The darling of the place

I hear ocean waves again,   a sandy beach , a beautiful girl, and a ukulele   all over again.

Carmel sand dunes,  the smell of the beach fire, I am drifting back …

Whenever the darling of the place  makes these great little music videos, strumming on her grandmother Barbara’s old Martin ukulele, she sings of the good times past.  Lift to your ear and hear it, just like the conch shell in a swirling tidal magical way,  the sound is so charming, and so lovely!

Short days and long shadows.

jenjoycedesign© small quilt 2
This morning was very exciting when we got hit with a storm, and with the temperature dropping degree by degree, I won’t be surprised if it snows in the next few hours.  I have been taking a break this January from all self-expectations and enjoying some slack!  Three months living in our new house, I’m wanting to work on new habits and trying a few new things, in addition to keeping up the knitting. One of the new things is starting sewing again, which actually is a lifelong passion of mine, but has been pretty much not for a few years.  Lacking a lot of confidence, I have to start really small, so after the holidays passed I made a bunch of quilted coasters and a small coffee table quilt for Jeff’s den, done in the Amish quilt style.

jenjoycedesign© itty bitty quilts

Also I have tentatively begun sewing some much needed clothes,  for making my own clothes is truly is a mark of my authenticity, and so I am experiencing a beautiful reunion with the needle, thread & thimble after a long hiatus.  I’m really enjoying hand stitched finish work, delicious felled & French seams, slowed to a snails pace, and frankly I couldn’t bear it to go any faster for the hand-sewing just tickles some innate part of me which must have lived a hundred years ago. But more on that later.   The month is already half gone and not wanting to lose my knitting mojo entirely I decided to quick knit a pair of socks. I picked up a few ‘flavors’ of Kroy Sock yarn at Michaels some time over the beginning of the holiday, and am now finally enjoying some calm hours to knit.  Here beneath the sleet coated sky window, I thought I would photograph this unexpectedly fun pair I’ve got going . . .

jenjoycedesign© Kroy striped ragg

Pattern is Walking With Emma , chart A ribbing and modified with stockinette.

The days are short but getting noticeably  longer by the week,  and the wet snowy sleet is falling.   I love January!

Sweater success at the castle!

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Autumn pullovers appear in the interesting castle nooks . . .
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We met in Calistoga at the roastery for coffee while talking about things going on in our lives, and lucky for us it was an absolutely beautiful sunny winter day, so we hopped over to the castle to take our long waited for photo shoot, which went beyond Autumn into winter . . .

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We got loads of photos against the stone,

and they modeled their Hillwalker Pullovers

sampled with Icelandic flare this year.

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Just beautiful!   The two of them continue to captivate my interest in designing,  and honestly, it is ultimately for the three of us to have something together that grows and improves over time, with dedication and encouragement interwoven.  I feel so lucky to have these  young women in my life.

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After the photo shoot we went into the town of St Helena and enjoyed our traditional lunch at Villa Corona, and then parted ways.   Every minute delightful, the few hours spent together was for me the absolute cherry on top of the whole holiday!

( All posts Autumn sweaters 2019 here. )

For those of you who have been following my nieces here, in their Autumn Sweaters over the last decade, I’ll have you know that my eldest niece will be twenty years old tomorrow, and these are the tenth (pair of) Autumn sweaters that I have knit for them. They having begun their sweater-camera modeling when I first began my blog with the first Autumn Sweaters of 2010, a similar yoke style which I repeated this year . . .

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In front of Calistoga Roastery, Autumn 2010

This post has really brought on the holiday spirit of celebration for me; about craft and nurturing relationships. Having a lovely time and I’m so glad to share with you!

((Please click first image in mosaic and see the whole photo shoot!))

 

Making

jenjoycedesign© felted satchel

A felted bag, made entirely from hand-spun, some of those 30-50 gram skeins that were many of my Tweed Chronicle samples over the last two years ( and it is actually a very vague and rough “sketch” of an upcoming design I’ve been thinking about.) This one will spend a couple of days underneath a tree before belonging to someone dear to me. Oh, and this is my last knitted thing I made for gifts this Christmas, and yet, there is more making to be done!

The term ‘maker’ is a new buzzword, and I’m hearing the word everywhere in reference to a person who is involved with crafting or artisan work of any kind. Admittedly I am one of those completely manic sort.  I decided that although I have some new ideas surfacing for the new year with knitting, I really do need to take a break on it for a short while , so that I can start working on some things I have wanting to for a very long time. So with renewed vigor, I begin making a new kind of mess . . .

jenjoycedesign© quilting trim

. . . a mess which I hope there will be more making photos & posts of in the holidazed hours ahead.  I expect there may be a flurry of such Making posts, for indeed I have gotten bit by the making bug!

♥    ♥    ♥

To Makers All, I am sincerely hoping you are enjoying yourself immensely, because the glee really begins when something is ready for a finish photo and wrapping, then its time to make merry! And if you’ll excuse me, I am off to Calistoga to meet my nieces for a giving of their (uh oh, too late for Autumn) … um .. Winter  sweaters with a photo shoot!

