Into the new year…

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new year design swatch!

Tumbling into the new year, with ideas ready for action and a new calendar hung on the wall!         Earlier in Autumn I began to work on a new colorwork design, but I had to put swatches and yarn out of sight, to quiet that vision while other things were necessary to complete first, and so I worked like an ox all Autumn on   all   those   other   things … knitting up to and through the holidays, knitting which demanded all of my time.

But now those things are finished and there is a new open stretch on the calendar,  and I am going out into that field for a major knitterly frolick !

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Oh the joys of a new calendar!! I hope everybody is enjoying a positive fresh beginning of the new year, as I am ~ xx

Tall stack o’ neck ganseys!

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I’ve been a knitting fool with these Fishermen Neck Ganseys… in two styles;  “St Andrews Harbour” and “Flamborough Cliffs”.  I’ve given an armload of them away for the holiday gifts, but seems there are still a sufficient number left to photograph, and show off some new ones, with the most recent addition to complete the colorway of   stone harbour at dawn …


The herringbone motif with moss panel or cables, including a simplified easy variation that knits up quick, and of which as of today I have a sample with this little silver darling….
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Also finished today, the simple variation of Flamborough Cliffs in some Malabrigo Rios…

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I am not sure if I am quite through knitting these, as they seem to be a hit with the men (and women) in our family, but with the new year approaching, it really is time for me to set my sights to a new knitterly horizon. I just am really very smitten with these neck ganseys, and so pleased to have this design as my 2016 finale.

Wishing you all a very happy new year!

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I mentioned in a previous post that  I have a new camera (thanks to Jeff), which means a bit of time will be spent to learn how to use it properly, and to catch up to the photographing mainstream.  I feel a great lack of confidence when it comes to technical things, unless the subject really interests me, then maybe there’s potential… 😉  I have never really learned to use (our last) camera’s settings, having been too impatient, having been always always satisfied with whatever happened with minimal fussing about …

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and finally, having dropped it,  (I seem to drop everything!) my recent months of photos were just getting worse.  I now am learning things like ‘depth of field’ which is a new thing to me.  So you might see some bits of non-knitting related things show up here over the course of my learning,  for undoubtedly it will eventually  blossom into the knitting, and hopefully transform the presentation of what I have been working on rather passionately for several years now.

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I am no presentation fanatic,  however although I never before paid enough attention to the modes, menus, knobs & dials on the previous camera,  I learned to photograph paying fastidious attention to natural light, and of putting a lot of importance on background. Come to think of it, that perhaps should be the prerequisite to good photos, but now that I can shorten depth of field, (make everything in the background rather fuzzy and unimportant) I will better be able to show clear small details, as in tutorial photos, which is very very nice.  I am a bit taken suddenly by this whole super duper focus aspect of photography.

But okay, this antique door knob is a really great practice object, but then when I get to looking at it closely ….

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I see motifs for a tam design, don’t you?

So maybe it is entirely knitting related after all.

Another Fishermens Neck Gansey

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Introducing St Andrews Harbour, second of the two fishermen neck gansey patterns…

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Picking up from back in this post …  Out To The Waves …  I have been working every minute I possibly can to have this project Fishermens Neck Ganseys ( two patterns in one download )  ready by Christmas, and I am happy to say that it is done & dusted!

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St Andrews Harbour is an intrinsic image of the fishing industry of Fife, and the name sake of this design inspired by the Scottish Fleet fisher ganseys of Fife Scotland. The herringbone central motif is the distinctive element this design, in all of the three charts to choose from;  moss stitch, or a variety of cables accompanying, as well as a simple & fast variation of each design.

About to take Emma out for a quick Christmas Eve stroll on the knitting trail , with  shockingly nothing on my needles presently to knit,  hurrying before it gets dark,  while contemplating the joy of the holidays, of being finished the big project of fishermen neck ganseys …

and of fishing in Fife …

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St Andrews Harbour, Fife, Scotland

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Rosanna & Cesar

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Rosanna and Cesar have come to visit!  We gathered up all sorts of knitwear, and went out into the darkening wintery woods, along the knitting trail. Rosanna is wearing the Calidez Vest I made for her birthday, while Cesar wears several of my recent Fishermens Neck Ganseys , as well as the yerbe matte (tea) .

