Then and now .

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Photo from archives:  Forthcoming

As I stood just this morning inside of newly framed wall of our future master bedroom, looking through the door-to-be, I recalled this photo above, taken October 2016. One year later, nearly to the date, the wildfire destroyed everything, but I think by this coming October I’ll be looking at a very similar scene.  We won’t be able to replicate the antique Windsor chair(s) , but I do recall distinctly the color of the paint in the room to be a shade lighter than the color “Monet’s Garden”, and that is indeed something to go by.  Yes, going to paint it the same shade if I can help it.  I know I’m really asking for an emotional hit when I peruse the photos of our house before the wildfire, but its all a part of rebuilding, and we’re having to consult these old photos often to build the same house, or nearly the same ~ things just change, like sixteen years of the timbers deepening to that beautiful dark honey shade… there are times that I feel so homesick and just want to go home to it.   Rebuilding just takes so much time up here in the wild, especially through the winter, but the builders are wonderful, post & beam experts commuting from far away and staying over in Napa on week nights,  trying really very hard to recreate our original home that we built ourselves, regardless of the code changes like sprinkler systems, the list goes on.  Wow.  I am overall just really grateful.  October 2019, two years after the wildfire,  I will take that above photo again, mark my words.

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Photo taken today, February 15, 2019

All posts Rebuilding.

nine skeins

Nine tweed experiments.

Okay, I have now edited in the finished spun skeins into their respective posts, starting the last one Tweed Chronicles.  Not all of these experiments yielded great results, but I had a colossal learning curve, and I am pleased to see that my most recent is indeed my best…

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With these two as close seconds…

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But my spinning wheel and blending board are put away as I must get to work and finish up my nieces sweaters, while pondering my next Autumnal obsession immediately thereafter!

Tweed Chronicles

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I can’t stay away from the blending board…

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 nor can I stop testing my instincts about color,

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

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1st batt, 1st carding

 just to see how the colors will work together.

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Because perhaps I am just ridiculous!

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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.

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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”.

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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!

Blending for tweed simplified.

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I have been refining my technique of tweed color blending on my blending board.

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I think of this fiber blending process as a micro wool mill, it is basically achieving the same thing in my mind, that the big wool mills do, the ones which card together whole dyed fleeces of wool and put through massive carding machines to make incredibly rich heathered blends for “tweed” yarn.  Furthermore, I’ve been inspired to simplify the process as much as possible, and with as few tools as possible, in what I call ‘micro batches’ of around 30 – 50g.

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First batt

In this post I show the different stages of each carding, and with only three times loading the blending board, I almost completely homogenized four separate colors!

An improvement on the last post  in which I talk about my fiber blending recipe #3, this demonstration is ever so much easier, showing finer, wispier layers. Fine layering is key I think, to fewer cardings, meaning faster results.

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Second batt

I’d like to add that the only equipment other than the blending board needed is some sort of apparatus to spin the fiber  with; this can be a spinning wheel, or a rudimentary drop spindle, nothing fancy is needed, in fact, my wheel is very tiny and almost insignificant — I bought it for $250 brand new in 1987, and although there have been times I’ve wanted to upgrade to a big wheel, I resisted the expense, and was determined to do more with less. Thus, making my blending board was a very resonating positive instead of buying a very  expensive drum carder, and I’ve learned that one can really have their own micro wool mill, with very little ~~ so empower yourself, and make some tweed yarn!

A retrospective thought: In carding the colors together three times, each time hemongenizing the colors into each other significantly more,  I must say, I almost wished I’d spun it from just the first batt, as those colors looked so delicious so fresh and softly vibrant!

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And now the technical stuff…

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Corriedale roving: salmon, fuscia, amber, and ruby.

In this blend, I’ve used only colored Corriedale solid roving, no undyed or other fiber. The steps are illustrated with a slideshow at bottom of post, and they are:

  1. Lay the colors in extremely thin wispy layers (as shown in slideshow) It will take a lot of layers to get through all of your fiber, but this is part of the carding process. I’ve used Corriedale roving in; 20g salmon, 10g fuscia, 10g amber, 10g ruby.
  2. Comb down as needed until teeth are full and all your fiber layered. You can see this above, photo captioned “first batt” , and you can draw off into rolags straight from this step if you want a lesser homogenized look, or even just spin from the batt itself , sectioned into strips and coiled up.
  3. With strips of first batt, layer into teeth again, just as thinly as you have been, because again, this a part of the homogenization process.
  4. Lift batt and either spin  from this, or layer once more into a third batt.
  5. Lastly draw off into rolags.

Now, after all this playing with fiber blending on the thing which is called a “blending board” I would like to link to a few of my favorite sources online, all where a spinner/felter can purchase blending boards & fiber additionally, if a nifty fiber & spinning shop is nowhere near you to be found.  (These are of course, USA sourced, but I am confident these can be found probably most anywhere, or available at shops which sell spinning equipment & tools.)

Paradise Fibers Blending Board for $175, comes with board, blending brushes, dowels

Laughing Lamb Blending Board for $185, comes with board, blending brush, dowels

The Woolery a whole selection of blending boards, starting at $149

Oh, and in case you’re still unsure of what a blending board actually does, I’ve searched YouTube for you , all ready to surf through the fun blending videos… HERE 

What I use: I’d like to say that even though I made my own from a 24″x12″ piece of carding cloth (read in this post)  that it would be a lot easier to purchase a regular 12″x12″ blending board already made up, in a kit with brushes & dowels.  However, carding cloth is available by the foot if making one’s own is preferred.  Additionally, although many people use blending boards on their lap, I find it much better to use on a table top, secure & flat, with the foot of the board hooked on the edge of surface so I can pull the fiber into the teeth and pull the needles toward me when drawing off rolags — not away from me, or sideways.   I have found that large slippery metal knitting needles work better than dowels, and use a pair of my mother’s old aluminum ones, size US 13- 9mm.  Lastly, the only other tool I use, other than the needles and blending board itself, is a paintbrush comb, which can be found at a hardware store, something like this  with rigid teeth and very sharp points, to lift the fiber off of the carding board.   I use the palm of my left hand to gently and carefully hold the fiber against the teeth as my right hand pulls the fiber along the carding surface. That is all I use; carding board, needles, and comb.

All my posts related to blending boards in this category.

And now …. here’s the show!

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Fiber Blending Recipe 3 – Carded

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Tweedy mossy wool sausages are the most recent in my string of obsessive experiments in color blending, and this time in which I am basically carding by using the blending board alone! I lay down the layers, and lifting the batt after teeth are full, section out the batt and with little pieces I pull down into the teeth again and again and again. This process doesn’t need hand carders, I am able to homogenize colors & fibers with the blending board as the only carding tool!

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The depth of color created from blending many colors together create a stunning result! Compare to the original solid dyed olive roving, to the tweedy rolags with a prism of colors hazing into each other, all together making a very similar green. (I will show spun yarn photos later, for I have notes on actual spinning that I want to go into a little depth about)

jenjoycedesign© carded mix with original olive roving

I am documenting my tweed yarn making process, hoping that I will arrive with a few tested methods which I can use as recipes in future to refine my own tweed color palette. I am inspired now, to do it all with only my blending board , because there is such freedom unfolding ahead of me, in discovering I can perfectly well make my own personal tweed colorway from an array of solids in the fiber of my choice  ~~ making the vertical hand-made experience all that much more in depth & customized.  I feel like I am my own micro wool mill, and I am unstoppable.  

Meanwhile, I hope all of this fiber tech stuff does not bore the socks off of you ~~ if so, I promise, this will be a string of a few more posts, then I will move on to my usual philosophical banter about life on the mountain.

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Now back to the techy stuff…

Edit In: I have posted HERE a final best method of my Fiber Blending Recipe #3.

Notes on Blending Recipe 3: For the best homogenization of color I have used only wool fibers, they are: undyed fawn Shetland, olive Corriedale, mallard (dark teal) Corriedale, and amber corriedale.  Here is what I am doing , as illustrated by a photo slideshow at the bottom of the post.  In case you want to make more than one micro batch, a good idea to write down weights of each color, so you can repeat process.

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  1. Portion out the fiber I want to mix, weighing if possible.
  2. One at a time, ​thinly layer each color into the teeth of the blending board, combing down the fiber between each layer, until all the fiber is loaded onto the board and the teeth are full.
  3. ​With comb lift whole batt off of teeth.
  4. ​Divide batt now into small sections, and again thinly layer into teeth, pulling and drafting & “carding” as you thinly layer again. You are essentially carding using your hands to pull fiber along one carding surface.
  5.  Repeat this process until the fibers and colors are fully homogenized, or as desired.
  6. Draw fiber out into rolags!

You can find all of my experiments in blending & Fiber Blending Recipes HERE

Okay then, here’s the show!

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Fiber Blending Recipe 2 – The Hand-Mix

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This is my first experiment in hand-mixing the fiber before it gets loaded into the blending board to draw out into rolags.  Going for a slightly more tweeded affect, I blend the fibers more — by hand — so the colors begin to haze into each other a little bit.

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One thing, when using a blend of different types of fiber, adding shimmering slippery bamboo for instance, the odd fiber tends to clump up, which is desirable for a loose mix. Its a little more blended than the fiber lasagna, but not as blended as if it were carded.

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Solid colors still coming out in stray untamed splashes…

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Fibers used in this micro batch are: grey Corriedale, grey baby alpaca, fuscia solid Merino, salmon solid Merino, topaz bamboo.  Here is what I am doing , as illustrated by a photo slideshow at the bottom of the post.

  1. Portion out the fiber I want to mix, weighing if possible.
  2. Divide into smaller manageable piles to mix by hand.
  3. One at a time, mix fibers in the smaller piles by hand, holding each end and firmly pulling fiber apart. Repeat as desired — I did this about 10 times each, but it can be more or less.
  4. Fill teeth of blending board with hand-mixed fiber.
  5. Draw fiber out into rolags!

This method is pretty loosely mixed, but still more homogenized than my Blending Recipe 1 – fiber lasagna.   Splotches of color still are varied and add color explosions to the spinning.  And here it is spun up…

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Spinning has a way of hazing together the colors more than the rolags show, quite a bit in the spinning of the singles, and even more after plying two singles together. I  have to keep this in mind when I make the rolags, knowing the spun result will play the colors down far less dramatically.

