Knitting In The Wild

jenjoycedesign©knitting in the wildAnother glorious hike up to the ridge peak this morning. Shading the camera lens with knitting overlooking the ridge after ridge facing north-easterly.

Greeting the long shadows of morning as the sun’s rays shot through the pines on the crest of the ridge…

jenjoycedesign©019There was knitting the whole way, reknitting that is, of yoke of nieces’ Autumn sweater.

 Capturing the sun streaming through black oak leaves soon to fall …jenjoycedesign©003Greeted the Sleeping Princess (Mt Tamalpais) as she lay like rolling blue ocean waves in the distance…
jenjoycedesign©036And Mt. Diablo as we started up, a stones throw from the house… and you can see the yellow patches in the trees where there is Autumnal color starting.

jenjoycedesign©002At the rocky top,  another  view across the ridges which frame the upper Napa Valley …
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Most of all we enjoyed the contemplative early morning trek, with bright morning sun, mountain air, and knitting all going so perfectly together I think. Looking forward to another like it each day this Autumn, as we have been out nearly every single day . Turning of the season continues to be wonderful this way.  Life is good.

Yoke Redesign

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

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

Knitting In Nature

019It rained again, and the moss is glowing !

We’ve continued our walks nearly everyday this Autumn.

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

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

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

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

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

Penny Candy Hat

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Mossy green & grey is my thing lately. But whereas before I was unsure I’d like this colorway for a Penny Candy Winter pullover, now that I did the ‘hat test’ I am utterly certain I LOVE the colorway, and enough to knit a whole sweater with it!   Boy oh boy does that colorway tickle a spot for me, evoking rich growth of moss on the trunks of the Black Oaks & Firs all around the woods where I live.

Oh, did I mention that I submitted the Penny Candy Hat pattern ? No ? It must have totally slipped my mind !  You can find the pattern on Yarnings HERE and on Ravelry HERE .  Penny Candy Hat was designed to be a gauge test for the upcoming pattern Penny Candy Winter pullover , but now I am thinking it’s just lovely as a hat pattern sold all by itself.

This little blue striped one I’ve made for someone who is turning Twelve this coming week , and which I will show off modeled on her birthday.  Besides lace band, and lot of fun stripes, to match her sweater, it has a pinto toorie !

jenjoycedesign©birthday hat for Miss Twelve And in case you don’t know what a ‘toorie’ is, well, I’ve also made a tutorial on how to make them on my Tips From The Table ~   “Making a pom pom & a toorie”

Sweater Success !

jenjoycedesign©010Here they are folks, my beautiful nieces in their Autumn sweaters.
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I’ve been quite busy with these sweaters since July.

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This Autumn I have designed a Winter version of last Spring’s design, because to my amazement it was so well received, I just couldn’t resist making another Penny Candy design for cold weather.  It has some unique features that are different from the tee, but I won’t go into the details until the pattern comes out.

These are two longer ‘tunic’ examples of Penny Candy Winter.

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One thing I’m a little embarrassed about is that it seems that Miss Fourteen has ‘shrunk’ a little in the last year, from training so much with her school’s cross-country & track team, and I somehow anticipated her needing more room for a winter pullover, so I apparently made it a bit on the ‘too’ big side.

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 While Miss Eleven has grown even more since I last saw her last August, and wearing her pullover with not much room to grow into.  She’s grown inches and inches this year, and doesn’t seem to be stopping, and already passing me up in height !

jenjoycedesign©027We flounced around Calistoga in the late morning, seeking out our usual spots, hoping for shade, but missing it for the most part. The ‘four corners’ on Lincoln & Washington streets, then the mural of Old Town Calistoga.  One thing, it was incredibly HOT while taking these photos, in case you can’t imagine, it was probably in the 80’s easy at 11:30, when we finished.
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 Miss Eleven is modelling the Penny Candy Winter in it’s signature stripes & lace in four colors, whiles Miss Fourteen models the basic solids version.  I’ve been working on the pattern like an ox through all the summer it seems, and I am very close to finishing, so I thought it a good thing to show you the photos from this morning.
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You can see the rest of this morning’s note-worthy photos in the slideshow …

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Click image below to see all Sweater Successes past .

September 2010

Walking in Autumn

jenjoycedesign©out in AutumFirst, a lovely shot from our Autumn walk the last weekend.

And now just back from a walk, out rather late we went up the ridge a little ways, by the high vineyard, (um… which is sorely lacking a vineyard for the present)…

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Then we turned around , and went into the woods. Here , knitting poised on a log, and with not much progress from the last photo of it….

