Knitters Do Math

I had my hula hoops in the infield at the 2016 Clyde Fest, Bynum ballpark, on Saturday. When you’re in a 10 x 10 tent at an event like this, lots of your friends will stop by and talk to you.

I got on the topic of 8020 with one of my friends. He was familiar with rule. He knew how to apply it in politics. I explained how we taught it in the social media class at NC State, using the Pareto principle to evaluate the most productive part of the marketing budget. I talked through the example we use in class, doing the math in my head. I suspect he was about to have an interesting Sunday as he thought about applying the 8020 rule to parts of his business he hadn’t thought about that way before.

He had stories of his own, where he had been able to do some ballpark estimation, and save enormous amounts of door-to-door work.

We joked about how few people are able to do math, and how complicated they make it.

(You may never have considered that hula hooping is an example of physics: it’s all about angular momentum.

L = m * v * r, and bigger radius, bigger mass, means you can have less velocity and still keep the going. In short bigger is easier.)

Then today, I sat down to look at ring 9 of the that I’m knitting as a fundraiser for the Pulse shooting in Orlando Florida. I’m not thrilled with the way the designer has laid out the final round. I’m in ring 7 now, so I have a couple of days to think about what I want to do.

The shawl is designed to incorporate 49 heart motifs, one for every person who died at the club that night. So far I’m working on 42, 6 in the 1st 12 in the 2nd and 24 and the 3rd ring. I need to knit 7 more. At 24 stitches per heart, and 576 stitches per ring, that leaves a lot of space in ring 9.

The designer selected intarsia with blocks of one color for the hearts and one color for honeycomb in between them. Intarsia requires knitting back and forth and I don’t like doing that; I like to knit forward all the time which you can do on circular needles.

I thought there must be a lacy heart pattern somewhere in my collection of books about knitting. I went through them today, and I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for. Marian Kinzel, in Modern Lace Knitting, has two heart patterns but they are too big for what I want.

Working out the details for a section of 53 smaller hearts.

Working out the details for a section of 53 smaller hearts.

I started sketching and counting and doing math and subtracting 24 stitches per heart for 7 hearts. I wanted 53 additional hearts, one for each person who was injured at the club. It came out to roughly 8 stitches a heart. If I knit them side-by-side, that wasn’t going to work to all, but I’m a designer. I played and I figured out a way to do it. I need to check the details and I need to test a swatch to make sure to work the way I think it will.

I took a picture of my work and posted it to the work in progress blog posts I’m creating for the shawl on Karen Tiede Studio. And then I realized why it was so easy for me to talk math on Saturday. I do this stuff all the time. Knitters, and textile artist in general, do math every day of the week, when recalculating warp and weft, when we’re figuring out whether we have enough to finish the round, when we need to know we need to make changes in a pattern to fit us or because we don’t like the way it’s going.

Teach your children to knit. You can sneak some math and at the same time and they’ll hardly notice.

Working on Ring 7, with 24 hearts, in gold mohair.

Working on Ring 7, with 24 hearts, in gold mohair.

Facebook Image Layouts

A client asked me about how Facebook decided how to display images in posts. Sometimes it worked right, and sometimes it didn’t. I had noticed the same thing, but I’m selling products, not running for office, and getting a politician’s pictures displayed correctly is more important.

A little bit of research led to Daniel Coleman’s post, Facebook Photos Size Guide / 2015.

In shorthand, here’s the same information:

Layout defaults for images attached to Facebook posts: It's all in the aspect ratio of the first image selected.

Layout defaults for images attached to Facebook posts: It’s all in the aspect ratio of the first image selected.

The #1 image is the one at the left. You can drag and drop images around in a post draft to make sure the one on the left has the aspect ratio that will create the layout that best suits your images.

Another solution is to use an app like Layout from Instagram. Layout lets you arrange your images in a selection of formats, then saves the completed unit as one image. Upload that to Instagram or Facebook (or Twitter, or Linkedin, from the gallery) and you don’t have to worry about the arrangement of your images shifting.

Picassa can do a similar thing, in its Collage feature.

80/20 Curtains in the Guest Bedroom

(This is a bit off my normal topics on this blog, but hang with me.  The drapery lesson works for productivity readers, too.)

I’ve been studying how the 80/20 rule can be applied to productivity, and to participation on social media platforms, and in other parts of life, for a while now.  Today, a Saturday in July, an example of 80/20 on effort and payoff jumped in front of me.

New sheers in the guest bedroom.

New sheers in the guest bedroom.

