Out in Autumn

jenjoycedesign© Autumn walk 5

Walking along a foggy path in the late afternoon,  in late Autumn, I observe the season expiring after the heavy rain last week. Everything seems to be falling to the ground, exhausted.  Soon there will be new grass popping up.

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The last of the gold leaves wave in the breeze, as if to say “I’m tired, and it is time to go”, and the vines surely have given all their energy growing grapes for 2019 Harvest, and will wait bare until pruning time in late winter,  leaving the trellises standing like soldiers in a winter field.

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The stinging spines on the star thistle rot and become harmless, muted into the dull brown grass.

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The fog surely lays burden to the spider webs, and even though nature is bedding down, the creatures are stirring.

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The oaks are shedding leaves and covering the ground, another layer of compost for the soil,  two years after the wildfire is nothing less than a treasure.

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Yet some of what was dormant is now waking up, becoming lush, verdant, alive, as is the story of the moss.

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So near to the solstice, I believe this little foggy outing has put me in the mood for more walking and writing, for it is at these times when I most intensely feel my existence.  Rituals of coffee and chores, punctuated with knitting, walks, short naps, and contemplative writing, are my comfort as I get older.  Peaceful and nearly silent my days tumble over one another, seemingly inconsequential, but to witness my landscape as it goes through the seasons.  And I am happy it is so.

Knitters From The World

Hiyastricklust's Solstice Tam

From an enchanted coast in Denmark,  you might by chance see a lovely lady strolling the rocky Baltic Sea edge in a Solstice Lanterns Tam.  This is an outstanding knit of the design, as I am so very fond of the natural colorway of Hiyastricklust’s tam.  Hers is a great example of how the kaleidoscopic affect of the motifs alone are interesting enough, without making the lantern “lights” a focal point.

Hiyastricklust's Solstice Tam 2

Oh and is that really a thatched roof I see in the countryside there?   Utterly charmed lives some knitters have ~~ thank you Hiyastricklust, for your lovely artful knitting !

thankful

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I am thankful for many things, but at the moment especially so that I finished these.  They are Hillwalker pullovers, with a simple Icelandic style colorwork “sketched” into the yoke,  an easy modification for which the simple circular yoke  is an excellent canvas.  So until the time on a late Autumn day when I will give them to my nieces,  they will waiting, tucked in nice & tidy.  Autumn Sweaters 2019 are done & dusted.

soak

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Just a quick dunk for number two of the Autumn sweaters, inside out, getting the wash & dry blocking , then they’ll be all done.  This is actually a very big deal, because I stressed over these for a couple of months delaying in and around other things, really important things (like moving, and designing a holiday tam) , and now they are finally finished and ready for my nieces for a December photo shoot against the stone in St Helena!

And if that is not good news enough , if you’ll excuse me, I must get to work gathering up and raking out the ditches in the new road to test the run off for we are expecting quite a soaking, having a big rain storm on its way !!!

Forthcoming

jenjoycedesign© Autumn Sweaters 2019

Forthcoming are a very late couple of Autumn 2019 sweaters for my nieces.  Here the first one is blocking, that is, washed and drying to shape, on the bed in the loft room across the sunlit stairway landing.  The other of the two is in the last stretch of knitting, soon to be blocking in this same space by tomorrow.

jenjoycedesign© Autumn Sweater

The house is feeling like its old self again, regardless of the lack of finish floor and trim,  and so the settled place of things brings on a settled feeling of calm, and  I am very happy about the way my creativity is slowly returning.

jenjoycedesign© Autumn Sweater #1

I’m soon to be hoisting up my sails for a run of ideas that have been brewing while I have had to wait until these sweaters were done & dusted, so I am almost there. One down , one to go!

Solstice Lanterns Tam!

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Solstice Lanterns is a colorwork tam with original motifs depicting lit lanterns glowing in the festive time of deep winter when the earth takes a nap and we all make merry.

jenjoycedesign© Solstice Lanterns Tam folded

Jolly wee lanterns hang in the base of the crown above the ribbing,  and the color changes are close together so you can carry the colors upward without having to snip the yarns, making the finish work of weaving in ends minimal . . .

jenjoycedesign© Solstice Lanterns Tam detail beneathunderside4

. . . and elegant  chandelier lanterns in the upper crown, cozy with scrolls and checking and the detail of the lights casting a glow is rather delightful . . .

jenjoycedesign© Solstice Lanterns Tam lights detail

However, as these sort of things go, it doesn’t much matter what they are,  because the kaleidoscopic affect of the design is quite transfixing.  I knit this tam in a lovely Elemental Affects Shetland 2-ply yarn , which I am a big fan of.  But by the time knitters are able to get their yarn to needles for this, it will likely be only a few weeks left to the Winter Solstice . 

jenjoycedesign© Solstice Lanterns Tam 1

So speedily gather your Shetland 2ply yarns of choice, cups of tea, mugs of coffee, plates of baked goodies, and a lot of spiritual calm and please do knit one of these up for yourself before the holidays are past.

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Poetically speaking, the lanterns have a deeper meaning for me, and that is ~~  a light in the dark is hope,  and from our hearts shines a beacon for the future.

  The pattern is available HERE. 

♥    ♥      ♥

Now, just in case you are thinking,  what about the grey-scale tam that I knit up in Jamiesons Spindrift ?  Well, it is a bit of dark humor (excuse the pun) as I knit it during a Public Safety Power Shut-off during a very windy few days in October (power lines and wind are a major cause of wildfires in California) , and which in fact lasted a week in the  mountainous areas north of the bay. Then, due to falling trees there have been still more power outages, and furthermore,  the power is OUT as I post this!!!  With a bit of irony, I introduce to you my slightly sinister  ” Lights Out In California ” . . .

jenjoycedesign© Lights Out in California

Adorned with a tidy wee felted toorie which I made & posted about yesterday . . .

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Equally as good looking as the festive prototype! However, now that I’ve posted the “Lights Out” version, I have a mind to stitch in colored lights. I’ll think about it. In the mean time, please do check out all the details of Solstice Lanterns over on Ravelry, as it is now live!   Thank you ~  xx Jen

Toppings

jenjoycedesign© felted pom pom

A little something that I call  ” the felted toorie ”

toorie 

or tourie (ˈtʊrɪ  )

noun Scottish

1. a tassel or bobble on a bonnet

2. Alsotoorie bonnet

a bonnet with a toorie
Word origin of ‘toorie’

C19: from Scot toor tower

Toorie is just a Scots name for the little ball that goes on top of many of their hats, often looking like little red cherries.

I just made a regular medium-sized pompom,  entirely in Jamiesons Shetland Spindrift — color Sholmit.  I snipped the fresh pom pom right off of the cardboard, then it went through a wild hot & soapy wash while being rolled in my hands, and ended up really bumpy , felted, and generally unappealing  (you can  see my tutorial if you want to see all the steps.)

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Until you take scissors to it! Trimmed to perfection , it is ready for this tam.

Two tams are waiting back stage …. nervous, nearly forgetting their lines.

 

Almost

jenjoycedesign© tam scraps

Good morning !   My day was started early this morning finishing the last rounds of the tam, and doing all the finish work, and left with a minimal pile of trimmings for the birds’ nests , as I was able to carry the yarns upward as I went, making very little in the way of ends to weave in.  Now the tam is blocking to dry, inside-out, with many pins to shape it into a slightly taut disc, which later will be turned outside-out and steamed  ever so gently to set the fabric and soften the brim crease.

jenjoycedesign© blocking tam inside out

I have had so much enjoyment designing and knitting this tam that I’m thinking I need to allow myself another tam to design, you know,  just binge with it for a while.  Nevertheless  I am almost done with it, and as it has been quite warm lately,  I am hoping it will be dry and ready for a photo later today . . . and you know what that means?

In a blink this tam pattern will be ready to fly!

jenjoycedesign© blocking tam

The Solstice Ahead

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About five and a half weeks away is the Winter Solstice, and I am working like an ox to get this here tam up and running ahead of the holidays so knitters can knit it for the holidays.   As soon as I finish knitting the prototype here I’ll be done & dusted ;  I’ve got the pattern all ready to go, charts are drawn and redrawn, then drawn again, and so I am confident that the Up & Coming is going to be ready in a blink. It is certainly a significant personal accomplishment in the wake of a couple of years where my creative brain seemed to be on vacation somewhere far away.    It will be knit, blocked (that is, put into a lovely tam shape and un-wrinkled so to speak), then photographed . . . all in the next couple of days.  This is it, the pressure is on . . . and I am on it !

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Very soon, very soon,  I will present this holiday design owning a bit of spiritual nuance and a jolly lot of cheer!

The darling of the place…

Hello friends! My younger niece whom you see all over this blog, is raising funds to go to a very prestigious and important musical arts camp next summer  . . .

Those who can,

those who care some,

please check out this link

& help her if you can spare some.

Your’s truly,

Proud Auntie of Miss Seventeen

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Stranded on Fair Isle.

jenjoycedesign© blocking tam

I’ve been feeling like knitting design has taken a back seat for so long that it was becoming inconsequential to big things going on (so many big big things), so I decided to get focused again and design a tam during the week-long power outage in Napa last week. Here it is blocking inside-out on a blocking board drying into shape with a lot of pins. The motif is quite apropos to the power situation, but I won’t be showing it off right-side-out yet, as it is a test-knit to an upcoming pattern idea. That is, I am waiting for my order of Elemental Affects Shetland yarn to arrive for something heart-warming and cheerful for the holidays, but having wanted something to  ‘sketch’ the motif with, I dug into my yarn drawer and pulled out four balls of Jamiesons Spindrift to make a grey-scale version of the colorful holiday one forthcoming, but with a little bit of a sinister spin on it.  And that is all you get to know for now.

♥    ♥    ♥

Oh! And I’d like to mention that it was ten years ago about this time of year that I was becoming obsessed by Fair Isle colorwork,  having knit my first ever Fair Isle tam,  and so I decided to get stranded out in the colorwork rounds again after a two-year colorwork hiatus.  It has been thoroughly delightful and introspective!

