Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Queen of the Night and The Flying Magatama Brothers

Wherein we go from the Sublime to the Ridiculous, and back again...

It's mid-October now, and the weather here has taken an unmistakably autumnal turn in recent days, with the trees all changing color and a suddenly noticeable chill to the air. So in spite of having too many WIP's on the needles already, I decided to get to work right away on my beaded lace cowl, the one item for myself that I snuck in along with the "Christmas 2010 Project." I am usually very much a process knitter, but I will be delighted to see this garment finished in a hurry, because I want to start wearing it ASAP. It will be Just the Thing to jazz up and *warm* up my walks to and from campus every day (~0.7 miles each way, morning and afternoon/evening). Fortunately, it should be a very quick knit: I am already ~30% finished, after only a few hours' work.

The pattern is Ice Queen by Rosemary Hill from Knitty, Winter 2007. It is knit in-the-round and can be done either with stockinette stitch (all k) or garter stitch (alternating k & p rounds). I have chosen the garter-stitch version, because I think the nubbly texture will accentuate the warmth of the finished piece. The yarn is Shibui Silk Cloud, a delightfully cozy lace-weight 60% kid mohair and 40% silk (shown here in purple). My colorway is called Ink, pitch black with a lovely sheen (that's the silk content). I was fortunate to grab the last skein that EarthFaire had in stock. The beads are 4 mm silver-lined crystal magatamas, simple but snazzy, with more than a hint of genuine glamor to them.

I have dubbed this project the "Königin der Nacht" ("Queen of the Night"), because the combination of the inky black yarn and the sparkling crystal beads reminds me of that remarkable character from my favorite Mozart opera. Her famous aria ("Der Hölle Rache" i.e. "The Vengeance of Hell") is the stuff of legend in soprano circles, reaching the F above high-C. Nor do I doubt that the cowl named after her will make a dramatic entrance too.

Yet whereas there is nothing more Sublime than Mozart opera, the Ridiculous side of life reared its silly head yesterday morning, when I tried to do too many things at once. I had been placidly knitting away for a while on the bottom part of the cowl, with my yarn and needles and a tray with a bead mat and the container of beads all sitting on my lap. No problem, right? Knowing a bit about both the laws of physics and my own predilections, I am always very careful to pour out only a few beads at a time. BIG potential for disaster otherwise...

Anyway, I had just finished a beaded round, when glancing up at the clock I realized that I should probably check my campus email, because I was scheduled to give a midterm exam at noon and on the day of a test students can generally be counted on to come up with last-minute questions or other emergencies. So I reached over and grabbed my little netbook — smaller and lighter than a full-size laptop but perfectly suited to such routine tasks as email or, for that matter, blogging (ahem) — booted it up, and started typing. Somewhere along the way I must have lost track of the fact that I had LOOSE BEADS in my lap, because a little bit later I absent-mindedly shifted position, and everything tipped sideways.

>>> YIKES!!! <<<

The sound of the beads bouncing around in their (*oops*) open container alerted me to the, er, gravity of the situation, so I reacted quickly, and that transformed what followed from tragedy into farce. Only about two dozen beads actually spilled, but they went in all directions. Man, can those little buggers ever travel!! Even now, I keep finding stray sparkly objects within what may exaggeratedly be termed the blast-radius of yesterday's incident.

As I scrambled first to close the bead container, preventing further mishap, and then to corral the wanderers back to where they belonged, a phrase came unbidden into my head: The Flying Magatama Brothers. Sounds just like a Japanese circus act, doesn't it?!! I knew that I had found the perfect headline for my next blog installment...

And now, here are the customary photos of my new work-in-progress. There are two of them. As always, click on either one to get a closer look.

I absolutely love love L-O-V-E the way the beads nestle in the fuzzy nooks & crannies of the lacy mohair, sparkling for all the world like ice crystals or diamonds or twinkling stars in a moonlit sky. Looking at them takes me right back to the Sublime...


  1. absolutely beautiful, but then I knew it would be.
    I can hear those beads a bouncing. Did the cats help pick them up?

  2. Hi, Viki. As it happens, the "Flying Magatama Brothers" incident occurred in a room where cats generally aren't allowed. So they were no help on the cleanup, and the pair of bunnies who witnessed the whole thing didn't pitch in either, except to watch my behavior somewhat quizzically, as rabbits do. But that's the way it goes with small, furry creatures, right? Terribly cute, but not much into housework. ;-)