Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wire-frame Molding

So I was thinking about my Sackboy and how his wire skeleton was made, and I thought I'd write it up in case anyone else wants to wire-frame a creation. This method should work for anything knit or crocheted, and probably would be easily adapted for sewn figures as well.

Start with a single, long enough piece of stiff-ish wire. My personal favorite for this is the spiral wire from a 2" thick notebook. In general, you can figure out how much wire you need like this: the 2* the height of your figure, plus 4* the arm length, plus 4* the leg length, + 2* tail length (if it has a tail).

Begin by bending it loosely in half. Bend the central part of the wire into a circle, then twist the two ends two or three times to form a twisted neck. Then bend the wires outward to form arms - about where you want hands to be, form a loop that will be the hand, then twist the free end around the arm up to the body again. Twist the two free ends together to form the torso; stop about where the hips should be. Bend the wires outward again, and like for the arms, form feet, then twist the free ends around the leg. If you have any leftover, you can use it to form a tail, or just twist the remainder around the torso.

If you have a model that's not quite humanoid, you can easily adapt this - just start from the head and work your way along, doing each limb as you come to it. If possible, using a single long piece of wire gives the best result, because it can't come apart with bending. If you must use two pieces, then try twisting them together, forming the head with the twisted part, and going from there.

See this diagram; sorry, it's hand-drawn, but hopefully it gets the point across. Squiggly places are places where the wire is twisted around itself.

I hope someone else will get some use out of it - and I'd love to see any work done with this method!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Intarsia in the round? Say what?

Spending more and more time on Ravelry, I keep being introduced to more and more beautiful projects. With the Wisdom Poems Sock from Yarn Christmas, I decided to make a beautiful pair of textured fingerless gloves from the pattern here - I call this project my parrot gloves, because when I first saw it, that colorway reminded me of their iridescent feathers. Turns out that the colorway actually shades from the shining blues and greens into orange and red also - pretty much a rainbow - which greatly disappointed me at first, until I hit upon a bothersome but ultimately irresistible idea - cut out the colors that don't look like a parrot and use only some parts of the skein. So I cut it and rewound it into several smaller balls.

Gorgeous! But at any rate, this got me started thinking. One other thing I like about Ravelry is that you can use it almost like a time machine - see what your projects might look like, before you knit them, by looking at other people's finished projects. It can give you a good idea of what colors or types of yarn you would like to use with a particular pattern. And one thing I noticed here was the way that color variegated yarns tended to diminish the detailed texture of these gloves - you see the color change first and the pattern second. Single color yarns, though, make the pattern stand out beautifully. And to go to all that trouble creating that texture, I am damn sure not going to ruin it. But I still wanted to use this color changing yarn.

My solution? I'm going to try to do these gloves with intarsia techniques, and make each 'scale' from a different section of the skein, so the color change is broken up. Yeah. I know. They're knitted in the round. And it's going to be really complicated. I know. Ok?

But I think it's doable, especially because the particular textures here can lend themselves to helping out. The problem with doing intarsia in the round is that when you start the next round, your free yarn is over at the other side of that color section, NOT where you need it. But I think I can work around this by more or less knitting these gloves 'flat', and joining as I go.

These gloves are done with 6 repeats of a pattern chart. Let's say I start at repeat one, and work my way through 2, 3, 4, 5, etc. When I finish repeat number six, and would go back to repeat one in normal round knitting, instead I will pick up a stitch right on the edge of repeat one, turn, and go back working on the wrong side (making the first stitch on that side either a k2tog or p2tog instead of k or p to keep stitch numbers constant) - going back from six to one. This allows me to do each section the way I want to, changing strands with normal intarsia techniques as I move from scale to scale, and still end up with a round garment with no visible seam, as I suspect those little picked up stitches will not show in the change from one scale to another.

I imagine that some version of this technique has been invented multiple times by knitters in the past, but I thought of it on my own and I'm a little proud of it.

There are only three challenges left, but I feel that figuring that out was the hardest one.

1. All the knit stitches in this pattern are ktbl, making twisted rib. I hope that when you do this from the wrong side it looks the same, but I don't know - I'll have to look that up.

2. The chart is written as if you are knitting in the round, so I will have to reverse every other row since I am effectively knitting flat.

3. I will need twelve different strands of yarn at a time to do this. My previous best experience was using seven strands. I hope I am up to keeping them from tangling.

4. I have to actually knit this now that I worked out the pattern. And I have to do it twice because these are gloves.

Hmm. That was four. Well, it's not worked out 100% yet. Anyway I'm waiting for the second skein to come in the mail, because I don't think that part of one skein will be enough.

On the upside, I will also have a handful of little balls of red-orange-yellow-purple portions of the skeins, so maybe I'll think of something cool to do with those. I'll have to cut either the yellow or the purple ends off, though, because I don't like those two together.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Row Counting

Note the creepy veins visible in my hand. Yes, my skin is actually translucent in many places.

Another beautiful object, pattern from Ravelry. The idea was so cool and so in line with mathy, sciency things - a bracelet that is also an abacus - that I had to make it. But I didn't like some of the original materials, so I improvised a bit.

You pass the larger beads through the stretchy ring of copper beads as you count (in this case, the small beads between big ones are just decorative). The strand with thin beads represents the numbers 1-9, while the strand with fat beads represents 10, 20, etc. The little moon charm on the upper right side of the bracelet marks the 'beginning', so I know which side to count from.

This project really pleased me for a number of reasons. Firstly, it came out beautiful. I love copper, and I love coral, and they have gone together well here. Secondly, it is beautiful AND functional - a simple counter that can go anywhere with me, but also looks nice. Thirdly, it neatly combines my love of knitting and making jewelry.

I used tigertail and crimp beads for the first time with this project, and I like the results. I will probably use it more often. I just hope I can find more of this copper-colored stuff.

If you are interested, here's the original design from Sutherland Studios.