May 052014

Mobile Camp 2014

There are still 10 tickets left for MobileCamp 2014 in Dresden this weekend. My company, SharpMind, is sponsoring this event. If you haven’t yet reserved your ticket please go directly to and do it now! This event is a great opportunity to catch up on the latest developments in mobile technology and keep abreast of innovations and challenges in the mobile ecosystem. Not only that, but Dresden is a very cool city to visit ๐Ÿ™‚

Sep 132013

Just in time for YarnCamp this weekend, I finished the second of my knitted zombie dolls. This guy has hair like mine ๐Ÿ˜‰ He stands (or maybe “slouches” would be a better word for it) about 25 cm tall and has a removable head and arms like the Dracula doll. His stomach and intestines tend to spill out from the pocket in his abdomen that was meant to contain them. He tends to lurch instead of walk, and is always looking for something live to gnaw on.


Like an idiot, I left him alone for a few minutes in my office. He promptly started crawling after my Droid and was just about to start dismembering it when I caught him, red-handed, in this picture:

Zombie Droid Apple

Luckily, I was able to save the Droid in the nick of time. Whew!

I promised the zombie I would bring him, along with Count Dracula, to YarnCamp on the weekend. He thinks he’ll get a free meal out of it, but he might only get a mouthful of lambswool. Ha ha ha! Looks like we are both looking forward to YarnCamp.

Aug 252013

A while ago I bought the book “Knit Your Own Zombie”( by Fiona Goble from Ivy Press) for my daughter. She thought the idea was great and she started making some of the dolls, but never finished any of the projects and the book ended up in the craft room on the bookshelf with a few hundred other craft books.

We recently went to the Black Forest on vacation for a week and I wanted to bring a knitting project with me, unfortunately I didn’t have anything that would travel well. So I thought “I’ll just bring the Zombie book and a bag full of yarn and see if we can make something from that.” Well, it turns out that we all ended up starting “Zombie projects” during that week. Today I finished my first project from that book, so it is with great pleasure that I present to you “Count Dracula”:

The Count is about 25 cm high and sports an elegant waistcoat (I still need to find suitable buttons for it) and a dramatic cape. His trousers have, unfortunately, seen better days (he was attacked by some village dogs while out hunting one night). His head is attached with Velcro to the body and the upper and lower body can also be ripped apart (they are also joined with Velcro fasteners). The arms attach to the upper body with snaps so that they can also be ripped off, one by one, if you are in that kind of mood.

Up next are a few of the more “rotting” Zombies…We’ll see how they turn out.

Aug 122013

When I first heard about YarnCamp, I thought “This is a great idea”. Combining the allure and excitement of Fiber Arts with the anarchic, organic, spontaneity and fun of a BarCamp is sheer genius! Of course I signed up right away, and because BarCamps need sponsors I also immediately indicated to the organizers my willingness to sponsor the event. My challenge was accepted! So not only am I going to be attending the first German BarCamp devoted to all things yarn-related, I’m also a sponsor of the event:

yarn camp logo

You are probably thinking: “What the heck is a BarCamp and what does it have to do with yarn?”.

Let me explain.

A BarCamp is also known as an “Unconference”. It is a conference, but it is different from the usual kind of organized conferences. It is an event where the organizers are responsible for the infrastructure (venue, tickets, marketing, communication, PR, sponsors, catering, Internet access (WiFi), etc.) but they aren’t responsible for the content. The participants provide the content. The organizers do not set the agenda. They do not hire expensive “expert” speakers to bore the participants. They just provide the infrastructure and let the rest happen organically.

At the start of the BarCamp, all the participants attend a planning session where the day’s agenda is prepared. Anyone who has an idea for a session stands up and says a little bit about their session idea. A “session” can be anything: A presentation, a demonstration, a discussion, a workshop, etc. If enough of the participants think the idea is interesting (by show of hands), the session gets assigned a room and a time slot. As soon as all the session ideas have been presented, the agenda is finalized by rearranging the sessions to optimize the available rooms and time slots (and possibly merging together multiple sessions that seem to be duplicated or just look like they would go well together). During the course of the day, the participants decide which sessions they want to attend and show up at the assigned room at the scheduled time. Generally, BarCamps are free (or very low cost), which makes them available to anyone who wants to attend.

