Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Not Magic

There is a class of knitters that knit as a social pastime.  Social pastimes have conventions that function like the rules of a game.  Like a game, social pastimes have winners and losers. (see for example the work of  Eric Bern, , )  The pastime of recreational knitting results in some knitters acquiring higher status.  This has significant value in their circles.

One of the social conventions and contracts of modern recreational knitting is that it uses hand-held needles. The use of other technologies would allow production of  high quality knit objects with lower effort, and thereby diminish the status of  recreational knitters who produced their objects using only hand held needles. The use of other technologies is thus not allowed except in the past, in  far away places, and behind the closed doors of commercial establishments.  Breaching this convention against such other technologies is met with shunning. Advocating that others also breach this convention is met with the full spectrum of social enforcement mechanisms.  People with high status, tend to vigorously defend that status.

Mary Thomas writing in the 1930s consigned knitting sheaths to museums, even though she knew that knitting sheaths were still being used professionally because they allowed faster knitting of finer and more uniform fabrics.  Rutt interviewed elderly knitters that had swaved in the 1930s, but he made no effort to preserve the technology.  Thomas and Rutt were recreational knitters, and they conformed to the social conventions of the pastime even as they discussed other hand knitting technologies.  Gladys Thompson used a knitting sheath, but does not mention that fact in her book, Patterns for Guernseys, Jerseys & Arans.  Nor does Elizabeth Zimmerman mention the fact in her 1971 Note for American Knitters, where she does talk about long needles. This was dishonest in the extreme.  Only in the context of knitting sheaths is Patterns for Guernseys, Jerseys & Arans a useful book on knitting.

Thus, recreational knitters made no effort to preserve the knitting technologies that use a knitting sheath.  These were not mythical or magically ways to knit; they were real world textile production technologies in use by professionals.   We know something of what they were, and we know something of what they were not. From that information the technologies can be reverse engineered.  Come on, this is knitting, it is not rocket science.

Anybody that needs to knit a large number of objects quickly, discovers that with hand held needles, the knitter's hands get tired and their wrists get sore. Eventually the other end of the working needle gets wedged in the thigh crease or tucked into the arm pit. More advanced are pads of straw and feathers as discussed in Mary Thomas.  However, professional knitters need better tools, and leather pouches stuffed with horse hair are much better than pads of straw and feathers.  However, Mary Thomas gives straw pads and Shetland knitting pouches each a single paragraph suggesting that they are equally valuable to the modern knitter.  In this, she dismisses both, and I at least did not find her instructions for using either a knitting sheath or knitting pouch to be useful. Certainly her illustrations of how to knit are for a Weldon style of  needle management. This is not fair to the reader that needs to knit a large number of objects quickly and picks up MT hoping for hints on how it can be done.  One might use Weldon for test knitting a pattern, but a professional knitter with an order for 6 dozen pairs of hose did not to use Weldon.

MT gives knitting sheaths 3 paragraphs of their own, but there is no hint in MT that knitting sheaths in fact support 3 very different knitting technologies; one based on the pitch/yaw of a stiff needle, one based on needle flex and spring, and one based on the rotation of a curved needle.  Thomas,  Rutt, and even Brears display an astonishing lack of interest in the functional details of how knitting sheaths were used.   The only explanation is that they considered all  use of knitting sheaths and knitting pouches to be outside the social conventions of modern recreational knitting.

I am not a recreational knitter.  Some days, I am a researcher.  Some days, I am a  textile artist. Some days, I am a subsistence knitter.  And, some days, I am a professional knitter.   I am not constrained by the social conventions of knitting as a pastime. Therefore, I am free to knit with any technology necessary to produce the fabrics that I want at the rate that I need.  I am willing to talk over the heads of all the  modern recreational knitters to other researchers, artists, subsistence knitters and professional knitters.  I want others to be able to knit better, and knit faster. I want others to know that there are a variety of hand knitting technologies.

