Raw melody of the sea…

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Come now fishermen of olden days, lets share a splendid dream together!  Take me in your nets… out to the waves… oh to be truly unafraid of the elements, exploring harbors of every shore, while facing the bracing raw melody of the sea!

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Colorway: Stone harbor at dawn.   Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca & Ultra Alpaca Light.  I am diving in again to these blues & greys, into the watery  colors,  surfacing yet again with another woolly interpretation.  Be back soon!

A Fishermens Neck Gansey

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I love the textures of the the fishermens sweaters, or ganseys as they are also known. A couple of weeks ago I thought to try one in a simple cowl using my favorite traditional motif from Flamborough gansey.

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Flamborough Head

I gave a hint of this direction in a recent post Elemental , and now I have knitted four samples of varying shapes of a neck piece I am aptly naming a ‘neck gansey’ !

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Flamborough Head is a beautiful section of the Chalk Coast of British Isles, and I spoke of the colors of chalk, of shore grass, of wet sand, and of stone and storm, all captured  in the language of yarn.

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Flamborough Head on the Yorkshire Coast, England.

I must say, after knitting four simple variations, the repeats are quickly memorized, and are thoroughly pleasant to work, evoking visions from a bygone era of strong courageous fishermen in their striking traditional ganseys.

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In the near future, I would like to augment this design with more traditional fishermen gansey motifs, in a series,  and the pattern will be updated to include the additions (any who purchases pattern will get those updates), but I wanted to get this pattern up and running as soon as possible so that knitters could make them for the holidays.

You can find Fishermens Neck Gansey Pattern on Ravelry  HERE … I hope you try one… and happy holiday knitting!

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ps.  I thought I would mention that I still need to get the neck ganseys photographed modeled, which I intend to do very soon, so watch this space!

In Calistoga today….

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It was pouring down rain most of the day, but fortunately late this morning it settled a bit and we got in some great shots of Miss Sixteen & Miss Fourteen modeling Calidez Vest.

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At the wall outside of Brannan’s on Lincoln and Washington…

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I burst with pride at how talented my nieces have become in front of the camera … as I strive to capture the ‘happy accident’ of the moment.

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(Oh, but they have had a bit of practice you know… )

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We also finally got Autumn’s Calidez Cardigan photographed !

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Don’t ask me why it didn’t occur to me to get a couple of shots with the garments buttoned up all the way…

( I become so distracted!)

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A lucky morning ( good hair day, good skin day ),  and a good day of expressions wonderfully sincere, honest, and artful poses.

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My favorite past-time most definitely, bar none, is hanging out with these smart & beautiful young women!

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Elemental

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My mind has wandered down to the chalk coasts of British Isles,  to find the spirit of the sea etched into a landscape assaulted by wind and salt, of the coastal birds, algae stained rocks, crustaceans, seals and shoals of fishes, and dolphins and whales… seeking the blue depths with the promise of life cycling perpetual….to find the masculine and elemental.

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It was no surprise that Black Friday found me running into the local yarn shop, searching for colors of wet sand and sea grass and chalky cliffs… and now I’m disappearing into the deep mists of creation for a while, to surface with something sudden & unexpected!

Calidez Vest Pattern !

jenjoycedesign-calidez-vestI have worked like an ox to get this vest up and running before the holidays descend, and I think yesterday I never moved from my desk while immersed in a last-minute change, crunching numbers to augment the size range for this design for larger sizes in finer weight yarns… and I mean from dawn until dusk! 

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Calidez Vest with crew neck shaping

Today a frenzy of sewing on buttons (before the dark grey vest was even completely dry!) then photographing, and finally submitting it to Ravelry…  now I am just about ready to say its time for a walk out in the misty woods, for the rain has finally broken after two days of solid downpour.

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Calidez Vest with v-neck shaping

Feeling too exhausted to say much , except for the important things….

 Calidez Vest on Ravelry

…  and Calidez Vest in progress on previous posts here and here.

