Jelly rolls, fat quarters & charm packs.

jenjoycedesign© jelly roll quilt colors

This morning I got a bee in my bonnet! A little back-story is that I have been feeling down in the dumps lately, frozen in perpetual waiting for our house to be built, with the same old routine sitting a the table in front of the computer, plugged into Ravelry & podcasts galore, knitting in a frenzy, drinking coffee, drinking tea, eating who knows what, inside of a packed-to-the-gills tiny house. The tiny house is indeed packed but of really only normal things like a dish drainer of drying dishes, a few pair of shoes or pile of mail, or laundry basket, Emma’s things, not to mention all my knitting around. I have desperately needed something new going on to get me charged up about my life, and I realized that by the time we move into the rebuilt house it will be Autumn 2019.

Thinking about this now, it was Autumn 2009 that I got bit by the knitting bug in a serious way.   Just before that time I had gotten half way through making a king-size Amish style quilt, yet  shamefully only basted the layers together, never quilting it, and it got used that way on our bed until its demise in the wildfire, without ever sewing the binding on.  I guess I never finished it because I had gotten rather distracted with the new knitting thing that took over my life back then. Well it has been a full ten years coming up, that I’ve been knitting like mad. Sure,  I’ve sewn a few bits here and there and made some little things, but its been all-out knitting, day in and day out.  I am pretty confident that I will be knitting day in and day out for years to come, but I think its time I get involved in some new things too.  Deciding that I need to broaden my world, that new things will be good for me.

The second I made that decision I was off to Sonoma, to Broadway Quilts , determined to NOT come home indecisively empty-handed, choose an easy small quilt pattern, not in the least bit overwhelming,  and get kitted up with the fabrics called for, just something that I can piece together in tiny house.  Luckily everything seemed wonderfully appealing to me, and chose a simple throw size quilt pattern and a jelly roll packet of pretty soft solids in summery tones, with an off-white for background and sashing. If you want to know the truth, I learned a few more crafty words to add to my vocabulary; “jelly roll”, “charm pack”, and “fat quarter”.  Apparently before today I was not In The Know, but now I am ready to get involved.

And I hope that this is the beginning of a quest for new things!

Out woolgathering . . .

Emmerson, Henry Hetherington, 1831-1895; Wool Gathering

Wool Gathering, 1883 by Henry Hetherington Emmerson

/ˈwo͝olˌɡaT͟H(ə)riNG/

 Indulgence in aimless thought or dreamy imagining; absentmindedness, daydreaming, reverie, musing, preoccupation, absorbed.

I have learned a new word and it rather defines me in my life as though I invented it. Meandering in thoughts, as if walking through hilly meadows collecting tufts of wool, I do ponder, always one thing or another.  I guess, it is ” woolgathering ” that I am up to; contemplating life-to-be when our house is finished being rebuilt.  I am embracing the woolgathering, and in more ways than one.

In the painting, there are three women stuffing found things (wool) from bushes, or the  ground,  into their bags.  One of them and her dog seems to have come upon and surprised a small group of sheep.

I am bemused by gathering actual wool too.   Knitting in a frenzy ten-at-a-time, on my new birch wood dpns, and writing and testing a new pattern, and collecting wool in yarn form (mostly sock yarn presently) and in dyed roving form (for blending on my remade blending board) and to spin on my wheel (a gift, which is destined to be freed from a tightly packed shed)  … to fulfill that quest which consumes me.   I gather wool, thoughts, ideas, and the tools of the trade for the work in the territory ahead.   Woolgathering is just what I do for now.

I am definitely a woolgatherer (noun), out woolgathering (verb).

What are you woolgathering about?

waiting

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This morning I’m dreaming about white lace in an Irish cottage window, so utterly timeless and beautiful.  Just a lace stole draped over a simple cord would do excellently.  Isn’t a curtain like this so much the same as a bridal veil, crisp and bright with the virgin morning light peering through, promising a day as good as it gets.  Maybe a Golden Fields or an Aria shawl would be the perfect window curtain.  I must find some white linen fine yarn, and like an expecting mother knitting baby clothes, instead I could be knitting a lace curtain for my future (rebuilt) knitting loft.  What a lovely thing to think about !

The near future so full of promise , yet I have been just quiet and contemplative through astonishingly cold days of January & February, while so much rain fell, and a couple times it snowed, one which I posted about.  March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb, they say. Patiently I knit at the table,  next to napping Emma,  knowing very soon it will be the vernal equinox.  Building progress is so much slower in winter, and in the wild.  Presently the house is a maze of wires and pipe and venting….

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The house weathered the winter without a roof,

covered only in the first sheer layer , and then plastic through the worst storms of the year.

Oh, but the windows, they will surely be installed soon.

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I know that in a blink it will be finished.  I am hoping that by the Autumnal Equinox of this year I will be living in the house once again, picking up where things were left off, which I think about constantly now.   I ponder about where life was just before the wildfire;   what I was working on,  what was making me excited,  what had I just accomplished, what designs was I thinking of, and patterns was I writing and ready to test knit,  how far was I walking in the days, what was influencing me, and what great new recipes was I inventing . . . etc.   I so very much enjoy contemplating this blissful time which is destined to come back to me.   But six months? Maybe longer … or sooner? We can’t know for sure, and so “maybe” is such a fickle word. I know in my head this is not far off, but in my body and heart I am so exhaustively constrained existing in a tiny space, and once again having rooms wherein to move about will be a massive improvement to life, and will send me into a euphoric state!  I am so very grateful for being able to cocoon in our tiny house up in the charcoal forest for this epic waiting period,  although I am so very ready to come out of hibernation.

