Illusion Baby Blankets

Over the years Steve has designed several illusion knitting baby blankets. When you look straight at the knitting you only see narrow stripes, in two colours. The image appears when you look from an angle. Illusions are notoriously difficult to photograph. They are much more impressive in real life.

Most of the blankets are designed to be viewed from the bottom. A few are viewed from the side. You cannot simply knit the design in the opposite direction. It has to be designed with the finished view in mind.

The blankets measure approximately 80 cm x 100 cm (32” x 40”), when made with DK yarn and use less than 600 grams in each of the two colours.

Click any of the links for more photos or to buy the pattern.

Menger & Sierpinski

This is a Menger Sponge. It is made from plastic canvas.

A Menger Sponge is a 3D fractal. It is named after Karl Menger. The basic idea is that you take a cube and remove a square tunnel from the centre, in all three directions; then you remove a square tunnel, in all directions, from the cubes you have left. Theoretically you can keep on doing this to infinity. The volume gets increasingly small; the surface area gets increasingly large.

In 2014 Steve, Ben and I were involved with the MegaMenger project, which used business card-size pieces to make small cubes which were joined together to make various levels of sponge. If you want to know the details go to the web site where you will find information from round the world.

At the time I decided to make a small pastic canvas version. It proved to be very challenging. I could not make a complete face in one piece because of the complications of what happened on the inside. There are 20 cubes in the finished sponge and each of those has a cross-shaped piece inside to form the smallest holes. Trying to build up a shape that is based on holes is not easy. Joining the cubes together is also tricky when some parts need to be joined inside. There are 120 6 cm squares and 480 2 cm squares and the whole thing is much heavier than you might imagine.

One advantage of plastic canvas is that it is easy to use different colours on different faces. The colours effectively show where the various holes are.

The card version was made as part of the Science Festival at the Manchester Science and Industry Museum. It was made from specially printed cards. Some of the ‘holes’ are not really holes. They are printed on the cards. As you can see in this construction photo, interior faces which could not be seen, were left blank.

One large cube was assembled in Manchester. Others were made in various parts of the world but, of course, they could never meet to form the next size cube.

The reason that this has come into my mind again now, some six years later, is that, a few weeks ago, Ben and I were having a conversation with Katie Steckles at an online Maths event and she had been thinking about trying to knit a poncho inspired by the Menger sponge (Katie was one of the Megamenger organisers and can be seen in the photo.)

What Katie was wanting to knit was something like one face of the cube. Confusingly, the 2D (flat) version is called a Sierpinski carpet although many people are more familiar with this term referring to triangles with triangular holes.

She had bought yarn, in several colours, but was unsure about how to knit square holes. At the time we tried to explain in words and I started to create a diagram labelled ‘cut the yarn here’, ‘join here’, etc. Ben took a more practical approach and started to knit a miniature version. A poncho can be worn with a straight edge at the front or a point hanging down. Similarly it can be knitted horizontally or diagonally. Ben opted for the diagonal method and created the small pink version there and then. Because Katie had been talking about multiple colours he then went on to a multi-coloured version though I don’t think this was what Katie had in mind.

This is what he said about it himself:
A third order Sierpinski Carpet knit diagonally in garter stitch.

It is made up of 74 pieces, using oddments of yarn.
It does not require any sewing, picking up of stitches or transferring stitches between needles. Only one ball of yarn is attached at any time so there is no problem with multiple strands getting tangled.

Each piece starts with a front-side knit row, which is why on the bottom-most row of each piece there is a clean change from the previous colour. Each piece ends with a front-side knit row and the next colour takes over from it on the back side, which is why on the top-most row of each piece there is a messy change to the next colour.

It soon becomes obvious that the holes will be a problem in a poncho. The biggest hole is always one third of the height and width of the finished piece.

This little fat penguin has a very wide head and neck and is as wide as he is high. The poncho fits over his head but would probably slide down on a human shape. Some of the other holes are also very big.

A small poncho 90 cm wide would have a neck hole 30 cm wide. The next size holes would be 10 cm which is big enough to accidentally put your arm through.

We also have a Menger sponge which we were given by an acquaintance who goes by the delightful name of Threedy Printers. You will probably be surprised by the result when you slice a Menger sponge diagonally. You will find several interesting photos on the Threedy Printers web site.

In 2017 Sam Hartburn won first prize in the cake competition at a Maths event, for her dissected Menger sponge – and it tasted good.

