Cooling

I am so looking forward to upcoming Autumn equinox, now only less than two weeks away! We survived an incredible record heat wave last weekend, and mid-week there started a cooling trend, when about Wednesday it actually rained!!!   Just a little drizzle, but it soaked into everything nearly lifeless and started a pulse to the landscape again, which I seem to be a barometer for.  I’m seeing that lovely fog in the valley below again, like a snowy lake, in the early mornings.

I am merrily going through my paces, and thrilled that Emma is perking up and wanted to go for a walk yesterday!  A couple of weeks ago her vet prescribed a half pill of meloxicam daily, and that is now beginning to take effect I think. She is all around moving as well as she was before her surgery early August — her sore hip seems better, with limp barely noticeable some days. ((Arthritis of hips & elbows is the bane of existence for older German Shepherd dogs in case you must be informed, although that is really difficult for me to refer to my Emma in this way, because ~~~ she is my fur child!  ))   Anyway, on our way back to the house from our short walk Emma grabbed a stick, her old game of ‘chase me’ which made me so happy, and away we went, for a faux chase! (right, not a fox chase, but a faux chase).

I’ve got so many things I have queued up for Autumn, but for now its just knitting my nieces’ sweaters, indeed very late this year, but they won’t be worn until probably late October anyway, so I’m aiming for an early October finish.  Also, I’ve begun trail-making in earnest again, determined to ‘walk me arse off’ and regain fitness I’ve lost over a very slothful spring and summer, moping around empathetically with Emma.  So knit-walking… here I go!

All is well, in this place, and for now.

 

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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Yarn Whisperer

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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 !

Vineyard Rows Tam

jenjoycedesign©high-vineyard Walking along the old mountain vineyards close by, I found inspiration for a design which I have named “Vineyard Rows”. A California Highlands Bonnet if there is to be one ! I chose four natural shades of Jamiesons Of Shetland Spindrift yarn, because I happen to love this black & white photo of the historic vineyard landscape I took a year ago. Near the highest vineyard knoll on the mountain perhaps, rows against an Autumn sky,  leaves blowing off of the vines as a storm was brewing… it was a walk to remember !   So I came up with this . . .

Vines of grape leaves wind about the wheel, in borders and peeries, along with interruptions of bold checked dicing.  To me this tam brings together California Wine Country with Scottish Highlands.  Embroidered grape clusters adorn the rambling  vines with French knots in wine tones, creating a spectacular and colorful needlework finish I think!

And on *moi*… straight up !

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…. swooped back !

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Oh but wait…. so here’s the fun part !

I really went wild with the notion of the toorie !

And decided that a tam must have accessory options !  Why not an accessory for the accessory ~~ why not tie one on for the mood you’re in ?  Basic black, wine red, & marled toories !!!

But before I embroidered the grape clusters into the vines,

I took the hat Au Natural out into the woods…

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Against the moss . . .

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And lastly,  against a blush of colorful Autumn leaves, showing how the tam’s outer most rim is traditionally useful in shading from the sun.

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Well there you have it, my latest design of a tam named “Vineyard Rows”.  I have created this tam for all the lovely walks I’ve enjoyed in the beautiful aesthetic of these old vines ~~ this tam is in tribute to them.

Autumn Scapes

If you haven’t yet read a post I made about Knitting & Wine , it is the prelude to this design, as well as other posts and photographs of nearby vineyards, you may peruse in all  vineyard posts .

And folks …

Vineyard Rows pattern may be found here .

((as well as details on Ravelry here ))

Tartan & Tweed Fair Isle Mitts Pattern !

jenjoycedesign©Tartan&Tweed Fair Isle Mitts

Thirty-Six hours ago I went into my little pattern-writing cave, bid good-bye to the world, barely noticed the light snowfall we had yesterday, let the house turn to squalor (happens fast with a German Shedder for a housemate, who by the way, was giving me the sad-eye the whole time as we didn’t walk one bit),  the clouds rolled on by, the wind blew, earth circled the sun, and I drank colossal amount of tea, and lavishing my appetite with mostly shortbread (which I bake regularly!)  So, well friends, I just crawled out of my cave. Two. Days. Later.

Wrestling with technically precise words is not my sport of choice nor talent forte, but I’ll tell you , if it weren’t for Morrie at the other end of the chitty-chatty box in gmail and even the phone numerous amounts of times ~~~ I never would have lasted in that dark & scary cave.  So first of all,  thank you  Morrie, for your abundant editing genius,  and your effervescent good humor.

Second of all, I want to thank Lizzi, for her convincing me I could be a real knitter, write a real pattern, and even be a real designer.  Liz, you’re right,  I can be as self-doubting as I am use to being, but then I’ll just go ahead and do it anyway, and be proud about it too.   So Lizzi ~~ ” well done you ! ”

Now I’ll mention lastly, that the first ever paid-for pattern for 2 bux is for sale on Ravelry.  Hmm… I feel a little old-fashioned asking two dollars for a pattern which took me (and lets not forget Morrie) two days to write.  But hey !  I am good with that !

So here she is,  shyly sitting in the shadows like a wallflower among great designers and pattern-writers ~ over yonder in Ravelry ~   the pattern for sale.

(Oh, and yes, that is my Really Red Fair Isle cardigan & tam the mitts are cozied up to !)