Meet Mim:


Mim

Mim Bird is the owner of Over the Rainbow Yarn and a knitting genius extraordinaire. In June of 2011, on her birthday, she opened this shop in Rockland, Maine in order to share her love of fiber crafts with the world. Mim is the creative mastermind behind almost everything that we do. She's a knitting history enthusiast as well.

Get to know Mim by reading her latest blog posts below.

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Knitting is Like Coding

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Once upon a time, I thought I might like to be a computer programmer. I felt a special affinity for computers and desired nothing in the world but the life-sustaining essentials and a connection to the internet. Later, my life plans evolved into a desire to be a digital artist, straddling the categories of graphic design and illustration. When I was in college, my love of the computer waned somewhat, and a preference for hand-made things began swelling up in its place. It’s funny how things change.

Disclaimer: I’m not a coding expert by any stretch, but I’ve dabbled a bit in the course of my education. With a sense of things coming full-circle, it often strikes me how pattern writing is much like computer programming, and as pattern readers, we behave much like computers. What is a knitting pattern, if not a code with peculiar syntax rules (that look like gibberish to the untrained eye), and a series of functions that we execute line-by-line, often involving sophisticated looping instructions? Aren’t k’s and p’s the foundation of knitting in much the same way 1’s and 0’s comprise the language of computers?

When writing a pattern, I believe knitting pattern designers must bear similar things in mind to programmers writing a computer program. We want to reduce our instructions to their simplest, most logical form in order to avoid redundancy, promote efficiency, and reduce the potential for glitches to occur. Ideally, instructions for the production of a knitted hat, mitten, or sweater consist of very few simple rules.

Frankly, I think knitters could benefit from a more stringent style of pattern-writing. I think briefer instructions could better get across the elegant simplicity that many patterns actually consist of. Unfortunately, I think new rules would be hard to impose on the wide world of knitters, but bear with me anyway for the sake of argument. We just need to include variables and while loops to reduce a 21 line pattern to a 1 line pattern. Variables are entities with values that can be set initially, and then changed. While loops are instructions that are repeated until a condition is met (such as a variable finally equalling 0).

For instance, a description of the decreases at the top of a hat often goes something like this:

Row 1: (k10, k2tog) rep around

Row 2: knit

Row 3: (k9, k2tog) rep around

Row 4: knit

Row 5: (k8, k2tog) rep around

and so on… until you get down to Row 21, at which point you k2tog all the way around, or (k0 k2tog) rep around.

Obviously, this is much more efficient than writing out k, k, k, k, k, k, k, k, k, k, k2tog, k, k, k, k, k, k, k, k, k, k, k2tog, k, k, k, k, k, k, k, k, k, k, k2tog, k, k, k, k, k, k, k, k, k, k, k2tog… I didn’t even finish Row 1, but you get the point.

bleuarts3smBut one could be even more concise by just defining a function called “Hat Decrease” for a hat with 72 sts around as something sort of like this, where x is the number of stitches between the k2tog decreases (in fact the only thing that’s changing from row-to-row in the pattern above):

Hat Decrease( sts=72, x=10 ): { while ( x > 0 )  kx; k2tog; x = x-1; k sts; sts = sts – 6; }

Translation: set the number of stitches in the row to 72 and variable x to 10, then — while x is greater than zero, knit x number of stitches, then k2tog, then subtract 1 from x, then knit the number of stitches in the row, then subtract 6 from the number of stitches in the row, and repeat.

Ah well… a girl can dream, right?

Ravelry Tips to Use Up Your Stash

I guess I could also have titled this post, “Ravelry Tips to Find Purpose for That Yarn You Needed an Excuse to Buy”, because that’s a large part of why I use Ravelry. You know how it goes: You’re in the yarn shop, minding your own business, when suddenly a skein of yarn winks at you from the shelf. “Pssst. Psssst! Take me home! Make something beautiful with me!” Before you know it, you’re turning the skein over in your hands, pressing it to your cheek, desperately trying to find a reason why you SIMPLY MUST buy it. Ravelry can help.

When I really need an excuse to buy a specific yarn have a yarn languishing in my stash, sadly purposeless and adrift, I go look it up on Ravelry. I then click on the “pattern ideas” tab. Oh, “pattern ideas” tab, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

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I love the drop down menus that allow me to choose knitting or crochet, and/or narrow it down by type of project. When I’m in the mood for fingerless mitts, these menus save me from having to scroll through 52 pages worth of shawls/hats/cowls/socks, and simply show me the 3 pages of relevant projects.

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And say that I had only purchased one skein of yarn, or ended up with one lonely skein at the end of a sweater. The “pattern ideas” page has got me covered, by letting me select how many skeins my potential project can require. That cuts out the heartbreak of falling in love with a pattern, only to realize that you don’t have enough yardage in that one-of-a-kind indie-dyed beauty you bought last year. This is also great when you’re dreaming about a new yarn purchase — you can input either the maximum number of skeins on the shelf, or the upper limit of skeins your wallet will currently permit, and trust that Ravelry will work within your yardage.

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My final favorite feature of this Ravelry gem is the way it displays the projects. It shows me which ones are free, gives me a photo of the original item on the left, and then shows me examples of the project completed in my yarn on the right. It also gives me typical yardage (by fractions of skeins, at times), the rating of the original project, and a link to helpful notes by knitters who have already boldly gone where I would like to go. If I’m pondering color choice, this can also sometimes allow me to see specific colorways in context.

 

So the next time some yarn is calling your name or you’ve decided that an item in the stash can’t wait any longer, and you aren’t quite sure what its destiny should be, look it up on Ravelry and click the ” pattern ideas” tab. Enjoy!

 

 

 

My Not-So-Secret Love

It may not do me any favors in the hot Summer months, but I love love love wearing black. I will wear it from head to toe if I can help it.  Alas, it isn’t a particularly popular color to knit or crochet with, and for good reason. Depending on what you’re working on, the stitches can be difficult to see; However, in this post I’m going to give a few reasons why I adore these yarns because they deserve love too.

 1) There are many different shades, and they go with just about everything.

2) I adore how the textures of the yarn can seemingly fade in and out depending on the lighting. Seriously, look how gorgeous the Findley lace is on the bottom left! In addition, I really appreciate how light can compliment subtle texture changes in the fabric of a finished piece– particularly lace shawls (especially if it’s layered over the same or similar shade of black clothing) .

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3) This third reasons is one I implement as often as I can, and that’s to use it as a contrast in order to call attention to a small detail or details that may otherwise go unnoticed. For example, the brass necklace I wear every day can be difficult to spot when against my skin, but put it in front of something black and it really pops!

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How about you lovelies? Is there a particular color you always gravitate towards when knitting or crocheting?