finger cymbals too loud? problem solved: crocheted zill covers

UPDATE: “Fans” tag added. Click through to the comments for a classic example of the pathology.

zills, yo, nekkid as God and Allah intended 

From the department of WTF comes these step-by-step instructions for making your own finger cymbal covers for the pampered, crocheting bellydancer that lives deep in your soul.

Now, it may surprise you to know that I have bellydanced; I would not characterize myself as a bellydancer any more than as a toothbrusher, but I’m better than a beginner even if that damn reverse camel still throws my back out (and I defy anyone to maintain a good seat on a reversing camel without damaging one vertebra, or at least snapping the elastic on it).

And I have zills. From Saudi Arabia. Smuggled in my mother’s luggage (I wish I could claim it was sewn into the lining of her fur coat, but what the hell would she be doing in Riyadh in a fur coat unless it was protecting herself from the omnipresent aggressive, Antarctic airconditioning, or even perhaps wrapped in her silken unmentionables, but my mother, glam though her latter years were, preferred unmentionables of practical and sturdy 100% cotton or sometimes even nylon, and all the colours of the beige Canadian rainbow, so yeah, maybe wrapped in a pair of buttercup yellow size L granny panties, woohoo, James Bond eat your heart out) or was it in a box marked “Sand” so the customs inspectors didn’t open it up? Yeah, either they have very stupid export customs inspectors in Saudi Arabia or the CIA is using “Sand” as a code word, and given the company my mother kept in Riyadh, I’m betting the latter and the customs inspectors have been told to lay off.

Zills. It’s a blog post about zill covers.

In any case, whether you’re a bellydancer or not, good or bad, the first thing you notice about zills is: they make a lot of noise.

It’s sort of what they’re for.

So we at the ol’ raincoaster blog were somewhat nonplussed and even subtractussed to see instructions for crocheting home-made zill mufflers, it being said that, lo, they were like, so way noisy.

Or maybe that’s just me.

the zill covers, back viewIn any case, the covers themselves are pretty enough, and in a nice, sparkly yarn might even add a tantalizing “you can glimpse the zill, but you cannot touch it” piquance to the zill-dancing experience, or perhaps that is only for those who identify too closely with inanimate brass objects, not that we know anyone like that around here.

the zill covers, front viewIn any case, the zills generally sound quite pretty even if you don’t know what you’re doing. We at the ol’ raincoaster blog can only pray that this twisted genius turns her attention next to something of more practical utility, such as:

  • violin mufflers
  • clarinet covers
  • accordion muffs
  • cymbal socks

Your suggestions?

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37 thoughts on “finger cymbals too loud? problem solved: crocheted zill covers

  1. Since I’ve just been awakened by one at 0430, how about a garbage truck cover? Oh, and I’d also suggest a barking dog cover that can be grenade-launched into a neighbor’s yard, and a cover for the idiot gangsta kid’s thumping car down the street. Preferably one that cinches up to trap him inside the vehicle.

  2. Oh, I’d be SO up for a garbage truck cover. Around here the delivery trucks like to park in Reverse with their foot on the brake. I could go homicidal some mornings.

    Also, ravens and shithawks. I was listening to the morning chorus of deafening avian screams when suddenly a shot rang out. Silence. Eventually, the birds started up again. Another shot. Silence.

    I blessed that random, dawn shooter, rolled over and went back to sleep.

  3. as the creator of the pattern, i’m amused that my pattern has caught your attention. how did you find it by the way?

    it is silly that i made up little covers for my zills, i can admit i laughed when i thought about it. but then i realized that these little things give me a splitting headache when i practice with them and my roommates threatened to throw me out if i kept practicing with them in the house. i didn’t want to find a new home or make the price of Tylenol’s stock rise any further… so i made these based on another pattern i found online.

    thanks for the free advertising.

  4. You’re welcome. I think I ran across it in Most Recently Updated on the Dashboard.

    Now, can we possibly get you to work on some garbage truck/car alarm cosies?

  5. And hey, if you’re pissed off at me, why not take it up with me? Nobody on that forum can help you resolve this. Slagging me on another website doesn’t speak well of your character, particularly when you aren’t complimentary about mine.

    I am not slagging your pattern, I even said it was pretty: I’m saying it’s counterproductive. Zills are to make noise. Why not just not use the zills when you practice? Nothing stopping you from bashing your fingers together.

