Autumn Sweaters 2015 . . . Done & Dusted !

jenjoycedesign©stack of pullovers

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

jenjoycedesign©Autumn Sweaters 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Yoking it in . . .

015

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 ! :)

Knitting Linen

jenjoycedesign©linen

I woke this morning with a vivid realization that a new experience awaits,  blossomed from an epic love relationship of linen.  As I ponder this, it would just have to be, as my love of knitting, and the fact that living in a climate where dryness and heat are a way of life half of the year, and well, even when it is cool and damp, I love to wear linen.

Since posting about this yarn ages ago,  originally I was intending it to be a lace thing, but I let it hibernate so long that it now wants to be something else. I think. Maybe. I am ambivalently thinking about making it into an actual shirt. I really don’t want to call it a ‘sweater’ as that evokes cold weather & sheepy cozy wooliness, which this is most definitely not. It will be a highly breathy creature, billowing in the breeze hanging dry on the clothes line after being washed in the washer with a load of jeans . . . something one could not dream of doing to wool . . . something one could toss on and wear into the town on a balmy day.

Flower of flaxOh, but first, it is understood that knitted linen fabric is nothing like woven linen fabric, and as I am a knitter, and not a weaver, the obvious task at hand is to master the fiber with knitting needles, wrestling it into submission as the flax was to make the linen strands. Interestingly, linen made from flax, a vegan sustainable resource which is in itself a hardy most beautiful plant.   Just look at it’s pure light blue delicate flower !  How can something so delicate come from a plant that is so incredibly strong and tough and enduring?   I love the metaphor of the delicate and enduring hardiness all in one , I really identify.

Feather & Fan . . . and an e-book !

jenjoycedesign©Altitude Lace

Introducing Altitude “Lace”, the third of my series of three cowls designed for my Knitting @ Altitude group, with special consideration of  those beginners who are up for a challenge.

005 (2)

“Feather & Fan” I believe is a colloquial name for a traditional lace motif, and I’ve borrowed it to design a very easy lace cowl, with naught but a knit stitch, a yarn-over, and a knit-2-together is all that is needed for making one ~~ you can do it ! 

jenjoycedesign©010

I must say something about this yarn too, got it over at the Local Yarn Shop in the sale ‘bin’ the other day, it is deliriously gorgeous (okay, so I guess I am a real ‘yarnie’ now)… Road To China  (made in Peru) which is 65% Baby alpaca, 15% Silk, 10% Camel, 10% Cashmere. I’ve never had the pleasure of such luxury, it is beautiful, and I’m keeping this prototype to wear all the time.

jenjoycedesign©009

That’s about it. I’m trying to figure out still how to assemble the e-book on Ravelry, but until I do I’ll just have them all sold separately, no harm in that.  You can find Altitude “Lace” on this site HERE , and on Ravelry HERE . . . .

jenjoycedesign©016

… and….

Edit In : I’ve now got my first e-book together ~~ Altitude Cowls !!!

Ridges

the Blue Ridge Mountains

What do the Blue Ridge Mountains, and Altitude Ridges have in common?


jenjoycedesign©Ridges Cowl 2

Well, here is my latest little ‘weekend knit’ and second in series of three which will be my “Altitude Cowls”, the original named “Twists”, which is all knit stitches with some occasional twists from cabling, a truly beautiful step-up for a beginner who is encouraged by a little challenge.  (Altitude Cowls created for up & coming Knitting @ Altitude Group.)

and now this one “Ridges”. . .

jenjoycedesign©Ridges Cowl

which is a beautiful affect of a very timeless chevron motif of knit & purl stitches. Two kinds of stitches make a deeply textured waving undulating plush thing, which begs to be knit then wrapped around one’s neck all winter long !

jenjoycedesign©Ridges Cowl 3

Soon to be ready is Altitude #3, and then a photoshoot of my nieces modelling!  It just doesn’t get any better than that :)

Altitude Twists: A cowl with very basic cabling using a single knit stitch throughout. That is all. Bulky yarn makes it a real instant gratification project.

 Altitude Ridges:  A timeless chevron texture from two stitches used, knit & purl. Just two, and in worsted-weight yarn.

And now forthcoming. . .

 Altitude in something traditional and most basic lace !

Pattern page for Altitude Twists HERE, and on  Ravelry HERE.

In a row . . .

jenjoycedesign©hooksTarnished brass hooks on an old oak barrel stave, an artifact from attic, something my mother bought decades ago, and I remember it even then. Now, cut down to fit a new space, and hung again, the row of hooks hold felted wool nests of yarn & needles hanging with purpose midway fulfilled, rounds unfinished, in perpetual knitting motion on the trails which I walk, we walk, Emma and I.

One foot and one paw, in front of the other, we advance over the chaotic forest floor in unison, attempting to find a familiar path to stake. A knitting trail to rake aside the stones and the fallen branches from wind storms, to walk mornings and evenings, while knitting and smelling the wildlife’s potent presence, we go forth. These felted bags seem happy and purposeful, each of them filled with a different knitting project, they wait their turn as well-loved servants.

jenjoycedesign©bags

As the summer wanes, the air brings quiet subtle twinges of Autumn, and my skin nearly feels the rain that will come two months from now.  Autumn is knit-walking season for me, when the forest has an aroma of spice the trails beckon us and knitting explodes into form. I am happy to say that I am finally getting to the hard work of the long-talked-about Knitting Trail.  Glimpses here and there, and everywhere  will be seen as the days shorten and the walks lengthen, and these bags hold secrets one day to be revealed, as will  sections of trail with the rustic forested sitting spots, glimpses to be shared here for you to gather and sit with me.

jenjoycedesign©knitting-bags

Here & now, in the stale weeks left of summer, I try to maintain a sense of productivity.  I can nearly count the days until the Autumnal Equinox, as it always becomes a very longed-for event in my life, when I am once again as a giddy child. Six weeks and four days . . .

. . .and counting !

Calidez

jenjoycedesign©Calidez cover

Miss Twelve models Calidez

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

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

jenjoycedesign©011

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

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

What can you do with Calidez?

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

jenjoycedesign©Altitude Cowl cover

Altitude Cowl

jenjoycedesign©Altitude Cowl cover

Miss Fifteen modelling my very recent “Altitude Cowl”

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

jenjoycedesign©059

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

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

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

Now please go see Miss Twelve in Calidez

jenjoycedesign©Calidez cover

Forthcoming

jenjoycedesign©014

First, a simple pullover, and I made the smallest size in the size run to test, so what-do-ya-know... it actually fits… (but barely) the very tall Miss Twelve!

Second,  with an extra skein & a half which was left over from the pullover, I designed a very simple but very showy cowl,  modeled here by Miss Fifteen . . .

jenjoycedesign©049

Both girls donned these bulky puffy warm knitteds in the scorching hot Northern California summer temperature, even already at ten-thirty in the morning in St Helena.  But the photos are spectacular for me to put finishing touches on the two patterns coming up very shortly, just need some combing over. Luckily I don’t have a lot else going on this week so I can get them done & dusted.  Then it will be time to knit my nieces their Autumn Sweaters based on this pattern, so watch this space for forthcoming All Things Pullovers & Cowls.

Landscape With Pullover

jenjoycedesign©dryingHi folks. Now nearly two o’clock in the sun-drenched afternoon, and from where I am overlooks a very uneventful and washed-out, but beautiful blue sky, and heat-soaked deck plants, but most importantly a preview of ….(oh the ecstasy of finishing)… a pullover !!!  This very basic pullover represents about three week’s worth of near constant  pattern writing & testing with actual yarn, and now she dries in the sun after being washed . . .
jenjoycedesign©landscape-with-sweaterA landscape with knitting indeed, so excuse me now, but I must head on up with Emma for that ridge you see upwardly rising in the photo, we’ve been spending far too much time hung up with finish work today of reknitting necklines, and weaving in ends and grafting underarm stitches.  Gotta get ourselves hoofin’ .

(( Forthcoming~~ a dazzling finish photo and new pattern! ))

Sweet As A Rose

jenjoycedesign©fragrant-rose

This morning a lovely fragrant rose bloomed in the garden, and promptly I cut it off to put it in a vase on the table of the big open room of our house hoping to make the house smell lovely.  Now, usually that is fine enough, but being a bit of a striving dessert chef, my tongue could just taste that fresh fragrant blossom. Yes,  perhaps in a bath of whole cream, and barely sweetened with some fine crystals of organic sugar. My creative inner cook loves a challenge, and my nose and mouth can be jealous friends.

While this blossom was still opening it’s amazingly fragrant coral pink petals, I got out copper pots & spoons, and began to whistle a tune while a steam bath started to tremor. And this is how I made my rose ice-cream. . .

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I broke off only petals of a very fragrant variety of (organically grown) rose flower into bath of full cream ~~ about a cup, in preferably a glass or stainless steel bowl. Heated over simmering water as a double boiler, and when cream was very warm, added about a half cup of sugar (less is more) , stirred and let cool until room temperature. All that lovely rose essence leeches out into the full cream as the fat and the sugar really help the process. After it cooled to room temperature, I strained the petals out of the cream and added a little whole milk, not quite doubling the volume. Into the churn freezer it went.

jenjoycedesign©enjoy!

As the summertime drones on with mercury rising,  its a real treat to be enjoying a  little taste of rose ice-cream !

Gone Wild

jenjoycedesign©peak

At the peak

It has been a lovely morning up here on the mountain. Fog at sunrise, cool, crisp, breathing freshness into an otherwise stagnant stillness of our drying Northern California landscape. I feel as if my life has evolved into a new level of wild, as the days are punctuated mostly by the wildlife, or occasional trips into town, and the coming and going of ‘the man’.  Summer brings chickadees and hornets and straggling tough kinds of wildflowers, but mostly a platinum landscape of dry grasses, and oppressive stickery burrs along the trails which are a true pain to have to endure picking off of one’s self, and one’s dog’s fur. No wonder we have been lazy lately.

The dog and I decided to adventure up & out this morning, and so after weeks upon weeks of very little walking, we made it to the top.  Once near the top on the sharp and narrow knife-edge, the actual geological ridge cresting at a width of barely six feet wide in sections, and  covered in young knobcone pines, makes a lovely path to follow….

jenjoycedesign©geographical-ridgeA cliff drop to the east is Napa Valley, and a rolling descent to the west is Sonoma Valley, and from up here one can nearly feel the mountain’s spirit, as if the rock is slowly cutting through centimeter by centimeter, not stagnant but alive, with an energy about it which is luring, beckoning one to get the reward of being at the top. It is a special place the peak, at 2600 feet, and it really is almost less than a half-hour walk from our house if we hoof it, so we vowed to each other to get our lazy selves up there a lot more than we have, Emma and me.

Back at home, deliciously overcast clouds, and a breeze kicking up. While Emma continues her napping, I’m at the drawing board again on a new design, its endless calculations, and with delicious cup of coffee.

jenjoycedesign©pattern-writing

I’ll leave you with a little slideshow of nice shots from our walk, and wish you all well until next time…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Summer

hydrangia cuttings

This June I have become a mad propagator! These are cuttings of hydrangea I managed to acquire last week, and well, along with a bunch of citrus too…

lemon cuttings

I am keen to make a hedge bordering our garden with espalier lemons~~ from cuttings. Who’d think I would be drawn to this sort of thing, or even up for such a task? Not me! Well, I’ll not count my lemon trees before they root. Everything in the garden seems to be thriving now that we have installed drip irrigation (on some of the garden, but not all), and I am very excited to be gardening a lot of my time this summer.

Beneath my soaker-hose hydrated shelter of white sheet sun bonnet, the kale & lettuces are a bunch of partying plants, like a mosh pit of dancing leaves, along with my fragile little seedlings of new lettuces, kale, spinach, to rotate after the big leaves have been eaten or bolt, whichever comes first, as well as a few other things…

misty hydrated & covered lettuce, spinach & kale bed (seedlings too)

Mind you, I’ve never been able to grow lettuce here before, ever. I have now discovered the secret! There’s nothing like a huge salad bowl every night for dinner , of lettuces and these…

cotton yarn tomato trellis

tomatoes which I’ve trellised this year (yes, with some handy red cotton yarn I have)…. this photo taken a week ago, shows them just touching the top string at almost 6’…. but now, they are reaching up past it and the tomatoes are beginning to ripen red as the yarn!

five-foot-high tomatoes, and growing!

