Two years ago today . . .

jenjoycedesignc2a9-sea-shell-rolags

From The Archives:  The Color Of Seashells

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spinning For A Project – Part Four: Fiber Preparation

jenjoycedesign© Rose Blend 7I am more than half way through my fiber preparation, and I am really happy to say that I have made a breakthrough with the blending board!   In the last two years I have been doing a lot of fiber blending experiments but it seems recently I’ve noticed my results are overly compact rolags, so much that spinning has been difficult. I couldn’t even see why I ever decided trying to spin from the rolag method or why I thought it was better.

Backstory: If you see my post from August 2017  “Woolen or Worsted?”  ,  I muse a little bit about the preparation of the wool & that I noticed how it  affects the end result of the yarn.  Whether taken off the blending board in one big batt, and pulling apart into smaller sections, or using a ” diz ” to gather a continuous roving from your carded fiber, or like I am doing here, making rolags around two dowels from off the blending board, in a perfect world, a spinner should try all ways I would think.  I am aiming for a bouncy airy “woolen” spun yarn, and why I’m practicing spinning from rolags. 

After the first 50g color test of my 500 gram project of English Rose Tweed blend, I realized I may have a technique error.   I remember back in my first blending projects , especially this one, blended with super fine & fluffy ingredients, and how light & airy the rolags were, and so very easy to spin. So I tried a change with this batch; I lifted more and pulled over the teeth less.  That’s it! Just more lifting when rolling the fiber around the dowels ( I use slick aluminum needles) to make the rolags, and less pulling, and that took a lot of friction out of the process.  I guess my technique had morphed without my thinking about it, and over time I was working the rolags with a massive amount more friction. Well I had a big ” duh ” moment, and now I am conscious of this I am getting fluffy frothy whipped woolly confections again, to spin later.
Later that is, when I’m through blending all of the rest of the carefully measured ingredients to English Rose Tweed. Committing to the long-haul of a big project is something I haven’t done in a long long time. This is work I tell you! But just look at these beauties….  
jenjoycedesign© Rose Blend 1

See all posts in this series Spinning For A Project.

(( click 1st image to go to slideshow… ))

Opalescent Spun

jenjoycedesign© opalescent 1

Opalescent is all spun.

I am amazed how six distinct pastel colors can just disappear into each other . . .

jenjoycedesign© opalescent 2

It is magic how when blended, spun and plied,  the colors homogenize into a silvery light grey.

But in this photo I enhanced color saturation with digital effects . . .

jenjoycedesignc2a9-opalescent-3-1.jpg

so you can see the subtle splashes of lavender, orange, yellow, mint green, pale blue, and pink, just as the original dyed fiber was before blending together . . .

It nearly defies logic how mixing opposites on the color wheel simply neutralize each other. I honestly can say, of all my experiments in Tweed Chronicles, this one surprises me the most!

See the blending recipe for Opalescent  HERE

See all Tweed Chronicles HERE.

One + One = Spun

jenjoycedesign© skein in new loft

I have spun my latest blending experiment .

jenjoycedesign© spun.JPG

She’s a real pastel beauty,

spun on my Ashford Traditional Wheel,

which I am having a wonderful reunion with after being separated from for over a year.
jenjoycedesign© spinning

That about wraps up the first One + One blending recipe,  although I think I could have gone for even more white neutral — that would have been (1 + 1) + 1, which is blending again with more white after blending one + one,  or  1 + 2  which is blending one part dyed roving, and two parts white at the first weighing of portions.  I think I will refine this recipe a little more, but for now, its on to the Tweed Chronicles recipe I’ve been dreaming about doing,  as I’ve got in my pale primary & secondary colors finally … and well, you know where I’m going with this !

A simpler way.

jenjoycedesign© unplying Soft Donegal.JPGI’m halfway through unplying my three balls of Merino Tweed, in natural white, beige and brown (my newest technique posted previously.)   I will over-dye the beige and brown with pink, and also with green, resulting in a light and dark variation of the colors. You can dye once and if you vary your yarn ‘base colors’ and the result is like having dyed many colors ! I plan on a project which will have a dark and light pink, and a dark and light green, and natural white. Watch this space for continued progress posts!

