Camino Inca & Pattern #1

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The Camino  Inca,  also known as the “Inca Trail” or “trail to Machu Picchu”, is a road built by the Incan Empire long long ago, and much of it is still of original Incan construction and still traveled today!  Many of you already know that is what Jeff is gearing up to do as I post this….

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They are about to  embark on an epic trek along miles of these very poetic ancient stone roads….

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Jeff, his son & daughter are in and around Cusco Peru these last couple of days while acclimating before their big trek to Machu Picchu, and here is a photo just sent from Jeff’s phone, of a dyer’s booth of  natural dyes!  These are the signature color palette  of the Peruvian traditional textiles; crimsons, pinks, purple, gold & orange….

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And earlier, he sends a photo of a bright ensemble of some hats & bags from the market. Peruvians have made a solid industry around making & selling authentic handmade items for the tourists & trekkers who come from all corners of the world …

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I have been making a series of posts up to this one, starting from a few weeks ago leading up to this week, where I have timed it to submit my Camino Inca Designs ~ one by one~  while they are walking  the actual Camino Inca.   And  I have the first in the short series ready !

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It all began from my wanting to replicate an authentic Peruvian chullo my brother has had for decades (I talk about that in this post a few weeks ago) , but it grew and became an opportunity to design my own colorwork …

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as well as a  Mix-Your-Own with many Andean style motifs I have charted and included in the pattern ….

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And with many options, including Peruvian chullo embroidery & bling…  jenjoycedesign© Camino-Inca-Chulo4

and with a size to fit every head possible head …

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I also included a gauge substitution chart to adapt to fingering weight to bulky weight yarns. I felt the hat needed an option without earflaps and came up with a nice bobbled band (which incidentally Jeff called ‘the crown’) . Here is the Camino Inca ‘corona’ in a tiny size barely big enough for a couple of bands of colorwork , with a bobble top …

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I think I finally managed to round it all up and get ‘er running. Please come see the pattern HERE, and join in on the excitement & promotional pattern release give-away ~~ in the spirit of Autumn in the Andes, which it is, and heading toward winter! Details on my Ravelry group HERE.

All posts related to ” Camino Inca ” designs HERE

Emma is Twelve

Emma is twelve!

Amidst all the quiet commotion around here, Emma has turned twelve today!

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early morning, waiting to go to town

Her birthday present thus far has been a trip into town to visit Dr.Tracy (her favorite veterinarian) and got another blood panel test, which I’m sure will be as blue-ribbon results as a year ago. Tip top shape for a ‘tween’ German Shepherd with grey whiskers and a little arthritis, a good regimen of a lot of walks and naps!

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home from town

Well, just look at her here with her birthday presents from last year and the year before, Mr Raccoon and Mr Squirrel….

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The three of them seem to be having some kind of discussion, which I fear to disturb for they seem to be reaching some kind of consensus.

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Meeting appears to be adjourned….

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regardless of the uncertainties…

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the doubts…

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… its a go… they got it worked out,  and now on to other things!

Um, like more napping.

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Because Emma’s trip into town was an event to take in, and it being her twelfth birthday I let her ride up the mountain with all windows down! Oh the smells, pure heaven! I think she’s going to be fine for another birthday check-up next year. When Jeff returns from Peru (more on that later) we will have the celebratory ‘burger with hotdog candles cake’  with perhaps even another toy!

Edit in 5pm closing time : Vet called to tell me that Emma’s bloodwork came back blue-ribbon beautiful again! We’re just so happy here, for our healthy t’ween-aged Emma.

embellishments

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I have made many hats & many embellishments.  I’ve experimented for a while and learned some new techniques… and now just putting it all together. One of the signature ornaments for upcoming design is a well-groomed pompom attached to a nice plump i-cord.
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With all of these pompoms on i-cord,

I am reminding myself a little of Horton Hears A Who…

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Anyway, I have decided the best way to make pompoms involves some felting, and a lot of trimming, and last a good brushing with a rigid brow or mustache comb, as I am doing for these braid tassels…


Jeff is now in Cusco, and I have the whole thing planned to run with legs when he, his son & daughter begin their trek to Machu Picchu, and all the while I am working at this frantically most all of everyday.

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Hermit-ing out in the mountains with Emma, the cool has receded and the sun has finally arrived.  Everything in its place, and life is good.

