Yarn Tasting: Alafosslopi

jenjoycedesign-alafosslopi

Istex Alafosslopi, an Icelandic bulky-weight yarn, and it also comes in worsted-weight called ‘Lopi Lite, or Lett Lopi’.   It is single ply, very rustic, and in a palette of beautiful colors , tweeds, as well as many natural fleece shades too.  I must say, it is not spendy in the least…which I like. I like a lot.  Like so many super rustic yarns like this, one wonders how it could ever feel good and natural against one’s own skin, then one becomes surprised after the blocking is done and all those woolly hairs just loosen into a beautiful halo, find their place in the fabric, become relaxed and compliant, ultimately  giving a light & springy feel with lovely drape. I wouldn’t call this yarn “soft” by any stretch of the imagination, nay, it is full-on wool, pure, and even old-world feeling, yet I am thinking it to be the perfect yarn to prototype my next design with.

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The next design in fact, which I think will be my magnum opus  of basic knitted wardrobe items… my  favorite of favorites… a cardigan vest!  This pattern will have some really good options (which I will save for its debut) , and will be perfectly suitable for men, women, & children alike. The third in my  Calidez designs, it will be compatible for sport-thru-bulky  weight yarns and any kind of fiber.   I can’t wait to be finished with these and show you!

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As you can see in the photo there has been some ripping out going on, that is because after I finished and blocked the vest, it was not right… it was nice, it was classic, but I  felt it necessary to re-proportion the shaping in the armhole and neck opening, to make it perfect according to my own idea of a perfect vest shape. So here I am, in the middle of the whole thing, knitting up two samples at once, knitting…. ripping out…knitting again: repeat.

I might add that I have come down with a nasty cold (I hardly ever get sick) from the stress of election and a general frenzy of Things Going On, but regardless, I am as happy as can be because my Knitting Track is proving to be a heavenly thing, and I am obsessed with it!   The  leveled sections are a work in progress, but it is all a wonderful path As It Is, and I see a hazy vision of something keenly interesting in its future.   Late yesterday I walked the wooded track while knitting the dark grey bit of the vest above for one and a half miles… it was an enchanting knit-walk five times around the wild shaped figure-eight in and about the tall trees at dusk. I felt like a knitting pixi.

In spite of my cold, I was out there this morning in the supremely gorgeous weather, digging, scraping, leveling & tamping a section of the trail in and around some massive Douglas Firs, while also moving quite a bit of stone from the earth.  While digging around I found an old Olypia beer can, with a pull tab which (after some research ) I discovered dates to early 70’s, which I imagine was discarded from a hunter, so I placed it on a rock near where I found it, along the trail.  The first archaeological find while creating the knitting track,  a crumpled up vintage aluminum beer can…lol!

Lots to do and life is good.

Sweater Descent #2

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I have gotten another package from Kilcar in Ireland,  a lovely bunch of Studio Donegal yarn ! Worsted-weight,  one-hundred percent merino wool, and aptly named …

“Soft Donegal”

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In Sweater Descent #1  I wrote a sort of introduction for what is now my series Sweater Descent Project…

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.

And now for Sweater Descent #2

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This post also being a yarn-tasting theme , I would like to show you my yarn acquisition, and I am watering at the mouth truly, envisioning this in my second very own  Calidez Cardigan !   A rich depth of color, explosion of tweedy flecks, I am totally smitten with the color range of Studio Donegal “Soft Donegal” and see great potential for using this yarn in future designs.  But for now all there is left to do, is cast on!

jenjoycedesign© casting on.JPG

ps. I thought I would mention too, that Emma is one-hundred percent better, and managing the stairs all by herself with new addition of rugs!  And thats us… off to the Knitting Track!

summer knitting

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I’m going a bit crazy with linen blend yarns this spring & summer. I decided to knit up TWO striped summery cowls for my Canadian Nieces Molly & Maya.  The yarn I’m ‘tasting’ is “Firefly” by Classic Elite Yarns; a sport-weight %75 viscose & 25% linen ( but I tell you, it feels like mostly linen.)  Time is of the essence so I’m making no pretenses, I’ve just cast on, and I’ll see you on the flip-side.

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New Growth

jenjoycedesign© primavera

As I sit here at my table next to the window, peering out into the misty forest there is nearly a shock of new growth of madrone foliage.

jenjoycedesign© new growth

I have been inspired by the new growth in the woods lately, and decided to get out some dye, and run some experiments.  Unfortunately there are no before photos of this project, it was a skein of very heathery greyish blue, and the result of a very small amount of golden yellow powder dye in a slightly acidic dye bath, kept below simmer until the dye exhausted, is this …

jenjoycedesign© over-dyed

I am not a very good photographer, in that I really don’t know how to use a camera to grasp surface color variation, but I tried to put the yarn in different spaces to show the heathered flecks of bluer green and some of near neon yellow-green… and well, it all looks rather monotone from the eye of the camera. Can you see the heathered flecks?

