This Corner


Any of you who has visited this blog has seen a photo of this corner. It stands out in Calistoga , the angular & tall historic bank building from the old town, and where my nieces model their latest sweaters I’ve designed & knit for them on the Autumnal & Vernal Equinoxes for four years running. jenjoycedesign©corner in Calistoga2
The building is 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. You can see it, there on the left edge in the photo with my nieces above, and the mint green bank building is in the background of the photo below.

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 pose for the camera twice a year, and it got me thinking, how spring will be here in a blink! It is time for me to begin sketching ideas already.   I walked past this corner carrying mic stands and mandolin last night, wondering what the forthcoming Spring design will be. I tell you, it was a most evocative moment of my evening.

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, knitting as I go.  I 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 of all is knocking at Summer’s door ~~ because things are beginning to fall out of trees!

Yet still a long wait through the hot & dry months before the first rains come, usually in October. But for now, the nest, acorns, and cones are a festive little Autumnal adornment to my loft, reminding me that not long from now is the Autumnal equinox !


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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”. It means the cakewalk lesson. Happy Birthday John!


How About A Little Polca ?

So it’s come to this ~~ I’ve decided to begin to share other aspects of life, including my music !  Here is the most recent  work of ours (mine and my duo mate’s) composed & then recorded in the beginning of June. . .

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 !

Socks and a new tune.

I’m not a fast knitter.  I’m a plodder really, though I get the job done in good time.  ” Slow and steady wins the race ” I always say.    I am going to be travelling to Vancouver BC this coming week, for some days, the event being a 90th birthday party held in honor of my father-in-law, and I want something to knit while I’m there, something mindless, like rib or stocking stitch of something. Something that will keep me calm among the numbers of folk for the time I will be there,  something very portable, and lastly, something that can be finished there.  So there’s always socks! Everybody wears socks, right?  Socks are the gift to beat all gifts, and I am determined to make him a pair. One problem,  I only know top down sock knitting  (have only knit three pairs)  and this is going to be difficult.  I must have the tricky business of the heel flap & turn, and gusset decreases, and toe decreases, and intolerable Kitchener stitch out of the way.  How can I make this work? After some thought, I’ve come to a conclusion !!!  Inside-out sock knitting, my answer to a very complex quandary.  Here I am,  on Monday, just into the gusset decreases. I’m confident that by my departure on Thursday morning, I will be through with the whole foot, and when I am a midst the crowd , I can take out my ‘very important knitting ‘ and just smile and knit a simple rib while I stay engaged with the company of others, until it’s time to top it off with a big red stripe !  I am prepared for this trip with the perfect plan.   Here are the socks in progress …

inside-out , two-at-a-time, sock knitting

Well, it’s a beautiful morning up here on the mountain, the birds in full chorus, the sun high in blue sky already, but with a cool breeze, and I’m off for a good knit-walk to rattle off some rows on these socks !

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Meanwhile, I’ve got a new John and I just recorded . . .

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 !

(mitt) Fiesta !

As the credits say at the end of this movie video ~ thank you ~ everybody for your test-knitting contributions, I couldn’t have done it without you ! Your mitts are just all so lovely, I couldn’t help but make a little movie out of them!

And now . . .

a photo gallery !

(be sure to hover your mouse over photo to see caption,

or click to see a full sized-gallery)

Again…. Thank you !


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 . . .

New season, 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.

Soon To Be Spring, and a new tune.

I was taking photos of yarn to see if I could sell on ebay,  in attempt to lessen my random stash. This very old cotton nubby yarn is from the 80’s, which was my mother’s, and which she purchased just before she died.  I was proceeding with photographing to sell, and in doing so I just fell in love with it.  I just can’t let this little stash of ‘Giselle’ go, I am posting it here instead, in honor of it ~ rather ~ in honor of my mother’s knitting. I love photographing beneath the south-east skylight, in late winter, as the particular seasonal light seems to sometimes make things look so rich with color, texture and a glow, which of course, is rich with memories.   I remember fondly my mom knitting a lot. So  I’m keeping these little nubby cotton skeins, just to have with me.  Just to have a bit of my mom’s yarn.

Now that I have looked differently at these yarns, I am thinking I will hang on to my stash, all of it, and there’ll be a time when they will speak to me.  The Vernal Equinox will be here in a blink, and the wild fruit trees are already starting to tentatively blossom here!

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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.)