Tuesday, December 18, 2007


So, it's been pointed out to me that I haven't updated this for quite a while now - this doesn't mean that I've forgotten about this, just that I haven't finished any geeky knitting for a little while. Since I'm going away for christmas and won't be internetting much, it seemed like a idea to write some project updates, a kind of "geeky things you'll be seeing in the new year" :o)

So first exciting project - a few weeks ago I gave a talk to the maths department about the relationships between geometry and knitting, specifically focussing on how you might construct a knitting pattern for a Riemannian surface. I'm planning to post the slides and pass them around to people who I think might be interested, but first I want to make a few modifications. For copyright reasons I'll need to re-do some of the images, and I'll see if I can change some of the language to make it more accesible to a slighlty less mathematical audience.

The feminist torus is making good progress too - I've got all the maths sorted out, and I know how it's all going to work. It's on hold just at the minute awaiting more yarn. It's all shaping all quite well, and I'm very much looking forward to seeing how it'll turn out.
Slight problem is that I'm really going to need to make a second version before I'm clear enough on what I did to actually write down a pattern for it. And I'd really like to write it out, I'm hoping quite a few people would be keen to make one. So, I need to find a second person who would appreciate the idea of cute cuddly feminism to make the second one for...?

The cheshire cat scarf is well under way - the first cat is done, and I'm working away on the middle section, which is just plain stripes. This is a good project to do while watching tv or reading, so I think I'll get a lot of it done over christmas. Hopefully that means I'll be good and warm once I get back to the frozen north :o)

Maxwell's cardigan is making rapid progress too. I currently have the two front pieces and half a sleeve done. Since this is also mostly nice and simple, with only a little shaping of edges to contend with it's coming along pretty fast. It helps that the yarn is absolutely lovely to feel, so I'm extra keen to knit it :o)
The equation part is still to come, so I guess it'll slow down a little then, but I tend to find stranding quite addictive, so I doubt that'll be much of a problem. Since I'm planning on knitting this on the train, I'm hoping to get a lot of it done on the trip.

And finally, one finished item. This isn't really geeky, it's a baby cardigan which is on it's way to my soon-to-be-nephew/nieceling:

But I like to think awful, awful jokes are a kind of geekery of their own, so here goes:

What kind of a key cannot open a lock?
A monkey in an enormous cardigan.
(courtesy of Bob)

Happy christmas, everyone!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Knitting safari

After a short break while I was avoiding doing the sewing up, the safari animals are now done!
I'm very happy with how the colouring turned out, I think they're very recognisable. I decided I was doing the stranding wrong though, I think you should really carry the yarn to the end of the row each time, even where the colour stops earlier, this seems to make the tension more even.

I'm very happy too with how the shaping turned out, they're nice and simple but I think they look a lot like the animals they're supposed to be. Particular thanks to Cathy for the suggestion of using drinking straws in the legs and neck of the giraffe - they make it good and strong while still being child-friendly.
I'm really pleased with their little faces too - I'm told safety eyes might not be too good for very small children, so they're just a couple of sewn stitches, but I think they work really well, and they both come out looking very cute.

The zebra, unfortunately, didn't go so well. I made a couple of attempts at getting the colour pattern right, but I wasn't happy with how either came out, the patterns in the stripes are just too subtle to knit well. And then I decided I didn't particularly like the shaping either. After the fun with the cow patterns I'm a bit wary of trying to put in a very prominent neck, and that's really a big feature of zebras. So the zebra is on hold just now. Maybe I'll come back to it when I'm feeling in need of a challenge, or maybe I'll just let it go.

More knitting in the near future!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Knitting week

Hi people!
Last week (13-20/10) was national knitting week, and to celebrate the folks at City Knitty decided to do some knitting for charity. After some discussion we decided to knit for the premature babies wing at our local maternity hospital. After discussing this with them, they told us what they'd really like would be some knitted toys - apparently they like to give presents to the little babies who're there over christmas.

