Wednesday, September 29, 2010

9/29 Moment of Zen: TRIPLE Rainbow

I'll see your double rainbow and raise you one more.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

9/28 Moment of Zen: Science!

tax·on·o·my/tækˈsɒnəmi/—Taxonomy is the practice and science of classification. The word finds its roots in the Greek τάξις, taxis (meaning 'order', 'arrangement') and νόμος, nomos ('law' or 'science'). Taxonomy uses taxonomic units, known as taxa (singular taxon).
(from Pop Chart Lab)

Monday, September 27, 2010

9/27 Moment of Zen: AuroraMAX

On Demand Northern Lights

We're not totally out of luck for seeing the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) the old fashioned way around here—especially those who live farther out in the hills where there's less light pollution, but here it's a rare and precious event (see the "Current Auroral Oval" at SpaceWeather for updates about when to look up for this). In the higher latitudes, though, it's a far more commonplace event. So for those other times, the Canadian Space Agency (ASC-CSA) has developed AuroraMAX - a live camera from Northern Canada which takes a shot of the sky every 10 seconds. You can watch it live at night (except during the summer, when the Midnight Sun washes out the view) or check out their gallery of featured videos for some of their best captured time-lapse displays.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Vintage Argyle Patterns!

Back before the Doctor Who scarf really got underway, I mentioned that one of the ladies from Thursday Night Knitting Group had passed along the argyle sock and tie patterns she had used years ago. No dates are included on the patterns, but I estimate they are from the early 1950s, which would make them 50-60 years old. I am excited to announce that I've finally finished digitizing them so that you can get your argyle on, too!

Note that I am not the author of these patterns—I have included all text from the original patterns exactly as written, along with a few editorial notes for clarification purposes. All patterns include charts which were scanned directly from the original patterns and are included as images. Also included are the lists of color combinations in the original kits, which make for interesting suggestions, perspective or both.

As of posting, I haven't knit from these yet either, though I plan on embarking on some argyle socks soon. If you get to it before I do, let me know—I'd love to workshop on how to make these patterns better. One glaring omission in both cases is the lack of listed yardage requirements, as they were sold as part of kits including yarn to complete the pattern, I'd love to be able to add that information at some point.

Without further ado, here's the patterns:
  • Argyle, Plaid and Block Sock Patterns (pdf, 190K) - Published by Bernat as part of the Bernat Meadowspun Sock Pak, this includes a specific instructions for following included Argyle, Plaid or Block pattern charts, all of which feed into general heel and foot instructions that allow for size adaptation by length. Original pattern was printed on front and back of a sheet of 8½ by 14 paper, which I was not able to scan as a single image, and so only typed version with images lifted from scans.
    • To make argyle socks, print pages 2 and 4 (general notes page 1 optional)
    • To make block or plaid socks, print pages 3 and 4 (general notes page 1 optional)
  • Argyle Tie Pattern (pdf, 181K) - No publisher listed on the pamphlet, but it appears the bottom of it was cut off. The pattern makes an adult tie at a finished full length of 49½ inches. The original pattern as it came to me measures about 7½ by 11 inches, so can be printed on regular paper. Both direct scans of the original pattern and a typed version formatted for easier reading available.

Friday, September 24, 2010

9/24 Moment of Zen: Such Great Heights

I don't think this is what they meant when they said that art imitates life, but this photo sure looks like an abstract painting. Taken from Robert Haas's book Through the Eyes of Vikings, this is just one of an impressive set of aerial photographs from around the Arctic Circle that make the Earth look like abstract art without being messed with in the least. Click the picture to see more from Haas's Arctic collection.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

9/23 Moment of Zen: Caption Time!

What's Your Caption?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

9/22 Moment of Zen: Vulcanson, Volcanosdottir

Iceland: On A First Name Basis with Volcanoes

In Iceland, the phone books are organized alphabetically by first name. Instead of having family last names like we do, folks in Iceland are known by their given first name and patronymic. A patronymic is based on your father's name and indicates you as son of __________ or daughter of __________. Musician Björk's full name is Björk Sigmundsdottir. Iceland being related to English as it is, the breakdown of Sigmundsdottir is actually fairly transparent: Sigmund's daughter. If she had a brother, he would be Sigmundson. Other cultures still highly integrate patronymics - In Russia and many other former USSR nations, the patronymic is a middle name, and people are formally addressed not by their family name (e.g., Mr. Dostoyevsky, Ms. Akhmatova) but by first name and patronymic (e.g. Fyodor Mikhailovich, Anna Andreyevna). (Read more about patronymics around the world).

But, Iceland has the coolest volcanoes (see above), sitting as it does on the line between the American and Eurasian plates as they spread apart, so they get the picture.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

9/21 Moment of Zen: Il a choisi vivre! (Et nager!)

Quadruple Amputee Swims English Channel

French metalworker Philippe Croizon lost both arms and both legs in an electrical accident 16 years ago. Two years ago, when he began training, swimming the length of a pool was a struggle. This weekend, he swam across the English Channel. Croizon made the approximately 21-mile crossing in 13½ hours; a little less than twice the record crossing time of just under 7 hours, set by Bulgarian swimmer Petar Stoychev in 2007.

