The Knitting Developer

A knitting, development, and general geekery blog.

The Knitting Developer - A knitting, development, and general geekery blog.

Code Camp: Learning by Doing

Welcome to Code Camp! I’ve been deep into coding this week with multiple assignments due and classes that have so much content to digest I can barely keep up. I think out of all my classes, my Programming Languages class with Venkat Subramaniam has been the most informative and interesting.

I think the biggest thing I’ve learned thus far in the class is how similar languages really are. It’s so much fun to pick up a language like Java (which I’m quite familiar with) program an easy to grasp example, then turn around and program that same example on Scala and Groovy which are both on top of the JVM. Though Scala and Groovy hail from Java-land, they are so different in both implementation and syntax.

After school is finished, I want to hit the books I’ve got on my Programming Book Wishlist hard. I’ve been playing with the idea of having a Read/Work-Along on some of the books I’ve been recommended across my career as a student. Here are a list of some of the books I have on my book shelf, waiting to be read and worked through:

If you have any suggestions or thoughts on the matter, feel free to leave a comment or send an email to

Craft Night (Day After) Tuesday – Spinning Myself Dizzy

Hello Folks! As you can tell from the unscheduled hiatus, school is in full swing here at Chez KnittingDev. From now until December, expect the posts to be a bit shorter and a little more photo heavy than the currently are. I expect the crafting section to be light in regards to my actual progress on work, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be staring longingly at all the amazing new patterns and yarn coming out this fall. Now on to our regularly scheduled content:

Back in May, I picked up a spinning wheel. I had been drop spindling on and off for about a year, but found the speed of a drop spindle to be a little slow for my taste. When I went to Maryland Sheep and Wool with my mother, I was not prepared for the temptation that awaited me. I ended up with a spinning wheel and enough fiber to (hopefully) last me the year.

Getting my spinning wheel from Maryland to Houston was a nerve-wracking process. It didn’t fit in any overhead compartment, I had thrown out the box it came in (bad me!), and all I had was a soft case I bought and a secondary soft case that my mother made for me while I was there (my mother’s soft case also doubles as a dust cover/cat deterrent while the wheel is not in use). The spinning wheel (luckily) lived the trip with only a few bumps and bruises that I was capable of fixing.

Since then spinning has become my “I have 5 seconds and don’t want to waste time setting up” craft. Within seconds of sitting down at my wheel, I can turn soft fluffy fiber into something that almost resembles yarn. I have a long way to go, but I’m enjoying the process of learning.

A Small Update

My crafty, nerdy, programming loves. I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve last posted. School is in full swing here at Chez KnittingDev. I believe I’ve finally got a plan to get back into the swing of blogging. My plan is to be back up and running on Tuesday for Craft Night. While I’m gone, fill your brain with intellectuals talking about science. Here is Bill Nye the Science Guy being serious:

Craft Night Tuesday: Washcloth Doldrums

Welcome to Craft Night everyone! I hope you are all doing well this evening. Lately, I’ve been finding it hard to get the appropriate amount of knitting time in. Knitting time is like caffeine, food or sleep for me. When too little, my I go a little stir crazy, when too much, I become over-indulgent and lazy.

With school starting back up, I’ve now planned more “in between time” projects such as washcloths, vanilla socks, vanilla hats, etc. To be honest, the past few months have been washcloths.

Knitting and working at Te House of Tea

Lots and LOTS of washcloths.

Washcloth attack!

Since I don’t tend to keep most of my knitting, I’ll have to find someone who’ll appreciate these (not that I don’t appreciate them, I just won’t use them as much as they deserve). My washcloth pattern of choice has been Anne Mancine’s Spa Day Facecloth. It’s a perfect 4 row pattern edged with seed stitch. Mindless knitting but not boring.

With school, personal programming projects, networking events, training sessions at the gym, my job, and managing my personal relationships I find it hard to really fit in the meditative knitting projects I love so much. I started Joyce Fassbender’s Omelet shawl over a month ago and it’s been sitting at row 5 since the day I cast on.

Now that I’ve started getting into the rhythm of my new school/work schedule for the fall, it has become possible for me to finally get in some much needed knitting time. My tips for fitting in knitting around a super busy schedule:

1. Always have at least one mindless/simple knitting project in a small to-go bag. This will allow you to fit in knitting time in your everyday life. I always keep a small project in a bag I bought from Bling Your String (I love her bags because they are simple and always come with the cutest stitch markers). This bag comes with me EVERYWHERE. I can knit in line, knit while I dine, knit in class, knit on the bus while I sit on my….*cough*. You get the point.

2. At least once a week, schedule yourself a morning knitting time.  I try to make this saturday morning for myself. I get up well before the rest of the house and try to knit for at least 2-3 hours either in the quiet or with my podcasts. This meditative time once a week is something I look forward to, and a way to reward myself for the good work I’ve done all week.

3. Every evening, get in 15-30 minutes of crafting time. Before I go to bed every evening, I attempt to get in at least 15-30 minutes of crafting time. This is not specific to knitting for me. Most days this involves spinning because I feel that it is easier to pick up and put down in a short amount of time. This short unwind time is a great way to get yourself ready for bed because it gives you a chance to tame all those thoughts that would normally keep you up at night.

4. And finally, live vicariously through knitting podcasts. When all else fails, I can always fit in a few minutes of knitting podcasts while I’m commuting. This is by far not the best option, but it staves off my crazy “gotta knit” desires for a small while. For the length of my commute I can imagine knitting all the beautiful things that my favorite podcasters talk about. On the subject of podcasters, I’ll be discussing some of my favorites at a later date.

What do you do that helps you fit crafting into your lives? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Saturday Morning Geekery: Doctor Who?

Good morning, I hope your Saturday morning brunch is settling well. As you may know, Doctor Who just started Season 7 on September 1st. Since we don’t pay for cable in my house, if there is a show we want to watch with the rest of the world we purchase a subscription through Zune (though probably not the best service, it’s the most convenient for us because all of our television comes from our XBox).

Before I get into the good stuff, I want to tell you my history with Doctor Who. It all started a few years ago when some friends jumped on the Doctor Who bandwagon…*queue dream like flashback music and fade*. I couldn’t get into the corny, quirky nature of the show. It was outside of my ability to suspend disbelief. So I did what any good hard-earned Doctor Who convert does (and what I recommend to anyone who has similar issues watching Doctor Who), I watched Torchwood.

I love these guys!

Torchwood and I, we fell in love. Deep, deep, DEEP in love. To this day I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the original BBC Torchwood (not Starz’s awful attempt to port it to the U.S.) all the way through at least 4 times. Torchwood had the right touch of modern-day Sci Fi mixed with the same quirk-iness you would expect on Doctor Who. After watching, my mental wall against Doctor Who was broken. I was happily trapped in the Who-verse and had no desire to leave.

*fade back into reality* So 7 seasons later, I’m hanging on Doctor Who’s every last word. This is the warning, there are going to be spoilers. If you’ve not see Episode 1: Asylum of the Daleks, go now and come back to read this later. I mean it, go. Find it on your DVR or purchase it from some other LEGAL means and watch it.

~*~*~Don’t read on after this if you don’t wish to be spoiled.~*~*~




The first episode of the season was definitely attention grabbing. I can’t wait for the next episode because I’m left with more questions that answers. My main complaint is how the writers decided to deal with Amy and Rory’s relationship. Though it was cause for some sweet moments, I felt that the mini-story arc was a cheap ploy for the watcher’s emotions. I didn’t feel it was necessary to have them divorcing in the beginning, proving their love in the middle, and inevitably reconcile in the end. On a different note, I loved the introduction to the new companion and (maybe it’s just because I don’t keep up with Doctor Who gossip and inside stories) was surprised when she didn’t end up with the crew in the end.