Fourteen and a half.

DSC_0173We’ve been hunkered down through a week long power out and biting our nails while Kincade Fire raged in Sonoma County very close by, and my friends from around the world have been worried about us from hearing about it on the news. California is once again the crazy Wild West,  its been a rough last week in October, but November is at long last here.  Oh, and today is Emma’s half birthday.

As a little celebration of Emma’s fourteenth half  birthday, I am having a little two-for-one pattern spree for Walking With Emma  (a collection of eight sock patterns) over on Ravelry , and for details on that, please check it out on my forum post here.

In any case, we’re busy hanging doors, tiling, and in general making our house more of a home every weekend.  I suppose soon I ought to post some house project photos, but here is one ~~  the laundry line is up!

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Knitters From The World

Fishwives Shoal makes a beautiful appearance in the wild of Sweden,

with Halvyllet’s Fishwives Stola . . .

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There are some absolutely fantastic finishes of some of Jenjoyce designs showing up in the Ravelry FO’s feed, and this being one that has inspired me to make a new series of posts on my blog ” Knitters From The World”.  I so appreciate these exceptionally beautiful photos of the knitter in the wild, it touches my heart, thank you Halvyllet!

The Places I Walk

jenjoycedesign© places I walk 1

I was out early this morning walking, before I got a chance to get carried away with projects.  This Autumn I am recommitting to getting out and walking as I use to do,  since about the time when I first started this blog.  Each time I go out into the changing landscape I feel its healing influence in me as it ebbs back to health from the wildfire, the prolific growth on the branches and at the stumps of burned trees everywhere remind me of a vibrant desire for life, even though so many trees must give in to lifelessness.

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I walk alone, without distraction,  listening to the grasses sway and the browning leaves shake in the breeze, and as I walk it feels like I am turning stones along the way,  seeing glimpses of my past, unavoidable as I’ve walked these very steps and places so many times before.  This landscape has seen lifetimes of people walking along here in the very same places, back to the indigenous race who’s arrowheads I have found, and sometimes it is as though I walk through time, feeling the ancient geography and the presence of walkers of an ancient time.  Or maybe I will feel happy Emma as a puppy in her explosive energy, or a friend I walked with once . . . all whispers in the wild.

jenjoycedesign© places I walk

Everyday I need to be out in the wild, knitting to keep my hands busy, but sensitive and pondering, ready to let tears fall if they want, or a new exciting idea take hold, whichever seems to be inevitable for the moment.   I am determined to see the landscape change to normal again, and it is what I consider to be the best thing for me, and when I get home I make a cup of coffee and get things done, and all the while I let myself be swept along by the knitted stitches, and that is as good as it gets.

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Two fast knits . . .

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Already it is that time cozy season of Autumn again, my absolute favorite time of the year.  Although much later in Autumn than I have always begun in the past, I’m talking about it being time to knit the Autumn sweaters for my nieces.  I have had the yarn for about a month, but life got in the way, and as I’m just now feeling settled a little bit after being in the new house for already a week, I have cast on.  Past the hoop of the body, I am not yet sure what pattern I’m going to knit.   I have had lots of ideas over the last two years for a new sweater design, but  have not felt settled enough to even think or rise up out of perpetual indecision.   For these two fast knits I’m considering a few different yoke shapings as they go along, and they should go really fast.

I might decide to knit two Hillwalkers, or two Calidez’s,  one of each,  or something entirely new.   Number one, is that I’m not putting any expectations on myself, especially as yesterday was the second anniversary of the wildfire, and the event  very much reminded me how trauma & stress really can change a person’s performance.  All I can say is ~~ we will see.   Finished with the ribbing, and now ready for a bunch o’ rounds of stockinette body, so I’ll be busy with it for some time.  And then I can do the same for the light grey one,  and then I will decide how to proceed.

jenjoycedesign© Autumn Sweaters 2019

Oh! And tomorrow I meet my youngest niece in Calistoga to celebrate her 17th birthday ~~ and that I truly can not believe !

Out in Autumn.

jenjoycedesign© out in Autumn
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We’ve spent two nights so far in the new house, so we’ve officially moved in, even though the construction mess is ongoing, we’re all just happy to be finally home.  Now I’m busy cleaning out the tiny house to its former glory before two humans, a dog, and countless spiders inhabited it for seventeen months, while Jeff continues the finish building.  I woke this morning early and watched the rose-gold sunrise, while Emma in her Help’emUp harness acclimates to the new front porch,  as that was one of her favorite places before, where she use to spend hours napping in the early mornings.

jenjoycedesign© Emma is back homeThis morning I went for a first walk from new home into the nearby vineyard.  Its harvest in the California Highlands, and the grapes up on the mountain are ripening to perfection.

