Before I begin to write about the new project, the Art Bears and their day at the museum, I have to check on all the Bears waiting to be shipped to Minneapolis. I get very excited when an interesting theme floats around in my brain, and I tend to forget about prior work. Anyway, here are four more Bears, two couples who need to be presented.
Couple 1 - Jamaica and Kalamu Couple 2 - Langston and Nikki
After knitting six hats for the art bear project I was asked if I would post the patterns. Here are two basic hat patterns, one for boy bears and one for girl bears. My bears seem to be on the large side so you might want to adjust the number of stitches. There are many ways to embellish these hats. A ribbon. A flower. Striping. A pompom.
Beanie for Mother Bear (boy)
I use #6 DPNs and Worsted weight yarn Cast on 35. Join (I sometimes knit one, purl one, for a few rounds) Rounds 1 to 17 - knit Round 18 - Knit 3, knit 2 together. Repeat all the way around. (28) Rounds 19, 20, 21 - knit Round 22 - Knit 2, knit 2 together. Repeat all the way around, (21) Rounds 23 and 24 - Knit Round 25 - Knit 1, knit 2 together. Repeat all the way around. (14) Round 26 - knit Round 27 - Knit 2 together all the way around. (7) Gather the remaining stitches with an embroidery needle and pull thread tight and secure
If I make a pompom I tie it to the loose end very tightly with several knots - from the inside.
(this is more rounded than the boy’s beanie at the top) Cast on 35 - Join Rounds 1 to 17 - knit Round 18 - Knit 3, knit 2 together. Repeat all the way around. (28) Rounds 19 - knit Round 20 - Knit 2, knit 2 together. Repeat all the way around, (21) Rounds 21 - Knit Round 22- Knit 1, knit 2 together. Repeat all the way around. (14) Round 23 - knit Round 24 - Knit 2 together all the way around. (7) Gather the remaining stitches with an embroidery needle and pull thread tight and secure.
Crochet Brim Round 1 - Single crochet into 35 stitches around edge of knitted hat. Place marker. Round 2 - Single crochet in first two single crochet. Two single crochet in next single crochet. Repeat all around. Round 3 – Single crochet in each single crochet all around. Round 4 = Single crochet in first three single crochet. Two single crochet in next single crochet. Repeat all around. Round 5 – Single crochet in each single crochet all the way around.
For a rolled edge (no brim) I knit 20 rounds instead of 17 and roll the first three rounds up.
Art is seen - Art is experienced - Art is recreated in a different form
I woke up with the word ekphrasis stamped onto my mind. Once I was fully awake I realized that the upcoming challenge fits nicely with this word. In March the Mother Bear Project group will knit and crochet "art bears," bears that are somehow connected to art. Muses, maybe? Artists? Interpretations of paintings? Sculptures? Music? For days I have been gazing at online paintings, have scanned books about some of my favorite painters, Gauguin, van Gogh, Franz Marc, Walter (and Margaret) Keane, Chagall, Picasso, Anselm Kiefer, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Monet, Manet, Degas, Georgia O'Keeffe, Frida Kahlo. I have looked at colors, lines, shapes, and themes. I have selected the first six paintings to be used in the project. And I have knitted six little hats that demonstrate how I see them.
It is easy to interpret Paul Gauguin; his colors are pure; his subjects are females, they look secure in their environment. It seems a bear could just wear a bright, hot pink dress to make Gauguin happy. It gets more difficult with Pollock. His paintings strike me as loose ends spilled on a canvas, stirred and frozen in time. Well, clearly, a bear cannot be imagined consisting of loose ends. He needs to be knitted into a coherent pattern and he needs to be molded into the formula that made Pollock successful. And the lines must be more than the straight lines of knit and purl. What about Franz Marc? His colors are as bright as Gauguin’s. He painted animals. He painted the Blue Horse. Maybe all I have to do is to twist primary colors into shape. But then I remember how short his time on earth was, how war took him away and confined him to greys and lingering darkness spreading across the sky. I suddenly see the snowy winter morning that brought me to Kochel and the graveyard where Franz Marc and his wife lie side by side. Then there is Marc Chagall! A canvas dipped in shades of blue. A red sun with a white halo. But, the soul is, as it usually is, in the detail - little spots of color, bunched together like tiny spring flowers - faces peeking in from the blue universe – a looming torso – and the city of Paris below. Of course Anselm Kiefer is muted in his colors, a vast streamlined mass of brown, little pink and light blue flecks of life and light, red accents, dullish cream, long, narrow converging lines. I didn’t know Anselm Kiefer in my early life, though he lived close to my home town. He is still a stranger to me, even after I have stood in a museum in front of his larger than life paintings for long periods of time. My favorite for this project, at this moment, is Monet. He has already been recreated in a little girl's mind. I am speaking of the book "Linnea in Monet's Garden." I have, once before, dressed a doll like Linnea and think I will use her image again, except that I will add Monet's watery greens and blues by giving her some of his flowers. It is a delight to knit her brimmed hat – it is more colorful than the original - and to add a few strands of black hair. Linnea takes away my need to speak to Monet. Speak about him. She seems to know him well enough. If I find time I will have to interpret Vincent. I really think my project would not be complete without Vincent van Gogh. It was only two years ago that I got lost in his starry night. That I romped through his wheat fields and sang "Sur le pont d'Avignon. There must be at least one sunflower left in my repertoire. And if I explore van Gogh I must not forget Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Simply because he was ahead of his time. Or because I met his art in Vienna? Or, maybe, because he was a wild man? I wonder what Regentag would look like in bear format. Would it be Dunkelbunt? If there is time I should also knit bears to honor my favorite ladies, Georgia O'Keefe and Frida Kahlo. Georgia, forever stamped into the red earth of the Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico. And Diego's woman, Frida, the bearer of too many crosses.