December solstice ahead . . .

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photo by Ginsling

The December Solstice is almost here, and although imminent Winter will arrive in California with a dank dark chill, I can’t help but be lost in dreams of Summer when I see these photos, feeling the heat of the sun bearing down and smelling the bleached hay fields that I am so accustomed to in my own wild landscape of July.

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photo by Ginsling

A landscape which belongs to Summer, which it is soon to be in Australia.

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photo by Ginsling

And a most artful Knitter From The World, is a knitter of Australia, and named in Ravelry as Ginsling .  She has created a stunning stole in kid mohair & silk,  and the photographs are completely representative of the essence of the design of  Golden Fields Stole.

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photo by Ginsling

Ginsling’s “Remembering The Golden Fields” lace stole is a truly beautiful work, and I am feeling those sparkling rays of sun over on the flipside of the planet in the forthcoming Winter days over here in California.   Thank you Ginsling, for allowing me to honor your beautiful work, represented and photographed in my absolute favorite way ~~ in the wild!

♥    ♥   ♥

Edited in postscript:  I sincerely hope that the timing of this post is not insensitive, being that there are unprecedented wildfires tearing through the part of Australia where Ginsling lives, but as a sister to her in the experience of wildfire, and a bit of a phoenix too, I am sending out a prayer as regular as my own breath that the homes and welfare of she and her kith & kin remain unsinged.

Knitters From The World

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Photo by Strickgut

From Hamburg in Germany, there lives a genius with needles and yarn by the Ravelry name Strickgut .  She has made a beautiful and immaculate Christmas tree ball using the motifs from Wee Hearts, which is to my delight a colossal gift from her to All Knitters !

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Photo by Strickgut

And because Strickgut is as generous as she is brilliant, she has provided the knitting community with her ball chart (by my request, but it is of the colorwork only, no inc/dec’s) which can be found on her project page on Ravelry, over here, so Knitters All, there is no reason we cant have some beautiful festive knitting in our holidays,  gratis Strickgut.    Danke Chen*chen!

Out in Autumn (late).

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Walking along a foggy path in the late afternoon,  in late Autumn, I observe the season expiring after the heavy rain last week. Everything seems to be falling to the ground, exhausted.  Soon there will be new grass popping up.

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The last of the gold leaves wave in the breeze, as if to say “I’m tired, and it is time to go”, and the vines surely have given all their energy growing grapes for 2019 Harvest, and will wait bare until pruning time in late winter,  leaving the trellises standing like soldiers in a winter field.

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The stinging needles on the star thistle rot and become harmless, muted into the dull brown grass.

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The fog surely lays burden to the spider webs, and even though nature is bedding down, the creatures are stirring.

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The oaks are shedding leaves and covering the ground, another layer of compost for the soil,  two years after the wildfire is nothing less than a treasure.

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Yet some of what was dormant is now waking up, becoming lush, verdant, alive, as is the story of the moss.

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So near to the solstice, I believe this little foggy outing has put me in the mood for more walking and writing, for it is at these times when I most intensely feel my existence.  Rituals of coffee and chores, punctuated with knitting, walks, short naps, and contemplative writing, are my comfort as I get older.  Peaceful and nearly silent my days tumble over one another, seemingly inconsequential, but if only to witness my landscape as it goes through the seasons.  And I am happy it is so.

Knitters From The World

Hiyastricklust's Solstice Tam

photo by Hiyastricklust

From an enchanted coast in Denmark,  you might by chance see a lovely lady strolling the rocky Baltic Sea edge in a Solstice Lanterns Tam.  This is an outstanding knit of the design, as I am so very fond of the natural colorway of Hiyastricklust’s tam.  Hers is a great example of how the kaleidoscopic affect of the motifs alone are interesting enough, without making the lantern “lights” a focal point.

Hiyastricklust's Solstice Tam 2

photo by Hiyastricklust

Oh and is that really a thatched roof I see in the countryside there?   Utterly charmed lives some knitters have ~~ thank you Hiyastricklust, for your lovely artful knitting !

thankful

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I am thankful for many things, but at the moment especially so that I finished these.  They are Hillwalker pullovers, with a simple Icelandic style colorwork “sketched” into the yoke,  an easy modification for which the simple circular yoke  is an excellent canvas.  So until the time on a late Autumn day when I will give them to my nieces,  they will waiting, tucked in nice & tidy.  Autumn Sweaters 2019 are done & dusted.

soak

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Just a quick dunk for number two of the Autumn sweaters, inside out, getting the wash & dry blocking , then they’ll be all done.  This is actually a very big deal, because I stressed over these for a couple of months delaying in and around other things, really important things (like moving, and designing a holiday tam) , and now they are finally finished and ready for my nieces for a December photo shoot against the stone in St Helena!

And if that is not good news enough , if you’ll excuse me, I must get to work gathering up and raking out the ditches in the new road to test the run off for we are expecting quite a soaking, having a big rain storm on its way !!!