New Doctor Who Companion?

I LOVE her. She’s smart, attractive, funny, and so far the first companion I’ve felt I could get attached to since Rose. Dont get me wrong, I’ve loved all the companions in some way, but I can’t say I was in love with them all. I’m looking at you Donna. The question is, how are they going to bring Oswin back? She was announced as the new companion months ago, and within the first episode she dies. Will she be Oswin when we see her again?

The biggest question I have is: how will the Dalek’s erased memories effect their behavior? This change in the Dalek story line will have massive repercussions and I’m not sure what the Dalek’s will do. Will they continue to seek out and destroy the Doctor? Or, now with the Doctor forgotten, will they continue on their own evolution? Will that evolution be any different from the one that was based around their fear of the Doctor?

Overall, I felt this was a very strong season opener. I don’t expect to talk about Doctor Who every week, but I’m sure I’ll mention a few of my questions as the season progresses. I’m extremely excited for this season, and hope that if you aren’t a Doctor Who fan that you give it a shot. All the past seasons for Doctor Who and Torchwood are on Netflix.

Code Camp Thursday: Online Learning Resources (Screencast/Video Edition)

As you may have noticed, Crafting Night Tuesday was cancelled this week on the blog. School just started last week, and I’m still trying to get a handle on my new schedule (aka no real crafting was done). Crafting Night will be back next week with an update on how I fit crafting into my busy schedule (as well as some pictures on what I’m working on).

Today I’d like to talk about some of the online video resources I use to get up to speed quickly on topics I may not be familiar with, or know very well. These resources are (in my opinion) no replacement for buying a good book and learning a language or concept top to bottom, but they will provide you with enough information to get you interested and speaking intelligently on the subjects they cover. I’ll only be talking about video based learning materials today, but you can expect future posts on text-based materials.

Code School
My first experience with online video based learning was through Code School. I was lucky enough to win a free gift card to Code School last year during Houston Techfest. Code School focuses mainly on web-based development, but also has some great courses on Ruby and Git. The courses heavily subscribe to game theory. You watch a short lecture, complete some tasks implementing what was talked about in the lecture, then get a badge. At the end of each course, you get some prizes (including a $5 credit towards your next month’s bill). This is still my go-to resource if I want a crash course in anything web-based. Code School allows me to get a taste of a language or concept and provides resources for further learning. At $25 (really $20 as long as you finish a class a month) a month it is a little steep, but I don’t see myself unsubscribing anytime soon.

This is a new screencast that I just recently started watching and have subscribed to. NSScreencast is a series of videos made by Ben Scheirman giving 10-20 minute talks over pertinent topics within the iOS and Rails world. My first introduction to Ben as a speaker was at Houston Techfest last year. It was at his lecture that I was inspired to go out and learn Rails. Through NSScreencast Ben provides a fast-paced informative talk that you can watch once week. I’m still going through the archives, but I’d highly recommend going to the website and viewing some of the free videos. If it’s something you are interested in, subscribe for $9 a month.

From what I understand, RailsCasts is the epitome of Ruby on Rails screencasts. I was rewarded by Code School with a free month to RailsCasts and I continued my membership so that I could have the access to all the content available. Ryan Bates does an amazing job at offering short videos with  lots of information. There is a large archive covering various topics within the Rails world. Just like NSScreencast Ryan provides free videos to check out, and for some this will be all you need. If you are interested, a membership will only set you back $9 a month.

These are my current top three resources. As you can see, most of these are iOS based or Ruby/Rails based, but that’s not because I define myself as an iOS or Ruby developer (or at least not yet). I’d love to hear from you, what video based resources do you use to learn languages or development concepts?