One of those knitting technologies is based on the "roll" (rotation) of  a short, stiff, curved, blunt knitting needle with the axis of the roll fixed by one end of the needle inserted into the bore of a knitting sheath. A short forward stroke followed by a back stroke comprises the knitting technique that I call "swaving".  Details of needle and knitting sheath design and materials make the technology more functional, but do not change the name.  However, as I review the account of the invention of the knitting frame and the resulting mechanics of  frame knitting, it is likely that it was based on a knitting motion resulting from the rotation of curved needles.  Thus, circa 1590, what I call swaving was likely also known as "knitting".

As  S. M. McGee-Russell told us on the first day of class, "Everything has a proper name.  Use it!  If you find something without a proper name; name it, and write a paper."  If you go for a walk, you are likely to see plants and critters.  Most have species names, but finding those species names may take some work and require specialized knowledge.   Knitting by rotating the working needle has a name, and knitters that know their craft can figure it out.  The knitters that only knit as a social pastime are unwilling to say what swaving was, and what swaving was not.  They want swaving to be something very vague, that cannot occur today.  This is logically equivalent to asserting that swaving (was) a mystical, magical activity.   

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Flier Whorls

For the last hundred years or so, DD flier and bobbin whorls have had "V" and "U" drive band grooves respectively.  This worked with the typical DRS of 1.2 and  the resulting required slippage.  The "V" groove in the flier whorl makes precise DRS for very fine threads more difficult.

With a precise DRS, much less slippage is required and the  drive band grooves can both be "U" shaped to facilitate  precise DRS for very fine threads.

This is a bit of a problem with Ashford Fliers, but Alden Amos's fliers use a threaded connection between the flier axle and the flier whorl.  This makes it easy for the home mechanic.  Anybody with a small wool lathe can make a new flier whorl to go with their home made bobbins.

From right to left, a piece of board sawn cherry, a 5/16"steel threaded insert with an Allen head set screw in it, set screw with cap nut and washer, whorl blank turn round, and a finished whorl.

The board is bored with a ~25/64" hole, and the threaded inset screwed in using wood glue as a lubricant. The cap nut and washer allow the set screw to be used as a turning mandrel.  (Cap nut in 3-jaw chuck, tail stock center in depression in end of set screw.) Turn the blank.

To finish the groove, I use a scraper ground from a high quality HSS skew chisel. The cutting edge used to produce the bottom of the "U" should be very sharp.

Finished assembly and some 5,000 ypp worsed Cotswold single from this morning's spinning.

Math for calculating dimensions is in Alden Amos's,  Big Book Handspinning.

A recipe for belt dressing is also in BBH.

I just noticed how dirty my spinning wheel is.  (It is dirty, but it has been oiled every hour during use.)  I will clean and wax it real soon now.  These days, my wax for all wooden tools is equal weights of walnut oil and bees wax melted together.  It is non-toxic and it drys to a water and alcohol proof finish that does not yellow.   However, this mix does take a while to dry.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Circus goes to Jackson

Recently, I taught Stephenie Gaustad to swave.  (I was at Studio Gaustad for something else.) She is a very busy lady.  She would not bother learning a new knitting technique unless it produced a fabric that she liked, and that she could not produce in any other way.  She requested that I come up to the house and show the process to Alden. (He does not knit anymore, but he was a great knitter.)  He is always my toughest critic, and of course he knows more about the various processes and technologies of making textiles by hand than anybody.  His comment was, "Why aren't you using hand spun?"

Both of them like the produced fabrics, and said they was not like any fabrics that they had seen. (And they have both seen my gansey knit fabrics, which are also very tightly knit.)  Both like the speed of production.

Fine fabric at a high rate of production.  If it is not swaving, then it is a new process that I invented and I can patent it.  Then, soon everybody would be trying to void the patent by claiming that it was just swaving.  And, they would be correct.  The tools are right, the motions are right, and the produced  fabrics are right. for it to be swaving.

Alden reminded me that "Kersey" at various times referred to a frame knit fabric.  Perhaps not in 1746, but at some times, Kersey was a knit a fabric. Maybe, I was not as wrong as the mice said.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Motions of a Knitting Needle

A knitting needle is really a lever ( for moving loops of yarn. 