And here is an illusion knitting version. When you look at illusion knitting from directly in front you only see narrow stripes. The image appears when you look from the side.

Illusion Art

Knitted illusions are extremely difficult to photograph. When you look straight at the knitting the image disappears and you only see narrow stripes. The image is revealed as you move round and look from different angles.

We have recently updated a lot of our photos. These are probably the best we have ever had but they still do not capture the WOW factor you get in real life.

All of the illusions shown below could be thought of as wall-hangings though they could be used in other ways. Some of them are very large as that is the only way the knitting can show fine details. We usually use DK yarns. Illusions work in any thickness of yarn so using a thinner yarn would make a smaller piece.

Click any of the links below the photos to see more (bigger) photos and information – and to buy the pattern.

Girl with a Pearl Earring

Ravelry
Payhip
LoveCrafts
The Three Graces

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LoveCrafts
Lady with an Ermine

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LoveCrafts
Marilyn à la Warhol

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LoveCrafts
Albert Einstein

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LoveCrafts
Leonardo Self-portrait

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LoveCrafts
Charlie à la Warhol

Ravelry
Is this just fantasy?

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LoveCrafts
Green and Pleasant Land

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Payhip
LoveCrafts
The Great Pyramid

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Payhip
LoveCrafts
A View from The Thames

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Payhip
LoveCrafts
Where in the World

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Payhip
LoveCrafts
Double Vision Squared

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Payhip
LoveCrafts

Squares That Look Round

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Payhip
LoveCrafts
Tiger’s Head

Ravelry
LoveCrafts
Creation of Adam

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LoveCrafts

Home is where the heart is

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LoveCrafts

Squishy Things

A few months ago I started experimenting with trying to create a particular knitted effect, related to illusion knitting. It didn’t work but I accidentally stumbled into something that became quite addictive.

Most Woolly Thoughts patterns are either illusion or geometric. These two patterns aren’t either yet they have a hint of both.

The first is a baby blanket called AVAVA. It got this name because when you look from either end you will see the same design. It looks like a repeated combination of letter A and letter V. What’s more, it looks almost identical on the back.


It is a deliciously textured blanket with gentle undulations which trap the air and make it warm and cosy. It will lay flat when you want it to but when it is tucked round a baby (or as a lap blanket for an adult) it sometimes forms triangular peaks along the lines of raised stitches. Those stitches are not really raised. It is an illusion. There is nothing but straightforward knit and purl stitches.

I made two blankets then moved on to making ‘hats’. These are extremely versatile hats. They have the same lovely squishiness and they are also very stretchy so can be deformed to wear in a variety of ways.

The hat with the star top is my favourite. It is made from 50 grams of any standard DK yarn. It has a little trick so that it can be changed from being a headband, or cowl, and back again ‘at the drop of a hat’.


I love the way the fabric folds itself into pleats. The longer version uses 100 grams of DK yarn and has even more possibilities. It can be a double thickness hat, with or without an extra thick band. Both of these can be used as ponytail hats. It can be a snood or headband. It can also be used as a single thickness with the pleats held together, in a dramatic fashion, by a pin.


The green version starts in exactly the same way as the yellow. It has to be joined along the top so is not as adaptable as the others.


There are two reasons why it is called DECIDE

  • There are many variations so you have to decide how you are going to use it.
  • The word DECIDE is the same when you turn it upside down. So is this hat or cowl. The inside is the same as the outside and it looks the same whether you look at it from the top or the bottom. Turn it any which way and it will always look the same.

Buy the pattern for AVAVA at Ravelry or LoveCrafts
Buy the pattern for DECIDE at Ravelry or LoveCrafts

Patterns in need of new homes

I have been tidying up and have decided that the time has come to get rid of some things we will never want again. It is fairly easy to find new homes for many things but we have accumulated a lot that will only be of interest to collectors and craftspeople. Finding the people who might be looking for them can be quite tricky.

We had a large number of antique/vintage/old knitting and crochet patterns. Some of these have gone to people I knew had specialist interests but a lot still remain.

I have made a page with photographs of many of them and tried to organise them by topic. If you are interested in any of these, contact us via the link at the top of the page.

Click here to view the patterns.

Om

People often ask Steve to design particular illusion charts for them. He almost always says no. It is very time consuming and he always test-knits things himself to make sure they really work. He is always willing to help someone wanting to create their own and their are also tutorials on our web site.