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But, this whole dye project really has tickled a spot, and I realized that I have been dying many kinds of fiber for literally decades. I am having a bit of an epiphany today, a new growth in my thinking that I might want to dye single skeins, and make up some kits of printed patterns of my cowls to include some of my dyed yarns, I mean heck ~~everybody is doing it~~  kits, personal yarn lines, as well as the printed or downloadable pattern. The sky is no limit when one’s profession is in the realm of ‘Indie Knitwear Designer’. Thinking having these simple little kits available a haberdashery shop here on Yarnings.

I have the tools, the time, and a load of experience, so I’m enjoying a bit of dreaming just now !

jenjoycedesign© over-dyed 2

 

Emma is Eleven

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Today is Emma’s eleventh birthday.

014We had a party for her with some friends, who brought her lots of doggie treats and presents!006 (2)
We had home-made tamales, chocolate cake & icecream, and we can bake Emma her own dog biscuits now because we have a biscuit form, doggie cookbook and biscuit mix too!

And …

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. . . there’s a new squeaking raccoon toy to torture! 

We went for our traditional walk after the party was over, but Emma and I were too tired to go far. I followed her out into the woods….

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Then she stopped a while,

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and we both decided to go back home and play with her new toys and take a long nap!

Sweater Descent

jenjoycedesign© sweater-descent-aran-tweed

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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Twists

jenjoycedesign© Twists Mitts

Yesterday and today I made myself one of my most recent designs,

a pair of   Twists Mitts  to match the colorway of my favorite walking shirt…

 

 

I thought the result was pretty successful, and I love the yarn (Berocco Ultra Alpaca).  The shirt is an old wool thrift shop find from a few years ago, and I have worn just about every day 7 months out of the year. Anyway, I have been knitting up these mitts recently, trying different yarns and colors. I’m very happy with this simple & very rustic design with cables that almost seem asymmetric and give affect of deep waves which create amazing warmth.

 

 

I hope you try knitting yourself a pair to see for yourself how fun these are to make and how amazingly warm they are!

 

 

The Perfect Morning!

jenjoycedesign©Emma Oct 6, 2015

Its a beautiful day!  The temperature cool,  skies clear, and Emma and I had a good trail blaze this morning, finding new pathways and walking old ones. We’ve walked every single day this Autumn, and are very much on track, but just a little tired & aching too.  Back home to open up the doors and windows and let the smooth fresh Autumn air billow out the rafters ! Then I thought to get busy in the kitchen with my latest idea of potted brulee. But first some tea. . .

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I have been on a preserving kick lately, mostly with apple butter and small-batch jams but I have been thinking about ‘preserved’ custardy things …  just little yummy things in jars, like brulees, rice or tapioca pudding, like just pop the lid off and have something amazing & home-made sort of thing.  Yesterday I ran into town to buy a case of 1/2 cup little canning jars, and so I finally got busy  with steam baths and sterilizing jars and a good measure of inventiveness from a standard vanilla bean brulee recipe.  My idea was to cook the little custards in steamy water bath (with loose lids) for about 25 minutes, then when done, take them out and tighten lids immediately, like you do with jars of jam.   There’s no sweeter kitchen sound than the ‘ping’ of canning lids cooling with their vacuum tight seal.   Oh but I did leave one for tasting !

jenjoycedesign©potted-vanilla-bean-creme-brulee

After cooled I figure to keep them in the fridge, but will have a hugely longer shelf life as well as (I’m hoping) to maintain the freshness of ‘just made’ brulee. Well, that’s my latest experiment in any case. I can hear it begging to be slathered in home-made berry preserve. Can’t you? Or a sprinkle of raw sugar crystals caramelized with a brulee torch. Because lets face it, nothing is better.   Well, at least nothing comes to mind at the moment,  especially now that morning has become noon, and I’m hungry!

jenjoycedesign©potted creme brulee

Knitting Linen

jenjoycedesign©linen

I woke this morning with a vivid realization that a new experience awaits,  blossomed from an epic love relationship of linen.  As I ponder this, it would just have to be, as my love of knitting, and the fact that living in a climate where dryness and heat are a way of life half of the year, and well, even when it is cool and damp, I love to wear linen.

Since posting about this yarn ages ago,  originally I was intending it to be a lace thing, but I let it hibernate so long that it now wants to be something else. I think. Maybe. I am ambivalently thinking about making it into an actual shirt. I really don’t want to call it a ‘sweater’ as that evokes cold weather & sheepy cozy wooliness, which this is most definitely not. It will be a highly breathy creature, billowing in the breeze hanging dry on the clothes line after being washed in the washer with a load of jeans . . . something one could not dream of doing to wool . . . something one could toss on and wear into the town on a balmy day.

Flower of flaxOh, but first, it is understood that knitted linen fabric is nothing like woven linen fabric, and as I am a knitter, and not a weaver, the obvious task at hand is to master the fiber with knitting needles, wrestling it into submission as the flax was to make the linen strands. Interestingly, linen made from flax, a vegan sustainable resource which is in itself a hardy most beautiful plant.   Just look at it’s pure light blue delicate flower !  How can something so delicate come from a plant that is so incredibly strong and tough and enduring?   I love the metaphor of the delicate and enduring hardiness all in one , I really identify.

