Reinventing the chart – Undertale Scarf

I decided to make a unique Christmas present for my boyfriend and, instead of using a chart that I can find online, I determined that I wanted to start from scratch and make my own chart.  So, this is my process:

First, I decided what characters I wanted to put on the scarf and the technique for doing so.  I ended up with Papyrus & Sans from Undertale and double knitting in order to make the scarf reversible.  I have done double knitting before but never with the number of colors that I plan to do for this.  It should turn out sort of like Fair Isle with internally held floats.  I am a little concerned about weaving in the ends but am optimistic anyway.

So, there are already charted versions of these characters out there but for some reason, instead of just using those, I decided to start from scratch.  My excuse was that the charts I found were for cross stitch and therefore used square blocks when knitted stitches are more rectangular, so I would end up with weirdly short characters.  Anyway, I started with these images:

papyrus downloaded image  sans downloaded image

I put both images through a program called KnitPro 2.0 to turn them into knitting charts.  There were a lot more colors than I wanted though, so I had to make the charts a little more simple, especially when it came to Papyrus.  I had to play with adding white space to the original Sans file in order to get the height differential approximately right.  Here is what my generated charts looked like:

papyruschart   sanschart

Now, I had some work to do!  I wanted to use as few colors as possible, so I narrowed it down to black, white, red, yellow, and blue for Papyrus and black, white, blue, pink, and gray for Sans.  Obviously, I needed to make the lines sharper and simplify some shading that the program picked up.  Also, I applied some artistic license.  Thanks, MS Paint!  I cannot believe that Microsoft is getting rid of the legacy program, it can be pretty useful although I am sure that other programs are actually better, this is one I know how to use already.  Anyway, I digress.

papyruschartnew   sanschartnew

I actually ordered yarn at some point prior to this and totally forgot about the pink.  Hopefully, I have something close enough color to make up for it but I don’t think that I have pink worsted wool, so the slippers might end up gray or purple or something.  I know that I already have yellow (Semolina) and blue (Blue Ink) in KnitPicks WotA and some light gray worsted wool that will work together with the others.  While there was a sale on, I also ordered black (Coal), white (White), and red (Red) for the characters as well as green (Everglade Heather) and light blue (Wonderland Heather) for background colors.  I designed a fairly boring background that is not quite the same on each side.

bkgchart

In order to merge the charts to make one for double knitting, I decided to use MS Excel and letters to make it easy to switch colors around (and print it black & white because I would put a letter in each cell and do not have a color printer right now).  Also, then I could have some fun with VBA when it came to turning the chart colors as well as turning three charts into one.  I wrote and ran my macro then did some manual cleanup for the repeating motif and it ended up looking like this:

undertalechart

I have no idea how actually knit-able this thing is but I am going to try when my yarn comes next week.  I am both looking forward to and afraid of the possible outcome!  I am concerned that it will be too wide but I did not want the characters to go all the way to the edges so I had to add some buffer room.  I should use smaller than normal needles anyway for the double knitting to look good.  Well, I will start the project and see how it goes.  Worst case scenario, I start over!  I do like the process of charting anyway.

I updated the chart above after finding that I do not have an appropriate pink yarn to use for the slippers.  I considered using a gray/purple heathered yarn that I have leftover from another project but decided that plain gray would look just fine and simplify it a bit.  (8 is less than 9, after all!)

I started by holding two strands together (light blue and green) and doing a long-tail cast on, being careful to keep the strands in the right order.  Then, because of the odd number, I cast on a single light blue stitch at the end.

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Then, I had to actually try to start following my chart, which I did not have printed.  For some irritating reason, on my iPad, the image kept jumping back to no zoom if I so much as breathed funny, but I persisted because I wanted to get the colored portion done before leaving for Thanksgiving so I could take just the two main colors with me on the plane.  On a side note about the colors, it turns out that the Blue Ink WotA I have is super dark, almost indistinguishable from black, and therefore not really appropriate for this project.  I do have a decent color called Celestial in WotA Superwash and decided to use that after I realized that the Semolina I have is Superwash as well so neither is a total outlier.  Unless the scarf gets washed wrong and/or accidentally felted, it should not make a big difference.

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I joined new colors by just plopping them in and leaving the tail end hanging.  I don’t really know what my plans are for weaving the ends in later but I figured that it would be my future self’s problem.  Also, it got super tangled with so many strands going in and out and back and forth since every color had to be pulled to the front and back with each stitch in order to keep the floats internal.  Since there is no balance between the varied colors, this cannot be done (as far as I know) without twisting the proverbial hell out of the yarns.  For that reason (and because I made the mistake of trying it) I do not recommend using one of these cool knitting bags that holds the yarn inside and has a hole for the working strand, that just makes it impossible to untangle properly.  I ended up stopping every other row to detangle my yarn, which is kind of ridiculous but is also the best I was able to do.

