escher project

Escheresque Mittens: Charting

Thanks, everyone, for all of the kind and insightful comments y’all left on my last post. I have some more thoughts on those issues that I feel like putting down, but that will have to wait for another day.

Yesterday, a letter arrived containing my dad’s trace of his hand. You know what that means, right? I can start seriously charting out his mittens! I inked over his pencil trace and took some measurements to give me a better idea of what size to aim for:


No worries about the size, dad, I will make sure there is plenty of ease in these mittens!

So as soon as I got back from my CT scan yesterday (yep, had to have another one of those…this time they were checking out my pancreas, as earlier testing has revealed malabsorption that isn’t consistent with intestinal issues, but rather with exocrine issues), I sat down with a blown-up version of the Escher print and started charting. Here’s a picture with all of the stages of this process:


It took me awhile to figure out how to scale and tile it. The graph paper I’m using is 10 stitches to an inch, which sounds tiny, but I’m actually going to have a wee bit tighter gauge on the mittens (I’m a tight knitter already, and I’m using 00 dpns). The center page in the above photo was my first attempt at drawing a pixelated version of the boat in the Escher print I’m using (which looks an awful lot like Escher’s classic birds, once all of the detailing is removed). The rightmost page in the above photo is where I figured out how to fit the boat into a 20×20 area that could be overlapped in a consistent way to form the outline of the fish. The leftmost page are the “tiles” I drew to give myself an easier time sketching the full graph.


The above photo was the “breakthrough” moment, where I finally figured out (after much counting and calculating, as evidenced by the numbers and ink dots all over those squares) how I could draw the boat in such a way that if I overlapped the 20×20 as drawn, the edges of the boat would meet up in an appropriate way to form the outline of the fish. After I made that breakthrough, I drew out the “tiles” on a new page of knitter’s graph paper, to make it easier for me to chart the whole design (as I would only have to worry about filling in the boat stitches in one tile at a time):


I actually really like the pattern the overlapped tiles make by themselves, and may well adapt it to make a stitch pattern for the palm and thumb of the mitten. Once I had the page filled in with tiles, I started filling in the stitches. As you know if you read my earlier post on this project, I’m using a deep brown for the boats and a variegated blend of blues, greens, and creams for the fish, but all I had was a red and a blue colored pencil, which is why my (partially filled-in) final graph looks how it does:


The mittens won’t be quite as wide as a full page of that graph paper, obviously, but I wanted to chart the full thing so that I could choose the best place to center the mitten over the pattern. Since I want the mittens to be a good 4.5 inches wide (given that my dad’s hand-trace is 3.5 inches wide, and hands have depth, and there also needs to be extra ease for the angora lining), I’m planning to have 98 stitches around (so, 46 stitches per side, with a 3-stitch border on each end between the front and backside) which would give me two full boats in the center of the mitten. If this doesn’t make sense, well, hopefully it will when I start knitting! I’m planning do the cuff of the mittens over slightly fewer stitches, in the variation on corrugated ribbing used in Eunny’s Anemoi mittens, and to have the thumb gusset grow out of the center of the 3-stitch side border the way I did with Mr. Estonian Mitten.  So now I just need to finish filling in the Escher chart, decide where I want to center the mitten over the chart, create a stitch pattern for the palm and thumb, and do a little math to figure out how many stitches I want to cast on to do the modified corrugated ribbing, and then I’ll be ready to cast on!

9 thoughts on “Escheresque Mittens: Charting”

  1. This is really cool. Thanks for sharing your process! I think you’re right– the tiling pattern does look really nice all on its own. It would be a great pattern to have on the palm.

  2. You, my dear, are a genius. I was just saying to a friend last night that if I’d known I was going to grow up to be a knitter, I would have paid more attention in math class. I can’t wait to see these mittens!

  3. Those are going to be amazing mittens, and so unique and personal for your dad! The best kind of present.

    I hope you feel better soon and the doctors are narrowing in on a diagnosis.

  4. Wow, I’m impressed, both with the clever artwork you’re doing and your patience with the chart. Kudos, really!! I can’t wait to see what it looks like knitted up.

    Sending good vibes to your pancreas and whatever else is causing you pain. I hope they figure it out soon.

  5. This is so so cool, I want to hear all about the process. Also, I think your dad’s note is really cute.

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