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Gasping in Summer Heat? Knit Something Small.

30 August 2011
Tiny Airplane

Tiny Airplane: Much smaller than the one we'll take to England (I hope). Photo copyright and courtesy Mochimochiland.

Well, folks, the Slow Boat to Britain shippers came yesterday, and today the staging company is coming to retrieve the furniture they rented to us. By tonight, I suspect we’ll have brought our Adirondack chairs in from the deck so we can watch television without sitting on the bare floor. We know how to live.  Starting today, folks will be at our house to do some repair work in preparation for the house sale on the 21st. The cat is definitely not going to be happy. But we still have a bed, and a television set, and an internet connection. I even have a couple of P.G. Wodehouse books set aside for moments of true stress. And a leetle bit of yarn in addition to the future giveaway items. So – onward and upward!

It’s late August in DC, when the air feels like melted butter. Even if you’re as knitting-obsessed as I am, you may be feeling the merest hint of resistance to draping something wooly over your lap. This is, of course, the perfect time to knit a hat or a pair of mittens or socks, either for yourself or as early planning for holiday gifts. Or…you could knit 50 life-size bees.

Tiny Christmas Sweater

The amazing thing about this miniature Christmas sweater by Althea Crome is - if it were regular sized, I'd wear it. For how many Christmas sweaters can we actually say that? Photo courtesy

That’s what artist Hannah Haworth did recently. She made the bees to accompany some bee prints she made, which were commissioned by the Union Gallery in Edinburgh for their Plight of the Bumblebee exhibition. How cool is that? Check out photos of the bees on her blog. They’re made of Malabrigo yarn (yum) and she clearly put a huge amount of work into them. Also check out the great white whale she knit for another exhibition – on a completely different scale, and yet just as cool.

I don’t knit small things (or large things), and yet I am a little obsessed with those who do. This started when I heard the 16th Cast-On podcast, way back in 2006, in which Sage Tyrtle was the guest host and talked about her miniature crochet. If you haven’t heard this episode, pop on over and listen to it. Among other things, Sage has a gorgeous, whimsical voice and is a lovely writer. [Plus, she crochets tiny items!]

Claudia Fingering-Weight Hand Painted Yarn

Claudia Fingering-Weight Hand Painted Yarn: Yum.

There are other amazing miniaturists out there: Althea Crome, for one, who knit costumes for the incredible stop-motion animated movie Coraline. She’s been knitting on tiny (like, pin-sized) needles for more than 10 years, and often makes garments with intricate colorwork. She sells patterns and needles, too, if you’re brave enough to try! [I’m not.]

Then there’s Anna Hrachovec (the genius behind Mochimochiland). I think one reason these creations strike a chord in me is that they hearken back to childhood, when it seemed possible that other worlds (smaller ones, like those in The Borrowers or even The Cricket in Times Square) might exist parallel to our own.

Noro Silk Garden

Noro Silk Garden: Two balls that want to be striped together.

Anna’s little Woodins from the long-ago Knitty remind me of times when I thought there might be elves or fairies in the woods; her tiny factory reminds me the whole world is loveable (especially when it’s knitted). Her second book, Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi, just came out; it includes patterns for (among others) a tiny hot dog, tiny chickens, a tiny mailbox…basically, it proves anything can be cute if you make it really small.

Of course, I can’t type about tiny things without putting in another plug that you Knit A Tiny Hat for Innocent Drinks’ The Big Knit. 25p from each hatted drink sold goes to Age Concern UK, which looks after older people in the winter (making sure, among other things, that they stay warm). As I told you in my earlier post, if you make a tiny hat, you’ll get to choose something from my stash! [Or, if you knit that hat after the stash is depleted, I’ll send you a fun little knitters’ care package from Oxford.]

Rowan Calmer

Rowan Calmer: For some peaceful cotton knitting.

Perhaps this is the exhaustion talking, but I might try to knit some nifty tiny items when I get settled in England. After all, I’ll have a lot less yarn, right? Plus, what a stash-buster…no, wait, the stash is depleting…yes, I think it IS the exhaustion.

Anyway, on to the giveaway:

  1. Three skeins Claudia Fingering-Weight Hand Painted Yarn. Pretty, pretty! Think of the tiny airplanes you could make with these colors.
  2. Noro Silk Garden in two colors – crying out to be a striped scarf or hat. Noro’s color combinations always teach me something about color theory – as I stripe with two color-change balls, I’m surprised at different combinations I never would have tried.
  3. Three balls of Rowan Calmer – one in light green and two in ivory. Lovely cottony goodness for those with wool allergies or who just want to knit with something less sheepy.
  4. Two balls of Louisa Harding Grace Silk & Wool in pale pink. Soft and drapey.
Louisa Harding Grace Silk & Wool

Louisa Harding Grace Silk & Wool: Deliciously silky.

