, titled Socks.

It’s 16 minutes long, 16mb.

The pause at “80,000 stitches” is when I turn around and show the a shawl (which I made) which has 80,000 stitches.

In joke: Brad Woods is a local storyteller who was the guild’s guest last month; he has recorded a storytelling CD. Stuart McLean is well-known Canadian teller who tells on The Vinyl Cafe on CBC radio.


I’ll remove enough to bring it down to 14 or even 12 for the next performance.

Organizing Inherited Knitting Archives and Thinking of the Future

An elderly knitting friend who is cleaning her basement recently gave me several inches of paper. I’ll give it a good home, and we expect my daughter will do so after me.

Most of it is going into the library or my filing cabinet, but a huge amount of carefully-collected, valuable information is being recycled.

There’s a chart of all the wools sold by a shop in Kingston, with price (no date), and on the back they’re sorted by recommended gauge. There’s another showing all Pattons’ lines by gauge. An email from her friend with an unusually clear explanation of turning a heel, and collected advice from the author’s knitting group for preventing holes. An outdated set of requirements for the Knitting Masters. Instructions for three different stretchy cast-ons and two ways to do jogless stripes. Several catalogs from a designer I know is online.

Often, when I ask myself, “Can I find this elsewhere?” the answer is, “Yes, on Ravelry. If Rav doesn’t have it, someone there will point me in the right direction. The online version will be more complete (not limited to one store or line) and more current. Often with bigger pictures and helpful comments.”

That’s not to say Rav has reduced the paper in my house. This pattern looks as good as everyone says, that one looks interesting, this one is even closer to what I was looking for than the last one I printed. Save paper by printing two or four pages per side to save paper, then realize it’s too small, then there’s something on the back that shouldn’t go into my archives. (When will basic printers double-side without attention?)

Often, though, I see something online and restrain myself. It will wait for me online, much better than it will wait on the shelf at the bookstore or library.

This project is reminding me how much we rely on the internet these days, and not just for current needs. We expect it, and everything on it, to be there for as long as we need it.

I suppose that’s no more an act of faith than leaving my files in a non-fireproof cabinet, but it’s a new type of faith.

Patience Pays

Two weeks ago I came to the conclusion that by the time I copied everything I wanted from Cat Bordhi’s New Pathways for Sock Knitters, I might as well buy the book. I found some old gift cards with my name on them and off we went to Chapters.

Chapters didn’t have it. Nor did they have any of the other books on my list. (The kids fared much better.)

Then Knit Picks announced their spring book sale. Rationalization: The person who gave me the gift card wanted me to buy books for me, regardless of store. The gift cards can then go into our regular book/gift budget.

Six books went on the wish list immediately: Several Elizabeth Zimmerman, another about socks from hand-painted yarns (which talks about different types of pooling and ways to play with it), and one about different types of yarns. They don’t carry the Bordhi book.

Check total. Leave the website.

One of the storytellers is also a knitter. I told her about my dilemma. She’s in the process of decluttering and gave me three of the books.

I was downtown last week, and while there I ordered the Cat Bordhi book from the local bookstore. No word on when it will arrive. Yes, I ordered it quickly, before I changed my mind. I also bought a gift for my son — origami robots.

The Knit Picks sale ends in two days. Only three books were still on my wish list. I really don’t like spending money. The hand-painted sock book would be full of information and ideas, but I expect it’s mostly material that I’ll absorb quickly rather than refer to frequently. Same with the one about different types of yarns. Check the local library. (I love online catalogs!) They have both of them.

That left one EZ book. Sale saves me $12, shipping cost $8. Net savings of $4, and I already have the three books from Beve and two in the library to read first. They don’t ship free to Canada. I’m a low stasher. (It’s one of my few restraints.) None of their other sale items jumped out at me. I already have a pair of socks on the needles, yarn and pattern for a second pair, and a lace shawl on the needles. That’s enough for now.

Net total: Five books I can read without buying. Beve knows her books have a good home (and they’ll probably be handed down to my daughter). The library stats will show that knitting books are popular. The local book store got business. We have a birthday gift for Son. One book still on my wish list.

Patience pays.

Knitting Helps the Brain

A recent (and long-overdue) change in the way knitting patterns are written is to assign letters to the stitch markers.

Stitch markers are rings that go around the needle, between two stitches, that help you keep track of columns.

Instead of writing, “Knit past three markers,” (and laughing as you lose count) they say, “Knit to marker D.”

This requires you to spend an extra $3 on markers with pretty beads with letters. Plus $10 shipping, but shipping is free if you buy $50. You can see where that is going.

I prefer to use loops of yarn as stitch markers. They don’t distort the knitting as much. I also prefer not to wait for stitch markers to arrive in the mail, or until I next visit the LYS.

So, I’m going to sit down with some yarn and make a bunch of loops.

Next question is how to label them. Small beads didn’t show up, and my daughter won’t let me use her big ones. (See earlier comment about not wanting to wait till I can get some of my own.)

Electricians have a colour code they use to label resistors. Dad can read them as fast as he can read English.

The code is described in detail here: . Before visiting that site, check that you’re allowed. They say:

The following information may have errors; It is not permissible to be read by anyone who has ever met a lawyer. Use is confined to Engineers with more than 370 course hours of electronic engineering for theoretical studies.

So, I’m going to make loops out of coloured embroidery thread.

It will give me incentive to actually remember the resistor code. Yes, I’m more likely to get an office job than electronics assembly, so the standard colour code used in offices might be more useful, but I like the geek factor.

So, knitting officially improves my electronic skills.

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