Yarn Tasting: Shibui Twig

jenjoycedesign©linen-yarn

If ‘rascally’ could be a word to describe yarn, I would say linen yarn is very much so. Crisp, unyielding, stubborn, and relentlessly tough stuff,  linen has a great appeal to me… oh such like rusty found things, or uncushioned old benches, or crackled old earthenware. I love this stuff, and wear it constantly, year round.

Even winding it off the swift, into a ball , it has a mind of it’s own…rather messy in appearance, not laying in unison with other strands, wrestling it into a ball, as it tried to be a cube, was a task in and of it’s own!

jenjoycedesign©linen-yarn3

I will tame it. It may take ten cycles in the washer & dryer along with a load of white towels, but it will soften and be every bit as wonderful as my favorite linen shirts.

This yarn however, is only 46% linen. I bought it to dip my toes into the feel of linen, for I do have 3 skeins of navy colored 100% wet spun linen waiting to be knit up.   It is also 42% recycled silk, and 12% wool.  It is Shibui “Twig” , and there is 190 yards of it.  I am going to be sampling this lovely summery linen blend with my Una Cosettina pattern , as I have gone quite on a tangent today.

I am putting down Snowmelt gaiters for a short while, let them sit on a table for a few days. What is the rush anyway? I am my own competition , I feel suddenly today like having a little play time, so here I am yarn tasting again, going to pour myself a tall one of what I consider the perfect Northern California yarn!

Snowmelt Gaiters Sneak Preview

Candee Gaiters old poster advert

I found this advertisement when I was researching ‘gaiters’, used once upon a time in a street-smart fashion. Though the word ‘gaiters’ is only mentioned in Candee’s advert, it is the window display of shoes & gaiters which is telling. So commonplace once were gaiters, that the only thing better to improve upon them I guess, was complete rubbers to go over your shoes.

Historically gaiters were used for riding and street-wear, and yet we know them more modernly for alpine trail & snow use. This clever over-shoe accessory has kept ankles warm and shoes dry for centuries. Also known historically as Spatterdashes ( also ‘spats’) made of wool and buttoned up the side, either long knee-length or just above the ankles at the lower calf.  I have a treat for you, I just happen to have handy a real pair of antique gaiters or spats, which I found ages ago in a antiques barn sale, made with sturdy felted wool, complete with their celluloid buttons & fancy buttoning hook. I use to actually be able to wear these, and muddied them a few times. 

jenjoycedesign©003

So folks, what does all this have to do with knitting I bet you’re wondering?

Well, I have designed a purely fashionable simple knitted ‘gaiter’, with Snowmelt flower garland motifs, perfectly accommodating of modern womens’ ankles… and so here I present what it is that I’ve been working away on.

jenjoycedesign©Snowmelt Gaiter

Snowmelt Gaiters are worked in-the-round,  colorwork stranded with spots of duplicate stitch, as is Snowmelt tam & toque, and a spray of smaller 1/2″ hand-made dorset style buttons & icord loops within the edgeing.  I think quite all-around dandy!

jenjoycedesign©Snowmelt gaiter, tam & toque

I’m just a few days away from submitting the pattern, and finishing another pair which is longer , higher up the calf,  and in a granite grey background color , more representing of John Muir country after the snow is melted, rather than the snowy natural white.

jenjoycedesign©Snowmelt Gaiters

Emma Is Ten

086

Emma is ten today, and she’s had a BIG day. Two walks ((it is tradition that we follow her on her birthday, wherever she wants to go, within limits of course)), broken up by unwrapping presents and having a doggie birthday cake, and right now she is quite tired, sleeping on the rug while I post the photos.  Here she is opening her birthday present ~~ Mr Squirrel !

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

007

People!!! Ya gotta help me !!! I’m being slobbered to death by a German Shepherd who’s been squeeking me for hours (in squirrel time, that is days)  with no end in sight….HELP!!!

(( wait… shhh…. she seems to be falling asleep , I gotta make my escape !!!)))

Snowmelt Tam & Toque Pattern Arrives!

