The following are some slap dash directions for making a tiny sweater to go along with your big one. I myself needed to do this because I'm in the process of making a tiny human to go along with my big one :)
Just as a reminder, back in November I finished an epic sweater for my husband, and to commemorate the effort, we are posting daily pictures of his adventures with his sweater at http://ebenandthebear.tumblr.com/. Making a little version of the sweater seemed like a perfect way to welcome our expected little one.
I knew I didn't want to design the whole sweater from the ground up, so to start with, my first task was to find a sweater that matched the general shape of the original sweater, and had the same sort of fabric properties, in this case, stranded color work, so that I knew it would adapt smoothly.
I found these two likely candidates:
Each of these little sweaters is knit with stranded color changes, and has a general ski sweater vibe. I went with the red sweater on the right because it is knit in a lighter weight DK yarn, and thus the stitches are a bit smaller, and so I would have more stitches to work with in developing my baby bear graph for the front. I went through the pattern counting rows and inches to figure out how many rows tall the design area would be.
With pattern decided upon, and general stitch area to be filled known, I just needed a cute little bear graph with which to fill it. In the past when I needed to alter a graph, or create a graph from scratch for a knitting project, I just used trusty graph paper and a pencil, and then went over it with pen when I was satisfied. As anyone who has tried to design their own graphs for knitting has found that knit stitches are not square. Depending on your design, you might get an awkward surprise (like a short fat owl instead of a cute little round one, an issue I encountered several years ago) because you mapped out a perfect circle on square graph paper, and knit stitches are wider than they are tall. Enter knitting graph paper, which is made up of rectangles. Happily, there are a lot of places on line where you can print off single sheets of knitting graph paper. So, I printed off a few sheets, ready for a night of erasing.
A great/frustrating thing about the internet is that new things are popping up there every day, and you have to find them for yourself! I'm not sure why I searched or what I searched, but I found a website, Tricksy Knitter, that will let you plan out color charts for knitting, for free! It is a very easy to learn interface, and I'm so excited to have found it because it made this task, which is tricky at best, a bit easier.
As with the sweater pattern itself, I don't believe in re-inventing the wheel, and so my next step was to look around the internet and see if I could find a graph for a baby polar bear. At the very least, I figured, if I couldn't find one that worked perfectly, I could find something I could scale down. Well, color me shocked, I couldn't! I found plenty of cross stitch patterns, for example, that were great, but they just didn't translate into the medium I was using. I also found several graphs for baby polar bears that my husband dismissed as "too koala like."
Here is an early attempt that does, in fact, look like a koala on all fours.
Okay, that was a no go. I had done image search after image search, and I found plenty of photos that I liked (try image searching baby polar bears, it is pretty much wall to wall white fluff.) I queried my somewhat more technologically advanced husband, couldn't some program pixilate a photo enough to give me the shape I wanted? Couldn't it extend the back end of this photo a bit? Obviously there was no program that was just going to magic up what I wanted, but maybe my rudimentary photo shopping skills could come into play. I selected the best photo for my purposes, and opened it in a free online photo editor, a Photoshop lite, called Sumopaint. Maybe if I could get a grid pattern over the photo? But actually something much better happened. I traced the photo with thick lines, making the alterations I wanted, and only tracing the parts that were most necessary to make the image make sense. Then I could remove the layer with the actual photo, and just have a line drawing. Then, in my knitting graph program, I could redraw the same general shape freehand, and make alterations to my heart's content, but know that I liked what the base shape was.
A lot of alterations ensued,
Yay, a basic baby bear! As you can see in the final graphs, a few more tweaks were made. I realized I had been drawing the graph as a negative image, when what I wanted was a white bear, so I went through and changed it all around. My husband had the inspiration for half circle eyes instead of dots, which turned out to be infinitely cuter. All in all we are talking about a 4 hours process from start to finish, but I'm so pleased with the result:
I went ahead and extended the graph to be the whole front, so that I could fill in the rest of the area in a way that would mimic the original sweater in a scaled down way. After that it was all done but the knitting. Or so I thought.
Well, the knitting, and a lot of ends to weave in due to some thoughtless designing on my part, but it only took an afternoon watching friends garden to get the job done and I'll know better next time.
I feel as pleased and satisfied by this project as the little bear cub looks :)