It’s fingerless glove knitting season again! The Cherokee Heights Arts Festival is coming up in November and I’m working on creating a new collection of the most popular item: fingerless gloves. Glove production is also my pattern design workshop where I work up new patterns, test them out a few times, write them down, and then test knit them with the yarn I think works best and photographs well. First up this season is Rhombic Mitts. I enjoyed the Ironwork Mitts from last year so much, I decided to do a new variation on the theme.
My exploration of shawls this summer was inspired by favorite local yarn shop, Eat.Sleep.Knit, and their Flash KAL (Knit A-Long) for the simple yet stunning pattern Clapotis. This pattern was perfect for showing off the beauty and texture of hand-dyed yarn and I loved how it turned out using Blue Moon Fiber Arts Marine Silk Worsted (now discontinued) in the color, The Final Frontier.
I enjoyed it so much, I decided to pull out some beautiful Debbie Bliss Fine Donegal I had stashed about two years ago to knit up another one. This fingering weight yarn created an even lighter shawl perfect for fall in southern climes.
Encouraged by my success, I looked for another project and found Shockwaves by Beata Jezek. I was immediately drawn to the quirky asymmetrical chevrons and bold color choices of many of the projects on Ravelry. In the end, I decided to contrast the pattern with a soft ombre of beautiful blue-greys of Madelinetosh Eyre Light. The depth of tone and soft single ply of the yarn kept this very large shawl from becoming overly heavy.
My last shawl project of the summer looks forward to autumn with the sunset colors of Claudia Handpainted Yarns Addiction (aptly named) in Be My Valentine and Makes Me Hungry applied to Melanie Berg’s Assante. The simple striping of this pattern allowed the brighter mix of colors to emerge from dusky darkness for a light and fluttery shawl that can be worn like a scarf. While I love the result, the shawl is knit length-wise, so as the rows build, the row length becomes considerable, especially to a knitter used to row counts of under 200 stitches. That aside, I highly recommend this pattern and may knit another one in the future.
Picture, if you will, a bunch of college kids rolling down a rural road in a beat-up set of wheels, windows down, tunes blaring, bright blue skies and not a care in the world. Sound familiar? Yep, it’s a pretty exasperatingly tired indie-rock cliche. Yet this song from Hershey, Pennsylvania’s dream-pop poster boys seems worthy of the picture.
Sort of. Just replace the farms with colorful flower gardens and the late-summer heat with a refreshing late-spring breeze and you’re just about there. That, and they’re probably a little better dressed than those other kids.
Here, big, bright, shimmering atmospherics and sweet, somewhat straightforward (but no less sublime) imagery collide, expand out, and go on for miles. It’s the perfect soundtrack for catching the rays as you cruise to the beach to catch some waves.
Further Listening: “Drifting, Falling”, “Give it a Try”
The humid heat of summer has finally settled in and has us thinking of classic summer songs. First up: Heavy Water Factory.
Not many bands can capture a specific mood or aesthetic and ride it out successfully over a career. Not many bands can do it unintentionally, either. Heavy Water Factory made the heavy, humid heat of a classic Mid-Atlantic summer palpable and managed to do it time and again, consistently bringing the heat over the course of a two-album-plus catalog in the mid-90’s. While it surely wasn’t their intent, their songs feel like summer.
Heavy Water Factory was brought to my attention in the summer of 1996 by a college roommate who boasted of this “new” talent from Michigan (the songs were written two years prior to the record gaining true promotional traction). Their debut, Fluid & Meat was a curious collection of songs – definitely not we expected from the electro-industrial scene of the time – with a slow, heavy atmosphere clouding the body of work. The songs were there but not there. There was a nuance and texture and delicacy to the tracks unlike what were looking for at the time. I came away from my first listen totally zapped of energy and found it surprising that the soundtrack totally meshed with the view outside my window: bright sun, blazing pavement, few people.
“Painfield” is a prime example. The mid-tempo track slowly plods along, building steam at a snail’s pace and mustering just enough energy to hold a groove. Just when you think it’s on the verge of something substantial – a big chorus or massive breakdown – it consistently recoils back to the same easy groove, seemingly succumbing to the weight of the sweltering heat. It’s like they’re gassed out, happy to simply coast along for the remainder of the track and not move too much.
The atmosphere conjured up by Heavy Water Factory is hazy and hot, lazy and lethargic, sultry and sort of sexy. They offer the perfect soundtrack to those blistering summer days you just hope to survive – riding out the day and waiting out the sun for the cover of darkness when you can crawl out into the night in search of something more substantial.
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