Summer is upon us! Nothing is as awe inspiring to me in my life than the play of light & shadow among the posts and beams, and I do love to capture it especially as the season changes, for the light reflection and shadows cast move throughout the day, and throughout the year. At home, my peripheral vision always following the shadows, and I love to be home, to get things done. And as for getting things done, I am a bit overwhelmed presently with things-going-on that have nothing to do with knitting, so at the same time my life feels chaotic, the slow progress with knitterly things marks a pause in life for now. Well, that’s a good thing maybe. Moving across the day with the shadows on the longest day of the year goes seemingly the slowest. Happy solstice everyone! xx
My youngest niece graduated highschool over the weekend,
and she’ll be heading off to University of California Santa Barbara in a little over a month,
and I am so proud!
That’s both of them now, flown the nest.
Juno is thirteen and a half weeks old, and we’ve had her with us now for four weeks, where in it appears she’s doubled in size! Needless to say, life hasn’t been the same since. Having to reinvent my schedule , but that’s a good thing. Juno’s favorite thing is getting up on the bed for a cuddle, which I indulge her in several times a day, wrangling me with her leash (such a shepherd!), chasing the water spray out of the hose when I’m in the garden . . . but mostly just lots of misbehaving.
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During the year & a half we lived in the tiny house waiting for our home to be rebuilt, I was knitting a lot while watching all kinds of knitting as well as cross-stitching podcasts. I just decided one day to become a cross-stitcher, assuming the skill involved to make some nice pieces would to be straight forward and easy enough, but I found it to not be easy at all, in fact it is extremely tedious and quite difficult! Humbling because at one time in my life I had considered myself a pretty good needle worker. I suppose the cross-stitching thing stems from the desire to decorate the our new home with handmade and primitive feeling objects, but like so many things in my life, I am just out of practice. I ought to start another one slightly more perfect soon, as I do think trying new challenges is a good thing for my brain.
This tiny little piece is not trying to be any kind of great work; the counts are off, and its rather rickety looking, but it is a sentimental thing as it commemorates the move back into our Home Sweet Home October 2019.
I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write a post for weeks, as I’ve been really busy and distracted with things going on. Yes, of course, understandably, mostly now its raising Juno the puppy, but also working out of doors mowing wild grass, nervous as a rabbit in a race against the fire season, hoping to be prepared for the hot drying days ahead. Also I’ve been working on a new pattern that I started to write a couple of years ago when living in the tiny house, and then for some reason that I can’t remember, I put it down and did not follow through. In fact it has been very difficult for me to design anything in the last year, oppressed by worry, but now I feel lifted a bit, and able to focus on the intensive process required to write and knit several prototypes for a new pattern, all the while hunkering indoors being a puppy mommy for the remaining weeks of Spring, and all through the coming months of Summer. Relieved am I to have finally got an idea going again, and so I am putting my stashed yarns to work making samples, one after another, until one day in late summer, I hope to put it all together for Autumn. Until then, I will fill the time with stitches and puppy walks and my usual string of themed posts to entertain myself, wandering through research wormholes on Wikipedia, and of course anybody else who enjoys reading, watching, and listening to what I post, while I slowly but surely head to the finish. Ok! Revisiting of the sea, again, a theme which continues to pull me out with the undertow, and I’ll not put up any resistance. . . how about I kick off with a sea shanty to get in the mood?
Oh, and I am calling attention to all knitters who regularly read this space who might want to take part in knitting this upcoming design with me in the secret test-knitting phase, all in good fun. If you are feeling up to it, please message me over at Ravelry soon, and I’ll fill you in and you can decide if it is something you’re itching to knit. Thanks to all and I hope all are doing well, if not much better, on this flipside of a very dreary fifteen months which has been unbearable but is now nearly past. xx
Day 1: Leaving the litter has got to be a difficult day for a dog. The puppy is disoriented and tentative, and we humans are so overly careful about not making any mistakes, ever, and wake up reeling the next day with a horrible night of little sleep (see previous post) Day 2: Reinventing the wheel and trying to remember the whole art of puppy rearing, like stumbling in the pitch dark through an unfamiliar and messy room, the whole day preoccupied with haphazard attempts to have order and a schedule, humbly aware of the sixteen year gap since Emma was a puppy. Oh! And Juno loves being in the garden! Day 3: Early morning I nursed my cup of coffee, opened my planner with pen in hand, a habit I’ve been forming since the start of the year, with lists of creative ideas and work to do — and I just went blank seeing the irony of it all (of making plans) — I guffawed, closed the planner, and shoved it aside. Day 4: Juno has transformed into her true self, puppy switched fully ON, having her territory established, her humans trained, and being the Queen of Everything. Alternately a shark wiggling all over the place following its teeth, then passed out a tired lump at my feet, and somewhere in between, undoubtedly contemplative moments, where she’s mapping it all out with the finely honed instinct of a shepherd. The first week(s) have got to be the hardest. Day 5: Morning . . . a blur, no photos since day 1, so I thought to take and post a few, as she is 10 weeks old today. This morning I am facing the reality that not much focused or complicated knitting is likely to get done for a while, and grateful I had finished several weighty hibernating works-in-progress up to this point. Also realizing that since Juno arrived I have gotten into a strange divergence of making instant coffee in the day, through measured moments of short puppy walks, lurching interrupted attempts to get things done, but blissful, grateful and satisfied knowing that unrelenting “being busy” is what I need. It is nice to feel the presence of Emma’s things as they are handed down to Juno, her squirrel toy, rolly kibble dispensing (orange) ball, water dish, some bedding & blankets, flexi leash . . . her lovingly used things. And I’m feeling the impulse to get chatty with the commenters, and writing much more than I have felt like doing for a long time.