At last I say goodbye to the snow which is melting at a rapid pace in the mountains of California. At least in the lower places. In the high Sierra, hard iced patches of snow remain through late summer.  Wildflowers in bloom, the most fragile variety, alpine beauty along the John Muir trail, and elsewhere. This design “Snowmelt” is in tribute to my love of the Sierra Mountain Range of my home of California.

jenjoycedesign©snowmelts

Profiles of three I’ve been immersed in for the month of April, designing first the tam (center), and then a ski hat version of it, first of which was too tall and narrow (to left of center), the second was just right (at right of center)

jenjoycedesign©The Snowmelt profiles!

Two great things came out of my designing Snowmelt. One is that I learned the art of making Dorset Buttons, and came up with my own style for Snowmelt Tam ~ and you can view my button-making tutorial HERE .  Also I learned how to duplicate stitch ~ you’ll find a tutorial for duplicate stitching the flowers for Snowmelt HERE.

Admittedly I have quite fallen in love with this alpine classic theme, and can only be happy to begin casting on more stitches the moment I post this, for more Snowmelt variations… I won’t even skip a beat !

Pattern page on Yarnings  HERE

Pattern page on Ravelry HERE

Everything is fine.

jenjoycedesign©Emma on the porch

Hi everyone. A friend of mine who apparently checks into Yarnings frequently enough to notice I’ve been rather quiet here lately, wrote me personally to ask if everything is alright. I am fine. Everything is fine. I’ve been actually extremely busy with lots of things, and though I fully intended to post photos ((of the wedding bridge Jeff and I made, of all the prototypes of Snowmelt Tam & tutorials of techniques for Snowmelt, of the garden I’m transforming, of the trails I’m working on….)) the blogging about them just sort of slipped by.  But know that I’m fine… even better than fine!

I thought I’d post this sweet photo of Emma lounging on the front porch this morning. This time of year when it starts to warm up, but the mornings are clear and cool and just gorgeous, I often leave the door open for a few crisp morning hours.  I was walking by from my busy table spread out with knitting & tutorial photographing (( I am writing the Snowmelt pattern to submit soon)) across the door to the kitchen to brew a lovely cup of coffee,  and well, the cheerful glowingness of Emma & front porch was so deserving of a photo snapshot shared here.

So in a day or so, you’ll be seeing Snowmelt and all the related business to do with Snowmelt…. arrive here. Watch this space! :)

Introducing Snowmelt Tam

Flowers, snow, spring, alpine, snowbell, Soldanella alpina, thaw, snowmelt, nature,

When the snow melts in the Sierra mountains of California, the John Muir Trail becomes like a maiden blushing with the sweetest colors in nature, and from the frozen snow emerges delicate beauty to capture one’s heart. A classic springtime tam, with garlands of alpine flower motifs encircling a single wound-yarn button which is my own variation of a classic needlework button, and in colorwork motifs of my own design.

jenjoycedesign©Snowmelt Tam 4
jenjoycedesign©Snowmelt Tam

jenjoycedesign©Snowmelt Tam detail

jenjoycedesign©Snowmelt Tam2

I have finished the prototype and am  running at the rein  to get the pattern finished and submitted before May. Yes, before the snow melts completely. Just wanted to give you a quick glimpse of what is coming ahead… and hopefully I can wrestle my two lovely nieces into modeling it soon.

A New Design

jenjoycedesign©new designI am back and with renewed zeal to create !  Having two huge events happen right at the same time last month, one the happiest I could imagine and today being one-month anniversary of it, while the other a reactionary event of the crappiest that I’d do well to let be forgot, and so, well, I’ve been very distracted and just about flat-lined with the knitting as of late.

But great news is that I woke today nearly bursting with ideas and I simply must show and tell about the latest design exploding out of my head, or I shall die!  It surfaces from sentiments of weather, and cheerful spring emerging with spring-like motifs (about to start in on the colorwork chart just now) and so my knitting is feeling an urge to pounce, and I am absolutely just yearning for more hours in my day.