Inca Thing

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This is a quick knit I’m letting fly on the needles before Jeff leaves to Cusco to romp the Inca Trail with his son & daughter in only a matter of days.  It is something he actually asked me to make, which is in itself a first! It is a cover for his Kindle.  Awww. So, in the middle of frantic manic knitting of chullos, and trying to reach a personal deadline,  I am just thinking of it as a one-eared version of just another chullo hat.
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The days continue to be gloriously cool, and today fog is rolling over the ridge and cascading down the mountain misting over everything & evoking creativity with sometimes an internal unsettled agitation.   I think I will take this Inca thing, my knitting bag,  and go for a good knit-walk up the ridge with Emma.  We’ll  be back in no time and maybe I’ll have a finished  Kindle cover to post!
Edit in:  I walked & finished knitting,
then felted the kindle cover and here it is…
Cusco bound!
 Pattern: (adapted from forthcoming chulo pattern)
Yarn: Lambs Pride worsted weight in dark & light grey (excellent for felting!

Manic!

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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.

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… 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…

Footsteps 4

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I have been enjoying the cafe culture lately, here with my favorite afternoon treat outside on the patio, a cafe latte & and knitting upvalley, stopping off at St Helena Coffee Roastery on my way home from Calistoga last Friday, after photographing my nieces in their Spring Tees 2017

The days are blissful here on the mountain, with brief spells of sun transitioning back to grey & wintery.  Rain, fog and lingering cool air, as if the season doesn’t really want quite yet to get balmy yet (which I’m fine with), and I am rising above all that oppresses me!

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Still, there are explosions of wildflowers beginning to bloom~~ lupine, clover, paintbrush, poppies, brodea, iris ~~ all heralding the Spring season,  regardless of the reluctant temperatures.  I have wrapped up a lot of epic knitting projects in recent weeks, while kicking off new big BIG design conceptions,  and yet more socks keep coming off the needles. These were such a pleasure, knit with such color that I couldn’t be the least bit gloomy when knitting them!

Pattern: Wild Wool Trail Socks in the ‘Country Sock’ variation.

Yarn: Ripples Crafts Hand-dyed Yarns, in   Reliable Sock, in “Assynt Storms” colorway. Note: I highly recommend this sock yarn, for it is really beautiful yarn to knit with, and dying is exceptional with no muddy spots, all pure blends of colors, sparkling, and with quick color transition.

Details on Ravelry HERE. 

An old beloved brown thing…

jenjoycedesign© 'the original' from PeruMy brother has for decades worn this authentic Peruvian hat,  the Incan motifs have become signature shapes on his head, almost like fiberous tattoos…

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I am not sure where he got this beloved brown thing, but it is a cherished possession of his, and he lent it to me over a year ago asking if I might repair the moth holes (again) and… “maybe ‘add some color’ to it?” he asked.

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Made of alpaca, and badly moth-eaten since being repaired long ago, it has become a part of his life, and all of our lives, for as we know him, we know this hat.

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This favor asked of me to ‘fix it’ has apparently grown feet and evolved into a project of my trying not to entirely replicate the original, nay, but to design the Quintessential Brother Article, as he does actually wear these Peruvian style hats ( known in trend as a ‘chullo’) pretty much every day, tucking the ear flaps behind his ears. They are as he puts it, his ‘hair’.

Well folks, if you wonder where I am going with all of this back story, the thing is, I have begun the series of prototypes, and perfectly timed I might add,  for his birthday.

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Actually, I have made him so many of these, but still he is over the moon whenever I make him a new one.

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So, my scheming to create an authentic replica had changed to become something I should really call a design inspiration, more of an impression of the original.

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The design is in process, and a forthcoming pattern soon available!

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The pattern release will be aimed symbolically around a big trip Jeff is taking in May with his son & daughter to Machu Picchu in Peru, and so I have a lot of work to do until then!

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So here is the first in the series of prototypes ~~~ my brothers Birthday Chulo!

Pattern: forthcoming.

Yarn: Malabrigo Rios

Details: on Ravelry HERE.

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I am getting into a great rhythm of knit-trekking, and socks are best knit-trekking project there is. I talk about this in all posts labeled Footsteps, which is fast becoming my most posted category and and is all about socks knitted while walking… or mostly walking.

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The thing is, while getting more fit from all of this perpetual walking, I am knitting socks galore! I would like to start a local “Knit Fit” group, but way up here on the mountain, I am resolved to going at it solo.  Though I am curious, are there any other knit-trekkers out there? If so, please speak up.

