Shadow Pets Hat & Mitt Set

Most Adorable Baby EVAR!

Shadow Pets - K

The proposal for the Shadow Pets set published in Knit Now #44.

Thai Shadow Puppets
Thai Shadow Puppets

The inspiration was mixed: Thai shadow theatre, a dress I had as a toddler, and a dull evening when I entertained myself by figuring out how much detail I could pack into a 1″ square. The high contrast is much more interesting to babies than the usual pastels, and helps to develop their vision. Neuroscientist moment: babies are born colour-blind, and only able to distinguish (blurry) high-contrast shapes. Colour vision develops through accidental firing of neurons associated with retinal cells (again, kinda accidentally) responding to colours in the environment. In theory, it may be possible to cause total colourblindness by preventing access to colours! What a horrible idea! (Shame on me for thinking it).

Then, moons later, Knit Now put out a call for a Designers’ Challenge – a time-limited mini-project with minimal instructions, using a small quantity of a specific yarn. I opted for JC Rennie Supersoft Lambswool, having discovered even more moons ago that 4-ply is great for knitting babywear: you can use an adult pattern in, say, Aran weight yarn to produce a wee version! NB: great fun, but not an exact science – always knit a gauge swatch (tension square).

You’ll note the inclusion of the ugly-botty back of the swatch. I thought this was important to show that there needn’t be any floats to snag on babies’ uncooperative fingers. The proposal called for a long string connecting the mitts, to be run through the sleeves – ah, the memories! However, the pattern ultimately did not feature this saviour of maternal sanity, opting for a closure instead. And the most adorable baby EVAR!




Jiminy Crickets

Just knocked out two submissions, 4 ideas total, including photography (one hot model! sorry, he’s taken), all in a weekend. While on holiday, far from the bones of my ancestors, or, indeed, my faithful computer. Go me!

And I totally reworked the spreadsheets on another design. I’m pretty sure it’ll work this time. I’ve had to rip it out twice already, which HURT like a BITCH. For myself, I’d fudge it and make it work, but this is going to be beautifully photographed for posterity, so it has to be just so.

So make it so…

Now I’m watching Terminator for the 1008th time, and it’s only just dawned on me that Sarah Connor is making out with a guy more than 40 years younger than her. Who was born at least twenty years after she died. Way to get out of child maintenance payments…

Women Without Borders

There’s just something about this that sounds wrong. Can’t put my finger on it.

Anyway, I attended a networking meeting of the above group this morning, and am still hyper. It’s just plain nice to be able to get all gushy and emotional about my loves and dreams without anyone being all judgey pants. Everyone there was exactly as lala about their thing as I am! 

I might – might! be teaching again, through the Workers’ Education Alliance. Had a brief chat with the head of the local network, and gave her the details of the crafty things I could teach, and she seemed really enthusiastic. Me, I can’t really believe how happy I am to have the chance at some teaching again! I have so mssed being in the classroom. This won’t be the same, of course, but it’s close. Possibly I can expand into my maths tutoring ideas for parents as well. OTOH, I’d have to figure childcare out for the Mighty Offspring if I’m potentially teaching evening classes… Not fun. 

I also spoke to a woman who does media things. I had revealed my plans for the Irish wool industry (!) and she was really interested in the idea of promoting the remaining mills, most of which are still operating along traditional lines with original machinery. She also offered to do some promo work for me, which I’ll keep in mind – though when would I be ready for that?! I should have mentioned the health impacts that Stitchlinks is researching – she’d really have liked that. 

Lots of other convos, still buzzing 10 hours later, and I may have to re-read Colin Bateman’s Mohammed Maguire. Tried to describe it recently, but, erm. I suddenly realised I may not have understood it AT ALL…

The Apocalypse, Vogue Knitting Competition, and the impossibility of matching variegated colourways…

We made our target! In five days, no less. I sank to the depths of tweeting Nathan Fillion cos he’s in the promo video… Don’t know if it helped, but 16 new backers contributed over $800 afterwards. Cooperative Press did some promoting yesterday too, so I can’t really claim any credit.

I’m thinking of entering this Vogue competition. The garment thereby inspired is probably going to be my most expensive EVAR. And is kind of bizarre. But bizarre is very Vogue, so I think it’s worth a pop.

A lot of my designs are a bit bizarre and niche-y. NB you can’t see these yet, they’re all in prep or in the slushpile awaiting a publication opportunity. I can see they probably appeal to a small market, e.g., maths geeks, or they use techniques that might be a little scary for the average knitter.

I could produce something more mainstream, I suppose, but I find it hard to think of anything! The few mainstream ideas I do get, I usually dismiss as being too ‘ordinary’, not standing out from all the other designs out there. My thinking goes thuswise: Why would someone pick my bog-standard Aran jumper over the other 6,000 on Rav? Answer: make mine different – use plarn! see-through cables made of i-cord! I know – an Aran body! With pom-poms on the nipples! Yeah!

You see where this is going.

I blame Maggie Jackson. She warped my sense of what could be done with knitting, and I’ve been coming over all inappropriate since.

ION, my skein of Malabrigo Chunky in the Col China colourway arrived yesterday. It was the only skein of MC in the whole of the UK at the time – I know, I looked everywhere! On the Malabrigo w/s, it looks purple, green and brown, and reminds me of Cadbury’s chocolate*. The skein I’ve got, OTOH, is red and green, and looks more like Snow Bird or Melilla. This should not be construed as a criticism – I’d far rather have red/green than purple/green/brown – but it does make a point about your variegated colourways. Truly, you can never know what you’re getting. Even skeins in the same dyelot, in the same bag, can be utterly different.

Mmmm, soft…

Must go now. Malabrigo to pet!

* – Handy tip: in painting, or in wool, if you want to simulate the appearance of gold the metal, look at your lightish greens. They’ll generally work better than your yellows.

Another one away…

On to the next!

What am I doing on here?

I’m supposed to be putting designs together!

And we’re off –

I got my first pattern accepted for publication!

Can’t say much about it, but it is a typically weirdy thing (see previous post) and will probably be in print in about a year’s time. I actually submitted two designs, as a matching set, but the second was a garment that had a lot more competition. There, I don’t think I’ve given too much away! I’m exploring where I can publish the second pattern. Possibly with a few mods, possibly not.

So now I’m trying to put together the most comprehensive spreadsheet of sizes in the known universe. I’ve got the Craft Yarn Council’s Standards, used by Knitty amongst others, a spreadsheet by Marnie McLean, who is one of those designers whose pieces I recognise instantly, a chart from a bra company that I can’t find online any more (why didn’t I bookmark it!), and sundry other charts for babies, children, teenagers and adults, covering heads, hands, feet, and anything else I can think of. If you’ve got a body part, I want a measurement chart for it. And no, photos are not acceptable. Yech.

Meanwhile, the head is a-buzz with ideas. As part of an effort to be more organised and logical, I’ve created a set of folders on my laptop for calls, submissions, acceptances, random ideas, useful information, etc. Now I’ll have factor in work times to sit down and do a certain amount of work each day.

One thing the submission process taught me is that I desperately need a decent digital camera. My Fuji FinePix, crapulent thing that it was – one snap and the batteries died – has finally departed this mortal coil, and after selecting a new mobile phone specifically for its high-spec camera, the photos from it are corrupted every. single. time. I had to use the thumbnails for my submission… I do have a great selection of film SLRs, but running off an entire film for each submission, then travelling thirty miles to a developer and paying over the odds for digital copies, just to have a single photo of a sample just doesn’t jib with me. Maybe for Knitty, where I’d need to submit the photography, but otherwise? Nah.

Unfortunately, I don’t really understand digital cameras. Megapixels, CCDs, all wash over me. Apparently, for reasons that I don’t really understand, a digital camera with so many MP will produce much better photos than a camera phone with the same MP, all other things being equal. I’m reasonably good at spotting quality film cameras, but digital is still a bit of a mystery. All I really know is, the higher the MP, the bigger the resulting photo can be without degrading the quality, and digital zoom is way less important than optical zoom.

Okay, ya got me. The teacher will out. Supposing you want to print your photo at a fairly high-quality 300dpi (dots per inch = resolution = clarity), and you need a standard-sized 6″ x 4″ photo to fit in your photo frame. The formula for the minimum number of megapixels you need is

MP >= (height x dpi x length x dpi) / 1,000,000, (or (hl.dpi^2)*10^-6 if you prefer)

(6 x 300 x 4 x 300)/1,000,000

MP >= 2.16

So you need a camera with at least 2.16MP for this size of photo at this resolution. However, if you want an A4 (11.7 x 8.3) size photo – the typical size for graduation photos, for example – then the formula goes

MP >= 11.7 x 300 x 8.3 x 300 / 1,000,000

MP >= 8.7399

So realistically, you’ll need 9MP for that special day. Interestingly (well, for me anyway), if you wanted to announce the event in the newspaper, you’d need an image that’s only at 72dpi. How big an image can you send them from your 9MP camera? Well, we can work the formula backwards to get the area of the photo:

 Area = (MP x 1,000,000) / (dpi x dpi)

(9 x 1,000,000) / (72 x 72)

Area = 1 736.11111…

Now, at this point, I would usually square-root the answer to give me a rough value for the height and length of the image – around 41″ x 41″, if you’re interested (I know I am) – or you could try something a bit more principled, like using paper dimensions. The A0 size (46.8″ x 33.1″) comes in about 8MP. For comparison, that’s 1 square metre, about twice the size of a full spread broadsheet newspaper like the New York Times or the Daily Telegraph. You’d need to be really proud of yourself to pay the publication rates for a pullout centerfold poster in any of those…


I’ve been thinking about my ‘voice’. That’s designing voice, what with me doing a bit of designing these days and all. Apparently it’s really important to find your design voice.

Frankly, I don’t think I’ve done enough to have a voice – 4 designs published, and maybe as many again in the creative pipeline. What do they have in common?

  • 3 knit, 1 crochet.
  • 3 free, 1 pay-for.
  • 4 non-brand-name yarns. I do like my yarn, but the muse comes upon me when I only have DK acrylic.
  • 2 child/baby, 1 any age, 1… erm?!
  • 3 fairly quick/small items, one small but tricky.
  • Only 1 pair of gloves and, so far, no hats, even though these are the things I make most often.
  • 2 accessories, 1 garment.
  • 2 with some colourwork, but bizarrely no cables, even though I love ’em.
  • 4 rather odd things. Okay, 1 joke item, 3 moderately quirky.

The planned designs include (1) babywear, (2) accessories, and (3) adult garments. (1) may include some colourwork, and challenging construction. (2) will also include some colourwork, and some lace, but otherwise quite straightforward. (3) will almost definitely be brand-name yarn, and perhaps some challenging construction. Many in categories (1) and (3) may strike some (~cough!~ boring) people as freaky, weird, or mentally unbalanced, and at least one from category (2) as mildly eccentric. But what do I know, I’m on the moon picking whootleberries.

Strange colourwork in bargain bin mystery yarn.

My voice is cracked.

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