Spinning by a window …

jenjoycedesign© spinning by a window

Spinning by a sunny window  …
jenjoycedesign© spinning Wild Flaxwhile I unwind my shadowy worries.

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I cast my mind to a warm landscape of wild flax …

 hoping to find the colors of the flowers in the wool blend …

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I have been doing a lot of fiber blending,  and a little spinning too, which is for now easing me slowly back into creative mood.

jenjoycedesign© spun

( and am so grateful to “L” for the gift of a beautiful Ashford Traditional spinning wheel!)

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In closing,  FEMA clean-up crews have been working rapidly in Napa & Sonoma counties since the wildfire of October, and by the end of December, maybe a clean slate for us? Impossible to forecast the rebuilding ahead,  for now I find the cozy window here my joy of the afternoon.

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Techy stuff  for my Wild Flax Blue …

  •  2 g each of primary colors (6g tot) , for a base of color-saturated neutral ,  see this post; blend thoroughly on blending board 3 times. Tot 6g.
  • 6g cornflower blue, layer very thinly one color at a time, with neutral base. Tot 12g.
  • Lift batt, layered again with 2g each of white, light green, teal. Tot 18g.

( I was trying to get more blended base, with a ‘dusting’ of brilliant blue on the last blend…)

  • Lift batt, and layered again with 2g  of cornflower blue. Tot 20g.
  • Drew off rolags.
  • Colorway of blend “Wild Flax Blue”
  • See ALL color blending experiments & recipes archived in Tweed Chronicles

Color Saturated Neutral

jenjoycedesign© spun
I have successfully made a color saturated neutral.

Nested in a mountain of other neutral tones, you don’t see it right away,

   but look at where I started …

jenjoycedesign© primary & secondary mix
Primary and secondary colors all in exact equal amounts …

carded three times on the blending board  …

then drawn out into tasty wool sausages !
jenjoycedesign© rolags

If you check out my Primary triad blend here ,  I’ll say that the secondary triad blend experiment was much the same, nearly indistinguishable from the primary , and theoretically should be the same for any color triad on the color wheel .  Tertiary triads too, and lighter values of the triads; as light blue for blue, pink for red, aqua for teal, peach for orange, etc.

In this experiment,  I used two triads together ;  primary + secondary ,  for my ultimate color-saturated neutral, and I must say this blend was really fun to spin … the colors are all there. 

jenjoycedesign© spun detail

I’ve got my color-saturated-neutral base recipe, a base for my own color palette of ‘slightly earthy heathers’ , as I’ve never been drawn to vivid hues when buying yarns.  From a color-saturated neutral I can base everything, light or dark, and with color intensity varying.  I’m looking forward to developing more recipes ~~ watch this space!

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Techy stuff …

  • Equal amounts of each of (near) primary: red, yellow, and blue , and/or (near) secondary: purple, orange and green.
  • Layered very thinly one color at a time, alternately.  I mean really a lot of thin layers … using  this technique,
  • Lifted batt, layered again, total of three times.
  • Drew off rolags.
  • Colorway blend:  “Color Saturated Neutral” .
  • See ALL color blending experiments & recipes archived in Tweed Chronicles

 

Yarn Tasting: Miss Babs Northumbria

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Northumbria Fingering, 100% Bluefaced Leicester wool,  in the color ” Beachglass “.

How can one stray toward unhappiness with a beautiful hand-dyed wool on the needles like this?   Just my thoughts exactly.   I will be on the straight-and-narrow toward a hopeful horizon because I have this woolly lot given to me by a lovely little tadpole.  Something to cuddle and keep my hands busy & warm.

Soon I will cast on for an  Fishwives Lace Shoal  being that an engaging lace is just the tonic needed, because  I haven’t knit a stitch for two months, and I do believe knit-walking in particular has supernatural ability to fend off all that is unpleasant.   Just me and 100 grams /437 yards, and a good & kindly level path to meander on,  while contemplating the Territory Ahead.  Thank you tadpole!

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Its been a very difficult time for me in recent last month (already nearly two since the wildfire) as I grow out of shock, and face grief in its many facades.   There simply aren’t many things I can expect from myself for a while, but to survive this period of hard knocks, dealing with the insurance company and inevitable constrained possibilities of future rebuild  …  I am to say the least, just staying afloat with sails down, in a sea of uncertainty.  Spinning some, soon to be knitting again.

The color of sea grass …

Pacific-coast-grass

I am deep into the study of color saturated neutrals.

jenjoycedesign© rolags 4

What is a color saturated neutral? Well, when I blend equal amounts of the primary colors together, the affect is at first glance, a seemingly dull clay color ,  as I posted previously about HERE.

In this experiment I added to the primary triad mix, one secondary color – green,    integrating all of the colors on the blending board with this technique ,  bringing the whole color balance leaning a little bit toward the green … a weathered sea grass green.

jenjoycedesign© primaries + green

primary colors + 1 secondary (green)

jenjoycedesign© first batt

first blended batt

jenjoycedesign© second batt

second blended batt

I then added some un-dyed natural white to give it some texture and depth.

jenjoycedesign© third batt + white

third blended batt, adding white

Colorway reminds me of the pampas grasses which grow along the Pacific coast.

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While enjoying some spinning on my Ashford Traditional wheel (( a resonating gratitude to  “L” who wishes not to be mentioned ))   I have decided that perhaps Tweed Chronicles is a new love which causes only happiness …

jenjoycedesign© spun 3

And the studying of color is making me look deeper into the surface,  and imagine how the colors are found the same way in nature.

Next I am pairing primaries with secondaries, and finding super color saturation in what is an alarmingly gorgeous & complex neutral. Watch this space!

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Techy stuff …

  •  5g each of (near primary) red, yellow, and blue — plus green,  merino roving = 20g.
  • Layered very thinly one color at a time, alternately.  using this technique: Blending for tweed simplified
  • Lifted batt, layered again, total of three times. Lifted bat, and sectioned into strips of about 3.
  • With 15g white cormo roving, divided into 3 sections.
  • Layered very thinly white, then color blend, alternately.
  • Lifted batt, and layered again, loosely.
  • Drew off rolags.
  • I’m naming this colorway blend ” Pacific Coast Grass ” .
  • See ALL color blending experiments & recipes archived in Tweed Chronicles

 

Sweater Success !

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I met my nieces at the Roastery in Calistoga this morning, then we hit the four corners …

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It was a stellar success!

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 It has been a couple of months since the Autumnal Equinox …

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I worried I’d never finish the Autumn sweaters,  having taken them almost-finished when the wildfire came, but recently I finally did finish them, and yesterday I gave them to my nieces.   Photos flew off perfectly  … even more artful than ever before !

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Miss Seventeen’s cardigan pattern HERE ,  Miss Fifteen’s pullover pattern HERE. 

Special thanks to Wendy , who kindly sent me some of her own buttons all the way from Canada, after having lost my button collection in the fire and could not find any locally for Miss Seventeen’s cardigan. xx

  All sweater successes past ~~~ HERE.

color

jenjoycedesign© tweed1

Back into Tweed Chronicles I have found once again rhythm in myself, perhaps a melody too. I have been thinking about the color wheel, and the basics I learned decades ago, and so I am applying it now to natural fiber ~~~ easy enough!

jenjoycedesign© tweed4

In fact, my whole color blending Tweed Chronicles has little to do with wool breeds and fibers,  almost nothing to do with spinning technique ( I am only a fair spinner)  …  but nearly all pure color theory, and blending technique.   I am a colorist perhaps, above all.

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I am merely attempting to relive the high points of discovery that must have happened with folk centuries ago in the tweed mills, of a bygone era. I am all about the bygone era I think, feeling that deep tap root into human creativity that runs timeless and wild.

jenjoycedesign© tweed spun

Putting the primary colors together in a kind of color triad, is something that normally I would never do, for I am not in the least fond of primary colors, or even secondary.  But the complex blends of colors are made of of the basic colors, and so I am working with the  primaries & secondaries in a tweed experiment that I hope works just as I am conceiving it in my mind, as I lose myself to sleep at night, dreaming the magic of heathered tones.

jenjoycedesign© tweed spun 3 detail

The best time of day is when the sun shines through the window bright enough to bring to life the best work of my imagination. Couple that with a delicious cup of coffee, and who would want anything more of the morning?

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Well now, its off to the charity shops to see if I can find some good chairs!   Aside from this recent color blending euphoria, I am feeling a bit too tender and not wanting to cooperate with the holidays this year.   Scotty, beam me to January.

