Having an artist mother and a father who is very appreciative of the arts (and can draw a mean stick figure, hi dad!) I was brought up being very at home in art museums. We'd visit the MFA in Boston frequently, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, take day trips to museums further out, and pop into galleries. When at RISD I often found myself roaming the halls of the RISD Museum for inspiration and peace. Art appreciation is ingrained into my DNA and is such an imperative part of our existence.
There are a handful of shows that stick out in my mind as favorites - Picasso's Blue Period, David Hockney's Canyons, Monet's haystacks, Takashi Murakami, The Art of the Tiara - all at the MFA in Boston, all of which my mom took me to. Gerard Richter at MOMA, Rothko at the National Gallery of Art. Another of my two favorites were shows I saw at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art (yes, the Bellagio in Vegas has an art gallery, who knew?). My parents took me there for my 21st birthday (yes, my parents are that cool and it was an incredible trip) and Steve Martin's art collection was on display (the man has impeccable taste in art). Another show I saw there a few years later was a collection of items from the House of Faberge and it was spectacular.
Faberge was of course made famous by the Russian Tsar Alexander Romanov III and the whimsical and priceless Easter eggs he commissioned for his wife, Empress Maria Fedorovna. Our friends at Wikipedia tell us, "The House of Fabergé is a jewellery firm founded in 1842 in St. Petersburg, Imperial Russia, by Gustav Faberge. The firm has been famous for designing elaborate jewel-encrusted Fabergé eggs for the Russian Tsars and a range of other work of high quality and intricate details." Not only were some of the eggs on display, but jewelry, frames, snuff boxes, pins, etc. I do love shiny, sparkly things and this show captured my imagination. We went back twice!
It was this show that my mom and I wandered into by chance that inspired my latest design, the House of Faberge Cowl. Knit in Neighborhood Fiber Co's Studio Worsted, this cowl uses all of the MC (blue) and most of the CC (ochre), giving it a very nice weight and drape. Begun with a provisional cast on and knit in a very long tube, the cowl gets folded into itself and kitchnered together, creating an endless design with no wrong side. The hand dyed yarn creates a look similar to the hand painted enamel that was part of most of Faberge's creations, and the complimentary color scheme is bright and beautiful.
I've been very into slip-stitch colorwork lately, a technique that differs from Fair Isle because the colors are not stranded across the back, making it quick to knit. Only one color at a time is used while the other is left behind at the beginning of the round. Certain stitches are slipped and therefore elongated, creating an interesting illusion and texture. This cowl would be lovely in a gradient/solid combo, or even striped. I am completely in love with the weight of this cowl because it uses almost 700 yards of worsted. I brought it to a few of my workshops recently as an example of alternate colorwork and it was a crowd favorite! One student wore it the entire class and didn't want to give it back!
Art is so important to our history, our culture, and our souls. I was incredibly fortunate to have parents that recognized this and cared enough to educate me and bring me to countless exhibits and galleries growing up. I wear this cowl and think of them, and hope my children will learn to appreciate art as much as I do.
Download the House of Faberge Cowl here.