A knitting needle's position in space can be described by its pitch, yaw, and roll.  (   The needle changes pitch, yaw, and roll by rotation around a center of  rotation (or the fulcrum point, when the needle is considered as a lever).  Thus, a change in pitch allows both ends of the needle to describe arcs in space while the center of rotation has zero motion vector in space.  And a needle can vector in space without changing its pitch, yaw, or roll.   When a straight needle rolls, there is no apparent motion, but when a bent needle rolls, one or both ends of the needle describe arcs in space.

Moreover, a knitting needle can flex.

1)  The motions of a hand held held knitting needle are those of a class 1 lever, and limited to pitch and yaw, and the applied leverage is about 1:3.

2)  With a knitting stick and short, stiff, straight needles,  the motions are still limited to pitch and yaw, but the fulcrum is at the cow band, so it is a  class 3 lever with and the applied leverage is in the range of  1:20 to 1:40.  This takes a lot of stress off of the hands when knitting tight sock fabrics.

3)  With a knitting pouch,  long, straight, needles act as class 3 levers, and the traditional needles provide leverage of 1:40. With short needles the leverage is more like 1:20.  A common use is to reduce the stress allowing sustained knitting.

4)  In gansey knitting, the long needles flex, store energy, and that energy is then returned to the knitting stitch.  The effective leverage is very high e.g., (1:50)  This allows sustained knitting of very tight fabrics.

5) Swaving is different because the needle rolls. In swaving, one leg of the working stitch acts as one fulcrum, the knitting sheath acts as another fulcrum to produce a compound lever as the needle rolls.  ( effective leverage is very high e.g., ( more than 1:50)  This allows sustained knitting of very tight/ fine fabrics.

6)  In the various methods of knitting that use hooks, the needles vector, and there is essentially no useful leverage.  The motion is driven by the large muscles of the shoulders and upper arms, so it is a powerful motion that can produce very tight fabrics, but no mechanical advantage is gained.

Thus, in fact, there are 6 different hand knitting motions that competent knitters understand.  Each knitting motion has virtues and vices, which need to be understood.  Knitting sticks, knitting pouches, and knitting sheaths provide additional leverage for knitting fabrics that  cannot be reasonably knit with hand held needles by even the strongest and most expert knitters.  Anyone that thinks that knitting with 1:3 leverage can produce all the fabrics that knitting with 1:50 leverage can produce, simply does not understand the basic physics of their craft. 

When the Victorian Ladies of fashion established knitting as a leisure pastime (as distinct from a professional craft) they set the social conventions of the pastime.  Every pastime from cricket to horse racing and grouse hunting has social conventions.  One of the social conventions of knitting as a pastime was that both needles must be hand held. This did away with professional knitting techniques   All modern knitting needles from Faberge to Signature to the various cable needles, all have the same leverage.  Long (gansey) needles, used as hand held needles still have the same leverage, and provide no advantage.  Any knitter that used a knitting sheath or knitting stick was not considered a person of fashion.  If you wanted to use a knitting pouch or knitting sheath, you had to do it behind the closed doors of a commercial establishment or live someplace like Shetland.

This social convention limited the leverage available to the leisure knitter. It provided a level playing field, the difference in quality between any two samples of knitting was the skill of the knitter, and a knitter could not use different tools to knit better.  This social convention took knitting technology off the table. The mind set that knitting technology does not matter persists. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Getting to swaving

Some seem to feel that what I do is either an arrogant lie or an accident.

No it a matter of taking some clue out of history and working on it until I come up with something useful.

Perhaps the Holy Grail was "swaving".  (After," How did the old fishermen on the banks stay warm?)  My grandmother told stories of very fine, hand knit, camel, ladies gloves.  And. we had limited information on the Terrible Knitters of the Dales swaving fine gloves.  The hints were tantalizing, but,  "What was the truth?" What was the technique?

Clearly the needle rotated in the knitting sheath.  This makes swaving dramatically different from any other modern hand knitting technique. Lever knitting was based on needle pitch / yaw motions. In contrast, swaving was based on  needle rotation.

So I bent some DPNs and tried it. The fabric was wonderful, but the process was so high effort that a 2" by 2" swatch knit in an evening would leave my hands stiff and sore for days.  For several years, I could not find a needle configuration that reduced the effort. I could produce wonderful fabric, but the effort was impossible.  I came to believe that swaving was inherently, a high effort activity, and that the high effort required was why it disappeared.  I was wrong.

