A Mill Tour

The sun has moved into Libra  and it is Autumn!    After some sleuthing I have come up with yet another amazing virtual mill tour!  In it is superbly artful wool color blending,  wool sandwiches fed to the fear-not machine, old style mill spinning with a “mule”,  custom weaving into the cloth for a cloth designer, and finally, the cloth finishing.  It is absolutely loaded with all sorts of tweedy goodness ~~~ enjoy!

See all Mill Tours

Two years ago today . . .

jenjoycedesignc2a9-sea-shell-rolags

From The Archives:  The Color Of Seashells

Two years ago today I was having a magical summer of discovery of wool blending and of color mixing.  It was on this day,  between blending Seashells, and  spinning Seashells and my hands were full of fluffy ultra-fine merino fluff with streaks of silky shiny bamboo, and splashes of color, and I fell totally in love with color blending on the blending board in that month of September 2017.

I am now making a running start folks, to land this phoenix bird in flight to the very same heartful & mindful place as then,  as if it were a blink of two years that I have not just wasted mourning in upheaval, but I have developed inwardly from great depths.  In transition homeward I feel the grip of intention taking hold and whether I am waking from a dream (yes, it so feels that way) or just finally ready, I am feeling suddenly endowed with a plan. A real plan.  More on this in forthcoming posts!

I have been spinning in the last few weeks a big 500g project of color blending that is mostly wool that was given to me — top roving mostly — and up until now my biggest focus has been color mix. I am all about color these days, being more of a colorist than a spinner with any real talent, but I am feeling a shift going on. I crave to spin submissive fluffy air light rolags and it occurs to me that I need to now focus not only on color, but staple of wool (that is the length of the hairs) and on drafting the rolags in a fashion which allows light-as-air spinning.  To get my thought, please watch this lovely short video (with gorgeous violin) that Morrie (“Moz”) just sent to me after I was writing to her about woolen spinning, and fiber staple, and even fiber consistency  ((thank you Morrie, this was just the drink I needed!)) . . .

If you go visit the page of the video, in the notes the author Ruth MacGregor writes a little bit about woollen vs worsted spinning. Woollen spinning is the technique which is beckoning to me, and at the risk of seeming so fickle, I have a hankering to start another  blending project as soon as our building final has passed sometime in the weeks forthcoming, and really sink my teeth into this woolen spinning technique. I am committed to spinning up all my 500g of English Rose Tweed, although not ‘monogamously’ ~~ I am going to be off on a tangent at the same time. Many tangents perhaps.

Can any of you spinning talents out there suggest your opinion of the perfect breed of sheep for traditional woollen technique of spinning?

One of the things I have wanted to do for a long time, probably starting since that Autumn in the wake of the wildfire,  when I was spinning up a storm and developing a tribute color range in the colors of my mountain — such like Manzanita Blossom, and  Madrone, and Red Clover , and  Moss ,  to create a personal  palette of colors and post the recipes.  I guess when we moved to the tiny house their was no room for spinning and it all got packed in boxes, but now I fully intend to work on that project.

So, here forthcoming, more colors from the mountain, but simultaneously developed with technique of woolen spinning, learning about those particular properties . . . staple and all of that completely obsessive woolly stuff.  I’ll probably be posting in a mad frenzy now, so brace yourself, I fear my blog has caught fire.

the waning summer

As the summer season wanes into its last weeks, I am feeling nostalgic.  It is probably just the the full moon passing, but the next time it comes around it will be the Harvest Moon, with the equinox very near. (The grape harvest has already tentatively begun here in the Napa Valley, for the sparkling wines.) In my nostalgia I thought I’d share a blissful little watch I found, decades old, about the natural habitat and crofting life in the beautiful windswept Outer Hebrides, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

March Into Spring

jenjoycedesign© March Into Spring KAL.JPG

I am participating in a little knit-along over in Ravelry, because I felt like knitting a few pairs of socks, especially since I gave away the whole stack of socks I knit last year for gifts. So now I’m starting a new stack!   Also doing the March Into Spring knit-along because it is March, and so near the Spring Equinox, so if you would like to join in, I’m having a pattern give-away and providing lots of March-ing music (bagpipes mostly)  over here.   Hope to see you there!

Also this is a Yarn Tasting which coincidentally goes with the whole marching & bagpipes theme having “Northumbria” in the title ~  Miss Babs Northumbria Fingering yarn:  It is hand-dyed 100% Blue-Faced Leicester wool, in colorway “adobe”.  Springy, elastic, sturdy,  just all around perfect for socks, with amazingly beautiful variegation from the hand-dying.  Incidentally, this skein was a gift to me after the wildfire,  along with another of the same in colorway of “beach glass” ( thank you so very much Taddy ~xx )  Naturally I am providing music accompaniment of the small Northumbrian Pipes to go with the Northumbria yarn, and I hope you enjoy every bit as I do . . .