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Cesar and Rosanna layer in a couple of Calidez Cardigans …

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Cesar wears my own  cardigan made of Studio Donegal’s  Aran Tweed ~~ posted here. Cesar commented how warm and nice the tweed wool felt against his skin ….

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I was so excited to have Rosanna and Cesar visit, and that they got to model this ensemble of recent designs, because they are both such naturals in front of a camera!  It couldn’t have been a better day, clear and cool, and it was a great time had by all, including Emma…

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come back again soon Rosanna and Cesar!

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Just done.

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I was eager to finish this Calidez Vest for Rosanna who is visiting soon, and will model it (yay, more woods photos forthcoming!) I have not steamed it yet, in attempt to disguise my uneven tension with purl & knit rows, but I’m not sure I will for it is a little rustic and bumpy, which I am certain will appeal to Rosanna.  What was crazy good luck is I happen to have these buttons in my button jar, an exact match, clueless as from where they came, but made my life easier today when I discovered I had them.

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This moss panels ribbing took me forever to get through, torturous and long, entirely improvised, but think I ought to feature it on Tips From The Table, because it is actually very unusual. Also, this vest is first sample I’ve done of this design in worsted weight Berroco Ultra Alpaca (color is “Lichen Mix”) and it is the first yet sample with the high-v-neck option.

I still am very preoccupied with the mystery  project mentioned in previous post,  but I tell you, I am knitting full tilt on it, in spite of the fact that I had to finish this vest, yes, yes, and also …. that I nearly cut off the tip of my left index finger last Monday with an axe  while splitting wood,  and it has set me back due to my finger being cocooned in a bandage since. What I have lost in speed I have made up with determination, and I must say my finger is healing very nicely. Jeff got me some nice gloves so that I won’t run out and split kindling wood (for the wood stove) bare-handed anymore!

Out to the waves…

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Come now fishermen of olden days, lets share a splendid dream together!  Take me in your nets…out to the waves… oh to be truly unafraid of the elements, exploring harbors of every shore, while facing the bracing raw melody of the sea!

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Colorway: Stone harbor at dawn.   Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca & Ultra Alpaca Light.  I am diving in again to these blues & greys, into the watery  colors,  surfacing yet again with another woolly interpretation.  Be back soon!

A Fishermens Neck Gansey

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I love the textures of the the fishermens sweaters, or ganseys as they are also known. A couple of weeks ago I thought to try one in a simple cowl using my favorite traditional motif from Flamborough gansey.

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Flamborough Head

I gave a hint of this direction in a recent post Elemental , and now I have knitted four samples of varying shapes of a neck piece I am aptly naming a ‘neck gansey’ !

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Flamborough Head is a beautiful section of the Chalk Coast of British Isles, and I spoke of the colors of chalk, of shore grass, of wet sand, and of stone and storm, all captured  in the language of yarn.

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Flamborough Head on the Yorkshire Coast, England.

I must say, after knitting four simple variations, the repeats are quickly memorized, and are thoroughly pleasant to work, evoking visions from a bygone era of strong courageous fishermen in their striking traditional ganseys.

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In the near future, I would like to augment this design with more traditional fishermen gansey motifs, in a series,  and the pattern will be updated to include the additions (any who purchases pattern will get those updates), but I wanted to get this pattern up and running as soon as possible so that knitters could make them for the holidays.

You can find Fishermens Neck Gansey Pattern on Ravelry  HERE … I hope you try one… and happy holiday knitting!

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ps.  I thought I would mention that I still need to get the neck ganseys photographed modeled, which I intend to do very soon, so watch this space!

In Calistoga today….

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It was pouring down rain most of the day, but fortunately late this morning it settled a bit and we got in some great shots of Miss Sixteen & Miss Fourteen modeling Calidez Vest.

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At the wall outside of Brannan’s on Lincoln and Washington…

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I burst with pride at how talented my nieces have become in front of the camera … as I strive to capture the ‘happy accident’ of the moment.

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(Oh, but they have had a bit of practice you know… )

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We also finally got Autumn’s Calidez Cardigan photographed !

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Don’t ask me why it didn’t occur to me to get a couple of shots with the garments buttoned up all the way…

( I become so distracted!)

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A lucky morning ( good hair day, good skin day ),  and a good day of expressions wonderfully sincere, honest, and artful poses.