Then, I saw a glover's needle in a museum collection that was obviously used for swaving and I made a set of replicas.  They worked - for glove fingers. All of a sudden, swaving (glove fingers) was an easy and low effort way to knit. Scaling that needle/sheath geometry to longer needles suitable for socks and glove cuffs and palms was matter of many generations of needles over a period of 3 years. So, when I say that I can "swave" it is not the result of  one trial or a few trials, it is the result of many trials, and taking many little baggies of swatches to many guild show and tells.

 Everyone is so accustomed to knitting being a pitch/yaw motion, that their eyes are fooled, and nobody sees the rotation of the needle in  swaving.  No wonder Rutt did not see it. It is an optical illusion, and I must apologize to Rutt.

 Here is a pictorial history of the tools I have tried and abandoned, to the tools that I currently use:

Note that the needles that work well have their bend about 2" from the end of the needle.

The needles that I currently use are about as blunt as possible. This goes against current thinking that one needs sharp needles to knit fast. Needles that work very well have just enough bend to fit snugly in 3/4" pipe, regardless of the length of the needle.  Needles that work best are less then 8" long.  My glove needles are 4" long with the bend in the middle.  Thus, the glover's needles have a sharper bend.

Today, swaving is my preferred way to knit. It produces a very nice fabric (with ridges when knitting back and forth). It is very fast.  It is very easy on the hands  It is very low effort.  The needles are compact and blunt (read as "safe in a knitting bag").  The bent needles (pricks) tend not to leave ladders, even in sock fingers.  And, it is very easy to  knit firm (weatherproof)  fabrics from even very fine yarns. Thus, the technique is ideal for gloves and socks. Today, I have, and use swaving needles down to 1.2 mm.

In contrast, gansey knitting with long straight needles and a knitting sheath is a fast and easy way to knit large objects such as sweaters.  Gansey knitting is for objects involving cabling, bobbles, and lace. Gansey needles  are long, and sharp enough to slide right through most knitting bags and poke holes in anything that might be precious or valuable.  On the other hand, when you must knit a very warm sweater, very fast, gansey needles with a knitting sheath are tool of choice.  And one can knit back and forth without ridges.  :  )

A sock and glove kit that is going to a friend next week. 
(I am moving from storing needles in irrigation pipe to storing needles in acrylic tubing.)  

Thursday, March 07, 2013


Back in days when every law office had a Wang word processor, I was working for a large engineering firm with a large group doing environmental work.  They did not put me in the environmental group, but in the legal group drawing up the work contracts for the environmental group.  That was reasonable, RCRA and CERCLA were important to the contracts, but outside of the contract lawyers areas of expertise.  So I sat in the law group between the Wangs and the files.

Every lawyer in the SF Complex with an emergency project would first run to either the Wangs or the files.  They would see me, and if I did not look like my hair was on fire, I would get pulled into whatever emergency had been dumped in their lap.  Thus, at some point I have worked on most of the legal topics that might come up in a global engineering firm. A popular topic was intellectual property and copyright.

I have been accused of  copyright violations with respect to Brears.  If we look at, we see:

UK copyright law has a set of exceptions to copyright known as fair dealing. Database right has a similar set of exceptions. Fair dealing is much more restricted than the American concept of fair use. It only applies in tightly defined situations, and outside those situations it is no defence at all against a lawsuit for copyright (or database right) infringement.
s29.—(1) Fair dealing with a literary, dramatic, musical, etc, work, for the purpose of research for a non-commercial purpose, does not infringe any copyright in the work, provided it is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement of the source.
s30.—(1) Fair dealing with a work for the purpose of criticism or review, of that or another work, or of a performance of a work, does not infringe copyright in the work, provided it is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement, and provided the work has actually been made available to the public.

My use was strictly limited to non-commercial research on the actual function of knitting sheaths, and the source / author fully acknowledged. Thus, I am compliant with UK copyright law. Brears' material was never published in the US and there is no reservation of US copyright.  Thus, I am compliant with US copyright law.  See also

Swaving tools

My current swaving/glove knitting tool kit, and works in progress.

