May 2008 Archives

Most pictures may be clicked to enlarge.

This tutorial picks up where the last tutorial left off and uses the formulas found in this spreadsheet. This tutorial can stand alone but may reference Excel skills covered more fully in previous Excel tutorials. If you haven't used the program much, you may want to review these other tutorials.

NOTE: The attached spreadsheet is just a sample and contains measurements that may be useful but which may not meet the standards for some publications. You are welcome to use what I have for your own design purposes but it'll be you who has to ultimately support any patterns written from it, so do your research first.

Special notes:
I've used Ysolda's measurement chart as a reference for many of the basic sloper measurements.
I'm using Amy O'Neill Houck's tutorial on estimating yardage to create my yardage estimation formulas.

The goal

In the last tutorial, we learned about

  • Rounding
    • Round to a whole number
    • Round to the nearest Even or Odd number or Round, Round Up or Round Down
    • Round to a multiple
    • Round to a multiple plus

In this tutorial, we'll cover

In the final tutorial, we'll cover

  • Calculating finished garment measurements
  • Calculating yardage based on a sample
  • Putting your numbers into MS Word

Oh brother


My brother, Matt, came to Portland this weekend, with his adorable girlfriend, Aileen.

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Their visit was a whirlwind of thrift stores and rummage sales and we saw very little of them but what we did see, was great fun.

Whilst M&A were off in distant towns, roller skating and buying This American Life paint by number kits, Leo and I were taking Thea for her first trip into downtown Portland to visit the Saturday Market (albeit, on Sunday.)


And while we were there, I was craving a hot dog, slathered in mustard.


Don't judge me.

Sunday, all the humans decided to see what sort of nightlife was available and Portland didn't let us down, though, admittedly, the crowds were much smaller than on a normal night out.

We had live Irish music, greasy eats and good beer, over at Kells


After that, we decided to do a little dancing at Boxxes, the club across the street from M&A's hotel. For some reason, two women came into the club, walked to the bathrooms, stripped to their unmentionables, and walked back out to mingle. After a few minutes, they put their dresses back on.


One wonders what necessity there was in going into the bathroom first.
There's also the general "why?" question that was running through my head.
But Leo and Matt didn't seem to mind.

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After shaking our bonbons a bit, we all headed off to our respective accommodations.

There's a lot we didn't get to do while Matt and Aileen were here, so hopefully they'll be back soon. I'll even forgive Aileen for not liking dogs, since she is so crafty (in the good way) and fun.

More dogs, less knitting.


This, from my non-knitting friends.

I know, madness.

Still, I'm nothing if not accommodating.

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I ran these by a focus group (Leo) and apparently they went over a like a lead balloon. Since customer satisfaction is key here at Marnie, Speak! I thought I'd made a special LOLdog just for him.

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moar funny pictures

Most pictures may be clicked to enlarge.

Since the last tutorial on using Excel for pattern writing, I've refined a lot of how I manage my spreadsheets. I've been playing around with different formulas in Excel to find ways to make pattern writing easier. You know what that means, another tutorial.

Download the spreadsheet and play along at home. I'll be making references to various parts of the spreadsheet so go ahead and open this baby up.

NOTE: The attached spreadsheet is just a sample and contains measurements that may be useful but which may not meet the standards for some publications. You are welcome to use what I have for your own design purposes but it'll be you who has to ultimately support any patterns written from it, so do your research first.

Special notes:
I've used Ysolda's measurement chart as a reference for many of the basic sloper measurements.
I'm using Amy O'Neill Houck's tutorial on estimating yardage to create my yardage estimation formulas.

The goal

So, like last time, I'm just giving you instructions for a basic shell. All the same formulas can be used to build sleeves. Just use this as a starting point.

A rough schematic of what we are shooting for

Honey versus Vinegar


NOTE: This post is sort of a rant and a long one at that. For the sake of all of you who have better things to read, I'm including some random eye candy that you should feel free to look at instead.


Recently, Annie posted about needing to take a little breather from teaching after an unpleasant email. I wanted to write her and tell her not to take it personally but I can't because I would have responded the same way. It seemed like such eerie timing because I recently received a rather terse string of emails from someone working on one of my patterns that gave me that same sort of feeling about designing. No, I'm not hanging up my knitting needles and Excel spreadsheets, but it was still one of those interactions that made me feel like "why bother?"

If a little is good a lot is better


After all your sweet encouragement and suggestions, I decided to order pretty much every photo you guys recommended to me.


And, actually, I also got this shot printed, but when I laid these out to take the shot, I was being so gentle handling the prints that I didn't notice it was sitting right behind one of the other shots.

So that's 18 pictures printed and I think I'll enter them all and just round the donation up to $20, since it all goes to support the Humane Society. Yay.

I'm definitely not expecting to win first prize, but I think I have a shot at one of the 2nd or 3rd prizes, which would be nice.

Meanwhile, we're having some seriously summery weather up here in Portland right now. Yesterday, I decided to play hooky from work (is it hooky if you ask your boss if you can take a vacation day, last minute?) and spend some time knitting and playing with the pups.

We went on over to Lost Park and played a little fetch in the sun.

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That's right girls, you run, run like the dickens.

Oh at first, Thea was all kinds of frisky, running around, playing keep away, and tug-o-war. But it wasn't long before the hot hot weather had her tuckered out.

Sooo tired, must put head on ground

They had themselves a nice long drink of water after that. Of course, as soon as I picked up the squirrel again, they were sure they wanted to run some more, but I thought it'd be good to give them a little rest.

On our way out of the park, we got a nice surprise. Leo had stopped by to give the girls a kiss. He was out to put some gas in Leela (the bike) and took a little detour to see us.


