Then and now .

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Photo from archives:  Forthcoming

As I stood just this morning inside of newly framed wall of our future master bedroom, looking through the door-to-be, I recalled this photo above, taken October 2016. One year later, nearly to the date, the wildfire destroyed everything, but I think by this coming October I’ll be looking at a very similar scene.  We won’t be able to replicate the antique Windsor chair(s) , but I do recall distinctly the color of the paint in the room to be a shade lighter than the color “Monet’s Garden”, and that is indeed something to go by.  Yes, going to paint it the same shade if I can help it.  I know I’m really asking for an emotional hit when I peruse the photos of our house before the wildfire, but its all a part of rebuilding, and we’re having to consult these old photos often to build the same house, or nearly the same ~ things just change, like sixteen years of the timbers deepening to that beautiful dark honey shade… there are times that I feel so homesick and just want to go home to it.   Rebuilding just takes so much time up here in the wild, especially through the winter, but the builders are wonderful, post & beam experts commuting from far away and staying over in Napa on week nights,  trying really very hard to recreate our original home that we built ourselves, regardless of the code changes like sprinkler systems, the list goes on.  Wow.  I am overall just really grateful.  October 2019, two years after the wildfire,  I will take that above photo again, mark my words.

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Photo taken today, February 15, 2019

All posts Rebuilding.

A really nice shirt.

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I love making new from old.

Upcycling something  from a $2 mens thrift linen-cotton shirt… into mine.

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( I did get a little sloppy on the rolled hem at the neckline ~ I was rather in a hurry. )

I love simple utilitarian clothing, pleats, and especially lovely buttons. I have a jar of these natural shell buttons which have accumulated from years of thrift shop shirts, and I keep them just for this sort of occasion.

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Only a few simple steps to transform from men’s button-up shirt to a rather casual boxy throw-over shirt,  which I love in linen, because after several washings, the boxiness begins to drape and all the sloppy bits will blend in with the original shirt’s crinkled old hems.

This is how I do it:  First I cut off the neck under the collar stand, the cuffs, and button bands, and as much length as you don’t need. From the cut-off length in body and sleeves,  you can make middle insert in place of button band, cuffs, or other details such as a collar.  This time I cut down a little from the stand in front  so the neckline in front of the new shirt rests a little lower.

Note:  How many extra bits you are able to make all depends on how long the shirt is and how much you can cut off length in body and sleeves after trying on and marking the length you would like it to be, plus hem allowance.

 

My thing lately is to take a strip off  cut-off length (the length grain will have to be inserted cross-grain fashion, which is a nice contrast, and sew it on to cut front pieces raw edge, using French seams.

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I made a collar and lined with some other cotton/linen I had handy, but ended up hating it, so ripped it off.

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Finishes:  The neck was way too gaping as the front insert was rather wide, as were the sleeves, so I pleated those loose areas after it was all finished, and sewed shell buttons on purely for aesthetic, not really doing anything, as you can see also on front pocket.

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Over all it is a really fast way to upcycle and  make a really nice shirt for myself in less than an hour.  The best discovery I found in this make-over shirt is how buttons on pockets are really a lovely accent just sewn on, or to cover the opening of a pleat.   I just love shell buttons & linen!

Edit in, per request :   Link to all projects “New From Old”

Grey Days Of January

 

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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 . . .

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Yarn steps . . .

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In the bed frame . . .

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Another  knitting needle yarn kebab . . .

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Green . . .  waiting for rain !

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Precarious !

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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!

Double Cappuccino & Ruffles

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The lace leg-warmers are at last sweetly embracing my now fourteen-year-old niece . . . . .   sans boots.

The ‘boot leg’ photo will have to be another time.  In fact, these leg warmers are named “Double Cappuccino” because whenever we have our Equinox sweater photos, they always, without fail, begin at Calistoga  Roastery.  That, and they really do remind me of a whip-topped yummy drink.   Until the next time at the roastery , I was lucky to squeeze in this little photo shoot before our visit was up and my nieces had to leave back home.

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Double Cappuccino Leg Warmers have a frothed milk quality with an ever-so-slightly asymmetrical lace pattern in ribbing,  and is such a speedy and uncomplicated knit.  ((proof : I made these while hiking))  Knit with sport-weight natural undyed superwash sock yarn, achieving just the right light airy quality  from knitting on US 4 – 3.50 mm needles.   Tasty !

My niece in her infinite good taste,  chose to adorn the upper rib with cute little buttons . . .

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Which makes these warm to the eyes as well as to the touch !

Calistoga Coffee Roastery is the first stop with all of our  modeling of Equinox Sweaters, so it will be the first design (and kick-off) of my ~~ Calistoga Collection !

Double Cappuccino pattern on Ravelry HERE

Pattern page for Double Cappuccino on Yarnings HERE

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Now, I can’t leave it at that , because *both* of my lovely nieces participated in our little impromptu knit-wear photo shoot of this morning.  Here is my adorable eleven-year-old niece in the “Ruffles” scarf I made her for Christmas.

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It is nice simply tied and cascading down the front,

or double wrapped and tied for a very pretty affect.

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Is she not the most photogenic kid ever?

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Ruffles details on Ravelry  HERE

Free How-To instructions for Ruffles Scarf  HERE.

Approaching A New Year

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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 . . .

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(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?

One-And-A-Half Days

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

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

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

Since then I really went into making overdrive.

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

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

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

Three Days

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

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

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

 Jen’s Spicy Bittersweet Chocolate 

(For two servings)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Six Days

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

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

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

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

Seven Days

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Seven days left to make things.

Leafy green is finished !

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As is the sea critter . . .

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As is the mint-licorice . . .

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and also the sherpa hat ! ! !

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

 Until then I’ll keep you all guessing.

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

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

* All project details on Ravelry HERE .

Eleven Days

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

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

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

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

Progress of Things Handmade :

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

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It incorporates alpaca yarn & mohair/silk yarn alternately.

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

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

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Lastly, something  mysterious,

hanging from a lamp to dry . . .

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

How are your Christmas Creations coming along?

Fourteen Days . . .

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I am sharing all that I am ‘making’ through the holidays (and other noteworthy things going on).  Fourteen days left, and three hand-made gifts finished, with several more to go. A scarf much like ‘ribbon candy’ in wintergreen and licorice, made from some old yarn I can’t even remember what it is.  The kitty, shown a few posts back.  And here, a quite large & roomy felted satchel made of stashed tweed wool o’ the Andes, and which has two thick 5-stitch icord straps. More to come… watch this space !

(( The very artful steel cut & welded ‘coat’ hanger my brother made. It is a daffodil bulb,  and is mounted right at the doorway))
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Now, the Lovers Of Wildlife out there , you absolutely *must* see this ~~~ the pair of ravens which perch often right near our house, these are photos taken from upstairs bedroom window, literally 30 feet away from where I stood in the house (I zoomed in).  First you see Mr. Raven lone on a branch surveying his domaine, then his mate busying herself ripping some dead bark off of a dead oak branch, then she flew to him and they cuddled a while while they prattled loudly to each other, it was amazing to see such big handsome birds be so affectionate.

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They didn’t seem to mind me at all standing there photographing & admiring them. I am so grateful & lucky to live here in these woods with the ravens!

Red & Green

I woke this morning, and wrapped a bunch of little presents to send off in the post to Jeff’s sister’s family in Vancouver & his dad’s too.  Lots of little things, and I found as I had plenty of wrapping paper, I was totally unprepared in the festive colors ribbon department.  No worries… with a huge stash of every color yarn, and a spinning wheel… a spool o’ Christmas twine is not but a few turns on the wheel away !

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See how whimsical & cheerful a little pom pom is to finish it with?

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I was only lying to myself.

I can’t not make more gifts.

This my friends, is the shift I was hoping for, into high gear  making  , and I will do my best to post finished things here.  Starting with this one, my secret recipe shortbread, for the Scottish host of the Christmas party I attended on the weekend ~~~ and it was a particularly delicious batch!

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It got all wrapped and tied with plaid ribbon and everything, and it was so smart looking. Oh, also, I wore my Vineyard Rows Tam (California Highlands Bonnet) and had so many lovely compliments from the folks at the party about it, it has inspired me to make a little game with myself, which is this :

I vow not go out into town for the rest of the winter without wearing something I’ve hand knit. Today I went grocery shopping wearing for the first time my Red Cardigan ~~ I can’t believe that was the first time I wore it out, it was wonderful indeed! I felt extremely lovely in it. Well, here’s to the holiday spirit, and all things hand-made !

First Rain

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Finally we got some rain, making it a lovely break from the dryest Autumn in many years. Emma and I just got in from a little knit-walk as it drizzled, but I didn’t bring camera in case it started to downpour. So here I am, taking photos of the wetness from inside our house.  From the kitchen window above.   Just look at the moss, just drinking it in . . .
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From where I sit & knit by the window,  and if you look closely  you’ll see some stones placed in a path. That is actually the path down to the garden, but also it is part of my knitting trail, which goes off into the woods from the garden in a northerly direction . . .

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On the knitting front: I have been preoccupied with a new yarn ~ here winding off 440 yards of a  ‘Botticelli Red’, variegated, 3-plied, hand-dyed hank of finest sock yarn I’ve had the pleasure to knit with to date. I am smitten with Malabrigo sock yarn!

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Vineyard Rows Tam

jenjoycedesign©high-vineyard Walking along the old mountain vineyards close by, I found inspiration for a design which I have named “Vineyard Rows”. A California Highlands Bonnet if there is to be one ! I chose four natural shades of Jamiesons Of Shetland Spindrift yarn, because I happen to love this black & white photo of the historic vineyard landscape I took a year ago. Near the highest vineyard knoll on the mountain perhaps, rows against an Autumn sky,  leaves blowing off of the vines as a storm was brewing… it was a walk to remember !   So I came up with this . . .

 

Vines of grape leaves wind about the wheel, in borders and peeries, along with interruptions of bold checked dicing.  To me this tam brings together California Wine Country with Scottish Highlands.  Embroidered grape clusters adorn the rambling  vines with French knots in wine tones, creating a spectacular and colorful needlework finish I think!

And on *moi*… straight up !

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I really went wild with the notion of the toorie and decided that a tam must have accessory options !  Why not an accessory for the accessory ~~ why not tie one on for the mood you’re in ?  Basic black, wine red, & marled toories !!!

 

But before I embroidered the grape clusters into the vines,

I took the hat Au Natural out into the woods…

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Against the moss . . .

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And lastly,  against a blush of colorful Autumn leaves, showing how the tam’s outer most rim is traditionally useful in shading from the sun.

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Well there you have it, my latest design of a tam named “Vineyard Rows”.  I have created this tam for all the lovely walks I’ve enjoyed in the beautiful aesthetic of these old vines ~~ this tam is in tribute to them.

Autumn Scapes

If you haven’t yet read a post I made about Knitting & Wine , it is the prelude to this design, as well as other posts and photographs of nearby vineyards, you may peruse in all  vineyard posts .

And folks …

Vineyard Rows pattern may be found here .

((as well as details on Ravelry here ))

A Knitting Trail

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Emma and I have  been working on our home trail in recent weeks.

 It is to be a knitting trail ! ! !

Our trail begins right next to Jeff’s workshop…

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And takes off into the woods, just follow Emma.

It goes upwards very quickly…

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It meanders along old deer-trodden paths ,

which Emma and I  have enhanced with our footsteps.

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It passes by tall firs,

oaks & bays,

madrones & maples…

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You will see my short rows of sticks on occasion,

they are trail markers in sections where the knitting trail goes one way,

while the deer may go another…

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Emma is charged with purpose as she surveys the forest, and the wildlife.

There is at least one mountain lion which lives in the area, sighted many times, and  I often wonder if it is the lion which she smells.  I think I would like to put some places to sit (and knit) along the way.  Just sit, knit,  and listen to the wildlife.

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Some small sections are getting the shovel treatment, like here at the trail-head.

 (Yes, that is our house, and my car, which I try to drive as little as possible)

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So you see, I have been working like an ox lately, for this is the time of year I love most to be outside toiling away, among the falling leaves of Autumn. There’ll be more photos later, as the Knitting Trail is honed to perfection !

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But hey ! Its the last day of October today, and that means it is Halloween!   For the occasion I thought I’d post a photo of something remarkably ominous from the woods!   The raven’s cultural and somewhat spooky  symbolism  is not to be debated, however here they are just a cheerful and welcomed presence, and flock about year round. They make themselves very comfortable, eating the berries in the native trees, and fruit & veggies from our garden, and pick from our compost pile too.  I think they are fascinating birds,  possessing a truly amazing intrigue and even sense of humor (they like to tease Emma every chance they get), and they are the stewards of these woods all the same.  Here is a photo I took last week, zoomed into the branches of an oak while this fellow and his mate were making deep throaty chortling & clucking conversation…
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Happy Halloween everyone !

(( Note:  I am delayed with knitting projects due to interruptions life tends to cause. ))

Au Naturale

jenjoycedesign©Shetland-yarn-bag Last week I went to my LYS to buy some Jamieson’s Of Shetland Spindrift yarn , for I have been ruminating a sort of tribute design and I want this one to be made with exceptional palette of natural shades of yarn.  I came home with colors Shetland Black, Shaela, Mooskit, and Easit.

jenjoycedesign©Jamiesons-Shetland-Spindrift While we were out walking yesterday, from one of these massive sad piles (there are many, these are only two) I took one of the gnarled twisted  historic  vines destined to be burned,  and Emma helped me carry it home, gladly, for her it was just a big stick to play with!

jenjoycedesign©piles After a week of sketching ,

 I have got it ready to knit up. . .

and now I have cast on !

 It will have checked ‘dicing’ in the band and through the colorwork motifs . . .

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So folks, in the days ahead, I am letting needles fly, and my world has turned into shades of natural wools,  grey-black to grey-white, and I won’t emerge from my Autumnal Hermitage until it is complete, mark my word ! ((The pink strand will not be one of it’s attributes, that is merely part of the provisional cast-on.)) I’ll be seeing you on the flip-side.

Wild Boot Socks


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Here’s some wild-caught boot socks  (not the farmed variety. )

Edit In 10/15 :  Now, the day after, I can tell the world these were made for my  ten-year-old niece who just turned eleven yesterday !  I stuffed them with retro candy and she loved ’em!

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I’ve been sketching with some DK yarn bits in my stash drawer. Total improvisation of color stranded motifs. Like fly-fishing for wild trout, one listens closely to their instincts .

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Just a wild pair of boot socks, playing with color and also functional design. I talk about this process way back in this post  

These would pair well with hiking boots or big ol’ clogs.

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*  *  *

Wild Boot Socks details on Ravelry HERE

Upcoming: I’m working on the last of the size-run test-knitting and then pattern for PrettyLittleThings socks should be making an appearance! I got sidetracked with some other knitting projects, but now there’s nothing standing between me and the pattern. 🙂

Autumn Cardigans Arrive !

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Posted on the actual Autumnal Equinox,  officially it occured locally at 1:44 a.m. today.  I am a passionate yearner for Autumn, the cooling temperatures and moist air I waited for all summer long.  Its here . . . Autumn has arrived !   And so have the cardigans !