Aria With Variations: the pattern.

jenjoycedesign© Abelene & Aria 2.JPG

Hi everyone, its me Abelene.    Jen has veiled me in her new lace that she’s been hinting about for weeks in her series of  veils & variations.

jenjoycedesign© Aria detail.JPG

The lace feels so lovely, so fine, I think I feel like what it must be like to be a bride, or a Shetlander, or an Estonian knitter, modeling as best as I can in the tiny house.

jenjoycedesign© Abelene & stoles.JPG

About time she’s finished, because she is so exhausted of drawing and redrawing charts, doing math and wrestling mistakes, so she let me handle posting about the pattern.

jenjoycedesign© Aria & Variation 1 -10

Did you know that Jen’s UnSpun is the reason she  felt compelled to write this pattern? She had just an overwhelming urge to make some really fine lace yarn after watching this video ,  and worked like an ox to get a bunch of really fine lace-weight out to some friends before the pattern was ready.   The UnSpun yarn is beginning to show up now around the far corners of the world and Jen feels its time to finish up and get the lace knitting going!

jenjoycedesign© Variation 1 -4.JPG

Oh but did you notice the diamond motifs showing up in a couple of the videos in her series of veils & variations Goldberg Variations?  Jen tells me this was by pure chance and unplanned,  yet something makes her think that the diamonds must be a subliminal Bach Thing.

so here are those favorite Goldberg Variations highlights !


The pattern actually is three styles; a stole, a square hap shawl, and a cowl, all and each in four sizes!  You can see more information if you go see the pattern which is live now on Ravelry  HERE. Jen would really love it if you would join in on her pattern give-away in the spirit of Valentines, so I’m suppose to mention her post on her group over here , which is running just for a very short time, so that folks can get yarn and cast on for Valentines day!  I hope everyone is in a lace-knitting mood!

Last but not least, Jen is wildly looking forward to photographing youngest niece Miss Sixteen modeling Aria & Variations this weekend at the castle, which will make the pattern a real hit!

Ta ta,
Abelene

Aria mit verschiedenen Veränderungen

The Goldberg Variations are a work written for harpsichord by Johann Sebastian Bach, consisting of an aria and a set of 30 variations. First published in 1741, the work is one of the most important examples of variation form.

I imagine the Goldberg Variations have been performed a million times since Bach wrote it, and on every conceivable instrument.   I am a big fan of JS Bach’s music, and I’ve done a lot of  listening to YouTube recordings of this work while knitting my lace interpretation for it, but of all the performers of the Goldberg Variations,  I can’t help but consider Glen Gould possibly the most iconic.  This performance was filmed 55 years ago, and still it rocks!  (If you can’t spare 12 minutes to listen to the whole video, at least fast forward to 10:30 and listen to Glen’s commentary ) . . .  I love Glen Gould humming and enjoying himself with measured rapture during recording!

Next post I will ‘unveil’ what has been a work in progress for weeks upon weeks. I have been enjoying myself immensely for those weeks while knitting a couple samples of lace, and yet , I’m one lace piece short.  I  really want this the pattern to be submitted to Ravelry before the Valentines holiday, but fell sorrowfully behind, so the ‘missing’ lace variation will be cast on to my needles the moment this is posted.  I will take a deep breath and see you on the flip side with my new pattern very very soon!

Unspun: Midnight Heather

I am taking a break from lace knitting and writing about a short series of Unspun projects made custom skeins for a few friends who are being so kind to test-knit my present lace design in progress, and otherwise helping me through a rather wobbly time.   A few days to make a few nice fat skeins of  Unspun fine lace-weight yarn to send off and hoping doing so will temper my erratic mood with a focus of gratitude.  Gratitude cures all. So that’s me, now,  getting ready to lose myself deconstructing yards upon yards, unwinding and splicing and winding again.  The yarn has just arrived, and I will be the mistress of Unspun for a few days!

jenjoycedesign© unspun for friends project 1

Unspun #1:  Deconstructed by hand using this method  from   Wool Of The Andes Sport    in the color of Midnight Heather . This Peruvian Highland yarn is made from the fleeces of corriedale/merino cross sheep, and the fine spinning of the four plies are just coarse enough to be strong to withstand deconstruction, and once it is set into singles, the loft from the fine texture of a bit of merino will be wonderful.  Knit Picks describes the color…

Midnight Heather is an intense dark blue color with black undertones. Reminiscent of the dark night sky, Midnight Heather intrigues us with the flecks of blues and blue greens that add visual interest to this usually rich color.
jenjoycedesign© unspun for friends project 1 (2)

A ball of sport weight ready to separate plies using a drop spindle!

