Two fast knits . . .

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Already it is that time cozy season of Autumn again, my absolute favorite time of the year.  Although much later in Autumn than I have always begun in the past, I’m talking about it being time to knit the Autumn sweaters for my nieces.  I have had the yarn for about a month, but life got in the way, and as I’m just now feeling settled a little bit after being in the new house for already a week, I have cast on.  Past the hoop of the body, I am not yet sure what pattern I’m going to knit.   I have had lots of ideas over the last two years for a new sweater design, but  have not felt settled enough to even think or rise up out of perpetual indecision.   For these two fast knits I’m considering a few different yoke shapings as they go along, and they should go really fast.

I might decide to knit two Hillwalkers, or two Calidez’s,  one of each,  or something entirely new.   Number one, is that I’m not putting any expectations on myself, especially as yesterday was the second anniversary of the wildfire, and the event  very much reminded me how trauma & stress really can change a person’s performance.  All I can say is ~~ we will see.   Finished with the ribbing, and now ready for a bunch o’ rounds of stockinette body, so I’ll be busy with it for some time.  And then I can do the same for the light grey one,  and then I will decide how to proceed.

jenjoycedesign© Autumn Sweaters 2019

Oh! And tomorrow I meet my youngest niece in Calistoga to celebrate her 17th birthday ~~ and that I truly can not believe !

Sweater Descent

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

Put it all together and I have myself a fun and meaningful project on hand to ~ finally ~ learn the knack of cardigan making, with focus on unique approaches and short-cuts, and designed for ease which one can actually knit-while-walking. My descent from a shaky high ground through the ‘scree field of mistakes’ into the known of a secure expanse of solid-ground of skill and know-how, to find place where the cardigan can be my ‘go to’ pattern when I want to throw something together and try a new kind of yarn.  (hint, hint… I’ve been wanting to try  Studio Donegal yarns from Donegal, Ireland… forever and a day, but more about that yarn and that place  is another subject for another post).  My favorite kind of clothing is a cardigan, so I am wondering why then is my wardrobe so cardigan-anorexic at this time in my life?

So as a picture tells a thousand words, I leave you fully introduced into my meaning & intent of Sweater Descent, and as there is now the first, that implies intention of a series.

Here forth the mystery will appear from the mist…

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Yoking it in . . .

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The point of knitting a sweater when body and two sleeves join together , when all that is left is the yoke, then the sweater is nearly done. I call it ‘yoking it in’ and that is the best part of knitting a sweater, for it just magically comes together with relative speed!  This one is Miss Fifteen’s, and second of two Autumn Sweaters I do every year (the first one I knit, Miss Twelve’s, is already complete , and awaiting photos!)

I had joined all pieces, then set off for a hike with the sweater to knit on the stretches of dirt road, then to tuck away in large knitting bag worn handles over shoulders like a backpack, for the woods wandering trail-blazing section.  Trail blaze we did, and when we got back back after cross-country hiking off trail a ways, getting mighty dusty from dry loose forest soil, and as I was filthy I showered.

I then pulled out of the bag Miss Fifteen’s ecru-colored Autumn Sweater, it was littered with bits of duff and leaf… rather funny actually, and fortunately no staining bits or bugs. Now I’m indoors and showered and setting in to finish this pup ! I expect to finish it tomorrow , take some still photos soon thereafter, and then sigh a sigh of relief as I  be well ahead of the Autumnal Equinox this year to give my niece’s their sweaters with a grand photo shoot in the town of Calistoga toward the end of September.

This of course, means there’s plenty of time to get into some other design ideas I’ve been thinking about ! 🙂

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 !

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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.

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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.

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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.

jenjoycedesign©funny

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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Yoke Redesign

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Well folks, my smug happiness at being done ahead of the equinox for these sweaters did not last long.  In the post two weeks ago of my nieces modelling in Calistoga their new sweaters clearly shows how way off I was on the mark. I thought they were just accidentally ‘big’  and ‘tunic length’.  What I did not know, and what I know very well now, is that one doesn’t arbitrarily decide to knit so many decrease rounds because it ‘looks good’… no, I’ve learned the hard way (as usual) that these things are mathematical considerations, not entirely artistic. Yoke shaping is math. This is the difficult fact I’ve had to learn, and have been working with sharpened pencil , calculator and reams of paper in the last week, after it came to me a little over a week ago, in the early morning hours before waking, just why those sweaters were hanging on my nieces. I had to ask for the sweaters back, meet their mom Patricia in St. Helena yesterday, and there is no more hiding my head in the sand. I’ve ripped back now, and am going to make it right.

So,  I have redesigned a theoretic yoke , and now I am going to test knit my redesign of last two weeks by knitting the yokes of the Autumn sweaters over again from the sleeve join.  Fingers crossed, wish me luck.

Knitting In Nature

019It rained again, and the moss is glowing !

We’ve continued our walks nearly everyday this Autumn.

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Out in the freshly rained-on moss, and romping around and smelling things.