Meanwhile, as I unply on the drop spindle, I have been educating myself endlessly watching Nilda’s film…

Nilda so deftly prepares fleece without carders — the Andean way — then spins into fine single plies, then single plies into yarn, expertly without ever using anything other than the most basic tools and her own hands.

choosing spindle.jpg

She is one person I would love to walk  and spin with, for in her culture moving is intrinsic to spinning … out to the herds, up the mountains and down again, strolling and spinning, a constant activity for the women & girls.

Continually spinning or plying means it is necessary to simplify the process and limit the tools to what a person can carry, using unique & interesting techniques of how to not let things get tangled,  and spin while tending the flock, keeping drafted fleece or hanks of single plies ready for plying neat and attached to the body.

plying from skein.jpg

I highly recommend Nilda’s film “Andean Spinning with Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez”  , a film which has reaffirmed my notion that working with hands really does belong with walking ~~ as if  double tasking was invented in the Andes!   I relate very much to Nilda’s teaching that in her culture one spins constantly, for it is necessary, and one does it while moving from one place to another, or visiting with friends, or just meditating quiet moments. I translate it of course to knitting and walking, but I think once I really give the drop spindle a good practice, I will be walking along side Nilda in spirit.

Nilda vid.jpg

I will leave you to check out the links and discover for yourself just how elegant Andean spinning really can be!

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Last spring I made a series of posts about the weaving in Cusco & Nilda’s work with the Center of Traditional Textiles of Cusco ,  and I’m really looking forward to one day having my upstairs loft studio again wherein I can organize it to work while letting the Andean’s utmost simplistic methods show me the way ~~  to a truly refined Less Is More way of making things.

Tweed Chronicles: The color of moss…

photo from archives: Knitting In Nature

Moss is the most complicated color in nature that I can think of.  Here in the mountains of Northern California, it is dormant through the dry season (most of the year if not half) during which it shrivels and turns an olive green to brown color. When the rains come, it is fat full of water, it glistens with nearly neon golden tips and has every shade of green present, plus a few other colors in there too …

jenjoycedesign©moss-dripping

photo from archives: Fog & Moss

I could never really quite figure out if real moss in nature is a warm or cool green, so I figure I’d just layer and layer and layer the colors until it seemed right,  improvising as I went along …

jenjoycedesign© moss rolags!

which spun up to be as complex of a green in yarn form as I thought it should be …

jenjoycedesign© moss 3

but I do think in hindsight I should have added more dark green, which I didn’t have any of,  so if I did, I would have added in the greens.

Anyway, this is how I did my ” moss “…

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Techy stuff for Moss…

  • Lift color saturated neutral batt, layer alternately with 5g each of grass green, leaf green, and olive green. 
  • Lift batt, layer alternately again with 5g each of grass green and mustard yellow.
  • Lift batt, layer alternately again with 5g each of grass green and mallard teal. (I think next time I will blend in more Mallard teal, perhaps along with the yellow in previous step).
  • Layer again on blending board and draw off rolags.
  • Improvement for next time: Add more mallard (teal) with yellow,  as well as a dark green.
  • Colorway blend:  ” Moss” .
  • See ALL color blending experiments & recipes archived in Tweed Chronicles

 

Tweed Chronicles: Geological 3

jenjoycedesignc2a9eroded-waterway

photos in archives: Long Shadows Of January

Last and lightest color in my geological series is the ash layer from volcanic eruptions, and which show up a couple of feet down, seen mostly where there is water erosion in the ditches along side of some of the vineyard roads next door …
jenjoycedesignc2a9eroded-layers-of-ash
It is a stripey design of very light grey  to medium grey, depending whether it is wet or dry,  so “Ash” perfectly names the light grey color in my Geological colorways.

jenjoycedesign© ash rolags

The bulk of the color is silver — natural grey and natural white fleece —  so the range from a warm silver to a cool medium grey is up to the mood, and a thing which invites a lot of personal touch.

jenjoycedesign© rolags 2

In my three geological colors of  dark Shale,  medium Sandstone, and now light Ash, either natural grey or natural brown can be blended with natural white for the rock tones, because the distinguishing difference is dark-to-light variation more than it is color hue.

jenjoycedesign© 004

The other distinguishing feature of geological colors is that I’m using undyed natural colors for the all-over color, with a splash of the color-saturated neutral showing …

jenjoycedesign© 006

…   which by the way,   the  “color saturated neutral” (primary and/or secondary triad mix)  is the unifying element of ALL of my tweedy colorways !

