A fresh and new year.

jenjoycedesign© A-Drawer-Full-of-Winter

I have been working on some lovely and meaningful projects recently, and am really rather excited to start posting a new mini series all about a re-do of an older pattern, and I’ve made a good start in the series, so get yourself comfortable, and read on for this is a much longer post than usual!

Since sometime in October I had made a realization which led me to actually overhaul an older pattern; rewriting, reknitting prototypes, and just having a wonderful time enjoying the last whispers of the year while out taking short walks  (while knitting them) and I hope to be sharing more glimpses of incoming finished knitteds over the remainder of winter.  You see,  I have been in need of a drawer full of wintery woolens , and at that point in early Autumn I decided it was time to put the chisel to the stone so to speak, and begin the work making myself a dresser drawer full of cowls, fingerless mitts, gloves, hats, in many weights of luxury & tweedy favorite yarns (oh, like Isager Irish Tweed, for one) and even my own handspun. It is really a matter of transforming a drawer full of tweed, into a drawer full of warm cozy knitted things, how fun is that! 

jenjoycedesign© A-Drawer-Full-of-Winter 4

Backstory: In the summer of 2017  I had become smitten with my blending board and was creating some incredibly rustic handspun, finding I needed a pattern that was adaptable to many gauges of handspun for basic hats & mitts.  The end result was that I wrote my pattern Calidez Hats & Mitts . That was just before the wildfire, and so of course I don’t have any of these prototypes anymore, nor any basic warm woolens at all, and I’ve gone through two more winters since not having even a basic knitted hat, cowl, or mitts to bundle up while I go out for walks in the winter landscape.  Presently I am knitting through the winter season and have managed thus far a good start. I’ve designed a couple of more to add to the collection, and knit these for myself:

A basic beret . . .

Two cowls . . .

And a pair of plain & simple socks I have been rather discrete about for a while. . . 

 Backstory on the socks: I had made a good start with these back in  “Unspun, revisited” , when I separated the plies a ball of worsted-weight Soft Donegal Tweed yarn left over from a sweater I knit for my niece.  Having then two balls of fingering weight tweedy yarn, I knit this plain & simple sock prototype .   Anyway, I think that a basic sock pattern which can be knit toe-up or cuff-down is a good one to have, and yet I wasn’t sure I wanted to write Plain & Simple Sock and submit it all by itself, so I decided to just add it in the Drawer Full of Winter collection, which has the usual colossal size-run , gauge substitution charts, and ideas for making a bunch of things from mini tree ornament socks to plush house socks ~~ voila, perfect fit! Most importantly I felt there is a niche for a super easy dual-directional sock, especially for those instances where, say a bit of precious handspun off the spindle,  must be worked flowingly from toe to cuff,  in the most efficient yarn-conserving way.  This is that sock.   

Rebuilding my seasonal wardrobe has been the inspiration born of necessity, and as I slowly build my drawer full of winter woolens, I am also building the pattern collection, having updated it to the present date and changed the name to  A Drawer Full of Winter .  The collection now includes four patterns in one download, in four categories :    (a drawer full of) Hats,  (a drawer full of) Mitts,  (a drawer full of) Cowls, and (a drawer full of) Socks, and, as I continue to develop my own Drawer Full, I will further augment the patterns to include more options, simply updating as I go.   

In closing, I’ll mention that I as I have been building a drawer full of winter,  Jeff has taken the sum of his due three vacation weeks at the last of the year to work on house-building projects, mainly to finish up the last of the window trim, and since we moved in he’s been working on this project diligently, but saving the most difficult trim for last. Living with ladders, tools, long levels, boxes of screws, pipe clamps, air compressor, and nail guns sitting about the house is really what I’m use to, now the second house-building in our lives, even over a year being back moved in,  but these recent weeks it has involved scaffolding and moving around the dining table in order to get to the sky windows, and it doesn’t ruffle my feathers in the least.  All the door and window trim is now finished, and I must say what a great finish carpenter he is, and how the rebuilt house seems nearly as beautiful as the original, maybe even more so in some ways. I never thought I’d say that, but the trim was Jeff’s most artful work I’ve ever seen, and so I am proud to think he’s done even a better and second time more experienced job of it.  A short pause, and then the next big task will be the flooring. 

Here & now , transitioning from a very dark 2020 into a much brighter 2021 ~~ have a wonderful happy new year everyone! 

Sweater Success!

Today we met at the castle for Autumn Sweaters 2020.

They are wearing my latest sweater design  Sol Inca,

 the “afterthought” pullover. 

The sweaters were so long in the making . . .

jenjoycedesign© sol inca at castle 16

and in the waiting even longer to get together . . .

then with so many tourists milling about the castle, we just made it quick.

Although fewer photos were taken, as usual my nieces were fabulous! 

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(click 1st image & see entire slideshow)  

out of autumn . . .

jenjoycedesign© birthday socks 5 (2)

I am not doing holiday knitting this year. . .

jenjoycedesign© birthday socks
but these are for a birthday coming up next week, my oldest niece will be 21!
I will give these lovely pair of  Walking With Emma socks  to her when I give both nieces  their sweaters  some time before the year is over,  when we will meet at the castle for a spontaneous photo shoot.

(( I can’t imagine being with them and not smothering them in hugs! ))

jenjoycedesign© birthday socks 4

So close to the winter solstice,  I go stepping out of autumn, walking with tender foot steps so I am careful not to wake nature from its much needed wintery slumber.  Waiting,  waiting,  waiting . . .  and staying creatively immersed and thoughtful while we get through another shelter-in-place for the remainder of the year.
Everybody, please stay home and stay well!
xx

A natural dye experiment: black oak leaves

jenjoycedesign© autumn-black-oak-leaves-dye 5

Going back a few decades in my life and realizing with a bit of surprise that I am caught again in the natural dye thing. Autumn in full swing, the golden yellow leaves falling and then turning quickly dull ochre, I could not resist scooping them up and boiling them into a leaf soup, filling the house with a spicy woody fragrance. I opened my sock yarn drawer and finding a bare Hawthorne ready to be dyed, I grabbed it, and prepared it for its dye bath and let it sink down in the lovely golden rusty liquid, and I knew I was going to find another signature color. But as everything in the kitchen, I do these things on pure instinct with a good splash of impatience in the mix too.

The next morning I lifted the sock yarn out of the leaf soup, as it had stewed overnight, and although the tint was subtle, I washed it in warm suds, rinsed, let dry on the clothes line, and quite pleased, I thought about trying some more! I went out and gathered more leaves, and stuffed all I could into my stock pot, and boiled again for about an hour, the liquid was again golden rusty brown, and so I pulled out about 400 grams of Knit Picks Simply Wool (Wilbur) I had rejected for another project and decided to sacrifice it for the cause, hoping it would transform from dull medium grey/brown to a deep golden hue. Oh, but chaos began to emanate from the kitchen at this point. I strained out the leaves from the pot, certain my five skeins would fit. They didn’t, yet they were already partially dunked. I switched pots, to big cast iron, thinking a little iron would only improve. Even smaller! I began to panic, texted Jeff’s daughter in the tiny house to please let me use her large slow cooker, woke her up, ran down there, and when I brought it back up to meet the occasion, such relief, yes it fit! During all this time there was a power outage, and I had to also switch out the power to generator, and then it came back on and switch it again. By the afternoon I was poking the slow-cooking yarn to see if any of the brown fluid would go into the yarn, like it did with the Hawthorn Bare sock yarn. Um, no such luck, even though I did the right things, splash of white vinegar for the protein fiber and good luck. All day this continued, and determined to see some color, poking, gently lifting and then submerging. Nothing showed over the natural grey, not even the tie yarns showed much. In disbelief I fetched a white skein of Simply Wool I also had left over, and tried my luck ( I had two dye baths going at this point), and the best it got was “off – white” . Still determined, I fetched some unspun roving. A splash more vinegar in the dye bath, probably unnecessary, and put 100g of Targhee Top roving I recently bought in to soak, nearly on my knees praying to the providence. Nothing. Actually, maybe an ever-so-slight tint of color, and I decided to let it stew overnight if maybe something of a miracle could happen. I don’t think there are many miracles in natural dying though.

