Last snowflake of the season


douglas said...

That's quite lovely. Does the lace making technique lend itself to the proper 6-sided structure, or is it indifferent to it (or antagonistic)?

Snowflakes are fascinating- One of the best design books I've ever read wasn't about buildings or even things man made- but about snowflakes. I see he has a newer book, so that may be more comprehensive, but "The Snowflake" is fantastic and comprehensive.

Texan99 said...

This kind of crochet is done in the round, rather than back and forth in a rectangle (as in an afghan), so it lends itself to any kind of radial symmetry, not just six-pointed. The trouble I've run into is in keeping the pattern from becoming too round and boring, but at the same time not letting the six "arms" get too spindly and isolated, because then they won't be stiff enough. You can get more stiffness with thicker thread, of course, but then you lose the detail. You can starch the results, too, but I sort of see that as cheating.

So basically I try to crochet in a pattern that takes me in and out of the center a lot, and I vary the stitch types so that there are areas of dark and light, which leaves an impression of six separate arms even though there may be thinner, weblike connections along the rim of the "wheel." Because of course one way or another you have to make the 360-degree circuit with every round.

A real snowflake has more 60-degree angles than my designs do. The laciness of crochet is just kind of a stylized nod to the openness and variety of the snowflake crystals.

One way the designs remind me of real snowflakes is that I can't repeat a pattern. Whenever I do one that pleases me, I may start the next one intending to copy it, but it's impossible not to improvise.

I'm going to go check out the design book!

Texan99 said...

Hey, I can't make the link work.

douglas said...

Whoops- let's try that again-
"The Snowflake" by Kenneth Libbrecht

That should work.

So what you're doing is something we try to teach the kids in First Year Studio- understand your system and you can become it's master by working with it's nature- try to impose on it and the results will always be lacking. Once you understand the system well enough, you can make it do things that at first might not seem like they would work, but can if you find the right connections and relationships, and keep the right parameters.

It seems that much like real snowflakes, it's the aggregation and series of relationships in that aggregation that make each complete construct unique.

Texan99 said...

Exactly. I don't aggregate the way a real snowflake would, which is some combination of new spikes coming off at a 60-degree angle. But whatever I do in a particular round is repeated six times, and then forms the basis for the next round. A tiny change in one round propagates until the final round is very different from the previous snowflake. A lot of this is random, based on whatever stitch I feel like making next, but I also impose some order, knowing that what will look good overall is not necessarily what I'm thinking of on the micro-scale at any moment. That's where I look at previous snowflakes and try to see what worked well and might be repeated or expanded on. And I'm always surprised by the final product. It never looks anything like what I had in mind, but luckily I often like it.

And now off to try the book again!

douglas said...

IF you find it, you'll find that what you just described, and what happens in the formation of snowflakes is almost identical- except your 'random' decisions (arbitrary is probably more accurate, but even then, I think you have rules- you just haven't formalized them) would be things like wind, humidity, altitude, and other environmentals.

Let me know what you think if you do get a look at it.

Texan99 said...

It's a pricey book, but I lucked out and found a $5 used copy, which is already on the way.

Yes, I was joking about the randomness, but in any case I'm not going by a written, repeated pattern. I'm guided by what strikes my fancy at the moment, my fancy being a complex ordering device though not entirely conscious. If crocheting didn't make my right brain happy, I wouldn't do it.

douglas said...

Of course! That was sort of a reflexive response cultivated through repeatedly pointing out to students that random means something, and the decisions you make you make for some reason- however arbitrary, as it's affected by the rules we've absorbed in deciding what we like aesthetically and systemically. Of course I didn't really need to drop that on you- Sorry!

Interesting that it's pricey now- I remember picking up a couple copies at clearance for around $7 a few years ago.

Texan99 said...

Oh, heavens, don't apologize. I know the word "random" has a loose meaning. I always appreciate your comments very much; they're conversation in the nicest sense: things I'd never have thought of myself, but that I wish I had.

I'm looking forward to the book.