Friday, November 27, 2009

LaTeX and knitting

Hi folks, we've been talking about this on Ravelry for the last week or so, and I thought I should really put it up here too.
The idea has been floating around for some time of writing a LaTeX package which will typeset knitting patterns, although exactly what it will do and how far it should go has been rather harder to pin down.

I decided to give this a go, and put something together. The idea is that it will provide you with simple commands which will provide a basic skeleton to your patterns using (very) simple commands, so you can just write your pattern without having to worry about the formatting, or even work from a template.
The class I wrote to do this is now at a testing stage -- I've got all the commands I thought would be useful, and I now need to see how this works for people writing actual patterns. I'd rather not make it *entirely* public just yet, so we're doing some testing in GeekCraft on Ravelry. If you'd like to try it out, go there and it will redirect you to the files and instructions and things.

The plan is that after a period of testing I'll collect some feedback, make whatever changes people suggest, then I'll stick appropriate "do what you like" copyright notices in it and release it into the wild. (I suppose I should write some proper documentation at some point too.)
I wonder if CTAN would take it? It *is* pretty elementary.
An important thing to note (and someone mentioned on GeekCraft) is that it should be pretty modify-able too -- since it's mostly dealing with style I'm hoping people will personalise it. Nothing in there is hugely complicated, it's mostly just a matter of tidying it out of the way.

So, if it sounds good to you, look out for it in the near future, and if you're on Ravelry you can come give it a whirl and let me know how it goes!

Relatedly (and coming out of the discussion of this, I was pointed to KnitML. I haven't read up on exactly how much it's capable of just yet so I'll write more about it when I understand it better, but it looks like an amazing project -- go check it out!


Monday, November 23, 2009

Blog note

Hmm, spam-bots seem to have found this blog today, so I'll put comment moderation on and see if it clears up at all. This in no way excuses you from posting comments, which is mandatory :op


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hand grenade

Hey -- just a quick post today, but I realise I haven't been updating this much, so I thought I should post some of the little projects I've been doing.
So, on a strange whim I decided to make a hand grenade. I wasn't too sure about this, because it must be pointed out that grenades are vicious and lethal weapons designed to kill people and destroy things. One thing I *didn't* know about them, until I was looking up information for this project, is that the little raised panels (on some grenades, not all have these) are designed to fragment into shrapnel on explosion, killing anyone nearby. I suspect their purpose is a bit blurred by their use in computer games and films, which naturally gloss over that kind of detail.

That said, they are a very powerful symbolism to them too which is quite divorced from this, about power, change and danger (I suppose the same goes for most military things), and that's more what led me to want to knit one. That and because I've been listening to Green Day's "She's a rebel" way too much lately.
The design is pretty simple -- it's a tube, with a bit of tapering at the ends. There's some (not terribly well done) stranding to give the 'panel' effect, and the top part is knit separately and sewn on. It doesn't have a pin, mostly because I want to be able to throw it (seriously, everyone should have at least one knitted toy for throwing at the tv) and, ironically, metal bits would be slightly dangerous for that.
Really it should be quite a lot squatter and more tapered, but it's very recognisable anyway, and the designs for real grenades do vary quite a bit.

So yeah, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, the biggest concern was that the long-ish floats make the stranding a bit difficult.