The Crusaders are wearing Crochet!


Wael Shawky, Cabaret Crusades (2010-2015)

4000 years after their first use in Egypt, Alexandria based artist Wael Shawky has made marionettes a central part of his art practice. His work currently on exhibition at Mathaf, Doha, is presented as a spectacular film series that recounts the history of The Crusades from an Arab perspective. The films are based on literature and historical narratives, using a visual language that mixes fictional storytelling and documentary styles. 

More than 100 hand-blown glass marionettes in period dress (i.e. crochet!!!!) were made by the maestros in Venice, a city with its own minor role in the crusades. The marionettes who range from ethnic caricature to alien xenomorph is equally spooky and mesmerizing to look at. I struggled to peel myself away from the large vitrine of about 50 of these glass marionettes and drawings from Cabaret Crusades that set the stage for the six films screened across the ground floor galleries. This process of telling stories and fictionalizing history through these layers creates a new story of the fight for power that is still present today!

A quick search on the internet has left me empty handed in my quest to find out more about the crocheted items used in creating the marionettes. Today I will be taking a deep dive and see whether I am lucky enough to strike gold and hunt down the crochet artists who clothed the puppets.

According to Mathaf, the Arab museum for modern and comtemporary art: "His practice spanning video, drawing, and performance are in-depth productions about the way history and mythology are written, offering crucial perspectives on contemporary narratives of uncertainty and change. Shawky is a major artist of his generation, developing an original art vocabulary dealing with global aesthetic and political issues. His work is exhibited internationally, most recently in solo exhibitions at MoMA PS1, New York (2015); K20, Düsseldorf (2014); Serpentine Gallery, London (2013); KW Berlin (2012); and large scale group exhibitions including Sharjah Biennial (2013); and dOCUMENTA (13) (2012). His work is collected by public institutions such as MoMA, New York, MACBA, Barcelona, and Qatar Museums, Doha."

We are literally living in Art heaven here in Doha. Qatar not only established as the Arts hub of the Middle East, but the tiny country with massive pockets is regarded as the world's leading modern art collector. For more than twenty years, the Al-Thani family had been buying a large collection of art works, from traditional Islamic artifacts to famous pieces of modern and contemporary art and has spent at least $1 billion on Western painting and sculpture. Previous Head of International Modern Contemporary Arab and Iranian Art at Christie's, William Lawrie, said of the Al Thani's: “Qatar’s royal family are very much like modern-day equivalents of the Medicis in 16th-century Florence”.

Forbes describes the Emir's daughter, Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani “arguably the most powerful woman in the art world today” and ranked her one of the 100 most powerful women of the world in 2012. Art and Auction magazine ranked her number one for the art world’s most influential people.
Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani                                                                                                 Photo credit

The Qatar Museums authority is the lead body for museums in Qatar and in addition to providing a comprehensive organization for museum development, also aligned art museum programmes with the new Supreme Education Council Art Curriculum Standards. Art is a prominent topic in both international as well as local schools and as a parent i am not complaining!

Mathaf, Doha's museum for modern and contemporary art plays a special role in the creative life of Qatar. It is much more than a museum. It is a platform where contemporary artistic production and debate takes place, a showcase for new movements in the art world and a creative community where emerging talent can experiment, create and share projects with one another. 

One of the programmes is The Mathaf Voices a year-long internship program for university students from various academic majors where interns have the opportunity to learn about modern and contemporary art, build their research and communication skills, and lead exhibition tours for the public. 

Another annual programme that celebrates the creativity of students from kindergarten to secondary levels is the Mathaf Student Art Competition and Exhibition organized in partnership with University College London Qatar, Museum and Gallery Practice masters program students. The Teen submitted a winning entry and her work is currently on display until the end of May!!!  

What are you up to? I am nursing a (hell it is painful!) shoulder injury, so not much crocheting is happening here at the Pigtails Palace at the moment.


Dainty Delicious Darling Scarf Pattern

Hello!  This is the pattern I used to create the Dainty Darling Scarf, but please note that this is to be used as a guide only. Be sure to adapt the number of chains in each round according to the weight and thickness of your chosen yarn. I used two strands of yarn to make the colourful flowers, and only one strand to create and join the squares. I furthermore joined each square to the next in 5 different places from corner to corner. This is a far cry from a professional chart and set of instructions, please give me a shout if you need any more help and I will do a photo tutorial too!

Round 1: Ch 6 and close to form ring
Round 2: 12 2Treble clusters with 5Ch between each
Round 3: Ch10 joined with sc into each Ch5 space of the previous round
Round 4: Ch8 joined with sc into each Ch10 space of the previous round
Round 5: Ch8 joined with sc into each Ch8 space of the previous round
Round 6: Create Square shape by crocheting 4 treble cluster, Ch10,  4 treble cluster into a Ch8 space (not clear from drawing) and Ch8 joined with sc into each Ch8 space of the previous round in the relevant spaces

I have seen many similar looking patterns captured in Japanese crochet books over the years and simply grabbed a hook and worked from mood and memory, creating my own, but certainly not unique version.


