Another time…at sock camp

Hey? What are those knitters doing?


Can I see too? What’s Jen got on her computer?



Jen’s an engineer. Jen made a program that predicts colour patterns in painted skeins. You measure the colour sections of the skein, knit a swatch and measure a couple of things, then input that information into Jen’s program, choose the colours, and then click.


From there, Jen’s program can tell you what that skein of yarn is going to do at any stitch and row gauge, over any number of stitches, and knit flat or circularly, and it generates a picture to show you.


Big Brain. Jen has a very, very big brain. This is the best use of a knitters vocation and natural tendencies towards the obsessive compulsive side of things that I have ever seen.

When knitters run the world,


Things will be very different.

(PS. The pattern for the tiny sock monkey (and there is a big one too) is from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. You’ll be able to get it on their website, in about a week. Happy now?)

115 thoughts on “Another time…at sock camp

  1. That is so clever. Jen’s amazing. I would pay quite a lot for that program!

  2. So where do I get that software? I wants it… ๐Ÿ™‚ science geekery plus knitting plus variegated yarn equals totally awesome!

  3. I cannot fathom a brain that great. Please, somebody, kidnap and spirit me away to sock camp next year… I didn’t even know I was supposed to care what handpainted sock yarns ‘did’ as they knit up… I have much to learn.

  4. That seems like a very marketable piece of work to me. Who wouldn’t like to look at their sock before knitting it? Or, change the gauge if you didn’t like what the computer knitted up? My time is valuable so ripping out a pooled color is not how I want to spend my time. I think good ol’ Jen should get right on that for the rest of us.

  5. Jen has figured out just about the coolest think in the whole world! Our own knitting Einstein!

  6. The little monster inside that occasionally says, “I want that” has just come to life in a big way. Jen, we really really wants a copy of your program!

  7. wow! that is incredible
    so, um, she’s going to refine it and make it available to all of us, right? (if not, you’ll work on talking her into it, I hope. this is for the good of knitters afterall)

  8. Does poor Jen realize how many requests she is going to get hit with now that you have blogged her? Of course, she’s an engineer, she can handle it.
    I enjoy knitting up a swatch to see what a handpainted yarn will do. I can’t imagine carrying around a computer and a scale while shopping, measuring the colors in a hank and then running a program to decide which yarn to buy, but I imagine that program would be great for designing a handpainted hank.

  9. My name is jen and I hope to have whatever thing in my brain that engineer has. That’d totally come in handy with lorna’s laces shepherd sock and schaefer anne when I knit socks.

  10. That just made my brain squee. Jen is brilliant! I was just complaining about the very issue of how painted yarn knits up in weird ways!

  11. First of all, Jen is a genius. I have fantasized about that sort of thing, but I’m just a tech wannabe. Wow, yay Jen.
    Secondly, you seem to have double posted this one. Of course, by now you have probably noticed and corrected or not corrected it and this is just useless drivel. Oh well, at least no trees had to die for it…
    Your sock camp sounds fab.

  12. That takes Etherknitter Laurie’s sock-measuring escapades onto a completely new plane — one where knitting socks is not only permitted by required, and all the flight attendants have spare dpn’s should you need one.

  13. Personally, I love the bus. Who wouldn’t want to ride on a bus labeled “Knotorious”? Talk about inexplicable…

  14. That software would be incredibly helpful to have! Talk about one smart cookie! And I can’t get over that bus! That’s too great!

  15. Ok the BUS was the best thing ever… I’m going to go stand on the street corner and wait for the bus..
    and jens’ program.. brilliant.. absolutely brilliant, she makes me proud to be a knitter, cause, lets face it, we really are smarter than the muggles aren’t we?

  16. The knitters’ version of a football huddle.
    I’m both instantly wanting to try that program, and thinking, but, no serendipity anymore? …Nah. There will always be serendipity. We’ll fool it.
    Love the bus!