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These socks were meant to be for myself, but in trying to use up all of the 53 grams of left-over sock yarn I had, wanting to use exactly what I had, no more, no less, and ripping back several times if necessary to knit either more, or less (only knitters really understand that).  In this case I knit the foot a smidge too long, and so I suppose they will fit Jeff’s daughter’s feet just perfectly.

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By the way, these socks in progress are seen in the last post at the peak !

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Pattern: my own  Wild Wool Trail Socks ( Plain Sock, with heel worked in heel stitch, and with short leg)

Yarn: 53 grams of Malabrigo Sock, in color Aguas.

Details on Ravelry HERE.

Casting on now for some socks quite colorful,  which you will see finished very shortly I am confident, probably about 15 miles from now I will be posting!

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Hope you are all enjoying the last day in March, here the intense wind seems to have subsided. Now it’s time for insect season!

Foot Steps 2

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I have been making sock after sock while knit- trekking  down on the road,  as well as in the wooded trails with Emma who would rather go at a slower pace and sniff her way along. Her adorable grey-whiskery self, hopeful to discover a wonderful scent, ears perked in large German Shepherd ear-triangles, and with all senses focused ahead…. yet… soon easing into a slower happy & careless gait,  with limps that come and go,  so in these recent months I have slowed too, knitting while keeping her pace.

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In February I began to go down on the main road for  one or two additional long striding faster-paced walks in the week,  with my knitting my only companion.  Moving along on the much smoother asphalt in a ‘zone’  the miles seem short and the knitting seems fast, for one activity slightly distracts from the other.

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I feel that I may never stop knitting these socks while walking the miles, for this sock is perfectly trek worthy in more ways than one.  Easily memorized shaping steps; cuff, leg, ankle, heel & instep, heel turn, foot, and toe… not in the least boring, the steps keep the knitting engaging.

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Socks are small and a very portable  knitting project, and excellent for knit-trekking because they are such a symbiotic activity ~~ knitting them to wear & wearing them to knit!

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Pattern: My own  Wild Wool Trail Socks

Yarn:  Valley Yarns Charlemont which is 20% silk/ 60% Merino wool/20% nylon

Details on Ravelry HERE

Foot Steps

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Mid day sun streams through the canopy, and I am feeling the presence of vernal influences…

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The blissful places I have been missing for a while beckon to me…

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All winter we have had pelting rain storms one after another, and Northern California is officially declared over the drought while reservoir spillways gush furiously!

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Something about the approach of the equinox softens nature to a sweetness indescribable…

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So I will leave off and show you the latest I’ve made,

a pair of trail socks!

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 …with my recent discovery of the snugger heel stitch foot, these socks are now ready for adventure!

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Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll sock yarn, in Merlot Heather and Navy

Pattern:  Wild Wool Trail Socks  , with recent update option of colossally snug heel stitch foot section, my pattern is now completely ‘dialed in’.

Project Details: on Ravelry HERE.

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Valentines

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Its that day again, St Valentine’s Day. I am leaving you with a very simple shortbread recipe that isn’t my usual recipe, but was the best sell-out from the (now locally famous) bakery I use to work at in the late eighties, and is perfect for writing on with chocolate!

The way we did it :

 Cream in mixer 1 cup unsalted butter (I use 1/2 cup of salted, and 1/2 cup of unsalted) with 1 cup powdered sugar. Add 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, and roll out between sheets of waxed paper, carefully flipping and releasing paper from dough before rolling more, chilling as needed. Roll out to 1/4 inch thick, then cut into shapes. Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes, switching in the middle top and bottom cookie tins.

Melt chocolate (I use Trader Joes Bittersweet Belgium) slowly in double boiler (I use a metal bowl over a pan of barely simmering water). When chocolate is not quite all melted, remove from heat and stir until all melted evenly.  Fill cake decorator bag, and with tiny tip, write notes of endearment.

Happy V-day everyone!

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Country Socks

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Here we have the “Country Socks” variation of my Wild Wool Trail Socks , and  in the favorite color for whom they were made.

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After working the heel & heel turn in the heel stitch pattern option for the Country Socks, I felt good and creative, and decided to experiment by continuing  down bottom of foot, noticing what a sturdy hugging ribbing affect it has…

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However this proved problematic, as the heel stitch pulls in the width, it also does the length, (duh!) so I had to do some ” stealth short rows” for the bottom to catch up to the top section.  I only recommend heel stitch over the whole circumference of foot section, not just the bottom.