Most BarCamps are themed around technical, Internet or Social Media topics, but the “Unconference” format is so compelling and successful that recently there are BarCamps being organized around all sorts of topics: Education, Real Estate, Gaming, Travel, and now Yarn!

What is YarnCamp?

The organizers of YarnCamp (Romy, Sara, Rebekka and Lutz) have arranged a 1-day BarCamp in central Frankfurt at Haus des Buches, BraubachstraรŸe 16 (near the Dom). YarnCamp will happen on 15 September 2013. There will be 50 to 75 participants and we will spend the day exchanging ideas, showing off our knitting techniques, drinking tea, discussing the relative merits of silk versus mohair, building up the courage to try something new, and admiring the other participant’s amazing projects. More information is available on the YarnCamp website.

So what kinds of sessions will be held at YarnCamp? We don’t know! But I can imagine there will be sessions on different knitting and crochet techniques, maybe spinning, weaving or felting. How to buy yarn online? How to open your own yarn shop? Since a lot of BarCampers are a bit geeky and involved in social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) there will probably be some sessions related to fiber arts and social media. I plan on offering a session on “Painting with yarn”, demonstrating and demystifying some of the techniques used by Kaffe Fassett where he combines dozens or even hundreds of different yarns in a single garment (with eye-popping effect).

So why am I going to YarnCamp? And why am I sponsoring it?

I’m one of those “Guys who knit”. That’s probably reason enough ๐Ÿ˜‰

When I’m not knitting, or weaving, or spinning, or sewing, I usually spend a lot of time in front of a computer. I write code for a living and have been developing mobile applications (“Apps” for mobile phones and tablets) for the last 10 years or so. I’m also active on several Internet forums (like StackOverflow, a Q&A site for programmers) and I’m on Twitter. I regularly attend BarCamps and similar events in the Rhein-Main area and can also be found at MobileCamp in Dresden every year (which my company SharpMind also sponsors). BarCamps are a great way to meet people with similar interests, exchange ideas, share what you know, learnย  new things and just have fun. Sponsoring events like YarnCamp is one way to “give back to the community” and helps to ensure that events like this will continue to happen in the future. It takes a lot of effort, planning and running around to organize events like this and I’m delighted that the organizers of YarnCamp have added this to their busy schedules. Thanks!

I’m definitely looking forward to YarnCamp in Frankfurt next month. If you are attending make sure to say “Hi”. I’ll be easy to spot.

Jack's Back jacketSpinning

Jun 082013

I have been making socks like this for awhile, and after I recently finished a pair for Liza, Tori said “I want some!”. So…without further ado…presenting…

“Tori Sox”

…and here are the “Tori Sox” on the “Tori feet”:

Look carefully, they aren’t exactly the same, but that’s part of what makes them “special” ๐Ÿ™‚

The weather has gotten somewhat warmer, so she probably won’t be wearing them until the fall, but maybe if we get a cool evening where we sit outside and want to look at the stars, she can put them on to keep her feet warm.

Jan 112013

I’m getting better at this. Today I did another 10 centimeters (4 inches) without making a single mistake. In the last few days I’ve spent more time unpicking my mistakes than actually weaving anything. However, one positive thing is that I’ve become very very good at unweaving ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve completed about 25 centimeters (10 inches) so far. I just finished weaving a small celtic knot. After that I’m going to reverse the direction of the dragon necks. Will post more pics as I go. Here’s the last little bit including the celtic knot:

Jan 072013

I finally decided on the next project for my tablet-weaving loom. I’m making a band (trim? belt? hmmm…) using a pattern I found on Babette’s Website which looks like dragon heads. You can see the pattern in Babette’s pattern editor or look at this crappy printout of it:

Can you make heads or tails of this thing?