  6. That’s right KNEN:
    If you’re gonna slag Raincoaster’s vile temper and unstable mentality, not to mention her unsavoury character and unspeakable habits, you have to do it here.

    ‘Cos you might have some good ones and I don’t know where this forum is!

    Besides, the subsequent squabbling is often entertaining. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons I hang around here, keeping the tone of the place up.

  7. Raincoaster the belly dancer?

    Who would have ever thought?

    This calls for another glass of wine so I can mull over whether to confess about my brief stint as a rocket scientist.

    lol j/k RC I think that’s quite fetching!

  8. Dear Ms. Raincoaster:

    Let me first say that I am not a belly dancer; I have never even attempted it. Since I am admittedly ignorant in this area, I had to research zills and their use in order to understand your recent post. While you did make a backhanded compliment on the beauty of one crocheter’s creation of zill covers, you were mostly derogatory and even a bit mean in your tone. So, I thought I would pass along to you my research on the subject. Covers, or mufflers, seem to be quite common with folks who are more knowledgeable about the art than you or I. One dancer even explains that the use of zills was not meant for indoors, so they can be harsh on the ears. There are all types available via various dance studios, costumers and importers. Most seem to be crocheted, as are the ones you bashed. Others are made of velvet, felt, and some have even used tape or an old sock!

    In addition to learning about zills and the need for zill mufflers, I have also learned that it is important to really understand what we are talking about when we make the choice to put down others and their work. It is all too easy to be disrespectful and thoughtless with our words, especially behind the veil of the internet. I hope that you will also take this lesson to heart.

    Many blessings,

    Zill Mufflers: Hand-crocheted with cotton thread. These handy little accessories are indispensable for practicing in the close confines of an apartment building or in the evening. Available in two sizes, to fit zills up to 2″ or 2.5″ in diameter. Please specify size. One pair ($5) will muffle zills pretty effectively, but two pairs ($9) will completely dampen the sound.
    When you’re practicing at home and you don’t want to disturb others with the noise (especially important for people in apartments) you can use zill mufflers. You can purchase zill mufflers at various Internet sites or you can easily make your own. You can make them either by cutting off the toes of old socks and sewing elastic around the edge so they fit snuggly around the zill or you can cut out a piece of fabric that is slightly bigger then the circumference of the zills and then attach the elastic to the edge of the fabric and make sure it fits snuggly around the zill.
    Class 4 and 5 September 21st and 28th, 2000
    Class 4 was fun we worked on walking and moving our chests up and down, walking and pushing our diaphragms in and out, walking and pushing our lower abs in and out, then alternating, then double pushes on each step. I sucked at this big time. My stomach just has no real movement – it’s all I can do to move it a little standing still, walking was a joke. However I tried and that I suppose is the important thing. Also, I bought my zills after class (the Arabesque ones) and so I took them home and sewed on the elastic and my favorite beads on the thumbs (so you can tell them apart) and then sewed a very proud making zill bag with some black silk and my left over trim and tassels and some ribbon. It’s quite a sight. :) Oh, and I also made some zill mufflers so as I don’t drive the animals or the husband nuts.
    I went to my grandma and showed her my Zills and asked if she could whip something up (she is a sewing goddess) she then gave me this glue it’s called “Aleene’s tack it over and over” and some felt………. at first I thought she was a bit crazy!!! till she explained……..
    All I did was cut out a circle of felt the same size as the zill.
    Then put the glue around the edge of the felt circle.
    Let it dry over night (till the glue is clear) and Wal’la !!
    The glue is like sticky note glue; it sticks and resticks without leaving any glue behind.
    So all I have to do is just press the felt onto the zill and pull it off when I’m done.
    They work great and soooo easy!!! My grandma rocks!!!
    Q: I’d like to learn to play finger cymbals, but the ones I’ve heard in person make me cringe because they sound so loud, clangy and piercing.

    To me, they’re like mariachi bands and bagpipes — not meant to be played indoors unless it’s a cavernous space! But I’m gonna be practicing indoors in smaller rooms so I need “mellow” zills that won’t give me tininitus.

