This Corner


Anybody who has visited this blog has seen a photo of this corner, where my nieces model their latest sweaters I’ve designed & knit. The building stands out in Calistoga , the angular & tall historic bank building from the old town, and the most striking pale fresh minty green, and which is now Bella Tootsie Shoes, but right next door is the Upvalley Vintners where my duo-mate and I perform music frequently.

Upvalley Vintners

You can read up on us more on our website,  over here.

We had a gig in Calistoga last night at Upvalley Vintners (the place was hopping!) and let me tell you how surreal to be hauling sound gear past that very spot my nieces posed for the camera a few weeks earlier, and it got me thinking, how spring will be here in a blink, time for me to begin sketching ideas already.   I walked past this corner carrying mic stands and mandolin last night, wondering what the forthcoming sweater design will be, and that was a great moment of my evening.  John & me as a duo even back in 1992 . . .

I am posting one of our most-played tunes, with the wildlife theme, because living in the woods on the mountain we see lots of foxes. Anyway, we felt this lively tune deserves a lively title, something with a driving pace to it.  Imagery comes to mind of fox hunts in British period films, with tall slender steeds and riders well-dressed,  and hoards of baying hounds on the chase !  Or,  maybe just our dogs Emma and (John’s dog) Badger in rapturous pursuit of anything that rustles in the leaves ~~~~ but the sly fox always gets away !!! It is a hopeful melody, of out-running those who oppress us, perhaps, or just a fun run through the beautiful woods.  We seriously enjoy playing this one , although in the recording there are a lot of rough edges…

Things In Trees and a new tune.

jenjoycedesign© nest
I was out walking this morning , with Emma, and we nearly stepped on this perfect little nest which was upright, in the middle of the path!  It must have been a sad loss for the birds who inhabited it, probably due to a marauding jay or raven or a lashing wind, which brought it to fall from the branches.  It was so fragile and dear and perfect, I couldn’t just walk on by. I put my knitting in my shoulder bag, and picked it up examining it closely as walked a while, with it very carefully perched in my cupped hand. Soon after I found some newly fallen acorns too, how lovely, which I popped inside the nest, looking like tree eggs of a sort.  As I walked from the oaks through the firs,  I noticed then some freshly fallen fir cones too, and picked a few of them up and put in my knitting bag. I tell you, now I feel it, I just know it’s coming, my favorite season Autumn is coming, coming, coming, because things are beginning to fall out of trees!


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Latest tune recorded over at John’s  . . .

First I’d like to mention that this tune, although recorded in this latest version on John’s birthday this week, was actually in a long gestation of development starting from the beginning of July. At first it was a fast paced polka , and we then changed it to a waltz, recorded it about five times, all differently, with different titles. Miraculously we landed on the prize, on John’s birthday, perhaps in a way, a celebration of his turning another year older, and another hair greyer. If you’re wondering what a cakewalk is, well, it’s an old-time sort of dance contest with roots in ragtime, whereby a couple wins a gigantic cake ! (We like to think a birthday cake, as I made John a mighty tasty one this year). Excuse where I , Jen, smashed it up by tripping into a couple of frightfully bad notes, while attempting to dive for the cake, but as is the way of our first recordings are brand new and like wobbly-kneed colts! Oh, and the photo is of a postcard entitled “lecon de cakewalk”. Happy Birthday John!

How About A Little Polca ?

So it’s come to this, I’ve decided to begin to share some of my tunes here on my blog, for the world to hear, and here is the most recent.

This minor & major tune was born  of a lovely June day. It skips along so nicely, images come to mind perhaps, of new spring colts just born, jumping around in fields of poppies ! Or just poppies. (The picture seems to be of an old postcard or travel poster of California,  all that could be found, sans baby colt) .  It has a few glitches, as usual, it’s just recorded off the starting gate, and is still wobbly in the knees. One thing is for sure, we will look forward to developing this energetic melody in the summer ahead at the farmers markets !

Posted in K&J

a new tune.


Recording at John’s is always a gamble of the natural forces of total chaos at work. If it’s not the phone and fridge, that we *finally* learned to turn off before we start recording, it’s the other things which happen ; the planes which fly overhead, the well pump which runs intermittently, garbage trucks, the chainsaws, the neighbors’ barking dogs, and not to forget to mention the chaos which is Badger , the Jack Russel terrier , who’s shaking and jumping on things and woofing has put the stop on things from time to time. Oh, then there’s mic cables which seem to suddenly not work, (right, a whole recording without the sound of guitar). Way too often John’s hand goes numb on him, totally unasked for. Get this, today there was a momentary power-out mid recording , and when it came back on, a chain reaction of blips and beeps of all electronics restarting in the universe. Well, suffice to say, this morning’s recording of this brand new tune was quite the accomplishment ! We decided to call the tune which seemed ‘a little ragtimey’ and ‘a little gypsy’, “Ragtime Gypsy” ! Enjoy the wee baby of a tune, not 3 days old !