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Very pleased with this construction feature, and I am going to try my next Trail Sock with the whole foot section in heel stitch.

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These by the way, were knit in Malabrigo Sock yarn (African Violet) with contrast of some left over dark grey Huntington Sock yarn I had handy. Details for this project can be found on Ravelry HERE

Fair Isle Unfurled

jenjoycedesign-bound-upWhat has been bound together while knitted for the last three weeks,

has suddenly been unfurled!

A little slide-show of cutting the steeks…

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Now open, flat, and ready to knit the bands on and make into a three-demensional thing!

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If you are curious about the photos, this is what I am doing:  1. Shaggy  yarn ends on the wrong-side of knitting are cut off (they are the color changes centered in the middle of the steek in front).      2. With the small brushes (one is plastic sewing machine lint brush, the other a brass eyelash comb) I am experimenting with felting the steek (only the stitches down the middle of the steek) with hot water and agitation before cutting. I have never heard of this but wanted to try it out, rather than my usual crochet reinforcement.      3. I cut front steek, then armholes, and the whole thing opens up flat.

Then, a quick three-needle bind off to join shoulders, and now I am ready to pick up the stitches for the bands, nicely folding in all those (slightly felted) raw edges, which will get an additional trim and whip stitched down into back of work.

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Watch this space for a finish very soon!

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….

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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. 

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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!

moody monday

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Emma and I are moody.

When feeling under the weather (on the eve of a birthday)…make candy!

Emma wants some …

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( See her nose? )

 Honestly, I have not gone on a candy-making jag in years.  I used no recipe, just tossed ingredients ( about a cup of org. sugar, a bit more than half cube of salted butter, a glob of corn syrup, and a dash of cream) in a small saucepan over a low flame while cold-water testing until it was right. Poored in a buttered pyrex dish over a bed of chopped toasted almonds, then sprinkled more on top.  I ate a ton of it, it shook off the blues, and then I felt better.

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Oh, and knit something really amazing !!!  Anyway, the rest of it is just cozy, dark drizzling dank gorgeous wintery day, while drinking coffee, munching butter toffee and knitting. I will be home in my hermitage for the week just working on forthcoming design. 🙂

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xmas shirt

jenjoycedesign© Christmas shirt 2016 (2).JPGEvery  Christmas I make a shirt for Jeff.   I finished this one belatedly on new year’s day, then as soon as I finished sewing on the last button Jeff had to try it on, and then of course… he was so cozy in it … it was too dark to photo…. he wore it to work the next day,  and I never got to photograph it. Now it has been already washed, and being flannel it’s already lost its crisp allure and gotten a little fuzzy ….

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What is so funny is that every time I make one of these Christmas shirts I seem to mess something up badly, if not disastrously.  This year the buttonholes were okay, plackets and collar okay … but….  the plaid was so wavy as it was probably the last on the bolt and warp/weft apparently is terminally twisted, and so the plaid did not/could not/ would not stay square. Thus I did a horrible job of matching up in front (like if I make it match at side seams, the front is wonky). Whatever! Who cares! (except that I kind of do care).  A bit dissymmetric, but I will just let it be what it wants to be.

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Needless to say, since my sewing machine is already out, I may have to sew some other crazy  new-from-old shirts, so watch this space for some fun upcycling!

Tall stack o’ neck ganseys!

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I’ve been a knitting fool with these Fishermen Neck Ganseys… in two styles;  “St Andrews Harbour” and “Flamborough Cliffs”.  I’ve given an armload of them away for the holiday gifts, but seems there are still a sufficient number left to photograph, and show off some new ones, with the most recent addition to complete the colorway of   stone harbour at dawn …

 


The herringbone motif with moss panel or cables, including a simplified easy variation that knits up quick, and of which as of today I have a sample with this little silver darling….
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Also finished today, the simple variation of Flamborough Cliffs in some Malabrigo Rios…

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I am not sure if I am quite through knitting these, as they seem to be a hit with the men (and women) in our family, but with the new year approaching, it really is time for me to set my sights to a new knitterly horizon. I just am really very smitten with these neck ganseys, and so pleased to have this design as my 2016 finale.

Wishing you all a very happy new year!