Happily I just happened to have a toy-making project on hold which seemed perfect for the occasion. The idea was to make a collection of safari animals in the style of the lions, but using stranded knitting to give them patterns. I decided the best animals for this would be a tiger, a giraffe and a zebra. Unfortunately, in order to be baby-safe I won't be able to reinforce the giraffe and zebra legs, so there's no way they'll be able to stand up, but I figure they could always be suspended as some kind of mobile.
But I'm looking forward to seeing how they turn out. I get the impression texture plays a really big part in how people identify animals so I'm curious how easily recognisable they'll be.

Hugh :o).

Friday, October 5, 2007

Kitty knitty

Hi people!
I've been thinking of new things to do with shadow knitting. One way I'm interested in is mixing colourwork with shadow knitting to overlay patterns(Bob is doing some similar experiments).
So I was fascinated when I saw these Chesire cat socks - if you remember Alice in Wonderland, when the Cheshire cat disappears, it's grin stays behind:

`All right,' said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly,
beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin,
which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.

`Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin,' thought Alice;
`but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever
saw in my life!'

So I'd like to portray this using shadow knitting. I'll make a cat design in shadow knitting, then I'll add the mouth with coloured yarn. Because the grin will be worked across the stripes, it will be visible from all angles, whereas the cat will be made up of raised and lowered stripes it'll only show up from some. The cat design will need to be very simple, shadow knitting isn't well suited to intricate detail, so it'll just be a very simple cartoony cat's face.
And I'll make this into a scarf. I haven't made a scarf for ages! I'll need to see what nice scarf yarn I can find which would suit this.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

(Finally) finished Cthulhu mittens

The Cthulhu mittens have been languishing in the sewing up phase for far too long now- I'd finished the first one, finished the second one, decided the first one needed the seams redoing, and got half way through taking it apart, but hadn't got around to putting it back together.
I decided they'd make a good birthday present for my little brother, which added a little more urgency to matters, and they finally got done today. A little late, but hey. So here they are in all their runic glory.
I didn't get around to duplicate stitching the red highlights I was thinking of adding, which is a bit of a shame. I'm not sure if they'd've worked, but I would have liked to try it and see.

I think the seams on the two mittens don't quite match up, the top of the right one seems slightly rounder to me. I think that might be because I started sewing at the top on that one and on the bottom on the other. Hopefully that doesn't show too much. I'm also a little concerned that with the seams placed as they are the mittens don't quite lie flat when you take them off, the seams aren't quite at the sides.

Still, I'm very happy with them- hope little brother is too!

Super-bonus lion

So, here we have one more lion. It's just the same as the earlier ones, except the brown yarn is a little darker.
When the earlier lions were visiting church a while back, a teacher friend asked if it might be possible to get one of them to use in her school, she thought the children would be very keen on them. Since the children are way too young to deal with sexuality issues, it wouldn't be able to be explicitly gay, which I thought would be a bit of a shame since that was a lot of the point of them. It'd also mean breaking up the pride.
But still, this seemed like a fantastic thing to be able to contribute to, so I decided the best thing to do would be to make an extra lion for her. This one isn't gay, or at least it doesn't have any particular orientation- he's just a fun rainbow-coloured lion. He's also probably going to be named Parsley(after the very friendly lion from "the herbs").

In other lion news, the lion and the lamb are happily settled with their new owners, and they're named Leo and Larry respectively.
I'm still on the look out for things to do with the gay pride lions too...


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sitty knitty(II)

More cows!
Here's the second, sitting, cow. The body is the same as the first one, the legs are the only major change. It took several attempts and a suprising amount of cow-research to come up with a leg shape I was happy with. Apparently when cows sit, they fold they took their hooves up underneath them, rather like cats do. I found it was very hard to come up with a geometrically accurate way to make this shape, so in the end I settled for making the foot part nice and thin and folding it. It's not a very elegant solution, but I didn't want to overcomplicate a tiny detail unnecessarily.

So there they are! What do you think, do they look cow-like? I'm not entirely sure. I've had suggestions of mouse, pig and hippo.
Also, the sitting cow has smaller horns than the standing one. This is because she's going to be turned into a female cow at some point, so they can be a little cow-couple. Since this phase of the project was aimed towards writing a pattern, that'll be a project for the future though.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sitty knitty(I)

Here we have the completed lion and lamb! I'm not sure how well either one does by itself, but they make a nice pair. Being so different kinda draws attention away from some of the imperfections.
The lamb's fleece is done in fur- or loop-stitch. I think it could have done with being a bit thicker, and the yarn doesn't bend well so they stand up a lot. Interestingly, because the surface is curved outwards the loops end up more spaced than they would normally be, so some modifying of the fur-stitch pattern may be in order.
His eyes look a bit crazy, particularly from head on, because the pupils point sideways. That's kinda deliberate, sheep's eyes point sideways naturally, but I think it would have been better to space the eyes a bit wider too. The lamb has little ears too, which I really like. They don't show up so well in this picture. Should probably take more pictures.

So yay, they're done, they're cute, and they're sitting down* :o)
More sitting down* animals to follow in the near future!

* - Terry Wogan points out(at some length) that "sitting" is the action, like "taking a seat", strictly speaking they are *sat* down.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Nativity cow

There's a cool story behind this one - one of my City Knitty friends has a church-friend who has been knitting a nativity scene for years and years. Apparently when she became Christian, she resolved to knit a nativity scene, and she's been working away at it ever since, making a figure each year. The one figure she needs to complete the set is the cow, but she's never been able to find a pattern for one, and she's getting older now, and knitting is getter harder for her. So having found I like to design stuffed animals, said friend asked me if I could write a pattern for her to knit.

So here we go, my first attempt at a cow. The yarn is a bit lighter than would be ideal, but this was just the only brown yarn I had to hand, and since it's just a test piece I wasn't too concerned with the colour. I am assured however that there are cows that come in this colour.
The body and head are all worked in one piece, which folds up to make the complete shape. The legs are added seperately and have little pieces of wire to hold them up. It's a fun way to make shapes, and could be taken to more extreme versions, you could potentially make the entire thing, including legs, ears, tail and horns in one piece if you were that way inclined.
The big thing is that apparently nativity cows tend to be lying down. So for the second attempt, I'll try to find some way of rearranging the legs into a sitting position. I'm not quite sure how to do this, particularly the folded knee joints will be a bit tricky. Then since the second cow is really only being made to test the legs, I'll add some modifications to make it into a female cow, and the two test versions will go together as a nice cow-couple.

And yes, I realise that strictly speaking "cow" means female and this is a bull. I prefer to use "cow" as a general term, kinda like "man" and "mankind" isn't always gender-specific.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Graduation torus

This was a bit of a quick project since it had a pretty short deadline(and wasn't too complicated), so it's only getting one post.
It's for a maths-studying friend who is completing his PhD soon(his viva is this thursday). So I made him a torus wearing a little mortarboard. We don't actually wear mortarboards at our graduations here at the university of Edinburgh, but hey.
There's some maths geekery behind this too, the torus is a manifold, which means that if you look at it in small enough pieces, it looks just like flat space. It's also a Lie group, but that's a little harder to explain. The cool thing about manifolds is you can do calculus on them, which you do by approximating them by planes one point at a time. So the mortarboard part is supposed to be the tangent plane at a point. The 'tassels' are supposed to represent a basis of this tangent space, which is to say they give the directions you can move along the surface. For Lie groups the tangent space is particularly useful because in some sense you only need to look at one of them rather than having one for each point.

Knitwise, I think the only tricky part was making the board. It has a piece of cardboard inside to make it nice and flat. I'd hoped to make this removable so it could be easily replaced if it got bent, but in the end the stocking stitch made the opening hang open too much, so I had to sew it closed. There might have been a nicer way to do this with tassels and eyelets.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Completed Transformer mittens

I knit them in the round, so there are no seams, and the logos are done in intarsia. I was expected the intarsia in the round to be complicated, but it's really suprisingly simple. There was a bit of.. confusion, and the left hand one ended up being a bit smaller than the right, but hopefully that won't be too noticeable. I'm not entirely happy with the top of the autobot logo, I think the black crest is way too big, and it would probably be better to have left this out or at least have made it a lot smaller. The decepticon one I'm very happy with though.

