I’ve written about how I use Visio to graph my knitting charts before. Back in 2009 I reposted my original symbol set for what was then the latest version of Microsoft Visio. My original note about using Visio for graphing knitting dates back to 2005, although I was doing it for a quite a while before I wrote about it.
Microsoft Visio has evolved over the years. MS would tell us that this has been for our own good, and they’ve closed some pretty severe security holes in their Visio document formats that allowed entry of malicious code. That surgery has been so severe that the latest version of the program – part of the Microsoft Office 2013 suite – no longer accepts older file format stencils. But my graphing system, used to produce all of the knitting charts on this site was stuck in this older file format.
So. How to use the older stencils with the latest version of the program?
If you Google something like “Visio won’t open older file formats” you’ll find all sorts of advice. Some of it includes the intimidating step of editing your registry to bypass the security override.
I’ve done the work for you. Here is a ZIP file containing brand new stencils manufactured for Visio, MS Office 2013. It will work with the latest version, but not with older ones. The old-post links above will take you to pages where you can download the now-obsolete, earlier formats.
If you are lucky enough to have access to MS Visio (which is unconscionably expensive, but often available if you are a student, or have use of it via work) – you can now use my “tinkertoy” block building system to make charts like this:
For those of you who have other trusted stencils they need to resurrect and re-use with the latest version of the program, here’s what I did to rescue mine.
I found my original *.vss format files. I knew they were safe, containing no malicious macros.
Under the File tab, I clicked on “Options” in the blue bar at the left. On the pop-up Options menu, I clicked on “Trust Center” in the left hand menu bar. This opened a window with various privacy and security statements. In the main text area of that window, I clicked on the button “Trust Center Settings.”
This brought up yet another menu screen. I selected “Trusted Locations” and clicked on the “Add New Location” button at the bottom of that screen. I noted the default location Microsoft specified as the place where it first stores templates, and used that. I clicked “OK” to set trusted-status for that location, then kept clicking OK on the nested options windows to close them until I was back out at my main Visio window.
I copied my ancient *.vss stencils into the now trusted location that I had written down.
Visio could now open them, and I could use them, but I could not edit them, and saving the document could prompt dialog boxes keyed to the ancient stencil’s status. So I re-saved all of the stencil contents to the new *.vssx files you will find contained in the *.zip file above.
To do that, I used a drag-selection box to select all of the symbols in the available shapes sidebar, then right-clicked and chose “Add to My Shapes” from the pop-up action window. That pulled up yet another action dialog that gave me the option to save the selected shapes to a new stencil.
Yes, this is a long and overly technical post, but I do know there are a few folks who used my old Visio-based knitting notation system, who may have faced this problem. Now they have a work-around.
Yes, I do have lots of small ones, but I don’t make a lot of adult size sweaters, and even fewer for me. And even fewer of those are from commercial patterns. But this one is done:
This one ended up being an extremely quick knit. I used Sarah James’ Entrelac Pullover pattern. This is the second piece of hers I’ve knit up. The first was her Ribbed Leaf Pullover – a challenging bit entirely predicated on twisted stitches. Lots of twisted stitches.
This one was equally fun, but far easier. In essence, you knit four Entrelac panels; two small ones for the top of each sleeve, then one for the front and back of the sweater. Only the one in the front bears any shaping at the neck. A seed stitch panel is picked up along the long side of the sleeve panel, and knit longitudinally, using short-rows to add width at the top of the sleeve. That panel is joined to the other side of the sleeve Entrelac panel using a pick-up-and-knit-together technique, eliminating hand-seaming (although you could do it that way if you were timid).
The front and back fancy panels are joined at the shoulders, and a seed stitch panel is added right and left to bring the piece out to shoulder width and provide the desired total body size. Once those panels are done, the sleeves are sewn in and the side seams are done. Then cuffs, necklines and hem ribbing are added.
Because the piece is so square and boxy, adding extra width to the top size of 46” was easy. First, I used a slightly heavier yarn than indicated. My tiny bit bigger gauge gave me about an inch across the Entrelac. Then a couple of additional rows to the seed stitch panels made short work of the rest of the size adaptations.
