Thursday, June 22, 2017

How to Build an Ice Giant

OK, not many people got my sense of humor in I AM BECOME DEATH. Here's a more mellow take on that planetary pattern.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

I am become Death, destroyer of worlds

The outside of the geode looked like an asteroid or a moon so I decided to try to knit Mimas. I did a complicated random increase pattern with purl stitches for the craters, then I flipped it inside out and grafted the edges. I put in a bean bag to represent the odd core that Mimas has, evidenced by orbital anomalies.

Mimas has a sewn fleece bean bag core

I got help from Twitter.
— James Tuttle Keane (@jtuttlekeane) June 2, 2017

People on Twitter thought my Mimas looked like the Death Star so I thought I'd make a planet for it to destroy. Uranus as photographed back in the '80s is a simple blue disk. Easy to make, easy to unravel. Here's the pattern I made up for it. It starts out like a geode but I added some extra blank rows in between.

This took 12.78 grams of Loren Patik 100% acrylic yarn.

When I stuffed the ball I wanted it to have all the layers of the ice giant Uranus.
From Wikipedia
The Outer Atmosphere is the blue yarn. The Atmosphere is the polyfill. The Mantle is the bean bag filling. For the core I used a ceramic polishing ball I found on the ground at a defunct silica mine.

After I finished knitting I put some monofilament line through the stitches to hold them until I was ready to unravel it. To finish the ball run the tail through the last stitches and tie it off. 

Knit balls are pretty fun to throw around. I may make Uranus again.

Mimas was difficult though. Grafting the middle together is too hard. The Uranus method is easier.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Amethyst Geode

From the outside a geode is just a rock
The other day a friend texted me that he just walked past a store at the mall that must be my idea of hell. They sell geodes and incense and the sinus-inflaming smell fills the whole corridor on the way to the movie theater. My reply was "I can knit a geode."  I had seen one on so I knew it could be done. Jessica Goddard also studied physics and seems to have the same philosophy of knitting that I do. We approach it like science, technical problems to be solved. If it turns out artistic that's just a bonus.

But inside a geode is sparkly crystals

*Update June 4, 2017. I made more videos*
This is an iMovie Trailer for regular people to enjoy

This is the tutorial which is over an hour long and details all the trial and error aspects of this project. It's not a precision job with a gauge to meet and it will come out perfect. You have to have a bit of finesse to get it right.

Part 1, Outside

Part 2, Inside

I will update the pattern and make a better PDF later. I have some other stuff I have to do first.

The ODDknits pattern is good and has an illustration for how to join the edges. You can try my version if you like a balanced lifted increase better than a kfb. Also I worked my inner layer with worsted weight.

Here's a link to the PDF of my Numbers spreadsheet and here it is embedded.

I had some Berrocco Captiva yarn in the steel color leftover from a vest. It's a cotton/acrylic string wrapped with a shiny polyester tape. It has a shine and heaviness to it that I thought was very rocky. I recommend it for a geode. I have no particular recommendations for the other yarn. I just used what I had, Loren Patik in two colors of gray and some 100% lint, I mean cotton, from the craft store in a hot orchid color. Here's the whole What You Need set up. I used three different sizes of DPNs, 8 (5 mm), 4 (3.5 mm), and 2 (2.75 mm). Also two sizes of sewing needle, one for yarn and one that fit through the beads. (I just got these Inox DPNs on eBay and I am a big fan already.)

The basic premise is to knit a hemisphere, then knit two rings and sew them together. Then there are two more hemispheres.

Outer hemisphere and two rings to be sewn together

When joined tightly the three layers of the edge give it a lot of body

Thread the yarn needle under all there Vs of the bind off edges
The outer hemisphere is knit with a 6 wedge increase. The two layers of the edge are each 6 stitches smaller in circumference. I knit them all on the same size needles but with different yarn.