Saturday Morning Geekery: Relic Knights

Good morning! I hope your Saturday morning cartoons and coffee are treating you well. Thanks to Kickstarter, I spent the past few evenings obsessing over a new tabletop game called Relic Knights. This game looks to be a fun, over-the-top anime style table top game with awesome looking models and easy to learn game mechanics.

The simplicity of the game mechanics makes it easy to learn and non-intimidating. In my experience, tabletop games can be overwhelming when first learning and watching them. Relic Knights does not appear to have this issue, and basic game rules are learned rather quickly. Despite its apparent simplicity, it still appears to have the ability for high-level strategy . I’m still in the process of play-testing, but so far it’s been fun.

The thing that really caught my eye were the models. Miniature painting is something I enjoy to do, and wish I did more. Ever since I started, I’ve loved Soda Pop Miniatures‘ highly stylized anime models. They have been my goal when it comes to painting. Soda Pop has been working with Worthy Painting on the painting of all their models, and the results have been fabulous. Give Worthy Painting a look through for any painting inspiration you need.

How can you not love the color and styling of these models?

The prices to begin the game start at $50. With everything you are getting in the Kickstarter, I wouldn’t expect to see these prices anytime soon after game release. Whenever you get a moment, I highly recommend you go give Relic Knights a look and let me know what you think.

A Little About Me

Knitting and Software Development. You might would think these two are about as distant from each other as we are from Titan, but I’m here to tell you that this is mistaken. Thanks to social media sites like Ravelry and crafting supply shops such as KnitPicks and WEBS, knitting has become as much a technical revolution as a social one.

I’ve been knitting for over 5 years and crafting all my life. Right alongside my history of crafting is my love of computers and gaming. I started as a video gamer with my SNES and MS-DOS games, spent my hormonal years through MMOs, and now spend most of my gaming time on board, card, war, and roleplaying games with friends.

I try to incorporate knitting into all parts of my life, even the gaming parts.

Knitting became a huge part of my life shortly after I left for college. It all started with a girl knitting on the bus between classes. My short conversation with her was all I needed to become interested in the craft. Not too long after I got off the bus I went to my nearest Hobby Lobby and bought “Knitting for Dummies” and some yarn. I had no clue what I was doing.

After I got tired of banging my head against the proverbial brick wall with knitting needles in hand I decided to call my mother. My mother had never knit before, but she was sure that between the two of us we could figure it out. Figure it out we did, and ever since it has been the corner-stone of my sanity (or whatever is left of it). Knitting is my meditation and sanctuary from a busy lifestyle. Between going to school, working, relationships, and black swan events life can get overwhelming. When they do, I can sit down with my knitting and meditate on what my next action steps will be. Whenever I think I have it figured out, I put my crafty friend down to pick up another day.

My greatest accomplishment thus far as a knitter. The Evenstar Shawl, knit as a wedding gift.

Programming came much later in my development as an adult. I’ve always been around computers and loved working with them, but I hadn’t been exposed to much software development growing up. It took me a while to come around to it, but once I got into the development community I was hooked. I love the ability to solve problems and attempting to make a task simpler or more convenient. I am enthralled with the idea of meshing my crafting life with creating applications that can be used by myself and other crafters.

This December I expect to be graduating with my B.S. in Computer Science. My degree has been hard-earned, and I will accept it with pride come the end of this semester. My hope is to take the most interesting parts of my education and experiences and provide them to you. This will be everything ranging from tips I’ve picked up while doing assignments, inspirational and thought-provoking topics through classes and study, and just progress reports on personal projects I may be working on.

This blog won’t just be all work though. In the midst of knitting/crafting updates and programming developments you can expect articles on all things I find interesting in the geek-verse. Gaming updates, television shows, and much more can be expected on Saturday morning.

The dream is to make this blog into an interesting and reliable read that crosses the boundary of modern and past hobbies. Feel free to join me on this adventure by either subscribing through email or RSS, following me on twitter @knittingdev, or any other form of social media as I get them set up.

Thank you, and now back to our regularly scheduled programming.