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Almost a disappointment, although I hate to admit, after careful ‘painting’ of the colors and all the work hand mixing, to have the colors melt into each other so much. Again, one learns for the result, how to prepare the fiber. For big splashes, I prefer the fiber lasagna, and for fine splashes, the hand mix.

And next will be my experiment with a combination hand-mix & carding, for a far more color integrated tweedy result, so watch this space!

And now for the show!

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Plied Seashells

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I have plied my seashells yarn singles, aren’t these spools lovely?

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This is basically a loosely blended micro batch using my blending method I talk about in Blending Recipe 1 – fiber lasagna .

The blending process for the seashells was back in  “The color of seashells” ,   but might be helpful to also see my  notes in  “Spinning Seashells”  .

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I am presently busy working on my next blending board experiment, and will post Blending Recipe 2 very soon ~~~  so watch this space!

Sun Into Libra

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Late morning light is pouring in through the southern skylight and the roof beams glow as the sun enters into Libra.  On this equinox there are equal hours of day as there are of night, and that is indeed something to mark in the marching of time and of earth’s unwavering spinning around the sun, so I say ~~ Hello Autumn, please come in and make yourself comfortable!

Happy equinox everyone!

A Quiet Corner

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My quiet knitting corner.

All in all , things are incredibly quiet up here in the hermitage.

Normally there are a frenzy of things going on, and posting becomes a rhythm of marking creative process, in the days striding out into weeks. Although lately, not so much, I wonder is this perhaps the calm in a storm?

A year ago life seemed utterly bursting.  Last year at this time I was immersed in a couple of exhaustive & major pattern-writing projects,   helping Jeff get his old house ready to put on the market,  rewriting several musical compositions at practice & playing gigs in the duo,  still meeting my family often in Calistoga for visits while my nieces still were totally keen for photo shoots & sleepovers,  new fleeting friendships bubbling up out of a mysterious internet abyss, and Emma and I were trekking the mountain ridge up to the precipice, together through the wild, and through the seasons.   So much was going on in fact, that I couldn’t imagine how anything would possibly change, nor how quickly things shift, creativity cycles, relationships recede, nor how stifling those changes would feel.

My corner reveals a feeling of quiet solitude that I must admit is not entirely relaxing…. nay, it is inwardly stressful.   I am always fighting clutter as my nemesis, as it is a tribute to an indecisive and worrisome state of being, so surfaces are nearly stark naked by my best efforts, and yet I now long for gleeful active mess which abandons any idea of order.

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melon in the eclipse

Just knitting the rows & rounds of two sweaters for nieces, for some future day well after the equinox, when I will pass them on and post another Sweater Success which marks the end of a job well done only to hop on to the next.  But this time, I am actually not sure what is next.

Emma is keeping watch over the woods so that there are no unsettling strange things able to lurk up from behind.  She is doing much better moving about and we are walking together more,   strengthening our weaknesses together.

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Emma in the eclipse, Aug 14, 2017

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Anyway, I have continued to discover old films about textile industry, this being a cheery silent one very apropos for my quiet days. It also seems to reveal a new direction of interest that I am exploring…

Bergamot

Earl Grey tea

I noticed this particular blend of Earl Grey tea has blue flowers. Blue flowers? Not knowing what flower this could be, I did a tiny bit of research on Earl Grey tea, and of bergamot too, wondering if those petals could be bergamot flower?  My findings  enlighten me to the fact that there are actually two kinds of bergamot in the botanical world!  First, the European grown Bergamot Orange , botanical name is Citrus Bergamia.

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Second, the North American herbal plant Wild Bergamot, also known as Bee Balm,  botanical name is  Monardae20b82df1129d9ef5b8e8e91d7e1a0cb
This was confusing to me, because the herbaceous bergamot has a purplish flower, which some of the Earl Grey tea blends have.  Now, reading up on ingredients in Earl Grey blends, I found that the dried petals in my tea could very possibly be cornflower petals !HHDL_Garden_Cornflower
The type of blue flower petals in my tea blend is still a mystery, however, there is no debate that the signature flavor of Earl Grey tea is the citrus kind of Bergamot, the essential oil which is extracted from the aromatic skin of the sour fruit.

I have also discovered that Earl Grey tea is one of the most varied blends of tea,  and that “Earl Grey” as applied to tea is not a registered trademark, thus numerous tea companies produce their own blends of Earl Grey tea, using a wide variety of tea leaves and additives.  Aside from black tea, obviously, ingredients vary enough to make me dizzy; there is foremost the essential oil of the citrus bergamot, but may also citrus rind, licorice root, lavender, mallow flower, monarda flower, cornflower, jasmine, rose petals lemon grass,  vanilla ~~ just to name a few ingredients I have found so far.  What are the ingredients in your favorite Earl Grey blend?

All very well & good!  Actually, the reason for my curiosity is that I have been thinking about making Earl Grey ice-cream lately,  among other forthcoming tea-inspired ideas, so I finally did, and here’s  how I made a small sample batch, including a little photo slideshow…

  1. Heat to scalding, 1 cup of heavy cream with 2-4 tablespoons of your favorite Earl Grey blend in the cream — no need to boil.
  2. Add 1/2 cup sugar, and let it sit a couple of hours at least, to get the Earl Grey flavors exuding into the cream.
  3. When completely cool, stir well, and strain through sieve, then and add 1 cup milk.
  4. Churn freeze & enjoy!

