Knit Your Comics is back! This month’s Knit Your Comics is a little different, since it’s not so much a knitting pattern as multiple examples of creating a pattern using a chart and customization options. Thatin addition to the difficult nature of the yarn I chose for this projectis why the project difficulty level for this month is rated C for Challenging, especially if you’ve never done stranded knitting before. But there are modifications addressed at the end in order to decrease that back down to D for Doable. In that sense, this month’s Knit Your Comics deviates from the norm, which is fitting, since the comic that inspired this month’s column is Bitch Planet.

Bitch Planet is a consciously and intentionally feminist comic published by Image Comics, a collaboration between Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine De Landro, and consultants. Only five issues have been published so far, with the lastest issue having been released this past week after a publishing delay. My review of Bitch Planet #3 can be found here, and WWAC has published several other articles about various aspects of the comic.  

For those unfamiliar with Bitch Planet, in the series, non-compliant women do not conform to societal expectations of femininity and womanhood. They are deviant, deemed harmful to society, and sent to the prison planet known as “Bitch Planet” for re-education. It is perhaps not surprising that in the nearly nine months since its release, the comic has become a feminist rallying point, and the non-compliant symbol its visual rallying cry.

Bitch Planet Non Compliant logo

Additionally, Kelly Sue DeConnick has also been a supporter of the fabric arts, commissioning a hat inspired by her Captain Marvel comic that I knitted a version of this past December. As a fan of Bitch Planet and Kelly Sue DeConnick, I couldn’t think of a more fitting tribute than to come up with a Bitch Planet inspired knitting pattern of sorts.

Part 1: Yarn Selection

When I was looking at yarn options for this project, I happened across the Darn Good Yarn company, which is another feminist enterprise. Darn Good Yarn takes reclaimed silk saris and waste silk from textile factories and pays women in India and Nepal fair wages to work from home and manufacture the yarn and other products. I’d never used silk yarn before, but I figured in a project like this, since warmth and wash-ability is not of paramount importance, it was worth supporting a good cause, and indulging in silk (SILK!) yarn. I picked two colors of their solid lace weight silk yarn, which is made from waste silk and is fair trade. I picked pink (“Perfect Pink” as sold on the website) and black since I have a particular fondness for those colors, and they work well for a Bitch Planet color scheme, but any complementary combination would work. The shipping was very fast, and at first glance, the yarn was absolutely gorgeous.

darngoodyarn

As I began knitting, I came to discover just how fitting this yarn was for this particular project and how—by utterly frustrating my expectations—knitting this project was an exercise in non-compliance and acceptance. See, when I’d imagined working with silk yarn, I had an expectation that just because it was silk, it would be a yarn that was a joy to work with and would create gorgeous perfect items. That was not reality.

I learned quickly that silk yarn is one of the most difficult yarns to knit with, especially when gauge matters. Silk yarn doesn’t stretch like normal yarn. It’s also slubby, which means that it will have an uneven appearance, which was exacerbated by the fact that it varied in thickness from sockweight to practically thread. It broke at several points when I was winding it, generally where it’d already been broken and retied when it’d been spun. The pink also varied in color, although not quite enough to be called variegated. There’s a distinct odor, probably due to the dyeing process, and it also stained my needles.

On the left--the needles after having finished the project. On the right--a needle I didn't use.

On the left—the needles after having finished the project. On the right—a needle I didn’t use.

The yarn, in essence, is non-compliant.

I considered using a different yarn in order to make my life easier, but the more I thought about it—because of the challenges it presented, because of its imperfections, and because of the strange complaints about silk yarn’s odorit struck me how my preconceived ideas about what silk yarn should be like worked on a symbolic level to represent women and, especially, the expectations about how women should be.

I fought this yarn every step of the way while knitting, but I can’t imagine a more perfect yarn to embody the essence of this comic. Its non-compliant nature represents the non-compliant woman, and to purchase yarn from this company in particular is in its own way a feminist act, because the company supports other women and fair trade labor practices. 

Part 2: The Non-Compliant Chart

This is less a pattern than a chart with multiple examples of patterns using the same chart. There are a few non-compliant charts out there that I’ve seen, which would work for intarsia or duplicate stitch embellishment, but I wanted my pattern to be used in stranded knitting in the round. I was inspired by these Bitch Planet Nail Wraps by Espionage Cosmetics and created this chart using Tricksy Knitter’s chart maker. I made the smallest non-compliant symbol I could create while still making it recognizable as a non-compliant symbol. It’s still pretty big. 

non-compliant1

The chart works over 18 stitches with each letter being worked over 9. I’m also relying on the inherently soft edges of any knitted pattern worked in order to create the illusion of rounded edges for the non-compliant symbol.

The math for projects using this yarn is, unfortunately, pretty locked in to multiples of 18—36 for two repeats, 54 for three repeats, up to 180 for ten repeats.

Even though one letter is worked over 9, the cast on edging options I use for these patterns require an even number of stitches. One and a half repeats ended up with an odd number of stitches—27 stitches, 63 stitches, etc.

One final pattern construction note: when the project goes higher than one row, I alternate the letters to create a tiled pattern.

non-compliant chart

Part 3: A Few Notes on Stranded Knitting and The Patterns

I’d never done actual stranded knitting before this project, and I think that a non-stretchy yarn, while complicating the process, is also a good choice for a first stranded knitting project, because you’re not vulnerable to some of the common problems that come with learning how to do stranded knitting.

This is also the part where I say that how you knit is important when figuring out how to stranded knit. This article from Knitty explains some of the different methods. I knit English, and I let my yarn hang loosely on the right side, so I didn’t have to learn any extra techniques, other than learning how to twist the yarn to create “floats.”

Non-Compliant Wristbands

The pattern fits M/L wrists. For an XS/S modification, see Part 4. The pattern was optimized for silk yarn (non-stretch) with loose gauge. If this is not your yarn or your gauge, adjust accordingly. I use MC for the Main Color and CC for Contrast Color.

Cast on 54 stitches on 3.25 double pointed needles with the color of your choice leaving a very long tail, and join in the round using your preferred method. The tail will be used to handstitch the picot edge after knitting.

Rounds 1-5: Knit.

Round 6: YO, K2Tog

Rounds 7-11: Knit.

Round 12: Begin chart, using MC and CC in the combination of your choice.

Rounds 20-26: Knit.

Round 27: YO, K2Tog

Rounds 28-32: Knit.

Bind off, leaving a long tail.

Handstitch the picot edges.

Weave in ends.

Non-Compliant Fingerless Mitts

Pattern fits M/L hands. For a L/XL modification, see Part 4. The pattern was optimized for silk yarn (non-stretch) with loose gauge. If this is not your yarn or your gauge, adjust accordingly. I use MC for the Main Color and CC for Contrast Color.

Cast on 54 stitches on 3.25 double pointed needles with the color of your choice leaving a very long tail, and join in the round using your preferred method. The tail will be used to handstitch the picot edge after knitting.

Rounds 1-5: Knit.

Round 6: YO, K2Tog

Rounds 7-11: Knit.

First Pattern Repeat:

Begin chart, using MC and CC in the combination of your choice.

Knit around.

Second Pattern Repeat:

Reverse the order of the “N” and the “C” as shown in the second row of the chart.

Work chart.

Knit around.

Third Pattern Repeat: Thumb Gusset Pattern Modification

The chart is worked the same as the first row, except for the first “N” or last “C” is omitted, and the stitches are worked with the MC, carrying the CC while you build the thumb gusset.

Left Hand Thumb Gusset

Round 1: Knit around to last 10 stitches, K2, YO, K6, YO, K2.

Round 2: Work in pattern to last 12 stitches, K2, YO, K8, YO, K2.

Round 3: Work in pattern to last 14 stitches, K2, YO, K10, YO, K2.

Round 4: Work in pattern to last 16 stitches, K2, YO, K12, YO, K2.

Round 5: Work in pattern to last 18 stitches, K2, bind off 14, K2.

Round 6: Work in pattern to last two stitches before bind off. K2, cast on 8 stitches using backwards loop cast on or your preferred method, rejoin in the round.

Round 7: Work in pattern to last 12 stitches, knit remaining stitches with MC.

