I’m getting ready to present this project in a seminar on Monday. In preparation for this, I wanted to start a new pattern so I could walk everyone through Chart Minder and show them my process. A couple of days ago, the Landsat Facebook page posted a photo of the Rajang River Delta in Sarawak, Malaysia. It’s quite striking and squiggly, which means it’s not going to be easy to turn into a knitting pattern. Of course, that makes it the perfect example.
I won’t include an in-depth description of the science behind the image in this particular entry. But if you’d like to learn more about it, you can read about it here.
Instead, I’ll tell you about Chart Minder, and about the process I use to turn an image like this one into a Fair Isle pattern.
First, I scan the image into Chart Minder, like so:
Then, I pick my colors. As you might recall from my very first post, Fair Isle patterns traditionally contain two to five colors of yarn. Chart Minder allows you a maximum of five colors — at least, that’s what its algorithm lets you have. You can add more colors in manually after Chart Minder creates your image. But we’ll get to that later.
I use the dropper tool in Adobe Illustrator to choose the five colors that I see as most prominent in the image. I then take those colors’ hex codes and input them into Chart Minder. WordPress wouldn’t let me caption this slideshow, so I’ll include the caption in this text: there’s a view of the Chart Minder interface. There are five different pictures, one for each time that I added in one of the five colors described above. The image becomes more detailed with each color I add.
Then, I make the stitches smaller. This is the knitting equivalent of increasing the project’s resolution:
Now, here’s the cool part: Chart Minder officially produces the pattern:
This image is sixty-five by fifty stitches, which means it won’t be very large at all: it will be about the size of a baby blanket, or maybe even smaller, depending on the thickness of the yarn and the size of the knitting needles. I’ve done this on purpose, because I wanted to challenge myself to make a very squiggly pattern out of a grid with few stitches.
Now, here’s the extra fun part: I go in and manually paint in stitches and colors that the Chart Minder algorithm missed. In the case of this pattern, it’s quite a bit of work. I would say that it took me a couple of hours to get the image to a point where I was pleased with it. I added four more colors that I thought were necessary to make the image work and, as you can see, I had to improvise a lot of the squiggly river parts (and leave some that were just too small and squiggly out).
So, here’s my final color palette:
And here’s the final image, after a couple of hours of manual stitch-“painting”: