Zills and Zill mufflers

It’s been quite a white since I posted a “making of”, mostly because I’ve been running around doing headless chicken impressions. Between the beginning of September and now I’ve attended 3 workshops, 2 haflas, one show, started ATS classes on top of my standard ones, and also took over the beginner’s classes from Val for her 3 weeks of holidays. I have hardly had any time to breath, to be honest, and whatever free time I had, was also spent trying to recover, and making a couple of little accessories and extras.

One of the things that became painfully obvious after the third ATS class was that my beloved zills were not up to scratch. They have a great sound, but they have a single point of attachment, which, when used in the way we are being taught, leaves them likely to start wagging around like the tail of a dog with a juicy bone. Or one of my cats when they’re angry. At the speed we’re playing in class, this is unacceptable, and I spent quite a bit of time re-aligning my zills. This spelled it quite loud and clear for me: time for a new set.

New Saroyan German Silver Zills

New Saroyan German Silver Zills

I’d seen some lovely zills at Shimmy in the City, although back then my eyes had obviously gone to the bigger, heavier and more expensive set. I liked the middle range too but for some reason or other (probably just being overwhelmed, and pinning too much after one of Eman Zaki’s costumes) I didn’t get them. So, one online purchase and about a day later, I received my Saroyan Arabesque (german silver) zills in the post, from Aladdin’s Cave. The transaction went smoothly, even though the cart gave a couple of buckles as it was difficult to remove extra pieces added by mistake. The customer service was great, everything was dispatched ultra fast too. The new zills are lovely, they have a beautiful ring to them, and they are also slightly different in shape to the ones I had… a bit wider, a touch thinner, so the mufflers I’d made for the others were not working right. I’ve also discovered that I would like some muffling but not too much, so the thick mufflers I’d made before would not work for me.

Most people would get some baby socks and be done. Me? I wanted CROCHETED LACE (did I mention I like to make life difficult for myself? Thought so). I’d had a couple of tiny 2mm crochet hooks for a while and thought this would be a perfect project for testing things out. And I used Gutterman’s extra strong thread as my knitting thread, for added lunacy.

I will write two sets of instructions. One of them is for a thick muffler, I’ve made some for the whole troupe before, while watching a full season of True Blood (that was my excuse, the cramping nearly preventing me from doing anything with my hands for two days afterwards; I do not recommend doing that many!). The second is for the lacier, thinner mufflers. The thickness of the muffler will regulate how much of the sound actually gets killed; if you want to minimise disturbances to neighbours, pets or SOs, you might want to go with thicker style; otherwise, go with the thinner ones. The lace work is far more difficult, but the results are mufflers that allow you to still hear the ringing (therefore ensuring your technique remains good) while reducing the sound. Also, these instructions are quite rough, as I learnt to crochet a long time ago in a country far away, and all the terminology I learnt was in Spanish, so while I can try to translate as well as I can, it is possible that some of my terms are not the same as those in use by others.

For the thicker version:
I’ve made these in cotton thread, and also with Sirdar Firefly, which has given wonderful colours.
Start with 6 chains, join with a slip stitch
Do two chains to get the height, then two more chains, *double crochet picking the thread from inside the circle, two chains*. Repeat ** 5 times (or until it goes all the way round and stays flat; this will change depending on the thread you’re using); join beginning and end of the row with a slip stitch.
Do two chains to get the height, one chain for advancing, then *double crochet, two chains, double crochet* and repeat ** 5 times; you should have a 2xdouble crochet group above each little “arch” made below; join beginning and end of the row with a slip stitch.
Two chains to get the height, then two more chains, then *one double crochet, two chains* and repeat; they should come one hooked from within each arch, and one from in between each group of 2xdouble crochets from the row below. Once you’re finished, join beginning and end of the row with a slip stitch.
Slip-stitch until you’re in the middle of one of the arches on the row below, then two chains for height, one more, then *double crochet, two chains, double crochet*; each 2xdouble crochet should hook from the top of each arch from the row below. Repeat until you’ve done the full row, join beginning and end of the row with a slip stitch.

