Apple Blossoms

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We have an apple tree in our garden which has just begun to bloom, and for me that is very exciting!  There is a lot going on all at once, so there will be a flurry of posts forthcoming, I just wanted to break the silence and show off a little bit of springtime which is present here full tilt. I hope you are all enjoying yourselves in the midst of blossoms !

Tartan & Tweed Tam: The Pattern

jenjoycedesign©Tartan & Tweed Tams

Well folks, the pattern has been submitted,

and I am happy to finally show you the bunch of lovely photographs taken last month at our castle, modeling the design.

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This tam design is a little different, looking a little like a tweed cloth cap but also like a conventional tam.  Personally I think I’ve finally found my best-yet tam shape, and am excited to run with it.

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 Oh, and there are options in yarn weights, and well,

how could I not include a straight-sided toque option?

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I really think this tam is my best yet, and I hope you knit it !

Available for download w/ details on pattern page HERE & on Ravelry HERE

(matching Mitts pattern HERE)

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One More…

jenjoycedesign©T&T in Rowan Fine TweedOne more Tartan & Tweed Tam knit before the pattern goes up.

Knit in Rowan Fine Tweed, posted about previously here, and it is fine indeed!

jenjoycedesign©tam with Rowan Fine TweedNow I am going to do one last little Tartan & Tweed  “spring thing”  to add to my impressive mountain of Tartan & Tweed before the Vernal Equinox. Off to cast on whilst hiking the mountain …

Stitching Old & (almost) New Together

004I was given a handful of really old collars by my girlfriend almost a year ago (thank you Sorcha!) and finally I have decided to put them to use, and started by performing stitch-work surgery to one of my favorite thrift shop finds, a linen jacket shirt with a ruffle at the bottom and big shell buttons. First I took the top button off, turned in and stitched down the high narrow collarless shirt to the dimensions of the lacework collar…
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Then I pinned the hem of the collar  just inside the edge of the shirt…

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Then simply whip-stitched the two things together and then turned the collar out, without ironing,  so it has that lofty personality of the collar…. and voila !

004The thing is , these few antique collars have cast a magic spell on me as I am in love with the -old-fashioned ritual of hand-stitching on a hand-made collar on to not-so-new clothing.  I just can’t imagine what might blossom from this seed.

A New Love

Rowan Fine Tweed
Rowan Fine Tweed that is.  This yarn is so fine, and so delicious to the fingers as can be imagined, and with lots of colorful tweedy bits spun into it . Talk about gorgeous!  Especially the color palette, and the heathered tones spun together, it ranks with my favorites for color selection. But, RFT is a single ply yarn, and a little bit sassy (energized) from being so, and slightly heavier too than my fingering-weight favorites ~ Jamiesons Of Shetland Spindrift, and Virtual Yarns Hebridean 2-ply , and the other Shetland 2plies.  Plied makes the yarn a bit more tempered and softer visual appeal in the knitted fabric, I think of single ply yarn as more independent in it’s feel, being that there’s no ‘unwinding’ against another ply, it is perky and assertive in the knitted look, especially if spun with decent twist. Maybe in the blocking process, from the warm soak & dry step, the stitches will melt together a little more.

Sometime at the start of the new year I decided to go in-depth yarn-tasting  popular yarns of the like which are found in my local yarn shop. First on my list is Rowan. I’ve knit over half my life now not ever having knit with anything Rowan, some things just have to evolve, and that is one. I have knit and gotten quite lovely results thus far from my first projects in Rowan Felted Tweed DK, the yarn which I would like to make signature for Tartan & Tweed Mitts, and now that I’m designing a tam to go in this series, I would like a fingering weight option in addition to DK weight.  Fantastic, and lucky, there is Fine Tweed by Rowan, and of it I have myself a fresh catch!

As this is a week of maximum preoccupation, I need to hold off on the pattern writing for another week or so. Just like sands in an hourglass, are my stitches on the needles, that is, when I finish this one, this Tartan & Tweed Tam in Rowan Fine Tweed, I will get back to the business of pattern writing.