Am I getting carried away again in my fantasies? In reality there will probably not be time for more than six art bears in March. I should make a list of things I can cancel to allow for more knitting time. Things like vacuum cleaning. Pulling weeds. Folding laundry.
Next Tuesday they will come With spikes and chains and saws, And corporate authority. They will behead you, Slice away your shriveled limbs, Guide your trunk Into the empty spot Between my house and shed. They will shred your branches Into new, sustainable adventures, Sweep and blow away from me Your familiar, scented needles.
You were a seedling when I saw you first, Almost thirty years ago. You grew bold and tall and spread your wings. You shaded friends and teddy bears, Entertained feral cats, raccoons, and skunks, Allowed squirrels to roam freely, In joyful leaps and calculated chase. Your crown was the kingdom of the mockingbird. And when all was quiet On sunny Sunday afternoons, I watched my mother floating past you. She wore a purple gown.
But in recent months You turned sullen - pale and brittle; You missed the rain. Or, maybe, you were just done with tree life. I am afraid of you, The way one is afraid of lovers Whose souls refuse us harmony. I no longer seek my bed When dry winds storm. They make you sway in desperation. Tschüss dear pine tree on the hill behind my house; I hope they chip you into happy little pieces.
Lately I have been too busy to write details about the Bears, but I have knitted almost every day. So here are the pictures, from Bear 333 on.... In January of 2015 I began another alphabetical group of Bears, all to be named after African American writers. I also received a Box of Beautiful Bear Yarn from a dear friend and will probably be able to knit around 50 Bears with it. That should keep me busy. I have named this the BoBBY Project.
It has been a wonderful year, filled with dolls and teddy bears. And my all-time favorite, the one that truly put me into the Christmas mood is Frances. Francis the Surprise Knit-Along snowman turned out to be Frances the snow elf. Deena Thomson-Menard, the designer extraordinaire, really surprised us this time. Once I finished her I took Frances everywhere, to Christmas in the Park, to coffee shops, even to the movie. I had planned to give her away if I found somebody who really wanted her. Well, that didn't work out; I found all sorts of excuses to keep her. She is my little mascot, at least for now. Merry Christmas Frances!
Knitting has been very meaningful so far this month. My daughter gave me an Advent candle which I light every evening for about fifteen minutes, and while I "gaze" into the light I reflect on the day's news, activities, and impressions. This keeps me from reacting to the stress that the holidays usually add. Of course knitting further deactivates negativity. How can I be stressed while creating a happy monkey? The pattern is Annita Wilschut's, available on Ravelry. I added a red skirt and Santa hat to make it a little girl monkey. As can be seen from the photo, I finished her on December 6.
I wasn't going to participate in my Ravelry group's Knit Along for December, but couldn't resist once I saw all the wonderful snowmen that were being knitted. On the 8th I began mine and have been blissfully happy seeing him grow. Well, actually, by clue four it became evident that he would be a she. Deena Thompson Menard revealed that Francis would be Frances as she added a dress.
In between clues, on December 11 I started another project. Many years ago my ex-husband had given me a gingerbread doll and I always thought that she evoked the best Christmas spirit in me. She reminds me of my early childhood and I can almost smell the Lebkuchen, the ginger bread, when I look at her.
Ginger is getting on in years and so I decided to clone her. The skirt was the hardest to reproduce; plaid requires much attention. I decided to make all parts from yarn in case Ginger II became friends with a little girl. Therefore the buttons are crocheted and embroidered.
Monkey girl and Ginger are finished; Frances is waiting for the last clue. Speculation is that she might get a hat and scarf. While I wait I am working on a rather bulky present for my daughter. For obvious reasons this project will not be revealed in pictures today.
The Advent candle has brought light and reflection into my living room and into my heart and I am grateful for the many hours of knitting that have resulted.
I wish all my friends a very Happy Holiday Season and a Prosperous New Year!