Friday, January 30, 2009

Knit Machine

For some knit bloggers this harvest would be a result of a week, but I gave it several months, in the case of the sweater even a year. So this beautiful Noro knit is being developed thanks to raining sheep who sent me three skeins of this finest Cash Island brand, col No 12, just like that (I have finally something for you, too, just you wait...). I started a front part of a sweater and for the back and sleeves I will have a yarn of similar colors, the same like I did it when I knit the Noro sweater for Domík.

My first hat ever. Numero Uno Tweed, virgin wool, made in Italy, how fancy! I have knit lots of complicated sweaters but never a hat. So I gave it a try. Cast on 86 stitches, 4 needles size 4,5, proceeded straight up, finished somehow. Nevertheless, turned out pretty well for a beginner.

And here we have a sweater that my beloved husband wished he had had from me. I didn't dare to experiment, it had to turn out perfect. I went and looked up a pattern in this Verena magazine winter 2007/2008 and followed it closely. I am not sure if he likes it. He says he does.
Needles size: 5, yarn: lovely acrylic wool.

Gloves for my niece. Once again, first gloves in my FO's. I guess, you can see that. Yarn Austermann Smaragd Classic Color, needles 4,5, pattern watched closely in the Verena winter 2008/9. This yarn is beautiful but maybe on something else then these gloves. For example check out these.

Check out also my mom's leg warmers that she whipped out after I had presented myself with these pink ones.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A year of intense blogging

Tomorow my blog will be one year old. My child will be two in three days. And I have another year of this amazingly long post-socialist maternity leave. In a year I will go back to work. Who knows whether the blog will continue then. But it is a long time ahead now. There will be piles of new knitted sweaters, scarves and hats (many are waiting to be posted now), references to some curious Czech stuff, most likely books and houses, interesting buildings set in romantic sceneries from around this country. Thank you, my regular readers, for leaving comments, they give me a reason to continue. I wonder, how many people read this blog...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

4. / A Sentimental One

Jiří Trnka, Zahrada, Praha 1960

A book that was important in my childhood. On their way to school a bunch of boys pass a mysterious wall with an old rusty door. One day they manage to open it. Inside there is an overgrown garden inhabited by a stone gnome and a very hateful tomcat. The gnome represents a stoic character, he never speaks and therefore is considered somewhat wise. The tomcat on contrary is all evil the boys can imagine and that they tend to tease.

Now, for those who read my blog regularly, is quite clear why the gardens intrigue me that much, I confessed about it few posts earlier. I made it clear here for myself as well. Still I think that it is not only a childish dream that got stuck in my head, after all, I have no desire in meeting an arguing cat, no matter what it personifies. Like I said earlier, gardens are small worlds in themselves, monastery gardens, clausuras, images of paradise and gardens depicted in old paintings that all have a special symbolic, are a proof to it.

It was interesting for me to find out that the author of the book, Jiří Trnka, mainly painter, illustrator and puppeteer but also a writer of this book, lived for long years in a villa surrounded by a baroque garden, just one like you imagine after you look in this book. It was in Prague on one of the side streets, it was originally a garden with a farmhouse, but the house was rebuilt in the 19th century and became a representative villa. Trnka lived there as a tenant in the 1940s and 50s as and the place still kept its 19th century atmosphere, his friends were amazed and jealous at the same time.

An owner was this old aristocratic lady who held firm to the original image of her place. She kept refusing to sell it to Trnka who consequently built a career in animated film and could afford it but a fate turned against her when the socialist state nationalized her property as it was considered too big and thus useless for her own need. They moved her into a gardener's house (picture above, not bad, he?) and her villa became a dancing school. (Such behaviour - the state not only overtook somebody's property but also practically stopped maintaining it - had certain advantages: the houses decayed and gardens grew over but both still kept their original traces that after 40 years could be, in better cases, still recuperated and renewed, they didn't disappear under the complete reconstructions).

Trnka moved out in the 50s and the vila and the garden faced their sad fate. On one autumn day I went by to check it out. It really is this strange fold of the town where the time stood still, pressed between two hills where only cars on the road spoil the image. I had learned it was a private property inhabited by squatters but when I approached it I knew it was in much worse condition then an ordinary squatter would live in. The pictures that you see I borrowed from this site, as well as the information about the owners of the house. The pictures were taken in 2008 but they present an image that no longer exists. I guess that such gardens are somehow supposed to be testimonies of the past and all their inhabitants - be it gnomes or squatters - are always only temporary. Nevertheless, the fate of this garden is insecure.

Zahrada was made an animated film by Břetislav Pojar:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

His Fifth Sweater

My son will be two and he is going through his fifth hand knitted sweater in his tiny life venture. I started to make this one just before he was born, realized it was too big but was sorry to unravel it. Back then I didn't mind that I was buying acrylic yarn (in my LYS), all I cared for was colors. And now I am not able to "press" them through the internet in the right tone. The blue is rather green, like a sea water in Puglia. It goes well with the reddish tones, believe me. I call this sweater sea wave. The pattern is mine.

