September/October brings change of season, and fresh starts and frivolity and seriousness too. So for a break from whipup realtime I am introducing a few weeks of guest bloggers to liven up your crafty experience. To bring you something fresh, and hopefully invigorate you to make and do and be and think! Its going to be a fun few weeks so come along for the ride.
Today I want to welcome Anna Hrachovec from mochimochiland.com, Anna’s first book of patterns, Knitting Mochimochi, was released in June (we reviewed it). Anna is a Brooklyn-based knitter who divides her time between designing patterns for unusual knitted toys and creating more complex one-off knitted pieces for exhibition. You can find Anna, her patterns, and her blog at mochimochiland.com.
Knitting a Weird World
While most people in the US have been spending their summer days at the beach, or taking trips to the mountains, or just trying to stay cool, I have been wallowing in wool for the past two months. The somewhat foolish decision to spend the hottest time of the year knitting nonstop was entirely my own – I’m in the middle of making an 8-foot installation piece for a solo show (my first!), which will open 7 October at gallery hanahou in New York. And yes, the whole thing will be knitted, give or take a vintage model train. It’s an insane undertaking, and I’m loving it.
The idea started with a vision of a train set. What’s more fun than exploring the detailed landscape lovingly put together by a model train enthusiast? For the past year, I’ve been obsessed with knitting miniature animals, people, and other objects, and it seemed natural to bring a bunch of them together in one scene. The surrounding landscape – mountains, buildings, and the like – would give me the opportunity to try my hand at knitting larger pieces.
With the generous help of Cascade Yarns, I began with the ground layer, which I made by knitting with four balls of thick yarn at a time. I mixed three shades of green to give the color some variation, and I’m planning to display it purl-side up for a fun texture.
I had a general idea of the different elements and scenes that I wanted to incorporate into the landscape, and that has evolved a bit as I’ve progressed. To keep myself from getting bored, I’ve tried to mix it up by sometimes working on a bunch of little things that I know I will want to put somewhere, like trees and cows, while setting deadlines for myself to make the larger pieces that will determine the contours of the entire design.
During the process of knitting, I’ve frequently brought everything out and set it up in position so that I can visualize how it’s taking shape and decide what I need to work on next. I took this photo early on in the process, letting skeins of yarn stand in for future landscape features.
One great thing that has come out of this process so far is the way it has forced me to take risks in my designs and problem-solve in creative ways. The big rainbow that I recently knitted is one example – I only had a vague idea of how I could knit it in strips over foam, so that it would result in a sturdy structure with a smooth surface.
I invested four long days of working on this rainbow, and I didn’t know how it was going to turn out until the very end. (I did a step-by-step post about it on my blog, where you can see the results.)
Other parts have just been fun, like the skyscrapers that I made based on the Shyscrapers pattern in my book Knitting Mochimochi. I started out knowing how to make them, so it was just a matter of choosing colors and making them in varying sizes. It was fun to have them as desk companions for a few days as I was deciding on their placement.
I still have a lot of knitting ahead of me before everything is finished and ready for the public, but I’m feeling good about my progress so far, and lucky to have this opportunity to take on a big crazy project of my own design. If you’re in the NYC area, please join me for the opening on October 7th at gallery hanahou!
Details of the show: Greetings from Mochimochi: a weird world of fun and chaos hand-knitted by Anna Hrachovec : October 7 – 29, 2010 : Opening reception: Thursday, October 7, 7-9 p.m. – RSVP firstname.lastname@example.org : gallery hanahou, 611 Broadway, Suite 730, NYC : www.galleryhanahou.com