Foot steps, and paw steps.

jenjoycedesign© striped socks 1Wow, January is nearly over. So much is going on, with Spring really just around the corner! I have SO much I want to do, I’m feeling a little naturally overwhelmed, so I’m forcing myself to rein in too much excitement, and keep it to a dull roar.

jenjoycedesign© striped socks 2

Finished a pair of socks, in unexpectedly fun self-striping sock yarn I found at Michael’s Crafts, not believing it could be so beautiful of a colorway.  I’m really attracted to the ochre stripe, that deep mustard, next to the grey.  I think I’m ready for something mustard yellow & grey colorwork, which is a stellar color combo and yet perhaps already a bit tired in the fashionable trends, but I was never one to care about trends.

Pattern: Another pair in Walking With Emma, modified with rib chart A and stockinette leg.

Yarn: Kroy Sock Yarn in color 55102

♥    ♥    ♥

And speaking of Walking with Emma, she’s three months away from 15, indeed a very old girl.  She naps a lot of the day in her car cave, which is her very own hermitage & safe place of contemplation, complete with electric heating pad, and she tolerates being out of it only for short intervals.   With the help of a good harness, together we have four good paws and so she comes in for the morning , and again mid-afternoon, sometimes evening for a snack if she’s barking for something. Here she is just now finished with her home-cooked dinner.  Each day she’s still here is a good day, um, even if she is not squarely on her bed!

jenjoycedesign© Emma Jan 28, 2020

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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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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Walking With Emma: A Pattern

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From The Archives:   January 2012 “Paws” 

On the eve of the Summer solstice I am celebrating fourteen years

of Walking With Emma.

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From The Archives: July 2018 “Out Walking”

And as Emma naps beside me at my feet,  I am enjoying coffee in the pause of a cool morning, putting finishing touches on the pattern pdf.  You see,  I have been knitting Ten At A Time socks with an impossible deadline to finish, and as the time for knitting lessens while the house rebuild work increases, I have jubilantly decided to put the pattern & photos together “as is”,  and get it submitted today.
jenjoycedesign© Walking With Emma ribbed

An ensemble I am naming “Walking With Emma”.

jenjoycedesign© WWE cabled variations

Eight socks, one pattern.

(( click image below for enlarged detail ))

Walking With Emma is a collection of classic cables & ribs.  If knit with a rustic wool they are the quintessence of country socks, and so befitting of wandering in the rural spaces, as I have with my dog Emma!   And if made with fine to very-fine yarn, these socks can be as elegant as any occasion could ask for.     Four classic cables in a progression of 1/1,  2/1,  and two variations of 2/2 cable cross, as well as four plain ribbed variations, making eight ways to knit a sock.  This is an epic sock pattern for me because not only do I give it four charts, but six sizes to fit men, women, teens & kids…. and…. the pattern includes a gauge substitution chart so that you can use several weights of your favorite yarns, from rustic hand-spun to fine fingering, and even lace weight!

Please go get the latest pattern and set yourself in motion walking (or sitting) while knitting one or two or three or more of this collection . . .

  pattern is live on Ravelry HERE.

In closing, I’d like to mention that Emma and I are still “walking together” as you can see posted over here,  and we will greet the Summer Solstice this way!  Please click through this epic slideshow and view some great photos I have taken over the years, out trail-making and walking with Emma in our mountain landscape …

 

Plastering dog fur !

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Our construction folk won’t be here this week so I’ve decided to plaster the loft room by myself, incorporating Emma’s fur into the mud.  The style is haphazard, but excellently artful and as this is my studio room as well as guest room, that suits everybody just fine.
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I will go over the surface with a damp sponge to knock off the sharp high spots, and then the many coats of paint will completely soften the rough surface, and be less “hairy”, and hopefully end up looking rather old-architectural style. Most importantly, part of Emma is now embedded in the walls of the room, and that means a lot to me.

Just for the sake of interest, the tree pictograph ” Po ” continues to be a photo opportunity, and in itself, a marvel!

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And with the rest of the week ahead all by myself, I’m going to see if I can get the room painted to my liking, as before; an undercoat of primer, then a couple of coats of the lightest tones in the fir (a peachy tan), with the deepest tones in the grain to be rubbed on for glaze (a sienna brown).

Our little spot.

