September 15, 2010

Meta Mittens

 On our way home from Buckhorn State Park last month Eli suggested we stop at a yarn store in Madison.  I am not one to say no to that so I did a google search on my iPhone and came up with Off the Beaten Path.  It wasn't too far from the highway and their website said they had locally produced yarns.   I ended up with some crochet thread and some rough, rustic wool that immediately said "make mittens out of me".  The yarn was Yaeger's Acres 2ply medium weight wool.  I got the natural and the black-brown   I felt like I wanted to have something related to knitting or wool on the mittens but I decided a yarn ball would be too abstract. I decided on sheep and did a big google image search on sheep so I could get a handle on what they look like and for illustrations of sheep so that I could understand how they are generally abstracted. I knit up a swatch in the round later in the week.  This swatch lied horribly, I must have been knitting incredibly tight because I ended up with 7 sts/inch on US 3 needles which I was never able to replicate.  Swatches Lie.  Do them anyway.  Always make a swatch especially if you are working with a yarn you have never used before, if only to get a feel for what needle size will go with it best.

So once I had my horribly off gauge I went and made some graph paper from my favorite graph paper making website (What? You don't have one?) Incompetech (see it even has a punny name) and input my gauge.  The website makes a pdf of the graph paper which I then opened in adobe photoshop.  I marked out the parameters of the mitten using the dimensions of a pair of Norwegian mittens I made a few years ago and liked.  Then I spent about a day or so dinking around with the chart.  The palm was easy,  as was the thumb, but making sheep that looked like sheep and made a good composition on the back of a mitten took a bit longer.  Once I was satisfied with the chart I knit up a prototype.  Which was sized for a child.

Good thing it doesn't take too long to knit a mitten, I thought, I'll just go up a needle size and add a little length and it'll be fine...


Still Tiny!  Urg!  I felt pretty frustrated with myself, but luckily I had plenty of yarn so I didn't have to frog either of them.  I went back and counted how many stitches were in that old Norwegian mitten I mentioned earlier and went with those stitch counts.   I finally finally got it the right size, yay! Here is a prototype progression photo with a 5" ruler at the side to show how tiny the small ones really are.

So, after knitting 4 mittens, only 2 of which were any good, I was ready to take some photographs.  It was 90 degrees outside so bundling up and going outside were a bit out.  I didn't want to get heat stroke, even for my work.  So I plopped on a matching hat and sat on my workroom couch and used the self timer gratuitously.  I think they came out pretty well all things considered

I really upped my game with photoshop on these photos.  I generously used the dodge tool to brighten and emphasize the mittens and to make the eye in shadow more visible. Plus I was having a really good hair day.   So I wrote and laid out the pattern, I went with a vaguely  German, 70s medieval revival sort of style that I think went really well with the mittens and made the pattern pretty to look at. It's for sale, if you'd like to  buy now
  buy now

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