Friday, May 15, 2009

toy hermit

There's a reason why I always knit in the round. And it is not because I particularly care for double-pointed needles. In fact, I find double-pointeds somewhat awkward to knit with, particularly considering I have to take care that I don't leave a gap in stitches between the needles. On the other hand, not knitting in the round would be far worse. As you know, I find finishing projects to be the least pleasant part of knitting. Which is why I avoid seams at all cost. At all cost! And it has occurred to me at certain points in my knitting career that I not only find seaming projects to be un-enjoyable, but I don't find that I am particularly good at it either. It is also likely that each of these observations explains the other.

As I was finishing up my hermit crab this morning, I was thinking to myself that there must be a better way to do this. I am sure that there is a way to piece this all together that is a bit more systematic. And maybe a way that makes it look a little cleaner. Did you notice that I-cord around the circumference of the shell? That's something I added. A little aesthetic addition? Well, yes. But it's mostly to hide the botched job I did of stitching on the hermit's head.

It seems to me that with knitted toys, it is particularly important to get the finishing done well. It is partly this finishing that gives the toy its character--the position of a certain appendage or the stitches on the face can completely change the character of the toy. And particularly with this pattern, because it is so brilliant, I want to do it justice.

On the other extreme, I was at a store earlier this month, where they were selling a number of hand-knit toys. It looked like the wool was unevenly hand-spun, and the entire toy smelled delightfully of lanolin. But the best part about these toys was that they were roughly pieced together. It wasn't the precision that made them stand out. It was the earthy, rough-hewn imperfection of the projects that made them seem all the more imaginative.

I don't know how this reflects my own knitted hermit crab, but I guess in the end, he didn't turn out too shabby. I did really enjoy making his shell. And I am quite certain that its recipient will love him no matter what--which is probably the best part. But until next week--when I say goodbye to the hermit--this crab is sticking with me, and we are going to have many adventures together.

Happy knitting,

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I've got crab!

Whenever James and I get together with his friends from work, I feel like I am part of a stereotype. Which isn't necessarily bad; it just amuses me how fifties-ish it feels. For example, last evening we went to a friend's house for a cookout. Once everyone had arrived, the guys all went outside to start the grilling. As far as I can tell, their conversation revolved around work and sports and working-out and other "manly"-type things. The wives, on the other hand, all segregated themselves in the living room. Everyone except for me had brought along an infant or a toddler, and our conversation revolved around teething and school and fussy eaters.

I brought my knitting along, to work on a simple project, and the girls told me that once I had kids I wouldn't have time to knit. And I thought to myself, ha! That's what the graduate adviser told me before I started grad school, and look at me now! Knitting away . . .

I took a break this weekend from studying for my oral exam to work on this hermit crab. He's just in pieces right now, but hopefully soon he'll be a real, live, whole hermit crab. A girl in my research group is having her baby any day now, and I thought a knitted toy would be a fun way to celebrate a tiny new person. Hopefully I'll find the time (and patience) to piece him all together before the imminent big day.

Take care,