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Introducing Emma’s and my walking lane, where we can still walk together.  It is only about a tenth of a mile long, and walking the length of it out and back five times it is a mile.
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It is our new private spot, where nobody is ever around but maybe occasional workers in the vineyard, and being so quiet it offers wonderful solitude, especially in the mornings.  It is a sort of base camp where I can park at one shady end, walk back and forth while working or knitting, and Emma can be with me, because since turning fourteen, she hangs out in the back of the car and watches.
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This little spot was a very over-grown access road for power lines which borders ours and a neighboring parcel, and is really quite secluded.  This is just one of those things I don’t know why I didn’t focus on earlier, but I’m glad I am now, for I can drive Emma down here every morning for our walk “together”  and afternoons too if its not too hot.
jenjoycedesign© knitting lane 8
While over the years Emma and I walked regularly up the ridge to the peak of the mountain and beyond, the wildfire destroyed so much that for sheer tree fall, walking up the ridge is impossible presently.  Also Jeff had recently got a heavy duty rechargeable battery operated dual line weed-whacker, and so now I can mow and maintain this little lane, and what is amazing is that on our property this is the only level spot.   Presently I am having to move quite a lot of rocks and battling wild black berries, but I’ll get there eventually.
jenjoycedesign© knitting lane 2I think I’ll officially name it Emma’s Lane. And here she this morning, hunkering down in her castle, watching me and keeping company while I work.
jenjoycedesign© knitting lane & Emma

Emma is Fourteen

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Emma is fourteen today!

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She is surprising us all how she is hanging in there . . .

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 . . . for another spring on the mountain . . .

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. . . for another May birthday . . .

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. . .  perhaps a few more months yet, to move into the new house with us . . .

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. . . she has lived beyond her breed’s life expectancy,  and our old girl is a real trooper!

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The three of us have lived in our shoebox  tiny  house for exactly a year now, although Emma has quite taken to wanting to be in ‘her car’ a lot of the time.  She being around has made it so much easier for us to get through this time.  I must accredit Emma’s incredible longevity to her extreme athletic youth, running all over the mountain chasing critters, in part to the wonderful veterinarians at Napa Small Animal , as well as the two raw eggs she gets every day,  a very good recipe for a healthy happy old dog.  Emma, we love you, and what a happy day it is indeed!

((click 1st photo in mosaic to see slideshow))

 

Snow!

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It snowed last night!  Here at 2000 ft elevation, it is sticking, and temperature is cold enough to keep it a while.  Oh, but there seems to be something nestled into the snow…

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It is two cakes of finished UnSpun!

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of which I mentioned in the last post .

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A gorgeous blackish tealish blue, 1100 yards & 100 grams,  this super fine lace weight is ready to make a journey to Hamburg Germany!  You can see all four of this series in Unspun For Friends

And all is well in our snowy charcoal forest.

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And Emma in  her  car,   snuggled under a blanket with her squirrel …

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She hasn’t a care in the world about the snowy cold!

Things Happening

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Now for a little catch up on the house construction!

Do you recognize my signature view of the mountains?

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Foundation poured, and floor joists going up , photos just taken less than an hour ago, during the workers’ lunch break.

Then a few hours later….

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Watch this space, things are really happening now. Next week construction starting on the road (we’re forced to put in a road to rebuild!)  and also starting next week will be the posts & beams of the timberframe going up!

♥   ♥   ♥

Emma is thirteen & a half today!

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Yesterday I took Emma out for a little walk, although not very far.  I’ve been rather quiet about things going on with Emma, but now she is on the mend, I will mention that she seems to be slowly recovering from a serious illness which came on in the first days of September rendering her completely unable to move on her own, and with very little appetite. I thought I lost her and was enormously miserable for weeks as I nursed her , but now she’s able to walk a little on her own, getting stronger every day, and eating a lot!IMG_20181101_094756.jpg

  My constant companion Emma ~~ she’s such a soldier!

waiting

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Red lines painted for excavation & string elevations in place of where the rebuilt house will be.

Yesterday took a turn for the worse for us. The previous Friday we were told we’d have our permit, and too soon did we think we could just start building. Our building permit got held up because of yet another detail some engineer at the county building department was chewing on ; we now have to change the plans to do more fiddling, as we have done several times already, until its become utterly impossible & ridiculous. This means more time to wait, and worst of all , more money to build, and it also means more debilitating frustration in our lives, but we are coping and won’t give up. Our county building administration is notoriously harsh and very difficult to get a building permit through on the best day, and don’t for a second think they are in any way being lenient to the many who have lost our homes to the wildfire, now 11 months later. Our contractors are ready to start, we have the batter boards & string line up for the foundation elevation, and had the foundation sub-contractor up here spraying lines in the dirt and scheduling a start as soon as permit is issued.  Since its costing us more, we’ll end up having to do more of the building ourselves, and live in this teeny tiny space longer.  Not really glad about things right now. I’ll let you know when things really start, as many of you have no doubt been wondering.  I’ve just put this out there so family & friends will have an update ~~ apologies if  I seem like a complainer, I’m just angry and at a breaking point.