The guest bedroom has needed new curtains for a long time.  The existing sheers were sun-damaged and falling apart.  Found the fabric at a thrift shop in Cary before Christmas (it’s after the 4th of July now).  Draped the new fabric over the old curtains as a test, and then never got around to making the time to measure and hem and trim and actually do the work of turning yardage into curtains.

Today is a Saturday; lots of desk-work to be done but a good chance I could get stuck inside with rain on Sunday.  However, Goldsboro is a town that closes on Sunday and if you want to buy anything from a specialty store, you need to shop on Saturday.  I looked at the project to make a list.

The fabric came from a thrift shop, approximately 14 yards in two pieces.  One piece was nearly exactly the right length for one panel.  What if I cut the larger piece into equal lengths? There’s an extra piece about 2 yards long.

Cut fabric to length and let it hang. No hem (yet.)

Cut fabric to length and let it hang. No hem (yet.)

It was easier to cut the old curtains off the rod by slicing the rod pocket than it was to take the rod down, take it apart, and slip the curtains off.  There is no re-use value in this fabric; all the sheers that were here when we moved in have gone into the trash.

Draped the new fabric over the old rod.  Adjusted the length.

Drape yardage over existing curtain rod avoids rod-pocket measuring, pinning, sewing, pressing.

Drape yardage over existing curtain rod avoids rod-pocket measuring, pinning, sewing, pressing.


Effort saved:  measure, cut, press, pin, stitch, unpin, press, hang.

One of these days, I may heat-seal the cut edge of the fabric to prevent fraying.  It doesn’t get much stress, so that can wait a bit.

Even more eventually, I’d love to buy and apply the beaded fringe from the Cloth Barn discount store.  The 4.5 yards of trim this window needs would cost about $45; it would take several hours to apply.  You can see a test swatch of the beading in the picture of the full window, in the far window at the sill.

It can wait.

For the time being, the guest bedroom has new sheers that match the color scheme, for an outlay of $10 (the fabric) and 20 minutes.

The “complete” project would have cost $55 (with beaded trim) and HOURS.

This is what the curtains look like in the early morning sun, the next day:

New sheers in the early morning sun, showing pink & gold chameleon effect.

New sheers in the early morning sun, showing pink & gold chameleon effect.

You decide.  Financially, it’s 80/20 exactly.  Effort-wise, it’s at least 96/4 (second iteration).  Not bad for a hot Saturday morning in July.

Pinterest Board Ideas for a Craft Brewery

(Recommend minimum 10 boards, 10 pins on each board)

Four Saints Brewing Company, Asheboro, NC

Four Saints Brewing Company, Asheboro, NC: Pinterest Account

  • Our Beer (Brews):  pictures of each of the different beers in a mug. Put the name of the beer in the image, as well as in the pin description.
  • Our Brewery:  pictures of the brewery and staff
  • Asheboro Eats:  pins of local restaurants; use a Map Board for these
  • NC Craft Brewers (or Central NC Craft Brewers) (Could spin to at least three or four boards, Western NC / Asheville / Central / Eastern NC Craft Brewers)
  • Asheboro Events
  • Beer Recipes
  • Shop Local (use #shoplocal hash tag)
  • Zoo
  • Randolph County Historical sites
  • Brewing Equipment
  • Beer Steins
  • BrewFests around the State
  • Beer in the Press
  • Beer Quotations
  • Hops
  • Celebrities and Craft Brewing
  • Beer Fashion

Guidelines:  no more than 200 pins per board (business visitors won’t scroll farther).

40-60 boards max. for a business account, to increase the percentage of people who “Follow all” rather than following only a few boards.

Keep the pins in circulation by regularly pinning a few pins from the bottom of the key business-content boards, back to the top of the same board, and then deleting the “old” pin from the bottom, on whatever cycle works for you.  This will keep the brewery’s own pins “in circulation,” exposed to new people watching the pin flow, without much additional work for the marketing manager.

Craft Brew Pinterest Accounts to follow



Motor City Brew

Draft Mag

Pub Cake

Craft Beer Time

The Bottle Wrench

Four Peaks Brew

Beer Brewing Book

Look at who those accounts are following to find more craft brewing accounts.  (Some accounts get more political, or skew to a younger age, than you might find helpful.

Join this Group Board and pin your brews:

Beer for Everyone


How to Select a Networking Group

Two months ago, I was invited to my first BNI meeting. I knew about the organization and had even been invited to join a new group. At that time, I declined the offer to join because was too big of a commitment on a day of the week that was already full.

My thinking changed within 15 minutes of the start of the first meeting I attended. I understand tightly-scripted, repetitive programming repeated weekly. The Christian church used this system to grow across the Western world, and they aren’t the only group using a similar structure: Amway; 12 Step programs; Weight Watchers. They all get their people together at least once a week, in a meeting that follows a standard format, and their groups thrive.

I needed to join.

That first meeting was 40 miles from my home, with a $3.00 toll each way (50 miles without the toll…). While that group is acknowledged as one of the “best” (largest, most active) in the area, 40 miles each way imposes a significant time overhead, not only on the weekly meetings but also on any 1 to 1s I might schedule, given that most of the members would be on that end of the journey.

I decided to look at my options.

On one hand, the “best” meeting for me would be whichever meeting I joined, because 90% of the value of these groups is in the relationships developed within the group itself. That said, I didn’t want to set up any unneccessary resistance-overhead on my membership. I wanted to pick a group I “liked,” as best I could determine that from the two allowed visits. I set a deadline of making a decision by August 1.

(A temptation—the benefits of visiting meetings were so great that I considered not actually joining but simply continuing to visit meetings. That thought faded quickly. I knew the benefit of “visiting” would wear off. I was also pretty sure the leadership of the organization would figure out that game pretty quickly. They probably had a policy about “always a visitor, never a member.” But mostly, I wanted the real benefits, and visitors only get hints of the real benefit of belonging.)

Calendars, Maps, and Clocks

On the local BNI website, chapters are arranged by

  • geography
  • day of the week
  • time of day

I looked at the list of chapters and realized I needed to set some criteria. The immediately obvious elements in the decision matrix were Calendars, Maps, and Clocks.


My first selection criterion was day of the week. Mondays and Fridays have constraints that are more important to me than business networking. I visited two meetings that met on Friday morning as a substitute. I liked one of these meetings but the experiment confirmed I did not want to commit to a weekly networking meeting on Friday morning.

I already had meetings I liked on First and Third Wednesdays, so meetings in the middle of the week became a “last choice” option. I focused on the Tuesday and Thursday choices.


I looked most closely at the meetings that were the shortest driving distance from my home. Although I didn’t restrict myself to the absolute least driving distance, it was unlikely that I would need to drive twice-as-far to find a “good group.” That eliminated chapters on “the other side of town.”

Seven groups met the “Tuesday or Thursday, not too far” criteria.


Time of day turned out to be a minor criterion; those meetings that met at lunchtime were eliminated first because of day or location. I don’t have (much) trouble getting up in time to make an 8:00 business meeting once a week.

Set of Seven

Once I had my “set of seven,” how did I come to a decision?

At one meeting, the acoustics of the room were such that I couldn’t hear the speakers at the other end of the table. Given this didn’t happen at other locations, I charged a fault to the room and struck that meeting from my list.

At one chapter, the logistics of the room meant that people had to leave immediately after the end of the meeting. By that time, I had enjoyed several instances of “after meeting” networking. Given my driving distances, it would be very useful to select a meeting that supported the “after meeting.” I struck the “get out quickly” meeting off the list.

Along the way, I noticed that members had different approaches to how they identified who they wanted to meet during their “60 second” commercials. I started counting what % of total membership used a phrase like, “my ideal client is anybody who….”, and counted two strikes if the commercial went on to identify some variation on “anyone who breathes…”

I considered “metrics” and gave extra weight to those groups that regularly reported on activity targets. If “hitting numbers” was part of the membership expectation and benefit, I wanted to be part of a group that reported numbers.

Finally, I observed, “How did the members behave?” I asked one member about his competition. He bad-mouthed the other vendor. Tacky. On another occasion, someone “went political” in a commercial. I vote the other way.

In the end, I discovered that I had NOT selected the group with the

  • Shortest drive
  • Friendliest, most fun members
  • Best after-meeting networking

Those meetings all fell out on other criteria. The group I selected had a good-enough location, enough laughter, and enough after-meeting lingering, to make up.

And of course the real value is not in the particulars of any one chapter, but in working the system at the chapter I join. Stay tuned.

Linking Pinterest and Facebook without a Website

One of my clients asked if it was possible to link her business Facebook page to her Pinterest account without having to set up a website. She’s doing very well in Facebook and doesn’t want the hassle of paying for and maintaining a website as well. At the time, I didn’t have a good answer.

I thought about the Pinterest / FB account connection last night and realized there is a useful solution: The WooBox Pinterest app for FB. It’s free, but you have to create an account on WooBox to get it.

Be logged in to your business Facebook page.

Go to and create an account.

Create account.

Click on “get started for free”

Woobox sign up menu.

Click on “get started for free” and create and account.

Then you’ll see a list of apps for your FB page:

A list of applications available from Woobox. Most have a cost; the one for Pinterest is free.

A list of applications available from Woobox. Most have a cost; the one for Pinterest is free.

