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.

jenjoycedesign© Unspun 1100 pampas heather

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

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

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

Posted to Ontario

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snow!

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

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It is two cakes of finished UnSpun!

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of which I mentioned in the last post .

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

And all is well in our snowy charcoal forest.

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

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

stray yarn

jenjoycedesign© sock yarn

Stash [stash] noun. 1. something which is stored secretly; hiding place; cache, as in excess of knitting yarn collected with good intentions to knit, but has not yet been knitted.

This blue mandala of stray sock yarn is getting a makeover, as is a lot of my stray yarn.  As mentioned in previous post, I am working on a little something to submit so that gift-knitting will be made just a little easier for those of us with too much STASH. No point in getting any more for this one, as it is a stash promoting sort of design for both handspun and purchased, otherwise somewhat misdirected yarn, and in many weights

Meanwhile, Emma and I are hunkering low in the shade here, as Northern California temperatures rise to scorching hot. Oh, ho hum.  Emma has a growth on her front leg which the vet has finally decided should go, so early next week we’re going back to the vet for a quick surgery to get it taken off.  Wish Emma well everybody, in case I don’t post again until then.

Its  going to be hot weekend, but there’s a crazy chance of rain.  I can’t remember last time I experienced a rain in August.  Wouldn’t that be just magic! 

Fishy

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Listening to political news on NPR a lot these days while I knit, feeling a bit unsettled as trouble swims below the surface. However, here in my wooded hermitage there is no trouble, only this blithe little ball of yarn, in shade of dusty pink, that I made myself!  Um, well,  that is … I un-plied it myself !!   I ‘made’ it from a ball of Knit Pick’s Palette which is a 2-ply fingering weight of Peruvian wool,  while mending dozens of breaks from impossibly sticky teasing twists that were a frustrating occurrence of un-plying,  washing, and hang-drying to set the tension ~~ and then I finally got the whole ball of lace-weight here ready to go. Having tossed a few grams worth of knots, I have about 45 grams & 420 yards of some seriously fine lace single ply  ( see all posts about unspun)

What is really fishy , is what is forthcoming!

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Yarn Tasting: Alafosslopi

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Istex Alafosslopi, an Icelandic bulky-weight yarn, and it also comes in worsted-weight called ‘Lopi Lite, or Lett Lopi’.   It is single ply, very rustic, and in a palette of beautiful colors , tweeds, as well as many natural fleece shades too.  I must say, it is not spendy in the least…which I like. I like a lot.  Like so many super rustic yarns like this, one wonders how it could ever feel good and natural against one’s own skin, then one becomes surprised after the blocking is done and all those woolly hairs just loosen into a beautiful halo, find their place in the fabric, become relaxed and compliant, ultimately  giving a light & springy feel with lovely drape. I wouldn’t call this yarn “soft” by any stretch of the imagination, nay, it is full-on wool, pure, and even old-world feeling, yet I am thinking it to be the perfect yarn to prototype my next design with.

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The next design in fact, which I think will be my magnum opus  of basic knitted wardrobe items… my  favorite of favorites… a cardigan vest!  This pattern will have some really good options (which I will save for its debut) , and will be perfectly suitable for men, women, & children alike. The third in my  Calidez designs, it will be compatible for sport-thru-bulky  weight yarns and any kind of fiber.   I can’t wait to be finished with these and show you!

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As you can see in the photo there has been some ripping out going on, that is because after I finished and blocked the vest, it was not right… it was nice, it was classic, but I  felt it necessary to re-proportion the shaping in the armhole and neck opening, to make it perfect according to my own idea of a perfect vest shape. So here I am, in the middle of the whole thing, knitting up two samples at once, knitting…. ripping out…knitting again: repeat.

I might add that I have come down with a nasty cold (I hardly ever get sick) from the stress of election and a general frenzy of Things Going On, but regardless, I am as happy as can be because my Knitting Track is proving to be a heavenly thing, and I am obsessed with it!   The  leveled sections are a work in progress, but it is all a wonderful path As It Is, and I see a hazy vision of something keenly interesting in its future.   Late yesterday I walked the wooded track while knitting the dark grey bit of the vest above for one and a half miles… it was an enchanting knit-walk five times around the wild shaped figure-eight in and about the tall trees at dusk. I felt like a knitting pixi.

In spite of my cold, I was out there this morning in the supremely gorgeous weather, digging, scraping, leveling & tamping a section of the trail in and around some massive Douglas Firs, while also moving quite a bit of stone from the earth.  While digging around I found an old Olypia beer can, with a pull tab which (after some research ) I discovered dates to early 70’s, which I imagine was discarded from a hunter, so I placed it on a rock near where I found it, along the trail.  The first archaeological find while creating the knitting track,  a crumpled up vintage aluminum beer can…lol!

Lots to do and life is good.

Fair Isle Success!

jenjoycedesign© Wee Hearts in Virtual Yarns Hebridean 2ply

Wee Hearts in nine different Fair Isle Hebridean 2ply colors!   Actually this hat is a study on one of Alice*Starmore’s colorways , a colorway from her design “Mary Tudor” from her 2013 second edition of Tudor Roses ,  using her own yarn, as sequenced in the chart. You could say this hat was a colorway test for Mary Tudor Cardigan, although I did change some colors around from the chart, because of a mistake I made.   I really came out of the study with a better understanding of how the blending of foreground color changes against background color changes can be in modern Fair Isle.

Now I am wondering, do I have time for one more?  Not really, I must be on to Autumnal Sweaters!