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We are back home, it is Autumn, and life is good.

settling in

jenjoycedesign© autumn things
I have begun collecting little treasures from Autumn ; a leaf from a Black Oak turning gold, a curl of Madrone bark, and a freshly fallen Douglas Fir cone.    It was almost a year ago in Autumn that I found this novelty  . . .

jenjoycedesign© settling-in
Now the vintage Four Posts are finally kitted out with a mattress and bedding,  and  so I’m going to fling off my shoes and curl up on it with some strong coffee in a demitasse, made in a jezve (my thing lately) with fresh shortbread just out of the oven,  and contemplate which small quilt I will attempt to make first from  “Civil War Legacies” by Carol Hopkins.

jenjoycedesign© settling-in 2

The loft room (still without a door as you can see), the kitchen, and upstairs bathroom are the only rooms in the house able to be used thus far,  while the main part of the house remains a mess of building, tile dust, and tools. But there is rumor ringing through the rafters, that we may move in this coming weekend, or should I say move out of the tiny house . . .  fingers crossed!   

jenjoycedesign© autumn things 3

A Mill Tour

The sun has moved into Libra  and it is Autumn!    After some sleuthing I have come up with yet another amazing virtual mill tour!  In it is superbly artful wool color blending,  wool sandwiches fed to the fear-not machine, old style mill spinning with a “mule”,  custom weaving into the cloth for a cloth designer, and finally, the cloth finishing.  It is absolutely loaded with all sorts of tweedy goodness ~~~ enjoy!

See all Mill Tours

home

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The phoenix has landed.   I sit peacefully at my laptop parked on the large pastry board in the kitchen,  while Emma naps near me, claiming her floor space in the kitchen as she had always done before.   As I mentioned last post, we passed the final building & fire inspections, and now we can slowly move in over the next few weeks. I have spent the morning consolidating the construction area to one end of the downstairs floor, and vacuumed, so it feels so much more like home now.  All in good time the finish work will get done;  doors will be hung, furniture will fill in, although much more sparsely,  and things will be again clean, complete, and calm.

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Emma is comfortable in the kitchen, most surely she knows she has come home?   This of course, is reaching the other side of the bridge to us, having Emma bring us home.
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I will be posting more of the usual knitterly & spinnerly things against the backdrop of the rebuilt house as it takes shape, the floor plan nearly identical to what it was before,  but with changes that are almost insignificant now.   We are all three worn, bedraggled, and *very* tired,  but we are home. 

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A day of days!

It is a very exciting day! 1. We passed the building inspection of our house, which is a resonating “yeehawwww!” echoing through the ridge tops, rattling all those stick-like burned trees with a joyful ring!  I just went up to give our very talented builder Ryan a big handshake and made him a last celebratory cup of coffee-in-a-jar, as I did through all the cold weather last Autumn, Winter & Spring ~~ but in the new kitchen.  I will miss him, for he has rebuilt our house and been around in our lives for four seasons now.   2. Today has rained a second time in three days, a gentle early morning rain, and a good soaker, so I am feeling utterly relaxed because I can (almost, but not fully) shake off my wildfire worry for a little while. 3. Autumn Equinox is coming very soon, my favorite time of year, and with the full moon waning, and with all the damp spicy forest smells that are about I just can’t imagine a better mood. Got coffee? 5. Yes, I have coffee. Buttered toast?? 6. Yes, yes, lots of buttered toast. All these reasons to post a very sincere Life Is Good in the closing.

Okay. Some of the things which are not so exciting: We won’t be moving into our house for a week or so, because it just isn’t ready, although the building company has completed their agenda and all inspections passed, we now have the weeks rolling out ahead of us to do the finish work at a less stressed, and more leisurely pace, such as installing all the interior doors which will be so nice! Also, there’s a formality of a county engineer approving our new road we had to put in to comply with all the new fire codes, but that is like nothing to keep me from feeling we are there, we have arrived.  Likely in a couple of weeks we can begin inhabiting our new home, even if it takes another year to be fully finished. But you can bet that I will be spending all my time in the house doing things I have had to wait to do. Oh, such as start a quilt, or pot up some plants and put out on the new deck, and get a mattress in the loft room so I can take restorative naps while contemplating the complexities of new knitwear designs! Boy do I need some restorative napping. I was about to go seriously AWOL last night that we couldn’t move in THE DAY of our inspection, or the weekend coming… was frothing at the mouth and my eyes bugging out… but (sigh) after the rain came again, and I had a good sleep on it, I rise today with determination to celebrate this monumental accomplishment with nothing but gratitude.

Another thing I have put off but am now keen to do is to finish painting the kitchen the sienna glaze over the pale yellow (faux old building, like I did in the loft) and paint the bedroom upstairs over, from a what-was-I-thinking green, to a calming mossy green. And you can bet I want to finally start a quilt on my new old sewing machine. Not just one, but a series of little lap quilts to start, and maybe a table runner and the like, nothing too daunting as I overwhelm so easily these days. The things I look forward to most of all I can start doing, for there is room and freedom enough to do what I like in the house now is setting up the ironing board — one of those old wooden ones which was given to me from an antique shop right after the wildfire — and learn ironing the old fashioned way like my mom used to do , and iron the linen clothes I’ve been squirreling away in boxes to keep away from the wild mice in the shed, and one by one . . . (wow, this is so emotional) . . . hang the washed & ironed clothes on my (re)collection of old wooden cleaner-advert hangers, on a long closet dowel, and even with room to skate the hangers around!    To wash the sheets and then ritually hang out to dry on clothes line in the clear Autumn breeze, then make the bed without a worry  of so many lurking spiders  and without my having to tromp on the bed as I make it (as it is done in the tiny house) ~~~ O, dream of dreams, what ecstasy that will be!

