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the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn

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cropvia a ftblogger's self care channel here's a gorgeous sitar vid by Anoushka Shankar.

If you're feeling a bit stronger on the activist side, Earth Day (& marches for science) are tomorrow. I've never really understood the divide between science and art, as the former is a huge enabler of the latter. But as an artist always wanting better & cooler art supplies & tools (never mind the whole clean water/cures for infectious diseases/communication tech...) I am all about funding science. For those not into crowds, the nice thing about resistbot is you don't even have to talk to people. I gather you have to give it both your full name & title (the latter is a bit problematic for me, as there isn't really one in English I'm happy with....)



cropSo I thought I'd take a break from all that old stuff, and talk a bit about some of my more recent researches: today's textile is not a braid (technically, braids are an oblique interlacing, i.e. a sort of weaving) but instead merely a 4 strand twisted fiber, like rope or multi-ply yarns. Though handspun yarn can be single ply, it's not as durable as multiple, which is also why rope is traditionally at least 3 plies.

Plying allows for some fun visual effects, such combining strands with long and short colour repeats, a technique handspinners call fractal spinning; knit up, it uses optical blending to make more softly transitioned stripes. I, of course, have been fascinated by ombre yarns for a long time—somewhat for embroidery, but especially for kumihimo. As it turns out, though one can purchase reproductions of circular sock knitting machines, no-one, unfortunately, has gotten around to reproducing the equivalent 19ca braid making machines, which to be sure, have a lot more gearing; even the sock machines were, according to the 4th generation machinist who makes these things, no picnic. So if I want to, say, prototype hand-dyed string to see how it might look in braids, I'll just have to settle for using my bradshaw winder:) —which actually would be a pretty decent mockup, at least for spiralling striped braids such as kongoh.



cropIt's taken several run-ups to get going again, and the post below, written in Dec15, kinda shows why. Wish I could say it was now totally outdated, but if anything, the situations referenced have gotten worse. Le sigh.

Well, my goodness, in the last week or so we've had yet another Planned Parenthood clinic shot up (and this essay is all I have to say about that); more mass shootings; plus of course the ongoing syrian refugee crisis, the US reaction to same in contrast to the season (not to mention our country's—and, particularly on the patriarchal side of the family—own founding) being so appalling hypocritical that I just had to take a break.

I've also been struggling with the resurgence of a persistent cold, which, while not particularly serious, has certainly been sapping my energy. I read somewhere that depression may possibly be a screwed up immune response, a shutting down to redirect energy to getting well. SAD would seem to support that hypothesis, since a lot of animals do ‘power down’ during the winter.



cropJust for a change, today's intro is recent (actually written the day before!) but the page for the braid was written a couple years back.

I have been trying to write a review of the new live action Beauty and the Beast (which I consider Dizzy's very own St Patty's Day prezzie to me:) but it keeps getting reaaaallly looooong, cuz I love this story this much, and there's a lot to unpack I could go on forever I'll put y'all three (3) of my readers to sleep.

Briefly, however, I don't know that the new version is any more feminist than the old (which mostly suffered from the 3:1 male to female ratio, and the assumption that men have careers, while women merely need romance & marriage) excepting perhaps that it's less homophobic (fear of the queer being mostly a subset of sexism). Certainly its more obvious efforts to be ‘feminist’ fall flat, particularly making Gaston an overt abuser, as opposed to a quite believable entitled & oblivious asshat he was in the original.



Continuing with the kumi theme, today I've a got a post on some kumi books, as well as a review on the new anime Your Name, in which kumi plays a fairly significant role.

In one of those synergies that make the intertubes so wonderful, I happened to casually email someone whose much-greater understanding (than mine) of what I think loosely as the ‘mechanical world’ —which, given our current society, would be most of it—because he mentioned making kumihimo braiding machines.(0) Alas, they're quite a bit more complicated than they appear (there are a lot of gears involved, and even to make the simplest of braids have to switch directions constantly—kind of like single needle right angle weave, for you beadweavers out there) but he did put up a post summarizing what's out there, from a very cute lego device all the way to the beautiful machine Makiko Tada helped to design.



cropContinuing to mine all that 2015 stuff...

So at the MarySue they have a series going over comics/graphic novel classics and whether they're relevant to the modern reader. This time they picked Watchmen, and since I mostly didn't like it the first time I read it, I read the review (and comments) with a good deal of interest.

I definitely belong to the older generation of readers who remember the cold war, and the fears it fostered throughout society, so that resonated; at the time, there were fewer women created or centred sf&f (the story is technically an alternate history) so I grit my teeth over the sexism as a matter of course. What I remember not liking was the draftsmanship, the coloring, and, to a lesser extent, the grittiness, because by the time I read it (probably early 90s but certainly no earlier than ’88, because I read the collected version, and it wasn't finished till then) I was living in a rundown Detroit neighborhood in which breakins, gunshots and staying indoors after dark were facts of life. Had I lived my entire life in pretty, protected suburbia, that sort of angst might have appealed.


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