Tag Archives: designing

neighborhood in late afternoon

Color exercise number two: a photo from my neighborhood, in the late afternoon:


First, I opened the photo in GraphicConverter. This time I pixellated the picture and used the eyedropper to pick out some representative colors.



This time, I thought I’d have some fun with a grid designed for helping chart warp-faced weaving (by Laverne Waddington).

I didn’t use all the colors from the square above, but I had fun with it:


I like that! And interestingly, I think I got the proportions to match the photo pretty well, though I wasn’t trying for it.

Just for an arbitrary difference in choices, I went back to Photocopa, with this result:

photocopa - across street

I picked out a color combination I wouldn’t expect myself to pick out (because I’m not much for yellow or chartreuse):

photocopa across street 1

And played with the oval grid again:


I surprised myself by liking it, though it’s paler than I would ordinarily prefer.

I also picked out a more stereotypical palette from the Photocopa color choices:

photocopa across street 2

and then did a design using both it and the less stereotypical colors:


It works well enough, though I’m not thrilled by it. I think I could come up with better combinations and proportions, but I’d run out of time for this particular exercise (not that I’m setting a limit; I just have other things I need to do too.)

Next time I’m going to pick a photo with almost no colors that are in my standard choices.

Constructive criticism welcome!

Playing around with colors

I’ve been wanting to play some with color schemes for a while now, as well as stretching the colors I work with. Some conversations on Ravelry as well as some books I’ve read cemented that desire. I particularly haven’t cared for yellow or orange in the past and still don’t care for pink. I prefer muted colors to bright ones. I’m not necessarily going to step outside those preferences much, but I am going to try to push the boundaries a bit.

I want to avoid feeling pressured to produce finished objects, so I’ve decided that for the moment I’m just going to produce color schemes. If I happen to actually go on to weave or knit or spin something specific based on the results, fine. If I don’t, that’s fine too.

I’ve been taking more photos lately; I’ll probably mostly work with those. Today’s exercise is based on a photo I took purely for the colors. I’ve been eyeing these blackberry leaves for a while now. (That is, I don’t care for the photo as a photo.)


First, I opened the photo in one of my photo editors (in this case, GraphicConverter), zoomed in the photo so I could see pixels, and used the eyedropper to pick out some representative colors – if I included the pylon in the upper right corner, I had a whole rainbow to choose from!

little blobs of color from all over the rainbow, but muted

I decided to leave the pylon out of things, but to include the cattail beige from the upper left as the background. I made stripes in three different color groupings:

stripes, but no yellow

Since yellow can brighten an object, I decided to try to add a bit:

stripes yellow 1

That seemed like a little too much (I’m trying to think about rough proportions from the original images, among other things), so I cut back on the yellow a bit:

stripes yellow 2

That seems good!

There’s also a color palette tool I found online a while back, called Photocopa. It pulls out a selection of colors from a photo and also creates several palettes, not necessarily using the basic selection. These are the ones it pulled out from the blackberries photo:

color swatches selected by the Photocopa online application

I picked out these five colors:

PHOTOCOPA blackberries-1

and then played some with proportions:

PHOTOCOPA blackberries 2

All in all, I’m pleased with what I did, and I think I would feel happy to work with the final results of both processes. I worked in some yellow and orange, and once a bit of pink. Constructive criticism welcome!

A bit of my design thought process.


  1. I’m knitting one thing at the moment, but I’m considering how to make a variant that will combine knitting and crochet. Here’s some of how my thinking has been going (while I’m knitting, mind).
  2. Okay, so this part is garter stitch and that part is stockinette. I think the garter would look nice replaced by crochet.
  3. But crochet tends to be thicker than knitting, so would the two parts sit side by side nicely?
  4. Garter stitch is thicker than stockinette; is crochet thicker than garter stitch? In other words, would #2 matter?
  5. But this yarn is worsted weight and I generally don’t personally care for crochet done in worsted weight. (Note: this is a matter of personal taste, I know. My design process, not suitable for everyone’s consumption. 😉
  6. Contrast colors in different weight yarn? (A thought set aside for later contemplation).
  7. This yarn has four plies, could I unply some of it and turn it into twice as much two ply yarn?
  8. Too much work. Not enough time. This is a giftmas present as well as a design sample. (This thought also set aside for later contemplation, along with a million and a half other such thoughts left over from other projects.)
  9. Hey, wait, rather than split a thick yarn, how about using a thin yarn for the crochet and doubling it for the knitting?
  10. When doubled, isn’t fingering weight yarn doubled about the same as worsted weight?
  11. If in doubt, swatch!

I have rummaged in my stash and have found some fingering weight yarn. Tonight, I swatch!

