Some Weird Backgrounding on Project Blue

Am deep in developing a “written” language for the worldbuilding in Project Blue. I’m having to think way outside the box, because the language is encoded for weavers, knitters, and others who work in fabric, and it’s got to be compact but flexible. So patterns have meanings, and so do colors, and so do textures (think of knit and purl as the ones and zeros of binary). Because it’s a cold-climate culture, I’m at least spared the complexities of lace, though this was not a happy accident. I MADE it a cold-climate culture in order to be spared the complexities of lace. (Call it a cop-out if you like.) I’ve already graphed a series of teusyl (labyrinth) patterns that connect to solid bars at top and bottom, or on the sides, which are designated as summoning or power patterns, and which carry messages in borders, and a series of free-standing aswul patterns (designated request or prayer patterns) that are worked as designs either in colorwork or in texture work, and that can be tucked into the body of a larger piece of work. This language is a huge part of the magic system of the world in which belongs.

As part of that magic system development, I’ve done the meditations in color (training tools for apprentices who are learning the “written” language), and got the limited list of dyes that fit in the language.

Here’s a little snippet of the meditation chunk of the worldbuilding, for the deep-dyed writing geeks among you:

o Yellow—Yellow is the sun in summer, flowers in the fields, wisdom in word and deed, and the search for learning, thought and questioning, pursuit for the sake of pursuit, decision and uncertainty in their turn. Yellow moves through the air, and its seat is in the mind. Yellow brings power, and the power can work to good or to evil.

  • • marigold yellow
  • • burdock yellow
  • • dandelion yellow
  • • willow-leaf yellow
  • • cumin yellow

o Green—Green is spring in new growth and summer in profusion, the fields and the forests, meadows and gardens. Green is the giver of nourishment, the milk of the earth, riches sought and unsought. Green is born of the earth and is fed by water and air, and its seat is in the hands and the feet. Green brings power, and the power can work to good or to evil.

  • • artemesia green
  • • grass green
  • • spinach green
  • • nettle green
  • • lily-of-the-valley-leaf green

o Blue—Blue is the sea and the sky, the wild places where humanity cannot travel unaided, the great mystery. Blue is the serenity of open spaces, the rivers rich with fish, the air bursting with birds. Blue is the curiosity of the unknown, wildness and confusion, storm and gentle rain in their turn, change and change and change again. Blue travels in water and air, and its seat is in the heart. Blue brings power, and the power can work to good or to evil.

  • • grape blue
  • • indigo blue
  • • red-maple-bark blue
  • • cherry-root blue
  • • blueberry blue

If you carefully read the meditation on blue, you might get an inkling of the theme of Project Blue—which has, in fact, a much, much better title, a title I adore—but I’m not telling until I sell the thing.

I have this weird image of chapter headers or separators done as photographs of finished knit work, or maybe knitting (weaving/ cross-stitch) graphs, each which would spell out the name of the chapter or some key element within the chapter (with the name in English in the usual place.)

I’m still working out the degree of power in the magic. I’m pretty sure at this point that well-knit pieces could double as serviceable armor in a battle.

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

9 comments… add one
  • oafgirl Jul 24, 2006 @ 23:56

    (Just dropped in on this site after long absence. I love worldbuilding — almost to the point of doing that and not working the story. Sigh.)

    I, too, and a fiber arts enthusiast — I’ve done embroidery for 40 years now (I gasped as I did the math on that), and particularly enjoy counted cross-stitch and variations on blackwork.

    I also enjoy color symbolism — my 10th grade paper on The Scarlet Letter got me started in that area.

    With those preliminaries aside, I would like to point out that Susan Matthews has a system of cultural communication (best way I can think of to describe it) called “weaves.” Yes, a weave is a fabric pattern — think of the importance of tartans in Highland history — but it is also a song and a description of land holdings. Her protagonist, Andrej Koscuisko, collects the weaves of his iniquisition victims out of guilt, lest they die out altogether.

    From what I have read above, I don’t see any conflict, but more like a good idea expressed in a different way.

  • Rick Jul 23, 2006 @ 12:56

    This is unrelated to anything you’ve really posted recently, but I just wanted to say that I’m glad you’re busy – because it’s better than being hungry, that’s for sure! But I do miss your regular posts (I check your blog daily and have for years), and I hope you’re doing well.

    Also, I managed to get my hands on a copy of I See You when I was in Penn Station the other week, and finished it in a day. It was different – and while I think Midnight Rain is still my favorite of your paranormal romance/thrillers, it was definitely good. (Also, keep in mind this is a genre I never intended to read in, and only pursue because I’ve followed you from your crossover from fantasy to thriller-romance. The things we do for authors we love.) Sadly, I still have yet to find Talyn anywhere.

    Again, best wishes and hoping for your continued success, be it in both paychecks and enlightenment.

  • fionaphoenix Jul 20, 2006 @ 10:13

    Being both book- and fiber-obsessed, this concept ranks super-high on my Cool-O-Meter. I can’t wait to read more about it. Will spinning factor into the magic? I would think the creation of the yarn would matter almost as much as the creation of the finished project.

  • hollylisle Jul 20, 2006 @ 7:03

    Katherine, that was only a small portion of the worldbuilding on that section. I have more colors, stitch patterns, and a lot of other things finished already. But red does have a special significance.

  • klharrds Jul 20, 2006 @ 2:39

    Wow, this is a really original idea. I thought there were none of those left!

    I like the way you didn’t simply choose primary colours and it makes me wonder whether red will have some important significance later on. A forbidden magic or for swearing perhaps.

    Ahh the possibilities are endless. Have fun.

  • Mallika Jul 19, 2006 @ 3:47

    This sounds incredible and really, really interesting. Just … wow.

  • Deathbyabsurdity Jul 18, 2006 @ 15:07

    This sounds just way too cool. I am currently finishing an afghan and searching for my next project.

    Ahem. Hint, hint. Ahem

    It’s good to hear you sound like you’re having fun again. Especially with such a brilliant idea.

    It reminds me of the way slaves used to use the stiching in quilts as a map for the underground railroad.

    Have fun!

  • aidanm Jul 18, 2006 @ 14:36

    Ooo, as a knitter and general fiber enthusiast, I would /kill/ to have my work shown in a book like that.

  • sketchinartist Jul 18, 2006 @ 13:41

    . . . now that’s just cool. =) I love magic systems that are different. Off-topic: LOVED Talyn. Loved the small bits, like the Sisterhood of Socks and Darts and the little Tonk dancer and Snow Grell–and the magic system was excellent. Sorry to hear that Hawkspar is giving you trouble–good luck with it. I’ve seen your drawings for it and it looks like it’ll be every bit as cool as Talyn.

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