June and yarn tasting…

jenjoycedesign© yarn tasting

I went into town this morning, and stopped into the local yarn shop, and there was a new batch of yarn in, which I just couldn’t resist. Rowan Purelife “Revive” : 36% recycled silk, 36% recycled cotton, and 28% recycled viscose. Beautiful apricot pink and clay tweeds, which will suit my coloring well, as  I plan on making it into a ‘striped’  Altitude Lace Cowl,  and for moi !   (Ahem… once bought and brought home, I can never resist a good ol’ yarn photo-shoot,  as yarn makes such nice portraits.)

As of a few days ago we’ve had the presence of  some interesting clouds hovering!  Today I swear, it rained a few drops, a few gorgeous wet drops, and threatens to rain some more…

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June is a lovely month. Transitional, mostly unpredictable, mild, beautiful, and cheerful.  I even love the word, so cute, and yet rather ancient sounding… “joon”.

I have decided to not write a pattern for the halter tops I mentioned in last post. Just too much uncharted territory to deal with, as I have so much to get busy with in the knitting, and my non-knitting life too.  So the cotton tops will be a pure & simple yarn tasting and summer treat for my nieces ~~ with no agenda. ( Wow, ‘no agenda’ sounds like I was let out on summer vacation! )

That is it for this post, more a clearing of slate and in a lovely mood as June unwinds into summertime, so soon to be here.

Unspun

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I have been colossally distracted in a major yarn tangent in recent days. 

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I’ve been going through my ‘stash’ (that is yarn which is in one’s possession, otherwise free to use at whim), and over-dying & having a bit of fun.

But this particular little project was super fiddly and a major study in “un-spinning”, using my spinning wheel, ball-winder, swift, and dye pot.   On my spinning wheel, I literally unwound the 3 plies of a bulky-weight very soft 100% alpaca yarn I had,  while at the same time winding them into 3 separate balls. I splice-joined the 3 single balls into one skein,  and then attempted to relax the energized ‘singles’ with some simmer-dying. And relax they did!

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Even the spliced joins were completely invisible when I wound and re-wound on to the swift. Ever-so-slightly felted made a terrific halo (fuzz) when the final product was skeined.

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178 yards and 66 grams, of extremely soft alpaca single ply yarn, now ready for a delicious soft lace cowl.   I would think this would classify as sport-weight. I am frankly amazed at this result, and my eye is wandering through my stash now, with ideas to deconstruct. jenjoycedesign©013

Well, it was a huge amount of work, but its done & dusted and I’m very proud of such an alluring result.  That’s me on a beautiful day, I should be knitting socks, but sometimes distraction is good for creativity!

See all posts about Unspun !

Yarn Cake

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I’ve been making yarn cake!
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From a big mess of sock yarn, various sized balls with who-knows how many yards left on them. I can simply run the balls through this yarn meter thing, on to a ball-winder (both acquired very recently)…


… make a label of what it is and how many yards are on the ‘cake’, then  tie both ends together to the label and tuck label inside. No more loose ends getting tangled! Shown here, a full skein from the swift, through the meter, on to the ball winder.

Slowly I’m making order of chaos, and feeling a bit transformed by this insane yarn tidiness!

Yarn Tasting: Shibui Twig

jenjoycedesign©linen-yarn

If ‘rascally’ could be a word to describe yarn, I would say linen yarn is very much so. Crisp, unyielding, stubborn, and relentlessly tough stuff,  linen has a great appeal to me… oh such like rusty found things, or uncushioned old benches, or crackled old earthenware. I love this stuff, and wear it constantly, year round.

Even winding it off the swift, into a ball , it has a mind of it’s own…rather messy in appearance, not laying in unison with other strands, wrestling it into a ball, as it tried to be a cube, was a task in and of it’s own!

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I will tame it. It may take ten cycles in the washer & dryer along with a load of white towels, but it will soften and be every bit as wonderful as my favorite linen shirts.

This yarn however, is only 46% linen. I bought it to dip my toes into the feel of linen, for I do have 3 skeins of navy colored 100% wet spun linen waiting to be knit up.   It is also 42% recycled silk, and 12% wool.  It is Shibui “Twig” , and there is 190 yards of it.  I am going to be sampling this lovely summery linen blend with my Una Cosettina pattern , as I have gone quite on a tangent today.

I am putting down Snowmelt gaiters for a short while, let them sit on a table for a few days. What is the rush anyway? I am my own competition , I feel suddenly today like having a little play time, so here I am yarn tasting again, going to pour myself a tall one of what I consider the perfect Northern California yarn!

Stash

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The other day I made a great find at my favorite local thrift shop. Admittedly it needed work to up-cycle it into the long thought-about colorwork yarn stash cabinet I’d been dreaming of putting on the wall in front of my work table. Just something to show which colors I have on hand , rather than perpetually digging out bags and boxes and dumping about to sift through.   Well, this little cabinet is of very old redwood, and the 3/4″ boards which made up the back were recessed into the frame.

I wanted shelves, and I wanted extra width in the depth than it had ~~ enough for balls & skeins of yarn for colorwork.  So I needed to take that back off in order to get enough width, and to make shelves out of it, and that is exactly what I did (well, with the help mostly of Jeff too) . Here it is as I found it… very dark aged redwood cabinet thing, looking like it may have been a little workshop cabinet once, as it is not in the least bit refined cabinetry, but rough, as I like it.