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The colorwork part is obviously tighter than the main body and is even a bit puckered.  Plus, at one point, I messed up some of the background pattern by shifting it up a row (or maybe down, I forget).  Anyway, I am debating frogging the whole thing and starting over at this point.

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Okay, I have thought about it and decided to rip it back and start over.  I will do that weird slip stitch edge with both strands that I have done before in double knitting and get rid of the pattern along each edge.  This should help me not have to wrap the green yarn around the light blue before working the second stitch which I think is negatively affecting the tension.  Not that I have any consistent tension to speak of for this project but hope springs eternal.  I can only console myself by assuming that blocking will help in the end.

I am very glad that I wrote a macro to create my dk chart because I just had to fiddle with the background and Sans then I could put them together again fairly easily.  I made Sans the same width as Papyrus (instead of one stich narrower) which should also let me work them upside down on opposite sides of the scarf like I had originally planned.

newchart

I also plan to mark on my paper copy (which I will actually make this time and probably enhance with colored pens) where each color will be joined and held because that was an issue for me.  It will just be a matter of technique if I can keep the work from puckering this time.

I had to fix a few mistakes in the chart where I had failed to clean up some of the background pattern but overall, my new version went way better.

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There is still some puckering and some loose stitches but I plan to keep going this time.  I am concerned about weaving in the ends although the internet assures me that the stray tails will be fine just buried in the yarn sandwich, I am too paranoid to really believe that and feel like I need to find a way to actually secure the ends.  Of course, the yarn is wool so, with the possible exception of the superwash colors (blue and yellow) it should mat / felt into something pretty sturdy in there.  That is sort of how steeking works, right?  Ha, I would never have the proverbial balls to steek!

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When I look at the pictures, it does not really look too different than my first attempt (except for getting further) but in person, I can really tell the difference.

What I am ruminating on now is whether I want to just do the basic pattern (plain with a few chevrons) for the body of the scarf or whether I want to chart something else to go in the middle, like the title.

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Capture

So, I made a chart that could work by putting a black outline around the white letters to make them stand out on a green or light blue background.  The letters are only about half the width of the scarf but that is for the best, otherwise I think it would take a whole scarf to spell out!

Capture

I don’t know though, I only bought one skein of white yarn but I have four each of my background colors!  Also, I would have to chart it backwards for the other side and while it is not nearly as complicated as the two brothers charts, it is still probably too much work for an underwhelming payoff.  Also, I have no desire to play yarn chicken with the lettering so I am going to go ahead and skip this idea.  Maybe sometime in the future.

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I really wanted to finish the character portions before leaving for Thanksgiving so I only had to take two colors with me.  I did not quite make it but there was little enough left of both black and white (I only had the top of Papyrus’s head to go) that I cut off the yarn and hoped the tails were long enough to finish.  They were but I cut it a little closer than I would have liked with the black, especially since I had a couple of errors to fix via duplicate stitch before burying the ends.  I also forgot to put chevrons next to the head since I was working on the plane and not looking as closely at my chart as I should have.  Consequently, I will skip them on the other end since I want them to be symmetrical but duplicate stitching does not seem worth it.

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What I did duplicate stitch was a black stitch on the mouth (green arrow) and a white stitch above the eye (red arrow).  I did not notice these mistakes until a few rows later and decided it was not worth it to tink that much since I could fix it when weaving in the ends.  Papyrus’s head does seem especially lumpy to me but I don’t know how to fix that short of tearing the work back and trying again so I just did my best to smooth it out (which was not very effective) and decided to go with it.

Once I got back from my Thanksgiving trip, I buried the ends by doing some duplicate stitches to help lock them in and then just hiding them between the layers.  I am not sure that was the best option as parts of the scarf seem extra thick now (there were already up to eight strands of worsted weight yarn sandwiched in some places) but I do not think there was a better one, so there it is!  You can really see where the scarf pulls in because I have tension issues with the floats but I think it still looks good enough and will keep going.  I do think they are a little too tall, I might have been okay using cross-stitch charts after all!

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I decided to go ahead and chart the other end of the scarf even though I am not anywhere near needing it, mostly because I love the “projecting” stage.  Also, I had to test my Excel macro.  It was okay but I had some issues with the worksheet names – that was a silly mistake.  Fortunately, I did not save the spreadsheet after I wrote over the original chart.  The reason I had to make a new chart instead of just turning the old one upside down is that I decided to put Papyrus on the green side and Sans on the light blue side for the other end.  Originally, this was not going to be possible (since Sans was an even number of stitches wide while Papyrus was odd) but now that I can do it, I definitely want to.

chartend

I think that I will add a few rows to the top and bottom of the scarf for my final pattern, it should look better than the chevrons starting right away.  I did readjust the numbering on my charts to shift the chevrons by one row.  It does not matter with the colorwork  but the way I had originally charted it, each chevron started on the wrong side, by which I mean the side where I could not see its predecessor.  I cannot, apparently, remember how many stitches to count before starting one so I just look down and the way I wrote this chart, I have to keep turning the work over.  I am definitely not going to start over to fix this although I am considering doing the next set with 9 or 11 rows between them instead of 10 in order to flip it around.

