A Humble Yarn

jenjoycedesign© Cascade-220-fingeringThis week, while at my LYS I fell in love with a new yarn.  As I held it I instantly knew  it’s potential. It comes in lovely 50g skeins, so I could really squish and caress, and yes, this stuff is amazing. Why didn’t I see it before? Because I was like a schoolgirl, with a schoolgirl crush on elite British wools, I guess that I had my eyes closed.

jenjoycedesign©cascade-220-fingering2

Colors left to right : Natural, Doeskin, Charcoal, and Jet.

I bought four skeins for barely more than $20, and  brought them home in their cheery little orange paper bag.  It felt wonderful.  I showed it to Jeff , who is my scratchiness barometer (that is, he is an extreme case of  FOSW  ~~ fear of scratchy wool) and he was impressed with it !  So in recent days I have been thinking about my new find.   I have decided that as a developing designer, it is important that I am ‘yarn conscienscious’, yet not yarn elitist.  Well, in most cases.  That is, in most cases I will design something entirely for itself,  using a yarn that I feel compliments the design, and also that I feel is easily accessible, and easily affordable. ((Though , still,  there are those special design occasions to showcase beautiful specialty & heritage yarns, for which I am very happy to be elitist . . . lol )).

jenjoycedesign©natural-cascade

Color : Natural

A challenge indeed. One of the reasons I have liked Jamiesons Of Shetland Spindrift, a  2ply fingering yarn, is because it is not expensive, but very affordable, considering it’s imported from the actual Shetland Isles.  However, I have learned by observation, that not everyone has easy access to this British wool , even though it is growing in popularity as the boundless community of the internet brings us knitters together globally.

jenjoycedesign©Cascade-doeskin

Color : Doeskin Heather

I am talking about a very popular yarn which I never noticed because I was maybe being a bit of a yarn snob. Yet at the same time, I developed this closet tendency to buy inexpensive yarn on-line. Strange indeed.  Though I adore the ease of my on-line purchases , I do happen to live up in the backwoods, and it’s not always cost-effective to drive to the next county to purchase exactly what I want.  I have had a yarn epiphany regarding this LYS exclusive . . .

jenjoycedesign©Cascade-charcoal

Color : Charcoal

I’m talking about Cascade 220 yarn folks, in fingering weight.  100% Peruvian Highland Wool.  50g skeins = 273 yards / 250 meters. 2 ply.  About $5 per skein.  What I have here is four neutral undyed colors in Jet, Charcoal, Doeskin, and Natural.

jenjoycedesign©Cascade-jet

Cascade 220 fingering : Jet

Striking resemblance to the yarns with which I created my Vineyard Rows Highland Bonnet .

My Vineyard Rows bonnet (tam) however, will remain a Jamiesons Spindrift novelty , as it is inspired so much by Scottish Highlands that I believe the Scottish wool is completely perfect, but I will list the Cascade 220 fingering as an alternate yarn on it’s pattern pages.

jenjoycedesign©Vineyard Rows2

You can guess that the next up & coming thing I am working on , will be a Vineyard Rows design, and in the yarn which is beautiful yet humble and very likely at your own LYS.  I still have a crush on Virtual Yarns Hebridean and Jamiesons Of Shetland, but perhaps I’ll broaden my more local horizons , this side of The Pond.  I tell you, Peru really has it going on these days when it comes to yarn !

Highland Hats !

jenjoycedesign©Vineyard Rows 1

Hats were the occasion this morning.

jenjoycedesign©Vineyard Rows3

We opened the cedar trunk with knitted hats, scarves, gloves, and sweaters . . .

jenjoycedesign©Vineyard Rows2

 Niece Who Is Fourteen did a stellar job of giving new life to the rows of vines with deep red clusters of California Cabernet Sauvignon grapes . . .

jenjoycedesign©Vineyard Rows6

and a fresh perspective to my Vineyard Rows California Highland Bonnet !

jenjoycedesign©Vineyard Rows9

(( In case you haven’t yet seen, you can find details of Vineyard Rows on the pattern page HERE ))

Then,

modelled by youngest niece ,

jenjoycedesign©Dicey

we have a new look for Dicey Highland Bonnet too . . .

jenjoycedesign©Dicey3

Something about the charm of an Eleven Year Old . . .

jenjoycedesign©Dicey2

(( and you can find details about Dicey HERE ))

Oh, but that’s not all ! Last-not-least, a hat made by Lizzi from the actual Scottish Borders !

  (( I’ve not yet found occasion to bring out and photograph, until this very morning ))

. . . just adorable isn’t it Lizzi ?  A treasured gift for certain, which I think is just as ‘cute as eggs’ ! xx

jenjoycedesign©Lizzi's hat

We also got some great shots for the new & improved design of Penny Candy Socks, too, but I won’t show you until the pattern is all ready to go .  So watch this space !

Over-Dyed

jenjoycedesign©over dyed
My latest yarn play. I dyed a ton of yarn  ( details in previous post ) with a mind to knit them into an autumney-equinoxey sort of thing, but now I think not.  I’m calling this colorway ‘curry blend’, or maybe ‘marigolds’ .  Anyway,  I think it fitting for my recent post-pattern-writing crash,  to continue to chill out with a clean slate for a while.  Just knit socks, socks, and more socks, and not have anything big brewing beyond re-writing Penny Candy Socks pattern for the remainder of Spring.    Oh, just look at these cheerful balls of yarn perched , happily waiting for whatever comes.  I am very pleased with the dye this time !

Yarn-scape

jenjoycedesign©over-dyed sock yarn (2)
I’m up to something again.  Here, winding off skeins of Shibui  & Madelinetosh sock yarns.  I’m drowning myself in skinny yarn.  I did mention something about knitting socks with it however, a few posts back . . .

jenjoycedesign©Malabrigo sock-knitting

Which I am doing.

My nieces are coming in a few days, and I am going to rewrite my original Penny Candy Socks pattern completely different ~~ very soon~~  so , I’m madly knitting the above pair (in Malabrigo Sock) for another fun photo session with them !

Then there’s this madness , heaps of skinny Knit Picks Stroll sock yarn (which by the way, like Shibui and Malabrigo, is from Peru) and very fine Lana Grossa (from Italy) . . . over-dyed and drying still  . . .

jenjoycedesign©over-dyed sock yarn (1)

I nearly spent a mint on some fancy hand-dyed superwash Malabrigo Arroyo (I sooo wanted to) , which is a sport weight, for I am erupting with ideas already for Autumnal Equinox sweaters, but decided instead to over-dye a mess o’ sock yarn I had on hand which was bound for nowhere.  Was 4 balls of light blue Stroll — now cayenne red, 4 balls of light grey Stroll –now mustard yellow, 1 ball of hot pink Lana Grossa, — now deep garnet.  All  now a very lovely array of Autumn tones, achieved with Dharma Trading acid dyes in colors “cayenne” ,  “mustard” , & “maroon” .

I had spent hours going color crazy at the kitchen last night ~ while cooking dinner (a habit I always seem to get into ). Today all is calm, and quiet, winding off like a busy bee hive,  immersed in this lovely yarn-scape.

 

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 . . . .

jenjoycedesign©PennyCandyTeeBrannons

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…

jenjoycedesign©SpringTee

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.

019

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

jenjoycedesign©PennyCandyTee-detail1

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 !!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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 !   

Yarn Tasting

I’ve been pattern-writing furiously, and it’s been raining furiously, everything around here has been a bit excessive, and so, just before noon I needed a break. I got in my car and drove down the mountain into town, to the , um…Local Yarn Shop. I brought home two new sock yarn brands to add to my existing sock yarn stash, so that now I have a bit of a selection for some serious sock yarn tasting !

Lets start with perhaps the top names in sock yarn, Madelinetosh’s ‘Tosh Sock’.
jenjoycedesign©Madelinetosh-Tosh Sock Label says: 100% superwash merino wool fingering weight -395 yards, color Ginger. Hand-dyed in USA , from South Africa.