Knitting on a bridge…

jenjoycedesign© knitting on a bridge!

Jeff has built a bridge from logs he salvaged from the loggers’ waste, and he hoisted them cross across the small gully which heads over to the garden in now what I am calling “the path of least resistance” with planks nailed to the top from old boards, it is an excellent & rustic installment to the woods and I am super pleased with it!    I helped only minimally, as I did the original “wedding bridge” which was burned in the wildfire.  A new bridge & my sooty knitting trail has of this morning been improved inexpressibly for the better!  Emma inspected & approved…

 

 

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There eventually will be builders at work making their presence felt in my quiet seclusion, and this lovely little bridge continues me my private trail out to the garden without having to walk up the road  to the house where the chaos will be going on, and down to the garden from there.  Planning ahead brilliantly!  A short-cut to the garden, a bridge to bliss, a bridge across difficult terrain, so metaphorical.  The garden is life, and inspires me in its quiet little way with bees bobbing about, fluttering butterflies, and small little birds bathing in various bowls and cups sitting about, as well as a fat wild dove flocks bombing about on occasion… tall seedy foxgloves still standing through the perpetual heat.  I chase away the drought with my series of old-timey sprinklers, sitting beside them in the mist as I soak in the moist air and knit. It is a very rustic & secluded spot of calm, where one is really fairly hidden away.

I am trying to settle into a productive life of a busy recluse, and I have been thinking about  things. Post trauma disorder has changed things a bit.  I will very likely never get over that day of wildfire, for at that time forward  is etched into the rhythm of how I experience life, and its injury as much a part of me now as anything could be.  That blink of time when I hurriedly drove off in my car with Emma,  my mandolin, recordings of my music compositions, a small box of photos, and a few clothes, my computer, and a tote full of my needles & favorite yarns to keep me busy in the days following — while instantly regretting other things which I forgot, so much from my life.  Those things which seemed to define me were suddenly gone, especially those rooms, spaces which were integral to my happiness.

But let me tell you how I’ve been thinking about things,  about feeling glad and comfortable with realizing that the only real thing I can ever own, and the only thing which defines me,  are my accomplishments. So that is why I strive to live the busy life of a hermit in newly built hermitage, and the rooms will be far less cluttered and intriguingly sparse, so that I can build on my accomplishments.  My family, and short list of close friends will allow me this reclusive life.     I would like to add that I appreciate all of my pen friends from around the globe with whom I have kept company and shared my days in a more secluded way, I am ever so immensely grateful to my knitting fraternity!

♥  ♥  ♥

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Out Walking

jenjoycedesign© ridge-road

This morning we got out earlier than we have been.

jenjoycedesign© paws 2018

I am hiking solo now, but sometimes I’ll drive up the road a little ways and give Emma a ride, then she waits in the car in a nice shady spot.

jenjoycedesign© waiting in car

She still looks so healthy, but she does not like to walk very far.  Isn’t she just beautiful?

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Today I had my Nikon and took some photos of regrowth in the landscape.  New shoots emerging prolifically from burned trees everywhere!

jenjoycedesign© black oak shoots

The wildfire burned so much foliage and shrubs on the ridge that I’ve been finding old dump sites and old roads long abandoned too, but mostly, trees are making a come-back , and the flowers bloomed as ever before…

jenjoycedesign©old dump

On the way back to our Tiny House, stopping where our house “was”.  Do you recognize the landscape beyond that I so often photographed from our deck?

jenjoycedesign© new ground

Many trees I am finding , are still alive with green crowns, so all is not lost. In fact, the big black oak which shaded our house and most of the deck in the heat of the summer afternoon, was so badly burned we thought no chance, but now it has green sprouting out of ash-grey trunk!  The wildfire brings so much perspective about potential of regeneration, that I must witness this as I walk through the seasons. I’ve put all my focus on the hill before me, and knitting as I go.

Life is good.

jenjoycedesign© solo walking

Afternoon Light

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Wildflowers lingering in the whitening grass.

My favorites are the tall wobbly blue Brodea,  and the dainty fragile wild roses, absolutely everywhere!

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The cheerful wild peas climbing up the garden fence…

jenjoycedesign© wild pea on garden fence

Yesterday walking about with Emma,

capturing just a few of the woodland wildflowers in the late afternoon sun .

jenjoycedesign© wild native flower in question

Quite a different mood & light cast from Early Light that very same day.

jenjoycedesign© brodea flowers

Brodea in small little gatherings , as they wobble in the breeze in unison.

jenjoycedesign© wild native Japanese lanterns

Everywhere these plump yellow-green shy flowers with their faces always cast down.

jenjoycedesign© Emma in May

Life is good, and everything in its place.