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On the Sans side (light blue on green) I shifted the center chevrons over one stitch for a few repeats.  By the time I noticed, it did not seem worth it to either rip back the knitting, drop one stitch at a time to fix it with a crochet hook, or duplicate stitch new chevrons and background stitches to make it even.  Instead, I decided that nobody will notice the small error unless they are looking super closely and if they are doing that then they will be too distracted by my terrible tension problems to think much of it.  So, I shall leave that and probably make the small “error” mentioned above in order to make the rest of the scarf easier on me.  I did already fix the chart to start on a different row so that this will not happen to any brave soul willing to try this once I have published my pattern.  By “publish” of course, I mean offer for free on Ravelry.  This was kind of a lot of work to make up and it would be cool to get paid for it but the characters are licensed and I did not give the company any money to use their likenesses, so it seems shady to charge for a pattern that uses them.

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Once I decided the work was long enough, I started my second chart; the upside-down one.  I omitted the chevrons next to Papyrus’s head in order to make it match the other end but I have left them in the pattern.  I really thought that I could control the tightness now that I have learned something from the first chart but I seem to have failed at it.  There is no stretch and it pulls in a bit on the sides (again) but I am still pleased enough to go on.  This would definitely be easier if I had access to a color printer so that I could print a pattern that was follow-able without squinting (since I like to knit while watching TV) but I am making do with my iPad and a piece of painter’s tape to help me keep track of the row.  Also, I made Papyrus’s “arched eyebrow” on the wrong side because my chart is close to symmetrical at that point and I was reading in the wrong direction.  I would like to say that I learned my lesson but I did not; I had to tink an re-knit a few rows where I made the same error later in the chart.

20181211_235934[1]Weaving in all these ends is the worst!  That is always my least favorite part of knitting (or crochet) and it felt like there were a ton of them.  Overall, I think it looks okay though.  When I came to the end, I cast off in as close to a manner of the cast on as possible – I held each pair of stitches together and worked them as one, binding off using both working strands together.

20181212_002924[1]I did not do a great job, workmanship-wise.  It is evident that I am not good at colorwork / float tension based on the amount my work pulls in on each end.  I am satisfied enough to leave it though, especially because I have other Christmas projects to get to and am running behind.  The lack of squareness is pretty obvious where I sewed on my label but whatever, I am still proud of the result.

20181212_0030231.jpgWhen folded up, it fits almost perfectly in a small Amazon box, which is convenient because I have a bunch of those, even if it is not fancy-looking.  That is okay, I will cover it in wrapping paper and hopefully the box will not be the main event 🙂  Obviously, I cannot display both characters when it is packaged up, so I picked Sans because he is shorter and I would have to fold back Papyrus’s feet (or head) to make him fit.

So, here are some views of the finished product, flaws and all:

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I will be writing up the pattern and posting it on Ravelry before I post this entry.  Posting this will have to wait a while just in case my boyfriend reads my blog, I don’t want to spoil the surprise 🙂

Hopefully I will not mess things up and the pattern can be viewed / downloaded here, on Ravelry.

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Shades of Gray

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I am aging and not going about it gracefully.  I have long since mocked people who dye their hair excessively.  Well, maybe not mocked but at least judged less than silently.  Anyway, I think it looks silly when you see someone who is obviously in her sixties or seventies and has jet-black hair.  Yes, I used the feminine pronoun there, it wasn’t a random choice.  Women seem more likely to do this sort of thing than men.  Not that men aren’t subject to a certain amount of vanity as well, especially these days.

I am hardly the first person in my family to begin to gray, not even in my generation.  I have always worried about premature color loss if not actual hair loss.  My paternal grandfather’s hair was completely white by the time he was twenty although he kept a thick head of that snow white hair until he died at around 80 years old.  I have a cousin older than me who have been sporting salt and pepper temples since before he was thirty and another whose loses about ten years in appearance when he shaves because of the gray in his beard.  Somehow my brother (four years my senior) has managed to avoid this particular sign of age so far and he reminds me of it once in a while. (To be fair, only really when I complain about gray but still – uncool!)20170221_164857

My father is one of eight siblings, all of whom are currently in their fifties or sixties and he is the only one of them with gray hair; this is not a decision made by nature.  I think he looks better that way.  There is something comical about seeing three men with jet black hair standing around, their kurtas open at the neck so that their gray chest hair is evident in contrast.  At least this problem does not affect the ladies.  Their oldest sister used to have reddish hair, since she dyed the gray with henna but now it is dark again.  I suspect when there was more red than black, she decided it was time for a change.  Anyway, I decided to take her lead because at this point, I don’t have a lot of colorless strands and it seems less like giving in to my age.