    A: I put masking tape around the edges of one set I have for practice. Keeps ’em nice and quiet. And sticky. Quiet and sticky!
    Dance Tips

    Zill mufflers can not only save your ears but greatly improve the disposition of the members of your family. They can often be found on eBay quite inexpensively.

  9. “Many blessings”? Thank you for your informative, heartfelt, condescending and irrational post. I hope that soon your life is more fulfilling and you have less time on your hands.

  10. You just don’t like anyone, do you? Have a wonderful evening. (Sincerely, not at all condescending, and most definately not irrational.)

  11. No, Janet, you’re special.

    Janet, I wrote that comment thirty seconds ago and you’ve already responded, to a post about something you admit in your first paragraph you neither know nor care anything about.

    You really DO have too much time on your hands.

    I am a bellydancer, and if I were to annoy my roommates with my zills I’d just…uh…not use the zills when practicing. It does not make any functional difference to the performance unless you’re at a professional level, so yes, the idea of zill mufflers is silly, however pretty they are. No matter how many, many paragraphs you can copy unattributed off the Internet attesting to the crafting, muffling desire of bellydancers everywhere.

    I mean, beaded hip scarves also make noise, but I didn’t see anyone offering to make a sock for your hip scarf.

    Also, should anyone else care to follow the forum thread, the forum is here:

    They’re not all so wordy. Or hostile.

  12. i said your article made me laugh. and you weren’t too flattering. yes i saw that you think the item is pretty… but it was only a few words. the rest of the article is very negative.

    as for the coined hip scarf… i have 2, yes they make noise but it’s tolerable and ignorable unlike zills which give me (an others) a splitting headache.

    and thank you janet for the support.

    and a car alarm cozy? i think it’s been done. just use the knitted Ferrari made by that art student in London.

  13. Janet! I’ve been looking all over the net for you, you craptaculous hag. And you show up here of all places! Same old condescending crap eh? You really need a new MO. Look, if you apologize to the nice proprietor for being such a neurotic freak, maybe, just maybe, the gangstalking will stop for a few days, ok? But for now, we’re watching.

  14. KEK, what you said was that I’d “ripped [your] pattern a new one”. We can agree, can’t we, that this was a misrepresentation and that a lot of hostility came my way not because of what I wrote here, but because of what you wrote there, which WAS a misrepresentation of what I said. There’s the actual issue between us. If you have a problem with me, do me the courtesy of taking it up with me directly rather than posting one attitude here and another elsewhere.

    Zill covers are merely the macguffin here, not the key to our dispute. I think they’re a little silly; you don’t. That’s okay, we don’t need to agree on that.

    But I didn’t attack you or malign you in my post, I just said how silly I thought zill covers were, and I did so without even using the phrase “This generation’s Barbiedoll Toilet Paper Roll Covers” which could so easily have come out of my keyboard. The majority of the post isn’t about your zill covers at all. And around these parts the words “twisted genius” are a compliment. When I linked to you I thought “it’s a WordPress blog, so it’s good that she’ll get some hits.” As you’ll have seen from what I said to Janet, I have no difficulty wheeling out the whips and chains when I feel like it; that I didn’t do so to you should demonstrate that my intention was not to attack.

    The Ferrari cosy won’t fit on the garbage trucks they use around these parts, but if you’ve got a way to adapt the Tank Cosy from BoingBoing I’m pretty sure you’d have a market for that pattern.

    007, never show your hand. Now she’ll just activate the cloaking device again and THEN where will you be, eh? I ask you that.

  15. KNEK:
    “The rest of the article”? What “rest of the article”? For the entire third of it that had anything to do with zill covers I found the post to be humourous, generally. Not particularly mean. Since I pop by here fairly regularly my sense of mean may be rather blunted–but take it from me that RC can be significantly meaner.

    Even the counter-comment above is downright puppy-dog friendly, really. She likes you a lot, I can tell. I think you should treat this as the beginning of a beautiful friendship. If you knit an enormous squid she’ll probably be your love slave.

    And Janet–you have been paying attention to the FDA’s warnings about the z-drugs and sleep-commenting, I hope. Helpful point if you’re ever back here–or on any blog at all: Desperate sincerity is to be avoided at all costs. Snark and the verbal bitchslap are more prized.

    Which reminds me. Gotta go see what’s up on the backgrounder thread.

