cafe knitting

jenjoycedesign© Christmas-at-Oakville-grocery

I’m feeling the magic of the holiday tickle softly,  like a snowflake flurrying down and landing on my nose.  The contemplative spirit of Winter Solstice coming soon is always a cheerful time for me.

jenjoycedesign© Oakville-grocery

After sending off the last of the Christmas packages in the tiny post office in the back, I spent a pleasant half hour at my favorite social spot, while the sky darkened and the rain began to fall. In my opinion this place really does have the best brew in the valley . . .

jenjoycedesign© knitting&coffee-at-Oakville-grocery

In the warmth of a bustling cafe, watching through the window the door opening and closing and opening again while I knit several rounds of lace.  Then without so much as a blink I’ll be heading up the mountain homeward in low gear up the Oakville Grade.

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 I am just knitting through a flurry of last minute gifts . . .

what are you up to?

xmas shirt

jenjoycedesign© Christmas shirt 2016 (2).JPGEvery  Christmas I make a shirt for Jeff.   I finished this one belatedly on new year’s day, then as soon as I finished sewing on the last button Jeff had to try it on, and then of course… he was so cozy in it … it was too dark to photo…. he wore it to work the next day,  and I never got to photograph it. Now it has been already washed, and being flannel it’s already lost its crisp allure and gotten a little fuzzy ….

jenjoycedesign© placket & cuff detail.JPG

What is so funny is that every time I make one of these Christmas shirts I seem to mess something up badly, if not disastrously.  This year the buttonholes were okay, plackets and collar okay … but….  the plaid was so wavy as it was probably the last on the bolt and warp/weft apparently is terminally twisted, and so the plaid did not/could not/ would not stay square. Thus I did a horrible job of matching up in front (like if I make it match at side seams, the front is wonky). Whatever! Who cares! (except that I kind of do care).  A bit dissymmetric, but I will just let it be what it wants to be.

jenjoycedesign© collar detail.JPG

Needless to say, since my sewing machine is already out, I may have to sew some other crazy  new-from-old shirts, so watch this space for some fun upcycling!

Christmas Eve

jenjoycedesign© snowman ornament

There is rumor that it will snow  tonight!  I’m watching the skyline over the ridge and it is indeed darkening, and the temperature is dropping. The mystery of Christmas Eve enchants me still, and every year the magic of the tree decorated with old and new  ornaments makes me giddy as a young girl. Merry Christmas everyone!

jenjoycedesign© ornaments

 

One-And-A-Half Days

jenjoycedesign©xmas-lights

Dazzled by the spirit of the holiday, and all that I’ve been busy with.

I can’t believe this pile of gifts I made . . .

((  My heart is about to burst with pride that I sure turned around when I thought I could only manage the kitty   which got sent off over two weeks ago, and the felted bag which went to Mexico with Jeff. ))

Since then I really went into making overdrive.

jenjoycedesign©hand-made-gifts

All of my hand-made Christmas gifts are finished,   as of yesterday,  and tucked under the tree,  waiting for family to gather.  I hate to seem all smug & self-satisfied, but now that I am finished, I can’t help but just be elated, and enjoy myself !!!  This folks, is not something that happens every Christmas, as I am usually always making up into Christmas Day itself, and beyond.  But this year…. I just put my nose to the grindstone and did it.

( Interesting lights photo at top of page was accidentally shot while I was moving in front of our Christmas tree. )

Sending out loads of love and encouragement to all those elves busy still making, hoping all gets finished and that you may too relax ! ~~ xx.

Three Days

jenjoycedesign©spicy-cocoa

One of my weird kitchen concoctions ~~ hot pepper chocolate.

I have been home alone on the mountain with Emma and The Ravens for four days now.  Jeff is returning tonight,  from Mexico where he has been visiting with his daughter in Cancun since the nineteenth, visiting ancient Mayan ruins and enjoying a lovely warm beach.  Here, I’ve been very busy with holding the fort, and working on this lacey thing . . .

jenjoycedesign©lacy-rib

But really what I’ve been working hard on while alone in the house, is my traditional gift of Christmas to Jeff, but I dare not show you a thing until Christmas morning. In the mean time, still serving up my Spiced Chocolate drink if you’d like to stop by ~~I’ll whip one up for you !  If you can’t make it over, I understand, but you’ll have to try this at home ! Here’s how :

 Jen’s Spicy Bittersweet Chocolate 

(For two servings)

With a mortar & pestle, crunch up a couple of cinnamon sticks, and dried chile flakes or a whole small chile pepper  ~~ to taste, what you consider ‘barely hot’ , or ‘really hot’, it is up to you.

(( Optional:  a few cardamom pods, and a  ‘petal’ from a star anise pod, a dash of grey sea salt ))

Simmer in a pan with  about 3 cups of water for about 20 minutes, take off heat and melt into it a few ounces bittersweet chocolate, whisking while it melts.

More chocolate is nice… as much as you feel to balance against the heat of the peppers.  I don’t add more sugar, as the idea is to be bittersweet and spicy hot… which is really delicious. However, nobody is stopping you from sweetening it up :).

Whip up a small bowl of cream, again, barely sweetened.

Strain through sieve into cups and pile on the whipped cream , sprinkle with something… like nutmeg or cinnamon… and enjoy !

Wishing You All and Yours lovely days of these fresh first winter days (or summer) and Happy Christmas sentiments.