All that aside, I am so excited to cast on … yes… one more tam.

Forthcoming

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I have knit another test tam of my Tartan & Tweed series, to get the numbers straight, the shape solid, and to see how well it scales into Shetland fingering weight. May I say most excellently!  Tam pattern debut forthcoming, but I will not say much more, for next is the pattern writing (nerve wrecking & stressful) but as I was so excited to finish the design in Shetland Spindrift,  I just had to show it off to feel a little nearer the end. Having a cup of tea and a relaxing feeling of accomplishment, and very pleased to see this tam in Jamiesons Spindrift !

Finding Fair Isle

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My sister-in-law Patricia and I met for our usual cheery birthdays date at the coffee roastery in the tiny north Napa Valley town of  St Helena. We enjoyed delicious cafe cremes (lattes) in a bowl with pastries, then a short stroll down the old town road to our favorite tiny thrift shop behind the Catholic church. I usually do not find a single thing, yet when I look back, some of the best finds I’ve made were there. Today was one of those rare days when I did, and as I was doing my fast size-up of the racks, expecting nothing, something shyly captured my eye, as a busy patterned woolly thing was in the vests. With a closer look I found ~~ it was hand-made!

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It has that particular thickness, a substantial feel in one’s hands which can not be mistaken for anything but long-labored handwork of some expert knitter. Need I even mention (no, I shouldn’t have to) there are no labels nor store bought sort of tags saying ‘made in Shetland’ anywhere on it. It is completely hand-made, and slowly and surely realized this but not until I inspected it quite closely. There was never any doubt really, that there probably exists in St Helena a genuine and maybe even extreme Fair Isle knitter (perhaps the same knitter who donated the two skeins of Harrisville Designs Shetland yarn I got for $1 each months ago, another rare great find.)  I suspected, but I am certain now such a knitter exists in St Helena!

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I felt the fabric, and it seemed a little too soft & smooth to be Shetland wool, yet, after examining for quite a while I realized in all of it’s years of being worn, it very likely is Shetland wool,  though met the dreary fate of becoming washed in the washer and dried in the dryer, shrunk hopelessly, and thus it became of no use to the owner, or why else would such a prize be donated to this little thrift shop?  Even if not Shetland wool, and though only barely felted, and that would explain for the unusually soft feel.,  very fuzzy & ‘pilly’ and worn a lot (hopefully). I knew that I must must SIMPLY MUST take it home, even if just to have it.  One single dim thought occurred to me, that there was a glaring possibility that it would NOT fit me.

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Just look at the classic “OXO” border and little “oxo” peerie motifs, and very artful colorway of a charcoal grey background with rich blues and a signature center round of bright bright green.  And, of course,  the very signature steek work….

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However, when I got home I measured the bust and thought I couldn’t wear it, I thought no way.  But miracle of miracles, I did manage to slip it on!   Only barely. Perhaps after a time of calorie deprivation or since that is not likely,  extreme hiking (a little more likely), that after a few pounds lost, I could indeed wear this Fair Isle Vest with a little room to breath. Even so, tight or eventually looser, I’ve thought wouldn’t it be nifty for this vest to be my ‘cold days hiking vest’ accompanying me as Emma and I haul over hill & dale, bringing Fair Isle beauty along the many steps from my door to the peak & beyond.

Even if I don’t,  I am happy just to have it~~~  and only cost  three dollars!  It made my day!

A Mountain of Tartan & Tweed

jenjoycedesign©motherlode of Tartan & Tweed!Folks, I’m coming up for air, lost somewhere in this mountainous pile…this mother-lode of hats & mitts…this Tartan & Tweed design.  I have just (ahem…) updated (maybe the fourth time?) Tartan & Tweed Mitts again, this time to include the full mitten option.  Okay, so I’m done & dusted with mitt & mittens, Tartan & Tweed for the hands is now behind me.

Now it’s Tartan & Tweed for the head.  