The inner hemisphere I knit by test. I guessed it would need two less decrease rows than the outside done in heavier yarn on twice as big needles. I had to finish it and test it to see I had 10 stitches too many. Then I frogged back to the right number of stitches and worked straight rows up to the edge again. I had to frog the bind off a second time because it was too tight. I went up 2 needle sizes and the bind off was perfect. This is a trial and error situation. Embrace it.

I included some bean bag filling between the layers of the geode. 
I sewed the inner layer into the geode first to see what it felt like. Jessica of ODDknits sewed her two inner layers together first then joined them.
The knitted beads look like unicorn vomit
I had to straight wing it on the beaded section. I couldn't fit the beads I had onto any of my yarn. I had to thread them on polyester sewing thread and knit that. I did it all by feel and then just tried to finish with a number of beads that would match up with the stitches on the inner ring. Embroidery thread might have been easier to knit.

This geode really blew up on Twitter this afternoon. @KimLincolnMusic suggested I should make another one so they could zip together. That's brilliant. Zipper would really need to go in place of that outside piece of edge knitting. I may have to do two more halves. The first one took me two days so a whole one could be a week long project. I may be able to use magnets and reuse this first half. I'll update when I work it out.

*Update June 4, 2017*

I did make the zippered geode and you can see it in the video in Part 1. I am still working on some other stuff to go with it. It needs a dragon or turtle or something to hatch out of it.

I also started knitting the moon Mimas with the leftover yarn. If it comes out I will include both of these in the updated PDF of the geode pattern.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Bigger Sheep Coat

Naked Sheep
I just realized I never posted my blog about how to make the larger size fleece sheep with a knit coat. I wish I'd written up the pattern while it was fresh in my head. I'm going extract the information out of my database and publish what I wrote down last year just in case anybody wants to try this for Easter. I will come back and update this if I make another one before Easter. I don't know anybody who wants toys this year so I don't have any plans to make kid stuff.

I used a worsted weight yarn and US size 6 needles. Probably DPNs. It's garter stitch knit flat and seamed it up. There are little flaps that tuck in the front around the legs like a collar. I only have one in-progress photo in my database.

This pattern seems extremely overcomplicated but all the increases and decreases make it curve around the neck and cover the front of the body. The long flaps are just tucked into the middle when you put it on. It's very easy to dress and undress the sheep with this design for a sheep coat but it covers the belly and looks more real than the tiny sheep with just a cup-shaped coat.

Body of Coat:
Cast on 38
k6, ssk, k3, ssk, k3, kfb, k4, kfb, k3, k2tog, k3, k2tog, k6 -- 36 stitches
knit across all stitches
k5, ssk, k3, ssk, k3, kfb, k4, kfb, k3, k2tog, k3, k2tog, k5 -- 34 stitches
Bind off 7 k2, k2tog, k3, kfb, k4, kfb, k3, ssk, k3, ssk, k5 -- 27 stitches
Bind off 7, k3, ssk, 4 from end k2tog -- 18 stitches

I want 18 stitches remaining between leg tops. 26 around middle.
Need three garter ridges above legs. Knit until there are that many

Cast on 3 each side.

Knit until there are 5 garter ridges between front and back legs, then bind off 3 each side again.
Knit 3 more garter ridges.
Cast on 7 each end. k1, k2 tog all the way across leaving the end 7 plain knit
Knit ends straight, k1, SSK middle.
bind off 6 knit to end, bind off 6, run thread through remaining stitches and pull up tight and secure after knitting the tail.

Flatten out and add the tail. Pick up right above center decrease.

Pick up three stitches on the butt. k1, p1, k1
Turn, seed stitch back, kfb, kfb, k1
k1, p1, k1, p1, k1
Seed stitch back
Seed stitch back again
Seed stitch again
Keep going until tail is as long as the back
Run thread through stitches and weave in the end

Pull up the center stitches and use that tail to sew up the middle of the belly. The front flaps stay free to make it easier to dress and undress the sheep.

