Aria at the Castle.

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I met my niece . . . Miss Sixteen . . . at the castle yesterday,

so she could model my latest lace collection Aria With Variations.

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She was absolutely spectacular.     I think she has really has mastered what is essential in modeling,  having developed her character that is genuine and honest . . .

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So natural, with a hint of bashful, and a lot of charm.

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Here she is wearing Aria stole, in rose UnSpun 1100, in size 1,

and Variation One stole, in light grey UnSpun 880, in size 2.

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Really there needs to be nothing else said, because she in her lovely way, she says it all!

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( just click first image in mosaic to see the whole slideshow)

All posts in series Veils & Variations.

 

Then and now .

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Photo from archives:  Forthcoming

As I stood just this morning inside of newly framed wall of our future master bedroom, looking through the door-to-be, I recalled this photo above, taken October 2016. One year later, nearly to the date, the wildfire destroyed everything, but I think by this coming October I’ll be looking at a very similar scene.  We won’t be able to replicate the antique Windsor chair(s) , but I do recall distinctly the color of the paint in the room to be a shade lighter than the color “Monet’s Garden”, and that is indeed something to go by.  Yes, going to paint it the same shade if I can help it.  I know I’m really asking for an emotional hit when I peruse the photos of our house before the wildfire, but its all a part of rebuilding, and we’re having to consult these old photos often to build the same house, or nearly the same ~ things just change, like sixteen years of the timbers deepening to that beautiful dark honey shade… there are times that I feel so homesick and just want to go home to it.   Rebuilding just takes so much time up here in the wild, especially through the winter, but the builders are wonderful, post & beam experts commuting from far away and staying over in Napa on week nights,  trying really very hard to recreate our original home that we built ourselves, regardless of the code changes like sprinkler systems, the list goes on.  Wow.  I am overall just really grateful.  October 2019, two years after the wildfire,  I will take that above photo again, mark my words.

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Photo taken today, February 15, 2019

All posts Rebuilding.

Aria mit verschiedenen Veränderungen

The Goldberg Variations are a work written for harpsichord by Johann Sebastian Bach, consisting of an aria and a set of 30 variations. First published in 1741, the work is one of the most important examples of variation form.

I imagine the Goldberg Variations have been performed a million times since Bach wrote it, and on every conceivable instrument.   I am a big fan of JS Bach’s music, and I’ve done a lot of  listening to YouTube recordings of this work while knitting my lace interpretation for it, but of all the performers of the Goldberg Variations,  I can’t help but consider Glen Gould possibly the most iconic.  This performance was filmed 55 years ago, and still it rocks!  (If you can’t spare 12 minutes to listen to the whole video, at least fast forward to 10:30 and listen to Glen’s commentary ) . . .  I love Glen Gould humming and enjoying himself with measured rapture during recording!

Next post I will ‘unveil’ what has been a work in progress for weeks upon weeks. I have been enjoying myself immensely for those weeks while knitting a couple samples of lace, and yet , I’m one lace piece short.  I  really want this the pattern to be submitted to Ravelry before the Valentines holiday, but fell sorrowfully behind, so the ‘missing’ lace variation will be cast on to my needles the moment this is posted.  I will take a deep breath and see you on the flip side with my new pattern very very soon!

Posted to Arkansas

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

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

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Knit Picks describes the color . . .

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

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

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

Posted to Australia

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted to Ontario

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snow!

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

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It is two cakes of finished UnSpun!

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of which I mentioned in the last post .

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

And all is well in our snowy charcoal forest.

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

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

Unspun: Midnight Heather

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

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

Midnight Heather is an intense dark blue color with black undertones. Reminiscent of the dark night sky, Midnight Heather intrigues us with the flecks of blues and blue greens that add visual interest to this usually rich color.
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A ball of sport weight ready to separate plies using a drop spindle!

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

Next, I’ll post the finished skeins!

But until then enjoy Shetland Fine Lace, and remember …

”    Its only Knitting !   “

Inside of diamonds.

Its the end of January,  and that means the coldest barest month of the winter is over.  But I’ll take a thousand Januaries, for the rain and cold means the watershed is potent on the mountain, promising a verdant landscape in spring and water trickling through into the heat of summer, pushed down and flowing somewhere deep beneath the forest.  The days are warming up a little, and in a week the fields will be solid yellow with mustard flowers, which are already beginning to bloom!

I am in need of a break, feeling quite assaulted with lace knitting & difficult chart writing, but in the nick of time I’ve recalled the quote from Elizabeth Zimmerman,  and remembered it being a revelation a few years ago in  in this post .   To me this quote of EZ’s is a diamond jewel for staying out of the mindset of crazy perfectionist thinking, reminds me there are no knitting police,  and even though my lace may sometimes be riddled with mistakes,  I can surely hope from my forthcoming pattern, yours will be a flawless veil of heirloom-worthy stitches that you can be proud of,   for that is my first desire,  truly.

In closing, I hope you enjoy this incredibly masterful, energetic, and artful performance film of Mahan Esfahani and his harpsichord.  I’ve got a few more Variations queued up for you, so as long as you don’t mind listening, I don’t mind posting them, until at some point there will be a logical destination for all of them.

Knitting In A Room

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Knitting in a room is a theme I love to post about, because to me its as if rooms can speak silent nurturing words, or be as a listening friend, and even fill me with inspiration. Such was this original loft room, which is nearly half way built again.   If I can ignore the dim light, the sprinkler system plumbing over the subfloor, the rough cut opening which will be a window again soon, then I can imagine how it will be.

