May the 4th, etc.

Bagel Tangle
May the 4th Be With You

In honor of Star Wars day, I present this very silly visual pun. Feel free to share if you get it (but please remember to properly attribute the source! I don’t want anyone else getting blamed for this pun.)


Some Challenges

It hasn’t been a great week. Or really, March. There’s a lot in my head right now I’d like to blog about, but I’m just going to go straight to the challenges of the Zentangle kind and maybe talk about some personal challenges later.

First off, I’ve discovered a new set of challenges at the blog of Diane and Carolien who have set a series of weekly alphabetical challenges — each week is a set of three letters, so it’s a fair bit like what I’ve been doing with my Tangle Saxon thing. Before I get to my Joey Challenge, here’s a few that I’ve come up with:

T, P, D

This is a Zendala traced around a coffee can and using Tanglepatterns String #201

Tangles used:


Diva Dance

Double Ds There are a lot of possibilities with this one, I can tell. But still.. I mean, is the name meant to be a boob joke?


Phicops This is my first attempt at Phicops and it didn’t come out quite how I wanted, but it intrigues me — it’s kind of like an advanced version of Angelfish/Aquafleur.





Tangles used:

Linq You’ll notice that all of the linqs are tangled within, and I’m pretty sure all of them are L,Z, or Y tangles.


Zander These are two of my absolute favorite tangles.


Zendala traced around a coffee can, using Tanglepatterns String 202

Tangles used




Angelfish with just a touch of Aquafleur — Angelfleur or Aquafish (Aquaman’s least popular sidekick) or maybe fleurfish.

Falz, which was totally supposed to be Xenso except I got mixed up looking at the pattern page



Made By Joey Challenge #106

Joey’s Roman Numeral VI challenge forwent assigning tangles. After flirting with the idea of using the letters V, I, and the number 6, I decided to meet two challenges at one and used the letter F, U, N as my guide. I used Sharpie ultra-fine tipped markers to color in the accents, but now they look kind of washed out.

Tangles used: 







Okay, and I’m way too tired to go on much more about this right now. Good night, all.

Yet more Tangle Saxon Runes

The series continues! Here are parts one and two.

6. ᚳ [k] or [tʃ] Cen, “Torch”

Tangle-Saxon Rune "Cen"
Tangle-Saxon Rune “Cen”

The Cen (probably pronounced like “cane” or possibly “chain”) rune represents the “hard” c sound [k] or the “ch” sound [tʃ]. So my “rule” for the “c” rune was that I could use tangles starting with “k,” “ch,” or “c,” but not soft c. The tangles here include

  • Cadent, a workhorse tangle that’s easy to draw, filled in Knightsbridge-style (see below)
  • Chainging
  • Chechain
  • Kandy Ribnz
  • Keeko, always a good filler
  • Knightsbridge — what’s that you say? Shouldn’t that go with “n”? Not at all, since all consonants were pronounced in Old English. The word “knight” in Old English was “cniht,” (“k” was not used in the Old English alphabet) with every letter pronounced, including the “h” which was something like the “softer” German “ch” of “ich” or “Bach.” Really, I think it was a mistake to make it silent. We should start a movement to revert to saying “k-now” and “k-nit” and so on. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to have Cadent transition into Knightsbridge — and it was!
  • Kollide, the center column which came out quite different from the step-out but I really like how it ended up, all nautilus-like.
  • Kozy, which didn’t really come out the way I wanted it to
  • And whatever that diagonal ribbon is on the right. Maybe Cloudfall?