Forthcoming

jenjoycedesign© Autumn Sweaters 2019

Forthcoming are a very late couple of Autumn 2019 sweaters for my nieces.  Here the first one is blocking, that is, washed and drying to shape, on the bed in the loft room across the sunlit stairway landing.  The other of the two is in the last stretch of knitting, soon to be blocking in this same space by tomorrow.

jenjoycedesign© Autumn Sweater

The house is feeling like its old self again, regardless of the lack of finish floor and trim,  and so the settled place of things brings on a settled feeling of calm, and  I am very happy about the way my creativity is slowly returning.

jenjoycedesign© Autumn Sweater #1

I’m soon to be hoisting up my sails for a run of ideas that have been brewing while I have had to wait until these sweaters were done & dusted, so I am almost there. One down , one to go!

Solstice Lanterns Tam!

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Solstice Lanterns is a colorwork tam with original motifs depicting lit lanterns glowing in the festive time of deep winter when the earth takes a nap and we all make merry.

jenjoycedesign© Solstice Lanterns Tam folded

Jolly wee lanterns hang in the base of the crown above the ribbing,  and the color changes are close together so you can carry the colors upward without having to snip the yarns, making the finish work of weaving in ends minimal . . .

jenjoycedesign© Solstice Lanterns Tam detail beneathunderside4

. . . and elegant  chandelier lanterns in the upper crown, cozy with scrolls and checking and the detail of the lights casting a glow is rather delightful . . .

jenjoycedesign© Solstice Lanterns Tam lights detail

However, as these sort of things go, it doesn’t much matter what they are,  because the kaleidoscopic affect of the design is quite transfixing.  I knit this tam in a lovely Elemental Affects Shetland 2-ply yarn , which I am a big fan of.  But by the time knitters are able to get their yarn to needles for this, it will likely be only a few weeks left to the Winter Solstice . 

jenjoycedesign© Solstice Lanterns Tam 1

So speedily gather your Shetland 2ply yarns of choice, cups of tea, mugs of coffee, plates of baked goodies, and a lot of spiritual calm and please do knit one of these up for yourself before the holidays are past.

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Poetically speaking, the lanterns have a deeper meaning for me, and that is ~~  a light in the dark is hope,  and from our hearts shines a beacon for the future.

  The pattern is available HERE. 

♥    ♥      ♥

Now, just in case you are thinking,  what about the grey-scale tam that I knit up in Jamiesons Spindrift ?  Well, it is a bit of dark humor (excuse the pun) as I knit it during a Public Safety Power Shut-off during a very windy few days in October (power lines and wind are a major cause of wildfires in California) , and which in fact lasted a week in the  mountainous areas north of the bay. Then, due to falling trees there have been still more power outages, and furthermore,  the power is OUT as I post this!!!  With a bit of irony, I introduce to you my slightly sinister  ” Lights Out In California ” . . .

jenjoycedesign© Lights Out in California

Adorned with a tidy wee felted toorie which I made & posted about yesterday . . .

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Equally as good looking as the festive prototype! However, now that I’ve posted the “Lights Out” version, I have a mind to stitch in colored lights. I’ll think about it. In the mean time, please do check out all the details of Solstice Lanterns over on Ravelry, as it is now live!   Thank you ~  xx Jen

Toppings

jenjoycedesign© felted pom pom

A little something that I call  ” the felted toorie ”

toorie 

or tourie (ˈtʊrɪ  )

noun Scottish

1. a tassel or bobble on a bonnet

2. Alsotoorie bonnet

a bonnet with a toorie
Word origin of ‘toorie’

C19: from Scot toor tower

Toorie is just a Scots name for the little ball that goes on top of many of their hats, often looking like little red cherries.

I just made a regular medium-sized pompom,  entirely in Jamiesons Shetland Spindrift — color Sholmit.  I snipped the fresh pom pom right off of the cardboard, then it went through a wild hot & soapy wash while being rolled in my hands, and ended up really bumpy , felted, and generally unappealing  (you can  see my tutorial if you want to see all the steps.)

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Until you take scissors to it! Trimmed to perfection , it is ready for this tam.

Two tams are waiting back stage …. nervous, nearly forgetting their lines.

 

Almost

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Good morning !   My day was started early this morning finishing the last rounds of the tam, and doing all the finish work, and left with a minimal pile of trimmings for the birds’ nests , as I was able to carry the yarns upward as I went, making very little in the way of ends to weave in.  Now the tam is blocking to dry, inside-out, with many pins to shape it into a slightly taut disc, which later will be turned outside-out and steamed  ever so gently to set the fabric and soften the brim crease.

jenjoycedesign© blocking tam inside out

I have had so much enjoyment designing and knitting this tam that I’m thinking I need to allow myself another tam to design, you know,  just binge with it for a while.  Nevertheless  I am almost done with it, and as it has been quite warm lately,  I am hoping it will be dry and ready for a photo later today . . . and you know what that means?