A few weeks ago someone asked for help to create an illusion chart for the Om symbol. She just caught him at a time when he wasn’t designing anything else, and it was small and fairly easy, so he did it himself and we wrote a pattern for it.

llusions are notoriously difficult to photograph. This one shows the effects quite well from several different angles. This is probably because it is small with strongly contrasting colours. It was knitted in crochet cotton but would work in any yarn.

Buy the pattern – Iconic Om Illusion

In other news …

A few months ago I wrote about the eventful start we had to this year. One part of this was about my elderly step-father who moved into a very nice care home on February 15. Within days the home went into lockdown because of a stomach bug. It was just beginning to open up and Covid 19 came along. The home has fared very well and has sent us constant updates.

On June 25 (his 92nd birthday) Arthur fell and bumped his head. It was a very minor fall which didn’t require any treatment. The next day he fell again and had a very painful knee. The doctor came to see him. He was taken to the local hospital where they didn’t find anything seriously wrong though there was concern about why he had fallen twice.

The next day he had developed severe bruising and a lump on the knee so was taken, by ambulance, to another hospital for scans and other tests. They did not find anything wrong and he was provided with a zimmer frame so he could walk more easily. While he was there he was tested positive for Covid 19. He had not had any contact with anyone outside the home and there had never been any positive test on residents or staff at the home. His only contact with the outside world was on the previous day when he had been briefly to the hospital. The time frame seems far too short to be showing any signs of having contracted the virus.

Because of the positive test he had to stay in the hospital for seven days even though he did not need any treatment there. On the sixth day he was tested again, with a negative result. He was sent back to the home but they refused to accept him because the seven days were not up and they had not been notified of the negative result by email or fax. Back to the hospital again in the ambulance. I was kept informed by the home and hospital but, as it was now the weekend, they couldn’t do anything more until Monday. He was finally taken back to the home on Tuesday. Everything was fine. He is still very intelligent and astute but his short-term memory is failing. He wasn’t troubled by what had been happening because he didn’t really remember it.

In February we bought a Portal and this has proved to be a very good thing. He can cope with it much better than he could with a mobile phone. We have only ever had one problem which was when someone had accidentally turned off the power to it. On Tuesday of this week (roughly a month after his return to the home) we spoke to him on the Portal. He looked fit and well and said he was still using the zimmer frame because he felt safer that way.

On Wednesday we got a phone call from the home to say that, in the routine tests, he had again tested positive for Covid 19 and had to be confined to his room for 14 days. This won’t worry him. He is showing absolutely no symptoms. Everything he wants is brought to him and the room has its own wet room and toilet. There have still been no other positive tests at the home so the whole thing is a complete mystery.

Saturday August 8 update – He tested positive again but still absolutely no symptoms.
Wednesday August 12 update – Another negative test.
Monday September 7 update – Another positive test and, because of that, the care home has been closed to visitors until October 6.

The Big Lock-Down Math-Off

In a normal year The Math-Off is a best-of-three, knockout, event that takes place on The Aperiodical website for the whole of July. It usually involves 16 people. The aim is to present bits of fun, or stimulating, maths to entertain, puzzle, or provoke, not the kind of geometry or algebra you might have done in school. In the words of organiser, Christian Lawson-Perfect, The kind of thing that you’d tell a fun maths friend about when you bump into them.

But this year was different. Back in March, Christian had the idea to convert it into The Big Lock-Down Math-Off. It was a much more casual, open-ended affair. Anyone could send in as many pitches as they wanted and, every two days, Christian took two at random from the pile to face each other. Everyone was invited to vote for the bit of maths that made them go ‘Aha!’ the most.

Nobody knew at the start how long the lock-down would go on. It ran from April 11 until June 3, and covered a huge variety of topics. You can still read all the pitches. Click here for the first match.

Running alongside the ‘serious’ Math-Off there was also The Big Lock-Down Math-Off Online Sticker Book 2020, created by Matthew Scroggs, Now, in July, it has taken on a life of its own and is still continuing.

The idea was for people to collect, buy and trade virtual stickers, like the stickers you used to collect as a child. The stickers were all related to the pitches in the Math-Off competition. Matt had done something like this last year but the circumstances were very different then. Everything was planned from the start to fit in with the structure of the competition. This time the Math-Off had no real plan so the sticker book had to be make-it-up-as-it-goes-along. Nobody envisaged that the lock-down would go on for so long. I cannot even begin to imagine how Matt managed to keep one step ahead and keep hundreds of people involved and entertained for over three months (and it is still ongoing).

