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.

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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.

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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.

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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 !