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 ?

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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!

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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

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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.

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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!

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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.

cafe knitting

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I’m feeling the magic of the holiday tickle softly,  like a snowflake flurrying down and landing on my nose.  The contemplative spirit of Winter Solstice coming soon is always a cheerful time for me.

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After sending off the last of the Christmas packages in the tiny post office in the back, I spent a pleasant half hour at my favorite social spot, while the sky darkened and the rain began to fall. In my opinion this place really does have the best brew in the valley . . .

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In the warmth of a bustling cafe, watching through the window the door opening and closing and opening again while I knit several rounds of lace.  Then without so much as a blink I’ll be heading up the mountain homeward in low gear up the Oakville Grade.

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 I am just knitting through a flurry of last minute gifts . . .

what are you up to?

Golden Fields Lace Pattern!

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Golden Fields Lace.

A tribute to the golden rolling hills of the landscape I live in.

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Photo from archives: Fields of Gold

Wild Oat “glumes” (see Anatomy of a Grass) sway back and forth in a golden field of lace, waving & rippling along in the warm breeze…

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A traditional grains motif in an all-over pattern that is simple as it is beautiful, and so easy to knit!  Borders of garter stitch, soft scalloped edges at top and bottom, straight sides, and everything in between is from one simple Golden Fields chart.

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Photo from the archives: Out Walking In Autumn

Pattern includes three styles: Stole, cowl, and square shawl with four sizes each style!

Here Golden Fields is shown in stole.

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Photo from archives: Waning Summer

A few weeks back I did test-knit the cowl, and posted here . The cowl and stole will be really fun for me to knit over many times I think, especially with more samples of different Unspun yarns as I can come up with, as this one was knit with yarn I made and posted here.

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Pattern is now live on Ravelry HERE!

Now please go check it out and get started on your Golden Fields, just in time for a truly wonderful gift to yourself or a very deserving loved one for the holidays & beyond!

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Photo from the archives: Mountain Knitting

Abelene asked me if she could say something, so I will close with her note.

Hi everyone, its me Abelene!

It was a thrill to model Jen’s new lace design in my future house!  A thrill I tell you!  Jen carried me up a ladder to the second story under the rafters, and positioned me in a way where one only saw a small finished area in the house, but really there were tarps flapping and wind blowing through and it was so very cold but very very exciting!  Besides, I was bundled up warm in Golden Fields stole, so feeling no goosebumps. In the photo below,  Jen stepped back only about 6 feet, and you can see the mess and chaos of building, but it is coming along swiftly. Jen and I are both just over the moon.

Ta ta,
xx Abelene

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In the golden rolling hills of California.

Photo from the archives:  Fields of Gold

I was listening to an eerily beautiful song “Redtail Hawk”  the other day, and remembering fondly my walks and wildlife before the wildfire. There was a pair of redtail hawks I use to see, often times I would go up the ridge, and sometimes one or both of them would fly right over me, as if to say ” hello! ” as they decended down into the grassy rocky meadow in the photo. It was in fact,  in those tall fir trees at the left in the photo,  where they would almost always land.  Perhaps in those trees was their nest, or at least a perching place to survey, and I hate to say but those particular trees did not survive the wildfire.

I should mention that the redtail hawk is as much a part of the golden fields of California as the grass itself,  because of their main diet, the bounty of field rodents which live in and among the swaying grasses. I haven’t seen this pair of hawks nor heard their wavering lonesome screech since moving back up on the mountain into our Tiny House in May,  but I am hopeful they will return, maybe they already have.  If you are interested in these things, you can listen to the Redtail Hawk’s cry,  but I’ll close by sharing with you the song, I hope you enjoy.  Oh, and very soon all this golden grassy genius of the place will come together in a new design I can’t wait to show you, so stay tuned!

Redtail Hawk –  Kate Wolf

The redtail hawk writes songs across the sky
There’s music in the waters flowing by
And you can hear a song each time the wind sighs
In the golden rolling hills of California
It’s been so long love since you said goodbye
My cabin’s been as lonesome as a cry
There’s comfort in the clouds drifting by
In the golden rolling hills of California
A neighbor came today to lend a hand
As I fixed the road as best as I can
It’s just something that needs another’s hand
In the golden rolling hills of California
In the golden rolling hills of California
The redtail hawk writes songs across the sky
There’s music in the waters flowing by
And you can hear a song each time the wind sighs
In the golden rolling hills of California
In the golden rolling hills of California

See posts about Golden Fields pattern HERE.

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.  

Sweater Success!

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Yesterday I met my nieces in Calistoga at the Roastery, we had a little catching up over coffee & tea, then they put on their new Hillwalker sweaters, and this time we headed straight down to the Castle in St Helena for the photo shoot.  They absolutely shone against the old hand-cut stone in their Autumn sweaters!

