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jenjoycedesign© handspun mitt

I am knitting this last prototype of a pile of samples which are from my next pattern, and which will highlight this Autumn’s designs ~~ a set of mitts & hats! Just had to photograph a little teaser, because the sun was streaming in through the window and making my yarn glow, a bit of a yarn-henge moment!

jenjoycedesign© pattern writing 2

I do love this yarn, which is such a surprise, from wool I made on blending board and spun up  into this very tweedy yarn  last weekend. But by next week I will have this pattern up and running with legs, thanks to Wendy, Yvonne, Jane & Dawn for test-knitting!

jenjoycedesign© pattern writing

Mystery fair isle…

jenjoycedesign-mystery-fair-isle-detailI see no reason not to post a sneak preview at what I’ve been working very laboriously on, since its first mention back in this post.  Something which I have had to do a colossal amount of drawing,  of math, of experimentation, ripping out & knitting over.   Oh, right, that is called designing….

jenjoycedesign-fair-isle

I am so absorbed in this project that entire days are droning by, so still & quiet, with nothing but the ticking of the clock and Emma’s occasional rustling about, and then of course, very brief strolls in the cold winter outdoors.  Papers are strewn everywhere!  And I have been sitting in my knitting chair far too much in the last two weeks. Far too much. 

jenjoycedesign-mystery-fair-isle

None the less, I am very pleased with myself and am certain that any day now it will be all finished and I can celebrate by revealing what this is, my greatest knitting and design accomplishment  ever.  Until then, I hope you enjoy the mystery!

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!

jenjoycedesign-forthcoming

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.

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.

Autumnal Equinox Sneak Preview

jenjoycedesign©one-down & one-to-go

Autumn Sweater Sneak Preview

One down, the most colorful for youngest Niece of Eleven, which is now finished. I basically knit this critter twice! This Autumn’s sweaters will be a relative of Penny Candy Tee.  It is in worsted-weight yarn and construction is altogether different enough to warrant a whole different design .  Backstory: I knit this one up to the underarms somewhere in the first week of August, thinking I was ahead of the game, to have two Autumn sweaters designed and knit for the traditional Autumnal Equinox sweater photo shoot. Way ahead. Um… small detail… youngest niece grew like a rampant ninja weed all spring & summer, and when they came for a mid-summer visit a few weeks back,  I slipped it over her to try on and to my horror it was already way too fitted, with not much room for this Slipover to be slipped over anything.

I just couldn’t carry on with it, so ripped that out, knit over to underarms. Knit one sleeve half-way, but didn’t like the cuff and knit over, and finished two sleeves finally. Joined at the yoke and was going to go entirely circular, knit all the way up to the lace yoke section,  decided it was going to be floppy as heck, ripped back to armholes.  Decided to do raglan , and a wide decreasing  lace neckline, but it was too wide and lacy (therefore see-thru), and also discovered where I missed a decrease on one corner down near the armhole… ripped out the whole yoke back to the mistake, and reknit the raglan decreases, though higher.  Finally, the lace neckline!  Okay, so too wide, ripped ripped back and knit over narrower, i-cord cast-off too loose, ripped back did over again. There you have it. I knit it twice I figured.  I can’t believe I went and showed off one without the other, so uncharacteristic of me, as the two sweaters always make an appearance togethr. However, I just felt like I needed to cheer up Yarnings a bit, and feel some sort of reward in Show & Tell, as I am just in the middle of such a knitting grind.

The good news is that I practically wrote the pattern with that one, so IF & WHEN I ever get around to writing the official pattern, it won’t be such a bear. I am honestly hoping  I can get it together by November, but Christmas knitting kind of gets in the way too… so I’ll try my best.  Oh, and Eldest Niece of Fourteen’s  will only be in two colors , subtle wintery colors, and will rattle off like quick.  It will be nothing short of a miracle if I get these done by the Autumnal Equinox, but I am going for it!

Renaissance of Hand-Drawn in Digital Era of Knitting

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

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

illustration

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

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

jenjoycedesign©hand-drawn schematic

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

Vineyard Rows Tam

jenjoycedesign©high-vineyard Walking along the old mountain vineyards close by, I found inspiration for a design which I have named “Vineyard Rows”. A California Highlands Bonnet if there is to be one ! I chose four natural shades of Jamiesons Of Shetland Spindrift yarn, because I happen to love this black & white photo of the historic vineyard landscape I took a year ago. Near the highest vineyard knoll on the mountain perhaps, rows against an Autumn sky,  leaves blowing off of the vines as a storm was brewing… it was a walk to remember !   So I came up with this . . .

Vines of grape leaves wind about the wheel, in borders and peeries, along with interruptions of bold checked dicing.  To me this tam brings together California Wine Country with Scottish Highlands.  Embroidered grape clusters adorn the rambling  vines with French knots in wine tones, creating a spectacular and colorful needlework finish I think!

And on *moi*… straight up !

Jenjoycedesign

…. swooped back !

jenjoycedesign©Vineyard Rows Tam

Oh but wait…. so here’s the fun part !

I really went wild with the notion of the toorie !

And decided that a tam must have accessory options !  Why not an accessory for the accessory ~~ why not tie one on for the mood you’re in ?  Basic black, wine red, & marled toories !!!

But before I embroidered the grape clusters into the vines,

I took the hat Au Natural out into the woods…

jenjoycedesign©tam in woods

Against the moss . . .

jenjoycedesign©me in tam 6 jenjoycedesign©me in tam 8

jenjoycedesign©me in tam 9

And lastly,  against a blush of colorful Autumn leaves, showing how the tam’s outer most rim is traditionally useful in shading from the sun.

jenjoycedesign©Vineyard Rows Tam 3

Well there you have it, my latest design of a tam named “Vineyard Rows”.  I have created this tam for all the lovely walks I’ve enjoyed in the beautiful aesthetic of these old vines ~~ this tam is in tribute to them.

