A simpler way.

jenjoycedesign© unplying Soft Donegal.JPGI’m halfway through unplying my three balls of Merino Tweed, in natural white, beige and brown (my newest technique posted previously.)   I will over-dye the beige and brown with pink, and also with green, resulting in a light and dark variation of the colors. You can dye once and if you vary your yarn ‘base colors’ and the result is like having dyed many colors ! I plan on a project which will have a dark and light pink, and a dark and light green, and natural white. Watch this space for continued progress posts!

Meanwhile, as I unply on the drop spindle, I have been educating myself endlessly watching Nilda’s film…

Nilda so deftly prepares fleece without carders — the Andean way — then spins into fine single plies, then single plies into yarn, expertly without ever using anything other than the most basic tools and her own hands.

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She is one person I would love to walk  and spin with, for in her culture moving is intrinsic to spinning … out to the herds, up the mountains and down again, strolling and spinning, a constant activity for the women & girls.

Continually spinning or plying means it is necessary to simplify the process and limit the tools to what a person can carry, using unique & interesting techniques of how to not let things get tangled,  and spin while tending the flock, keeping drafted fleece or hanks of single plies ready for plying neat and attached to the body.

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I highly recommend Nilda’s film “Andean Spinning with Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez”  , a film which has reaffirmed my notion that working with hands really does belong with walking ~~ as if  double tasking was invented in the Andes!   I relate very much to Nilda’s teaching that in her culture one spins constantly, for it is necessary, and one does it while moving from one place to another, or visiting with friends, or just meditating quiet moments. I translate it of course to knitting and walking, but I think once I really give the drop spindle a good practice, I will be walking along side Nilda in spirit.

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I will leave you to check out the links and discover for yourself just how elegant Andean spinning really can be!

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Last spring I made a series of posts about the weaving in Cusco & Nilda’s work with the Center of Traditional Textiles of Cusco ,  and I’m really looking forward to one day having my upstairs loft studio again wherein I can organize it to work while letting the Andean’s utmost simplistic methods show me the way ~~  to a truly refined Less Is More way of making things.

Unspun

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A 100g ball of Studio Donegal “Soft Donegal” tweed left over from Hillwalker Cardigan.

I have for a while experimented with different methods to un-ply yarn and I think I have finally found the easiest method. Being a bit smitten lately with All Things Andean, and the drop spindle, it is no surprise that thinking like an Andean Spinner, and going back to my spinning roots I would find the method of methods…

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I slipped the ball onto spindle, hooked beneath whorl and secured with double half hitch at top. Twisted in reverse direction of plied twist.

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Then as the yarn untwisted, I wound two balls, one in each hand.  In the past I experimented doing this with a spinning wheel, a ball-winder, and a swift, juggling all of them at once and it was quite a complicated process!

I am so pleased to discover the simple way …

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Less is always more, every time.  I lost track of time but it took me less than two hours to separate the plies by reverse twisting, as I wound the singles into two 50g balls of fingering weight.  Far less time than it would have taken to spin two 50g balls, so if I consider I’m creating a yarn I want to use, from yarn that is not getting used ~~ I believe it to be a very economical process.

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No doubt the singles of the un-plied yarn will have plenty of untamed twist but I think dying them will relax them a lot.  In fact, I ordered some dyes finally, and am going back to over-dying yarn, after a long break of doubting whether I ever again would, so I will be having fun making use of a few balls left over from my most recent Hillwalker sweaters ~~ watch this space!

See all posts about Unspun !

ps. Adele, that is the spindle you sent to me, it is the only one I own presently and it works perfect for this!

Hillwalker, and an anniversary.

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Introducing the Hillwalker sweater duo…

(and photographed with my walking stick!)

I have now finished both the pullover and the cardigan,

and that means Hillwalker is now two patterns for one download !

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Today is the one-year anniversary of the historic Northern California Firestorm  which burned through two counties and thousands of homes, including our own.  Such an anniversary of loss seems to be a time to test resilience, rising above hardship, and moving beyond the grief toward healing happier times. As I walk on the mountain,  I feel the loss, and regrowth in such an overwhelming way.

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There are so many dead trees, but surprisingly, there are many that are alive.

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A favorite Blue Oak, gone.

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Vineyards thriving.

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A favorite rocky meadow.

This Autumn comes as a relief, now I can focus on what is ahead, and what is new, fresh, and positive. Life is short, its over in a blink, and we have every ability to control our attitude.  I’ve learned one very important thing through the experience of this last year, and that is the only thing we can truly own is our attitude, and the accomplishments of  our mind.   The rest is just material & prone to ashes.

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Northerly view over valley fog.

Sweet Sixteen and a new pattern!

 

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A little sooner than I expected,

but I am posting the first of a two-part pattern.

First part, the pullover…

and my younger niece who is now Sweet Sixteen!

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Miss Sixteen’s birthday pullover  in the new pattern Hillwalker.

We photographed in Calistoga yesterday …

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(( I love Miss Sixteen’s new hair cut! Don’t you? ))

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Oh, and look who is now driving!

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Driving off from the back lot of the roastery!

A stellar time with my niece and her mom at the Roastery on Sunday, with a quick photo shoot.  I am needing a little extra time to get the cardigan ready , so that will be part two, very soon. But for now, please go check out the new Hillwalker pattern live on Ravelry

Sweater Mania

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A pile of sweaters; two finished and one not quite.    Another is not in the photo for it is only half finished, and in a bag somewhere up in the tiny attic, and another still was knit almost to finish and then ripped out. These three represent a lot of knitting through recent months;  through weeks of dusty loud logging, of waiting frustratingly for building permit to be issued, through scorching heat waves, some cool summer fog waves, and through Autumn equinox.  Now the rain has come, and construction of house has begun. It is perfect timing for these sweaters to be finished and have their debut.

A sweater debut?   Yes!  In a couple of days I will be visiting with my youngest niece who is soon having a birthday and turning sixteen ( so will be Miss Sixteen for a year) and she’ll model the brown sweater and then there will be a pattern release of a design I have been working on for a long time.  The Autumn photo shoot with both of them must wait until the November holiday this year, when Miss Eighteen comes home from college.

At first the design was going to be a set-in sleeve invention,  then I couldn’t manage through the stress of things going on, so I changed my mind, promptly ripped it out, and started over with more classic style I realize that can not live without, so it became what it really wanted to be.

I will leave you in your anticipation of the forthcoming while enjoying my latest find of video mill tours, this one has given me hours of enjoyment as I knit frantically one more sweater for niece’s birthday. It rather has a calming effect while starting out a bit sleepy, but the excellent jazz music accompanies about a minute into the narration …

day one: digging

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2:30 pm, on day one of rebuild. Excavating really deep for footing (the county building codes are so over-kill now). The first time, in early summer of 2000, Jeff and I did this by ourselves, not even half this wide or deep; Jeff operating a simple little back hoe, I moved the dirt in his lumbering old Ford 420 bucket front-loader, and lots of using pick and shovels too, and it took us a long time. Three men digging and moving dirt, with foreman, Jeff, and five miniature Dachshunds standing by, the excavation will be finished today!

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A celebratory crumble..

jenjoycedesign© apple crumbleHearing the excavator scraping away against a very rocky volcanic earth for a new foundation at 7 o’clock this morning was absolute music to my ears, and watching the gradual additional equipment arrive up one by one on our dusty road is just making me blast off into an orbit of happiness. I welcome the noise of production finally, over the deafening silence of waiting .  Starting rebuild construction,  twelve days short of a year since the wildfire, and no more waiting!  I have in fact, made a celebratory apple crumble to bring up to the workers this afternoon, when things settle in a bit.  Here’s my totally improvised recipe …

Jen’s Apple Crumble (from the Tiny Oven)

Sugar Mixture: blend 1/2 cup brown and 1/2 cup white sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp salt. Set aside.

