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Posts Tagged ‘swirl’

Temari: The Cake Is a Lie

I’ve been working on this particular temari for a really long time, and I’m excited it’s finally done!

P1030119

(Yes, I really did bake a cake just to use as a photo prop.)

This started as a challenge from a friend to do a ball based on the Portal video game (hopefully you could tell), with the idea of making the two halves of the ball represent the two halves of the portal. The swirl stitch seemed like the most obvious way to create a portal-y pattern, but really does not lend itself easily to being divided in half.

The solution I eventually landed on was to use a C10 division, which does have lines that continue all the way around the ball, and use the small triangle faces instead of the more usual pentagons. To color-divide the ball, I put one line of blue and orange around the equator, then traced over the scrap thread C10 lines already on the ball with the appropriate color. The scrap thread all got cut off at the end. (If you try this, be sure to tack your scrap thread with your base wrap color and save yourself some time.) The only downside to this color-division technique that I found is that the outlines of the triangles can get a little loose, since they’re not actually held taut by traveling all the way around the ball. Be sure to anchor firmly!

Originally I was going to swirl clockwise on all the blue triangles and counter-clockwise for all the orange ones, but it turns out the triangles are too small to build a satisfactory swirl on their own, so I started over and went with alternating CW/CCW triangles, which make those nice fan shapes. It’s a little more of a fractured look than I was originally thinking of, but using the portals can be kind of disorienting (and someone posted a video of their character trapping herself intentionally inside an infinity-looped portal that was awesomely glitchy), so I figure it still works.

Process photos:

Anyway, this temari was a cool puzzle to figure out. It’s probably the most technical fiddling I’ve ever done with a design, and there were no examples to go off of, so I’m pretty proud of it. (I don’t want to swirl again for a while, though. There are a lot of triangles on this ball.)

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Temari: Halloween Swirls

This month, the focus of all three temari classes I taught was the swirl technique, but since it was October, I made my examples thematic by using Halloween colors. Here they are, posing with the mini pumpkins, as promised.

All together

All together

Since the session was open to beginners and returning students, the designs moved from simple to complex, making these three temari a rather logical set, as it turns out.

The first class was wrapped bands and swirls. (S4 design.)

Pumpkin Bands and Swirls

Pumpkin Bands and Swirls

The second class was the all-over swirl. (S4 turned into 14 faces design.)

Pumpkin Swirl with pumpkins

Pumpkin Swirl with pumpkins

And the third class was Barb Suess’s Maritime Stars pattern*. (C8 design.) For this one, I did some color changes in the centers of the hexagon swirls, just because I had the greens on hand from the first ball and it felt more pumpkin-y to me.

*The pattern is available from her Etsy store when it’s not in vacation mode because we’re both about to leave town to teach a week-long temari class at the Campbell Folk School!

Pumpkin Maritime Swirl, with color changes

Pumpkin Maritime Stars, with color changes

And one more shot of all of them together, just because it’s pretty.

The whole pumpkin set

The whole Halloween set

As I told the students, by the end of this session, I definitely expected they would understand how to do the swirl stitch. So mesmerizing…

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For my August set of classes, I was teaching my standard beginner trio again: wrapped bands, interwoven spindles, and triwing. I had gotten a little bored of having them all look the same, though, so I decided I would take each of the balls one step up in complication–still using basic skills, but to create a more interesting look.

For the first class, we did wrapped bands on an S4. After I got home, I filled in all of the blank triangles between the bands with swirl stitches. But because I’ve done that before (although apparently I never posted about it…), I also reversed the swirl from clockwise to counter-clockwise in every other triangle, which gives the radiating arcs out from the center a different look.

S4 wrapped bands with alternating CW & CCW swirls

S4 wrapped bands with alternating CW & CCW swirls

The second class was spindles, and for this one, instead of just weaving over and under each half of the spindle as normal, I wove over and under every two threads, creating a sort of basketweave/checkerboard effect in the middle. (There are also starburst pine needle stitches over the obi in the spaces between the spindles, but that wasn’t so interesting that I felt like taking an extra photo of it. But again, one step up.)

Excessively interwoven spindles.

Excessively interwoven spindles

And then the third class was the triwing. For this one, I actually did two triwings layered on top of each other; a small one in green first, to create the leaves, and then a bigger one on the other division lines to create the flower. I added a row of yellow in the center to make the color palette look more like that of an iris. (Note that this is really just a color variation of Barb Suess’s “Trillium” pattern from her first book, Japanese Temari: A Colorful Spin on an Ancient Craft, if you’re looking for directions.)

Iris-colored triwing

Iris-colored triwing

And the whole set together:

The Teacher Likes To Show Off set

The Teacher Likes To Show Off set

Hopefully these offered inspiration for the students to see what they could do with the same basic skills we learned in class, but they may have just ended up being intimidating. I liked doing them, though! The teacher has to keep herself entertained, too, after all.

