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?

jenjoycedesign© Irish Tweed 3

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.

♣     ♣     ♣

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 …

Tweed Chronicles

jenjoycedesign© spinning tweed

I can’t stay away from the blending board…

jenjoycedesign© colors to blend

 nor can I stop testing my instincts about color,

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

jenjoycedesign© 1st batt

1st batt, 1st carding

 just to see how the colors will work together.

jenjoycedesign© tweedy 3

Because perhaps I am just ridiculous!

jenjoycedesign© detail

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.

jenjoycedesign© tweed 9

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!

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…

Back From Thrift Shop

Today practice was called off, and I decided to just … what the heck… run into town and go to my favorite thrift shops. It has actually been quite a long while since I’ve been ! I managed to find this…. a steal … $5 for a ever-so-slightly moth-eaten Harris Tweed Jacket. I have ideas for it, though I’ll be taking scizzors to it eventually, to make something else from it (I drool for hand-woven tweed)… and of course…carefully remove and transport the label.

Then, there was the usual back room bin of hangers I always rifle through, looking for the old cleaner advertisement ones, and I found a bundle of seven for 50 cents, wherein there were three nice ones to add to my collection.  I’ve been doing this for quite a few years by the way,  collecting them for literally pennies, from the same shop. I actually only have two which are repeats of the same  cleaners !  You can see some of  here , one of my quirky collections I might say… note 4 digit phone numbers !

Michigan Winter


The His & Hers Michigan Winter Pullovers are finished !


Interesting improvisations I’ve done, with ‘His’ v-neck.  I was pulling my hair out trying to figure out how to do it, never having done it before.  But now I think it looks very unique ~ steeked on the body, then after shirt-yoke was finished up to the steek in front, I transfered the live stitches on to waste yarn while I continued the yoke across back to be grafted together. Finally I cut the steek, and then picked up the steek stitches , back edge, and live stitches all around for a K2/P2 rib.

‘Hers’ crew style neck was a cake walk !  I really love the tweedy look for these, sparkling with flecks of buff, browns, black, ivory, and occasional bright-colored Donegal nebs.   I wonder do they do look a little long in the arms?  Yeah, I guess, partly because they are sagging a bit off of the hangers (I know, not the ideal way to display a handknit garment such as these) however, I assure you these sweaters were custom measured, and I stayed true to the wearers’ measurements, but I believe I added an inch (or two) to the sleeves to ensure they weren’t too short, and the end result is, well, much longer sleeves. But we’ll see when they are slipped on Him & Her.

Here is the back !

Just look at that spectacular design of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s,

the seamless shirt-yoke . . .

A close-up detail of how the decreases go into the yoke. . .

Another (rather fuzzy) close-up of moi’s wild improvisational work. . .

And I just love, love, love the two-stitch cord bind-off on the rib. . .

Lastly,  my mark !

I like to sew on the label just above the rib, in the back . . .

Now these his & hers pullovers get shipped to Michigan, to keep warm two very dear young homesteaders,  Rosanna & Felix , in their first year of settling & farming,  undoubtedly shivering in their yurt, in the soon-to-be snowy winter landscape.  Not without a herd of goats, flock of chickens, geese, and a manic farm dog to chase after !

Rosanna & Felix

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Yarn : Knit Picks Wool Of the Andes Tweed ( 80% Peruvian Highand wool, 20% Donegal Tweed) . Worsted weight.

Needles: size US#8 circular.

Pattern :  Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Seamless Shirt Yoke sweater,  in “Knitting Without Tears” ~  somewhat modified throughout.

 Details on Ravelry here

All posts about this project here