Footsteps 3

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I am getting into a great rhythm of knit-trekking, and socks are best knit-trekking project there is. I talk about this in all posts labeled Footsteps, which is fast becoming my most posted category and and is all about socks knitted while walking… or mostly walking.

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The thing is, while getting more fit from all of this perpetual walking, I am knitting socks galore! I would like to start a local “Knit Fit” group, but way up here on the mountain, I am resolved to going at it solo.  Though I am curious, are there any other knit-trekkers out there? If so, please speak up.

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These socks were meant to be for myself, but in trying to use up all of the 53 grams of left-over sock yarn I had, wanting to use exactly what I had, no more, no less, and ripping back several times if necessary to knit either more, or less (only knitters really understand that).  In this case I knit the foot a smidge too long, and so I suppose they will fit Jeff’s daughter’s feet just perfectly.

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By the way, these socks in progress are seen in the last post at the peak !

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Pattern: my own  Wild Wool Trail Socks ( Plain Sock, with heel worked in heel stitch, and with short leg)

Yarn: 53 grams of Malabrigo Sock, in color Aguas.

Details on Ravelry HERE.

Casting on now for some socks quite colorful,  which you will see finished very shortly I am confident, probably about 15 miles from now I will be posting!

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Hope you are all enjoying the last day in March, here the intense wind seems to have subsided. Now it’s time for insect season!

A Hopeful Spring

From  this , to this…

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Just before harvest, a few years ago, a regionally famous mountain vineyard ‘next door’ was sold. The bordering woods, meadows,  and canyon cliffs,  as well as bumpy old connecting roads between the quiet & quaint old vineyard clearings  were my favorite places to walk with Emma, and we had to abandon it.  I go into more detail in this post, but I am trying to focus on the new replanted growth now.

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For an epic pause in the life of this mountain landscape there has been rattling machinery disking the earth, pounding great big steel things into the ground, deep trenching miles for drainage, electric conduit, irrigation, erecting a water tank the size of a house…. the usual sprawling construction project of a corporation taken over a couple of hundred acres with jeeps & four-wheelers buzzing about everywhere all of the time.

But now there is a calm.

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Eventually, and ever so gradually, nature softens the work of men, and this mountain vineyard is whispering of spring growth again.

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Since the original design “Vineyard Rows Tam” I have been off & on playing with a series of designs all conceived as tribute to the memory of the beautiful historic vines which were destroyed and the natural wildness of the place that I loved.  Onward. Early this last winter I designed Winemakers Waistcoat, honoring the history of California’s industry in wine, but most recently I have felt a sort of turning about of attitudes; away from a yearning tribute to the past, toward a hope for the future in this place, and maybe even that I sense the presence of the wilderness returning. At least a little bit.

My most recent design, as yet only one mitt, and no pattern yet written, expresses this with motifs of trellises and budding vines eager to branch and fill the expanse.  I am sharing with you my latest design a little prematurely, but what the heck…

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Trellis Mitts!

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The mitts design is an evolving prototype, but here it is nestled into an ensemble with the other two in my Vineyard Rows series.

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Just waving hello to everybody with this one mitt, as I immerse myself in a hopeful spring, and lots of knit-trekking up the mountain (yes, past the vineyard) on the way to the peak…

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I hope you are all enjoying this transformative season!

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The Road To China

A year and a half ago  I wrote a rather traditional feather & fan  lace motif into a simple cowl pattern to be available either  by itself or in an e-book collection of three cowls, and for this lace prototype I used yarn “Road To China Light”.   It was not meant to be by itself anything amazing or noteworthy, but it appears to have meandered its modest way into the Indie Designer Patterns on the Fibre Co. website. I am quite pleasantly surprised, and have excitedly come to spread the news first to Yarnings readers!

I must confess, this is a first for me, and it has brightened everything  on this drizzling cold mountain today.  So, I have decided to make myself another celebratory lace cowl with some more Fibre Co. Road to China Light yarn, and  I have been absolutely craving one in  greyish teal or plum…

Yarn weight: Sport   Skein weight: 50 g
Fibre:
65% baby alpaca, 15% silk, 10% camel, 10% cashmere

Also, I am gifting this pattern (for a very limited time)  to anybody who would like to knit one along with me, in whatever yarn you desire…  

Edit In : Pattern give-away is closed. Thanks to those who joined in!   

I will be posting my lace cowl in whatever yummy color of Fibre Co. yarn I end up choosing and show progress reports on it in forthcoming posts , and I do honestly hope to see you & your project pop up over on Ravelry!

Foot Steps 2

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I have been making sock after sock while knit- trekking  down on the road,  as well as in the wooded trails with Emma who would rather go at a slower pace and sniff her way along. Her adorable grey-whiskery self, hopeful to discover a wonderful scent, ears perked in large German Shepherd ear-triangles, and with all senses focused ahead…. yet… soon easing into a slower happy & careless gait,  with limps that come and go,  so in these recent months I have slowed too, knitting while keeping her pace.