Apples: Peel, core & quarter 3 large tart apples. Blend 1/2  of sugar mixture with 3 tablespoons flour then into the apples, place in bowl and set aside.

Crumble: In small processor, grind 1 cup of rolled oats (or just use quick oats), empty into large bowl.  In processor blend 1/2 cup cold butter and 1 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour, finely as for pie crust, and add to oats. Add the rest of sugar mixture in with flour & oats and toss with just enough ice cold water to make it bind a little when pressed together, but much of it still very crumbly & loose.

Assemble: Press a little more than half the flour/oat/sugar mixture into bottom of an 8 or 9 inch square baking dish.  Layer apples evenly, but not touching dish, then sprinkle the rest of the flour/sugar mixture on top.  Sprinkle additional sugar on top to taste.

Bake at 350F until crumble is golden and apple layer begins to bubble. ( In our Tiny House tiny oven, most things burn, so I waited until the fruity syrup began to bubble before taking out of the oven, at the risk of a little burn)

Equinox

Frantic artful ‘good mood’ music because things are shifting into action!   Meaning that we have been issued our building permit finally,  after a grueling long wait, and house rebuilding can start at last!     The Autumnal Equinox is Saturday, and I am going to celebrate!

This music reminds me what I have been missing,  a familiar manic wave now only whispering,  approaching me without touching, as if to assure me of its return, and that all will be in a far better place very soon.

Oh, and this trio just hits the spot doesn’t it!  Be sure to listen to Trio Brasileiro videos as they queu up,  because these tunes are deservedly among my favorites and might become yours too!

Waning Summer

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Its the last days of summer, finally.  I thought I’d never get through them.

The Autumn Equinox is near, and I thought I’d enjoy a nice afternoon walk up the ridge and take some photos of the landscape in the waning summer.

Wild peas  continuing to bloom unusually late…
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As I got higher up the ridge where the bad burn is,

I notice so many sprouted trees, as this baby knob cone pine, about 8 inches tall …

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Sprouted right beneath the scorched parent tree, full of pine cones….

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In a blink it will be the Autumnal Equinox , only four days!  Knowing I am near to being in a far better place mentally with the anniversary of the wildfire so soon to pass, I am so very eager to be grateful again and excited about life’s good things.

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waiting

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Red lines painted for excavation & string elevations in place of where the rebuilt house will be.

Yesterday took a turn for the worse for us. The previous Friday we were told we’d have our permit, and too soon did we think we could just start building. Our building permit got held up because of yet another detail some engineer at the county building department was chewing on ; we now have to change the plans to do more fiddling, as we have done several times already, until its become utterly impossible & ridiculous. This means more time to wait, and worst of all , more money to build, and it also means more debilitating frustration in our lives, but we are coping and won’t give up. Our county building administration is notoriously harsh and very difficult to get a building permit through on the best day, and don’t for a second think they are in any way being lenient to the many who have lost our homes to the wildfire, now 11 months later. Our contractors are ready to start, we have the batter boards & string line up for the foundation elevation, and had the foundation sub-contractor up here spraying lines in the dirt and scheduling a start as soon as permit is issued.  Since its costing us more, we’ll end up having to do more of the building ourselves, and live in this teeny tiny space longer.  Not really glad about things right now. I’ll let you know when things really start, as many of you have no doubt been wondering.  I’ve just put this out there so family & friends will have an update ~~ apologies if  I seem like a complainer, I’m just angry and at a breaking point.

Just flew off the needles!

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Lace + ribbing = a beautiful springy cowl!  I just finished my project in a cowl-along I’ve been knitting in recent week. I intentionally didn’t block it, being very pleased with the three dimensional waffled surface the merino lace yarn creates with the ribbed pattern & yarn-overs.