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Served up in a little espresso demitasse,

and let me tell you,

the ice-cream is every bit as fragrant as the tea,  

absolutely delicious … 

jenjoycedesign© Earl Grey icecream

Earl Grey  tea ice-cream

… and I think that the Earl himself would approve!

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The Earl Charles Grey, 1764-1845

 

Quercus

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Quercus Chrysolepis

I just got back from a rather short walk up the ridge, and the acorns are falling now. Black shiny nuggets with golden cups, are the ripe fruit of the Canyon Live Oak, native and prolific on this wild Northern California mountain landscape.  I find the young trees shrub-like with serrated leaves, and observe them transition into smoother edged leaves, sometimes having both leaf shapes on the same branch, but to eventually become the mature oak with mostly smooth foliage.  The photo shows both types from the same young tree, and how lucky was I to spot a fully developed acorn still attached to the limb!

What I love most about this oak is the black acorns that absolutely litter the pathway as I meander along the ridge, beckoning Autumn, and cooler temperatures, and rain. Sigh. Right now we’re having heat wave after heatwave , scorching temperatures so typical of Northern California.  One thing is for sure, there are only three more weeks of summer now before the Autumnal equinox, and my inner compass faces Autumn as my only vision, and to think of rain now is to think of a returning oasis, an all consuming and fervent wish.

Not only do the acorns fall, but I find my tears fall too, as Emma, who is now twelve, does not wish to walk with me up the ridge now, but to nap at home while I try to find the incentive to trek out on my own. Admittedly, it is not easy, nor is it very often, and I have found myself in dire need of a change of heart for this Autumn, this acorn fall, leaf fall, tear fall.

I must try to be unafraid of the elements out on my own, and capture the wildlife in spirit to bring back to my Emma.

Voila!

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Voila!

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In this post   I show you the blending of fibers for this handspun yarn,

and the recipe I am calling Fiber Blending 1.

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59 grams of yarn; relaxed, slightly slubby, infused with jewel tones.

I’m off to town, see you on the flipside with a more in-depth look at a little trick I discovered while blending the fiber for this yarn!

Blending Recipe 1

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Finally a few hours to play with texture and color!

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 I finally got into spreading color all over those metal carding teeth…

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Just look at these colors drawn into delicious fiber sausages to feed to my spinning wheel…

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Blending boards are an excellent tool to put color in the fiber mix; just little hint of color, or dramatic splashes of color! On the blending board colors can be laid out in stripes along the board then rolled off of the board into a rolag, and then the rolag can be spun from the end and each color will come out of the rolag the same as it was layered on the board, one at a time with some blending between color changes to create a nice transition from one color to the other.

A sort of multiple fiber ‘lasagna’ can be created on a blending board by making very thin layers of different fibers, or thick layers, then repeating the layers until the board’s teeth are full. You can peel off as a batt, pull through a small hole to make roving, or as I like best, to draw out with knitting needles to make into rolags. Because the fibers aren’t mixed, but only layered, a spinner gets to enjoy the little color & texture surprises as they appear.  I have worked out a sort of general recipe I’m calling Fiber Recipe 1:

1.  First, a main fiber, or fiber blend, of longer staple, for it will be the background color that is holding it all together. Think of it as the pasta layer of a lasagna.  In this blend I have an over-dyed teal roving of Shetland mixed dark & light, mixed with the white roving of unknown origin, and I hand mix it together to get a general base mix.  Then carded it on the board to produce a nice base for the bulk of the rolag. Between each addition I comb the fiber into the carding teeth with a paintbrush comb.

2.  Then there is the next layer of fiber & color that I wish to make secondary to the main fiber & color, and which is brushed on maybe half or a quarter as much as the main fiber.  For the secondary fiber its good to use the soft luxury roving, and also a good chance to balance the texture, for instance, if my main fiber is on the coarse side (which it is), I might want my secondary fibers to be ultra soft to make the yarn a little nicer overall. I like to think of this layer as the sauce, which is just as essential as the pasta.  As this was the case, I added secondary layers of  alpaca wool blend (drafted off of some super bulky yarn of alpaca wool mix) and some ultra soft Huacaya white alpaca.

3. These are the colors that I want to peek through, and the use of the color wheel can come in handy. These colors can be tertiary colors to the main or secondary fiber colors, or even opposites, however you want to create a little ‘wow’ in the blend. A texture difference is nice too, unexpected or even bright colors in different staple lengths.  In this blend I layered little splashes of amber & magenta Corriedale roving, then deep blue bamboo (adding a lot of shine with the color), as well as recycled sari silk, and little ‘brushes’ of  Shetland 2py yarn that I unplied and broke into pieces to hold together like a paint brush (more on this discovery of mine a little later). I like to think of these accents as the flavorings.

If I plan to make several hundred grams of the rolags, very precise notes are necessary, and weighing each color and addition and noting in which order I apply, and number of layers.  Two full layers can be achieved before the teeth are full, but today I put down all of the ‘pasta layer’ first in one thick base, then switched between ‘sauce’ & ‘flavorings’ .

