Thursday, 31 October 2013

Speaking Too Soon A.K.A. Flying By The Seat Of My Pants

I HAVE A SECRET! It's probably not a massive secret but it's my last commission ever (stop laughing people) and it really is my last commission it's a big bloody massive headache. You may have heard about it in the shop because I can't keep my mouth closed but if you haven't heard about it in the shop then hopefully it will remain a secret by the end of this post.

I have a headache and it's my fault because I've lost my glasses and I've spend around 10 hours over the last few days staring intently at small boxes on a computer screen. I can pretty much type without looking and I want to drink some coffee to see if I can get rid of this headache before I commence the next stage and this will be a big blurrrrrrrge onto the page which will hopefully leave you with no clue as to the reasons behind my project. It's a little delve into my brain anyway - everybody's got to enjoy that - right?

So, I'm knitting a Christmas jumper:

This much you already know. 

On the front of this Christmas jumper there needs to be a lion. A lion from the Square to be precise. I said yes. I'm a tit. This much you already know. 

Last Thursday I began thinking about the process in earnest. It's for a 'large man'. What the bloody hell is a 'large man'?. I've gone for around 44-46" chest because that's just a bit bigger than me and I have boobs and I'm a 'large woman'. Does that make sense? Is that what you'd do? Walking up to Dee's last Thursday I did some maths in my head. This was going to be aran therefore 4.5 stitches per inch (spi). 44 divided by 2 (for the front/back) is 22. 22 times 4.5 is apparently 144. Yeah. That's the extent of my maths in my head... 

So, on this basis I decided that I needed a lion pattern around about 96 stitches wide. Ravelry does not do such a thing. I needed to think about it myself. Not having graph paper with me I decided to have a go at some bits and bobs. This is what I ended up with: 

Quite a look, I'm sure you'll agree. The bottom two bits of white are some sort of attempt at the legs, the middle thing is obviously some sort of head and the top thing needs explaining. 

See, I've had in my mind for a while that instarsia is too blocky. I remembered that the last time I sat down and watched This Morning in full (a couple of years ago... before the shop...) they were talking about pixellated florals and how brill they were. Something like this: 

So, I kind of got to thinking that if something is pixellated then other stuff needs to be not pixellated. Yeah? Which means that we need nice smoooooooooooth edges. Which means that where one colours meets another we always want it to be at the same point and we can do that by increasing at one edge and decreasing at another there would be a nice smooth angle. Following?

I thought this would be perfect for the lion and his lovely smooth nose and mighty mane but I also had in my head that if I did my increasing/decreasing on the right side and purled back (phew, love them purl rows...) that I'd get any angle I wanted. But of course, you only ever get one angle if you do this. And I think it's about 60 degrees: 

But obviously, I'll need other angles, so I did the triangle thing with one side increasing and decreasing on every knit row and the other side increasing and decreasing on the knits and purls. That came out with a 45 degree angle:

Both useful. And that triangle was just my practice. Here it is again incase you're interested after the explanation:

And here are my lovely smooth joins.

Good aren't they? I won't use them for every bit of it but I will use it for the nose, the muscles and the mane I think. 

On a connected note, I also thought about double decreases for bits where I need a quick decrease but I decided after swatching to separate the accompanying increases by a row otherwise it looks dead bunched up. 
SOOOOOOOOOO. I got that far and thought, 'brill, I'll sort a pattern out this week'. Then I realised that the yarn I wanted to use was already cast on with a one by one rib! Last year I started a Christmas sweater for me in the Grousemoor Aran in the Cranberry colour but not got any further than partially through the rib... tit. But you knew that already didn't you?  Luckily though, it had 244 stitches exactly so I carried on knitting rib for a bit! Perfect! Only... not perfect.... because I didn't need 244 did I? It was actually 144. But actually it wasn't 144, because 22 times 4.5 isn't 144, it's 99 isn't it? And even if I carry on with the 244 rib stitches and then put half of those on hold to do the front and then pick the rest up for the back, 99 times two isn't 244. It's not even close to 244. It is, in fact, 46 stitches different which at this gauge equates to around 10 inches. 10 inches different. Fml. 

Ripped. Restarted.

Then I decided I needed a chart and started looking around for my squared paper which I couldn't find but whilst I was searching I became less and less sure at how artistic I was and so decided to look for a knitting pattern generator that I'd seen years ago. I found this one and downloaded it. I also downloaded GIMP and followed their (sparse) instructions to sort a photo of a lion out so that it could be made into a pattern. There was a lot of youtubing... 

I went from this:

To this: 

And it only took about 2.5 hours... Inordinately proud. Inordinately. 

Then they told you to cut the colours down to three, so I did: 

I thought that you can still see enough of the detail for that to be fine, yeah? 

Then you upload it to the program and they give you a pattern. Only it doesn't sometimes and I don't know why. But on the third time of running the photo through the program and getting more and more frustrated because I thought the hard bit was over, it worked! Only... there are 1000 pixels across that picture and that meant that there were 1000 stitches in the pattern. Also, it tells you about every single line, so it wasn't until about half way through that the actual pattern starts. AND. It was bloody written. Who writes intarsia patterns anyway? So. Balls to it.

I shut the computer down and went to the pub (which may be another cause of the headache). Talking to boyf, who is a geek of the highest order, last night it occurred to me that I may be able to pixellate the image and use that. So I found out how to do that this morning, more frantic googling, and ended up with this: 

 Note, I also cut most of the black out. But.... The edges are almost too blurry. So what I did in the end was essentially, decide where the outline was myself and transfer that pixel for pixel onto an excel spreadsheet (it looks a bit squashed because of the ratio between stitch and row height, I think...)(...I hope...):

The blue thing was something that I think is probably, maybe, going to be in red. All other details will either be chain or running stitched on later. Except maybe the eye. 
So, I have to print this out, work out some sort of code for the increase/decrease change overs and what are the stepped increases and then I can start knitting. However, I may or may not make changes to the outline as I go - only by a stitch or row or so though - for example I think the leg looks kind of thick. Do you? Did you notice that I wrote (top of the nose) by the nose? Just in case I couldn't see that. Ha.

And the reason that this is called 'speaking too soon' is that I think I'm sorted now but, like the rest of this process, I'm almost certainly not. Something else will happen that makes my life a bit of a nightmare. Obvs. But right now, I'm pretty happy with myself.

LOVE. xx

P.s. I've read and rewritten so much of this blog and I'm sure half of it doesn't make sense. If it doesn't make sense to you then blame me because it's almost certainly my fault... 

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