Next time I will use less ratio of the color-saturated neutral, because when one is blending a light wool , like paint, the proportion of pigment actually is very little.  Also next time I will use more white in the mix to make the all-over color a lighter silver (noted below).   But for the sake of documenting my experiment, here’s what I did…

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Techy stuff for Ash…

  • Began with Primary & Secondary Neutral recipe using approx 2.5g each of green, purple, and orange  AND  blue, red, and yellow, (or alternately 5g each of primary or secondary triad colors) blended thoroughly on blending board (see Blending For Tweed Simplified) , lift batt, set aside.
  • Layer 15g natural white with 15g natural grey,  lift batt. (Note: For lighter grey, blend more white, less grey)
  • Layer color-saturated neutral batt with white/grey batt alternately.
  • Lift batt, and for lighter grey layer again with 15g more white.
  • draw off rolags.
  • Colorway blend:  ” Ash” .
  • See ALL color blending experiments & recipes archived in Tweed Chronicles

 

Tweed Chronicles: Manzanita Blossom

photo from archives:  A Storm On The Way

The blossoms of the Arctostaphylos (manzanita) on the ridge trail of the mountain ~~ one with pink flowers, and one with white ~~ are the first blossoms arriving in winter!

pink blooming manzanita

pink blooming manzanita

Nestled side by side on the ridge, the two varieties are perfectly complimenting of each other, and as fragrant as they are breathtaking in beauty.

white blooming manzanita

white blooming manzanita

((You can read more about the manzanita in this post ))

Now looking at my latest tweed yarn colorway:  “manzanita blossom” …  it will be a pink, with a just a dusting of white.

jenjoycedesign© rolags

A blush of pink against rocky volcanic landscape is one of the most beautiful things in the mountain landscape, and I do think I found just the right shade ( although I wished I put a tiny bit more white in the last blending layer) …

jenjoycedesign© spun manzanita

A shy pink.

A pink which is the color of mid winter … pale and fresh.

jenjoycedesign© spun1

There in the pink is the saturated neutral too.

jenjoycedesign© spun

Now, let me show you how I do it…

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Techy stuff for Manzanita (pink)…

  •  Color Saturated Neutral recipe for approx 5g each of primary triad of blue, red, and yellow:  Blended thoroughly on blending board with 15g of white as many times as necessary to fully homogenize…

jenjoycedesign© primary neautral + white

  • With neutral-white mix, layer alternately with 5g each of Fuscia, Rose, and Flamingo Pinks, and 5-10g more white  (see Blending For Tweed Simplified)

jenjoycedesign© add pinks and white

  •  Lift batt, and layer again twice more.  (Note to improve: try last layering with another 5g white. to get more white ‘streaking’)
  • Draw off rolags.
  • Colorway blend:  “Manzanita blossom” .
  • See ALL color blending experiments & recipes archived in Tweed Chronicles

 

Tweed Chronicles: Clover

jenjoycedesign© wild-red-clover

photo in archives: A Walk Among Wildflowers

There is absolutely nothing that I can think of as red in the wild landscape as the crimson clover which grows abundant in the meadows nearby on the mountain, the meadows where Emma and I have walked countless times, and forefront of my mind when I think of a name for the colorway of red. Wild, herbaceous gobs of crimson, are the trifolium incarnatum  flowers.

jenjoycedesign© red clover rolags

Crimson is the color I am trying to grasp.

jenjoycedesign© red clover spinning

It needs a little improvement for next time (perhaps more red)

jenjoycedesign© red clover spun 2

But this is it ~~~  my crimson clover .

jenjoycedesign© red clover spun

I am looking forward to six months from now when the wildflowers will hopefully have returned from the burned topsoil, as the grass has already … shy little green sprouts everywhere !  Tomorrow morning is the winter solstice, and I am glad to see it finally come, and to see pass my huge disappointment of  once favored ( oh how fickle of a season) Autumn.    Winter come, o’ please be gentle, cast your sleepy spell on the landscape, and clean up the blackened death from the wildfire, soften it with rain and bring back the wildflowers and the moss, so that the landscape may wake anew with spring growth, restored and resilient and colorful.    Autumn,  to you I bid good bye.