Anyway, here is a visual slideshow for you to see what I just did, beginning with the blue & white cloud of hand mixed fiber…

 

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After I drew off all the rolags, I divided them in equal halves for two bobbins. After both bobbins are plied I predict to have about 50-60g skein when I am finished spinning it up, it was a small batch just for the purpose of making this slideshow.

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I almost think I enjoy creating the rolags more than I do the spinning of them, which is an entirely new art for me!

Next…

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!

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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

Spun

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I am experiencing a bit of a renaissance in hand-spinning. I never was that much of an intentional spinner, although I am attempting to be now…. perhaps I’ve grown up a little bit? With this alpaca that I brought out of the recesses of my loft closet, I worked it from raw fleece and  in this post  I show the carding & blending process.  After spinning it up, here I am measuring & weighing the yarn to discover what gauge it is.

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Here is what I do:  I run the yarn through a ‘winding station’, which measures yardage while winding off the skein on to a ball, then weigh the ball, and take notes.

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This is about an aran weight. Getting more savvy in substituting hand-spun and I am itching to ‘paint’ again with fiber on my blending board. Recycled sari silk (yes, made from silk cloth of saris), bamboo, rose fiber… the works, and Oh! This was my most recent creation over the weekend, taking some very coarse Lincoln-Corriedale I’ve had for 30 years (from my sheep Hazel, plus another part fleece I have long forgotten where it came) , and blended it up together into a bat of 50/50 dark & white, which the white was extremely slubby (thats having little bits of wool puffs) I used that blend to layer with some ultra nice dyed corriedale roving  I recently bought, in colors amber, mulberry, and ruby, and also a little Huacaya Alpaca , and made tasty little wool sausages….

jenjoycedesign© tweed rolags

And, over the weekend, here is what I spun up…. slubby, exotic woolen spun blend

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Meanwhile, the general news…

Emma is in her last days of having to endure The Cone, for the surgery she had a week ago already (to remove a low-grade sarcoma on her front leg, she will be alright, no reason to be alarmed). My nieces have started school already, Miss Seventeen is a senior this year, and Miss Fourteen is now in 9th grade!  I’m very busy presently working up two patterns to be available in a double download, and prototyped in the hand-spun alpaca!  And we’re having some gorgeous cool foggy mornings at last! Life is good.

Emma in the cone

Emma 2 days after surgery.

 

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!

casting on…

jenjoycedesign© big yarn

News is that Emma is on the mend from her surgery earlier this week. She got a bit of a tune-up at the vet while she was under anesthetic to remove a growth on her front leg, and before she woke up the vet did a quick dental, and trimmed her nails too.  Five more days of antibiotics,  nearly a week of the pain-reliever anti-inflammatory (which I may continue with, for her arthritis), and about ten more days of the annoying cone, then its back to normal. More news is that we are dealing with a bit of a mouse invasion and trying to get them ‘out’ is no easy task.

Another finished Whorl’d Piece …

jenjoycedesign© Whorl'd Piece in Inca Tweed

Its on to the next big thing, casting on for Autumn Sweaters for my nieces, in the above balls of yarn is  Berocco super-bulky yarn named “Peruvia Quick”.  The light blue will be a Calidez Cardigan for Miss Seventeen, and dark blue a Calidez Pullover for Miss Fourteen.  So that is that.

I am embracing the waning summer days, getting through the epic bone-dry season of often smoke-hazed blue sky, while fantasizing a verdant grey-skies wet summer climate elsewhere on the planet, like this…

Windows

Wishing everybody a wonderful last week(s) of summer vacation before going back to the school year routine ~ xx

Whorl’d Piece

 jenjoycedesign© Whorl'd Piece

Whorl: wôrl, noun. 1. A pattern of spirals (synonyms: twirl, spiral, helix) 2. Historically a small wheel in a spinning wheel, or spindle.

Folks, I introduce to you my little design Whorl’d Piece. Yes, it is a play on the words and very much a hopeful idea for ‘world peace’. I have blogged about the inspiration behind this spinnerly design in this post “Spinning Hope For The Future” .
A cowl for men & women with interesting cables & bobbles whorl around against a background of a wide rib pattern.  Design was inspired by hand-spun from art fibers  blended on my blending board, often from which the spinner creates only one or two balls of like yarn…( and also the hope for world peace!  )   Perfect for using up those odd balls of stashed yarn in all weights!   Whorl’d Piece is knit in-the-round,  bottom up & seamless.  Includes gauge substitution chart, and options for Plain Rib Cowl.

Here is a sample of Whorl’d Piece made with two strands of stashed sock yarn held together, which by the way, is exceptionally soft & stretchy …

jenjoycedesign© Whorl'd Piece in blue

Whorl’d Piece can be found on Ravelry HERE.

 

Seasonal

jenjoycedesign© seasonal-berry-pie
Blackberries line the country roads and harvest is abound in the deep rural places that are secret to we locals. Approaching mid-summer now, and life sometimes feels so uneventful, and yet changes so fast day to day that I can barely acknowledge a blink. Its the punctuation of a season, of a summer,  of things like making a berry pie from hand-picked berries,  just how good it really is when I take a few hours  to indulge to create a little pleasure for the senses.
Life is good.
I just have to remind myself of that on occasion.

stray yarn

jenjoycedesign© sock yarn

Stash [stash] noun. 1. something which is stored secretly; hiding place; cache, as in excess of knitting yarn collected with good intentions to knit, but has not yet been knitted.