Everybody was given one pound of imaginary money each day (£i). The money could be spent on buying stickers in the village shop. (The beginning was a long time ago so the details are a bit vague now.) In the earliest days there were 23 stickers to collect and there were a few different villages where you could buy them. You could walk from one village to another but then not walk again until the next day because you were ‘too tired’. Duplicate stickers could be swapped with friends.

As the days went by, more locations were added, there were more stickers to collect and everything started to get more complicated.

The Definition News kept people up-to-date with information about the Π∋∋ Sticker Company. Its reports were written by Liz Windxor. (The sticker book name is a pun on the old Panini sticker books.)

There is a website called Ravelry.com. It is primarily a database for knitters and crocheters but it also has a social media aspect to it. Woolly Thoughts has a very large group of people who are interested in the kind of mathematical knitting we do. In addition to the knitting stuff, we have always used the group to introduce mathematical ideas and events to its varied members. Over the years it has acquired many members who are not knitters and are just there for the Maths. We started a new thread about the Math-Off and the Math-Off Sticker Book. It was kept up-to-date with all the matches, voting, winners, etc. but the ‘serious’ side soon got swamped with posts about stickers. The two topics were separated for the sanity of those who didn’t want to be involved with stickers.

Generation 2 stickers arrived on April 13, taking the number to 79. Ten days later Generation 3 added 32 more stickers. On April 26 Generation 4 stickers were released but the Definition Village News was beginning to report political in-fighting between villages and weaknesses in the sticker company, making it more difficult to obtain some stickers. (The problems with Gen 4 seem to have persisted long after other generations were released.)

As people travelled from one village to another parts of a map were revealed. Different shops were selling different packs of stickers. It soon became obvious that not everyone was seeing the same parts of the map. I decided to start with what I had seen myself and began a rudimentary map and a list of what was available in each village. Other people were then able to add what they had found on their travels.

Expensive bus routes and very expensive train routes started to appear. It began to look as though there was a circular train route running all round Approxfordshire. This proved to be the case. There were seven towns on the circular route and other criss-crossing routes. There were also bicycle routes. A bicycle cost an extortionate amount of money but some people got lucky and found vouchers for them in prize packs of stickers so then it was just a matter of finding a town where you could exchange the voucher for a bicycle. The map was getting very complicated so I delegated the map-making to one person and the ‘shopping page’ to another. These two dedicated workers did their utmost to keep track of all new information and changes.

By mid-May things were changing dramatically. There was an alien invasion when 17 strangers suddenly completed sticker books and took over the leaderboard. This was quickly dispelled. Generation 8 stickers were released, again with political arguments – and a dragon sudddenly appeared. It was even rumoured that a reporter from Corollary City had been eaten. People were afraid to go near the dragon but, thanks to acts of collaboration, it was eventually slain. I do not know whether the nearby town was always going to be called Collaboration Town or whether it was named in honour of the actions.

Around this time the Woolly Thoughts group on Ravelry had a sudden influx of new members. Many of these were directed there by Matt who had been a member himself for a few years. Some people felt it was a bit like cheating to use information that had been collected by others but Matt was happy to point them in our direction. I think it made his task more challenging and he had to work even hard to stay ahead of the hive mind. I guess he regarded this as a good thing. Inevitably, there were a few minor snags and discrepancies but these were all dealt with very quickly. Conversations on Twitter were also ongoing. The Dragon and Liz Windxor, and maybe others, had their own accounts.

Everyone had an avatar on the map that they could customise. Matt made a cross-stitch version of his.

Later in the month Auction Houses and Trade-in Centres started to appear in the cities and there was a Merchant in Collaboration Town who would pay for particular items to be collected and brought to him. There were also travel cards.One of these made all train journeys free. At some point Puzzle Village appeared and, if you were within travelling distance you could go there every day to solve a mathematical puzzle. The puzzle took the same format every day though some were surprisingly tricky.

By the beginning of June we had Generation 10 and the pricing structure for buying stickers was getting more and more complicated. The Final Generation appeared on June 11. We also heard mention of motorised electric bicycles. Nobody knew how to get an electric bike so I tentatively asked, on Twitter, if anyone had any idea what might happen if 20 bicycle vouchers were taken to a city. Would they be traded-in for £0.20i like other stickers or would something else happen. One person thought there was only one way to find out. She gave me a bicycle voucher and several more followed. When I reached a city, there was a notice to say they could be traded for an electric bike.

