Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Meta Mittens

 On our way home from Buckhorn State Park last month Eli suggested we stop at a yarn store in Madison.  I am not one to say no to that so I did a google search on my iPhone and came up with Off the Beaten Path.  It wasn't too far from the highway and their website said they had locally produced yarns.   I ended up with some crochet thread and some rough, rustic wool that immediately said "make mittens out of me".  The yarn was Yaeger's Acres 2ply medium weight wool.  I got the natural and the black-brown   I felt like I wanted to have something related to knitting or wool on the mittens but I decided a yarn ball would be too abstract. I decided on sheep and did a big google image search on sheep so I could get a handle on what they look like and for illustrations of sheep so that I could understand how they are generally abstracted. I knit up a swatch in the round later in the week.  This swatch lied horribly, I must have been knitting incredibly tight because I ended up with 7 sts/inch on US 3 needles which I was never able to replicate.  Swatches Lie.  Do them anyway.  Always make a swatch especially if you are working with a yarn you have never used before, if only to get a feel for what needle size will go with it best.

So once I had my horribly off gauge I went and made some graph paper from my favorite graph paper making website (What? You don't have one?) Incompetech (see it even has a punny name) and input my gauge.  The website makes a pdf of the graph paper which I then opened in adobe photoshop.  I marked out the parameters of the mitten using the dimensions of a pair of Norwegian mittens I made a few years ago and liked.  Then I spent about a day or so dinking around with the chart.  The palm was easy,  as was the thumb, but making sheep that looked like sheep and made a good composition on the back of a mitten took a bit longer.  Once I was satisfied with the chart I knit up a prototype.  Which was sized for a child.

Good thing it doesn't take too long to knit a mitten, I thought, I'll just go up a needle size and add a little length and it'll be fine...


Still Tiny!  Urg!  I felt pretty frustrated with myself, but luckily I had plenty of yarn so I didn't have to frog either of them.  I went back and counted how many stitches were in that old Norwegian mitten I mentioned earlier and went with those stitch counts.   I finally finally got it the right size, yay! Here is a prototype progression photo with a 5" ruler at the side to show how tiny the small ones really are.

So, after knitting 4 mittens, only 2 of which were any good, I was ready to take some photographs.  It was 90 degrees outside so bundling up and going outside were a bit out.  I didn't want to get heat stroke, even for my work.  So I plopped on a matching hat and sat on my workroom couch and used the self timer gratuitously.  I think they came out pretty well all things considered

I really upped my game with photoshop on these photos.  I generously used the dodge tool to brighten and emphasize the mittens and to make the eye in shadow more visible. Plus I was having a really good hair day.   So I wrote and laid out the pattern, I went with a vaguely  German, 70s medieval revival sort of style that I think went really well with the mittens and made the pattern pretty to look at. It's for sale, if you'd like to  buy now
  buy now

Monday, September 13, 2010

Gilly's Big Bow

Way back in July I was sketching out an idea for a superbulky cardigan and the lady I sketched needed a big bow in her hair.
The next night, deep in the night, something silly was born. 

I went overboard.  Waaay overboard.  The thing weighed like a pound and would barely stay on the headband I put it on.  I decided I needed to downscale a bit. 

So I finally ended up with this

Yay!  It only looks slightly silly!  I wrote up the pattern, had it tested, and put it out as a fun little free pattern.  

You can download the pattern for yourself here: download now