This blue mandala of stray sock yarn is getting a makeover, as is a lot of my stray yarn.  As mentioned in previous post, I am working on a little something to submit so that gift-knitting will be made just a little easier for those of us with too much STASH. No point in getting any more for this one, as it is a stash promoting sort of design for both handspun and purchased, otherwise somewhat misdirected yarn, and in many weights

Meanwhile, Emma and I are hunkering low in the shade here, as Northern California temperatures rise to scorching hot. Oh, ho hum.  Emma has a growth on her front leg which the vet has finally decided should go, so early next week we’re going back to the vet for a quick surgery to get it taken off.  Wish Emma well everybody, in case I don’t post again until then.

Its  going to be hot weekend, but there’s a crazy chance of rain.  I can’t remember last time I experienced a rain in August.  Wouldn’t that be just magic! 

Carding & Blending

jenjoycedesign© rolags

I’ve been lured into somewhat of a trend. The trend is carding & blending boards!  Such a beautiful tool are the ones purchased by Ashford, etc, and I was so excited to buy one, but I resisted knowing that I was perfectly able to make my own. So with Jeff’s help, I did…

005I bought  24″ of  very expensive 12″ carding cloth, but still less expensive than a new 12×12″ board.  We cut some plywood to size, and after a quick glue & nailing down the carding cloth, added a footing to the head, and a handle, and ended up with double the size of the regular blending boards available. Not bad!  I then spent hours practicing on some old weedy raw fleece I had hidden away, found my old carders, and had a go with some alpaca.

jenjoycedesign© carding alpaca

Mixing first by hand, then carding three times on the board,

it eventually looked like this…

jenjoycedesign© carding alpaca 5

Then I drew the 3x carded alpaca back on to the board, caught the tips in between two dowels, then began to pull out, roll, pull out & drafted it rolling into rolags…

jenjoycedesign© making rolags

Eventually I got through all 240 grams of it and made finally into some nifty rolags ready to spin, after a heck of a lot of work …
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Honestly folks, do you have any idea how much work goes into making a simple 100g ball of yarn from raw fleece?   I’m sure there are some of you out there who do.

Which brings me back to the carding & blending board. I did say that it is a bit of a trend, I mean, just look at the process of making art rolags…

The video shows really what the blending board is all about.  I was actually using it in my above photos as a carding board for raw fleece, now I think I’ll go clean up the weeds and fluff that has spread all about my loft, because I am actually waiting for some combed top roving to show up in the mail.

Its such a strange modern era.  I feel that I have shifted from wanting to create from the roughest and unrefined of raw materials ~~ my old self ~~ into craving the ease of beautiful prepared combed top roving to spin from, or with which to create those beautiful blend rolags ~~ my new self.  I think I have worked something through here, and am considering offering to the wild all that old coarse wool from my earlier spinning days, and face a future of pleasure spinning clean exotic selection of fibers, as there is just so much available now.  I have definitely reaffirmed my respect for those who spin from animal-to-yarn, I just can’t seem to be one to run with the flock anymore, but that is okay.

I do feel the urge to spin yarn again, after a long hiatus.  I am very excited to come back and show off some really artful blended rolags from my plus size blending board, as well as the yarn spun from them!

Fishwives Lace Shoal

The-Fish-Wife

“The Fishwife” by Edward Charles Barnes

This painting caught my eye last winter, and so when the coast was clear in spring I dove into a lace designing frenzy.  For a while I have wanted to make a female counterpart to my Fishermens Neck Gansey, and so here it is finally ~~~ done & dusted!  Inspired by the painting, and in the same colorway as the painting …

 Fishwives Lace Shoal !

jenjoycedesign© small shawl & cowl together

Small shawl worn over medium cowl.

Fishwives Shoal  = shawl + stole.  ( Okay,  plus a cowl thrown in! )  A play on words, indeed. As many of you have been reading all the fishy posts  leading up to this one (especially Shoal or School?  will help you get the name of my new design).  Fish tails motifs with yarn-overs resembling splashes, and waves in-between create a beautiful lace pattern.  Three styles, and three sizes in each.

The Shawl  is square, and worn folded diagonally around neck double thick and tucked into corset, or just pin together.  This one shown in pink is the small shawl(ette) size,  while largest size, with diagonal of 64”, wraps around whole torso as a traditional Scottish hap does, and would also do nicely as a throw.

 


The Stole is just as a French neck & shoulder wrap, sized from wide scarf to full shoulder wrap.

jenjoycedesign© medium stole 1

Medium stole.

jenjoycedesign© medium stole back

Back of medium stole.

jenjoycedesign© medium stole wrapped

jenjoycedesign© small stole 3

Small stole.

The Cowl is simplest of the three styles, and knit in-the-round.

jenjoycedesign© medium cowl

Medium cowl

jenjoycedesign© medium cowl 3
But of all the three styles, I think I love most is to wear two of them together!

jenjoycedesign© small stole & cowl together 2

Small stole in rose, with medium cowl in natural white.

jenjoycedesign© small stole & cowl together

jenjoycedesign© med stole & small shawl

Medium stole in light grey, with small shawl in pink.

jenjoycedesign© med & small stoles

Medium stole in light grey, with small stole in rose.

