Sox Box

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On the vernal equinox I found myself running over to Lolo’s, a great little thrift shop in St Helena, and I found  this nifty wooden thing.   I thought it especially nifty because the compartments can be put to use in a very knitterly way, and so it is now my official Sox Box !

A single pair of sturdy hand-made socks fits nicely in each compartment . . .jenjoycedesign© sox box 2

This is in fact, my latest pair of St Andrews Harbour Socks, from the March Into Spring KAL  that I’ve been posting about. I worked chart C over 60 stitches, and simply worked stockinette instead of the moss stitch. To me they look so like the knee-high socks I wore as a school girl.

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I did knit an awful lot of socks last year when I was making samples for St Andrews, but gave most of them away for holiday gifts. However,  I did keep two extra pairs for myself, so adding the latest finished pair with Miss Babs Northumbria sock yarn, I am ahead filling the Sox Box by three pair!

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Three compartments filled, and a dozen to go.

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 Yarn: Miss Babs Northumbria Fingering, in color of “Adobe”.

Pattern: St Andrews Harbour

Project details on Ravelry  here.

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Aside from sock knitting, we’re having a lot of Spring rain here, and its forecast to continue probably through the remainder of March. The surplus of water is a gift from the planet in our drought prone area, so I’m feeling somewhat rain-restored. Life is good.

March Into Spring

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

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

A tint of wild rose.

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Along my knitting trail, explosions of new growth in the charcoal forest, and an occasional over-dyed skein drying from the branches.

A few weeks back, only a couple of days after we moved into our new Tiny House,  I dyed this sock yarn with food coloring. My favorite shade of rose inspired by the old-fashioned roses in my garden …

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But perhaps mostly,  the dusty rose of my tea pot .

Jens tea pot

I was going to make this whole experiment into a dying tutorial, and had taken down the steps, but thought to wait how it turned out.   At the dying stage, the experiment was working beautifully, having gone from two balls of Patons Kroy in color Linen ( in this post recently) , to what I was trying for ;  a dusty grey rose tinted slightly variegated overdyed yarn.

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The yarn came out exquisitely.  So I decided to knit the socks.   It took a few weeks, and now here are the results, of um, their good side

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Unfortunately , I am not impressed with this dye, not at all.  Because although the yarn may have been dyed to near perfection, and even though I used vinegar to fix, as I suspected the food coloring would not last… which it did not… in the first wash, there are blotchy patches of fade, showing the tan shade of linen beneath, after drying in the sun, on the faded side …

jenjoycedesign© rose socks 3

So its back to my favorite Jacquard Acid Dye if I am ever to dye again at all.    Dying is such a hazardous hobby, and I really was hoping I could rely on food coloring, but that was wishful thinking.

jenjoycedesign© rose socks 4

A lot of work to put into knitting these beautiful Fishermen Socks  only to have the dye leech out. But with very little yarn left over, I am really happy of the knitting itself, which was very enjoyable, and I fear I am thoroughly addicted to knitting these St Andrews Harbour socks , piles of them, and may just keep on knitting them for the forthcoming winter holiday gift season.

jenjoycedesign© over-dye

This pair will not be worthy of gift giving next winter holiday, but they will be most excellent hard wearing boot socks for my LLBean gardening boots, and what I was thinking of back in this post , of roses captured in socks!

Pattern:  St Andrews Harbour 

Yarn:  Patons Kroy Sock, color ” Linen “, overdyed with food coloring, five parts red to one part blue.

Ravelry details here.

 

Nifty ankle socks!

jenjoycedesign© StAndrews Stroll 1

A fresh pair of St. Andrews Harbour socks !  I’ve been experimenting further with this fishermen gansey style, with a pair of short sporty ankle length socks.  I also wanted to test the pattern in fine fingering sock yarn, and I’m so happy because I am finding this pattern to be ultimately versatile.

jenjoycedesign© StAndrews Stroll 3

Note: The pattern is written for sport weight yarn for adult sizes (womens med to mens large) but I wanted to see what size would result knitting the main chart in fingering-weight sock yarn. I find that what is lacking in circumference ease, I made up in length with an extra repeat, as knitted fabric is so extremely pliable & stretchy in all directions, they fit snugly and beautifully, and the toes still have room to wiggle.

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Oh, I thought I’d mention that the yarn I used is Knit Picks Stroll in Dove Heather, and which I over-dyed with blue food coloring, resulting in a lovely variegated hand-dyed affect.  Also, Knit Picks Stroll is a superwash merino wool/nylon fine-fingering sock yarn, and is oh so soft, but also tends to get a little fuzzy, which is more noticeable in this photo…

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I knit the yarn with US2 [2.75mm] needles with about 8 sts = 1″, and I am sure that if knit with smaller needles, getting 9 – 10 sts = 1″ , that these socks — in the Chart A–  would be great for children. I am really happy with the experiment, and now I can confidently recommend this sock pattern for small sizes!