I’ve been working like an ox designing, knitting prototypes, and now writing patterns and making charts, for the classic tam & accompanying toque (beanie).  Had a lovely photo shoot with my nieces modeling last weekend at the castle, our new favorite place. Here are some previews…

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The tam is moderately swagging, like a proper tam, and toque is straight-up.

Forthcoming very soon, Tartan & Tweed Tam & Toque pattern debut !

February Spring

jenjoycedesign©fruit blossomsSpring has spring in winter’s second month. From hard wood emerges the most delicate of things!

And the meadows are bursting with wild mustard flowers…
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Lately even though it’s spring-like here I am in winter mind.

There has emerged a mitten version of Tartan & Tweed Mitts…

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This  means that there will be still another update made to the pattern while I’m in the throes of pattern redesign. I just never can tell if there is still more to come. Which there was.

Mittens & Fingerless Mitts to be photographed on my lovely nieces this coming weekend, so watch this space !

Walking With Wool

I walk in the wild places each day. I walk while I knit wool into things, and I walk while beguiled by the season. I walk into the places which pluck my thoughts from my mundane worries and meaningless schedule and bring them onto a grander stage, extending in all directions and arching from the present to a sort of gelid idea of my future.jenjoycedesign©out walking

I long for my Walk with Wool, as ever-faithful dog named Emma trots along beside me with nostrils flaring, her nose seems to float along in determination to uncover something magnificent. We make great hiking partners even though our agendas are a little different.  Step and stitch together bring me closer to landing grounded to life with a shape. My life which feels at most times so without shape, finds it’s shape this way, in the knitting, and in the walking.

Even at the times when stitches dropped, or yarn falls out of my knitting bag that is slung across my breasts shoulder-to-hip, and unknowingly dragged for a length behind while collecting decaying leaves and even stickery burrs, maybe even some twig-like things. But I feel humor in all of it, and these silly things as yarn tangling among the shrubs as Emma’s leash around things make my life feel rich as heathered colors in a strand of multi-fibered yarn, tweeded with specs of emotions and interrupted by occasional knots which are always discovered with nothing less than annoying inconvenience.

I love my yarns, as I love fresh baked bread, and coffee & chocolate, or a hand-written letter from an envelope. Their poetry is felt as I receive them from out of their bag brought home, and wound with delicious anticipation by hand off of the backs of two chairs or a swift. I love the process of tearing the label off of the skein and then encircling the expanding criss-crossing blades of wood from the swift and tied together until they open into the hoop of yarn. The swift, my new tool of trade, holds the yarn as I secure it, then admire it. Ties clipped, and the end found, gently brought out to meet my hands. To feel the swift move as my right takes the end and loosely winds it around index, middle & ring finger of my left  in a way that the fingers ‘taste’ the yarn as one sips the first cup of rich coffee or aromatic tea.

These feelings, these sensual inner rhythms,  are what a knitter like me feels about the things which make up my creative life. These paths that I wander along, seem to forgive that I am isolated from society but beckon me more passionately to come along and hunker down with nature, and so I am taking to pen so to speak. I am in the mood to begin my knitting-in-nature autobiographical ‘yarnings’ in earnest and at last, so I present to you a first glimpse of “Walking With Wool”. 

A Storm On The Way

jenjoycedesign©manzanita in bloom

Emma and I were out for our morning walk but it was different today, it was deliciously foggy.  You see, to end a 7-week-long warm dry spell of this winter so far, we are due to get hammered with a big storm tonight.  A storm which is absolutely longed for.  So I figured we’d go out with the camera and take shots of the drizzling fog and cooling air.  On the way up the ridge there was a pleasant surprise ~~ all the manzanita is peaking in blossom !

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One of the attractions of this time of year in Northern California mountains is the precious heart-shaped and very fragrant blossoming Arctostaphylos, or as we know it, manzanita. There are mainly two indigenous species which thrive side-by-side up on this mountain, and the most distinct difference is seen this time of year, when they blossom. One has pink blossoms, and the other white.