The usual information (now found in the handy-dandy Stash Giveaway FAQ!) applies: I will mail via first-class mail, you can donate to shipping using the button in the right column of the blog, yarn frozen before mailing, one-cat non-smoking household, etc. Comment on this post before Saturday, 3 Sept. ’11 at noon EDT: what’s the smallest thing you’ve ever knit, or the largest? Did you see Coraline? Is it still hot where you are, or are things cooling off? Why do you think these little knit items are so appealing?

22 Comments leave one →
  1. Imelda Samaniego permalink
    30 August 2011 12:35 pm

    Oh you have Louisa Harding silky goodness! Very nice. Your taste never ceases to amaze me.

  2. Cguard permalink
    30 August 2011 12:40 pm

    Me please for the noro silk garden and I will take the challenge to knit a bottle cap as well. Thanks for the remembrance of the Borrowers – we adored them as children! I don’t know why the fascination with minitures although most children are fascinated by smaller beings (ever seen a kid around a newborn or a kitten?). I am intrigued more with the other end of the spectum extreme knitting seems like the ultimate hoot in the same way those oversized chairs you sit in and become a child again with dangling feet are. cguard (on ravelry)

  3. Eva permalink
    30 August 2011 12:49 pm

    I’m especially fascinated with tiny things with a lot of detail. I just saw the Thorne Miniature Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago, and I was thoroughly amazed. The rooms are elaborate replications of period rooms (Tudor, Louis XV, you name it) that fit in a shoe box. I haven’t knit anything really small, I’m kinda afraid of tiny needles. So, um…, maybe I could get to know them with some Claudia Fingering-Weight Yarn, yes?

  4. Dovile permalink
    30 August 2011 1:04 pm

    I love the tiny Christmas sweater too! I don’t know why small things are so cute.

    I’ve never knit anything smaller than a sock, I think. I’d never dare to try knitting tiny things, I guess. I’m patient, but not that much:)

    Over here in Lithuania, the summer is already gone, it’s no longer hot, not even warm. It’s close to autumn already. There’s no rain yet, but the wind is quite cold.

    The Noro and Louisa Harding yarns look especially nice.

  5. BigAshDog permalink
    30 August 2011 1:21 pm

    That christmas sweater… whoa! My hands ache just looking at it. And I thought I hated seaming and weaving ends on my worsted and fingering weight projects… Even if I had the patience to knit it, the thing would languish in it’s project bag waiting for me to get up the energy to do the finishing!!!

    The smallest thing I’ve knit was a Tiny Turtle for my sister’s newborn baby – or more specifically, the turtle’s four feet. They were so small I didn’t use any extra stuffing just stuffed them with the leader and used the tail to sew it on to the body.

  6. 30 August 2011 1:30 pm

    There aren’t any children in my immediate or extended circle of friends and family, so I’ve never felt the urge to knit anything toylike or non-utilitarian. I guess it might be a guy thing, but that’s a dubious theory at best.

  7. Sara permalink
    30 August 2011 1:57 pm

    Oh no, you’ve reminded me of my occasional obsession with small knitted creations! I keep seeing all these cat toys and other small projects on Ravelry and, while I’m fascinated, I’m also pretty darn sure I don’t have the patience (or needles that are small enough) to tackle one. Perhaps there is a pattern for tiny knitting for beginners? That I might try…Hmmm, I see a Ravelry search in my near future!

  8. 30 August 2011 2:49 pm

    Oh, I kind of have a thing about Rowan Calmer – I don’t know why. My LYS keeps going out of stock and I buy it at deep discount (mainly the only way I buy yarn) and so I’ve become sort of attached to it – I like how it knits up! But really, I’d be ecstatic about any of them – obviously. I am still stunned at how much free destashing you are doing, it is so generous.

    Everybody’s been talking about these mochimochis lately (is that a correct usage of the word?). I have to say that I think they are cute as pie. I knit a lot of toys, animals and monsters – but never anything that SMALL. It seems like there would be a lot of squinting involved? I have always wanted to try the tiny turtle that one of the earlier commenters mentioned, though. 🙂 I have a very, very, very, VERY long queue. 🙂

  9. 30 August 2011 3:38 pm

    I enjoyed Coraline immensely, the button eyes creeped me out like they were supposed to. I kinda like the thought of knitting in miniature and will one day give it a go.

  10. 30 August 2011 3:58 pm

    I knit a couple of small hearts, smaller than the inside of my palm, to give to a couple of my students as they moved up to the next grade when I was a preschool teacher. They were so very cute but I generally don’t have the urge to knit in miniature.

  11. Gwendolyn permalink
    30 August 2011 4:28 pm

    I haven’t knitted anything peticularly small or large. I think it is still hot here, and I dont expect it to cool any until the end of September. For me the little knit items are appealying as I have a daughter and another on the way, so they would be really cheap toys for those little imaginations.

