February & March 2017
I've knitted up quite a lot of flora already, time to have a stab at the other.
I doubt I'll manage to knit a whole animal, as they tend to be bigger than the things I make for the site. I'll likely start with bits of an animal, possibly inspired by the faux taxidermy pattern book I got for Christmas.
All a Cabbage White
The wings are finished and twisted together.
The rest of the features will be twisted out of the skinnier wire before being covered in knitting.
Here's my finished beastie in the afternoon sun.
Next time I'm definitely making the legs and antennae different colours as this model is looking a bit weird from below.
Half a Cabbage White
First attempt at butterfly wings came out a bit soggy looking.
The wire I used wasn't strong enough to stretch the knitting flat. The wire itself had to be sewn into position in the wing and I'm a messy sewer, so rather than struggle with unpicking the tangle I'm starting again from the beginning.
Version two has a slightly simplified lower wing. It's now a symmetrical teardrop shape rather than a wonky one – less accurate but easier to keep track of which piece goes where. I've also upped the wire gauge to a point where the wings are stretched more firmly.
Also, the reverse has a different pattern.
The sewing on the top edge could be neater but it's a prototype so meh.
February's Fantastical Fauna has become March's Magical Menagerie and we're going to stick with the theme for the rest of the month so I can finish knitting the thing I planned to knit last month and then got distracted from.
Incidentally I realise I'm not updating the blog very often but it's fallen behind in priority after 1) the work I get paid for 2) my health (shoulder ache is a bastard) and 3) actually knitting the patterns that people come here for. So sorry if you read this I'm sure things will pick up again some day!
Anyway my aim this month has been knitting a butterfly. They're complicated little creatures so the first step is deciding which parts to leave out or simplify.
First up, the size. I'm going to make my butterflies a lot larger than the native ones you see round here in England. Mine will be a good hand-span across or more. That's because a life-size knitted butterfly wouldn't have much room for detail on the wings, and detail on the wings is kind of the whole reason I want to knit one. Of course, once I work out the pattern there is always the embroidery thread and tiny needles option to scale them down again.
Next up is shape. Butterfly wings and bodies are different enough that I could do separate non-matching patterns for all the different types. That sounds like a lot of work though and I'm not sure many people would notice. I'm going to stick with one simplified pattern. Again, the wing designs are the exciting part and those should make the species identifiable without the hassle of knitting them differently.
Last up is structure. Butterflies have four wings (with different designs on each side), six legs and two antenna, can I leave any of that out?
I think knitting the wings as a piece, or only doing a one sided design would make the whole thing more complicated. There's something to be said for knitting more and thinking less even if it does mean increased sewing. I could also make the legs/antenna out of bare wires (if I went out and bought special colour co-ordinating wire) but even though it's more work, covering them up in knitted i-cord feels more me.
As predicted I've not managed to knit a whole animal. Instead I got mightily distracted by something that sort of fits the theme so I'm going to stick with it. That something was Crocodile Stitch Mittens.
If you google them you'll see that CSMs are generally delicate and colourful with lots of small overlapping scales building up a thick, warm-looking fabric. They are also crochet. I can't for the life of me find a knitted version.
How hard could it be (I asked myself) to knit something with a similar effect? Off-and-on three weeks of hard, it turns out.
First I tried short rows, which built up a shallow scale but looked kinda dull. Next I tried a zig-zag stitch, which pulled flat the moment I tried to cast it off. Working sideways looked lop-sided. Individual scales involved too much sewing. Flat bobbles? No. Increase/decrease? No. Learn to crochet? Might have been quicker.
My breakthrough was making a hole in the middle of each scale. A small loop of cast on stitches that extended the knitting outwards and added interest to the design. Probably not accurate to anything in nature but I'm calling it Dragon Stitch so it doesn't have to be. Also, I love dragons.
Each scale is 10 stitches across so if I actually want to make delicate little mittens I'll need to work with sock wool and tiny, tiny needles. Still, it's a plan.
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