The Chawton Mittens are, I hope, utterly Austen. But they really don’t have to be. Cameos are really trendy these days, whether they feature classic Grecian goddesses or something a little more quirky. There is absolutely nothing saying that you have to knit the Chawton Mittens as designed; you could easily use them as a framework to show off your own allegiances.
Catch the trend…
I’ve been using Pinterest to catalogue some of the cameo-centric ideas that have caught my eye over the past few months. (The images below link to their respective pins, which in turn link to the original source as much as possible…)
Some people have really taken the Jane Austen silhouette and run with it, as in this totally adorable but completely over-the-top tea party (if you’re having a party like this, I’m absolutely inviting myself):
Or there’s this example, where a pair of similarly-traditional silhouettes are used for a very Austen book cover:
But then there are the other cameos… the ones that are quirky, non-traditional, even zany. Some folks have done cameos of their pets, like these cats and dogs:
Spoonflower did a contest for fabric design based on cameos, and some of the submissions there took the idea even further into left field: there were wild animals and even dinosaurs!
Still other people have taken cameos into the (sci fi) future, like this (click through to see a phenomenal collection of papercut characters):
Make it your own!
There are all kinds of tutorials online for how to make your own silhouette — whether you prefer to work digitally or do things the old-fashioned way with a bright light and a sheet, it’s relatively easy to capture the outline of anything you’d like.
Because I’m feeling generous, I’ve stripped down the mitten chart to create a blank graph of just the cells that are inside the cameo, so you can play with your own designs for the interior. Print it out and grab your pencil and eraser, and start doodling.
Chawton Mittens Blank Cameo Graph (PDF download)
Bear in mind as you work that each knit stitch is a V-shape, not a rectangle. That means that slopes that follow the line of the V will look really smooth, but slopes that run counter to it will look jagged. When you’re making a picture out of those little Vs, it’s difficult to capture detail — not only is the picture pixellated, like a grainy image, it’s got this extra complication. Don’t try to include too many details, just focus on one or two aspects of whatever you’re portraying that make it identifiable. (E.g., does your dog cock its head when it looks at you? You may not be able to translate the exact silhouette of its head, but if you capture that angle, the picture will still be YOUR dog.)
The other thing is that the 2-3 stitches around the outside of the chart, especially on the upper half of the cameo, will get pulled into the cabling of the frame. Make sure that you keep a few stitches around the edge of your silhouette so it doesn’t run into the frame.
Apart from that: have fun! Swatch out your design in advance, or put in a lifeline and be willing to frog back to try variations as you work.