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In February I began to go down on the main road for  one or two additional long striding faster-paced walks in the week,  with my knitting my only companion.  Moving along on the much smoother asphalt in a ‘zone’  the miles seem short and the knitting seems fast, for one activity slightly distracts from the other.

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I feel that I may never stop knitting these socks while walking the miles, for this sock is perfectly trek worthy in more ways than one.  Easily memorized shaping steps; cuff, leg, ankle, heel & instep, heel turn, foot, and toe… not in the least boring, the steps keep the knitting engaging.

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Socks are small and a very portable  knitting project, and excellent for knit-trekking because they are such a symbiotic activity ~~ knitting them to wear & wearing them to knit!

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Pattern: My own  Wild Wool Trail Socks

Yarn:  Valley Yarns Charlemont which is 20% silk/ 60% Merino wool/20% nylon

Details on Ravelry HERE

Foot Steps

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Mid day sun streams through the canopy, and I am feeling the presence of vernal influences…

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The blissful places I have been missing for a while beckon to me…

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All winter we have had pelting rain storms one after another, and Northern California is officially declared over the drought while reservoir spillways gush furiously!

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Something about the approach of the equinox softens nature to a sweetness indescribable…

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So I will leave off and show you the latest I’ve made,

a pair of trail socks!

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 …with my recent discovery of the snugger heel stitch foot, these socks are now ready for adventure!

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Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll sock yarn, in Merlot Heather and Navy

Pattern:  Wild Wool Trail Socks  , with recent update option of colossally snug heel stitch foot section, my pattern is now completely ‘dialed in’.

Project Details: on Ravelry HERE.

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Valentines

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Its that day again, St Valentine’s Day. I am leaving you with a very simple shortbread recipe that isn’t my usual recipe, but was the best sell-out from the (now locally famous) bakery I use to work at in the late eighties, and is perfect for writing on with chocolate!

The way we did it :

 Cream in mixer 1 cup unsalted butter (I use 1/2 cup of salted, and 1/2 cup of unsalted) with 1 cup powdered sugar. Add 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, and roll out between sheets of waxed paper, carefully flipping and releasing paper from dough before rolling more, chilling as needed. Roll out to 1/4 inch thick, then cut into shapes. Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes, switching in the middle top and bottom cookie tins.

Melt chocolate (I use Trader Joes Bittersweet Belgium) slowly in double boiler (I use a metal bowl over a pan of barely simmering water). When chocolate is not quite all melted, remove from heat and stir until all melted evenly.  Fill cake decorator bag, and with tiny tip, write notes of endearment.

Happy V-day everyone!

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Country Socks

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Here we have the “Country Socks” variation of my Wild Wool Trail Socks , and  in the favorite color for whom they were made.

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After working the heel & heel turn in the heel stitch pattern option for the Country Socks, I felt good and creative, and decided to experiment by continuing  down bottom of foot, noticing what a sturdy hugging ribbing affect it has…

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However this proved problematic, as the heel stitch pulls in the width, it also does the length, (duh!) so I had to do some ” stealth short rows” for the bottom to catch up to the top section.  I only recommend heel stitch over the whole circumference of foot section, not just the bottom.

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Very pleased with this construction feature, and I am going to try my next Trail Sock with the whole foot section in heel stitch.

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These by the way, were knit in Malabrigo Sock yarn (African Violet) with contrast of some left over dark grey Huntington Sock yarn I had handy. Details for this project can be found on Ravelry HERE

Winemakers Waistcoat

making-wine-circa-1920-californiaWinemaking in California began more than 240 years ago, when in 1779, Franciscan missionaries & Spanish Father Junípero Serra planted California’s first sustained vineyard at Mission San Diego de Alcalá, then continued on to found eight other California missions,  earning him the title of the “Father of California Wine”.

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During Prohibition in the United States, there was a loophole in the law allowing each home to “make 200 gallons of non-intoxicating cider and fruit juice per year,” thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens became home winemakers…

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Thus the Home Winemaker was born! Today winemaking has run up and down the state of California, as well as sideways, and the industry has transformed Napa Valley into a world renowned status of a wine & culinary mecca, although admittedly its beginning was somewhat rustic & countrified.

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The Italians came, the French came, and then the world followed, to settle their green thumbs into an enterprise which  since the 1970’s seems explosive and unending.

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So, have you noticed the vests worn by the winemakers in all of these old photos?

I have born a new collection in tribute to the history of the Califonia winemakers and their wines, in the region where I live, nestled in the fertile hills & dales of Napa Valley & Beyond, and I am aptly naming this kick-off design “Winemakers Waistcoat”…

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This my friends, is the end result of a heck of a lot of designing and intensive Fair Isle knitting !   As  I live in the west mountains of a famous Northern Californian  wine-making region, and here making wine is the thing to do... where practically everybody or their brother is a wine-maker at some level of existence. Lol.. thats no joke.