I do love my very rustic garden. Jeff and I have built it little by little, from a cleared bit of woods. I am considering potting shed now, as I spend the early mornings contemplating sitting next to the first-year Gravenstein which will one day be ‘under’ , and artichokes, asparagus, and perennial flowers… while the sprinkler showers us all with a pitter patter of rain. I love this time of day like no other.

I’ve also been up to doing some baking.017

Working on a signature rustic lemon-mascarpone sponge cake…

(um, but this one was an experimental apricot one…)apricot mascarpone sponge cake

because life is just too short to overlook these impulses.  This of course, is along the vein of propagating lemon trees, what is this craving I have for lemons? I will not question, but instead perfect my lemon recipes as I affectionately care for my little citrus plants. Grow…. grow… grow little lemons.

As I close this post of June’s bliss, I want to share with you a fun cake making video of Jamie Oliver’s, while wishing you all a lovely July and it’s a holiday here so Happy Fourth and all of that patriotic cheer!

Linen Shirt Make-over

jenjoycedesign©linen shirt makeoverMy love of linen has grown deeper with time. Its rustic wholesome weave holds my appreciation like no other textile. The warm shades of grey form layers in the seams, and when held in front of angled light from the late or early sun, it is simply beautiful. Just to see it that way I am able to almost smell its fragrance, as if the presence remains of that field of flax from which it was born, and it my skin longs to be against it.

So, I made another shirt for myself, new out of old.
jenjoycedesign©linen shirt make-over1
Making new clothes out of old is one of those things which I absolutely love to do but takes a bit of skill.  Pardon the wrinkly shirt photo, but that is actually the way I prefer it, not ironed too much, just a little, for linen has such personality with a little texture showing.  Months ago I bought a linen shirt from the thrift shop and I was wearing it around like a tent recently, and yesterday I finally cut into it.  Now it is more of my style, it has personality, it is natural, totally unique, and has a feminine classic charm. There was plenty needle threading and hand-sewing, which I adore actually, and the machine work was plenty too.

Here’s what I did:  I first ripped off the breast pocket, then cut out the big bulky button bands and collar. Then I cut off some off of the length which gave me enough fabric to sew in a ‘gusset’ to bridge the two fronts in the absence of the button band.  I cut off the cuffs and cuff button placket, completely, which left sleeves a little short.
jenjoycedesign©linen shirt makeover 2

From two sleeves I had cut before off of another linen shirt in my pile of linen scraps, I made simple wide folded faced bands to extend into a sort of cuff, and pleated the excess sleeve material to fit… a fast & easy way to go… and looks great rolled up. Usually I just hem the neck opening without a collar, but this time I had envisioned a peter-pan collar, so I set into making a collar custom to the cut-out neck, with the other linen sleeve in the scrap pile, and with the help of this book, published 1930’s….


Finished, and excited to get involved in a very summertime project for the hot weather, and that is making new out of old, re-making every possible tent-like mens’ linen shirt I possibly can get a hold of , and immerse myself in the metamorphosis of them into artful beautiful shirts for *moi*. My wardrobe is anorexic, but is on the mend, and I’m absolutely loving my needlework, on a quiet mountain, punctuated by very little else, which suits me just fine.

I’m ready to go at it with another!

Snow Melted !

jenjoycedesign©Snowmelt Tam & Toque (2)
I finally got to have my long-waited photo shoot with my nieces for my April design Snowmelt.

jenjoycedesign©Snowmelt Tam (3)

jenjoycedesign©Snowmelt Tam (2)

jenjoycedesign©Snowmelt Toque

Stunning beauties are my nieces Miss Fifteen & Miss Twelve, and brave, because although the mercury was already rising to near 80F at 10 o’clock in the morning, they donned these wintery outfits with wool. What a great time in St Helena, some shots against the gothic Catholic church, while their mom shopped at the church thrift shop next door.   I’m so lucky to have them to model for me, and I don’t think there is anything I enjoy more than being with them. Oh, maybe add a fresh new design knitted up, the camera, and then a nice lunch out as we did today.

A few more smiles before posting this morning’s photo adventure…

Snowmelt Tam & Toque pattern on Yarnings HERE,

and on Ravelery HERE

jenjoycedesign©Snowmelt Tam detail

A Little Cardigan

jenjoycedesign©a little cardigan

Hi folks. What you see here is the progress of a baby cardigan!  I do not really know what I am doing, and will have to soon consult the volumes which exist for sizing of babies, lengths, circumferences and all for tiny bitty ones to big bouncing ones. My hope is that I can have a baby set sometime by the end of summer (or sooner) .

