Thursday, June 28, 2007

knitting = hand art

The academic life is only rarely tinged with glamour. But on occasion, even a graduate student will get to jet off to a cool conference. And that's how it came to be that I had a splendid long weekend in Zurich.

In Switzerland, I found things like Swiss people:

And lambs. And garden gnomes.

And even though it was a solid work trip, I did get to wander around the city for most of Saturday. The very first thing I did was track down a gorgeous yarn store called "Hand-Art" on 10 Neumarkt in the old section of Zurich. It was visually stunning, with all the yarn organized by color, floor to ceiling, around one tidy room. I got my heart set on a ruby-hued silk/wool yarn, only to be told rather curtly (ah, cultural differences) that they didn't have any more of it. So no purchases, but it made for a pleasurable hour of browsing. And I had a fascinating conversation with another shopper there (Swiss, but working in Chicago) about the youthful, hip spirit that pervades the US knitting scene and how it has yet to blossom in most European countries.

As for my travel knitting, I dug out a long-abandoned cashmere lace scarf to work on. Although boring, it required very little space in either my bag or my brain. I made some good progress -- here's a glimpse now, and hopefully I'll have it finished and blocked within the week!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hob II

Cue the Tarzan calls! We've got a crazy new Hob here, swinging through the marigolds!!

But it's a nice Hob too. Can be sweet and tranquil too, sitting among the flowers.

Details: I knit up this little fellow with Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran, in a deep, saturated red. It took me a while to figure out the hair -- first I was going to do some beads but was told it might choke the baby it's intended for. Next I tried some black mohair, but it looked kind of devilish! Finally I used a bit of DK merino that I'd dyed with marigolds, and it makes for a fun and colorful creature.

I also managed to finish up the body of the Tuscan terracotta sweater. I fully intend to knit up the sleeves at some point, but I might leave that until the autumn. I think I could get some wear out of it this summer with short sleeves...

Friday, June 08, 2007

third time is the charm

I wanted to create something super special with the yarn that I'd brought back from Tuscany this spring. I'd picked it for the color, to remind me of the warm hues of the roof tiles, stone walls, and painted doors. Fortuitously, it also matches the pansies that are flowering now (aw...)

The yarn is a fingering weight merino with a bouncy spin. I first envisioned a fitted tank with with a deep U neck, bordered by ribbing, to be worn with heavy white bangles and white linen trousers. The second idea was for a more bohemian tank, with no waist shaping and a square, smocked panel underneath a deep, square neck.

I swatched up all kinds of patterns on teeny needles (1's and 2's). And then my sister informed me that, by the way, you could still see through the fabric. Always good to get a reality check from non-knitters, who aren't so blinded by infatuation with the yarn and concept! My design-rich ideas were abandoned, and I started a design-as-you-go, top-down sweater on biggish needles. Mountain Man snapped a few photos of my progress last night.

I know, it's a funny photo. But I kind of liked the energy in it. And I know, it's borderline flashdancy. But knit to the hip, with 3/4 sleeves and rolled edges, I think it'll be just right.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Hello world!

Meet Hob.
I knit this fellow up this weekend, when we were on Cape Cod with Mountain Man's friends. I made it for their sweet, playful 2-year old daughter, who promptly and inexplicably named him "Hob."

The pattern is "Little Sit-sters," from The Natural Knitter. It's a clever and adaptable pattern, which I'll definitely be knitting again and again. It was a simple way to learn double knitting (a very cool technique that I'd love to experiment with for socks and sleeves). And it's an excellent use for leftover bits of yarn. For this one I used some worsted silk/wool yarn that's been in my stash for at least six or seven years and, for wild hair, Fleece Artist mohair.
I was so taken with this pattern and so gleeful about using up this yarn and so excited about the little poseable person that I'd created, that I'd say it made me happier than it made the two year old recipient. Or maybe I just don't know how two year olds show their love. Hob spent the afternoon being thrown around the house - off the bed, off the couch, down the stairs. There were plans for throwing him into the mud puddles, too, but somehow I got the message across that Hob doesn't like to swim!