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Techy stuff of what I did …

  •  5g each of (near primary) red, yellow, and blue dyed merino roving = 15g.
  • Layered on blending board very thinly one color at a time, alternately.  I mean really a lot of thin layers … using technique Blending for tweed simplified.
  • Lifted batt, layered again a second time, then a third. Lifted bat, and sectioned into strips of about 5 or 6.
  • With 15g white cormo roving, divided in as many sections as the color blend.
  • Layered very thinly white, then color blend, alternately.
  • Lifted batt, and layered again twice.
  • Drew off rolags.
  • I’m naming this colorway blend ” Primary Triad + white”.
  • See ALL color blending experiments & recipes archived in Tweed Chronicles

Lingering question of the day:  Which one of you generous people sent me all of the Cormo wool? Was it Laurie? Rose? Adele? Lynette? (I am so sorry I lost track, but I’ve been rather hollow in my head!) From the bottom of my heart~~ thank you~~ it is absolutely dreamy!!!!

i heart tweed

jenjoycedesign© hearts3In this holding place where I have been living a short while, there has been left behind this little grouping of hearts in a line.    It makes me think about … (how could it not?) … what I love.

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 I love, love, love knitting  … oh yes!

And I love designing knitwear & writing patterns …

and stitching & spinning  …

jenjoycedesign© hearts1But I have come to see that I most definitely love right now, color blending of fiber !   Enough feeling sorry for myself while not doing the things I love.     Some good local people have given me for my own, a spinning wheel & loads of fiber.

jenjoycedesign© heart

I have at loan until I can make my previous jumbo blending board to specs again, an Ashford blending board which is doing the trick for my setting everything into motion.  I have bought some colors, and am presently in a learning curve, how to do it on different equipment and a different creative space  …  and I’ve already gotten knee-deep into a new unpredictable tweedy blend to spin on my new wheel.

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Next will be a new post in Tweed Chronicles,  because I have decided that presently what I enjoy most of all is color blending with fiber ~~~ especially unpredictable color blends.

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I LOVE TWEED !!!

Intuitive

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Moon phase is Waning Crescent, and at 3.5 percent this very hour.  The Old Moon  quickly moves into the New Moon in less than twenty hours.   Symbolism attributed to this moon phase is a time of subconscious enlightenment giving way to conscious awakening of values.  Indeed, an event for me this morning, so ripe with meaning.  The waning crescent moon is about to seemingly disappear, when it is directly between the Earth and the Sun, hidden and obscured.

And I have felt obscuring in my life, without routine and wandering without confidence.   Where is my mothers skirt to cling to as I did when a child of the world?  We are all thrown out into the water at least once in life to test our instincts, and to strengthen that innate mechanism of survival.  I’ve been thrown into the water, and I have been lashing about for weeks and weeks,  lacking trust of my buoyant  inner self.

I crave to feel the presence of my  strong intuition,  and let my life develop here forward in a more fluid state, stroking instead of splashing, trusting instead of panicking over what is perpetually lost.

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From here I stride away from the recent difficult experience …

and (hopefully) toward positiveness & creativity.

Artful

jenjoycedesign© new artful spaces

There is a whole different gait about me in this holding place.

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Seeking out new photogenic sweet spots …

I look and look in this new place, and think there is nowhere artful …

jenjoycedesign© Autumn sweaters finished

 Then the sun only needs to fall a little and the angles of glowing light reveal it to me …

There are the same warm light and shadow like old friends …

Coming to visit for the afternoon.

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Come friends, and sit at the table, and I will make tea in my new teapot. I am so glad you are not lost, but found again and again …

and every day.

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Oh, and the Autumn sweaters are finally finished. The sweaters were one of the few things I took with me when the fire came.  (( Thank you so very much Wendy for the buttons! ))  I hope to get them to my nieces soon, and experience their beautiful form & faces, and  those familiar places of Calistoga  … soon.

Fresh

jenjoycedesign© new space

Fresh. Clean. Beginnings.

jenjoycedesign© new place

In a new place, a space to explore, and lay-about.

jenjoycedesign© new lay-abouts

Emma and I are sleuthing out comfort in this transition, doing alright but not brilliantly, as can be expected. I have not knit,  nor have I walked very much to speak of.    Life upside-down brings different perspectives for certain,   and as I find myself upside-down,   well then I am resolved to learning new angles on form and experience.    Its okay, I have no complaints  ….  except that I miss my home terribly and to have to wait for it to be rebuilt is something I can not embrace just yet.

We’re fine otherwise, and are contemplating a far more minimalist life-style.

