01 January 2013

Liking the Labyrinth

Happy New Year! I'm a little sorry to see 2012 go, as it was a pretty good year for me. But now it is time to build on the promise of 2013!

One of the classes I hope to develop is about Debbie New's wonderful labyrinth knitting technique. I happen to like this technique a lot. I know many knitters are either unfamiliar with it or balk at it because it comes out of Unexpected Knitting. Mathematically it is interesting, as the concept is based on the idea of a space-filling curve. Because you are knitting a long twisting snake instead of a flat rectangle, you can shape the knitting in three-dimensions. The stitches run in all directions, which  makes the knitting very interesting indeed! And if you have color changes in the yarn or textural changes in the knitting, those elements will highlight the unusual construction.

While I think a labyrinth sweater is an awesome accomplishment, I also think it is good to warm up and learn on a smaller project. To that end, I came up with two labyrinth cubes. The zig-zag cube is knit with alternating left and right turns. While I could have worked it in the round, I chose to work it flat and sew a mattress seam along one edge of the cube. The red edge is the cast-on and the brown is the bind-off. I used a provisional cast-on so that I could use flat three-needle bind off to seam both edges. You'll notice that the seamed edge is actually three edges of the cube that meet at a corner. The pattern across the cube is intriguing, and I found visitors to my home during the holidays were mesmerized. They would pick up the cube and keep turning it in their hands!
Zig-Zag Cube

Labyrinth knitting doesn't just involve left and right turns. You can also knit sections in a straight line, too. The twist & turn cube uses two left turns, two right turns, and two plain sections to form a cube. This cube was started using Magic Cast On (dark blue green) along three edges. I flipped the cast-on to put the purl side up because I wanted a purl ridge along the edge. The work then proceeded in the round. The bind-off edges are pale sage and were grafted together to run a purl ridge along the three bind-off edges.
Twist & Turn Cube
Both cubes are stuffed with two pieces of 3-inch thick foam, cut to 6 x 6 inches. If I did it again, I would probably glue the two pieces of foam together. Even without glue, there is enough pressure from the knitting to mostly keep the foam blocks properly aligned.

Of course, I now realize this could easily be scaled up. For example, a large cube could be used as a hassock. And if you were so inclined, it shouldn't be that difficult to knit a foam chair or sofa.


Anonymous said...

Great idea! Pam

Laura said...

How fun! I'm seeing baby toys, and floor cushions made like this. It'd save on the seaming. :)