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It is a very easy modification of Double Cappuccino Legwarmers  , and I chose to work the ribbed lace with really big 6mm needles for a frothy open look,  so it grew in length fast, therefore naturally the patterning  was easy enough that I knit it entirely while walking up on the ridge over the last week!

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So downy soft, yet athletic from the ribbing, that I plan to eventually give it to a certain dancer, hoping it won’t fly off in the middle of her leaping across the stage,  I planned this to go with her mostly black dance wardrobe of course!

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This is the first of my start on gift knitting, for the holiday swiftly on its way.   So if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the ridge for a hike while casting on for another !

Pattern: Modification from Double Cappuccino

Details: on Ravelry  here

 

Foggy

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I wasn’t going to post for a while,

but this morning it is so beautifully cool and foggy, and I feel totally revived from it!

Knitting a new lace design.

Life is good.

Knitting on a bridge…

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Jeff has built a bridge from logs he salvaged from the loggers’ waste, and he hoisted them cross across the small gully which heads over to the garden in now what I am calling “the path of least resistance” with planks nailed to the top from old boards, it is an excellent & rustic installment to the woods and I am super pleased with it!    I helped only minimally, as I did the original “wedding bridge” which was burned in the wildfire.  A new bridge & my sooty knitting trail has of this morning been improved inexpressibly for the better!  Emma inspected & approved…

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There eventually will be builders at work making their presence felt in my quiet seclusion, and this lovely little bridge continues me my private trail out to the garden without having to walk up the road  to the house where the chaos will be going on, and down to the garden from there.  Planning ahead brilliantly!  A short-cut to the garden, a bridge to bliss, a bridge across difficult terrain, so metaphorical.  The garden is life, and inspires me in its quiet little way with bees bobbing about, fluttering butterflies, and small little birds bathing in various bowls and cups sitting about, as well as a fat wild dove flocks bombing about on occasion… tall seedy foxgloves still standing through the perpetual heat.  I chase away the drought with my series of old-timey sprinklers, sitting beside them in the mist as I soak in the moist air and knit. It is a very rustic & secluded spot of calm, where one is really fairly hidden away.

I am trying to settle into a productive life of a busy recluse, and I have been thinking about  things. Post trauma disorder has changed things a bit.  I will very likely never get over that day of wildfire, for at that time forward  is etched into the rhythm of how I experience life, and its injury as much a part of me now as anything could be.  That blink of time when I hurriedly drove off in my car with Emma,  my mandolin, recordings of my music compositions, a small box of photos, and a few clothes, my computer, and a tote full of my needles & favorite yarns to keep me busy in the days following — while instantly regretting other things which I forgot, so much from my life.  Those things which seemed to define me were suddenly gone, especially those rooms, spaces which were integral to my happiness.

But let me tell you how I’ve been thinking about things,  about feeling glad and comfortable with realizing that the only real thing I can ever own, and the only thing which defines me,  are my accomplishments. So that is why I strive to live the busy life of a hermit in newly built hermitage, and the rooms will be far less cluttered and intriguingly sparse, so that I can build on my accomplishments.  My family, and short list of close friends will allow me this reclusive life.     I would like to add that I appreciate all of my pen friends from around the globe with whom I have kept company and shared my days in a more secluded way, I am ever so immensely grateful to my knitting fraternity!

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Things going on…

Hunkering down here, as things are happening.   Here’s the news:

Miss Eighteen has left for college. Yup, finally flew the nest. She’ll be settling in with a load of classes and finding a job, and all of those events of college life. There’ll be fewer photo shoots with her, sadly, but when she comes home for holidays, we’ll be sure to get one in! Meanwhile I’ll be sending her knitteds in the mail, and hopefully Miss Fifteen will carry on modelling solo for as long as I can come up with something new.

We signed on officially with our construction company and met down at the county building department over a week ago, so the building plans are in process, rebuilding will start soon.  However, I can’t give you anything but a hopeful “soon”, the plans are not through the office. Maybe foundation will begin before the end of August?

Continue reading

Sweater Success !

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I didn’t make it all the way to Calistoga for the actual Lincoln Street locale, but we improvised in St Helena instead.  After meeting at St Helena Roastery, for coffee (please tell me you don’t notice the drop of chocolate syrup from Miss Fifteen’s mocha, spilled on her Lincoln Street before the photo shoot… lol!),  we then took the photos against the stone of the St Helena Catholic Church, then went to Lolo’s Consignment Shop. Lastly we had lunch at Villa Corona, and walked around the Main Street a while too. Absolutely colossally wonderful summer day spent together with my nieces!

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Now you can make your own Lincoln Street sleeveless …

and the pattern is available !

Details are HERE.

 

Out Walking

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This morning we got out earlier than we have been.

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I am hiking solo now, but sometimes I’ll drive up the road a little ways and give Emma a ride, then she waits in the car in a nice shady spot.

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She still looks so healthy, but she does not like to walk very far.  Isn’t she just beautiful?

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Today I had my Nikon and took some photos of regrowth in the landscape.  New shoots emerging prolifically from burned trees everywhere!

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The wildfire burned so much foliage and shrubs on the ridge that I’ve been finding old dump sites and old roads long abandoned too, but mostly, trees are making a come-back , and the flowers bloomed as ever before…

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On the way back to our Tiny House, stopping where our house “was”.  Do you recognize the landscape beyond that I so often photographed from our deck?

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Many trees I am finding , are still alive with green crowns, so all is not lost. In fact, the big black oak which shaded our house and most of the deck in the heat of the summer afternoon, was so badly burned we thought no chance, but now it has green sprouting out of ash-grey trunk!  The wildfire brings so much perspective about potential of regeneration, that I must witness this as I walk through the seasons. I’ve put all my focus on the hill before me, and knitting as I go.

Life is good.

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Azul

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Today I tripped over a jewel forgotten since the wildfire! Looking in my design computer files I discovered a partially written pattern, along with a few photos of a hat that I knit for my brothers birthday.  The pattern was almost finished except for a few details which needed doing, and so I spent most of yesterday finishing the pattern.  Wow, I am amazed. I did that?

It is an intensely colorful folksy chullo, and which I posted about way back here.   It one of my best colorwork pieces in my opinion, inspired by South American motifs, in four shades of blue, from very dark to very light, complete with tassels & knitted braid!  Intensely blue I tell you!  But it could be any other color as well, in four shades.

I think I’ll knit up another one of these!

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The design is completely my own colorwork motifs, and had originally some very poignant meaning,  and a series all in queue as I recall that much,  but of which now I can not remember (since the disruption of the wildfire),  only that there were some discussions with a long time writing friend of mine from Argentina who lectures on varied subjects of philosophy from time to time at a Seminary in a small town called Azul.

Seminario De Azul

Seminario de Azul

I therefore had named it at the time “Azul” .

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The actual knitted Azul chullo has long disappeared into my brother’s possession, but as I had detailed photos I was able to assemble the pattern. Voila!  (( There is-was a vest pattern in the works too, but that is another matter )).   For now, there is Azul Chullo. And as it is presently the middle of winter in Argentina,  I will make haste…

pattern is LIVE on Ravelry ~~~ HERE !

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Edit in: After discussing with Alejandro just now about what we may have been discussing at the time I designed this colorwork pattern, and as our topics of discussion often have reference to the Andes Mountains, and as I personally echo the sentiment of such a new title,  this chullo will now be officially named “Montañas Azules”,  meaning “Blue Mountains”,  as are the Andes of Argentina!

Mountains & harsh elements seem to be the thread which is woven into most of my life it seems, so I hope to pick up that series of the design in the near future to work it through. Forthcoming, perhaps more Azules.