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Techy stuff for Red Clover…

  • Lift neutral batt, layer alternately with 5g each of ruby red and rose pink.
  • Lift batt, layer alternately with 5g (or more) of red.
  • Draw off rolags.
  • Colorway blend:  “Red Clover” .
  • See ALL color blending experiments & recipes archived in Tweed Chronicles

 

Tweed Chronicles: The color of fog …

March's entrance

photo from archives: Shades Of Fog

Fog is a huge part of life on the mountain, for me, and I just love the fog show …

jenjoycedesign© fog Jan 2015

fog in January, 2015

I love to watch it pour over the ridge from the Pacific, fluid and volatile, and into the valley,  or splashing up from it.  I also love it just thickly hovering about …

jenjoycedesign©blue oaks in fog

photo from archives:  Foggy

So naturally, my next tweed endeavor must capture the color of fog !

jenjoycedesign© fog white

It is my basic white,  well,  a near white, where like fog, you see faint color of images behind …

 

Just a tiny bit of the color-saturated neutral to start, then blended several times with increasing amount of white wool, so you’ll see flecks of blue, red and yellow upon close inspection.

jenjoycedesign© 018

I really am enjoying developing a personal hand-spun color palette, and see no end to my combing wool in different combinations, racing obsessively from blending board to the spinning wheel, grabbing my camera to photograph, wash, dry, wind on swift, photogragh again …

jenjoycedesign© fog 5

… then on to the next !

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Techy stuff for Fog (white)…

  •  Color Saturated Neutral recipe for approx 10-15% base, primary triad of blue, red, and yellow:  Blended thoroughly on blending board.   Note: for a more dramatic tweed, with gobs of color splashing through, blend only once , then continue.
  • Starting with white, layer alternately with neutral (see Blending For Tweed Simplified)
  •  Lift batt, divide as needed and layer again and again with more white, repeatedly fully hemogenized, more or fewer times until white/neutral values balance as desired.
  • Draw off rolags.
  • Colorway blend:  “Fog” .
  • See ALL color blending experiments & recipes archived in Tweed Chronicles

Tweed Chronicles: Madrone

(photo from archives Whisper In The Woods)

What I miss most right now,  are the madrones , Arbutus Menziesii, a unique kind of tree native to the California Coast and mountain ranges, with an interesting rusty orange bark that sheds in papery sheets…

Madrones have an indescribable color if ever you were to witness, it turning at first shed a bright green, which changes in a matter of days to a greyish orange, then to browner rust.

by the window

( photo from archives…  Gone Wild)

Among the madrones is a wonderful place to be;  hidden,  enchanting,  and ever-so-quiet, and kept company right outside of the window where I loved to write, knit, or spin.    I have tried to capture my madrones, blending color after color,  overdoing the layers, but eventually I think I found close to the indescribable.  A bit too much orange I think, but I have made notes of how to improve my next blending experiment.

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Meanwhile Emma seems to be perfectly happy in her new napping places…

Emma

I take her up nearly everyday to the woods, the place where the house was ~~ will be again~~ (which is as of last weekend a nice freshly excavated dirt area) , and she loves to sniff the air while riding in the back of the car with the windows down, and bark at the cows or horses she see’s along the way. I spoil her a lot these days, and we love our trip up the mountain to the ‘house’ …  we meander as before, and I am knit-walking again!

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Techy stuff  for Madrone …

  • Added 10g each of cinnamon, rose, and amber, layered again.
  • Lift batt, and layered again.  Too pink,  so decided to add 5g  of amber.
  • Not brown enough, so added 5g Hazelnut, and layered to have a bit of brown streaking in the spin.
  • Drew off rolags.
  • Colorway of blend “Madrone”
  • Note of improvement:  Next time more red instead of the amber step, and more brown on last blend.
  • See ALL color blending experiments & recipes archived in Tweed Chroniclesjenjoycedesign©woods

 

Tweed Chronicles: Wild Flax

jenjoycedesign© spinning by a window

Spinning by a window  …
jenjoycedesign© spinning Wild Flaxlight flooding in to  unwind my shadowy worries.

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I cast my mind to a warm landscape of wild flax …

 hoping to find the colors of the flowers in the wool blend …

jenjoycedesign© 019

I have been doing a lot of fiber blending,  and a little spinning too, which is for now easing me slowly back into creative mood.

jenjoycedesign© spun

( and am so grateful to “L” for the gift of a beautiful Ashford Traditional spinning wheel!)

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In closing,  FEMA clean-up crews have been working rapidly in Napa & Sonoma counties since the wildfire of October, and by the end of December, maybe a clean slate for us? Impossible to forecast the rebuilding ahead,  for now I find the cozy window here my joy of the afternoon.

