Friday, January 29, 2016

Geek Knitting: U Mana Pattern

Hello everyone!

     You've seen me tweet about it and talk about it on stream, my past time outside of gaming is knitting. This year I'm going to be trying to knit as often as I can, as creatively as I can. There's nothing quite as motivational as wanting to challenge oneself creatively. Most of the nerd-ier things I'll be making will be for the stream, whether it be as giveaway prizes or thank you gifts.

     Because of my rather lacking knitting skills, most of the items I can make are based on the different stitches utilizing combinations of the knit and purl stitch. These combinations allow for many different textual differences. What I learned when making the "thank you" hats for the Extra Life donors in late December/early January is the method used to knit influences how the various stitch combinations appear. This must sound weird - it did to me as well. For those of you who do not knit, there are different methods called "flat" and "circular." This pertains to the kinds of needles used to make a project. "Flat" is what most people imagine when thinking of knitting. It utilizes two separate needles while the person makes interlocking loops and transfers them to the opposite needle. "Circular," also called "in the round," is when a person uses needles that are connected to one another. As you knit you transfer stitches to the opposite needle, but these needles are connected so it is essentially knitting in a loop. The type of stitch I'm best at knitting is the knit stitch, which isn't the nice smooth pattern most people think of: stockinette. Stockinette, when flat knitting, is done by alternating knit and purl rows/stitches. The expression "knit the knits and purl the purls" comes from this. However, when "knitting in the round," just knitting the knit stitch creates the same pattern. I can make beautiful things with the stitch I know how to do best. Let's just say I'm in love with my circular needles. Expect to see a lot of beanies in the stream's future.

Knit jargon aside...

     Do you all notice anything in that there picture? No? Well let me tell you! The beanie pictured has a blue mana symbol from Magic: the Gathering. Can't distinguish it? That's okay - the pattern is based on textural differences. Here's an imgur album with more pictures of the beanie. This is my first attempt at creating a pattern myself. Boy, oh boy, it is a headache!

Create a Pattern? Huh?

I used this image to "pixelize" the blue mana symbol, thank you Google search. Now, as you can see, the image is smooth and not broken up into "pixels." I started researching online different sites and programs that would "pixelize" the symbol for me. Creating things with perler beads is becoming ever more popular, there has to be some way to do it. I eventually found the application "Bead Forge." It is predominantly for creating perler bead designs, definitely fulfilling my purposes. I uploaded the image into the app, set up my parameters as being 40x40, and then out popped this.

Well that's a start, but it is't exactly a pattern. Being a visual learner, I decided to grid out the pattern I would be using to create the beanie. I don't have large enough graph paper to fit it on one page, so I decided to reformat a Google Spreadsheet.

     The biggest hurdle I had in creating the pattern is flipping the original image so when the beanie is completed, the "right" side of the project has the symbol facing the way it's supposed to be. Even looking at this aid for the pattern, it took some time to get used to it since I read from left to right but knit from right to left, if that makes any sense to you. When I knit a project in the round, I'm starting from the bottom and working my way up going from right to left, essentially spiraling upward clockwise. The next hurdle I had to overcome was figuring out if I needed to start my row decreases before or after the pattern is complete. In the final product, I decided to complete the pattern instead of figuring out how to accommodate the changes. That is beyond my knitting level. In the picture above the blacked out squares represented the row decreases. Ignore those...

After I finished the beanie, I realized a few changes for next time. I prefer the mana symbol to face the wrong side correctly. I feel it is more distinguishable this way. The whole point of my creating a textural pattern design is for subtle nerdom, so either way the symbol faces is fine.

The Pattern

Using US size 8 circular needles...

Cast on 84 stitches


Row 1: *knit 3, purl 3* repeat until end of row.
Repeat row 1 for another 15 rows
(Total of 16 rows of ribbing, roughly 2.5 inches)

Main Body

Row 1: Knit
Repeat for another 4 rows, totaling 5 rows of just knit stitch

Row 6: *knit 9, purl 9, knit 10* repeat to end of row
Row 7: *knit 7, purl 13, knit 8* repeat to end of row
Row 8: *knit 6, purl 15, knit 7* repeat to end of row
Row 9: *knit 5, purl 17, knit 6* repeat to end of row
Row 10: *knit 4, purl 19, knit 5* repeat to end of row
Row 11: repeat row 10
Row 12: *knit 3, purl 21, knit 4* repeat to end of row
Row 13: repeat row 12
Row 14: repeat row 12
Row 15: *knit 2, purl 4, knit 2, purl 17, knit3* repeat to end of row
Row 16: *knit 2, purl 4, knit 4, purl 16, knit 3* repeat to end of row
Row 17: repeat row 16
Row 18: repeat row 16
Row 20: *knit 3, purl 2, knit 3, purl 17, knit 3* repeat to end of row
Row 21: *knit 3, purl 3, knit 2, purl 17, knit 3* repeat to end of row
Row 22: *knit 3, purl 3, knit 1, purl 17, knit 4* repeat to end of row
Row 23: *knit 4, purl 20, knit 4* repeat to end of row
Row 24: *knit 5, purl 19, knit 4* repeat to end of row
Row 25: repeat row 24
Row 26: *knit 6, purl 17, knit 5*  repeat to end of row
Row 27: *knit 7, purl 16, knit 5* repeat to end of row
Row 28: *knit 8, purl 14, knit 6* repeat to end of row
Row 29: *knit 8, purl 13, knit 7* repeat to end of row
Row 30: *knit 9, purl 12, knit 7* repeat to end of row
Row 31: *knit 9, purl 11, knit 8* repeat to end of row
Row 32: *knit 10, purl 10, knit 8* repeat to end of row
Row 33: *knit 10, purl 9, knit 9* repeat to end of row
Row 34: *knit 11, purl 7, knit 10* repeat to end of row
Row 35: *knit 11, purl 6, knit 11* repeat to end of row
Row 36: repeat row 35
Row 37: *knit 11, purl 5, knit 12* repeat to end of row
Row 38: *knit 11, purl 4, knit 13* repeat to end of row
Row 39: *knit 11, purl 3, knit 14* repeat to end of row
Row 40: *knit 11, purl 2, knit 15* repeat to end of row
Row 41: *knit 11, purl 1, knit 16* repeat to end of row
Row 42: *knit 10, purl 1, knit 17*  repeat to end of row


Row 1: *knit 19, k2tog* repeat to end of row
Row 2: knit
Row 3: *knit 8, k2tog*  repeat to end of row
Row 4: knit
Row 5: *knit 7, k2tog* repeat to end of row
Row 6: knit
Row 7: *knit 6, k2tog* repeat to end of row
Row 8: knit
Row 9: *knit 5, k2tog* repeat to end of row 
Row 10: knit
Row 11: *knit 4, k2tog* repeat to end of row 
Row 12: knit
Row 13: *knit 3, k2tog* repeat to end of row 
Row 14: knit
Row 15: *knit 2, k2tog* repeat to end of row
Row 16: knit
Row 17: *knit 1, k2tog* repeat to end of row 
Row 18: knit

Finish the hat

If anyone feels I do not decreases properly, please let me know. I'm mostly self taught, so any advice is always appreciated.

I decided on the blue mana symbol as the first to test since it is the simplest. I enjoy the dimensions the symbol came out as since I essentially had one stitch represent a pixel. I'm looking forward to making a beanie of each mana symbol and then hopefully guilds. After completing a test run I plan on trying to make the beanies with a black base and then the representative mana color for the symbol. Definitely more geek knitting to look forward to. 

Happy knitting everyone!

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