Six Days

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Taking a break from the yarns,  and before I get into the next big project, I thought I’d make a batch of cranberry jam !  The mountain’s freeze-drying wind is keeping me from walking today, and so here I am, with cheery sing-along Christmas songs , a fire in the woodstove,  and more still to make.

 Just feeling rather cheer’d by the seasonal dazzle of colored lights and sentimental old ornaments.  Some are very old, as this doll’s doll that was my mother’s as a child, which I made into an ‘ornament’ years ago,  and the little sheep given to me by a friend back when I just started learning to spin and got a spinning wheel  . . .

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And the little ‘teazle mouse’ given along with a really generous gift certificate to a lovely spinning shop, now two decades ago (does anybody remember the one in Jack London Square in Sonoma??)  I remember I only got to spend a little of it before the shop sadly went out of business.

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I’ll be making some peppery spiced cocoa a little later today so do hang around !

Seven Days

jenjoycedesign©leafy-green

Seven days left to make things.

Leafy green is finished !

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As is the sea critter . . .

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As is the mint-licorice . . .

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and also the sherpa hat ! ! !

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A dandy one indeed.  Wool shell & cotton ‘lined’.  I will have to show you sometime how I accomplish this.

 Until then I’ll keep you all guessing.

jenjoycedesign©sherpa2

Okay , but that’s not the whole list. There is one more thing I must make, and I will not post until Christmas morning. In the mean time, I will show you the progress of my first lace project . . .

jenjoycedesign©lacey-ribbed-thing
Yes , my first, oh the glorious fun I am having ! And it’s no surprise to me that lace work is so doable while walking the ridge!  As this  progresses,  is blocked out, you will see the lace pattern so much better. Until then, oh the suspense is a little nice.  Well, I appear to be ahead of the game and can relax and do some gift wrapping now ! I hope all of you Elves out there are blissfully making.

* All project details on Ravelry HERE .

Eleven Days

jenjoycedesign©bare
There is something so pure and beautiful and full of quiet wonder when winding off a fresh skein of yarn.

I feel a strong sense of personal obligation to my creativity,

and the yarn, and the potential it has to ‘become’.

jenjoycedesign©winding-off
And this project is going to take everything I can muster to ‘get it right’… because it will involve (hopefully) my first attempt at simple lace stitches.  I figure there will be no surprises or mysteries with this project, and that I will post my tentative steps along the way.

Progress of Things Handmade :

Something fuzzy and very leafy green is in the bag . . .

jenjoycedesign©something-fuzzy
It incorporates alpaca yarn & mohair/silk yarn alternately.

I love, love, love same-color mixed-texures knitting !

Next, something ruffly, also alpaca, and resembling some kind of a sea creature . . .

jenjoycedesign©ruffly
Lastly, something  mysterious,

hanging from a lamp to dry . . .

jenjoycedesign©mysterious

There is the progress report for now at eleven  days left to Make before Christmas.

How are your Christmas Creations coming along?

Christmas Bits & Bobs

I never really thought of myself as a holiday kind of person, in fact, I’m pretty grouchy around holidays. But this year I am welcoming the cheer from our Christmasy bits & bobs . . .


Everything out of boxes, queuing up for a little decorative cheer in our house in the coming week.  Our tree ornaments  are integrated,  his & mine together, in a sentimental sort of chaos.  Such a perplexing emotion these objects evoke, these bright colorful new & old baubles shuffled together, our childhoods super-imposed upon each other’s, representing Christmases Past, separately & shared.  Two snowy white sheep from the late 80’s given to me when I first learned to spin wool . . .  an airplane wth lost propeller and a merry skier on its ski lift of Jeff’s from the 70’s . . .  a bicycle from my bike shop days in the mid 90’s . . .

Our dog Emma is familiar with these strange and intriguing Christmas things too, she makes our little family a trinity, she even has a stocking put out for Santa which gets filled with doggy goodies, and she loves unwrapping presents, is quite the ace at it !  Emma recognises all these seasonal sparkling & feathery oddities spread about our the table, and perhaps she anticipates a succesful heist from all the tempting things to steal from on and under the tree . . .


Strands upon strands of shiny golden stars get ready to be flounced about the evergreen branches . . . shiny red painted paper mache’ apples , a dozen of them,  will hang on the tree as if ready to pick and bite into.  A few antique toys will sit beneath the tree, inviting anybody’s child-like bewilderment to bubble up , bidding good-bye the imposed sense of stodgy ‘grown-up-ness’ ~ at least  for a while.

A doll’s doll which was my mothers as a child, and which I decided to put a hook on and hang on a branch, an old painted cast metal toys hang on the tree . . . and many feathery birds ready to perch on the branches. . . many miniature mandolins & guitars too, given in encouragement of my learning to play … and little painted nutcrackers.  Most of all I think I love the jewelled tones of the really old glass balls in varying sizes of crimson, ultramarine blue, spruce & moss greens, burnt orange, indigo & violet purple. The colors just tickle a place inside of me which only gets tickled for a couple of weeks a year,  when I bring them all out, it almost seems as if I’m bringing my past to life.

I am glad to say hello to the holiday boxes for another Christmas,  and glad to very soon bring in a fragrant tree who’s fresh needles perfume the house so sweetly.  The magic begins when the forgotten boxes emerge from behind musky suitcases in the furthest recesses of the closet, and these little things find their place among the house, as every year they do. Let the lights sparkle on the holiday ornaments , it is soon to be a brand new winter season ! And you can bet I’m knitting in a frenzy for holiday gifts !