Sexy! A great way to end a nice run in the park.

Stuff I can't show you


My dance card is filled with unbloggables these days. These are the two that are on the needles, with more to come.

So far, I love the yarns I'm using and the pieces are coming together well, but my blogging opportunities are limited which is sort of making me sad. You know, I like this blogging stuff.

So, for now, I'll have to leave you with some puppy goodness, from our drizzly visit to the beach, this weekend.



My friend, Erica, directed me to a local pet photo contest, and I'd love to enter, despite the fact that I use a relatively cheap point and shoot digital camera. I have a feeling that folks with nice SLRs and lots-o-megapixels will be able to outshine my humble collection but all the entry fees go towards a great cause so I think I'm going to try.

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So I was hoping that, perhaps, a couple of you could help me decide what photos to enter. I think I'd be willing to enter up to 10 pictures (I'll have to spend some money to get good prints done, so I don't want to go crazy) but since I love the subject matter so much, I'm don't trust myself to pick the best shots from the lot. A cute expression is far more appealing to me than a nice composition.

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There's one caveat, all "companion pets" must have visible tags and collars, so I can only use shots from our hikes and beach trips. All of the shots at home, when the girls are collarless, are not allowed. Poo. Panda is floofy enough that you can't always see her collar even when she's wearing it, which may actually exclude some of the shots in this post.

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Anyway, almost all my pup shots can be found here. I've peppered this post with a few of my personal favorites, but by no means would I consider these the only possible entry shots.

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Resolution is also a factor, so some pictures I love are out because I can't print them at the required 8" x 10" dimensions.

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So anyway, if you have any thoughts, leave me a comment here with a link to the picture or pictures you like, or just comment on the picture in Flickr. And thanks so much!

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Edited to add: The contest has lots of categories including ones for people with their pets, and funniest shot. But really, this edit is just an excuse to add a couple more shots.

Mmm Cormo


Spin-Off-Spring-2008.jpg You know that edition of Spin-Off that has my shawl in it? Well, it's evil, EVILLLL!

Why, you ask? Because it has a writeup about Cormo fiber that will make you drop everything, sell your possessions and buy gobs of it. I'm not necessarily saying this is a bad thing. If you get properly prepared fiber, you'll probably be over the moon with your purchase, but still, evil.

It doesn't help that Aoife left me a comment saying how she had picked up some Cormo herself and was really enjoying it.

So with a nearly nonexistent degree of arm twisting I ordered myself a pound of creamy white roving.

The fiber has a bit of VM in it...maybe a bit more than I'd normally like, but based on what I've read, the more gently the fiber is treated at the prep stage, the better, since aggressive carding lead to a snaggly mess.

With just a quick fluffing of the roving, I was able to produce a pretty decent singles using an unsupported long draw method on El Matchador.


After spinning the singles, I chain plied them into a soft 3-ply yarn. It's a little thick and thin but I would say it averages about 15 WPI overall.

The yarn was so amazing to spin that it was hard to stop. Even more fantastic is the sproing of the finished product. When you put your hands in the skein and stretch it out, it's got an amazing elasticity to it.

I was having so much fun with this fiber that I decide to take it for a ride on a spindle. My go-to spindle is my 0.9 ounce Golding Tsunami (though, jeeze louise, there are some seriously gorgeous new designs that are making my wallet itch. Must. Resist.) Spinning this fiber on a spindle makes me feel like I'm the greatest spinner ever... BOW TO MY AMAZING POWERS OF YARN PRODUCTION FOR I AM A SPINNING GODDESS! Ahem, sorry about that. Anyway, like I was saying, this fiber seems tailor made for spindles. It has enough crimpy grabbiness, to make it really easy to control the fiber and you don't need oodles of twist to keep it all together. Except for giving me an overinflated sense of my own skill, It's a darn near perfect fiber for spindling, as far as I can tell.

After spinning super fine singles, I used the Andean bracelet method to create a 2ply yarn.


The finished yarn is about 24 WPI and I have about 46 yards total.

Both batches of finished yarn got a bit poofier after plying, washing and twacking, than the wound singles would have you believe. I would bet this yarn would have great insulating properties when knit up.


This shot is a little nod to Mary-Heather's adorable photoshoots. This sweet little tea cup was a gift from a friend whose mother collected tea cups before she passed away. I think it's a delightfully graceful way to drink tea and a cute way to show off a delicate handspun yarn.


A little yarny cheesecake for your viewing pleasure.


The lighting director and photo stylist weigh in on the shoot.

Most images can be clicked for a larger view.

I get a surprisingly large number of questions about schematics so I thought it was time to cover that topic here.

This tutorial is meant to give you some basic skills for creating schematics in Adobe Illustrator or a similar vector based application. There are countless ways to create schematics, this is just how I like to do it. Hopefully, even if you don't have Illustrator, some of my suggestions will be useful for you if you've struggled with making your own schematics. These instructions are written by a Mac user and I am using Illustrator CS2 and CS3. I will try to provide appropriate alternatives for PC in brackets [], but no promises that they will be 100% accurate. Refer to your Help menu, if need be, for PC or older versions of Illustrator.

The first step, of course, is to open a blank document. (Once you've made a few schematics you like, you can start using the ones you've made as a template, which will save oodles of time.) I like to build the schematic to the approximate scale of the sample I am or will be knitting.

Once you have a blank document, go to the Illustrator Preferences [Options] and choose Guides and Grids.

You can use whatever you like for measurements, but I find it useful to start with a centimeter per inch relationship. I set up grid lines every centimeter with 4 subdivisions each, which allow me to get quarter inch increments in my scaled down schematic.

To make your grid visible, type CMND+' [CTRL+']

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

April 2008 is the previous archive.

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