In a row . . .

jenjoycedesign©hooksTarnished brass hooks on an old oak barrel stave, an artifact from attic, something my mother bought decades ago, and I remember it even then. Now, cut down to fit a new space, and hung again, the row of hooks hold felted wool nests of yarn & needles hanging with purpose midway fulfilled, rounds unfinished, in perpetual knitting motion on the trails which I walk, we walk, Emma and I.

One foot and one paw, in front of the other, we advance over the chaotic forest floor in unison, attempting to find a familiar path to stake. A knitting trail to rake aside the stones and the fallen branches from wind storms, to walk mornings and evenings, while knitting and smelling the wildlife’s potent presence, we go forth. These felted bags seem happy and purposeful, each of them filled with a different knitting project, they wait their turn as well-loved servants.

jenjoycedesign©bags

As the summer wanes, the air brings quiet subtle twinges of Autumn, and my skin nearly feels the rain that will come two months from now.  Autumn is knit-walking season for me, when the forest has an aroma of spice the trails beckon us and knitting explodes into form. I am happy to say that I am finally getting to the hard work of the long-talked-about Knitting Trail.  Glimpses here and there, and everywhere  will be seen as the days shorten and the walks lengthen, and these bags hold secrets one day to be revealed, as will  sections of trail with the rustic forested sitting spots, glimpses to be shared here for you to gather and sit with me.

jenjoycedesign©knitting-bags

Here & now, in the stale weeks left of summer, I try to maintain a sense of productivity.  I can nearly count the days until the Autumnal Equinox, as it always becomes a very longed-for event in my life, when I am once again as a giddy child. Six weeks and four days . . .

. . .and counting !

Snowmelt Gaiters Sneak Preview

Candee Gaiters old poster advert

I found this advertisement when I was researching ‘gaiters’, used once upon a time in a street-smart fashion. Though the word ‘gaiters’ is only mentioned in Candee’s advert, it is the window display of shoes & gaiters which is telling. So commonplace once were gaiters, that the only thing better to improve upon them I guess, was complete rubbers to go over your shoes.

Historically gaiters were used for riding and street-wear, and yet we know them more modernly for alpine trail & snow use. This clever over-shoe accessory has kept ankles warm and shoes dry for centuries. Also known historically as Spatterdashes ( also ‘spats’) made of wool and buttoned up the side, either long knee-length or just above the ankles at the lower calf.  I have a treat for you, I just happen to have handy a real pair of antique gaiters or spats, which I found ages ago in a antiques barn sale, made with sturdy felted wool, complete with their celluloid buttons & fancy buttoning hook. I use to actually be able to wear these, and muddied them a few times. 

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So folks, what does all this have to do with knitting I bet you’re wondering?

Well, I have designed a purely fashionable simple knitted ‘gaiter’, with Snowmelt flower garland motifs, perfectly accommodating of modern womens’ ankles… and so here I present what it is that I’ve been working away on.

jenjoycedesign©Snowmelt Gaiter

Snowmelt Gaiters are worked in-the-round,  colorwork stranded with spots of duplicate stitch, as is Snowmelt tam & toque, and a spray of smaller 1/2″ hand-made dorset style buttons & icord loops within the edgeing.  I think quite all-around dandy!

jenjoycedesign©Snowmelt gaiter, tam & toque

I’m just a few days away from submitting the pattern, and finishing another pair which is longer , higher up the calf,  and in a granite grey background color , more representing of John Muir country after the snow is melted, rather than the snowy natural white.

jenjoycedesign©Snowmelt Gaiters

A New Design

jenjoycedesign©new designI am back and with renewed zeal to create !  Having two huge events happen right at the same time last month, one the happiest I could imagine and today being one-month anniversary of it, while the other a reactionary event of the crappiest that I’d do well to let be forgot, and so, well, I’ve been very distracted and just about flat-lined with the knitting as of late.

But great news is that I woke today nearly bursting with ideas and I simply must show and tell about the latest design exploding out of my head, or I shall die!  It surfaces from sentiments of weather, and cheerful spring emerging with spring-like motifs (about to start in on the colorwork chart just now) and so my knitting is feeling an urge to pounce, and I am absolutely just yearning for more hours in my day.

Stitching Old & (almost) New Together

004I was given a handful of really old collars by my girlfriend almost a year ago (thank you Sorcha!) and finally I have decided to put them to use, and started by performing stitch-work surgery to one of my favorite thrift shop finds, a linen jacket shirt with a ruffle at the bottom and big shell buttons. First I took the top button off, turned in and stitched down the high narrow collarless shirt to the dimensions of the lacework collar…
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Then I pinned the hem of the collar  just inside the edge of the shirt…

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Then simply whip-stitched the two things together and then turned the collar out, without ironing,  so it has that lofty personality of the collar…. and voila !

004The thing is , these few antique collars have cast a magic spell on me as I am in love with the -old-fashioned ritual of hand-stitching on a hand-made collar on to not-so-new clothing.  I just can’t imagine what might blossom from this seed.

Tartan & Tweed Redesigned !

jenjoycedesign©Man Tartan & Tweed Mitts  (2)
I am so glad to be finished with this redesign.  And so glad to introduce my new Tartan & Tweed Mitts!  One size adjustable with gauge to fit Men’s Large down to Kid Size. Here they are modeled by Jeff in Men’s Large…

… you can’t easily distinguish the colors, there’s grey, blue, and green. I very intentionally knit with colors of weathered Fraser tartan (um…they are Outlander mitts!), these in Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light (sport/DK) which this wool-fearing man seems to be quite okay with.