Simple secret code rib knitting

Table of Contents: Embedding Meaning in Your Knitting | Converting Words to Numbers | Making a grid | Asymmetry or Symmetry? | Converting grids into stitch patterns | Lace | Cables | Other Encodings | Summary of My Method | Addendum: Ribbing | Further Resources

Another variant of secret code knitting I recently thought of involves making the ribbing at the edge of something different heights based on what letters you want to use.

In this case, the simplest encoding is to figure out the number for each letter (A=1 through Z=26); alternately, you can write the letters of the alphabet up the side of a chart and work out the height that way.

Here I’ve egotistically used my name and charted it out the way I’d want to see it on a piece of knitting, from left to right.

Naomi Parkhurst:

chart showing height of each letter

N is 14, A is 1, O is 15,  M is 13, I is 9, P is 16, A is 1, R is 18, K is 11, H is 8, U is 21, R is 18, S is 19, T is 20.

So each letter gets a knit rib, with a plain purl rib in between, and otherwise the pattern shows best with the background in reverse stockinette (purl bumps facing outward), you could of course have the letter ribs in purl with a regular stockinette background, but it’s less striking in appearance.

The ribbing I’ve made from this so far was worked in the round, and so I made it inside out – this required flipping the chart from left to right so that the letters would show correctly.

Persephone deconstruction

I spent a while yesterday taking Persephone apart. T got to help take some of the screws out after some of the trickier bits got done. (That is, things weren’t in imminent danger of falling on him.) All the small bits (screws, pulleys, still-functional cords) went into a bin, and everything else got stacked in the library.

After T went to bed, I started wiping the boards down with diluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. I got about a third done. I rinsed them with a damp rag, and then dried with a soft cloth. We clamped the piece with the worst crack in it in hopes of keeping the crack from getting worse before I get a chance to glue it–after all, the worst damage to the loom was water damage.

I expect to finish washing the wood bits today. While the boards are drying I’m going to dig out our sandpaper (I’m looking for 100 and 150 grits, at S’s recommendation) and see if I can find our sanding block. I am seriously wondering how much time the previous owner spent on the sanding the manual recommends. I don’t mean to impugn her. Well, I do a little, I suppose. After all, Persephone did get left upside down on a dirt floor!

I have some plans for some detail work which I hope work out. It’s nice to have S around as a resource: his grandfather was a professional carpenter, and S spent a lot of time hanging out in his workshop.

I’m glad that I’ve gotten moving on this project. The way I work, I need to get the refinishing done as soon as possible or else it won’t happen for another five or ten years. And if I’m not going to do it, then someone else should get the loom. No sense having her go to waste.

I also spent a little time yesterday staring at some crochet edging that was passed down in my family to figure out how it was made. It’s one of the nice kind that doesn’t require a horribly long chain for a foundation. You start at one end and keep repeating the whole pattern until it’s the length you want.

In the process, I might have come up with a crocheted scarf pattern based on the edging. Which, really! I need to jot a few notes and finish the patterns I’m supposed to be writing.


It figures. I get my sock pattern all written up and partially edited, when I discover that there might be a better way to do the most difficult part. I think it would not only improve the appearance but be easier to knit.

I’m working up a quarter-scale version of the sock, and it’s looking promising!

Fortunately, I can use the experience from writing up the first version to improve the write-up on the new one.

I still have hopes of getting this done by Sock Summit!

Translation from sock to pattern

This last month has taught me that translating my designs into written patterns is hard work.

Fortunately, I have friends who are or will be acting as beta testers. One of them has gotten a good start on the whole thing, and has been doing a good job of knitting what I wrote, not what I meant to write. She’s also told me when my instructions are flat-out confusing. Very helpful!

I’m also glad that I will be taking a class on designing and writing sock patterns at Sock Summit–I hope it will help me learn the language.

Part of my problem is that I learned sock basics eight years ago, and haven’t used written patterns since. Furthermore, this particular sock has a very unusual construction, and so converting the abbreviated summary in my head (which partly uses a three-dimensional understanding of the structure, only not a visualization*, instead of verbal description) into something that someone else can follow is extra tricky.

I think I have a decent draft of the trickiest bit, but we’ll see what she makes of it!

*This is very hard to describe. When I “visualize” things, I often don’t “see” them in my mind. I have a kind of kinetic feel for spatial relationships instead.

Sock Design Progress

Well, I finished one sock of this pair, and will be working on writing up the pattern in segments as I knit the second. I’m finding that the bottleneck with patterns is the actual writing. I’ve found some test knitters, and will be giving them instructions as each part is written; I hope this will make a difference in my actually finishing writing the pattern.

I also need to do the same with the Winter Solstice socks I posted about before.

Hard work!

Design setback

I was just about to post that I was making really good progress on one of my sock designs and that I’d finished half a sock, when I realized that I had half again more stitches than I should on the instep. Then I realized why, sighed, and ripped back most of the way. Fortunately, I had used a lifeline right before the critical row, and so it wasn’t hard to pick up the stitches again.