In a blink this tam pattern will be ready to fly!

jenjoycedesign© blocking tam

The Solstice Ahead

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About five and a half weeks away is the Winter Solstice, and I am working like an ox to get this here tam up and running ahead of the holidays so knitters can knit it for the holidays.   As soon as I finish knitting the prototype here I’ll be done & dusted ;  I’ve got the pattern all ready to go, charts are drawn and redrawn, then drawn again, and so I am confident that the Up & Coming is going to be ready in a blink. It is certainly a significant personal accomplishment in the wake of a couple of years where my creative brain seemed to be on vacation somewhere far away.    It will be knit, blocked (that is, put into a lovely tam shape and un-wrinkled so to speak), then photographed . . . all in the next couple of days.  This is it, the pressure is on . . . and I am on it !

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Very soon, very soon,  I will present this holiday design owning a bit of spiritual nuance and a jolly lot of cheer!

Stranded on Fair Isle.

jenjoycedesign© blocking tam

I’ve been feeling like knitting design has taken a back seat for so long that it was becoming inconsequential to big things going on (so many big big things), so I decided to get focused again and design a tam during the week-long power outage in Napa last week. Here it is blocking inside-out on a blocking board drying into shape with a lot of pins. The motif is quite apropos to the power situation, but I won’t be showing it off right-side-out yet, as it is a test-knit to an upcoming pattern idea. That is, I am waiting for my order of Elemental Affects Shetland yarn to arrive for something heart-warming and cheerful for the holidays, but having wanted something to  ‘sketch’ the motif with, I dug into my yarn drawer and pulled out four balls of Jamiesons Spindrift to make a grey-scale version of the colorful holiday one forthcoming, but with a little bit of a sinister spin on it.  And that is all you get to know for now.

♥    ♥    ♥

Oh! And I’d like to mention that it was ten years ago about this time of year that I was becoming obsessed by Fair Isle colorwork,  having knit my first ever Fair Isle tam,  and so I decided to get stranded out in the colorwork rounds again after a two-year colorwork hiatus.  It has been thoroughly delightful and introspective!

Fourteen and a half.

DSC_0173We’ve been hunkered down through a week long power out and biting our nails while Kincade Fire raged in Sonoma County very close by, and my friends from around the world have been worried about us from hearing about it on the news. California is once again the crazy Wild West,  its been a rough last week in October, but November is at long last here.  Oh, and today is Emma’s half birthday.

As a little celebration of Emma’s fourteenth half  birthday, I am having a little two-for-one pattern spree for Walking With Emma  (a collection of eight sock patterns) over on Ravelry , and for details on that, please check it out on my forum post here.

In any case, we’re busy hanging doors, tiling, and in general making our house more of a home every weekend.  I suppose soon I ought to post some house project photos, but here is one ~~  the laundry line is up!

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Knitters From The World

Fishwives Shoal makes a beautiful appearance in the wild of Sweden,

with Halvyllet’s Fishwives Stola . . .

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photo by Halvyllet

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photo by Halvyllet

There are some absolutely fantastic finishes of some of Jenjoyce designs showing up in the Ravelry FO’s feed, and this being one that has inspired me to make a new series of posts on my blog ” Knitters From The World”.  I so appreciate these exceptionally beautiful photos of the knitter in the wild, it touches my heart, thank you Halvyllet!

The Places I Walk

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I was out early this morning walking, before I got a chance to get carried away with projects.  This Autumn I am recommitting to getting out and walking as I use to do,  since about the time when I first started this blog.  Each time I go out into the changing landscape I feel its healing influence in me as it ebbs back to health from the wildfire, the prolific growth on the branches and at the stumps of burned trees everywhere remind me of a vibrant desire for life, even though so many trees must give in to lifelessness.

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I walk alone, without distraction,  listening to the grasses sway and the browning leaves shake in the breeze, and as I walk it feels like I am turning stones along the way,  seeing glimpses of my past, unavoidable as I’ve walked these very steps and places so many times before.  This landscape has seen lifetimes of people walking along here in the very same places, back to the indigenous race who’s arrowheads I have found, and sometimes it is as though I walk through time, feeling the ancient geography and the presence of walkers of an ancient time.  Or maybe I will feel happy Emma as a puppy in her explosive energy, or a friend I walked with once . . . all whispers in the wild.

jenjoycedesign© places I walk

Everyday I need to be out in the wild, knitting to keep my hands busy, but sensitive and pondering, ready to let tears fall if they want, or a new exciting idea take hold, whichever seems to be inevitable for the moment.   I am determined to see the landscape change to normal again, and it is what I consider to be the best thing for me, and when I get home I make a cup of coffee and get things done, and all the while I let myself be swept along by the knitted stitches, and that is as good as it gets.

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Two fast knits . . .