All of this ultra fine yarn I am undertaking makes me think of the weathered & windswept  Shetland Isles where fine lace knitting became world renown. It is my keenest passion at present to explore creating yarn that can be knit into such similar fine lace, and in a colossal palette of colors.    I will leave you with the short film that was my first inspiration,  and which began my quirky obsession making Unspun over two years ago .

Next, I’ll post the finished skeins!

But until then enjoy Shetland Fine Lace, and remember …

”    Its only Knitting !   “

Inside of diamonds.

Its the end of January,  and that means the coldest barest month of the winter is over.  But I’ll take a thousand Januaries, for the rain and cold means the watershed is potent on the mountain, promising a verdant landscape in spring and water trickling through into the heat of summer, pushed down and flowing somewhere deep beneath the forest.  The days are warming up a little, and in a week the fields will be solid yellow with mustard flowers, which are already beginning to bloom!

I am in need of a break, feeling quite assaulted with lace knitting & difficult chart writing, but in the nick of time I’ve recalled the quote from Elizabeth Zimmerman,  and remembered it being a revelation a few years ago in  in this post .   To me this quote of EZ’s is a diamond jewel for staying out of the mindset of crazy perfectionist thinking, reminds me there are no knitting police,  and even though my lace may sometimes be riddled with mistakes,  I can surely hope from my forthcoming pattern, yours will be a flawless veil of heirloom-worthy stitches that you can be proud of,   for that is my first desire,  truly.

In closing, I hope you enjoy this incredibly masterful, energetic, and artful performance film of Mahan Esfahani and his harpsichord.  I’ve got a few more Variations queued up for you, so as long as you don’t mind listening, I don’t mind posting them, until at some point there will be a logical destination for all of them.

variations in veils

An beautiful ethereal performance among gossamer veils,

by the Zilliacus Persson Raitenen String Trio.

( see all posts Veils & Variations )

* * *

Meanwhile, I have got a second stole underway with the single ply lace weight …

jenjoycedesign© simply wool unspun 6

made from my yarn tasting of  Simply Wool .  In fact, I am so utterly smitten with Unspun that I can’t help myself wondering how far out I might go.  I’ll ponder the thought as I take my stole knitting out for a trail walk!

Aria 2

Pacing myself through days strung end to end of insane lace knitting, and my perspective of life has gone into a bit of another dimension. I am at least enjoying discovering unusual variations of “The Variations”, and here posting this true find as another in my secret veils series. I hope you enjoy this sultry evocative performance by Lore Hillenhinrichs and Martina Weber.

In the golden rolling hills of California.

Photo from the archives:  Fields of Gold

I was listening to an eerily beautiful song “Redtail Hawk”  the other day, and remembering fondly my walks and wildlife before the wildfire. There was a pair of redtail hawks I use to see, often times I would go up the ridge, and sometimes one or both of them would fly right over me, as if to say ” hello! ” as they decended down into the grassy rocky meadow in the photo. It was in fact,  in those tall fir trees at the left in the photo,  where they would almost always land.  Perhaps in those trees was their nest, or at least a perching place to survey, and I hate to say but those particular trees did not survive the wildfire.

I should mention that the redtail hawk is as much a part of the golden fields of California as the grass itself,  because of their main diet, the bounty of field rodents which live in and among the swaying grasses. I haven’t seen this pair of hawks nor heard their wavering lonesome screech since moving back up on the mountain into our Tiny House in May,  but I am hopeful they will return, maybe they already have.  If you are interested in these things, you can listen to the Redtail Hawk’s cry,  but I’ll close by sharing with you the song, I hope you enjoy.  Oh, and very soon all this golden grassy genius of the place will come together in a new design I can’t wait to show you, so stay tuned!

Redtail Hawk –  Kate Wolf

The redtail hawk writes songs across the sky
There’s music in the waters flowing by
And you can hear a song each time the wind sighs
In the golden rolling hills of California
It’s been so long love since you said goodbye
My cabin’s been as lonesome as a cry
There’s comfort in the clouds drifting by
In the golden rolling hills of California
A neighbor came today to lend a hand
As I fixed the road as best as I can
It’s just something that needs another’s hand
In the golden rolling hills of California
In the golden rolling hills of California
The redtail hawk writes songs across the sky
There’s music in the waters flowing by
And you can hear a song each time the wind sighs
In the golden rolling hills of California
In the golden rolling hills of California

See posts about Golden Fields pattern HERE.