A couple of knitting points:

First, intarsia in the round. I think people make this out to be quite a bit more complicated than it is, and the dpns particularly help a lot. If you put all the stitches for one intarsia block on one needle, then all you need to do it knit up to that needle, twist the yarns together as you would in normal intarsia, then purl back to the other end. When you get there, knit along that needle until your yarns are back together, twist, and continue. If your intarsia bit isn't a rectangle, once you get the two yarns together, slip the appropriate number of stitches from the intarsia needle onto the adjacent ones, and carry on. Essentially you're just knitting two flat pieces and twisting the yarns at the end of each row to hold them together. I suppose it might be a little trickier if you had a lot of different intarsia blocks.

Second, the mixed stranded-intarsia thing. For the purposes of these mittens, the logo forms one block with two yarns worked as stranded knitting, and the rest is the other. If you're doing this, I think you need to be very careful about how tightly you work the floats, particularly on the turns. (You can see me doing this wrong at the top of the autobot logo) I found working the other block first each time helped a lot with this, but otherwise I'd just try to leave the extra thread very loose. Maybe this is just me knitting too tightly though.

Third, there's a purl row just above the cuff to form a border, which is immediately followed by some increases for the wrist. I think this makes the border a little uneven, and with hindsight I would have put in a couple of plain rows between the two. I suspect not putting shaping too close to borders, where there are straight lines to disrupt, might be a good general principle.

Anyway, I'm very happy with them, and am trying to think of excuses for more mittens so I can play with this more :o) The mittens will be on their way to their new home sometime in the next couple of days.
Hope you like them!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Warning - Not Safe For Adam

We at City Knitty have been talking about getting involved in knitting for premature babies for quite a while, and here is my first attempt!
The idea is that when people have premature babies, they don't generally have any baby clothes in the right sizes - neonatal units like to keep a supply of tiny baby clothes which they can give to them until their babies grow a bit. Unfortunately, between the cleaning costs and the difficulties getting them back, they really can't reuse them, so they tend to get through them quite fast. One way to solve this problem is if you have a bunch of friendly knitters who keep them stocked up!

This is knitted from the Bliss pattern for 3-5 lb size. I'm amazed how tiny it is, but I guess that's just how babies are.

And as you can see, I found a way to work a geek angle into this too :o)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The lion and the lamb

This project follows on from the lions - having seen me knitting some of the pieces of the lions, one of my friends at church suggested that I could make a lamb lying down with a lamb - this comes from a bible quote:
"The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them."(Isaiah 11:6)
(I don't know why the lamb and the lion tend to get singled out from that, maybe it's just cos they tend to be very symbolic animals? Of course it's possible it's just a quote from somewhere else and I've misunderstood.)
So I thought it'd be nice to make a lion and lamb for her. The lion will use the same pattern as the gay pride lions, although this time the mane and the tail will be a sensible brown colour, and I'll need to rework the legs to make it lie down. (I should say thanks to Miya for suggesting this, I wasn't too keen on the idea at the time but thinking about it more it does seem pretty cool :o) ). I'll do this in a way much like turning tiny sock heels. to give me a tube with a hole it one side which can then be sewn on to the body.
The lamb will have the same pattern as the lion, but I'd like to knit it with loops coming off the body to make the fleecy parts(kinda like towels do?). I'm not sure how you do that yet, but I'm assured it is possible.


Monday, July 16, 2007

The Gay Pride

Well, the lions are all done and finished now. They could possibly have their manes trimmed to a more mane-like shape, but I'm very happy with them just now and not wanting to risk it. Or to change anything about them :o).

I still don't know what to do with them- the plan is still to grab some campaigny people and see if they could use them, but I'm not really sure who to ask. Another possibility is to just find someone who would like them and make them a present. A few people have asked me about getting one of them, but I'd prefer not to break up the pride. The 'Pride' thing doesn't make sense otherwise, and I think a lot of the cuteness comes from seeing them all together.