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Those of you who have been following my posts since long before the wildfire, might recognize this spot on the stairs,  the most photographed spot for countless knitted things were on this shelf  wall at the top of the stairs, with the bright southerly sunshine pouring in from a big skylight.  But right now everything is quite dark for the (six) skylights have not been cut out of the roof yet, nor the windows uncovered from plastic to keep the rain out. I am hoping next time I post about rebuilding it will have the light pouring in that I was so fond of !

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Until then, I have placed a chair upstairs in my loft room to be, and I can walk up from the tiny house as often as I like (when the builders are gone) to climb the stairs and sit and knit in the room that I am swiftly falling in love with all over again.

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variations in veils

An beautiful ethereal performance among gossamer veils,

by the Zilliacus Persson Raitenen String Trio.

( see all posts Veils & Variations )

* * *

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

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

Yarn Tasting: Simply Wool

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

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

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

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

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

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She holds one of the flowers she was arranging in their London home as she turns towards her husband and looks out to  (read more…)

I love this painting showing what appears to me to be lace in the shape of a stole or shawl, draped around the shoulders of a very beautiful subject.  Painting well depicts this young lady of Edinburgh Society, at the end of the Baroque period, by Scottish Artist Allen Ramsay.  I particularly love the colors, nearly like a handful of iridescent shells, of dusty pink and silvery lavender, and of course, the roses!  ( See all posts under veils & variations. )

I have just bound off the first prototype of forthcoming lace design, and casting on for a second. Taking a deep breath, and soldiering on!

breadcrumbs . . .

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As I walked this morning on the knitting trail, and as latest storm brewed , I decided to drape the lace-in-progress on a lifeless little maple tree, and take a photo. Then I made a silly old-school schematic of the picture   :: laughs ::   I have been slowly and steadily making progress on forthcoming lace design, so far have knit 440 yards, but that is only half of   the 50g Unspun ball I made.    I tell you, this ultra fine yarn really is serious stuff, only a dedicated & determined knitter should ever try knitting with it.   Keep watching for breadcrumbs in the woodland, which can be found in  veils & variations.

veils

There is something so alluring about a veil. It whispers “come see”,  and yet begs not to be lifted, for it seems far more beautiful this way,  even with someone or something sacred and perhaps unimaginably beautiful beneath. A veil plays with our imagination, and a veil of fine lace heightens a simmering anticipation even more.

A hand knitted shawl of old is a priceless garment of any wardrobe . . .

I like to think about the old days how knitting a fully covering lace shawl would provide entertainment in an otherwise bleak and isolated life of one of the windswept islands of Shetland. The kind of shawl that veils a woman completely, yet can be passed through a wedding ring, is the mark of excellency. What privilege to be determined enough to knit a thing like this, for then one spun the yarn so fine and endless, what a bittersweet end when it comes off the needles, and one must go back to the sheep to start all over again.

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Perhaps the most enjoyment in the steadfast driving rhythm of knitting lace, with hands and eyes bound to every stitch, comes from freeing a mind to ponder elsewhere.

A walk in the rain.

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Walking along beneath a big umbrella in the rain that has been dumping inches all week,  and I couldn’t be happier about that.  I’ve got a lot of thoughts I want to write about in the coming weeks, but want to pace myself through them so I’m not spent way before my new design is ready.  As I mentioned nearly every recent post, I’m entertaining myself connecting elements into a sort of sprawling theme, of veils & variations, and whatever else jumps in my way to shape it as it goes, and let me tell you, I’ve got a great heap of knitting to do before I’m finished with it, but I want to take the time it demands and give it my best.

While I knit I have been contemplating with great nostalgia to be back in my house again, moving between the rooms, and the sun beams through the windows.  But the situation requires I wait many months yet, so I’m trying very hard to concentrate on the present moment.   Today  I’ve had a beautiful walk through the woods, retracing my old trails again and seeing the forest heal a little more, and life is good.

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Aria 2

Pacing myself through days strung end to end of insane lace knitting, and my perspective of life has gone into a bit of another dimension. I am at least enjoying discovering unusual variations of “The Variations”, and here posting this true find as another in my secret veils series. I hope you enjoy this sultry evocative performance by Lore Hillenhinrichs and Martina Weber.

new lace beginnings 2

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

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

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

Oh, and my cough is slowly improving!

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new lace beginnings

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

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

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

A work in progress.

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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

jenjoycedesign© Tiny House Shortbread

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

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

Preheat oven to 350 F.

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

My specific Tiny House instructions:

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

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

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

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

jenjoycedesign© trimmings

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

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

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

jenjoycedesign© Tiny-House-Shortbread

Tiny House Shortbread stacked on a tiny plate!

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

cafe knitting

jenjoycedesign© Christmas-at-Oakville-grocery

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.

jenjoycedesign© Oakville-grocery

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 . . .

jenjoycedesign© knitting&coffee-at-Oakville-grocery

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.

jenjoycedesign© knitting&coffee-at-Oakville-grocery2

jenjoycedesign© knitting&coffee-at-Oakville-grocery4

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

what are you up to?

Golden Fields Lace Pattern!

jenjoycedesign© golden fields stole 2

Golden Fields Lace.

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

oct-2-2016

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…

jenjoycedesign© detail 2
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.

jenjoycedesign©out in Autum(archives)

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.

jenjoycedesign© golden fields stole 12

jenjoycedesignc2a9-fence-21

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.

jenjoycedesign© golden fields stole 19
jenjoycedesign© golden fields stole 4

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!

dscn7676

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

jenjoycedesign© behind the scene 2

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.