I am so grateful for the flurry of  pattern sales from you supporters out there (the post Recovering) and those of you who gave to me loving good thoughts & prayers.  A few things which managed to come to us by gift from friends have been shaping this holding place, and it feels just a teensy bit homier now ~~ thank you!

Abelene Two just just arrived at the door   …  just in time to inspire me to knit something to drape on her lovely form.  And I still am grateful for cups of truly delicious fresh coffee.

Thank you to all of you who have left heart-full notes during & in the wake of the wildfire. Please forgive my silence, and please know that I am so very much appreciating your words, in a wordless time. Thank you.

A temporary place.

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We have found a place to rent and moved in our few things we took with us.  Life has a new routine now in a place that is merely transitory.  This is something I have to find the courage to live inside of ~~ a temporary place.

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Rafter beam with nails Jeff and I hammered in 2001

I long to be in our house. I break down frequently, and become hopelessly frustrated in doing the basic things, feeling like I am groping in the dark to find my way around, having to relearn every small movement through the disorder and difference.  But each day I am becoming a little more resigned to it.

007 jenjoycedesign© eerie fir needle snow

Dying fir needles from the unburned tree crowns fall like snow everywhere, an eerie beautiful gold in the woods

There are brief moments when I feel that metaphorical sun streaming through a window of my creativity, and I contemplate how I might continue to be artful in this transition. That itself is the key ~~ being creative without roots in a place.

002 jenjoycedesign© trail tools as left in woods

trail working tool remains

My trail-walking, even knitting, has been put away for a time. One of the things I took in my escape, was a tote full of yarn & mostly all my needles, knowing I might be displaced for a few weeks, and I could cheerfully keep on designing.

003 jenjoycedesign© section of knitting trail last worked

trail work as last left on my Knitting  Trail, and Autumn leaves keep falling over the blackened earth

But the heaviness took hold and the cheerfulness did not last.  It was perhaps still numbness that day I cast on for something that is forthcoming, but only about half the stitches before putting it down, and soon after I learned our house burned to ashes.

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what is left of a carbon fiber and aluminum mountain bike

So I will not knit for a while. But I crave to blend fibers and spin, and there are a couple of very generous women locally who are setting me up with both a wheel and fiber ~~ bless them ~~ I should be spinning by this weekend.

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wiped away charcoal sill plate where doorway was, to see Jeff’s & my initials written in the concrete, from when we finished foundation in the year 2000.

And thank you so very much dear friends on my knitting forum who have offered their time and welcoming warmth helping knitters with their questions.

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burned outline of a bench on my knitting trail.

Deep gratitude to All of You who have bought my patterns, it was quite an overwhelming response to my previous post , and I can not thank you enough.  The selling of my patterns to knitters of the world is enabling me make a priority to swiftly ‘set up shop’ , and in gratitude I am doing so, longing to refine & post in Tweed Chronicles again, as well as All Things Forthcoming with designing.

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I will be back soon, hopefully with something creative and artful of my temporary place, and find resilience through the kindness of my lovely friends local & global, and of beautiful generous strangers.  Thank you again & again,  xxJen

Recovering

Facing the long process of recovering a life even remotely  similar to what was ‘before the fire’  could easily drive one to depression in merely a thought, a blink of an eye. I have discovered that I am very much a person influenced by Things.  Sentimental things are good, craved, needed, and unsentimental things (as furnished rentals) could very much send me over the edge.  Jeff and I are apparently for various reasons not able to just go up and live on our fire-ravaged land in a trailer any time soon,  as was the thought I held on to through the first week of being displaced.  We will have no choice but to weather over this storm, a storm of drastic life-upheaval, in a rented place, and I am going to focus a few months to recover only the very basics of what I had and used every day.

I really very much appreciate the resonating requests from all of you, in the comments over the last two posts  Yesterday, today, and tomorrow,   and  Ten acres and a trailer, so many people offering to send things to help.   I have thought and thought about  how to go about asking for it, but the truth is, I can’t bring myself to ask for other people’s things to send, etc,  so I have a favor to ask of anybody who would like to help me recover the basics for my knitting, spinning, sewing studio which I took so much pleasure in posting about on Yarnings over the years.   Something like this is easy, digital, no postage necessary, because right now I don’t have an address– and I would get your support.

If you would like to help, please buy a pattern, or two, or more, from my pattern page on Ravelry.

