Saturday, June 15, 2013

Only For Knitters and Excel Users (Geeks)

Okay, my blog almost always has at least something for fiber artists/crafters/etc..  However, if you don't use Microsoft Excel, or don't care about doing vlookup's, then skip to the bottom of the page for an update on fiber-related things.

VLOOKUP in Microsoft Excel

Do you know what vlookup is?  Do you see others doing vlookups and want to use it too?  Are you an expert at vlookup, but find the limitations of multi-field comparisons annoying?

For the uninitiated, vlookup is a delivered calculation routine that allows you to look up the value in one spreadsheet and display information about that value from a look-up on another spreadsheet.  So, for instance, if you had two spreadsheets, one with a list of people and their address, and another with a list of the state abbreviations and state names:

And you wanted to display the full state name next to the abbreviation:

You could insert a vlookup calculation that would compare the State abbreviation against your list and return the full state name as the result of the calculation...a very simple example, but vlookup can be used from some very powerful uses when you start getting into it.

A couple of problems with vlookup:
  1. The syntax of the vlookup statement isn't very intuitive and prone to a lot of mistakes
  2. Formatting of the lookup field and the lookup table are very persnickety
  3. Comparing multiple fields in different columns against multiple fields in the lookup table is more effort
  4. Comparing near-matches doesn't work very well with vlookup
There is a new "add-in" for Excel called Fuzzy Lookup that makes this kind of table lookup much easier (and much closer to joining tables in softwares like SQL and Microsoft Access).  Here's a great video that gives you a brief tutorial in case you've always wanted to do this.

Current Spinning

I finished spinning up the British Romney singles that I was planning on using to ply with the BFL.

But now I have a problem...having relegated the Romney to a minor role in this two-ply adventure, I realize I like the Romney better than I like the superwash BFL...I mean look at how beautiful this Romney spun up!

And this photo doesn't really convey the deep, rich purples and blues and teals that make these singles so rich looking.

So, now I have to come up with some other way of plying the BFL and decide on how I want to finish the British Romney while I'm at it.

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