Tai Chi Y3D252: Thanksgiving


Got up, did tai chi.  Now have to load the car, travel, eat turkey, and take a nap before bedtime.

Model coat/ Viking style.

a model coat I’m making.

Yesterday wound up being quite a productive day, though there were some hiccups along the way. After some problems with the tension on my sewing machine, I was able to assemble this small model of a Viking-style coat which I plan to make for myself.  I’ve got something wrong in it, and I’m not sure what; I also forgot to put in the gores, which I think go under the arms.  All the same, it relatively easy to assemble and I think it will look good.

I also made roasted brussels sprouts and carrot-ginger-lemongrass soup for Thanksgiving and Black Friday (we’re pretty traditional in my family and none of us will be shopping on Friday — a walk in the woods is about our collective speed).  And I also made myself spaghetti with white clam sauce for dinner, with some good crusty bread to soak up the last of the sauce.  Mmmm.

Completed inkle

finished cord

I also ran the inkle loom until one of the string heddles broke.  I replaced that, but in the process of replacing that one, I broke another; and in the course of replacing that one, I tangled together a short warp with a long warp.  The result was that I was unable to get the results I needed any more. So I finished off the inkle (apparently that’s what these ribbons are called produced on a tape loom, inkles [and can I just say how annoying it is not to be able to add words to the online dictionary? It’s still telling me even though I looked up the word and it’s a real word, inkle, that it should be “ankle”]), and removed it from the loom.

I didn’t get back to the picture, Quin. I’m sorry.  And today is likely going to be two days in a row that I’ve missed drawing.  On the other hand, I was able to clear a few projects from my calendar and my to-do list, so it should be fairly easy to get back into the diagramming process fairly rapidly.

Tai Chi Y3D251: Snow Day

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Allegedly, a massive storm is bearing down on this part of the world, and I will shortly be buried in snow. Before that happens, I got up, did tai chi, and now I’m going to do some errands.  I’ll try to come back to this entry at a later time, and make a drawing and some corrections to commenter Quin’s issues. But at the moment, I need to make sure my house is stocked.

Inkle Weaving: Wood to Ribbon

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Inkle Weaving

Nothing special to see here.

So… I’ve successfully demonstrated proof of concept with my Inkle Loom efforts.  On Friday, I had wood as raw materials, screws, dowels, and bolts. Monday, I put those parts together with some glue, some sweat, and some hard labor. Today, I have ribbon produced with the Inkle Loom that I built with those parts.

It’s not pretty.  But I’ve produced about two feet of ribbon, and I have another couple of feet to go on this sized loom. Wow. What an undertaking this was.

And yet, to go in three days from no idea how to build a loom (well, I’ve cheated — I’ve built a loom before), to actually producing cloth or ribbon… That’s not bad, really.

It’s soft, and made of pearl cotton.  I’m looking forward to producing some bands of really nice designs for the clothing that I’m making. Once I get a little better at the work, of course, and have a better sense of what the heck I’m doing.

I’ve learned a few things from this process. First of all, getting the heddles to sit right on the line is mission-critical.  This work today would have been a lot easier if someone had shown me what to do, as opposed to me figuring it out for myself.

Inkle Weaving

The loom before weaving

I’m not sure that any of this would have made sense without three or four YouTube videos, and even then it was pretty touch and go.

All the same — ribbon. I’ve built a tape loom, and while it looks nothing like the bird perched on the shoulder that I wrote about in the Orien fragments, it’s still considerably more exciting to get to this point than I would have imagined.

Go me.

Tai Chi Y3D250: The End in Mind


Begin with the end in mind...

Begin with the end in mind…

I woke up way too early this morning, after going to bed way too late. It’s comment writing season at school, and that means a lot of this late-night/early-morning work as I try to complete my seasonal writing chore.

Part of the reason that I went to bed late, though, is that comment-writing brought me an insight about my tai chi program.  With comments, I begin with the end in mind — my goal is to write 50-100 words about each child, and to touch on a few core issues in the last quarter.   And this means that I should do the same with my tai chi diagrams: If my goal is to be able to make a Book, and the book has to be fifteen pages, then I should be scaling my drawings to match. And that means developing a template.

Which I promptly did.  I went through my form, and thought about how many drawings would be needed to explain each posture; and how I might represent those postures on the page; and how many drawings each form would need.

I’m probably wrong.  But at least now I have a starting point.  I know about how many postures, and which postures, will be on each page from beginning to end.  And I did it in fourteen pages — which means that there’s still room for explanatory text and guidelines at the beginning or end.

The question of scale is potentially an issue.  Maybe Quin can give me a sense of how the scale works for these? The movement, of course, is Brush Knee with a Twist Step, which got sonnet-ified thus:

Draw right hand back, as though drawing a bow,
and shift all weight to the foot on the right.
Step with left foot, and be prepared to go
forward the moment things are even slight-
ly to your advantage. Thrust the right hand,
and sweep left hand and arm across, and down.
Sink the left foot, as though it were in sand;
right foot lightens as the movement makes known
the force from left foot to right hand expressed.
Left hand sweeps attacks to the knee and thigh,
and when all defenses are thus addressed,
the body is almost ready to fly!
But check the attack: re-plant the right heel;
your forward thrust, it will anchor and steal.

I’m not happy AT ALL with the drawings for today, I have to admit.  I don’t mean that I’m unhappy with the act of drawing; I mean that I’m unhappy with the content of them.  I don’t think they represent today’s movement particularly well, or even at all. But at the moment, I don’t know how to do it more effectively.  Maybe two of the postures should be from the side? I’ll think on it, and try again in the next round; this is one of those movements that appears twice in the form.