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So, if you are a wine-maker, or are  just keen on the novelty of wine & vineyards, here is a colorwork vest pattern for you to knit!

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This contemporary colorwork vest is knit in natural shades of Jamiesons of Shetland Spindrift . “Winemakers Waistcoat” uses my own original motifs in the traditional Fair Isle technique; motifs of a large border of splashy asymmetric grape vines, a border of more symmetric vines, a border of abstract trellised vines, and peeries of tiny leaves between trellis posts, make up vineyard rows of variety and interest, and motifs are mirror reversed from center back…

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Winemakers Waistcoat is kicking off a new collection of knitterly varietals, from vest to mitts, to hats~~ its all going to pour out from here, so grab a glass and cast on tonight!

You can find more details about this pattern over on Ravelry HERE

Those of you who have been following Yarnings for a long time may remember my “Vineyard Rows”  California Highlands Bonnet, which at the time was  a tribute to my beloved walking spaces in the high mountain vineyards of Napa Valley. You can see more posts about the creation of all things vineyards from around where I live, particularly this post Knitting & Wine.

Fair Isle Unfurled

jenjoycedesign-bound-upWhat has been bound together while knitted for the last three weeks,

has suddenly been unfurled!

A little slide-show of cutting the steeks…

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Now open, flat, and ready to knit the bands on and make into a three-demensional thing!

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If you are curious about the photos, this is what I am doing:  1. Shaggy  yarn ends on the wrong-side of knitting are cut off (they are the color changes centered in the middle of the steek in front).      2. With the small brushes (one is plastic sewing machine lint brush, the other a brass eyelash comb) I am experimenting with felting the steek (only the stitches down the middle of the steek) with hot water and agitation before cutting. I have never heard of this but wanted to try it out, rather than my usual crochet reinforcement.      3. I cut front steek, then armholes, and the whole thing opens up flat.

Then, a quick three-needle bind off to join shoulders, and now I am ready to pick up the stitches for the bands, nicely folding in all those (slightly felted) raw edges, which will get an additional trim and whip stitched down into back of work.

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Watch this space for a finish very soon!

Mystery fair isle…

jenjoycedesign-mystery-fair-isle-detailI see no reason not to post a sneak preview at what I’ve been working very laboriously on, since its first mention back in this post.  Something which I have had to do a colossal amount of drawing,  of math, of experimentation, ripping out & knitting over.   Oh, right, that is called designing….

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I am so absorbed in this project that entire days are droning by, so still & quiet, with nothing but the ticking of the clock and Emma’s occasional rustling about, and then of course, very brief strolls in the cold winter outdoors.  Papers are strewn everywhere!  And I have been sitting in my knitting chair far too much in the last two weeks. Far too much. 

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None the less, I am very pleased with myself and am certain that any day now it will be all finished and I can celebrate by revealing what this is, my greatest knitting and design accomplishment  ever.  Until then, I hope you enjoy the mystery!

moody monday

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Emma and I are moody.

When feeling under the weather (on the eve of a birthday)…make candy!

Emma wants some …

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( See her nose? )

 Honestly, I have not gone on a candy-making jag in years.  I used no recipe, just tossed ingredients ( about a cup of org. sugar, a bit more than half cube of salted butter, a glob of corn syrup, and a dash of cream) in a small saucepan over a low flame while cold-water testing until it was right. Poored in a buttered pyrex dish over a bed of chopped toasted almonds, then sprinkled more on top.  I ate a ton of it, it shook off the blues, and then I felt better.

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Oh, and knit something really amazing !!!  Anyway, the rest of it is just cozy, dark drizzling dank gorgeous wintery day, while drinking coffee, munching butter toffee and knitting. I will be home in my hermitage for the week just working on forthcoming design. 🙂

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xmas shirt

jenjoycedesign© Christmas shirt 2016 (2).JPGEvery  Christmas I make a shirt for Jeff.   I finished this one belatedly on new year’s day, then as soon as I finished sewing on the last button Jeff had to try it on, and then of course… he was so cozy in it … it was too dark to photo…. he wore it to work the next day,  and I never got to photograph it. Now it has been already washed, and being flannel it’s already lost its crisp allure and gotten a little fuzzy ….

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What is so funny is that every time I make one of these Christmas shirts I seem to mess something up badly, if not disastrously.  This year the buttonholes were okay, plackets and collar okay … but….  the plaid was so wavy as it was probably the last on the bolt and warp/weft apparently is terminally twisted, and so the plaid did not/could not/ would not stay square. Thus I did a horrible job of matching up in front (like if I make it match at side seams, the front is wonky). Whatever! Who cares! (except that I kind of do care).  A bit dissymmetric, but I will just let it be what it wants to be.

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Needless to say, since my sewing machine is already out, I may have to sew some other crazy  new-from-old shirts, so watch this space for some fun upcycling!

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!