Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Bring me a bowl of coffee before I turn into a goat.--J.S. Bach

You know the holiday season around the Bach house must have been insane, what with all those kids fighting over whose turn it is to play the clavichord.

I'm with J.S. The coffee is mandatory.

Annus Mirabilis
Made it another year. Blogger tells me this first entry of 2006 is also my 300th. Which is actually not a lot for almost 3.5 years.

However, I maintain that it's quality, not quantity, that counts. In everything.

As I have said, I don't make resolutions simply because it's the New Year. I did, however, reflect on the year past. For about five minutes. Last year was pretty good, by and large, although it was really annoying to have ended 2005 with a nasty cold, which my mother deemed "the flu." It was not. The minute you mention "body aches," she's immediately flu-happy.

JamaicanMeCrayzee, Party of the First Part
Being in the throes of the cold didn't stop me from starting Liz's hoodie last Wednesday. In fact, it meant I sat in my chair with its new shiatsu massager, a present from John, knit away on the hoodie and watched Baseball--A Film by Ken Burns and New York, another wonderful Ken Burns documentary.

So as of this morning, here's where the hoodie is, halfway up the upper back:

I'm pretty well satisfied with the design, as is Liz. This is a no-frills hoodie, drop-shoulder, with the body knit in the round and then the front and back knit flat, since I was not going to do any excessive patterning anywhere else. The Fair Isle patterning ends one round short of the split for the front/back, which is how I planned it.

A few weeks ago, when I first decided to do this, I began with a very basic chart.

Very rarely does the initial chart remain the final one. That's because I use the charting program as a doodle pad to get the ideas out of my head and onto electronic "paper." Doodling this way is a very good habit, since you immediately stop worrying about fucking up, creating the perfect design, etc. It allows you to play. And that's very important.

I needed to include two elements into the design. First were the colors, obviously. Red, green and gold are the colors used by Rastafarians and are those of the Ethiopian flag, symbolizing their belief in Haile Selassie I, King of Ethiopia. And second, a motif that would reflect the Rastafarian religion, so that Liz would at least understand that it's more than just a fashion statement. So rather than a lion, which is the best known Rastafarian symbol, I decided that a Star of David would be an appropriate motif, since Rastafarians consider themselves lost Israelites. And it worked into my Fair Isle plan as well.

The original chart above had one problem that immediately became apparent. I'll let you figure it out.

Here's the final design, up close and personal:

Quite a bit different from the first go-round, eh? While the three colors are still incorporated, they are much more diffusely used than in the first chart.

I wanted a peerie to frame the main motif, so I did a little bouncing wave chart that reminds me of reggae music. A little syncopated.

Once I had all of this down in charted form, I did a circular gauge swatch in both plain stockinette and with the Fair Isle added. Then I loaded that info into Sweater Wizard. In the next entry, I'll discuss the limitations of sweater design programs and how they affected this garment.

In the meanwhile, I'll probably finish the back and the front in the next two days.

Spindly Things
I had never been able to master spindle spinning, until now. Thanks to Ted's recommendation, I bought a 1.1 oz. Comet spindle from Woolly Designs and all I can say is, the right spindle makes all the difference in the world:

I used some domestic wool to fool around with and I was amazed at the balance and the non-stop spinning of this spindle. In fact, I was so successful that I've decided to spin the Cormo on the spindle rather than on the Joy, since I'd like to free it up for the bombyx silk. And I will most certainly use Ted's method of quilling the shaft before I begin the copp. If you don't know about this timesaving technique, go to Ted's blog and read about it.

So that's more than enough to start the New Year. And the loom stands idle but not for long. I'm itching to get back to it and warp me some threads.

Here's what's exciting about 2006--learning new shit that's rare and handy. And writing about it.

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