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jenjoycedesign©removing back boards

I removed the back boards by cutting through the nails with a coping saw blade, gave it a light sanding, then created shelves with the 3/4″ boards that were on the back.  Voila, a framed shelf with glass door ~~ a colorwork stash cabinet made to order !

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My humble work space is now much improved with a glass encased colorwork stash to inspire !

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A True Robin’s Egg Blue

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I just picked this up from the duff of the forest floor. I nearly stepped on it while knitting along my woods path. In the woods we have a lot of robins , year round, so occasionally one finds a little shell cast aside, just like this, a stark contrast of blue shade against brownish tones of the leaves on the ground. Had I a camera with me I would have done well to photograph it against its natural setting, but I didn’t, and so I collected my little prize into my knitting bag and brought it home to photograph on some white linen.

This color blue, a greenish blue, is such a beautiful color, and I have it now here as reference when examining hues, if I may be forgetting what it looks like. Let it etch into my color memory, for I want to find a way to knit this color!

A Vancouver Yarn Shop Experience

jenjoycedesign©Urban-YarnsI dropped in on Urban Yarns in  Vancouver BC this last weekend, being that we were visiting Jeff’s sister who lives very near.  I have not visited all that many yarn shops in my few travels, but those who know me, knew this visit was completely and totally necessary, so I was escorted to Urban Yarns, and found myself wandering about in a lovely yarn shop,  just a couple of blocks away from the home of my sister-in-law.

jenjoycedesign©urban-yarns-shopThere I took in  the atmosphere of a true Vancouver Yarn Experience.   I got to see & touch yarns I’ve long been curious about as well,  such as New Hampshire-made Harrisville Designs “Watershed” , “Highland” and “Shetland” yarns and of those there was a lot!  The Harrisville Design yarns recently was on my hunting list, but when there at Urban Yarns my mind went totally blank and I had Yarn Shop Freeze !  After wading through some other mainstream yarn shop brands, the lasting thought  to ponder before I left was . . .  ‘which yarn is the single-most Vancouver Experience’ ?

I was led to rather large display brands of Vancouver hand-dyed yarns, many which I could have chosen, but the most of the most  that I would take home with me (even though it is to be found in my own LYS) was a very Vancouver yarn ~~~ Sweet Georgia Merino Silk Lace.   Not a thrifty purchase, not by a mile, but it was ‘hand-dyed’ only down the street, and sold right there at Urban Yarns, right there on Highland Boulevard.

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I must regret one thing if not spending more money on more truly Vancouver yarns, and that is I did not have time or fore-thought to visit the place ‘just down the street’ where the Sweet Georgia Yarn people are busy hand-dying & skeining up their yarn.   However, Jeff did buy me a very luxurious gift of rabbity-soft 100g skein of Merino Silk Lace.  Here she is,  with her hair let down, sensually sprawled across a late afternoon sun beam . . .

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Can you imagine what aphrodesiacal state I have been flung into , with all of this ultra fine smokey grey silky yarn ?  I am now on a mission of discovery of who and what a knitter becomes when introduced to such delicate stuff,  765 lavish yards of slate grey merino/silk  lace yarn ~~  which by the way, I will be winding off into a ball soon, by hand, with only the help of the backs of two chairs.  On to new lace horizons!!!

Yarn Tasting : Four Sock Yarns

jenjoycedesign©ToshSock-ShibuiSock (1)

I have sock yarn ‘on my brain’ and in recent many weeks have been trying different brands in a sort of comparison & contrast project ~~ in a Sock Yarn Tasting !  I even accidentally (well, almost) designed a new thing in the process of fiddling around with sock yarn (more on that later).  Although my Sock Yarn Tasting has been a great source of entertainment for myself, and I actually do feel a sense of earnestness to convey my thoughts on the matter .  At the very least, in the process of comparing I’ve settled on my favorites, and better yet, answered my curiosity as to why.

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I have knit On The Trail ,  a whole lot (it’s what I do) ,  also while waiting for pots to simmer & the kettle to boil, while watching tv, while talking on the phone, while reading, and even  sometimes in between sets at gigs, so my knitting is always hanging on the chair back.  So, while my hands have gotten a bit sore from all of this knitting, I am pleased with the small woolly mountain of knitteds which I am producing.  Soon I’ll be off to Vancouver for Jeff’s family reunion of sorts and you can be certain I’ll be packing up my menagerie of socks-in-progress to  take along, and excuse myself for being entrapped by the knitting while in others’ company,  returning hopefully with a pair or two to add to the growing stack of socks I am squirrelling away for the gift-giving holidays.

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I am  just am so filled with a sense of giddy & calm pride, as I have found knitting socks to be my meditation.  Ahem, okay, so here’s my observations so far of the superstars of sock yarn market which I am sampling : Madelinetosh “Tosh Sock” , Malabrigo “Sock”, Shibui “Sock” , and Sweet Georgia “Tough Love Sock”~~~ all knit up with my Penny Candy Socks pattern with size 2.75mm – US 2 circular needles (two of them).

As Shibui Sock & Madelinetosh Tosh Sock seem to me about the same thickness, I knit them together in stripes because they feel nearly identical in thickness,  though the Tosh Sock is a tiny bit more ‘firm’ , they are thicker, and even a bit fluffier.

jenjoycedesign©Thai Ginger Lime Chews

Ginger Lime Chews Penny Candy Socks, details on Ravelry HERE 

I observe that the fabric of Tosh Sock & Shibui Sock produced is more substantial, and would be great for a slightly thicker pair of socks but as this is so,  I might only wear these socks with the roomiest of my shoes. Great for hiking boots, great for Dansko Clogs which tend to fit a little roomy anyway. (Note to self: get another pair of Dansko Clogs !) but not so great for my dressier shoes.  Soft, plush, firm.