Out walking, and a new tune.

Yesterday’s knitting walk was lovely. I followed Emma down in the meadow above the canyon (coyote-ville), and to our surprise, Emma spotted something very curious flapping in the breeze ahead.

Closer and closer,  curiouser and curiouser !

Ah ha ! There has been someone who has been adorning the mountain with Tibetan Prayer Flags around here lately.   The Masked Flagger has struck again !  They are admittedly quite a spectacle of artistic beauty,  even bleached by the sun and wind-whipped to shreds.

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Now for a tune we just wrote, (first recording and very very rough, but the spirit is there!)  A tune just so cheerful and hopeful sounding , and the prayer flags seemed so much  to promise a real change and happy days ahead.   Believe me when I tell you that everything is going to be Just Fine!

Morning knit-walk, and a new tune!

I’m going to go for a Walk & Knit , down this old logging road, as soon as I post this. Out my door, down this road, navigating over uneven rocky sections in road as I amble along, and that is while  k n i t t i n g  ! ! !  I’ve done it a few times already, and every time out the door it seems I think ” I should have my knitting “.  Some habits take a while to form. So this morning is my official ritual beginning of a Morning Knit & Walk and I’ll post photos of the scenery occasionally here on Yarnings.   This in theory should help me accomplish more knitting, even if done at a slower pace.

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Lastly, I just finished recording the latest tune over at Johns . . .

A new tune.

Okay folks, this post has no knitting related content, just putting up our latest tune, composed the eve of the Spring Equinox, well, we just think that fact is interesting indeed, but still, it gets the title of “Gypsy Shuffle” as it just embodies our sound so well, so completely signature Kelly & Jekel Duo. This is it. This tune makes me want to dance a shuffle ! In all it’s rawness ~ composed 3-parts, and then recorded ~ literally shuffled together in about an hour and some . Here it is … our Gypsy Shuffle.

Posted in K&J

Winter days and a new tune.

This tune started out as a waltz, then John started in with his very signature ragtimey swingy folk fingerstyle to his chords, and very quickly it changed my style to somewhat swinging & syncopated … and so another “Bohemian Nouveau” tune is born … and we have this first sketchy recording to show for it. Had to think of a title to make an upload for this video (but John thinks he wants to change the chords, so this is temporary posting).. and well, this tune is just so dang happy (yet a little bit mysterious), that I just couldn’t help but thinking of my favorite thing to do (besides play music), which is to go for hikes with my dog Emma ~ who’s greatest aspiration I think, is to be able to carry two sticks at once ! Composed February 20, 2012

the new tune

And now, a new tune for a new season!  This latest tune recorded just a few days ago at John’s, may bring to mind some quaint scene from Wind In The Willows, but actually, it came about this way : Taking a break composing a different tune, while John made tea, I was messing around with ascending and descending notes, then John brought in the tea. John soon came up with some perfect chords, and then a sort of changing melody started to gel. We agreed it would be very pleasing to descend in the minor, and ascend in the major ….and to quick record it ! But that’s not all. John’s wire-haired Jack Russell Terrier named “Badger” would not stop gnawing loudly on his chew toy, so , in order to get a recording without Badger chewing loudly in the background, we had to take it from him. (Poor Badger. Think of him giving us the sad-eye while we recorded this.)

Posted in K&J

Mid September and a new tune.

Composed September of 2011. A brand new tune in it’s first recorded form, which well exemplifies our self-proclaimed style of  Bohemian Nouveau ,  this one comes from the murky forests, and hollow landscapes of Yeats’ “Song-Of-The-Wandering-Aengus”, and so from it comes it’s name “Though I am old with wandering through hollow lands and hilly lands, I will find out where she has gone, and kiss her lips and take her hand…”     We feel this tune is signature of our style, tapping into the roots of all the tunes we’ve played together over the years : ragtime, minor gypsy, swing, with Old European influences.

Posted in K&J

nothing else better . . .

So,  here I am knitting on a Sunday morning, trying feverishly to get at least one of the two kilt hose socks finished today, while listening attentively to our latest tune composed . . .

Mastering the track one summery Thursday night, I asked John ‘how is it we are writing all these tunes out of nowhere’, and  John replied in his usual matter-of-fact manner, “Well, there’s really nothing else better to do” and I agreed. And so it was titled.