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 . . .

Aria With Variations: the pattern.

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Hi everyone, its me Abelene.    Jen has veiled me in her new lace that she’s been hinting about for weeks in her series of  veils & variations.

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The lace feels so lovely, so fine, I think I feel like what it must be like to be a bride, or a Shetlander, or an Estonian knitter, modeling as best as I can in the tiny house.

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About time she’s finished, because she is so exhausted of drawing and redrawing charts, doing math and wrestling mistakes, so she let me handle posting about the pattern.

jenjoycedesign© Aria & Variation 1 -10

Did you know that Jen’s UnSpun is the reason she  felt compelled to write this pattern? She had just an overwhelming urge to make some really fine lace yarn after watching this video ,  and worked like an ox to get a bunch of really fine lace-weight out to some friends before the pattern was ready.   The UnSpun yarn is beginning to show up now around the far corners of the world and Jen feels its time to finish up and get the lace knitting going!

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Oh but did you notice the diamond motifs showing up in a couple of the videos in her series of veils & variations Goldberg Variations?  Jen tells me this was by pure chance and unplanned,  yet something makes her think that the diamonds must be a subliminal Bach Thing.

so here are those favorite Goldberg Variations highlights !


The pattern actually is three styles; a stole, a square hap shawl, and a cowl, all and each in four sizes!  You can see more information if you go see the pattern which is live now on Ravelry  HERE. Jen would really love it if you would join in on her pattern give-away in the spirit of Valentines, so I’m suppose to mention her post on her group over here , which is running just for a very short time, so that folks can get yarn and cast on for Valentines day!  I hope everyone is in a lace-knitting mood!

Last but not least, Jen is wildly looking forward to photographing youngest niece Miss Sixteen modeling Aria & Variations this weekend at the castle, which will make the pattern a real hit!

Ta ta,
Abelene

Posted to Arkansas

jenjoycedesign© Unspun 1100 green tea heather 9

Last in the Unspun For Friends series, knowing that really this can’t possibly be the end of it, for I’ve had too much fun.

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I am thinking I should do some kind of drawing  monthly, where winner gets a kit with UnSpun & lace pattern, for this was a very satisfying accomplishment to finish this four-part series.  Watch this space as I develop that idea!    One 50g skein of Unspun 1100, sourced from  Wool of The Andes Sport  in a pastel of yellow-green called ” Green Tea Heather “.

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Knit Picks describes the color . . .

Green Tea Heather is a soft, muted light green with subtle warm undertones. Green Tea Heather work well with warm browns or try bright shades of blue to brighten things up with pop of contrast.

It is such a light green that its almost delicate, making me think the color of a pale icy marguerita!

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Off on a journey to Arkansas from California, for Jane, as I am very grateful for her presence on my Ravelry group and countless test-knits. I am hoping all four recipients will have their fine lace yarn when I submit the pattern very soon.  Thats me now,  back to the last stretch of veils & variations. 

Posted to Australia

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As of this morning, this skein is bound for Australia!

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As in previous several posts, Wool of The Andes Sport was the original yarn, and in a richly heathered green called ” Pampas “.   Knit Picks describes their color . . .

Pampas is an olive green color that has a slight vintage tone. The variable shades of yellows, greens and touches of brown are similar to the prairie grasses and herbs found in the lowlands of South America called the Pampas.

jenjoycedesign© Unspun 1100 pampas heather

I think of all the Knit Picks blended heathers , this is among my top favorites for color complexity.   I see moss green and beige predominantly with  flecks of emerald green, amber gold, and aqua blue!

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It is a stunning color , a near neutral, but more distinctively beautiful in single plies than the four plies all together for the colors are then quite a bit less blended.   I have made this skein for a knitting friend who has knitted gorgeous samples of some of my designs (as well as comments on this blog  :: waves to Redshoes ::  )   550 yards of Unspun  heading south against the clock at a rapid pace.

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I have one more Unspun gift to make to finish my series :  Unspun For Friends 

Posted to Ontario

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Another couple of yarn cakes of super light-weight lace, bound for Ontario Canada! As in previous posts, Wool of The Andes Sport was the original yarn, and in the cheerful color ” Sprinkle “.  Knit Picks describes their color . . .

Sprinkle is a blue violet color. The heathered strands show the beautiful color variations from a soft robin’s egg blue to a medium red violet giving it the overall look of dusty lavender.

The camera is so color selective, so I must describe what I see. I’ll add that I see flecks of gold which seem to give the color a tiny influence of beige… thus the ‘dusty’ appearance.  I also think un-plying 4 strands lessens the homogeneous affect of the carded mix of ‘heathered’ colors, so the colors are just a little bit more striking.   Photographing while looking down from on the attic ladder, my slippered feet, lavender shirt, and light brown pants ended up in the photo, and rather than crop that out,  I am again surprised to find myself dressing for the occasion!