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Techy stuff  for my Wild Flax Blue …

  •  2 g each of primary colors (6g tot) , for a base of color-saturated neutral ,  see this post; blend thoroughly on blending board 3 times Total 6g.    Note: for a more dramatic tweed, with gobs of color splashing through, blend only once , then continue.
  • 6g cornflower blue, layer very thinly one color at a time, with neutral base. Tot 12g.
  • Lift batt, layered again with 2g each of white, light green, teal. Tot 18g.

( I was trying to get more blended base, with a ‘dusting’ of brilliant blue on the last blend…)

  • Lift batt, and layered again with 2g  of cornflower blue. Tot 20g.
  • Drew off rolags.
  • Colorway of blend “Wild Flax Blue”
  • See ALL color blending experiments & recipes archived in Tweed Chronicles

Tweed Chronicles: Color Saturated Neutral

jenjoycedesign© spun
I have successfully made a color saturated neutral.

Nested in a mountain of other neutral tones, you don’t see it right away,

   but look at where I started …

jenjoycedesign© primary & secondary mix
Primary and secondary colors all in exact equal amounts …

carded three times on the blending board  …

then drawn out into tasty wool sausages !
jenjoycedesign© rolags

If you check out my Primary triad blend here ,  I’ll say that the secondary triad blend experiment was much the same, nearly indistinguishable from the primary , and theoretically should be the same for any color triad on the color wheel .  Tertiary triads too, and lighter values of the triads; as light blue for blue, pink for red, aqua for teal, peach for orange, etc.

In this experiment,  I used two triads together ;  primary + secondary ,  for my ultimate color-saturated neutral, and I must say this blend was really fun to spin … the colors are all there. 

jenjoycedesign© spun detail

I’ve got my color-saturated-neutral base recipe, a base for my own color palette of ‘slightly earthy heathers’ , as I’ve never been drawn to vivid hues when buying yarns.  From a color-saturated neutral I can base everything, light or dark, and with color intensity varying.  I’m looking forward to developing more recipes ~~ watch this space!

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Techy stuff …

  • Equal amounts of each of primary: red, yellow, and blue , and/or secondary: purple, orange and green.
  • Layered very thinly one color at a time, alternately.  I mean really a lot of thin layers … using  this technique,
  • Lifted batt, layered again, total of three times.
  • Drew off rolags.
  • Colorway blend:  “Color Saturated Neutral” .
  • See ALL color blending experiments & recipes archived in Tweed Chronicles

 

Tweed Chronicles: The color of sea grass.

Pacific-coast-grass

I am deep into the study of color saturated neutrals.

jenjoycedesign© rolags 4

What is a color saturated neutral? Well, when I blend equal amounts of the primary colors together, the affect is at first glance, a seemingly dull clay color ,  as I posted previously about HERE.

In this experiment I added to the primary triad mix, one secondary color – green,    integrating all of the colors on the blending board with this technique ,  bringing the whole color balance leaning a little bit toward the green … a weathered sea grass green.

jenjoycedesign© primaries + green

primary colors + 1 secondary (green)

jenjoycedesign© first batt

first blended batt

jenjoycedesign© second batt

second blended batt

I then added some un-dyed natural white to give it some texture and depth.

jenjoycedesign© third batt + white

third blended batt, adding white

Colorway reminds me of the pampas grasses which grow along the Pacific coast.

jenjoycedesign© 004

While enjoying some spinning on my Ashford Traditional wheel (( a resonating gratitude to  “L” who wishes not to be mentioned ))   I have decided that perhaps Tweed Chronicles is a new love which causes only happiness …

jenjoycedesign© spun 3

And the studying of color is making me look deeper into the surface,  and imagine how the colors are found the same way in nature.

Next I am pairing primaries with secondaries, and finding super color saturation in what is an alarmingly gorgeous & complex neutral. Watch this space!