Thinking about it more technically: The superwash sock yarn worked beautifully, right in front of my eyes, I saw it happen. I repeated the same process with the other fiber, and it failed. Natural dying is nothing like chemical color dying, and I’m finding the only sure thing in this experiment was the type of fiber that made the difference. The minimally processed “Simply Wool” yarn must have natural oils in the yarn ( which I recall bled out in the garment wash at blocking) so perhaps not a good yarn to natural dye with, but also the immaculately clean white targhee top roving failed to absorb the dye, even after soaking over night. Just a slight beige off-white color.

I am referring to my dye process as “easy” because I’m not using any mordants, just a splash of vinegar for the protein wool fibers to open up a bit, definitely nothing toxic or chemical to poison my cooking pans & spoons. Besides, black oak leaves have quite a lot of natural tannic acid, so I figured that I wouldn’t be needing much else. I also would like to add that my choice of dyable material is limited to what I find around outside our house, as I did madrone bark last summer, and I won’t be ordering exotic plant based dyes from elsewhere for I am exploring my micro environment for a very personal seasonal palette. In the next experiment I will not be using five hundred grams of over-confidence, but limit my first tests to one skein of superwash sock yarn, if I am to continue casually dying with gathered natural ingredients I find about the woods here. At least I’ve got one very cheery little skein of golden ochre sock yarn as a souvenir.

two done . . .

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I am finally finished Autumn Sweaters 2020, two Sol Inca “after-thought” pullovers. Admittedly, I have struggled getting these finished this year, no question these are the most involved Autumn Sweaters I have knit for my nieces to date, but at last a celebratory end to all deadline knitting! I finished the first one last September, and its taken me this long to wait for yarn and knit the second. Next time you see these sweaters my nieces will be wearing them, and it likely wont be until later this month at the soonest. It is just as well because it is still a mild 50’s to 60’s in the December days, the real cold doesn’t come around until January and February in this part of the world, when it will get as cold as an average in the 40’s and 50’s , and sometimes in the 30’s in the day. With those temperatures, the grape vines are going into dormancy and Napa Valley is having a short nap, and by then my nieces might be happier to slip on these very heavy weight sweaters. And, if my nieces are more comfortable and cozy and not breaking out in a sweat, I shall be a happier auntie photographer . So maybe even better to wait until January.

I found a lovely detail was to over-dye some of the light grey with Yorkshire Tea, and it made a lovely tone of dark gold in the middle of the suns in the light grey sweater, and I must say I’m very pleased with with the ease of tea over-dye. And hey, do you notice the labels? I ordered labels some time in the summer, and I really like them, and what a simple polish it gives a finished sweater. Makes me dream a little, about selling a few hand-knits right from my blog here. What do you think? That about wraps it up for my deadline knitting, and as I am just working on new ideas for the rest of the weeks, I am going to brace myself for some cozy sheltering in while I get immersed into the next projects I have had on the back burner while I finished these colossal labors of love.

Quick Mix Spun

Taking a break from sweater knitting and have enjoyed this short Tweed Chronicles experiment, the Quick Mix. Just as I expected, a slightly more homogenized affect than straight off the roving, resulting in a pinkish brick fired terra cotta shade. Yet still slightly barber-pole , so I do think I could have blended it twice and had a more softer variegation. I am not the greatest spinner on the planet, because I just cant seem to produce consistent super fine singles, and if I do, the yarn often is under spun, so when I ply, I get thick and thin plied. That is okay, thick & thin handspun is a fine normal for me, because I like rustic handspun, however, I don’t like plying underspun yarn, for it breaks so much in the plying. This fiber is superwash Blue-faced Leicester, which is an excellent fiber to make into socks, even if the yarn varies from fine fingering to sport weight. If I knit a toe up format, I can figure gauge while increasing in the toe section I can adjust for the number of sts in the sock as I go. That is my thinking at least. I guess the toe-up sock with gauge substitution chart pattern is inevitable for me and my handspun yarn, so that is what I’m up to, hoping to knit this up from the toes sometime in the next few weeks, into just a plain & simple sock form. I’ll keep posting on this as I go along.

♥  ♥  ♥

Today is a beautiful day out and tomorrow is going to be dumping a lot of rain, so I believe I’ll go out for a walk to the peak, and then settle in to make some progress on eldest nieces’ sweater that I really want to finish. My primary goal presently is to get into good walking shape and so off I go !

Tweed Chronicles: Quick Mix

I wanted to try spinning my first ever sock yarn, so I looked in my basket of gifted fiber, and chose some lovely hand-dyed superwash Blue-faced Leicester fiber in beautiful Autumn tones. I wanted to spin this fiber without the barber-pole affect that one often gets when spinning straight from the dyed roving, but a softer and slightly more homogenized result. So you know what that means, I have an excuse to pull out my blending board and do some carding!

It is much easier to do a quick mix from a dyed braid, than to haul out all my separately dyed colors, and although it is a little less controlled, offers a bit of an element of surprise, and is really just fun, as the colors are all there in the braid. But one must choose the braid wisely, for each time I card the fiber from the braid out on to the teeth of the blending board, the colors fuse more, sometimes dramatically. Sometimes very quickly can depart from vibrant splashes of color into a muddied neutral appearance of one shade, especially if there are any complimentary colors in the braid. Also the colors will blend even more after plying the singles. So this time I am only going to fill up the teeth on the board just once, and draw off the rolags to spin. And here is what I did …

(click 1st image to go to slideshow)

♣     ♣     ♣

Techy stuff …

  • My extra long blending board holds a lot of fiber, but to play it safe, I made 4 batts approx. the same. I have 100 grams of fiber, and I want to get four 25 gram batts, drawing off 3 fluffy rolags each to spin.
  • First I divided the braid length-wize into half, then each half into half, so I can get 4 lengths in the same dyed sequence.
  • When layering on the board, I started all four batts with the same end, and layer up in the same way, basically repeating every motion four times.
  • Then I drew off the rolags.
  • See Blending For Tweed Simplified for my basic blending board slideshow how-to.

Watch this space for my plied finished yarn and sock project, which I am guessing will end up a rather muted colorway, close to a shade of terra cotta. See all posts in Tweed Chronicles

What I would do differently next time:

Given that one 100g braid could be done in two batts on my extra long blending board (24″ x 12″) which can hold comfortably 50 grams of fiber I would have not bothered to split the the braid into four lengths, but only two, and fill the teeth closer to capacity twice, drawing off more rolags each time. This would have had the same affect but much faster, and when I think of the whole theme of this post ” the Quick Mix” it makes more sense. However, with a conventional smaller blending board 12″ x 12″ to 18″ , four times would probably be better, as I’ve demonstrated above.