An electric bike was a wonderful thing. New short cuts suddenly appeared and existing bike routes could be used without getting tired. With a travel card and an electric bike it was possible to go to a large number of places at any time.

Eventually there were 566 stickers and some complicated hurdles to jump to get them all. So far about 20 people have managed to collect all the stickers. Many of them have become so addicted they are still playing and are continuing to acquire money in various ways to pass on to other people.

I made no secret of the fact that I had more than one sticker book though did not originally reveal my other identities. There was nothing in the rules to say you couldn’t have more than one identity so several other people did the same. It was easy to join with different identities by using a different device or different browser.

My second identity was something of a recluse. For a very long time I did not ask to be friends with anyone else and did not ask to swap stickers with anyone but I did accept when people asked me to be friends or to swap. I was surprised how many stickers I acquired this way. After my real self had filled the sticker book, I changed tactics and made more effort to collect stickers. Identity 2 only had 60 friends whereas my real self had 84 (and could have had more).

My third identity didn’t set out with a purpose but after a while a journey opened up which involved taking a very expensive flight so I decided to take it to see what opened up in the foreign country. It was good and bad. The exchange rate was good so it was possible to buy many more stickers but the range of stickers was limited. I had saved up and bought a train travel card before I went on the plane but there was nowhere to travel to in the foreign country. There was no accessible city so the perks of being in a city were lost. In a city batches of 20 surplus stickers could be traded in for money. Cities also had auctions where you could bid for some stickers that were not available any other way. When Identity 2 had nearly filled the book, Identity 3 decided to fly home and used the advantage of having two ‘friends’ with almost complete books to gather enough bicycle vouchers to buy an electric bike. This identity hasn’t finished yet but it shouldn’t take long.

The whole thing has been amazing. I am in awe at Matt’s ability to keep adding new things seamlessly. I feel sure there could not have been such a detailed plan at the start.

At the time of writing there have been 1792 posts on the Ravelry group.

Matthew Scroggs wrote:
As Pat correctly conjectured back in April, I was very much making everything up as it happened this year, and added features as I thought of them and/or felt like adding them. I’ve had a lot of fun watching people react to and engage with all the new features that I’ve added.

Thanks all for playing, it’s been lovely watching you pick your
colourful avatars, react to the Definition Village News, get lost in the forest, and run around the map desperately trying to buy 52,000 playing cards. I hope to be able to catch up with many of you in person soon(probably at Big MathsJam?).

Liz Windxor (Lead reporter at Definition Village News) sent a poem:

Today I swapped my five three four,
For my friend’s sticker five three four,
By magic two more five three four
Appeared, and so now have four.

Creative Crocheter wrote:
My strategy initially for what to buy was to track which generation I needed most (with a focus on obtaining the ones in which my 2 Math-Off matches appeared). I would plot out a route to locations selling those, spending pretty much every cent as soon as I could. I had abysmal luck with the prize packs, so stopped buying them until people started reporting that they were getting hedgehogs and travel cards as prizes. When I’d accumulated enough to buy a travel card, I had enough extra to buy one more prize pack – and won a travel card! So I quit buying prize packs at that point, since others reported that additional travel cards were not swappable.

In terms of swapping strategy, it was pretty easy when everyone had different swaps and I needed a lot. I’d look for those with something I needed who also needed something I had, with a focus on my current generation of interest. Others appeared to care about whether an offered sticker was as “valuable” as one being offered. To me money spent on stickers was a sunk cost, so I only paid attention to their cost when swapping with those who appeared to care. As I got more in each generation, I did try to offer swaps in the same generation, though that was usually not possible.

Once I had the travel card, things picked up, as I could work the puzzle between shopping excursions. I was saving up to buy sufficient bicycle vouchers for an ebike when VERY generous swappers gave me enough stickers to go to Celebration City! Since the reports were that ebikes were cheap there, and that the toll road to get there demanded anything in excess of £4i, I quickly spent down my cash to just under that amount, hustled in and bought the ebike. At that point I needed very few stickers and had a much easier time retrieving the merchant’s requests. So it didn’t take long to accumulate enough to buy a final sticker pack – which had the only one I hadn’t already been generously given in swapping! So now I’m saving up for the expensive final sticker, which I can afford as soon as the merchant pays me for the item I’m carrying (100 copies of Woolly Thoughts).