But yes, if anyone has any suggestions of things I could do with them it'd be very helpful. Or suggestions of people who might be able to help, that would be good too. Fortunately, I'm quite happy playing with them myself in the meantime :o)


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Feminist torus

Well, I've got a couple of projects I'm aiming to start fairly soon(as well as a couple about to finish), so I'll be blogging them up in the near future.
First up - another torus! The plan is to knit a stuffed cuddly version of the female sign thingy. For feminism reasons, I think this needs to be blood red. I'm not sure if it should have googly eyes yet, or if it does, where they should be. Suggestions so far are they could go on the top of the ring part, or the bottom of the ring, or possibly on the cross bar part. I'm currently planning to make it, then try them in different places and see how it looks. Of course, googly eyes can make anything cute, and I do like the idea of cuddly cute feminism :o)

Knitting-wise, the plan is to do this all by holding and picking up stitches, and hopefully without any seams - I'll knit the torus part in the round, holding stitches around the circular hole for the vertical bar as I go, then grafting the end together. Then pick up the held stitches and knit the bar, holding stitches for the two horizontal parts. I'll probably add some curtain wire to the two bars to make them hold their shape better too.
I haven't really knitted anything this way before, so this is quite experimental and hopefully will be educational.

This is planned as a present for a feminist friend - yay to her :o)

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Exciting Cthulhu news!

Remember the Cthulhu mittens?
A couple of people asked me about making their own, and I finally got around to writing up the pattern properly. I checked with the nice people at Chaosium(since the artwork is borrowed from them) and they've said it's ok for me to distribute this pattern freely. They also called my knitting 'nefarious', which I much approve of :o).
So, if anyone is keen to give these a try, leave me a message and I'll sort out sending you a pattern.

Happy knitting!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

First lion

Here's the first lion, complete and ready to go! I spent quite a while fiddling with the eyes, and while they aren't really right I'm convinced that this is as good as I can get them. He does look kinda shocked...
I'm not sure how recognisably lion-ish he is - I thought he was, but showing him to people has led to some other suggestions. He still needs a haircut though, so I'm hoping that when it's more mane-shaped he'll be more easier to recognise.
I can't wait to see how they all look together!


Ok, attempts at transformer swatches! The first photo is the stranded version - I decided that the cable version wasn't really working, and this is probably the right way to go about it. I'm reasonably pleased with how this turned out, although I'll need to check it with my local Transformer-geek to see if it needs any revising. It's probably a bit taller and thinner than it should be.
There's a couple of mistakes in the eyebrows because the chart I was working from wasn't clear enough about what to do with the WS rows. Looking at the size of this motif I've decided this would go well on a pair of gloves - then I can have the Autobot logo(this one) on one glove and the Decepticon one on the other.

This is the cable version. I'd really like to do more of this kind of thing, but I think I need to do a lot more playing to work out some details. Couple of things that I need to fix:
(i) the cables are raised, but where they need to make a horizontal edge the reverse stocking stitch in the background wants to be in front. I was playing with casting off and picking up from the back of the cast off edge(I tried that on the top of the eyes). This is better, but still not ideal.
(ii) cabling the edges of raised blocks makes the edge stand up way too much(as on the eyes and crest here), it'd probably be better to work out some way to work these bits with increases and decreases to avoid this.
(iii) The points of the triangles are very wrong. Because you need to start with one raised stitch that then moves in both directions cables are not good. Just generally making cables come together is tricky because you really have to put one on top of the other.
(iv) Because the cables pull the stitches on either side together, I think you really need to add some increases to make the finished piece end up rectangular.
I think there was a good article about this on Knitty, but I can never find it. Anyway, things to play with sometime! If anyone knows how to deal with these, please let me know!


Sunday, July 1, 2007

Bearding the lion

I'm quite excited about the lion project just now. The current status is that after some fiddling about making it look right I've settled on a pattern I like - it's nice and simple, but I think it keeps enough of the shape to we quite recognisable.

These pictures are from when I was designing the head - the top picture is my first attempt, which I decided was a bit too pointy and snout-like, the second is the one I settled on - it's a little shorter and has a bit more of a round muzzle. In these pictures they're both held together with dpns awaiting stuffing, and of course, the all-important mane. I've done a little of this now, and am very happy with how it's turning out. I decided to tie the threads on the inside, this seemed the quickest way to do this. I nifty side effect is that since the lengths or the threads are only done roughly, once it's all put together I'll need to give it a hair cut :o) That should make it possible to make the different lions quite varied too, so they're not all identical.

More pictures once the first lion is finished!

Monday, June 25, 2007


Hi people.
So, this weekend Edinburgh hosted the Pride Scotia festival, and that forms the inspiration for this project.
The idea is to make a collection of little stuffed lions, and do their manes in rainbow colours.