  17. I’ll steal it! And replace it with a fluffy kitten! ๐Ÿ˜€
    Actually, I’ll wait until it is bug-free and on the market. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. I wants that program! I wants it ….
    I’ll beta test it…. for free even….
    I’ll do lots of testing. hint hint….

  19. Holy cow! That program is so awesome! I might even pay cashy-pennies for it. Further proof that knitting makes you smarter!
    (And here I thought I was a nerd for figuring out today that each day I walk to school, I don’t spend fifty seven cents on gasoline – I’m working on a spreadsheet…)
    The bus is also made out of awesome.
    I’m working on our knitly world domination plan. I’m in the process of converting my plant anatomy class. Two are already in my clutches!!…I mean, interested in learning how to knit…*achem*

  20. I really love the random sock monkey hanging out on the table in the second picture. =)
    Also, Jen and her brain are made of awesome.

  21. I got goosebumps when I read that. I am so impressed, I could cry.
    I hope someday I can use my vocation for knitting. (That should be easy. I am a technical writer…)
    And Jess, of the Bugs, I got another one for you. My brother! I posted about him (it was his birthday yesterday) at the-jerks DOT com.

  22. Stephanie – You are clearly immersed in greatness, so I’m going to toss a little challenge (request) your way, to share with the big brains, if you like. My kitchen/dining chairs are scratching the wood floors. I’ve tried various sticky pads and everything comes off. So, I thought I should knit little tube socks for the chair feet, but the question is, how to keep them on? I don’t care if they look bizarre but do want to be able to switch them out once they get too old/dirty. All ideas welcome!!!

  23. Very cool program, it reminds me of this program some friends wrote for a university class that solves Sudoku problems, though this program is infinitely more useful. If only undergraduates would write useful knitting programs for homework…

  24. Jen for Queen…or President! That program is just one more wonder that we need.
    I love the bus, too. Egads! What I wouldn’t do to be there. Have some extra fun for me.

  25. OK, pretty much just blew my mind.I don’t particularly mind pooling, but I would pay a fair price for that software. Can you imagine what slightly more compulsive folks would be willing to pay for that?

  26. Oh man, that program sounds FABULOUS. And it makes so much sense! Is there any way that we could bribe her with good wool to release it?

  27. tell her to hurry and patent that thing before someone steals it. Then she should give it to all us yarney people…or seel it to us. I’d buy it.

  28. I really really (really) want that program. On whatever terms she cares to share it. I have been trying to figure out a way to do the same thing, but not being an engineer….

  29. Jen’s program is awesomely nifty and cool.
    I wonder though, if she can figure out the color pattern in the knitting from the gauge and length of the color run in the yarn doesn’t that mean she can calculate how much yarn is used in X number of stitches? So, in theory, a minor modification of her code would yield a reasonably accurate yardage calculator. THAT is the program I want.

  30. Hey Tree- what about felted chair leg socks? harder wearing, and more likely to stay on.
    I love the fact that the more knitters I meet the more I realize that we are a freakin smart bunch. I tend to believe that as Stephanie has pointed out, part of the joy of knitting is that it allows us to run our brains in a form of neutral for awhile.

  31. Do you know there are several cameras on the website of the camp? I would have sworn I saw ladies outside a few times……
    btw, I saw a license plate not meant to be a Vanity Plate….. SSK_ _ _. Only a knitter would know what that meant!
    Enjoy Sock Camp……. think of the rest of us who aren’t so lucky to be there.

  32. Oh, wow. I want that program so bad because I love pooling and ikating (no, that isn’t really a word, but you know what I mean). I got Lucy Neatsby’s Ikat Scarf pattern and I just love it. This would save a lot of experimenting.

  33. OK, I feel bad now. Seems like everyone is going gaa gaa about that software, and I’m just doing little jumping jacks of delight about that dang little sock monkey. I think I need to get out more.

