Sunday, 17 July 2011

Like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel...

Last week I picked up a new habit that has already begun taking up my attention - the drawing of celtic knotwork.  You know, those woven patterns you get on all things Irish where there doesn't seem to be a beginning or end to the line.

In a moment of boredom I decided to find out how they worked and now I'm hooked in the same way other people are hooked on sudoku.  Anyone who has seen me draw knows I normally steer clear of repeating patterns and straight lines so knotwork seems like an odd choice but I think the pull comes from the intricacy of it and the fact that you never know what you're going to end up with.  It's a different result every time.  Although now I'm starting to be able to predict my patterns really all you can do is set up the grid size you want to draw on, insert your 'breaks' (the markers that show you where there you will create gaps in the weave) and start drawing, hoping for the best.  I might try set up a really interesting set of breaks only to begin drawing and find that that particular configuration doesn't work and I'm stuck in an infinite loop (naturally I only make this discovery half way through the drawing!), or then again it might work out perfectly on the first try.  One of them confused me so much I had to draw it out 3 times before I got it right!

I've been doing them at home, on trains, on the phone, at my work desk, embossed onto the backs of foil wrappers, down the sides of my conference notes, over dinner, basically at any time when I should have been concentrating but wasn't.  Below is my current collection of knots I have drawn over the past week or so.  Most of them were drawn very small, and are wobbly and scribbly so they've been enlarged and some given colour to help you make out the patterns.

Now someone knowledgeable will tell me off because most of these involved more than one line of weave, but I don't mind that so much:) 
I've got up to a speed now where I can set up a new set of breaks on a grid pattern and knock one of these little scruffy ones out in about 15 minutes.  But then I went through them again, picked out a favourite and copied it out on big A2 paper, geometrically correct, with a ruler and a set square and everything.  It took me about an hour, not including the colouring.  The paint that looks ochre is actually metallic gold.

So, next challenge, circle-patterned knotwork!

Oh, and on a slightly related note of other people with obsessive hobbies, check out the blog of my friend Magical Mark Watson.  He's already a very capable performer of juggling, magic and pantomimes (plus a really nice guy to be around - I defy anyone to spend more than a minute in conversation with him without smiling), but as part of a rather impressive plan to do something useful over his summer he'll be performing and posting a new juggling trick every day.   This was Day 4:

 "But surely!" I hear you cry "Surely you can only juggle so many tricks!  How many can there possibly be?"  Well we have 103 days to find out - roll on summer!

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