By the way, for those still interested, I didn't forget about the books, I am giving you some break.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Automat Svět by Bohumil Hrabal, published in Prague, 1966, illustrations by Jiří Kolář.

Both names belong to the top of the Czech literature, not only Hrabal, also Kolář who used to write a poetry. He then moved (in the 50s I guess) towards an experimental poetry, picture poetry and then he completely abandoned that for fine art. He was making mainly collages. Lived in France since the 80s. The book is a special piece thanks to the folding reproductions of Kolar's collages; publishers nowadays would think twice to compose their book like that, similar extravagances were a better side of the so called planned economy of the past where money came from the state and thus could be sometimes spent in a more lavish way. This book by Hrabal, compilation of his short stories, hasn't been translated into English, as far as I know, but there is a bunch of his other books in English on bookfinder.

to be continued...

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Cecil's Quest, a comics like book with puppets photographed in the real nature. Puppets, setting, story and photography by František Skála.

The story is a classical adventure of a guy (his Czech name is Cílek) trying to save his maid (Lída) from a danger and undergoing a journey through the chaos presented by parts of a forest filled up with bad and good creatures, who give him obstacles or try to help him. The most sympathetic guy nevertheless is Homer (in the first picture), a sort of eremite living in the forest (who drives his car there, very civilized man), looks like an old underground hero, who ended up leaving the world for a solitude, wears tight jeans and loose knitted sweater and has a good supply of Italian goodies in his cellar. As someone described the book: "I would like to live the story presented in this book." I think I don't need to add anything more. Perhaps only the thing that the book perfectly fits a child in our adult soul.

to be continued...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sweater that no one has seen before / Sweaters in literature

I came across this true story described in the diary of this Czech writer and translator Jan Zábrana sometimes in the 1970s, but the story dates back to 1953. Just a little preview, his parents were condemned for a parricide in a fabricated trial in the 50s and both of them spent in a prison 10 years. Zábrana was only 20 then and took this act as a personal violation which he suffered all his remaining life. His diary is at places sour, depressive, especially after he turned 40 (quite early to feel the death coming, eh?), it is as well a diary of the every day life in a socialistic country, at places it is energetic and pleasure to read, gives opinion on literature, writers, poets, memories at contemporaries and his own little stories he went through and he considered funny or worth memorizing for other reasons.
So one day in spring 1953 he received a package with a sweater. It was sent from a prison where his father sat, it was supposed to be a piece of clothes that his father didn't need but as it turned out it all must have been a mistake, his dad never possessed a sweater like that. Anyway, Zábrana kept it and describes it: (here I apologize for my translation and thus injury to the original beautiful text). "It was a fantastic beauty - I have never seen anything like that before or after. It was gigantic, reached to my knees. It could have been 20 years old or even more. It had a strange pink-cyclamen basic color, but patterned with green, brown, umber squares and rectangles, a pattern that I have never seen in Bohemia before - someone must have brought it to Czechoslovakia from Jamaica in the 30s. But all the colors were so washed out that a sweater looked like a hummingbird leached from an acid. It had a gigantic collar with exotic buttons, each different. And it was repaired in a similar fantastic way: the holes in sleeves were knitted in with thread of different colors, with cloth patches, with patches from old socks from a rough gray yarn, armpits were fixed up with some felt, perhaps cut up an army blanket or a horse cloth. All these patches, although unplanned and rampaged, were sewn exceptionally carefully and thoroughly - it looked like a garment of a clownish Methuselah or a Norwegian sea wolf. I used to wear that sweater at night shifts, also when going out to pubs at the peripheries of Prague, at a place like that they threw me out once when I had it on, they thought I ran away from a mad house. At the close of one muggy day in June, when I arrived two ours late to my friend's house, Alice gave me a hug even in that sweater and started to kiss me hysterically and cry that she had been worried about me. She was wearing a yellow bikini. We were standing at the door sill, she in that yellow swimsuit and I in that unbelievable sweater of the faded rainbow colors and she was hugging me and cried with joy that I had showed up after all, that I didn't get picked up." (understand: not because of the sweater but because it was a Stalinistic era.)

Do they wear sweaters in Jamaica? Just imagine that only 30 years and something ago there could have been sweaters that were hard to imagine, that "one hadn't seen before". So, of course, I went and googled up Jamaica + sweater. And there are all these sweaters made of a yarn called Jamaica, what a disappointment, but nothing nothing that I was looking for. So, despite Google, this description by Zábrana still remains a mystery. After all, the sweater probably wasn't from Jamaica. Any suggestions?

Edited: Here is a version of the sweater that Robotika drew after she had read this post: