Twain Inspired: Knitting Finds A Carved Griffin

In life or while contemplating knitting – don’t ever wait for inspiration to strike – go out for a walk, explore somewhere new. Seek the unusual, the beautiful, the whimsical or odd – where artists, architects, authors (or those who treasure their creations) work or live.
Moo Dog Press, Moo Dog Knits photographyOr where they used to live. Places rich with history and so many stories. For instance, there is a griffin tucked away on slanted roof detail at the one-of-a-kind Mark Twain carriage house located steps away from a beloved author’s home in Hartford. Want to see it?
Historic American Building Survey, Jack E. Boucher photographer HABS CT 359 A
Look closely at the image above (from the Library of Congress) to see a pizza-sliced detail of the carved griffin, a mythical beast known for “guarding treasure and priceless possessions” with the head and wings of an eagle and a lion’s body. Being stymied by knitting is the reason for the discovery.

A bold black-and-white Baltic braid called for in the original Inspira proved to be a sticking point. Couldn’t get it to work. After trial and error (and repeatedly watching several YouTube videos for visual cues), the method became a snap. Charting a pattern of bricks as seen on the Mark Twain House into knitting was an challenge and joy.
Boston terrier in hand-knitted sweater inspired by brickwork at the Mark Twain House in Hartford.Poring over information in a quest to learn more about the everyday life of the Clemens family (all the while knitting, of course) turned up details about a dog, calves, a donkey, cats, carriage horses – and rides on horseback in a pasture meadow near the Park River. Plus one somewhat surprising location where Samuel Clemens liked to write on the property. Moo Dog Knits image at Mark Twain House and Museum.So while books piled up for learning even more, version two become a wearable Boston terrier-size sweater. Link, story, part one, and views of the sweater on site in Hartford. The rib pattern (based on Inspira) is flat-out addicting.

More about that in part three.
As seen at the Mark Twain Home and Museum in Hartford.

Editor’s Note: Highly recommended as a “virtual” reading tour of the property, “The Loveliest Home There Ever Was” by Steve Courtney, is also the official guide to where Samuel Clemens lived with his family and wrote some of his most famous books as Mark Twain.

Chris Brunson