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After losing most of my things in the wildfire,   I am scouting again.

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  Earlier this week I found this retro beauty in a local consignment shop of antique & vintage objects,   and we picked it up this morning.

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A bathtub is not a delicate or graceful object, and I certainly wasn’t expecting to find one  while out scouting in the thrift & antique shops,  but the utmost in useful things in my opinion, something of daily life, and lifestyle.   I can’t express just how gratified it makes me feel to begin to find pieces of a home again,  which is in so many ways my identity.

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This goes especially for used things,  sturdy and elegant old-fashioned  things that have already endured decades of use. I love, love, love old things, and am ready and eager to bring them into our new house, which likely won’t be any sooner than a year, but I can begin finding now.  We will have at least saved a fortune snatching up this one, and not waiting until later to buy new.

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I suppose I am like so many other Nesters, completely taken in by the beauty of a utilitarian thing like an old bath tub.

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My new finding does have me feeling pleased with myself,  even though for now it will have to stand patiently  next to a big window in our holding place, and I think it will come in handy as a giant yarn bowl, or laundry basket, until  eventually  the new house is built.

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Frustrations over painfully slow rebuilding aside, and nature’s cruel black hand is far from getting use to, but admittedly life is seeming to feel good again as this particular finding brings my focus forward to what might be.



Earliest morning light greets me as I go into the dark kitchen to make a pot of tea. Certain times of year the rising sun aligns and finds a tiny window through acres of trees and pierces through to light up this antique oak ice chest in our kitchen, a real stonehenge-like occurrence near the equinoxes.   I really am fascinated with the play of light, and how it changes dramatically the perception of objects, and even emotions about them, or a room. Light moves swiftly as the colors that are created from it are a palette seemingly endless and varied.

A few minutes later you can see the light washing out a bit, and a shadow of a fir tree from the woods in front of the kitchen window…in a sort of woodsy magic shadow puppet show!


Many Socks

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Continuing in the same vein as my previous posts Part One &  Part Two , about my love of John Muir’s High Country, wild woolly beasts that live on the granite, my new design inspired by High Sierras, in tribute to John Muir, and dedicated to my husband Jeff…

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I now settle into navigating my energy level out of the manic invention, and into the staid level of production the task of making many socks.  From large brush strokes, to small precise ones. Already have 3 pairs of the trail socks on the needles for Jeff (one trail, one country, one plain), and now I’m also queuing up for a pair of socks each for Miss Sixteen & Miss Thirteen !

jenjoycedesign© Charlemont Sock Yarn

These will be the Ankle Sock variation in the pattern, with just the cuff going into the corrugated ribbing;  one pair cream with grey contrast, the other pair grey with cream contrast ~~ fun!  Trying out a lovely blend of 60%  Fine Merino Superwash – 20% Mulberry Silk, and 20% nylon (not getting brand specific here), 440 yards to 100grams = fine fingering weight.

As both of my nieces are runners now, I believe the ankle sock may just be a stellar running sock, and am happy for them to test these. Two more pairs of socks for Springtime, coming up!

Linen Shirt Make-over

jenjoycedesign©linen shirt makeoverMy love of linen has grown deeper with time. Its rustic wholesome weave holds my appreciation like no other textile. The warm shades of grey form layers in the seams, and when held in front of angled light from the late or early sun, it is simply beautiful. Just to see it that way I am able to almost smell its fragrance, as if the presence remains of that field of flax from which it was born, and it my skin longs to be against it.

So, I made another shirt for myself, new out of old.
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Making new clothes out of old is one of those things which I absolutely love to do but takes a bit of skill.  Pardon the wrinkly shirt photo, but that is actually the way I prefer it, not ironed too much, just a little, for linen has such personality with a little texture showing.  Months ago I bought a linen shirt from the thrift shop and I was wearing it around like a tent recently, and yesterday I finally cut into it.  Now it is more of my style, it has personality, it is natural, totally unique, and has a feminine classic charm. There was plenty needle threading and hand-sewing, which I adore actually, and the machine work was plenty too.

Here’s what I did:  I first ripped off the breast pocket, then cut out the big bulky button bands and collar. Then I cut off some off of the length which gave me enough fabric to sew in a ‘gusset’ to bridge the two fronts in the absence of the button band.  I cut off the cuffs and cuff button placket, completely, which left sleeves a little short.
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From two sleeves I had cut before off of another linen shirt in my pile of linen scraps, I made simple wide folded faced bands to extend into a sort of cuff, and pleated the excess sleeve material to fit… a fast & easy way to go… and looks great rolled up. Usually I just hem the neck opening without a collar, but this time I had envisioned a peter-pan collar, so I set into making a collar custom to the cut-out neck, with the other linen sleeve in the scrap pile, and with the help of this book, published 1930’s….

Finished, and excited to get involved in a very summertime project for the hot weather, and that is making new out of old, re-making every possible tent-like mens’ linen shirt I possibly can get a hold of , and immerse myself in the metamorphosis of them into artful beautiful shirts for *moi*. My wardrobe is anorexic, but is on the mend, and I’m absolutely loving my needlework, on a quiet mountain, punctuated by very little else, which suits me just fine.

I’m ready to go at it with another!

A Fresh Perspective


Looking forward to a year full of artful angles and new perspectives.  For the moment I am feeling keenly drawn to the mundane, how could this be?  Upping the ordinary seems to be my cause for the new year, I feel it in my marrow this transformation taking place.


Driving through St. Helena a few days ago, on my way home from a visit with my brothers family, I stopped in for a meditative cup of coffee with 2015 planner pages opened up, and as I pondered the mystery of empty calendar pages, imagining the notes I will scribble in between the bold numbers which represent a twenty-four hour portion of my life, I inhaled the aroma of cafe creme and also of hope for the year ahead ~~ how good and rich and wholesome it indeed did smell.

Back in my car to make the second half of the trip home, cruising along Oak Street this house just stuck out for me. It would not otherwise be noticed save for the time of day and the way the shadows played it up. How interesting ! It seemed to ask me to pull over, park, and dig my camera out of my stuff and take a shot.  So I did.

In 2015 I strive to detach myself from distractions of consumerism, and instead to slow down and ‘do without’… to Mend & Make Do if you will. It just seems so attractive to me here at the onset of the new year, and before dawn, to contemplate true simplicity. I have always longed for the slower-moving vantage point.

I close this post of the first day in January to ponder this idea of Less Is More, and I wish you all a very good year ahead to set out for what you long for.

Grey Days Of January



Grey  “yarn days”  of January.

A lull after the knitting frenzy  (and posting frenzy) of December !

I’m having fun with balls of yarn about the house.

Bathroom mirror blues . . .



Yarn steps . . .



In the bed frame . . .


Another  knitting needle yarn kebab . . .

Green . . .  waiting for rain !

Precarious !


Having some fun today (being my birthday) photographing yarn.  These will be fun new banners for Yarnings . . .  I  figured , well, it is just so artful,  yarn in a sense of place. On the stairway landing half-wall where I photograph so much, on the stair steps themselves (a very favored personal trend) ,  and even precariously balanced on the iron rail which overlooks the lower part of our house, and all places which get a deal of light flooding from above via sky windows .

And now Emma and I are going for a walk while I rattle off a few more fingers in Pretty Little Things gloves . . .  prototypes which will be finished , photographed, and pattern ready soon!

Approaching A New Year


In case you didn’t notice, I’ve changed my banner. It was really difficult to do it, for I think I’m a little obsessive about Things being In Their Place… and well, I just figured today…so close to the new year, I’m ready for some changes.

Looking back to this post when it was so hot out that I was so drawn to blue, and had unknowingly posted five times in a row having blue as a main feature.  I was decorating Emma with yarn towers,  playing around with a camera and the cooling powers of blue, when it was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside . . .


(As it is now just after the winter solstice, I think it is interesting this post was just after the summer solstice.)

I believe I’m going to have some fun with yarn this coming year, in more ways than I have been. There’s no denying, yarn has gotten tangled up in my life in a way which has changed me (hopefully for the better), and I’m not kidding when I tell you that I wake each day thinking about something that yarn has to do with.  Yarn is nothing less than a slow miracle for me.

I usually shirk new years resolutions, but this year I’m passionate about them!  I want to get beneath the soil of things, yes of course, tending my garden to thrive, but metaphorically so too, in creative process and endeavoring from it. I am tempering my patience and my self-confidence like two razor sharp edges of a sword, and I am bettering myself through knitting. I so want to round up what little experience and confidence I have with pattern writing & design and put jets on the whole thing.

This morning I’ll admit to myself that  I have come up with a few good ideas, and in less than a year have learned a lot.  Well, there’s more to learn, more to knit, more to ‘math out’ and more to write. I will slowly inch along, with all of your presences & encouragement that ever-so-much appreciate, I really could not have progressed, nor continue further, without you. Thank you everybody, and here’s looking to a great year ahead in 2014.

What are your hopes and plans for the new year?



Blue beckons.  It calls to me, and it says ” Hey you who has avoided me for so long, I know you’re secretly in love with me ! ” So I am.  What to do?  I bought blue yarn yesterday from town,  I mean really blue yarn , and I have it propped up on the top of the loft wall, so as I pass by it, I can’t help but to see it and think ‘ what on earth … that is buh-looo ! ‘   Here it is, a single skein of Malabrigo Yarn (from N.Uruguay, which makes me happy) …lace weight, 100% Merino wool, and in color “marine”. It is variegated from medium to really deep indigo tones. Blue is so Me now.  It is my mood and my desire, it is a field of linen flax at dusk,  it is eyes of a new lover that I can’t resist, it is a soothing drink of color that quenches my thirst  while all around me fields of grass are as dry and white as parchment. This beautiful yarn cake of lace weight is not going to be made into anything  remotely lacy or frilly or superfluous. It shall be old-fashioned and practical.  Casting on . . .

Staying Cool

I’m in need of  Cool Blues .

Triple digit temperatures in Northern California !


There’s just something about Emma sprawled out on the floor , sleeping out the heat,  just makes me want to decorate her.

I personally think that yarn towers have magical cooling powers.


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Light in the stairway, from above, morning light piercing through from the roof window, and stretching shadows to incredible lengths.

I think that being an artist of any kind is nothing more than capturing an inspiring moment and freezing it.  Objects & angles.  This stairway is one of my favorite places in our house. It is very bright and ascends into rooms, one of which is the creative space I call my loft.

Yesterday I was manic and coming up with big plans to design a shaped ‘plus’ size range of the original Pin-Striped Sweater Tee, and after charting, drawing, messaging with kind knitters wanting to partake in my design experiment, setting up a virtual knitting room for it, and then at the end of the day, after nearly collapsing into a state of ‘what have I done?’…. I was very unhappy.  So strange, that in order to please others, I was making myself unhappy.

Just last week I was pacing myself, immensely looking forward to two big accomplishments to get behind me ~  and that was to submit the Pin-Striped Sweater Tee  pattern, which was the culmination of which I had spent all of spring knitting four of,  and also the  Dicey Bonnet  pattern, which is my dear pet project.  But last night I realized I was not relishing my accomplishment , but getting myself into a pile of more work, and so I cancelled the plus-sizes tee project.

I need to spend some time celebrating, as I finished all I set out to do! Unwinding now, I am going back to knitting hats & socks for a while. Perhaps I will  sit on the steps of this blithe stairway and just capture some happiness today.


Every once in a while , I see my knitting against ‘just the right’ light , and I leap for the camera.  Sun rays streaming through the sky window and catching the dangling yarns , reminding me of a glistening web in the morning dewy sun beams.  This was one of those moments.  I am simply knitting Fair Isle work on still another, and third, pattern prototype mitt, trying to keep the yarns from tangling, while I knit standing up.

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 !

Mossy Green Under The Blue Moon

Progress on the mossy sweater.

Oh, and did you know that today is the Blue Moon ?

And now folks, for a bit of a little break from knitting,  a little something non-knitting I’d like to bring to show you.

Occasionally I get all worked up in folksy crafty sorts of projects,  my latest making blackboards out of odd frames I find at thrift shops.  Here’s one of two identical, (two frames @ 25cents a piece), which I stained with espresso and sprayed with shellac , then mounted the matte-black-painted fiber-board . . .

my new ‘weekly menu’ board !

And the other twin,  has become my grocery shopping list . . .

A third,

which I painted red,

and which I am going to give to my girlfriend who has a birthday this month . . .

And another which is made from an old frame (50cents )

 is now in my work space of my knitting loft, reminding me of upcoming

Knitterly Things To Do. . .

And just in case I’ve made Yarnings a bit ‘ Yawnings ‘ ,  it’s time for a bedtime story.

A totally nonsensical story about a bit of  Thingsy-ness.

Here goes :

Once upon a time there was a knitter who lived in the woods.  A Woodsy Knitter.

She had a few quirky obsessions. One in particular, (besides chalk-boards, which is rather random, and not really about knitting, unless it’s about listing Knitterly Things To Do)  is related to hand-made garments and such… well , sort of.

“Oh really? What is that?” asked Little Red Riding Hood, eyes as big as saucers, as she pulled back the hood to her red cape, and little golden locks of hair bounced around her face.

“I like to collect old wooden hangers.” Said the Woodsy Knitter, while accepting a too-hot bowl of porridge from Mama Bear.

“Oh I see.” Said Hansel, to Gretel, in a very thick German accent , with pastry crumbs falling out of his mouth as he spoke, landing on his sister.

“But now my collection has refined to the particular ones which have advertisements of old Cleaners and Dyers on them. ”  Said the Woodsy Knitter, and then added ” I just found these, only 25cents a piece, yesterday ! ”

“Oh, yes, very nice, very nice !!!” Said Gretel to Hansel, but very annoyed as she brushed crumbs off of her sleeve.

” Also other kinds of wooden hangers too, ”  said the Woodsy Knitter ” like these old beauties, and also the ones which are completely rounded. This one I found yesterday as well…odd how long the wire handle is…”

“How odd indeed ” Said the Three Piggies, all in unison !!!

And the Woodsy Knitter replied ” But now , the very  very strange thing about these advertisements stamped on them, is how I have collected them over the years, and of all the couple of dozen or so,  no two are alike . “

“Not any?” Howled the Big Bad Wolf, questioningly, and gruffly,  as his brows furrowed upon closer inspection.

“No, really, check them out ! You may have to click the photo and enlarge to notice the names, and old-as-the-hills three-digit phone numbers.  Also, most of them are from my home state of California, but not all.” Said the Woodsy Knitter

Then they all went on their merry way, into their own stories,  after looking at the Woodsy Knitter’s crafty chalkboards, mossy knitting, and wooden hangers.

The fog broke.

The sun shone through the trees in the woods,

and the Woodsy Knitter resumed with her knitting,

and they all lived happily ever after.

The End.

Sweater Success !

Sunday I met my nieces in Calistoga , beneath the snow-capped Mt.St Helena. Weather permitted, but just.  I photographed them modelling  their new sweaters  in and about the interesting nooks in Calistoga ~ our favorite being the mural of Old Town Calistoga ~ and among some colorful walls of the buildings.

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Then afterward, as is our tradition,

 icecream cones…

because modelling is hard work !


*   *   *

Detailed in Ravelry here.

Sewing Relics of Old

Thrift shop find of last week, from a basket of lot of thread, I extracted these little beauties.

 (be sure to click the image and see up-close)
It’s apparent that I have an empassioned fondness for antique sewing and craft things, and was sorely tempted to take every old wooden spool, but I forced myself to leave some. I had gathered several old brands of “Beldings” ,  “Clarks & Co.” ,  “J.P. Coats” … and  I was hoping anxiously I wouldn’t get gouged at check-out, but fortunately I didn’t have to spend more than a few dollars for this little lot.

Just look at these scrumptious little spools of pure silk button thread !

Inspired to make a few more shots of Old Sewing Relics, here is a 1970’s faux wood (plastic)  sewing box my guy gave to his mother when he was a boy. It now perches on a shelf in my projects loft, and keeps mostly my own supplies, however….

Also still inside this old box,  are some of it’s original relics from from the 60’s.

Pink taffeta seam binding !!!

Leather woven buttons, including leather  shanks….

…but these are what really spark my creative curiosity of late ~~~ fabric covered buttons.

Objects de Arte

Unexpected angles.



I love my house this time of day, sunset, all the low warm light shooting off of the walls and beams so blithely.

And my little Loft Room becomes a very inviting place (as seen from the bedroom), containing Objects de Arte which are appreciated especially by those who knit, spin, or sew.