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Otherwise their form is very similar, but their leaves are also quite distinctive also. I just love to bury my face into a cluster of these sweet blossoms and inhale their fragrance. . .

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At the top of the ridge, Emma sniffed and I knitted as we meandered along the knife-edge where to the north-east is Napa Valley, and to the south-west is Sonoma Valley.  Just sniffing, and knitting our way along. (I had been knitting a long 5-stitch i-cord for another knitting bag I’m making)

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And then finally we reach the summit, and breathe in the cloud .

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We’re out a lot these days hiking & knitting, as well as gardening, so we won’t mind staying indoors while enjoying the lashing rain forecast for the next few days.  I’ll be posting more as the tail end of winter bursts into action in the next weeks, on the mountain, in the garden,  and on my needles!

Tartan & Tweed Redesigned !

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I am so glad to be finished with this redesign.  And so glad to introduce my new Tartan & Tweed Mitts!  One size adjustable with gauge to fit Men’s Large down to Kid Size. Here they are modeled by Jeff in Men’s Large…

… you can’t easily distinguish the colors, there’s grey, blue, and green. I very intentionally knit with colors of weathered Fraser tartan (um…they are Outlander mitts!), these in Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light (sport/DK) which this wool-fearing man seems to be quite okay with.

I’ve been feverishly knitting these mitts in several popular yarns, more Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light with a slightly tighter gauge to fit me, women’s small to medium,  in lovely greys…

I think the different tones of greys best shows the different contrasts in value, without the color distraction. Here is examples of the medium stripe (top), lightest stripe (middle) , and darkest stripe (bottom).

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But then when the colors play in, it’s magic !   These in Malabrigo Arroyo…

Some really interesting variations of chart are now included …

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And remember these?
jenjoycedesign©mini T&T mitts

The ” itty bitty mitties ” are miniature Tartan & Tweeds in sock yarn knit up in tiny US 1 needles, made for Nora last Christmas, who is only three. Oh! I almost forgot to mention, I have condensed the original pattern , that was in Shetland fingering yarns and 4 sizes, and included it at the end of the ‘new’ pattern. So that should be fun, and you should have a full plate of knitting options !
So folks, I’m kicking off this redesign with a promotion….

Edit in February 5 : PROMOTION ENDED.

offerings

jenjoycedesign©offering basket
A give-away of another sort.  It is now the end of a knitting project and I a ritual of mine is to go around the house and pick up yarn littered about the floor, as there always is quite a lot, and it seems to just float about and mix in with dog hair . . .

jenjoycedesign©yarn bits

It is entirely too wasteful to throw away the little piles of wool.

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So I lately I’ve been thinking of ways to make use of these snippings of yarns, and can’t think of anything better than to entice the woodland birds of the forest to making use, perhaps to line their nests.

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Times before I would scatter yarn trimmings on the ground, or leave in a basket hung from a handle off the brand of a tree, both cases there was very little taken of the scraps.  Determined, this time I have chosen a more open basket (one that I made a while back actually) and just placed it snugly in the crotch of a dead tree.

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There’s something just so magical living in the woods and in and amongst the wildlife, I am hopeful this time my offerings will be snatched up and line the nests of the woodland birds ~ of robins, woodpeckers, ravens, jays, junkos, chickadees.  If I ever spot evidence of the yarn scraps being used by the wildlife I’ll be sure to tell you about it !

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Una Cosettina Pattern Overhaul & Promotional Give-Away !

jenjoycedesign©Una Cosettina Half Mitt‘Una Cosettina’ has had a bit of an overhaul in recent winter weeks.  I have knit up several more variations on the original design from nearly a year ago. Now pattern has options to work lace up the back of the hand, (I so wanted to do this , and now it is done and I’m satisfied!) . You can  create a full lace gauntlet , or a sporty shorty little wisp of a mitt,  or anything in between.  Options to omit i-cord cast-on & bind-off and/or eyelet round, and skip straight to the lacework. To me a bounty of choices makes a good pattern and as much fun to wear as it is to knit as it is to write!