Autumn Scapes

If you haven’t yet read a post I made about Knitting & Wine , it is the prelude to this design, as well as other posts and photographs of nearby vineyards, you may peruse in all  vineyard posts .

And folks …

Vineyard Rows pattern may be found here .

((as well as details on Ravelry here ))

A Package Arrived!

I have recieved a gift package from Scottish Highlands ! In fact, I think this package was mailed about the same time that my package (of alpaca mitts and home-made shortbread) was mailed to Kelly , the winner of my little give-away the other week.   Our two packages crossed in flight,  and I just now have picked myself up off of the floor, being that I was completely bowled over by the generosity from Kelly,  in the way of a pile of treats from the Highlands of Bonnie Scotland.

And I do mean a pile .

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Some darling wee coasters (already stained with tea rings from my afternoon tea while studying cookbooks )  and postcards, depicting old castles nestled into Scottish landscapes,  and most sweetly,  two yarn cakes from Kelly’s personal stash, of lovely Hebridean 3-ply yarn in the ‘pebble beach’ colorway.

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Oh but wait… as if two cakes of Scottish Hebridean yarn wasn’t plenty on it’s own, there’s more !  Some ‘cakes’ of Scottish soap . . .

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and ~~~ Scottish cookbooks !!!!

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Nay, not one. . .but two !!!

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And right on time, because I’ve been having a real hankerin’ for some Cullen Skink lately !

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And just look at these adorable wrapped cakes called ” sair heidies ” !!!

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I’ll be trying the recipes in these Scottish cook books, beginning today.  I believe me sair heidie is for want of one of these wee wrapped cakes, with my afternoon tea this weekend, perhaps tomorrow,  on an Easter Sunday ( I wonder if I can use wool in place of kitchen twine?)

Ah, but the yarn which arrived in this package, well, it got me thinking.

Since now I’m happy owner of a couple of skeins of some Hebridean 3-ply Virtual Yarns in ‘pebble beach’ colorway…   (see all those colors? Yes, do click the photo) . . .

Pebble-Beach-3ply-Skein, Virtual Yarns

. . . perhaps this is a great incentive to swatch for my first Alice Starmore sweater? Since buying her book “Fishermans Sweaters” a couple of years back, I’ve had one on my mind to knit.  In particular , since acquiring the book, I’ve dreamed of knitting miles of cables and moss stitch diamonds in deep navy tones in this design , and more recently I’ve pondered the idea of substituting her Hebridean 3ply for her Scottish Fleet yarn in one of the fisherman designs.

 However my thoughts have now refined to a more feminine style of ‘fisherman sweater’ style, perhaps an Alice Starmore sweater for myself. I just took a look at her designs for which she uses her Hebridean 3ply yarn, and so now I’ve got my eye on this one~~~

a sweater she calls  Scalpay .

 ((I really do just love shawl collars ))

What do you think? 

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Thank you so very much Kelly,   for all of the treats from the your  Scottish Highlands ~~ they’ve become food for thought, as well as for my tummy !   Maybe the Hebridean 3ply yarn you sent will launch me into a knitting diversion,  for I’ve wanted to try for some time, my first Alice Starmore Design. . . just maybe ?

But it’s off to the kitchen for now, because I’ve got a sair heidie thinking about all these knitterly possibilities…. and I’m going to take some pantry inventory and prepare myself for some real Scottish cooking !!! xx !

Really Red Tam !

jenjoycedesign©tam

I am very proud to finally show you the tam  I made !!!   It goes in a set with my  Really Red Cardigan.

I had knit the tam before the holiday gift-knitting crunch set in, then put it aside to be photographed after the new year.  New year … check.  Photographed…. check.  I am over the moon about having this particular cardigan & tam ensemble finished because only a couple of months ago ~ after having hibernated well over a year~ the cardigan was doomed to die a tragic death of getting unraveled out of existence !  After much persuasion from a friend,  I committed & cut the steek,  finished the cardigan, then surprisingly soon after, decided to knit up this tam to go with!   Maybe it was meant to have waited until now, as the rains of the season has made the moss so verdant ~~~ and just look at how well the moss sings praise to the red wool !

I improvised the cardigan yoke motifs into a simple 8-point tam, and being that it’s sport weight yarn and not fingering, it’s a slight bit larger and floppier in contrast to the ones I’ve knit up with finer gauge yarn.  I think  it’s ‘ Tam O’ Shanter-esque ‘ personality, with wider brim, is actually a look I really am drawn towards.  Very old-world Scottish in my thinking.

I also am intrigued at how in different angles of light, the tone and hues of the red changes, and just about explodes next to the bright green moss fronds.

jenjoycedesign©Red-Fairisle-tam

If you look closely , you can see the same moss stitch rib with vikkel braid edging on the tam that the cardigan has got . . .


. . . as well as an applied cord edging (to snug up the band), raised double decreases , and a beret loop flourish.  I am pleased with its wider-brimmed shape and I feel it is pretty darned smart!

A birds-eye view of the wheel . . .

jenjoycedesign©tam-wheel
There is a bit of a coincidence, that the red in the colorway is called “garnet heather”

. . .well, because garnet is my birth-stone .

jenjoycedesign©red-tam-set
. . . and today is my birthday !

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Details found on Ravelry here.