Camino Inca Live!


First day of summer vacation for my nieces & a photo shoot of the most recent  “Camino Inca” designs at the castle, and here they are, Miss Seventeen & Miss Fourteen….

Shown here is the small-size Ponchito, which is more of a large cowl draping around collar area &  sits on top of shoulders for a kiss of warmth.

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And the largest size,  A-line silhouette with three tiers of colorful shaped sections with bobbled bands edging each section.


It envelopes shoulders & neck for a sensual & cuddly bliss!



I love the way the Camino Inca Ponchito sits snug across & over shoulders while loose and draping around the neck.



The ponchito is not unlike Peruvians’ traditional wool shoulder wraps pinned at the neck, and I think the Incans would approve, as it is a practical neck & shoulder garment that both women and men would look & feel brilliant wearing.


It really pulls together an outfit!


Oh, and almost forgot… in addition to three sizes of ponchito, there is the straight cowl option that comes with the pattern too…




Camino Inca Chullo is a classic Peruvian style hat (these with very modest pompoms) and is just fun & full of whimsy !

For any age, male or female, this hat can be made simplified, or exotic & costume-like, with motif charts & embellishment suggestions galore.


You can see all posts relating to Camino Inca design and the inspiration behind it, (including this one) HERE.

Details for Camino Inca Ponchito on Ravelry HERE,

and Camino Inca Chullo HERE.

John Muir High Country and Wild Wool (Part One)

I so admire the man who found personal transformation and a sense of home deep in the wilderness of the High Sierra Nevada mountains, and fought to bring his experience of the territory into the lives of the general masses … Continue reading



What do I have here? Something very tweedy for Autumn! A set of my Tartan & Tweed  Tam & Mitts for an Autumn birthday gift, and a pretty nice ensemble of Autumney finds of local acorns and fir cones.

jenjoycedesign© tweedy 7

I have used a lovely yarn of alpaca-wool blend called Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light, which I really love, and adorned not with a pompom or toorie, or beret loop ~~ but a Dorset Button.

jenjoycedesign©tweedy detail

That is the news from my neck o’ the woods, and I’m roaring along rather productively on another mitt design, soon to be done & dusted with it.  I hope you are all having a wonderful Autumn and enjoying the turning of leaves and things to gold & rust, as I am. Its a slow turning in Northern California, but it is beginning!

Autumn Sweaters 2015 . . . Done & Dusted !

jenjoycedesign©stack of pullovers

Holy cow, this is incredible if I may say so myself, that I’ve got both of my nieces’ Autumn 2015 Sweaters finished, and now waiting for the Equinox photos ~ over three weeks early. And as well,  the (green) prototype!   I feel like I can just put my feet up a little.

jenjoycedesign©Autumn Sweaters 2015

Size 32 in Dusty Grey for Miss Twelve, and size 34 in Ecru for Miss Fifteen.

These are samples of my  Calidez pattern which surfaced earlier in the month.  In fact this is the first time I wrote a pattern and knit a prototype (posted back in this post)  to actually keep while knitting the Equinox Sweaters for my nieces as ‘test-knits’ of that pattern. I tell you, this made it so much easier  to knit up my nieces sweaters, with all the decisions done ahead of time so I didn’t have to get strung out with improvising and mistakes along the way.  Apparently  I’m refining my method!

Now these sweaters will get tucked away for the remainder of the blistering hot last month of summer, and come out to have a stellar photo shoot in Calistoga around the Autumnal Equinox, so watch this space. And now I’m off to make a celebratory cup of coffee to relish a job done & dusted! .

And, for those interested in the technical knitterly stuff . . .

You may notice the two necklines look different and that is because they are ! In fact, I’m in the middle of rewriting the neck section of the pattern for an update, pending on the review it gets from test-knitters about the redesign,  and I’ve opened discussion about it on a forum thread on Ravelry …HERE )


jenjoycedesign©Calidez cover

Miss Twelve models Calidez

Introducing Calidez!  My nieces and I had a double-design photo shoot in St.Helena last week in the scorching heat of a late July morning, for Altitude Cowl and for Calidez.  At ten o’clock the mercury rising up into the 80’s, proves that my nieces are really quite good at the modelling thing after all.

I designed Calidez to be a most basic & versatile pullover, that hopefully I can see examples forthcoming from knitters and myself, of it’s many options from plain pullover , or with stripes, cable, rib, or lace panels, or even cardigan ‘afterthought’ option.