Round 8: Work in pattern to last 12 stitches, K1, K2Tog, K6, SSK, K1.

Round 9: Work in pattern to last 10 stitches, knit remaining stitches with MC.

Right Hand Thumb Gusset

Round 1: K2, YO, K6, YO, K2, knit around.

Round 2: K2, YO, K8, YO, K2, work the rest of the round in pattern.

Round 3: K2, YO, K10, YO, K2, work the rest of the round in pattern.

Round 4: K2, YO, K12, YO, K2, work the rest of the round in pattern.

Round 5: K2, bind off 14, K2, work the rest of the round in pattern.

Round 6: K2, cast on 8 stitches using backwards loop cast on or your preferred method, rejoin in the round, work the rest of the round in pattern.

Round 7: Knit first 12 stitches with MC, work the rest of the round in pattern.

Round 8: K1, K2Tog, K6, SSK, K1, work the rest of the round in pattern.

Round 9: Knit first 10 stitches with MC, work the rest of the round in pattern.

Fourth Pattern Repeat

Work same as Second Pattern Repeat

Work chart.

Knit around.

Fifth Pattern Repeat

Work same as First Pattern Repeat

Work chart.

Knit around.

Rounds 57-61: Knit around.

Round 62: YO, K2Tog.

Rounds 63-67: Knit around.

Bind off, leaving a long tail.

Handstitch the picot edges

Weave in ends.

Non-Compliant Cowl

Pattern was optimized for silk yarn (non-stretch) with loose gauge. If this is not your yarn or your gauge, adjust accordingly. I use MC for the Main Color and CC for Contrast Color.

Cast on 180 stitches on a 3.25 mm 24″ circular with the color of your choice leaving a very long tail, and join in the round using your preferred method. The tail will be used to handstitch the picot edge after knitting.

Rounds 1-5: Knit.

Round 6: YO, K2Tog

Rounds 7-11: Knit.

First Pattern Repeat

Begin chart, using MC and CC in the combination of your choice.

Knit around.

Second Pattern Repeat

Reverse the order of the “N” and the “C” as shown in the second row of the chart.

Work chart.

Knit around.

Third Pattern Repeat

Work same as First Pattern Repeat

Work chart.

Knit around.

Fourth Pattern Repeat

Work same as Second Pattern Repeat

Work chart.

Knit around.

Rounds 47-51: Knit around.

Round 52: YO, K2Tog.

Rounds 53-57: Knit around.

Bind off, leaving a long tail.

Handstitch the picot edges

Weave in ends.

Part 4: Pattern Modifications

Alternate 1×1 Ribbed Edging and S/XS modification for Wristbands

One of the challenges presented by this yarn was how to size up and size down since in stranded knitting, the number of stitches is fixed. I was also asked to make wristbands for some people with very small wrists, so I purchased this cotton stretch yarn at Michaels in order to size up and size down the pattern.

CottonFair

It’s a DK/light fingering yarn, and I worked it on the same 3.25 mm needles. This yarn is truly a joy to work with! The cotton is smooth but has just a tiny bit of stretch that made the pieces look very precise. It also was unsuitable for the picot edging, so I used a 1×1 rib edging, and the finished pieces look great.

I cast on using the invisible 1×1 rib cast on, then joined in the round. I found this video particularly helpful for the 1×1 cast onI also switched needles three times. First, I cast on using a 3.5 mm circular, then switched to 3.25 mm straight needles to work the back and forth, and then finally switched to 3.25 mm DPNs to work the wristband in the round.

When casting off, I used the invisible 1×1 rib bind off, which I never knew existed prior to this project and it is KNITTING MAGIC. If you’re comfortable with the kitchener stitch for seaming up the toes of socks, this will be easy.

To size down for XS/S  wristbands, you’ll work the pattern over 36 stitches, or two chart repeats. No other modification is necessary.

Wristband

The 1×1 ribbing and thicker yarn also makes for a fantastic slightly larger fingerless mitt. In this example, I also added an extra round between the rows.

Part 5: Final Notes

As with last month’s column, this pattern will also be put up on Ravelry, to be favorited and queued. Thank you to everyone who favorited and queued the Captain America and Winter Soldier inspired doilies!