Recovering

The long process of recovering a life even remotely  similar to what was ‘before the fire’  could easily drive one to depression in 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 appreciate the resonating requests for help in the comments over the last two posts  Yesterday, today, and tomorrow,   and  Ten acres and a trailer and I have thought and thought about how to go about asking for it.  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…

jenjoycedesign© tweed2

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.

jenjoycedesign© tweedy 3

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 for Fiber Blending Recipe #3 . 
  • 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. But I do think this is the last in my fiber blending posting spree, at least for a while.

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 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 hazing 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

♣    ♣     ♣     ♣    ♣

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….

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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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Plied Seashells

jenjoycedesign© seashells plied
I have plied my seashells yarn singles, aren’t these spools lovely?

jenjoycedesign© seashells plied 2

This is basically a loosely blended micro batch using my blending method I talk about in Blending Recipe 1 – fiber lasagna .

The blending process for the seashells was back in  “The color of seashells” ,   but might be helpful to also see my  notes in  “Spinning Seashells”  .

jenjoycedesign© tweed 4

I am presently busy working on my next blending board experiment, and will post Blending Recipe 2 very soon ~~~  so watch this space!

Sun Into Libra

jenjoycedesign© sun in Libra

Late morning light is pouring in through the southern skylight and the roof beams glow as the sun enters into Libra.  On this equinox there are equal hours of day as there are of night, and that is indeed something to mark in the marching of time and of earth’s unwavering spinning around the sun, so I say ~~ Hello Autumn, please come in and make yourself comfortable!

Happy equinox everyone!

A rustic place…

jenjoycedesign© Emma on trail 2

Emma and I are pushing ourselves to complete the knitting trail, and it will be indeed a rapturous and celebratory finish!

jenjoycedesign© Emma on trail 1

The equinox is in only two short days.

jenjoycedesign© trail work Emma 2

I’m sure we’ll make it,  we are already more than three-quarters the way done!

jenjoycedesign© bench

Big Leaf Maples and Black Oaks are beginning to shed their leaves, and the acorns and fir cones are dropping too.  In this rustic state of being the spicy Autumnal fragrance is faintly rising in the forest, and I am ready to crash into this season with transformative momentum, leaning into it with all of my weight, as I leave Summer’s oppressive heat,  lazy days and restless nights behind me.

jenjoycedesign© trail work

See you on the flipside!

Spinning seashells…

jenjoycedesign© spinning seashells

This fiber “Optim Ultrafine Merino” is just so luxurious, and in a way, effortless to spin, yet really takes some practice.  I posted the blending recipe the other day when I made the rolags “the color of seashells”  , I remark  how the fiber base Merino Ultrafine is incredibly downy soft, and fine….

jenjoycedesign© seashell detail

But let me tell you, it is slippery and not easy to manage without breaking it a lot while spinning, that is , until you get the hang of it.   I am practicing sort of three new things at once; long draw drafting from rolags, fixed my wheel so it can go high speed, and also spinning this new gorgeous slippery fiber.

jenjoycedesign© seashell rolags 2

This woolly confection is inspiring me to put up a shop on Yarnings just to sell a few little luxury ultra-handmade things ~~~ knitted things that I’ve knit from yarn I’ve spun from art rolags I blended on my super nice blending board that I made, and in my own designs of course.  A little too much in all directions, yes, I’ll agree, but oh boy these tasty wool sausages are sweet nectar to my eyes, and deserve as much publicity as I can muster up!

jenjoycedesign© seashell rolags 3

Life is good and Autumn is near!

The color of sea shells…

 

jenjoycedesign© sea shell rolags

I am back at my fiber blending board, trying out more fiber mixing!

I am striving to achieve the colors in shells, particular the conch shells like these…
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I believe it to be a color match success!

jenjoycedesign© conch shell rolags

All the colors in the shell, these rolags are wonderful colorways for a future spin.

jenjoycedesign© seashell rolags 3

The end whorls of soft downy ultrafine merino are a lovely woolly confection!

jenjoycedesign© seashell rolags 2

The white base fiber is Ultrafine Merino top, and I swear, it is almost exactly like the suri alpaca that I have, extremely soft & silky!

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I like to change fiber texture in the layers, between base fiber and secondary colors, so the salmon & fushcia pinks are a different grade of Merino top, and the shimmering gold is bamboo. Okay, here’s the show!

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Main Fiber = Paradise Fibers Ultrafine Merino Top (white); layered between everything.

Secondary Fibers = Paradise Fibers Solid Merino Top; layered thinly, salmon first, then fuscia.

Accent Fiber= Paradise Fibers Bamboo Top (topaz); layered last, in scant stripes.

Two repeats of sequence.

A Quiet Corner

jenjoycedesign© eclipse

My quiet knitting corner.

All in all , things are incredibly quiet up here in the hermitage.

Normally there are a frenzy of things going on, and posting becomes a rhythm of marking creative process, in the days striding out into weeks. Although lately, not so much, I wonder is this perhaps the calm in a storm?