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I have more photos from the art museum trip, I promise, but I thought first I might post about the project I was working on all weekend that distracted me from posting.

First, some back story: Mary Robinette Kowal is an author who writes a series of books called the Glamourist Histories, which are usually described as “Jane Austen with magic.” She does an enormous amount of research for these books to make them as historically accurate as possible, (before she changes them for the purposes of her story, because magic works in this version of England, and it has some other effects on history, too.) She also runs a challenge every February called The Month of Letters, in which people try to send a piece of actual mail every day the post office is open that month (23 days). Obviously, writing letters was a huge part of living in the Regency period, and if you are a fan of her books and want to send either of her main characters a letter, they will write you back, in the style and timeline of the books.

MRK came to Quail Ridge Books last year to do a reading for the third book in the series, and while getting my book signed, I explained that I liked to make temari for authors I enjoyed, and I’d love to make one for her. She seemed intrigued by the idea, so when 2014 Letter Month rolled around, I thought I’d finally make one and send it, but then I got too busy and ran out of time. Fast forward a few months to when she started her book tour for the fourth book, and it looked like she wouldn’t be hitting the East Coast at all… but then she added a stop in Raleigh! Hooray! And this was the impetus I needed to actually finally work on the project.

First, the temari. In the books, the main character, Jane, wants to find a way to make magic transportable, because glamour, the magic system used in this world, is basically light being manipulated into a visible illusion and anchored onto something stable in the real world. It can’t be used while moving, because it’s too hard to keep anchoring it to things (more or less.) But then Jane gets the idea that maybe individual effects (sort of like spells) could be worked into a glass sphere, and that could be carried. A magical sphere? How could I resist? The swirl pattern seems the most illusionary and magic-seeming, obviously, so then I just needed to choose some colors that reminded me of glass.

As magical as possible

The Glamourist Sphere, as magical as possible

I ended up with a dark teal background to offer contrast for some variegated thread in soft blues and greens. This was the first time I used variegated for a swirl, and I think it worked well. (DMC Pearl Variations, I think color 4020 Tropical Waters, but I’ve lost the tag, so I’m just guessing based on an image of the color chart right now.)

This is me, though, and none of my author temari can be one simple ball (see past examples for Elizabeth Bear, Seanan McGuire, and Susan Wittig Albert.) Hence, my brain also decided I needed to write Jane a letter explaining in a period-appropriate way why she might be receiving such a thing.

Two and a fourth pages of tiny writing

Two and a fourth pages of tiny writing

First I did a week of pondering and research (as much as I could do from home, without a PhD in Japanese history or easy access to an academic library) to come up with a plausible story. Then I wrote a draft of the letter on the computer, so I could fiddle with it until it seemed all right. And then I wrote it out longhand. On fancy handmade paper from Japan, from a fancy stationery set I bought in Tokyo in 2002. Clearly I had been saving it for just this occasion!

(I’ll post the text of the letter behind a cut at the end of this post, for anyone interested in how I managed to make the gift of a Japanese temari semi-plausible for a woman from Regency England.)

Fancy Japanese stationery

Fancy Japanese stationery

I did also attempt to use my wax and seal on the flap of the envelope, because, yes, I am the kind of person who would already have such a thing on hand, but it had been a really long time since I tried to use it, so it didn’t turn out very pretty. Also, I managed to set the edge of the envelope flap on fire briefly, but I blew it out before it could do more than singe. Anyway, I didn’t take a picture of that part. Let’s look at the pretty books instead! Here is the temari sitting on top of book two, Glamour in Glass, and three, Without a Summer. (I didn’t just choose these two because they coordinated with the temari; book one, Shades of Milk and Honey, is just on my Kindle, which is far less picturesque.)

Books 2 & 3, with temari and letter

Books 2 & 3, with temari and letter

This time, MRK was touring for the fourth book, Valour and Vanity, and she gave everyone who attended the reading and bought a book at the bookstore a sandalwood fan, as a bribe reward for supporting independent bookstores. The fan will probably find itself being used as a photographic prop in the background of future temari pictures.

Book 4 and fan

Book 4 and fan

And, for anyone who hasn’t been to a Mary Robinette Kowal reading before, know that some of the things you are missing include period-accurate attire, including discussion of all the layers of undergarments necessary, if you care to ask; and a puppet show, this time with a truly hilarious bonus pre-reading story about a marionette show gone horribly wrong. (Ask about the Sleeping Beauty needle incident if you would like to laugh yourself into tears.)

