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!