I couldn’t resist creating a quarter-size baby version for a friend due in the fall. It is the perfect size to tuck a little one into their baby seat. All the colors of the rainbow are perfect for a girl or a boy.
My favorite local yarn store, Eat Sleep Knit, holds a number of knit-alongs every year. This year they decided to hold a year-long KAL for the Hue Shift Afghan. I instantly fell in love with the color possibilities and looked through all the projects on Ravelry for inspiration. With the help of this wonderful color picking tool created for designing your hue shift, I tried at least a dozen combinations of Cascade 220 superwash (ESK carries the whole line) and decided on sunny shades mixed with neutrals.
I started by ordering my picks online, but found that going to the store was required to tweak a few of the gradient choices to get enough separation and consistent vibrancy of color. I would definitely recommend picking yarn for this project in person.
I made a few modifications to the pattern as written: 1) I knit all of the squares in the same direction. I liked the diagonal running across the whole surface and also liked avoiding any piecing together a the end. Each square is knit on the edge of previous squares. 2) I decided not to add a border. I preferred the squares running to the edge and letting the pattern be the statement without “framing.”
After an extra trip to get more yarn (it takes about 1.3 skeins per color in Cascade 220), it took over 3 months to complete the Afghan. I was able to work on many other small portable projects and leave this one for home knitting in the evenings.
I would highly recommend this project to anyone looking for a blanket project that avoids monotony. Color choice transforms the design and knitting the blanket in small units keeps it from feeling overwhelming. The excitement of seeing how each color combination looks keeps you eager to start the next square.
My favorite local yarn store, Eat.Sleep.Knit, held a Flash KAL in March featuring the patterns Song of the Sea and Siren Song. I decided to go the extra mile and complete the shawl size of Siren Song.
I decided to use some Madelintosh Eyre Light that I already had on hand in electric rainbow, onyx, and smokestack/optic. I love how the electric rainbow created a mother of pearl effect. I had enough yarn of each color to transition between colors for each pattern size change. On that note, this pattern really eats up the yardage. If you decide to make the shawl, be sure to have plenty of yarn on hand.
My neighborhood has a number of fiber artists and a few of us finally got together to share our interests. One of the things I never thought I’d do was spin yarn. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that I was able to get started with a minimum investment in both money and space – all I needed was a drop spindle, a niddy noddy, and some fiber.
The result is the collection of small skeins above. There are a bunch of helpful videos on youtube to get a feel of techniques: I found this one from MeganERisk helpful for learning how to park and spin. I also liked this one for understanding how to draft fiber consistently for different thicknesses from Spinning Sara. This one from Megan LaCore was helpful for learning how to ply yarns together.
It’s good to know there is a simple way to get started spinning if you’ve ever been curious. Like knitting, I have a feeling that it just takes time and practice to build skill.
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!
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.
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.