I have learned in these last near two years, what is fundamental to my life.
Just as the days when I use to backpack for a week in the High Sierras, when in those wild days of trekking in harsh and exposed high altitude environment what etched into my memory most was perspective of what is essential and what is luxury. Essential only is a bed, food, water. The rest is luxury I tell you!   Running hot water from a faucet, a flushing toilet, a stack of cast-iron pans to cook on, clean sheets on a freshly made bed, and a good amount of ink in a pen with a small bit of paper to write ~~ all elements of pure opulence by comparison! Oh, and buttered toast and coffee. I have everything I need for the high life of luxury, because I have experienced a complete perspective overhaul.

Truth is, I’ve been composing this post while waiting for the county building inspector to drive up, and wasn’t going to publish until I got word that we passed the inspection — so this is a breaking news bulletin!    Life is as good as it can get about now.   Thanks everyone, for reading up on my blog, and a round of hugs to All ~~ but especially Ryan!

All posts Rebuilding

Two years ago today . . .

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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.

newness & oldness

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Spinning in a room that feels old and familiar,

yet is barely even new.

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The rest of the house is in building chaos & still no doors,  but I’ve got the skeleton of my Loft room in place,  filled with old furniture.  I have everything I think I could possibly need, as I have been collecting the essential now for nearly two years, and some unessential as well. I am exhausted of shopping,  I want to be doing now.

I have struggled with the place of things in this room,  but now I think I have arrived at a floor plan that works, although a bit on the cozy side. I am so intrigued with clean surfaces lately, with everything in its proper drawer or cabinet, so the bookcase of three shelves is potentially problematic and some day I plan on downsizing as it for its too large for my little library,  dangerously inviting clutter, and therefore indecision into the room.   jenjoycedesign© spinning in a room 6

I have been indecisive and feeling strangely familiar with everything, yet at the same time I feel an awkward discord just not being use to anything.  I hope that odd feeling goes away in time as I begin to work at things, because now all tools of the trade are ready.  I am waiting for the waves of inspiration to carry me away!

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So far only spinning for a project.

I am committed to these fluffy beautiful swirls of wool and getting themt spun at a casual pace in the weeks ahead,

and committed to getting to know this room of newness & oldness.

In the beginning of Jenjoyce Design…

I’ve recently met in person a new follower of this blog,   and I was asked an interesting question ~~ what am I selling? Yarn? Even though it has seemed to me self evident all these years,  I’ve been contemplating about it since, whether it is maybe not so evident anymore.   I really never thought about this site being anything other than a blog, established 2010 (formally known as “Yarnings”) just to write about my creative projects, and life on the mountain, peppered with occasional philosophical musings, often including Emma (our dog) or Jeff (my partner), and loads of appearances by my nieces.

A little backstory:  I came on to WordPress just as craft blogging had rather glutted the cyber space almost ten years ago. I began a blog first set private for just me and some friends & family to read, then I bravely changed the settings to unlisted shortly after, so I could share the link with the broader craft blogging world, and not until I started to sell my first knitting patterns, in 2013, did I change the settings to public with the domain jenjoycedesign.com.  Originally my knitting was mostly about designing things for my young nieces, which was so amazing, and taking loads of photos of them, all which has been a colossally fun way to share time together and they’ve really gotten comfortable with modeling over the years (you see the photo shoots of them going back to the first sweaters in 2010 here in the archives  ,  but one must scroll pages back to see oldest posts). 

I guess now with so many platforms of social media, blogging does sound rather old school and maybe the whole thing about having a blog to document one’s creative endeavors can seem kind of self absorbed (especially when the author does not interact with the commentators) but I honestly gain massive inspiration from this blog, and incentive to come up with interesting things to do and write about!  Besides, I have been grateful for the followers; the chat in the comments has been grounding for me, and have always tried to engage with those few who appreciate what I’m putting out there.   Anyway this place has been and still is . . .  just a blog.

I have been doing okay selling patterns over on Ravelry.com , and my designs on my designer page there are constantly linking back to this blog for tutorials, deeper explanation & sharing of inspirational beginnings. As well, every design shown in the sidebars or up in the tabs ” My Patterns ” when clicked makes a bee line straight to the pattern page on Ravelry.

Through it all I have not yet gotten bit by the social media bug, and even though I have accounts for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, the former two which WordPress automatically posts to in my settings, I am rarely on them. I fully intend to use these social media sites more effectively in the future,  but as yet I rarely author posts specifically on any of them.

So to answer this recent question I must say that it is only digital download knitwear patterns I sell, through Ravelry.com , but a lot of what I write here is in support of those designs I sell,  as tutorials, sharing process of making,  and interest cross-overs with the wider knitting (and even non-knitting) world.  Ravelry is great, really awesome actually, and the virtual knitting platform has helped me make a little money in recent few years, although I really do work very hard at it. It is pretty much all I do these days outside of my domestic work (regretfully I have not been playing music professionally for several years now). Oh, and on Ravelry I have a forum where I support the designs, and folks can get help or make knitterly chatter.

