Thursday, 15 May 2014

The Dragon Scale Gloves: Attempt 1

I may have mentioned that I was a little bit excited to get my scales in from The Ring Lord a couple of weeks ago and some really soft acrylic yarn to knit them with. Well, I've now had a chance to play with them and I have a gorgeous set of dragon scale gloves to prove it! So without further ado, here's the project!

The Supplies

484 Small Anodised Aluminium Scales
100g King Cole Smooth DK Yarn
1 pair 4mm Straight Knitting Needles
1 Yarn Needle
1 pair Scissors

The scales come in *many* colours but for this set the guy I'm making them for wanted plain grey wool with grey scales that weren't overly shiny, so basically not the mirrored ones. I ordered a bulk load of the frost ones which worked out somewhere in the region of £66 for 1500 scales once I'd factored in postage and the import VAT and the handling fee from Royal Mail. This is much cheaper than anything I've found in the UK even with the massive cost of postage so I'm happy with my bargain.

The yarn may be a note of contention for people who like to knit with real wool and natural materials. I guess you could use bamboo silk or something equally strong but I like the easy availability of acrylic, not to mention the price, the fact that it's machine washable (except if you add scales) and the fact it doesn't irritate my skin, even around my everso delicate neck. It's usually what's used for knitting baby clothes and toys and for a good reason, you can tug at it, get it soggy and generally abuse it without any loss of strength. Perfect for keeping those scales attached!

The Pattern

I bought a pattern for this despite having no intention to pay it much attention, mostly because I have a blog-crush on Sarah from Crafty Mutt and wanted to support her business since she's taught me my new favourite craft. The pattern I got is from her etsy store here where she also sells little kits to make your own scaled gloves so if you're wanting to give it a try without having to import many lots from Canada I highly recommend taking a look. She doesn't pay me for advertising, I just think if you find something you love you should share it and hope that other people find joy in it too.

The pattern is really simple and includes lots of handy tips for knitting with scales and how to make patterns if that's your bag. Any beginner knitter could pick it up so long as they can do a knit stitch, it's basically a rectangle that you sew up the sides to make arm warmers.

I did mention that I wasn't planning to pay much attention to that though, right? I wanted scales to go all the way round the wrist rather than only covering the back of the hand so this is the pattern I wrote

Cast on 30st 
1. Knit two rows
2. Knit 2 *Knit with scale, Knit 1* Repeat everything between the *s to last two stitches (13 scales), Knit 2
3. Knit across
4. Knit 2 *Knit 1, Knit with Scale* Repeat everything between the *s to last two stitches (13 scales), Knit 2
5. Knit across
6. Repeat steps 2-5 until you have 14 rows of scales

7. Knit 16 *Knit 1, Knit with Scale* Repeat to last two stitches (6 scales), knit 2
8. Knit across
9. Knit 16 *Knit with Scale, K1* Repeat to last two stitches (6 scales), knit 2
10. Knit across
11. Repeat steps 7-10 until you have 10 rows of scales.
12. Knit 2 more rows and bind off loosely.

7. Knit 2 *Knit with Scale, K1* Repeat 5 times (6 scales), knit to end
8. Knit across
9. Knit 2 *Knit 1, Knit with Scale* Repeat 5 times (6 scales), knit to end
10. Knit across
11. Repeat steps 7-10 until you have 10 rows of scales.
12. Knit two more rows and bind off loosely.

This leaves you with something that looks like the image on the left which just leaves you with the sewing up.

I used mattress stitch to finish off since I like the invisible seam - if you haven't learnt that stitch yet it's brilliant and I recommend looking it up and using it on all the projects ever! I started at the top edge, stitched til it looked about right then started from the bottom and stitched until I had a decent sized hole for the thumb. 

The pattern leaves you with a small gap up the wrists - this was partly because having scales at the very beginning and very end of a row doesn't work right but it also gave me room to add a feature. I have fairly teeny wrists and this basically meant that while my hands were in the air these gloves fit me pretty well considering I made them for a man with larger hands than me, when I put my hands down by sides they slid down my arm making for a chunky knitted scale bracelet that was less than ideal. So I used a bit of the leftover yarn to lace up the scales in the gap and voila - a much better fit! Eventually I'll find a nice bit of thin ribbon to replace the yarn. 

The Final Product

 All in all I'm maybe 85% happy with these. I want to play with the pattern a bit to stop them sliding down the arm. This will probably involve adding a bit of ribbing before I start adding scales, removing a couple of scales and stitches from the wrist section or maybe attempting some different stitches to see what goes well with scales. Keep your eyes peeled for many scaled swatches next time!