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Already it is that time cozy season of Autumn again, my absolute favorite time of the year.  Although much later in Autumn than I have always begun in the past, I’m talking about it being time to knit the Autumn sweaters for my nieces.  I have had the yarn for about a month, but life got in the way, and as I’m just now feeling settled a little bit after being in the new house for already a week, I have cast on.  Past the hoop of the body, I am not yet sure what pattern I’m going to knit.   I have had lots of ideas over the last two years for a new sweater design, but  have not felt settled enough to even think or rise up out of perpetual indecision.   For these two fast knits I’m considering a few different yoke shapings as they go along, and they should go really fast.

I might decide to knit two Hillwalkers, or two Calidez’s,  one of each,  or something entirely new.   Number one, is that I’m not putting any expectations on myself, especially as yesterday was the second anniversary of the wildfire, and the event  very much reminded me how trauma & stress really can change a person’s performance.  All I can say is ~~ we will see.   Finished with the ribbing, and now ready for a bunch o’ rounds of stockinette body, so I’ll be busy with it for some time.  And then I can do the same for the light grey one,  and then I will decide how to proceed.

jenjoycedesign© Autumn Sweaters 2019

Oh! And tomorrow I meet my youngest niece in Calistoga to celebrate her 17th birthday ~~ and that I truly can not believe !

Out in Autumn (early).

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We’ve spent two nights so far in the new house, so we’ve officially moved in, even though the construction mess is ongoing, we’re all just happy to be finally home.  Now I’m busy cleaning out the tiny house to its former glory before two humans, a dog, and countless spiders inhabited it for seventeen months, while Jeff continues the finish building.  I woke this morning early and watched the rose-gold sunrise, while Emma in her Help’emUp harness acclimates to the new front porch,  as that was one of her favorite places before, where she use to spend hours napping in the early mornings.

jenjoycedesign© Emma is back homeThis morning I went for a first walk from new home into the nearby vineyard.  Its harvest in the California Highlands, and the grapes up on the mountain are ripening to perfection.

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We are back home, it is Autumn, and life is good.

settling in

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I have begun collecting little treasures from Autumn ; a leaf from a Black Oak turning gold, a curl of Madrone bark, and a freshly fallen Douglas Fir cone.    It was almost a year ago in Autumn that I found this novelty  . . .

jenjoycedesign© settling-in
Now the vintage Four Posts are finally kitted out with a mattress and bedding,  and  so I’m going to fling off my shoes and curl up on it with some strong coffee in a demitasse, made in a jezve (my thing lately) with fresh shortbread just out of the oven,  and contemplate which small quilt I will attempt to make first from  “Civil War Legacies” by Carol Hopkins.

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The loft room (still without a door as you can see), the kitchen, and upstairs bathroom are the only rooms in the house able to be used thus far,  while the main part of the house remains a mess of building, tile dust, and tools. But there is rumor ringing through the rafters, that we may move in this coming weekend, or should I say move out of the tiny house . . .  fingers crossed!   

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A Mill Tour

The sun has moved into Libra  and it is Autumn!    After some sleuthing I have come up with yet another amazing virtual mill tour!  In it is superbly artful wool color blending,  wool sandwiches fed to the fear-not machine, old style mill spinning with a “mule”,  custom weaving into the cloth for a cloth designer, and finally, the cloth finishing.  It is absolutely loaded with all sorts of tweedy goodness ~~~ enjoy!

See all Mill Tours

home

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The phoenix has landed.   I sit peacefully at my laptop parked on the large pastry board in the kitchen,  while Emma naps near me, claiming her floor space in the kitchen as she had always done before.   As I mentioned last post, we passed the final building & fire inspections, and now we can slowly move in over the next few weeks. I have spent the morning consolidating the construction area to one end of the downstairs floor, and vacuumed, so it feels so much more like home now.  All in good time the finish work will get done;  doors will be hung, furniture will fill in, although much more sparsely,  and things will be again clean, complete, and calm.

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Emma is comfortable in the kitchen, most surely she knows she has come home?   This of course, is reaching the other side of the bridge to us, having Emma bring us home.
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I will be posting more of the usual knitterly & spinnerly things against the backdrop of the rebuilt house as it takes shape, the floor plan nearly identical to what it was before,  but with changes that are almost insignificant now.   We are all three worn, bedraggled, and *very* tired,  but we are home. 

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A day of days!

It is a very exciting day! 1. We passed the building inspection of our house, which is a resonating “yeehawwww!” echoing through the ridge tops, rattling all those stick-like burned trees with a joyful ring!  I just went up to give our very talented builder Ryan a big handshake and made him a last celebratory cup of coffee-in-a-jar, as I did through all the cold weather last Autumn, Winter & Spring ~~ but in the new kitchen.  I will miss him, for he has rebuilt our house and been around in our lives for four seasons now.   2. Today has rained a second time in three days, a gentle early morning rain, and a good soaker, so I am feeling utterly relaxed because I can (almost, but not fully) shake off my wildfire worry for a little while. 3. Autumn Equinox is coming very soon, my favorite time of year, and with the full moon waning, and with all the damp spicy forest smells that are about I just can’t imagine a better mood. Got coffee? 5. Yes, I have coffee. Buttered toast?? 6. Yes, yes, lots of buttered toast. All these reasons to post a very sincere Life Is Good in the closing.

Okay. Some of the things which are not so exciting: We won’t be moving into our house for a week or so, because it just isn’t ready, although the building company has completed their agenda and all inspections passed, we now have the weeks rolling out ahead of us to do the finish work at a less stressed, and more leisurely pace, such as installing all the interior doors which will be so nice! Also, there’s a formality of a county engineer approving our new road we had to put in to comply with all the new fire codes, but that is like nothing to keep me from feeling we are there, we have arrived.  Likely in a couple of weeks we can begin inhabiting our new home, even if it takes another year to be fully finished. But you can bet that I will be spending all my time in the house doing things I have had to wait to do. Oh, such as start a quilt, or pot up some plants and put out on the new deck, and get a mattress in the loft room so I can take restorative naps while contemplating the complexities of new knitwear designs! Boy do I need some restorative napping. I was about to go seriously AWOL last night that we couldn’t move in THE DAY of our inspection, or the weekend coming… was frothing at the mouth and my eyes bugging out… but (sigh) after the rain came again, and I had a good sleep on it, I rise today with determination to celebrate this monumental accomplishment with nothing but gratitude.

Another thing I have put off but am now keen to do is to finish painting the kitchen the sienna glaze over the pale yellow (faux old building, like I did in the loft) and paint the bedroom upstairs over, from a what-was-I-thinking green, to a calming mossy green. And you can bet I want to finally start a quilt on my new old sewing machine. Not just one, but a series of little lap quilts to start, and maybe a table runner and the like, nothing too daunting as I overwhelm so easily these days. The things I look forward to most of all I can start doing, for there is room and freedom enough to do what I like in the house now is setting up the ironing board — one of those old wooden ones which was given to me from an antique shop right after the wildfire — and learn ironing the old fashioned way like my mom used to do , and iron the linen clothes I’ve been squirreling away in boxes to keep away from the wild mice in the shed, and one by one . . . (wow, this is so emotional) . . . hang the washed & ironed clothes on my (re)collection of old wooden cleaner-advert hangers, on a long closet dowel, and even with room to skate the hangers around!    To wash the sheets and then ritually hang out to dry on clothes line in the clear Autumn breeze, then make the bed without a worry  of so many lurking spiders  and without my having to tromp on the bed as I make it (as it is done in the tiny house) ~~~ O, dream of dreams, what ecstasy that will be!

I have learned in these last near two years, what is fundamental to my life.
Just as the days when I use to backpack for a week in the High Sierras, when in those wild days of trekking in harsh and exposed high altitude environment what etched into my memory most was perspective of what is essential and what is luxury. Essential only is a bed, food, water. The rest is luxury I tell you!   Running hot water from a faucet, a flushing toilet, a stack of cast-iron pans to cook on, clean sheets on a freshly made bed, and a good amount of ink in a pen with a small bit of paper to write ~~ all elements of pure opulence by comparison! Oh, and buttered toast and coffee. I have everything I need for the high life of luxury, because I have experienced a complete perspective overhaul.

Truth is, I’ve been composing this post while waiting for the county building inspector to drive up, and wasn’t going to publish until I got word that we passed the inspection — so this is a breaking news bulletin!    Life is as good as it can get about now.   Thanks everyone, for reading up on my blog, and a round of hugs to All ~~ but especially Ryan!

All posts Rebuilding

Two years ago today . . .

jenjoycedesignc2a9-sea-shell-rolags

From The Archives:  The Color Of Seashells

Two years ago today I was having a magical summer of discovery of wool blending and of color mixing.  It was on this day,  between blending Seashells, and  spinning Seashells and my hands were full of fluffy ultra-fine merino fluff with streaks of silky shiny bamboo, and splashes of color, and I fell totally in love with color blending on the blending board in that month of September 2017.

I am now making a running start folks, to land this phoenix bird in flight to the very same heartful & mindful place as then,  as if it were a blink of two years that I have not just wasted mourning in upheaval, but I have developed inwardly from great depths.  In transition homeward I feel the grip of intention taking hold and whether I am waking from a dream (yes, it so feels that way) or just finally ready, I am feeling suddenly endowed with a plan. A real plan.  More on this in forthcoming posts!

I have been spinning in the last few weeks a big 500g project of color blending that is mostly wool that was given to me — top roving mostly — and up until now my biggest focus has been color mix. I am all about color these days, being more of a colorist than a spinner with any real talent, but I am feeling a shift going on. I crave to spin submissive fluffy air light rolags and it occurs to me that I need to now focus not only on color, but staple of wool (that is the length of the hairs) and on drafting the rolags in a fashion which allows light-as-air spinning.  To get my thought, please watch this lovely short video (with gorgeous violin) that Morrie (“Moz”) just sent to me after I was writing to her about woolen spinning, and fiber staple, and even fiber consistency  ((thank you Morrie, this was just the drink I needed!)) . . .