7. X [g] Gyfu or Giefu, “Gift”

Tangle-Saxon Runes "Giefu"

“G” in Old English was typically pronounced as either the hard “G” of “gift” or the consonantal “y” sound of “you.” In the middle of words, it was apparently pronounced [ɣ], a “voiced velar fricative” i.e. a sound I’m glad that I’m not called upon to reproduce very often. Since we are well-stocked with “G” tangles, I decided to stick with that:

  • Girdy, one of the simplest 3d-effects tangles I think
  • Girlande
  • Gneiss, one of my absolute favorite tangles, probably because I distinctly remember doodling stars like that in my Middle School Notebooks. Man, if I’d had Zentangle then… Anyway, there are 7 Gneisses hanging around in this tangle. Oh, and before you ask, “G” was pronounced before “n” at the beginning of a word in Old English.
  • Golven, which makes a great column
  • Gotcha, one that baffled me the first few times I tried it but has a nice, bold look when done right
  • Gothic, which didn’t come out the way I wanted and I couldn’t really salvage in a way that pleased me, but that’s life.
  • Gottago, another tangle I instantly fell in love with once I realized how absurdly simple it was. There are a lot of these where the little picture you see on looks just incredibly intricate and I think, I could never do that. Gottago was definitely one of those. To give myself more of a challenge, I laid out a wobbly grid. It was a bit of a headache trying to place all those corner things, but I think it was worth it.
  • Gordgeous, which I like only the necks look way too big to me.
  • Groovy

8. ᚹ [w] wynn, “joy”

Tangle-Saxon Rune "Wynn"

The letter “w” did not exist in the Latin alphabet — they used “v” or “u” which were really just variants of each other. The letter that is transcribed as “w” in modern editions of Old English texts is actually based on this rune. The silent “w” that sometimes occurs in combination with “r” was pronounced in Old English, and many of these words (wrath, writhe, wraith, write, wright, etc.) have come down to Modern English with few changes other than the loss of that “wr” sound which is just really difficult to pronounce. The similarly challenging “wl” cluster has, so far as I can tell, disappeared entirely. The tangles I chose are

  • Joy, which, okay, is a little on the nose, but I just had to
  • W2
  • Waax, which I still don’t feel like I’ve really gotten down
  • Wedge, which really deserves more space than I gave it here
  • Wheelz, another one of those impossible-looking but really simple ones
  • Win-Zeta, another one that should have had more room to grow
  • Wisket, which ended up being more like a variation on W2 the way I did it here
  • Woodlock
  • Worms, which is great fun
  • Wud, which I’m definitely falling in love with

9. ᚻ [h] Hægl “hail”

Tangle-Saxon Rune "Haegl"

That’s “hail” as in the precipitation. The Anglo-Saxons were quite familiar with this, calling it “corna caldast,” or “the coldest of grains” which sounds really cool in Old English but substantially less so when translated. Fun fact, when I started this tangle, I was actually experiencing a bit of the hail from the storms that hit my area pretty hard on Tuesday. The tangles:

  • Harfe
  • Hepmee, a very silly tangle that I quite enjoy. I happen to like spiders and consider them good company. The irrational fear of spiders you encounter everywhere is no doubt promulgated by BIG INSECTICIDE or something.
  • Hibred, which I think was one of the first tangles I attempted
  • Hollinbaugh, which ended up being incredibly frustrating on this one. I added the stripes and stuff to the strings so that I could keep up with which one was going where behind the Harfe
  • Hua
  • Huggins, transitioning nicely into
  • Huggy Bear

10. ᚾ [n] Nyd, “need”

Tangle-Saxon Rune "Nyd"

The letter N, which even I can’t think of much to say about. The tangles:

  • ‘Nzeppel
  • Narwal, another great one for having fun with
  • Natti
  • Nipa
  • Nvelope

11. ᛁ [i] is, “ice”

Tangle-Saxon Runes "Is"

“Is” is pronounced “EES,” basically “ice” but with a long-e sound. In fact, long “i” was pronounced with that long-e sound until the beginning of some serious nonsense called the Great Vowel Shift, when people in England en masse decided to start pronouncing all the long vowels all wrong. Well, maybe it was a bit more complicated than that. Anyway, I took the easy route and just went with “I” tangles.

