March 27, 2007


So I've been trying to apply some of my new knowledge about feng shui to Taliesen West, the Frank Lloyd Wright compound that we toured. Dr. Hsu, my feng shui teacher, was dismissive of Fallingwater, saying it was a house that had too much qi. In my imagination, I've been walking around Taliesen West and seeing it through the filter of Dr. Hsu's knowledge of feng shui.

In the big picture, philosophically, feng shui is about living in accordance with the patterns of nature that are present in a place. Among many other things, these patterns include wind (feng) or water (shui), and cycles of day and night, and the seasons. The school of feng shui that Dr. Hsu teaches is the Form School; while I have only the most rudimentary knowledge of this, what it means is that the form of a thing determines the kind of qi-energy you'll find there. Wholesome forms are desirable: circles and squares are desirable; rectangles are okay just so long as they remain in a pleasing proportion, but if a rectangle gets too narrow or too wide, its energy becomes negative. Triangles are not wholesome. (Dr. Hsu went so far as to make us, his students, a bet: If you seat two people who are the best of best friends at a triangular table that's placed against a mirrored wall, he would guarantee that these two best friends would argue. None of us took him up on his bet.) Avoid triangles at all costs -- don't live in a triangular house, and don't have triangular furnishings.

At Taliesen West, Frank Lloyd Wright's goal was to create a building complex that would fit into the desert hillside. As I mentioned before, the rooflines echo the shape of the hills. The masonry could not be more in accordance with the immediate environment, being made up of rocks from the hillside mixed with cement. The wooden parts (beams, doors, etcetera) were painted terra cotta colors, again an echo of the red desert hills. The compound is sited at an angle so that it has no true north or true south sides, because Frank Lloyd Wright knew that a north-south orientation would create a building that had one hot side and one cold side. The wind coming up from the valley was used to best advantage by having it flow over a pool as a form of primitive air conditioning. All of these factors show that Frank Lloyd Wright studied the patterns of this desert place and built Taliesen West in harmony with those patterns. He should earn an A+, don't you think? And there was not a room that Scott and I went into, during our tour, that didn't feel comfortable to us.

But on the negative side, the rooms were long and narrow, becoming disproportionate rectangles. The drafting studio and the Garden Room were particularly long and narrow. Recall that the ceiling-walls-floor shape of some of the rooms and some of the doorways were distorted hexagons -- are you with me in thinking that Dr Hsu would say that these stretched, lopsided hexagons are not wholesome forms? And those ubiquitous triangles! Most obviously seen in the shape of the reflecting pond at the front of the main building, triangle shapes also made up some of the windows, some of the light fixtures, and so on. For these reasons, I think Frank Lloyd Wright would earn a D-.

These mixed reviews just show me that I have more to learn about feng shui. I don't know whether the big-picture factors, like siting the buildings correctly, outweigh other factors, like using unwholesome shapes.

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In Two Swans Yarns news: New colors of Kidsilk Haze are in, and listed on the website:

AnthraciteThumb.jpg Anthracite (a dark bluish gray)

GlacierThumb.jpg Glacier (a soft grayish-bluish green, which does, in fact, look like the color of a glacier stream)

IceCreamThumb.jpg Ice Cream (a peach) A name that again begs the question: Where does Rowan come up with these color names?

MistThumb.jpg Mist (pale lavender)

I took my own photos of these yarns. Judging from what I could see on my computer monitor, I did not think the colors on the Rowan website were very accurate. I hope my own photos are more true-to-life!

I know it feels like it's been on backorder for forever, but finally, Grouse is back in stock! (Okay, not forever, only since December 15 -- three months!) Grouse is used as one of the background stripes for Sally Melville's Knitting Bag Jacket, and for the perenially popular Jacobean Floral Felted Bag. The Jacobean bag is one of the Top 5 Projects at Two Swans. This color in the Jamieson's DK weight is one that always sells out right away, so if you are at all interested in either of these projects -- or some other, DK-Grouse project -- don't wait to order.

Posted by Karen at March 27, 2007 10:15 AM