Be sure to scroll down and see them all, they range from $3.40 – $6, and I am sure you could find something that you would enjoy knitting, even to learn on, or to have a knitter make for you, for many of my patterns are beginner friendly, or if you have no desire for having it knitted, just enjoy having the patterns as a token of your support.  The money from this burst of sales could allow me to get specifically what I need , and can form personal sentimental attachment to, which is ever so important.  And soon I will get my most recent pattern up and running, and soon I will be in a temporary space, but with my own tools of the trade, and while we rebuild the hermitage on the mountain, at least I could keep working.

I never would ordinarily ask for this pattern-selling promotion, but it is the best way I think, a way that is mutually benefiting.  So please buy my patterns, I’d be so grateful, and please spread the word to every knitter you know. I will be coming up with the latest one probably some time mid or late Autumn.

Thank you everybody, for being such an important pillar for me during this time, xxJen

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

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My heart goes out with loving empathy to my neighbors & friends who lost their homes, and others who like me, have had to endure these tortuously bleak and dark smoke-filled days, and still displaced from the wildfire evacuation.    I just found out that our house has burned down. There is nothing left. The landscape took a lashing, as did my sanity and sense of confidence in the world.

Thank you again all of you who had left a note on the Ten Acres & A Trailer,  for those notes were a reminder that life was still happening during the numbest time of my whole life.  In closing, I never really talked much here about the house, but it is so very special because Jeff and I built it ourselves, and it took us nearly six years to do it, working every weekend, every holiday & summer vacation.

Jen nailing down T & G walls--Sept 2001

2001: Thirty-five feet in the air.

But I am healthy, and so am facing forward with gratitude the size of Mt Veeder itself that I still have the ones I love near me, friends who have not lost their home, and a future, even if unknown.

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ps. I will look forward to answering all of your comments soon, thank you so much for them, they are giving me a lot of strength ~~ xx Jen

Ten acres and a trailer.

I am soon to land feet down in ash and soot, after floating and free-falling for what seems a lost number of days. Not much needs to be said as the media has been pelting the airspace relentlessly since it all begun, and my perspective on the wildfire situation here in the blazing counties is only another shadowy narration of it.  It is immense and I am going to ignore it for now, and try my hardest to not look backwards.

Jeff, Emma and I are in a calm and safe place, and unharmed.  The future is all I can bear to ponder right now, perhaps a new routine living in a trailer  as we clean up the black coat which will be sticky and heart-wrenching, or simply sweeping up ashes… I do not yet know.   I dream now of freshness, of sun streaming in through windows on the mountain’s rugged landscape, and I am willing to accept whatever it looks like, as a loved one who has been injured, I will care for it tenderly, when the time comes soon that we will be allowed to revisit our property and see the aftermath.  I crave to thrive, and create, to tap into that effervescent well spring within myself. I want to be there now, I am ready, but I am having to be patient for the scale of the situation involves many thousands of folk just as I am, reluctantly separated and in limbo hoping for anything better than the worst.

For me that would be living in a trailer if I must, and once again walking in the wild places, along those trails that I share with the wildlife, and to scribble the day’s chores on my chalkboard and pace myself through them, never again begrudgingly!  ((Oh, and a belated happy birthday Michele, sending you a card was the one important thing I had written on my chalkboard as I left the house, and never got to it!))

Edit in: Friends , I am posting progress of the situation in comments below, where you can be informed of my personal fire news, until I post again. xxJen

nine skeins

Nine tweed experiments.

Okay, I have now edited in the finished spun skeins into their respective posts, starting the last one Tweed Chronicles.  Not all of these experiments yielded great results, but I had a colossal learning curve, and I am pleased to see that my most recent is indeed my best…

jenjoycedesign© tweed

With these two as close seconds…

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But my spinning wheel and blending board are put away as I must get to work and finish up my nieces sweaters, while pondering my next Autumnal obsession immediately thereafter!

Tweed Chronicles

jenjoycedesign© spinning tweed

I can’t stay away from the blending board…

jenjoycedesign© colors to blend

 nor can I stop testing my instincts about color,

and layering them ever so finer … and finer …. and even finer…

jenjoycedesign© 1st batt

1st batt, 1st carding

 just to see how the colors will work together.

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Because perhaps I am just ridiculous!

jenjoycedesign© detail

rolags from 2nd batt, second carding, and wonderfully oceanic!