Lots of sticky notes “died” in the service of tracking what percent I had in each generation and plotting out plans for where to go and what to buy next. FennekLyra’s map was invaluable and being the “shopping page guide” gave me a place to record what I’d be tracking anyway. I can’t imagine how participants like Luna got so much cash and so many stickers so fast without that type of information being shared by others! I hope you’ll get that story.

I never did venture into The Forest, since by the time I was ready to focus on the special number stickers I hadn’t gotten by swap, I had an ebike and the location stickers (thanks to generous and intrepid explorers). Given how much time everything took, I doubt I’d be this close to finishing if I hadn’t taken time off work the last 10 days! I also owe a big debt to some tips on how to get started solving the puzzles. After that, I only had trouble when I miscopied them (the addition and division signs were impossible to tell apart on my screen unless I enlarged the font size a lot) or missed a combination in my table of possibilities (starting from a different point usually got around that).

I’ll be interested to hear others’ approaches and how much the Twitter feed and other collecting of group intelligence played into the meteoric success of the top 4 finishers!

Peter Rowlett wrote:
One of my favourite things that happened was the alien invasion, but how you explain that to anyone who wasn’t playing, I don’t know!

I think mathematically speaking the interesting pricing structures were fun. The price drop auction, the ones where the price was based on how many stickers/swaps you had and the random walk. Some interesting game theory in there.

Sharon wrote:
Can I just say that I initially just joined in out of curiosity and just planned to watch what was going on. However, I found myself looking forward to where I could “travel” to next each day. Pondering things like “Dragons on the road”, “Puzzle Town” and “How can I ever afford a flight?” have been a real diversion from Covid-19 news. I also have great admiration for all the skill and effort people put in to their individual pitches in the Math Off. It has been a pleasure. Love this little community. It is like a little bright light in the dark! Thank you, guys.

Sam Hartburn made this video to celebrate finishing:

Celebration and sadness. Several of the people who have already filled their sticker books are still going round buying up stickers for those who have not yet finished. I think they will be very sad when it all finally comes to an end. It has given a lot of people a lot of pleasure in times where they have wanted something silly, but challenging, to get involved with.

Thank you, Matt, from all of us.

Where did all the fish go?

This question has been asked so many times in the past couple of weeks.

Our house is typical of houses in old mill towns. It is the end of a terrace of six, on a main road. It is less than a mile from the town centre but when this row of houses was built, in 1890, it was out in the countryside and there were only three other houses. It would have been quite an exclusive place to live. In a short space of time many more houses were built, including long terraces of mill workers houses. The wealthy people moved out.

From the back of our house we can look down on the terraces. We can also see the cobbled streets behind them (though can’t get at an angle to get a clear picture). All the old houses have back streets like this one immediately behind our house.

At the front we have a small garden which is mostly taken up by a fish pond. It has been there for over 20 years. It is very close to the house. Fish have lived for varying lengths of time and eventually died from natural causes.

It is a busy road with traffic and pedestrians. Every day lots of people stop to look at the fish. A couple of weeks ago, we got up one morning and all but the very largest fish were gone. At first we thought someone had taken them. After posting on a local Facebook group we heard more and more reports of herons being spotted in the area. We can only assume that, as with many other forms of wildlife, the herons are behaving in a very unusual way during lockdown. They are probably short of food because of the way water is moving in and out of local reservoirs at the moment but they are very brave to come into this environment.

We know how brave they are because last Sunday at about 10 o’clock Steve saw one right outside our window! Fortunately the pond was covered by then and he went hungry,

Immediately after the fish went missing. Steve made a temporary cover. He used things we had lying around but it wasn’t very pretty. We really didn’t want to cover the pond because it would not be so easy to see the fish. We had over 200 messages from people who said they’d enjoyed watching them. These are some of them:

I’ve been walking past this pond and looking at the fish everytime for as long as I can remember (I’m 29) – I hope the issue is resolved & your not deterred from getting more fish!

That’s so sad I have been living in Canada for 10 years but remember your fish so well and they gave me so much pleasure on our daily walks.

For as long as I can remember I’ve always enjoyed walking passed yours and seeing them 🐠🥰
Often wondered why a heron never ate them, always figured it was because one wouldn’t land on a main road?!