I’ve been feverishly knitting these mitts in several popular yarns, more Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light with a slightly tighter gauge to fit me, women’s small to medium,  in lovely greys…

I think the different tones of greys best shows the different contrasts in value, without the color distraction. Here is examples of the medium stripe (top), lightest stripe (middle) , and darkest stripe (bottom).

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But then when the colors play in, it’s magic !   These in Malabrigo Arroyo…

Some really interesting variations of chart are now included …

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And remember these?
jenjoycedesign©mini T&T mitts

The ” itty bitty mitties ” are miniature Tartan & Tweeds in sock yarn knit up in tiny US 1 needles, made for Nora last Christmas, who is only three. Oh! I almost forgot to mention, I have condensed the original pattern , that was in Shetland fingering yarns and 4 sizes, and included it at the end of the ‘new’ pattern. So that should be fun, and you should have a full plate of knitting options !
So folks, I’m kicking off this redesign with a promotion….

Edit in February 5 : PROMOTION ENDED.

Dicey Highland Hats !

jenjoycedesign©Dicey Capjenjoycedesign©Dicey Cap 2There are three shapes now, and all modeled together here in one ensemble. First of the three, the latest shape added to the pattern and gaining in popularity,  the Dicey Highland Cap (mentioned over in this post)  with or without a toorie (that is the felted wee pom pom) . . .

jenjoycedesign©Dicey Cap (no toorie)2 jenjoycedesign©Dicey Cap (no toorie)Next, the original shape,  the Dicey Highland Bonnet which was shaped with dramatic swag and swagger to emulate the traditional Scottish Highland bonnets . . .

jenjoycedesign©Dicey Bonnet 3jenjoycedesign©Dicey Bonnet jenjoycedesign©Dicey Bonnet 2

And last, the Dicey Highland Beret,  finished with an i-cord beret loop, and all together much more modest and a bit less voluminous than the bonnet . . .

jenjoycedesign©Dicey Beret

So there you have it.  The pattern is complete with the three shapes: Bonnet , Beret, and Cap.  If you would like to try to knit up maybe one or two (or three or four) of them for Christmas gifts like I am,  you can find the pattern available, once again, over HERE .

And after all the photo shooting, we settled into making a quick batch of raspberry moon pies for my nieces to take home, as is our tradition.

moon pies

The End Of Summer


My nieces came to visit and we migrated into the kitchen without a blink.

What do you do when you have to cram a lot of fun into a short 24-hour visit?


Have a lot of fun… a lot…. and do weird and crazy things.

Like make carrot ice-cream !!!


You know what? It was actually really good !

Here’s what we did:

In centrifugal juicer, we extracted juice from carrots until we had about 3/4 cups carrot juice, then  added about 1/4 cup sugar, and 1-1/2 cups cream, then churn in the icecream maker.

***   ***   ***

jenjoycedesign©contemplating-Autumn

The Autumnal equinox is approaching in a week, and it is my absolute favorite time of year.  When October comes along with the marine fog pouring over the ridge I always feel so cheerful.  And when the first soft rains wash the dust off of the parchment dry landscape, it comes back to life, and then I feel ecstatic.  Like a cougar ready to pounce I am anticipating earnest work ahead on the woodland knitting trail that I have been contemplating well over a year.  Autumn is my happiest time, and my most hard-laboring time.

Just that I will spend the next week, the end of summer, first finishing this…

jenjoycedesign©second-sleeve

(Not the cup of tea, but the sweater ) 😉  I am making good progress on the Autumn sweaters for my nieces, with the first one finished and the second more than half way done.  Soon I’ll be at the yoke joining sleeves to body, then it’s usually done pretty fast from there.

jenjoycedesign©knitting-progress

I am pretty well certain that I will be finished with both of the sweaters by the equinox, which is one week from today… and the photo shoot with nieces wearing them is scheduled for the first weekend in October ~~ so my fingers are crossed, and I’m so excited !  For this last week of summer I knit while the sounds of grape harvest surround us on the mountain , rattling gondolas towed behind tractors on the rugged dirt roads and chatter of jovial pickers are heard in the breeze.

 

In The Kitchen

jenjoycedesign©noodle-making As I mentioned in previous post, my nieces came for a visit for a couple of days.  We mostly ‘chillaxed’ around together with our EDC’s (electronic devices of choice: iphone, kindle, laptop) but with plenty of time in the kitchen, just the way the last days of summer vacation should be spent, after a very busy one they had.  Both nieces had a busy summer, but Miss Eleven had and an incredible growth spurt ~~ and this visit was special, as for the first and last time, we are all three the same height !