It feels good to once again make myself a slave to indecision, to ripping out hours upon hours, reknit, then rip again, to blindly look in faith that I will find.  I will find the way to make this little lump of knitting into a darling perfectly fitting cardigan for babies. I will !

Until then, I show you my stitches of ever-so-soft Cascade 220 Superwash Sport. I am doing a lot of garter stitch edging instead of icord and trying to make this the easiest possible lace & stripes project that a knitter can make in a weekend, for a special Little Person that is coming into their world. That is my hope.

jenjoycedesign©little cardigan

As you can see, there is an opening on this design, it is not knit in-the-round, but ‘flat’ (back and forth, with a purl side). It will be seamless all the same, with little sleeves joined on to finish seamlessly. My purl stitching has become weak, from knitting everything in-the-round, but I am working out the purl muscles and will soon be up to par.  The edge you see is the same lace pattern that I’ve edged all my Penny Candy series, but on a bitty scale, and only 1 lace repeat. It will be cute and cuddly and cooing…and have little buttons!  

Really, its been ages since I’ve made a flat-knitted thing, and so looking forward to the button band section. More to come as it goes….

Penny Candy Baby Hats

014In recent days I’ve been having some mindless experimentation with my Penny Candy Hat pattern, designed in worsted-weight wool as a gauge tester for Penny Candy Winter.  The thing is,  the smallest size, though fine for a bigger baby or small toddler,  is too big for a newborn, so,  I’ve been trying out gauges & sizes with finer weights of yarn and smaller needles while thinking about babies.

Using superwash sock yarn, worked with 2.75mm – US2 needles for the lace, and 3.25 – US3 needles for the crown I’ve arrived at a gauge of 7 stitches to the inch. Here is the smallest of the four sizes,  77-stitch cast-on size:  Measures an itsy bitsy 10.75″ circumference by 4.75″ tall …

020

Here is the bigger of two smallest sizes, 88 stitches cast on, and measures 13″ circumference by 5.75″ tall (oh, and with only 2 lace repeats)…..

019

Details of both hats on Ravelry here

In same yarn & gauge, I estimate that the 99-stitch size would likely be approx. 13″ in circumference  and 6″ tall.

I have entertained the idea of coming up with a baby sweater in Penny Candy design, but I must say, I am not exactly sure about how to go about it. I have thought sport-weight superwash Merino wool would be best, but wonder should it be a cardigan ( probably seamless in 1 piece, and worked flat (back and forth), or just a pullover and not fuss with all of that.  What do you think?

A Rustic Garden

jenjoycedesign©the woodsWe had a little bit of drizzly weather last week, hardly enough to call a rain, yet it was.  Now June, the steady lack of weather, and presence of increasing dry heat has moved in like a stereotypical mother-in-law with her oppressive loads of baggage, for a visit with indeterminable end. Who knows when we will have the rain come again, but it is typically not until the second half of Autumn. Having lived my whole life in Northern California, I see it as something of magical fairy dust when rain falls in summer months. Around here we hunker down and work on defensible space (for wild fire) and use as little water as we comfortably can, and try not to worry too much. Nature is at its most raw and extreme everywhere it seems these days,  and Napa Valley is no exception, behind the facade of succulent ripe grape clusters ready to transform into jewel-like world-class glasses of wine, the surface terrain is very soon to be harsh and unyielding. Except for the vines laden with wine grapes of course.

Anyway, I feel like I’ve taken a good long break from everything of which previously I had been running an obsessive pitch. My blog, the knitting, pattern figuring & promoting all has gained distance from me while I’ve been doing who-knows-what else, and March through May have had distracting forces which have carried me along like a boat down the stream.  Last many weeks have been a blur of special (and not-so-special) occasions, of birthdays,  of spending time with new friends who have wandered into my life and also keeping cherished company with old friends, of making appearances to such things as a sixth-grade graduation, and then there has been the undeniable distraction of hard physical labor.

I find recently ‘who I am’ is a manual laborer for now. A Constant Gardener for the garden plot , the woods with its ever-growing thickets of trees and shrubs, and adjacent to that endeavor are my walking trails. Knit-walking has been replaced in recent months by trail maintenance, as the stickery weed burrs and poison oak this year are unbelievable, and full huge firs and oaks are falling across paths and the ridge road seemingly everywhere,  as if some sort of plague of drought, beetle & killer tree fungi all working together to reshape the landscape of the mountain.

But there is an oasis among us!  We’ve been working on a drip irrigation for our fenced-in ‘secret’ garden  this season, transforming the barely established perennials hanging on for dear life into happy productive fruit-bearing members of a garden.  Lastly I have plunged heart & soul into the work of never-ending woods work, primarily the defensible space woods work which involves a bit of hiking, strenuous brush cutting with a hand-held bow saw, hauling, stacking, and burning in the rain season, all of which is endless. I tell you, this sort of work makes one feel overwhelmed at best, facing acres upon acres of dense new growth of trees & shrubs , and I have recently begun to tell myself it is just like knitting ;  one stitch at a time which makes the Fair Isle sweater.

But blogging? Though I am settling more into a non-virtual routine, I realize this morning as I make this post, how since having quite a lengthy vacation from blogging and feverish knitting for a couple of months, I am beckoned back with an itch beneath my skin that there is work to be done but unsure of the next move creatively speaking. I have changed course many times in the recent weeks since Snowmelt tam about what is the Next Big Idea.  I am stale on the Snowmelt Gaiters for now, for writing about the steek is slightly out of my pattern-writing comfort zone, so I need to have a little more time on that, and will let it go to the wayside for the summer. I have been thinking about new ideas of cooling blue Aztec-looking motif, but still I feel like I just am spinning wheels, vulnerable still again to changing course. We all go there, arrive at the blasé place en route to enthusiasm. I live in the sun-dappled places of life, between shadow and light, where one gets caught in the dizzying moments of the ‘dappling’.

jenjoycedesign©rustic garden of potential

Here a photo I just took of the drenching light of early sunrise against the ridge beyond, making it’s way to our modest rustic garden of potential. There are actually things growing in there !  Tomato plants, ten of them, growing upwards greedily claiming their pathway to the sky, fat blueberries on several first-year plants which are my tasty reward for wandering down to the Secret Garden every morning to contemplate in my chair with pot of tea.  Trellised table-grape vines and blackberry vines, strawberries,  now drip-irrigated, are slowly re-establishing.  There is my new prized gardening accomplishment; a cotton sheet-covered and thrice-daily watered lettuce, spinach & kale bed which I have created to withstand drought and baking heat of the near perpendicular rays of the afternoon sun.  All in all, the garden, my Secret Garden I am enjoying immensely. More to come on this, as I have big dreams for this little garden plot !

So if you haven’t seen a lot of new things in the knitterly way, know that all is well, and growing and I am in full dialog with nature every single ( happy ) day.

Yarn Tasting: Shibui Twig

jenjoycedesign©linen-yarn

If ‘rascally’ could be a word to describe yarn, I would say linen yarn is very much so. Crisp, unyielding, stubborn, and relentlessly tough stuff,  linen has a great appeal to me… oh such like rusty found things, or uncushioned old benches, or crackled old earthenware. I love this stuff, and wear it constantly, year round.

Even winding it off the swift, into a ball , it has a mind of it’s own…rather messy in appearance, not laying in unison with other strands, wrestling it into a ball, as it tried to be a cube, was a task in and of it’s own!

jenjoycedesign©linen-yarn3

I will tame it. It may take ten cycles in the washer & dryer along with a load of white towels, but it will soften and be every bit as wonderful as my favorite linen shirts.

This yarn however, is only 46% linen. I bought it to dip my toes into the feel of linen, for I do have 3 skeins of navy colored 100% wet spun linen waiting to be knit up.   It is also 42% recycled silk, and 12% wool.  It is Shibui “Twig” , and there is 190 yards of it.  I am going to be sampling this lovely summery linen blend with my Una Cosettina pattern , as I have gone quite on a tangent today.

I am putting down Snowmelt gaiters for a short while, let them sit on a table for a few days. What is the rush anyway? I am my own competition , I feel suddenly today like having a little play time, so here I am yarn tasting again, going to pour myself a tall one of what I consider the perfect Northern California yarn!