Next, Shibui Sock.
jenjoycedesign©Shibui sock Label says: 100% superwash merino 191 yards, color Wasabi. Made in Peru.

Next, Sweet Georgia ‘Tough Love Sock’.
jenjoycedesign©Sweetgeorgia sock Label says: 80% superwash merino / 20% nylon, 425 yards, color Cayenne. Hand-dyed in Canada, doesn’t say if it comes from elsewhere originally.

Last in this line-up, is perhaps my favorite, Malabrigo Sock.jenjoycedesign©Malabrigo sock Label says: 100% superwash merino, 440 yards, color Impressionist Sky. Made in Peru.

I am very attracted to Malabrigo for some reason, the skein is stout and heavy and has so much yarn, and it is also the finest/thinnest of all I’ve seen yet, which to me is a real lovely thing… cuz I am smitten with ultra-fine knitting. I designed my Pretty Little Things gloves with it and I’m sure I’ll not stop there.

I am loving the feel and visual texture of all four of these leading brands (well, from the LYS at least) and though there are more brands, I figured, I’d start with these. I will let the knitting and the knitted fabric & feel of the finished sock be the judge, as I am challenging myself to a bit of a sock-fest, reasoning thus far undisclosed, but expect some posts about it coming up in the next few weeks.

Have you tried any of these brands ? What do you think?

Renaissance of Hand-Drawn in Digital Era of Knitting

I have been observing, watching, studying the migration behavior of modern knitting. Lately, I have been ecstatic to spot a new trend of the hand-drawn illustrations in a few popular indie designers’ patterns.  I usually don’t link to others’ blogs, but I really would like to bring forth one of my favorite indie designers’ recent post about illustrating knitting, and how this particular post really helps ‘open the door’  for a new trend in my thinking.

I am only too happy to see a renaissance in the hand-drawn illustrations.  Mother of Modern Knitting Elizabeth Zimmerman who published many books, and well before the age of digital and knitting programs, drew the most unassuming, endearing, and unsophisticated sketches for her tutorial illustrations and schematic diagrams.

illustration

If EZ’s endorsement of hand-drawn is my reference point of A , and the popular indie designers whom I admire who’s more refined artwork of the hand-drawn schematics as a point B, then I most surely have room to discover how my own drawing ability can develop in my own pattern writing.   Grass Roots is making a come-back.  About time !

I’ll make this short and sweet, and just show you something I put together in a few minutes yesterday.  It has the unpolished & rustic affect I long for , using pen & pencil out of the pencil jar next to the phone ~~~ the whole point of it is to *not* look too symmetric.

jenjoycedesign©hand-drawn schematic

(Ofcourse, text for the references” A, B, & C ” will be included in the actual pattern)  It is a simple and purposefully ‘sketchy’ illustrated schematic of my Penny Candy Tee, which the pattern will in fact , be finished soon,  after photos taken of my nieces modelling in Calistoga.  Having for a time decided to be among the ranks of indie designers who go at it the old-fashioned way, I am so happy to have found my feet now, and to enjoy this renaissance of the hand-drawn illustrations,  now I feel I can really run with it!!!

Tee Two

jenjoycedesign©Penny-Candy-Tee two Well knitters & friends out there… I am emerging from my knitting woodshed, now with not one, but two Spring Tees in my holster ! I am going to be doing a lot of (photo) shooting in Calistoga this coming weekend with my beautiful & adorable nieces modelling! A second knit of my latest design ~~ Penny Candy Tee ~~ prototype in  previous post, but this one is a little different. Not four colors , but three, and it is not shaped (for an eleven-year-old, c’mon…) and, I used up some left over stash Malabrigo Sock yarn for the lace, which is… um… quite a bit finer than the yarn of the rest. Not enough to get worried over.   And just like the original in last post, the lacework  is the feature of the design, an unlikely pairing with stripes, but hey, they get along wonderfully ! No fights in the playground yet . . . jenjoycedesign©ruffly

jenjoycedesign©detail Waiting patiently

now , for their girls to sweetly adorn,

I’ve got them folded away from distracting last-minute changes.