  • Intwine, another one I’ve just totally fallen in love with.
  • Itsy Twisty, which takes just an enormous amount of concentration but it’s worth it
  • Ix
  • Ixorius, and I did the aura-ing on this different from what the step-out shows; I like how it looks
  • Phroze, because, you know, ice.

To be continued…


Stormy Weather

I’ve completed ZIAs for Joey’s and Diva’s challenges this week, and I’ve tangled up a handful of new runes. I’d love to post them, but it’s not happening tonight. This morning after my early morning class, which I teach at a high school, a big storm blew through. Like, massive big. The storm was moving fast, and moving east — which happens to be the same direction I would go to get to the University I teach at (U Texas Arlington). And this also happens to be the place with a really nifty scanning machine in the library that I’ve been using to document my new obsession. So I didn’t make it there today. I tried to get some pictures with my good digital camera, but I’m not thrilled with how they turned out. So none of those tonight. For fun, I’m going to pull something out of my gallery — say, this one:


I call it a Zentangram: The outlines are traced from the seven pieces of a Tangram set; the overall shape they form is from a book. Yes, I cheated and looked up how to assemble the shapes.

I was trying a lot of different things here and to be honest I’m not sure how much success I had. Up top is Gneiss, which is one of my favorite tangles (also apparently one not freely available online; I got it out of a book I bought). The Huggy Bear to the left of that, mashed up with a bit of Yincut, ended up looking really nice I think, as did the Funls down below and the Eez ribbon.

Off to the right is Girdy, which came out looking okay, though not quite what I intended. The other three are Minline, which ended up looking like a squashed wedding cake, Eclipse, and Tink, both of which ended up way too cramped to work. Those will need some practice before I get real comfortable with them.

But you know what? Overall I’m pleased with how it came out, even if it’s far from perfect. I’m still pretty amazed at the amount of stuff that can be created with just a few basic strokes.

Personal Tangle Challenge: Old English Runes

Not long after I discovered Zentangle, I came up with an idea to combine this new obsession with one of my more long-lasting and professional interests: the language and literature of the Anglo-Saxons — the Germanic culture that ruled Britain from about the 5th century until the Norman Conquest of 1066. My plan? Doing a series of ZIAs using the Old English Runic Alphabet, the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc, as strings and (as much as possible) using tangles either beginning with the rune’s phonetic value or associated with the meaning of its name.


So some context first. The Anglo-Saxons gave us the name England (“Angla Lond,” land of the Angles) as well as the English (Anglisc) language. Sometimes referred to as Anglo-Saxon, the Old English language is radically different from what we speak today: it’s closest living language relative is probably the Frisian language group spoken in parts of The Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark. What I know about Old English could literally fill a book (a dissertation anyway) and be interesting to maybe 13 or 14 people in the world, so I won’t burden my audience with it at this point.

Anyway, one fascinating aspect of Anglo-Saxon culture is the continued use of the runic alphabet well into the Christianized era. The widespread conversions of the 7th century or so had introduced the much more practical Latin alphabet (although it had to be supplemented with a couple of runic characters — more on that later) and was supposed to have stamped out the nasty old evil paganism that drove their continental ancestors (in the words of the Beowulf poet

geheton   æt hærgtrafum

wigweorþunga,   wordum bædon

þæt him gastbona   geoce gefremede

wið þeodþreaum.

[to pray at heathen shrines, honoring idols, bidding in words that the destroyer of souls (i.e. Satan) would help them against the calamity of their nation] (ll. 175-8; translation my own)

Runic writing, associated as it was with both the Continental past and pre-Christian religious practices, was likely frowned upon by many in the Anglo-Saxon Church. Yet runes show up, both in manuscript and in their more traditional role of inscription in stone, often in a religious context. A fragment of the dream vision The Dream of the Rood is recorded in runes on the 7th-Century Ruthwell Cross; the name of one Old English poet of religious verse is known to us only through a runic signature. There’s much more interesting stuff (interesting to me, anyway), but I’ll go ahead and get on with the pictures.