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I mentioned in a previous post that  I have a new camera (thanks to Jeff), which means a bit of time will be spent to learn how to use it properly, and to catch up to the photographing mainstream.  I feel a great lack of confidence when it comes to technical things, unless the subject really interests me, then maybe there’s potential… 😉  I have never really learned to use (our last) camera’s settings, having been too impatient, having been always always satisfied with whatever happened with minimal fussing about …

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and finally, having dropped it,  (I seem to drop everything!) my recent months of photos were just getting worse.  I now am learning things like ‘depth of field’ which is a new thing to me.  So you might see some bits of non-knitting related things show up here over the course of my learning,  for undoubtedly it will eventually  blossom into the knitting, and hopefully transform the presentation of what I have been working on rather passionately for several years now.

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I am no presentation fanatic,  however although I never before paid enough attention to the modes, menus, knobs & dials on the previous camera,  I learned to photograph paying fastidious attention to natural light, and of putting a lot of importance on background. Come to think of it, that perhaps should be the prerequisite to good photos, but now that I can shorten depth of field, (make everything in the background rather fuzzy and unimportant) I will better be able to show clear small details, as in tutorial photos, which is very very nice.  I am a bit taken suddenly by this whole super duper focus aspect of photography.

But okay, this antique door knob is a really great practice object, but then when I get to looking at it closely ….

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I see motifs for a tam design, don’t you?

So maybe it is entirely knitting related after all.

Another Fishermens Neck Gansey

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Introducing St Andrews Harbour, second of the two fishermen neck gansey patterns…

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Picking up from back in this post …  Out To The Waves …  I have been working every minute I possibly can to have this project Fishermens Neck Ganseys ( two patterns in one download )  ready by Christmas, and I am happy to say that it is done & dusted!

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St Andrews Harbour is an intrinsic image of the fishing industry of Fife, and the name sake of this design inspired by the Scottish Fleet fisher ganseys of Fife Scotland. The herringbone central motif is the distinctive element this design, in all of the three charts to choose from;  moss stitch, or a variety of cables accompanying, as well as a simple & fast variation of each design.

About to take Emma out for a quick Christmas Eve stroll on the knitting trail , with  shockingly nothing on my needles presently to knit,  hurrying before it gets dark,  while contemplating the joy of the holidays, of being finished the big project of fishermen neck ganseys …

and of fishing in Fife …

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St Andrews Harbour, Fife, Scotland

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Out to the waves…

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Come now fishermen of olden days, lets share a splendid dream together!  Take me in your nets…out to the waves… oh to be truly unafraid of the elements, exploring harbors of every shore, while facing the bracing raw melody of the sea!

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Colorway: Stone harbor at dawn.   Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca & Ultra Alpaca Light.  I am diving in again to these blues & greys, into the watery  colors,  surfacing yet again with another woolly interpretation.  Be back soon!

A Fishermens Neck Gansey

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I love the textures of the the fishermens sweaters, or ganseys as they are also known. A couple of weeks ago I thought to try one in a simple cowl using my favorite traditional motif from Flamborough gansey.

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Flamborough Head

I gave a hint of this direction in a recent post Elemental , and now I have knitted four samples of varying shapes of a neck piece I am aptly naming a ‘neck gansey’ !

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Flamborough Head is a beautiful section of the Chalk Coast of British Isles, and I spoke of the colors of chalk, of shore grass, of wet sand, and of stone and storm, all captured  in the language of yarn.

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Flamborough Head on the Yorkshire Coast, England.

I must say, after knitting four simple variations, the repeats are quickly memorized, and are thoroughly pleasant to work, evoking visions from a bygone era of strong courageous fishermen in their striking traditional ganseys.

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In the near future, I would like to augment this design with more traditional fishermen gansey motifs, in a series,  and the pattern will be updated to include the additions (any who purchases pattern will get those updates), but I wanted to get this pattern up and running as soon as possible so that knitters could make them for the holidays.

You can find Fishermens Neck Gansey Pattern on Ravelry  HERE … I hope you try one… and happy holiday knitting!

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ps.  I thought I would mention that I still need to get the neck ganseys photographed modeled, which I intend to do very soon, so watch this space!

Elemental

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My mind has wandered down to the chalk coasts of British Isles,  to find the spirit of the sea etched into a landscape assaulted by wind and salt, of the coastal birds, algae stained rocks, crustaceans, seals and shoals of fishes, and dolphins and whales… seeking the blue depths with the promise of life cycling perpetual….to find the masculine and elemental.