A year ago life seemed utterly bursting.  Last year at this time I was immersed in a couple of exhaustive & major pattern-writing projects,   helping Jeff get his old house ready to put on the market,  rewriting several musical compositions at practice & playing gigs in the duo,  still meeting my family often in Calistoga for visits while my nieces still were totally keen for photo shoots & sleepovers,  new fleeting friendships bubbling up out of a mysterious internet abyss, and Emma and I were trekking the mountain ridge up to the precipice, together through the wild, and through the seasons.   So much was going on in fact, that I couldn’t imagine how anything would possibly change, nor how quickly things shift, creativity cycles, relationships recede, nor how stifling those changes would feel.

My corner reveals a feeling of quiet solitude that I must admit is not entirely relaxing…. nay, it is inwardly stressful.   I am always fighting clutter as my nemesis, as it is a tribute to an indecisive and worrisome state of being, so surfaces are nearly stark naked by my best efforts, and yet I now long for gleeful active mess which abandons any idea of order.

jenjoycedesign© eclipse 4

melon in the eclipse

Just knitting the rows & rounds of two sweaters for nieces, for some future day well after the equinox, when I will pass them on and post another Sweater Success which marks the end of a job well done only to hop on to the next.  But this time, I am actually not sure what is next.

Emma is keeping watch over the woods so that there are no unsettling strange things able to lurk up from behind.  She is doing much better moving about and we are walking together more,   strengthening our weaknesses together.

jenjoycedesign© eclipse 1

Emma in the eclipse, Aug 14, 2017

*   *  *

Anyway, I have continued to discover old films about textile industry, this being a cheery silent one very apropos for my quiet days. It also seems to reveal a new direction of interest that I am exploring…

Bergamot

Earl Grey tea

I noticed this particular blend of Earl Grey tea has blue flowers. Blue flowers? Not knowing what flower this could be, I did a tiny bit of research on Earl Grey tea, and of bergamot too, wondering if those petals could be bergamot flower?  My findings  enlighten me to the fact that there are actually two kinds of bergamot in the botanical world!  First, the European grown Bergamot Orange , botanical name is Citrus Bergamia.

ec9e8651e96c25feb9183932b51ef4b2--botanical-drawings-botanical-illustration
Second, the North American herbal plant Wild Bergamot, also known as Bee Balm,  botanical name is  Monardae20b82df1129d9ef5b8e8e91d7e1a0cb
This was confusing to me, because the herbaceous bergamot has a purplish flower, which some of the Earl Grey tea blends have.  Now, reading up on ingredients in Earl Grey blends, I found that the dried petals in my tea could very possibly be cornflower petals !HHDL_Garden_Cornflower
The type of blue flower petals in my tea blend is still a mystery, however, there is no debate that the signature flavor of Earl Grey tea is the citrus kind of Bergamot, the essential oil which is extracted from the aromatic skin of the sour fruit.

I have also discovered that Earl Grey tea is one of the most varied blends of tea,  and that “Earl Grey” as applied to tea is not a registered trademark, thus numerous tea companies produce their own blends of Earl Grey tea, using a wide variety of tea leaves and additives.  Aside from black tea, obviously, ingredients vary enough to make me dizzy; there is foremost the essential oil of the citrus bergamot, but may also citrus rind, licorice root, lavender, mallow flower, monarda flower, cornflower, jasmine, rose petals lemon grass,  vanilla ~~ just to name a few ingredients I have found so far.  What are the ingredients in your favorite Earl Grey blend?

All very well & good!  Actually, the reason for my curiosity is that I have been thinking about making Earl Grey ice-cream lately,  among other forthcoming tea-inspired ideas, so I finally did, and here’s  how I made a small sample batch, including a little photo slideshow…

  1. Heat to scalding, 1 cup of heavy cream with 2-4 tablespoons of your favorite Earl Grey blend in the cream — no need to boil.
  2. Add 1/2 cup sugar, and let it sit a couple of hours at least, to get the Earl Grey flavors exuding into the cream.
  3. When completely cool, stir well, and strain through sieve, then and add 1 cup milk.
  4. Churn freeze & enjoy!

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Served up in a little espresso demitasse,

and let me tell you,

the ice-cream is every bit as fragrant as the tea,  

absolutely delicious … 

jenjoycedesign© Earl Grey icecream

Earl Grey  tea ice-cream

… and I think that the Earl himself would approve!

image

The Earl Charles Grey, 1764-1845

 

Cooling

I am so looking forward to upcoming Autumn equinox, now only less than two weeks away! We survived an incredible record heat wave last weekend, and mid-week there started a cooling trend, when about Wednesday it actually rained!!!   Just a little drizzle, but it soaked into everything nearly lifeless and started a pulse to the landscape again, which I seem to be a barometer for.  I’m seeing that lovely fog in the valley below again, like a snowy lake, in the early mornings.