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Next in the line-up, Sweet Georgia “Tough Love Sock”.  This yarn is indeed a tough yarn. So much in fact, that I suspect the slight lack  of elastic properties of the yarn effected the gauge, as the same number of stitches on same needles as I knit the others, the Sweet Georgia socks turned out really very large by comparison !  I stopped at one sock, not sure how to proceed, for these would indeed be tough socks and big enough for a man, I just couldn’t think of any men I’d like to give orangey red lace-bordered socks to.  No offense to you men who would love them,  I just wasn’t in the mood to make the second sock, so I will post the photo of the one.

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I think I might have to compensate with this yarn’s properties, to knit the next size smaller with them and see how that works. ((also notice that the two colors were so alike, melting into each other a little too much , that seeing the stripes was insanely difficult)).

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Finally, for the kind of socks that one would easily slip into one’s favorite shoes , that is, shoes worn regularly with store-bought socks, the finer fabric of Malabrigo’s fine fingering-weight  “Sock” wins out.  Mostly for it’s soft resilient and lovely elastic feel, but equally for the rich colors in each hand-dyed skein.  I have to say also that I have a real penchant for “oh so fine” knitting these days, and it’s fine-fingering weight that I seriously am in love with.

jenjoycedesign©Malabrigo ImpressionistSky y Aguas

My Penny Candy Socks and Pretty Little Things Gloves  are designed with Malabrigo, and I’m more than happy with the slightly delicate character of the fine fingering yarn with its superwash easy-care and softness of touch. In fact, I feel like hoarding every ‘solid’ color of Peruvian-made Malabrigo yarn, and happily knitting Penny Candy Socks  for everyone I know.

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Blueberry Gumballs Penny Candy Socks, details on Ravelry HERE

It is a goal of mine to knit for next holiday season, as there’ll be no hitting the shops in a bug-eyed panic to find something meaningful. Because basically, it can’t get much more meaningful than hand-knit socks knit fresh only months previously.

I’ll end this yarn tasting with more Malabrigo yarn on the needles, in murky green and clear blue.  This photo was taken early this morning, as the stripes began to colorplay . . .

jenjoycedesign©MalabrigoSock

Socks in progress,  details on Ravelry HERE

 

A Humble Yarn

jenjoycedesign© Cascade-220-fingeringThis week, while at my LYS I fell in love with a new yarn.  As I held it I instantly knew  it’s potential. It comes in lovely 50g skeins, so I could really squish and caress, and yes, this stuff is amazing. Why didn’t I see it before? Because I was like a schoolgirl, with a schoolgirl crush on elite British wools, I guess that I had my eyes closed.

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Colors left to right : Natural, Doeskin, Charcoal, and Jet.

I bought four skeins for barely more than $20, and  brought them home in their cheery little orange paper bag.  It felt wonderful.  I showed it to Jeff , who is my scratchiness barometer (that is, he is an extreme case of  FOSW  ~~ fear of scratchy wool) and he was impressed with it !  So in recent days I have been thinking about my new find.   I have decided that as a developing designer, it is important that I am ‘yarn conscienscious’, yet not yarn elitist.  Well, in most cases.  That is, in most cases I will design something entirely for itself,  using a yarn that I feel compliments the design, and also that I feel is easily accessible, and easily affordable. ((Though , still,  there are those special design occasions to showcase beautiful specialty & heritage yarns, for which I am very happy to be elitist . . . lol )).

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Color : Natural

A challenge indeed. One of the reasons I have liked Jamiesons Of Shetland Spindrift, a  2ply fingering yarn, is because it is not expensive, but very affordable, considering it’s imported from the actual Shetland Isles.  However, I have learned by observation, that not everyone has easy access to this British wool , even though it is growing in popularity as the boundless community of the internet brings us knitters together globally.

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Color : Doeskin Heather

I am talking about a very popular yarn which I never noticed because I was maybe being a bit of a yarn snob. Yet at the same time, I developed this closet tendency to buy inexpensive yarn on-line. Strange indeed.  Though I adore the ease of my on-line purchases , I do happen to live up in the backwoods, and it’s not always cost-effective to drive to the next county to purchase exactly what I want.  I have had a yarn epiphany regarding this LYS exclusive . . .

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Color : Charcoal

I’m talking about Cascade 220 yarn folks, in fingering weight.  100% Peruvian Highland Wool.  50g skeins = 273 yards / 250 meters. 2 ply.  About $5 per skein.  What I have here is four neutral undyed colors in Jet, Charcoal, Doeskin, and Natural.

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Cascade 220 fingering : Jet

Striking resemblance to the yarns with which I created my Vineyard Rows Highland Bonnet .

My Vineyard Rows bonnet (tam) however, will remain a Jamiesons Spindrift novelty , as it is inspired so much by Scottish Highlands that I believe the Scottish wool is completely perfect, but I will list the Cascade 220 fingering as an alternate yarn on it’s pattern pages.

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You can guess that the next up & coming thing I am working on , will be a Vineyard Rows design, and in the yarn which is beautiful yet humble and very likely at your own LYS.  I still have a crush on Virtual Yarns Hebridean and Jamiesons Of Shetland, but perhaps I’ll broaden my more local horizons , this side of The Pond.  I tell you, Peru really has it going on these days when it comes to yarn !