A classic vest for women, men, teens & kids (shown in bulky Icelandic) Calidez Vest is knit bottom up with seamless construction, and flat. Pattern includes a substitution chart for gauges 2.5 to 6.5 stitches to the inch, and has extensive size range from 60” to 25”. Vest has v-neck shaping, with options for crew and high v-neck shapes. Calidez Vest is suitable for for all ages & all year round, and is perfect for all kinds of fiber, yarn weights & especially your hand-spun !

 

Buttons

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I’m going through my numerous button jars, sifting and splashing about, trying to decide which one to finish the latest vest…

I really love the wild cat-eye buttons in square one, but there are tragically only three, and the other vest I have decided should have the same buttons. Two vests and ten buttons. Choices left then are either the wood, or the metal & plastic in third square.  I’m thinking I’ll go with the warm natural wood for both vests (the other one v-neck, this will be the crew-neck option). Which by the way , should both be done while racing against the clock, by this weekend. My personal goal is to have the pattern up and running by next week for test-knitters, so if you are interested, please say so!

Meanwhile, last night there was a spectacular storm-brewing and wind kicking up amidst a fantastic colorful firey sunset, with fog rolling in from the Pacific coast…sunset

I am still fighting a horrible cold, but fortunately I can stay home and get lots accomplished  with the knitting, while keeping the wood stove crackling, as its suddenly dropped to low 40’s outside. The blustery cold Autumnal mountain weather has finally arrived!

Yarn Tasting: Alafosslopi

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Istex Alafosslopi, an Icelandic bulky-weight yarn, and it also comes in worsted-weight called ‘Lopi Lite, or Lett Lopi’.   It is single ply, very rustic, and in a palette of beautiful colors , tweeds, as well as many natural fleece shades too.  I must say, it is not spendy in the least…which I like. I like a lot.  Like so many super rustic yarns like this, one wonders how it could ever feel good and natural against one’s own skin, then one becomes surprised after the blocking is done and all those woolly hairs just loosen into a beautiful halo, find their place in the fabric, become relaxed and compliant, ultimately  giving a light & springy feel with lovely drape. I wouldn’t call this yarn “soft” by any stretch of the imagination, nay, it is full-on wool, pure, and even old-world feeling, yet I am thinking it to be the perfect yarn to prototype my next design with.

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The next design in fact, which I think will be my magnum opus  of basic knitted wardrobe items… my  favorite of favorites… a cardigan vest!  This pattern will have some really good options (which I will save for its debut) , and will be perfectly suitable for men, women, & children alike. The third in my  Calidez designs, it will be compatible for sport-thru-bulky  weight yarns and any kind of fiber.   I can’t wait to be finished with these and show you!

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As you can see in the photo there has been some ripping out going on, that is because after I finished and blocked the vest, it was not right… it was nice, it was classic, but I  felt it necessary to re-proportion the shaping in the armhole and neck opening, to make it perfect according to my own idea of a perfect vest shape. So here I am, in the middle of the whole thing, knitting up two samples at once, knitting…. ripping out…knitting again: repeat.

I might add that I have come down with a nasty cold (I hardly ever get sick) from the stress of election and a general frenzy of Things Going On, but regardless, I am as happy as can be because my Knitting Track is proving to be a heavenly thing, and I am obsessed with it!   The  leveled sections are a work in progress, but it is all a wonderful path As It Is, and I see a hazy vision of something keenly interesting in its future.   Late yesterday I walked the wooded track while knitting the dark grey bit of the vest above for one and a half miles… it was an enchanting knit-walk five times around the wild shaped figure-eight in and about the tall trees at dusk. I felt like a knitting pixi.

In spite of my cold, I was out there this morning in the supremely gorgeous weather, digging, scraping, leveling & tamping a section of the trail in and around some massive Douglas Firs, while also moving quite a bit of stone from the earth.  While digging around I found an old Olypia beer can, with a pull tab which (after some research ) I discovered dates to early 70’s, which I imagine was discarded from a hunter, so I placed it on a rock near where I found it, along the trail.  The first archaeological find while creating the knitting track,  a crumpled up vintage aluminum beer can…lol!

Lots to do and life is good.