Dorset Buttons

jenjoycedesign©Dorset Buttons
Here I present (finally) my best work thus far making Dorset Buttons. They are not my invention, nay, but an old-as-the-hills needle craft technique of a sort of tapestry wrapping of yarn or thread around rings, and spokes inside the rings, which once upon a time were made of real bone. I have for a long time wanted to experiment with them, and now I’ve nearly had my fill, yet,  I just want to make more because they are so fascinating and addictive !

These are made of a rustic heathered 2ply pure wool, Jamiesons of Shetland Spindrift , and I think they resemble petite four cakes a little. Or marzipan. I have enjoyed building up the centers in mine, the ‘hub’, especially here are two smaller ones, 1/2″ in diameter.

jenjoycedesign©mini-dorset-buttons

Medium sizes. 3/4″ , in one, two, and three colors.

jenjoycedesign©dorset-buttons

I have some rings which are 1″ and I am tempted to carry on , and on, and on, but I must stop this frivolous past-time of winding yarn around rings, even if I am merely striving to perfect a most simple and practical style, I must bring this all to it’s fruition now, and present my own tutorial on these.  Why?  Well because you’ll be seeing these buttons on more designs of mine which are in the working.

For now, I have begun to view these little things as the basis for artful button making and the answer to quandary of the hand-knit sweater faced with the task of hunting for just-the-right buttons. Never again will I have to settle for less than a perfect match.

plastic rings

Edit In:  I have made a tutorial on my own variation of a Dorset Button, which can be viewed in my Tips From The Table HERE

Apple Blossoms

jenjoycedesign©apple blossom

We have an apple tree in our garden which has just begun to bloom, and for me that is very exciting!  There is a lot going on all at once, so there will be a flurry of posts forthcoming, I just wanted to break the silence and show off a little bit of springtime which is present here full tilt. I hope you are all enjoying yourselves in the midst of blossoms !

Tartan & Tweed Tam: The Pattern

jenjoycedesign©Tartan & Tweed Tams

Well folks, the pattern has been submitted,

and I am happy to finally show you the bunch of lovely photographs taken last month at our castle, modeling the design.

044jenjoycedesign©

028jenjoycedesign©

This tam design is a little different, looking a little like a tweed cloth cap but also like a conventional tam.  Personally I think I’ve finally found my best-yet tam shape, and am excited to run with it.

058jenjoycedesign© 055jenjoycedesign© 032jenjoycedesign©

 Oh, and there are options in yarn weights, and well,

how could I not include a straight-sided toque option?

040jenjoycedesign© - Copy - Copy (2) 039jenjoycedesign© - Copy

jenjoycedesign©toque&mittens

I really think this tam is my best yet, and I hope you knit it !

Available for download w/ details on pattern page HERE & on Ravelry HERE

(matching Mitts pattern HERE)

jenjoycedesign©tam&mittens

One More…

jenjoycedesign©T&T in Rowan Fine TweedOne more Tartan & Tweed Tam knit before the pattern goes up.

Knit in Rowan Fine Tweed, posted about previously here, and it is fine indeed!

jenjoycedesign©tam with Rowan Fine TweedNow I am going to do one last little Tartan & Tweed  “spring thing”  to add to my impressive mountain of Tartan & Tweed before the Vernal Equinox. Off to cast on whilst hiking the mountain …

Stitching Old & (almost) New Together

004I was given a handful of really old collars by my girlfriend almost a year ago (thank you Sorcha!) and finally I have decided to put them to use, and started by performing stitch-work surgery to one of my favorite thrift shop finds, a linen jacket shirt with a ruffle at the bottom and big shell buttons. First I took the top button off, turned in and stitched down the high narrow collarless shirt to the dimensions of the lacework collar…
002

Then I pinned the hem of the collar  just inside the edge of the shirt…

003

Then simply whip-stitched the two things together and then turned the collar out, without ironing,  so it has that lofty personality of the collar…. and voila !

004The thing is , these few antique collars have cast a magic spell on me as I am in love with the -old-fashioned ritual of hand-stitching on a hand-made collar on to not-so-new clothing.  I just can’t imagine what might blossom from this seed.