Sweater Mania

jenjoycedesign© pile of sweaters.JPG

A pile of sweaters; two finished and one not quite.    Another is not in the photo for it is only half finished, and in a bag somewhere up in the tiny attic, and another still was knit almost to finish and then ripped out. These three represent a lot of knitting through recent months;  through weeks of dusty loud logging, of waiting frustratingly for building permit to be issued, through scorching heat waves, some cool summer fog waves, and through Autumn equinox.  Now the rain has come, and construction of house has begun. It is perfect timing for these sweaters to be finished and have their debut.

A sweater debut?   Yes!  In a couple of days I will be visiting with my youngest niece who is soon having a birthday and turning sixteen ( so will be Miss Sixteen for a year) and she’ll model the brown sweater and then there will be a pattern release of a design I have been working on for a long time.  The Autumn photo shoot with both of them must wait until the November holiday this year, when Miss Eighteen comes home from college.

At first the design was going to be a set-in sleeve invention,  then I couldn’t manage through the stress of things going on, so I changed my mind, promptly ripped it out, and started over with more classic style I realize that can not live without, so it became what it really wanted to be.

I will leave you in your anticipation of the forthcoming while enjoying my latest find of video mill tours, this one has given me hours of enjoyment as I knit frantically one more sweater for niece’s birthday. It rather has a calming effect while starting out a bit sleepy, but the excellent jazz music accompanies about a minute into the narration …

Equinox

Frantic artful ‘good mood’ music because things are shifting into action!   Meaning that we have been issued our building permit finally,  after a grueling long wait, and house rebuilding can start at last!     The Autumnal Equinox is Saturday, and I am going to celebrate!

This music reminds me what I have been missing,  a familiar manic wave now only whispering,  approaching me without touching, as if to assure me of its return, and that all will be in a far better place very soon.

Oh, and this trio just hits the spot doesn’t it!  Be sure to listen to Trio Brasileiro videos as they queu up,  because these tunes are deservedly among my favorites and might become yours too!

A Rustic Yarn

A truly rustic yarn, made in a small scale production, is so wholesome it resonates history with each stitch.  In a bygone era yarn was made for the locals, from the local sheep, with woolen mills scattered along rivers, because at one time before the use of electricity it was the power of water which drove the machinery.  Those ancient days are gone now, but there are still a few yarn mills today, making yarn with very old  machinery, in small batches.

Image result for old primitive painting of sheep

In small scale production, a whole fleece off-the-sheep, in its entirety, would be carded and blended, often with no ‘skirting’, and with all the varying shades a natural fleece can have, resulting in each batch being very individual, and creating what I call a rustic yarn.  Today there are still a few old mills standing , where the end result of making yarn is nearly as it was done on the small holding farms.  I might add how nice these small scale boutique mills are for the Indie Designer who wishes to produce a personal line of yarn to sell and with which to prototype their designs, and I am observing a growing number of such designers who are doing this that it seems to have become the fashionable In Thing.  

This of course all is leading up to a Mill Tour, with a short film I recently discovered, about one of those few old mills still standing,   Cushendale Woolen Mills,  in Ireland…

I just love these films of old mills.  Evidently I have begun to collect quite a few, so have created a category on Yarnings called “Mill Tours”,  so click HERE to peruse them all ~~~ I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Un Chullo

jenjoycedesign© D's chullo 1

Another birthday chullo for my brother.  He just loves them so much, he wears them like hair.  For this birthday I chose to make an anniversary of last April’s Camino Inca Chullo pattern release, knitting from the pattern. This one samples the Incan wave motif, and I knit it up in some lovely soft Juniper Moon “Herriot” yarn, which is 100% undyed baby alpaca, and this baby is soft!    My brother likes the folk look of the ‘gnome’ crown, so I worked the option for slower decrease and it is just a bit gnome like…
jenjoycedesign© D's chullo 2

Its the tassels that my brother really loves, and with a brow/mustache comb that has needle-sharp brass teeth, I am able to comb through the pompom fringe and fluff up the fine hairs to a really fine furry puff …

jenjoycedesign© eyebrow comb

Voila!  I even tied on an extra bit of yarn to comb into a tassle at the tip of the earflap.

jenjoycedesign© D's chullo 3

This being the last of the deadline knitting, I am now able to spend some time experimenting with the traditional “mens”  chullo ~~ the varied regional methods of picot edges, and knit with needles traditionally made from  bicycle wheel spokes!     When time, opportunity & energy come together in the near future,  I will continue where I left off, and embark on a new chullo knitting adventure !    But for now I will leave you with an artful & inspiring short travel ad film  which gives glimpses of the wild landscape and colorful textiles of Peruvian Highlands that I have been so very drawn to …

 

The Textiles of Cusco 2

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I am very much enjoying learning about Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez and her life’s work establishing the Center of Traditional Textiles of Cusco , and keeping part of the past alive.  She has fought an important battle bringing  back the straying generation which nearly put an end to the skilled weavers of the Cusco region, and result has established institution and industry in Cusco,  while  bringing next generations back into the nest of tradition.    Nilda, you go girl!