Two days, one night, and four times we flung flour. jenjoycedesign©making-noodles The first time was making noodles (flour & egg) for upon their arrival they were good and hungry and I had some home-made chicken soup all ready for their expert noodle work.  By the way, Miss Fourteen could easily win a chicken-noodle-soup-eating contest … hands down! jenjoycedesign©bakers Second time, made Amish moon pies ( flour & butter) with apple filling I had made ahead of time waiting in the freezer , and came to life good & proper with their very experienced moon-pie-making magic touch.  How many moon pies did I personally eat? Don’t ask, I lost count! jenjoycedesign©making-moon-pies jenjoycedesign©moon-pies! Third time, pizza for dinner (flour & yeast) which means of course, pizza dough… and lots more flour (sorry , no photo of pizza) .  Fourth time, next day repeat noodle making for to finish off the chicken soup. Thats about it, a whirl-wind couple of days flinging flour and exhausting relaxation.  We three girls thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and that’s certain.

What totally killed me was in our last hour before I had to bring them back to Calistoga to meet their mom,  Miss Eleven says ” Lets bake something ! ”  Can you believe that? C’mon kid ! She cracks me up. Anyway,  we will leave you with our humble little noodle recipe . . .

jenjoycedesign©moon-pies

~ My Niece’s Way of Noodle-Making ~

Crack one egg into bowl. Add a pinch of salt, and maybe pepper and other herbs & flavors ‘to taste’~ whatever strikes your fancy. Add flour and stir with fork until ball forms. Add only enough flour to keep very moist wad of dough so that you can pick it up with your hands, the rest of the flour will be added from well-floured hands and surface. Break off small chunks and roll out with your hands. When all rolled out, into a pan of rapidly boiling water, or chicken broth, or soup, add all noodles quickly and at once,  Stir , then let simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes. Eat and savor the hand-made goodness.

Camp Socks

jenjoycedesign©camp knitting
Its already been almost three weeks since we were at 9000 ft elevation and I was knitting-in-the-wild beneath a lovely brewing storm on a huge granite rock. I had so thoroughly enjoyed the quick packing trek to Granite Lake, the sitting cross-legged on the granite in complete stitching meditation, one with the darkening sky and gathering storm, the quiet of everything before the outbreak, even the fish hunkering down.  Yet I remember yet distinct intermittent sounds ~~  the wind whipping the tent about and water boiling to make trail coffee. And it just doesn’t get any better than that ( High Sierra trip posted here ).

So here my friends, are another pair of Penny Candy Socks. Just a simple, wild & maybe even frivolous (and very blue) pair of socks, made on that High Sierra excursion but I hadn’t gotten around to washing & blocking them until just now.

jenjoycedesign©camp socks finished !

jenjoycedesign©finished camp socks

And they are added to the slowly growing pile of knitted socks designated for xmas gifts….

jenjoycedesign©pile of socks

Gad… already LESS than only five months away!   Horror of the crafting gift-maker-and-giver is that xmas appears in a blink after sweltering heat of summer, when one couldn’t feel further away from the winter solstice and gift-giving frenzy. But I’m wise now, at my age, I’ve learned, and I am already stashing knitted gifts…

jenjoycedesign©box of sox

 *  *  *

I’ve already gotten about 12″ into one of two Autumn Sweaters 2014 , but no hints on that yet (top top secret!) .  In contrast to tiny stitches of fingering & fine fingering yarn for socks, gloves, hats….  I am knitting rounds and rounds of worsted-weight, and how refreshingly speedy I’m turning out the rounds for a change!

In the next few days my nieces will be visiting up here in the Hermitage again, for a visit in their last week of summer vacation, so we’ll be up to baking in the kitchen, in addition to just generally “chil-laxing” as they put it,  and not without their ECD’s ((electronic devices of choice ))~~ but no doubt the visit will be  punctuated with famously artistic and fun photo-shoot after digging through my cedar trunk now becoming quite full of knitteds.  Looking forward to that,  and we’ll see you on the flipside of the riotous occasion!

Note:  Oh! The hand-made wooden Shaker-style box, if not authentic Shaker box, was found last week at my favorite thrift shop for $4 ~ a bargain !  It is now a lovely knitting notions box & photo prop as well, and I’m super pleased with myself for finding it.

Just Hanging Around Knitting . . .

jenjoycedesign©azul-band

I’m pleased with myself for I indeed got the Dicey Highland Bonnet pattern updated yesterday to include the Dicey Highland Beret, and now I am squeezing in a quickie before I have to wind myself up to the max for the big Autumn Sweater Thing that I do every Autumnal Equinox for my nieces.

Backstory. Last Friday was the Independence Day holiday here, and we went on over to my brother’s  as there was quite the party happening in his little Appalachian-esque neighborhood. Well, there I am knitting, you know ‘on-the-go’ , with the knitting bag slung over my shoulder and knitting as I always do. My youngest niece, Miss Eleven-Years-Old  knows how to knit,  and is getting better, so I said “Lets get you some knitting ! ” … so we walked down to her house and raided her mom’s stash & needles, and found a darling knitting bag and we set her up to knit-on-the-go too. So there’s the two of us among the wild & crazy dancing & feasting folk outside, she and I knitting together  near the whole time, while walking about here and there with knitting satchels slung over our shoulders, swaying to the music … knit-dancing ! … and thoroughly enjoying our peaceful & productive selves ( stopping only to munch cake and other wonderful things ) . She got nearly half of a garter-stitch cotton dish cloth finished, and I made great progress on my hat band.  I knit until it was too dark to knit any longer, however, Miss Eleven carried on knitting into the darkness which totally killed me, her eyes like a hawk’s .

