Sunday, November 1, 2015


 The aim here was to make an ace-cephalopod, an asexual octopus, after seeing these awesome LGBT marine animals.

They're modelled on the giant pacific octopus, the main features are the head part, which leans backwards and has a slight fold where it attaches to the body.  There's then a bit of a waist, before it separates out into the arms.

The first one turned out a little more cute and cartoonish than I'd hoped - its body is too big and round, and the tentacles are too short.  I think the big problem though is that the eyes don't point outwards, so it's natural to see it as just having a big face, rather than seeing the eyes pointing sideway.  Regardless, it's pretty cute, and reminds me a lot of the dumbo octopus.  I really like how it stands up too - I'd consider adding a suction cup to the underside so it can be attached to things.

The second one I'm much happier with!  He has a real angry glare to him, and his features look great.  The main differences here are the tentacles are much longer, the head is a bit narrower and the waist more pronounced, and I've reworked the colours to give a bit more emphasis to the head.  And of course the eyes now come in little capsules so they protude and point outwards properly.

I had great fun wandering around out local docks taking pictures of them (and explaining to passersby what I was doing) - you can see the rest of them here:

Knitting these did make me realise quite how often the things I knit seem to end up having tentacles.  Going to try knitting a few more land-based things next!

Happy knitting,

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Getting ready for winter

 With winter coming, it's getting a little colder, and we're all keen to wrap up warm.  But among all the snug jumpers and mittens, let's not forget about our chlorophyll-bearing friends.
 (This comes from a suggestion from Facebook.  The hats are for the Innocent Smoothies campaign, and have been sitting in a box waiting to be sewn up for an embarrassingly long time.  No plants were harmed during the making of this.)


Monday, August 31, 2015

Beethoven Mittens finished!

The Beethoven mittens are finished!
The basic design aims to be quite simple, with a single colour and minimal shaping. 
The flip tops are a little more involved - the fingers and the thumb both flip back, which I find really useful when moving in and out of cold places, and for fiddling with phones and things.  Making the thumb flip back is slightly unusual, but I find you need that too, particularly for smartphones.
I was expecting the openings to be more of a problem - with two layers of rib, they're quite thick, which I thought might be a bit awkward, but seems fine.

I changed the text from what I had planned, so the final two lines are:
"Alle Menschen werden Bruder"
"Und der Cherub steht vor Gott"
I decided that I liked the contrast between the two statements.
The font is aiming to be a little gothic, so the letters are tall, narrow and angular, and the heights are a little quirky.
This was quite fiddly, and took a few goes at it.  The problem with writing is that you have to figure out coherent rules and principles for all the letters, so they have a consistent look and feel.
I was amazed how much space they took too - I thought this would fit easily, but it was pretty close.

So, I'm pretty happy with how these turned out!  I'm enjoying wearing them, and they're a great reminder to be joyful all the time :)

*edit - realised later that I'd missed an "n" from "Menschen".  I went back and corrected that, but forgot to take a photo afterwards.  Ah well.*

Happy knitting!


Just a quick project today:

I came across this, and thought it was pretty cool, being a fan of diversity, cetaceans and also terrible puns.  I'm quite tempted to make all of them, but have made a fair few whales before.  So in the meantime, I thought I'd continue the theme by making an acephalopod. 

This will be quite a small and simple octopus, in the colours of the asexual flag.  In the spirit of sexuwhales, I'll make the colour appear in bands (I did consider having tentacles of different colours, but think that would be harder to balance overall).  I'll also start with the head being the purple side, since this will show up the features better, but does mean it's technically upside down.

I think it needs saying too that if you think this is a terrible pun, Taylor Swift is even worse:

You're whalecome.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Lobster mittens

This project may be a bit self-explanatory.
They're influenced by these:
Duck booties
And a general love of animal clothing.
Whenever I where mittens, I find I have to adjust to the different types of hand movement they allow - you have to get used to moving your hand as a whole, and you can't use your fingers in the same way.  This means you end up developing a totally different way of handling objects.  So, with these mittens I thought with these mittens it'd be fun to play with this idea a bit.