I am deeply inspired by the imagery of the Andes mountains,  and of industry in spinning, weaving, and knitting  from the Cusco region.  It is obvious that I romanticize their more provincial lifestyle, although I do consider myself very lucky that I can set my feet into a degree of provincialism while at the same time choosing what I like from convenience of the modern world.  I know from my own that it is hard work refining a life in craft has nearly in itself become a novelty in the modern world.   A work ethic in craft is to me all consuming, as I savor and enjoy growing the goodness of making.

Here are a few short interview films about Nilda and her work…


I have found and purchased out one of Nilda’s  books and am looking forward to it arriving by mail, and of sharing it here forthcoming .  I am fascinated in  weaving, and the colors create from natural dyes (as well as natural un-dyed yarns) , but as I am committed to knitting, I hope the muse touches me and brings more ideas into the knit  design that I do.  More to come about my views of the richly exotic textile traditions in the nest of the Andes, so watch this space!

Read more about Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez…

 Nilda’s Wikipedia
Nilda’s books on Amazon
Interview with Cloth & Clay
Interview with World Strides
Smithsonian Folk Life Festival

The Textiles of Cusco

What do you get when you bring together a remote and rugged high mountain range, herds of soft downy llamas, alpacas, sheep, and an indigenous people who’s thirst for artfulness is apparent in all they do?   You get beautiful textiles steeped in ancient traditional, as in the Cusco region of Peru!

I’ve been watching this video over and over, fascinated in the weavings of the Cusco region, and life’s work of Nilda Callañaup Alvarez ,  while I knit and think about All Things Peruvian.  So much that I’m feeling a deep inward shift in this direction. But that is all for now, more to come later, on Nilda and Traditional Textiles of Cusco!

Soon I will have to put everything down to make my brother a chullo, which I knit nearly every year around his birthday, and I am giddy because this year I will get to knit one from my own design.

♥    ♥    ♥

News: I am happy to say that we got the quote from the building contractors, and we’ll manage to build our house again!  We will have to do some of the finish work ourselves, like flooring, and who knows what else, but that is nothing like when we built the whole house before. The timeline of starting date is still unknown, as is an estimated time of finish,  and I suppose everything is getting queued up for a fast and furious build sometime this upcoming spring.  I find it so difficult to blindly wait without knowing when I will go back home.   Anyway, the  very best-case scenario, if everything goes well, and which I am visualizing for dear life,  is that we could very possibly be moving back into our rebuilt house this …  coming …  Autumn … ?

(not so) Grey Days

jenjoycedesign© Oakville-grocery2

Knitting while enjoying some amazing coffee, at the Oakville Grocery , once a very small-town grocery just a blink along Highway 29,  and now a roaring tourist stop with coffee bar & deli for those on their way upvalley.   For me it is just off the Oakville Grade, when I come down off the mountain, one of my ‘going out’ places,  and usually by myself.   Lots of being by myself lately, as my days are in limbo and I prefer to sit alone on one of the outside tables like this to knit and ponder with yarn and a coffee connoisseur’s cuppa.

Oh, but about the knitting.   I am in the midst of knitting a pile of prototypes, some made with Isager Tweed (previously posted in yarn tasting) , and some with other wonderful tweedy yarns, and I can only hope that I will surface with some evidence soon, nearer to the point when my pattern is ready.  I am in no rush and presently can not set a lot of expectations upon myself.  I am a snail in the race against nothing.

jenjoycedesign© tweed socks

tweed sock

I just felt like checking in, and  mention that it’s been like spring around here, and while I am under the impression that it is   suppose to be winter,   these oppressive blue skies and warm afternoons since late January are rather frightful.   I only  want nourishing rain  and dark grey skies.