Juno is nine weeks old, and came home with us today. She is swiftly jump-starting my life, keeping me busy every minute, and as we’ve all three had a very big day, it is naptime! I am so glad we found her, it was fate, my heart is full. In Greek mythology Juno was the wife of Jupiter and symbolizes undying loyalty. And, did you know also that Juno is a very large asteroid which orbits in our solar system between Mars and Jupiter? But mostly she’s our puppy who’s just arrived here on our mountain, a wild place which will grow with her to be a paradise anew! :puppy woof:
I have been working through unfinished projects since the beginning of the year and finally committed to this long hibernating one. I bought the tweed yarn for it two and a half years ago when we were living in the tiny house in the charcoal forest , and at that particular time I felt urgency in knitting the same Calidez Cardigan to replace my lost original . Everything was freshly burned, practically still smoking, loggers gone through and the landscape languishing. I had knit 14″ of the sweater body before squirreling it away to hibernate while I worked on other things, as I shifted into Spring and new designs. But March of this year, when I started it up again I found that I might not have enough yarn to finish the sweater, realizing that either I didn’t buy enough, or used a ball of it on something along the way, and too much time had passed for me to remember. So it was an easy decision to go ahead and knit the Calidez Vest instead, and then I rattled it off quick! I am so glad I got this finished because I really am ready to mentally close the gate on that dreadful time. Oh, but I couldn’t help myself finishing off the vest this morning with six “burned wood” buttons I found on Etsy . . . : laughs :
A totally off season finish as well,
I will fold this vest up and store it in the woolens dresser for at least 6 months if not longer.
Did I say yet how happy I am to be finished with this project?
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Pattern: Calidez Vest (with high v-neck)
I am revisiting a very personal ambition of blending signature colors from local landscape and spinning into yarn, as is always the genius of Harris Tweed, and it all began for me in this post a few years ago. Soon my own color blending experiments were born, and became a literal obsession with me, and I created Tweed Chronicles on this blog. But also it is about my intrigue of the life of a weaver, particularly the tweed weavers of the the Hebrides, their tradition and industry that has held on through the test of time. Whenever I find an old film about textiles, or mills, I am sure to post it here, and I do look often for the most wonderful ones, and it appears that I have dug one up out of the vast archives of the internet. The film opens with the weavers working their fields, cutting peat, doing the work of island life, but soon gets in to some great footage of the Harris Tweed company making warp bundles to deliver out to the resident weavers of the island, then once in the hands of the weavers, warp is set up on their looms, weft shuttles loaded, and then the shuttles fly. I love how when the cloth is finished, its left out on the roadside to be picked up by the Harris Tweed people. I know you’ll love this little gem as much as I do!
Well, you know what I mean, I made a new bag.
Knitted, then felted.
Just a perky large bag, big enough for me to put a whole sweater project into perhaps while I knit-walk for a little while, while knitting a body section . . . or whatever.
Shown on Abelene, a life-sized “woman thing”, this actually is the first prototype of three yarns held together, of three different colors, which in fact give even more of a texture visually, as well as a supremely thick and gorgeously rich color depth of felted fabric.
Just two hot washes in the washer machine made this great thick plush wool bag from a big floppy giant one (( and wouldn’t you know, how dumb was I to forget the before photo )) having shrunk at least 25% and weighing a little over 500g. I cast on 100 sts and very gradually and randomly decreased throughout the body, attempting an improvised wedge shape, with the turned-edge of the shaped bottom being only 80 sts. I must say, I couldn’t be more pleased.
Yarn: Wool Of The Andes worsted : colors garnet, brass, and amber for the rust, and varying changing shades of blues and greys for the blue.
Project Details: on Ravelry here.
The final plied woolen spun skein, washed & dried, and my nep cloud experiment is finished !
The neps were so subtle and very difficult to get to show on the camera, so I had to intensify the color saturation of the photo just so that you could see them, the blue and green neps. The whole skein looks rather seafoam color when hanging out on the line.
This time of year the Black Oak leaves are budding out a soft fuzzy beautiful crimson velvet!
The landscape by the way, is healing slowly from the wildfire. We’ve had to cut down so many dead & dying old Black Oaks around the house, and since I was outside photographing yarn drying on the clothes line, I want to show you how the young shoots are vigorously growing from their parent trees, from root systems perhaps a hundred years old. I have been shaping the new growth, and now the tallest of these young oak trees is almost 10 feet tall. I’m so proud of these young darlings!
I was thinking of trying another variation of the technique I posted in my first Nep Clouds Recipe on my new hand-carders, but I don’t think I can really improve it, for it seems to do best I think , to achieve the affect of the traditional woollen spun rustic tweed, so drawing off the rolags from the blending board work very nicely ( I have made some more notes in the original Nep Clouds Recipe for those who don’t own hand-carders ). Alternatively one could spin from the batt, worsted technique. Anyway, this method suits me just fine, and I will look forward to blending up some more neppy colorways just as I did this skein, and that about wraps up this nep clouds experiment!
See all posts Nep Clouds.
See all posts Tweed Chronicles.
I am having a lot of fun documenting every step of my Nep Clouds “recipe” . However, I think the improvement I will make on my next nep cloud experiment, I will avoid using bulky weight yarns for the snippet neps ( see first post Nep Clouds ) as I struggled with some of the neps being too stiff and unmalleable, so instead I’ll try fingering, sport, or dk weight. These are the single ply bobbins, and I wanted to show how present the blue and green neps are even at this stage. Next will be plied, skeined, and washed finale!
See all posts Nep Clouds.
See all posts Tweed Chronicles.