Calidez is  shown on Miss Twelve in size 30″, the prototype and smallest of the bulky-weight size run, and looking a little like  “outgrown the sweater that auntie knit Christmas before last” …  but she carries it so well.

Please see the pattern page on this site HERE and on Ravelry HERE, and try out your version.

What can you do with Calidez?

Now, please go see Miss Fifteen posted on Altitude Cowl....

jenjoycedesign©Altitude Cowl cover


Altitude Cowl

jenjoycedesign©Altitude Cowl cover

Miss Fifteen modelling my very recent “Altitude Cowl”

My nieces and I had a double-design photo shoot in St.Helena last week in the scorching heat of a late July morning, for Altitude Cowl and for Calidez.  At ten o’clock the mercury rising up into the 80’s, proves that my nieces are really quite good at the modelling thing after all.


So Altitude Cowl was designed to be a very easy knit for beginner knitter , for teaching in my Knitting @ Altitude group that is soon-to-be-forming (so excited!). Actually , this one is first in a series of easy cowls, this one being ‘twists’.  The next will add to make the pattern my first official e-book, and it will grow from there to hopefully a handful of easy cowls.

Please see details of the pattern page on this site  HERE , or on Ravelry HERE

It can be worn tossed on over the head, or folded and pinned. It is a very showy deeply textured cowl that is ‘all about the yarn and the twists’ and I hope you try it!

Now please go see Miss Twelve in Calidez

jenjoycedesign©Calidez cover

Snowmelt Tam & Toque Pattern Arrives!

At last I say goodbye to the snow which is melting at a rapid pace in the mountains of California. At least in the lower places. In the high Sierra, hard iced patches of snow remain through late summer.  Wildflowers in bloom, the most fragile variety, alpine beauty along the John Muir trail, and elsewhere. This design “Snowmelt” is in tribute to my love of the Sierra Mountain Range of my home of California.


Profiles of three I’ve been immersed in for the month of April, designing first the tam (center), and then a ski hat version of it, first of which was too tall and narrow (to left of center), the second was just right (at right of center)

jenjoycedesign©The Snowmelt profiles!

Two great things came out of my designing Snowmelt. One is that I learned the art of making Dorset Buttons, and came up with my own style for Snowmelt Tam ~ and you can view my button-making tutorial HERE .  Also I learned how to duplicate stitch ~ you’ll find a tutorial for duplicate stitching the flowers for Snowmelt HERE.

Admittedly I have quite fallen in love with this alpine classic theme, and can only be happy to begin casting on more stitches the moment I post this, for more Snowmelt variations… I won’t even skip a beat !

Pattern page on Yarnings  HERE

Pattern page on Ravelry HERE

Tartan & Tweed Tam: The Pattern

jenjoycedesign©Tartan & Tweed Tams

Well folks, the pattern has been submitted,

and I am happy to finally show you the bunch of lovely photographs taken last month at our castle, modeling the design.



This tam design is a little different, looking a little like a tweed cloth cap but also like a conventional tam.  Personally I think I’ve finally found my best-yet tam shape, and am excited to run with it.

058jenjoycedesign© 055jenjoycedesign© 032jenjoycedesign©

 Oh, and there are options in yarn weights, and well,

how could I not include a straight-sided toque option?

040jenjoycedesign© - Copy - Copy (2) 039jenjoycedesign© - Copy


I really think this tam is my best yet, and I hope you knit it !

Available for download w/ details on pattern page HERE & on Ravelry HERE

(matching Mitts pattern HERE)


A Mountain of Tartan & Tweed

jenjoycedesign©motherlode of Tartan & Tweed!Folks, I’m coming up for air, lost somewhere in this mountainous pile…this mother-lode of hats & mitts…this Tartan & Tweed design.  I have just (ahem…) updated (maybe the fourth time?) Tartan & Tweed Mitts again, this time to include the full mitten option.  Okay, so I’m done & dusted with mitt & mittens, Tartan & Tweed for the hands is now behind me.

Now it’s Tartan & Tweed for the head.  

I’ve been working like an ox designing, knitting prototypes, and now writing patterns and making charts, for the classic tam & accompanying toque (beanie).  Had a lovely photo shoot with my nieces modeling last weekend at the castle, our new favorite place. Here are some previews…




The tam is moderately swagging, like a proper tam, and toque is straight-up.

Forthcoming very soon, Tartan & Tweed Tam & Toque pattern debut !

Our Castle

We discovered a castle !

That is, part of a castle, more the entrance of the castle.  A gothic brick & stone building at the gate of the Castello di Amorosa.


Which was actually quite perfect, for nobody was about and we could just be creative with the knitwear. . .