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Techy stuff …

  •  5g each of (near primary) red, yellow, and blue — plus green,  merino roving = 20g.
  • Layered very thinly one color at a time, alternately.  using this technique: Blending for tweed simplified
  • Lifted batt, layered again, total of three times. Lifted bat, and sectioned into strips of about 3.
  • With 15g white cormo roving, divided into 3 sections.
  • Layered very thinly white, then color blend, alternately.
  • Lifted batt, and layered again, loosely.
  • Drew off rolags.
  • I’m naming this colorway blend ” Pacific Coast Grass ” .
  • See ALL color blending experiments & recipes archived in Tweed Chronicles

 

Tweed Chronicles: Color

jenjoycedesign© tweed1

Back into Tweed Chronicles I have found once again rhythm in myself, perhaps a melody too. I have been thinking about the color wheel, and the basics I learned decades ago, and so I am applying it now to natural fiber ~~~ easy enough!

jenjoycedesign© tweed4

In fact, my whole color blending Tweed Chronicles has little to do with wool breeds and fibers,  almost nothing to do with spinning technique ( I am only a fair spinner)  …  but nearly all pure color theory, and blending technique.   I am a colorist perhaps, above all.

jenjoycedesign© tweed5

I am merely attempting to relive the high points of discovery that must have happened with folk centuries ago in the tweed mills, of a bygone era. I am all about the bygone era I think, feeling that deep tap root into human creativity that runs timeless and wild.

jenjoycedesign© tweed spun

Putting the primary colors together in a kind of color triad, is something that normally I would never do, for I am not in the least fond of primary colors, or even secondary.  But the complex blends of colors are made of of the basic colors, and so I am working with the  primaries & secondaries in a tweed experiment that I hope works just as I am conceiving it in my mind, as I lose myself to sleep at night, dreaming the magic of heathered tones.

jenjoycedesign© tweed spun 3 detail

The best time of day is when the sun shines through the window bright enough to bring to life the best work of my imagination. Couple that with a delicious cup of coffee, and who would want anything more of the morning?

jenjoycedesign© tweed7

Well now, its off to the charity shops to see if I can find some good chairs!   Aside from this recent color blending euphoria, I am feeling a bit too tender and not wanting to cooperate with the holidays this year.   Scotty, beam me to January.

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Techy stuff of what I did …

  •  5g each of (near primary) red, yellow, and blue dyed merino roving = 15g.
  • Layered on blending board very thinly one color at a time, alternately.  I mean really a lot of thin layers … using technique Blending for tweed simplified.
  • Lifted batt, layered again a second time, then a third. Lifted bat, and sectioned into strips of about 5 or 6.
  • With 15g white cormo roving, divided in as many sections as the color blend.
  • Layered very thinly white, then color blend, alternately.
  • Lifted batt, and layered again twice.
  • Drew off rolags.
  • I’m naming this colorway blend ” Primary Triad + white”.
  • See ALL color blending experiments & recipes archived in Tweed Chronicles

Lingering question of the day:  Which one of you generous people sent me all of the Cormo wool? Was it Laurie? Rose? Adele? Lynette? (I am so sorry I lost track, but I’ve been rather hollow in my head!) From the bottom of my heart~~ thank you~~ it is absolutely dreamy!!!!

Tweed Chronicles: 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”.

♣   ♣   ♣   ♣   ♣

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!

Tweed Chronicles: 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!

Spinning seashells…

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This fiber “Optim Ultrafine Merino” is just so luxurious, and in a way, effortless to spin, yet really takes some practice.  I posted the blending recipe the other day when I made the rolags “the color of seashells”  , I remark  how the fiber base Merino Ultrafine is incredibly downy soft, and fine….

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But let me tell you, it is slippery and not easy to manage without breaking it a lot while spinning, that is , until you get the hang of it.   I am practicing sort of three new things at once; long draw drafting from rolags, fixed my wheel so it can go high speed, and also spinning this new gorgeous slippery fiber.

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This woolly confection is inspiring me to put up a shop on Yarnings just to sell a few little luxury ultra-handmade things ~~~ knitted things that I’ve knit from yarn I’ve spun from art rolags I blended on my super nice blending board that I made, and in my own designs of course.  A little too much in all directions, yes, I’ll agree, but oh boy these tasty wool sausages are sweet nectar to my eyes, and deserve as much publicity as I can muster up!

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Life is good and Autumn is near!

Tweed Chronicles: A fiber blending color trick….

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Gorgeous pearlescence like beach shells…

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Made from nice combed top roving,  so there’ll be no bumps and slubby bits in this batch, and the amazing thing is that all the color in these rolags are from combing tips of stash yarn!

