Sunday, October 14, 2012

What is Gossamer?

When I first began this blog, I talked about why and how I chose the name of Gossamer Tangles for my business.  At the time, it never crossed my mind that people might be confused by the word "gossamer".  I guess that as a child who dreamed of fairies, "gossamer" was just always part of my vocabulary.  Doesn't everyone know that fairy wings are made of gossamer?  Apparently not.

Over the last few weeks in setting up a new bank account for my business and dealing with various agents of the bank, I was reminded that many people just are not familiar with the word "gossamer".  In the past, I've had a few people think it was someone's name (usually last name, sometimes first).  But every person I dealt with at the bank pronounced the word incorrectly, and none had a clue as to what it meant.  It is probably an ill omen for my business that people don't recognize a key term in the name, but at this point, I'm not going to through the very burdensome task of trying to change the name.  Plus, I love the word "gossamer", and I've become emotionally invested in the name I chose.

So, I thought that in today's blog post, I would take a moment to provide a little vocabulary lesson. Hopefully, it may help others to come to know and love "gossamer" as much as I do.

"Gossamer" is both a noun and an adjective.  As a noun, it is defined by as:

  1. a fine, filmy cobweb seen on grass or bushes or floating in the air in calm weather, especially in autumn.
  2. a thread or a web of this substance.
  3. an extremely delicate variety of gauze, used especially for  veils.
  4. any thin, light fabric.
  5. something extremely light, flimsy, or delicate. provides the adjective definition: "extremely light, delicate, or tenuous".

As I mentioned before, the word is often associated with fairies, as in the Victorian poem, The Fairies Thrall, by Mary C. G. Byron

ON gossamer nights when the moon is low,
  And stars in the mist are hiding,
Over the hill where the foxgloves grow
  You may see the fairies riding.

Or in On Gossamer Wings, by Irish poet, William Allingham:

When you feel a little breeze,
or notice a tickle, or need to sneeze
or find your things are rearranged
or something seems a little strange
Look very closely and you might see
sparkly dust, or a buzzing bee:
Behold! a fairy with gossamer wings
has come to show you wondrous things!

To me the word "gossamer" has always conjured images of delicacy and light ... a whispered promise of something enchanting.  That is the impression I strive to create with the "tangling" of the tiny threads and shimmering wires that make up many of my jewelry designs.

As I said in that earlier post I referenced about naming my business, the "gossamer tangles" quote in the Oscar Wilde poem, In the Gold Room - A Harmony, clinched it for me:

Her gold hair fell on the wall of gold
Like the delicate gossamer tangles spun
On the burnished disk of the marigold,

Or the sunflower turning to meet the sun
When the gloom of the dark blue night is done,
And the spear of the lily is aureoled.

This week, I completed an infinity scarf of my own design that I hope conveys a "gossamer" quality.  The yarn I used is very light, with a slight halo quality to it.  The yarn mirrors the colors of a moonlit night sky, with deep shades of blue and subtle glints of metallic silver, like stars peeking through clouds. It was stitched in a very open, trellis-type stitch pattern.


  1. Hi, I was wondering if you could tell me the pattern for that infinity scarf. It's just so beautiful that I want to attempt it myself. Thank you(:

    1. Hi Brookelle - I'm glad you like my infinity scarf! It's my own design, so I can't point you to a specific pattern. I will try to write it up and post it on this blog within the next few weeks. In the meantime, it is very simple to do, and I will give you the basic directions so you can try it if you'd like: For the foundation, chain 50, then dc in the 10th chain from the hook. Chain 3, skip 3 chains and then dc in the next ch. Just keep repeating that pattern to the end of the ch and then turn. For Row 2, Chain 4, skip the first ch 3 space and then sc in the next dc, ch 3, skip the ch 3 space and sc in the next dc, keep repeating this pattern until you reach the end of the row and place the last sc in the 4th ch, turn. For Row 3: ch 6, skip the first sc and ch 3 space, 1 dc in the next sc, ch 3, skip the ch 3 space, dc in the next sc, and just keep repeating the pattern, placing the last dc in the last ch. Then continue repeating rows 2 and 3 until you achieve the length you want. Fasten off and sew the ends together to create the circle.The yarn I used was Filatura di Crosa Gioiello. Hope this helps! If you do make one, I'd love to see a photo.


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