A New Love

Rowan Fine Tweed
Rowan Fine Tweed that is.  This yarn is so fine, and so delicious to the fingers as can be imagined, and with lots of colorful tweedy bits spun into it . Talk about gorgeous!  Especially the color palette, and the heathered tones spun together, it ranks with my favorites for color selection. But, RFT is a single ply yarn, and a little bit sassy (energized) from being so, and slightly heavier too than my fingering-weight favorites ~ Jamiesons Of Shetland Spindrift, and Virtual Yarns Hebridean 2-ply , and the other Shetland 2plies.  Plied makes the yarn a bit more tempered and softer visual appeal in the knitted fabric, I think of single ply yarn as more independent in it’s feel, being that there’s no ‘unwinding’ against another ply, it is perky and assertive in the knitted look, especially if spun with decent twist. Maybe in the blocking process, from the warm soak & dry step, the stitches will melt together a little more.

Sometime at the start of the new year I decided to go in-depth yarn-tasting  popular yarns of the like which are found in my local yarn shop. First on my list is Rowan. I’ve knit over half my life now not ever having knit with anything Rowan, some things just have to evolve, and that is one. I have knit and gotten quite lovely results thus far from my first projects in Rowan Felted Tweed DK, the yarn which I would like to make signature for Tartan & Tweed Mitts, and now that I’m designing a tam to go in this series, I would like a fingering weight option in addition to DK weight.  Fantastic, and lucky, there is Fine Tweed by Rowan, and of it I have myself a fresh catch!

As this is a week of maximum preoccupation, I need to hold off on the pattern writing for another week or so. Just like sands in an hourglass, are my stitches on the needles, that is, when I finish this one, this Tartan & Tweed Tam in Rowan Fine Tweed, I will get back to the business of pattern writing.

All that aside, I am so excited to cast on … yes… one more tam.

Forthcoming

jenjoycedesign©012

I have knit another test tam of my Tartan & Tweed series, to get the numbers straight, the shape solid, and to see how well it scales into Shetland fingering weight. May I say most excellently!  Tam pattern debut forthcoming, but I will not say much more, for next is the pattern writing (nerve wrecking & stressful) but as I was so excited to finish the design in Shetland Spindrift,  I just had to show it off to feel a little nearer the end. Having a cup of tea and a relaxing feeling of accomplishment, and very pleased to see this tam in Jamiesons Spindrift !

Finding Fair Isle

jenjoycedesign©

My sister-in-law Patricia and I met for our usual cheery birthdays date at the coffee roastery in the tiny north Napa Valley town of  St Helena. We enjoyed delicious cafe cremes (lattes) in a bowl with pastries, then a short stroll down the old town road to our favorite tiny thrift shop behind the Catholic church. I usually do not find a single thing, yet when I look back, some of the best finds I’ve made were there. Today was one of those rare days when I did, and as I was doing my fast size-up of the racks, expecting nothing, something shyly captured my eye, as a busy patterned woolly thing was in the vests. With a closer look I found ~~ it was hand-made!

jenjoycedesign©033

It has that particular thickness, a substantial feel in one’s hands which can not be mistaken for anything but long-labored handwork of some expert knitter. Need I even mention (no, I shouldn’t have to) there are no labels nor store bought sort of tags saying ‘made in Shetland’ anywhere on it. It is completely hand-made, and slowly and surely realized this but not until I inspected it quite closely. There was never any doubt really, that there probably exists in St Helena a genuine and maybe even extreme Fair Isle knitter (perhaps the same knitter who donated the two skeins of Harrisville Designs Shetland yarn I got for $1 each months ago, another rare great find.)  I suspected, but I am certain now such a knitter exists in St Helena!

jenjoycedesign©025

I felt the fabric, and it seemed a little too soft & smooth to be Shetland wool, yet, after examining for quite a while I realized in all of it’s years of being worn, it very likely is Shetland wool,  though met the dreary fate of becoming washed in the washer and dried in the dryer, shrunk hopelessly, and thus it became of no use to the owner, or why else would such a prize be donated to this little thrift shop?  Even if not Shetland wool, and though only barely felted, and that would explain for the unusually soft feel.,  very fuzzy & ‘pilly’ and worn a lot (hopefully). I knew that I must must SIMPLY MUST take it home, even if just to have it.  One single dim thought occurred to me, that there was a glaring possibility that it would NOT fit me.

jenjoycedesign©026

Just look at the classic “OXO” border and little “oxo” peerie motifs, and very artful colorway of a charcoal grey background with rich blues and a signature center round of bright bright green.  And, of course,  the very signature steek work….