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My favorite past-time most definitely, bar none, is hanging out with these smart & beautiful young women!

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Elemental

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My mind has wandered down to the chalk coasts of British Isles,  to find the spirit of the sea etched into a landscape assaulted by wind and salt, of the coastal birds, algae stained rocks, crustaceans, seals and shoals of fishes, and dolphins and whales… seeking the blue depths with the promise of life cycling perpetual….to find the masculine and elemental.

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It was no surprise that Black Friday found me running into the local yarn shop, searching for colors of wet sand and sea grass and chalky cliffs… and now I’m disappearing into the deep mists of creation for a while, to surface with something sudden & unexpected!

Calidez Vest Pattern !

jenjoycedesign-calidez-vestI have worked like an ox to get this vest up and running before the holidays descend, and I think yesterday I never moved from my desk while immersed in a last-minute change, crunching numbers to augment the size range for this design for larger sizes in finer weight yarns… and I mean from dawn until dusk! 

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Calidez Vest with crew neck shaping

Today a frenzy of sewing on buttons (before the dark grey vest was even completely dry!) then photographing, and finally submitting it to Ravelry…  now I am just about ready to say its time for a walk out in the misty woods, for the rain has finally broken after two days of solid downpour.

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Calidez Vest with v-neck shaping

Feeling too exhausted to say much , except for the important things….

 Calidez Vest on Ravelry

…  and Calidez Vest in progress on previous posts here and here.

A classic vest for women, men, teens & kids (shown in bulky Icelandic) Calidez Vest is knit bottom up with seamless construction, and flat. Pattern includes a substitution chart for gauges 2.5 to 6.5 stitches to the inch, and has extensive size range from 60” to 25”. Vest has v-neck shaping, with options for crew and high v-neck shapes. Calidez Vest is suitable for for all ages & all year round, and is perfect for all kinds of fiber, yarn weights & especially your hand-spun !

 

Buttons

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I’m going through my numerous button jars, sifting and splashing about, trying to decide which one to finish the latest vest…

I really love the wild cat-eye buttons in square one, but there are tragically only three, and the other vest I have decided should have the same buttons. Two vests and ten buttons. Choices left then are either the wood, or the metal & plastic in third square.  I’m thinking I’ll go with the warm natural wood for both vests (the other one v-neck, this will be the crew-neck option). Which by the way , should both be done while racing against the clock, by this weekend. My personal goal is to have the pattern up and running by next week for test-knitters, so if you are interested, please say so!

Meanwhile, last night there was a spectacular storm-brewing and wind kicking up amidst a fantastic colorful firey sunset, with fog rolling in from the Pacific coast…sunset

I am still fighting a horrible cold, but fortunately I can stay home and get lots accomplished  with the knitting, while keeping the wood stove crackling, as its suddenly dropped to low 40’s outside. The blustery cold Autumnal mountain weather has finally arrived!

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.

Sweater Descent #2

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I have gotten another package from Kilcar in Ireland,  a lovely bunch of Studio Donegal yarn ! Worsted-weight,  one-hundred percent merino wool, and aptly named …

“Soft Donegal”

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In Sweater Descent #1  I wrote a sort of introduction for what is now my series Sweater Descent Project…

Descent is a word which takes many directions in meaning, most typically it means to ‘move down’ or ‘lower’ as in a physical place of going, as ‘down from a high place’ as from the peak of a mountain. It has metaphorical meaning to me as well, which I absolutely groove on, like ‘making easier’ and ‘moving into a secure low-ground of the known’.  Of course there is the meaning of ‘lineage’ or ‘clan’, and far-off distant cultures or bloodlines one may have come from.  But for me, primarily  the relationship of the word refers to mountains, and walking, and in my case knitting while walking about the mountain on which I live.

And now for Sweater Descent #2

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This post also being a yarn-tasting theme , I would like to show you my yarn acquisition, and I am watering at the mouth truly, envisioning this in my second very own  Calidez Cardigan !   A rich depth of color, explosion of tweedy flecks, I am totally smitten with the color range of Studio Donegal “Soft Donegal” and see great potential for using this yarn in future designs.  But for now all there is left to do, is cast on!

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ps. I thought I would mention too, that Emma is one-hundred percent better, and managing the stairs all by herself with new addition of rugs!  And thats us… off to the Knitting Track!