Edit in: See spun and plied yarn in Quick Mix Spun

i love autumn

Just past the colorwork yoke of yet another Sol Inca sweater. This one will be the second Autumn Sweater for nieces, then they’ll be completed and will wait patiently for some day in December. Without the usual gift knitting this year, I believe I will sail on through the holiday weeks ahead without a single distraction, and sink my teeth further into two new ideas. Beyond that I am not certain, but am entertaining the thought of more tweed chronicle experiments, foraging for dye pots, and happily continuing on in my reclusive ways.

I am beyond super pleased at the election results and can imagine there will be a lot of good changes in the new year, which eases my complicated mental state, and calms me like a balm. And along my walks recently, I am reminded of the contentment I so often find in nature, out in Autumn, and soon just may find myself in an uproariously good mood. Oh, and not having much to speak of in the way of rain yet, yesterday we had a random heavy hail storm which burst into the day, downpoured for fifteen minutes, then left in a hurry. I love Autumn!

A short row heel.

Playing around with a new sock idea as well as experimenting with a short-row heel. The short row heel is a lovely way to go about things, especially if one wants to work top down or equally bottom up, its the same either way. The toe of this sock will be the same both ways too, which I will show off soon. I am actually getting quite excited with the prospect of the dual directional sock! Oh, but already I caved in from my no-yarn-buying expectation, and bought yarn for this upcoming design, because I really want this next design to have a snowy halo of mohair, while at the same time be a rustic tweedy single ply, and there’s only one yarn that I know of, because I have some from another design, and that is Isager Irish Tweed, which is spun in Donegal. Just ordered the yarn, which won’t ship until after the election, and when it arrives I will be busting out of the starting gate on this. So excited! Exciting times!!

Unspun & Toe-up

A forgotten ball in a drawer, rather disheveled, and remembering back when it was part of something bigger than itself, when it was part of the sum of a whole, when the Hillwalker pullover was born, and my lovely nieces modeled it. Its life begun in Donegal Ireland, shipped over in a large bag with many skeins, excited on its journey to have such a future of artful functionality . . .

DSC_0205 jenjoycedesign© .

Now just a lonely part-ball which has lived a part-life, sure to be camped out until its days are done, in a dresser drawer of yarn stash, not making a difference in the world, and very likely unhappy.

Unless of course, I do something to save this poor unhappy ball of tweed. Some Unspun magic, where I separate the plies and make two fine weight singles out of the 2ply worsted weight, perfect for a pair of socks, and a toe-up sock to be sure I don’t run out of yarn ( how I do this from two years ago). Of course, I was being suggestive of this technique in the last post with the Lady In Tweed.

One sock finished, second sock… a toe-up sort of thing, and the pair will likely use up most of the ball, seeing that the first sock is 29 grams, the second one will be a close finish! I am testing out my frolick of a toe-up pattern with yarn I have about, left-over, left-out, left-unfulfilled balls in my yarn stash, and as I made a goal a couple of posts back about not buying yarn mindlessly, easily, but instead I am doing things the hard way. And enjoying every minute!

Unspun, revisited.

Lady in Tweed:   “I have just knit myself this lovely Tweedex cardigan out of yarn that I had to put on layaway for six months before I could even start, and dammit to everlasting fire and brimstone, I’ve got a whole ball left over… a whole ball!   I am thinking I  really would like to knit a pair of gloves, or socks to match my tweed cardigan, but I need fine sport yarn, and as far as I know this yarn, in this amazing red color, only comes in worsted weight. Bah humbug!”

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Lady in Tweed: “Oh, but wait,  if  I could somehow unravel,  disentangle,  or,  um,  untwist the two strands,  then I would get two balls from the yarn with half the thickness.  Oh, and that would be double the yardage too! I would have one hundred grams of fine weight tweed to then make a pair of gloves or socks from. Hmm,  most definitely.

[ Looks off into the distance with smug contemplation. ]

Lady in Tweed: “Heavens to Betsy, I think I’ve got a plan!”

Jen:  So yes, its back to getting the drop spindle out to use it for something completely different, and I just have to say ” watch this space ! “

Many years retrospect . . .

I want to set some goals for myself. I’ve always struggled with goals, but it shouldn’t be difficult if something is a only a certain win, involving no sacrifice, only focus. One of my goals is spinning intentionally. This is actually a trend I’ve heard about a lot lately, a buzz phrase so to speak. I know how to spin, I know how to knit, but decades have passed where I have done so little to bring the two together. So now its time to bring the two together as they are meant to be . . . to spin for a project in mind. . . to me, that is what is spinning with intention. My secondary goal is to purchase far less yarn, and to use up what I have, so that eventually I will be reliant on spinning for projects. Stopping the addictive yarn buying, and making do, will involve a serious concentrated effort, and in future recreational yarn purchases will be a much rarer event.

Backstory: I learned to spin in the Autumn of 1987, when I joined a spinning group which I attended for many years, and which I posted about way back in my blog archives, and the first thing I spun on a borrowed spinning wheel, was about a pound of washed uncarded Lincoln-Corriedale locks from Joanie. I dyed the fleece in a dyepot with splotches of different colors of Rit Dye steamed gently. I then spun directly from the dyed locks. Then learned to ply. Then last, my mother taught me how to knit my first vest with my new hand-spun, during the last spring season she was alive. It was a simple improvised pieced thing with two fronts and a back, bands picked up and worked at finish. I don’t think I even blocked the vest after I finished, having been the first thing I ever knit, but just put it on and hardly took it off. Here I was back then about 1989, must have been a while after the vest was finished . . .

Decades pass. A few years ago, having gotten somewhat decent at knitting I designed my Calidez Vest pattern, inspired from that very vest of old days, a connection to my mother.

Another backstory: Shortly after the wildfire of Oct 2017, Lynette who lived on the other side of the Bay, brought up to me and gave her Ashford Traditional spinning wheel along with many bobbins and even fiber! Also happening at this time; all kinds of fiber was sent to me from an Upper Napa Valley spinning group, (which I attended only once) and ashamedly I didn’t keep track and lost those contacts through my horribly unsettled transient months. If any of you reading this are or were a part of that generous Calistoga group in Autumn 2017, you know who you are, and I’m sending you hugs of gratitude! Its been several years now, but I finally feel I am back into my feet. I am dedicating this whole new focus of Spinning With Intention to everybody who has been nudging me along, and I realize only now how much :to tears: that I miss spinning, like I use to, way back in that decade before I knit much, when I spun just to spin beautiful hopeful skeins. After revisiting the blending board project of summer of 2019 . . .

jenjoycedesign© Rose Blend 1

and then moving into our house and promptly forgetting about it most of the year, I have finally finished the spinning . . .

Finished result is a homogenized dusty rose pink. The color of Love.

