Friday, November 16, 2012

The Making Of Celestarium

Celestarium started it's life in early 2011 with the question, "Wouldn't it be cool if there was a shawl that was also a star chart." Of course knitting a star chart seemed utterly crazy. How do you even chart something circular that has no pattern repeats. Although the idea was neat enough to earn a sticky note on what my brother lovingly refers to as the "Beautiful Mind" wall, it seemed impossible, so I tried my best to think about other things.

Except that the idea kept bugging me. It seems obvious now, but it took me 6 months to determine that the only way to chart the sky accurately was to make a circular chart. After an unsuccessful search for a circular pi shawl chart, I ended up building one in Illustrator using a polar grid as a starting point. Eventually the chart was printed out, taped together, and hung on my window so I could refine the design.

Being from the northern hemisphere, Polaris seems like the logical center of the shawl. That ended up being the only easy star to chart. As it turns out, there is no standardization to constellations, so several sources had to be checked for each constellation before adding them to the chart.

The next big job was to make the piece knit-able. A big circular chart is wonderful for graphing, but an absolute nightmare to knit from. I toyed with different ways to keep track of star placement, but settled on placing a stitch marker every 72 stitches. Star positions were refined to make sure there were exactly 72 stitches in between each marker. No marker has to be moved in order to get the star placement correct. Additionally, all increase rounds do not have any stars, which makes the knitting go much smoother. As a bonus, the pattern includes a chart of the constellations so you know exactly what you have knit.


After 18 months of development, I finally was able to knit up the first version. Call it a coincidence or Providence, but right as I was looking into publishing the pattern Twist Collective's mood board landed in my inbox. One of the themes was macrocosmos with an image of stars. The rest is history.
Image by Jane Heller

14 comments :

José said...

I think it is absolutely stunning ! What an incredible job you did !
WOW...

fern1knits said...

I have to say, this is the COOLEST and MOST INTERESTING concept for a knitted design I have ever encountered! I have always been fascinated by astronomy and I love looking at the stars on a clear night (when I was in high school, I bought a package of glow-in-the-dark stars and placed them on my bedroom ceiling so that I could pretend to be stargazing). Wow, just wow!

Pumpkin said...

You have to be a genius, this is such an ambitious concept especially when it comes to technical details. I don't think that many people could pull this kind of thing off and fewer still could do it this amazingly well! I've been looking for a long-term, challenging project to start and I think I've just found it. You are so inspiring!

HK said...

So amazing!! Great job Audry. I'm totally awed on what a big project this was.

Becca said...

This is stunning! What a brilliant idea, and the hard work paid off. I guess those niggly ideas are sometimes the best :) x

kiwiyarns said...

Now you need to do a Southern Hemisphere one... hehe. I don't want to think of how many stitches the outer circle was, but this design certainly is worth it! I'm still in awe.

Sara said...

Beautiful! It reminds me of the Albert Einstein memorial in Washington DC. Have you ever seen it? The base of the memorial is the star sky on the day that the memorial was dedicated - or something like that. I can't find a good picture of the floor - but I hope you've seen it. You'll love it. And it's so fun to go to a memorial that isn't completely mainstream. Sara
https://foursquare.com/v/albert-einstein-memorial/4a4fbc96f964a520a5af1fe3/photos

Gale NoName said...

This is such a beautiful piece.

Hanna said...

Thank you for creating this pattern, I had been looking something starry related myself and you did it! Now I just need to find right yarn!

Nic said...

Un-freakin'-believeable! Well done you.

Alina Sayre said...

YAY Audry! I'm so happy and proud for you. This is a huge milestone in your journey :)

Phlights of Phantasy said...

I think I just died and went to knitter-geek heaven! Thank you Audrey--your pattern takes my breath away!

Lauren Gaecke said...

This is amazing! Is there a pattern I can find on you blog, or buy this from you? I'd really like to try it!

Janine Hummel said...

Your site is awesome, but in your first sentence, you mean "ITS" rather than "IT's"
xo

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