BoneYard Shawl

Bone Yard Shawl in Blue

This week has been challenging to say the least. I had a root canal on an abscess tooth and have spent the rest of the week gumming my food. My teeth were only decoration.  Today, is the first day I was able to use my teeth on soft chewy items. Hopefully by Monday I’ll be truly able to chew my food so I can enjoy the holiday.

I have a few knitting projects on needles but needed something new and super easy. Absolutely no thinking involved. I considered starting a Pebble Beach shawl but it required me to read directions and when you teeth are throbbing and you want to cry needing to read directions and keep track of things is asking too much.

In the end I cast on a boneyard shawl by Stephen West. Technically by Stephen West, but you can’t really get more simple than a basic triangle shawl so I kind of consider this type of pattern authorless.


I wound my blue Tardis in the Void gradient set by A Hundred Ravens into a cake and cast on. After my leftie shawl I had about half a set left leaving me with about 150g of yarn. So I used both the untouched (100g) set and the left overs which will give me extra wide dark blue section since I only used 5 of the 7 colors in my leftie. I can’t wait to see it done and block it.

I love this shawl. Simple. beautiful. And just keep knitting because I want to get to the next color.

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Twist Class with Maggie Casey at Maryland Sheep & Wool

School house at Maryland Sheep and Wool

Yesterday I gave myself part one of a fibery birthday treat and took a class on Twist with Maggie Casey which was offered through the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. The class was absolutely amazing, and Maggie was so patient and generous with her knowledge. I am entirely self taught in spinning so this was the first time I got to learn and ask questions about spinning instead of watching a youtube video and figuring it out through trial and error.

Yarn SploogMaggie reinforced the importance of keeping records such as taking freshly spun yarn and pulling out a ply-back sample, but also using a dowel with 1 inch measured out and counting the wraps per inch. We did this several times – each time we made small adjustments to the wheel and then spun and then did a new WPI sample to see how the tiny changes we were making could affect the yarn we were producing.

hand spun yarn

My goal for the class was to learn how to spin fingering weight singles so that I can spin 4oz of fiber into a long continuous gradient and end up with enough to knit a shawl. Maggie was great about coming back to my question and helping me throughout the day.

Her tips? 1: Thin yarns naturally have more twist than bulky yarns. You want to add enough twist so when you hold a length in your hand and tug your hands apart the yarn stays together – if it drifts apart you need to add more twist. If you tug on it and it snaps then you have too much twist. Also, if you are getting curly q’s as the yarn winds on to the bobbin you are getting too much twist.

Things you can adjust:Before trying to treadle faster adjust your wheel; let the wheel work for you. Slower uptake generally gives you more time to draft your fiber and thus a thinner yarn. A small increase in the bobbin tension will raise your uptake speed so the yarn gets sucked onto the bobbin faster. If you need more twist move your drive band onto a smaller whorl; this will give you more rotations of your flyer for every rotation of your drive wheel – thus providing you more twist without making you treadle like a bat out of hell. Of course the opposite of these is also true, allowing you to slow the wheel to get the right amount of twist.

Specifically in pursuit of singles: when you wash them, hang them to dry weighed down by a squirt bottle. Nothing too heavy. Just enough weight to keep them straight and without the curls that naturally form in a single when washed. This will make them easier to knit with.hand spun yarn

I think the most important thing I learned is that an over/under plied or over/under twist yarn isn’t bad. I have seem samples of over twisted yarn that when knit up in plain stockinette actually slants the knitting. I was afraid that the yarn I was making would do that. Maggie says she tried to make yarn that that does that. And it requires sooo much extra twist that if you are trying for a normal yarn you are going to be fine. It wasn’t likely something you could do by accident.

Her saying of the day: practice makes improvement, not perfection. A motto I can really get behind. That and knit with the yarn you make! You can become a better spinner by using the yarn you make. You will figure out how to make a better yarn simply by seeing how what you’ve made reacts to being used.

I have already started spinning through my stash. I have tried in the past to have a spin every day habit, but by the end of the day I get distracted and tired. So I’m going to try the goal of spinning at least 30 minutes a day every morning after my coffee and morning pages. This way it gets done early, before life gets in the way. I’m going to do this definitely for the month of May, and hopefully I can love it enough that I can make it a permanent habit.

Part 2 of my birthday treat comes tomorrow, May 3, my actual birthday. I am going to go yarn and fiber shopping at Sheep & Wool!!!!!


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Knitting Like Crazy

Life has been kind of crazy lately. And I have coped by putting down roots in my knitting chair and not getting except to sleep. So needless to say I have a number of new finished projects that I have to show you.

11140015_10153829902006164_7267961851526721392_nA noro striped turn a square hat. I am so happy with how the noro turned out. I ended up with a bright happy hat without any stripes that I dont love.

11072196_10153826683241164_4193723511732550597_nA red and white striped Mormorio shawl knit in Debbie Bliss Fine Donegal which I didn’t love knitting with but love the final product including how much softer it got after blocking.

11015861_10153764980796164_3780196230146731816_nMost of a Color Affection Shawl. At this point I am down to the final two inch stripe of dark green and have put it away for a bit. Not because I dislike garter but because my colors are too jewel toned for this springy time of year. I’ll pull it back out in September and make quick work of finishing it. 

10985208_10153842461841164_559526359265569193_nI also finished up a basic hat using Knitbot’s classic hat pattern and some worsted color change mochi yarn. I LOVE this hat but alas it has been stolen by my daughter, who claims it as her own but doesn’t really wear hats.

Jessica Johannesen KnitsThis is the finished pic of my Gothic Lace cowl which I adore. The buttons are perfect on it.

Projects Not Pictured:

I am currently working on finishing up a dead frog from AKnitomy which I am making for my daughter’s biology teacher. I’ve also designed a baby hat pattern and a baby cardigan pattern which I am working on finishing up so I can send the patterns to be checked for errors.

I am also going to be attending Maryland Sheep and Wool this weekend – Sunday May 3 -which also happens to be my birthday! And will most definitely cause some yarny treats to be brought home as birthday spoils!


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Gothic Lace Cowl

Gothic Lace Cowl by TinCanKnitsAfter finishing the leftie shawl I was a bit overwhelmed with the idea of jumping into a new project, a new huge multi skein undertaking. For a few days I looked through my pattern library and through ravelry and all I had for sure was indecision.

I was a bit tired of working on size 2 needles. I did tinker with a design of my own but found every single swatch and stitch pattern I looked at to be wholly underwhelming.

Then I had the worst day ever. There was some bad news and I needed to start a knitting project. Now. When you get news that rocks you to the core, when bad things happen to good people, good people who are near and dear to my heart I turn to knitting to cope.

The rhythmic consistency of passing stitches from one needle to the next soothes me. It is mantra like as I repeat the stitch pattern down a row. ssk, k1, yo, k1, yo, k1, k2tog, k1; repeat. Somehow it makes the world make a little more sense. It doesn’t fix what is wrong, or unwrite bad news, but helps me align my brain back to center so I can go on and keep helping my loved one be strong.

I sat in the yarn store, talking with a group of ladies who have become like moms to me, exhausted to my core. Far too exhausted to cry I stared around at the yarn wanting to splurge and purchase new yarn despite my promise to work from my stash. I flipped through Ravelry on my ipad and saw the Gothic Lace Cowl again. I had been eyeing it up for a while but it never made it to the top of the list.

At closing, just before the owner was going to close the register and lock the doors we had a quick discussion about the yarn I was staring at- Ella Rae Lace Merino Chunky. I have been lusting after this yarn for a while without seriously considering it for a project. The company lists the yarn as a bulky, but we decided it could pass as aran and thus the decision was made.  2 skeins in bright red would become a gothic lace cowl.

Gothic Lace Cowl - JessicaJohannesen.comI love this yarn. It is soft and plied well – it isn’t splitty at all. The stitches hold their definition well and lord it works up quickly on size 9 needles, this is in comparison to the leftie in fingering on size 2’s. I’m making progress quickly, because I’m also like an addict because it calms me. Just one more row. Just one more repeat. If I can finish this all will be right in the world again.

The ball band called for size 10 needles, but the pattern called for 8. I figured that a 9 was a decent compromise only .5mm difference above an 8 and below a 9.

One skein got me to around 13″ and the pattern for the cowl says to knit to 21″ so I’m more than halfway there. I’ll finish tonight and block tomorrow.

Most importantly, there is enough pattern to give me something to focus on. A mantra to repeat. And it helps.


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Leftie Shawl and Woven Pooling Ikat Scarf

Leftie Shawl - Jessica

Have you ever had a month where you are exhausted and it feels like everything that could need your attention, does need your attention? Yes, well me too. There has been preparing for taxes, recovering from the insanity of the christmas rush, being more financially organized, more taxes, family drama, getting sick, getting a little cabin fever and literally tearing the walls down…

Tearing down the walls

Technically we tore down the walls because we discovered there is no insulation between our walls and the outside of our house. To remedy this we are removing the inch thick plaster, adding insulation and then putting up sheet rock. We may also end up replacing windows too, we haven’t decided on that one yet.

I can’t believe it is March already, but I’m thrilled February is over. I love being a step closer to spring and a step farther away from the crazy of last month.

Leftie Shawl - Jessica

But onto the knitting! I finished my leftie shawl! Since I knit it on size 2 (2.75mm) needles I knit through my first skein of yellow yarn and had to order a second. The shawl has 31 leaves and I think it is a great size. Big enough to wrap around and be snuggly (because the yarn is so soft) but not huge. I also love the squishyness of the garter fabric knit at this gauge.

I am going to steam block the leaves to flatten them out a bit because some are seriously curled but I have no plans to block the whole shawl.

Pooling Ikat Scarf - Jessica


The next project I’m working on is a woven pooling piece. The idea is to warp your loom with a multi colored scarf in a way so that the color areas line up. For this project it is easier to see in the skein:

Pooling Scarf Yarn by Crabapple Yarns


I didn’t shoot it on the loom, so you’ll have to imagine the loom warped So that the yellow, red & purple areas are all grouped together. Then you use one solid color for the weft of the whole scarf. I had so much trouble lining up the colors in a short repeat that I ended up with a long repeat. Like really long. Long enough for 2 scarves.

So now I have to cut the scarf in half, pull out some of the weft on each piece to make a short fringe, then I can secure the ends and figure out who I like enough to give a scarf to, or I can sell it.

The yarn is by Crabapple Yarns – hand dyed out of Lancaster Pa. The yarn (Pizzazz base) has a slight sparkle to it – which isn’t my usual choice, but the colors were so awesome I couldn’t help it. The warp is Vermont Falling and the weft is a golden yellow called Golden Pippin.

Updates on other projects:

I’m almost done with a Cedar Leaf Shawlette by Alana Dakos. I’ve finished the stockinette portion and now I just need to do the knitted on edging. It is on pause currently because I know the leaves will take focus and I just haven’t had any to spare this past month.

I’m also working on finishing a Bantam Bunny by Rebecca Danger and a Tiny Little Dragon by Susan B Anderson. The bunny will probably get finished first because it is a shop sample for my local yarn shop.

The most exciting thing is that tomorrow I’m going to look at a floor loom – a 45″ Nilus LeClerc with 4 harnesses. I have wanted a floor loom for over a year now and I’m thrilled that one finally came up for sale locally at a decent price.

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Playful Stripes Cardigan and Leftie Shawl

Playful Stripes Cardigan

I finished my first cardigan. My first sweater, my first non accessory project. And it is adorable. As you can see it still needs buttons but I’ve decided to wait until after the oncoming blizzard to venture out and buy some.

This is the Playful Stripes Cardigan designed by Alana Dakos.

Playful Stripes Cardigan

I love the cute scalloped hem on the bottom of the sleeves and body. And the tiny burst of color around the sleeves and above the hem is just to die for.

Playful Stripes Cardigan

I made this sweater because I really want to make myself a cardigan. But knitting for an adult is a huge undertaking and I’m not sure I’m going to make it through. I have so many other knitting projects I want to take on fitting time in to knit miles of stockinette seems unlikely. So to test this I decided to knit a childs size sweater. This was a bigger project than I thought it would be. Despite it only being a size 4 it still felt like miles and miles of stockinette.

Honestly, it is physically bigger too. I dont think my niece will fit in this sweater for a while. I knit it to size, but I chose the wrong size.

I’m not off sweater knitting completely. But i have some other projects in the que first. I need something smaller, something that requires less seaming. And also a project made with insanely bright colors to help me cope with the always gray appearance of life in the second half of winter. I love to knit, but hate winter.

Leftie Shawl Yarn - Hand Dyed by A Hundred Ravens

This is the gorgeous yarn i’ve chosen for my leftie shawl. Bright colors hand dyed by A Hundred Ravens. I’ve started thinking of it as my Sunshine Shawl knitted to combat the great gray beast of February and I’m knitting it on US2 needles. I can’t wait to start.


DMC Top This hat in Giraffe Color wayIn other finished project updates, I knit up the kit ball of DMC Top This yarn in the giraffe color way. I picked this up while at Vogue Knitting Live. It is an adorable multi colored skein of yarn with a sewn toy head instead of a puff ball on top. Apparently they are sold out of the skeins on the DMC website, and the skeins aren’t listed on Ravelry yet. The yarn is bulky and knit up on size 9 needles and knit up in a single night. I cast on 70 and tried to knit tightly so that it wouldn’t be huge for my 3 year old nieces head.

I love it. It is simply adorable. I have another skein in pink and purple with a unicorn on top for my other niece.

Sundry shawl

Briefly I was working on a Sundry Shawl in red and white, but I was not in love with the yarn and I think I was knitting on needles that were too big for the fingering weight I was using. My current plan is to turn the frogged yarn into a woven houndstooth scarf.


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Stash Update from Vogue Knitting Live NYC 2015

NYC from my hotel room

I love New York and so I started this year by combining two of my most favorite things – Knitting and New York City, and let me tell you Vogue Knitting Live was absolutely amazing!

This was my first time attending VKL but it certainly won’t be my last. I was so overwhelmed with everything that I don’t even have enough pictures to give you the whole experience. I took classes with Susan B. Anderson (Knitted Toy Dragon) and Nora Gaughn ( Stitch Design Lecture, and Cable Design Workshop) and saw so many inspiring things I can’t wait to get working in 2015.  My head is swimming with ideas and plans and I am devoting a block of my day today to getting it all down on paper.

I’ll share more with you later, but for now you have to squeal over the new additions to my stash. Honestly, i could have taken home a ton more yarn than I did. But I really feel like the market place was about touching and experiencing yarns I don’t normally see. If I interact with them and know they are amazing then I can always purchase later.



2 skeins of Worsted Merino Twist in Red Zinnia from Purl Soho. Super soft and squishy. The color is insanely saturated. I love it. Purl was amazing, they have all of the samples from the blog in the shop and for a tiny space they really pack a lot in. I grabbed a few fat quarters and these two skeins. I considered the single ply super soft merino, aside from being a bulky weight (which I don’t love) I find that single ply yarns pill a bit more and I dont want to deal with pilling right now. So this goes into the stash with the plan to make a great pair of fingerless mitts and a hat. Maybe I’ll order a third skein and get a matching cowl.

No, Purl Soho did not have a booth at Vogue Knitting Live, but really what knitter could go to their first real trip to the city and not visit Purl? Not me. Next Time I’ll check out two other great yarn shops – Knitty City and Annie & Co. A few friends of mine went over to Knitty City while I was in classes and they said that the store was messy, but really well stocked. I have to assume that this is partly due to the fact that KC did have a booth and that the massive influx of Knitters into New York made it hard to keep up with cleanliness.



Jill Draper Makes Stuff– Esopus base in Ice Queen. This is 500 yards of a soft fingering weight yarn in an icy grey blue. Beautiful color and crazy yardage for the price. While I was trying to decide on colors Stephen West came into the booth and bought a few skeins of yarn in bright reds much like my Purl Soho skeins. First let me say he is super nice, but mostly he is crazy tall. Like over 6’2″ is my guess. He is way taller than you think.

Jill Draper had lots of great stuff, but since this was at the end of my shopping and I didn’t have a plan for it I only grabbed one skein that I thought I could match well with something from my stash at home.



Swans Island Yarn natural colors collection 100% certified organic merino wool in 3 colors Tiger Lilly, Tarragon and Maize. I bought this from the New River Fiber Co. booth. It is soft 3 ply yarn that I think would make great cables or a nice stripey color block sweater or shawl. It is worsted weight, so some of the shawl patterns in my que won’t work – I tend towards fingering weight shawls. But working with a worsted weight will make things go sooooo much faster. This is the only other purchase I have no plans for. But I came back to the booth three or four times so i figured I’d take it home.



A Hundred Ravens Tyche base in a Tardis in the Void gradient set and Apollo 400 yard skein. This yarn is destined to be a Leftie shawl with the yellow being the background and the blues being the leaves. This is crazy bright. Bright enough that I think I’m a bit insane for choosing it but Pennsylvania can get very grey in the winter and this will be a great pop of color to brighten a cloudy day. I actually bought 2 of the gradient sets so I could have some left over to make a matching hat. I’m thinking a yellow cast on then gradient blue hat.

Tyche is a very soft single ply merino, and the blues are so tropical. The ladies in the booth were so nice and every one of their color were amazing.



The Marriott Marquis was on Times Square and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. The hotel was great. NYC was great. And I can’t wait to go back – both to NYC and for Vogue Knitting Live 2016 because I will certainly be going again.

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Socks for 2015

It is time to think of the new year. I am trying to get my plans in order, and part of that is a new knitting goal. I have found that this past year my feet are cold all the time. I have never really needed socks before this – except to work out. But now i wear them all the time. I sleep in them. So it is time to give them a higher priority in my knitting que so that by next fall winter I’ll have a nice collection of handknit socks.

I’d like to aim for a pair a month, but that seems ambitious considering my history with tennis elbow and my other projects I’m queuing up for 2015, so instead I’ll set a goal for 6 pairs and see if i have time to go over that.


My first pattern to try will be a pair of toe up socks. I’ve never attempted toe up before but it seems like it would be easier to get the size i need if i can try them on as i go. I’ll be using Wendy D Johnsons basic toe up pattern.



This is the broken seed stitch sock pattern but this pair is knit up by Ravelry user Yacurama and i love them I have two skeins of Knitpicks felici self striping in rainbow that i think will look awesome knit up with some black like this pair.



This is a pair of socks based on the Hermione’s Everyday sock pattern, this pair was knit by Tintallie. I love the solid color -I think it shows the texture of the stitch wonderfully. Also i love the ankle height sock. That is my favorite height and honestly what I will do a few of my pairs in. The actual pattern does have a full 6-8″ above the ankle height. But this pair made me fall in love with the pattern.



This is the Business Casual sock pattern from Tanis Fiber Arts. I love it. It is simple and yet looks like it will be interesting enough to be fun without being t0o complicated and thus slowing me down. I have some semi solid/ tonal yarns that this will look good in.




These are basic ribbed socks by Kate Atherly. I am curious to see how the ribbing affects how the sock fits my foot. Does it fit better than a standard vanilla sock?