As I go through the kit, all the needles (pricks) are between 4" and 6.5" long sized from US1 to US000.
Longer and finer pricks have been weeded out.

Beginners or Experts?

Who should I make tools for?

I have always made the tools that I like. Some of my first needles were polished like jewels. They were slippery and I found them unpleasant to use. So early on I found that annular striations around the tip facilitated a gansey needle pulling a loop of yarn through a stitch. This made it easy for me to learn to use gansey needles with a knitting sheath.

Over the last few years I have become a better knitter. I can now use gansey needles with highly polished tips.

Last night, I picked up a set of the old gansey needles with the annular striations around the tip. I happily used those needles to knit a gansey in 9 days a few years ago, but now I find that I can knit faster without the   annular striations. This morning, those needle tips are smooth and polished. A beginner would find them hard or impossible to use. If I had been presented with those polished needle tips when I was beginning, I would have given up in despair  However, now I want something faster.

When one is making specialized tools, how does one compromise the needs of the beginner with the needs of the expert?

Makers of wood turning tools have a similar dilemma.  Wood is abrasive, and even the best wood turning tools have to be resharpened frequently.  Does one tell one's (new) customers how to get the best professional edge, or do you tell them they can do a "good enough" job of sharpening with a bench grinder?

Robert Sorby stands up and says, "This is how we recommend that our tools be sharpened."  It is an approach that requires a large capital investment, but results in a very high quality edge, saves tool material, and saves time.  Hamlet on the other hand, declines to make a definitive statement about how to sharpen Hamlet tools, and mumbles something about bench grinders being "good enough", fast, and inexpensive.  I feel sorry for owners of Hamlet tools that are not informed as to the best practice for sharpening HSS.

In wood turning, the burr raised by a bench grinder is ephemeral and will quickly be worn away by the wood it is cutting.

Any burr that can be raised  on a HSS scraper edge with a manual burnisher is ephemeral and will quickly be worn away by the wood it is cutting.  The cutting edge of a HSS scraper edge with a burr raised by a manual burnisher is not as sharp as a HSS scraper cutting edge honed with a diamond card.  This is a combination of tool engineering, metallurgy, and physics. I am amazed that people that would rather work with dull(er) tools than admit that I am correct.

Yes, it takes longer to sharpen a wood turning tool with a fine, slow speed, wet grinder, but the cutting edge lasts much longer than the cutting edge produced with a bench grinder.  So the slower sharpening system actually saves time in the course of a full day of high end wood turning. And since less tool material is removed, the very expensive turning tools last longer.  Thus, over all the system is less expensive.  The even more capital intensive Sorby system removes even less of the wood turning tool, and thus for somebody doing a lot of wood turning, the Sorby approach is even less expensive, because the big cost in wood turning is the cost of the wood turning tools that are ground away in sharpening.

Wood turning tools do not need to be hollow ground.  In fact, flat ground bevels are less likely to catch, and stronger. And, flat wood turning chisels with flat bevels last longer.

On the other hand, a bench grinder will very quickly produce a reasonable edge. And just as quickly, it will grind that expensive HSS into a pile of worthless gray powder.  Then, Hamlet can sell another set of  expensive HSS tools.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Better clew and knitting support

Better clew (for center pull cake) and better arrangement for knitting support.

The big clip-swivel is heavy, but handy, and can be found at any place that sells key chains.

Swaving has ridges

Swaved fabric knit back and forth has ridges.Above, you see them on the front and back of a gauge swatch and the heel flaps of a pair of boot socks (one inside out).

Can the ridges be avoided - not likely as everything I can think of tends to make them more prominent. Nor do they seem to want to disappear with blocking.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Keystone XL Draft SSIS

Comments on:

United States Department of State
Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SSIS)
For the
Applicant for Presidential Permit:
TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LP

Project site with full text of all documents:


The decision on the Keystone XL permit should be made on a variety of considerations, one of which is environmental concerns.  The NEPA documents prepared by United States Department of State (DOS) on this issue fail to provide a balanced analysis of environmental issues.  The President of the United States (POTUS) may decide that other considerations overwhelm any and all environmental considerations, but that is no excuse for DOS to provide a deeply flawed Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SSIS) to POTUS as decision support.