( Emma tends to like to stick her whole head into tree caves…)

023The really remarkable thing is, that while we were walking in the woods, I was knitting the very colors of the moss on oak bark, and it took me by surprise how much I reflect the colors of my surroundings.

Presently knitting the sweater for this hat , in the colorway ‘moss on oak’…jenjoycedesign©green&grey

Knitting in nature is one of the things I love to do most of all.

Sweater Success !

jenjoycedesign©Sweater-Success-Autumn-2013

Last Sunday we met in Calistoga to photograph the latest Autumn Cardigans !  It threatened to rain, but we got lucky and made it to our favorite sweater-modelling nooks in the town, with only a few drizzly drops to freshen things up.  Above, on the corner of Lincoln & Washington Streets,  outside of Bella Tootsie Shoes , this historical mint-green building is the back-drop for nearly every cover photo of Autumn & Spring Sweaters, for four years running.

  This time, we added a tree to our usual spots . . .

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Among several places, our favorite & final destination for photos is always the big mural across from Calistoga Coffee Roastery, so fun and theatrical, with two enormous walls lining both sides of a narrow alley, depicting Historical Calistoga. The mural has become our number one sweater photo shoot of all time.

jenjoycedesign©mural

There are a few other must-shoot spots , which you can see in the slideshow below, but it all starts outside of the Calistoga Coffee Roastery, where we meet for a coffee & chai, I give them their sweaters (always a surprise) , then we go out and start shooting photos.  One can see my two nieces grow up over the years, on this very bench.

Compare with three years ago ~  Autumn Sweaters 2010 .

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Demonstrated is the inside of the simple color stranding…

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. . . showing the elasticity of stranding , which I achieved by weaving floats more often than what is considered ‘traditional’.

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All in all, I was delighted to see how well the cardigans fit. This time I designed with a lower relaxed neck-line, but the blue one especially flirts with the shoulder a bit much and likes to fall off in a charmingly casual way, and because ( ahem ) the cuffs are too big, the result is that the sleeves are swallowing my niece’s hands!  I did the whole photo shoot without even noticing my niece’s hands missing in many of the poses… LOL !  I was confident because the actual sweaters measured to specifications (yes, the sleeves too) and so I did not expect it.  I am getting one of those blushing light-bulb moments where I understand better the relationship between neck-lines and sleeves.

Next visit, in a couple of weeks I will simply ‘take in’ the cuffs of blue cardigan with applied i-cord at the edge of the sleeves, and I think that will do the trick as there’ll still be some growing room in the length, but they’ll not slip over her hands.  No problem with my younger niece’s fit, she’s growing like a weed right now anyway !

So folks,  here’s the rest of the shots in a slideshow !

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In case you might be interested, you may have some fun looking through posts of past years nieces’ sweater shoots around the same spots in the town of Calistoga  HERE

All posts of this project HERE

General details of this project on Ravelry HERE

Introducing Really Red !


At last “Really Red” is finished.

And she is my own design !


A detail of her yoke’s beautiful colors of Autumn , from the back . . .

A detail of my moss stitch rib with vikkel braid, and vintage wooden buttons . . .

Red’s yoke sparkles with the very same red, gold, and brown tones of leaves turning in  Autumn on the grape vines near by, where we walk . . .

And in the greyish dark woods, she really pops out !

And in the very very near future . . .

leftover yarn means a matching tam !!!

(I’ve already cast on !)

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In closing, a spectacular view of mist-covered mountains,

from yesterday’s Knit~Walk,  overlooking Autumn colors of what I like to the “North Bay Highlands” of California.

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All posts about Really Red Cardigan ~~ here

Details on Ravelry ~~ here

Knitting Couture


Some vintage buttons I bought from Knitterly in Petaluma last February, especially for this sweater. They are wood, not sure what kind, but one thing is for sure, they are lacquered well. They were in the vintage odd bits bin, wired together and rather spendy. Twelve bux for twelve (and I will use nine), but you know, they were the only buttons of the seemingly thousands at Knitterly, which seemed to enhance the colors in the yoke. I’m so predictable to choose the natural materials when making things.  What do you think? Shall I sew ’em on???


I’m performing cosmetic ‘surgury’  with a steam iron, on this badly fitting sweater.  I’m doing things with moist rags I probably ought’nt, but I’m hopeful I can gently coax and block the fit into the right proportions for my shape.  The couture of knitting, I’m finding is more and more important , as each project seems to have it’s own couturesque challenges. This one, as we know, has a whole nest of them !

Autumn Sweater Success !!!

(  Autumn Sweaters 2011 in same location click here  )

My nieces in their new Autumn Sweaters.  We photographed in the same colorful Calistoga nooks we seek out each time we do the Equinox Sweaters.  In front of Calistoga Coffee Roastery, in front of the mint-green building on the corner of Lincoln and Washington streets, against the terra-cotta painted wall outside Brannon’s restaurant, and the best, the most amazing painted mural in the alley across  Lincoln from the coffee roastery ! These places just never get old, and they will be the back drop every time we photograph the Equinox Sweaters.