Once you get to this stage, take your zills and measure. You should have a fairly flat disc, although it might not be fully flat; just make sure it’s not curling like fluffy undies or like a ball. If your zills are smaller or just the size of the disc, you can start reducing; otherwise you might need a new row, do this with a double crochet, double chain, all around, hooking each double crochet either in the arch from the row below, or in between the 2xdouble crochet groups. Otherwise, if you’re at the right size, continue below…

Split stitch until you get to the middle of the first arch from the row below. Double chain, then two more, then double crochet, double chain, hooking each double crochet in the arch below. Repeat until you’ve done the full row, join the third chain from the beginning with the end of the row with a slip stitch.
Split stitch until you get to the middle of the first arch from the row below. Double chain, then one more, then double crochet, single chain, hooking each double crochet in the arch below. Repeat until you’ve done the full row, join beginning and end of the row with a slip stitch.

By now you should have two rows that are diminishing inwards, and something that will look roughly like a beret for an artistic French squirrel. Without cutting or knotting, test on your zills. If they work fine (hopefully they will) cut the thread, knot, then thread the excess in between the crochetting to secure it.

Repeat for the other muffler, put together and enjoy practicing without waking up your neighbours!

Thick Zill Mufflers

Thick Zill Mufflers, made with Sirdar Firefly yarn


For the lacy mufflers:
Be prepared to work a lot harder, as knitting with such fine thread is not easy, and the thread curls on itself and knots a lot more than normal.
Basically the procedure is the same, except that instead of starting with 6 chains, you’ll probably need around 15, and you’ll be using triple crochets all around; if you want an even lighter muffling effect, use quadruple crochets, but adjust the rest of the knitting to take account for this.

Start with 16 chains, join with a slip stitch
Do four chains to get the height, then three more chains, *tripple crochet picking the thread from inside the circle, three chains*. Repeat ** 7 times (or until it goes all the way round and stays flat; this will change depending on the thread you’re using); join beginning and end of the row with a slip stitch.
Slip stitch until you reach the middle of the arch below. Do three chains to get the height, one chain for advancing, then *triple crochet, three chains, triple crochet* and repeat ** 7 times; you should have a 2xtriple crochet group above each little “arch” made below; join beginning and end of the row with a slip stitch.
Three chains to get the height, then three more chains, then *one triple crochet, three chains* and repeat; they should come one hooked from within each arch, and one from in between each group of 2xtriple crochets from the row below. Once you’re finished, join beginning and end of the row with a slip stitch.
Slip-stitch until you’re in the middle of one of the arches on the row below, then three chains for height, three more, then *triple crochet, five chains, triple crochet, three chains*; each triple crochet-three chains-triple crochet group should hook from the top of each arch from the row below. Repeat until you’ve done the full row, join beginning and end of the row with a slip stitch.
Slip stitch until you reach the middle of the arch below. Do three chains to get the height, three chains for advancing, then *triple crochet, three chains* and repeat **; you should have a triple crochet above each little “arch” made below; join beginning and end of the row with a slip stitch.

As with the thicker version, once you get to this stage, take your zills and measure. You should have a fairly flat disc, although it might not be fully flat; just make sure it’s not curling like fluffy undies or like a ball. If your zills are smaller or just the size of the disc, you can start reducing; otherwise you might need a new row, do this with a triple crochet, five chains, all around, hooking each triple crochet either in the arch from the row below. Otherwise, if you’re at the right size, continue below…

Slip stitch until you reach the middle of the arch below. Do three chains to get the height, two chains for advancing, then *triple crochet, two chains* and repeat **; you should have a triple crochet above each little “arch” made below; join beginning and end of the row with a slip stitch.
Slip stitch until you reach the middle of the arch below. Do three chains to get the height, one chain for advancing, then *triple crochet, one chains* and repeat **; you should have a triple crochet above each little “arch” made below; join beginning and end of the row with a slip stitch.

Again, by now you should have yet another beret-for-cute-critter-wannabe. Test on your zills, it should be TIGHT as this thread doesn’t stretch as most standard knitting thread does; if everything works, knot the thread, cut, thread in between the previously knitted pieces, and make another.

If all works correctly, you should have something as below. Enjoy!

Lacey Crochetted Zill Mufflers

Lacey Crochetted Zill Mufflers

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