For an informative Crochet Symbols and Directions Chart with UK and US terminology, 
head over to Dabbles and Babbles

Craftsy published a tutorial titled "Understanding Crochet Diagrams, the Key to breaking the Code"

Slugs on the Refrigerator published and in depth article about "Reading Crochet Charts"

This is the same pattern in DK bamboo and a 4mm hook.
Here in rounds 4, 5 and 6, I hooked 5ch, 6ch and 8ch in stead of 8ch, 8ch, 8ch as in the square made out of lacy merino (scarf). Hope this makes sense!

Have a great week!


Dainty Delicious Darling Scarf


One could easily fantasise about being a dainty lady, wearing this delicious darling scarf. I on the other hand, prefer to team something as delicate as this with raw grey linens and natural stone. The look is as strong as it is fragile and the result mesmerising.

However, neither of my two dresses in silvery grey (this one shows my knees - against the dress code in Qatar!) and charcoal linens, inspired me this morning and I promptly decided to hunt down tunic style dresses in faded Japanese linens in order to showcase my beautiful scarf. Wish me luck!

I have been shopping all my life and I have nothing to wear!!

Madeline Tosh Prairie in Calligraphy, a one ply, 100% superwash hand-dyed merino wool
Eden Cottage Theseus Lace, a merino and silk 2 ply lace weight yarn soft, somewhat shimmery and luxurious
Hook Size: 3mm


Photos of flowers, top and jewelry linked in Pinterest


Winding yarn is a wonky affair!

Hello! This is the start of a dainty scarf in lacy Merino yarns from Madeline Tosh and Eden Cottage. After many evenings of winding yarn before I could put hook to project, I have to admit that it is a dreadful task for impatient peoples like me. I still have so many skeins to wind from hank to cake and even though the Girl Teen is assisting, it remains a huge task when the yarn is slighter thicker than cotton thread and over 600 meters long! 

I am using two strands together to create the colourful flowers and one strand in neutral to join it all together. After many trials and errors with regard to the pattern, I have come to realise that frogging and these delicate yarns are clearly also not the best of friends. That said, now that I have settled on a pattern and understand where to join the squares together, it is an enjoyable, beautiful project.

Don't you just love Instagram?  I really enjoy sitting back from time to time to take a look at all the photos I have liked.  That in itself is a great indication of what one likes with regard to photography, styling, craft, mood, travelling, food and many more. These are some of the beautiful images I have liked over the past month.

Have a great weekend, I will spent mine with the family at a beach club here in Doha and also finalise itineraries for our summer holiday to be spent travelling Croatia extensively. At first we were going to travel Sweden and the Netherlands, but when the Teens mentioned the beach word, I told them to identify a must visit place with the help of Google Earth. The result was Croatia after they saw the islands, the beaches, the national parks and the beautiful towns and cities. The country has been on my bucket list too, so all in all we will have a whale of a time! Have you been to Croatia?


Loop London!

Hello!  The Afrikaans word for walk is "loop". I literally did a Loop London two weeks ago when I not only walked and walked, exploring the city on foot, but I also shopped and shopped - at Loop yarn store! I arrived back home with no less than 23 hanks of yarn in Lace (Merino, Silk and Linen) and Worsted Merino by Madeline Tosh, Artisan Yarns, Eden Cottage and The Uncommon Thread.  

I visited the shop twice, the first time to buy the Worsted Merino (6 hanks in purple and green) and linen (oops also 6 hanks in purple and green). What was that all about? Oh wait, I also got married in lilac and mint, those colours must have stuck with me after all these years! At the same time I picked up a few hooks, a pin for a shawl and the glorious Sophie Digard scarf in the above photo.

Once a back at the swanky hotel in Knightsbridge next to Harrods I called home for a few nights, I realised that I shunned the opportunity to buy the most amazing lace-weight yarns.  I have long since admired the work of Alice on Instagram & on her blog.  Right there and then I decided to return to Loop for more shopping as I would like to try my hand at something more delicate in the spirit of Alice's work and needed those lace yarns.  

I then invested in the most beautiful mushroom, stone and greige colours, a yellow, pink and charcoal too and am plotting and planning the next project for these yarns and am already whipping up sample squares to see where it will take me. Of course as I was about to exit the door, I spotted the Sophie Digard necklaces and promptly bought two of those too, one for myself and one for Anisa from Hellohart who introduced me to Editor Dala Watts, leading to an article of my work in the South African Ideas magazine!  I wanted to say thank you in a special way and have been keeping my eyes peeled for that special item that turned out to be the Sophie necklace!

The great thing about the Loop yarn store is also the location (not reflected in the above photo!) They are located in Camden Passage Islington. Camden Passage is world famous for its vintage and contemporary shops, markets and arcades. Be sure to pop into the leather handbag shops near Loop. I dislike the majority of women's bags on sale and much rather buy from markets or independent shops where simplistic styles are crafted by hand. This shop delivered a glorious green leather bag with a huge flap that disguises Ipad and wallet alike.

Just pho you! Finally, just before you hit the Underground, walk across the road where you will find a delectable bowl of Pho in a cafe serving Vietnamese street food. I have had a need for hot, brothy, salty, soothing beef noodle soup ever since we left South East Asia! There are few things better than a tangle of slick rice noodles in a rich, crystal clear, intensely beefy broth; the warm aroma of cinnamon, cloves and star anise rising up in a cloud of steam, balanced by a squeeze of lime and a handful of fresh herbs and chilies. Ah hell, I entered heaven!

Have a great week!