Like Easter Sheep, but BIGGER

I wanted to draw my lab for my blog banner so I downloaded a 10 day free trial of Affinity Designer. I like it a lot. It's very useful. It's only $50 to buy, but I felt it was better to buy $50 worth of yarn because I can probably get that back selling what I knit. Don't think I'm going to get $50 for this blog.

But while the free trial was still good I thought I'd try drawing a pattern for a fleece sheep and figure out how to embed that in the blog. Here's the result. You should be able to pop out that image and save it or print it. It's sized for 8 1/2 x 11 paper. You can get all the pieces out of one 8"x 8" piece of fabric if you tighten up the arrangement.

This pattern is a longer legged version of a sheep I made for my new cousin Immy at Easter. I named her Bewildred Nostrilson. Because Immy is a newborn I doubled the ears and changed how I did the wire legs so they would be safe.

I made up a pattern for a coat that I really like. I made her two, a regular one and a colorful baaaathrobe to go over her baaathing suit. I sewed the bathing suit out of the toe of some pink cotton tights I'd cut up to to make poster weights. It was a halter top one piece and it was hilarious, but I didn't get a good picture of it.

Bewildred was intentionally made with very short legs so she would fit in this plastic egg.

I will now make the new version, explain how it's done and give the finished measurements. And then I'll write up the pattern for the coat in another post.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Women's March on Washington State Sash

My mother has no shortage of craft projects she needs for the Women's March on Washington. She sent me something she found on Facebook describing a sash that says she's from Florida. Since her friend is from Georgia and both states are mentioned on their banner I decided to make two-sided sashes for them. My mother's will have Florida on an orange ribbon in front with pink in back. Her friend will have Georgia on a pink ribbon in front with orange in back.

I got a Dymo Labelwriter 4XL for myself for a Christmas present. I thought 4"x6" mailing labels would make good stencils. I created a document in Affinity Designer and picked a font I liked and got my letters spaced nicely. Then I selected a 4x6 area and printed it. Then I selected an overlapping 4x6 area and printed that. I peeled away some of the backing under the R and lined it up with the other R on the second half of FLORIDA. Then I cut out the letters with an X-Acto knife. For Georgia I tried just letting the printer automatically cut it into two pages. This did not work well as it left out part of the R. I had to splice in an extra piece of sticker and freehand cut the part of the R that was missing.

I cut my ribbon 30" long

I made a two color pair for each sash

I sewed the two ribbons together with a French seam so the ends don't unravel.

I cut out the letters and then stuck the stencil over the ribbon on a piece of cardboard

I cut out the centers of the O, D, and A and placed them by eye

I squirted out some black puffy paint and applied it to the letters with a brush

Good coverage on the ribbon

I peeled up the sticker while the paint was still wet. Then I worked on Georgia

Georgia ready for paint
After I finished Georgia I went back to partially dry Florida and gave it a second coat freehand. Then I did the same to Georgia. They looked quite good. I was glad I used the cardboard because the paint bled through the ribbon and left a ghostly image on the black cardboard.

I also did a test FL on a scrap of ribbon. The next day when it was dry I applied heat to my test with a heat gun. It definitely puffed up. But it also went gray and lost the glossy finish. I decided I liked how it looked better without heat.
Above: Air dry 1 day, no heat
Below: Heated with a heat gun until puffy
They can secure the sashes with safety pins before the march 
To keep the ribbon from getting creased or frayed
crammed into their luggage on the train I used an
empty toilet paper roll to wrap the ribbon.

Ready to Roll!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Banner Enhancement for Women's March on Washington

Way back in November my mother bought a train ticket to Washington for the Women's march the day after the Presidential inauguration. Last week she asked me if I could make a banner for her. I asked my Twitter followers for help in the wording for the banner. I got some immediate help from @Thorvaaldr who rejected my initial attempt "RESPECT MY EQUALITY: HOLDING THE LINE FOR FREEDOM" and suggested "HOLDING OUR GROUND FOR EQUALITY: WOMEN ALONG THE GEORGIA/FLORIDA LINE." My mother is counting herself as Floridian because that's where she votes and her friend lives in Georgia. (I live and vote in Georgia.)

