Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "A Fine Sweater"

This poem is spillover from the September 3, 2019 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] siliconshaman, [personal profile] curiosity, [personal profile] pantha, and [personal profile] fuzzyred, [personal profile] technoshaman, and [personal profile] book_worm5. It belongs to the Shiv thread of the Polychrome Heroics series, and follows "In the Warm Circle of Family and Friends" and "The Quickest Way to Know a Woman," so read those first.


"A Fine Sweater"

[Wednesday, February 4, 2015]

Shiv and Luci sat on the floor of
his living room, sorting their yarn.

"We bought too much yarn again!"
Luci said, laughing at the stash.

"Yeah, but it's so pretty,"
Shiv said as he let balls of
recycled sari silk spill
through his fingers.

"We should make
something with
this," Luci said.

"Hey, I've already
been making stuff,"
Shiv said. "I wanted
to learn knitting. It's
really not that hard."

"Okay, I've been making
some things too, but I should
do more," Luci said. "We're
building up a big backlog."

"So we could do a big project,"
Shiv said with a shrug. "Maybe
we could make something together?"

"Like what?" Luci waved a hand
over the riot of color. "We didn't
shop with a plan, we just grabbed
whatever we liked. This looks
like one of Dr. G's sweaters!"

They shared a look.

"Yeah," Shiv said softly.
"Let's do that."

"We'll need to find
a pattern," Luci said,
pulling out her phone.

Shiv checked the family file
of sizes and preferences
for clothes, then sent Luci
the relevant information.

"Okay, here's one," Luci said.
"It's pretty simple, just stripes."

Shiv looked at the pictures.
"Yeah, he's gonna love that."

"How about I do the body
of the sweater and you do
the sleeves?" Luci suggested.

"Works for me," Shiv said.

He got his four-and-one set
of double-pointed needles,
grabbed a ball of green yarn,
and started casting on.


[Wednesday, March 4, 2015]

They had been knitting the sweater
off and on for about a month
when Shiv noticed a problem.

"Fuck!" he said, glaring at it.
"I screwed up the sleeve."

"What's wrong?" Luci said.

"Well, look at it!" Shiv said as
he flapped it at her. "Both ends
are wider than the middle."

"Oh," she said. "It's not
supposed to be like that."

"No shit," Shiv grumbled,
stuffing his hand into it.

The current sleeve was
way too big on Shiv's arm, but
the pink-and-purple part cupped
his shoulder like it should, while
the midnight-blue end belled out
around his wrist instead of
tightening into a proper cuff.

"I must have switched the pattern
somehow," he said. "Either that or
I didn't pay close enough attention
and did a lot of extra increases."

"You do increases all the time,"
Luci pointed out. "That's how
you make the hyperbolic planes."

"Yeah, that could be it," Shiv said.
"How does your part look?"

"I think I might run out of
yarn before I get all the way
to the bottom, too," Luci said.

"Don't look at me, I'm broke,"
Shiv said, shaking his head.
"We've spent a ton on this."

"Maybe we shouldn't mention
that to Dr. G," Luci said.

"Definitely not," Shiv said.

"Oh well," Luci said. "It will
probably be fine anyway."

Shiv squirmed a little inside,
but he had to admit that Dr. G
wore many different styles
and shapes of sweater.

"Yeah, probably," Shiv said.


[Sunday, March 29, 2015]

Shiv shuffled nervously
as Luci offered the package.

"Happy birthday," she said.
"This is from me and Shiv."

"I, uh, made the paper too,"
Shiv said. There had been
a vegetable-stamping party
with Edison and Jaxon,
where Shiv had maybe
gone a bit overboard with
the celery-stalk roses.

"I admire the artwork,"
Dr. G said as he carefully
picked at the tape with
the edge of his thumbnail.

"Oh for -- gimme that and
I'll cut the tape for you,"
Shiv said, wiggling a hand.

Otherwise they'd be at this
all day while Dr. G tried
to unwrap the gift without
tearing the paper off it.

It only took a moment for
Shiv to sharpen the sliver
of metal he kept under
a fingernail and open
the ends of the box.

"There you go," he said.

Dr. G began peeling
the paper off the package.

There was no need
to be nervous about it.
Really there wasn't.

Shiv's feet jittered anyway.
He shoved them under his seat.

"Wow, that's bright!" Dr. G said happily
as the lid lifted away from the box.

Then he took out the bundle
and it unfolded into a sweater
showing dozens of colors.

"Oh," he breathed,
and his eyes watered.