jenjoycedesign©ready&waiting

  This sign I have had propped up on my spinning wheel by my knitting loft door, well, I’m so pleased that what seemed a daunting task a month ago when I hadn’t even started them,  is now….

done & dusted !

jenjoycedesign©check! As I am presently working like a pair of oxen writing the pattern for Penny Candy Tee, that will be coming up next, for Spring knitting ! Details found on Ravelry HERE

Penny Candy Tee !

jenjoycedesign©drape

Well friends, I’ve finished up Tee One, which is also the prototype for Penny Candy Tee, and here she is slung over a chair back ,  just to show off how well the fabric drapes.  This flavor ” Licorice Vanilla ”  is for Niece Who Is Fourteen . . . sultry greys and creams, and  a classic ensemble of colors suits her perfectly. Perfectly!

jenjoycedesign©back-lit 2

The pattern is already well on it’s way but I am being childishly impatient not to wait until it is ready before I show it off.

jenjoycedesign©shaping-detail

The fact that this design has moderate waist shaping is indeed a milestone for me!

jenjoycedesign©waist-shaping

Also, I figured out a clever way to work short-rows at the back of the neck, and miter the centered lacework too, though admittedly, a bit of improvisation is necessary.

jenjoycedesign©short-rows-detail

I think the winning feature of this design, is that the scalloped bottom edge of the lace motif is so sturdy & stubborn  and the fabric of the stockinette (sock yarn on big needles) is so lightweight & sheer … that the stripes completely yield to the lace’s personality!

jenjoycedesign©lace-detail

Shown with the bottom folded up to meet the back neck.

Best of all , the steep raglan shaping is well-complimented by the stripes . . .

jenjoycedesign© Penny-Candy-Tee-detail

This lightweight springtime knit folds up into practically nothing. . .

jenjoycedesign©folded

I am going to go be busier than a beehive and finish Tee Two.  Stash yarns in a mix of different yarn brands will do nicely… orange, peach, and rusty red are fav colors of Niece Who Is Eleven !  I’ve got the Calistoga photo session with my nieces already marked on the calendar for two weeks from today, so there’s no letting up until then.  I will probably do some lovely still photos and show off Tee Two coming up soon as I race the clock, so watch this space!

001

Off The Needles

jenjoycedesign©off-the-needles !

. . . Two weeks later.

I realize this post is nearly identical to the previous one, but March is half through, and warming up, and had this little tee gone as expected, I’d have been finished last week. No complaints, though designing rarely is smooth and without challenge.  Ripped back in a drastic way a couple times changing course. Tee One for Niece Who Is Fourteen is just now off the needles, ready to weave in all the ends, kitchener graft the underarms, and wash & block. I will only have time to breathe a big sigh of relief, and not skip a beat… on to Tee Two for Niece Who Is Eleven. Sweaters in my life always come in two’s. :) LOVE IT ! Too much fun for just one person ! Will I… must I … can I possibly … have both of them ready for the equinox???   Stay tuned…

A Fresh Start For March

jenjoycedesign©drizzle -&- fog Knitting shades of fog & rain clouds, the colors reflecting this morning’s landscape, into a new project with the vernal influences taking hold for my nieces’ Spring Sweaters 2014.   Delightedly I get to report that the off-and-on showers-mixed-with-drizzle-and-fog brings a fresh start for March !

March's entrance

We are on the tail end of winter friends, aren’t we?
Here on the mountain the misty clouds are speeding past us, hovering and temperamental.
In Northern California, we are finally having some much-missed moisture, and I’m just hoping for a continued rainy & foggy spring.

Morning On The Knitting Trail

jenjoycedesign©morning-walk

Emma and I took off for a walk along the old road, and then on the knitting trail to visit the woods with the green moss which is now absolutely glowing from all the rain.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


I have to say, of the many oddities one can find in the woods, this was the most ! I intend to include it in a knitwear photo someday.
042
Well, it’s back to my knitting loft, with a new design adventure and happy pots of tea, for the sky is greying and rain drops are already plopping down on the roof again.  Happiness is rain.  Lots and lots of rain.