Almost 500 grams of my own tweed blend hand-spun yarn. What a lot of work! You wouldn’t know it by looking at the photos, but what I have been doing for ultra soft and fluffy yarn lately is scouring the skeins right off the plying bobbin. I guess the effect is similar to a felted tweed sort of thing, but I don’t let the yarns stick to each other, am just careful enough in the scouring to felt only a tiny bit. Moz taught me the “thwacking” trick; grabbing the skein and sailing it through the air, and whacking it really hard against a smooth surface, like on the inside of the bathtub, at 1 o’clock, 2 o’clock, etc, which straightens out all the strands just before hanging out to dry so nothing is crumpled. Of course, when fully dry I must re-skein everything to get all the partially stuck fibers dislodged, and then to let it rest without even the tension of a ball, just a nice relaxed skein for a few days, before starting to knit it. Super lovely yarn if you ask me.

Scoured tweed is my thing, and since I’m not making yarn for anybody but myself, I think this way the yarn gets a head start in the world of hard wear, and like I mentioned, it really ends up terrifically fluffy, soft, and airy. Just like they do with the waulking of the wool in the woven tweed. Soon I will be casting on my first intentionally spun-to-knit project since that time over thirty years ago, with a Calidez Vest with my own tweedy handspun!

Thank you with a heart burst of gratitude to Lynette who brought me the best spinning wheel I could have imagined for myself, Lori-Go-Lightly (who broadcast my wildfire tragedy on a Ravelry spinning group and through her efforts I was recipient of so much generosity via Ravelry pattern buyers and her Upvalley Spinners who sent me a big box of fiber, Adele for sending me her Ashford Blending Board to use as well as a gift of a lovely drop spindle to keep me going, and of course, and last but not at all least, thanks to Bernard & Joanie for sending me the above photo recently and reminding me who I was & what mattered, and for helping me span the decades. I am coming full-circle now, into my roots.

jenjoycedesign© spinning in a room 2
Spinning in newly rebuilt loft room , September 2019

Walktober

I am pushing myself to walk every day this October, so therefore I am naming this month Walktober. And while most days I’m perfectly happy to walk solitarily along with the scenery , there are times when I find it hard to put down things I want to get done, especially so of all things having to do with wool. I guess I am a compulsive fiberist. Not long ago, in my series Gifts From The Sun, particularly Part 5,  I talk on about spinning like the Peruvian herders do, and I just had not found the focus to do it until this morning. This little bit I’ve spun is a good amount for a short mile and a half walk I think, in a fine lace-weight single of Wool Of The Andes in Dove Heather roving. My default spinning is surprisingly fine on this drop spindle, with this fiber.

Truth be told, I have been experiencing a resurgence in spinning lately, mostly with my Ashford Traditional wheel and Tweed Chronicles ideas, but now adding this spin-walking thing, so watch this space for more spinning posts inevitably on the way.

Quietude

I have got a new thing I’m letting fly on the needles, in rustic alluring Icelandic Lettlopi yarn.  I am going back to a design idea from several years ago, with yarn I happen to have had about eight balls of in my stash, that I bought about two years ago when we were living in the tiny house, but I just can’t remember what I got it for. Those days are very foggy in my memory. A bit of an anniversary has come and passed too; we have been living back home in our rebuilt house, for one year now, and as Jeff slowly finishes detail carpentry, each week that goes by we are closer to bringing together the raw edges of the rip across our lives from three years ago. I have now unpacked from a long last week of standing by ready to evacuate from Glass Fire, and trying to let things settle in again. Now cooler temperatures and increasing wetness is forecast “soon”, and I feel the Autumnal weather shifting a little bit, just enough that I feel a kind of relaxation taking over me, finally. And so in need because it has been a stressful summer of wildfire in California, and I need to shake it off, to tap into the abundance of quietude, striving to find the fulcrum point in my life of productivity and commit to that balance, letting all else slip away.

I’m now off for a walk with this lovely yarn and yarn body I’ve got going.

withered

Thursday morning, 7:25, October 1:  Smoke and heat and fire are creeping across the valley floor and in the mountains of upper Napa Valley and Sonoma, again.  I am visualizing fighting fire while affirming  “I am unafraid of the elements.”  As I work the yoke of a new design, mechanically knitting as if to dowse the worry in my brain, which is afire with catastrophic scenarios, one by one, and stitch by stitch as (in my mind) I hose off the embers as they land.

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Unsure where at the castle this is, but I suspect the same carriage house where my nieces and I photograph often.
My camera is packed, as is most of my craft stuff. But all the same, while I try my hardest to ignore the possibility that the fire very well might sweep through at any hour, from a new malignant spark. We are vigilant.

Friday morning, 6:15, October 2: September into November  is the crisis time for fire in California mountains, unless we get lucky and rain comes earlier, which it hasn’t for as long as I remember. Cant go for a walk without breathing in smoke. We have got to think about this trend worsening, every dry season, everywhere !  We. Have. Got. To. Think.  The new soldiers are those who fight the elements, namely fire, in the war on climate change. Never enough fire personnel for these wild places on the map. Its my opinion that we need to teach our strapping strong unafraid youths to fight the elements . . . fire, flood, pandemic, rampant & rogue Perfect Storms of every kind, not governments.

Of course, all this fire in Napa Valley is wrecking so much of this year’s late harvest of many of the vineyards and wineries.  We are in a withered place.

Edited in updates for remainder of Glass Fire added below.

Saturday morning, 7:50, October 3: So far we are okay and as of this morning the Glass Fire is now 10% contained, and not approaching in our direction as yet.  I thought I should post an update more often through this local fire ordeal, so I don’t leave anybody hanging in unnecessary worry. I am still working my mindfulness of the moment, affirming “I am unafraid of the elements”. Its just that some elements are more soothing than others right now, and I am needing to listen to the healing bliss that  is the sound of rain . Thank you All for your thoughts and prayers, for us here in Napa Valley, and I will share them gladly with the rest of the world, but especially for those who have lost their homes in the recent fires, and my prayers are joined in.

Sunday Noon, October 4: Glass Fire is 17% contained now. The wind has blown the smoke and the live edge of the fire to the north-east, at the base of Mt St Helena in Calistoga. Clear here for now, and as the threat of burning recedes and dwindes, we relax a little. Still not unpacking, but really looking forward to rain forecast next week, and cooler temperatures with it!

Monday 6 a.m, October 5: Glass fire is now 26% contained which is a very good safety measure, especially because winds are settled and temperature is cooling a little, with forecast rain this weekend. At this point, I’m confident I can unpack the car, and get back to life without so much adrenaline stirring up the PTS. Probably the last update I’ll make for the Glass fire, and if people are still curious, or have questions, please just write a little comment and I’m ready to reply right away. xx

Thursday 6:30 am October 8: Glass fire 62% contained and no longer a threat as the weather is cooling and no high winds are forecast before it should be completely out. Evacuation orders continue to downgrade and lift throughout the valley. Over the last few days I have unpacked and put everything away, looking forward to the forecast rain later this week. What a week. I’m exhausted.

one done. . .