Over-Dyed

jenjoycedesign©over dyed
My latest yarn play. I dyed a ton of yarn  ( details in previous post ) with a mind to knit them into an autumney-equinoxey sort of thing, but now I think not.  I’m calling this colorway ‘curry blend’, or maybe ‘marigolds’ .  Anyway,  I think it fitting for my recent post-pattern-writing crash,  to continue to chill out with a clean slate for a while.  Just knit socks, socks, and more socks, and not have anything big brewing beyond re-writing Penny Candy Socks pattern for the remainder of Spring.    Oh, just look at these cheerful balls of yarn perched , happily waiting for whatever comes.  I am very pleased with the dye this time !

Yarn-scape

jenjoycedesign©over-dyed sock yarn (2)
I’m up to something again.  Here, winding off skeins of Shibui  & Madelinetosh sock yarns.  I’m drowning myself in skinny yarn.  I did mention something about knitting socks with it however, a few posts back . . .

jenjoycedesign©Malabrigo sock-knitting

Which I am doing.

My nieces are coming in a few days, and I am going to rewrite my original Penny Candy Socks pattern completely different ~~ very soon~~  so , I’m madly knitting the above pair (in Malabrigo Sock) for another fun photo session with them !

Then there’s this madness , heaps of skinny Knit Picks Stroll sock yarn (which by the way, like Shibui and Malabrigo, is from Peru) and very fine Lana Grossa (from Italy) . . . over-dyed and drying still  . . .

jenjoycedesign©over-dyed sock yarn (1)

I nearly spent a mint on some fancy hand-dyed superwash Malabrigo Arroyo (I sooo wanted to) , which is a sport weight, for I am erupting with ideas already for Autumnal Equinox sweaters, but decided instead to over-dye a mess o’ sock yarn I had on hand which was bound for nowhere.  Was 4 balls of light blue Stroll — now cayenne red, 4 balls of light grey Stroll –now mustard yellow, 1 ball of hot pink Lana Grossa, — now deep garnet.  All  now a very lovely array of Autumn tones, achieved with Dharma Trading acid dyes in colors “cayenne” ,  “mustard” , & “maroon” .

I had spent hours going color crazy at the kitchen last night ~ while cooking dinner (a habit I always seem to get into ). Today all is calm, and quiet, winding off like a busy bee hive,  immersed in this lovely yarn-scape.

 

Yarn Tasting

I’ve been pattern-writing furiously, and it’s been raining furiously, everything around here has been a bit excessive, and so, just before noon I needed a break. I got in my car and drove down the mountain into town, to the , um…Local Yarn Shop. I brought home two new sock yarn brands to add to my existing sock yarn stash, so that now I have a bit of a selection for some serious sock yarn tasting !

Lets start with perhaps the top names in sock yarn, Madelinetosh’s ‘Tosh Sock’.
jenjoycedesign©Madelinetosh-Tosh Sock Label says: 100% superwash merino wool fingering weight -395 yards, color Ginger. Hand-dyed in USA , from South Africa.

Next, Shibui Sock.
jenjoycedesign©Shibui sock Label says: 100% superwash merino 191 yards, color Wasabi. Made in Peru.

Next, Sweet Georgia ‘Tough Love Sock’.
jenjoycedesign©Sweetgeorgia sock Label says: 80% superwash merino / 20% nylon, 425 yards, color Cayenne. Hand-dyed in Canada, doesn’t say if it comes from elsewhere originally.

Last in this line-up, is perhaps my favorite, Malabrigo Sock.jenjoycedesign©Malabrigo sock Label says: 100% superwash merino, 440 yards, color Impressionist Sky. Made in Peru.

I am very attracted to Malabrigo for some reason, the skein is stout and heavy and has so much yarn, and it is also the finest/thinnest of all I’ve seen yet, which to me is a real lovely thing… cuz I am smitten with ultra-fine knitting. I designed my Pretty Little Things gloves with it and I’m sure I’ll not stop there.

I am loving the feel and visual texture of all four of these leading brands (well, from the LYS at least) and though there are more brands, I figured, I’d start with these. I will let the knitting and the knitted fabric & feel of the finished sock be the judge, as I am challenging myself to a bit of a sock-fest, reasoning thus far undisclosed, but expect some posts about it coming up in the next few weeks.

Have you tried any of these brands ? What do you think?

Una Cosettina

jenjoycedesign©Lacey Little  Somethings

Una Cosettina, or ‘ A Little Something’ is the name of these half-mitts, designed especially for Oropa 1ply yarn, which is made with wool from sheep which have roamed the foothills of Alps of Northern Italy for perhaps a thousand years. Who knows for sure?  But, there is an age-old mill in Biella which uses much the same processing methods  as of long ago , and which make the wool from these Old-World sheep into yarn. Oropa 1ply is a rustic heritage yarn as rugged as the mountain terrain it comes from. Truly Oropa yarn is nothing less than a timeless treasure.

((Lots of information about The Wool Box  at bottom of page))

I talk a lot about the yarn, and Biella’s place in Italy’s wool industry in  Posted From Italy  ,  Yarn Whisperer  , and some about elements of design process in my previous post.

jenjoycedesign©Lacey Little Somethings

We have a pattern friends !!!