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Absolutely gorgeous complex colorway, I am smitten.  ” UnSpun 1100 ” I have named this transformation, as it is 1100 yards & 100 grams of singly ply very luscious lace-making stuff.

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Already sent off and heading to Canada, and finished with two in the series of four. Two more of these UnSpun gifts to make, and then its back to the serious lace knitting for the upcoming pattern, but I am having a good break while making some nice yarn, so feeling really good about that!

You can see all four of this series in Unspun For Friends.

Snow!

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It snowed last night!  Here at 2000 ft elevation, it is sticking, and temperature is cold enough to keep it a while.  Oh, but there seems to be something nestled into the snow…

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It is two cakes of finished UnSpun!

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of which I mentioned in the last post .

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A gorgeous blackish tealish blue, 1100 yards & 100 grams,  this super fine lace weight is ready to make a journey to Hamburg Germany!  You can see all four of this series in Unspun For Friends

And all is well in our snowy charcoal forest.

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And Emma in  her  car,   snuggled under a blanket with her squirrel …

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She hasn’t a care in the world about the snowy cold!

Unspun: Midnight Heather

I am taking a break from lace knitting and writing about a short series of Unspun projects made custom skeins for a few friends who are being so kind to test-knit my present lace design in progress, and otherwise helping me through a rather wobbly time.   A few days to make a few nice fat skeins of  Unspun fine lace-weight yarn to send off and hoping doing so will temper my erratic mood with a focus of gratitude.  Gratitude cures all. So that’s me, now,  getting ready to lose myself deconstructing yards upon yards, unwinding and splicing and winding again.  The yarn has just arrived, and I will be the mistress of Unspun for a few days!

jenjoycedesign© unspun for friends project 1

Unspun #1:  Deconstructed by hand using this method  from   Wool Of The Andes Sport    in the color of Midnight Heather . This Peruvian Highland yarn is made from the fleeces of corriedale/merino cross sheep, and the fine spinning of the four plies are just coarse enough to be strong to withstand deconstruction, and once it is set into singles, the loft from the fine texture of a bit of merino will be wonderful.  Knit Picks describes the color…

Midnight Heather is an intense dark blue color with black undertones. Reminiscent of the dark night sky, Midnight Heather intrigues us with the flecks of blues and blue greens that add visual interest to this usually rich color.
jenjoycedesign© unspun for friends project 1 (2)

A ball of sport weight ready to separate plies using a drop spindle!

All of this ultra fine yarn I am undertaking makes me think of the weathered & windswept  Shetland Isles where fine lace knitting became world renown. It is my keenest passion at present to explore creating yarn that can be knit into such similar fine lace, and in a colossal palette of colors.    I will leave you with the short film that was my first inspiration,  and which began my quirky obsession making Unspun over two years ago .

Next, I’ll post the finished skeins!

But until then enjoy Shetland Fine Lace, and remember …

”    Its only Knitting !   “

variations in veils

An beautiful ethereal performance among gossamer veils,

by the Zilliacus Persson Raitenen String Trio.

( see all posts Veils & Variations )

* * *

Meanwhile, I have got a second stole underway with the single ply lace weight …

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made from my yarn tasting of  Simply Wool .  In fact, I am so utterly smitten with Unspun that I can’t help myself wondering how far out I might go.  I’ll ponder the thought as I take my stole knitting out for a trail walk!

Yarn Tasting: Simply Wool

Another great addition to Knit Pick’s colossal array of yarns, Simply Wool is spun from wool grown in a century-old sustainable way in the Highlands of Peru, it comes in six shades undyed natural fleece colors blends, in both worsted and bulky weights. Having worked with Wool Of The Andes, a Peruvian Highland wool from corriedale-merino cross breed of sheep, Simply Wool is noted on the website as  ‘eco wool’  but that is not describing how or to what extent the wool itself is different from Wool Of The Andes.  I’d say much softer than Wool Of The Andes,  what I’d expect from an un-dyed and minimally processed wool, and it comes in 100g skeins.

I am creating a fine lace-weight in this supreme all-natural yarn,  which started from a ball of worsted weight in light grey . jenjoycedesign© Simply Wool skein.JPG

With drop spindle I deconstructed the soft wool exactly as in this tutorial post , and after a couple of days unplying here and there, finally this morning I spliced all the single plies end-to-end on the swift and felt it to be a major accomplishment that I am very pleased with!

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I am not over-dying this big skein in a simmer dye bath, as I want it to be au natural, the whole point of buying Simply Wool, aside from the ecological consideration, so I just gave the skein of energized single ply off of the swift a warm bath and a hot rinse to carefully but slightly felt the yarn to set the twist as it will remain for the rest of its days a single ply, in a stole of a particular design in mind. So I’ll see how this yarn knits up in a day or so!

Right now I’ve got it speed drying on a baseboard heater, hoping to have it re-skeined by the end of the day so I can cast on for more insane lace knitting!

new lace beginnings 2

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It is raining, how heavenly, and my most recent Unspun experiment,  posted about here, is snailing along very slowly.   Nupps are so cool, but so difficult, taking real skill and concentration , not to speak of excellent light and magnification!