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Our Tiny House

Greetings from our  Tiny House in the Charcoal Forest! Our Tiny House arrived here at the beginning of May,  and now we have fully nested back in our charcoal forest. It was a major ordeal hauling it up the mountain with … Continue reading

Back home, in the Charcoal Forest . . .

jenjoycedesign© Emma 13th BD 3

Do you know what day it is today?

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It is Emma’s birthday!

She is thirteen!!

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Woof !!!  :: shake ::

She is wearing just her sock now,  and finally her inflatable collar & cone seem to be phasing out more because her old surgery wound which very mysteriously un-healed in the last six months, is beginning to heal again.  I don’t know about you, but I really do think its stress related.   Which brings me to mention we have moved back up to our Charcoal Forest! We are now living in a Tiny House which arrived April 30th, and what an unbelievable ordeal it was to get it up here !!!     All I can say is that we three are exhausted and recovering from a load of stress,  but ever so grateful that we are home.

jenjoycedesign© Emma 13th BD back home

Emma’s office

Since it is Emma’s birthday, I will give her a belly rub and a pat on the head from all of you!  I had really meant to brush her up nice before her portrait shot, but did not happen, therefore the birthday girl is looking a bit scruffy & ungroomed.  I thought in honor of her birthday I’d link to all Emma posts here.

♣     ♣     ♣

Now home,  with a sense of belonging to a place, and I feel a great release of stress and sadness,  so I will close this post as my old signature use to be,  by saying even with all of its trials & tribulations…

Life is good.

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blue things

jenjoycedesign© cappuccino and knitting
In the last weeks I’ve been  frequently knitting at the Oakville Grocery cafe to quell life’s blues.  Just a quiet little deli & espresso place on the highway with vineyard views in all directions,  and with picnic benches in the back where I can bathe in the morning winter sun while making progress toward the  finish of a new pattern.  And Emma and I are getting out a little bit for (mostly short) walks on the ridge.

Although it appears the walk up the ridge has lost it’s charm completely, I am trying to embrace it, hoping for better days ahead and the mysterious healing power of Spring.  Other blues:  An intensely blue sky over Oakville on Sunday.  A blue balloon descended from the sky, tangled in the woods,  omen-like.   My blue knitting bag hung on a burned branch while walking up the ridge.  Need I mention the blue knitting with cappuccino?   I would like to see some blue wildflowers soon. Oh but hey, the vernal equinox is only a week away!

Energy and essence.

Emma & Squirrel

This Christmas Emma got a new squeaking squirrel, since her old squirrel and all of her other toys were all left behind in the fire.  Now with a new squirrel love,  everything is in it’s right place.   The calendar is racing to a close, and I am fairly excited about what is around the corner now.   I go up to the mountain every day if I can to walk a little while, and to go into the garden which is for the most part is still there, to sit and write, sketch ideas, and wonder about the best that might yet be to come.  Pondering colors, palette & writing blending recipes,  and thinking about the landscape, and how our lives will resume there in a different house in the future.

Recently I have been posting from the archives Knitting In The Wild , as I  look  to find the origin of colors for my Tweed Chronicles, but I am also finding in there one of my biggest passions of life  ~~ being out in nature.  There in the wild I am finding the tap root of it all.  It is the landscape that is my true sense of energy and essence ,  who I was and who I strive to become.  From the wild comes a pure sense of myself, and I realize I must continue going there as if I never left … to find new growth & new meaning in the contours, flora and fauna of the mountain, and to feel as a shepherd of something necessary while in it.

Yesterday while re-establishing my knitting trail I observed gopher holes bursting through what seems a cracked brittle thin shell of burned top soil, pushing up through it beautiful creamy soil from  beneath, so like life bursting out of an egg shell.   I feel what is beneath the surface, what is still there wanting to shake off the soot of the fire and resume living.  I watched a black raven surveying the territory, having come back from wherever it fled, I don’t know, and I heard a woodpecker too, tapping through the charcoal bark to find food.  The wildlife is showing up now, on time, finding its way back to beckon me to return.   So I am showing up too.

Tweed News: I am totally and completely immersed in my tweed blending and spinning. Being my own micro mill is pretty much what excites me these days, and I feel I am making headway on my personal palette. More to come, very soon to post my next forthcoming, after it gets spun up.  But for now, I leave you with yet another Tweed Film I have found, as these old films so inspire me!