The design incorporates my own edging  which I will simply call my ‘eyelet edging’, a cast-on and bind-off’ , having  elements of i-cord, rib, and lace all in one.

jenjoycedesign©lace-cuff

Shown in Pearl Grey & Natural Oropa 1ply,  sturdy & feminine, these half-mitts will keep your hands toasty warm, while letting the spring breezes through from it’s open lace-work. A feminine take on riding gloves of olden days perhaps, slightly bell-shaped , stylish, and ready to make a spectacular conversation piece when people ask about them.

jenjoycedesign©Lacey Little Somethings half-mitts

Modeling both sizes ~ smaller size to left, larger size at top.
((I wear a women’s small, by the way))

The photos show both sizes, and two slightly different cast-on eyelet edgings at the beginning of cuff,  the end result in pattern, is slightly again different, combining both. (it was just a matter of changing one round of rib, into knit stitch).

jenjoycedesign©edge-detail

In the weeks ahead this very same pattern is undergoing translation into Italian, and it will then become available to purchase in kit form with the very same Oropa 1ply yarn as you see in photo.  As soon as I have any information to the kit being ready, I will post in celebration of a job well done collaboratively , having a sense of place from both Northern California, and Northern Italy.

jenjoycedesign©mitts-at-work

In photo, larger with optional extra lacework repeat to left, smaller without extra repeat on right.

Meanwhile I will have this pattern for sale along with my other designs, which you will find on Yarnings over it’s pattern page HERE

and on Ravelry HERE

*   *   *

 Thank you Bonnie, for asking me if I would like to design una cosettina (a little something) for The Wool Box, because I most certainly and thoroughly enjoyed it !  May only ever the warm & soft breezes of spring blow through your lace  ~~ Ciao.

*   *    *

Now, for a little more information about The Wool Box !

 You may read a little bit about  Some info on The Wool Box  and then check out the English translated websites that Volunteer English-speaking Ambassador to The Wool Box , Bonnie, as created on Ravelry HERE  and on Facebook HERE.

You can read more about “The New History of Italian Wool”  from Bonnie’s blog called “Wool In Italy” . . .  on her post HERE .

If you would like to contact The Wool Box directly (in Italy),  below are links Bonnie  has provided me:

The Wool Box Shop: www.thewoolbox.it
Informazioni: info@thewoolbox.it
Customer Service: customer-service@thewoolbox.com

A Little Something of Lace

 jenjoycedesign©lace-edge

I’ve been working steadily on a project , “A Little Something” ,  for The Wool Box.  I  talk in my previous posts   Posted From Italy  and   Yarn Whisperer  about Northern Italy’s  “The Wool Box” , of Biella’s heritage wool mill and yarns, and of specifically Oropa 1-ply with which I am working in a design.   I’ve changed course a couple of times, with piles of little half-lace mitts strewn about my loft room, I have worked and reworked,  and now I’ve pretty much nailed it.

In the process of experimentation, I’ve come up with a lovely eyelet-icord-rib hybrid edging for the Little Something I’m designing. I pretty much thought it up for myself, and I don’t know what to call it (I’ll come up with something soon).  Love how the single ply’s frisky & playful personality punctuates the edge !  This is after washing and blocking too.  So crisp, Oropa 1-ply is anything but tame . . .

jenjoycedesign©lace-edge2

That said, I have discovered there is a ‘tender underbelly’ of Oropa 1-ply. Being a 1-ply, it does not have the support of another strand keeping it together as much, so when one picks up the end to knit, one must do so delicately, as the end does lose a bit of twist and becomes easily broken (but that’s a no-brainer with any single ply wool). I compensate by taking up a good 12 inches before knitting from an end. Did I mention that this sensitive side of Oropa is just really… well… ‘kitteny’.  . . is that a word?

Better said I suppose, as noting it’s shyer downy quality.

Upon examining the fluff at one of the unraveled ends I noticed  a small percentage of strong & slippery longer hairs and proportionally a lot more of shorter downy wool.  Definitely Old World wool.

*  *    *  *    *  *

On another note, I haven’t been able to knit much today (yet) as I was at a sort of Lady’s Social for the day,  held over at  my neighbor’s, here in the woods.  I actually made a lovely creme brulee from a big fat perfect Meyer lemon growing from our tiny tree in a pot.

jenjoycedesign©creme-brulee-to-go

I packed the three brulees (there were three of us) into a little basket , covered them, threw my knitting bag over my shoulder, kissed Emma good-bye for a while and headed out into the woods (sadly) without her, for what was actually a short five-minute walk through back-country. I felt just like a fairytale character, like Red Ridinghood or Goldilocks.

Meyer Lemon creme brulee to-go, with carmelized sugar and all, delivered back-door style.

  In my opinion, beauty is in the small things, novelties as this. Little pots of golden tastiness !

jenjoycedesign©Meyer-lemon-creme-brulee

The recipe, for those interested, with just three ingredients, it’s incredibly easy and fast to make . . .

Meyer Lemon Creme Brulee:

1 very large and ripe Meyer lemon , 1 pint of heavy whipping cream, 1/2 cup organic sugar

Finely zest lemon and squeeze juice from it.

In small saucepan slowly heat pint of cream, while stirring, until it begins to boil.  Keep at ‘barely boiling’ for a couple of minutes, while stirring, then take off heat.

Add lemon zest , stir, and then slowly stir in the lemon juice.

Fill about 5 or 6 ramekin cups and let cool. Refrigerate for at keast 4 hours. Rest assured, it *does* set up !

About 20-30 minutes before serving,  sprinkle a teaspoon or two of sugar on top of each brulee,  and with a hand held torch ( or under broiler flame)  carmelize sugar until bubbles and darkens to a deep gold ~~~ while  creating a crisp layer on top.

Eat & Enjoy !

