Peru’s Dama de Bohemia

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Peruvian fashion designer Naty Muñoz  is a modern ” Andean Bohemian”.  She is a brilliant designer, for Vogue and beyond, and also an ethical designer working with organic fibers, much of which is alpaca, wool, and cotton. I love her work in this ensemble of colorful, embroidery & splashes of knitted bobbles, set against a breathy feathery downy white, quite frankly tickles a spot for me.

As I observe the traditional colors and textiles  of Peru , I am deeply moved by the mountainous landscape of the Andes being an intrinsic part of it all.  Though admittedly, my first observation I felt an awkward reaction to the bright colors, particularly of pinks & yellow-green, the explosions of fluffy pompoms, and seeming oddness of white laced through all of that color.  Fuzzy  and ultra feminine, but really I think this is just characteristic of Peruvian textiles … the ‘white thing’ … in relation to brazen color for me is so captivating.

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But now I think I am ‘getting’ it!  To me the white is altitude, snowy, ethereal, woolly & alpaca-ish, pure, cloud-like, and spiritual, the white is beneath, above, and supporting the colors of the folk textiles & clothing.

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So I am smitten,  as Naty Muñoz’s designs show so well,  by the magnificent Peruvian landscape, its traditional clothing of bright colors, the presence of cuddly alpacas, and find that all of it dazzles because of striking elemental snowy white!

Quite involved in lessons of color & texture for forthcoming knitwear pattern, as you can easily guess, and in metamorphosis  spurred by discovery of Peruvian colors, textures and even discovery of modern designers like Naty… muchas gracias por su inspiración!

The Last Of Spring

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It is already the last stretch of Spring, and forthcoming is a little duo for summer!  One in dark teal, and one in light teal, in Cascade Ultra Pima cotton yarn,to test my latest design, a summer top idea that I’ve been working on.

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Other things going on, I will splash on to this post, as I am worried I don’t share enough non-knitting things here in general. So, here,  a mountain woodland garden…

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Where in I try to grow things which are sometimes a challenge, but this season, doing well enough.

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Blossoming leeks,

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my greens bed protected from the harsh sun beneath their sun-bonnet,   grapes exploding into clusters fattening,  beans beginning to climb, nearly 4′ high tomato plants, apples beginning to blush and swell, and very shy slow-growing zucchini…

Um….jeans ripening  in the sun?

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Well, not really, just foolin’ around!  Thats about it for this post, and I surely hope to have made the two halter tops by the next post, sometime around the solstice, which will be June 20! 

How are your last weeks of spring coming along?

Sweater Descent

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

Put it all together and I have myself a fun and meaningful project on hand to ~ finally ~ learn the knack of cardigan making, with focus on unique approaches and short-cuts, and designed for ease which one can actually knit-while-walking. My descent from a shaky high ground through the ‘scree field of mistakes’ into the known of a secure expanse of solid-ground of skill and know-how, to find place where the cardigan can be my ‘go to’ pattern when I want to throw something together and try a new kind of yarn.  (hint, hint… I’ve been wanting to try  Studio Donegal yarns from Donegal, Ireland… forever and a day, but more about that yarn and that place  is another subject for another post).  My favorite kind of clothing is a cardigan, so I am wondering why then is my wardrobe so cardigan-anorexic at this time in my life?

So as a picture tells a thousand words, I leave you fully introduced into my meaning & intent of Sweater Descent, and as there is now the first, that implies intention of a series.

Here forth the mystery will appear from the mist…

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A Little Cardigan

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Hi folks. What you see here is the progress of a baby cardigan!  I do not really know what I am doing, and will have to soon consult the volumes which exist for sizing of babies, lengths, circumferences and all for tiny bitty ones to big bouncing ones. My hope is that I can have a baby set sometime by the end of summer (or sooner) .

It feels good to once again make myself a slave to indecision, to ripping out hours upon hours, reknit, then rip again, to blindly look in faith that I will find.  I will find the way to make this little lump of knitting into a darling perfectly fitting cardigan for babies. I will !

Until then, I show you my stitches of ever-so-soft Cascade 220 Superwash Sport. I am doing a lot of garter stitch edging instead of icord and trying to make this the easiest possible lace & stripes project that a knitter can make in a weekend, for a special Little Person that is coming into their world. That is my hope.

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As you can see, there is an opening on this design, it is not knit in-the-round, but ‘flat’ (back and forth, with a purl side). It will be seamless all the same, with little sleeves joined on to finish seamlessly. My purl stitching has become weak, from knitting everything in-the-round, but I am working out the purl muscles and will soon be up to par.  The edge you see is the same lace pattern that I’ve edged all my Penny Candy series, but on a bitty scale, and only 1 lace repeat. It will be cute and cuddly and cooing…and have little buttons!  