012

However, when I got home I measured the bust and thought I couldn’t wear it, I thought no way.  But miracle of miracles, I did manage to slip it on!   Only barely. Perhaps after a time of calorie deprivation or since that is not likely,  extreme hiking (a little more likely), that after a few pounds lost, I could indeed wear this Fair Isle Vest with a little room to breath. Even so, tight or eventually looser, I’ve thought wouldn’t it be nifty for this vest to be my ‘cold days hiking vest’ accompanying me as Emma and I haul over hill & dale, bringing Fair Isle beauty along the many steps from my door to the peak & beyond.

Even if I don’t,  I am happy just to have it~~~  and only cost  three dollars!  It made my day!

A Mountain of Tartan & Tweed

jenjoycedesign©motherlode of Tartan & Tweed!Folks, I’m coming up for air, lost somewhere in this mountainous pile…this mother-lode of hats & mitts…this Tartan & Tweed design.  I have just (ahem…) updated (maybe the fourth time?) Tartan & Tweed Mitts again, this time to include the full mitten option.  Okay, so I’m done & dusted with mitt & mittens, Tartan & Tweed for the hands is now behind me.

Now it’s Tartan & Tweed for the head.  

I’ve been working like an ox designing, knitting prototypes, and now writing patterns and making charts, for the classic tam & accompanying toque (beanie).  Had a lovely photo shoot with my nieces modeling last weekend at the castle, our new favorite place. Here are some previews…

063jenjoycedesign©

040jenjoycedesign©

072jenjoycedesign©

The tam is moderately swagging, like a proper tam, and toque is straight-up.

Forthcoming very soon, Tartan & Tweed Tam & Toque pattern debut !

February Spring

jenjoycedesign©fruit blossomsSpring has spring in winter’s second month. From hard wood emerges the most delicate of things!

And the meadows are bursting with wild mustard flowers…
jenjoycedesign©mustard flower

Lately even though it’s spring-like here I am in winter mind.

There has emerged a mitten version of Tartan & Tweed Mitts…

jenjoycedesign©tartan & tweed mitten

This  means that there will be still another update made to the pattern while I’m in the throes of pattern redesign. I just never can tell if there is still more to come. Which there was.

Mittens & Fingerless Mitts to be photographed on my lovely nieces this coming weekend, so watch this space !

Walking With Wool

I walk in the wild places each day. I walk while I knit wool into things, and I walk while beguiled by the season. I walk into the places which pluck my thoughts from my mundane worries and meaningless schedule and bring them onto a grander stage, extending in all directions and arching from the present to a sort of gelid idea of my future.jenjoycedesign©out walking

I long for my Walk with Wool, as ever-faithful dog named Emma trots along beside me with nostrils flaring, her nose seems to float along in determination to uncover something magnificent. We make great hiking partners even though our agendas are a little different.  Step and stitch together bring me closer to landing grounded to life with a shape. My life which feels at most times so without shape, finds it’s shape this way, in the knitting, and in the walking.

Even at the times when stitches dropped, or yarn falls out of my knitting bag that is slung across my breasts shoulder-to-hip, and unknowingly dragged for a length behind while collecting decaying leaves and even stickery burrs, maybe even some twig-like things. But I feel humor in all of it, and these silly things as yarn tangling among the shrubs as Emma’s leash around things make my life feel rich as heathered colors in a strand of multi-fibered yarn, tweeded with specs of emotions and interrupted by occasional knots which are always discovered with nothing less than annoying inconvenience.