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In previous out gathering lace post you may have not caught it, but I am doing the breadcrumbs thing where I begin to hint of something coming. It will be long coming, a ways down the trail (a long, long meandering, as the lace is taking forever), the theme being woods, music, variations, lace, only vaguely related.   Its far too abstract at the moment, but do expect some puzzling crumb hunting, as I’m having some fun with this veils theme. I have decided that I love to ‘play’ on my blog this way, as I did with the whole Fishy thing the summer before last. I love discovering side trails, merry chase always on the verge of confusion, but then we arrive at destination eventually.

For now I am immensely enjoying this wet weekend with tea & lace knitting.

Oh, and my cough is slowly improving!

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new lace beginnings

jenjoycedesign© mystery laceWhat I have here is something I decided afterall to design with the Unspun yarn I posted about earlier. I have been wanting to design something for extraordinarily fine lace weight yarn, for I am really going off the deep end with my Unspun experiments. There’s me, collecting single balls & sampling the post-deconstruction qualities, and forming observations & personal opinions about results.  Why on earth? I suppose this stems from frugal & philosophical roots, the concept of using what one has before running off and buying more, to empower the idea reusing/recycling odd single balls left unused in ones stash. I think of them as orphans needing a home.  A single ball of worsted weight is not enough to really make much out of, but to deconstruct and get enough fine lace yarn to make a whole beautiful lace scarf or cowl, and well folks, now that is exciting!  Quirky, yes, but I am beginning to think it is some kind of an odd calling!

Anyway, for this upcoming design I wanted to be different than all of the other lace designs I’ve thus far written patterns for. First, I want to design a lace thing with finally, straight edges, all sides top and bottom,  for super easy blocking, and secondly I want this one to be ultra simple, very minimal in patterning. Let me mention that in this forthcoming design I am experimenting for the first time — nupps!  Nupps are crazy difficult for me, especially with such fine yarn, because for a nupp-7 is nearly impossible to pick up all the stitches to purl together without accidentally picking up neighboring stitches, or dropping some of them.  I am wearing two pairs of reading glasses for super magnification, but still have been messing up and losing count and having to rip back due to this mistake, many times. So many times in fact, that I have had to devise a method of knitting nupps where I section off each nupp either side with a self-made yarn stitch marker (the metal ones snag this ultra fine yarn, can’t use those), so that I can see the whole nupp cluster so much easier.

Thats me here now, a bit of struggling with the nupps, but more in love with the ethereal feel of really fine lace knitting!

A work in progress.

jenjoycedesign, future loft room

My ” Loft “. December 21, 2018

I’ve been pondering a lot lately about how much of my life feels like a work in progress.  Fortunately the house is ~ finally ~ in progress, but still I can’t even guess as to when it will be a finished thing. I just hope that we don’t move in and then take another several years finishing, like the … um… first time we built it. I recall sharing in this post, November 2012 when we finally put in the upstairs finished floor, and I finally gave my loft its finished paint coat. That folks, was nearly eight years after we had moved in!  When we moved in January 2005, the living room was still a work shop, yup, we were living among chop saws and rip saws, and the like.  I am so worried that this will be a repeat performance, but I know I should not worry, because it is a whole different experience this time around.

Now for a much easier thing, a knitting work in progress.

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I can at least force myself to think about stitches to distraction, even if it does border on a sometimes extreme perspective in life where knitting is my meditation, medication, and dedication  (oh, and revisiting Fishwives Shoal is proving to be quite the challenge!)  I am hoping to be finished with this by my birthday in a few weeks. It would be a great present to myself to have knit this special yarn bought back when,  this yarn that was among the few sentimental yarns I took with me when I fled the wildfire (although I brought none of my knitteds) and now I can finally make it into a knitted form.  When I consider all historic elements of this project ~~ this yarn, this design, and this room ~~ it really is quite fitting that I should put importance on this small stole, for it represents a sort of cycle, and coming around to the origin of things.

Check out the original stole I blocked in the original house loft room, the very same space as the the top photo is showing to be again some day…

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From the Archives: June Into July

I don’t know how I can manage to post the past & future photos of my loft together here without drawing tears (now that is progress!)  but the theme really is asking for it. This idea of accepting life to be a work in progress, and all we hold dear, for if we were not working in progress, how unchallenged & bored would we be.  Anyway, after the holidays now I finally have a quiet little recess to explore unfinished projects, big and small, but mostly pondering what that means, and how leaving things unfinished is not good for me. It feels great to seek out this historic yarn I took with me, and to have the opportunity to finish it at last, and to post these photos of the house being built and anticipating my creative space  coming together again.  The house will be done in a blink, and there’ll be me next year at this time thinking & worrying about other things.

Unspun Mystery Yarn!

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In previous post I decided to do a mystery Unspun project, not saying what yarn I started with. I am rather surprised to find this whole project really only took me a few hours this time. That is from unplying the original commercial yarn, to splicing and winding on to skein, to overdying, adding the time this morning winding it off into a ball and re-skeining to photograph, and I was finished before I could blink! Not much of a long anticipated mystery was it ?

jenjoycedesign© fine lace Unspun

I did say in the last post that I was keen on writing another lace pattern for this job, but I think it would be an over-enthusiastic pursuit to try, being that I still am feeling under the weather with my sawdust cough. I think instead I will use this lovely skein of yarn toward a cowl or shawlette of Golden Fields .