The Draft SSIS does not present balanced analysis of environmental issues related to the decision to permit or not permit.  It appears that the DOS was outside of its area of expertise in the management of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) process and development of the Draft SSIS.  This has allowed the oil industry and its contractor (ERM) to manage the DOS, rather than the DOS managing the content of the document.  As this document stands, it demonstrates that DOS cannot resist the influence oil companies, including oil companies of foreign states, to prepare a balanced, fact based, decision support document on a topic of great importance to the US.

A failure to produce a NEPA compliant Environmental Impact Study would open the entire decision to judicial review, even if the final decision was based on non-environmental considerations.

Specific issues are as follows:

1       The market analysis makes it appear the oil reserves will be exploited whether or not the permit is granted.  This issue cannot be factually determined without a global analysis of refining capacity, which the document does not supply. Moreover, the document does not consider the options of the Department of State (DOS) or President of the United States (POTUS) such as specific conditions on the pipeline permit.  Failure to consider DOS/POTUS options rather than (purported) oil industry options make the document non-compliant with NEPA.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires an analysis of the environmental impacts the entire life-cycle of the KEYSTONE XL PROJECT.  That includes carbon emissions and affects on climate change and global warming.  The amount of carbon released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) for every unit of useful l energy is critical to this analysis. The mining of tar sand bitumen uses more energy and releases more CO2 than the production of conventional crude.  The mining process releases significant amounts of CH4. And the refining of diluted bitumen (dilbit) produced to allow transport of tar sands material through unheated pipelines into consumer fuels is more energy intensive than the refining of conventional crude oil. The life cycle production and release of greenhouse gases to produce a unit of energy is not addressed. 

3     Total cost per unit of energy will determine how much of the Alberta Tar Sands are mined.  If the pipeline is not approved then the price of energy from the Alberta Tar sands will be higher, and less used in the near term.  In the near term without the pipeline, we will use more conventional oil, which results in much lower greenhouse gas emissions per unit of recovered energy.   The entire analysis of alternative transport options (rail) available to the Alberta tar sands industry is a diversion.  The NEPA analysis of options should have been an analysis of options available to the POTUS/DOS.   This was not done.  A review of possible industry responses such as transport by rail should have been included as an appendix to provide POTUS/DOS staff with insight as to possible oil industry responses to the decision made by POTUS. The analysis of possible industry responses should have analysis such as global refinery capacity to provide POTUS/DOD staff with useful knowledge as to which industry responses are potentially real, and which has been offered up by the oil industry as bluster and bluff to push POTUS toward a decision allowing greater oil industry profits.

     The Draft SSIS lumps conventional crude oil, synthetic crude oil, and dilbit together as being similar in composition and quality to the crude oils currently transported in pipelines in the US and being refined in Gulf Coast.  However, while these different fluids may behave similarly (in the short term) while in a pipe or tank, after release (spill, leak) into the environment, they have different fate and transport behaviors, and very different environmental toxicity.    In particular, spills of conventional crude and dilbit behave very differently when spilled into water.  The authors of the Draft SSIS seem intent on avoiding any discussion of the fate and transport of dilbit in the environment or the environmental toxicology of dilbit. The Draft SSIS contains no information on the toxicology of dilbit. The SSIS should disclose the environmental fate and transport mechanisms  and environmental toxicity of dilbit in detail.

And, the truth is that because dilbit is more corrosive and erosive in pipeline systems, over the practical lifespan of the system, spills are more likely.  This is one of the lessons learned from the operation of dilbit pipelines in the US that needs to be addressed in detail in the SSIS.