I love my yarns, as I love fresh baked bread, and coffee & chocolate, or a hand-written letter from an envelope. Their poetry is felt as I receive them from out of their bag brought home, and wound with delicious anticipation by hand off of the backs of two chairs or a swift. I love the process of tearing the label off of the skein and then encircling the expanding criss-crossing blades of wood from the swift and tied together until they open into the hoop of yarn. The swift, my new tool of trade, holds the yarn as I secure it, then admire it. Ties clipped, and the end found, gently brought out to meet my hands. To feel the swift move as my right takes the end and loosely winds it around index, middle & ring finger of my left  in a way that the fingers ‘taste’ the yarn as one sips the first cup of rich coffee or aromatic tea.

These feelings, these sensual inner rhythms,  are what a knitter like me feels about the things which make up my creative life. These paths that I wander along, seem to forgive that I am isolated from society but beckon me more passionately to come along and hunker down with nature, and so I am taking to pen so to speak. I am in the mood to begin my knitting-in-nature autobiographical ‘yarnings’ in earnest and at last, so I present to you a first glimpse of “Walking With Wool”. 

A Storm On The Way

jenjoycedesign©manzanita in bloom

Emma and I were out for our morning walk but it was different today, it was deliciously foggy.  You see, to end a 7-week-long warm dry spell of this winter so far, we are due to get hammered with a big storm tonight.  A storm which is absolutely longed for.  So I figured we’d go out with the camera and take shots of the drizzling fog and cooling air.  On the way up the ridge there was a pleasant surprise ~~ all the manzanita is peaking in blossom !

008

One of the attractions of this time of year in Northern California mountains is the precious heart-shaped and very fragrant blossoming Arctostaphylos, or as we know it, manzanita. There are mainly two indigenous species which thrive side-by-side up on this mountain, and the most distinct difference is seen this time of year, when they blossom. One has pink blossoms, and the other white.

014

016

Otherwise their form is very similar, but their leaves are also quite distinctive also. I just love to bury my face into a cluster of these sweet blossoms and inhale their fragrance. . .

013

At the top of the ridge, Emma sniffed and I knitted as we meandered along the knife-edge where to the north-east is Napa Valley, and to the south-west is Sonoma Valley.  Just sniffing, and knitting our way along. (I had been knitting a long 5-stitch i-cord for another knitting bag I’m making)

042 024

026

And then finally we reach the summit, and breathe in the cloud .

030 035

We’re out a lot these days hiking & knitting, as well as gardening, so we won’t mind staying indoors while enjoying the lashing rain forecast for the next few days.  I’ll be posting more as the tail end of winter bursts into action in the next weeks, on the mountain, in the garden,  and on my needles!

Tartan & Tweed Redesigned !

jenjoycedesign©Man Tartan & Tweed Mitts  (2)
I am so glad to be finished with this redesign.  And so glad to introduce my new Tartan & Tweed Mitts!  One size adjustable with gauge to fit Men’s Large down to Kid Size. Here they are modeled by Jeff in Men’s Large…

… you can’t easily distinguish the colors, there’s grey, blue, and green. I very intentionally knit with colors of weathered Fraser tartan (um…they are Outlander mitts!), these in Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light (sport/DK) which this wool-fearing man seems to be quite okay with.

I’ve been feverishly knitting these mitts in several popular yarns, more Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light with a slightly tighter gauge to fit me, women’s small to medium,  in lovely greys…

I think the different tones of greys best shows the different contrasts in value, without the color distraction. Here is examples of the medium stripe (top), lightest stripe (middle) , and darkest stripe (bottom).

jenjoycedesign©008

But then when the colors play in, it’s magic !   These in Malabrigo Arroyo…

Some really interesting variations of chart are now included …

004 (2)

And remember these?
jenjoycedesign©mini T&T mitts

The ” itty bitty mitties ” are miniature Tartan & Tweeds in sock yarn knit up in tiny US 1 needles, made for Nora last Christmas, who is only three. Oh! I almost forgot to mention, I have condensed the original pattern , that was in Shetland fingering yarns and 4 sizes, and included it at the end of the ‘new’ pattern. So that should be fun, and you should have a full plate of knitting options !
So folks, I’m kicking off this redesign with a promotion….

Edit in February 5 : PROMOTION ENDED.