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the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn
3 strands come together
in blue and green

In my very earliest efforts, I braided 3 strands together. This is a story of three braids I tried to make into one.

I consider the following braid, which I started making in Japan in the summer of 2014, to be quite handsome:

mint green, blue and beige kongoh; on disk. 3mm x 63inches (not including tassel) Fine, hard (i.e. tightly twisted) perle or crochet cotton purchased in, and iirc, manufactured in, Japan.

I know I made (or at least started) the piece in Japan because I bought the fiber there–this product isn't even available here. And...a memory came floating back up, of braiding on the train, fascinating Japanese to see a foreigner practice their ancient craft on a newfangled disk. —I recently stumbled across some initiative in which WoC were going to knit in public spaces, as a way of starting dialogues, because it's such a non-threatening topic.[1] Braiding certainly helped passed the tedium on trains; but it's also a way of subtly connecting with people, who may do no more than watch, but nevertheless come to understand the artisan as a harmless person who in their small way is doing something to add a tiny bit of beauty to the world.

And I could certainly leave it at that.

But one of the things that interests me is how malleable memory can be, even in the fact of evidence before one's very eyes. I decided I would like to document when I made my various braids over the past couple of years, ideally even the order in which I made them; this came out of the beaded embroidery series, which showed an interesting (to me at any rate) evolution in the work.

However, most people, myself included, tend to strip these narrative to simple, easily told story lines. So, there was the braid just shown. There's this one:

photogrphed 09nov2013.

And here's the braid in progress:


Obviously this yardage could not have been used to make that braid because

  1. the braid was completed before the disk was warped
  2. the process photo shows perle, not the super-soft Japanese cotton.

initial notes for a blue-green braid. Shot 12jun2014

Nevertheless my brain really, really really wanted to the two to be one and the same, because it would have so tidy. Failing that, could this be the hank for first braid shown?

Notes for a blue-green braid to be made with Japanese ‘soft’ cotton. Shot 22jun14.

Answer: Obviously not, because

  1. the mint/blue/beige braid is made fairly stiffly twisted cotton—it was harder even than perle cotton
  2. and duh, you can see the finished braid up in the corner, there! This is probably its completion date; at the very least, the implication is that it's inspiration for this hank.

As the next two pix show, there was too much thread, and it didn't fit properly on the bobbins. Also, the experimental braid structure was a pest.

My half-assed attempts to keep the threads from falling off the bobbins.

But wait, you say—obviously, some of the bobbins have beige/mint/blue. Some do—I used the last of the ball in this hank. Nevertheless, this hank is still sitting in a box, waiting to be braided. Moreover, half of the first braid is most assuredly not apple green.

I finally removed the braid, took it off the bobbins, and resolved to braid it on the marudai—but that has to wait, as I still have the experimental project from my masterclass sitting on there.[2]

See, the thing is, memory, if I'm understanding the latest research, is basically a few high points will a lot of ‘inbetweening’ on the fly that one's braid brain fills in on the fly—logically associated stuff, say. Thus, since I could only find one blue-green braid, (because I'm pretty sure I gave the 2013 one away to my friend Page, and the other one hasn't been braided yet) that must mean there's only one. Nope, there's at least three attempts, and two separate braids.

And if you've ever had a raging fight with someone was certain-sure of their memory, as you were of yours—well, here's how that happens.—This sort of thing is part of the reason I don't trust my memory, at least, not without some check-sums/additional support.[3]

Really, I must keep better notes.

[1]Most Japanese with whom we shared public train space were polite, or even friendly to [white, female] foreigners; but a few actively pulled away, or clearly were uncomfortable with us. Had we been black, or male, or especially, both, I think we would have seen even more discomfort. I love Japan, but that country also has issues with racism.

[2]Writing this post finally got me to email Tada-sensai and ask her to tell me what I'm doing wrong so's I can finally finish that darn project...!

[3]But I'm also hugely grateful that I don't have to cope with gaslighting. You begin to see why it's so absolutely sinister.


[blue] [green] [kumihimo] [2013] [2014]