I thought about doing a book review this week–I have both the crafter’s guide to taking great photos and crafting by concepts, but the first belongs to me and the second isn’t due back to the library for five weeks, so I’m not in any hurry. I also thought about maybe writing something of a musing about the nature of art and how I feel about my textiles; especially given that most of my art background is actually in drawing and visual arts, and how do textiles fit into that framework? We’ve been talking a lot about that in class lately.

But ultimately, I have almost made it through my first two weeks of college now, and frankly I am tired. It’s going to be something of a lazy weekend (I get Mondays off before fall quarter starts) so you don’t get a review or deep ponderings on art. You get more fish.


These are all the pieces for my rockfish minus the body. From top to bottom, left to right, we have soft dorsal fin, lips, bony dorsal fin, anal fin, fish eyes, paired pelvic fins, and paired pectoral fins.

(Thinking about redoing the bony dorsal, but haven’t decided if I’m finicky enough about the color to make changing colors in a fdc row worth it.)

Anyways, that’s a lot of different kinds of fins, huh? Especially when the highly distilled popular culture image of a fish (think goldfish crackers) basically only has the caudal and the pectoral fins. But if you hang out with enough fish, you get to know them pretty well.

Dorsal fins go on the back and prevent a fish from rolling over and aid in navigation. Most fish have one; rockfish have two, the first of which is armed with nail-like spikes. Some species can also inject poison through these spines. Charming!

The anal fin is similar to the dorsal fins, but it goes on the underside, usually after where the actual anus is. It acts as a stabilizer.

Pelvic fins don’t look at all like they are attached to a pelvis, and strictly speaking they’re not. However, they are analogous to hind limbs on vertebrates that have legs. They help in sharp turns, up and down, and quick stops.

Pectoral fins are generalized structures that are often highly adapted to particular functions. In rockfish they are probably used to help navigate, but in flying gurnards they function as an intimidation device and make gurnards impossible to swallow whole, and in sea robins they have been adopted into creepy spider-leg things.

The caudal fin does propulsion. It’s not in my aggregate image of yarn rockfish parts because I designed it to be crocheted along with the body instead of separately. They can be quite fancy in some species–for instance the domestic (and artificially selected) butterfly-tail goldfish and betta–or lethal, in the case of the thresher shark.

Adipose fins don’t exist on rockfish. What are they?

we just dont know gif

(No, really–we have no idea what they’re for, which is a problem, because we regularly cut it off as a method to mark fishery-raised salmon.)

Yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn

It is amazing how inspiring new yarn is. I went back up to 55th St to buy myself some nice quality tea after having a terrible day involving getting very, very lost, and was seduced back into Acorn Street Shop by the call of squishy, plush skeins and beautiful, inspiring finished objects to pet. I shouldn’t be allowed out on my own when there are yarn stores around, honestly.

But the damage has been done! I have new yarn.

It isn’t really special yarn, I’ll give you that. No mohair or baby alpaca or silk laceweight for me, just some good solid Plymouth Encore in Gold and Red.

plymouth encore goldplymouth encore red

They don’t even have interesting color names like Drunk Fuschia or River Periwinkles or something. (Do those yarns exist? Tell me if they do. I will buy them.) OH WELL, I say, because I am inspired.

About half a year ago-ish I worked out a pattern for a rockfish of the genus Sebastes, and then settled on making it specifically Sebastes nigrocinctus, commonly known as the tiger rockfish. Sebastes means august or venerable, and nigrocinctus is a combination of niger (dark) and cinctus (belt), referring to its dark stripes. They come in an array of bold colors, and I consider them one of the most striking fish in the Puget Sound. I got stymied because I couldn’t find appropriate colors.

What colors are tiger rockfish? I will show you.

This first fellow is a pretty average color for a tiger; almost-black red stripes, lighter orange body color. Look at his grumpy lips. This is the one I still haven’t found an exact color match for; that particular shade of pinkish-yellowish-orange is a tough one to match in yarn. But it’s okay, because…

another rockfish

Copyright Jeff Whitlock 2008. From The Online Zoo.

…they also come in this sweet strawberry-ice-cream pink, with paler red stripes. This one is a perfect match for Berroco Vintage in colorway Fondant. This one doesn’t seem to be as common as the orange, perhaps because the paler color makes it more difficult for them to survive past the younger stages of life. I recreated one of these, but was unsatisfied because despite being pretty, they really aren’t very common or representative of tiger rockfish.

And then, if strawberry and apricot weren’t sufficient for you, they also come in this violent shade of…carrot? Maybe even more orange than that. This is peak Orange Fish, and basically only Red Heart Super Saver will do for this particularly neon shade. I have yarn for this puppy, but I have received some feedback that they do not look like real fish when they are this color, so I am hesitant on actually making a rockfish out of these colors. Also, like the pink ones, they are less common. I’ll do it once I’ve finished the less extreme ones, probably.

Finally, we have the one that matches the colors that so inspired me. He’s a nice shade of orangey-gold, and if my picture of the Plymouth Encore isn’t quite this shade, I assure you it is camera error. His stripes are definitely much brighter than the Encore red, but I’m okay with that because I know that darker stripes are natural and common for rockfish, and was just having trouble finding an accurate body color to match my reds to.

Tigers max at about 24″ and 115 years. My rockfish prototype is 12″ and 1 year old, and I am excited to get back to him. Velociraptor is on hold again. Designing from scratch is hard when you’re still trying to figure out college and only getting about six hours of sleep a night.

Lookit my fishie.

original rockfish prototype