My other change was the treatment of the ribbing. The pattern original advocates using the same variegated yarn as the body. Instead I chose solid black, as a framing element.
I am pleased by the the color play of Noro Taiyo – the yarn I used. However I strongly caution that this is not a good yarn for an inexperienced knitter, or for someone who doesn’t have the patience or inclination to tame it. Taiyo is a fluffy, multi-fiber single. It relies on over-spin for structural integrity. That means that the yarn kinks back on itself, twisting and tangling as one works. It also denatures quite easily. If you rip back and re-knit this yarn, you’ll have to re-introduce some of that twist, otherwise the strand will shred and break. Sewing up with it also introduces the counter-spin that shreds the strand. If you use this, spare yourself and find another yarn for seaming. In my case, I used Valley Yarns Berkshire for seaming and for all of the ribbing. Berkshire is a wool/alpaca blend single, roughly comparable in weight to Taiyo.
All in all, I am quite happy with the finished product. And even though it’s a very warm pullover, we still have lots of cold weather left in which to wear it.
Sometimes we forget that not everything we do is original, unique or never-before done. Here’s a case in point from the world of needlework research, presented as an example that we are not unique, and as a mildly cautionary tale.
There are hundreds of folks out there delving into the historical needle arts – some to research and re-create the techniques, some to make investigation into the aesthetic, artistic, or symbolic aspects, and some to profile the creation and use of artifacts within their social and cultural context.
We are not the first to do this. I have stumbled across an article from June 1909, written by Kathrine Sanger Brinley, published in The Craftsman magazine – a product of the Gustav Stickley Arts and Crafts movement (and his commercial empire). That issue of The Craftsman is available on-line as part of the Digital Library for Decorative Arts and Material Culture, maintained by the University of Wisconsin.
Her description is rather florid, although it is in keeping with the philosophical bent of The Craftsman. She concentrates on the embroidery on the tablecloth, and provides a black and white photo that appears to reveal slightly different detail of those panels than do modern photos. On the left is a snippet from her photo, on the right, a snippet of the original daVinci, as found on Wikipedia.
Brinley discusses a copy of the work, done by d’Oggiono, in the collection of the Louvre, but does not directly identify that copy as her source. D’Ogginio is considered to be one of daVinci’s personal pupils. I do not see a copy attributed to him listed in on-line sites detailing the original painting, nor do Louvre on-line searches turn it up, so I do not know if current scholarship still recognizes the piece.
Whether or not this piece has been discredited or lost, I can’t determine. I am no art historian, so I can’t say when in history Jesus’ feet were replaced by a door lintel. I can only observe that there are many more differences between the two than the presence of feet. In just this little snippet, the side figural band appears to have migrated from one side of the bread roll to the other. The modern photo also indicates the presence of a few more bands of patterning than does hers.
Brinley plunges full ahead with the assumption that the tablecloth’s patterning is embroidered, not woven, and attempts a reproduction of the design. Now to my eye, it’s more probable that the cloth shown was inspired by Perugia style weaving, and that it was not a depiction or conjecture of an embroidered textile. But let’s set that aside, too.
She posits a counted thread technique for the bands, due to their linear character (also an artifact of weaving), and cites the prevalence of cross stitch in Italian embroidery history. She concludes that the piece was originally worked in cross stitch, stroke stitch (aka double running), and point Lance (short, straight stitches); also double Italian cross stitch (which she calls out as double-sided cross stitch).
She gives a drawn diagram for the design, and displays her own flat frame, with its in-process snippet.
Interestingly enough, while she cites the work as being counted, her own renditions are not. They’re penciled onto the ground cloth and stitched free of count.
Having graphed over a hundred patterns of this type myself, I can say that if in fact the original was embroidered, Brinley’s chart is a probably a vast simplification of what the original design might have been. Even if the original was woven, how it is shown in the painting is not a photographic depiction. It is another victim of the fidelity and resolution that results when a fine stitched or woven piece is rendered in paint – especially when that detail is not central to the composition’s central subject.