During my last blending post, I discovered a “yarn brush” technique, and having invented this for myself, I feel like I should explain how I do it.  From doing a few times I think it is easiest to to cut a handful of the yarn, in lengths about 4 to 6 inches, loop around and hold the ‘brush’ firmly in the middle. I am using my paintbrush comb, but you can use hand carders or a fine tooth comb, and comb the ends of the yarn to loosen up and fray the plies, which then you can then push into the carding teeth…

jenjoycedesign© yarn combing

I’ve found that most of the looser plied fluffy yarns, like some Berocco  Inca Tweed I had handy, work best, and certainly any of the single ply yarns work beautifully without the combing the tip, they just brush off into the carding cloth easily.  In the slideshow, if you hold your mouse over the images, the text will explain what I’m doing.

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Okay,  here’s the show!

 

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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!

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

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

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?

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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…

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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!

Spinning hope for the future.

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In recent days, while knitting I have been learning about Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi, about spinning & carding, and the art & industry of spinning, and also listening to NPR political news which always is a dreary subject.  But more about Mahatma, the “great-souled” man.

Gandhi and His Spinning Wheel: the Story Behind an Iconic Photo

Caption from LIFE magazine (1945): “At 76, the Mahatma is in good physical condition. He weighs 110 pounds, but he is not so frail as he looks.”

Gandhi was a religious leader, nationalist, and social reformer (1869-1948) who’s method of peaceful protest brought change to India, and through his example he empowered millions with a sense of direction and courage.  One of Gandhi’s notorious civil disobedience acts protesting British rule was organizing & leading thousands of people to walk 241 miles to the sea, so they could simply make salt, something that was illegal under an obnoxious salt taxing law of Imperialist oppression at the time (read more about this significant protest….)   Gandhi has since his lifetime gone beyond being a leader of peace in India, to an example of peace in the world.

[wurld]noun + [pees] noun: World peace is exemplified by an ideal of freedom, peace, and happiness among all people in all nations , ideally encompassing ethics of planetary non-violence by which nations willingly cooperate, either voluntarily or by virtue of a system of governance that prevents warfare.

But the most iconic thing about Gandhi that I think of , is his gift to people of the spinning wheel to empower and unite them. Gandhi taught his people to spin and to take pride and ownership in their labor & contribution, and so the millions spun on the wheel as it became an integral part in creating the cloth of the nation. The spinning wheel even became the emblem of the nation and was printed on to India’s flag…

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“Every revolution of the wheel spins peace, good will, and love.” –Gandhi

The simple mechanics of turning a whorl to make fine finished thread out of unorganized fluff.  When I think about it, spinning is a wonderful example of human potential, and perhaps what belonged even to the earliest prehistoric civilizations as they made cloth to better their lives.

However in modern days it seems as though the craft of spinning has become a sort of privilege of the artisans life, if not the perpetual hobbyist, but I am digging deep into the well of my own humanity to find a stronger direction from it.  I am suddenly in the throes of wanting to be inwardly groomed by these concepts.  Although my life is already a peaceful protest in a way, I am spinning hope for the future.  

Well, what I have learned about Gandhi and his spinning has at least inspired the name of a new little design forthcoming, but that will be another day.  I will leave off today with one of my favorite quotes…

Gandhi quote

Spinners Visit

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Three of my spinner friends ~ Morrie, Debbie, and Susan came up to spin yesterday!  I met them down at the main road, and we managed to fit three spinning wheels, all the bags associated with toting for the spinning (lots and lots of those). . . and all four of us . . . in my Toyota Rav. It was quite the wagon load and I wish I had my camera!.  We then shuttled up the rocky road to the house. . . and we nested together  to spin for the day.

It was great fun to say the very least.

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Emma was well behaved, giving up her chair for Susan (above), and having *only* thieved one of Morrie’s spools of yarn, and one of Debbie’s shoes…

(Debbie made a little post on her blog about the day over here folks ! )

Debbie, I’m honored that you posted and that you had a good time ! Emma does have a taste for wool, doesn’t she? You know why? Because she is a shepherd !  :: laughs ::  I hope you don’t mind too much that I stole  this photo here, from your blog , looks like you’ve captured a glimpse of your spicy chocolate and Schacht wheel in action . . .

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Thank you Spinners, for coming all the way up to my hermitage and causing a delightful commotion for Emma and I , from our otherwise quiet and uneventful day !  Such a room full to bursting with personalities !!! Lets do it again tomorrow , and the next day !