007jenjoycedesign©una cosettina


041jenjoycedesign©una cosettinaWe did actually drive up to the castle, but there were hundreds of people swarming about, and that was less than ideal for photographing. But we did get a shot of Miss Fifteen standing through the sky window of my car, with the castle in the background …

It was a GREAT discovering this new favorite photo place, all three of us were very taken by the gothic feel of iron & brick & stone & arched windows, and all agreed it should be the new design image for us.  Modelled in photos are holiday & birthday presents from me; a pair of Una Cosettina mitts and accompanying infinity scarves “Una Cosettina Sciarpa Infinita”  which is all upcoming… we just had to give ‘er a test run here at the castle today !

Here are a few more of the shots…


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Penny Candy Winter !

jenjoycedesign©penny-candy-winter-duoIt’s here, finally, after redesign & re-knit of the yokes, and this morning re-photographing of…

my Penny Candy Winter !


My nieces, their mom, and I met at the Calistoga Roastery as we usually do for these occasions, and then the girls and I skipped on over to the wall outside of Brannon’s for just a few some up-to-date shots.



My nieces and I were full of giggles this morning, and the sun was bright, and the November air cool. Perfect conditions for Autumn photo shoot.



Look at the photo closely below, you’ll see Miss Fourteen’s shadow on the wall next to Miss Twelve.. a mysteriously goofy shot as we were trying really hard to be seriously artful, and in the end it was just quite hilarious. I love those unpredictable photos which tumble into the camera lens by accident.


You can find this pattern available on Yarnings right HERE,

or on Ravelry over HERE.

I haven’t even shown you the photos from Miss Twelve’s birthday yet, modelling Penny Candy Hat along with her sweater over HERE  !  But that was before the sweaters were reworked (compare these photos with those from a month ago back on this post , when after posting I decided the yokes were a little too long, by about 2 inches.

Continue on and enjoy the rest of the photos in a slideshow …

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Chaltén Beret : The Pattern

Chalten3I talked at length in previous post the inspiration behind this design, which I’ve named Chaltén Beret. Now with my lovely nieces having modelled in an absolutely stellar photo shoot yesterday, against the stone walls of a gothic Catholic church in St. Helena, with an intriguing landscape of grasses…. 053 I am finally ready to present to you the pattern !  You can find it on Yarnings HERE … or in Ravelry HERE. Either way, I hope that you knit it, and try out making the adorable chuflines (tassels) , because believe me, they are the most fun that I’ve had in a long time.

Eldest Niece is modelling the pattern prototype with dos chuflines, knit in Jamiesons Spindrift  (details can be found for this project on Ravelry project here, and Youngest Niece is modelling (a slightly larger) pre-prototype version with un chuflín, knit in Alice Starmore Hebridean 2ply yarn (details can be found on Ravelry project over here. Lastly, I have made a step-by-step photo tutorial on , found on my Tips From The Table on  How to make a “chuflín” tassel. Now I will leave you with many more great moments from our photo shoot yesterday…

Now, if you haven’t yet read the  PREVIOUS POST   about the inspiration and name-sake of this design, then you really must, as it really is such  a very spectacular  & special place, you’ll want to knit the beret!

jenjoycedesign©Chaltén Beret 2 - Copy

Sweater Success !

jenjoycedesign©PennyCandyDuo The skies were perfect blue & sunny, and we had a terrific time for photographing Spring Tees 2014 !  This year, the design Penny Candy Tee has made it all the way to a published design, and I managed to get it all up and available in time to post the pattern ~~ right over HERE. What a crescendo, happy beautiful faces, and stellar lighting, with charm that just blew my socks off.  I couldn’t believe my eyes, how much these girls have learned in the skills of modelling knitwear for their auntie. I am even getting a little teary just thinking about it.  But on with the show !

The first always to be photographed is the mint green bank building of Old Town Calistoga . . jenjoycedesign©PennyCandyTees Then we cross Lincoln and shoot against the terra cotta wall outside of Brannon’s Restaurant for our usual series of slightly goofy shots . . . .


Then we go to the corner outside of Hydro Grill.

People were having breakfast inside

watching us through the window seemed intrigued at what was going on just outside…


Last year’s addition , the ‘tree hugging’ shot outside of All Seasons Bistro,

now completes Four Corners, at the intersection of Washington & Lincoln Streets.

jenjoycedesign©PennyCandyTee-treeThen we make our way to the big mural of Old Town Calistoga ! The same poses are great because one can really see how the girls have grown in the years that I’ve been knitting for them (and blogging about it).

jenjoycedesign©PennyCandyTee-mural1 At the end of this post is a big long slideshow, I hope you watch it !