         The Draft SSIS is not compliant with NEPA as it does not address likely impacts of the ongoing operation of the pipeline.  In particular, long term leaks seeping into aquifers are ignored.   For example, hazardous material spills during construction are addressed in more detail as a diversion from the more serious issue of spills during operation of the pipeline.  While hazardous materials spills during pipeline construction are frequently more numerous, they are generally small.  And, there are generally some leaks and spills during pipeline startup, but everybody is alert, and these are caught quickly and remain small.  It is after years of pipeline operation that significant leaks and spills develop.  The Draft SSIS deals with the hazardous materials (hazmat) spill issues during construction by including “boilerplate“ of generic oil infrastructure construction procedures without an warranty from the pipeline constructor that such procedures will be followed .  This is not informative as there is no warranty that such procedures will be followed.  In fact, the inclusion of such materials suggests that ERM has a relationship and conflict of interest with potential pipeline constructor(s).  The Draft SSIS glosses the engineering basis of design for leak detection, leak prevention, and spill cleanup of spills from the sustained operation of the pipeline.   The Draft SSIS does not recommend procedures for the sustained operation of the pipeline.  One option of POTUS not addressed in the Draft SSIS is to set specific engineering basis of design for leak detection, leak prevention, and spill cleanup of spills from the sustained operation of the pipeline.  Another option of POTUS not addressed in the Draft SSIS is to set specific procedures for the sustained operation of the pipeline.  These two POTUS options are not addressed in the Draft SSIS.

        NEPA requires determination of environmental impact, which may be different from mere compliance with US - Department of Transportation (USDOT) regulations.  At the very least, The SSIS should include a list of lessons learned from recent dilbit spills from pipelines operating under current USDOT regulations.  Pipelines are not a “build and forget infrastructure.”

8      The route of the pipeline crosses large, high value aquifers, and the underground placement of the pipeline makes leak monitoring difficult.  Given the unstated environmental fate and transport of dilbit and the unstated environmental toxicology of dilbit, sustained, low rate releases of dilbit into these aquifers could result in catastrophic damage to these aquifers for which no response or cleanup technology is stated in the Draft SSIS. Given current technologies, response and cleanup of such an event is not possible. Given the physics and chemistry of the situation, no reasonable response and cleanup technology is likely to be developed.  This issue has been acknowledged in Nebraska where the route of the pipeline has been changed, but the topic needs to be addressed in detail where the pipeline is proposed to be buried over valuable aquifers.   For the SSIS to gloss this issue is to make a mockery of the whole NEPA concept.  A reasonable option to the POTUS would be to require the placement of the pipeline above ground and make secondary containment with leak detection a requirement of the permit. Or, POTUS could allow placement of the pipeline underground, but require secondary containment and fail safe leak detection.  This is a good example of where NEPA requirements for review of (POTUS/DOS) options are ignored in the Draft SSIS.  POTUS is not limited by what will make the most money for Transcanda and tar sands oil producers.  POTUS can do what is best for US interests.

9      The market analysis neglects refinery capacity.  While it would be possible to ramp up rail capacity to move the bitumen to some port rather rapidly, the permitting, design, and construction of additional refinery capacity is much slower.  The tar sand oil industry could transport the bitumen to the Pacific Coast, but then, where would they refine that material at a reasonable cost? The proposed pipeline is small by current standards because there is not enough excess refinery capacity in the Gulf to justify building a larger and more expensive pipeline at this time.  In addition, the Draft SSIS neglects to mention that the Chinese national oil company (Sinopec Group) is a large (49%) owner of Talisman Energy and other tar sands oil producers.  Korean and Japanese oil companies have also invested in tar sands production capacity. The Draft  SSIS market analysis does not mention that Pacific Rim countries control much of the oil going into the pipeline, increasing the likelihood of the refined oil passed through the US and being sold in Europe, so that other supplies will be available to Asia. See for example:  However, the market analysis of the Draft SSIS relates to oil industry responses to the option selected by POTUS and not to the options available to POTUS.  Thus, the industries’ alternate transportation options belong in an appendix as background reading for DOS/POTUS staff. 