Bring it on rain clouds …

♣     ♣     ♣

Most of you know that I have a deep intrigue in films about old mills, and traditions of textile crafts, and especially traditions of weaving.  Here is one I found that shows traditional Korean Ramie weaving.  It seems so like linen but processed completely different. I am so in awe of the older more simplistic methods. It seems the more simple, the more elegant the cloth …

Yarn Tasting: An Irish Tweed

jenjoycedesign© Irish Tweed 2

My new wool love is Isager Tweed,   made in Ireland and the most gorgeous commercial tweed yarn I’ve seen in my local yarn shop to date. Ever since Rowan discontinued their Fine Tweed yarn, I was not sure how to improvise a substitution for a rustic multi-color tweed single ply.

What is it about tweed that is just so utterly  sensual,  timeless,  and tasteful?

jenjoycedesign© Irish Tweed 3

Isager Tweed in Navy and Winter Grey

It must be color variegation which happens only when yarn is spun from pre-dyed fibers,  blended together so that those little explosions of random ~~ sometimes quirky,  sometimes quiet ~~ contrasting color flecks just pop out, and make the visual as well as tactile texture very distinctive.

jenjoycedesign© Isager Irish Tweed

Ireland and the British Isles have been for centuries steeped in the wool mill industry,  its countryside once peppered with countless woollen mills during the Industrial Age, but in modern times there are only a handful of the old mills still producing, for major yarn companies (like Isager) as well as a growing number of indie knitwear designers who wish to have their own mill spun label.

jenjoycedesign© Irish Tweed

The yarn is fingering to fine-fingering weight,  a blend of wool and mohair , in a beautifully rustic single ply.  It has a very subtle coarseness ,  I am guessing from the goat hair,  which gives it an old world feel and ever so like handspun with slight thick and thin variation in the yarn,   but at the same time it is soft to the touch from being mostly a downy breed of wool to balance out and gives it a very versatile feel.   Even though I am deeply involved in the spinning of my own tweed,  and I actually aspire to produce a single ply tweed much like this yarn, but if hand-spun isn’t handy,  I can’t go wrong with the real Irish spun.  I must say how lovely it is that my local yarn shop has this great yarn, and in the best colors too.

♣     ♣     ♣

Oh! I found yet another wool film in the “Hands” series about how to make a Donegal spinning wheel!   I hope you enjoy it as much as I have …

Energy and essence.

Emma & Squirrel

This Christmas Emma got a new squeaking squirrel, since her old squirrel and all of her other toys were all left behind in the fire.  Now with a new squirrel love,  everything is in it’s right place.   The calendar is racing to a close, and I am fairly excited about what is around the corner now.   I go up to the mountain every day if I can to walk a little while, and to go into the garden which is for the most part is still there, to sit and write, sketch ideas, and wonder about the best that might yet be to come.  Pondering colors, palette & writing blending recipes,  and thinking about the landscape, and how our lives will resume there in a different house in the future.

Recently I have been posting from the archives Knitting In The Wild , as I  look  to find the origin of colors for my Tweed Chronicles, but I am also finding in there one of my biggest passions of life  ~~ being out in nature.  There in the wild I am finding the tap root of it all.  It is the landscape that is my true sense of energy and essence ,  who I was and who I strive to become.  From the wild comes a pure sense of myself, and I realize I must continue going there as if I never left … to find new growth & new meaning in the contours, flora and fauna of the mountain, and to feel as a shepherd of something necessary while in it.

Yesterday while re-establishing my knitting trail I observed gopher holes bursting through what seems a cracked brittle thin shell of burned top soil, pushing up through it beautiful creamy soil from  beneath, so like life bursting out of an egg shell.   I feel what is beneath the surface, what is still there wanting to shake off the soot of the fire and resume living.  I watched a black raven surveying the territory, having come back from wherever it fled, I don’t know, and I heard a woodpecker too, tapping through the charcoal bark to find food.  The wildlife is showing up now, on time, finding its way back to beckon me to return.   So I am showing up too.

Tweed News: I am totally and completely immersed in my tweed blending and spinning. Being my own micro mill is pretty much what excites me these days, and I feel I am making headway on my personal palette. More to come, very soon to post my next forthcoming, after it gets spun up.  But for now, I leave you with yet another Tweed Film I have found, as these old films so inspire me!

Tweed Chronicles

jenjoycedesign© spinning tweed

I can’t stay away from the blending board…

jenjoycedesign© colors to blend

 nor can I stop testing my instincts about color,

and layering them ever so finer … and finer …. and even finer…

jenjoycedesign© 1st batt

1st batt, 1st carding

 just to see how the colors will work together.

jenjoycedesign© tweedy 3

Because perhaps I am just ridiculous!

jenjoycedesign© detail

rolags from 2nd batt, second carding, and wonderfully oceanic!