Tweed Chronicles: Madrone

(photo from archives Whisper In The Woods)

What I miss most right now,  are the madrones , Arbutus Menziesii, a unique kind of tree native to the California Coast and mountain ranges, with an interesting rusty orange bark that sheds in papery sheets…

Madrones have an indescribable color if ever you were to witness, it turning at first shed a bright green, which changes in a matter of days to a greyish orange, then to browner rust.

by the window

( photo from archives…  Gone Wild)

Among the madrones is a wonderful place to be;  hidden,  enchanting,  and ever-so-quiet, and kept company right outside of the window where I loved to write, knit, or spin.    I have tried to capture my madrones, blending color after color,  overdoing the layers, but eventually I think I found close to the indescribable.  A bit too much orange I think, but I have made notes of how to improve my next blending experiment.

♣     ♣     ♣

Meanwhile Emma seems to be perfectly happy in her new napping places…

Emma

I take her up nearly everyday to the woods, the place where the house was ~~ will be again~~ (which is as of last weekend a nice freshly excavated dirt area) , and she loves to sniff the air while riding in the back of the car with the windows down, and bark at the cows or horses she see’s along the way. I spoil her a lot these days, and we love our trip up the mountain to the ‘house’ …  we meander as before, and I am knit-walking again!

♣     ♣     ♣

Techy stuff  for Madrone …

  • Added 10g each of cinnamon, rose, and amber, layered again.
  • Lift batt, and layered again.  Too pink,  so decided to add 5g  of amber.
  • Not brown enough, so added 5g Hazelnut, and layered to have a bit of brown streaking in the spin.
  • Drew off rolags.
  • Colorway of blend “Madrone”
  • Note of improvement:  Next time more red instead of the amber step, and more brown on last blend.
  • See ALL color blending experiments & recipes archived in Tweed Chroniclesjenjoycedesign©woods

 

Fresh

jenjoycedesign© new space

Fresh. Clean. Beginnings.

jenjoycedesign© new place

In a new place, a space to explore, and lay-about.

jenjoycedesign© new lay-abouts

Emma and I are sleuthing out comfort in this transition, doing alright but not brilliantly, as can be expected. I have not knit,  nor have I walked very much to speak of.    Life upside-down brings different perspectives for certain,   and as I find myself upside-down,   well then I am resolved to learning new angles on form and experience.    Its okay, I have no complaints  ….  except that I miss my home terribly and to have to wait for it to be rebuilt is something I can not embrace just yet.

We’re fine otherwise, and are contemplating a far more minimalist life-style.

I am so grateful for the flurry of  pattern sales from you supporters out there (the post Recovering) and those of you who gave to me loving good thoughts & prayers.  A few things which managed to come to us by gift from friends have been shaping this holding place, and it feels just a teensy bit homier now ~~ thank you!

Abelene Two just just arrived at the door   …  just in time to inspire me to knit something to drape on her lovely form.  And I still am grateful for cups of truly delicious fresh coffee.

Thank you to all of you who have left heart-full notes during & in the wake of the wildfire. Please forgive my silence, and please know that I am so very much appreciating your words, in a wordless time. Thank you.

A rustic place…

jenjoycedesign© Emma on trail 2

Emma and I are pushing ourselves to complete the knitting trail, and it will be indeed a rapturous and celebratory finish!

jenjoycedesign© Emma on trail 1

The equinox is in only two short days.

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I’m sure we’ll make it,  we are already more than three-quarters the way done!

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Big Leaf Maples and Black Oaks are beginning to shed their leaves, and the acorns and fir cones are dropping too.  In this rustic state of being the spicy Autumnal fragrance is faintly rising in the forest, and I am ready to crash into this season with transformative momentum, leaning into it with all of my weight, as I leave Summer’s oppressive heat,  lazy days and restless nights behind me.

jenjoycedesign© trail work

See you on the flipside!

A Quiet Corner

jenjoycedesign© eclipse

My quiet knitting corner.

All in all , things are incredibly quiet up here in the hermitage.

Normally there are a frenzy of things going on, and posting becomes a rhythm of marking creative process, in the days striding out into weeks. Although lately, not so much, I wonder is this perhaps the calm in a storm?

A year ago life seemed utterly bursting.  Last year at this time I was immersed in a couple of exhaustive & major pattern-writing projects,   helping Jeff get his old house ready to put on the market,  rewriting several musical compositions at practice & playing gigs in the duo,  still meeting my family often in Calistoga for visits while my nieces still were totally keen for photo shoots & sleepovers,  new fleeting friendships bubbling up out of a mysterious internet abyss, and Emma and I were trekking the mountain ridge up to the precipice, together through the wild, and through the seasons.   So much was going on in fact, that I couldn’t imagine how anything would possibly change, nor how quickly things shift, creativity cycles, relationships recede, nor how stifling those changes would feel.

