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!