Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Square 82: Form

Square 082

I like taking a simple form and exploring variations upon it. That's one of the appeals of this blanket blog that inspire me onward. As you get to know a form you can experiment within its constraints. Something that seems simple and repetitive may contain infinite variety.

Structure is one of the things that draws us into music, for example. Most popular songs include several verses (V), a chorus (C) in a different but related theme, and often a bridge section (B) introducing a third related theme. These might follow the sequence V-C-V-C-B-C. Songwriters return to this basic structure again and again because it provides listeners with a reference point. Even a new song can be predictable. The combination of predictability and novelty entertains us, and gives us cues to the rhythm and pace of the song.

Classical music commonly uses several musical forms. One of them, the rondo, follows a structure similar to contemporary song structure: A-B-A-C-A-B-A. Each section presents a distinct theme. There may be additional ones (D, E, F), but ultimately the music always returns to the beginning theme.

I have experimented with a particular form in some of these squares, treating each yarn as an individual theme. Sometimes I have tried returning to the same themes symmetrically as in a rondo, but these mitred squares seem more interesting if they culminate in different colours from which they started. The apex of the square focuses the attention, and the colours there, even though they consist of fewer stitches, draw as much attention as the long outside rows, which form a kind of foundation.

So I have invented an original form. I think the first time I used it was in Square 48. I was establishing a colour rhythm, ripples of light and dark moving across the square the way moonlight draws your eye across the layers of a night landscape.

Since then, I have tried variations on that form. This time I used the square to illustrate it. I chose five solid coloured yarns (dark green, grey, vermilion, purple, and apple green) and five variegated yarns in colours closely related to the first five.

I followed a few simple rules in establishing this form. Each colour is used exactly twice, and each never appears next to any other colour more than once. The first three rows establish the first three colours; after that each new colour is followed by an old colour and vice versa, until the last three rows wrap up the last three colours.. I like how it establishes rhythm and harmony among contrasting colours. This square is odd, but it illustrates the pattern well.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Square 81: 42

Coming to Toronto for Danny's birthday weekend, I brought along a bunch of yarns that would appeal to him and asked him to select six to nine to use in this square. This presented an interesting challenge for him, and also for me, because the colours were not ones I would have thought to use together. But as he told me while I began to knit, these yarns represent different aspects of himself, and although it is not the whole him, the square presents an interesting portrait of this dear man.

Starting from the outside row, the first and second yarns are from two of his favourite companies, Wellington Fibres and Noro, respectively. The pearly lilac from Wellington is left over from some gloves I knitted for Brenna several years ago, and it is a sleek mohair-wool blend.

The teal green Noro Silk Garden yarn reappears as the peacock blue row, and again closer to the centre as bright lilac. Danny says blue and green were practically the only colours he used in knitting, for many years. They also represent the calm, easy-going personality he presents to the world. The third row is forest green from Cascade, one of the unifying colours in this blanket, and also one of his favourite colours.

The next three yarns represent his creative endeavours.

The grey with hints of celadon green is some yarn he dyed with elderberries. It is a cool, calm colour, but with hints of a stormy side within. The sandy gold came from beech leaves, which was a project Danny and I worked on together. It was my first experiment with natural dyes, so this thread also represents our bond.

Third in this section is a handspun yarn Danny made from a "kitchen sink" batt he acquired from a classmate in his spinning course. It contains a variety of colours—yellow, reddish-brown, even some glitter—and ties into lessons and challenges he described for us in Square 58.

Continuing inward, the last two yarns represent change, and parts of Danny's personality that tend to be hidden. The ember red is Berroco Ultra Alpaca and the variegated fiery red is Manos del Uruguay. After breaking from the blue-green pattern, Danny says, he only knit with orange and red for a long time. Lately his projects have integrated warm and cool colours, which takes us to the heart of the square.

Why 42? 42 is an abundant number. Have a happy, abundant year, my Love.