((And tea with home-made shortbread.))

jenjoycedesign©tea&shortbread

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.

jenjoycedesign©lace-cuff

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).

jenjoycedesign©edge-detail

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.

jenjoycedesign©mitts-at-work

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.

jenjoycedesign©Una Cosettina & una mandolin

*   *    *

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: www.thewoolbox.it
Informazioni: info@thewoolbox.it
Customer Service: customer-service@thewoolbox.com

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.

*  *    *  *    *  *

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.

* *  * *   * *

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.

 **  **   **

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 !

Posted From Italy

storiedilana

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 .

After The Rain

jenjoycedesign©forest-trail

It has rained for four days unending.

(A few glimpses from the knitting trail.)

I’m overjoyed because finally the moss on the mountain has drunk it’s fill.

jenjoycedesign©Emma-on-moss

Emma and I went out and soaked ourselves taking account of it all.

Now green can sprout from under last year’s brown . . .

jenjoycedesign©Emma-in-brown-grass

Beautiful morning after rain . . .

jenjoycedesign©facing-south-at-sunrise 
The creeks are gushing and riverlets going in all directions.

Life is good.

Jenjoyce Design is One

My first pattern submission was a year ago  today, on Robert Burns Day, and what a day to remember ! It was quite a frantic and generally surreal day where , as I remember it, I had no clue at the beginning of the day that I would submit a pattern, and with much help from my near & dear friends,  I just bit the bullet and did it!  Since then, I’ve had a pretty busy year  immersing myself in learning more about knitting, how to communicate ideas & design through writing, and submit a knitting pattern. I am still learning. I must say,  I’ve enjoyed the socks off of myself!  Here’s a little ensemble of EVERYBODY’s finished projects of my designs to date (including my own),  in my exciting first year of designing. Take note : I will be now editing and updating most of my earlier patterns, so look out in the coming weeks for the updates.  Also, apologies for the other day when preparing this post, instead of clicking ‘save draft’ I clicked ‘publish’ and sent out notifications for a post not up yet… uhg…goof!)  Lastly, if you have a finished project of one of my patterns, and it’s not here, please let me know , and I’ll insert it ~ Thank you everyone who has been with me on this journey (you know who you are xx!)

Linen Lace

jenjoycedesign©Euroflax-linen

Recently I stopped in on my Local Yarn Shop  and bought these scrumptious sapphire gems of Louet Euroflax Wet-Spun Linen yarn.  There were three x 270 yard skeins of  fine sport weight yarn that screamed ‘take me home with you!’ all in unison, and so I did.   Actually, had I not had a colossal store credit from a very generous gift, I would never have splurged on these, it was just one of those rare situations.

The honest truth is, I’ve been hankering to try the Euroflax yarn forever,  and to try a simple lace stole too, so why not make this my starting point?   Knowing full well that I am soon to be knitting up something for Spring Sweaters for my nieces, it will have to be something I can put down for a good long rest and just pick up whenever . . .   a ‘take along in my knit-walking bag’ sort of thing, for the months ahead in spring and summer. In fact, I can’t imagine anything nicer to knit in hot weather than deep blue cool tones of linen, in the color of cold mountain lakes, or new jeans.

That’s right, I don’t expect to finish anytime soon, but I can hardly wait to begin those yarn-overs,  just wading through row after row of crisp linen. Just something about linen which tickles a spot for me, and I feel though it was a bit of a stash-quest,  it will be ready when I decide to cast on.

Introducing “Pretty Little Things” (PLT) Gloves !

jenjoycedesign©PrettyLittleThings-glove

At last !  After a mountain of reworking and writing and editing, I finally have the pattern ready for PLT gloves. I have been working like an ox (like a pair of oxen!) on these for longer than I care to remember (clear back into October perhaps???) and I collapse in front of you all, with one last utterance before I lose consciousness and that is . . .

” Please stop on over  on the pattern page  and see all the prettiness there is to be seen” !  Also you can visit the sisters of PLT gloves ~~~ Pretty Little Things Socks   and make a sock & glove matching set !

jenjoycedesign©PrettyLittleThings-gloves2