Backstory over. About the forthcoming big Autumn Thing, this year I’ve got some ideas, I may either come up with a whole new design from which I will write & submit a pattern, or, I’ll just add some sleeves to my Penny Candy Tee.  ((By the way, many folk have been making them, and I’ve been so proud !)) Whichever way I go, I must say, I better get cracking because it’s already first week over in July, and at the speed the seasons are going, I best not dawdle.

But I have a bee in my bonnet for the moment, about a wide and shaped band for a hat, and playing with some Alice Starmore Hebridean 2ply I’m on a roll.  I’ve got most of my big chores out of the way for the week, so looking forward to just hanging around knitting !

Its Only Knitting

I’ve been busy as a bee working away on my designs, coming up with new ones and further test-knitting my existing ones.  Add now tutorials.  I have gotten to the point in the whole knitting Thing where I really don’t have time or energy to put into anything which is not my own design.  I really can’t regret this , because whether or not I endeavor to write the design into a pattern, I’ve just come to face the fact that I have to make up for lost time.  I’ve embraced Indie Design, and am committed to wear ‘all of the hats’ in the job, and I’m ready for a lot of hard work ahead. The more I tell myself this the more I want to work like an ox towards succeeding. However, the elusive truth often escapes me, and that is ” Its only knitting. ”   A quote of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s used by over-zealous knitters everywhere.  Although it is ‘only knitting’ ,  I am practically ‘only knitting’. I have little chalkboards I’ve made which I’ve placed in prominent places of my work space ,  with lists or sage messages to give me perspective, and I use them to keep my focus clear wherever I turn.  Today’s brilliant message . . .

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Yarn Tasting : Four Sock Yarns

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I have sock yarn ‘on my brain’ and in recent many weeks have been trying different brands in a sort of comparison & contrast project ~~ in a Sock Yarn Tasting !  I even accidentally (well, almost) designed a new thing in the process of fiddling around with sock yarn (more on that later).  Although my Sock Yarn Tasting has been a great source of entertainment for myself, and I actually do feel a sense of earnestness to convey my thoughts on the matter .  At the very least, in the process of comparing I’ve settled on my favorites, and better yet, answered my curiosity as to why.

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I have knit On The Trail ,  a whole lot (it’s what I do) ,  also while waiting for pots to simmer & the kettle to boil, while watching tv, while talking on the phone, while reading, and even  sometimes in between sets at gigs, so my knitting is always hanging on the chair back.  So, while my hands have gotten a bit sore from all of this knitting, I am pleased with the small woolly mountain of knitteds which I am producing.  Soon I’ll be off to Vancouver for Jeff’s family reunion of sorts and you can be certain I’ll be packing up my menagerie of socks-in-progress to  take along, and excuse myself for being entrapped by the knitting while in others’ company,  returning hopefully with a pair or two to add to the growing stack of socks I am squirrelling away for the gift-giving holidays.

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I am  just am so filled with a sense of giddy & calm pride, as I have found knitting socks to be my meditation.  Ahem, okay, so here’s my observations so far of the superstars of sock yarn market which I am sampling : Madelinetosh “Tosh Sock” , Malabrigo “Sock”, Shibui “Sock” , and Sweet Georgia “Tough Love Sock”~~~ all knit up with my Penny Candy Socks pattern with size 2.75mm – US 2 circular needles (two of them).

As Shibui Sock & Madelinetosh Tosh Sock seem to me about the same thickness, I knit them together in stripes because they feel nearly identical in thickness,  though the Tosh Sock is a tiny bit more ‘firm’ , they are thicker, and even a bit fluffier.

jenjoycedesign©Thai Ginger Lime Chews

Ginger Lime Chews Penny Candy Socks, details on Ravelry HERE 

I observe that the fabric of Tosh Sock & Shibui Sock produced is more substantial, and would be great for a slightly thicker pair of socks but as this is so,  I might only wear these socks with the roomiest of my shoes. Great for hiking boots, great for Dansko Clogs which tend to fit a little roomy anyway. (Note to self: get another pair of Dansko Clogs !) but not so great for my dressier shoes.  Soft, plush, firm.

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Next in the line-up, Sweet Georgia “Tough Love Sock”.  This yarn is indeed a tough yarn. So much in fact, that I suspect the slight lack  of elastic properties of the yarn effected the gauge, as the same number of stitches on same needles as I knit the others, the Sweet Georgia socks turned out really very large by comparison !  I stopped at one sock, not sure how to proceed, for these would indeed be tough socks and big enough for a man, I just couldn’t think of any men I’d like to give orangey red lace-bordered socks to.  No offense to you men who would love them,  I just wasn’t in the mood to make the second sock, so I will post the photo of the one.

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I think I might have to compensate with this yarn’s properties, to knit the next size smaller with them and see how that works. ((also notice that the two colors were so alike, melting into each other a little too much , that seeing the stripes was insanely difficult)).

