Monday, December 28, 2009

Hello, my name is Django MacDougall

As regular readers will know, music plays a significant role in the TSMK household. So much so in fact, that some of us - while no doubt under the influence of Euterpe – will forget to wear clothes.

We’ve yet to come across a musical genre that wasn’t liked by at least one member of the family. My tastes are all over the proverbial map and, actually, if they were to be plotted on a map I think I’d be able to identify at least one favorite artist or style from six continents, and many regions within. I say six not because I’ve affirmatively ruled out Antarctica, but rather because I don’t think I’ve yet come across any music from that area. Who knows - one day I may hear a recording of some particularly syncopated stylings from a group of Aptenodytes forsteri and then I’ll be able to claim victory on all seven.

One of my long favorites is gypsy jazz. I can listen to recordings of St├ęphane Grappelli, Django Reinhardt and the like for hours on end. It makes great accompaniment for knitting, reading, playing with the kids, enjoying a hand-rolled cigar or drinking a fine glass of just about anything. My only trouble with the genre is that it makes me somewhat inadequate. For most of his career, Reinhardt had the full use of only three fingers (well, two fingers and a thumb) on his left hand. And yet his fretwork is lithe, fluid and blindingly fast. I have full function of all my fingers, but can’t play the transcriptions of his solos (although I don’t play guitar to pay the bills – I might be better if that was my day job. Alternatively, I might starve).

Although I will concede that it doesn’t make for terribly good music to knit by, I also enjoy bagpipe music. I’m not sure why. Perhaps my affinity for the bagpipes is linked to whatever genetic flaw causes me to also enjoy the banjo. In any event, my love of the pipes is one which is unshared by Mrs. TSMK or, indeed, by my two oldest boys. It’s too to say whether the baby likes the pipes – but I’m telling myself that he will. The dogs seem something between noncommittal and outwardly hostile toward the music. The cat is aloof.

So with all that being said, I’m pleased to report that on Christmas morning, I rushed downstairs with the children to see what Santa might have brought. This year, Santa brought the children and Mrs. TSMK a number of nice gifts. But he saved the best (in my opinion) for me: a set of highland pipes, a practice chanter, and an instructional book with accompanying DVD. I was in heaven. Mrs. TSMK – not so much – but she is being a good sport.

To accompany the pipes, and yet tip my cap to my enjoyment of gypsy jazz and its predominantly French influence, I decided I needed a new hat. So I looked through some beret patterns, as well as some patterns for tams, and came up with my own design. Here it is in all its glory. It was a quick knit – started on Friday night and finished Sunday morning. I used Cascade 220 for both colors – and then felted it very slightly.

Santa wasn’t the only one who was good to me on Christmas, however, I also received some wonderful knitting stuff from Mrs. TSMK and the kids. Two hanks (one shown) of Plucky Knitter 8-ply cashmere in a light blue, one hank of Plucky Knitter lace weight 50/50 silk/merino (700+ yds!) in a wine color and two hanks (one shown) of Jade Sapphire hand spun Mongolian Cashmere in "Kelp". Plus, a set of ebony circulars and a set of rosewood circulars, and an awesome new book: The Knitter’s Book of Wool by Clara Parks. Now what to make. . .?


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