So I have decided to make a new category  ~~  Tweed Chronicles ~~ wherein I can post my tweed yarn making refinements, as I explore both predictable as well as the unpredictable color combinations (maybe especially the unpredictable),  my learned improvements of technique, and so on.

jenjoycedesign© tweed 9

Techy stuff 

  •  20g of white undyed roving I acquired decades ago, the tweedy “nepps” from the slubby roving are excellent for tweed, 20g of mixed Shetland I over-dyed with color peacock, 10g of Corriedale  aqua, and 10g of Corriedale dark denim.
  • Layered very thinly … I mean really a lot of thin layers… using technique: Blending for tweed simplified. 
  • Lifted batt, layered again a second time.
  • Drew off rolags.
  • Total of only two “cardings”.

♣   ♣   ♣   ♣   ♣

I have found another gem in the “Hands” series I’ve been watching countless times over the last month, while I learn the technique of long-draw tweed spinning on my little wheel, and learn the art of color in fiber.  And because I have always been so deeply inspired from nostalgia, this one is my new favorite.  Enjoy!

Fish a little, croft a little, weave a yard or two.

I am so inspired by this video about the weavers and the local culture around Harris Tweed, on the Isle of Lewis & Harris in Scotland’s outer Hebrides. I seem to be hooked on these woolen mill films these days! I am not so much infatuated with the idea of weaving the tweed yarn, but if I could be immersed into any one part of the process, it would be the blending and carding of the many colors of wool for the tweed affect in yarn spinning.  This is what excites me the most, and thinking a lot about what to card next on my new blending board.  I realize that I am , and always have been a colorist.  Like a painter dreams of mixing pigments on palette, I am the very same, and training to see past the surface into a hidden palette of color in the fiber.   Anyway, I hope you enjoy this video I’ve watched now countless times…

Woolen or worsted?

jenjoycedesign© spinning

Spinning from rolags is a different experience for me. Especially these tightly rolled sausage-like ones drawn off of those nifty blending boards, and from which  I posted about a few weeks ago.   Raw, dirty & weedy alpaca is what I’m practicing this woolen technique I am learning, from rolags. In my spinning past, I’ve spun from locks, from picked fiber ‘clouds’ , from bats, had also tried a badly produced rolag or two and gave up ~~ but mostly all the years I’ve spun its been from roving, sliver, and combed top. I am learning that although I was getting better at spinning a fine even single, the yarn I’ve been spinning has been dense, tough type of yarn. I think I was unconsciously aspiring to spin worsted (or semi-worsted) , however there is true woolen style of spinning which is done this way, from rolags I am learning, and ‘long draw’. Okay, I’m getting this…

jenjoycedesign© spinning alpaca rolags

I must say, this rolag thing is where it is at! Its fascinating, long-draw spinning method, and as yet I am far from being able to do it, and I must resist the urge to pinch the twist too much and let it compress through my fingers into tight even yarn, for that is what is to spinning, like knitting yarn with too small of a size needle I think. It creates a dense compact yarn, that squeezes the life out of the fiber.  Just look how the yarn pulls out of the rolag in a line all by itself, with really very minimal fussing if you do it right…

jenjoycedesign© spinning alpaca rolags 2

Well, I’ve got this pile of rolags that I made from my first carding on my board, a loosely carded alpaca, and when I’m done with this, I will wash it very well as it is dirty. Hopefully it will bloom and be fluffy & beautiful.

As I’ve been ordering & collecting a bit of fancy fibers to play with and blend, and even ‘processing’ some bits of yarn I have on hand to incorporate into the tweed mixes which  I am envisioning for art rolags!  For now I’m glad to be taking a break from knitting as the previously posted yarn was not very nice at all, and I sent it back only to have to start all over with nicer yarn that I enjoy knitting, and more important, that my nieces will enjoy wearing! So I’m waiting for new yarn to come in. In the mean time I’m spinning!  All you spinners out there, I invite you to share in the comments about your preferred spinning methods, and anything you might be able to say about woolen vs worsted spinning ~ thanks!

I’m closing with a posting of a video from 1970’s that I found about sheep & spinning in Donegal Ireland, I hope you love it as much as I do!

Shoal or School?

Clupea_harengus_Gervais.jpgA tasty bit o’ fish fact:  Schooling and shoaling are types of collective behavior of fish.  Any group of fish that stay together for social reasons is said to be shoaling, and if the shoal is swimming in the same direction together, it is schooling.  Herring spend most of their lives shoaling or schooling and become agitated if separated from the group, while others, such as Atlantic Cod school only some of the time. Salmon travel in large, loose schools, eventually migrating into upper reaches of rivers to spawn. Fish generally prefer larger shoals,  with shoalmates of their own species, similar in size and appearance to themselves. Any shoal member which stands out in appearance may be targeted by predators, explaining why fish prefer to shoal with individuals that resemble themselves.  This is called the oddity effect.  read more….