[ominous pause]

It'll be a gay pride :).

I'm aiming to make the pattern as simple as possible, they should be quite small, and I think a nice simple pattern will be clearer and cuter. Also, if I'm going to make quite a few of them it'd be good for it to be a nice easy thing that doesn't take a lot of concentration. I'm not entirely sure how I'll make the manes, I'm currently thinking I could just sew the threads into the neck and tie them on the inside. That way they'd be good and solidly attached, although it's not the most elegant of solutions.
And I need to find out how specific the colours for the Pride rainbow flag are- I get the impression they're not rigidly defined and anything rainbowish is just as good. I'm also not sure what I'd do with them. I was thinking I could see if the local local LGBT society might be able to find a use to them(or y'know, just enjoy them).

Hooray for pun-geekery!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Transformer logo

So, Transformers!
A friend of mine is very keen on Transformers, and suggested I might knit something Transformer-based. I decided the autobot logo would be a good motif, being big and clear. I'd like to do this using cables, to give a nice embossed feel to it.

I'm not sure how well it'll work, one problem is that I think the cables will need to be raised, which would make the pattern kind of reversed. If this doesn't work, I think it will be possible to work it in reverse(with the cables lower than the main part) provided the indented parts are thick enough. Failing that, I can always just use colours. I'll have to make a couple of test versions to see how well it shows up.

A bigger problem will be what to do with this motif when it's done. I think it'd work best on a jumper, but other possibilities include a pair of gloves and the front of a hat.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

More doilies

So, more doilie progress - I decided having made the first doilie that the needles I was using were too small, making the fabric too dense and detracting from the lace effect. So I made a second doilie to the same pattern, this time with 3.75 needles(and the same 4ply cotton yarn), and here it is!

I think you can really see the difference, the lacey parts seem a less cramped and I much prefer it. I was quite suprised how clumsy I found the bigger needles though, I've been using the 3.25s quite a lot lately and the extra weight makes it a lot harder, especially on the shorter rows towards the middle.

I'm still having the problem with the edge sticking up. On closer inspection I think this is because immediately before the edging, there are five rows of stocking stitch, which makes the edge curl up. I'm not sure what I can do about this - any suggestions?

But yay, more doilies! At this week's City Knitty we were shown some really amazing doilies, crocheted on a tiny tiny hook, so I'm feeling very inspired to try some more of this soon :)


Saturday, June 2, 2007

Completed doilie

Many finished projects this week!
This time, it's the lacy doilie I started last week. (Strictly speaking this is a test piece before I start knitting a really big one, so maybe this doesn't *quite* count as finished?)

This is my attempt at the Flacon pattern from (the awesome) Yarn over, home of the great tagline "If you're looking to make holes in your knitting on purpose, you've come to the right place!".

I knit this with 4ply cotton on 2.75 dpns. I think in the end these needles are really too fine for lace knitting with this yarn, the fabric comes out a little too dense and doesn't quite suit the lacy effect. So my next plan is to do the same again with slightly larger needles. I should also say that I'm loving the cotton yarn, it makes a nice fabric and unpicks very very well. I suspect it would have been a bit of a nightmare trying to unpick mistakes in some of the complicated parts otherwise.

Also, the crocheted edging doesn't seem to have worked quite right, it tends to fold upwards rather than lying flat. The instructions on this were quite vague and took a bit of figuring out(thanks to the folks at City Knitty for sharing their experience on this!), so I'll have to see if I've just done something not quite right there.

Still, it was great fun to knit(a lot faster than I expected too), is a pretty little pattern and is ideal for holding cups of tea.

Friday, June 1, 2007

The completed snail torus

So, the snail torus is complete! I was a bit unsure about it at first, it looks kinda sloppy to me - the purple torus should probably have been knit tighter, probably stuffed more, and I don't think the shell quite sits straight on to body. But I've been getting some really good reactions to it, so I guess I'm being overly critical.

So, knitting - the three tori are knitted as flat pieces, then one seam is grafted together to make a tube, and the ends of the tube are sewn together. You could do them on circular needles and get rid of this seam too, but I think it's easier this way. I tried to arrange the radii so that the outer radius of each torus is a little bigger than the inner radius of the next one - turns out that isn't necessary at all, the stuffing makes them bulge plenty to hold them in place, and this offset makes them a bit too tight.