We always stop and look at the fish. My autistic daughter gets alot of joy out of looking at them. We only passed by a few days ago.

My girls have loved seeing your fish. Amy is 23 but remembers the ‘fishy house’

My son wanted to feed them everytime we went to the shop when we lived on Claremont street

I see so many people stopping to have a look. All my children have enjoyed watching the fish when we walk past.

We decided we should protect the pond, at least until life, and wildlife, return to normality. We looked at all kinds of options. The one we liked best was a movement-activated water jet that squirts anything that crosses it. This wasn’t a practical option mainly because it had to be permanently attached to a hose and that wasn’t possible. We were also a bit concerned, with it being so close to the house, that it might also drench the postman, or anyone else who came too close.

The second idea was to buy a security camera that not only recorded what it saw but also had a light and noise that were activated by any movement. We ordered one and it was delivered next day. No matter how we tried we could not make it work. It would not connect to our wifi system. Reading some comments we found a few people saying this particular model actually works better on older systems. To their credit, the company we bought from refunded our money within an hour of the courier picking up the return.

Old-fashioned nets were out of the question. A net would be untidy and quite difficult to move whenever the pump filters need cleaning. We had to settle for ‘invisible floating nets’. They are not invisible, they are not nets. They do float on the surface and they should keep the herons at bay.

People are very kind. One of the people who contacted us wanted to give us some of his fish. He had recently moved house and had ‘adopted’ them. There were far too many in his pond and he had been looking for a good home for them. The only problem was that he couldn’t catch them. For three days he, and his wife, tried to get them but the pond was very murky and the more they tried the worse it got. Steve went round to help. Being on opposite sides of the pond dealt with social distancing. He was no more successful.

They gave up and we went out and bought some more. This is the only time I have been out of the house in 12 weeks and I didn’t get out of the car. Steve bought about a dozen very small fish. When he put them in the pond they dashed about all over the place and much to our surprise three golden orfe, that we thought were gone, suddenly swam out from hiding. After the first day none of them have been seen much again. The little ones come out occasionally in the evenings but they are not very adventurous.

The next day another person sent a message to ask if we could rehome her fish. They had grown too big for her tank and she was ‘looking for a good home for them’. A few minutes later she arrive with the two fish in separate ziplock bags. One was very bright orange, the other black. We thought we would probably never see the dark one again but both are very active and are often swimming at the top of the water with the original large fish. A week later the small ones are still very timid and rarely seen. They do not come out to have their photo taken.

Is this just fantasy?

This illusion has probably taken longer to create than any other. It is based on the iconic image from Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody video. In one way the charting was difficult because the faces are in deep shadow and trying to make them appear and disappear in illusion knitting was very challenging. On the other hand there are quite large areas of the canvas that are nothing but black so these parts were easy.

It is always very difficult to photograph illusion knitting and this one is particularly difficult. At first glance you might think these are just black squares. Look directly from in front and you see narrow stripes. When you look from the side the ethereal image appears. Scroll down for a moving image.

Steve designed it before Christmas and started to knit it, using our favourite Stylecraft DK yarn in Graphite and Silver. Then life took over and he knew he wouldn’t be able to finish it for a long time. We pulled it undone and I did it again. It was finished in mid-March. It was even mounted and photographed. We then decided it wasn’t good enough. We usually avoid using black for illusions because it is just too stark but sometimes only black will really do.

Under normal circumstances I would have kept the original and started again but that was going to be tricky during lockdown. As a ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ person I was not going out even before the ‘shielding’ process came into effect. I could have used mail order but that might have taken a long time and I had already decided that now would be a good time to start using up our yarn mountain.

I thought I could probably find enough black, of a different make, but it turned out that I already had enough black Stylecraft. The lighter colour was more of a problem because we had nothing else suitable to give the right effect. I could have done it using 4 ply black with either white, or parchment but neither of these was quite right. The only solution was to pull undone the finished piece and use the silver colour I used before. I knitted one of the faces as a small sample. It seemed to work so I cast on 161 stitches and knitted a few rows.

It is very rare that I start a new project without finishing the old one but I did leave this for a few days to make Don’t Panic. When I picked it up again I knitted six more ridges before I realised that I had not done the edges correctly. I pulled it undone and started again.

The sample, which was Freddie Mercury’s face became a square for a wall-hanging or cushion.

Buy the pattern – Is this just fantasy?
Buy the pattern – Freddie Mercury