Today’s tai chi work was pretty simple and pretty easy, and pretty close to right: right speed, right depth of intention, right level of focus.  Pleased with today’s work.

Inkle Loom

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Inkle loom

The completed loom

I finished assembling the loom. The biggest challenge was finding the feet, which I’d left in another room on the wrong table.  The next challenge is going to be stringing it and setting up the heddles (which go on the upper two pegs on the left-hand side).  And then using it, f course.  But the principal work, of figuring out how to build the thing, is done.

It took considerably more tools, and more equipment, and more materials, than I could have expected.  For one thing, the gluing did not go as expected. For another, I discovered that I had no bits for my power drill to drive screws, so I needed to get one.

News flash: it’s not possible to buy one screw-driver bit, at least not at the hardware store I went to.  You need to buy a kit, and the kit is basically $12 or so plus shipping and handling, and tax.

Because there’s always tax.

Inkle loom

gluing wood together is complicated.

And all of that work results in a loom that I can’t even tell you yet whether it will work or not.  It looks like the looms are supposed to look in the pictures, which is good.  And it looks like the loom is set up properly, more or less.  So the hardware is assembled correctly.

But I’m dubious. I feel like the trunk (the horizontal bar across the bottom, the one with the slot in it, and the wooden bar mounted at an angle) isn’t long enough to create a decent-enough shed to work with.  Or that there’s something or other out of place.  Or that I’ve built this wrong.

There’s really nothing for it but to go to Michael’s, buy some cotton thread, and try stringing it.  That’s really going to be the only way to see if this thing works.

In the meantime, this is my first project executed in wood since the Adirondack Chair finished up a couple of weeks ago.  So it feels good to get my tools limbered up and build something besides a chair out of wood.  It may not be perfect, but it’s close enough for my sort of work.  And it makes me feel empowered, as all completed projects do.

More than that, I’m really happy that I completed the construction of a machine. I mean, think about this.  I built a machine. OK, it’s only got one moving part (the flat block mounted at an angle through the slot on the trunk), but it’s still a machine.  It’s a tool for making stuff — for making ribbon or trim.  And any thing you make that can be used to make other things has a peculiar cachet all its own.

I feel great.

Tai Chi Y3D249: White Crane Spreads Wings

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Woke this morning at 5:30 (no school today), did tai chi and my druidic work, and then took some time to prepare for today’s Mars in Exaltation.CraneSpreadsWings And then I made the image for today’s movement, White Crane Spreads Wings, also called White Heron Spreads Wings.

The poem that I did on this movement went like this, back on day 135. When I learned this move, it was called White Crane Spreads Wings.  I think somewhere along the way, I changed it in my own mind to be called “White Heron” because I have another poem of the same name, about watching a heron hunt in the river marshes near my parents’ house. Anyway, this poem, about this tai chi movement, goes like this:

Left hand sinks downward, but right hand rises,
the first past left hip, the second up high.
White Heron hunts with shadowed disguises —
“my legs are sticks” is its first tiny lie,
and the second is how it hides its head
behind a curtain of feathers and shade.
Circle your arms, so neither is led
by the other; and stand as though you wade
in the shallows. Right hand comes curving down,
while left hand goes curving to the top,
left palm pressing upward, above the crown;
right hand seeks earth as though to never stop.
Then sudden reverse: both hands turn and close,
to hold chi at navel, fragile as rose.

I’m thinking about my decision to put three movements of this posture on a single page, a page with an existing pair of postures.  This is just yesterday’s chart, with the blank spaces filled in.  Hmm.  Already I have it in mind to go back and re-do a lot of these images, but I’m also aware of the possibility of printing a Book.  They allow for fifteen pages, which isn’t enough for the sonnets (all sixty of them!) hand-written, but might be enough for the diagrams of my tai chi form… a nifty little grammar of movement, perhaps?  But that means concentrating and consolidating the drawings — more postures to a page.  I can’t decide if that will help people learn the form better, to see multiple movements in sequence; or be more confusing.

Time will tell.

Poem: Hymn for Mars in Exaltation

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Monday, Wednesday, and next Monday (December 1) all see Mars moving into and then out of its degree of Exaltation in the sign of Capricorn (28th Degree).  In keeping with my regular custom to try to create poetry around such astrological moments, I offer this ode, for the use of people who pay attention to such matters.

Hail to thee, Mars, in exalted station
in the Sea-Goat’s belly — a burning stone
aflame with the force of God’s creation,
blood-red angel fated to fight alone.
You are pure fire now closed in a hearth,
energy harnessed and put to labor,
muscle and sinew bound to reach some goal.
And as the athanor proves the gold’s worth,
so may you prove a forceful crusader —
power and strength merged with perfect control.

You are the force of drive and completion—
by daring and vigor you get. Things. Done!
With force, and fury, and agitation,
you direct the fight so victory’s won.
Meticulously sexy, full of drive,
Mars in Capricorn, logistics’ fierce king,
bring discipline and order to the camp!
Bend backs to the work, and make the work thrive,
even as sweat falls! For your heart must sing
to hear men’s feet drumming a common stamp!

Warrior divine, great Heaven’s right arm,
endow my sinews with purpose and will:
Shield me with courage, and let no alarm
drive me backward — help me to drink my fill
of the victor’s cup! Help me love the fight
also, the challenge seen — and met — and beat —
the bone-weary glee from a foe struck down
by right of arms, due diligence, and might
well-applied; for I refuse all defeat
unless, Mars, it brings me greater renown.

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