The body is knit as a tube, starting from the tail, with short rows to make it curl round. It has a couple of purl stitches each round to make little gutters, and force the tube to be slightly flatter than it would otherwise be - turns out an oval tube is geometrically the same as a round tube, so you can't get this effect just by shaping. They're a little uneven, owing to where the ends of the needles came - will have to bear this in mind when I do texturey things on dpns in future.
There's also a slight issue that I had to hastily improvise a grafted seam for the mouth, otherwise my tube wouldn't have left any openings for me to use to stuff it. I like how that turned out though, it gives it an odd expression which reminds me of the muppets when they do their 'shocked' look.

But yay, it's done, it's cute, and people seem to really like it :o)

Now, aren't you glad I got through all of that without a "nine inch snails" pun?

New home for Torikoma!

I'm not sure if I've mentioned it on here, but for a while(about a year) I've been playing with making torus-shaped stuffed toys. The torus is a doughnut shape, and is one of the simplest shapes in differential geometry, and illustrates many nice properties.
Most of these pre-date this blog, so they haven't had their own entries. If you're interested, you can find pictures of them in this Tori album on Facebook.

One of these was themed on the Tachikoma robots from Ghost in the Shell. A (fellow maths-geek) friend of mine recently came across the pictures and recognised the Tachikoma, and offered to give it a good home. So here you can see Torikoma, settling into his new place, making friends with the local Ribena berries and conquering a nearby harddrive.

And what better way to relax at the end of a stressful day of moving than to settle down with some knitting*?

While I'm talking tori, I should point out that Miya has been playing with my torus pattern lately, and now has himself a torus-army of his own! His Easter egg nest torus is particularly adorable.


(* - actually I think this photo was with the other torikoma, but I wanted to use it again anyway)

Monday, May 28, 2007


Ok, this one is a bit random. I came across these doilies last week, and pretty much fell in love with them- the patterns are so intricate and detailed, and from the looks of the pattern, they manage it without being *that* complicated. I've been wanting to give something delicate and lacey a try for a while, but haven't come across a good project to do it with until now.
I'm not sure what I'll do with it when it's done - they don't seem to be *for* anything at the best of times, and I'm very much not a doilie person. So I suspect this is another knitting adventure which family and friends will be bearing the brunt of.

So, I'm not sure what kind of thread to use, how fine it needs to be, or how delicate the tension is on lace knitting(especially since there's double pointed needles involved) and so on, so I'm starting off with a smaller one, and if all goes well I'll make a start on one of the really big ones(this is my current favourite, but that's changing quite a lot). Hopefully before then I'll have found a suitable target and will be able to choose appropriate colours and stuff.

But in the meantime, yes, lacey pink doilies. Let's not mention this next time people ask if knitting isn't a bit girly...

Friday, May 18, 2007

Platonic solids

The stuffed tori are kind of winding down now, so I'm on the look out for new mathsy projects.
Next up will be this one - to crochet all the Platonic solids.

The Platonic solids(or regular polyhedra) are the analogue of regular polygons in three dimensions. They're as symmetric is it's possible to be(well... with discrete symmetries, at least- spheres and things do better. And tori. But that's another story)- every face, edge and vertex can be mapped to any other face, edge or vertex by a rotation.
The neat thing is, unlike regular polygons, for which you can make one with any number of sides, there are only a finite number of Platonic solids. Five, in fact. The reason for this is a little obscure - it all comes from the Euler formula V-E+F=2, and then a certain amount of fiddling with combinatorics to see what choices that leaves.

I'm hoping crochet will be good for this, I understand there's something you can do to make crocheted objects rigid(something to do with sugar solution?). I'm also hoping that this'll make for nicer edges, since I think this would be a bit of an issue if you were to knit something with so many pieces. I'm *also* hoping that I still remember how to crochet, I haven't tried it for quite a while...

Hugh :o).