These are the pompom peds from Purl Soho. And I’ve listed this sock because ankle height socks are the style I most often wear in real life. So at some point this year I am definately going to knit an ankle height pair.




Nutkin by Beth Lapensee. I love the super simple cable look of these socks.



And this pair is not for me.  The Ballet School Dropout Sockettes by Inspire Knits. This is the style sock that my daughter wears. I want to knit her a pair of socks, and she won’t even consider wearing socks that go 6″ above your ankle.

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Woven Brown Panguipulli Scarf

Woven Rigid Heddle Scarf


I have finished a new scarf just as the polar freeze sets in. It is made from a wonderful brown yarn by Araucania called Panguipulli color 9. You can check out my ravelry project page for details on the weaving math. This went super fast, all done in one day. I love my rigid heddle loom, though I still want santa to bring me a Schacht Mighty Wolf ( or a Baby Wolf, I can never choose).

The business is doing well and we have just launched our own website shop at; we are keeping our Etsy shop open but want to pursue opportunities that require an independant website. And all the computer work is mine so I have spent the last two weeks in front of the computer like 40 hours a week. But we are now live and I can breathe a bit. So the scarf was my way of relaxing.


Christmas is coming and I can feel the stress of it already. I wish I could tell you my season was filled with super fun christmasy activities, tinsel, cookies and hot cocoa. But really as a self employed artist my Christmas season is filled with long workweeks, take out dinner and trying to remember what free time felt like. This is a great problem to have, an exhausting one, but a great one.

To gear up I am prepping for Thanksgiving. I try to make turkey day a big thing because of my daughter. I try to balance out the free time I don’t have in December.  This year we will be putting up the tree and decorating the house (inside only), then we will be decorating some gingerbread houses followed by a ridiculous dinner. Just the three of us. A small holiday this year as I’ve had some family move away.

I’ve got some creative things floating around in my head right now. Some designs for knit toys and possibly a hat. Also, the desire to take my watercolors out and do a bit of doodling. Maybe I’ll have some time this week to get started on a new project.

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Spinning Yarn- SpinCity UK Paintbox color way

Hand spun yarn


Life has been a bit busy lately and I’m a bit behind updating you on what I’ve been making. Last month I took a break from knitting to give my hands, and my tennis elbow, a rest. So instead of knitting I spent time spinning up some fluff that my daughter bought me for Christmas last year.

The fluff is made by SpinCityUK on etsy and the color way is called Paintbox – 3.5 oz of merino, baby alpaca, British Shetland and BFL makes it is a super soft yarn.  Unspun I loved the colors but I think it needs a more experienced spinner than I to bring out its full beauty. Then roving was made of a tan / cream base with lots of orange, blue, and yellow which combined to make a duller muddier color yarn than I had originally envisioned.

I think some of that fault might be in my head because when I showed it to the ladies at the yarn shop they loved it.  I showed my husband too, but he was less than super excited because he doesn’t love yarn the way I do.

Unsound roving

I’m quite proud of a few things with this skein though.

1. I got through it quit quickly, from fluff to finished it took only about three weeks; evenings only spinning while watching tv.

2. I remembered to take plying samples while making the singles.

3. I actually used the plying samples when plying the yarn which resulted in a balanced yarn that hangs without twisting. I have never done this before. I’m always over or under twisted.

4. It is fairly even. I’m going to call it a mostly dk weight yarn, though I didn’t remember to count it before coming off the niddy noddy. So I’m not quite sure how much yardage is here.

From here on out I’m going to have to look at roving and bats and try to see the yarn they will become instead of their beauty in their unspun state.  If I had thought of how to handle the opposite colors of orange and blue before I started I might have been able to avoid some of the color dulling that happens when you mix color opposites together.

All and all I am super proud of it … However this skein will not be knitted up by me. I’m in a swap on ravelry and my swap partner loves to knit toys so I think I will send this skein to live with her because I think it would make a glorious toy, maybe a cute little teddy bear.

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