Friday, November 03, 2006

Design challenge!

I have a very exciting knitting project to start, but I need help! My wonderful, Mac-loving brother has presented me with quite the knitting design challenge. He has lots of wires coming out of his computer, and he wants socks (tubes, really) to keep them looking nice and neat. Before everyone just says "So just knit him some ribbed tubes and be done with it!" let me show you the amazing diagram he drew for me (most measurements aren't shown, but I have them written down):

You'll probably want to click on the image to make it larger--and legible.

As you can probably guess, he set forth some fairly specific parameters for how he'd like them to be:

  1. The fabric should be as thin as possible (definitely no thicker than DK weight) because "I don't want to feel like I'm typing next to a pillow."*

  2. The finished product should be stretchy enough to fit around the odd shapes of the wires, but firm enough to control them somewhat

  3. The ends of the tubes nearest the computer would ideally be flush with the edge of the computer, so that the edge touches the computer, and the fabric itself lies flat across the tops of the plugs, and it so it won't slip back along the wires too much.

  4. Ideally there wouldn't be too much fabric bunched up at the "ankle" where the wires turn and head toward the back of the desk.

  5. The opening at the small ends should be big enough to allow one plug-end to pass through it at a time, but not too large either.

  6. Yarn color should be compatible with brushed aluminum finish of the computer--maybe slate gray?
So far, I'm thinking DK weight yarn because it will knit up faster, and because I think the ribbing will come out stretchier in slightly thicker fabric. And I will clearly have to do some sort of "heel" at the turn, but I'm not sure if it should be short-row or flap or what. At first glance, flap seems like it would leave the most room for flexibility, but I'm open to being convinced otherwise. Maybe start at the "small" end, knit straight for a while, increase a bit, then heel flap, and just a few gusset decreases?

Here is where you come in, dear readers! I need help figuring out if anything about my above plan makes sense, or if I'm totally off on my approach. What weight yarn should I use? Do I used 2x2 ribbing, or something else? Heel flap, short-row, neither? And how do I handle the large end of the tube that needs to be flush against the computer? Maybe a hem with something firm (cardboard, plastic?) sewn inside it? And how do I get it to stay flush against the computer? Any and all suggestions welcome!

*I didn't include that quote to make my brother sound like a demanding, cranky guy. I just thought it was a funny visual. He's actually one of the sweetest people in the world, and has by no means given me any sort of deadline for this project, if I even decide to take it on.


Cristina said...

wow...THIS is a very very interesting project.

huummm....well, i think i would probably do like a 2X2 rib to ensure the snugness yet flexibility factor. I'm picturing sock yarn - with out the crazy colors!

also something to think about - breathable fabric, easy to maintain, easy to clean, something that doesnt pill.

one last thing...instead of doing like a sock structure, what about mitered corners? just a thought. good luck, cant wait to see what you come up with!

Jenn said...

I was thinking what you're thinking - ribbed, some sort of "turn" or short rows at the bend. I've got nothing on how to keep it flush with the 'puter.
Good luck!

more cows than people said...

wow, sneaksleep. this is WAY beyond my knitting abilities, I haven't even done socks yet! just wanted to cheer you on as you face this challenge from your adorable brother.

one question, do you have to be concerned about heat resistance, fire resistance? fabric wrapped around cords, near a computer? I have no idea. I'm just curious.

Zarzuela said...

Personally, I think he'd be better off with insulated plastic tubing they put around pipes in houses or something. Having knitted fabric around electrical wires or near plugs sounds like an accident waiting to happen to me. I know you'd like to make your brother happy, but when not make the socks for his feet instead? Sorry to rain on your parade. :(


adrien-alice said...

Well, you don't have to use yarn, right? Isn't there something thin and fire-resistant and knittable you could find? (she says, WAY out of her element, but jumping in with suggestions anyway).

Sangeeta said...

Bryna, this post is too complicated. I can't respong intelligently, but I hope you figure out what you're aiming for...

brian gratrix said...

If that is a 15" Powerbook, which it sure seems to be, you probably don't need to worry about the heat. At least not cordwise. The machines themselves tend to get rather warm, but the cables don't have much to do with that. I would worry a little bit about static, because static anywhere near a computer is bad, but extra bad near a laptop and super extra bad near a laptop with an all-metal housing. I zapped the touchpad on mine and it went all bonkers. (Hooray for warranties!)

So: something that is somewhat breathable and not likely to build up static should work just fine. They make tape and wire wrap and flexible conduit that you could recommend he wrap the actual wires in (check out a home improvement, hardware, or electronics/computer store), but I don't think you need to worry about that too much. If I were commissioning such a project, I might suggest loops or some kind of fastener (velcro might work well) near the computerside opening to run each specific cable through to keep them where they ought to be in relation to one another. Left to their own devices, cords tend to quickly plunge into "wire hell". I know more about computers than knitting, though, so I don't know how useful this advice is.

Also, Hi there Bryna, and... d'Adrien? Hello!

brian gratrix said...

Oh, and in addition to the fasteners keeping the cords in place in relation to one another, they will hopefully keep the tube in place in relation to the cords, and thus the computer. With a little luck.

Joanne M said...

I was going to suggest knitting in elastic in the last few rows to be near the computer to keep the protector snug but I think Brian's idea of velcro might work better. Also, what types of yarns would induce the least amount of static? Huh...

Gail & Fog said...

Dear Sneaksleep,

Your brother has presented you with an interesting design problem. I thought you might like to see these unusual yarns, which are made with stainless steel- the industrial component may appeal to him. You can shape the knitting somewhat with your hands- see the photos on the website to see what I mean

The schematic he has provided suggests that the shape might be achieved by making an upside down Y shape, sewing inner edge of Y together and outer edge of Y together.

You can glue hook side of velcro to computer and hooks will "grab" knitting.

Also, cotton is the least stactic-y fiber, wool is probably the most!

Good luck with your project!

Latoya said...

OMGoodness! How detailed this is to hid some cords. Impressive.

I agree wtih what you're doing so far. Just make it so that the stitches don't get caught up on the prongs as he's sliding them through.

By the way, stop by my blog for the great news!

Knit on!

Pilar said...

I think he'll do better with some rubber tubes for it. An electric device+knitted fabric sounds dangerous to me. But perhaps you could knit a sock to cover the tube that keep the wires in order. Will look cute and safe :)