Sweater Descent #2

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I have gotten another package from Kilcar in Ireland,  a lovely bunch of Studio Donegal yarn ! Worsted-weight,  one-hundred percent merino wool, and aptly named …

“Soft Donegal”

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In Sweater Descent #1  I wrote a sort of introduction for what is now my series Sweater Descent Project…

Descent is a word which takes many directions in meaning, most typically it means to ‘move down’ or ‘lower’ as in a physical place of going, as ‘down from a high place’ as from the peak of a mountain. It has metaphorical meaning to me as well, which I absolutely groove on, like ‘making easier’ and ‘moving into a secure low-ground of the known’.  Of course there is the meaning of ‘lineage’ or ‘clan’, and far-off distant cultures or bloodlines one may have come from.  But for me, primarily  the relationship of the word refers to mountains, and walking, and in my case knitting while walking about the mountain on which I live.

And now for Sweater Descent #2

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This post also being a yarn-tasting theme , I would like to show you my yarn acquisition, and I am watering at the mouth truly, envisioning this in my second very own  Calidez Cardigan !   A rich depth of color, explosion of tweedy flecks, I am totally smitten with the color range of Studio Donegal “Soft Donegal” and see great potential for using this yarn in future designs.  But for now all there is left to do, is cast on!

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ps. I thought I would mention too, that Emma is one-hundred percent better, and managing the stairs all by herself with new addition of rugs!  And thats us… off to the Knitting Track!

The events of the day…

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Emma has gotten herself somehow mysteriously injured, and has been hobbling about for a day and a half.  I suspect she may have slipped and fallen on the stairs while we were away at a neighbor’s for dinner on Saturday, because Sunday she just could not move hardly at all.  Today she is a little better, at least been able to walk a little ways although very stiff and sore, far beyond her normal senior-dog arthritis.

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Emma sleeps in our bedroom upstairs, but in recent months she has been getting very unsure of herself on the stairs and has been needing help up and down because of the slippery hard-wood surface. Last weekend I cut up a big old rug for the turning area of the stairs, which helped a lot for that was where she was slipping the most, but the straight sections were still needing to be covered–insert Emma’s injury Saturday evening.  So Sunday morning I went into town and I bought a smattering of small throw rugs, sewed them end-to-end to make runners, cut more rug matting, and created a patchwork of rugs on the whole stairway, which is now very cluttered, and a bit odd, but no longer slippery.

I was so worried last night I slept on the couch downstairs next to her to give her moral support, and joy of joys, today she is much better and at least able to walk around a little outside but won’t be able to climb the stairs for a while yet. Wish her well,  she’s looking up, and I’ll give her a good pet from all of you.

Knitting Track News: I have measured with this wheel the feet distance of the whole knitting track.  The actual ‘track’  is a sloppy figure-eight looping through woods very near our house, total of 1448 feet. Not a big deal, I know , but as the track itself is over 1/4 mile around, so three times around the track plus the walk to and from the track is 1 mile…. and folks, that is not nothing ! 5x is 1.5 miles, 7x is 2 miles, you get the idea.   Just think of the knitting I can accomplish while working up a sweat!

144 finished feet done & dusted, about 1300 feet to go. I did about 60 feet just today, and I’m tired! For now it may seem perpetually under construction, but one day I will be finished and it will be a great accomplishment !!

See my recent post How To Make A Knitting Trail  ,

or all knitting trail & knitting-while-walking related posts HERE.

Calidez Cardigan & Donegal Aran Tweed

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At last, my very own cardigan, and it is so special because it is from a wool I’ve wanted to knit forever, and in a pattern which I designed to be my favorite sweater recipe. . .

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Calidez Cardigan knit up in Donegal Aran Tweed!

I made it with Autumn neckline.  The pattern has four seasons of necklines in case you weren’t aware:  winter=full yoke depth,  autumn=3/4, spring=1/2, summer=very low. . .

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I had so many choices to color match buttons because of all the flecks of tweed in the yarn, but in the end, I only had more shell buttons, but I will find some more, in russet and change them out later.