I have dyed my hair before but never out of “necessity” only for funsies.  I have never really had a problem with my hair color.  It is dark brown (not black) and has red highlights in the sun.  Since my hair is dark and I don’t want to bleach it, I am limited in the colors I can try.  I also fear decisions to an extent and have only used temporary color (Clairol Natural Instincts) except for the one other time I used henna.  I have tried to go more red and I have tried to go black.  Neither of these changes were particularly evident when indoors in my regular clothes.  The sun helped show the change and the black ensemble I had to wear when working at Macy’s provided the contrast needed to display my dye job but only when my hair was down around my shoulders.

I have been at work for two days now with my newly henna dyed hair and nobody has yet said anything about it.  I suppose that is good, since I mostly wanted to hide the gray (which I was also told people didn’t notice but I sure did).

Anyway, I’m not sure I really did the henna thing right but it seems to have worked.  By this I mean that when I comb through the strands, I find orangey-red where white ones used to be.  There is not much of a change to the rest of my hair.  There is a change to my bathtub though – there are some weird gunky spots that weren’t there before.  I need to work on cleaning that!

When I decided to do this, I had not washed my hair in several days (I usually do so twice a week but since I was late for work on Friday, I skipped it) and I don’t know if dirty hair is a good or bad thing for dying but it was kind of greasy when I started.

dirty hair

I bought my henna at the local Indian Grocery (well, the local Indian Chain Store, Patel Brothers) and it sat on a shelf in my apartment for nearly a year, so I wasn’t off to a great start.  Finally, on Saturday, I dumped it into a bowl.  The powder is fine and came up in a little cloud which made me cough, I hope it doesn’t give me lung cancer.

henna box  henna powder

I added lemon juice and olive oil per the internet / my vague memory of doing this once before.  I added some water too but I didn’t want to dilute the lemon juice too much since I read that acidity is what activates the pigment but it was not at all wet enough.  I am also a miser who didn’t want to use too much fancy lemon juice topically so I added some vinegar, figuring that’s acidic and I have a huge jug of it.  I don’t know if it made a real difference chemically but it did make the smell far less pleasant.

lemon juice  olive oil  mixed  mixed with vinegar

I covered the bowl and let it sit for a couple of hours (also per the internet) then added an egg.  The egg thing seemed weird to me but several internet people (I know, why would they steer me wrong?) insisted that topical egg application strengthens hair.  I had a partial carton of eggs rapidly approaching their sell by date, so I figured, what the hell, I’d give it a shot.   I cracked an egg into my henna paste that smelled of vinegar and beat it in like I was making cookies.  It actually looked kind of like delicious brownie batter but due to the aforementioned smell, I had no problem not tasting it!

add egg  mixed with egg

I then slathered the goop on my hair, trying hard to both work it into my roots and not get it everywhere.  I sort of succeeded on both counts.  I held sections up with clips as I went, which worked well for the application but when I put on a shower cap so I could let it sit without getting henna all over my apartment, I found that they are not really made to sit on top of all of that.  There were inches of uncovered goopy hair at the back of my head.

side clips  shower cap

I sat around for a couple of hours, watching TV while I tried valiantly to keep my head from touching my recliner.  I seem to have done a decent job since I did not detect any horrible spots on the fortunately dark colored furniture.  I did lose some hardened bits into the cushion, however, when they dried out and dislodged from the hair at the nape of my neck.

Other than the hardened bits around the edges where the cap did not cover and the fog / steam that built up inside the shower cap, there was not much difference when the [more or less arbitrary] time came to rinse my head.  I removed the clips and found that mostly, my hair stayed in place, glued as it was by egg and other nonsense.

shower cap  2 hours later  clips removed

When I got in the shower however, it started coming out.  There was a ton of brownish water running around my feet with a slight greenish tinge that I did not expect.  It’s okay though, my hair wasn’t green at all, even the gray bits.  I rinsed my hair a bunch of times, especially where the dried bits were, until the water ran clear.  I have heard that you are not supposed to shampoo your hair for a couple of days after dying with henna so I “washed” it with conditioner instead, going through the motions of shampooing with a different bottle.  A little more color did run out at that point, but not too much.  When I got out of the shower and dried off, I don’t think I stained my towel at all!

fluffy hair

So, my hair doesn’t look very different (except that it is clean).  The curls happen naturally and as soon as I brushed it, they went away.  I try to keep the curly hair some days but it just turns into a giant fuzzy tangleball before too long, so I rarely do so.

Overall, I am calling this process a success, if slightly unnecessary.