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A fabulous time, and the usual stellar results! Oh, and behind the scenes my nieces are now also my assistants as well as my models, doing a great job of stepping in to preen as needed… real professionals!  Click and check out these fun unexpected sneak shots…

Hillwalker pattern is available HERE.

But before you go, click on the first image in the mosaic, and view a much more extensive slide show of the whole photo shoot…

 

Timberframe! Part Two

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The first rafters.

About a week ago I posted first of the posts & beams in Timberframe!   I think the most photogenic and magical part of building a timberframe house is when the posts & beams go together,  against a hopeful blue sky.

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Most days have had thick smoke in the air from yet another dreadful wildfire northeast of Napa County,  but yesterday the breeze shifted and some blue sky was showing, and the tops of many of the trees are somewhat healthy looking in spite of their charred trunks.

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The timberframe should be finished this week and I am already totally and completely in love with our new house.

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Watch this space for old familiar interior shots, as next the house will become enclosed, racing the clock as rain is expected next weekend.

♥    ♥    ♥

See all posts about our building our timberframe house HERE.

A Pinterest Kick-start

Hi folks, I’ve joined the wide world of Pinterest!

Please give me a kick-start if you are already on Pinterest by going on to my page and following me ~~  I’d appreciate it very much:  https://www.pinterest.com/jenjoycedesign/

I will be pinning content on one mixed board mostly of my designs, and others knits of my designs, but also the wild places I go & relevant pins about rustic things,  interesting blog posts I’ve made, and other bits of life as I know it.

More posts soon to come of the building, the rafters are going up, but photos are so compromised by smoke from more California wildfires.

Thanks so much!   xxJen

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!

Things Happening

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Now for a little catch up on the house construction!

Do you recognize my signature view of the mountains?

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Foundation poured, and floor joists going up , photos just taken less than an hour ago, during the workers’ lunch break.

Then a few hours later….

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Watch this space, things are really happening now. Next week construction starting on the road (we’re forced to put in a road to rebuild!)  and also starting next week will be the posts & beams of the timberframe going up!

♥   ♥   ♥

Emma is thirteen & a half today!

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Yesterday I took Emma out for a little walk, although not very far.  I’ve been rather quiet about things going on with Emma, but now she is on the mend, I will mention that she seems to be slowly recovering from a serious illness which came on in the first days of September rendering her completely unable to move on her own, and with very little appetite. I thought I lost her and was enormously miserable for weeks as I nursed her , but now she’s able to walk a little on her own, getting stronger every day, and eating a lot!IMG_20181101_094756.jpg

  My constant companion Emma ~~ she’s such a soldier!

Greetings from Würzburg

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Jeff’s wonderful sister with his niece (who is presently living & dancing in Würzburg, Germany), and both are wearing my hats Dicey Highland Bonnet, and Vineyard Rows.

Another outstanding trio of photographs of Maya dance-modeling  in this post , back in 2013 modeling the actual prototype for Pin-striped Tee,

and a year later, the woods with Molly & Rosanna, the Bohemian Raven Goths.

I am so lucky to have all these beautiful women in my life to support me!  Thank you every one of you… you’re out there and know who you are!  :: grateful & happy tears ::

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.

  ♣   ♣   ♣

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.

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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!

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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.

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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

A new favorite.

jenjoycedesign© a new favorite
I was out walking on the ridge this morning, and missing my favorite old majestic oaks killed in the wildfire, but now finding new ones to admire. I think this one is a new favorite, but I can’t tell from the photo whether it is a blue oak or black oak, both which thrive side-by-side in this tiny micro-landscape of the mountain. Pushing myself further & faster now, focusing on speed up the ridge in the morning, and relaxing knit-walking in the afternoon. I hope to share more of the changing landscape as I’ve decided to take my phone with me every time I go out now, which is a completely new thing. Oh, and I have a knitting & fitness “game” I’ll be sharing soon!

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

Out into Autumn

jenjoycedesign© October 21,2018 Out walking I see the Mayacamas mountains rolling southerly down into their foothills.

I am enjoying Autumn now that the leaves are beginning to cover

the blackened forest floor from last year

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This sparse ground cover is only the beginning of the leaf fall,

they will continue to flutter down until winter is here.

jenjoycedesign© October 21,2018 (2)

I woke today after having seemingly dreamed almost consciously about a new fresh start in life walking a little more every day,  away from stress of the wildfire,  restoring a positive feeling about myself  and my life, so that when the house is finally ready for us to move into it,  I will be rebuilt too.   Its been a rough year for me, hands down, and I have existed in a self spun cocoon trying to not think about the stressful things,  but I really do believe committing to walking increased distances will cure all that is wrong in my world.  Just one walk at a time.

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.

jenjoycedesign© Hillwalker Duo.JPG

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.

jenjoycedesign© October walk 4

A favorite Blue Oak, gone.

jenjoycedesign© October walk 3

Vineyards thriving.

jenjoycedesign© October walk 2

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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jenjoycedesign© abelene 1

Northerly view over valley fog.