  34. thak you for all the postings from camp
    you are good to us — after loseing
    a ball of lovely yarn because it would not
    behave and haveing to cut and cut
    i just tossed it out and i never do that
    this soft ware sounds good to me
    why do you not have clues to a mystery
    site some where in the world and who
    ever gets there first gets the yarn

  35. I’m with Kathy (see above).
    The computer stuff is impressive, but I’d never be able to “drive” it….I want the monkey!!!

  36. Oh. I think I love Jen. Really, that program is fantastic. Just amazing. So when’s it for sale?

  37. I’m with Kathy and Catherine. The program is great but I can’t get over that tiny sock monkey. I’ll be going to the Blue Moon website next week to get that pattern. It is too cute.

  38. People with brains as big as Jen’s scare me just a little. But in a really, really good way. Damn that’s cool.
    (er, as is your sock monkey, dear, lest you feel underappreciated)

  39. Whoa. That’s amazing. You’re not kidding, a big brain. Makes me happy though!

  40. I too hope Jen will be marketing that eventually. That would be a huge timesaver. In fact I’d probably knit more socks if I could estimate what the end result might look like before starting. Seriously cool.

  41. For the chair socks (how Victorian does that sound?), I suggest sticky-back Velcro. Stick the hook side on the chair; the socks will stick to it. If there are crossbar supports, I-cord ties will work. If the chair legs are wooden, I also recommend sandpaper and polyurethane or varnish.
    40 cast-ons? Mercy me.

  42. Holy gosh. That is like the program of my DREAMS. Some spontaneity may be lost but after the fifth time I’ve ripped out and recast on a pooling sock you can take that friggin’ spontaneity and shove it up yer…no but seriously, that is brilliant. Hail Jen.

  43. Wow. Just…wow – that boggles the significantly smaller lobe of that part of my brain. I think I’ll go draw something to make myself feel better.

  44. oh my gosh — Jenstein of the knitting whorled. And when may the mere citizens of this whorled get ahold of this program AND even more important, will it work on a Mac?
    Such fun!

  45. Yay! Monkeys! Can’t wait. I am living vicariously with you at sock camp. Wish I had my own to go to!

  46. That looks like an Excel spreadsheet. Which should, then, work on a Mac. And possibly also on systems using OpenOffice Calc, although I can’t swear to that.
    *makes note to look into how to do fun stuff like that*

  47. Oh, dear. People like Jen frighten me. I like monkeys though.
    Just bought my very own copy of the first Harlot book. Laughed (and cried) my way all through it again. The “One Little Sock” chapter tears me up.
    Ways to Anger a Knitter #11: Call any and all yarn (even silk/merino handspun laceweight) “string.” Don’t ask me how I know this.

  48. It sounds like Mecca for sock knitters. I’m not sure whether I’m awed by Jen or frightened by her, but I really like the way you make it feel like we’re right there with you!

  49. Okay, are you telling me that the Knotorius Knitters Express is the short bus?
    ROFLMELAO! I once, as a police dispatcher, put out a broadcast for a misguided youth who stole a vehicle upon running from a youth detention center, as “so and so, stole the short yellow bus”. I didn’t think the phone lines would ever stop lighting up. This is just too precious, thank you. I’m glad to know what type of vehicle I really need to be riding/driving in!
    I am sure that Jen should be making lots o’money from her program and I hope that she does, but you know in socks it doesn’t bother me. Bring on the surprises!

  50. I agree with everyone about how fine Jen’s program is. I might even try again to knit socks if I had it. After knitting a pair of baby socks, I started my first full-size sock in Shepherd Sock, and even though I was exactly on gauge, the pooling was so ugly that I just ripped it out and consigned it to the back of the stash to think about the error of its ways.
    I only like self-striping or variegated yarn for socks, so a solution to that problem would be splendid. And then of course, I’d need to figure out how to avoid ladders. ๐Ÿ™‚ (I’m sure someone could teach me that).
    Yay Jen!