” Happiness is a new sweater knit especially for me ! “

Sweater success !

Luckily they fit, and luckily the yarn which I over-dyed became colors they both approved of !  Oh, and can you believe we were having a major heat wave of the Indian Summer?  I wanted to get the pictures taken before it got too hot,  and the unrelenting sun was bleaching bright, and nipping at our heels the whole way. . .

Autumn Sweaters 2012

(( Compare with two years ago ~ click for  Autumn Sweaters 2010 ))

And now, for a slideshow of the fun sweater frolick we had in Calistoga . . .

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 You may see all posts on the progress of the Autumn 2012 sweaters by clicking  here

Knitting details about sweaters are posted over on Ravelry here.

Percentage Systems

Rip…rip…riiip…

I would love to discuss the established Percentage Systems of Seamless Yoke Construction. Anybody game?

Here’s the deal,  the sweater heaped on the chair, getting ripped back was because I mistakenly went along my merry way starting the decrease rows from the method I’m use to , a ‘percentage system’ of a kind that I came up from the charts I’ve used,  completely forgetting how this time I wanted to try out strictly Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Percentage system.  (no hybrid!)  Feeling a little bit unsure with the over-all fit of another way, I am trying to anticipate the difference.  I’m laying the math out and taking a close look.

Elizabeth’s Percentage System, or cute little title of “EPS” as it is known among the Zimmermaniacs of the Modern Knitting World, I will extract from her book which I bought recently (used) called “Knitting Around”.  In EPS, the depth of the yoke is to be approximately half of the width of the main body before the sleeves are joined on (not circumferance, but laid flat, measured-across-width-wise measurement~  and then half of that is the “yoke depth”).  After joining the sleeves to the body, all on one circular needle, EPS has you knit up half of the entire yoke depth before beginning the first decrease row, and continueing with only 3 decrease rows total, dividing the upper half into halves, (quarters of the total depth, actually) with the third and last decrease at the neckline.

EPS is roughly as follows: On the first decrease row , the total stitches are decreased by 25% , with *K2,K2tog* repeat. One knits up to I suppose about another quarter section of the whole yoke depth (perhaps after a decorative pattern allows), then begins the second decrease row, where the new total stitches is decreased  33.3% , with a *K1,K2tog* repeat.  The last and third decrease, right before the short-row shaping at the back of the neck, is a decrease row which is a *K1,K2,K2tog* repeat which decreases the new total of stitches 40% and which then leaves the remaining total of stitches to be finished off method of choice.  The last remaining stitches also is around 40% of the original casted-on total of stitches.  That is roughly, a condensed summery I think, of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Yoke decreasing which I am about to try for the first time.

Now,  the other yoke-decrease method , percentage system if you like, that I’ve been using up until now, is what I’ve come up with by following the instructions of the charts of the book of Ann Budd’s called “Handy Book of Sweater Patterns”,  a great book loaded with charts so one can design just about any kind of sweater from any yarn and needle combination (within reason of course).  This book has been my ‘bible’ up to now,  along my adventure thus far of seamless yoke sweaters.

It goes something like this : The total yoke depth is likely the same as EPS,  but one begins the first decrease row after only about 1/4 , or less, of the total yoke depth (instead of half). If you factor in the fourth decrease row at the neck, you’ve got the whole yoke depth divided into thirds, with the last and fourth decrease being at the neck. So far , are you with me ? That’s one extra decrease row than EPS,  but different ratios of decrease.

The way I’ve managed to figure the math from the charts , and from my own ‘imaginary sweater’ which employs the EPS as a template ~ has had the first row decrease of 20% total stitches, with a *K3,K2tog* .  The second decrease row , about half way up the yoke,  decreases the new total of stitches  25% with a  *K2,K2tog* repeat.  The third decrease row about 3/4 or thereabouts up the yoke depth, (depending entirely which pattern one might design into the yoke) decreases the new total of stitches  33.3% with a *K1,K2tog* repeat.  The last decrease row, just before the short-row shaping at the back of the neck opening,  repeats the *K1,K2tog* pattern to arrive at the final neck finish total of stitches.

Are you still with me?  Have I made any outrageous math mistakes yet? (If so, please point them out).  So what I’d like to know, is if there are any of you reading, who has tried different yoke shapings, and can enlighten me to how the end result actually fits being worn.  Until then,  I will finish off my nieces Autumn Sweaters using completely Elizabeth Percentage System, and see for myself.  I will no doubt, be anxious to spill the beans when the finished sweaters are all blocked out.    I have a sweater which I haven’t finished (haven’t steeked yet) which is shaped through the decreases from the Ann Budd charts to compare the EPS yoke shape to.

Sit tight, and see me get giddy with my newly discovered math abilities (Yes, I’m suggesting that I always was a very bad math student).  I’ve quite astonished myself actually !  See you back on the subject in a few posts.