Pattern: St Andrews Harbour socks, in Chart A (56 stitches).

Size: Circ = 6.25″ flat, unstretched.  Height = 5″.  Foot length = 9″

Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll fingering weight sock yarn.

More details on Ravelry HERE.

 

Yarn Tasting: Kroy

jenjoycedesign© Kroy St Andrews Socks 5

I have knit up a pair of St Andrews Harbour socks

in a new yarn I’ve never tried,

and I’m smitten!

jenjoycedesign© Kroy St Andrews Socks 1
jenjoycedesign© Kroy St Andrews Socks 3

This yarn was found quite unexpectedly in a maze of aisles , with shelves of acrylic yarns reaching nearly to the ceiling,

and I was so surprised to have to tame my yarn snobbery,  for this yarn was found at our local Michael’s Craft Store!

Modest little balls of Kroy …
jenjoycedesign© Kroy Sock yarn

Yes folks, the secret is out, the  yarn is Patons Kroy Sock; a washable wool & nylon 4ply sock yarn, and a surprisingly rustic feeling yarn, in a surprisingly rustic solid shade of “flax” …  (see my post  A Rustic Yarn to get the meaning ).   The confusing thing is that on the label it says “super fine fingering” , don’t let that fool you,  fine fingering weight is not at all what it is, this yarn is 166 yards per 50 gram ball, which equals 332 yards per 100g, definitely in the category of sport-weight. Other yarns with this same yardage are super popular Malabrigo “Arroyo” — which I believe would make the perfect soft sock for this design,  and Cascade 220 sport (not the superwash one) which was the yarn I knit the cover prototype of the pattern, and one of my all-time favorite yarns.     Kroy is sport-weight yarn,  ignore the label.

jenjoycedesign© Kroy St Andrews Socks 4.JPG

This pair of fishermens socks were knit with option to switch to stockinette after gusset decreases are finished, which makes a little less bulky in the shoe ( see Ravelry project details here)     Anyway, I think  I have found a really affordable  “vintage”  feeling  yarn for these fishermen socks;  the yarn is a bit rough at first, but as I knit it it feels better and more compliant, and I just know its going to soften a lot in the wash. Crazy, as I’m such a connoisseur of yarn, but it behaves very well, knits up very stretchy & brings out wool’s best elastic properties, and with great stitch definition.

Oh and the color ” Flax ” is ideal for a rustic old-fashioned look, and I bet the Fishermen of olden days would have loved a pair of socks made from this yarn. Will try the “Gentry Grey” soon, thinking these two colors are the only heathered solids in this yarn. Afterthought: Um… well, folks, I figure now that I can over-dye the Flax color, and have just bought 4 more balls and ideas rushing to the fore!

Petra’s Tam

jenjoycedesign© StAndrews-Harbour-tam1

Pattern:  St Andrews Harbour (Petra’s Tam)

Yarn:  Alice Starmore’s Hebridean 3ply, in Golden Plover

Details on Ravelry: here

It was a lovely knit!   I do recommend the tam in this pattern “set”, for it is so fetching,  sporty, awesomely sea-worthy, and a totally essential accessory of one’s outdoor wardrobe.  This one is made from worsted weight yarn, and it is a bit fashionably floppy, however, knit with finer yarn such as sport weight, it would be just right. If done in Starmore yarn, I would do better to suggest  Starmore’s Hebridean 2ply.   I want to knit another one or two from my handspun yarn, talked about in Tweed Chronicles  which has so much meaning through a time of upheaval as was my obsession in the months right after the wildfire. So on to the next!

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Meanwhile, I’ve composed a little letter to all of you who follow Yarnings, a new category on Yarnings, entitled “Letter from the editor” ,  to let you know what is going on with us during this time of epic change.