Nep clouds from last post have been layered on the blending board with more wool, then rolled off into lovely speckled neppy rolags! You can barely see the imbedded blue and green neps in the white cormo wool, but I know when I begin to spin they are going to pop!
Next is the spinning, but first, what I did . . .
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Techy Stuff . . .
I layered twice, actually with a different wool (undyed white Cormo) layered in-between nep clouds (see last post for how I made nep clouds ), wanting to be sure the neps were well homogenized. It would have been a good idea to use a light grey , to show the blending steps separate from the nep clouds. Next time!
- Layered first wool, then blue nep cloud, then wool, then green nep cloud, then wool — taking opportunity to evenly disperse with my hands, clumps of neps, and then l lifted batt off of board.
- Layered handfuls of the batt again, to get all nice and well blended.
- Drew rolags off with large knitting needles in a slightly tensioned ” combing ” motion.
- Rolags ready to spin! (click the 1st image below to go to slideshow)
- See Blending For Tweed Simplified for my basic blending board slideshow how-to.
See all posts Nep Clouds.
See all posts Tweed Chronicles.
Hey look, nep clouds ! These are premixes from my new hand carders, and will be blended in with a main fiber on blending board next. They can also be spun ” in cloud ” , made into rolags from the hand carders, or can get layered on the blending board to build up a more complex visual texture. I will try a few methods to see what gives the most pleasing results (for me). For ages I have been thinking about how to go about spinning tweed yarn with colorful neps, and how to achieve the affect I want using the yarns I have in my stash. I am rather fixated on designing a yarn which has the characteristic flecks of color that pop in the final spinning, as in the traditional rustic spun from Ireland and British Isles. Anyway, this is a part 1 of a several neppy posts, and as is customary in my Tweed Chronicles. Here’s the techy stuff . . .
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Techy Stuff . . .
- Decide the background color for your yarn that you want the tweedy neps to be imbedded in (shown in white Rambouillet) and brush lightly on to each carder, to encase the nepps so they don’t fly all over the place.
- Choose yarn colors you want nepps to be (shown green in Cascade Ecological Wool, and light blue Alafosslopi). Take considerable thought to how these colors will not only work together, but how the nep premix will work with the main fiber, which may be further layered more heavily on the blending board, before making rolags or batts.
- For my first experiment I cut little bits of yarn, at least 1/4″ – 1/2″ pieces, on to the fiber loaded bottom carder, my only thought at this point about how long to cut, is I think the snippets have to be long enough to get pulled into twist or they’ll just fly off, and you’ll have shedding bits of color everywhere. It doesn’t take much to make a statement, and not wanting to over-do the neps, go lightly first trial, I just added a sprinkle– one could certainly go heavily in this step for a very flecked appearance — remember, when plied, the nep color flecks will double in number.
- Card, lift, repeat, until the yarn pieces have broken down and blended a little into the fiber and become a little frayed and “fuzzy”. Neps that are not pulled through the teeth in the carders will likely fly off when spinning having no loose fibers to help the neps stick, so make sure the clouds are carded well & fully, and that all the little cut pieces are at least a little pulled apart a little.
- I have made a separate cloud for each color, only two, but I should think as many colors together per cloud will be my next experiment. Here’s a little how-to slideshow of what I did ( click 1st image in mosaic below to see steps. ) See next step Nep Clouds 2, where I make a nep batt on the blending board.
- Alternatively, if one does not own hand carders, one could ‘fray the yarn’ by combing with an eyebrow or mustache comb, or pet brush, then snip on to the blending board in between the layers.
- See all posts Nep Clouds.
- See all posts archived in Tweed Chronicles
I have got an almost new pair of Schacht hand carders, for a great bargain, from someone who didn’t need or want them anymore, practically a gift. These are an essential part of my blending experiments past and future! Rather a coincidence as before I had a nice pair of carders given to me decades ago, along with a splendid drop spindle, from someone who couldn’t use them. Now that I think about it, that was the chance reason I started spinning in the first place.
Little sentimental pieces of my creative life are falling into place, one re-acquisition at a time, and I think I am fully kitted now, having all the bare essential tools of the trade. Anyway, as creative energy slowly returns, so do lists of ideas, rolling out on the straight and narrow progressing path, in patient commitment to my knitting & spinning, and sharing the process here on my blog.
Speaking of this blog, I want to mention that it was ten year anniversary a couple of days ago, when I started this WordPress blog with this first post ( soon thereafter I transferred all the relevant earlier dated posts from another blog I had) and ever since I have truly been immersed in what it has become, documenting my life and my creative endeavors, things and details which may have otherwise been forgotten.
I love blending colors and fibers , even more than spinning, and almost as much as knitting! The reason I wanted a pair of wool carders is because I hope to pre-blend some color and tweedy neps before layering on my blending board, as I have learned that my jumbo sized board really is a work of labor to load and reload, quite exhaustive for fine tuning blends. Sometimes I have to lift and reblend the 50g batts three or four times before it is nicely homogenized, then multiply that by about 10 to make 500g, it becomes a serious amount of work. So I am thinking about using hand carders to premix parts of the blend, and curious to see if I can have more control over the results as well as save myself a lot of effort. Coming up– premixes from the hand carders to layer into a fully loaded blending board project — watch this space!
The socks mentioned in my last post are at last finished, and just in time for Jeff’s birthday, although that is purely by accident.
I am seriously pleased with the plush fabric made from holding two fine merino soft sock yarns together, and using my usual 2.5mm needles. Its like the two yarns balance each other and fill all the stitch together so that it is nearly like thick chamois. I really love the aesthetic of of these socks, and all basic simple knits.
