Stitching · 2007-12-27

SOA-enabled knitting

It’s been a little quiet around here — I haven’t pushed much virtual string lately. Business travel, vacations, holidays, laptop-switching, and various other home IT projects have kept me busy. I’ll try to make it up to all (three) of you in 2008. But I had to post here at least once more in 2007, to mark my third blogiversary.

I have managed to do some literal string-pushing in recent weeks, learning a technique called modular knitting. Ooh, I thought, modular?! — that’s cool. It turns out that one of its alternate names, domino knitting (as popularized by Vivian Høxbro), is a little closer to the truth because you knit small mitered squares and then immediately form new ones on the edges of old ones as you go. So it’s not modular in the sense of knitting a pile of granny-square-like objects and then arranging and joining them however you wish; everything is the same size and adheres to a “contract” specifying well-known interfaces but gets locked into its predestined role pretty quickly. That’s when I started thinking of it as SOA-enabled. (I crack me up.)

I’m still a knitting newbie. I’ve managed to master the knitted cast-on bit and the double-decrease bit and and the picking-up-stitches bit, but knitting over yarn tails and carrying multiple colors continue to elude me, which limits my options. I need to get the advice of experts who are sitting right there with me — and luckily, I’ll have many such chances at the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.

In trying to learn more about modular knitting, I stumbled on this account by the Girl from Auntie of its origins, which explains that — gasp — a woman named Virginia Woods Bellamy patented the basic technique under the name number knitting (U.S. Patent No. 2,435,068). The GfA’s explanation of how this patent might have come to be granted applies just as much to the expansive software patent world (and is equally unsatisfying as an explanation). What’s really crazy is the long list of patents that cite this one. I couldn’t find any discussion of patent licensing terms that might have been offered by Bellamy while it was still in force, and can only hope she didn’t sic any lawyers on any knitters.

The GfA seems to be an accomplished knitter and writer, most of whose writings don’t seem to be online anymore — a shame. She apparently used to offer an essay on copyright for knitters, which along with her knitting patent thoughts would have made a great addition to Lauren’s commentary on the subject, but it doesn’t seem to be available now. I did poke around a bit and found this hilarious pattern of hers, which starts out with:


This RAGLAN PULLOVER KNITTING PATTERN dated this 22nd day of December, 2006 (hereinafter referred to as the “Pattern”) being designed by the girl from auntie (the “Designer”) and entered into by you, an individual knitter (the “Knitter”).


WHEREAS Knitter is currently in possession of, or intends to acquire, approximately eight hundred (800) yards of bulky weight yarn;

Now that’s a knitting contract. Happy new year, all!