Wondrous Waltz PAL prompts; a digest!


As part of the Yarnadelic Remixes 0.1 KAL and PAL, today I’m sharing a pithy round-up of ideas relating to the first set of six PAL prompts. These prompts speak to the themes and ideas surrounding the Wondrous Waltz hat and mitts accessory set.

Faith Makawa wears the orange and purple hat, with beautifully shaded orange eye makeup; and a coral cheek blush that pick up on the warm tones in the wool used in the design

A pair of hands roam around a shelf full of sheet music; the left hand bears a three beats rhythm while the right hand bears a four beats rhythm and they are worked in a blocky orange and purple colourway

The key themes for this design are:

1. and 2. SYNCOPATION, because the hat features motifs based on two different rhythms that phase in and out of sync.
3. The glorious STYLE of the artists whose recordings inspired the Yarnadelic Yarn Shades (Wondrous Place and Waltz) that then, in turn, inspired the design. The artists are Jimmy Jones, Billy Fury and Fatima.
4. and 5. INDEPENDENT LABELS (in KNIT and in SOUND): reading about the histories of the songs – Wondrous Place and Waltz – and the contexts in which they were recorded inspired me to consider the value of the independent label when it comes to preserving artists’ creative autonomy.
6. PATTERN RE-MIX. After seeing my design, Muriel was inspired to use the same design principles – a 3/4 rhythm and a 4/4 rhythm – to create a taller and slouchier design, Indigo Lover. I think this idea of taking the bones of an idea but then reworking it so the remix features a totally different tune and is a different mood but still speaks to the original is exactly like my favourite musical remixes!

1. and 2. I wrote about Syncopation in knit and sound on this blog last week, and really appreciated a comment by Barbara de Garcia, introducing me to claves music, of which syncopated rhythms are a key feature. You can watch it too!

3. How inspiring is Fatima’s amazing sense of Style, and especially the glorious palette in this Colors Studio performance of Dang?

Fatima seems to use a lot of bold prints and primary colours. This video showcases and celebrates a variety of creative sonic practices, too – we need more images of women owning and controlling sound and I love the consistent way Fatima gives us this. Rifling through records! Listening through headphones! Singing in the home! Bossing the microphone!

4. Independent Label (Knit) – let’s talk about Pom Pom. I was so sad to read the letter from the founders announcing the end of their glorious publication.

To me, the unprecedented misery of the current epoch feels a bit more bleak without the hopeful, creative voice of Pom Pom. Theirs was an ambitious and inspiring magazine that often included content that spoke courageously to the political moment; that was size and age inclusive; that platformed diverse voices; and that showcased fun, innovative designs. It was in Pom Pom that I read some of the most thoughtful essays on knitting (all by Anna Maltz) – such classics as Loud Slow Fashion (Autumn 2017); A Stripe Beyond (Summer 2018); and her brilliantly voiced thoughts on ageing and its representation in knitting patterns (Autumn 2018).

Pom Pom always featured gorgeous patterns from talented designers, and I would be remiss in this post about knitting and sound to not mention my all-time favourite knitting design speaking to this theme, from their RHYTHM issue (Winter 2021).

For who can argue with Johanna Kunin’s Polyrhythm, a sort of knitted techno, worked in blocks of colour and sound?

Polyrhythm by Johanna Kunin - two women lie on the ground, wearing the same sweater in two different colourways. On the right, a black model wears the sweater in black and white, with a black skirt; on the right, a white model wears the sweater in a mustard and ivory colourway, paired with a light skirt; the women are photographed from above and are both lying on their stomachs so we don't see their faces; they are also lying in opposite directions to one another

Polyrhythm by Johanna Kunin worn by a black model who holds her arms above her head; the black and white patterning on the sweater features blocks of big and little widths, suggesting big and little beats of sound

It’s just so good.

I could write so much more and mention so many more of the wonderful patterns published in their pages over the years, but I’m trying to be pithy!

Suffice to say, Pom Pom was made with heart and conviction, and embodies the bold creative possibilities of independent publishing labels. The vision and voice of this magazine will be much-missed. The dedication, passion and commitment that come from starting a business in your “mid-twenties, with £600 and no publishing experience” are matchless.

5. My favourite Independent Label (Sound) was founded by Robert Luis and Paul Jonas. It was “initially run from underneath Rob’s stairs” and “started as a home for some of the exciting music being produced by the regular guests at our Brighton club nights, at which Rob was the resident DJ”. Much as Pom Pom created a platform for fresh new conversations about knitting, and new takes on knitted garments, Tru Thoughts carved out a special place for new kinds of music that were emerging in the late 1990s and early 00s. It has grown into one of the UK’s most revered independent labels and continues to be a pioneering force. Rob picks the tunes for the label to release, while Paul manages more of the international logistics.

Over twenty years ago, Tru Thoughts released one of my all-time favourite records: Animal Magic by Bonobo. Here’s a video of the 20 year anniversary yellow vinyl re-issue playing on the beach.

Without being genre-specific – “we hope you agree that good music is good music” – this label continues to find and publish absolute gems, and to grow outwards from Rob’s incredible ability to keep an ear to the ground, to notice and hear the best sounds, and his obvious love for music:

“Our policy is to look to sign music of all styles by artists that are interesting and creative, from downtempo instrumentals to heavy club tracks, through reggae, dub and hip hop to the wonderful voices of folk, jazz and soul-influenced singers and songwriters. We aren’t the sort of people to get stuck on genres”.

Rob Luis picking out records to play, in front of shelves filled with records

Rob Luis has an excellent Mixcloud account, to which he publishes his brilliant UNFOLD radio shows and club night mixes – and to which I religiously subscribe. I cherish his astute mixes; the political and emotional acuity with which he always knows the right song to play in response to whatever is going on in the world; and his flawless and diverse musical tastes. I don’t know anyone more committed to music – seriously, this show is just the best – and the same commitment to music is evident in everything about how the Tru Thoughts label is run.

As with Pom Pom, the Tru Thoughts label has grown from the heart of the community it serves, and that is what makes it outstanding, uncompromising, and relevant. Maybe that is the definition of an Independent Label?

6. Pattern REMIX. To me it is pretty mind-blowing that Muriel went into Wondrous Waltz and reworked the design to not only be reborn in different colours, but to reference different notes and a totally different piece of music. It’s not just that I love the slouchy shape she created, the new colour relationships between deep indigo and that luminous green/yellow shade, and the increased contrast between the colours in her version. It’s also that her REMIX embodies the generous, curious, enthusiastic spirit of creativity itself. There is deep joy in making something, putting it out into the world, and seeing how other people use and respond to what you’ve made – but this joy grows extra deep when someone is willing to go right inside your idea and play your game; to take the time to understand how it works; to make new stuff from its building blocks. Indigo Lover represents collaboration and play; the joy of friendships where you inspire each other to make new things; what it is to spark off ideas between you: I LOVE THAT SONG.

Muriel's indigo and hot green remix, Indigo Lover

You can see how Muriel REMIXED my design by scrolling down to the second video on this preview page, and the story is published in the Yarnadelic Remixes 0.1 eBook as well as all the extra charts in case you want to make her REMIX, too!

The spread of Yarnadelic Remixes 0.1 in which the Remix of Wondrous Walt by Muriel Pensivy is explained!

Thanks for reading and playing along – if you have any thoughts on any of the prompts shared so far as part of our Yarnadelic Remixes 0.1 KAL and PAL, feel free to pop them in the comments here!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.