  51. I would love to get a copy of that code. I’m even willing to try and remember how to code to help trouble shoot if Jen needs help fixing anything and/or making the program ready for the world at large.

  52. Jen has figured how not to have to eat cat food or Meals on Wheels when she is a little old lady. Like the other bajillion commenters, I think she should market this. I would even give up my [nonexistent] firstborn male child to have a copy…

  53. I want a yarn program like that! Heck, designers could even plot out yarn patterns prior to dyeing. Keep warm up there, I hear the weather’s turned cold.

  54. Ooooooo!!!! I can see it now — Saint Jen, Patron Saint of Inexplicable Knitting!!!
    And I’ve already decided to give my two favorite munchkins Sock Monkeys & Sock Monkey books for their birthdays this summer.

  55. No one should have so much fun without me there. I am jealous of the fun.
    Jen is going to be positively freakin’ rich if she publishes the software…everyone who knits will HAVE to have it…even me and I am still trying to get the direction correct on my first sock…but I do have a HUGE sock yarn stash in painted yarns…optimistic, yes? Jen will, I repeat, be rich.
    We are all glad you are having a great time…have you tried knitting on pipe sleeve foam insulation yet??? Just an option to go with the beef stick.

  56. Hey, whats Steph doing……
    …look at you pushing your way through a bunch of sock knitters to be in the “front of the stage” row.
    I can hear it now….excuse me, pardon me, oh sorry did I step on your toe. I just need to blog this, pardon me.
    Went something like that didn’t it girlfriend??

  57. Hmmm, I seem to remember a comment you made last summer in the bead shop about lemmings…not in a bad way, you understand.

  58. Everybody is talking about that software like it’s the coolest thing……when really the tiny monkey pattern is the important item! That’s what I’m waiting for.

  59. This is the first time something makes me happy that I drive a school bus. I’m not a driver who knits, but a knitter who drives. What else is there to do when the kids are in school?

  60. When can I contribute to Jen’s secure financial future? Would DEFINITELY pay cash for this nifty piece of software, and I have not tried socks yet!

  61. As someone who knits very, very simple patterns – ya’ll scare me. But you make me want to be a better knitter and learn more difficult patterns and stitches – also a good way to lessen the chances of losing brain function with age, so I hear. Knitting certainly challenges my brain to learn new things and think in different patterns. Even if it’s a simple garter stitch scarf, I can’t just sit anymore without having some knitting to work on. If I do, I feel like I am wasting huge amounts of productive time. How do people just sit and watch TV with their hands empty??? The bus was hilarious! Watch out – I hear some pretty bad weather is headed that way.

  62. Hey,
    not looking forward to the drive, but am lookinf forward to meeting you! why can’t you come to Spokane ?

  63. Jen is BRILLIANT! Yes, that program warrants all capitals and an exclamation point. That is a very very pretty piece of programming. ^_^

  64. I am waiting for the monkey pattern. I have been ordered to knit 3 already. I can’t wait ๐Ÿ™‚

  65. Here’s the problem with her incredibly smart software: you have buy the yarn and knit a swatch to find out how it will look: too late to return it when you decide it looks like _______________ (fill in appropriate expletive of choice here).

  66. You remember that rainbow sock yarn?
    Please make it into jaywalkers. Please, please, please please. That yarn is begging to be made into jaywalkers.

  67. Tell Jen that if she decides to market this great program she needs to avoid banks… you know, the ones that will assume that nobody could market a product that this many knitters would buy, so she must be selling drugs…?

  68. o m g
    i want that software!
    and i want to go to sock camp (it will have to wait until my kid (s) is (are) grown. *sigh*

  69. Jen, it’s great to see you here on Yarn Harlot. (In Harlottville?) I feel so priviledged to have been following your development of PaintKnits from the start. I’m looking forward to further news on!!

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