1      The Draft SSIS market analysis is more of an advocacy argument than a balanced analysis. And, in fact many of ERM’s customers have a financial interest in the Keystone pipeline, even if the exact names do not appear on contracts with ERM.  In fact, the original EIS contractor, Entrix, had an undisclosed conflict of interest resulting from a task order agreement Entrix had with BP, when BP owned substantial interests in ConocoPhillips, Talisman Energy, and other Alberta tar sands oil producers.   BP became Entrix’s largest and most profitable client during the time when the Keystone XL EIS document was being prepared. Thus, DOS does not have a history of being able to monitor its contractors on this project. There are a huge number of companies, partners, owners, and subsidiaries of companies that own interests in Alberta tar sand oil production that will benefit from Keystone XL; and ERM does business with many of these oil companies.  Oil companies have used their lobbyists to influence politicians in favor of the pipeline.  Oil companies have used public relations firms to sway the public in favor of the pipeline, in part by saying it will reduce US fuel costs.  For example, BP was saying the Keystone XL pipeline would reduce US fuel prices even as it was selling its stake in Talisman Energy (a large Alberta tar sands oil producer) to Sinopec Group  – the Chinese national oil company.    It does not appear that DOS has appreciated the potential organizational conflicts of interest, lobby efforts, and well funded public relations campaigns supported by the oil companies.  It appears that the DOS is prepared to put their institutional stamp of approval on one-sided oil company propaganda.

1     The Draft SSIS averages away the impacts of climate change.  For infrastructure basis of engineering design, climate change results in a fat tailed probability distribution of extreme events. Climate change increases the probability of extreme weather events that are greater than the structure is engineered to withstand.  Climate change has raised the average sea level only a few millimeters, but it has enabled extreme events such as Katrina, Isabel, Isaac, and Sandy.  It was not the average sea level rise that caused the damage, but the extreme events.  Likewise it is not average temperature that will damage engineered structures such as a pipeline, but extreme heat events that are outside of the basis of engineering design.   Likewise, it is not average precipitation over the next 30 years that will damage engineered structures; it is the extreme precipitation events made possible by extended climate change and the resulting changes in atmospheric circulation.  The most extreme of these events are likely to come after the corrosive and erosive properties of dilbit have acted on the pipeline for decades, and the pipeline is more fragile. The Draft SSIS is silent on these issues.   

Monday, March 04, 2013

Brear's Fig 5 modernized

Here are pix of my current working clew and knitting holder:

On the left is the knitting sheath with WIP  boot sock for me (2x2 ribbing in cuff is just over 6" long) from last night showing the knitting holder that I would use if the knitting got heavy.  (Swaving is more sensitive to the weight of the knit object than gansey knitting.)

On the right is a clew to hold my yarn off the ground for knitting out and about. You can see how a whittler that did not knit might whittle out the objects in Brear's Fig 5 to replace these apparently make shift approaches.  Really the only key element is the fishing swivel between the yellow twine and the blue stitch holder.

Does one need a clew and knitting holder?  I find knitting with a sheath and straight needles to be much more difficult while walking than knitting with hand held needles while walking. Thus, I had substantially given up trying to knit while walking.  Swaving (with needle rotating in the knitting sheath) changes all that. Swaving while walking is easier than knitting with hand held needles while walking.  This forces a reconsideration of the whole knitting while out and about paradigm.  I can knit in more places, and I knit faster, so I have to carry more yarn.

The other issue is that swaving needles tend to corrode faster than gansey needles. I think this is because swaving is easier on my hands than gansey knitting, and therefore I use less hand lotion.  It may be that my hand lotion helps protect the gansey needles.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Mystery Solved.

There are a couple of companies in England that sell "gansey knitting kits".  They include pattern, yarn, and long needles.  They do not like me saying there is an easier way to knit a gansey.  It seems that my sales have cut into their sales, or they are afraid that I will cut into their sales.  That is ridiculous.

I do not sell patterns.  I do not sell yarn.  And, my needles are much more expensive (plus shipping) than their needles.We are not competitors.  On the other hand, a lot of my customers are in the UK.

I do not sell gansey knitting kits.  I sell ways to knit better fabrics.  I sell ways to knit faster.  I sell ways to knit with less fatigue.  I do not care if you buy the tools that I make, or if you make the tools yourself.  I just want people to knit better, faster, and easier.  I would be very happy if those English companies sold knitting sheaths - either ones that I make, or if they do a good job - knitting sheaths that they make.

If they would take over the making / selling of knitting sheaths, then I could go do something else.  But they likely want to make money, and there is not much money in knitting sheaths so they would likely abandon the market - again.  Selling knitting sheaths (and the idea of knitting sheaths) is important, so somebody needs to do it, but it does not have to be me.