  16. I saw the moderators come down pretty strongly on the negativity in that thread, and I recognize that type of forum. I doubt you will find any more drama there; it seems to have a strong culture and highly engaged mods to enforce it. In fact, I’m relatively sure that the smackdown there had something to do with KEK’s return and second comment.

    By the way, again we have proof that flamewars are awesome for hits! Welcome, flamers.

  17. Pingback: Twisted Purls » Mess with one sheep, you mess with the whole flock…

  18. None; they seem more Oprah than that. Basically the responses were “That’s horrible she said such nasssssty, nasssssty things about you! You are crocheter, hear you roar!” The moderators came down hard, saying that the forum was not the place for attacks, particularly since it made forum members as a whole look bad.

    Flamewars: it’s what God made comment sections for.

    Like I’ve said elsewhere, I have no issue with forum members being supportive: it’s what they do. The problem is that the woman lied to them about what I’d actually said and they took her at her word.

  19. Pingback: Operation Global Media Domination: Operation Ego! « raincoaster

  20. OK – I’m over in my corner, quietly snickering at this whole thread. Heh.

    As a dilettante who happens to bellydance when she’s not eating bonbons, I took up the zills, then prompty put them back down. Turns out they annoyed the cats, so much so that Her Highness would launch full force at my hands whenever I practiced. (If you take into consideration the fact that we call her Molasses Cat, you can probably guess how much zill-induced rage I must have created in her tiny, furry little bod.)

    I had to come up with an answer, and fast. However, I was adamant about not crocheting anything – I’m a knitter! But more to the point, I’m lazy, so I made the equivalent of tiny felt shower caps for my zills, and just slip them on when it’s time to practice.

    Yes they look silly, but now I can practice in relative peace, so long as I don’t interrupt the meowfia’s schedule.

  21. Thank you, Ms Cin, for your perspective. As I said before, the world is better off with a diverse range of attitudes towards zill covers; can’t we all just get along?

    But tell me, why don’t you just NOT USE the zills at all? I find you can go a long way towards getting the routine down just bashing your fingers together, zill-less. But then, I live in Chinatown and my neighbors are out practicing exotic and noisy fitness routines at five every morning; they can hardly complain if I bust out the cymbals now and again.

  22. Hee :) I’d love it if we’d all just get along. But then again, I want a pony named Stella.

    The reason I don’t often practice zill-less is a practical one – I have small hands, and found that without zills I got lazy, but with zills I was more conscious of proper hand position and could get a nice tone out of them. Really, it’s all about avoidance.

    Still not crocheting covers for ’em though.

  23. well… i think you can’t just “bash your fingers together;”
    there are particular patterns and rhythms you have to learn, plus, you have to learn proper handling of the zills. bashing your fingers together is different than doing it with zill weight attached. practicing with muffled zills helps you build the endurance to play them the entire time you’re dancing.
    people buy special practice mutes from trumpets. you could say “well can’t you just press the valves and not blow into the horn?” but that’s a different kind of practice altogether.

  24. Fair enough, fair enough. At my level of performance, there’s hardly any difference though. I could tie hubcaps to my fingers and it would sound just as bad.

  25. Zils as finger instruments? Now, I know the Soviets built Zils as light as possible, but swinging a Zil around on your fingers has to involve some major league wrist and finger strength, not to mention the forearm and upper arm strength of Superman or a criminal on PCP. Not mention the way a Zil is built, you’re going to get more of a dull thud and tearing metal-breaking glass sound if you beat two of them together. Not to mention the lack of aesthetics of two big black Zils perched on one’s fingers.

    Oh, you meant zills. Sorry.

  26. I saw some comments on why not just not use the zils while practicing. Well, for one thing, the elastic needs to be rather tight (or they just fly off) and you need to become accustomed to this before actually performing. Of course one may have a very happy life bellydancing without ever clanging a zil (they are an accessory), but it can be a whole lotta fun!

  27. “Zill Mufflers: Hand-crocheted with cotton thread. These handy little accessories are indispensable for practicing in the close confines of an apartment building or in the evening. Available in two sizes, to fit zills up to 2″ or 2.5″ in diameter. Please specify size. One pair ($5) will muffle zills pretty effectively, but two pairs ($9) will completely dampen the sound.”


    Do you still sell these zill mufflers? If so, how do I purchase them?


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