The events of the day…

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Emma has gotten herself somehow mysteriously injured, and has been hobbling about for a day and a half.  I suspect she may have slipped and fallen on the stairs while we were away at a neighbor’s for dinner on Saturday, because Sunday she just could not move hardly at all.  Today she is a little better, at least been able to walk a little ways although very stiff and sore, far beyond her normal senior-dog arthritis.

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Emma sleeps in our bedroom upstairs, but in recent months she has been getting very unsure of herself on the stairs and has been needing help up and down because of the slippery hard-wood surface. Last weekend I cut up a big old rug for the turning area of the stairs, which helped a lot for that was where she was slipping the most, but the straight sections were still needing to be covered–insert Emma’s injury Saturday evening.  So Sunday morning I went into town and I bought a smattering of small throw rugs, sewed them end-to-end to make runners, cut more rug matting, and created a patchwork of rugs on the whole stairway, which is now very cluttered, and a bit odd, but no longer slippery.

I was so worried last night I slept on the couch downstairs next to her to give her moral support, and joy of joys, today she is much better and at least able to walk around a little outside but won’t be able to climb the stairs for a while yet. Wish her well,  she’s looking up, and I’ll give her a good pet from all of you.

Knitting Track News: I have measured with this wheel the feet distance of the whole knitting track.  The actual ‘track’  is a sloppy figure-eight looping through woods very near our house, total of 1448 feet. Not a big deal, I know , but as the track itself is over 1/4 mile around, so three times around the track plus the walk to and from the track is 1 mile…. and folks, that is not nothing ! 5x is 1.5 miles, 7x is 2 miles, you get the idea.   Just think of the knitting I can accomplish while working up a sweat!

144 finished feet done & dusted, about 1300 feet to go. I did about 60 feet just today, and I’m tired! For now it may seem perpetually under construction, but one day I will be finished and it will be a great accomplishment !!

See my recent post How To Make A Knitting Trail  ,

or all knitting trail & knitting-while-walking related posts HERE.

Calidez Cardigan & Donegal Aran Tweed

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At last, my very own cardigan, and it is so special because it is from a wool I’ve wanted to knit forever, and in a pattern which I designed to be my favorite sweater recipe. . .

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Calidez Cardigan knit up in Donegal Aran Tweed!

I made it with Autumn neckline.  The pattern has four seasons of necklines in case you weren’t aware:  winter=full yoke depth,  autumn=3/4, spring=1/2, summer=very low. . .

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I had so many choices to color match buttons because of all the flecks of tweed in the yarn, but in the end, I only had more shell buttons, but I will find some more, in russet and change them out later.

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When it came down to it, I am purely smitten.  Donegal Aran Tweed knits up beautifully and has a real ‘slinky’ feel to it when knit up at  3.25 sts to the inch, although I was so tempted to try a smaller needle size, I chose the larger, appealing to a drapier cardigan, however, because of the fact, it is very stretchy and a wee bit baggy, but like in a good way. Next I will try a slightly firmer cardigan fabric, as well as make a size smaller. I still can’t decide what color to go with for my next, and I do think it will have to be a Soft Donegal,  and I am thinking to go wild, and get this color.

Well folks, that’s it for today, posting from very rainy Mt Veeder!  I couldn’t be happier than with a just-finished cardigan to wear, and you can see details of this project on Ravelry here.

Everything in it’s place, and life is good. Oh, and I’ve been enjoying listening to some beautiful Irish pipes while knitting Irish Wool . . .


Yarn Tasting: Donegal Aran Tweed

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What have we here? A cardigan (for moi) which I will be finishing in the next couple of days! Some time ago, back in  this post , I talked about knitting a cardigan from Studio Donegal Aran Tweed. I actually cast on and knit most of the body of a steeked body cardigan  before dropping it and coming to the conclusion that, although I have written a brief steeking option on the Calidez Pullover, which this was to sample, I really wanted to design my first flat-knit seamless cardigan pattern. So after struggling with that inevitability , eventually I ripped it all out and wound it back into a big ball.  Well, as you all know that recently I have finally designed that cardigan, I can’t escape the desire to make one after another, in all the Studio Donegal yarns, and already I’m looking at the color shade cards I have to see what color I might try next.  The shade on this piece of knitting is # 4742.