The first Autumn sweater for nieces done & dusted ! The only difference between the two sweaters will be a colorway choice of undyed fleece colors. They are the same exact size, and otherwise will be almost the same, which is actually very amusing. They asked so nicely if I could make over-sized fit this year, because when I knit last year’s sweaters I made a gauge error, and although the sweaters turned out flatteringly fitted, there was obviously not a bit of room to wear over clothes, so I am never again making that mistake. Making nieces my most recent Sol Inca design in the after-thought pullover option, because I just am not tiring one bit from knitting these! Oh, I’m knitting with Simply Wool that I spoke about a few posts back , and let me say now, that I found it very wholesome to have to wash actual dirt out of the sweater when I was ready to wash & block it, and that only means the yarn is definitely minimally processed, undyed, and not overly scoured either. I say that like it is a good thing! Now there is a little intermission in my Autumn Sweater knitting, as I am waiting for yarn on the other sweater to become available, for a lovely very light contrast, soft colors as requested by eldest niece, definitely worth the wait, even if the sweaters wont’ be ready until late in the season. Yet I can’t stop this knitting locomotive, once I’ve psyched myself up for it, so I’ve decided to let this one sit awhile while I get going with pattern writing something I’ve been thinking about for years!

Knitters From The World

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I love to see others’ artful interpretations of Calidez Vest,

and when it is with handspun, all the better!

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From Tennessee, “Lioness Ramping” has knit Calidez Vest with some of her own gorgeous handspun, has done a color palette breakdown, and goes over the top with fabulous finish photos in a Bohemian style!  Even though somewhere in this talented spinner-knitter’s notes she says she hasn’t found buttons for it yet, all the same, she gives the pattern great praise ~~ thank you LionessRamping for your artful handspun excellent knitting, it is truly an asset to the design!  See her project on Ravelry HERE.  (All photos belong to LionessRamping)

See all posts Knitters From The World

Sun Into Libra (2)

I have attempted to replicate a photo I posted on the Autumn Equinox 2017, and about two weeks after that original photo was posted, our house had burned to ashes in the Nuns Wildfire.  In the many months following the fire, it was that very post that I gazed at with such a heavy heart of grief and longing.  But today is the day of days!  As I photograph  the same angle of the new rebuilt house, at same time of day,  on the same day of the year, I recapture  the warmth of that moment again, as the lazy equinox sun sinks low in the afternoon to the west.  I feel like I’ve come full circle,  having just posted it up to date, home again with everything in its place (sans ceiling fan and squiggly iron rail),  not quite finished but very cozy. I am kind of collapsing into a fuzzy warm celebratory mood, a bit weary of the long journey back to my House of Light & Shadow, although I am nothing but colossally grateful.  Happy Equinox everyone!

good-bye summer

jenjoycedesign© socks 2

Fresh off the needles ,  a very simple boot sock .

jenjoycedesign© socks 3

For my (almost) new walking boots . . .

jenjoycedesign© good-bye summer 5

Walking along my trails, going a little further up the ridge now,  making my way around, over and under  so many falling blackened trees, carrying the weight of that time almost three years ago, wishing to outgrow the sadness that lingers in the landscape,  however robust and magical is the resilience of nature!    Goodbye summer.

jenjoycedesign© good-bye summer 7

jenjoycedesign© good-bye summer 6

jenjoycedesign© good-bye summer 10

Tomorrow is the Autumnal equinox, and finally I will be walking into Autumn, a season which seems to be more forgiving of endings,  fresh and open for verdant return of moss, of life renewed from rain.  And on my bare feet I’ll be wearing the comfort of the season, new verdant green mossy boot socks, plush and double thick, two yarns held together merino socks that I cast on at the June Solstice, and knit slowly & purposefully all summer long, while oppressed by sweltering heat and choking smoke.  Soon the air will clear and crisp and be again glorious!

(Click 1st image below and see slideshow my walk from the afternoon. )

jenjoycedesignc2a9-socks-1

Pattern: Walking With Emma socks

Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll, charcoal and bamboo, held together throughout.

Project Details:  Solstice Socks  

humble new stitches

The last week of summer is upon us, and I am noticing the light relaxing into longer shadows at a slightly earlier time each day. I really feel that my beloved Autumn is near! There is the usual locomotive knitting going on, but in this last week of summer I am enjoying some humble little silly thing “on the needle”, something just to take my mind off of knitting for a little while, so that I can be rested creatively speaking. I started and quit several times in the last year, yet I could not quell an incessant nagging urge to make at least a good start at counted cross-stitch, but to do so I have first to get past the very uncomfortable sense of being a rank beginner, while I repeatedly wrestle an equal urge to give up. That itself is the real exercise here, to squeeze myself into that constricting humble place of being. This, I am convinced, should be good for me, although I really don’t have time or room in my life for another textile hobby. I’m fine with my wobbly mis-shapen X’s , its all good, its all stitching. Stitching of any kind is a mental health elixir I believe in.

I am really pleased my last days of summer have shifted into this peaceful mellowness, a fresh beginning, these first new humble stitches . . .

Do enjoy your remaining days of summer !

Yarn Tasting: Simply Wool

jenjoycedesign© Simply Wool
Finally knitting my nieces Autumn sweaters, and so relieved too, as I deliberated endlessly over which yarn, and going in circles I finally decided to try “Simply Wool” ; 100% Eco Wool, by Knit Picks. This yarn is grown and milled in Peru,  eight shades of undyed natural fleece colors, and so utterly basic, the yarn is aptly named.  The colors are warm and visually appealing, no bleaches or chemicals of any kind, just the quiet sheepy tones, and is very soothing to knit,  as if to right all the wrongs in the world.

For a few years now I’ve been wanting to make a departure from superwash wool for my nieces’ sweaters, hoping eventually to win them over to the loft and resilience of natural wool, but I have been too worried anything other than the softest pure Merino will not be soft enough for them, but I cast on in good faith.   After knitting through part of the colorwork yoke I could feel the downy halo of the fibers bloom, unexpectedly,  so it was a green light for me, and full steam ahead.   Intrigued by the complexity of the tweedy heathers blended together to achieve the distinct shades of greys, browns, and natural whites, and being a fan of  undyed fleece colors, I am sure it will be one of my most used yarns in the future.  Besides, I am always keeping my eye out for a good base yarn to over-dye, um, I wonder, maybe this could be it?

jenjoycedesign© Sol Inca in Simply Wool

The pattern I am knitting,  Sol Inca, is designed in such a way that the increases happen gradually down the yoke, so I can begin knitting, unsure of what size I ultimately will make, being that once I get past the chart I will have enough knitted I can get an accurate gauge from it. If I need to stop increases, finish the yoke, and continue down the body portion, or if I need to, I can continue the increases and make the yoke the next size bigger (I talk a little bit about  it in this post).  I love this, a real hidden perk if I ever found one by accident in this pattern. I am really relaxing now, giving myself more than enough time for a middle to late November photo shoot.  My nieces are keen on continuing our tradition, and so I am better than fine!

artful patches 2

jenjoycedesign© patch 8

Its been a lovely relaxing couple of weeks since not allowing myself any serious knitting.  I have had a pile of  linen shirts & pants staring me down that have been needing patches, and in recent days I finally attended to the chore. Actually, its not a chore at all, mostly it is an opportunity to be creative. I am refining my patching technique to using the “pad stitch”, effectively stitching the layer with a hole against a patch layer, and learning that this pad stitching thing really strengthens the all over fabric from the back of the work, while keeping the little tacks of thread in front looking as artful as can be, nearly like sashiko. With a back stitch around the perimeter of the patch, so that in front it looks like little bead stitches, but again, it is all quite well fastened as it has a lot of thread running along the back. Ironing well between each step, I find the fabric grain stays straight much better too.  And while I only demonstrate an outside facing patch, it would of course be much more couture if a second patch were placed on the inside of the shirt, pad stitching through all three layers and sandwiching the actual shirt layer between so no raw edges of the hole ever would show on the inside,  but I’m just not that fussy.  If you click the 1st image in the mosaic, you will see the steps and stitching . . .

