It will be pretty obvious to you all that this post was written before yesterday’s shameful attempted coup in Washington, D.C. We’re publishing it as scheduled, because writing about knitting is what we do. But our hearts are heavy, and we are deeply angry. The president and his enablers, excusers, and defenders will never be able to erase the stain on their names. At this time, people who love this country must speak plainly and do what we can to protect our democracy and its institutions.
Stay safe, take care of each other, and knit on.
Ann and Kay
I know we’re full-on in our new year, new Kaffe, couch-to-10Kaffes knitalong, but now that holiday gifting time is over (even for those of us who took an incomplete), I have to show off.
Ta-da! I proudly present:
A hamlet of humble houses. For most of them, I followed the chart for Kaffe’s Village Scarf pattern exactly, using leftovers from past Felted Tweed adventures, and then ultimately—inevitably—digging into my Kites Throw Kit for the sidewalk chalk colors in that palette. I couldn’t resist. Don’t postpone joy! Felted Tweed goes a long way, and if it doesn’t go far enough for my Kites, I will lay in reinforcements.
Kaffe’s house chart is so easy to memorize that these were great TV knitting. They are also a great way to tiptoe into the tangle. There are not a lot of colors in each house, so the lengths are short and the tangle is easy to tango.
A note about the Window Dilemma: do I strand those 5 stitches, or do I do them intarsia-style? Stranding is perfectly fine, and saves you some end-weaving. For me and my houses, we do the windows intarsia-style. It just makes more sense in my head that way. I like the flatness of the fabric.
You’ll see a few in there that started from Kaffe’s chart and then went their own way.
For the white and red outbuildings, I was trying to echo Erin Lee Gafill’s paintings of barns at Sea Ranch on the California coast. (Erin is Kaffe’s niece, and his co-author on the amazing book Color Duets. Getting to know Erin’s painting, knitting, and quilting, and her approach to the creative life is another gift from Kaffe.) I was so tickled that the Felted Tweed pattern had perfect “Erin” colors—it must run in the family. It was thrilling to make these. If you know, you know.
I know you’ll want to know how I finished them. I knit each piece with a plain stockinette back, usually just a continuation of the sky color but sometimes in blocks. I wet-blocked them and when they were dry I mattress-stitched the two side seams, leaving an opening at the bottom.
I made little cushion inserts by putting a few spoonfuls of dried lavender flowers into muslin bags, which I folded over to fit inside the houses. Before slipping in the cushion, I stuffed the top corners of the house with snippets of Felted Tweed that I’d saved in a large Bonne Maman jar (as you do).
Note: the lavender smell is super strong. I’m hoping it dies down a little, but in the meantime, I think moths will take their business elsewhere.
Then I sewed the bottom seam, also using mattress stitch, zhuzhed them a little bit, and took their picture before sending them off to new homes. Were they on time for Christmas? Who would ask such a question—I work in retail! (Narrator: She mailed them yesterday.)
Other knitters have had big fun with Kaffe’s little houses from the Village Scarf pattern. Two great examples:
Sue Carney sent me this perfect miniature portrait of my apartment building.
Only a couple dozen stitches wide, yet everything important is there, from the red awning to the yellow bricks. It made me homesick and will always remind me of this time of isolation.
Jen Geigley showed her graphic design chops by making a replica of her flat-roofed midcentury house in Des Moines.
Which nearly set me off making a whole new round of houses. SUCH FUN.
Somebody, please: do an Airstream trailer. I’m begging you. This has to happen.
All this house making brought me back to a pattern I am crazy about: Jake Henzler’s Copenhagen Building Blocks.
Knitters have taken this ingenious, open-ended pattern and made some marvelous city blocks.
Breaking news: At the start of this year, Jake Henzler published Amsterdam Building Blocks.
The architectural features of these blocks are mix-and-matchable, and you can do as many or as few blocks as you like, to make a throw or hanging, a baby blanket, or a cushion.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to use one of Kaffe’s color bundles from Field Guide No. 16 to make a block of Copenhagen or Amsterdam or New York or Savannah houses? I’d love to pay homage to the rowhouses and walk-ups and low-rise elevator buildings of my city. It is taking a lot of willpower not to embark on this quixotic quest right now. I got Kites to knit!