February 25, 2011

Lace rocks

So, what's got this White Stripes song to do with lace? IMHO lots of things. Hear how the song starts: just the bass describing a sinous but rithmic line, then the drums intervene with a steady staccato beat and finally voice, guitar and a more complex drumming fill the space before going bak to bare essentials. Yet, everything lies over that initial bass line that sets the rhythm of everything, and everything else is built on it.

Many people think of lace knitting as something that has more similarities with waltz than with rock music, but yet I see it as something really connected with rock. The main focus on good lace knitting (designing) is not so much on the complexity of the stitch or the intricacy or how precise you are or need to be to knit it properly: It's a matter of rhythm. The main pattern works like the bass line in 7 Nation Army (or in Jimi Hendrix' version of All Along the Watchtower), a smaller pattern may work like the drum's beat framing it, and a more complicate pattern would be the voice and guitar. Yet, everything must fall perfectly into the right rhythm, to work well.

This occurred to me while editing a lacey pattern with a crocheted fan border for a client. The lace part was built on 11 repetitions of an 8-stitch leaf pattern, but then the designer decided to oddly frame it with these crocheted fans that fell one stitch short of 8, that is completely offbeat. Now, a very clever lace designer could have worked this magistrally obtraining something like a double quartet free jazz improvisation (or an african polyrhythm) where things seem to go every which way but in the end everything falls just right, if your ears are keen enough. But int his case there was just this ugly (ugly!) lack of rhythm. Please, don't do that. It huts my ears and eyes. If you want to design anything with lace, make sure you get the tempo right, the beat must fall just right, especiall if you are not really a master. Otherwise, I may have to send in Ginger Baker to give you a drumming and rhythm lesson.

Bonus tracks: 1, 2.

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