Monday, 20 October 2014

Guest Post: Exterminate!

There's been a great reaction to our knitting pattern relaunches in Vivacious and Gleem colours and it's made us think about some of the ways in which our patterns get reinterpreted by talented crafters. We invited Rhian of The Crafty Geek to talk us through her really fun interpretation of one of those patterns. Rhian is a blogger, writer, editor and designer in the fibre industry so she certainly knows her way around colourwork and knitting!
If you would like to win any of our relaunched patterns, you still have a chance if you head over to the Ravelry group and check out how to enter. Hurry- the competition ends this afternoon!
"One of the best things about knitting is that you’re not constrained to what’s popular or fashionable, or what designs are in the shops. As knitters we’re free to make our own clothes – to choose from patterns designed all over the globe, to carefully pick out the colours and yarns we like the best, and, if we wish, to tweak those patterns to suit ourselves, from adding length, ease or waist shaping to including or adapting colourwork or textured patterns.
Challow in the original Scrumptious 4ply
When I first saw Jeni’s gorgeous Challow design, I fell in love with the drape and the shaping of the garment, as well as the pretty colourwork around the yoke. But although I knew I would love and wear the original design, I couldn’t resist making it even more... me.
Challow sweater in Vivacious (1)
Vivacious Challow from this week's relaunch
I’m a self-confessed sci-fi geek, and one of my favourite programmes is Doctor Who, both the old show and the new. I’d seen the huge range of Who-inspired knits out there, and even knit a couple. So I couldn’t resist the little voice inside me saying “you know... you could swap that butterfly for a Dalek.”
And so I set to work.

I wasn’t convinced I could chart a Dalek by myself, so I turned to a design I’d made before: the Exfoliate pattern by Penwiper. This uses bobbles and purl stitches to create a textured Dalek, but it’s clear from the chart that it would work just as well as a colourwork design.

The easiest way to make the switch would be to do a straight swap in terms of the size of the motif. The original butterfly is 13 stitches across, and 13 high – but the actual chart, including borders,is 27 stitches high, so I knew I had this to play with without having to make any radical changes to the design! I played around with the chart of the Dalek and was able to crop it to 13 stitches wide by simply straightening the back. I tweaked the rest of the design a little, removing two of the horizontal lines to bring the design down to 22 rows high. This was too big to just replace the butterfly, but not tall enough to replace the whole of the chart with the borders. I decided that the solid lines at the base of the Daleks would create a strong line across the sweater to replace the bottom border, and I tweaked the top border slightly to run above my Daleks.
Rhian's amazing rework in Scrumptious 4ply
I was pleased to find I still had a gap between the top of the Dalek and the top border – in the pattern, this is where the short rows are placed to raise the back of the sweater. If my pattern had covered those rounds, I’d have either had to distort the colourwork or move the shaping, possibly affecting the fit of the top, so I’m glad that wasn’t the case! And now when I wear it, it’s an easy way to tell which is the front and which is the back – the back has a larger gap between the top of the Daleks and the border.
Having finalised my basic chart and ensured it would fit, I was left with one more challenge before casting on. The original butterfly design is symmetrical, but the Dalek is facing side-on. There are a number of ways to deal with this – I could have had all the Daleks facing the same way around the whole top, or I could possibly have mirrored them down the middle of the sweater. For the size I was working, the chart was repeated 20 times around – an even number. Because of this I decided to work the Daleks in pairs, groups of two facing each other. If I’d been working a size with an odd number of chart repeats, I would have had to choose a different arrangement, or worked fewer repeats with a gap in between each one.
Rhian's sweater in all it's glory
With all that decided, all I had left to do was knit the top! It was an easy knit; the body and sleeves were very straightforward in-the-round knitting, with the colourwork at the end to keep things interesting. I was very nervous about how it would actually look when I was done – I have to shamefacedly admit I never swatched the design, just waited to see how it looked knitted all around the yoke. Bad knitter! But it worked better than I could have imagined, and always draws attention and compliments when worn. I love having a top that’s so very, very “me” (with thanks to Jeni and Penwiper), and currently have plans to adapt several more knitting patterns in a geeky way."

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