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It was no surprise that Black Friday found me running into the local yarn shop, searching for colors of wet sand and sea grass and chalky cliffs… and now I’m disappearing into the deep mists of creation for a while, to surface with something sudden & unexpected!

Calidez Vest Pattern !

jenjoycedesign-calidez-vestI have worked like an ox to get this vest up and running before the holidays descend, and I think yesterday I never moved from my desk while immersed in a last-minute change, crunching numbers to augment the size range for this design for larger sizes in finer weight yarns… and I mean from dawn until dusk! 

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Calidez Vest with crew neck shaping

Today a frenzy of sewing on buttons (before the dark grey vest was even completely dry!) then photographing, and finally submitting it to Ravelry…  now I am just about ready to say its time for a walk out in the misty woods, for the rain has finally broken after two days of solid downpour.

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Calidez Vest with v-neck shaping

Feeling too exhausted to say much , except for the important things….

 Calidez Vest on Ravelry

…  and Calidez Vest in progress on previous posts here and here.

A classic vest for women, men, teens & kids (shown in bulky Icelandic) Calidez Vest is knit bottom up with seamless construction, and flat. Pattern includes a substitution chart for gauges 2.5 to 6.5 stitches to the inch, and has extensive size range from 60” to 25”. Vest has v-neck shaping, with options for crew and high v-neck shapes. Calidez Vest is suitable for for all ages & all year round, and is perfect for all kinds of fiber, yarn weights & especially your hand-spun !

 

Buttons

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I’m going through my numerous button jars, sifting and splashing about, trying to decide which one to finish the latest vest…

 

I really love the wild cat-eye buttons in square one, but there are tragically only three, and the other vest I have decided should have the same buttons. Two vests and ten buttons. Choices left then are either the wood, or the metal & plastic in third square.  I’m thinking I’ll go with the warm natural wood for both vests (the other one v-neck, this will be the crew-neck option). Which by the way , should both be done while racing against the clock, by this weekend. My personal goal is to have the pattern up and running by next week for test-knitters, so if you are interested, please say so!

Meanwhile, last night there was a spectacular storm-brewing and wind kicking up amidst a fantastic colorful firey sunset, with fog rolling in from the Pacific coast…sunset

I am still fighting a horrible cold, but fortunately I can stay home and get lots accomplished  with the knitting, while keeping the wood stove crackling, as its suddenly dropped to low 40’s outside. The blustery cold Autumnal mountain weather has finally arrived!

Yarn Tasting: Alafosslopi

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

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

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

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

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

Lots to do and life is good.

Sweater Descent #2

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

“Soft Donegal”

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

Descent is a word which takes many directions in meaning, most typically it means to ‘move down’ or ‘lower’ as in a physical place of going, as ‘down from a high place’ as from the peak of a mountain. It has metaphorical meaning to me as well, which I absolutely groove on, like ‘making easier’ and ‘moving into a secure low-ground of the known’.  Of course there is the meaning of ‘lineage’ or ‘clan’, and far-off distant cultures or bloodlines one may have come from.  But for me, primarily  the relationship of the word refers to mountains, and walking, and in my case knitting while walking about the mountain on which I live.

And now for Sweater Descent #2

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

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

The events of the day…

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Emma has gotten herself somehow mysteriously injured, and has been hobbling about for a day and a half.  I suspect she may have slipped and fallen on the stairs while we were away at a neighbor’s for dinner on Saturday, because Sunday she just could not move hardly at all.  Today she is a little better, at least been able to walk a little ways although very stiff and sore, far beyond her normal senior-dog arthritis.

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Emma sleeps in our bedroom upstairs, but in recent months she has been getting very unsure of herself on the stairs and has been needing help up and down because of the slippery hard-wood surface. Last weekend I cut up a big old rug for the turning area of the stairs, which helped a lot for that was where she was slipping the most, but the straight sections were still needing to be covered–insert Emma’s injury Saturday evening.  So Sunday morning I went into town and I bought a smattering of small throw rugs, sewed them end-to-end to make runners, cut more rug matting, and created a patchwork of rugs on the whole stairway, which is now very cluttered, and a bit odd, but no longer slippery.

I was so worried last night I slept on the couch downstairs next to her to give her moral support, and joy of joys, today she is much better and at least able to walk around a little outside but won’t be able to climb the stairs for a while yet. Wish her well,  she’s looking up, and I’ll give her a good pet from all of you.