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When it came down to it, I am purely smitten.  Donegal Aran Tweed knits up beautifully and has a real ‘slinky’ feel to it when knit up at  3.25 sts to the inch, although I was so tempted to try a smaller needle size, I chose the larger, appealing to a drapier cardigan, however, because of the fact, it is very stretchy and a wee bit baggy, but like in a good way. Next I will try a slightly firmer cardigan fabric, as well as make a size smaller. I still can’t decide what color to go with for my next, and I do think it will have to be a Soft Donegal,  and I am thinking to go wild, and get this color.

Well folks, that’s it for today, posting from very rainy Mt Veeder!  I couldn’t be happier than with a just-finished cardigan to wear, and you can see details of this project on Ravelry here.

Everything in it’s place, and life is good. Oh, and I’ve been enjoying listening to some beautiful Irish pipes while knitting Irish Wool . . .


Yarn Tasting: Donegal Aran Tweed

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What have we here? A cardigan (for moi) which I will be finishing in the next couple of days! Some time ago, back in  this post , I talked about knitting a cardigan from Studio Donegal Aran Tweed. I actually cast on and knit most of the body of a steeked body cardigan  before dropping it and coming to the conclusion that, although I have written a brief steeking option on the Calidez Pullover, which this was to sample, I really wanted to design my first flat-knit seamless cardigan pattern. So after struggling with that inevitability , eventually I ripped it all out and wound it back into a big ball.  Well, as you all know that recently I have finally designed that cardigan, I can’t escape the desire to make one after another, in all the Studio Donegal yarns, and already I’m looking at the color shade cards I have to see what color I might try next.  The shade on this piece of knitting is # 4742.

Really folks, Aran Tweed has a spirit about it which speaks to me like no other that I’ve felt. It is really a very classic wool, and does have a bit of ‘wooly scratch’ factor, and I don’t recommend it to knitters who are ambivalent about 100-percent wool, but it is ever so light, fluffy, and possesses a great homespun feel. Most of all, it is indeed very tweedy & colorful, and just extremely beautiful.  

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I am considering trying for my next yarn tasting, Soft Donegal which is 100% Merino wool, and although a lot softer , it doesn’t have the crispness I love so much in the Aran Tweed, nor quite the selection. If you could put your hand into the photos of the two shade cards, you’d agree, Soft Donegal is very very soft, and a little finer weight too. Just a smidge.  Aran Tweed is  heaviest weight of all the Donegal yarns, I’m getting 3.5 stitch per inch,  whereas the Soft Donegal will probably be more like 4.5.  Regardless, I think I’ll explore both with my new Calidez Cardigan pattern, there is no closing the gate to my sudden rush to make every hand-knit cardigan I’ve craved to have & wear for the last ten years.  I am eyeing so many of them, I just can’t decide!

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You can see Studio Donegal’s website to see details about Aran Tweed,  Soft Donegal , and Knitting Wool.

By the way, which are your favorite colors?

How to make a knitting trail.

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October is the best trail-making month in the year, as the ground is just moistened by a couple of rains at the most, but not muddy. I have been doing a lot of walking in the woods,  both with and without knitting, always with Emma, and we have staked out where we want it to go, our ‘knitting and sniffing track’ !

Oh! But I have left you a little lesson on how to make a knitting trail in the woods for yourself, if you have handy … a bit of woods. 

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First, stake the trail out with sticks and walk it for a few weeks, or months, refining path to contour the land well, satisfied that it is a pleasure to walk , perhaps even while knitting.  Be sure you love walking your trail as it is,  before you disturb the soil and take tools to it!

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I go ahead with the long-handled pruners and bow saw, clear debris in the way that causes tripping, etc. during the first walks.  Then walk some more weeks.
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When you’re ready to commit, begin!
Rake aside duff, sticks, fir cones,  remove big rocks, etc.
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Scrape aside the composting layer gently,  (to be raked back over) to expose dirt.
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Pick, hoe, and scrape, loosening soil beneath the compost layer, and leveling side-to-side by eye.  Or , if you want a really level path as this one will be…
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 use a level straight edge to check that it is roughly level  side-to-side (not fore & aft).  Tamp earth down, firming walking area only.
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Finally, lightly rake compost layer back over tamped, leveled trail.  It should look like the original forest ground, essential to replace plenty of compost over raw soil, and even a sprinkle of the raked-aside debris of small sticks and little cones.
 I have worked out a method whereby I am working both start and finish in a 20-foot section which moves along as I work, then finishing my work by covering the soil as I close up the gap so that there is no more raw dirt, and lay my tools down for next work session, whenever that can be.
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 There is a lot to do yet before I will take out the measuring wheel and see how it measures up in distance. It will look like this for many weeks , perhaps through the whole Autumn it will be a work in progress.