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Then we decided to explore and left the trail, began crawling through and over all sorts of things, collecting all sorts of burrs and stuff in our hair, to scout out new places.

 Oh look! Another huge mushroom growing from a dead tree!

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 And then….

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… we ended up at a rather tall henge-like rock out-cropping I did not recognize.

(I’ll take another photo of this place another time soon, in the mist, for affect).

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Seriously though, with different angles to the familiar places, I thought there for a few minutes we were lost. (not really that would be rather impossible) A glance easterly and I see Mt Diablo in the distance, a good bearing.

011Then I knew where we were exactly and that there’d be close by the old dilapidated bench from one of the abandoned old shacks nearby….

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Sure enough, after scrambling through a few bushes, there it was !

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A great little secret picnic & knitting spot, wouldn’t you say?

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Have you been out on any walks this Autumn yet?

Each Day In Autumn

jenjoycedesign©vineyard after harvest

Emma and I have been out walking (and I knitting while walking) everyday this Autumn so far, and plan to walk everyday for the remainder of Autumn, bringing camera and sharing photos often here and celebrate the best time of year !  Harvest is in process, finished in this particular vineyard a stone’s throw from where we live. We passed it along our forest paths near by.  Then Emma spied a big yellow fungus !!!

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jenjoycedesign©fungus in woods

On through hilly & hollow lands we walk….

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And with fragrances abound, Emma follows her nose rapturously…jenjoycedesign©wandering2

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And just around this bend (from the opposite direction of last hike posted) we end up back home …

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First Morning of Autumn

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knitting at the peak

I know two posts in one day. Its just that I wanted to share with you all my first walk of Autumn.  We were out in the early hourse on this first morning of Autumn, knitting while hiking about the woods a bit, then hauling on up the ridge to the peak of the mountain (at 2600′ elevation.) There were beautiful views of the distant ridges along the way up.  Mt. Diablo in the distance, rather southerly (to the right behind the trees)…
009Then higher up, looking more westerly, a grand shot of Mt. Tamalpais,  named by the indigenous Native Americans meaning “Sleeping Princess” (did you know Mt Tam is where mountain-biking was invented?) …
011Then at the peak, overlooking Napa Valley, easterly, and the sun was already high …
019We went down our favorite well-trodden paths on the way home…
026and our favorite short-cut deer trails…

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035Then across the last oak wooded section before landing back home. It was a glorious walk this morning, and I have made progress on a little knitting too !

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 I hope your start of  Autumn (or Spring) is equally as happy as mine.

What are you up to?

Autumn Sweaters Done & Dusted !

jenjoycedesign©Autumn Sweaters 2014
I’m ecstatic for two reasons. For one, the Autumnal Equinox has turned, and two, both sweaters I set out to design & knit by the equinox are done & dusted!  I did have to reknit an awful lot too.  This is all you get to see of them for now, but we have the date set with my nieces to give them these and they will model them and we will have a boatload of fun with a photo shoot in Calistoga, and then you’ll get to see photos galore of them. Then sometime in October I will buckle down get the pattern done & dusted too.  But for now, just a happy chirpy sort of pleased-with-myself post on the first day of Autumn.

A Kiss Goodbye to Summer…

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Emma and I went out walking in the hot noon sun, and thought to capture the last day of summer, with the tall crisp dry grasses and pale blue sky in a photo.  Tonight the equinox occurs at 7:29 pm here, and we are so ready for Autumn !

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We didn’t walk far. We’ll go out again with regenerated spirit first thing in the morning to capture the first morning of Autumn.

Hey… it’s raining !

006Emma and I spent a few moments greeting the first wet morning of the season.

(it really is wet … just look at it !!!)

 The damp forest drinks in and the dust is washed off,

while whispering drops patter their way down from the trees to the ground.
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Then a brief break, and the fog pours in over the ridge from the ocean out west…
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Now as I’m uploading these photos to post, the rain is coming down again, off and on big fat drops on the roof…a sound that is pure poetry to the parched dry landscape of Northern California.  I’ve been posting a lot lately and I must say, it feels good after what seemed a long summer of practically nothing to comment about, bearing down and surviving the summer.  I really am thirsting for a good old-fashioned rainy Autumn, with lots of cooking & baking and squirreling away of knitted things for the holidays ahead.  It just doesn’t get any better than that. Well, lets hope the rain holds out !

The End Of Summer

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The Autumnal equinox is approaching in a week, and it is my absolute favorite time of year.  When October comes along with the marine fog pouring over the ridge I always feel so cheerful.  And when the first soft rains wash the dust off of the parchment dry landscape, it comes back to life, and then I feel ecstatic.  Like a cougar ready to pounce I am anticipating earnest work ahead on the woodland knitting trail that I have been contemplating well over a year.  Autumn is my happiest time, and my most hard-laboring time.

Just that I will spend the next week, the end of summer, first finishing this…

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(Not the cup of tea, but the sweater ) ;)  I am making good progress on the Autumn sweaters for my nieces, with the first one finished and the second more than half way done.  Soon I’ll be at the yoke joining sleeves to body, then it’s usually done pretty fast from there.

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I am pretty well certain that I will be finished with both of the sweaters by the equinox, which is one week from today… and the photo shoot with nieces wearing them is scheduled for the first weekend in October ~~ so my fingers are crossed, and I’m so excited !  For this last week of summer I knit while the sounds of grape harvest surround us on the mountain , rattling gondolas towed behind tractors on the rugged dirt roads and chatter of jovial pickers are heard in the breeze.

What is happening with you this bittersweet end of summer ?

Braided Rug

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I think I’ve met my match.  Another braided rug has lumbered into my life and I’m not talking about a small thing.  I am nearly helpless when face-to-face with a deal when I see one, at my favorite thrift shop, you know, and it happens to me so often I’m beginning to worry.  Well, just yesterday I was there looking about and I saw this massive roll on the floor, in front of the frames and pictures and folks were nearly tripping over it. I made a bee-line to it and with a quick glance, I knew it was rare and valuable. I rather wondered how it could be that nobody else noticed, and was worried that by noticing me noticing it, someone might snatch it up, so I do the ‘act-casual-like-I’m-not-noticing’ as I flag down one of the shop volunteers and give the nod that I want to buy the rug.  I didn’t even ask to untie & unroll it.  The label said 10′ x 15′ and $30.  I’m talking about the hand-made variety of pure wool braided rugs with saturated dyes that are stitched by hand together. I didn’t care what it looked like unrolled.  But really, how could it possibly be ten by fifteen feet ???

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I know because I overhauled another of it’s kind only 5 years ago, involving over-dying and re-braiding and a lot of work, which sits in our living room .   My thoughts were that it can’t be perfect, there’s got to be major stains or stink or horrid colors, or something which couldn’t be seen from being rolled up and tied.  I realized even if it were all those things that the material in this rug was fine to make several medium sized rugs and a few small ones to boot. I convinced myself I absolutely had to buy it !

jenjoycedesign©colors in rug

So I paid, and got help loading it into the back of my Toyota, we just stuffed it in there, and I hauled it home. This thing that I just impulsively brought home like a stray kitten (okay, more like a stray crocodile) and I didn’t even bother to unroll it until Jeff got home from work last night. And that we did.  I was correct, there was a major thing about it that made it so I couldn’t just uncoil off about 2 feet of braid all around and keep the inside as a complete rug, for it is mostly yellow.   I don’t like this particular shade of yellow, and it will not do in the house, I know, I’m so strange that way.

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Maybe I will reconsider, but for now  I’m face-to-face with this huge soon-to-be carcass of a hand-made wool braided rug which is much too big to fit anywhere in our house, it will have to be down-sized in one way or another.

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I suppose soon I’ll begin guiltily snipping someone else’s original stitching and coiling & doing some new stitching of loose braids to my useful liking.  Oh joy! But I have so many other things need doing too, this is just the deal that will do me in I”m afraid.  Determined to make this rare find worth every hour of rework I am gearing up to spend on it ~~ and I’m  feeling very much  like an old-fashioned farm wife who never sees an idle moment.

Autumnal Equinox Sneak Preview

jenjoycedesign©one-down & one-to-go

Autumn Sweater Sneak Preview

One down, the most colorful for youngest Niece of Eleven, which is now finished. I basically knit this critter twice! This Autumn’s sweaters will be a relative of Penny Candy Tee.  It is in worsted-weight yarn and construction is altogether different enough to warrant a whole different design .  Backstory: I knit this one up to the underarms somewhere in the first week of August, thinking I was ahead of the game, to have two Autumn sweaters designed and knit for the traditional Autumnal Equinox sweater photo shoot. Way ahead. Um… small detail… youngest niece grew like a rampant ninja weed all spring & summer, and when they came for a mid-summer visit a few weeks back,  I slipped it over her to try on and to my horror it was already way too fitted, with not much room for this Slipover to be slipped over anything.