But frankly folks, this pattern is all about using that one-of-a-kind skein or ball you have. Perfect for those lovely singles of your own spindle-spun yarn or that lovely skein of luxury yarn you couldn’t resist buying from that great yarn shop you just visited. Maybe you discovered a ball of vintage yarn in your grandmother’s attic which narrowly escaped a pair of argyle socks in the 50’s, or that novelty yarn you bought from the 13th-Century wool mill while visiting the town of Biella in Italy.

Una Cosettina meets One-Skein-Project-itis and makes a stunningly beautiful friendship.
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This pattern can be found on Yarnings HERE,  and detailed on Ravelry HERE.

*  *  * Give-Away is Over *  *  *

thank you for your participation ! xx

So this is the fun part, although a Ravelry exclusive promotional give-away (don’t worry, its free to join)~~ through January 20th~~ I am giving away Una Cosettina pattern to anybody who:

1.  opens up a project page for this design on Ravelry HERE  and…

2.  who writes somewhere in their project notes ” A Little Something To Knit ”  and please …

3.  UPLOAD a photo of some kind ~~ this is  essential so that the project is visible and so that I can swiftly gift you the pattern in your Ravelry Library.

End of pattern promotional instructions, but please don’t go through all of this unless you really plan on knitting them.   This promotional give-away will run  for  ~ 5 days ~ up through January 20th… which is only two months away from the vernal equinox !  As the frost begins to bite you’ll begin knitting them & have them on your hands in poetic unison with those earliest spring daffodils emerging from the icy soil.

Our Castle

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We discovered a castle !

That is, part of a castle, more the entrance of the castle.  A gothic brick & stone building at the gate of the Castello di Amorosa.

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Which was actually quite perfect, for nobody was about and we could just be creative with the knitwear. . .

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041jenjoycedesign©una cosettinaWe did actually drive up to the castle, but there were hundreds of people swarming about, and that was less than ideal for photographing. But we did get a shot of Miss Fifteen standing through the sky window of my car, with the castle in the background …
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It was a GREAT discovering this new favorite photo place, all three of us were very taken by the gothic feel of iron & brick & stone & arched windows, and all agreed it should be the new design image for us.  Modelled in photos are holiday & birthday presents from me; a pair of Una Cosettina mitts and accompanying infinity scarves “Una Cosettina Sciarpa Infinita”  which is all upcoming… we just had to give ‘er a test run here at the castle today !

Here are a few more of the shots…

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Yarn Scapes

jenjoycedesign©Rowan Felted TweedI am loving the new year so far, and the varied yarn-scape through which I am setting out to wander indulgently. Rowan greets me on this sunny January day, a nice tall stack of Felted Tweed, just look how substantial and tasteful the three tweedy colors look ! I just can’t wait to begin throwing stitches. Yarn tasting of the classic (though often spendy) yarn  is one of my New Year resolutions by the way, this is my first purchase of Rowan yarns, and I want to well-familiarize myself with their yarns in 2015.  Add Isager as one of the LYS lines, and a few local boutique yarns.

And only just days ago I had undertaken a very fastidious project, a rather inventive rendition of Una Cosettina Mitts.  With a photographic opportunity ahead (tomorrow) I hurried through the knitting and finished in two days,  involving these two yarns ; Isager Alpaca-Merino 2, and Shibui Silk Cloud…

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alpaca & silk & wool mitts for Natalie

I am quite pleased with them, and so will Miss Fifteen I am certain.

((  Warning: Half mitts made of dangerously fuzzy & soft yarns,

one could trip & injure themselves from the distraction of wearing them. ))

Tomorrow morning, my nieces and I have a little photo shoot for their knitted holiday bounty,

so watch this space!

A Fresh Perspective

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Looking forward to a year full of artful angles and new perspectives.  For the moment I am feeling keenly drawn to the mundane, how could this be?  Upping the ordinary seems to be my cause for the new year, I feel it in my marrow this transformation taking place.