Click on the Pinterest selection. This one is free to use.

I think that WooBox will know which FB page you want if you’re logged in at the time, and then you have to give it the name (URL) of your Pinterest business page.

You’ll get a big red P on your business page tabs:

Woobox's Pinterest app installed on Affordable Chic's Facebook page.

Woobox’s Pinterest app installed on Affordable Chic’s Facebook page.

When your visitors click on the P, they’ll see your Pins and boards.

Make sure you link your FB account to your Pinterest account so your customers can find your FB page from inside Pinterest. (Account / Settings)

(BTW, if you want to rearrange the tabs on your page, click on the pencil that appears on a hover over the tab, upper right corner of the tab.  You’ll see a list of places you can move that tab.)

Six steps to eliminating a behavior

Found some notes on my desk that need to be processed and today is not the day to process this note all the way into an article. These are six steps that “society” has followed in the path from “bad habit” to eradication via public policy. (Heard this in the Yale Politics of Food course; major professor Kelly Brunell; specific lecturer for this content TBD.)

Prior examples: alcohol, illegal drug use, tobacco.

Proposition: We may be following a similar pattern with food and obesity.

  1. Condemnation
  2. Medicalization
  3. Self-help
  4. Demonization of the industry
  5. Demonization of users
  6. Social movements and activists

Pinterest for Realtors

My Realtor-client Gerry Fiks, of Real Estate Services NC, and I attended the Tech Tools for Realtors conference at the Raleigh Realtors Association yesterday.  I was disappointed, to say the least, that Pinterest got almost NO attention.  The speakers focused on smart phone apps and Facebook.

I expect I’ll be working with Gerry more in Evernote and DropBox, both great ways to share information and files without sneaker net.  However, both of those applications require protection.  You can’t share with “everyone.”  I came home and pinned my notes.  Now, I can share what I learned about technology in real estate marketing with Gerry, as we decide what apps he will start using. He can add additional pins to services he learned about in the classes that were scheduled into the same time slot.

Pinboard showing Tech Tools for Realtors.

Tech Tools for Realtors. Geeky Girls lower left.

Both he and I will also be able to share the list of tools with other Realtors.  He can use the list to collaborate, so that both sides of a transaction are using the same tools.  I can use the list to educate my own clients, and show Realtors who come to me for ideas about using Pinterest in their Real Estate Marketing how to highlight their expertise.

If you know about more tools that belong on this board, let me know in the comments below, or @mention the account:  @Gerry Fiks (You have to be following the board for Pinterest to show you the name).

Vertical Pins: How Embarrassing

Everyone says, “make tall pins.”  I say it in class.  I show examples of tall pins when I teach.

I wrote a post about creating “before and after” pins that stack vertically because they are more visible than side-by-side images (which look better in a blog post).

I repinned rugs for exposure.

I got traffic.

I wasn’t happy with how my “Rag Rugs, Hand Made in America” board looked, but it was my work and it was colorful.

And one day, I realized that I could rotate most of my rugs 90 degrees and make tall pins.

OMG.  I am embarrassed.

Red Rag Rug pins, showing the difference between horizontal and vertical image alignment.

Red Rag Rug pins, showing the difference between horizontal and vertical image alignment.

The longer the rug, the worse it looked before the rotation, and the better it looked after. Seascape was so bad before I removed all of its horizontal pins across my account before I thought to write this post.

The round rugs will take a slightly different approach. I haven’t finished processing and uploading them.

Here’s another example of the difference between vertical pins and horizontal pins of the same images:

Gold rug pins, showing the difference between vertical and horizontal image alignment, and cropping a round rug to fill the space.

Gold rug pins, showing the difference between vertical and horizontal image alignment, and cropping a round rug to fill the space.

In this set, I have zoomed in on Red and Gold Spiral and cropped it to a rectangular shape so it fills more of the image space. Will probably do this will all of the spirals; not sure about the triskeles (triple spirals).

I will be deleting the horizontal pins over the next few days.  By the time you read this, the boards will all look different and only the screen shots will document my lesson learned.

What happens with an @ mention in a pin?

I wasn’t quite sure what happened when I @mentioned another pinner in a pin caption, so I tested it today. When I typed the “@” symbol, followed by my other account name, Pinterest started displaying a list of possible pinners. I selected the one I wanted, and Pinterest inserted the full User Name into the pin’s description.

Pin with @ mention

Pin with @ mention to my other account.

When I checked the email associated with the other account, I found this message:

@mention email content

What a recipient sees with an @mention from a pin.

Now you know, too. If you repin pins that have @mentions of other pinners, delete the @+name and spare them one more email.