Getting to know Jeff through the years, a man of an extraordinary and somewhat intimidating physical work ethic, (not hard to guess is only three generations from Amish roots), and yet he can not stand scratchy itchy wool, nay, but as said before, this merino chamois is something I am sure will stand the test. And these are very much mens boot socks, even too big for the large sized sock blockers, and they did not take forever because of the two yarns held together.
Jeff’s first impressions on me, the Amish ” plain & simple ” aesthetic, was at first a novelty, but over the years has seeped and settled into me, and become a quiet smile of contentment, void of the superfluous. If this could be expressed in socks , it would be in this very pair, only enough ribbing to hold the socks on through the boot tongue, to get the work done of staying on the leg and no unnecessary immodest fancy work beyond that.
What I am saying technically, is the rib/cables are worked through until the gusset is finished decreasing, then continue to knit the rest of the sock in stockinette. I have not paused for a minute, as soon as Jeff’s socks were laid out to dry, I cast on another!
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Pattern: Walking With Emma (above shown in chart D)
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll, colors Granite and Midnight Heather
Project details on Ravelry Walking with Emma & Her Dad.
Walking With Emma socks, for Emma’s dad. Two very fine soft merino sock yarns held together to get a great tweeded affect, a lovely marled rugged strong-but-so-soft boot sock. Yarn weight when held two-together falls within the dk weight range, so that I can knit not only faster, but one (or two) sizes smaller , and these socks are racing along to the finish. This sample I’ve decided to show the option for rib patterning just through the gusset decreases, rather nifty as the patterning would disappear into the boot, but as this fabric tends to be very thick, I felt the foot section should be plain knitting only. Do you see what I’m talking about?
These Walking With Emma socks were cast on a year ago, in a knit-along with some pals on Ravelry to celebrate the life of Emma, and well, time has just gotten away from me! All year long I was not making progress with very fine Knit Picks Stroll yarn, having started the 80st size, but then I stalled because I thought too big and they would take forever and a day to knit, so I started over again with the 70st size thinking maybe that would work . . . but still not much knitting got done. So, a couple of weeks ago I decided to change things up (rip out all that) and cast on the 60st size with two yarns held together for double thickness boot sock savvy! In a week or so, I’ll come back and post the finished pair of Emma’s Dad’s socks and they’ll be washed and blocked nicely.
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Emma has been gone a whole year, :tears: and it hasn’t gotten any easier. Not really. A dog’s life puts a frame around a time span in a human’s life it seems, wherein the dog was central. Emma framed almost a fifteen year period of my life; over hill and dale, through some hard times, but mostly in and around cherished times, walking the wild and magical places together, every day. Knitting this sock pattern makes me think of her, and the way she helped me design them in her own way, two springs ago now, so no wonder these socks are now continually on my needles!
Hi, its me, Abelene. Its been a very long time since Jen has brought me out of my closet to model beautiful hand-knit things, but there is something really important that she wants me to show you right now . . .
um, something about recreating the original photo . . . what do you think?
After losing all of her lovely lace Fishwives prototypes within weeks of knitting them, and never even getting to wear even one of them in that fateful Autumn, Jen felt that loss almost as dearly as any. But after the wildfire, one of the first things she bought again was another ME, and the dear little hand-made fish shawl pin she had found on Etsy , which I had modelled the original prototypes with. Jen has just been waiting for another Fishwives stole to be completed, so she could put us all together, and here we are !
You see, Jen really wanted to bridge over to recreate the experience of ‘a pile o’ fishy shawls’ . . . and yet although she tried, she drowned herself in new designs to distract herself, which required a lot of knitting different and new non-lace prototypes, and never seemed to get around to making the Fishwives stole she wanted. An important anniversary of the year after the first one brought her to cast on but it sat, in a basket. Everytime she’d pick it up she had to relearn the chart, etc, typical knitterly & nonsensical excuses, which kept it from getting knit. Then very recently a real effort was made, and voila!
Splashing fish tails and waves are the Fishwives Lace Shoal signature theme, do you see them? ((shhh… but Jen is already casting on for another, a second in her pile o’ fishy shawls)) At last Jen has a lovely stole to wrap
herself me in , again!
Ta ta for now, Abelene.
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Pattern: Fishwives Lace Shoal
Yarn: One very sentimental skein of Sweet Georgia Merino Silk Lace, brought with Jen when the wildfire came.
Project details: on Ravelry here.
All fun posts FISHY ! ~~ scroll to bottom of posts to read about the theme.!
A long awaited finished project is blocking finally ,
and attempting in part, to recreate this post of three and a half years ago, in our original house.
The summer of 2017 was a time when All Things Fishy was my focus, entertaining myself to a colossal degree while I researched subjects of “lace , as it related to fishing” . . . all the while whipping out on the needles four lace prototypes for the new pattern.
Two months later all four were burned to ashes in the wildfire. A year later, in summer of 2018, when we were living in the tiny house waiting for our house to be rebuilt, I cast on for this, really wanting to have a Fishwives Lace Shoal to wear. This stole has for some reason taken a really long time to get knit, but can now be posted next in a ” fully finished ” photo , very soon.
This rustic tweedy ensemble tells a story of morning walks in the country, just come in from the cold foggy damp, and flung on to the nearest post as one urgently makes their way to the kitchen to put the kettle on!
My latest glove and beret set, a satisfying contribution to my drawer full of wintery woolens I have been busy making.
Basic beret & gloves are rather easy to knit if I may say so myself.
Oh, and a nifty way to attach a felted toorie (pom pom)
. . . just tie it on!
Both gloves and beret are featured in my latest pattern collection of basic & essential wintery accessories:
A felted pompom, trimmed a little wild, like I like it.
And it’s perch, a brindle colored beret, dries flat, also ever-so-slightly felted.
Looking forward to soon bringing pom pom, beret and gloves all together in a fully finished ensemble!