Really, its been ages since I’ve made a flat-knitted thing, and so looking forward to the button band section. More to come as it goes….

Renaissance of Hand-Drawn in Digital Era of Knitting

I have been observing, watching, studying the migration behavior of modern knitting. Lately, I have been ecstatic to spot a new trend of the hand-drawn illustrations in a few popular indie designers’ patterns.  I usually don’t link to others’ blogs, but I really would like to bring forth one of my favorite indie designers’ recent post about illustrating knitting, and how this particular post really helps ‘open the door’  for a new trend in my thinking.

I am only too happy to see a renaissance in the hand-drawn illustrations.  Mother of Modern Knitting Elizabeth Zimmerman who published many books, and well before the age of digital and knitting programs, drew the most unassuming, endearing, and unsophisticated sketches for her tutorial illustrations and schematic diagrams.

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If EZ’s endorsement of hand-drawn is my reference point of A , and the popular indie designers whom I admire who’s more refined artwork of the hand-drawn schematics as a point B, then I most surely have room to discover how my own drawing ability can develop in my own pattern writing.   Grass Roots is making a come-back.  About time !

I’ll make this short and sweet, and just show you something I put together in a few minutes yesterday.  It has the unpolished & rustic affect I long for , using pen & pencil out of the pencil jar next to the phone ~~~ the whole point of it is to *not* look too symmetric.

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(Ofcourse, text for the references” A, B, & C ” will be included in the actual pattern)  It is a simple and purposefully ‘sketchy’ illustrated schematic of my Penny Candy Tee, which the pattern will in fact , be finished soon,  after photos taken of my nieces modelling in Calistoga.  Having for a time decided to be among the ranks of indie designers who go at it the old-fashioned way, I am so happy to have found my feet now, and to enjoy this renaissance of the hand-drawn illustrations,  now I feel I can really run with it!!!

A Little Something of Lace

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I’ve been working steadily on a project , “A Little Something” ,  for The Wool Box.  I  talk in my previous posts   Posted From Italy  and   Yarn Whisperer  about Northern Italy’s  “The Wool Box” , of Biella’s heritage wool mill and yarns, and of specifically Oropa 1-ply with which I am working in a design.   I’ve changed course a couple of times, with piles of little half-lace mitts strewn about my loft room, I have worked and reworked,  and now I’ve pretty much nailed it.

In the process of experimentation, I’ve come up with a lovely eyelet-icord-rib hybrid edging for the Little Something I’m designing. I pretty much thought it up for myself, and I don’t know what to call it (I’ll come up with something soon).  Love how the single ply’s frisky & playful personality punctuates the edge !  This is after washing and blocking too.  So crisp, Oropa 1-ply is anything but tame . . .

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That said, I have discovered there is a ‘tender underbelly’ of Oropa 1-ply. Being a 1-ply, it does not have the support of another strand keeping it together as much, so when one picks up the end to knit, one must do so delicately, as the end does lose a bit of twist and becomes easily broken (but that’s a no-brainer with any single ply wool). I compensate by taking up a good 12 inches before knitting from an end. Did I mention that this sensitive side of Oropa is just really… well… ‘kitteny’.  . . is that a word?

Better said I suppose, as noting it’s shyer downy quality.

Upon examining the fluff at one of the unraveled ends I noticed  a small percentage of strong & slippery longer hairs and proportionally a lot more of shorter downy wool.  Definitely Old World wool.

*  *    *  *    *  *

On another note, I haven’t been able to knit much today (yet) as I was at a sort of Lady’s Social for the day,  held over at  my neighbor’s, here in the woods.  I actually made a lovely creme brulee from a big fat perfect Meyer lemon growing from our tiny tree in a pot.

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I packed the three brulees (there were three of us) into a little basket , covered them, threw my knitting bag over my shoulder, kissed Emma good-bye for a while and headed out into the woods (sadly) without her, for what was actually a short five-minute walk through back-country. I felt just like a fairytale character, like Red Ridinghood or Goldilocks.

Meyer Lemon creme brulee to-go, with carmelized sugar and all, delivered back-door style.

  In my opinion, beauty is in the small things, novelties as this. Little pots of golden tastiness !

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The recipe, for those interested, with just three ingredients, it’s incredibly easy and fast to make . . .

Meyer Lemon Creme Brulee:

1 very large and ripe Meyer lemon , 1 pint of heavy whipping cream, 1/2 cup organic sugar

Finely zest lemon and squeeze juice from it.