Tech Stuff: 

Original Yarn: Knit Picks Wool Of The Andes Sport, 137 yards, 50 grams, structure 4 plies.  Cost = $2.79 per ball.  Fiber: Peruvian Highland Wool (Corriedale + Merino) in  color Mink Heather.

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I deconstructed the plies as illustrated in the Unspun: Deconstructing a ball of Yarn post, then I overdyed with a small amount of Jacquard Acid dye in the shade “Pink”.  Being that the yarn was already a richly heathered neutral color, all I was after was a soft brush of pink, so that the heathering was really pronounced even after the dying.  I think I put too much dye in, even though a light sprinkle of dye powder, I should have done half of that, for it is really a vivid color, more so than I wanted.

I like to agitate just a tiny bit in the dye bath, being that an ever so slight fulling is desireable, but I warn that this is a very careful step, and I would not recommend this to anybody using 100% Merino or anything too fine & downy.  A very very slight fulling or felting really helps set the splices and relax the re-energized single ply after unplying.  But too much fulling would result in the yarn being very difficult to unwind.  In this skein, after a couple of times from swift to ball, the yarn has become perfect and relaxed.

Unspun Yarn: 548 yards, 50 grams, structure 1 ply.

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You can see all posts about Unspun HERE.

A Mystery Unspun

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Humble new beginnings after the shortest day of the year has come and gone, and  I can’t relax with the plague for the holidays a second longer, the antibiotics are done and I am feeling better with only a slight but perpetual sawdust cough, so  its back to wool lab for me!  Thank so many of you for your get-well wishes, I think they worked!

I have decided to do a mystery Unspun skein, which I will over-dye, write a lace pattern for and knit, sharing with you here the process of course.  I’m racing the clock but hoping I might blast through the first month of winter with it and before the end of January have something worth showing off! Its going to be categorized as a superfine lace weight single ply at 1096 yards per 100g.

But this is the dismal beginning, the hard work of unplying a lot of yards, and if you would like to see how I am going to do this, it will be exactly like my previous Unspun on a drop spindle, the post ” Unspun: Deconstructing a ball of yarn “.

I’ll see you back here when I’ve finished unplying, spliced four single ply balls into one skein, and have over-dyed this baby!

A lace cowl, and sanding beams.

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Hi, its me Abelene. 

I am wearing Jen’s latest knit of a beautiful cowl she knit from Golden Fields Lace pattern.  Some lucky lady is going to find this under the tree.  It is made from  Cascade 220 Sport,  in my favorite color of light grey!

jenjoycedesign©-Golden-Fields-Cowl

Jen says you can knit one for gifts for all the women & dress forms in your life, so be a pal and go find some yarn and needles and cast on!   Jen will really appreciate it,  because she’s really laid low, struck from the plague & on a short course of strong antibiotics. Actually she has gotten a nasty sinus & upper respiratory infection due to sanding beams last weekend if you can believe it!

It is this beautiful sun-bathed north-facing alcove that has put her down for a stretch…

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No more sanding for Jen!

She is happily dreaming of the months ahead when the house might be closer to finished, but for now Jen wants me to say that she hopes you all are enjoying the beautiful  Solstice time of year when things up here the Northern Hemisphere are at their most dormant stage. Nothing but dutiful resolutions to come in months ahead, so cozy up in  these dark shortest days of the year while you can.

Ta ta ,

Abelene

Tiny House Shortbread

jenjoycedesign© Tiny House Shortbread

This is a great little method of shortbread I have refined out of necessity, because of the challenges of Tiny House tiny oven that burns everything from the back way before done, and having hardly any counter space to work on anyway.   No complaints really, but only that I have had to abandon my usual ritual of making my own signature shortbread . . .  beginning with fresh grinding oats with a grain grinding attachment on my heavy duty  Kitchenaid mixer that swishes together three batches at once like stirring cream into your coffee, then a process of rolling out over a great sprawling counter space, between layers of waxed paper  with my maple wood rolling pin and lastly cutting then perforating each piece with three particular wooden chopsticks. Right, so my tried and true shortbread ritual with all of its specific paraphernalia has been abandoned while living in our Tiny House, but by abandoning it for a far easier & faster method,  I have actually made a discovery of shortbread with delightful and very unique texture!

And I have to make this small batch very often, because not only does Jeff really appreciate home-made shortbread in his working man’s lunch, but the carpenters building our house do as well, and I have been bringing this very shortbread up to the builders often, with pint jars of tea, coffee, or cocoa. They light up when they see me bring in the basket, thanking me again and again, and for me it is essential that our house is being built by happy & pampered  carpenters!   So,  I am the designated shortbread pro.  I was once employed at what is now a locally famous bakery cafe, and these are in fact, the same ingredients that bakery used, but put together in a very different way.  This is how I make one batch of my  no-burned-edges Tiny House Shortbread.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Ingredients : 1 cup fresh unbleached flour, 1/2 cup organic powdered sugar, 1/2 cup (1 cube) organic salted cold butter, cut into slices.  (I also put in the mix just a pinch of grey sea salt ground in mortar & pestle.)