What we’ve got is a historical-historical embroiderer, bent on re-creating a pattern from what she believed to be a period artifact, and making an assumption that the original was stitched and not woven; and that the fidelity of the source painting was true. She went on to suppose that the piece was produced using methods contemporary with modern stitchery (informed by some historical examples). She created an eyeballed redaction inspired by the artifact and presented it as accurate; then rendered it using her own methods.
Is her chart faithful to daVinci’s original? I can’t say. Obviously, I am leaning towards a Perugia-style tablecloth and not a stitched one. I’m also not inclined to accept her design version as accurate. But I can say that I feel for her efforts, respect her attempt, and hope to avoid her pitfalls in my own redactions of other works.
I haven’t made a knitting gadget post in a long time. Here’s a frugal crafting tip, echoing something I posted in 2004.
Save those little, rectangular plastic clips that seal up bags of commercial bread, pizza dough, bulk food purchases, and other groceries. They are very handy for knitting and crochet. Here are some uses.
Stitch markers. Very obvious. All of the standard and exotic stitch marker tricks can be done with these, marking repeats, separating design panels, using them to delineate a group of stitches that will be added or decreased away, using them as an in line abacus to keep track of row or pattern repeat counts.
Progress tags. Like fancier plastic clip style closeable markers, tags can be fastened onto in-progress knitting to mark spots of interest, like centers of pieces to be matched together later while seaming. Because tags are larger than commercial clips, and disposable (in my house, a renewing resource like wire hangers), they can be written on with a Sharpie marker, for one-use notation.
Seam basters. Use the jaws of the tags to hold pieces together when seaming instead of pins.
And here you see another use: pick-up tracking. I have a lot of stitches to pick up along the edges of my current project’s center entrelac panel. The desired number works out to ten stitches per edge triangle. It’s very easy to lose track, an annoying to constantly repeat the count. But if I clip a tag onto the needle, pick up ten stitches after the tag, then I clip it and repeat, the process is relatively painless.
Wow. Over a month since my last post. Not good. I apologize and plead an attack of real life, including work deadlines, multiple snowstorms, and other consumers of discretionary time.
Still, I have not been entirely idle. There has been knitting. Double knitting, to be precise:
The dog jacket is actually a combo of knitting and sewing, with a polar fleece rectangle being the base of the garment, edged out with a knitted rib collar and chest section, plus a bit of ribbing to gather the hind part somewhat. If folk are interested, I’ll post a more detailed method description so others can make one, too.
And on to more knitting. I’m currently working on an Entrelac tunic pullover, from a commercial pattern by Sarah James. This is the second pattern I’ve done by that designer, the first being her Autumn Leaf pullover. I’m using Noro Taiyo yarn, an Aran weight variegated made in Japan, that has a very improvised and rustic Raku-ware look to it. The yarn I’ve chosen is slightly heavier than the heavy worsted/Aran weight yarn specified, although they have the same native gauge. This is not turning out to be a problem for me because I want my finished product to be slightly larger than the larger of the two provided sizes.
At this point I’ve finished the sleeves, the center back panel of Entrelac, and am now on the center front panel. The construction of this piece is slightly unusual. First the (mostly) rectangular fancy-work panels are knit, then the interstitial parts making up the sides of the sweater or back of the sleeve are picked up and worked from the rectangles. These extra bits are done in seed stitch, and are then bound off against another Entrelac panel. This (plus the Aran weight gauge) makes for quick execution. I just started on Saturday evening.
I have not done the ribbing at the cuff because I may want to do all the ribbings in a complementary solid color, possibly charcoal grey, because I am not fond of the stripy/spotty look of variegated in ribbed stitches.
Over the past few months I’ve gotten a few inquiries from folks who want to stitch up my Lord Ganesh piece. I don’t issue it as a kit or fully laid out project chart. For one, the outline isn’t mine. It’s a coloring page I found on line. But here’s a run-down of the piece, plus identification of the various sources and fills I used. All the fills are in Ensamplario Atlantio – my free collection of blackwork geometrics available elsewhere on this site.
Fabric: I used a 32-count not-so even weave linen-cotton blend. My piece was a rectangle about 12 inches wide, and about 16 inches long, but the motif itself as-stitched was only 8 inches across from lotus-leaf tip to lotus-leaf tip at its widest diameter.
Thread: I used DMC six-strand cotton floss, Color #498. I used two strands to stitch the counted fillings, and three strands for the simple chain stitch outlines. I am not sure how much I used, but three skeins should be plenty for the entire project.
Needle: I used a ball-point needle intended for sewing knits to work the fillings. If I am using only one or two plies of standard embroidery floss, the small eye makes for less “thread drop,” and the rounded tip slides between rather than pierces the ground cloth’s weave. I think I used a #26 or #28 embroidery sharp for the chain stitch.
Stitch count: I worked the counted fillings over 2×2 threads of the ground, yielding a worked stitch count of about 16 stitches per inch. However my ground cloth was not exactly even weave, so you can see a bit of north-south distortion, and fillings that were supposed to be square ended up a bit stretched in that dimension.
Pattern sources: The outline pattern – a coloring book page found here. Coloring books are a great source for simple line drawings suitable for use in embroidery of all types. For the fillings – all are in Ensamplario Atlantio, my free on-line pattern collection.
1. I retrieved the coloring page and enlarged the image so that it was about 8 inches wide. I used a graphics program to do the enlargement, although if you do not have access to one, a simple print followed by enlargement on a photocopier would work quite nicely.
2. I taped the pattern print-out to a sunny window, then taped the fabric on top of it. I traced the pattern onto my cloth. I used a plain old pencil – all I had at hand at the time. I did not bother to edge the cloth prior to tracing or stitching.
I did not use tape or overcasting to prevent fraying. The reason I didn’t is that I knew this would be a very quick little project for me, and took less than a week, start to finish. I didn’t see the need. If you think it will take you longer to do, you may wish to do something to preserve the ground cloth and limit fraying. Hemming, basting, overcasting, tape, serging – all methods have their proponents and one may be right for you.
3. Using an embroidery hoop, and starting in the center of the piece, I began to work counted fillings in the design’s fields. I chose them as I went along, and did a very rough centering of each design in the space provided by eyeballing the shape and sticking a straight pin into the visual focus of it, then using that indicated point for the center of the chosen geometric filling.
In some cases where the tight curves of the shapes didn’t align exactly with the grid of my design, I used half-stitches to eke out the edges, so that the geometrics would totally fill the shape areas. I started and ended each shape individually, and did not strand my working thread from one to the next, in order to prevent “show through.” I also tried to stitch using double sided-double running stitch logic as much as possible, but I did not cling to it. My piece has knots and ends, and is NOT reversible.
4. After each shape was filled, I used plain old chain stitch to go around its perimeter. This hid all “rough edges” that result when geometric fillings are used in curved shapes. The chain stitch was NOT worked on the count.
5. When the entire piece was finished – all fillings complete and all outlines complete – I went back and did Italian hem stitching to neaten up the edges of my cloth. This actually took longer to do than the rest of the project.
Here is a clean picture of Lord Ganesh for reference; plus one with the fillings numbered, followed by a list of the Ensamplario Atlantio design numbers for each filling used.
Ensamplario Atlantio Pattern Key
- EnsAtl Part 4, Plate 34:199
- EnsAtl Part 2, Plate 12:68
- EnsAtl Part 4, Plate 33:196
- EnsAtl Part 2, Plate 10:59
- EnsAtl Part 2, Plate 6:34 – one swirly star from the center of the repeat only.
- EnsAtl Part 2, Plate 11:64
- EnsAtl Part 2, Plate 7:39 – same used for both eyes.
- EnsAtl Part 3, Plate 16:94, lower leftmost
- EnsAtl Part 2, Plate 7:40
- EnsAtl Part 1, Plate 3:17 – made this one up on the fly and have no record of it. Use this one instead.
- EnsAtl Part 3, Plate 19:109
- EnsAtl Part 4, Plate 27:161
- EnsAtl Part 2, Plate 7:42
- EnsAtl Part 1, Plate 1:4
- EnsAtl Part 1, Plate 4:23 – worked sideways
- EnsAtl Part 3, Plate 16:93
- EnsAtl Part 2, Plate 13:74
- EnsAtl Part 4, Plate 31:182
- EnsAtl Part 4, Plate 25:147
- EnsAtl Part 2, Plate 8:43
- EnsAtl Part 2, Plate 14:84 – but done single stitch instead of double (off count)
- EnsAtl Part 3, Plate 17:98 – but just x in the centers, not boxed-x
- EnsAtl Part 2, Plate 12:70
- EnsAtl Part 3, Plate 22:129
I hope this helps those who want to make their own stitching of Lord Ganesh.
We’ve got columns up and down, and rows across. Bingo!
A simple double-eyelet lace pattern from the first Duchrow book. Knitting on modular-style using the pull-loop method I learned doing the Forest Path entrelac stole. The same large-eyelet edging I invented to use with my Motley scrap yarn blanket. And a measly 10 evenings of knitting time, using US #10 needles and 5 skeins of worsted weight Plymouth Encore Colorspun. A lightning project if ever there was one.
Two progress status reports today!
First is the Trifles sampler, in progress as a dorm gift to Younger Daughter, who will need such a thing in a year or so. (I have given myself lots of time for completion). As you can see, the motto is finished, using four different alphabets from Ramzi’s Sajou collection. I’ve played with them somewhat, working in the gold color accents, which are not marked as a secondary color on the charts.
I have also stitched in two small Daleks, to comply with her request, stitched in gold and off white silks. I am up to the surround now. I had originally planned to stitch lots of linear strips, patterns from my upcoming book, but as I alluded to before – I have been seized by Another Idea. The small stitched area just getting underway next to the T of TRIFLES is the beginning. I am going to make an interlocking and overlying mesh of gears of various sizes and configurations, each outlined in a heavier non-counted stitch, but filled in using the geometrics found in my Ensamplario Atlantio. I’ll be using coordinating fall colors for these – a bit of the brown and gold from the alphabet, but also cranberry, silver, and possibly a deep green. The total effect should be rather Steampunk, and a lot of fun.
However as much fun as this piece is, necessity intrudes. A friend of mine is welcoming a baby come the turn of the year. She’s expressed a fondness for traditional baby colors, so I am knitting up a small baby blanket for her. It will be car-seat and basket sized, not crib or reception size, so it is going quite quickly.
I’m using Encore Colorspun worsted, an acrylic/wool mix for maximum washability, this being a baby blanket and all. I’m knitting it on US 10.5 (6.5mm), which is relatively large for worsted in order to bring out the lacy stitch pattern. The stitch pattern itself is adapted from an 18-stitch-wide strip pattern appearing in Knitted Lace Patterns of Christine Duchrow, Volume I. I’ve chosen the narrow strip so that the gradual color changes pool, rather than speckling across the rows. I’ve also chosen to work the stripes horizontally because I only have four balls of this yarn. If I had run the piece the long way I might have risked running out before I reached a useful width. By fixing my width, I can keep going until I have just enough to do an edging, or I can find a coordinating pink or off-white Encore for the edging, if there isn’t enough of the graded color yarn. And finally, being a lazy person and not wanting to sew the strips together, I am using the long-loop join method I learned while working Fania Letouchnaya’s Forest Path Stole to knit the strips together as I march along.
Oh, and yes – those are massively long DPNs – about 12 inches long. I really like extra long DPNs for hats and sleeves, and generally don’t use circulars for anything less than 20 or so inches around. As a result I’ve got a collection of these admittedly unusual needles.
When I last wrote, I was just getting underway with my Trifles sampler, a special request from Younger Daughter. Some of you expressed surprise that I don’t plan out these larger stitched projects all at once, graphing them up in their entirety before I start. But I don’t, although this one is shaping up to be a bit less chaotic than my usual process.
To start – here’s what I’ve done so far:
First off, I hemmed all the way around the edge of the cloth. This is something I rarely take time to do, and always regret skipping. It was furiously frustrating – to have the ground in hand but put off stitching, but I steeled myself to it and completed.
Second, I basted lines indicating the centers, north-south and east-west. Long time pal Melisande will smile at this because the thread I always use for this purpose is plain old sewing cotton left over from the bridesmaid’s dress I sewed to wear at her wedding. It’s a pale baby blue – dark enough to be seen on white ground, and light enough to show on dark; non-fuzzing, quick to pull out, and non-crocking.
Yes, when originally stitched the two center lines intersected, but it’s my habit to pick out the guidelines as I no longer need them, so that they don’t get caught up by the embroidery stitches. I determined my center and began from there, removing and clipping my basted guidelines prior to working the cross stitching.
Cross stitching? Yup. Plain old cross stitch for the alphabets on this one. Also for the Daleks, one of which can be seen adjacent to the big “P.”
In this case I have actually graphed up the entire center section that bears the inscription and the offspring-mandated Daleks. Younger daughter prefers symmetry to chaos, and she specifically requested that I do everything I could to align the words neatly.
Now, what to do for the rest of the piece, once the motto is complete…. Originally I thought I’d do more strips from my upcoming book, just for the fun of trying them out. But the late 19th century alphabets in brown and gold silks is giving the piece a particularly steampunk look. Again welcome, since Younger Daughter is a big steampunk fan. I suppose those bands could work, but now I have been seized upon by a Concept, one that has affixed itself to me like a tiny homesick kraken.
Instead of strips, I will probably do this as a montage in inhabited blackwork – the style that features solid outlines, with various shapes filled in using geometric fillings.
Off I fly to draft and cut some standard stencils for my shapes, and to play with their placement. Stay tuned!
Some of each to report.
First, goodbye, this year’s crop of giant grass:
I cut it down with our hand-sickle. Younger Daughter is stripping leaves from the longest stalks. Elder Daughter and she bagged the remains for yard waste recycling, setting aside the best canes for use in next year’s bean trellis. Resident Male took a heavy maul and split the clumps, which after two years unsupervised, were threatening a massive campaign of lawn-conquest. So goodbye grass! Hello, next year’s beans!
Second, Swirly is finished!
I like the way the mitering worked, even on the very narrow green strips. I also used a sawtooth with a ten-row repeat, so I was able to easily fit it around corners, letting the natural splits between the teeth accommodate the direction change. Swirly now goes to Elder Daughter, to replace the last blanket I knit for her, back when she was born.
Third, I can’t just sit. Especially when I am thinking or listening. I have to have something going. So, as a think piece, to keep my fingers occupied, and because I haven’t knit a pair of socks for me in so long my own sock drawer is looking more like a darn-me convention, I finished a quick pair for me.
This was done in Plymouth Happy Choices – a yarn that comes pre-knitted into a long scarf strip, then dyed. The idea is to unravel the thing and re-knit it. Depending on what you make the resulting pattern will be different, and always a surprise. These are standard 72-stitch toe-ups on US #00 needles, with figure-8 toes and short-rowed heels. I started at the same place in the color cycle repeat for both, but you can see that slight variations in dyeing produce fraternal instead of identical twins. I happen to love it, but others may be more fastidious. And yes – there’s a simple double YO diamond detail on the ankles, just for fun.
And another beginning – this time a stitching project.
I begin my Trifles sampler. This is a promised/bespoken piece. I made a sampler for Elder Daughter for her to take with her to her university dorm room. It bore a motto, as a subtle bit of parental nagging, embedded in a loving-hands-from-home wrapper:
Younger daughter is now in 11th grade, and wants one, too.
Here is the materials set – the remainder of the 30-count linen I used for her sister’s, plus a pile of autumn colors chosen from the stash of silk floss I bought in India:
In addition to Amy Schilling’s Dalek (chart at link above), I am using several alphabets from Ramzi’s collection of vintage Sajou and Alexandre leaflets, available at his Free Easy Cross and Pattern Maker website – a fantastic resource that should be better known. You’ll note that for once I’ve actually laid out the motto ahead of time, rather than trust to luck and eyeballing. This is because Younger Daughter is a creature of logic and symmetry. I accommodate her preferences with a bit more precision than I usually use.
More on this project as it develops. This time I’ll try to document what goes into my rather ad-hoc pattern selection decisions, and any tech tips I can.
Fall is after all, a time of endings and beginnings, and my favorite time of year.