I just couldn’t carry on with it, so ripped that out, knit over to underarms. Knit one sleeve half-way, but didn’t like the cuff and knit over, and finished two sleeves finally. Joined at the yoke and was going to go entirely circular, knit all the way up to the lace yoke section,  decided it was going to be floppy as heck, ripped back to armholes.  Decided to do raglan , and a wide decreasing  lace neckline, but it was too wide and lacy (therefore see-thru), and also discovered where I missed a decrease on one corner down near the armhole… ripped out the whole yoke back to the mistake, and reknit the raglan decreases, though higher.  Finally, the lace neckline!  Okay, so too wide, ripped ripped back and knit over narrower, i-cord cast-off too loose, ripped back did over again. There you have it. I knit it twice I figured.  I can’t believe I went and showed off one without the other, so uncharacteristic of me, as the two sweaters always make an appearance togethr. However, I just felt like I needed to cheer up Yarnings a bit, and feel some sort of reward in Show & Tell, as I am just in the middle of such a knitting grind.

The good news is that I practically wrote the pattern with that one, so IF & WHEN I ever get around to writing the official pattern, it won’t be such a bear. I am honestly hoping  I can get it together by November, but Christmas knitting kind of gets in the way too… so I’ll try my best.  Oh, and Eldest Niece of Fourteen’s  will only be in two colors , subtle wintery colors, and will rattle off like quick.  It will be nothing short of a miracle if I get these done by the Autumnal Equinox, but I am going for it!

1st Place !

1st place x-country meet Sept 6, 2014

My Fourteen-Year-Old Niece is a running superstar !!! Here she is today, having won first place in junior varsity for her school, in an invitational meet of over sixty schools participating. She raced the 2-mile cross-country and I am so proud of her. She is my super duper model and an absolutely killer runner !!!!

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Autumn Sweater News Flash : One down, the most colorful for youngest niece & blocking right now. Casting on a more subtle colorway  for the Running Superstar’s tonight!  It will be nothing short of a miracle if I get these done by the Autumnal Equinox, but I am going for it.

Lazy Hazy Dog Days Of Summer

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Well folks, we’re in the dog days of summer.  Such a funny expression…. ‘dog days’ … let me look it up.
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dog days
noun
  1. the hottest period of the year (reckoned in antiquity from the heliacal rising of Sirius, the Dog Star).
    • a period of inactivity or sluggishness.
      “in August the baseball races are in the dog days”

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I can bet that Emma is as tired of them as I am.  Everything dry as parchment outside, and no rain in sight for another month.  Another month or longer !

This early morning we are pacing ourselves …
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At the very  least… er…most… there’s lots of knitting going on.
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How is your summer going? ( Or winter, if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere).

What are you up to?

Napa Earthquake After

Alexander building after quake
topped barrels from Napa Quake
Napa quake fault
historic courthouse of Napa after earthquakeAs the post-quake mess is being more accurately assessed, on the second day after the 6.0 Napa Earthquake,  we are finding a lot of homes damaged, and loss of inventory of downtown business, and in wineries, 90 water lines broken, some fires, 60 buildings red-tagged, 210 injuries, no fatalities, and 5 km of fault line crack being examined, to list a few.  And still getting aftershocks. You can see all seismographic readings on the quake and it’s aftershocks over on USGS site for the Napa Earthquake here .

Personally I am touched at so many folks who have checked in to see if we are okay.  Big hug to all of you!

Napa Earthquake ~ We Are OK

At 3:20 a.m. this morning a horrible rumble shook Napa Valley, as historic buildings fractured, water lines broke, fires started, thousands of wine bottles (and probably a hundred thousand wine glasses) fell from cabinets and even wine barrels toppled off of their stands.  Epicenter of a 6.1 earthquake hit Southwest Napa and energy shot northward. Napa town got struck the worst. Still in all, I’ve heard of no fatalities yet but hurt people sent to the hospital by the many dozens, injuries mostly from broken glass.  Chunks of bricks shook off of Napa’s historic courthouse, and a handful of other historic structures badly injured, as inventory of many local businesses has been decimated in downtown.  We’re still watching news, as the power only was restored a little over an hour ago.

First thing I thought as I was shaken awake in the early morning hours from a jarring swaying motion rocking our rugged post & beam house, and as sounds of crashing objects shattered the night silence, and flashing like lightening I saw out of the windows in the distance, was that all of California had been leveled. I thought earthquake-prone San Francisco would be ground zero if we felt it so hard way up here in the mountains of Napa Valley.  I worried while still half asleep that those flashes were fire, but they were only transformers blowing as the power went out in Napa & Sonoma valleys. I was shocked a couple of hours later when talking to my brother (my nieces father) who lives a ways north of Napa Valley who had been privy to breaking news (excuse the pun) that WE were the epicenter!