So I have decided to make a new category  ~~  Tweed Chronicles ~~ wherein I can post my tweed yarn making refinements, as I explore both predictable as well as the unpredictable color combinations (maybe especially the unpredictable),  my learned improvements of technique, and so on.

jenjoycedesign© tweed 9

Techy stuff 

  •  20g of white undyed roving I acquired decades ago, the tweedy “nepps” from the slubby roving are excellent for tweed, 20g of mixed Shetland I over-dyed with color peacock, 10g of Corriedale  aqua, and 10g of Corriedale dark denim.
  • Layered very thinly … I mean really a lot of thin layers… using technique: Blending for tweed simplified. 
  • Lifted batt, layered again a second time.
  • Drew off rolags.
  • Total of only two “cardings”.

♣   ♣   ♣   ♣   ♣

I have found another gem in the “Hands” series I’ve been watching countless times over the last month, while I learn the technique of long-draw tweed spinning on my little wheel, and learn the art of color in fiber.  And because I have always been so deeply inspired from nostalgia, this one is my new favorite.  Enjoy!

Blending for tweed simplified.

jenjoycedesign© rolags!

I have been refining my technique of tweed color blending on my blending board.

jenjoycedesign© rolags 2

I think of this fiber blending process as a micro wool mill, it is basically achieving the same thing in my mind, that the big wool mills do, the ones which card together whole dyed fleeces of wool and put through massive carding machines to make incredibly rich heathered blends for “tweed” yarn.  Furthermore, I’ve been inspired to simplify the process as much as possible, and with as few tools as possible, in what I call ‘micro batches’ of around 30 – 50g.

jenjoycedesign© 1st batt

First batt

In this post I show the different stages of each carding, and with only three times loading the blending board, I almost completely homogenized four separate colors!

An improvement on the last post  in which I talk about my fiber blending recipe #3, this demonstration is ever so much easier, showing finer, wispier layers. Fine layering is key I think, to fewer cardings, meaning faster results.

jenjoycedesign© 2nd batt

Second batt

I’d like to add that the only equipment other than the blending board needed is some sort of apparatus to spin the fiber  with; this can be a spinning wheel, or a rudimentary drop spindle, nothing fancy is needed, in fact, my wheel is very tiny and almost insignificant — I bought it for $250 brand new in 1987, and although there have been times I’ve wanted to upgrade to a big wheel, I resisted the expense, and was determined to do more with less. Thus, making my blending board was a very resonating positive instead of buying a very  expensive drum carder, and I’ve learned that one can really have their own micro wool mill, with very little ~~ so empower yourself, and make some tweed yarn!

A retrospective thought: In carding the colors together three times, each time hemongenizing the colors into each other significantly more,  I must say, I almost wished I’d spun it from just the first batt, as those colors looked so delicious so fresh and softly vibrant!

jenjoycedesign© tweed 8

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And now the technical stuff…

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Corriedale roving: salmon, fuscia, amber, and ruby.

In this blend, I’ve used only colored Corriedale solid roving, no undyed or other fiber. The steps are illustrated with a slideshow at bottom of post, and they are:

  1. Lay the colors in extremely thin wispy layers (as shown in slideshow) It will take a lot of layers to get through all of your fiber, but this is part of the carding process. I’ve used Corriedale roving in; 20g salmon, 10g fuscia, 10g amber, 10g ruby.
  2. Comb down as needed until teeth are full and all your fiber layered. You can see this above, photo captioned “first batt” , and you can draw off into rolags straight from this step if you want a lesser homogenized look, or even just spin from the batt itself , sectioned into strips and coiled up.
  3. With strips of first batt, layer into teeth again, just as thinly as you have been, because again, this a part of the homogenization process.
  4. Lift batt and either spin  from this, or layer once more into a third batt.
  5. Lastly draw off into rolags.

Now, after all this playing with fiber blending on the thing which is called a “blending board” I would like to link to a few of my favorite sources online, all where a spinner/felter can purchase blending boards & fiber additionally, if a nifty fiber & spinning shop is nowhere near you to be found.  (These are of course, USA sourced, but I am confident these can be found probably most anywhere, or available at shops which sell spinning equipment & tools.)