It is true, I’m in love again, with my just-knit gloves. A Valentine to myself, rustic, and lovingly imperfect. Not even dry yet, but as impatient in love that I am, I just had to photograph them, because the lighting beneath the sky window was ideal. The yarn is “unspun” that I made myself and which I talk about in last post , um, but embarrassingly I committed a cardinal error of yarn-making, and forgot to set the twist ((shhh… dont tell anybody!)) . . . therefore the energized wavy appearance.
These gloves will make another appearance, soon, with their head counterpart, which is only half-way finished. To me, gloves are an essential cool weather accessory . . . I love gloves!
The pattern of course, is my latest collection A Drawer Full of Winter,
Project details on here.
I was going to give myself January to work on knitting my drawer full of winter woolens, but January is over now, and I am still *quite* enjoying knitting the gloves, so much so, that I’ve decided to extend my winter woolen knitting for at least another month. Maybe the rest of Winter! So here I am, delving into my yarns for the perfect yarn to cast on yet another little something in the perfect heathered tweedy tones for my Drawer Full of Winter samples, I’ve brought out my drop spindle and revisited ideas for my Unspun, to create a lovely rustic sock & glove yarn I’m calling “Unspun 220”.
Yup, you guessed it ~~ one 50g ball of Wool of the Andes worsted weight, un-plied into two balls of 2ply yarn that is a very relaxed and loosely wound together fingering weight of 220 yards at 25g each. So pleased with the results, I’m testing it on another pair of gloves. Here it is . . .The color is Amber Heather , one of my favorites, so complex with red, orange flecks in a brownish gold mix, tones that are so much like a wild animal, a fox or deer or rabbit, just screaming to be a pair of gloves I think.
See all posts Unspun,
(and for those of you who don’t know what it is, scroll down to the first posts.)
I have just finished another pair of gloves from my new pattern collection and let me tell you, these are completely addictive ( and I must cast on for another immediately! ) This pattern collection is great for using up stash of many weights (gauge substitution for gloves from light worsted to very fine fingering weight) , this short cuffed pair was knit from dk weight, and used less than 40g of yarn. It was once a sock that never had its sock-mate knit, what they call “second sock syndrome” . . . so I put the lonely sock out of its misery.
Pattern: Drawer Full of Winter.
Yarn: Rowan Felted Tweed dk – color “Watery”
Ravelry details: HERE
Yesterday I was blending on my blending board in the early morning light, listening to the inauguration on NPR. I had just finished the gloves design and figured I’d dedicate the meditative hours of dawn to prepare for a new spinning project. I am using up some of the mystery roving I received as gifts from spinners a few years ago, and not sure what, but I figure blending together they would make a lovely 300grams of something beautifully natural looking with a teensy bit of color. I did five 60g batches layered on the blending board, of carefully divided and weighed segments, and got quite a massive pile of rolags! I am very pleased with the results, here now, the next day spinning it.
I have used no particular recipe or technique as I have been documenting in Tweed Chronicles, rather, I just picked out three bags of mystery roving and layered on my blending board. I am attempting to only spin for a project in mind these days, so I scaled the total weight for possibly a vest I would like to have, so in the near future I will post again with finished yarn , and shortly thereafter begin knitting!
In recent months I decided to make myself a drawer spilling over, full of knitted winter woolens for the cold days ahead, mostly in Isager Tweed (of which I happen to have recently hoarded). I explain at length in the previous post about the meaning behind this particular collection and introduced a pattern overhaul as I designed a few cowls, a plain & simple sock to add to my existing pattern set of hats & mitts. In its most recent overhauled form it is a five pattern collection of essential items, and I’ve named A Drawer Full Of Winter . After the last post I was about to let it go for a while, but as January was just getting started, the coldest month of the year, I knew I wasn’t finished, especially as I still didn’t own a pair of gloves. As I promised to update the collection whenever I wrote a new design to add to it, I have just this very minute have done. A new essential wardrobe item ~~ full fingered gloves~~ now added, done & dusted!
I am fascinated by gloves recently. I am in fact, smitten by the concept of a well knitted glove, how a truly good fitting glove allows one’s hand to articulate as if it had no glove on at all. I labored over the New Year while designing such a glove, which reflects every difference of each finger, and let me tell you, by taking such close study of my own fingers I never realized how each one is quite unique. I have observed that not all fingers are alike, thus not all knitted fingers should be alike, nor placed alike on the hand. The little finger is in fact knitted first, independent of the other three, more of the ‘ upper hand ‘ knitted, then the other three. And that is not even to mention the thumb! Oh the thumb, and its relation to its four counterparts, and the very relationship which creates a right and left essential fit. Oh , but the ring finger , middle finger, and index finger, are equally as different. I am telling you now, no finger is identical to the other of the hand, nor is it of the glove, this glove, my labor of love. Perhaps the biggest labor of knitterly love I have designed to date, and for such a simple thing. I find that I am quite absorbed into the simple essential things lately.
I’m feeling the long shadows of January, and my cozy winter woolens packing into their drawer, is a sight of comfort. Actually today is feeling quite lovely, on inauguration day, sunny and quiet after a couple of days of very strong gusting wind, and now I am letting my sails down for a short while, to let creative ideas build again, and let myself be kissed by a hopeful future.
I have been working on some lovely and meaningful projects recently, and am really rather excited to start posting a new mini series all about a re-do of an older pattern, and I’ve made a good start in the series, so get yourself comfortable, and read on for this is a much longer post than usual!