And now if you will excuse me, my coffee break is over, and time for me to go back out. I am so very excited that I am finally making the Knitting Trail ~~~ joy of joys!!

Calidez Cardigan

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It is here, the design I’ve been working on for a really long time … Calidez Cardigan  !

A simple, easy,  cozy & classic raglan cardigan,

 sampled here in beautiful tweedy bulky weight yarn…

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From the my pattern Calidez pullover, I have felt compelled to make a cardigan version, and now it is here….  Calidez Cardigan on Ravelry

I am really excited about this design, having all the elements I’ve wanted in a ‘go to’ pattern for myself ; varying necklines, multiple gauge yarns, knit seamless and flat  so that it can be knit in plant fibers, like linen & cotton … and handspun, which I am keen to knit my own into this cardigan!

Next I am working on more options for this pattern, and will beef up the pattern with an update, such as a gusset for the underarm (forthcoming), and well, I am sighing great relief this morning as this baby is done & dusted!

Anyway, you can find my nieces modelling their own Calidez Cardigans which were prototype tests for the design, for their Autumn Sweaters, back in this post.

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Forthcoming…

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Do you see it there?  In the other room? It is just out of the sink soaking, then pressed in fluffy towels, now drying on the bed ‘blocking’ for a day,  while I polish up the pattern for it.  A pattern that I’ve been working on for  a really long time.    

Forthcoming….photographs…. then pattern…. glory of glories !

Knitting In The Wild

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We have been walking through the morning hours of Autumn.  Miles of yarn and prints of dog paws, and shoes, side by side. More chaotically spaced actually, mine straight forward, destination ahead, focused on the rounds of lace, of sleeves, of precious warm cardigans, and Emma’s  prints with her own agenda, as the wild life is speaking to her and new smells are exciting her in zig-zag directions and renewed vigor giving her incentive to come up to the peak with me these days.

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Our walks journey through Autumn,  with the arrival of rain, we seem to be experiencing  a gradual awakening of our dormant selves,  as is with the succulent green mosses everywhere … our joy of joys.

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To the peak we have walked a few times this Autumn already.  On the ridge right before the peak, like a comfortable old bed,  there is a soft pine needle layer from an eerie forest of stick-like old trees composting on the jutting toothy rock beneath … it is so dreamy to walk through, I just had to hang my knitting on it and be silly.

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Everything is in its place, and life is good.

Fields of Gold

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Went out for a lovely knitting walk in the late afternoon today, and caught the golden fields at their height and most fragrant as the rain has come, and it won’t be long before they become dull and brown and beaten down by the strong winds up here on the ridge.

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Leaves falling along one of our newer trails, a shortcut home through the edge of black oak woods (can you see the sticks ahead which mark the path?).  Emma and I have really upped our game, and are walking religiously since day one of Autumn , and I’m knitting bunches as we walk.  Grateful that Autumn has greeted us with some cool weather and…. did I mention that it rained last night?   Everything is in its place, and life is good.

Sweater Success !

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Another sweater success!   However we rather fell out of tradition this time not photographing  in Calistoga , but yet again at the castle which is my niece’s favorite photo place.  Few words this post , but I promise to be more talkative of details about the cardigan when pattern is ready, and it is forthcoming shortly!

All Sweater Successes Past & Present

Ravelry project details  here,  and   here.

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I just took scissors to another thrift shop mens linen shirt, and made it into a loose draping toss-over shirt with the original cuff placket still showing after I cut off the cuff.

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I simply cut off the sleeves about 1-1/2″ longer than I want, made a pleat, and then pressed it all into a half-inch hemmed cuff.

