Lupinus Albifrons

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Lupinus Albifrons.  Known as  just ‘ lupine ‘, it is one of the more populated native wildflowers of Northern California, and in April fills the mountain meadows, between grape vines in the rows, and trail-sides with deep blue & purple variegation.  A small woody shrub when mature, however, where grass is mowed annually (as in the vineyard rows here on the mountain)  and where seed is planted from the wind, you’ll see it popping up everywhere as young single stemmed flowers . . .

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I luckily had just the perfect yarn handy when I became inspired from my walk of last week.  I had a bunch of green which I over-dyed from grey wool which  perfectly illustrates the ‘silvery’ grey-green leaves of the plant. The rich deep blue and purple played illusive games however with the camera, which wasn’t able to distinguish the two, and both came out as blue tones in most of the photos. But here it is , un chullo, for my brother’s birthday tomorrow!

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I absolutely go wild photographing still-life knitteds ~~ its just one of the things I love doing, in every light possible , which enables me to make an assemblage of photos that catches different tones and characteristics  of the yarns and knitted shapes . . .

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The detail with which I experimented for the first time on this chullo hat, was to add a running crocheted chain just inside the typically chullo-esque double-crocheted edge, to neaten up the edge.

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I love to make my chullo hats a bit of a hybrid with gnome hats by decreasing into a point, then finishing with a braid extending off of the top . . .

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They blossom into a hat with a lot of character and playful whimsy . . .

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The crocheted edges  tame the curling tendency of the stockinette stitch. . .

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Braid finishes being made on both ear flaps . . .

(the purple really pops in this photo below !)

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Un chullo,  inspired from the lupine flowers  in the fields of Northern California.  To be given to my brother tomorrow, and there could be nobody more appreciative than he, who wears them everyday , and who is also a botanical wizard !

jenjoycedesign©finished !

NOTE :  I have taken notes as I knit this one, so if anybody is interested, I could assemble a pattern of sorts from it.

Details on Ravelry HERE

Well, I’m off to walk the mountain with Emma, but I will leave you with a little slide show of the early morning walk of last weekend, from which this chullo’s lupine photos were taken . . .

Nora’s Birthday Sweater

Is Finished ! 

After carrying on about i-cord…

… and deliberating over this & that….

And finishing touches…

Photographed in different lighting…

At long last this little sweater can go to it’s wee little child.  In fact, her birthday is just three days before Easter this year, and it *does* happen to look very much like a painted Easter egg !

Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitting Workshop

For the moment I am immersed in knitting-while-watching this instructional dvd I borrowed from the local library.  I am blissfully captivated for hours and hours,  learning all about everything Zimmermann Knitting, even the things I thought I already knew, I am learning again, and better.   Taking a break, while about two thirds the way through the series ~ while working untiringly on Eleanor’s birthday sweater, which is rather ending up quite another  improvisation, I must admit.  I can’t get enough of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s lessons on seamless yoke sweaters, and her Percentage System,  her very creative ways of  hemming ( and with messages in the hem, now that is clever !)… just about every kind of decrease and increase,  and just all those Zimmermann-esque finer touches.

Right now, I’m on the lesson about how to do applied i-cord. I had only suspected before, but now I know for sure that it was Elizabeth Zimmermann who developed the  ‘ i-cord’ in knitting.  The name she called this cord was just her more polite rewording the name idiot cord ( how unbelievably sweet of her. )   I think the i-cord was her way of achieving the same product that was made from  ‘spool knitting’,  and she pretty much figured out how to do on knitting needles, casting on with it, binding off with it, and applying it from picked-up stitches just about anywhere in between. Brilliant.

Oh , but she, the Mother Of Modern Knitting also brought the i-cord into center stage, and demonstrated  just about every concievable way to use it on a piece of knitting or lace border, or for just about everything.  For me the genius of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s i-cord is only just being realized, as I watch her “Knitting Workshop” , oh, she is showing her i-cord applied as edging for , or instead of ~ button bands , and she has created dear little buttonholes too, both invisibly as detached in intervals along the applied border, and also decoratively as loops !  All this she demonstrates and talks so with a manner of teasing,  as if I would want nothing more than to take that piece of knitterly candy right out of her outstretched palm. Genius ! If the Mother Of Modern Knitting wants me to use it , I shall.

Watching this dvd  just today is just perfect timing, it’s uncanny, because I’ve been deliberating on how to do the button bands of Nora’s  pullover, which has a neck button band, which is tricky and I’ve never done one. I do believe EZ’s instruction on how to apply the i-cord as an ‘invisible’  buttonhole band is going to be the answer to my puzzle.  It was meant to be !  I am smitten.

Anyway,  I have SO many ideas coming to mind, and I love most how she encourages thoroughly, total experimentation,  and figuring out as you go.  And well, it’s no big deal because as she always says ~” it’s only knitting “.   How wonderful she is.  I just love her !