Yarn Whisperer

jenjoycedesign©hanging-out-with-Emma-knitting

Hanging out with Emma on a Sunday , knitting A Little Something for Wool Box with Oropa 1ply yarn

“Oropa” wool is a very rare thing, a ‘heritage wool’ as it can not be found anywhere else because the breed of sheep is indigenous to a border region of Italy in the foothills of the alps, neighboring France.  The wool is so special in fact , that it requires particular methods of processing which make Biella’s very old mills unique.   “The Wool Box” is a collective  effort to promote traditions of these local heritage wools and wool industry ~ from shepherding to processing ~ all back to Old World basics.  Just in case you missed it, I mention The Wool Box, and my project designing with Oropa 1-ply wool  in my previous post.

* *  * *   * *

The other evening I was winding off the new skeins into balls (with two chairs and hand-wound ball method) thinking it has very much a hand-spun feel, with a deal of twist in it, and so I wondered what it would say, but I wouldn’t find out it’s secrets until casting on. Casting on numerous times on as many different sized needles, I found myself unsure how to do justice for it. Honestly, I am worried that I have become far too use to docile modern yarns and very unsure of myself designing with yarn having any kind of personality.

At the start, I held a strand of Oropa 1-ply  next to a strand of some of my Superwash Merino sock yarn, and gave it a glance , thinking that they were “close enough” , and so I cast on with the same needles I’ve been knitting oodles of socks and gloves for an eternity with ~~ all because it looks similar in ‘weight’ (we all know that really means thickness).  Merrily swatching away,  with US 2’s, then 3’s I found that the  stitches ‘sproinged’ into loops with tremendous energy it was *almost* wrestling with and twisting the swatch fabric.   It was obvious that Oropa 1-ply  was not going to make the 8-stitches-to-the-inch design I’d had prepared ahead with … um… right, with that docile superwash sock yarn.  In fact, the two colors, Pearl Grey & Natural, of the same Oropa 1-ply yield different gauges with the same needle.  I basically have to take the approach one needs with hand-spun yarn, and factor in a bit of inconsistency.

Swatching, wet-blocking, ripping, and starting again, finally my thoughts shifted as my idea of what I wanted to make needed to be surrendered somewhat.  I tell you, I was convinced that words like ‘coarse’ described Oropa, until I realized I was literally forcing it to being smothered in tiny stitches, unable to breath and bloom and and show off it’s real personality.  Now having knit it on larger needles ( US 4 – 3.25mm)  it is anything but coarse, in fact, it is wonderfully resilient and alive, sturdy and with superior definition.  It has a lovely fuzziness and halo , yet a bit hair-like too, and no surprise, as it is furthest from modern milled yarns that you can get.  Having been shorn from Old World sheep, and spun from an Old World mill, it has a whole different feel, just in case you can’t imagine.  It is not well behaved like a lap dog, no, it is more like a mustang in the training corral … sassy, stubborn, and smart …  with real sturdiness and it’s own ideas of what it wants to do.  I just didn’t know, couldn’t know, until putting down the reins and letting it tell me how to work with it.

 **  **   **

This design process is a lesson for me about paying attention to the yarn, and also patience, as well as a little compromise, but I’m enjoying myself immensely, and suddenly I wish winter would last forever so I could knit a whole bunch of these Little Somethings with Oropa 1-ply !

Posted From Italy

storiedilana

The Wool Box ~ 100% made in Biella, Italy ~ photo by Manuele Cessonello

There is a place in Northern Italy which is nestled in the beautiful foothills of the Alps, called Biella.  High mountain pastures and bountiful springs and lakes has been intrinsic to Biella’s  standing in the wool & textiles industry as far back as mid 13th century.  However, since the turn of the modern 21st century,  the wool industry has suffered from widespread global competition.  Today, the “Wool Box” is there,  still in the midst of it all,  striving to keep heritage wools alive and well and most importantly ~~  available.

The Wool Box offers a carefully curated selection of rare Italian and European wool yarns in addition to a fine selection of wool roving for spinners and felters. The Wool Box focuses on short supply chain processing and full traceability of materials so that their 100% Italian wool means exactly that.

I am very excited to have the opportunity to design ‘a little something’ for the Wool Box, and folks, today I have just received yarn sent all the way from Northern Italy from the hands of Bonnie, volunteer English-speaking ambassador of the  Wool Box.  To me it resembles freshly pulled taffy from off of a candy pull machine, and swirls with such pleasurable tones of color & personality, that I can hardly wait to be flung into a spree of maniacal knitting.

jenjoycedesign©Oropa 1ply yarn

I hope that this project will breed other designs for the Wool Box yarns, as Bonnie has of course, sent me an armful of samples, which could very possibly keep me busy for a good long while, and of which I will show off another time. (Thank you Bonnie!)

For now, I am watering at the mouth at this beautiful duo of Oropa 1 ply wool from an historic wool mill of Biella, with one wish on my mind  . . .

jenjoycedesign©Oropa 1ply yarn2

. . . and that is to have this design finished and ready for knitters before the cool weather subsides in the Northern Hemisphere.  I will keep you posted as I go along.

You can read all posts about this design for The Wool Box with Oropa 1ply HERE

In the meantime, if you would like to find out more about the Wool Box, Bonnie has created a place for it on Ravelry HERE  and on Facebook HERE.

Lastly, You can read more about “The New History of Italian Wool”  from Bonnie’s blog called “Wool In Italy” . . .  on her post HERE .