So what are all the yarn posts,  in Tweed Chronicles and Unspun,  that I’ve got up there in the tabs?  In these things I am not selling anything, but offering up for free, my trials and discoveries ~~ that is all.

jenjoycedesign© spinning in September 2

For the present  I don’t think selling yarn & knitting related objects in a virtual shop appeals to me ,  as so many top tier indie knitwear designers do, perhaps as a sort of mark of  legitimacy,  for in these recent two years of difficult transition I fear an online shop would end up a misfire, and a hassle of retail inventory of which I have not a single square foot of space or extra time for.  I keep thinking one day I will do a virtual shop here, but for now digital pattern downloads are great;  pure intellectual goods where I have had to learn to wear all the hats, from the designing, to writing, pattern tech editing & format design, photography, and lastly design promotion.  Okay, there is the buzz word – promotion –  and marketing. All in good time folks, in good time for sure, but I need to settle in my mind and in my new home, which is still not near finished, nor are we living in it yet, before I can grasp a solid approach with it.  I am still exploring how I want to go to do my best with Jenjoyce Design.

For now Ravelry sells my patterns for me with their huge data & customer base, and my pattern design page is slowly growing in numbers, but I am only one among the thousands of competitive indie knitwear designers on Ravelry, seemingly all so similarly climbing the popularity ladder.   I want to refine and distinguish my brand, and that is to write spinner friendly patterns (with extensive gauge charts in many sizes) and so there you have it, the reason for all the spinning tech posts. I am evolving in the direction of writing patterns for every kind of knitter, but even those who are spinners and have unique gauge issues, or those those thrifty knitters who want to use recycled or novelty yarn with no clue as to how to adapt gauges. This is why I am working like an ox presently spinning-to-knit the first sweater in decades, which you can read about in the series ” Spinning For A Project ” .

I will get back to posting about Knitting In The Wild when the wild places around here have become a little more accessible in the wake of the wildfire, and which I like to do especially at the turning of the seasons,  and also sharing my recipes, and Emma,  garden, and random philosophical musings as I love to do. My life and this blog is a work in progress, and as life pushes and pulls me along my way I unceasingly strive for a perspective of positivism.  

Meanwhile, I’ve been spinning up a storm with the recent big 500g Sweater Project, spending more and more time with my Ashford Traditional Wheel in the loft space of the new house.  Although the project is epic, I am learning a lot about spinning still, and then it will be already to knit up into something I’m designing just for it!

jenjoycedesign© spinning in September 3

Early morning spinning, in thoughtful repose.

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… ))

Spinning For A Project – Part Three: Color Test

jenjoycedesign© test spin 1

Continueing from Part Two where I assemble the ingredients of English Rose Tweed.

I think I really like it.  I really wasn’t sure that I wanted to have so much rose pink in a yarn for myself.  But then again, I recall having knit the protoype for Calidez Cardigan  in Berocco Inca Tweed in a color which has been woefully discontinued , I remember being disappointed I couldn’t find it again, and I really do think this spun English Rose Tweed is very similar, but not near as vivid.

Still, there it was in my brain that as I was spinning this test 25g spool I thought of how I would alter it if it is too color-intense. I thought; a little more white, and perhaps a splash of turquoise (or light blue & light green) to neutralize the deep pink. I really want to try that, so I decided to take half of one of the rolags here and blend it with some more white and turquoise (light blue & light green mostly), just to satisfy my curiosity. Here is the result of that , do you see it, on the right?  It is rather  subdued . . .jenjoycedesign© test spin 2

I wonder , did curiosity win in this case, and shall I proceed with the rest of the 450 grams by adding turquoise?  Or shall I keep the original, and spin up the rest of the 500 grams?

See all posts in this series Spinning For A Project.

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Incidentally, while I was walking up with my camera to the new house to go work this color test, I saw this most interesting mushroom right on the side of the road. I’ve never seen a mushroom sprout in August, but it has been rather humid lately. Istn’ it just beautiful? Does anybody know what sort of mushroom it is?

jenjoycedesign© mushroom by the road

Spinning for a Project – Part Two: “English Rose Tweed”

Part two of my series “Spinning for a Project” (see Part One) and second post of the day, this one being about designing the wool blend for the hand spun yarn, so eventually knit into a future project. A blend which I’m calling “English Rose Tweed” for the Malabrigo colorway’s namesake.  These are the wools I am blending all together to make 500g of yarn, the amount I forecast needing to knit a sweater.  (Note: So much of this fiber was a gift to me from “rescue spinners” after the wildfire, when I was given my Ashford Traditional wheel from L. ) When recently I thought to try the Malabrigo Nube roving, I chose “English Rose” and thought that I really wanted to try doing a blend with it with natural undyed roving.

jenjoycedesign© English Rose Tweed 7

I have weighed off each wool color into ten segments each, to put each together into ten 50g batches to do incrementally, but I wanted to share the recipe after the 1st blend, so I could refer to it for the rest of the batches, and so I could do a test spin-up on the first blending before proceeding.