If you go visit the page of the video, in the notes the author Ruth MacGregor writes a little bit about woollen vs worsted spinning. Woollen spinning is the technique which is beckoning to me, and at the risk of seeming so fickle, I have a hankering to start another  blending project as soon as our building final has passed sometime in the weeks forthcoming, and really sink my teeth into this woolen spinning technique. I am committed to spinning up all my 500g of English Rose Tweed, although not ‘monogamously’ ~~ I am going to be off on a tangent at the same time. Many tangents perhaps.

Can any of you spinning talents out there suggest your opinion of the perfect breed of sheep for traditional woollen technique of spinning?

One of the things I have wanted to do for a long time, probably starting since that Autumn in the wake of the wildfire,  when I was spinning up a storm and developing a tribute color range in the colors of my mountain — such like Manzanita Blossom, and  Madrone, and Red Clover , and  Moss ,  to create a personal  palette of colors and post the recipes.  I guess when we moved to the tiny house their was no room for spinning and it all got packed in boxes, but now I fully intend to work on that project.

So, here forthcoming, more colors from the mountain, but simultaneously developed with technique of woolen spinning, learning about those particular properties . . . staple and all of that completely obsessive woolly stuff.  I’ll probably be posting in a mad frenzy now, so brace yourself, I fear my blog has caught fire.

newness & oldness

jenjoycedesign© spinning in a room 2

Spinning in a room that feels old and familiar,

yet is barely even new.

jenjoycedesign© spinning in a room 1

The rest of the house is in building chaos & still no doors,  but I’ve got the skeleton of my Loft room in place,  filled with old furniture.  I have everything I think I could possibly need, as I have been collecting the essential now for nearly two years, and some unessential as well. I am exhausted of shopping,  I want to be doing now.

I have struggled with the place of things in this room,  but now I think I have arrived at a floor plan that works, although a bit on the cozy side. I am so intrigued with clean surfaces lately, with everything in its proper drawer or cabinet, so the bookcase of three shelves is potentially problematic and some day I plan on downsizing as it for its too large for my little library,  dangerously inviting clutter, and therefore indecision into the room.   jenjoycedesign© spinning in a room 6

I have been indecisive and feeling strangely familiar with everything, yet at the same time I feel an awkward discord just not being use to anything.  I hope that odd feeling goes away in time as I begin to work at things, because now all tools of the trade are ready.  I am waiting for the waves of inspiration to carry me away!

jenjoycedesign© spinning in a room 4
So far only spinning for a project.

I am committed to these fluffy beautiful swirls of wool and getting themt spun at a casual pace in the weeks ahead,

and committed to getting to know this room of newness & oldness.

In the beginning of Jenjoyce Design…

I’ve recently met in person a new follower of this blog,   and I was asked an interesting question ~~ what am I selling? Yarn? Even though it has seemed to me self evident all these years,  I’ve been contemplating about it since, whether it is maybe not so evident anymore.   I really never thought about this site being anything other than a blog, established 2010 (formally known as “Yarnings”) just to write about my creative projects, and life on the mountain, peppered with occasional philosophical musings, often including Emma (our dog) or Jeff (my partner), and loads of appearances by my nieces.

A little backstory:  I came on to WordPress just as craft blogging had rather glutted the cyber space almost ten years ago. I began a blog first set private for just me and some friends & family to read, then I bravely changed the settings to unlisted shortly after, so I could share the link with the broader craft blogging world, and not until I started to sell my first knitting patterns, in 2013, did I change the settings to public with the domain jenjoycedesign.com.  Originally my knitting was mostly about designing things for my young nieces, which was so amazing, and taking loads of photos of them, all which has been a colossally fun way to share time together and they’ve really gotten comfortable with modeling over the years (you see the photo shoots of them going back to the first sweaters in 2010 here in the archives  ,  but one must scroll pages back to see oldest posts). 

I guess now with so many platforms of social media, blogging does sound rather old school and maybe the whole thing about having a blog to document one’s creative endeavors can seem kind of self absorbed (especially when the author does not interact with the commentators) but I honestly gain massive inspiration from this blog, and incentive to come up with interesting things to do and write about!  Besides, I have been grateful for the followers; the chat in the comments has been grounding for me, and have always tried to engage with those few who appreciate what I’m putting out there.   Anyway this place has been and still is . . .  just a blog.

I have been doing okay selling patterns over on Ravelry.com , and my designs on my designer page there are constantly linking back to this blog for tutorials, deeper explanation & sharing of inspirational beginnings. As well, every design shown in the sidebars or up in the tabs ” My Patterns ” when clicked makes a bee line straight to the pattern page on Ravelry.

Through it all I have not yet gotten bit by the social media bug, and even though I have accounts for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, the former two which WordPress automatically posts to in my settings, I am rarely on them. I fully intend to use these social media sites more effectively in the future,  but as yet I rarely author posts specifically on any of them.