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Crab torus

The crab torus!
This has been on hold for a couple of weeks because I ran out of googly eyes, but it is at last complete.
I knitted all the pieces seperately(thirteen in all), so there was quite a lot of sewing together involved, but I think my seams are getting a lot neater.
I'm really happy with how the legs turned out - they all have little 'knee' joints which bend at different angles to make them fan out. I wasn't sure how well these would show at the time, but I think they're just angled enough. Of course the curve of the body helps with this too.

My favourite part has to be the claws though. They start out with a triangular piece to let them meet the body at quite a sharp angle, then many short rows are used to make the elbow curves. At the start of the claws they seperate into two two pieces, which I then sewed together with the outside part overhanging the inner piece to give it a good pinchy look. One slight problem is that the way I worked all this out meant there was a big seam along the outside of the claws. It I was doing it again I'd rework this to hide the seam on the inside.

The eye stalks I really like too. I put little lengths of curtain wire into them to hold them upright, which makes them nice and springy, as well as fairly unbreakable. I'm not entirely sure if this is child-safe, it might just be possible to get the wire parts out, and they have a slightly sharp edge where I cut them. But then I guess all the small pieces which could be pulled off would probably be more of a problem. I very much like how it feels though, and will try using it more in future projects.

Isn't he(or she) cute though?


Friday, May 11, 2007

Completed shadow mittens

The shadow mittens are complete!
They're great fun to play with, and I'm very pleasantly suprised by how well the pattern appears.
The shaping is mostly based on Knitty's Manly mitts, but I hurriedly reworked the shaping at the top to make it lie flatter.
I should say that the pattern turns out particularly well in these photos - turns out that lighting is a bit of an issue, being lit from an angle makes the pattern show up wherever you're looking from, and the camera flash conceals this.

A couple of problems - shadow knitting is naturally stretchy, so I'm a little concerned that wearing them a lot will pull them out of shape, make the ridges less pronounced and the pattern harder to see. I'm also concerned that being raised, the ridges will tend to wear quite quickly. I'll have to see how that goes.
Also, the stripes don't quite line up on the thumbs. I think this can be nicely fixed by carrying the stripes on from the outside of the thumb gusset rather than the inside - the extra row on the inside cancels with the row lost while picking up.

Colour-wise, I'm very happy with the decision to add the vertical stripes on the cuffs. They smooth the transition from narrow cuff to slightly wider mitten-body nicely, and I really like how the main body is mostly purple, but on the cuff the blue dominates.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Stripy shadow mittens

Inspired by James's current shadow knit scarf project, I've been dying to try some shadow knitting of my own, hence these mittens.

Shadow knitting(also illusion knitting) uses stripes of contrasting colours, using stocking stitch and reverse stocking stitch to create ridges. Making patterns in the ridges lets you add pictures which only show up from certain angles. I'm using this book as a guide, and it seems very good.

So, the plan for these mittens is to have a big "L" and "R" on the back of each hand. Happily, the hands seem to work out just the right size to make a clear "R" shape(because shadow knitting patterns repeat every four rows, I think they need to be pretty big).
To break up the horizontal stripes a bit, I wanted to add some vertical stripes to the ribbing on the cuffs - knitting them stranded, with the purl parts one colour and the knit parts the other(I'm told this is called corrugated ribbing), but there are some issues here, corrugated ribbing isn't a springy as normal rib, so it won't grip as well. To get around this I decided to rib half of the cuff normally and half corrugated, hopefully this will be enough to keep it in place and enough of a stripe to look good.
It'll be interesting to see how it feels to wear too, since the ridges make for a slightly odd texture on the inside.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Hopf link/torus family

The torus family consists of interlocking blue and pink tori(the parents), and a small white baby torus.

So, mathematically, the 'parent' tori form a Hopf link In maths, a knot is an embedding of a circle into space, the point being that you can arrange your circle in such a way that no amount of stretching it about can transform it into the standard circle, without making one part of the circle pass through another. A link is a generalisation of this idea, in which you have more than one circle. The basic problem is then to decide whether or not it's possible to seperate them.

I made a set of these once before, which are currently living with my older sister.
This time around, I decided to elongate them a bit, that makes them more moveable and you can put them into more positions(in the first set, you could spin them both round, but the whole in the middle was about the size as the thickness of the other torus, that was all)
Aren't they cute?