The pattern is from a tablet-weaver who goes by the handle of “blue”. She seems pretty active in the Flinkhand forum for tablet-weavers and I’d like to thank her for putting this pattern up on Babette’s website for me to use. Thanks, blue!

I picked out some nice colors of my new silk yarn and put about 4 meters on the loom. It looks like this:

I’m using black, a dark purple, a light purple (lilac) and a rich red for the dragon head outline. Not exactly appropriate medieval colors (especially if you weren’t rich), but I figure any count, princess or duke that could afford silk could probably also afford purple ๐Ÿ˜‰ After struggling to get it on the loom and get the warp tension even I decided that I really must learn how to do continuous warping – where you don’t cut each warp thread, but instead you go around and around with the warp picking up the tablets on your way – before I do my next project. Sheesh! What a PITA!

This pattern is also done using the Sulawesi technique. I really like the way this looks but for some reason I always have a lot of problems getting started. I need to twist the tablets about 5 different ways before I finally get the pattern to come out correctly. Silly me, I think I make my life difficult on purpose. The patterns on Babette’s website using a different notation with different meaning than the other patterns I’ve used (from Guntram’s site) so that what used to work before doesn’t work anymore. Argh! Why can’t we standardize this stuff? I think this must be something like “paying your dues” since every tablet-weaver needs to go through this pain. Maybe this is the way to weed out the serious ones from the others? Trial by fire?

Since the pattern is quite complicated and I find it difficult to tell exactly where I am by looking at the weaving, I tend to lose my place and make mistakes. Taking rows out is even more of a PITA than weaving them in, so this is taking forever! Oh, well. Here’s what I’ve got so far (about 15 centimeters or 6 inches):

Even with all the frustration I really like the way it looks. I assume that I will make fewer mistakes and get better at it as I go along. Let’s hope so!

Here’s something I found that is helpful: Since the silk yarn is pretty slippery and I’m using the “2-pack” method to separate the tablets (one group gets turned forwards, the other backwards) I needed something to hold the separate packs together so the tablets don’t slide all over the place and accidentally get turned or mixed up. I found some stitch-holders for knitting that seem to do the trick. Here’s a shot of that:

I’ll post more when I get a chance.

Dec 262012

I decided to try out my new silk yarn this week. First project will be some bookmarks using Sulawesi technique and more of Guntram’s cool patterns. Since Sulawesi is a 3-color weave I needed to use 3 colors. I chose silver/dark blue/medium blue for this project. I wound just 2 meters of warp so I could play with it and see what it does. Again (like the first time) I had to try all different combinations of S- and Z- threading and (re)orienting the tablets this way and that before I could get the correct pattern to emerge. I think I must have some kind of mental block for this ๐Ÿ™ Anyway, I finally got one bookmark done using the silver to make the pattern and the 2 blue colors in the background. On the loom it looks like this:

I like the way this came out, but I think it is a bit loose (this allows some of the colors that should be “hidden” to peek through in places). On the next one I’ll try to pull the weft thread to tighten up the weave a bit and see if that helps.

Next I rearranged the tablets and with the same warp, I did another one using the dark blue for the pattern and the other 2 colors as the background. On the loom that one looks like this:

I think I’ve now figured out how to keep the width even as I weave. I hope the next one will be more uniform in width. I’ll post more pictures when I’ve cut them off the loom and finished them.

So far I’m pretty pleased with the material. It is a bit more slippery than the linen I’ve used, which is OK it just takes some getting used to. The material is extremely strong and looks and feels really nice.

UPDATE: ย 26-Dec-2012

I was able to make only 3 from the warp I had. Here they are (the pictures really don’t do the yarn justice. The yarn is shiny and bright and the colors are wonderful):

Dec 102012

I just received an order of 20 colors of NM11 (110 meters = 100 grams) real silk from Schmetz in Krefeld. I intend to use this for some tablet weaving projects (borders, belts, etc.). The colors are so delicious that I just want to eat it all up! Feast your eyes and see for yourself: