Women Crafter on Youtube – Knitter – Engineering Knits

My mother used to knit and we still have two straight knitting machines of a solid metal build. I did learn how to knit as a child but I already forgot it all and it is unlikely that I will ever need it. My mother-made sweaters have served me well for years by now and I expect them to continue to serve well for enough years to not need a replacement.

She has also knitted several pairs of thick socks that come in handy on winter travels when I need to sleep in some poorly heated room. Or when the winter is so cold that despite heating, sitting at the PC gives me cold feet. But we do not have a circular knitting machine, all the socks she has made had to be made by hand. Thus I have enjoyed watching a circular knitting machine in action because that was the first time I saw it.

Pity the machine seems to be made of cheap 3D printed plastic. It won’t have the durability that my mother’s knitting machines have – those are still fully functional after decades of intensive use.

If you are interested in knitting and its history, Engineering Knits has a lot of videos on that topic.

Project Phoenix – Part 5 – The Tail Finished

Here you can see most of the tail with most feathers finished.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

The tail is completely finished now. Each feather, whether big or small, took me over two hours to make, so with all the prep work, etc. about twenty hours for the whole tail. The reason why small feathers took nearly as much time as the big ones is that what I wrote previously – the narrow long straight-ish part starts with eight bobbins but the ends are 16 bobbins of different colors so it is not exactly easy to keep track of them.

I started doing the wings too, but I had to stop the works for a few days again because I am depressed as hell and it is difficult enough to get out of bed and heat the house, let alone do something on top of that. I started the wings in red, did not like it, and had to undo it. So here is a picture of undoing the lace. It is the same as doing it, except going in the opposite direction.

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I did not like the red color directly near the red body and I also did not like the weave being so tight. I have used a very tight weave on the head and neck, but I won’t be using it on the wings because I think the wings will look better with the thread pattern being more obvious. If I won’t like the result, I will have to undo it again.

Crypto, Scams & Ableism

Since the Scam Banking Fraud fiasco in the crypto world, I have looked a bit more into cryptocurrencies and NFTs. Not much, just to satisfy some curiosity. That curiosity brought me to the YouTube channel Coffezilla (which I recommend). And today I would like to mention a bit unsavory and unfortunate thing that crops up in just about every discussion about cryptocurrencies and associated scams – comments along the lines of “People this stupid deserve to be scammed”. Sentiments akin to this are very prevalent and I must say, I disagree with them now although I do have an inner tendency towards such thinking too and I have to reason myself out of it in some specific cases and I would possibly say these things too about twenty-five years ago.

Why is that? I mean, why is this sentiment so prevalent? I do not know of course, but I can speculate.

I think it is in part because a lot of people in the west are conditioned to believe in the Just World Fallacy. In most fiction, the villains get their just desserts and the good guys more often than not win. We are taught that hard and honest work is rewarded and that crime does not pay. This cultural bias is everywhere and unavoidable. And it is inherently ableist because no matter how difficult it is to actually meaningfully measure intelligence, it does exist, it does wary among people and some people are innately, with no fault of their own, less capable and thus more susceptible to being hoodwinked. There is a reason why so many e-mail scams have appallingly bad grammar and spelling and why so many phone scams are targeting elderly people.

It is not all though. Another part of this is in my opinion that a lot of people enjoy the warmth of a slightly smug feeling of being superior to someone in some way. “Haha, how those poor suckers could fall for THAT.” This is understandable to some degree in insecure people who are still finding themselves but not appropriate for well-adjusted adults. As for myself, today I have plenty of personal experiences to put me down from my pedestal whenever I feel like climbing one – the most recently my tribulations of obstinately plugging the wrong cable into the wrong hole for two days and wondering why things do not work. I know I am not completely stupid and still, my brain sometimes does things that a duckling would deem daft. Not to mention the GIGO principle, which can lead even the best of the best minds astray.

And even when one knows that the world is not just and that smart people can do daft things for a variety of reasons, I guess many people also know at least someone who is definitively willfully stupid and simply cannot be reasoned with because they refuse reason on principle. The most egregious examples of these people are all those creationists, flat-earthers and Q-anoninsts out there. But is it OK to say that someone deserved to be scammed because they ignored warnings and information given to them?

I still don’t think so. If they really were given credible warnings and ignored them for example, then they are to be blamed at least in part for their misfortune in such a case, but they do not deserve it. Saying that someone deserves to be scammed implies that scamming is an act of justice.

It is not. It is an act of malice, a betrayal of trust, and nothing is gained by it. The victim may become less naive and trusting as a result, but that is only a good thing in a society where there are scammers. And whilst being naive and trusting is unwise in our world, it is not malicious or harmful, and punishing it thus makes no sense. A scammer deserves to be judged and locked up. A scammee deserves help.

I’ve Been Cursed, Surely

Last year my projector stopped working. That was unpleasant, but I can live without it, I haven’t really watched a movie for a while. Then the trouble with the processor. Yesterday my gaming headphones stopped working too, for reasons unknown – I haven’t been using them that much.

And to top it all off, I still cannot get the sound to work on my PC. First, the onboard sound card just refused to work and since that problem has been noted by multiple people on the Internet, I have decided to stop trying to solve it and buy a new sound card.

At first, the system did not recognize the new card at all. Then for reasons unknown to me, it recognized it and I could install it, but it does not work properly. I only have stereo sound. When I set 5.1 sound, only the front left and right speakers work, all the other ones remain silent. I am still reluctant to try a blank windows installation because I am not convinced it would help with this.

I am frustrated and tired and depressed.

Rough Start of a New Year

I was backing up my data on Sunday when my PC suddenly shut down. Then again. And again.

I identified the problem – the CPU was overheating because I was creating ZIP files which taxed it more than my usual work. No biggie, I told to myself, I will vacuum the dust from the case and apply new heat conducting paste between the CPU and cooler, that should solve it.

Well, it did not go as expected. When trying to remove the cooler from the CPU, it pulled the CPU from the motherboard. The conducting paste was so old and dried-up that the two components were essentially glued together. And when trying to separate them, I have broken off one pin from the CPU, destroying it. That has never happened to me, but everything is for the first time sometime, I guess.

That was a very expensive mistake to make. The CPU was 11 years old which means buying a new replacement was not an option. I might get my hands on a second-hand one if I searched enough, but there would be no guarantee of functionality. Thus I had to buy a new motherboard and RAM as well. I ordered the new components yesterday morning and I spent the afternoon using my notebook to extract sensitive data from my system HDD just in case I need to completely reinstall my system.

Today the components arrived, I have re-build the PC and after some false starts and learning some new stuff (last time I have build a PC was three years ago), I was able to successfully boot into my original system. I have lost no data and HW-vise the only remaining problem is to get the audio work. I wanted to make bobbin lace and instead of that this.

Well, it could be worse.

Project Phoenix – Part 4 – The Tail

Originally, I intended to make the wings first but all those bobbins prepared for the tail feathers would be in the way so I am making the tail feathers first. Each feather starts with 8 bobbins – 4 golden for the edges, 2 red for the central line, and 2 very light yellow for the weave.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

Towards the end broad section of the feather I ad 2 red, 2 yellow, and 4 orange bobbins. I had to use different knotting techniques for that part to get the pattern right.

I was a bit worried that I won’t know how to make the lace since it is two years since the last time I did it. My mother told me that it will come to me instantly and indeed it did and I seem to be a bit better at it than I was last time although that is not saying much. But I am using more advanced techniques for these feathers than I have used so far.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

I finished two tail feathers today and they took me about 6 hours. I had to take a long pause after every two hours of work because my shoulders hurt something awful and my trapezoid muscle was stiff and on the verge of cramping. At this rate, it should take me approx three more days to finish the whole tail. I do hope that I have enough of the various colors, it is quite difficult to gauge upfront.

Project Phoenix – Part 3 – Beginning the Work

I printed the outline on two A4 sheets, glued it onto a thicker paper and pinned it onto the lace pillow (I think that’s how its called in Eenglush).

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I started with the head and immediately made a mistake despite checking the sketch several times before starting. The head was supposed to be orange, not red. But it is red now, I am not starting all over – I only noticed the mistake today when the neck and body are finished too.

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The body was fairly difficult to make. This is the first time that I have incorporated a golden thread – on the outlines of each segment. I think the golden sparkle should work perfectly with a firebird. However the golden thread is a bit fiddly – it is rougher than normal thread and more brittle, thus it is prone to breaking and difficult to pull through a hole with a crochet hook when attaching new bobbins to existing structures.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

I will show you the progress next time too. I got a small commission to sharpen about twenty knives so I have spent two days in the Worskhop sharpening and today I have been mostly resting and thinking about how to make the tail feathers. I have made the torso with eight pairs of red-thread bobbins. That way when I transitioned over to the triangular-ish tail segment, I put aside two bobbins whenever I reached the base of a tail feather and I only added one more red pair at the end (there are 9 tail feathers). I want to make the tail feathers from several colors with red lines running through the center. There are several ways to do this and I am mulling over which one to use.

This Year’s Gingerbreads

I almost forgot to publish my mother’s creations for this Christmas season.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

Project Phoenix – Part 2 – Outline

Slowly (veeery slooowly) I have managed to draw the outlines in Photoshop, clean them up a bit, and arrive at something that I think is doable as a bobbin lace. I would probably mark even the positions for at least some pins in a symmetrical design, but since this design is not symmetrical anywhere, I won’t bother. My mother actually never marks the pin positions.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

Now I will print it on two A4 sheets, and glue it onto thicker paper. However, I still need to do some work in Photoshop – to sketch some color schemes. For that I will also need to look into my thread drawer so I do not run out of some important color halfway through the work.

Video: Introduction to the Slavic Slave Trade

This was a very interesting video. I have already written about some of the things contained therein but I found it very informative and well-made.

I would like to add two more things about what Ibrahim ibn Ya’qub said about Bohemian slavs (11:22 in the video).

  1. Strange as it seems, the Bohemians are dark-skinned and black-haired. A blond person can rarely be found among them” –  I like to quote this one to any Slavic racists and white supremacists (there is no shortage of those, unfortunately). This Arabic merchant saw a thousand years ago that Slavic people look so markedly different from Germanic tribes who also live in Northern Europe, that he thought it worth writing down.
  2. In Bawaymah they make light cloths shaped like a half moon and having the form of a net. They do not fit to anything. At every time their value is of ten cloths for a qinshar. They use them for purchases and transactions and possess entire jars of them. For them, they are money and the most precious thing with which one can buy wheat, flour, horses, gold, silver, and all the rest” – This is thought to be information about using small pieces of cloth that have no other purpose than to be used as money – essentially the early medieval equivalent of paper money. There are no written Slavic sources from this time so information about early Slavic cultures is very scarce and this particular thing is not AFAIK mentioned anywhere else. But it seems to be corroborated by etymology – the Czech verb “platit” and Slovak “platiť” (to pay) are derived from word “plátno” (cloth). The same goes for Polish płacić and for Russian (плати́ть) and Ukrainian (плати́ти) too. (I do not know why FtB messes up Cyrillic script, it just does).(Edit: the script is messed up in the writing interface but it looks ok in the published article. curiouser and curiouser).

Project Phoenix – Part 1 – Beginning

It s fucking freezing outside and barely any daylight. When trying to work in the workshop, I spend more time heating it to a manageable temperature than actually working. And I am starting to feel mightily depressed.

So I am starting a new project to keep me somewhat occupied when indoors. I want to make a bobbin lace picture of a phoenix. It will probably progress very slowly and I will make short posts about the whole process. Today the very beginning – a rough sketch.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

My mother would iterate and refine this sketch on paper until she would get one she is satisfied with and that one she would trace on thicker paper. I am going about the business a bit differently – I will now refine the outines in photoshop. We shall see what comes out of it (if).

An Experimentental Knife Set

A friend gave me in the spring some cherry wood from a tree that died and dried standing up in their garden. That means the wood has many cracks, some fungus damage, and discolorations. And she asked for a kitchen knife for herself as her primary cooking knife. The type of blade that she requested would be more of a fish-gutting knife for me, but she has her own cutting style and I am not a knife snob to sneer at someone’s cutting technique. If one is not cutting their fingers off, the main thing is that they get the ingredients down to size and to each their own I say.

I got to work but I got distracted several times. Firstly, when I was cutting the steel, I got a small offcut that just lent itself to be made into a small peeling knife matching the one ordered. Secondly, when I was selecting the wood for the handles, I found one piece that was big enough for both handles and a bloc. And thirdly, when I was pondering making legs for the bloc I got an idea to try to make a foldable leg, so I tested it. Having a lot of problems to deal with makes me extremely prone to such distractions. It is a bad habit.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

The knives have very simple rectangular handles that are nevertheless comfortable to hold. The blades are N690 steel,  without ricasso, tumbled. The numbering on the smaller knife is a bit unreadable, but such is life. Bolsters and end caps are from buffalo horn. I made them thin because she expressed a wish for the wood to be the dominant design feature.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

The wood grain and cracks in the handles match that in the bloc. This is exactly why I have used this particular piece of wood, it had just the right size for this. The wood has fairly small pores and is not overly decomposed so trying to infuse it with resin would be an exercise in futility, thus I only coated it with three layers of resin, sanded it with 800 grit, and then I buffed it with home-made silica-based buffing compound.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

The foldable leg is bent from an old knitting needle. The holes in the sides of the bloc are offset so the leg has two stable-ish positions. It is just a gimmick that won’t probably see much use but it would make packing the knives for travel easier if one were inclined or in need of to take their cooking knives with them on travels. But mainly I wanted to try to make it.

If she accepts these, I will actually only charge for the bigger knife since that is all that was agreed upon. The small knife and the bloc she will get together with her husband as a belated wedding gift.

Another Overabladeance

I was spending way too little time actually making knives this year since I spend two-three days a week carting my parents to and from various doctor appointments. And when finishing this batch, my new tumbling receptacles did not work with this particular type of blades and I had to modify them significantly. However, I do have now thirteen finished blades, eleven tumbled from N690, and two from spring steel, mirror-polished with hamon.

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Four kitchen knife sets three three-piece and one two-piece. You might notice that this time I went for blades without ricasso. The reasons are several but the main one is that such blades are significantly easier to make. Really significantly easier. They turned out well and I must say there is something satisfying about getting two chef-knife blades so flat that they stick together when wet. They are probably flat to within a few hundredths of a mm.

The two-piece set in the lower left corner is actually a half-commission. A friend of mine has ordered the bigger blade and I have decided to make the smaller one from an offcut to accompany it. I will also make a bloc as a belated wedding gift. To be fair, I could not give them a proper wedding gift on time since they kept the wedding secret, so it is not that I was inconsiderate, just ignorant.

From now on, I will for several months only dress blades. I still did not finish all of last year’s Overabladeance. The two Puuko I made still have no sheaths. I only started to make these blades because of the commissioned machete in the summer and the commissioned kitchen knife from my friend – I needed a sufficient amount of blades to fill the tumbler and not waste the forge heat. For both things, ten blades is a minimum. So actually I might make some blades again – if I get a commission.