Since sometime in October I had made a realization which led me to actually overhaul an older pattern; rewriting, reknitting prototypes, and just having a wonderful time enjoying the last whispers of the year while out taking short walks (while knitting them) and I hope to be sharing more glimpses of incoming finished knitteds over the remainder of winter. You see, I have been in need of a drawer full of wintery woolens , and at that point in early Autumn I decided it was time to put the chisel to the stone so to speak, and begin the work making myself a dresser drawer full of cowls, fingerless mitts, gloves, hats, in many weights of luxury & tweedy favorite yarns (oh, like Isager Irish Tweed, for one) and even my own handspun. It is really a matter of transforming a drawer full of tweed, into a drawer full of warm cozy knitted things, how fun is that!
Backstory: In the summer of 2017 I had become smitten with my blending board and was creating some incredibly rustic handspun, finding I needed a pattern that was adaptable to many gauges of handspun for basic hats & mitts. The end result was that I wrote my pattern Calidez Hats & Mitts . That was just before the wildfire, and so of course I don’t have any of these prototypes anymore, nor any basic warm woolens at all, and I’ve gone through two more winters since not having even a basic knitted hat, cowl, or mitts to bundle up while I go out for walks in the winter landscape. Presently I am knitting through the winter season and have managed thus far a good start. I’ve designed a couple of more to add to the collection, and knit these for myself:
A basic beret . . .
Two cowls . . .
And a pair of plain & simple socks I have been rather discrete about for a while. . .
Backstory on the socks: I had made a good start with these back in “Unspun, revisited” , when I separated the plies a ball of worsted-weight Soft Donegal Tweed yarn left over from a sweater I knit for my niece. Having then two balls of fingering weight tweedy yarn, I knit this plain & simple sock prototype . Anyway, I think that a basic sock pattern which can be knit toe-up or cuff-down is a good one to have, and yet I wasn’t sure I wanted to write Plain & Simple Sock and submit it all by itself, so I decided to just add it in the Drawer Full of Winter collection, which has the usual colossal size-run , gauge substitution charts, and ideas for making a bunch of things from mini tree ornament socks to plush house socks ~~ voila, perfect fit! Most importantly I felt there is a niche for a super easy dual-directional sock, especially for those instances where, say a bit of precious handspun off the spindle, must be worked flowingly from toe to cuff, in the most efficient yarn-conserving way. This is that sock.
Rebuilding my seasonal wardrobe has been the inspiration born of necessity, and as I slowly build my drawer full of winter woolens, I am also building the pattern collection, having updated it to the present date and changed the name to A Drawer Full of Winter . The collection now includes four patterns in one download, in four categories : (a drawer full of) Hats, (a drawer full of) Mitts, (a drawer full of) Cowls, and (a drawer full of) Socks, and, as I continue to develop my own Drawer Full, I will further augment the patterns to include more options, simply updating as I go.
In closing, I’ll mention that I as I have been building a drawer full of winter, Jeff has taken the sum of his due three vacation weeks at the last of the year to work on house-building projects, mainly to finish up the last of the window trim, and since we moved in he’s been working on this project diligently, but saving the most difficult trim for last. Living with ladders, tools, long levels, boxes of screws, pipe clamps, air compressor, and nail guns sitting about the house is really what I’m use to, now the second house-building in our lives, even over a year being back moved in, but these recent weeks it has involved scaffolding and moving around the dining table in order to get to the sky windows, and it doesn’t ruffle my feathers in the least. All the door and window trim is now finished, and I must say what a great finish carpenter he is, and how the rebuilt house seems nearly as beautiful as the original, maybe even more so in some ways. I never thought I’d say that, but the trim was Jeff’s most artful work I’ve ever seen, and so I am proud to think he’s done even a better and second time more experienced job of it. A short pause, and then the next big task will be the flooring.
Here & now , transitioning from a very dark 2020 into a much brighter 2021 ~~ have a wonderful happy new year everyone!
Today we met at the castle for Autumn Sweaters 2020.
They are wearing my latest sweater design Sol Inca,
the “afterthought” pullover.
The sweaters were so long in the making . . .
and in the waiting even longer to get together . . .
then with so many tourists milling about the castle, we just made it quick.
Although fewer photos were taken, as usual my nieces were fabulous!
(click 1st image & see entire slideshow)
I am not doing holiday knitting this year. . .
but these are for a birthday coming up next week, my oldest niece will be 21!
I will give these lovely pair of Walking With Emma socks to her when I give both nieces their sweaters some time before the year is over, when we will meet at the castle for a spontaneous photo shoot.
(( I can’t imagine being with them and not smothering them in hugs! ))
So close to the winter solstice, I go stepping out of autumn, walking with tender foot steps so I am careful not to wake nature from its much needed wintery slumber. Waiting, waiting, waiting . . . and staying creatively immersed and thoughtful while we get through another shelter-in-place for the remainder of the year.
Everybody, please stay home and stay well!
Going back a few decades in my life and realizing with a bit of surprise that I am caught again in the natural dye thing. Autumn in full swing, the golden yellow leaves falling and then turning quickly dull ochre, I could not resist scooping them up and boiling them into a leaf soup, filling the house with a spicy woody fragrance. I opened my sock yarn drawer and finding a bare Hawthorne ready to be dyed, I grabbed it, and prepared it for its dye bath and let it sink down in the lovely golden rusty liquid, and I knew I was going to find another signature color. But as everything in the kitchen, I do these things on pure instinct with a good splash of impatience in the mix too.