Since you have to get used to this different style of movement, these mittens mean you also get to pretend you're a lobster!
The design is aimed to be slightly subtle, just a matter of shaping- The main section decreases from the outside, and the thumb is pointed and to the inside and extends a way beyond the end of the thumb.
They're fun to wear, not entirely impractical (you have to be careful with the thumb part), and you get to whoop like Dr Zoidberg!


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ode to mittens

It's been a while since I last posted here, but I've found a little more time for knitting lately, so have some new projects to share!

With one thing and another, I've ended up listening to a lot of Beethoven lately, particularly the Ode to Joy (Beethoven is great music to code to).  It's a beautiful piece of music, but it's the lyrics which make it absolutely stunning:

It's an incredible poem about the power of joy, bringing all people together as equals, touching on love, friendship, division, pain and longing for God.  If you're not familiar with it please do read it (and listen!), it will absolutely be worth your time.  It's also the anthem of the European Union, and if one piece of music can sum up all that's best and most noble about the EU project, it's this.

So, I'm a fan.  And what better way to express that than with mittens?  So my plan is to make a pair of flip-top mittens (because all mittens should have flip-tops), which will have a couplet from the Ode to Joy written across them.  It's hard to pick out just two lines, there's so much in there, but for me these are the central ones:

"Wollust ward dem Wurm gegeben
Und die Cherub steht vor Gott"

"The worm was given desire for life,
And the Cherub stands before God"

One other thing - rather than writing this across the backs, where it will be more visible, I want to write it across the palms.
I always feel that writing slogans on things is about how you present yourself to the world, how you would like other people to see you.  What I want here is quite the opposite, it's about how you live inwardly.
This'll mean that they'll be outwardly fairly plain, with the text not visible most of the time - I think that's quite appropriate too.

Happy knitting!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Hatful of sky (blogging returns!)

Hi folks!

I haven't blogged for a long long time, and haven't been knitting so much lately, but since I've been designing some more stuff lately I figured now would be a good time to start it up again.

The idea of this one is to make a two-sided hat, with the outside just plain colours, but the inside patterned using the cosmic microwave background (CMB) map.  The idea is that from the outside it looks simple, but hidden away is all the complexity in the universe.
I probably need to say more about the CMB - shortly after the big bang, the universe was dense, hot and opaque.  As the universe expanded it cooled, matter condensed, and galaxies and stars began to form, and the universe became largely transparent.  As this happened, that primordial light continued on its way, cooling as space expands around it.  It was calculated that given the age of the universe, this light would have a specific temperature associated with it, around 3K (-271 C).  Finding this experimentally was an incredible result, and crucial to our current understanding of the universe.  This was theorized in the 1950s, verified experimentally in the 1960s, and generally accepted in the 1970s.
Even more incredible, in the 80's, scientists then started looking at 'anisotropies' (small differences in the CMB).  There's a couple of large features, but the really interesting bit are the "fluctuations".  These are thought to be caused by quantum fluctuations in the early universe, tiny random changes which led to slight instabilities and were magnified as the universe expanded.  The idea is that these fluctuations led to the instabilities which would later form into clusters, galaxies, and stars, and all the structure in the universe.  If this is right, these fluctuations could record the very earliest history of the universe, the cause of all the large-scale structure of everything.  These fluctuations were first mapped by the COsmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite in 1992, although more detailed maps have been produced since.

For knitting purposes, converting this map into a useable chart has some interesting challenges - the CMB map is complex and intricate, and the shaping of a hat is non-trivial, so producing a chart by hand would require a lot of work.
Instead I'll be doing this computationally (more on this another time) - using row and stitch numbers to map from individual stitches to a system of polar coordinates, which can then be found in the image and its colour determined.  Doing it this way also means that it's almost trivial to recalculate this for different sizings, just a matter of changing some parameters are re-running the program.
It also means that a different source image could be substituted - this will then make a hat pattern with the new image embedded in it.  That said, there's a few approximations made with the coordinate systems, and I'll need to try it out to see how much distortion these cause - of course the CMB map is quite forgiving of this kind of thing, but other images may not be.

That's the plan anyway - pictures when the hat is complete!