My corner reveals a feeling of quiet solitude that I must admit is not entirely relaxing…. nay, it is inwardly stressful.   I am always fighting clutter as my nemesis, as it is a tribute to an indecisive and worrisome state of being, so surfaces are nearly stark naked by my best efforts, and yet I now long for gleeful active mess which abandons any idea of order.

jenjoycedesign© eclipse 4

melon in the eclipse

Just knitting the rows & rounds of two sweaters for nieces, for some future day well after the equinox, when I will pass them on and post another Sweater Success which marks the end of a job well done only to hop on to the next.  But this time, I am actually not sure what is next.

Emma is keeping watch over the woods so that there are no unsettling strange things able to lurk up from behind.  She is doing much better moving about and we are walking together more,   strengthening our weaknesses together.

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Emma in the eclipse, Aug 14, 2017

*   *  *

Anyway, I have continued to discover old films about textile industry, this being a cheery silent one very apropos for my quiet days. It also seems to reveal a new direction of interest that I am exploring…

Cooling

I am so looking forward to upcoming Autumn equinox, now only less than two weeks away! We survived an incredible record heat wave last weekend, and mid-week there started a cooling trend, when about Wednesday it actually rained!!!   Just a little drizzle, but it soaked into everything nearly lifeless and started a pulse to the landscape again, which I seem to be a barometer for.  I’m seeing that lovely fog in the valley below again, like a snowy lake, in the early mornings.

I am merrily going through my paces, and thrilled that Emma is perking up and wanted to go for a walk yesterday!  A couple of weeks ago her vet prescribed a half pill of meloxicam daily, and that is now beginning to take effect I think. She is all around moving as well as she was before her surgery early August — her sore hip seems better, with limp barely noticeable some days. ((Arthritis of hips & elbows is the bane of existence for older German Shepherd dogs in case you must be informed, although that is really difficult for me to refer to my Emma in this way, because ~~~ she is my fur child!  ))   Anyway, on our way back to the house from our short walk Emma grabbed a stick, her old game of ‘chase me’ which made me so happy, and away we went, for a faux chase! (right, not a fox chase, but a faux chase).

I’ve got so many things I have queued up for Autumn, but for now its just knitting my nieces’ sweaters, indeed very late this year, but they won’t be worn until probably late October anyway, so I’m aiming for an early October finish.  Also, I’ve begun trail-making in earnest again, determined to ‘walk me arse off’ and regain fitness I’ve lost over a very slothful spring and summer, moping around empathetically with Emma.  So knit-walking… here I go!

All is well, in this place, and for now.

 

Spun

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I am experiencing a bit of a renaissance in hand-spinning. I never was that much of an intentional spinner, although I am attempting to be now…. perhaps I’ve grown up a little bit? With this alpaca that I brought out of the recesses of my loft closet, I worked it from raw fleece and  in this post  I show the carding & blending process.  After spinning it up, here I am measuring & weighing the yarn to discover what gauge it is.

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Here is what I do:  I run the yarn through a ‘winding station’, which measures yardage while winding off the skein on to a ball, then weigh the ball, and take notes.

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This is about an aran weight. Getting more savvy in substituting hand-spun and I am itching to ‘paint’ again with fiber on my blending board. Recycled sari silk (yes, made from silk cloth of saris), bamboo, rose fiber… the works, and Oh! This was my most recent creation over the weekend, taking some very coarse Lincoln-Corriedale I’ve had for 30 years (from my sheep Hazel, plus another part fleece I have long forgotten where it came) , and blended it up together into a bat of 50/50 dark & white, which the white was extremely slubby (thats having little bits of wool puffs) I used that blend to layer with some ultra nice dyed corriedale roving  I recently bought, in colors amber, mulberry, and ruby, and also a little Huacaya Alpaca , and made tasty little wool sausages….

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And, over the weekend, here is what I spun up…. slubby, exotic woolen spun blend

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Meanwhile, the general news…

Emma is in her last days of having to endure The Cone, for the surgery she had a week ago already (to remove a low-grade sarcoma on her front leg, she will be alright, no reason to be alarmed). My nieces have started school already, Miss Seventeen is a senior this year, and Miss Fourteen is now in 9th grade!  I’m very busy presently working up two patterns to be available in a double download, and prototyped in the hand-spun alpaca!  And we’re having some gorgeous cool foggy mornings at last! Life is good.

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Emma 2 days after surgery.

 

casting on…

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News is that Emma is on the mend from her surgery earlier this week. She got a bit of a tune-up at the vet while she was under anesthetic to remove a growth on her front leg, and before she woke up the vet did a quick dental, and trimmed her nails too.  Five more days of antibiotics,  nearly a week of the pain-reliever anti-inflammatory (which I may continue with, for her arthritis), and about ten more days of the annoying cone, then its back to normal. More news is that we are dealing with a bit of a mouse invasion and trying to get them ‘out’ is no easy task.