Paradise Fibers Blending Board for $175, comes with board, blending brushes, dowels

Laughing Lamb Blending Board for $185, comes with board, blending brush, dowels

The Woolery a whole selection of blending boards, starting at $149

Oh, and in case you’re still unsure of what a blending board actually does, I’ve searched YouTube for you , all ready to surf through the fun blending videos… HERE 

What I use: I’d like to say that even though I made my own from a 24″x12″ piece of carding cloth (read in this post)  that it would be a lot easier to purchase a regular 12″x12″ blending board already made up, in a kit with brushes & dowels.  However, carding cloth is available by the foot if making one’s own is preferred.  Additionally, although many people use blending boards on their lap, I find it much better to use on a table top, secure & flat, with the foot of the board hooked on the edge of surface so I can pull the fiber into the teeth and pull the needles toward me when drawing off rolags — not away from me, or sideways.   I have found that large slippery metal knitting needles work better than dowels, and use a pair of my mother’s old aluminum ones, size US 13- 9mm.  Lastly, the only other tool I use, other than the needles and blending board itself, is a paintbrush comb, which can be found at a hardware store, something like this  with rigid teeth and very sharp points, to lift the fiber off of the carding board.   I use the palm of my left hand to gently and carefully hold the fiber against the teeth as my right hand pulls the fiber along the carding surface. That is all I use; carding board, needles, and comb.

All my posts related to blending boards in this category.

And now …. here’s the show!

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Fiber Blending Recipe 3 – Carded

jenjoycedesign© carded mix rolags

Tweedy mossy wool sausages are the most recent in my string of obsessive experiments in color blending, and this time in which I am basically carding by using the blending board alone! I lay down the layers, and lifting the batt after teeth are full, section out the batt and with little pieces I pull down into the teeth again and again and again. This process doesn’t need hand carders, I am able to homogenize colors & fibers with the blending board as the only carding tool!

jenjoycedesign© carded rolags detal

The depth of color created from blending many colors together create a stunning result! Compare to the original solid dyed olive roving, to the tweedy rolags with a prism of colors hazing into each other, all together making a very similar green. (I will show spun yarn photos later, for I have notes on actual spinning that I want to go into a little depth about)

jenjoycedesign© carded mix with original olive roving

I am documenting my tweed yarn making process, hoping that I will arrive with a few tested methods which I can use as recipes in future to refine my own tweed color palette. I am inspired now, to do it all with only my blending board , because there is such freedom unfolding ahead of me, in discovering I can perfectly well make my own personal tweed colorway from an array of solids in the fiber of my choice  ~~ making the vertical hand-made experience all that much more in depth & customized.  I feel like I am my own micro wool mill, and I am unstoppable.  

Meanwhile, I hope all of this fiber tech stuff does not bore the socks off of you ~~ if so, I promise, this will be a string of a few more posts, then I will move on to my usual philosophical banter about life on the mountain.

jenjoycedesign© tweed 7

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Now back to the techy stuff…

Edit In: I have posted HERE a final best method of my Fiber Blending Recipe #3.

Notes on Blending Recipe 3: For the best homogenization of color I have used only wool fibers, they are: undyed fawn Shetland, olive Corriedale, mallard (dark teal) Corriedale, and amber corriedale.  Here is what I am doing , as illustrated by a photo slideshow at the bottom of the post.  In case you want to make more than one micro batch, a good idea to write down weights of each color, so you can repeat process.

jenjoycedesign©004

  1. Portion out the fiber I want to mix, weighing if possible.
  2. One at a time, ​thinly layer each color into the teeth of the blending board, combing down the fiber between each layer, until all the fiber is loaded onto the board and the teeth are full.
  3. ​With comb lift whole batt off of teeth.
  4. ​Divide batt now into small sections, and again thinly layer into teeth, pulling and drafting & “carding” as you thinly layer again. You are essentially carding using your hands to pull fiber along one carding surface.
  5.  Repeat this process until the fibers and colors are fully homogenized, or as desired.
  6. Draw fiber out into rolags!

You can find all of my experiments in blending & Fiber Blending Recipes HERE

Okay then, here’s the show!

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A blending hybrid…

jenjoycedesign© handmix & carded rolags 1
I am deeply immersed in fiber and color mixing with fiber.

jenjoycedesign© 1
More like obsessed!

This study of tweed & color is finally starting to take a direction.