In small saucepan slowly heat pint of cream, while stirring, until it begins to boil.  Keep at ‘barely boiling’ for a couple of minutes, while stirring, then take off heat.

Add lemon zest , stir, and then slowly stir in the lemon juice.

Fill about 5 or 6 ramekin cups and let cool. Refrigerate for at keast 4 hours. Rest assured, it *does* set up !

About 20-30 minutes before serving,  sprinkle a teaspoon or two of sugar on top of each brulee,  and with a hand held torch ( or under broiler flame)  carmelize sugar until bubbles and darkens to a deep gold ~~~ while  creating a crisp layer on top.

Eat & Enjoy !

Posted From Italy

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The Wool Box ~ 100% made in Biella, Italy ~ photo by Manuele Cessonello

There is a place in Northern Italy which is nestled in the beautiful foothills of the Alps, called Biella.  High mountain pastures and bountiful springs and lakes has been intrinsic to Biella’s  standing in the wool & textiles industry as far back as mid 13th century.  However, since the turn of the modern 21st century,  the wool industry has suffered from widespread global competition.  Today, the “Wool Box” is there,  still in the midst of it all,  striving to keep heritage wools alive and well and most importantly ~~  available.

The Wool Box offers a carefully curated selection of rare Italian and European wool yarns in addition to a fine selection of wool roving for spinners and felters. The Wool Box focuses on short supply chain processing and full traceability of materials so that their 100% Italian wool means exactly that.

I am very excited to have the opportunity to design ‘a little something’ for the Wool Box, and folks, today I have just received yarn sent all the way from Northern Italy from the hands of Bonnie, volunteer English-speaking ambassador of the  Wool Box.  To me it resembles freshly pulled taffy from off of a candy pull machine, and swirls with such pleasurable tones of color & personality, that I can hardly wait to be flung into a spree of maniacal knitting.

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I hope that this project will breed other designs for the Wool Box yarns, as Bonnie has of course, sent me an armful of samples, which could very possibly keep me busy for a good long while, and of which I will show off another time. (Thank you Bonnie!)

For now, I am watering at the mouth at this beautiful duo of Oropa 1 ply wool from an historic wool mill of Biella, with one wish on my mind  . . .

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. . . and that is to have this design finished and ready for knitters before the cool weather subsides in the Northern Hemisphere.  I will keep you posted as I go along.

You can read all posts about this design for The Wool Box with Oropa 1ply HERE

In the meantime, if you would like to find out more about the Wool Box, Bonnie has created a place for it on Ravelry HERE  and on Facebook HERE.

Lastly, You can read more about “The New History of Italian Wool”  from Bonnie’s blog called “Wool In Italy” . . .  on her post HERE .

Pretty Little Things In Blue

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I’ve been test-knitting a size run of my  Pretty Little Things , and writing up & refining the pattern as I go. Technical writing is a very interesting thing, and really I never thought it would appeal to me. Yet now that I’ve done a few relatively simple patterns and relaxed a little since the last one , and now that it’s already into Autumn, I’m beginning to ‘chill out’ as they say.   Its really not a very big deal if I decided to write my patterns my way.

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After all, I’m not competing with anybody but myself.   As thoughtfully and as precisely as possible, and in as  standardized words as necessary, I’ll convey the instruction, however, I will allow my own voice to speak through the technical.  I can’t even begin to know if an idea that came to me is completely original or even a little, or not at all.  Degrees of originality don’t factor in, nor can they be measured.

I must be simply be in my own skin, and focus on communicating my idea and not worry and fret how others have done it, or said it, or written it before. My only wish for myself is that I communicate well and  am artful.

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There is suddenly in this Age of Indie Knit Design, a refreshing lack hard-core rules and so a wonderful freedom abounds. Especially so  with indie design which bleeds over into creative writing.   Oh, yeah, and lately I’ve been enjoying the creative writing style of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee immensely, reading-while-knitting I might add !  Her comedic book “Knitting Rules” has given me so much more confidence within myself to soldier on, in my own style, knowing that its okay to be different. I will learn one fine day at a time, and one design at a time.

Okay folks,

here’s a second pair of “Pretty Little Things” socks !

 It’s almost ready to go, so  you can expect pattern to pop up in the days ahead!

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( Forgive me the unavoidable clinging dog hair in the photos, if you have noticed even at all.  We, and the yarn, and All Things Knitted,  share hermitage here with a German Shedder Dog, and the hair being all over the house, hiding in every shadow ready to ambush any and all dog-hair-magnets.  We have had to just surrender to it. )