Another finished Whorl’d Piece …

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Its on to the next big thing, casting on for Autumn Sweaters for my nieces, in the above balls of yarn is  Berocco super-bulky yarn named “Peruvia Quick”.  The light blue will be a Calidez Cardigan for Miss Seventeen, and dark blue a Calidez Pullover for Miss Fourteen.  So that is that.

I am embracing the waning summer days, getting through the epic bone-dry season of often smoke-hazed blue sky, while fantasizing a verdant grey-skies wet summer climate elsewhere on the planet, like this…

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Wishing everybody a wonderful last week(s) of summer vacation before going back to the school year routine ~ xx

Emma is Twelve

Emma is twelve!

Amidst all the quiet commotion around here, Emma has turned twelve today!

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early morning, waiting to go to town

Her birthday present thus far has been a trip into town to visit Dr.Tracy (her favorite veterinarian) and got another blood panel test, which I’m sure will be as blue-ribbon results as a year ago. Tip top shape for a ‘tween’ German Shepherd with grey whiskers and a little arthritis, a good regimen of a lot of walks and naps!

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home from town

Well, just look at her here with her birthday presents from last year and the year before, Mr Raccoon and Mr Squirrel….

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The three of them seem to be having some kind of discussion, which I fear to disturb for they seem to be reaching some kind of consensus.

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Meeting appears to be adjourned….

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regardless of the uncertainties…

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the doubts…

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… its a go… they got it worked out,  and now on to other things!

Um, like more napping.

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Because Emma’s trip into town was an event to take in, and it being her twelfth birthday I let her ride up the mountain with all windows down! Oh the smells, pure heaven! I think she’s going to be fine for another birthday check-up next year. When Jeff returns from Peru (more on that later) we will have the celebratory ‘burger with hotdog candles cake’  with perhaps even another toy!

Edit in 5pm closing time : Vet called to tell me that Emma’s bloodwork came back blue-ribbon beautiful again! We’re just so happy here, for our healthy t’ween-aged Emma.

Spring Sweaters 2017 (& Emma)

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Finally the Spring Sweaters are blocking to dry, and are awaiting my nieces!   (Emma is not drying, nor awaiting, but just is.)

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Knit from cotton-linen blend, these tees are from my Calidez pullover design (with short sleeves and ‘summer neckline’ options (details on Ravelry here & here)

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I’ve made a couple of monogrammed labels embroidered rather wonkily on pieces of old silk ties I collect.

Next week is Spring break, and I am meeting my nieces in Calistoga, and will bring back gobs of spectacular photos of them modeling these Spring Sweaters I am sure.

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But for now, Emma and I are just hanging out.

Everything in its place, and life is good.

moody monday

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Emma and I are moody.

When feeling under the weather (on the eve of a birthday)…make candy!

Emma wants some …

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( See her nose? )

 Honestly, I have not gone on a candy-making jag in years.  I used no recipe, just tossed ingredients ( about a cup of org. sugar, a bit more than half cube of salted butter, a glob of corn syrup, and a dash of cream) in a small saucepan over a low flame while cold-water testing until it was right. Poored in a buttered pyrex dish over a bed of chopped toasted almonds, then sprinkled more on top.  I ate a ton of it, it shook off the blues, and then I felt better.

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Oh, and knit something really amazing !!!  Anyway, the rest of it is just cozy, dark drizzling dank gorgeous wintery day, while drinking coffee, munching butter toffee and knitting. I will be home in my hermitage for the week just working on forthcoming design. 🙂

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The events of the day…

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Emma has gotten herself somehow mysteriously injured, and has been hobbling about for a day and a half.  I suspect she may have slipped and fallen on the stairs while we were away at a neighbor’s for dinner on Saturday, because Sunday she just could not move hardly at all.  Today she is a little better, at least been able to walk a little ways although very stiff and sore, far beyond her normal senior-dog arthritis.

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Emma sleeps in our bedroom upstairs, but in recent months she has been getting very unsure of herself on the stairs and has been needing help up and down because of the slippery hard-wood surface. Last weekend I cut up a big old rug for the turning area of the stairs, which helped a lot for that was where she was slipping the most, but the straight sections were still needing to be covered–insert Emma’s injury Saturday evening.  So Sunday morning I went into town and I bought a smattering of small throw rugs, sewed them end-to-end to make runners, cut more rug matting, and created a patchwork of rugs on the whole stairway, which is now very cluttered, and a bit odd, but no longer slippery.

I was so worried last night I slept on the couch downstairs next to her to give her moral support, and joy of joys, today she is much better and at least able to walk around a little outside but won’t be able to climb the stairs for a while yet. Wish her well,  she’s looking up, and I’ll give her a good pet from all of you.