My specific Tiny House instructions:

1. In small Cuisinart (should I say tiny food processor?)  blend flour & sugar, then add butter and pulse until all the butter has been finely chopped into the flour/sugar, and has become a lovely buttery shortbread ” powder “.   Do not over process into clumpy dough, stop mixing when it is still a powdery crumb, but integrated fully.

2. Dump mix into 8x8x2 inch square Pyrex glass baking dish, and very lightly distribute evenly with your hands or a spatula and lightly pat into a somewhat level even layer, but no pressing, it really will all melt, then crisp together in a beautiful way that these three magical ingredients do all by themselves.

3. Place in oven, right against the door and bake, turning a quarter turn every 5 minutes, so that shortbread is forced to bake more even.

4. When the edges begin to brown, around 15 minutes, lift out of oven and cut around perimeter of baking dish about 1/2 inch into the shortbread and lift out these bits on to the cooling rack (to eat in the mean time), before the edges scorch and are wasted, and the flavor of burn permeates the batch.

jenjoycedesign© trimmings

Honestly, omit the trimming edge step if you are using a conventional oven which heats evenly and doesn’t burn the edges of things, but if you want to do it for fun, and to have those little bits & cut-edge squares,  well then do it anyway!

5. Cut into 16 to 20 squares, and then carefully separate the squares a little in the dish, without lifting — but really, this is fiddly and not even necessary.

6. Back into the oven, turning dish every 5 minutes to get even baking.   When the shortbread looks golden and beautiful, remove from oven, and with spatula carefully lift squares onto cooling rack.  Voila!

jenjoycedesign© Tiny-House-Shortbread

Tiny House Shortbread stacked on a tiny plate!

Heavenly chocolate version: Make the exact same way but add into flour mix 1/4 cup best dutch-processed cocoa powder, and when adding the butter, also add 1/2 tsp of best quality vanilla extract.

Wrapping it up.

Road and house construction side by side.

Quite literally, many things here are getting wrapped up, so to speak.  The biggest and most important of course, is our house,  and the timberframe is swiftly becoming enclosed, that is wrapped, while road construction is making great progress too as dumptruck after dumptruck of base gravel makes its way up the mountain from the quarry. 

Secondly I am about to close in on the last quarter mile of 880 yards of  Unspun yarn I made in the end of October. In fact, I have been putting together a lace stole & cowl design using this yarn, and the pattern is all ready but for the finish photo, all awaiting on the speed which I can wrap up this project!  I am hoping for it to be ready by the end of this week, and then there will be a lovely simple & satisfying lace pattern available for holiday knitting! 

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Next we’re wrapping up November, with only four more days to it, then its already December and the big wrapping up of 2018!  I tell you, in the recent couple of weeks I’ve had a transformation in attitude; I am no longer feeling sad and sorry for myself, but really excited, and my panic episodes calming, as the tide changes to feeling abundance and gratitude coming my way.   Its been a difficult year since last November,  but I am so very excited for 2019 at last, with all that it promises.  And until then I am loving the loud rumbling of road-making machinery, merged into the cacophony of air compressors, nail guns, and hammers, so while so much excitement is here at last, I want to enjoy every moment! I just know that in a blink the day is going to come when we migrate from this tiny house 500 feet up the road into our new rebuilt house. I am very content for life as it is, knowing that time will be here most certainly by the coming of next summer solstice. 

In closing, over the Thanksgiving holiday the rain came in a big way, wrapping up another epic dry season, transforming the dry moss into lush moss, life drinking it in, miniature rain forests growing thick carpets on the wood and rocks, and bringing a verdant mood to things. Loving that and giving thanks indeed.  

Four Posts

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Now that the posts & beams of the house are going up, I am in a creative mood about what will go inside the rooms.  A couple of days ago I found  this  old oak double bed frame, and I’m really enjoying fixing it up.  It is very solid,  relatively inexpensive and worth every bit of work I put into it.

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It will go in the Loft Room, replacing an old tarnished brass bed I had forever, but I have convinced myself that I love this much better than the old one, for I love the feel of wood, so sensual and natural.
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I spent several hours scrubbing every surface with #0000 (finest) steel wool and a beeswax citrus cleaner, scrubbing off a layer of dirt & old lacquer,  resulting in a satin finish with golden oak highlights! Although it could use another scrubbing, I am reticent for I don’t want to lose the depth of patina in the grain & crevasses.

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A few cracks in the posts and flakes lifted from the veneer of the side boards, but I am absolutely totally in love with it.  I will be looking for old quilts now to dress it with, perhaps making another someday, but for now I am envisioning blocking out lace stoles the whole length of it!

Unspun: Deconstructing a ball of yarn.

jenjoycedesign© Cascade 220 Birch 12

From a ball of worsted weight,  I made a beautiful new skein of fine lace weight, then over-dyed into a very personal colorway.   What is the point you might ask?  The answer for me resonates in the rafters!  To make something handmade from something commercially made.   Enough reason in my thinking, and yet there are more reasons (oh, so many more).

