curiouser and curiouser

Posted on Posted in book reviews/events

my taste in furnishings is a little bipolar. while i love rooms that feel spacious and spare, containing just few pieces of streamlined furniture, i also admit to a penchant for concentrated areas of organized clutter.

these mini museum displays are set up all over my house and so it has been, ever since i can remember—i was one of those kids that constructed alters of bird nests, broken china, and rocks. and shells. and old jewelry.

i nestled cracker jack toys and beads in bits of wool and put them to bed in matchboxes that i secreted away in my pockets or drawers (the layering is so important). i narrated their stories to myself constantly.

and so on. i never met a small box or bottle i didn’t like . . . or a baby shoe.

i see a bunch of you smiling to yourselves out there—you know what i’m talking about.

when i moved to NYC after college, a country mouse making my way to the city life, i discovered there existed a whole new level of detritus beyond my imagination. the things i found on the street, in forgotten corners, or in the trash to make art from were almost limitless in their potential to mix with other things and tell tales.

(i know—that part about the trash makes me shudder now too, but honestly, i never picked through; just took from the top and then, only clean stuff. i swear.)

i love that david has a similar affection for curious doodads, but i’m starting to see that two of us in one house can be trouble. in our current home, things have gotten a bit out of control since, with the renovation, we have never completely settled into a permanent configuration. our displays are a lot more haphazard and they grow quite organically out of nowhere and in the oddest spots, where they sit unattended. we have little time to be the curators we once were.

as we finish each room, we are very careful to edit and introduce “order”, allowing only our most favorite stuff to remain. david refinished my dad’s old desk for me and i created a curiosity cabinet within, ostensibly to keep from cluttering other surfaces and cut down on dusting.

but there’s still a ways to go; i admit i do not get carried away with organizing my surroundings—yet. and  after ten years in one place, we could use a thorough sweeping out.

one good development has been that as my design career expands, i see more and more how to process textural inspiration into my work without having to collect and assemble so many actual things; now that we live outside the city, i also use my natural living surroundings as inspiration.

and then i saw that another designer has undertaken a similar journey of converting actual collecting into a more visual reflection of her love of texture.

in the knitter’s curiosity cabinet, author and designer hunter hammersen explores the history of the curiosity cabinet, where combining objects can range from indulging in a mild interest to a fiercely fetishistic passion.

what she has done is to make the book itself into her cabinet and assembled within a collection of socks, fingerless mitts, cowls, scarves, and shawl designs, tied together by a botanical theme.

(haha, wow; that looks way too familiar for comfort)

she then uses the the curiosity cabinet as a central touchstone around which to fashion a book containing her knitted accessory collection.

each piece is a little universe swirling with interest, contained within the boundaries of its small shape. the textures captured within the projects are inspired by botanical prints.

such as the crocus versus sock, above.

there is something for every knitting level and many pieces are good candidates for gifting, even at the last minute.

and the chrysanthemum frutescens socks (cover photo) and hat (below).

there is more than one pairing of pieces in the collection; several accessory sets are featured which make good use of a larger skein of yarn.

the pattern steps are written out in paragraph form, while the stitch patterns used within appear both in row-by-row and charted format; the charts are large and easy to read.

the book is an almost-square shape that lay open nicely to individual project pages.

the collection is rich with deep, luscious color, sparked by highlights of fresh spring, such as the pink shawl above.

the palette is very appealing and in keeping with the theme with yarns sourced largely from favorite indie dyers.

the best part is that hunter is a “neighbor” of mine who lives up in cleveland, just an hour away and i got to meet her when i was at TNNA last weekend. silly me, i forgot myself entirely and did not get a photo of us together—drat.

now you might already have guessed what’s coming next, but i’m going to tell you anyway. hunter has very graciously set aside a copy of the knitter’s curiosity cabinet to send to one lucky reader of today’s post.

leave a comment at the end of this post by 9 pm EDST on sunday, july 8th to have your name included. we will announce a winner early next week.

very many thanks to hunter for providing the opportunity to share her book and to offer a giveaway copy; thank you hunter!

406 thoughts on “curiouser and curiouser

  1. I love your displays and curiousity cabinet. I am not very good at containing clutter myself, and keep all sorts of bobs and ends. I need to emulate you and David and make it art! The book looks lovely.

  2. Oooh, I have curiosity cabinets too. My favourite one is near the entrance to my house, it’s got some painted egg cups from my childhood (a pirate and a sailor), my collection of strange little china owls and other felt doo dads that I’ve made.

    The cabinet itself is built into a section of doorway so that you can see the things from the front and when you walk through the doorway you can see them from the back too, where the door to it is. I think it’s a very 1950’s kind of thing to have in a house, but I love it.

    it’s great to see a giveaway and I read Hunter’s blog too. You’re both wonderful designers 🙂

  3. This book looks amazing! I don’t have room for a curiosity cabinet, but my grandmother had one, and as a child, I loved discovering all the treasures inside. Wonderful memories of a blessed childhood.

  4. Mr. Rogers said it is good to be curious about many different things. What more do I need to say? If Mr. Rogers gives the okay, then ……….. curiouser and curiouser.

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