Note: each rune exists as a symbol, a sound that it represents, and its name — a word given in Old and Modern English. In writing, a rune might be read as its name or its sound, or sometimes both. Yeah, it’s complicated.

Rune number 1: ᚠ, [f]/[v], Feoh “wealth” 

Old English Runes #1: Feoh

Tangles used: Facet, Fohbraid, Flukes, Fleavy/Fandango mashup (Fleavdango? Fanvy?), Finery, Florz, Flowvine, and Fracas.

Having just learned Fleavy for Joey’s Challenge 101, I thought it would be a great fit; after looking at Fandango I realized that the two could easily be combined. I think it looks good. Facets was fun to do as well and goes nicely with the theme of “wealth.” I’m not totally happy how Flukes turned out — I’ll have to try it again sometime — but I liked what I got done with Finery and Florz, and Fracas is always one of my favorites. The ribbons on the sides didn’t come out quite like I wanted, but I think the effect worked out.

Rune #2: ᚢ, [u], Ur “aurochs” or “cattle”

Old English Runes #2: Ur

Tangles used: Umble, Oof, Undling, Undu, and Unme

The challenge here is that there aren’t that many tangles listed on Tanglepatterns that start with U. I stretched a bit by using Oof, since phonetically that would be spelled with a “u.” The teardrop ribbon in the center outlines the Ur rune on its side — it fit better that way — but there is no up or down, right? I’m glad I learned Undu, the challenge now is to not be tempted to use that all the time. And Undling had the nice feature of looking sort of like bovine horns in its early steps.

Incidentally, when researching Wikipedia for this, I came across this medieval portrait of an aurochs:


The caption reads, in Latin,  “I am ‘urus’, tur in Polish, aurox in German (dunces call me bison) lit. (the) ignorant (ones) had given me the name (of) Bison

Rune number 3: ᚦ, [θ]/[ð], Thorn “thorn” 

Old English Runes #3: Thorn

The letter ᚦ was added to the Old English alphabet since Latin does not use either of the sounds commonly represented by “th,” and apparently no one had thought of using “th” yet. The voiced and unvoiced interdental fricative (respectively the initial sounds in “then” and “thin” in most Standard English dialects) are actually  fairly rare phonemes in languages of the world, which is why they are often reduced to “d” and “f” in many dialects. Really I don’t think we ever should have gotten rid of the letter thorn, but that’s just one more thing I can blame on the printing press. There are no tangle patterns I could find beginning with ᚦ (I’ll have to invent one), and I was hoping that there were at least a couple beginning with “th.”


Undettered, I decided to approach it thematically, looking for patterns related to thorns. I quickly found Cabana, modeled apparently after the camelthorn tree and Confettus, which suggested using thorns instead of orbs for a variation. Sticking with the thorny theme, I switched to roses and used Rosewood (okay, no real relation to thorns, but it made a great triangle-filler) and my new favorite Zenbuds, which went nicely with my thorny vine thing. The next poky thing that came to mind was holly, so I used the holly leaves from Holly and the pattern Loblolly, which was … um, designed by someone named Holly. Okay, that one was a bit of a stretch maybe.

That’s part one, but now I really need to go to bed. More to come!


Zentangle attempts


I’ve recently started playing around with Zentangle. My wife did a workshop on it a few months back and I finally decided to give it a try. I haven’t had any official training (although I did buy a book about it…at Half-Price. Well, somebody got money for it somewhere) and I’m not much of an artist (or very consistent with blogging), but I’ve found it to be a relaxing (albeit time-consuming) habit. Probably better for me than playing Candy Crush all the time.

I’m going to be using this space to share some of my creations. Here’s one I’m working on now:

ZIA Rain Project

Sorry for the crappy picture quality. I’ll try to scan the next one. Anyway, here’s what’s going on here: the zigzaggy things are actually an Official-type Tangle-thing called “Rain.” No, it doesn’t look anything at all like rain. That’s a Zentangly thing; you get used…

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