I am merrily going through my paces, and thrilled that Emma is perking up and wanted to go for a walk yesterday!  A couple of weeks ago her vet prescribed a half pill of meloxicam daily, and that is now beginning to take effect I think. She is all around moving as well as she was before her surgery early August — her sore hip seems better, with limp barely noticeable some days. ((Arthritis of hips & elbows is the bane of existence for older German Shepherd dogs in case you must be informed, although that is really difficult for me to refer to my Emma in this way, because ~~~ she is my fur child!  ))   Anyway, on our way back to the house from our short walk Emma grabbed a stick, her old game of ‘chase me’ which made me so happy, and away we went, for a faux chase! (right, not a fox chase, but a faux chase).

I’ve got so many things I have queued up for Autumn, but for now its just knitting my nieces’ sweaters, indeed very late this year, but they won’t be worn until probably late October anyway, so I’m aiming for an early October finish.  Also, I’ve begun trail-making in earnest again, determined to ‘walk me arse off’ and regain fitness I’ve lost over a very slothful spring and summer, moping around empathetically with Emma.  So knit-walking… here I go!

All is well, in this place, and for now.

 

Quercus

jenjoycedesign© quercus chrysolepis

Quercus Chrysolepis

I just got back from a rather short walk up the ridge, and the acorns are falling now. Black shiny nuggets with golden cups, are the ripe fruit of the Canyon Live Oak, native and prolific on this wild Northern California mountain landscape.  I find the young trees shrub-like with serrated leaves, and observe them transition into smoother edged leaves, sometimes having both leaf shapes on the same branch, but to eventually become the mature oak with mostly smooth foliage.  The photo shows both types from the same young tree, and how lucky was I to spot a fully developed acorn still attached to the limb!

What I love most about this oak is the black acorns that absolutely litter the pathway as I meander along the ridge, beckoning Autumn, and cooler temperatures, and rain. Sigh. Right now we’re having heat wave after heatwave , scorching temperatures so typical of Northern California.  One thing is for sure, there are only three more weeks of summer now before the Autumnal equinox, and my inner compass faces Autumn as my only vision, and to think of rain now is to think of a returning oasis, an all consuming and fervent wish.

Not only do the acorns fall, but I find my tears fall too, as Emma, who is now twelve, does not wish to walk with me up the ridge now, but to nap at home while I try to find the incentive to trek out on my own. Admittedly, it is not easy, nor is it very often, and I have found myself in dire need of a change of heart for this Autumn, this acorn fall, leaf fall, tear fall.

I must try to be unafraid of the elements out on my own, and capture the wildlife in spirit to bring back to my Emma.

Calidez Mitts & Hats !

jenjoycedesign© Calidez Mitts & Hat (2) (705x800)

I introduce to you Calidez Mitts & Hats!

jenjoycedesign© Calidez Hats (800x488)

A set of mitts & hats for women & men, girls & boys, meant to showcase hand-spun or odd ball of left over novelty yarn hanging about.

jenjoycedesign© Calidez Mitts

Pattern features the usual Calidez gauge substitution chart for 3.25st to 6 sts = 1”  thus making it an ideal pattern for handspun yarn!  Mitts have narrow & wide thumb gussets for great fit,   and… and…

jenjoycedesign© felted bobble (800x584)

… learn how to make a felted stuffed knitted bobble to top with!

Backstory: In recent posts I have been experimenting a lot with spinning rolags made from a blending board ~~ all blending board posts HERE ~~ and have discovered that the nature of this fun fiber blending art form, is small batches approx 40-100g.  So this pattern was designed with the fruits of the blending boards in mind… or  just any yarn you like!

Two patterns in one download:
Mitts= fingerless mitts, gauntlets, mittens
Hats = beanie (toque), and beret (tam)

More details on Ravelry  HERE

Also I would like to say that this posting of Calidez Mitts & Hats represents  the finish of a lot of work ~~ much of which was the discovery of blending boards! ~~  spinning ( oh yes, I fixed my wheel after a long hibernation), designing, and knitting.   All of this blending, spinning & knitterly fun will continue as my forthcoming holiday knitting, where I hope to promote the mitts & hats in the Autumn months forthcoming with a cheery little stash-busting Mitt & Hat-along! 

A fiber blending color trick….

031

Gorgeous pearlescence like beach shells…

jenjoycedesign© pearlescence.JPG

Made from nice combed top roving,  so there’ll be no bumps and slubby bits in this batch, and the amazing thing is that all the color in these rolags are from combing tips of stash yarn!

During my last blending post, I discovered a “yarn brush” technique, and having invented this for myself, I feel like I should explain how I do it.  From doing a few times I think it is easiest to to cut a handful of the yarn, in lengths about 4 to 6 inches, loop around and hold the ‘brush’ firmly in the middle. I am using my paintbrush comb, but you can use hand carders or a fine tooth comb, and comb the ends of the yarn to loosen up and fray the plies, which then you can then push into the carding teeth…

jenjoycedesign© yarn combing

I’ve found that most of the looser plied fluffy yarns, like some Berocco  Inca Tweed I had handy, work best, and certainly any of the single ply yarns work beautifully without the combing the tip, they just brush off into the carding cloth easily.  In the slideshow, if you hold your mouse over the images, the text will explain what I’m doing.

jenjoycedesign© tweed 3

Okay,  here’s the show!

 

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