However, as this post is also a pattern debut,  I must say, some lovely detail photos were taken.


Just look how lovely the neckline , with the scalloped neckline & mitered corners looks in these details . . .


And just how the bottom icord edge with scalloped lace pattern works . . .

051 (2) Last not least , the back shoulder, and short rows.

The neck is just low enough in both the front and back. . .

jenjoycedesign©PennyCandyTee-detail Friends & Knitters, you can find the pattern over on it’s own page Penny Candy Tee Pattern page , here on Yarnings. or on Ravelry HERE Plenty to peruse, but, before you click off this page, the best is waiting next in this little slideshow !!!

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Thank you girls, you’re the one’s who made me into the knitter I am, and if it weren’t for you, there’d be no Yarnings. Here on this bench outside of Calistoga Roastery, we closed for the day,095 and I want you to see the first photo taken of them, on this same bench wearing the first cardigans I knit for them!

September 2010

All posts of the Penny Candy Tee in progress HERE

Edit In :  I have rounded up most of the photos of my nieces here in Yarnings over the last four years.  From present retrospect back to the first sweaters I knit for them in March 2010 .  Simply click  :  Sweater Success !

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.


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).


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.


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:
Customer Service:

Posted From Italy


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 .

This Corner


Anybody who has visited this blog has seen a photo of this corner, where my nieces model their latest sweaters I’ve designed & knit. The building stands out in Calistoga , the angular & tall historic bank building from the old town, and the most striking pale fresh minty green, and which is now Bella Tootsie Shoes, but right next door is the Upvalley Vintners where my duo-mate and I perform music frequently.

Upvalley Vintners

You can read up on us more on our website,  over here.

We had a gig in Calistoga last night at Upvalley Vintners (the place was hopping!) and let me tell you how surreal to be hauling sound gear past that very spot my nieces posed for the camera a few weeks earlier, and it got me thinking, how spring will be here in a blink, time for me to begin sketching ideas already.   I walked past this corner carrying mic stands and mandolin last night, wondering what the forthcoming sweater design will be, and that was a great moment of my evening.  John & me as a duo even back in 1992 . . .

I am posting one of our most-played tunes, with the wildlife theme, because living in the woods on the mountain we see lots of foxes. Anyway, we felt this lively tune deserves a lively title, something with a driving pace to it.  Imagery comes to mind of fox hunts in British period films, with tall slender steeds and riders well-dressed,  and hoards of baying hounds on the chase !  Or,  maybe just our dogs Emma and (John’s dog) Badger in rapturous pursuit of anything that rustles in the leaves ~~~~ but the sly fox always gets away !!! It is a hopeful melody, of out-running those who oppress us, perhaps, or just a fun run through the beautiful woods.  We seriously enjoy playing this one , although in the recording there are a lot of rough edges…

Knitting… And Wine?

vintage Napa Valley travel poster

An ‘American Viticulture Area’ is a designated wine grape-growing region distinguishable by geographic features, and one of these areas exists right under my feet, as I live smack dab in the middle of an appellation which sits at the tail end of the Mayacamas Mountain Range, in Northern California. The boundaries of this appellation include twenty-five square miles, with a thousand acres, planted on thin volcanic soil, and on steep mountain faces, some as steep as thirty percent! The steepness of the angle gives the vineyards benefits of more direct sunlight and better drainage, and well, as you know, that steep and rugged terrain personally means nice walking for me. Knit-walking in particular.

The unique sense of place of the mountain appellation, with a contributing factor that some of the oldest mountain vineyards are dry-farmed (that means without irrigation, that the only water the vines receive in the dry season are by their deep roots) produces wines that are ‘typically powerful in structure’. For example, cabernet sauvignon grown on the mountain commonly shows “briary flavors, moderate to bold tannins and herbal, floral aromatics ” … which translates into laymen’s words as ” Brace yourself, but oh boy is it tasty! ”

Near the Autumnal Equinox this year, at the beginning of chardonnay harvest, the mountain hosted its fourteenth annual Appellation Wine Tasting, and so it is, the grapes grown in this region are making wines that are gaining  world-wide recognition for their unique sense of terroir, and sought after for connoisseurs’ collections.  Might I add,  the vineyards nearby where for years I have enjoyed walking, their historic chardonnay & cabernet sauvignon vines had produced wines that placed in Paris blind tastings that along with other Napa Valley vintners, turned eyes of the world (you simply must see the film “Bottle Shock” to get this historic pivot point) .

