Looking For A Stranded Harmonium

hands playing piano wearing mitts

If you signed up for Yarnadelic Remixes 0.1 or bought the Yarnadelic Remixes 0.1 eBook via Ravelry, you will have seen Muriel’s beautiful design, Looking For A Stranded Harmonium.

Looking For A Stranded Harmonium - we see hands playing a piano; they are wearing mismatched mitts; below, a graphic image shows the parts of the pattern for each of the mitts, so you can see how the colours have been reversed on each

I love Muriel’s design so much. It is a joyous celebration of handedness, and was inspired by watching Penguin Cafe Orchestra playing Music For A Found Harmonium and seeing the two hands of the harmonium player at work.

closeup of hands playing harmonium

These mitts use exactly the same motif on each hand, which is based on the drone and melody of Music For A Found Harmonium by Penguin Cafe Orchestra (PCO)

Faith Makawa rests her hands on the keys of a piano, while wearing the two mitts that speak to the idea of handedness and playing musical instruments

…However, the shading sequence used is different for each hand. The yarn shades are arranged so that the high-contrast area – (the point at which the motif stands out most clearly from the background) – emphasises the part in the music played with that hand. The left hand mitt has an area of high contrast around the part of the pattern that represents the drone, played by the left hand of the harmonium player. The right hand mitt has an area of high contrast around the part of the pattern that represents the melody, played by the right hand of the harmonium player.

I love the amazing way that Muriel has blurred the lines between form and function here, creating mitts that speak to the role played by each hand in this particular piece of music; it’s just so fun and inventive, and so brilliantly MURIEL.

Muriel's punch-card for Music For A Found Harmonium with the parts used in the chart highlighted in pink and green

Here is her punch-card for Music For A Found Harmonium. There is a picture of the mismatched mitts below, and the schematic, in which I have tried to highlight how this magical pattern works.

Can you see how the shading sequence for each mitt highlights the part in the music played by that hand?

Muriel's LFASH mitts shown correctly with the left hand mitt with DRONE emphasised and the right hand mitt with MELODY emphasised; the mitts rest on a concrete surface

LFASH schematic showing how each of the mitts emphasise a different part of the music

Throughout Yarnadelic Remixes 0.1 I’ve tried to find the clearest ways to explain the musical aspect of each project for as broad an audience as possible – including non-musicians and folks who don’t read music – as I really want this project to be inviting and accessible.

spread from the eBook showing how the design works

This is a big reason for having produced videos to explain each design. Videos go a long way towards explaining how each project works, but knowing that not everyone will want the whole course, I also worked at developing graphics to explain and accompany each project.

In this, I was inspired by Tom Barr’s excellent illustrations for Warm Hands book edited by Kate Davies and Jeanette Sloan. A collection of wonderful mitts, mittens and gauntlets produced by a diverse range of contributors, it’s a very happy and colourful book that I love because of the broad range of hand coverings included; the uplifting and colourful styling used throughout; and the aforementioned illustrations by Tom. Looking at his images, I really appreciate how each one communicates an aspect of the design. They are truly lovely illustrations but they are also practical and helpful. I wanted to try and do something similar when making the graphics that accompany each of the designs in Yarnadelic Remixes 0.1.

This is the one I made for Looking For A Stranded Harmonium; I wanted to show how the same pattern changes dramatically on each hand, depending on how the same set of colours are sequenced differently. I hope it goes some way towards showing the special logic that underpins Muriel’s magnificent design.

Graphic Image Looking For A Stranded Harmonium - a simplified interpretation of the knitting chart and the different shading sequences used for left and right hands

As well as their rich connections to musicality and handedness, and their associations with the actual music of Music For A Found Harmonium, these mitts work up really quickly and must be a little bit addictive for colour play, as Muriel designed three different colourways using the Yarnadelic yarn palette from John Arbon Textiles (each of which are charted in the eBook).

left handed mitts in three different colourways, each emphasising the drone in the middle part of the hand

three different colourways of mitts, showing the melody which is the emphasised part in the shading sequence for the right hand

We worked with several test and sample knitters to check ways of getting different sizes by changing the round and stitch gauges, and also to see if other knitters enjoyed playing with the different shading sequences as much as Muriel did (and everyone did).

I am very inspired by Jo-ann to make a pair in shades that speak to the piano keys and red body of my cherished accordion…

Jo-ann's glorious red black grey and white version of LFASH

…and thanks to Muriel’s thoughtful creativity underpinning this design, I would especially enjoy thinking about the different parts played in left and right hands while wearing them. Of course, I’d have to arrange Music For A Found Harmonium for accordion but until then, there’s always this old video from ten years ago showing my cherished instrument in action!

Happy KNITTING and SONIKING and shout out to everyone joining in with our Knit and Play-alongs; it’s really nice to read your comments, hear your thoughts on the prompts for each day, and to share the joy of this project with you in ways both big and small.

YOURS IN MISMATCHED MITTS,
Until soon,
Fx

4 thoughts on “Looking For A Stranded Harmonium

  1. Fantastic! I saw it right away (I’m a musician) and I love it! I love your special tribute to your accordian.
    Do I see raised purl dots in the blue-gray/pink version? If not, something is going on colorwise there that is tricking my eye.

    1. Thank you Tamara! I do love Felix’s tribute to her accordion too! Yes, purl stitches are used in the colourwork for all the versions but you can spot it more easily in the gray/pink version!

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