(( And I promise I will *not* try so hard to make the house too clean and tidy ))

Treasures from The Basement

At first , there was a vest. That is to say, the vest was the absolute first thing I spun and knit, during the Autumn of 1987, and it was my first project in my Wednesday morning spinning class. But to start, a little backstory is needed.

A non-credit and free community college class , was the bright and lucky beginning of my love of spinning and of textile creations. On the brochure it was listed in its first semesters as just “Hand Spinning” , then later “Textile and Fiber Arts”, but the long-standing class which spanned two decades at the Goat Hill Farm was just one of those legacies which aren’t realized until they are gone. When one stepped into the class for the first time, it might be like falling into a dream, and stepping a hundred years back in time. I feel I was very lucky to be one of the people involved, even if mostly just in the first decade.

We gathered in the basement of Joanie’s Victorian house, there on the farm, a room she made incredibly charming for the classes and a delightful hybrid of yarn studio , livingroom, and country kitchen all in one. There were many places to sit in a circular fashion, of antique couches, loveseats, and chairs, with trunks and baskets of wool overflowing about the place, an electric drum carder, picker, carders and niddy noddys and impliments of spinning everywhere one looked. A section of the basement was partitioned into a kitchen with stove and sink whereby we dyed fleece, roving, and yarns , and there was usually a dyepot simmering . And if that wasn’t enough, there was always coffee, tea, and cakes or pies made gratis usually by Joanie, but also we ‘students’ would contribute, so there was always a bounty.

A photo clipped from a feature article I’ve saved, which ran December 2005 in the local newspaper about Joanie’s class during the height of it’s popularity, and just before it came to its end after 20 years.

I remember each Wednesday morning the basement room would crescendo into a loud cacophony of laughter, whirring spinning wheels, and gossip, and over those genuinely influencial classes, and fresh cakes, we more or less evolved into a bonded group of friends for a time. This group of spinners I met up with on and off for well over a decade.

Ahem …. back to the vest.

For this vest I spun some Lincoln-Corriedale wool fleece ‘locks’ I purchased from the stash of fleece for sale at the Goat Hill Farm, my first spinning project on my brand new Peacock Wheel (also purchased through Joanie) and I spun the lock-like fleece uncarded and unpicked ! I had dyed the locks in the group with RIT dyes of greens and burgundies and browns (I still have those notes !). I had worn it throughout several winters in a row, washing it only ever once. A moth got to it, twice, and I’ve had to darn those holes. All in all, it is my most treasured knitted thing I have ever knit to date, having my mother’s instruction to shape the flat-knitted sections, sew together, and knit on neck, arm, and button bands. Her instruction is etched into my memory forever with this vest.

Another rather remarkable thing associated with this vest , is recalling a bout of tonsilitis I had come down with as I had been bicycle commuting all winter and on antibiotics and off of work (working at a bakery at the time) , and luxuriated in bed for two weeks, long enough for to knit this from beginning to end, with the help of my mom. A third and perhaps most special thing about this vest, was that in the excitement and encouragement of my first handspun & handknit project, my friend and duo-mate John made for me a set of deer horn buttons, from an antler I brought to him.

I watched in amazement …

… as John cut squares off of the antler on his band saw, shaped them so nicely on his sander, drilled holes in them with his drill press, then torched the edges, then gave them some wax. They absolutely make the vest the most beautiful thing in my cedar chest, like something from a museum !

* * * * *

Next…

This pullover is very dear to my heart, made in ’91. I carded a blend of fleeces from my own animals ! Among the fleeces used were ; a brown Lincoln- Corriedale fleece from my ewe named Hazel, mohair from my angora goat named “Nash” , dyed greens and turquoise and teals, and angora hair from two of my fawn colored angora rabbits, dyed old rose tones and maroons. The most memorable thing about this sweater is the fact that I had knit it three times !

I knit it first into a v-neck cardigan, shortishly cropped, which didn’t do, as the yarn was rather bulky and it looked very stiff and wrongly proportioned, and I had a ton of yarn left over. I then ripped that out and reknit into another v-neck cardigan style, longer(or maybe doubled the yarn?)… but didn’t do either, as I just looked and felt horrible in it. Finally ripped out and knit over into a pullover, tried hard to use up all the yarn I had spun, with the neckstyle crew and hemmed over. Not sure I like the neck, so I may still change the neck to a turtleneck, as I have still about a half ball left over and hiding in the cedar chest with it.