Really folks, Aran Tweed has a spirit about it which speaks to me like no other that I’ve felt. It is really a very classic wool, and does have a bit of ‘wooly scratch’ factor, and I don’t recommend it to knitters who are ambivalent about 100-percent wool, but it is ever so light, fluffy, and possesses a great homespun feel. Most of all, it is indeed very tweedy & colorful, and just extremely beautiful.  

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I am considering trying for my next yarn tasting, Soft Donegal which is 100% Merino wool, and although a lot softer , it doesn’t have the crispness I love so much in the Aran Tweed, nor quite the selection. If you could put your hand into the photos of the two shade cards, you’d agree, Soft Donegal is very very soft, and a little finer weight too. Just a smidge.  Aran Tweed is  heaviest weight of all the Donegal yarns, I’m getting 3.5 stitch per inch,  whereas the Soft Donegal will probably be more like 4.5.  Regardless, I think I’ll explore both with my new Calidez Cardigan pattern, there is no closing the gate to my sudden rush to make every hand-knit cardigan I’ve craved to have & wear for the last ten years.  I am eyeing so many of them, I just can’t decide!

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You can see Studio Donegal’s website to see details about Aran Tweed,  Soft Donegal , and Knitting Wool.

By the way, which are your favorite colors?

How to make a knitting trail.

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October is the best trail-making month in the year, as the ground is just moistened by a couple of rains at the most, but not muddy. I have been doing a lot of walking in the woods,  both with and without knitting, always with Emma, and we have staked out where we want it to go, our ‘knitting and sniffing track’ !

Oh! But I have left you a little lesson on how to make a knitting trail in the woods for yourself, if you have handy … a bit of woods. 

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First, stake the trail out with sticks and walk it for a few weeks, or months, refining path to contour the land well, satisfied that it is a pleasure to walk , perhaps even while knitting.  Be sure you love walking your trail as it is,  before you disturb the soil and take tools to it!

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I go ahead with the long-handled pruners and bow saw, clear debris in the way that causes tripping, etc. during the first walks.  Then walk some more weeks.
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When you’re ready to commit, begin!
Rake aside duff, sticks, fir cones,  remove big rocks, etc.
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Scrape aside the composting layer gently,  (to be raked back over) to expose dirt.
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Pick, hoe, and scrape, loosening soil beneath the compost layer, and leveling side-to-side by eye.  Or , if you want a really level path as this one will be…
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 use a level straight edge to check that it is roughly level  side-to-side (not fore & aft).  Tamp earth down, firming walking area only.
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Finally, lightly rake compost layer back over tamped, leveled trail.  It should look like the original forest ground, essential to replace plenty of compost over raw soil, and even a sprinkle of the raked-aside debris of small sticks and little cones.
 I have worked out a method whereby I am working both start and finish in a 20-foot section which moves along as I work, then finishing my work by covering the soil as I close up the gap so that there is no more raw dirt, and lay my tools down for next work session, whenever that can be.
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 There is a lot to do yet before I will take out the measuring wheel and see how it measures up in distance. It will look like this for many weeks , perhaps through the whole Autumn it will be a work in progress.

And now if you will excuse me, my coffee break is over, and time for me to go back out. I am so very excited that I am finally making the Knitting Trail ~~~ joy of joys!!

Calidez Cardigan

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It is here, the design I’ve been working on for a really long time … Calidez Cardigan  !

A simple, easy,  cozy & classic raglan cardigan,

 sampled here in beautiful tweedy bulky weight yarn…

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From the my pattern Calidez pullover, I have felt compelled to make a cardigan version, and now it is here….  Calidez Cardigan on Ravelry

I am really excited about this design, having all the elements I’ve wanted in a ‘go to’ pattern for myself ; varying necklines, multiple gauge yarns, knit seamless and flat  so that it can be knit in plant fibers, like linen & cotton … and handspun, which I am keen to knit my own into this cardigan!

Next I am working on more options for this pattern, and will beef up the pattern with an update, such as a gusset for the underarm (forthcoming), and well, I am sighing great relief this morning as this baby is done & dusted!

Anyway, you can find my nieces modelling their own Calidez Cardigans which were prototype tests for the design, for their Autumn Sweaters, back in this post.

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