In the more expansive Napa Valley, wine is exalted to levels beyond passion, thoroughly infused into the culture of the area, and lifestyles of our greater population. Here we are visited year-round by those who flock to immerse themselves in wine, and to pair it with five-star cuisine, simply put, this picturesque countryside of vines draws ’em in, and the wine has them spending money.

To drive Upvalley along Highway 29, and along many a back road of this county, one can’t throw a stone without hitting at least a couple of vintners’ mailboxes, and there are many to be passed along the drive of endless vine rows. One might see new & old stone wall facades along the roads to emulate old Italy & old France, but really, these California neighbors know their stuff !

In 1800’s vintners claimed stake of this fertile valley & volcanic mountains and never let go.  Why would they?  Just look at it !


Now, you might be wondering what all this about a mountainous grape-growing region has to do with knitting ?   Well, actually. . . I can’t wait to show you ! 

*  *  *

 A California Highlands Bonnet if there were to be one . . .


 “Vineyard Rows”  Tam pattern is  HERE

“Winemakers Waistcoat” vest pattern is HERE

All posts about vineyards (including this one) are  HERE.

Jean Moss: An Interview, Book Review & Give-away !


** My review of Great Little Gifts To Knit **

Bursting at the seams with ideas, apparently Jean Moss has an imagination which never rests.  I wonder if like the rest of us, she has the same few twenty-four short hours in a day? Beyond her long-standing association with the Rowan clan, other personal and professional attributes I can hardly grasp the breadth and width of — having designed for household names like Ralph Lauren, Laura Ashley,  Calvin Klein, Perry Ellis, Benetton, to name a few — she runs with those designers who are written into history.

Elements which stand out for me about Jean’s designs are her playfulness with color & shape,  her romantic & sensual choice of  yarns, and her putting it all together with an ethnic signature —  just ticks all the right boxes for me.  I personally am ‘big’ on that style (who would know, my few designs so far are so played-down and predictable.)  Her designs reveal about Jean a sense of real adventure too, and if there’s one thing I’d like to say above all, that is I sure would like for some of Jean’s artfulness to rub off on me!

Oh, and her writing style absolutley tickles.  Such as in the pattern one might see in the instructions, along with Skill Level, Yarn & Gauge, a category suggesting the best ‘Time To Knit’.  I thought for a minute, is this for real?  Jean is obviously entertaining between the stitches with a delightful sense of humor. No staid reading here!

As I admire Jean’s epic career in design, so I can’t but love her latest book “Great Little Gifts To Knit“.  A sumptuous presentation of thirty designs,  each design encompassing  two or more versions or color-ways, and with projects ranging from beginner to advanced.  There are designs to knit For Baby, For Her, For Him, and For Home.

I particularly love the chapter of designs For Home,  and Jean’s talent with assemblage photography is amazing — the colors and textures reach out and pull me in , Of all the designs For Home, the Wensleydale Tea Cozy rather shouts out the most I think, with bling, bling, and more bling !

Wensleydale Tea Cozy

Wensleydale Tea Cozy

There are five sizes for any possible teapot one might own!  This is certainly what every artsy tea-drinking knitter ought to dress their teapot with, and what I would expect to be a regular part of Jean’s tea-making. Yearning to try Rowan’s Creative Focus Worsted yarn, or just dip into my loose odd balls in my yarn drawer, I am eyeing this project as first on the list that I would knit For Home !

For Baby, who can see-and-not-knit Shower Set, with those exact shades of Sky Pink and Lime Green in Rowan’s Cashsoft DK ?

Shower Set

Shower Set

A project for beginner or anybody — a dear wee set of hat, slippers and tiny mittens – just look at these adorable baby mittens!  All three in combination or separately are marvelous wee gems, and would be my first choice For Baby.

In the designs For Him, I can’t take my eyes off of the handsome physique of Hugs Socks, made with Rowan Felted Tweed Aran yarn.

Hugs Socks

Hugs Socks

Maybe this will be a Him-Her hybrid, as a lover of tweed, and be really for me, though it does make me rather yearn for my fella to wear them.  Really huggable indeed, I think this would definitely be my first choice For Him!

Perhaps one of the most uber feminine designs that look to be also uber fun,  in Kid Silk Haze, in three sizes,  are the FrouFrou Fingerless Gloves.

Froufrou Fingerless Mitts

Froufrou Fingerless Mitts

Now, I’ve been on a fingerless glove trend this year, and these are particularly a thing which might pair well with mandolin playing at the early morning October Farmers Markets, or even for the Autumn evenings wine-tasting courtyard gigs.