  12. Krystal permalink
    30 August 2011 7:38 pm

    I first saw miniature knitting in Coraline, so I was excited to see you reference the knitter here. I was somewhat fascinated by the tiny knitting, but have never been tempted to try. I’m a very functional knitter – even if what I’m knitting is very pretty, it has to have a purpose. I am a little too afraid of turning into a hoarder (not just a yarn hoarder) to knit tiny knick-knacky things that are not wearable.
    Also, the colours in the Claudia yarn are super scrumptious!

  13. Robin permalink
    30 August 2011 9:30 pm

    I’ve never knit anything smaller than some 2-3 inch hearts which became even smaller when felted. Don’t really have a feel for more things hanging around (except for yarn & books of course!)
    The weather is a little cooler but its expected to get back into the 90s in a day or 2 so summer is not quite over yet – love the Claudia & Noro yarns – keep up the fantastic work Kathleen! You rock!

  14. 30 August 2011 10:39 pm

    that is by far the best christmas sweater ever..big or small..the scene on it is much better then the reindeer i usually see 🙂 i really want the new mochimochiland book! i love how imaginative her designs are..the fried eggs floored me! the weather in ny is cooling off..which is weird it was like on day it was blazing hot and then the next night i have to close my windows and get my blankets out..i always feel sad when the summer ends..but the fall is around the corner and i just love fall knits! the colors of the claudia fingering is perfect for fall!

  15. Patrizia permalink
    31 August 2011 3:14 am

    I love miniature knitting but the only thing I did was : an owl. It was filled with lavender twigs and with a couple of buttons as eyes was ready for the recipient. Next project will be a cactus for a cactus lover. I do not know if you ship abroad but I’m entering your great giveaways. All your yarn is great but I’m tempted by Claudia Handpainted Fingering Yarn.
    Thank you

  16. Jan Hatwell (widgmo) permalink
    31 August 2011 3:29 am

    Dear Kathleen, I am so excited that you are coming to England! In what area will you be settling? Why are you coming (other than to cheer us up)? I am a long time expat here (32 years, originally from MA) and I love it. Will be looking out for your arrival. Jan xx

  17. 31 August 2011 4:20 am

    Ohhhh…. that Coraline sweater video… the bees…. and that whale! Wow! The smallest thing I have intentially made was a Mochimochi bunny at Easter this year. A perfect project for an afternoon catch up with me knitting peeps on a super warm spring afternoon. My first attempt at a baby bootie, when I’d just started knitting and my tension was up there with ‘hanging on for grim death’, might, just might, have been big enough for a preemie baby. *sigh* I have since relaxed…
    With some of your stuff on the slow boat now, it must make departure day feel that much more real and/or closer… There is nothing quite like having to camp out in your own home, especially when you’re surrounded by a sea of boxes. Hope all the repairs etc and those last loose ends are easy enough to tidy up. Even though you know some things will take longer, it can be surprising how long they do take sometimes…
    Love the look of that Claudia Fingering, and the Louise Harding yarns. Thank you so much for all these opportunities for such lovely yarns…

  18. 31 August 2011 10:23 am

    I have made little Bears and Bunnies for my little boy, I have some of their pictures on my blog from a while back. He about yanks them off the needles. Although, his lastest obsession with my knitting is fingerless gloves. I have made several pairs lately and he insisted on a pair for himelf. So, he now has a set in denim coloured rag yarn. I have to get on the ball and put up a few more posts with my completed projects. Like I said, we are actually both obsessed with mittens and gloves. Small, fast and fun!! You are right, there is no way that I want to have a giant wad off wool piled in my lap when it is 110F. My brother turns fifty in November and i would like to do a throw for him in something organic, but can’t bring myself to do it right now.

    Take care and God’s speed.

  19. 1 September 2011 10:47 am

    The smallest thing I’ve ever knit is a miniature mitten – not one that was intended to be useful, but one that was intended to introduce me to a few new techniques. I don’t know enough kids to have tried knitting toys.

  20. Lynda permalink
    2 September 2011 6:58 pm

    Love the tiny hats! Will definitely start making some!

    • Kathleen permalink*
      2 September 2011 7:30 pm

      Hurrah! Send photos if you finish one – would love to see! 🙂

  21. Teresa permalink
    3 September 2011 1:09 am

    The smallest thing that I have knit so far is a baby sock, and the largest is what I am currently working on, a bolero. I have not seen the movie Coraline. Where I live It has been a HOT summer, but now that it’s getting closer to fall the temperature is starting to cool down a bit. These yarns are very appealing to me because I am ADDICTED to yarn and get very excited at the mention of any new yarn acquisition 🙂

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