It all began a few months ago when I was discovering one after another of old mill videos, and longing to make tweed yarn by my own hand, and without the colossal expense of a drum carder.  I talk about it back in a mid-summer post.  Since I  made myself a blending board, I can’t leave it alone, and so naturally I’d be inventing my own blending recipes which I am merrily posting quite feverishly lately, and I am progressing quite rapidly to understanding tweeded color in yarn.
jenjoycedesign© 3

Okay, so these plum wool sausages are the most recent experiment, a hybrid actually, wherein I am including hand-mixing and also a bit of carding,  with hand carders against my blending board, just like a flat rendition of a drum carder.  You don’t need to use hand carders, you can use a wire tooth pet brush too.

((Actually, a bit of a spoiler, but next blending experiment I will only card, and using only the blending board without a hand carder, and in doing so I realize that doing both the hand mix and carding in the same is overkill. ))

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This big beautiful batt of once carded fiber, gets loaded back on for a second finer mix, and then the final mix gets drawn off into rolags.

And then I’ve begun to spin….

jenjoycedesign© 4

For the best homogenization of color, I feel that I need to steer away from varying fiber textures, so this is all wool & alpaca, no bamboo or silk, because I want no clumping up of fibers if possible in this finer tweed color mix, with solid colors still coming out in hints , but no color splashing.

Here is the final result of this fiber blending recipe, although the camera is not catching the spectrum of colors well, they’ve hazed into a nice grey plum pudding!

jenjoycedesign© hand-mix plied

Fibers used in this micro batch are: grey baby alpaca, blue Corriedale, red Corriedale, and fuscia Merino.  Here is what I am doing , as illustrated by a photo slideshow at the bottom of the post.

  1. Portion out the fiber you would like to mix, weighing if possible.
    Divide into smaller manageable piles to mix by hand.
  2. One at a time, mix fibers in the smaller piles by hand, holding each end and firmly pulling fiber apart. Repeat as desired — I did this about 10 times each, but you can do more or less.
  3. Fill teeth of blending board with hand-mixed fiber.
  4. With hand carder, card wool and then pull off of carders.
  5. Repeat until all fiber has been carded, and lift off batt of remaining fiber on blending boad.
  6. Fill teeth with carded fiber,  combing between applications to fill teeth as much as possible.
  7. Draw fiber out into rolags!

For all posts on my Fiber Blending Recipes HERE

Here’s the show!

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Fiber Blending Recipe 2 – The Hand-Mix

jenjoycedesign© handmix only rolags 1

This is my first experiment in hand-mixing the fiber before it gets loaded into the blending board to draw out into rolags.  Going for a slightly more tweeded affect, I blend the fibers more — by hand — so the colors begin to haze into each other a little bit.

jenjoycedesign© handmix & carded rolags 4

One thing, when using a blend of different types of fiber, adding shimmering slippery bamboo for instance, the odd fiber tends to clump up, which is desirable for a loose mix. Its a little more blended than the fiber lasagna, but not as blended as if it were carded.

jenjoycedesign© handmix & carded rolags 2

Solid colors still coming out in stray untamed splashes…

jenjoycedesign© handmix & carded rolags 3

Fibers used in this micro batch are: grey Corriedale, grey baby alpaca, fuscia solid Merino, salmon solid Merino, topaz bamboo.  Here is what I am doing , as illustrated by a photo slideshow at the bottom of the post.

  1. Portion out the fiber I want to mix, weighing if possible.
  2. Divide into smaller manageable piles to mix by hand.
  3. One at a time, mix fibers in the smaller piles by hand, holding each end and firmly pulling fiber apart. Repeat as desired — I did this about 10 times each, but it can be more or less.
  4. Fill teeth of blending board with hand-mixed fiber.
  5. Draw fiber out into rolags!

This method is pretty loosely mixed, but still more homogenized than my Blending Recipe 1 – fiber lasagna.   Splotches of color still are varied and add color explosions to the spinning.  And here it is spun up…

jenjoycedesign© spun hand-mix

Spinning has a way of hazing together the colors more than the rolags show, quite a bit in the spinning of the singles, and even more after plying two singles together. I  have to keep this in mind when I make the rolags, knowing the spun result will play the colors down far less dramatically.

jenjoycedesign© spun hand-mix 2

Almost a disappointment, although I hate to admit, after careful ‘painting’ of the colors and all the work hand mixing, to have the colors melt into each other so much. Again, one learns for the result, how to prepare the fiber. For big splashes, I prefer the fiber lasagna, and for fine splashes, the hand mix.

And next will be my experiment with a combination hand-mix & carding, for a far more color integrated tweedy result, so watch this space!

And now for the show!

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