However, of all the things to knit For Her, I have my heart set on learning lace soon, and so am as  curious as a cat to learn,  why not then with  Jean’s Kitten’s Paw Stole !

Kitten's Paw Stole

Kitten’s Paw Stole

( I recall the upsetting blog post of Jean’s kitten Django having an accident involving his paw and for some silly and very odd reason I can’t help but connect the two)  The Kitten’s Paw Stole is written in two versions, for a larger stole using Rowan’s Kid Silk Haze Trio yarn, and smaller made with the regular Kid Silk Haze–two stoles,  two yarns, and two yarn color-ways– in the chapter For Her !

Jean’s new book is a treasure trove of sparkling ideas and has a perfect gift to be knitted for any occasion.  And now I’ll end the book review with a round of applause, from left-of-center, three rows back!   What is the best thing is that Jean has given me the opportunity to offer to you, readers of my blog Yarnings, a give-away of her new book !  To be included in the drawing for winner, you need only  to comment on this post by telling us your favorite in the project gallery here.

Now, my last wish is that before you comment , that you will hang around for the interview next, and partake in tea & truffles with us, because I am really excited about this bit.

And now . . .


jenjoycedesign©tea, truffles & mandolin

The kettle is whistling, and I am here with Jean Moss,  and we’re going to be talking about things,  but first allow me to offer up  some of my hand-made bittersweet chocolate truffles along with a nice calm cup of Earl Grey.  Note, that *is* my knitted version of Wensleydale Tea Cozy, though it is far less  effervescent than Jean’s,  and as it is made entirely from stash, I had a sore lack of the  dyed mohair locks with which to embellish, however, I compensated the with as many  tassels as I could manage. ( I want to whisper aside to Jean, that her cozy design is modelled on the teapot of my duo-mate’s, he who is from Wales, and the very teapot which accompanies our music practice & recording sessions. )  Okay, on with the interview  !

JEAN: What a treat this is, not only do I get to chat with another knitter/musician, but I’m offered hand-made chocolate truffles too – I’m half-way to paradise! How did you know, Jen, that Earl Grey is my fav teatime tipple too?

JEN: I knew Jean, because I have read it in your lovely blog of course !

I have a few questions to ask you Jean, and hopefully ones you don’t get asked too often.  You and I are two kindred souls the way I see it, women who split our artistry between two really big loves – music and knitting.  We are Knit-Pickers !   I’ve heard your song about knitting, and have just discovered on your website your music cd about love of yarn (found HERE .)  I can’t really say I’ve met anybody else who crosses over music into knitting, more than you do.  How about the knitting about music?   I have seen the musical instruments photographed with the knits, but how else might you tell me, have you managed to merge knitting and music?

JEAN:  Yes, I included a chapter inspired by music in my book In The Mood, but the designs were not graphic interpretations of instruments or music-related images. Instead there is an oblique reference to their musical inspiration in the way each project is shot. So in answer to your question, I don’t think I’ve explored merging my twin passions further. But now that you’ve mentioned it I can see myriad possibilities. My knitterly brain is on overload considering the potential of musical designs.
Years ago at the start of my design career I did a well-received collection of fruity knits, incorporating words as well as images of fruit like strawberries, pineapples and pears into each piece. I can well imagine doing a similar collection based on music, in fact you’ve made me reach for my sketch pad straight away!

JEN:  As far as you know, did you pioneer a kind of relationship between music and knitting, or were there influences you drew from early on?

JEAN: The women in my family were all knitters, so I never thought about it, I just accepted being able to knit from the moment my lovely grandmother handed me some needles. I couldn’t have been more than five. I don’t remember any instruments being played in my childhood, but everyone sang, not in public but as a normal part of everyday, in the bath, doing the housework etc.
At school I was told I couldn’t sing and didn’t get into the choir, but I was always a cussed little beggar so I wasn’t discouraged, just more resolved to prove them wrong. I bought a mandolin as soon as I could afford to buy an instrument, but realized I was never going to be any good, so I traded it for a guitar and my love affair began. Singing and playing guitar is my therapy, it takes me somewhere else where I can forget any problems. Often if I’m writing a pattern and I get stuck with the logistics, I pick up my guitar and after a while I’m able to see things clearer.
My first career was as part of a folk duo, Scarlet Vardo, with Brian, my late husband. For several years we travelled around playing folk clubs and festivals in the UK. I love performing, especially when there’s audience participation, it’s a very special feeling to be bringing people together in one voice. When our kids started school we found it more difficult to continue, so I fell back on the other thing I loved and knew I could do well – knitting. I started off with a knitting machine, only progressing to handknits when Ralph Lauren’s agent saw my work at a trade show in London and asked me to produce a collection for him.
So I never consciously tried to pioneer a two-pronged path, like most things in my life, it just evolved.