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Herring school or shoal?

Honestly, I always assumed the words ‘shoal’ and ‘school’ were the same meaning, but morphed into two words through cross language use.  I have learned something!  So now that we know about the difference between schools and shoals,  I’d like to share with you one of my favorite fishing songs “Shoals Of Herring”,  this version by the song writer himself, Ewan MacColl.

Words as sung by Ewan MacColl:

With our nets and gear we’re faring
On the wild and wasteful ocean.
Its there on the deep that we harvest and reap our bread
As we hunt the bonnie shoals of herring

O it was a fine and a pleasant day
Out of Yarmouth harbor I was faring
As a cabinboy on a sailing lugger
For to go and hunt the shoals of herring

O the work was hard and the hours were long
And the treatment, sure it took some bearing
There was little kindness and the kicks were many
As we hunted for the shoals of herring

O we fished the Swarth and the Broken Bank
I was cook and I’d a quarter sharing
And I used to sleep standing on my feet
And I’d dream about the shoals of herring

Well we left the homegrounds in the month of June
And to Canny Shiels we soon were bearing
With a hundred cran of the silver darlings
That we’d taken from the shoals of herring

Now you’re up on deck, you’re a fisherman
You can swear and show a manly bearing
Take your turn on watch with the other fellows
While you’re following the shoals of herring

In the stormy seas and the living gales
Just to earn your daily bread you’re daring
From the Dover Straits to the Faroe Islands
While you’re following the shoals of herring

Well I earned my keep and I paid my way
And I earned the gear that I was wearing
Sailed a million miles, caught ten million fishes
We were following the shoals of herring

I also found a lovely Gaelic version, sung by Scottish group The Lochies, from the Hebrides…

Two fun facts:   One, the singer in the group The Lochies, John MacMillan who formed the trio,  was a Harris Tweed weaver from the Hebridean Isle of Lewis in Scotland ~~ amazing!   And two, this song was one of my all-time favorites to play mandolin while backing up my duo mate John, back when we were gigging not so long ago, I’d always beg him to sing it before the gig was over.   

I’ll leave off with a peek of my most recent & last of the prototypes for forthcoming design, which I started only yesterday after ripping out another  in a different color, and which was several days worth of knitting.  This one is a keeper…

jenjoycedesign© sneak peek

Well, that about wraps up this sneak peek until next time, when I will post one more in the Fishy series before the final unveiling of new design!

June Into July

jenjoycedesign© pink.JPGChecking in from the hermitage. I’ve been knitting up a pile of rectangular shaped things, in various sizes, in pink and in grey, for what at first was to be one prototype turned out to be many,  although I am in the last stretch.  These have admittedly completely consumed my time but there is the possibility that this forthcoming ensemble will be one of my favorite designs to date, so well worth it. Let the hours and yarn and heat exhaust me to sweet slumber every night.

Here is a sneak peek of one of them pinned and drying …

jenjoycedesign© sneak peek 2.JPG
Meanwhile Emma and I have done very little walking, for the hot summer days have put us both into a trance, for me the memorable events being turning of rows from right side to wrong side and back again.  I am all over that fresh brewed cup of French Roast and I’m throwing stitches in a caffeine induced frenzy.

♣ ♣ ♣

Incidentally, another past-time of mine while knitting the lace shawls, is perusing old films on youtube about tweed-making, and here is one I discovered,  hope you enjoy it…

Manic!

jenjoycedesign© chullo madness

Since writing about ‘ an old beloved brown thing ‘  I’ve been pulled into a vortex of unlikely colors;  of cochineal pinks & crimsons, madder reds, purples, citron yellow, and oranges too… all sorts of high altitude Andean colors I am not accustomed to.

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I find myself falling back into the safety of greys, of earthy tones and of muted undyed comfort.  I gotta bust out!  I didn’t realize how sensitive to color I really am, so I am struggling with my habitual knitting au natural , while trying to be influenced by the brazen & magnificent  color palettes of Peruvian textiles.   I am knitting through piles of these South American motifs while experiencing a sensory challenge with color.

jenjoycedesign© motif

… soon to explode through the surface with a splash!

 (and of course, a pattern)

My favorite manic music of South America (although down in the temperate eastern coast from the Andes)… have a listen & maybe you can pick up some of my manic vibe…