Dear Everybody ~

On to new adventures, and news on every page!    First, our stay at our first holding place did not last long, the landlords want to move back in, and that’s fine, because I’ve longed with a great ache in my heart to live back up on the mountain in my charcoal forest.  Second, the county administration and engineers are making our getting a permit to (re)build hugely difficult and drawn out, adding insult to injury. I don’t really want to talk about details, but we have no real timeline as to when we will be rebuilding, or what we will be rebuilding,  or when we will be living up there in our rebuilt house.  So the original post I made right after the wildfire in October entitled  “Ten Acres ….”   written two days after evacuating our house, flames still smoldering, is now ringing in the rafters as we are in process of getting a Tiny House to park a few hundred yards away from the building site,   nestled right near the trail head to my knitting track in fact.    If I can try to be optimistic, I will tell you that this pleases me a lot, if choices are dreary and few right now, shifting around from city rentals, and not being able to walk in the woods properly has been detrimental to my attitude,  and mental as well as physical health.   Also Emma has been to the vet and back many times in the last months, her wound from her surgery last summer (posted here) never healed properly, and she is cheerily going day to day from stitches to staples, from cone to inflatable collar, but aside from all of that seems to be in good health.    Meanwhile  Jeff has suddenly been laid low from the stress of the whole ordeal of the county, the moving out (again) that he’s caught a bad bug and its developed into pneumonia, but worry not, he is of heroic constitution and never sick, and now on antibiotics will get well soon.    As for me, I’ve thrown my back out and hobbling around, on pain killers,  feeling taped together at best.  Oh, but finally I managed to get a hold of some 90tpi carding cloth, and finally made another jumbo carding & blending board to replace the original , left behind in the wildfire,  (colossal thanks to Adele for lending me your Ashford Blending board these past months! xoxo)  … and so I am ready to get back into tweed-making, visualizing a tiny space in the Tiny House to be my new creative “loft” space.  In fact, I plan on moving into the Tiny House with a good and positive attitude and stop feeling sorry for myself so much.    Years ago we stayed in a treehouse,  (posted here), and I enjoyed myself immensely tucked away up in a nest in the trees,  knitting the hours away, a knitting retreat of retreats! I want to make this new Tiny House feel like that retreat did, and I am visualizing constant knitting & walking, as well as constant gardening.  The garden was the one thing that (mostly) did not burn in the wildfire, so I want to be near it to nurture it and water, and make it an oasis where I can go be with living growing things, and to realize how great it is just to wake to another day.      Wish us luck, and I’ll keep you posted

~~ xxJen   ( aka ‘ the editor ‘ )

St Andrews Harbour Socks

St Andrews Harbour in Scotland, is an historic fishing harbor inspiring this classic ensemble of fisherman gansey style socks, mitts, and tam. Remember my series of fishermen neck gansey posts  from last year? Well, I’ve returned, with a fishermens gansey for … Continue reading

Washed ashore…

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Washed ashore.

A poignant pause in a short series of sea fishing posts,    reeling in sentiment for those fishermen who fight the sea,  in love with the sea,

yet inevitably helpless in the incidences where the water, weather, and sea creatures dominate with harsh indifference.

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Sea monster ready to swallow up ship and crew — drawing 1600’s.

” Humanity is always fallible, through every man individually or a crew collectively, (there is) a break in the chain of watch-keeping or good navigation, and there comes tragedy. Going to sea against those elements to take home that resource can never remain safe ” — as heard in previous post from Unknown Fisherman.

 Fishermen Fact:    In the face of tragedy, the fishermen gansey (guernsey) or sweater, its varied patterns on brave & broad shouldered men such as these, is a marker of identity…

“Each gansey has a unique pattern which varied from village to village and from family to family. If there was a shipwreck or accident the bodies washed up on the shore could be identified by their gansey as being from a particular village and family. In this way the fisherman could be returned to their family for burial”… read more

The sea is a dangerous place, and fishermen have had to work within its raw and elemental  nature for as long as they’ve taken harvest from it,  from centuries past to present.   The sporting Fishermens Gansey as we know today,  has survived its original purpose of rugged & essential gear, knit by mothers, wives, and sweethearts, to keep their fishermen warm and safe against the elements as well as they could…

But even so, the fishermens gansey has come into the spotlight of fashion as a genuinely attractive style of knitwear, and knitters have appreciated the cables, moss stitch and purl textures for generations already. As I have also been smitten by those timeless textures,  at last I am bringing the spirit of the sea into a small collection of rugged and sea worthy accessories that I’ve been working on this winter like a team of fisher lassies …

Alive O’ !

jenjoycedesign© pile of knitting

A fresh catch ready to be sorted & groomed for photos (and with pattern forthcoming),  saluting the iconic woollen fishermen gansey, in an assortment of knitteds that every fisherman or fisherwoman, should never be without ! 

blue things

jenjoycedesign© cappuccino and knitting
In the last weeks I’ve been  frequently knitting at the Oakville Grocery cafe to quell life’s blues.  Just a quiet little deli & espresso place on the highway with vineyard views in all directions,  and with picnic benches in the back where I can bathe in the morning winter sun while making progress toward the  finish of a new pattern.  And Emma and I are getting out a little bit for (mostly short) walks on the ridge.

Although it appears the walk up the ridge has lost it’s charm completely, I am trying to embrace it, hoping for better days ahead and the mysterious healing power of Spring.  Other blues:  An intensely blue sky over Oakville on Sunday.  A blue balloon descended from the sky, tangled in the woods,  omen-like.   My blue knitting bag hung on a burned branch while walking up the ridge.  Need I mention the blue knitting with cappuccino?   I would like to see some blue wildflowers soon. Oh but hey, the vernal equinox is only a week away!

(not so) Grey Days

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

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

jenjoycedesign© tweed socks

tweed sock

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

Bring it on rain clouds …

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

Yarn Tasting: An Irish Tweed

jenjoycedesign© Irish Tweed 2

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

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

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Isager Tweed in Navy and Winter Grey

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

jenjoycedesign© Isager Irish Tweed

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

jenjoycedesign© Irish Tweed

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

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