Well that about wraps up an epic project. I will be laying low for a while, but soon back on another big idea I am sure.   ~~ Boat loads of thanks to Wendy from Ontario for her test-knitting and generous help with figuring things out! Thanks Wen! ~~xx

Details on Ravelry pattern page over HERE

 I will leave you now with some great old photos of a bygone era of real fishwives in their shawls…

Newhaven Fishwives early 1900s
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Old Photograph Scottish Fishwife St Andrews Scotland
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and another cheery post card, one of a Newhaven Fishwife!

old postcard NewHavenFishwife

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!

forthcoming and fishy….

a21ed5308ab28c98087d478423dd312c--fishing-girls-gone-fishing

Hello folks! Another sneak peek about what is forthcoming & fishy.

georgina

I was surprised to find so many very interesting & artful old photos of women fishing…

1902-July-Man-and-woman-fishing-in-the-Credit-River

These are but a few,

PMB21

 Finding these photos has rather set a theme.  A theme which seems to be finding itself, as I knit  and knit  samples of my new design.
d42c258bdb719f6102f2f83fa5757b17--women-fishing-fishing-girls

Something about women …. and… fishing?

Three women fishing. - [1908?]

Well yes,  that’s about it in a nutshell. More to come…

 for now I’m “gone fishing” .

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but I will be back again very soon, with some more knitting and more hints to the forthcoming Fishy Thing!

jenjoycedesign© forthcoming

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…

Meet Abelene!

jenjoycedesign© Meet Abelene!
Hi, I’m Abelene. I am the newest personality here on Jen’s blog, and I live a completely charmed life.    My name is Abelene because my parents were yuppies, and spelled it that way instead of “Abilene” or “Abeline”, the way the name is normally spelled, probably in attempt to be unique & exotic, but it only created a life-long task of my having to explain to “its spelled with three e’s and no i’s” and to give lesson of how to pronounce… “say it like ‘Abba’ … you know, the 70’s rock band from Sweden?… plus ‘lean’…you know, like skinny jeans.”
jenjoycedesign© 36-26-36
Oh, I am a gorgeous 36-26-36, the figure every woman wants though few shall have, and I will not brag about it, but it is one of my very few attributes.  In fact, my figure and my chattiness are all there is to my whole existence.  However, Jen hopes for photogenic abilities too, and she assures me I show potential.  In fact, Jen hopes for a lot from me ~~ design success, fortune & fame~~ in exchange for a charmed life of glamour…. but she says I can’t even dream to compete with her nieces, who are real live models.
Jen debated for a long time about getting me, but recently grubbing around to find me was ‘a score’ as she puts it.  The trauma to clear a space in her ‘studio’ closet was difficult, to find other places for yarn that previously inhabited my new place (by the way, don’t tell anybody, but she calls my living space her Studio Loft , sounding so artsy professional, but really it is only just a guest room where her nieces sleep when they come to stay over).   The door into it is at my left.
Jen tells me that “having a big awkward useless trendy possession” (such as a dress form) is for her a very difficult thing to give in to (um, add a little peppering of guilt there why don’t you!) when in fact she wrestles in strained efforts with her sprawling collection of antique wooden hangers, you know, those ones with old cleaner advertisements?  ( You ought to witness her obsession with those)  Even she realizes her limitations before getting me, that she had a rough time of displaying something as lovely and draping as say… lace. 
(hint … hint)
In any case I think that she is very pleased with my snug dove-tail fitted legs of my solid maple stand, and solid maple finial (that is in place of my head) and is happier than can be with my stability. Things are going to work out she assures me, very well.
jenjoycedesign© sneak-peak
 I am so giddy with pride that I may be having custom made new dress form coverings to wear, as Jen does know how to sew such things pretty well. She has promised me jacquard … linen …. tweed … buttons & bows, and I am very excited to make more appearances in my outfits in the future.  Forthcoming of Jens designs is one of her best achievements yet, a Big Lace Deal, and in more than one shape, so she is busy busy busy knitting lace for the months of May & June and even into July.  I am to be the teaser here, to get a feel of what modeling will be like; here you fine people,  is me in the new work-in-progress, careful to not show any detail prematurely ….
jenjoycedesign© sneak-peak2
Ta ta for now,
Abelene.

Artful Patches

jenjoycedesign©014

These days when I take a needle & thread to mend,

I attempt to do something artful.

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Becoming intimately involved with warp & weft in the fabric of something that you wear on your skin is beautiful,

and maybe even a little bit essential.

It is such a novelty these days it seems,  to have any skills at all in mending.

jenjoycedesign©002

Do you recall this  linen shirt make-over from nearly two years ago?  You might recognize the collar re-do,  and already I have nearly worn a hole in the linen,  and this is just a fun patch job of it, although the white-on-white is not really easy to see the detail, especially in this early morning light.

I have a second shirt I’m patching here,  that is full of holes, and I am using it to practice my new ‘quilt patching’ technique.

Here is what I do:

  1. Whip stitch hole shut, aligning grain of warp & weft  threads as much as possible.
  2. Cut squares of new fabric on the grain, big enough to fold back up to 1/4 inch hem on all edges.
  3. Iron all edges to fold in, and pin to garment with care to aligning grain of fabric with both garment and patch.
  4. With a simple running stitch, sew as close to edge as possible, then again, artfully fill in the patch with shapes, ‘quilting’ the patch against garment, which improves wear of patch as well as looks good. Almost as if you stuck on squares to quilt for the pure craft of it!

