Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Coraline is a high-definition 3D animated feature. Director Henry Selick employs old-fashioned stop-motion animation enhanced by computers to create state-of-the-art 3D effects. For the last three years the most talented animators and puppet makers in the world have been making Coraline.

Althea Crome, a miniature knitter, made the clothes for the film at a ridiculously tiny scale...

"She said that they had always wanted miniature knitting for their movies but never had anyone who could knit at that scale. She and Georgina Haynes (puppet fabrication supervisor) decided to do a Google search and they came across my website. They said that because the plot of the story had a mystical quality, they were looking for knitting which felt “magical” and they really felt that my designs fitted the bill.

She asked if I was interested in doing commissions. At the time, I was so overwhelmed with trying to raise four children on my own and figure out how to make a living, that I wasn’t sure I could take on commission work, but I asked Shere to send me a follow up email, which, thankfully, she did.

I recognised soon enough that this was a really special project and that I would be a fool to turn it down. I simply HAD to find the time to fit it in. The first request from the studio was to knit a pair of black and white striped stockings for Coraline. Henry Selick loved them and even said they were “scary good” but in the end they decided not to use them in the movie.

Instead, they told me about the magical star sweater they needed - it would have to sparkle. I went on a tireless thread quest for about a month - finding everything from stainless steel thread to paintable sparkles and then set about knitting swatches and sending them to Laika. None of them looked right on screen and because of a time issue, it was looking like my hopes of making something for this wonderful project were fading. In fact, at one point, they told me that they were going to have to start shooting soon and would not be able to wait for me to find the right combo of threads.

Soon after that email my mom came over with some holographic thread and said, “Althea, I really think this will work on the sweater for Coraline.” I combined the holographic thread with some Polyester sewing thread and sent off several more swatches to the Coraline people. Eureka! That was the ticket and at the 11th hour Henry decided to have me go ahead and knit up the first star sweater for Coraline.

At that point, the studio sent me a Coraline body to fit the sweater on to and a drawing of what they wanted the sweater to look like. I designed a pattern that would fit the willowy Coraline and it took about two weeks to knit the sweater. I was delighted when I got the thumbs up from the studio and over the next couple of years I made a total of 14 identical sweaters for Coraline.

I was also thrilled to learn that they would need a pair of gloves for Coraline because gloves are my favorite thing to knit - they are so intricate and personal and somehow very intimate. Knitting gloves in 1/12 scale was what got me noticed in the miniature world because up until I started knitting them, miniature collectors had never had true 1/12 scale knitted gloves.

I have been an avid knitter since my college days and thought I could do at least as well as I had seen online. That very night I made a man’s cardigan with 0 needles and baby weight yarn. It was bulky and clumsy but it was an instant thrill. I felt at once that I had to do more. I still have that first project and enjoy pulling it out from time to time to look at it and see how far I’ve come. That sweater is made at about 11 stitches per inch whereas the sweaters I make now often have more than 50 stitches per inch.

Her site

Watch her knit...( I can't believe I just wrote that)...(2;01)

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