Now having a noontime cup of tea I am realizing how lucky we were.  California is earthquake country, this is the third frightful earthquake I have personally experienced in my lifetime, while the memories of little shakes are soon forgotten, the eerie memory of the really dramatic ones are etched in my mind forever.

The worst of the crashing things in our house up on the mountain (not in the town) was in my knitting loft…

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jenjoycedesign©eath-quake Just a few things fell off of my desk, camera & tripod fell over, and a small crack in my Osborne mandolin, it mostly it went out of tune (though of course this is not my main playing mandolin, so no worries there!)  A couple of the large rock stacks which stand along our walk toppled . . .

jenjoycedesign©toppled-rock-stacksSo you see, everything is fine here in our neck of the woods, up on Mt Veeder in Northwest Napa, we’re just a little shook up is all, and Emma very insecure, as dogs become in these incidents.  Now back to some straightening up & knitting to calm down, and staying out of the chaos in town for a few days and put everything back in place.

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If you would like to find out more information about the earthquake which has hit Napa this morning, there is already a wikipedia page up on the net, which is still being updated, here.

Stash

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The other day I made a great find at my favorite local thrift shop. Admittedly it needed work to up-cycle it into the long thought-about colorwork yarn stash cabinet I’d been dreaming of putting on the wall in front of my work table. Just something to show which colors I have on hand , rather than perpetually digging out bags and boxes and dumping about to sift through.   Well, this little cabinet is of very old redwood, and the 3/4″ boards which made up the back were recessed into the frame.

I wanted shelves, and I wanted extra width in the depth than it had ~~ enough for balls & skeins of yarn for colorwork.  So I needed to take that back off in order to get enough width, and to make shelves out of it, and that is exactly what I did (well, with the help mostly of Jeff too) . Here it is as I found it… very dark aged redwood cabinet thing, looking like it may have been a little workshop cabinet once, as it is not in the least bit refined cabinetry, but rough, as I like it.

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I removed the back boards by cutting through the nails with a coping saw blade, gave it a light sanding, then created shelves with the 3/4″ boards that were on the back.  Voila, a framed shelf with glass door ~~ a colorwork stash cabinet made to order !

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My humble work space is now much improved with a glass encased colorwork stash to inspire !

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In The Kitchen

jenjoycedesign©noodle-making As I mentioned in previous post, my nieces came for a visit for a couple of days.  We mostly ‘chillaxed’ around together with our EDC’s (electronic devices of choice: iphone, kindle, laptop) but with plenty of time in the kitchen, just the way the last days of summer vacation should be spent, after a very busy one they had.  Both nieces had a busy summer, but Miss Eleven had and an incredible growth spurt ~~ and this visit was special, as for the first and last time, we are all three the same height !

Two days, one night, and four times we flung flour. jenjoycedesign©making-noodles The first time was making noodles (flour & egg) for upon their arrival they were good and hungry and I had some home-made chicken soup all ready for their expert noodle work.  By the way, Miss Fourteen could easily win a chicken-noodle-soup-eating contest … hands down! jenjoycedesign©bakers Second time, made Amish moon pies ( flour & butter) with apple filling I had made ahead of time waiting in the freezer , and came to life good & proper with their very experienced moon-pie-making magic touch.  How many moon pies did I personally eat? Don’t ask, I lost count! jenjoycedesign©making-moon-pies jenjoycedesign©moon-pies! Third time, pizza for dinner (flour & yeast) which means of course, pizza dough… and lots more flour (sorry , no photo of pizza) .  Fourth time, next day repeat noodle making for to finish off the chicken soup. Thats about it, a whirl-wind couple of days flinging flour and exhausting relaxation.  We three girls thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and that’s certain.

What totally killed me was in our last hour before I had to bring them back to Calistoga to meet their mom,  Miss Eleven says ” Lets bake something ! ”  Can you believe that? C’mon kid ! She cracks me up. Anyway,  we will leave you with our humble little noodle recipe . . .

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~ My Niece’s Way of Noodle-Making ~

Crack one egg into bowl. Add a pinch of salt, and maybe pepper and other herbs & flavors ‘to taste’~ whatever strikes your fancy. Add flour and stir with fork until ball forms. Add only enough flour to keep very moist wad of dough so that you can pick it up with your hands, the rest of the flour will be added from well-floured hands and surface. Break off small chunks and roll out with your hands. When all rolled out, into a pan of rapidly boiling water, or chicken broth, or soup, add all noodles quickly and at once,  Stir , then let simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes. Eat and savor the hand-made goodness.