The color selection alone is entirely worth it!   There are certain commercial yarns that are timeless & very popular, like Cascade 220, easily found in local yarn shops, and have a colossal color selection to add.  I am a lover of “heathered shades”  which  means the yarn is spun from blended colors of fleece, not yarn dyed in one color.   Heathered shades make over-dying that much more interesting for the base colors are already color textured.

If making a fingering weight , or a lace weight yarn from balls of yarn needing re-purposing sounds appealing ~~ then this post is for you.   I dare you, go into your yarn stash and look over your plied yarns, grab one, and simply deconstruct the plies. You may end up with a sport, or fingering or lace weight single ply.  But first it may be helpful to see this post.

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The techy stuff for the Cascade 220…jenjoycedesign© Cascade 220 Birch 1

Start with drop spindle and untwist, separating the 4 plies into two balls of 2-ply (they will be 50g each)  This will take some time.

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From two balls of 2-ply separately divide and wind into two single ply 25g balls.

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I found that I really didn’t need to untwist the 50g balls that much, if at all,  because the initial untwisting of 4 into 2 plies did all the work, so it goes so much faster in this step.  In fact, I just took off of the spindle and just began to pull apart the plies wind into little balls,  however they will still have some twist (sometimes a little z-twist , and sometimes a little s-twist )  so it helped to put a weight (I used a pen) on the 2ply, and draw out about 8 feet, then the plies separated easily with hardly any twist.

jenjoycedesign© Cascade 220 Birch 5

Finally I had four balls of single ply, at 25 grams each.   A feeling of strong satisfaction comes from the work!

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Now join the ends ~~ spit-splicing them joins nicely and quickly!

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I ended up with one full 100 gram ball of single ply.  But not finished!

jenjoycedesign© Cascade 220 Birch 8

The single ply needs to be wound into a skein it so that it can be simmer-dyed, or just soaked in a very hot water bath to relax & set the plies which will be energized with twist, as shown above.

jenjoycedesign© Cascade 220 Birch 10

I dunked a couple of times in a very pale diluted dye bath of Vermilion pink, to give the yarn a tone of late summer, ‘toasted in the sun & weather’ look. In the over-dying, I wanted to capture the lovely color of late summer golden fields  of my home and made a pale bath of a purple-pink which I used to cut the brilliance of the yellow.  The dye soaks really fast having a slight blotchiness.   If you lightly over-dye your single ply yarn as I did,  re-skeining the yarn is essential to see the color variegation at its best, and it mixes up any slight blotchiness that happens in a very light non-saturated dye bath ; which is what I aim for these days, simmering a little in an acid dye to set the plies & relax them, but also exhausting dye bath quickly and with clear water left only, having used a dash of white vinegar for the fixer .

jenjoycedesign© Cascade 220 Birch 11

Summary:  A ball of Cascade 220 weighs 100g and is approx 220 yards , and constructed of 4 plies.  When that is split into half , there will be two  balls of 2 ply weighing 50g  = 440 yards per 100g.  When those balls are split into half , there will be four balls of 1 ply weighing 25g = 880 yards per 100g.    Another four ply worsted weight I’ve tried and love is Knit Picks Wool Of The Andes, with almost the same yardage and definitely the most impressive color selection. But seriously, try splitting plies of ANY yarn you have, if you can get a hold of a simple drop spindle, then you have all the tools you need. (A swift and ball winder are tools I used as well).

It takes some time, but untwisting yarn is something really innovative and resourceful in my thinking, and I’ve come up with a fun category under which to post the process of re-purposing yarn to finer weights ~~ Unspun !  I’m just kind of getting to be a nerd about it.

Original Yarn: Cascade 220 = 220y / 100g in “Birch”.   Made in Peru.

Repurposed Yarn: Unspun = 880 y / 100g in colorway ” Golden Fields “.  Remade by Moi!

Pattern for this yarn is forthcoming!

See all posts Unspun

some lace

jenjoycedesign© blue lace cowl 1

Hi everyone, its me Abelene!

Jen let me try on her most recent lacy things, and they feel so pretty.   Just so nice.   This blue one is baby alpaca, called Alpaca Cloud by Knit Picks, and Jen said it is a sample of a new lace thing she is working on that she hopes to come out with this Autumn. How exciting that I get to model it as a sneak preview!

jenjoycedesign© blue lace cowl 2

Jen told me that there was no room in the Tiny House to block the cowl out to dry, so she pinned it down on her car seat over night ~~ ha ha, very funny!    Also she put this lovely  plum colored ribbed lace on me, told me to say that it is made from a yarn called Gloss by Knit Picks, which has silk and merino wool, and is a modification of her Double Cappuccino pattern … and I just can’t help but think how similar to frothed milk that it feels like. Really so!

jenjoycedesign© plum lace cowl.JPG

Thats me for now, signing off… and its back into the shed I go.

Ta ta,   Abelene

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Unspun

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A 100g ball of Studio Donegal “Soft Donegal” tweed left over from Hillwalker Cardigan.

I have for a while experimented with different methods to un-ply yarn and I think I have finally found the easiest method. Being a bit smitten lately with All Things Andean, and the drop spindle, it is no surprise that thinking like an Andean Spinner, and going back to my spinning roots I would find the method of methods…

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I slipped the ball onto spindle, hooked beneath whorl and secured with double half hitch at top. Twisted in reverse direction of plied twist.