I also suggested "THE KING IS A FINK" and "I'LL TEACH YOU A LESSON YOU WON'T FORGET IN A HURRY" but my mother didn't go for either of those or "MIND YOUR MANNERS: DON'T MAKE ME COME UP THERE."

I had some banner material I got free from Vistaprint. I thought that's what all banners are printed on, but I was wrong. I figured out how to sew a pocket in the vinyl and decided I needed 4" on each side for that. Then I asked my mother to measure her suitcase so the banner would fit inside it on the train. The finished banner needs to be 19" high so it will fit in rolled up. I asked my graphic designer friend, Steve Leacock, to design a 2'x4' banner with the plan that I would cut it off at 19" from the bottom and fold over 4" on either side. He emailed me a PDF Monday night. Tuesday I went back and forth in text messages to my mother to decide what color she wanted. Then I uploaded to design to the Staples website and ordered the sign. It cost about $25. I drove down to Tallahassee Wednesday to pick it up. That's when I found out it wasn't vinyl, it was a sort of papery plastic material. It seems like it will scratch and crease. But it was fast and cheap so I was determined to make it work. I spent all day Thursday fixing it up.

The rules for the march don't allow for sticks on signs. I was hoping I could make the ends of the banner stiff just by doubling over the material. I ended up using 1" strips of foam core in conjunction with grosgrain ribbon and the extra material I cut off the bottom of the banner. I'll detail the rest in captioned photos.

Needs to fit in this rolling suitcase. 19" long

I have about 3 1/2" between the supports on the back of the suitcase 

I trimmed the white off the top of the sign then trimmed the bottom

I am not experienced with the rotary cutter yet. I learned the hard way you should always put the ruler over the part you're keeping, not on the waste part.

These clear rulers are awesome

I accidentally let the blade wander away from the ruler. Rookie mistake. I am ashamed

This time I put the ruler over the part of the work
I'm keeping and let the waste stick out.
Cut an extra 1/4" off to correct my mistake

Because this plastic material is translucent I want to stop people signing their names over the
letters for EQUALITY because it would show through on the front and look bad.
I set up a light under my glass table and traced around the letters with a highlighter

This should indicate a keep-out zone when my mother's friends sign the banner

I used a lot of this seamstick basting tape on this project. I got it from Sailrite to make an awning

I made some ribbon loops for the ends of the banner. I cut them 48" long and doubled them 2"

After one false start I decided to add a strip of foam core.
I had a piece 2" wide so I cut it in half

I started working up a sandwich of the ribbon and the banner material and the foamcore

I wrapped the ribbon loop around the end of the foamcore and stuck it down with more seamstick

With even more seamstick I added the extra material from the bottom of the banner to the edge 
I proceeded to fold all this stuff up, exposing strips of seamstick as necessary

Seamstick exposed, ready to be folded over

When I was all done with the second side I realized
I'd put the loop on the bottom instead of the top.
I'm going to blame this migraine.
I woke up with it and have been impaired all day.
But now you know what to watch out for!

I cut another piece of ribbon and sewed it into a loop. I carefully loosened the seamstick
and got the ribbon loop into the sandwich at the top of the banner with more seamstick

OK, here it is! I signed my name in the corner to see how that's going to look. Not bad!

Now my mother still has to carry this thing around for a week to get her friends to sign it.
So I made her a bag out of a pair of jeans. I made an extra pocket for this piece of
CPVC pipe to stop the whole thing from bending.
Once the foamcore gets bent it's all over.

Here it is with the pipe in the exterior sleeve and the banner inside the bag

Test it fits in the suitcase. Brilliant.

My mother came by to get it to take it to her
book group. Lots of signatures tonight!
Tomorrow I'm going to take more of that wide orange ribbon and make a sash that says Florida and a pink one that says Georgia for her friend. I'll write that up too. But I'm going to need this migraine to go away first.