Quite a hash of patches, but it makes the shirt all that much more of a treat to wear again!

jenjoycedesign©017

Just in case you’re curious, you can see all posts “New From Old”  HERE (including this one, but scroll down!)  This category has grown over the years, sharing  artful mending & upcycling that I have done, where even I go deep into the warp & weft and try my hand at difficult weave darning.

I hope you try the quilted patch on one of your holey shirts, and see how useful as well as lovely a simple running stitch can be!

jenjoycedesign©012

Fishy

jenjoycedesign© 1ply.JPG

Listening to political news on NPR a lot these days while I knit, feeling a bit unsettled as trouble swims below the surface. However, here in my wooded hermitage there is no trouble, only this blithe little ball of yarn, in shade of dusty pink, that I made myself!  Um, well,  that is … I un-plied it myself !!   I ‘made’ it from a ball of Knit Pick’s Palette which is a 2-ply fingering weight of Peruvian wool,  while mending dozens of breaks from impossibly sticky teasing twists that were a frustrating occurrence of un-plying,  washing, and hang-drying to set the tension ~~ and then I finally got the whole ball of lace-weight here ready to go. Having tossed a few grams worth of knots, I have about 45 grams & 420 yards of some seriously fine lace single ply  ( see all posts about unspun)

What is really fishy , is what is forthcoming!

fish-splash

 

Colors of Cusco

jenjoycedesign© woven cloth.JPG

These handwovens are among some of the beautiful things brought back from Jeff’s trip to Machu Picchu, cloth woven at the Center For Traditional Textiles of Cusco (click and read more about the mission of the Center!)

Peruvian textile gifts.JPG

I find it intriguing and so endearing that these woven items have tags which include pictures, names & birth dates of the weavers!

jenjoycedesign© weaver Gregoria

jenjoycedesign© weaver Luciana

But I find it even more intriguing that these two weavers share the same birth year, and that this year is the very same as my own, and believe me, I seem to be the only one who finds this to be an uncommon coincidence. Oh, but just look at the weave, detail….

003 By the way, Jeff has come back fit as a fiddle,  and the three of them had a wonderful time.  I can’t believe it is now already two weeks since he was in the middle of the epic trek along the Camino Inca, and I was in a frenzy knitting, pattern writing, and submitting the designs ~~ so perfectly timed was the Camino Inca Chullo submitted when he arrived in Cusco, and the Camino Inca Ponchito when he was actually at Machu Picchu~~ like the ancient Incas, maybe, and the suns rays, I put so much significance in these events to be coinciding simultaneously.

♣♣♣♣♣

Camino Inca Ponchito & Cowl.JPG

I have a photo shoot on the calendar for beginning of June with my nieces, where these latest Camino Inca ponchitos  will be modeled and I can’t wait to come back and show them off!

Camino Inca & Pattern #2

624x468Read about how the  textiles tradition is still alive & kicking in Peru.

Jeff boarded the plane in Cusco to Lima this morning and right about now is leaving Lima on his way back home.  He has had an amazing time walking the Camino Inca to Machu Picchu  and was with a great group of trekkers.  He texted me, and sent me this photo from his phone before having to leave. It is at a weavers shop, where they are making traditional Peruvian cloths…

Jeff's textile photo.jpg

See the women in the lower right of the photo? I can see the simple way the pieces of cloth are sewn together to make a poncho sort of thing, worn as an outer garment.11167787204_112e122c85

Curious about the names of the Peruvian Dress, I found a great & interesting source which gives names to all the pieces of traditional clothing.  As an alternate, or in addition to the “Lliclla” , I do think my new design would look terrific with the Peruvian ensemble….

jenjoycedesign© Camino Inca Ponchito 2.JPG

Introducing Camino Inca Ponchito & Cowl!

(photo shoot of all Camino Inca ~ modeled HERE)

This design collection begins in previous post with Camino Inca Chullo and now this is the second in the collection.  One can make a simple straight cowl, or go for the more shapely ponchito….

jenjoycedesign© Camino Inca Ponchito flat.JPG

What is a “ponchito” you may be asking ? I like to think of it as a “little poncho” , just big enough to fit over shoulders, draping in warm folds to cuddle up to neck, but maybe one should think of it technically as a hybrid between a shawlette and cowl, all depending on which size is made. Here it is shown in smallest size;  35″ circumference at bottom, and 22″ circumference at top, and 11″ in length from bottom to top.  In my own colorwork with lovely bobbled bands it is rather sizzling I think…

jenjoycedesign© Ponchito detail

Edit In: The straight cowl for this design, is as basic as can be, with garter stitch edging… and here with colorway and no stripes between makes a clean playful edition!

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The design collection is still underway, with a photo shoot sceduled for kick off for my nieces’ summer vacation, when  I will be hopefully be finished with the whole Camino Inca collection.

Please come see the pattern HERE,

And please join in my promotional pattern release give-away ~~ in the spirit of Autumn in the Andes,  heading toward winter! Details on my Ravelry group HERE.

All posts related to ” Camino Inca ” designs HERE

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