So to answer this recent question I must say that it is only digital download knitwear patterns I sell, through Ravelry.com , but a lot of what I write here is in support of those designs I sell,  as tutorials, sharing process of making,  and interest cross-overs with the wider knitting (and even non-knitting) world.  Ravelry is great, really awesome actually, and the virtual knitting platform has helped me make a little money in recent few years, although I really do work very hard at it. It is pretty much all I do these days outside of my domestic work (regretfully I have not been playing music professionally for several years now). Oh, and on Ravelry I have a forum where I support the designs, and folks can get help or make knitterly chatter.

So what are all the yarn posts,  in Tweed Chronicles and Unspun,  that I’ve got up there in the tabs?  In these things I am not selling anything, but offering up for free, my trials and discoveries ~~ that is all.

jenjoycedesign© spinning in September 2

For the present  I don’t think selling yarn & knitting related objects in a virtual shop appeals to me ,  as so many top tier indie knitwear designers do, perhaps as a sort of mark of  legitimacy,  for in these recent two years of difficult transition I fear an online shop would end up a misfire, and a hassle of retail inventory of which I have not a single square foot of space or extra time for.  I keep thinking one day I will do a virtual shop here, but for now digital pattern downloads are great;  pure intellectual goods where I have had to learn to wear all the hats, from the designing, to writing, pattern tech editing & format design, photography, and lastly design promotion.  Okay, there is the buzz word – promotion –  and marketing. All in good time folks, in good time for sure, but I need to settle in my mind and in my new home, which is still not near finished, nor are we living in it yet, before I can grasp a solid approach with it.  I am still exploring how I want to go to do my best with Jenjoyce Design.

For now Ravelry sells my patterns for me with their huge data & customer base, and my pattern design page is slowly growing in numbers, but I am only one among the thousands of competitive indie knitwear designers on Ravelry, seemingly all so similarly climbing the popularity ladder.   I want to refine and distinguish my brand, and that is to write spinner friendly patterns (with extensive gauge charts in many sizes) and so there you have it, the reason for all the spinning tech posts. I am evolving in the direction of writing patterns for every kind of knitter, but even those who are spinners and have unique gauge issues, or those those thrifty knitters who want to use recycled or novelty yarn with no clue as to how to adapt gauges. This is why I am working like an ox presently spinning-to-knit the first sweater in decades, which you can read about in the series ” Spinning For A Project ” .

I will get back to posting about Knitting In The Wild when the wild places around here have become a little more accessible in the wake of the wildfire, and which I like to do especially at the turning of the seasons,  and also sharing my recipes, and Emma,  garden, and random philosophical musings as I love to do. My life and this blog is a work in progress, and as life pushes and pulls me along my way I unceasingly strive for a perspective of positivism.  

Meanwhile, I’ve been spinning up a storm with the recent big 500g Sweater Project, spending more and more time with my Ashford Traditional Wheel in the loft space of the new house.  Although the project is epic, I am learning a lot about spinning still, and then it will be already to knit up into something I’m designing just for it!

jenjoycedesign© spinning in September 3

Early morning spinning, in thoughtful repose.

Spinning For A Project – Part Four: Fiber Preparation

jenjoycedesign© Rose Blend 7I am more than half way through my fiber preparation, and I am really happy to say that I have made a breakthrough with the blending board!   In the last two years I have been doing a lot of fiber blending experiments but it seems recently I’ve noticed my results are overly compact rolags, so much that spinning has been difficult. I couldn’t even see why I ever decided trying to spin from the rolag method or why I thought it was better.

Backstory: If you see my post from August 2017  “Woolen or Worsted?”  ,  I muse a little bit about the preparation of the wool & that I noticed how it  affects the end result of the yarn.  Whether taken off the blending board in one big batt, and pulling apart into smaller sections, or using a ” diz ” to gather a continuous roving from your carded fiber, or like I am doing here, making rolags around two dowels from off the blending board, in a perfect world, a spinner should try all ways I would think.  I am aiming for a bouncy airy “woolen” spun yarn, and why I’m practicing spinning from rolags. 

After the first 50g color test of my 500 gram project of English Rose Tweed blend, I realized I may have a technique error.   I remember back in my first blending projects , especially this one, blended with super fine & fluffy ingredients, and how light & airy the rolags were, and so very easy to spin. So I tried a change with this batch; I lifted more and pulled over the teeth less.  That’s it! Just more lifting when rolling the fiber around the dowels ( I use slick aluminum needles) to make the rolags, and less pulling, and that took a lot of friction out of the process.  I guess my technique had morphed without my thinking about it, and over time I was working the rolags with a massive amount more friction. Well I had a big ” duh ” moment, and now I am conscious of this I am getting fluffy frothy whipped woolly confections again, to spin later.
Later that is, when I’m through blending all of the rest of the carefully measured ingredients to English Rose Tweed. Committing to the long-haul of a big project is something I haven’t done in a long long time. This is work I tell you! But just look at these beauties….  
jenjoycedesign© Rose Blend 1

See all posts in this series Spinning For A Project.

(( click 1st image to go to slideshow… ))