And now to quote EZ ~

~~~~Good Knitting !

Edit In :  Just finished the dvd.  I am refreshed with a tenacious desire to knit some textured Fisherman ganseys as well as more traditional Scottish Fair Isle things.  And, well, I have just learned a NEW thing that I’ve never seen before.  EZ’s sideways border and sideways join on front and back of sweaters, looking very much like a saddle shoulder on textured knitted sweater, but it’s especially brilliant because it is more like a yoke and  allows the neck shaping to be easily done.    I always wondered how these things were handled. Now I know.  I will likely go wild with the SIDEWAYS BORDER and JOIN …  so much that I am afraid I will become Sideways !  I will have to watch this over again and again, I think that she just has a way of rubbing off a certain amount of No Sweat, its-only-knitting sort of attitude which I just adore.

Hey ! It’s only knitting !

My Knitting Companion

Emma curls up while I knit.  How sweet.

As is her way, she naps on this particular bed in a slightly guilty slumber, because not only has she only recently been allowed up on this bed ~ which was mine before moving in with Jeff ~ but it’s the only piece of house furniture she’s allowed on. Well, wait, that’s excluding her own chair in the main room, (and mind you , she has three full-sized dog beds in the house as well ! )  There seems to be a theme elsewhere in the knitterly community in which I virtually pack around with, as I was reading another knitter’s blog I found a coincidence that a very similar beast was keeping company somewhere up North, the companion of Celtic Cast-On !

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So the finishing is taking place ( binding off here) with Nieces’ Spring Sweater Tee’s.

How unlikely for me, this near neon mass of knitted color !

But kids, you know, they love color and they love intense shades.

Learning curve: Absurdly it’s taken me three times (each) to knit the neck applying a new technique of short-row shaping around the whole neckline,  2/2 rib , and  binding off , to get the ‘tee’ neckline shape that I want.  It didn’t help that I  just kept changing my mind.  Learned plenty, and made notes !  Just have to weave in the ends and wash & block.  Then I can take photos of them modelling the sweaters, which is by far the best part of the whole thing.  This year they’ll be ready ahead of time !

Refining Details

This cardigan is the second sweater that I’ve bordered my signature rib with a  vikkel braid stitch.  I only say ‘signature rib’ not because I had anything to do with inventing,  but it is a hybrid rib & moss stitch edging I made up for myself  after some experimentation, and which I love so much that I don’t see any end to using.  In particular,  the bound-off edge I use matches it perfectly, or mirrors the vikkel, making the rib nicely bordered by a braid on both sides.  With the addition of the vikkel braid stitch, I feel my edging style is symmetric, pleasing , and finished.


The vikkel works so well as a transition between the ‘body’ and the ‘edge’ because it seems to cover up a sometimes awkward and messy decrease row transitioning into the rib band that seamless yoke sweaters tend to have. Next time I may try two rows of vikkel braid stitch. Or three !

The finish of the two short seems at the join of the body and arms, has become a matter of finer finishings for me. I always do a rough job of sewing seams from raw bound-off edges, but I do love the grafting idea, so I just transfer the stitches onto two short needles (or scrap yarn, or stitch holder) instead of binding off, so they’re all ready to graft together with no hassle. In fact, I think next time I will graft first thing so I’m not having to knit the whole yoke with the hardware hanging out of the armpits. Get it over and done with!

Each time I do this grafting thing to bring the tiny seam together at the ‘arm pit’, I get better ( that is in theory, unless there’s a bit of a time lapse between the last, which in this case, may have been too long).

Practice makes perfect and I’m observing that once the stitches are taken off the needle and grafted together, that trying to take them apart to do over is courting disaster. So, rather than doing the grafting over, I’ll just leave it looking messy and smoosh out the bulky grafted seams when I wash and block.

Vikkel Braid Finishes

I have learned the Vikkel Braid trim ! I am so excited !

I found the instruction on YouTube, and learned also that Nancy Bush’s book “Folk Knitting In Estonia” has Vikkel braid finishes in her pattens.  (I must get this book !)

I did the first row after a long-tail cast-on with the Vikkel Braid, then after my rib/moss border, I did another Vikkel. The really exciting thing is that the bind-off method I use matches , so I can have the cast-on edge look like the bind-off edge. And it’s stretchy too. This shall among my signature edgings !

With the long-tail cast-on, the Vikkel Braid is very square, thick, and looks braided from beneath as well.

With the simplest back loop cast-on, the Vikkel Braid lays flatter, but the braid shows underneath, not on the side.

Fussing About

I am working on a kind of signature edging. A hybrid sort of rib with ‘moss’ stitch in between the ribs. (I realize there is probably an official name for this exact rib, but for now I’m thinking it up for myself).

In fact, this whole designing concept is quite a new thing for me. I’ve been browsing and reading knitters’ blogs lately, knitting designers’ blogs in particular.  I don’t know, but maybe one day I’d like to see myself among this vast tribe, selling a pdf pattern or two of my own, and I think that I will make that a goal for this year, or next.  I’m one of those people in life who always wilts in the heat of competition, but I ask myself “Why not me too?” ~ and I honestly can’t think of a reason not to. This is good for a change, a big growing up step for me.