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Then as the yarn untwisted, I wound two balls, one in each hand.  In the past I experimented doing this with a spinning wheel, a ball-winder, and a swift, juggling all of them at once and it was quite a complicated process!

I am so pleased to discover the simple way …

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Less is always more, every time.  I lost track of time but it took me less than two hours to separate the plies by reverse twisting, as I wound the singles into two 50g balls of fingering weight.  Far less time than it would have taken to spin two 50g balls, so if I consider I’m creating a yarn I want to use, from yarn that is not getting used ~~ I believe it to be a very economical process.

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No doubt the singles of the un-plied yarn will have plenty of untamed twist but I think dying them will relax them a lot.  In fact, I ordered some dyes finally, and am going back to over-dying yarn, after a long break of doubting whether I ever again would, so I will be having fun making use of a few balls left over from my most recent Hillwalker sweaters ~~ watch this space!

See all posts about Unspun !

ps. Adele, that is the spindle you sent to me, it is the only one I own presently and it works perfect for this!

Hillwalker, and an anniversary.

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Introducing the Hillwalker sweater duo…

(and photographed with my walking stick!)

I have now finished both the pullover and the cardigan,

and that means Hillwalker is now two patterns for one download !

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Today is the one-year anniversary of the historic Northern California Firestorm  which burned through two counties and thousands of homes, including our own.  Such an anniversary of loss seems to be a time to test resilience, rising above hardship, and moving beyond the grief toward healing happier times. As I walk on the mountain,  I feel the loss, and regrowth in such an overwhelming way.

jenjoycedesign© October walk

There are so many dead trees, but surprisingly, there are many that are alive.

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A favorite Blue Oak, gone.

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Vineyards thriving.

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A favorite rocky meadow.

This Autumn comes as a relief, now I can focus on what is ahead, and what is new, fresh, and positive. Life is short, its over in a blink, and we have every ability to control our attitude.  I’ve learned one very important thing through the experience of this last year, and that is the only thing we can truly own is our attitude, and the accomplishments of  our mind.   The rest is just material & prone to ashes.

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Northerly view over valley fog.

Sweater Mania

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A pile of sweaters; two finished and one not quite.    Another is not in the photo for it is only half finished, and in a bag somewhere up in the tiny attic, and another still was knit almost to finish and then ripped out. These three represent a lot of knitting through recent months;  through weeks of dusty loud logging, of waiting frustratingly for building permit to be issued, through scorching heat waves, some cool summer fog waves, and through Autumn equinox.  Now the rain has come, and construction of house has begun. It is perfect timing for these sweaters to be finished and have their debut.

A sweater debut?   Yes!  In a couple of days I will be visiting with my youngest niece who is soon having a birthday and turning sixteen ( so will be Miss Sixteen for a year) and she’ll model the brown sweater and then there will be a pattern release of a design I have been working on for a long time.  The Autumn photo shoot with both of them must wait until the November holiday this year, when Miss Eighteen comes home from college.

At first the design was going to be a set-in sleeve invention,  then I couldn’t manage through the stress of things going on, so I changed my mind, promptly ripped it out, and started over with more classic style I realize that can not live without, so it became what it really wanted to be.

I will leave you in your anticipation of the forthcoming while enjoying my latest find of video mill tours, this one has given me hours of enjoyment as I knit frantically one more sweater for niece’s birthday. It rather has a calming effect while starting out a bit sleepy, but the excellent jazz music accompanies about a minute into the narration …

A celebratory crumble..

jenjoycedesign© apple crumbleHearing the excavator scraping away against a very rocky volcanic earth for a new foundation at 7 o’clock this morning was absolute music to my ears, and watching the gradual additional equipment arrive up one by one on our dusty road is just making me blast off into an orbit of happiness. I welcome the noise of production finally, over the deafening silence of waiting .  Starting rebuild construction,  twelve days short of a year since the wildfire, and no more waiting!  I have in fact, made a celebratory apple crumble to bring up to the workers this afternoon, when things settle in a bit.  Here’s my totally improvised recipe …

Jen’s Apple Crumble (from the Tiny Oven)

Sugar Mixture: blend 1/2 cup brown and 1/2 cup white sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp salt. Set aside.

Apples: Peel, core & quarter 3 large tart apples. Blend 1/2  of sugar mixture with 3 tablespoons flour then into the apples, place in bowl and set aside.

Crumble: In small processor, grind 1 cup of rolled oats (or just use quick oats), empty into large bowl.  In processor blend 1/2 cup cold butter and 1 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour, finely as for pie crust, and add to oats. Add the rest of sugar mixture in with flour & oats and toss with just enough ice cold water to make it bind a little when pressed together, but much of it still very crumbly & loose.

Assemble: Press a little more than half the flour/oat/sugar mixture into bottom of an 8 or 9 inch square baking dish.  Layer apples evenly, but not touching dish, then sprinkle the rest of the flour/sugar mixture on top.  Sprinkle additional sugar on top to taste.

Bake at 350F until crumble is golden and apple layer begins to bubble. ( In our Tiny House tiny oven, most things burn, so I waited until the fruity syrup began to bubble before taking out of the oven, at the risk of a little burn)