This is my first patch I’ve used linen thread on linen fabric, and I am smitten with the feel, and the look of it. It is a little thicker, but more pliable, and works fine with linen.  Oh, and I have a thing about linen going way back in archives, and so that most of my clothes I’m wearing are linen, and Irish linen is my favorite linen of all linens.  This is an Irish linen shirt .  . crisp and long wearing . . . just an old gardening & hiking shirt which has many patches all over it, but worth every one, some patches overlapping patches, because it is lasting me quite a long time. After the wildfire I ended up buying mostly used linen clothes on ebay, really affordable , but also the odd thing is I’m not really comfortable in new clothes anymore.   So the great thing is that I could say I’ve gotten a lot of practice developing my mending methods — I swear by pad stitching! — and going for the element of very functional as well as the artfulness of nice hand-stitching.

two ripe mangoes

jenjoycedesign© jens mango chutney 2

My latest tasty concoction, just made, still warm ~~ mango chutney in a mini avocado!  In these pandemic days I am broadening my kitchen skills impressively and chutney has been on my list of things to learn to make for over a decade.   Now its done and I wish I never waited.

jenjoycedesign© jens mango chutney

My very simple small batch ripe mango chutney:

two ripe mangoes, one small onion, spices (I used cumin seeds, cardamom seeds, garam masala, chile flakes)  fresh garlic,   fresh ginger,  dried dates,  and coconut oil.

Peel mangoes and cut the fruit off of the pit into large chunks  (do enjoy chewing the lovely impossible-to-cut-off fruit from the pits before proceeding!)  In mortar & pestle crush the spices. Add a small chunk of fresh ginger sliced, 1 garlic clove, and a few dried medjool dates, cut up into pieces, mash all together, and set aside.

Cut onion into small chunks. Heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil in medium saucepan or skillet, and saute onion. When nearly translucent, add mashed ingredients from mortar,  and saute a little bit in the onions and oil.  Add mango and stir until mango begins to break down. Add a little sugar, salt, and pepper to taste if you like.  As this is a very small batch, and made very quickly, canning is not necessary ~~ just enjoy!

Now you must see this seriously artful little film . . . it is what inspired me to go into my kitchen and make use of the two ripe mangoes!

Sol Inca: The Pattern

jenjoycedesign© Sol Inca folded -
It finally came.  The moment that happens when months of work completes after the last task.   Then one is merely finished!
jenjoycedesign© Sol Inca trio 2
In previous post   Sol Inca: The Inspiration  Rosanna models two cardigans, the size 3 and size 4, and even pours herself into the size 2 pullover. What I’m thinking is, there are 8 more sizes still yet to be knit, but I am too worn out. Was I really intending to knit them all?   I will leave it up to all of the knitters of the world who pass through to get them knit.

jenjoycedesign© Sol Inca detail 1

Sol Inca is a top-down knitted cardigan with an option to convert to a pullover!  I call it an After-thought Pullover.  So much energy, knitting, ripping out, and all the cleverness I could manage, went into the convertibility of Sol Inca,  and I must admit that I am quite pleased about it. However, presently I am having a bit of withdrawal in my brain for it really was a hard struggle involving lots of thinking!  Now I’ve got a mess of yarn bits, stitch markers, needles to put away in their drawers, and go for a walk, if I can manage without collapse.   I will close all of the recent series of posts, with a simple favor to ask , and that is to please go see the pattern live on Ravelry, with all the technical information ~~~ HERE.

jenjoycedesign© Sol Inca 11

Thank you, and I’ll see you on the flip-side! xx

Sol Inca: The Inspiration

jenjoycedesign© Sol Inca (in the road)

 Rosanna, our very own Camino Inca Princess, models “Sol Inca”.

Rosanna in Sol Inca detail 1

Jeff’s daughter Rosanna has been living in our Tiny House, five hundred feet away, weathering the pandemic up here in the woods.  And all the while I’ve have been designing and knitting a pile of yokes and three sweaters, and I feel so lucky she is here to unveil Sol Inca with me!

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I placed a chair in the road mid-way between our (rebuilt) house and (tiny) house, in the place she and I meet for short chats every once in a while, to catch up on news and exchange some jars of good home-made things to eat.

jenjoycedesign© Sol Inca 8

Do you see my sun motif around the yoke? The design is inspired by, and dedicated to, the living ancestors of the Inca, who live in the high mountain villages around Cusco, and tend their herds while spinning.   Herding while spinning the very yarns to weave and knit into amazing intricate indigenous artful things ~~ it all seems to me a very ascetic and poetic culture.

jenjoycedesign© Sol Inca 6

Sol Inca… the Inca Sun… the benevolent deity from the starry heaven who brought the Inca people their most prized furry treasures ~~ the llama, the alpaca, the vicuna, and later of course, the sheep ~~ and ever since, the herds and their people have lived in harmony together in the high plains of the Andes.

jenjoycedesign© Sol Inca 11

These photos represent a connection to the Peruvian Highlands in two ways, woolly and human. The sweaters designed with Wool Of The Andes yarn which was grown in the Peruvian Highlands, and Rosanna herself spent a week trekking the Camino Inca trail to Machu Picchu with her dad Jeff and her brother just three years ago.

jenjoycedesign© Sol Inca 14

Please see all posts Gifts From The Sun if you would like to see more of the inspiration behind the design.   If you see all posts  Peruvian , and scroll down quite a ways you’ll land back at Camino Inca  posts, three years ago when Jeff trekked the Inca trail to Machu Picchu with Rosanna and her brother.

Gifts From The Sun: part 7

If one is to have fur as an accessory, I think it is a lovely thing to have one that is alive, breathing, and very cuddly, and in Cusco, Peru it is apparent that the llamas have an overwhelming desire to accessorize with their brightly dressed humans too.  In Cusco, llama &  Peruvian indeed have a perfectly symbiotic fashion sense.

Never leave home without your llama!

tenor

Where to go from here?

Some moment in the next couple of days I will post, and you will see,

the new design unveiled!

Watch this space!

All posts in series Gifts From The Sun

Gifts From The Sun: part 6

As I’ve been researching Things Andean, particularly Peruvian, and can’t help but become most excited about the artful expressions of the high villages in and around Cusco, at the heart of Incas. I am opening my eyes, my ears, and my heart, indelibly imprinted by the culture cradled in the highlands of the Andes mountains, once so isolated, but now tentatively spreading its influence into the modern world.

In the Gifts From The Sun series, I am sharing my best finds with you,   and so another post in this series to fill out the anticipatory space while while I savor the finish work of three sweaters, then one last edit to the pattern. From here on I’ll be staying on topic with the upcoming Andean Thing, until soon  I’ll be done & dusted with this project that has been so long in-the-making.

In  closing, I am sharing some indigenous Andean music, which I’ve listened to incessantly for who knows how many days now, I’m not counting.   I think it is the alpacas, llamas & sheep and their spinning, knitting, weaving humans ~~ and their music ~~ that is the soul of the Andes!