Regency attire and a shadow puppet play

Regency attire and a shadow puppet play

And now, for the truly intrepid, my letter to Jane. I’ve added footnotes and links to historically accurate stuff that you can read more about on the internet. (more…)

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On April 20, my brother got married! It was a very nice ceremony at the Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo, NC, which made for a beautiful, if chilly, backdrop. I had intended to give them a temari as a gift on the actual day, but about a week and a half before the wedding, Ivy executed a perfect knee tackle on me while I was trying to take her for a run at the beginning of her walk. This resulted in a spectacularly skinned left inner wrist, (as well as a more minorly skinned elbow and knee,) and meant I couldn’t actually grip a temari to stitch on until it had healed. So that’s why I ended up not even starting on it until after the wedding.

But! I think it worked out for the best! Because this way, I actually got to see the whole wedding and the reception decor, which gave me a much better feeling for the colors and themes that were used the most. Here’s Zack in his tan linen suit, with a two-color blue tie. The groomsmen all had matching suits (minus the jacket) and ties, and the bridesmaids were all in the darker blue.

Zack and Kelly

Zack and Kelly

(Photo by my uncle, Ray Ritchie.)

The table decorations at the reception featured sand, shells, and starfish:

Table centerpiece

Table centerpiece

The cake and bouquets

The cake and bouquets

So, with all that in mind, I started to get ideas for the temari I wanted to make. My original plan had been to do a variation of Christmas Spirit with shades of blue in place of the red and green, and swirls in the diamonds around the equator instead of starbursts, to better evoke the idea of waves. However, after having been to the wedding and seen all the starfish, I decided on a different direction. I kept the sandy tan background color, but did a 32-faces division and used silk lamé braid to do multicolor blue swirls in all the hexagons, leaving the 12 pentagon faces open for an inward-stitched starfish in pale natural silk. The center has a rattle filled with the traditional wedding rice, too.

Zack and Kelly's Seaside Wedding temari

Zack and Kelly’s Seaside Wedding temari

I like the way the multicolor blue swirls manage to get both colors of Zack’s tie. The nice thing about the silk lamé braid is that it lends the waves a nice sparkle, although it does tend to spread out a bit more than a regular twisted fiber, so the swirling effect isn’t as crisp and pronounced as I would normally like. The regular silk worked out for the starfish very well, though, since it’s soft enough to blend all together into a nice solid shape when stitched close together like this. (Plus, it’s so soft, I love working with it.)

A slightly different view

A slightly different view

I was finally able to give it to them on Sunday, when we were all together again for a family Mother’s Day dinner, so now I can allow myself to blog about it. (I don’t like to post about gift temari until the giftee has actually seen it.)

Many congratulations to them! Hopefully this temari will serve as a nice reminder of the day.

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Temari: Irising Iris

As I said in my last post, I spent my time at the FiberFest working on a swirl ball as a demonstration for the Oliver Twist pattern kits Barb had available for sale. I was eager to do it because I gave the only other all-over swirl ball I had done to someone as a present and never gotten around to making a new one for myself. Here’s the final version:

Purple all-over swirl

Purple all-over swirl

This was a great ball to work on at the show because once you get the marking done (this is a 14-faces marking, if you want to try it) all you have to do is a continuous swirl from the outside of each shape to the center, which doesn’t take a huge amount of concentration and allows for easy interruptions. However, once you get several neighboring shapes done, it starts to look really complicated, which always impresses people. I had to keep repeating that it really is a beginner pattern.

While we were there, a visitor to our booth commented that the swirls really reminded her of the iris fold in origami. What she meant, of course, was this, where the fold mimics the iris of an eye or a camera. Given the season and the usual floral motifs of many temari, though, our minds immediately went to iris flowers instead. Barb noted that it would look quite nice to do the hexagonal swirls in the shades of an iris, and then I thought of putting greens in the squares. Of course, once the pun dawned on me, I was doubly determined to try it out. Here’s my proof of concept ball:

Irising Irises

Irising Irises

I’m pretty pleased with it. I think next time I might do another row of the darkest purple before I start on the medium shade, and subtract one row from the lightest purple, but those are very minor changes. It also strikes me as a design that would work very well for camellia and daffodil colors, too. I could have a whole series!

Here’s both balls, with the Purple Rose Garden ball thrown in just because I like sets of three:

Purple set

Purple set

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Temari Ball: Swirl

As I promised at the end of my last temari post, the next ball I’ve almost completed now is the Swirl Ball. Due to a bizarre story about another temari person trying to insist that they can copyright a stitching technique, Barb has never written down the instructions for the way she marks this ball, which made it challenging to try to do on my own two weeks later. However, based on my memory of her verbal instructions, my own mental visualizations of how it was supposed to look, and some judicious browsing of the patterns forum on TemariKai, I figured it out.

Despite how fantastically complicated this ball looks in the end, it is essentially just 6 evenly spaced diamonds and the hexagons formed between them. Within each shape, you just do increasingly small offset stitches until you get to the center, and then move to the next shape. Here’s a picture to give you an idea of what the shapes look like while the stitching is in progress:

Swirl Ball in Progress

(more…)

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