Knitting Track News: I have measured with this wheel the feet distance of the whole knitting track.  The actual ‘track’  is a sloppy figure-eight looping through woods very near our house, total of 1448 feet. Not a big deal, I know , but as the track itself is over 1/4 mile around, so three times around the track plus the walk to and from the track is 1 mile…. and folks, that is not nothing ! 5x is 1.5 miles, 7x is 2 miles, you get the idea.   Just think of the knitting I can accomplish while working up a sweat!

144 finished feet done & dusted, about 1300 feet to go. I did about 60 feet just today, and I’m tired! For now it may seem perpetually under construction, but one day I will be finished and it will be a great accomplishment !!

See my recent post How To Make A Knitting Trail  ,

or all knitting trail & knitting-while-walking related posts HERE.

Knitting In The Wild

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We have been walking through the morning hours of Autumn.  Miles of yarn and prints of dog paws, and shoes, side by side. More chaotically spaced actually, mine straight forward, destination ahead, focused on the rounds of lace, of sleeves, of precious warm cardigans, and Emma’s  prints with her own agenda, as the wild life is speaking to her and new smells are exciting her in zig-zag directions and renewed vigor giving her incentive to come up to the peak with me these days.

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Our walks journey through Autumn,  with the arrival of rain, we seem to be experiencing  a gradual awakening of our dormant selves,  as is with the succulent green mosses everywhere … our joy of joys.

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To the peak we have walked a few times this Autumn already.  On the ridge right before the peak, like a comfortable old bed,  there is a soft pine needle layer from an eerie forest of stick-like old trees composting on the jutting toothy rock beneath … it is so dreamy to walk through, I just had to hang my knitting on it and be silly.

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Everything is in its place, and life is good.

Fields of Gold

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Went out for a lovely knitting walk in the late afternoon today, and caught the golden fields at their height and most fragrant as the rain has come, and it won’t be long before they become dull and brown and beaten down by the strong winds up here on the ridge.

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Leaves falling along one of our newer trails, a shortcut home through the edge of black oak woods (can you see the sticks ahead which mark the path?).  Emma and I have really upped our game, and are walking religiously since day one of Autumn , and I’m knitting bunches as we walk.  Grateful that Autumn has greeted us with some cool weather and…. did I mention that it rained last night?   Everything is in its place, and life is good.

Equinox Walk

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Happy Autumn Equinox everyone!   It is in recent years, my favorite day of the year. This morning the equinox occurred at 7:21 in the morning, and I planned to get to my secret knitting spot on one of my trails, overlooking a vineyard and hazy Mt Diablo in the distance, only about a ten-minute walk from my door at the most. Here are some more photos of our little early morning walk out to greet the new season…

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Emma enjoyed the scent of the fresh wildlife tracks from the night, and I enjoyed the brilliant angled light fuzzing through the trees. We then reached our secret spot on time, about 7:20, here standing on the big stump of a very large fir, gives a wonderful vantage point of the area we live in.

The light at sunrise had an amber glow and the air is cool. I thoroughly love this little loop in the woods next to my house, at first light.  Tomorrow and often in the days following, I think I will come here to greet the sunrise and feel Autumn’s transitory beauty. Perhaps a thermos of tea and sit on the stump here, knit, and thoroughly enjoy the season as the leaves slowly turn.

I also have a little new knitting going on, but I won’t give details for another week or so…

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Enjoy your first-day-of-Autumn and happy knitting!

 

Mid August

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August is such a stale time of the year. No cool breezes, no moisture, perpetual aqua blue skies, and a lot of anxiety about wildfire. The grasses stand crisp and golden, and so picturesque, but really it is just in suspended limbo until the rain comes, there in the bleaching hot sun day after day while even the moss in the forest turns brownish and, like the grasses, is frozen in lifelessness for months.

Mid August is even more stale than when the month arrived, and by the end of the month I am usually quite fried,  dreaming of verdant countrysides in far off lands.

I have been thinking about my knitting trail, and ideas.  So far it’s just staked out and haven’t walked it very much, but I need a grand plan, and I need ideas. I was hoping for some from you readers.

Now I will make myself a fresh iced coffee and wait for a little conversation to begin…

Emma is Eleven

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Today is Emma’s eleventh birthday.

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We had home-made tamales, chocolate cake & icecream, and we can bake Emma her own dog biscuits now because we have a biscuit form, doggie cookbook and biscuit mix too!

And …

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. . . there’s a new squeaking raccoon toy to torture! 

We went for our traditional walk after the party was over, but Emma and I were too tired to go far. I followed her out into the woods….

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Then she stopped a while,

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and we both decided to go back home and play with her new toys and take a long nap!