All posts in series
Gifts From The Sun

A natural dye experiment: part 2

jenjoycedesign© dyed1I have been noticing how popular natural dying is at the moment.  I would even say it is undergoing yet another renaissance! So many craft podcasters and yarn dyer tutorials, its hard to resist trying it out.  Yet I have wanted to do this very thing with the indigenous madrone around our house long since before the new dying trend reminded me. In fact, I have wanted to make a colorway of yarn dyed from the materials I find nearby,  and had at one time entertained the dream of being a yarn-dyer on a slightly larger scale. But I realize very sanely that it is best in keeping things within my means, having a very quiet impact on my surroundings. Only so much madrone bark can be shed. It is plentiful outside presently, and being so happy with the results of this “quiet yarn” I am going to go out and collect enough for one more dye pot,  a little more generous amount, and strive for a slightly more saturated affect. I think that the madrone has created perhaps, my personal signature color . . .

jenjoycedesign© madrone dyed

♣  ♣  ♣

The Tech Stuff. . .

In Part-1   Out on a walk I notice the bark is shedding, and can’t help myself to collect some bark, fill the pot loosely a little over half, and set the series in motion.  This is Part 2, where I dye some sock yarn!  My natural dye experiment is all I could have expected or hoped for with the limitations of using only a splash of vinegar and water in a stainless steel stock pot. I am not worried in the least about contaminating my cookware because the abundant madrone peels of bark underfoot everywhere are not toxic or odorous in the least.

Here’s what I did: First I let a half-full pot of peels soak in water for one week, out in the hot summer sun. The water evaporated significantly, and I topped off with the hose when I filled the little bird bath. The color of the water was rich and deep orange-brown, and so very much like the actual bark.

After a week had gone by, I looked in my yarn drawers, and decided that the 100g skein of Knit Picks Felici (75% Superwash Merino, 25% nylon) sock yarn would be perfect. Then I merely lifted the peels of bark out, as I don’t have another large pot to pour into through a sieve, poured a splash of white vinegar in and pushed the skein in dry. The rest is up to temperature, so I simmered slowly for about 40 minutes, the dye exhausted in the water as much as it could, and into the yarn.

The camera never can describe a color as well as words: It is beautiful pale warm shade, just like the varied colors of terra cotta as the madrone leaves everywhere, which honestly has been a favorite nature shade of mine since I can remember. Wet, the color of brick fired clay.   Dry, it is nearly indescribable… a very light clay. Pinker than beige, or more orange. Oh well, the camera is going to have to do the job. Satisfied with the tone and hue of the yarn, I’ve decided to try another dye bath of this now, only foraging a full stock pot of madrone bark (and weighing the bark!) actually simmering it after it has steeped for a week in the sun, before dying, that might be Part 3 (Click first image and see slide show of the process) .

 Please see my post

Tweed Chronicles : Madrone

A natural dye experiment . . . part 1

jenjoycedesign© madrone bark 2
The madrone trees are shedding again. It seems they do twice a year if my memory is correct, they burst out of their thin skin and deep russet peels land everywhere. Some are quite large scrolls!  I’ve been wanting to do this experiment for years upon years now, so finally I took a brief tour around the house with my stainless steel stock pot, collecting some, not sure how much.  I just filled the pot with cold water, and will just let the pot sit without lid out in the scorching hot sun of the deck, while I think about it and research how to properly dye with tree bark. Even only improperly , in case I am lacking anything for the dye bath. One thing for sure, it is not something I have to rush into in the next hour.  This is the post before I’ve dyed anything. I’m welcoming all kinds of advice from anybody who’s done natural dye from bark.  I don’t have any mordants, however I do have plenty of undyed yarn ready to dip!

jenjoycedesign© madrone bark 3

I made a post a while back on the madrone as a colorway in Tweed Chronicles, and featured it in a post many years back too, which both do go into a little more depth about this beautiful tree. The wildire had killed off so many that surrounded our house, but the trees have a hopeful future as many of the new shoots that grew out from the base of the burned trees are now up to nearly 15 feet high, and in last post July Days, you can see them again through the window, and making their way back to trees again on the side of the deck.

jenjoycedesign© madrone bark
Anyway, I should like to see a Part Two to this series, a future “after dying” post, but as things are now, this is undetermined. I am dreaming of a signature colorway from my own madrone woods, but not having too much expectation, I just hope this second attempt at dying with madrone bark works at all!

Edit in: Please see my post  Tweed Chronicles: Madrone

July Days

jenjoycedesign© July days 1

Savoring moments in my morning window space, knitting and enjoying a second beautiful cup of home-roasted coffee while mulling over the notes, the careful calculations, the charts drawn and redrawn a dozen or more times, sipping, sifting, filtering out the dregs of many half-starts, and deleting files. I am closer to the finish with the best work, in my opinion, of my designing ability.  Soldiering on through the pandemic days and the spring and summer months as the empty calendar pages flip, getting nearer to that time when it will simply be finished.  But I am taking my time. I am learning a lot about knitting sweater proportion, enjoying snatching up my calculator and changing up the numbers in a slight panic yet again, a thing which has become a little brain rush, but also am learning to keep the perspectives reasonable and stress minimal.   Its all a thing I love to do.

jenjoycedesign© July days 2

The volunteer vegetable garden is flourishing and I am stunned each and every day to see it, realizing that when the garden is least imposed upon it does its best magic! Volunteer squashes and tomatoes taking over , and watering with a sprinkler is attracting birds by the flocks!  So many robins, gold finches, and bluebirds have become like pets, more interested in bathing in the baths and foraging than to worry about me walking by too near ~~~  my little darlings!

jenjoycedesign© July days 3

The insects have dwindled as a result of having all these insect-munching birds around, and what garden pests? I don’t see a single one! Life among the birds and the happy garden, and because they are thriving, so am I thriving.  Not much is ripening yet, except the lettuce and leeks flowering , so of course, that explains the vase of flowering lettuces on table which I hope to save seed from.

My list of kitchen concoctions is growing in number, as I practice making with basic ingredients. The counter is sprawling with sprouting jars of alfalfa and winter wheat in various stages, soaking beans, yogurt setting up, and the oven is getting worked with all the loaves I am baking with hefty mix-ins of sprouted wheat grains. I got a hold of a five pound bag of raw organic peanuts and for the first time in my life am learning how to pan roast, and make peanut butter!  I often have for lunch some home-made hummus on home-made bread with a thick smear of home-made savory greek yogurt, and topped with a pile of home-grown alfalfa sprouts . . . paired with a tall glass of lemonade which is just a bunch of ever-so-thin lemon slices packed into the bottom of the glass, sweetened with a home-made ginger syrup I make from piloncillo and fresh root of ginger, a ton of ice, top off with water,  and voila! A lot of home-made.

I am going for walks more now, although short ones, as the trails are rather hemmed in by ever toppling  charcoal trees but I do get myself going up to witness the changing landscape.  Gone are the days when I could just walk up the ridge road to the peak and get in my three and a half steep miles. Those days will return, I just don’t know when, perhaps the next generation. So I walk a bit less, and work outside a lot more.  Walking barefoot all summer on sub-floors, not caring in the least that the finish floors are not done, just enjoying the house and the steady superb trim work that Jeff is doing, exactly as he had done on our original house. Oh! And that sprawling pile of building mess, lumber & tools which occupied the middle of the house and nearly hid the lower half of this post,  as of last week, is now gone! A massive aesthetic improvement to the house.

jenjoycedesign© July days 5

Lastly, I am finding that lots of little mini naps to defrag my brain is the best recipe for clear thinking, being endlessly enchanted by the calm space I’ve made in my loft just for naps, I find that it is improving my mental endurance in the day, especially getting up and out of bed at 5 o’clock every morning,  I think I’m about ready for one now.

jenjoycedesign© July days 6

Signing off with no complaints,  busy in the sheltering-in pandemic days, and life is good.