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Driving through St. Helena a few days ago, on my way home from a visit with my brothers family, I stopped in for a meditative cup of coffee with 2015 planner pages opened up, and as I pondered the mystery of empty calendar pages, imagining the notes I will scribble in between the bold numbers which represent a twenty-four hour portion of my life, I inhaled the aroma of cafe creme and also of hope for the year ahead ~~ how good and rich and wholesome it indeed did smell.

Back in my car to make the second half of the trip home, cruising along Oak Street this house just stuck out for me. It would not otherwise be noticed save for the time of day and the way the shadows played it up. How interesting ! It seemed to ask me to pull over, park, and dig my camera out of my stuff and take a shot.  So I did.

In 2015 I strive to detach myself from distractions of consumerism, and instead to slow down and ‘do without’… to Mend & Make Do if you will. It just seems so attractive to me here at the onset of the new year, and before dawn, to contemplate true simplicity. I have always longed for the slower-moving vantage point.

I close this post of the first day in January to ponder this idea of Less Is More, and I wish you all a very good year ahead to set out for what you long for.

A Frolick On The Knitting Trail

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Hats on !
045Before setting out into the woods on my Knitting Trail, Maya, Molly & Rosanna chose three hats each out of my chest of knitted pattern prototypes, plus other bits, then we set out with Emma leading & me in the back with the camera.
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Maya is wearing Vineyard Rows Tam.

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And Molly models wintery white with powder blues of Chalten Beret ..
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and Tartan & Tweed Mitts

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Rosanna in the recent infinity scarf I’ve been designing and making lots of lately…

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… which will soon be available in pattern form.

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S w i t c h i n g

                          t h e m

       o u t . . .

goofingly striving for the essence of ” bohemian  raven goth “

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Then we found a fabulously mossy tree log on a very steep slope . . .

and a Dicey Highland Hat

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  Rosanna in the Vineyard Rows Tam and Molly in the Vineyard Rows Toque .

(Toque not yet written into a pattern, but soon!)

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 Hillariously . . . then  Molly began to slide off  . . .

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 Maya in the original Dicey Bonnet, a distracted Emma, Molly in Chalten, & Rosanna in Penny Candy Hat.

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 There was a few moments of a brilliant sunbeam ….

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Rosanna balanced gracefully against a fallen tree . . .

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… and no end to my demands while taking still another photo as we tried to cover trail …

and so a twenty minute trail walk turned to fifty.

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 Another Dicey Highland Hat . . .

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We really had a great time, and for me this was the absolute highlight of the whole holiday family get-together, though it lasted less than an hour.  I couldn’t be happier with the many great shots but I have to choose just some of them, though I just about died to discover how fuzzy the photos were in the low light of the forest. It seems I still have to learn how to use the camera’s settings for different lighting ~~ a New Year resolution!

148Thank you Molly, Maya & Rosanna, for wonderful knitwear photoshoot on the knitting trail! xx

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Maya in Penny Candy Hat

Things Are Spinning

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Happy Christmas everybody !

I am surrounded by family and just wanted to make a quick appearance to give my warm wishes.

Hand-made gifts well-recieved, but I am still knitting away on some last minute gifts.

Also I wanted to show you my new gadget . . .

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A swift !!!

I hope things are going as well in your neck of the woods as they are in mine. xx

Sheepish

jenjoycedesign©sheepyA sheepish little guy as he is without his clothing ! That’s because I am suffering from a bout of thumb tendinitis right after finishing him, and having a little knitting rest before starting on his little vest. Then again, he looks quite fine for a 3-month old without anything on, just in case I don’t get the vest made in time, don’t you think? He only stands about eight inches, just right for a little Nap Mate. Pattern is “James the Galway Sheep”  by Janice Anderson, and an adorable design I must say, even without rose accessory and fair-isle vest ;)

Done & dusted (almost) ~~ one sheepy little chap for one special newborn baby for Christmas.