JEN:  A little more about the past. I am a late bloomer in knitting design, and am lately collecting a lot of knitting books and things which associate to a particular ‘golden era’ in my life — the last years of the 80’s and first of the 90’s — and that seems to be when you were beginning to rise to design fame.  It was a time when I learned to knit, began to perform at open mics and get my first gigs, and I’d go once a week to a fiber spinning group, would spin yarn & learn to knit, and practice away the days on my mandolin.  This to me is the magical time of my youth,  when everything was new and I was captivated by music and craft.  My question to you now is, for my own personal curiosity, what was going on for you professionally at that time, say, from mid-80’s to the mid-90’s?

JEAN: This was a time of flux for me. My first book, Designer Knit Collection, was published in 1990. Also my husband became ill and died, so life changed enormously. Throughout the 80s Brian and I had run our business with 2000 handknitters all over the UK, producing handknits for my own collections which I would showcase at the New York Pret, but also producing sweaters and homewares for high profile US designers like Ralph Lauren, Laura Ashley and Benetton. This business quickly had to be scaled down, but I continued writing books, working on commissions and smaller collections. My music suffered at this time, I found the guitar held too much emotion for me to cope with for about a year after Brian died.

JEN:  How can I not give you the opportunity to run loose with your stories of music, please tell us a favorite story of music and performing.

JEAN: As you know Jen, I’ve been trying to rekindle my musical career recently. Performing is a part of me I can’t ignore – a basic need to express myself through my songs. I can’t remember any real disasters although the nerves are always there under the surface, but here’s a lovely story about my guitar. Earlier this year I bought myself a Martin, something I’d always wanted. I felt slightly guilty and as if I’d betrayed the guitar I’d always played, a beat-up old Guild D40 and told the story of why it looked so characterful on my blog. It had been my husband’s guitar and he had bought it nearly fifty years ago in a shop in Manchester. He couldn’t afford a case and soon after he bought it he was carrying it across a busy road, didn’t see the tow-rope between two vehicles, tripped up and… horror of horrors, smashed the body of the guitar. He couldn’t afford to have it mended and so he patched it up with gaffer tape and continued to do gigs with this slightly eccentric-looking guitar. After a while, Ian Chisholm, a fellow musician with a passing interest in making guitars, took pity on Brian and kindly offered to try to mend it. This he did, and sadly over the years he and Brian then lost touch. Imagine the scenario when he saw his repair on my blog nearly half a century later in good shape, still holding together. In the intervening years Ian had had a career as an engineer with the BBC, then fifteen years ago had decided to become a full-time luthier. We met up at Whitby Folk Week recently and I was able to reunite Ian and the Guild, and was delighted when he pronounced it to be sounding better than ever.

Jean's Guild Guitar

Jean’s Guild D40 Guitar

JEN:  As for the future in music-about-knitting and knitting-about-music, I have been brewing some ideas relating the two, if not just matching my designs-to-be with the titles of the tunes my duo-mate and I have composed — are there any fresh ideas you’ve been brewing up?

JEAN: What a great idea Jen! Since I broke my wrist, I’ve had lots of time to sit and think about new designs. Swatches are small and good therapy, so now the cast is off I’m slowly working my way through some of the concepts. I’m looking at the easiest ones first as I don’t think I could handle fairisle or intarsia knitting yet, but it feels good to have sticks and string back in my hands again. Musical knits are definitely on the agenda, I’ll keep you posted.

JEN: The last question about music & knitting – Do you wear your knitted designs when you perform, and if so, do you have any performance-specific designs?

JEAN: I don’t go out of my way to wear my own designs, although recently I’ve been wearing several of the pieces from my last book, Sweet Shawlettes. My approach to what I wear is completely whimsical. I love street fashion and get loads of inspiration from just watching what people are wearing. Clothes are a great way of expressing who you are and I love the process of putting them together. To answer your question more specifically, if I was performing I might very well wear one of my own designs, but not because I was promoting it, only because it would be a part of the ensemble I’d chosen for that occasion.