Knitting Track News: I have measured with this wheel the feet distance of the whole knitting track.  The actual ‘track’  is a sloppy figure-eight looping through woods very near our house, total of 1448 feet. Not a big deal, I know , but as the track itself is over 1/4 mile around, so three times around the track plus the walk to and from the track is 1 mile…. and folks, that is not nothing ! 5x is 1.5 miles, 7x is 2 miles, you get the idea.   Just think of the knitting I can accomplish while working up a sweat!

144 finished feet done & dusted, about 1300 feet to go. I did about 60 feet just today, and I’m tired! For now it may seem perpetually under construction, but one day I will be finished and it will be a great accomplishment !!

See my recent post How To Make A Knitting Trail  ,

or all knitting trail & knitting-while-walking related posts HERE.

Calidez Cardigan & Donegal Aran Tweed

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At last, my very own cardigan, and it is so special because it is from a wool I’ve wanted to knit forever, and in a pattern which I designed to be my favorite sweater recipe. . .

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Calidez Cardigan knit up in Donegal Aran Tweed!

I made it with Autumn neckline.  The pattern has four seasons of necklines in case you weren’t aware:  winter=full yoke depth,  autumn=3/4, spring=1/2, summer=very low. . .

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I had so many choices to color match buttons because of all the flecks of tweed in the yarn, but in the end, I only had more shell buttons, but I will find some more, in russet and change them out later.

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When it came down to it, I am purely smitten.  Donegal Aran Tweed knits up beautifully and has a real ‘slinky’ feel to it when knit up at  3.25 sts to the inch, although I was so tempted to try a smaller needle size, I chose the larger, appealing to a drapier cardigan, however, because of the fact, it is very stretchy and a wee bit baggy, but like in a good way. Next I will try a slightly firmer cardigan fabric, as well as make a size smaller. I still can’t decide what color to go with for my next, and I do think it will have to be a Soft Donegal,  and I am thinking to go wild, and get this color.

Well folks, that’s it for today, posting from very rainy Mt Veeder!  I couldn’t be happier than with a just-finished cardigan to wear, and you can see details of this project on Ravelry here.

Everything in it’s place, and life is good. Oh, and I’ve been enjoying listening to some beautiful Irish pipes while knitting Irish Wool . . .


Yarn Tasting: Donegal Aran Tweed

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What have we here? A cardigan (for moi) which I will be finishing in the next couple of days! Some time ago, back in  this post , I talked about knitting a cardigan from Studio Donegal Aran Tweed. I actually cast on and knit most of the body of a steeked body cardigan  before dropping it and coming to the conclusion that, although I have written a brief steeking option on the Calidez Pullover, which this was to sample, I really wanted to design my first flat-knit seamless cardigan pattern. So after struggling with that inevitability , eventually I ripped it all out and wound it back into a big ball.  Well, as you all know that recently I have finally designed that cardigan, I can’t escape the desire to make one after another, in all the Studio Donegal yarns, and already I’m looking at the color shade cards I have to see what color I might try next.  The shade on this piece of knitting is # 4742.

Really folks, Aran Tweed has a spirit about it which speaks to me like no other that I’ve felt. It is really a very classic wool, and does have a bit of ‘wooly scratch’ factor, and I don’t recommend it to knitters who are ambivalent about 100-percent wool, but it is ever so light, fluffy, and possesses a great homespun feel. Most of all, it is indeed very tweedy & colorful, and just extremely beautiful.  

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I am considering trying for my next yarn tasting, Soft Donegal which is 100% Merino wool, and although a lot softer , it doesn’t have the crispness I love so much in the Aran Tweed, nor quite the selection. If you could put your hand into the photos of the two shade cards, you’d agree, Soft Donegal is very very soft, and a little finer weight too. Just a smidge.  Aran Tweed is  heaviest weight of all the Donegal yarns, I’m getting 3.5 stitch per inch,  whereas the Soft Donegal will probably be more like 4.5.  Regardless, I think I’ll explore both with my new Calidez Cardigan pattern, there is no closing the gate to my sudden rush to make every hand-knit cardigan I’ve craved to have & wear for the last ten years.  I am eyeing so many of them, I just can’t decide!

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You can see Studio Donegal’s website to see details about Aran Tweed,  Soft Donegal , and Knitting Wool.

By the way, which are your favorite colors?