Friday, April 24, 2009

Reluctantly Friday

One of the perks of teaching is school vacations. While I don't get to pick my vacation weeks, they seem serendipitous. This has been one of those weeks, and now it's drawing to a close, more pointedly so because I have to meet with tutoring students this afternoon.

Um, I seem to be getting hit in the head by twitchy tail at the moment. We have birds nesting in the eaves. This is Isis's new favorite program. She will sit for hours watching the birdies and twitching her tail excitedly. Regardless of who may be sitting in the chair underneath her. Neko sometimes likes to watch, too, but she
doesn't have the attention span for anything she can't eat. I actually caught them on camera the other day:
This best part of this picture is that it makes it look like Isis is standing on Neko's back.

Cute animals aside, the week off has been decently productive. Not as productive as I had in mind at the outset, but I suppose that's always the case. With a whole week in front of you, it seems like you have time to conquer the world, or at least a good hemisphere. And then you sit down.

Inertia aside, there are developments afoot. I have at least one new yarn listed, a gloriously soft bulky confection I'm calling Back in Black. Another, a tritone-blue sportweight called Mood Indigo, stands to follow shortly. Also, I reclaimed my sewing table again and enacted part one of plan to broaden the horizon beyond yarn.

These are a selection of spontaneous, one of a kind project bags which will be part of knitting kits which I will, hopefully, have ready in the next few weeks. They will include yarn, project bag, and pattern, since I've ended up writing a number of patterns for the munchkins at school. The bags may be available separately, depending on how many I make. For right now, I'm enjoying making them. It's all the joy of impromptu throw pillows with none of the annoying stuffing. Also, notice how long the scarf I'd just started at the last post has gotten!

For now, I'll leave you with two songs. The first comes from my fits of housecleaning this week. Addressing the robot/human dialectic seems appropriate for manual labor, so a recording of Daft Punk's set from Coachella 2006 has seemed a suitable soundtrack. It coheres very well as a whole, beginning with a human vs. robot theme and ending with the "Human After All" assertion, using the hooks from familiar songs of theirs more as motives than as independent pieces. I'd post the whole thing, but it weighs in at almost 75 minutes and about 100 MB. Instead, I've lifted out one of my favorite sections, which layers the vocal line from "Face to Face" with the hook from "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger." (If you're really interested in the whole set, e-mail me and I will hook you up.)
Daft Punk - Face to Face (Live from Coachella 2006)

On a somewhat different but just as funky note is Sam & Dave's 1968 single "I Thank You," recorded from the 45 just for you. Man, the bassline in this song won't quit. It's hard not to bop and smile with this one. This song clearly shows their gospel roots. Minus a few of the more wordly references, this song would work just as well as a straight gospel song, which speaks to the positive, uplifiting humility of it (which gains a twinge of desperation when you add in the more worldly lines), but also to its huge sound, which progressively expands its scope of how many people are in the room, sharing the titular gratitude.
Sam & Dave - I Thank You

Monday, April 6, 2009

Rainclouds and Lilac Wine

After a glorious Sunday, we're back to rain. It's amazing how green everything on the ground is getting, though.
Meanwhile, in yarnland, maybe it's just the lack of natural light, but the yarn's been talking to me. We recently dismantled a rather nice slate blue lambswool sweater which had an unpatchable hole in one sleeve. The fingering weight yarn that came off of it said, "Hey, you, make me into a pretty scarf." Friday last week began with a long staff meeting, and so I've made some real progress. It's knit on the bias, with panels of a fanned openwork and simple rope cables traveling diagonally across. I'm thinking of adding some Clapotis-style drop-stitch ladders framing the openwork panels, but I haven't decided yet. The whole affair is so light it feels like knitting clouds. Lace-weight things like this always seem a little magical to me.
The odd, colorful stripes from a worsted/bulky weight sweater have also been suggesting that they should become thrummed mittens.

Additionally, I'm just about to put up the first skein of what's likely the most delicious-feeling yarn I've ever harvested: an 85% silk, 15% cashmere that's as soft as the dog's velvety ears. It came in a lilac color, but I dyed half of it to a gentle red-wine color and plied the two back together to a workable sport-weight. This stuff is sweet and heady and worthy of the beloved song for which I will name it.

Speaking of which, Jeff Buckley's version is beautiful, but not enough attention is given to Nina Simone's 1964 version from Wild is the Wind. It focuses in on Simone's warm, almost abrasively strong voice, which nonetheless achieves a sense of wistful vulnerability here. Its sparse instrumentation builds almost imperceptably, and I swear if you turn the bass up high enough the song sounds like it's breathing.
Nina Simone - Lilac Wine
(Buy Wild is the Wind/High Priestess of Soul)