This time I tried popping off all the buttons on the button bands and simply sew’d the button band over the button-hole band, because as I don’t ordinarily iron, and loath gaping button bands in front, and at the bust-line especially.  Its kind of funky an interesting detail,but worth the experiment.

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And I left a little open at the bottom.

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I was thinking I’d go over it with shell buttons and just sew them on for the faux affect, but then I will wait & decide later, for some shirts are nice to have just pure linen.

The learning curve on this one was,  1. never buy a shirt with front pocket flaps thinking they’re easy to take off (the seam ripping was torturous and long). Although the holes from the previous stitches show now, they’ll go away in the next few washings. Or maybe never.

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And  2. custom bias tape rocks!     With the same kind of fabric, and it can be made easily.  (This I had to use some linen from my stash, as it must be on the bias), but it is a great way to finish a neckline which is curving, for one really doesn’t want a ripply rolled hem like I did on this one.  This is the little bias tape tool (admittedly I don’t really know what that swiveling part on it is for)… pull the fabric through and iron and neaten the folds to the middle as it comes out~~ voila!

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Then I simply sewed the raw edge of the neckline to it and folded it on the inside to sew down.  Simple, tidy, and sews up so professional looking.  I found a good video tutorial on how to make bias tape here

I didn’t have enough cut from the length to make the usual front insert or cuffs, so this is an experiment of how I can change the look minimally.

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The nicest thing about white linen is the transparency so visible when held up against light. The warp and weft of flax threads speak a language I can understand, sort of  like the neat pleats and double-folded hems are sharing with me their secrets, all which make the shirt feel crisp and just a little bit like a veiled treasure.

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I’ve been on a trend lately of simple collarless shirts, for in cool weather they just invite a nice lace cowl, and I am slowly acquiring quite a few of those, more recently craving to cast on with some fine flax lace yarn.

To see all of my New From Old projects, click HERE.

And lastly, is it my imagination or are most of my photos in this post really fuzzy?

Equinox Walk

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Happy Autumn Equinox everyone!   It is in recent years, my favorite day of the year. This morning the equinox occurred at 7:21 in the morning, and I planned to get to my secret knitting spot on one of my trails, overlooking a vineyard and hazy Mt Diablo in the distance, only about a ten-minute walk from my door at the most. Here are some more photos of our little early morning walk out to greet the new season…

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Emma enjoyed the scent of the fresh wildlife tracks from the night, and I enjoyed the brilliant angled light fuzzing through the trees. We then reached our secret spot on time, about 7:20, here standing on the big stump of a very large fir, gives a wonderful vantage point of the area we live in.

The light at sunrise had an amber glow and the air is cool. I thoroughly love this little loop in the woods next to my house, at first light.  Tomorrow and often in the days following, I think I will come here to greet the sunrise and feel Autumn’s transitory beauty. Perhaps a thermos of tea and sit on the stump here, knit, and thoroughly enjoy the season as the leaves slowly turn.

I also have a little new knitting going on, but I won’t give details for another week or so…

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Enjoy your first-day-of-Autumn and happy knitting!

 

Ready & waiting for Autumn.

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Its a glorious time of year! Although the temperature is oppressively hot and a layer of dust covers nearly everything, there is an anticipatory glee happening all at the same time,  for we are days away from the Autumn Equinox!

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And perfectly on schedule, two cardigans come off the needles and sit folded, well-mannered and patient, waiting for the eventful day (hopefully soon) they meet their people~~ Miss Sixteen & Miss Thirteen…

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I’ll not say a self-promoting word about what pattern these are knit from or anything like that, I’ll just say that I’ve spent the better part of 6 weeks merrily throwing stitches for these plain & simple sweaters. One last detail to do, the hand-made label…

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And now they are indeed done & dusted. I always feel a huge sense of accomplishment at this point in the year, all ready for the rains to fall, whenever it will be, who knows, but I look forward to that first sprinkle like candy falling from the sky.

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Next time you see these babies, they’ll be on my nieces in Calistoga, for the traditional annual Autumn Sweater photo session.  Autumn is on its way, and life is good!