From these…

DSC_0223

to these….

jenjoycedesign© English Rose Tweed 8

to these…

jenjoycedesign© English Rose Tweed 3rd blend

In the next post you will see these rolags all spun up!  I may not like the results after the first 50g test and add a color to continue, but stay tuned to find out if these are a keeper.  Also you can see all posts in my Spinning for A Project  series.

Okay, here’s what I did…

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Techy stuff for English Rose Tweed…

  •  I need 500g for a sweater project; using 113g Malabrigo Nube (roving) in English Rose colorway, along with 122 g of grey merino, 200g mixed brown & natural wool (unknown breed) and 65g white cormo.
  • 500g of wool blend divides into ten 50g batches, so using a gram scale,  I divided all into equal 10 segments.

Note: With hand-dyed braid of Malabrigo Nube “English Rose”, I decided to keep a consistent color ‘bookmatch’ by splitting the dyed braid along the length into 5 segments, then each of those long skinny segments more easily in half, folded end to end and pulled apart at center. Otherwise, pulling apart the dyed roving when full thickness it was seriously hard (being 100% Merino), and should never ever be considered to cut it.

  • Layered very thinly one color at a time, alternately.  using this technique: Blending for tweed simplified
  • Lifted batt, and sectioned into strips of four, to photograph the transition wool rolls.
  • I took the wool and layered again, then photographed rolls again.
  • Layered wool rolls once more and drew off rolags.
  • I’m naming this colorway blend ” English Rose Tweed “
  • See ALL color blending experiments & recipes archived in Tweed Chronicles

(( Click 1st image in mosaic to go to slideshow with commentary. ))

 

Spinning for a Project – Part One: How much fiber?

This post is about establishing amount of wool/fiber needed for a sweater, without knowing what I want to knit, and before I even spin the yarn, or have a gauge. But first, a little disclosure…

Disclosure: I am nearly a self-taught knitter and spinner, so I want to say that what I am about to experiment with is not from anything  I have read, but only from what I have personally experienced, and am continuing to do — please do not quote , copy or paste any of this anywhere, it is probably all wrong.  😉

Then a little backstory: I had a spinning mentor in the early 90’s who guided me through my first spinning and knitting projects. I recall being so overwhelmed with the spinning ahead of me when I decided to spin for my first sweater (had never even knit a whole sweater before), wondering about how on earth a person could know how much to spin to make one, and I recall my mentor saying “It takes about two pounds of wool to make a sweater.”   That’s it?  How did she know?   Well now I know that was her personal general sweater weight guideline, and she was likely speaking for her size; she was a tall and larger person than I was then, so I think she may have pared it down for me to about 1.5 pounds of wool. I do remember spinning up a lot of yarn for a project and having a lot left over after knitting it, thinking her overly simple guidelines impossible and inaccurate and was maybe even a little frustrated at all the extra spinning I was required to do to get the sweater I wanted. This is especially so because I had so much yarn left over ended up reknitting the sweater two more times in order to use up more of it.  Looking back I realize my mentor must have wanted  to be safe, knowing it to be safer to have too much yarn rather than too little, and the garment to be too big rather than too small, so I spun up way more than what was actually needed.  That sweater is a distant memory now, as I lost all in the wildfire, but I did post  that sweater knit in 1994 (scroll to bottom) back when I first began this blog in 2010.

That sweater was knit over 25 years ago, but the memory of it has come back to challenge me — and  I would like to experiment with the 2 lbs per sweater theory.  A couple of things to say right off is that now I am accustomed to the international yarn lingo and think in grams for yarn, and so I’ve got to put the conversion here:  2 pounds = 907.185 grams.  Let me round it to 900 grams of wool per sweater. That sounds rather generous though, maybe right for a large sweater, which would be 9 balls of Cascade 220 (up to 1980 yards) in worsted weight, or 7 balls of Cascade 128 (up to 896 yards) in bulky weight. Indeed an overshot by several hundred yards for most, but maybe as a safety barrier, the start-with-more-than-you-need thinking.  Hmmm,  I think I’d like to refine my theory a bit more that that.

I have no sweaters with me as they were all lost to wildfire,  but I have many knit for myself and others on my Ravelry pages with notes, and I see that  the last sweater I knit for myself using Studio Donegal Aran Tweed, used only 450g  or 9 (50g) balls of yarn.  450g = .99 pounds, that is roughly a 1 pound sweater.  Of course, I think it would be safest to round it up to 500 grams per sweater, or 1.1 pounds. Giving a wide berth for a comfortable yardage overshot, I am thinking maybe that I should have 500g per sweater be my personal “basic sweater” weight, with a comfortable overshot.  The comfortable over estimate is because in my experience most hand-spun is denser than most mill-spun yarns, and can often weigh more per yardage than the light fluffy balls we get from the yarn shop. I just want to be safe when spinning for something to knit like a sweater. If my sweater ends up being too small, I’ll happily keep it for the day I lose a few pounds, but this is my starting point of my experiment, and a 500g sweater it will be.