Shiv was dead certain
that botching the sleeves
had wrecked the whole thing.

And then Dr. G swept
both of them into a hug.

"You both made this?"
he said, squeezing them.

"We worked on it together,"
Luci said, hugging him back.
"We had a lot of fun with it."

Dr. G said something else
in Irish that Shiv couldn't catch.

"What's that?" Shiv said as
the older man finally let go.

Dr. G chuckled. "I said
that it's a fine sweater."

The other Finns all laughed.

Before Shiv could huff up
about that, Dr. G explained,
"Sodath is an Irish color word
usually translated as 'fine-colored,'
but nobody agrees on what
that actually means."

"Most often, people think of
something the color of bone, or
pale yellow, like primrose yellow,"
said Mrs. Dr. G. "It can be
any sun-bright shade, though."

"Also soft or sweet, like
pastels," Molly added.

"It can mean rich in color
or texture too," Halley said.
"Sometimes they meant 'fine'
like expensive dyes or fabrics.
Other times it was something like
'a coat of many colors' -- you know,
the who-dropped-the-paint-box mix
of royal people or Fey who never
met a color they didn't like."

Dr. G grinned. "See now,
every single one of those
appears in this sweater,
which is thus sodath by
any possible interpretation.
It is a very fine sweater,
and I love it very much."

Shiv grinned back. He
adored those Irish words
for all their funny colors.

"I'm happy to hear that,"
Luci said. "One more thing --
I permed it with my superpower,
so it won't run or stain, and it'd
take a lot of force to rip it. You
can still wash it, though. Water
will wet it, just won't change it."

Dr. G looked even more stunned,
if that was even possible.

"This is an incredible gift,"
he said. "Thank you so much!"

Okay, so the sleeve screwup
hadn't wrecked it after all.

Shiv watched Dr. G shuck off
his purple-and-yellow sweater so
he could put on the new one.

"Don't look now, Da,
I think your sweater
matches your pants,"
Aida teased him.

Everyone laughed,
but that was okay.

Dr. G looked down at
his khakis, which were
the same color as the bands
of blonde and beige yarn in
the middle of the sleeves
and near the lower hem.

"I'm not sure I have any pants
that don't match this," he mused.
"I'll just have to rely on the yarn itself
to get people's attention today."

Shiv scooched over and
hugged him again, just to get
a closer look at the silk yarn
glimmering in the light.

It looked ... really fine.

* * *

Notes:

Graham and Tolli's birthday is actually on April 1, with a weekend celebration to catch as many people as possible.

Sodath is one of those Irish color words that can mean a lot of different things. It is often translated as "fine-colored." This can be defined as "pale yellow or bone," or "primrose yellow." Another rendering is " All colours having a delicate or subtle quality or a sun-bright amber colouring." They may be "soft" or "sweet," perhaps as in pastel. I've also seen, but couldn't pin down an online reference for these, implications of "rich" in color or texture -- that it was "fine" by way of expensive dyes and/or fabrics. It could also mean something along the lines of "a coat of many colors," not as named in other mixed-color words of Irish vocabulary, but the explosion-in-a-paint-locker effect of royal people or Fey who never met a color they didn't like. You will further note that every single one of these appears in that sweater, which is thus sodath by any possible interpretation.

Sodath - fine colored [pale yellow or bone]

Sodath, fine-colored (many modern Druids use primrose yellow, serind in Irish; for Saille's color)

FINE-COLOURED, Well-coloured, Sodath (Sudatios); All colours having a delicate or subtle quality or a sun-bright amber colouring. In Druidical terms, the brighter and lighter colours partake in the favourable qualities of light (Sunlight) and the darker hues partake in the more sinister aspects (New Moon). These colours may be termed soft colour (Su-liuio), soft (Suadus) or honey sweet (Sumelis). This is what Merlin, in his Cosmic Conclusion, describes as "the shining Sun shall dim under the amber of Mercury... and the Oceanic Apollo (Moritasgos) shall whip up the clouds".

See the front and back of Dr. G's sweater from Shiv and Luci.



















Recycled silk yarn is beautiful. This is Luci's sari yarn from Simon. Shiv bought some later.

Double-pointed needles are used for knitting in the round. Here are text and video instructions. Shop for double-pointed or single-pointed knitting needles.

Shiv's vegetable-printed wrapping paper has roses. Learn how to make it.

Here is Graham's purple and yellow sweater.
Tags: crafts, cyberfunded creativity, family skills, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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