Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Finished alchemy mittens

Ok, first finished object for a while - the alchemy mittens are done! I tried to keep the pattern reasonably simple, which probably helped a lot. Also there was a lot of snooker on tv, which is ideal for knitting along to!

I'd intended to make this in the round using two circular needles(I've just come across this technique, and it's awesome), but ran into some problems - because of the way the stranding works, with independent bands on the front and back, it would be difficult to work this in the round, you would need to carry the green yarn too much. So I decided it needed to be based on intarsia in the round, which meant a switch to dpns(because I'm using interchangable needles rather than "real" circulars, and they don't handle purl rows well).
The intarsia in the round gave me some trouble - I'm not sure if I'm remembering it being easier than it was, but I ended up with some loose stitches at the join. This might mean I was somehow wrapping the yarns wrong, or possibly just that you shouldn't try to join the intarsia pieces at the end of a needle? I suspect the latter, since the stitches just looked loose rather than wrong. This seemed to get even worse when the shaping started to get involved at the top of the mitten.

Pattern-wise, I may be able to explain the design a bit better now I have visual aids. The left mitten represents antimony and the right is tin- I chose these elements because they had nice alchemical symbols and roughly the right atomic numbers to make the patterns work and fit nicely onto a mitten.
The symbols on the back are alchemical signs for the respective elements, although I suspect noone would actually recognise them without looking them up. The number of spots on the back of the hand give the atomic number of the element(51 for antimony, 50 for tin), and they're arranged to show how the electrons are divided up into shells(or, I suppose it's position in the periodic table?).
The spots on the front represent the number of neutrons in the most common isotope, so that the total number of spots on both sides gives the atomic weight. They're also supposed to give them a slightly checkered look. I'd planned to make the front kinda textured based on a pair of gloves I saw made by the mighty Juliana, which gave them a wonderfully grippy look, but chickened out cos I wasn't sure how the texture would interfere with the stranding and was too impatient to do the swatching first.

So yeah, I'm very happy with how these turned out, the dots give them a nicely complicated look and the symbols came out just about the right size that they dominate without overpowering the rest of the design. I'm curious how it would have looked if the symbols were a different colour, but I think I prefer it this way in the end. They could maybe have been done on smaller needles to make the fabric denser and warmer, but this was rather a "what I had to hand" project.


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