Now, one might wonder how the grams and yardage play out in a size.  Basically, the bigger or smaller your stitches, the fewer or more stitches in your tension gauge will be. My experiment is to see that weight of fiber and yarn remains approximately the same, even though yardage and gauge change. That 500g of yarn, whether dk weight, worsted weight, or super-bulky, in theory it should end up the right amount of yarn; given the stitch gauge is accurate, the appropriate size needles are used for the gauge, and I make consistently the same size and proportions.

Going from this theory; that weight remains consistent through the changing and varied selections of yarn & yardage, I have a hunch that if any of you out there who are reading this and are interested in experimenting along with me, if we go into our sweater chest, and pick out our favorite sweater (of average length & proportions) and weigh it, we will have a starting point, because as sure as can be, we can’t all abide by the Two Pound general rule of my old spinning mentor’s, and you can see how I’ve figured out my own from general rule.  I may not have any sweaters in my closet to weigh, but fortunately I have that sweater I knit for myself in Autumn 2016 in my Ravelry project page, right here, and I will go by that.

Your sweater might be 1 pound/450 grams , or 1.5 pounds/ 680g, or  2.25 pounds/1020g , or whatever. Also as all of us experienced knitters know, its essential to round up to more yardage & weight to allow for anomalies.  Where is all of this going? Okay, so I want to spin yarn again for something to knit, as its been a few decades since I’ve undertaken such a huge spinning project, and I want to aim for the yardage to be very close. I’ve got myself some roving all ready to go, and I just need to weigh it all and then I can begin the magic on my blending board! 500 grams sounds like an easy enough job of wool blending and spinning to me.   Watch this space for Part 2, the wool blending!

See all posts “Spinning for A Project” series HERE.

Footsteps

jenjoycedesign© Walking With Emma socks 1

I am revisiting  footsteps  ~  a journey of finished samples from my own sock patterns ~  this one being my favorite and most recent sock pattern, “Walking With Emma”, and which I submitted  two months ago today.

jenjoycedesign© Walking With Emma socks 3

In recent days it has been refreshingly cool, a sort of “eye in storm” of typical scorching heat of August,  so knitting up the second sock from the original stack of  ten-at-a-time  was quite pleasurable, and the perfect thing to be doing it seems, while the house rebuilding crawls through the summer months.

jenjoycedesign© Walking With Emma socks 4

socks slung over four-post bed frame, not yet set up in Loft.

Anyway, this was really fun self-striping Kroy yarn that I picked up at the local Michaels store, and I’m pretty sure this very pair is my favorite of the ten.  Must finish up more of these to keep my spirits up ~~ so watch this space! 

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Pattern: Walking With Emma in the 2-stitch cable variation.

Yarn: Kroy Socks

Details: on Ravelry HERE. 

jenjoycedesign© Walking With Emma socks 6

the waning summer

As the summer season wanes into its last weeks, I am feeling nostalgic.  It is probably just the the full moon passing, but the next time it comes around it will be the Harvest Moon, with the equinox very near. (The grape harvest has already tentatively begun here in the Napa Valley, for the sparkling wines.) In my nostalgia I thought I’d share a blissful little watch I found, decades old, about the natural habitat and crofting life in the beautiful windswept Outer Hebrides, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Back To School

jenjoycedesign© back to socks

On the heel of a second sock.

For many today is Back To School, but for me its Back To Socks.     I have let the daunting pile of  Walking With Emma   prototypes lay as one sock without their mate nearly the whole summer, as I’ve been messin’ around in non-knitterly things and quite distracted.  As I post this, the tiny house is getting rattled once again,  and not by falling trees from loggers  as last year at this time , but from big road machinery churning up and reshaping the road which bends around the tiny house, up to the rebuilt house.  Big water trucks, vibrating rolling tractors, blade tractors… you name it, all are doing the final layer before the finish coat, which is to happen very soon. (By the way, all of this bother & massive expense is a required code upgrade to comply with fire codes of county building, so that our road is ready when we get final inspection in coming months.))  I am meditating through all of the chaos, imagining knitting while walking along it, as the Autumn leaves begin to fall along with gentle October rains, softening the new lane up to our new house, blurring it into the landscape a bit.   Presently a sharply dramatic transformation from what use to be a somewhat ancient weather-worn and insanely rocky old logging road.
Oh! But all of that is just boring compared to what I did yesterday, on the last day of summer vacation, with my youngest niece, Miss Sixteen.  She is starting her junior highschool year, and on her last day of summer vacation she and I were in St Helena together in the morning,  photographing against the stone of the Catholic church, getting some head shots for some upcoming auditions.  She is seriously focusing these days on getting into musicals and plays (I think I did mention somewhere a few posts back, that she played the leading role “Maria” in summer production of West Side Story for a theater group in Santa Rosa in July?   She blew my socks off!   I tell you, this girl is a seasoned veteran of the stage already.)    So on the last day of summer vacation it was was blistering hot, but we enjoyed ourselves immensely for a few hours, frolicking in the town before she and I parted for home.   Here’s a few shots from our photo shoot of the celebrity herself, and as you can see, life is good.