Gifts From The Sun: part 5

Mario Testino, a renowned Peruvian fashion photographer, in his Alta Moda series seems to carry the theme of his native homeland into a remarkable modernized, carnival like image from his camera, depicting typical things men and women of the regions around Cusco do in the work of their days. It is everyday life to meet the herd in the early morning with a days worth of spinning to do, walking from pasture to pasture, walking while spinning, as quite possibly these women are doing . . .

13.Peru-Machu-Picchu-for-Women

I am excited and anticipating a nice long post-designing break after my forthcoming, to shake off stress from deadlines and the pandemic and just try to enjoy the remaining months of summer. I am hoping to practice walking and spinning in the technique as has been done for centuries in the Andes (sans herd).  But I need to make a little shopping list first, to get prepared.

First I thought I’d get started by finding a sensible wooden drop spindle like I use to have before the wildfire, similar to those used in the Andes, so I am considering either a very inexpensive unfinished Kromski spindle, or a basic sturdy Schacht spindle , both rugged wood that can withstand being dropped on the rocky soil time and time again . . .

A few months ago, when conceiving of the Gifts From The Sun series, I had gotten some Wool Of The Andes roving, which is Peruvian Highland wool. I am wondering now, that I might need or at least want just a few more of these beautiful colors, and Knit Picks has really got it going on!  Be forewarned, although the supplies they carry are exquisite and inexpensive, often they get low on supply and you simply must wait for them to replenish.

Now, as my Peruvian Wool Of The Andes roving and spindle will soon be on their way,  I will be readying to spin around the time my upcoming design is finished. Hoping by mid-August to be celebrating summer solstice belatedly, as well as finished and promoting my upcoming pattern, while studying the lessons from Nilda’s “Andean Spinning” below.  I actually bought the download about a year ago and posted about here , although never really committed myself to spindle spinning.   If anybody out there in the world reading this and wishes to do a little Andean technique in spinning along with me,  I really want to encourage the sale of Nilda’s dvd/books/work because she is my favorite Peruvian, such a brilliant person, and there is no better source to purchase it than from her “Center Of Traditional Textiles of Cusco” …

Lastly, how could I close this post about Andean Spinning without including this little video of a Quechua speaking woman spinning out with her herd up in the high pastures of the Andes.

See all posts in series “Gifts From The Sun”

Knitters From The World

From Flanders,   Zonneke has done a stellar job of knitting Calidez Vest, and to her I am very grateful for letting me post here her artful photo. She has made Calidez Vest in the ever popular Alafosslopi yarn from Iceland ; a crisp, well-behaved  yarn,  heathered in so many gorgeous tweedy shades, softening beautifully with wear. Just a gorgeous yarn all around,  especially when knitted up so well as this!

I want to say how really delightful and wonderful I think it is that this design is my most popular of them all, but even more so that so many knitters who buy the pattern are making it for men! I think there are quite possibly more men out in the world wearing a hand-knitted Calidez Vest than there are women. This is great actually. Anyway, I am charmed off of my chair with your artful presentation Zonneke , and thank you for your excellent knitting!

Gifts From The Sun: part 4

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Coricancha in Cusco, Peru

The beautiful people of the sun. Colossally inventive farmers, phenomenal textile artists of weaving and knitting using the wool from their llamas, alpacas, and sheep, and dyed from plants in the colors of nature. Stone masons like this world has never seen! Musicians of the most enchanting melodies, wooden flutes and simple stringed instruments, is all a part of their legacy which is so intrinsic of their small but mighty culture. Living so high up in the Andes, they are indeed touched by the sun, able to harness the magnificent from a harsh landscape, the Inca thrive with abundance in a sacred place, with their downy woolly four-legged companions.

I have gotten going after a little break, back to my Andean inspired design, narrowing the field, racing to the finish, again researching, and sharing my good finds here. Please enjoy this little documentary on The Sacred Valley of the Incas…

See all posts in series “Gifts From The Sun”.

Solstice Socks

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It is at last the Summer Solstice and I am so happy to be knitting in the wild again.  And what a better way than with a pair of socks, on this longest day of the year, when because the sun is blaringly bright and hot, and the shadows reluctant to be seen, I have waited until the hazy late hours of the afternoon. Chores are done; bread baked, coffee roasted, laundry on the line, dinner in the pot, and so I’m scampering along my little trail, navigating over, under, around still falling burned trees . . .

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Rather hidden paths I have every intention to keep maintained by walking, but so much work to get them established, especially  through the now drying & stickery meadowy woods.

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I have wanted to try two fine fingering yarns held together in a sock, for a color rich tweedy affect and thick and downy merino soft too.  So I am knitting speedily along with only 50 stitches in a pair of Walking With Emma socks, in Chart B which has an easy 1×1 rib cuff flowing into a wider & longer rib. I’ll work rib then with an inch left to the leg, switch to stockinette for the rest of the sock. The counting of this particular rib is so natural for me, with odd numbers of knit & purl; (knit) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 — (purl) 1 — 1, 2, 3 — 1.  A sturdy snug little sock to slip into my garden sloggers to go down and water the garden, and this sock will be the “vanilla sock” I’ve been waiting to try, because sometimes the artful is in the plain & simple. I will talk more about the yarn later, but I’m loving this moss green and grey stone colorway by the way!  Oh, and I am knitting these on metal circulars, for although I fell in love late in life, with hardwood dpns (double pointed needles), the circulars allow me to just trip along on the trail without worrying about pulling a needle out or breaking or snagging my dpns in my knitting bag. And I really must confess, that I seriously need a break from the Pile O’ Yokes, which are now becoming yokes with bodies and sleeves. Anyway, its summer and I want to start knit-walking again, something it seems I’m always having to “start over” again, which is silly, but in order to pull myself away to get out on the trail and still get knitting done I really need a project I can not think about, something I can walk over logs, and under fallen trees, and not drop a stitch. Something that I can rattle off fast and furiously and shake off all that ails me!

Happy Summer Solstice!

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I am in the middle of the seventh yoke, seven yokes of varying sizes, although one is not in the stack.   Pardon me for the blip the other day, I posted, then shortly after doing so I took out the post because frankly, I did not like the colorway of the prototype. Quickly I changed my mind, so fickle, and then on to a new colorway … for a new and hopefully final prototype official.  I had a dream this morning early before waking that I was unraveling all the yokes I’ve knit, and re-knitting them into bags to felt, as the colors changed in the yoke, so would the colors in the bag, all tied together ends as they happen, and yarns held two at a time. When I woke I thought what an interesting rework it will make when the pattern is done and there is a pile of yokes left to deal with.  Determined to see this design through, and not post too much unrelated material during the process, although I absolutely would love knitting a simple plain sock, I’ll keep this short and wave to All with assurance that knitting is happening here at a frantic pace, however generally slow and melted time feels during Pandemic Days, and that life continues to be good !