JEN:  I love your style Jean, the way you dress, such playful whimsy marrying sophistication! Also  how you dress your home– antiques, hand-made rugs, all with lived-in feel, with artfulness inside and spilling out into the gardens– the same marriage of color and texture which has been your mark in the world of design.  I just love the way it all comes together!   What words to you use to define this personal style?

JEAN: Colour, texture and form define my world. I firmly believe that we all have an innate personal style just waiting to jump out given half the chance. If you trust your instincts, regardless of what others may think, eventually what works becomes apparent. I’m a very visual person and I love putting clothes and interiors together.
My life is a work in progress – it’s rare that I would ever throw everything out and start again, hence my wardrobe is bulging and I’m still singing songs I sang years ago alongside new ones. I’m continuously tweaking home, garden, knitting, music and life. My clothes and interiors style tends to reflect how I feel at any one moment, and sometimes changing the colour of one wall in a room is all that’s needed to express this. If pressed I suppose the nearest you’d get to this in one phrase is shabby chic, helped along the way by two young Maine Coons with sharp claws!

JEN:  Because you are a person who injects artfulness into every conceivable aspect of living — into gardens, food, music, & craft, and you have travelled the world observing all these in a global context, what do you aspire to experience in a creative sense, that which is new and unexplored?

JEAN: I’m not continuously looking for new things, however I do have an overactive sense of curiosity (perfectly illustrated by breaking my wrist falling off a unicycle!). I often feel I could do with a couple of lifetimes to experience a fraction of the things on my bucket list. I’ve been very lucky in my career, but in another life I would love to be an architect.

JEN: Okay, the question I always love – What can you tell us about you that nobody could possibly know from all the book reviews, interviews, magazine articles?

JEAN: I’m a Bolton Wanderers fan.

JEN: Thank you so very much Jean for including me in your book tour! I’ve immensely enjoyed previewing your newest book (as I also have just acquired your first out-of-print book, there seems to be an interesting correlation) , and writing this little review & most of all having this interview with you, and learning more about you and about your contributions to the world of design.  I have for over a year now enjoyed reading  your blog which has brought me around the world with you (the music sessions in Ireland were fab !)  Most of all, I’ve enjoyed this one-on-one time with you to have a wee talk about the things we love and share!

JEAN: Thanks Jen, great to chat with you.

**  **   **

You can purchase Jean’s book on-line at Amazon (USA)  , or  Amazon (UK)  ,  and discover for yourself the tasty knittable treats !   Or, maybe you will actually WIN her book by leaving your comment below ! The winner of Jean’s book may ask for either the digital version or the actual book, whichever is preferred. The winner will be chosen at random on October  Oct. 7th … and I then will contact the winner via email. 

** EDIT IN: We have a  WINNER, Kirra Bennett ! (Chosen from a random number generator is lucky number 18. ) Kirra, now you may start knitting those baby coccoons for all your friends who are expecting, because you will be recieving Jean’s book very soon !  **

Thank you, and Good Knitting !

jenjoycedesign©Wensleydale Tea Cozy (Jean Moss Design)

My version of Jean Moss’ Wensleydale Tea Cozy , knit from alpaca stash.

Great Little Gifts to Knit ~  Jean Moss 

Blog Tour Itinerary

Mon 2 Sep      Wendy Knits Wendy Johnson

Wed 4 Sep      WEBS    Kathy Elkins

Fri 6 Sep         Getting Stitched on the Farm Kristin Nicholas

Mon 9 Sep      Stolen Stitches Carol Feller

Tues 10 Sep    Knittedbliss Julie Crawford

Wed 11 Sep    Black Bunny Fibers Carol Sulcoski

Thur 12 Sep    Rhythm of the Needles Joanne Conklin

Fri 13 Sep       Tiny Owls Knits Stephanie Dosen

Mon 16 Sep    Just Call Me Ruby Susan Crawford

Tues 17 Sep   Zeneedle Margene Smith

Wed 18 Sep    Redshirt Knitting Erika Barcott

Thur 19 Sep    A Friend to Knit With Leslie Friend

Fri 20 Sep        Craft Sanity Jennifer Ackerman Haywood

Mon 23 Sep            Connieleneknits Connie Lene

Tues 24 Sep    Knitsofacto Annie Cholewa

Wed 25 Sep     Ulla Bella Anita Tormoen

Thur 26 Sep     A Really Good Yarn Julie Schilthuis

Fri 27 Sep       Urban Yarns Alexa Ludeman

Sat 28 Sep       Linda Marveng  Linda Marveng

Mon 30 Sep     Yarnings Jen << You are Here !

Tues 1 Oct       Tentenknits  Margaux Hufnagel