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Finally, for the kind of socks that one would easily slip into one’s favorite shoes , that is, shoes worn regularly with store-bought socks, the finer fabric of Malabrigo’s fine fingering-weight  “Sock” wins out.  Mostly for it’s soft resilient and lovely elastic feel, but equally for the rich colors in each hand-dyed skein.  I have to say also that I have a real penchant for “oh so fine” knitting these days, and it’s fine-fingering weight that I seriously am in love with.

jenjoycedesign©Malabrigo ImpressionistSky y Aguas

My Penny Candy Socks and Pretty Little Things Gloves  are designed with Malabrigo, and I’m more than happy with the slightly delicate character of the fine fingering yarn with its superwash easy-care and softness of touch. In fact, I feel like hoarding every ‘solid’ color of Peruvian-made Malabrigo yarn, and happily knitting Penny Candy Socks  for everyone I know.

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Blueberry Gumballs Penny Candy Socks, details on Ravelry HERE

It is a goal of mine to knit for next holiday season, as there’ll be no hitting the shops in a bug-eyed panic to find something meaningful. Because basically, it can’t get much more meaningful than hand-knit socks knit fresh only months previously.

I’ll end this yarn tasting with more Malabrigo yarn on the needles, in murky green and clear blue.  This photo was taken early this morning, as the stripes began to colorplay . . .

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Socks in progress,  details on Ravelry HERE

 

Una Cosettina

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Una Cosettina, or ‘ A Little Something’ is the name of these half-mitts, designed especially for Oropa 1ply yarn, which is made with wool from sheep which have roamed the foothills of Alps of Northern Italy for perhaps a thousand years. Who knows for sure?  But, there is an age-old mill in Biella which uses much the same processing methods  as of long ago , and which make the wool from these Old-World sheep into yarn. Oropa 1ply is a rustic heritage yarn as rugged as the mountain terrain it comes from. Truly Oropa yarn is nothing less than a timeless treasure.

((Lots of information about The Wool Box  at bottom of page))

I talk a lot about the yarn, and Biella’s place in Italy’s wool industry in  Posted From Italy  ,  Yarn Whisperer  , and some about elements of design process in my previous post.

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We have a pattern friends !!!

The design incorporates my own edging  which I will simply call my ‘eyelet edging’, a cast-on and bind-off’ , having  elements of i-cord, rib, and lace all in one.

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Shown in Pearl Grey & Natural Oropa 1ply,  sturdy & feminine, these half-mitts will keep your hands toasty warm, while letting the spring breezes through from it’s open lace-work. A feminine take on riding gloves of olden days perhaps, slightly bell-shaped , stylish, and ready to make a spectacular conversation piece when people ask about them.

jenjoycedesign©Lacey Little Somethings half-mitts

Modeling both sizes ~ smaller size to left, larger size at top.
((I wear a women’s small, by the way))

The photos show both sizes, and two slightly different cast-on eyelet edgings at the beginning of cuff,  the end result in pattern, is slightly again different, combining both. (it was just a matter of changing one round of rib, into knit stitch).

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In the weeks ahead this very same pattern is undergoing translation into Italian, and it will then become available to purchase in kit form with the very same Oropa 1ply yarn as you see in photo.  As soon as I have any information to the kit being ready, I will post in celebration of a job well done collaboratively , having a sense of place from both Northern California, and Northern Italy.

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In photo, larger with optional extra lacework repeat to left, smaller without extra repeat on right.

Meanwhile I will have this pattern for sale along with my other designs, which you will find on Yarnings over it’s pattern page HERE

and on Ravelry HERE

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 Thank you Bonnie, for asking me if I would like to design una cosettina (a little something) for The Wool Box, because I most certainly and thoroughly enjoyed it !  May only ever the warm & soft breezes of spring blow through your lace  ~~ Ciao.

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Now, for a little more information about The Wool Box !

 You may read a little bit about  Some info on The Wool Box  and then check out the English translated websites that Volunteer English-speaking Ambassador to The Wool Box , Bonnie, as created on Ravelry HERE  and on Facebook HERE.

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

If you would like to contact The Wool Box directly (in Italy),  below are links Bonnie  has provided me:

The Wool Box Shop: www.thewoolbox.it
Informazioni: info@thewoolbox.it
Customer Service: customer-service@thewoolbox.com

Introducing “Pretty Little Things” (PLT) Gloves !

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At last !  After a mountain of reworking and writing and editing, I finally have the pattern ready for PLT gloves. I have been working like an ox (like a pair of oxen!) on these for longer than I care to remember (clear back into October perhaps???) and I collapse in front of you all, with one last utterance before I lose consciousness and that is . . .

” Please stop on over  on the pattern page  and see all the prettiness there is to be seen” !  Also you can visit the sisters of PLT gloves ~~~ Pretty Little Things Socks   and make a sock & glove matching set !

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Now Reading . . .

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Birthday cake for breakfast?  You bet ! As last night we were too stuffed from dinner out, we couldn’t eat even a bite, so birthday cake was waiting to be cut into this morning.   ((My top-secret-recipe cake, which I made myself for myself (I know!) … only as I love to have an opportunity to keep practiced.))

I now am a proud owner of a hand-made book stand,  and  Jeff  made it for me, and on very short notice !