Grey Days Of January

 

jenjoycedesign©yarn8

Grey  “yarn days”  of January.

A lull after the knitting frenzy  (and posting frenzy) of December !

I’m having fun with balls of yarn about the house.

Bathroom mirror blues . . .

jenjoycedesign©yarn12

cropped-jenjoycedesignc2a9yarn121.jpg

Yarn steps . . .

jenjoycedesign©yarns3

jenjoycedesign©yarns5

In the bed frame . . .

cropped-jenjoycedesignc2a9yarn141.jpg

Another  knitting needle yarn kebab . . .

jenjoycedesign©yarns9
Green . . .  waiting for rain !

jenjoycedesign©yarns
Precarious !

jenjoycedesign©yarns10

Having some fun today (being my birthday) photographing yarn.  These will be fun new banners for Yarnings . . .  I  figured , well, it is just so artful,  yarn in a sense of place. On the stairway landing half-wall where I photograph so much, on the stair steps themselves (a very favored personal trend) ,  and even precariously balanced on the iron rail which overlooks the lower part of our house, and all places which get a deal of light flooding from above via sky windows .

And now Emma and I are going for a walk while I rattle off a few more fingers in Pretty Little Things gloves . . .  prototypes which will be finished , photographed, and pattern ready soon!

Red Sky At Night

jenjoycedesign©sunset - Copy

Red sky at night; shepherds delight !

This photo was taken from the same spot as the photo in previous post ‘blue dawn’.  In one day, the sky went from an awe-inspiring blue dawn to a rather surreal orange-red & blue sunset, making it quite a lucky day with the camera !  Usually I’m not so lucky.  These clouds were like fresh blended fluffy bats of wool just off of the carder, hanging there for a long time into twilight.  So, what about a blue dawn and an orange-red dusk? I am finding that the very thing I’m knitting is expressed so well by an Autumn sky photographed a few days ago…

jenjoycedesign©malabrigo

Though the red is definitely subdued in the photo, it is at least suggestive of a ‘red sky at night ‘, knitted in Malabrigo sock yarn which I bought at my local yarn shop  Yarns On First  while browsing their beautiful yarns  recently,  in colors ” Botticelli Red ” and ” Impressionist Sky ” .  Wouldn’t you say the sky in above photo is perfect model for an impressionist painting?

What pattern you see here actually, is Pretty Little Things gloves in the works, yes, sisters of  Pretty Little Things (PLT) socks . These little charmers are taking their sweet time,  and I’m giving them all the time they need, though I did want to show you what I’m working on at least.  Happy, fun, and challenging are gloves !

Blue Dawn

jenjoycedesign©dawn-blue

This morning early, as dawn approached, less than an hour ago, I was looking at shades of blue Malabrigo on their website, studying & sleuthing for that complete natural deep indigo blue, the color of a brewing storm.

I noticed as I looked up from the place I was sitting, in front of the wood stove, next to Emma snoozing in her chair, that the dawn sky with another rain storm on it’s way, showed me the very colors I am hunting for ! I kid you not.  At about 6:20 a.m. I grabbed the camera, and captured it ~~ only moments ago! Here it is folks, ‘Storm Mountain Dawn Sky’. Such a color ! Now that I’ve taken this photo, I can hopefully replicate the blue.

By the way, I am totally into blue lately, absolutely yearning for it, and the sea of unknown possibility is sure to cast me out to drift in it !

First Rain

jenjoycedesign©rain-kitchen-window

Finally we got some rain, making it a lovely break from the dryest Autumn in many years. Emma and I just got in from a little knit-walk as it drizzled, but I didn’t bring camera in case it started to downpour. So here I am, taking photos of the wetness from inside our house.  From the kitchen window above.   Just look at the moss, just drinking it in . . .
jenjoycedesign©moss

From where I sit & knit by the window,  and if you look closely  you’ll see some stones placed in a path. That is actually the path down to the garden, but also it is part of my knitting trail, which goes off into the woods from the garden in a northerly direction . . .

jenjoycedesign©knitting-trail

On the knitting front: I have been preoccupied with a new yarn ~ here winding off 440 yards of a  ‘Botticelli Red’, variegated, 3-plied, hand-dyed hank of finest sock yarn I’ve had the pleasure to knit with to date. I am smitten with Malabrigo sock yarn!

jenjoycedesign©winding-off-malabrigo

Au Naturale

jenjoycedesign©Shetland-yarn-bag Last week I went to my LYS to buy some Jamieson’s Of Shetland Spindrift yarn , for I have been ruminating a sort of tribute design and I want this one to be made with exceptional palette of natural shades of yarn.  I came home with colors Shetland Black, Shaela, Mooskit, and Easit.

jenjoycedesign©Jamiesons-Shetland-Spindrift While we were out walking yesterday, from one of these massive sad piles (there are many, these are only two) I took one of the gnarled twisted  historic  vines destined to be burned,  and Emma helped me carry it home, gladly, for her it was just a big stick to play with!

jenjoycedesign©piles After a week of sketching ,

 I have got it ready to knit up. . .

and now I have cast on !

 It will have checked ‘dicing’ in the band and through the colorwork motifs . . .

jenjoycedesign©diced-band-on-vine

So folks, in the days ahead, I am letting needles fly, and my world has turned into shades of natural wools,  grey-black to grey-white, and I won’t emerge from my Autumnal Hermitage until it is complete, mark my word ! ((The pink strand will not be one of it’s attributes, that is merely part of the provisional cast-on.)) I’ll be seeing you on the flip-side.