Having an aptitude for sensing the cyclical rhythm of a musical piece, or the ebbs and flows of money or the bio-rhythmic beats of human emotion has always eluded me. I am a classic arrhythmic.
No Rhythm? Rhythm-deaf?
It’s not actually that I have no rhythm…it’s just that it takes a lot of effort for me to discern natural rhythms. More accurately, it often requires someone pointing out the rhythm to me before I can hear/see it.
Years ago, taking music lessons in piano, then trumpet, then clarinet, then saxophone, I could never understand how someone could pick up a piece of music and know how it should sound before ever hearing it…I finally had a music teacher tell me I should take up drums, because I had no natural aptitude for understanding rhythm, and that studying percussion would be the only way I might gain some understanding.
He was probably right, but the thought of learning drums seemed abhorrent to me…practically unnatural.
Years later, when Thaddeus and I got together, he was incredibly adept at seeing the natural rhythms of life and he started pointing out areas of our lives that seemed to be governed by this confounding principle. For instance, he’d suggest we make larger purchases for our house when finances were good, but start to cut back on spending when income was less…he had a feel for the ups and downs of finances that I was finally able to recognize, but only after he highlighted the pattern for me.
Another example of me needing guidance on tempo was when I started learning to dance the two-step at a local gay bar that did Country/Western dancing on Wednesday nights. I would rely on my dance partner to establish the rhythm of the song we were dancing to, and once I had it, I could dance really well. But left to start the dance by myself, I’d struggle to hear the rhythm and would regularly look to other couples on the dance floor to identify the “quick, quick, slow, slow” of the two-step in the song being played.
Alas, even knitting requires this befuddling idea of rhythm.
Learning a new technique or stitch pattern seems to have a certain “rhythm” to it…no? Having just knitted two projects that had similar stitch patterns, I had to constantly re-acquaint my hands to doing 1×1 ribbing and then switch to the linen stitch. Both those stitches had specific repetitions that my hands had to get re-acquainted with each time I switched from one project to the other.
My latest project has a whole new (and painfully difficult for me to figure out) rhythm.
I finished up the other bulky hat.
This one is for me and I quite love the colors of it.
Once finished with the hats for me and Thaddeus, I was looking for inspiration for a new project and found it on Facebook where one of the guys in one of my groups was knitting the “Read Between the Lines” shawl by Tammy Canavan-Soldaat.
The pattern seemed right up my alley…fine-gauge needles on fingering weight yarn and lots of garter stitch. BUT…it also uses the “illusion knitting” technique (not garter stitch at all!). I restarted this fiddly two-yarn shawl at least 30 times until I think I have FINALLY gotten my hands to memorize the basic rhythm of the stitch pattern.
Lest you think hours of work have resulted in yards of fabric, I’ve maybe finished four inches of this pattern so far.
Having established one of the rhythms of this multi-rhythmic pattern, it will move along a bit more quickly, but I have a feeling blog readers will be seeing a LOT of progress photos of this project.