(Miss MacLeod , thank you for the epic read with which I am about to test out my new book stand ! xx)

jenjoycedesign©book-&- stand

The best thing about this book stand is that it has a very wide base and I can easily perch it on the half-wall under the skylight and read-while-knitting-while-standing. Its been a lovely birthday, thank you much for all of your sweet birthday wishes yesterday .

I really couldn’t be happier, because as I post this . . .  it’s raining!

Grey Days Of January

 

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Grey  “yarn days”  of January.

A lull after the knitting frenzy  (and posting frenzy) of December !

I’m having fun with balls of yarn about the house.

Bathroom mirror blues . . .

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Yarn steps . . .

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In the bed frame . . .

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Another  knitting needle yarn kebab . . .

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Green . . .  waiting for rain !

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Precarious !

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Having some fun today (being my birthday) photographing yarn.  These will be fun new banners for Yarnings . . .  I  figured , well, it is just so artful,  yarn in a sense of place. On the stairway landing half-wall where I photograph so much, on the stair steps themselves (a very favored personal trend) ,  and even precariously balanced on the iron rail which overlooks the lower part of our house, and all places which get a deal of light flooding from above via sky windows .

And now Emma and I are going for a walk while I rattle off a few more fingers in Pretty Little Things gloves . . .  prototypes which will be finished , photographed, and pattern ready soon!

Six Days

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Taking a break from the yarns,  and before I get into the next big project, I thought I’d make a batch of cranberry jam !  The mountain’s freeze-drying wind is keeping me from walking today, and so here I am, with cheery sing-along Christmas songs , a fire in the woodstove,  and more still to make.

 Just feeling rather cheer’d by the seasonal dazzle of colored lights and sentimental old ornaments.  Some are very old, as this doll’s doll that was my mother’s as a child, which I made into an ‘ornament’ years ago,  and the little sheep given to me by a friend back when I just started learning to spin and got a spinning wheel  . . .

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And the little ‘teazle mouse’ given along with a really generous gift certificate to a lovely spinning shop, now two decades ago (does anybody remember the one in Jack London Square in Sonoma??)  I remember I only got to spend a little of it before the shop sadly went out of business.

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I’ll be making some peppery spiced cocoa a little later today so do hang around !

Wild Boot Socks


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Here’s some wild-caught boot socks  (not the farmed variety. )

Edit In 10/15 :  Now, the day after, I can tell the world these were made for my  ten-year-old niece who just turned eleven yesterday !  I stuffed them with retro candy and she loved ’em!

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I’ve been sketching with some DK yarn bits in my stash drawer. Total improvisation of color stranded motifs. Like fly-fishing for wild trout, one listens closely to their instincts .

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Just a wild pair of boot socks, playing with color and also functional design. I talk about this process way back in this post  

These would pair well with hiking boots or big ol’ clogs.

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Wild Boot Socks details on Ravelry HERE

Upcoming: I’m working on the last of the size-run test-knitting and then pattern for PrettyLittleThings socks should be making an appearance! I got sidetracked with some other knitting projects, but now there’s nothing standing between me and the pattern. 🙂

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. )

A Toothsome Treat

004I made an icecream cake, and here’s how I did it . . .

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I started with one layer , using half of a cake recipe.

094Ahead of time, I started heating cream with chocolate in it for the ganache pour.  I made a very creamy concoction of about 1 cup cream to 4 or 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, heating in a bowl over water (double boiler)  very slowly.  I then added a little liqueur into the chocolate.

095I made the icecream.

096Genache, icecream, and cooled cake, now cut carefully in half, inside edge up, all ready.

097 I spoon into the layers some yummy flavored liqueur.  The liqueur options probably not a good idea for a kid’s cake.   Furthermore, probably would be best to freeze the layers at this point, though I didn’t for this one, I wish I had.

099I spoon the soft icecream on to the thickest cake layer.

101And I pop the other on top, pressing a little tiny bit.

102Smoothing out the sides a bit, and pop in freezer to harden up.

103I begin a process of pouring a little runny genache on top and spreading it down sides, then putting back in the freezer for about 10 minutes, though it quickly became very messy, this was just the first pour. Do this until you have no more genache, or save the last bit to put into a cake decorator bag and write something on top, such as ” I dare you to eat this all at once ! ” or ” Happy Birthday ” or whatever.

Pretty Little Things

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A nice pretty little pair of socks I’ve been working on here and there while knit-walking the mountain.  Pretty Little Things were so much fun to make !  I managed to make a knitted hemmed folded cuff, nearly three inches wide, lined, knitted back into the work, added a darling picot edge, and one tiny wee peerie to make it just pretty enough !

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Did I say pretty?  I might add plain, basic, sturdy, utilitarian, old-fashioned looking, and as sleek as porpoises because there’s no ribbing.  Oh, and they are very, very warm !

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The ‘legs’ are two layers thick of stockinette stitch, lined, so they actually hug my ankles snugly.

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My little feet feel so pretty and are very happy indeed to have their first socks knitted custom, just for them !

I used stash yarn of fine fingering 75% Superwash Merino/ 25% nylon sock yarn, with US#0 (2mm) needles, and the fabric is thick & dense, though very soft.  I am sure they will wear very well.  Anyway,  I think they are different, and I’m quite taken with them !

You can bet on a pattern for these popping up here sometime soon , so hang around !