Dick Wightman's Bulletin Board
Some time back, Ann surprised the heck out of me by announcing that she wanted to make me an Irish cable knit sweater. Those who knit will realize that this is an incredible project to do well. She knit on it some last spring, then set it aside during the summer (who wants a heavy seater in their lap during dummer?) but picked it back up in mid September. She finished it yesterday.....
There have been requests for the pattern for this sweater. It was not made from any particular pattern but was developed/improvised by Ann, who has designed many sweaters in almost 60 years of knitting. She has gone to considerable effort to create documentation of what she did for this one. It cannot be emphasized strongly enough that this is not a project to be attempted by any but a very experienced knitter who has sized sweater plans themselves and has done cables in the past!
Our backyard looked fantastic this morning, covered with all the leaves that have come off of our tree. It was so pretty I had to take a picture:
An Old Sailor Finally Makes Port
Many years ago, when I was a much younger man, I was performing on stage as a folksinger and storyteller. I decided to liven up my story telling by adding a second character to the act. Since I was living aboard a boat at the time and primarily telling sea stories and singing changeys, a sailor character was a natural. After learning ventriloquism, I conceived a character based partially on my wife's grandfather, Captain Mitchell, who truly was an old sea captain, having shipped out as a child, commanded square riggers and served through two world wars, and on W.C. Fields. I was not skilled enough to actually carve a professional figure at that time, though I later became very well known for doing so. I had my character created by a highly skilled figure maker named Chuck Jackson. Chuck did an excellent job of creating exactly the look and feel I was after. This character became "The Old Salt". He never had any other name. He and I performed together for many years.
Much later, after I became a figure maker myself, I performed only with figures I had created. The poor Old Salt became very neglected and unhappy. As it happened, I had a dear ventriloquist friend in Germany, Dr. Stefan Schuling. Stevo (his stage name) was (and is) a highly skilled orthopedic surgeon and was interested in using The Old Salt, who has a wooden leg, to help explain the issues of amputation to children. So, Old Salt went to Germany, where he worked and lived with Stevo for about twelve years.
Although I no longer perform, as I've gotten older, I've found myself wanting to "touch back" to earlier times and elements of my life. In discussions with Stevo over the years, the possibility of Salt coming home kept coming up. About a month ago, his making the return trip became a firm decision. Things like careful packing and customs and shipping arrangements took some time, but today, The Old Salt made it back to port. Both of us are very pleased, as you can probably tell from our smiles.
Non-ventriloquist folks will not appreciate the attachment that is formed between a ventriloquist and his figure, especially his first successful character. In order to make the figure come to life, you literally share the thinking process. One of the lines in my act was, "Many people think that ventriloquists are schizophrenic. I want to assure you that there is no truth to this. My uncle was a ventriloquist for many years and was perfectly normal when he died. I still visit his grave whenever I'm in Detroit or Los Angeles."
Anyway, The Old Salt is back home, and here we are together. I no longer have my captain's coat. It got lost somewhere along the way... perhaps because it shrank too much to fit me any more....
Captain Dick & The Old Salt
We started with the green. I am gradually moving her towards genuinly bright socks.....
Dick Wightman, Seattle WA
Phone: 206 784 0883
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