Here's another article about Croizon from earlier in the summer, which examines the training he did to prepare for his channel swim.

Monday, September 20, 2010

9/20 Moment of Zen: Caption Time!

What's Your Caption?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

9/14 Moment of Zen: Prison Labor Beyond License Plates

What Do These Things Have in Common?

They're all made by inmates in the US. Beyond the classic prison jobs like stamping license plates (which they still do), US inmates are also employed in manufacturing everything from prescription eyeglasses to processed meats, and yes, Kevlar vests, dentures and toilet brushes like the ones pictured above. Click the pictures to find out more about things you wouldn't suspect were made by inmates.

Friday, September 10, 2010

9/10 Moment of Zen: Improbable Loads

Moment of Zen

Experiments In Improbable Physics

In considering the photo series the above image comes from, called "Manufactured Totems" by French photographer Alain Delorme, which features transport workers in Shanghai, China with towers of merchandise lashed to the backs of bikes, such that you have no idea how they're even upright. Click the picture to see more, including stacks of furniture, flowers and more.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Moment of Zen 9/9: Disney Princess Superheroes

Moment of Zen

Reimagining Disney Princesses as Superheroes

This late night brainchild of casual artist Melissa Erickson takes the almost ubiquitous images of the Disney "princesses" and reimagines them as superheroes instead. There's a lot of different ways you could see this, but in all of them, it's a pretty interesting idea. What do you think? (click the image above to see a more extensive lineup)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Moment of Zen 9/8: The World's Longest Maki is Local News!

Moment of Zen

9/7/2010: UMass Amherst students make the world's longest sushi roll

420 feet of California Roll:
650 sheets of nori (seaweed),
200 pounds of sushi rice,
200 pounds of crab,
100 pounds of avocado,
100 pounds of cucumber,
2 pounds of sesame seeds,
5 gallons of soy sauce
6 pounds of wasabi
Video of the sushi feat

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

9/7 Moment of Zen: Knitting a Year in Two Meters

How Long Is A Year?

About two meters, according to this conceptual timepiece designed by German-based Norwegian industrial designer Siren Elise Wilhelmsen. A round knitting machine, ticking off one stitch every half hour, one round per day, this uncanny timepiece produces a knitted tube about two meters (6' 4") in the 365 days of a year.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

¡Simpatico! - Original Pattern for Free Download

I am very proud to introduce ¡Simpatico! Though I've been making up patterns on the fly for years for myself and for people I can talk through it in person, this is the first one that's ready to fly solo. (also see original in this earlier post)

An excellent one-skein project, this cabled earflap hat is worked from the bottoms of the flaps up. The two earflaps are worked separately, back and forth, then joined in the round, with the rest of the hat cast on. The whole hat is symmetrical in a way that's nonobvious from the front but still cuts the number of instructions in half.

Here's its specs:
  • Needles: set circular needles and/or set of 4 DPNs in size 5 (3.75 mm) or size needed to obtain gauge
  • Yarn: 9-10 wpi (worsted weight), about 120 yds (a little less than 50g for most worsted yarns)
  • Gauge: 4.5 sts/in; 17.5 st/10 cm
  • Size: ~22.5”/57 cm circumference (average adult head)

  • 1/15/11: Thanks to knitter feedback, ¡Simpatico! is now bigger and better - literally! Many knitters found the pattern came out too small for grown-up heads, so I've reworked the pattern to have about 2 more inches in both directions. However, the original pattern seems to work okay for kids, so I've left it and called it child size. Both patterns include any relevant errata.

  • 1/30/11: Reworked an egregious oversight in the adult size at the join between the earflaps and hat body.

Here are a few yarns currently available from RPM Fiberworks which would be good choices for this pattern:

Friday, September 3, 2010

9/3 Moment of Zen: Return of the MoZ

School's back, which means I'm keeping up the students' homework blog and its embedded dangling carrot, the Moment of Zen. These will also get posted here when I put them up, which means most M-F in the early afternoon sometime. Without further ado...

A Matter of Perspective...

What planet is this? Although seemingly something out of The Little Prince, the planet is actually Earth. More specifically, it is a small part of the Earth incorporated into a four image stereographic "Little Planet " projection. The central fisheye image points down, while the surrounding wide-angle images were taken at a 30 degree tilt and added digitally later. Earth-anchored items surrounding the image center include green grass, dark shadows, and trees near and far. At the image top ("noon" if the planet were a clock) is the well-lit Parkes Radio Telescope dish in New South Wales, Australia. The surrounding sky contains many jewels of the night including the Moon at 9 pm, the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy at 1:30 pm and 7 pm, and the Small Magellanic Cloud galaxy at 5 pm. A full field interactive version of this scene can be found here.

Photo and explanation lifted from NASA's Astronomy Photo of the Day archive, which features and explains an interesting image every day.