Knits: New Year, old yarn, lots of hats

 

After a flurry of making for the year, I’m usually left with a bag of little scrappy balls of yarn that aren’t large enough to create a single project. As part of getting started for the new year, one of my favorite things is to pull all of these scraps out and make palettes for hats.

I created this simple hat pattern many years ago that is perfect for using up whatever I have. It has a simple texture that coordinates well with stripes or solids or color blocking. The sampling above is about half of the hats I made using up my odds and ends. I like to pair my worsted weight and sock weight scraps and knit holding the two yarns together. The sock weight yarn can help unify the other colors or create subtle striping on a more monochromatic background.

Here’s to creating one-of-a-kind color combos while using up yarn scraps!

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Knits: TinCanKnits patterns keep it classic

 

Earlier this year I was introduced to the classic and beautifully accessible pattern collection by TinCanKnits: The Simple Collection. This free collection has a wonderful variety of coordinating patterns sized from baby to adult and light to worsted yarn weights. The instructions are nicely designed and easy to follow with simple illustrations for clarity.

I knit up three of the patterns:

Rye socks: These are perfect for the knitter that wants to knit socks, but doesn’t want to spend a lot of time. Using worsted weight yarn, these knit up super fast and look beautiful both in solid and multicolor yarns. You can also easily add your own twist with stripes or color blocking.

Flax sweater: This seamless, top-down pattern has a very simple and flattering design that looks great on everyone. It is very easy to add your own flair with stripes or color blocking.

Barley hat: I couldn’t resist making the matching hat with the yarn I had left over from the baby sweater. So simple and quick to knit up!

This collection is a wonderful place to start for the knitter that is moving into knitting apparel and will give you a great foundation in understanding construction for more complex patterns.

 

Things We Like: Drab Majesty, “The Demonstration”

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Dreamy and introspective. That’s the easy answer. Some might say “dark”. Perhaps a bit. But that’s an overly simplistic and, frankly, cynical take. It could be said Drab Majesty conjures up a 4AD aura about things with hints of vintage Clan of Xymox or Cocteau Twins in both sound and style. Really, though, there are many influences – dream pop, shoegaze and classic goth among them – that tease their way into the songs. But Deb DeMure, the androgynous alter-ego of L.A.-based musician Andrew Clinco, comes calling with more than just a checklist of references.

On their second proper album, The Demonstration, Drab Majesty transcends the confines of strict style and the niche tastes of a precious few and push out into the realm of 80’s new wave and pop. The songs are catchy and irresistible and satisfyingly accessible while managing to still shimmer and haunt and hover in the corner – a perfect mix of light and dark that invites obsessive listening. Many of these songs wouldn’t seem out of place on mainstream radio of the era. The grand, euphoric “Cold Souls” comes to mind as does “39 By Design”, their languid meditation on the Heaven’s Gate cult – both tracks aptly released in advance of the album like incantations masking as pop singles.

And while there’s a lot to love about The Demonstration, DeMure’s guitar playing could be the true star. Her chiming guitar lines are captivating as they meander around and hang in the air. They lure you in, slow things down and let the white space between notes wrap you in a woozy, warm embrace. “Not Just a Name” and “Forget Tomorrow” conjure up this atmosphere perfectly, the latter playing up the 80’s-era drum machines to near-absurd levels of intensity.

But grandiose gestures are what Drab Majesty is all about. Their image and influences spill out super-saturated, dime-store drama in a kaleidoscope of colors, textures and references. They present an exquisite corpse tangled with so many conflicting cultural touch points – religious pageantry, the occult, KISS Army, Warhol wigs, science fiction, Geisha girl, Members Only – that it’s hard not to fall under their spell (or perhaps surrender to the sheer weight of their presentation) and just follow along. But it all works. Style and sound are a perfect match – light and dark, sweet and sour, high and low – that keeps you off balance and craving more.

After letting this one brood on the turntable for the better part of a month (on glorious marbled blue vinyl and on constant repeat), The Demonstration presents a complete, confident and fully realized vision. Also, the album’s production – care of Telaphon Tel Aviv’s Joshua Eustis – is cleaner and less claustrophobic than its predecessor, Careless (itself a clear statement of purpose with its fair share of great songs).

But The Demonstration is the complete package. It’s that same complex and compelling vision but pushed through with focus and clarity, delivering great songs with production to match.