The next morning I lifted the sock yarn out of the leaf soup, as it had stewed overnight, and although the tint was subtle, I washed it in warm suds, rinsed, let dry on the clothes line, and quite pleased, I thought about trying some more! I went out and gathered more leaves, and stuffed all I could into my stock pot, and boiled again for about an hour, the liquid was again golden rusty brown, and so I pulled out about 400 grams of Knit Picks Simply Wool (Wilbur) I had rejected for another project and decided to sacrifice it for the cause, hoping it would transform from dull medium grey/brown to a deep golden hue. Oh, but chaos began to emanate from the kitchen at this point. I strained out the leaves from the pot, certain my five skeins would fit. They didn’t, yet they were already partially dunked. I switched pots, to big cast iron, thinking a little iron would only improve. Even smaller! I began to panic, texted Jeff’s daughter in the tiny house to please let me use her large slow cooker, woke her up, ran down there, and when I brought it back up to meet the occasion, such relief, yes it fit! During all this time there was a power outage, and I had to also switch out the power to generator, and then it came back on and switch it again. By the afternoon I was poking the slow-cooking yarn to see if any of the brown fluid would go into the yarn, like it did with the Hawthorn Bare sock yarn. Um, no such luck, even though I did the right things, splash of white vinegar for the protein fiber and good luck. All day this continued, and determined to see some color, poking, gently lifting and then submerging. Nothing showed over the natural grey, not even the tie yarns showed much. In disbelief I fetched a white skein of Simply Wool I also had left over, and tried my luck ( I had two dye baths going at this point), and the best it got was “off – white” . Still determined, I fetched some unspun roving. A splash more vinegar in the dye bath, probably unnecessary, and put 100g of Targhee Top roving I recently bought in to soak, nearly on my knees praying to the providence. Nothing. Actually, maybe an ever-so-slight tint of color, and I decided to let it stew overnight if maybe something of a miracle could happen. I don’t think there are many miracles in natural dying though.
Thinking about it more technically: The superwash sock yarn worked beautifully, right in front of my eyes, I saw it happen. I repeated the same process with the other fiber, and it failed. Natural dying is nothing like chemical color dying, and I’m finding the only sure thing in this experiment was the type of fiber that made the difference. The minimally processed “Simply Wool” yarn must have natural oils in the yarn ( which I recall bled out in the garment wash at blocking) so perhaps not a good yarn to natural dye with, but also the immaculately clean white targhee top roving failed to absorb the dye, even after soaking over night. Just a slight beige off-white color.
I am referring to my dye process as “easy” because I’m not using any mordants, just a splash of vinegar for the protein wool fibers to open up a bit, definitely nothing toxic or chemical to poison my cooking pans & spoons. Besides, black oak leaves have quite a lot of natural tannic acid, so I figured that I wouldn’t be needing much else. I also would like to add that my choice of dyable material is limited to what I find around outside our house, as I did madrone bark last summer, and I won’t be ordering exotic plant based dyes from elsewhere for I am exploring my micro environment for a very personal seasonal palette. In the next experiment I will not be using five hundred grams of over-confidence, but limit my first tests to one skein of superwash sock yarn, if I am to continue casually dying with gathered natural ingredients I find about the woods here. At least I’ve got one very cheery little skein of golden ochre sock yarn as a souvenir.
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I am finally finished Autumn Sweaters 2020, two Sol Inca “after-thought” pullovers. Admittedly, I have struggled getting these finished this year, no question these are the most involved Autumn Sweaters I have knit for my nieces to date, but at last a celebratory end to all deadline knitting! I finished the first one last September, and its taken me this long to wait for yarn and knit the second. Next time you see these sweaters my nieces will be wearing them, and it likely wont be until later this month at the soonest. It is just as well because it is still a mild 50’s to 60’s in the December days, the real cold doesn’t come around until January and February in this part of the world, when it will get as cold as an average in the 40’s and 50’s , and sometimes in the 30’s in the day. With those temperatures, the grape vines are going into dormancy and Napa Valley is having a short nap, and by then my nieces might be happier to slip on these very heavy weight sweaters. And, if my nieces are more comfortable and cozy and not breaking out in a sweat, I shall be a happier auntie photographer . So maybe even better to wait until January.
I found a lovely detail was to over-dye some of the light grey with Yorkshire Tea, and it made a lovely tone of dark gold in the middle of the suns in the light grey sweater, and I must say I’m very pleased with with the ease of tea over-dye. And hey, do you notice the labels? I ordered labels some time in the summer, and I really like them, and what a simple polish it gives a finished sweater. Makes me dream a little, about selling a few hand-knits right from my blog here. What do you think? That about wraps it up for my deadline knitting, and as I am just working on new ideas for the rest of the weeks, I am going to brace myself for some cozy sheltering in while I get immersed into the next projects I have had on the back burner while I finished these colossal labors of love.
Taking a break from sweater knitting and have enjoyed this short Tweed Chronicles experiment, the Quick Mix. Just as I expected, a slightly more homogenized affect than straight off the roving, resulting in a pinkish brick fired terra cotta shade. Yet still slightly barber-pole , so I do think I could have blended it twice and had a more softer variegation. I am not the greatest spinner on the planet, because I just cant seem to produce consistent super fine singles, and if I do, the yarn often is under spun, so when I ply, I get thick and thin plied. That is okay, thick & thin handspun is a fine normal for me, because I like rustic handspun, however, I don’t like plying underspun yarn, for it breaks so much in the plying. This fiber is superwash Blue-faced Leicester, which is an excellent fiber to make into socks, even if the yarn varies from fine fingering to sport weight. If I knit a toe up format, I can figure gauge while increasing in the toe section I can adjust for the number of sts in the sock as I go. That is my thinking at least. I guess the toe-up sock with gauge substitution chart pattern is inevitable for me and my handspun yarn, so that is what I’m up to, hoping to knit this up from the toes sometime in the next few weeks, into just a plain & simple sock form. I’ll keep posting on this as I go along.
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Today is a beautiful day out and tomorrow is going to be dumping a lot of rain, so I believe I’ll go out for a walk to the peak, and then settle in to make some progress on eldest nieces’ sweater that I really want to finish. My primary goal presently is to get into good walking shape and so off I go !
I wanted to try spinning my first ever sock yarn, so I looked in my basket of gifted fiber, and chose some lovely hand-dyed superwash Blue-faced Leicester fiber in beautiful Autumn tones. I wanted to spin this fiber without the barber-pole affect that one often gets when spinning straight from the dyed roving, but a softer and slightly more homogenized result. So you know what that means, I have an excuse to pull out my blending board and do some carding!
It is much easier to do a quick mix from a dyed braid, than to haul out all my separately dyed colors, and although it is a little less controlled, offers a bit of an element of surprise, and is really just fun, as the colors are all there in the braid. But one must choose the braid wisely, for each time I card the fiber from the braid out on to the teeth of the blending board, the colors fuse more, sometimes dramatically. Sometimes very quickly can depart from vibrant splashes of color into a muddied neutral appearance of one shade, especially if there are any complimentary colors in the braid. Also the colors will blend even more after plying the singles. So this time I am only going to fill up the teeth on the board just once, and draw off the rolags to spin. And here is what I did …
(click 1st image to go to slideshow)
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Techy stuff …
- My extra long blending board holds a lot of fiber, but to play it safe, I made 4 batts approx. the same. I have 100 grams of fiber, and I want to get four 25 gram batts, drawing off 3 fluffy rolags each to spin.
- First I divided the braid length-wize into half, then each half into half, so I can get 4 lengths in the same dyed sequence.
- When layering on the board, I started all four batts with the same end, and layer up in the same way, basically repeating every motion four times.
- Then I drew off the rolags.
- See Blending For Tweed Simplified for my basic blending board slideshow how-to.
Watch this space for my plied finished yarn and sock project, which I am guessing will end up a rather muted colorway, close to a shade of terra cotta. See all posts in Tweed Chronicles
What I would do differently next time:
Given that one 100g braid could be done in two batts on my extra long blending board (24″ x 12″) which can hold comfortably 50 grams of fiber I would have not bothered to split the the braid into four lengths, but only two, and fill the teeth closer to capacity twice, drawing off more rolags each time. This would have had the same affect but much faster, and when I think of the whole theme of this post ” the Quick Mix” it makes more sense. However, with a conventional smaller blending board 12″ x 12″ to 18″ , four times would probably be better, as I’ve demonstrated above.
Edit in: See spun and plied yarn in Quick Mix Spun
Just past the colorwork yoke of yet another Sol Inca sweater. This one will be the second Autumn Sweater for nieces, then they’ll be completed and will wait patiently for some day in December. Without the usual gift knitting this year, I believe I will sail on through the holiday weeks ahead without a single distraction, and sink my teeth further into two new ideas. Beyond that I am not certain, but am entertaining the thought of more tweed chronicle experiments, foraging for dye pots, and happily continuing on in my reclusive ways.
I am beyond super pleased at the election results and can imagine there will be a lot of good changes in the new year, which eases my complicated mental state, and calms me like a balm. And along my walks recently, I am reminded of the contentment I so often find in nature, out in Autumn, and soon just may find myself in an uproariously good mood. Oh, and not having much to speak of in the way of rain yet, yesterday we had a random heavy hail storm which burst into the day, downpoured for fifteen minutes, then left in a hurry. I love Autumn!
Playing around with a new sock idea as well as experimenting with a short-row heel. The short row heel is a lovely way to go about things, especially if one wants to work top down or equally bottom up, its the same either way. The toe of this sock will be the same both ways too, which I will show off soon. I am actually getting quite excited with the prospect of the dual directional sock! Oh, but already I caved in from my no-yarn-buying expectation, and bought yarn for this upcoming design, because I really want this next design to have a snowy halo of mohair, while at the same time be a rustic tweedy single ply, and there’s only one yarn that I know of, because I have some from another design, and that is Isager Irish Tweed, which is spun in Donegal. Just ordered the yarn, which won’t ship until after the election, and when it arrives I will be busting out of the starting gate on this. So excited! Exciting times!!
A forgotten ball in a drawer, rather disheveled, and remembering back when it was part of something bigger than itself, when it was part of the sum of a whole, when the Hillwalker pullover was born, and my lovely nieces modeled it. Its life begun in Donegal Ireland, shipped over in a large bag with many skeins, excited on its journey to have such a future of artful functionality . . .
Now just a lonely part-ball which has lived a part-life, sure to be camped out until its days are done, in a dresser drawer of yarn stash, not making a difference in the world, and very likely unhappy.
Unless of course, I do something to save this poor unhappy ball of tweed. Some Unspun magic, where I separate the plies and make two fine weight singles out of the 2ply worsted weight, perfect for a pair of socks, and a toe-up sock to be sure I don’t run out of yarn ( how I do this from two years ago). Of course, I was being suggestive of this technique in the last post with the Lady In Tweed.
One sock finished, second sock… a toe-up sort of thing, and the pair will likely use up most of the ball, seeing that the first sock is 29 grams, the second one will be a close finish! I am testing out my frolick of a toe-up pattern with yarn I have about, left-over, left-out, left-unfulfilled balls in my yarn stash, and as I made a goal a couple of posts back about not buying yarn mindlessly, easily, but instead I am doing things the hard way. And enjoying every minute!
Actually this is the beginning of a new series. . . I feel it taking shape . . . a series about knitting with repurposed yarn, of transforming the languishing unused and awkwardly rejected things in the back of our closet and our drawers to energized loved things that move to the happy & prideful front of our dresser drawers. Watch this space, “stash-busting” is going to be frothing-at-the-bit and a very important theme around here in the future.