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In a celebration of the season, I gleefully post the Autumn cardigans I’ve knit for my nieces over the summer (all posts here).   First, the one for eldest niece who is Thirteen, who’s eyes match exactly the colorway of her cardigan ~~ light turquoise & oyster shell . . .

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And this time I embroidered little name labels for them, on bits of calico print I had about.

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And next, for one who is Ten , a real live mermaid who likes to dress in coral & sea moss . . .

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And her name label . . .

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And I happen to have more than enough shell buttons saved up for both, and didn’t have to buy any!

However, in the case of the coral/moss cardigan,  the camera  definitely favored the red tones and would not ‘see’ the richness of the green, and so it looks much more muted than it really is ( as shown in this post HERE.)  Odd thing about light and cameras, some color matches just won’t show up as with the human eye.  You’ll just have to take my word, that the warm slightly terra cotta pink and moss green are lovely together.

In the weeks ahead we are planning the seasonal photo shoot in Calistoga ((crossing fingers it will cool significantly and not be an Indian Summer heat-wave to torture heavy tweed-wearing nieces)) so you’ll just have to sit tight until then. In the mean-time, here are the cheerful & colorful still-life photos, patiently awaiting the beautiful girls they will adorn.

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Finishing

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Little piles of trimmed yarn from finish work makes as good of a place as any to put down a hot cup of coffee. (*) I happen to love saving all these little ends, and keep them in a place to use one day, like filling a pillow or something. I’m in the middle of steeking and knitting button bands on two cardigans. Two cardigans which will be given to my nieces around the Autumnal Equinox ~~ our little tradition.

These were my left-over yarn project gone ship-wrecked on the remote deserted island of Bad Planning (I try not to visit often, though I find myself stranded there without warning, still.)  The blue one was inspired by about six balls of left-over yarn I had from a project of last Autumn , and I thought to use it up for a lovely turquoisey cardigan for Niece Who Is Thirteen, thinking only another couple of skeins would do the trick (I was thinking a vest at the time, two or three designs ago…). Plus the same yarn in another colorway for Ten Year Old Niece. Long story, and three colorways later (**) I had to re-order two more balls of each along the way, then just before binding off at the neck I was groaning as I realized I *still* wouldn’t have enough yarn to do the bands. So one more… just one wee skein more of each color, will surely do the trick. Yeah, got the yarn a couple of days ago, now I’m finishing these cardigans , and will surely be finished by the Autumn Equinox next weekend.  Here’s to a fun week ahead of finishing !

(*)  Yes Lizzi, that is the wee Queen’s Jubilee cup you sent, which I use every single day. Heartbroken I will be the day it cracks.

(**) So what if I will have even more yarn left over from this project than I had before !!!

~~~~And now,

I wanted to say THANK YOU SO MUCH

to   ELIZABETH over at Island Time   for nominating me for this  . . . 

one_lovely_blog_award

Things In Trees

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 !

jenjoycedesign©Autumn-things

Autumn Ahead

jenjoycedesign©blue-cream-cardigan

A welcome sign to me is the first Big Leaf Maple leaves just beginning to fall, and I believe I saw a few on the road-side today, while driving up the mountain !  And it appears as though Autumn Cardigans are well on their way too !   I thought I’d be really thrifty and frugal (and prudent) to use up a pile of about six skeins of light turquoisey tweed left over from a project last October, and well, it only got me this far !  Blast.. that’s the last ball of that, right there on top, with only the body and one sleeve finished (minus yoke & second sleeve and button bands). So no problem, I’ve ordered more, 3 more skeins for Niece Of Thirteen’s cardigan.

Here is the yarn for  Niece Of Ten’s cardigan will be this deep coral pink with mossy green peeries… won’t that be fun?

jenjoycedesign©pink-and-green

Taking Yarn Stock : Hebridean 2ply

jenjoycedesign©virtual-yarns
Yarn. I have more yarn than I need, but still far less than many.  Here is Virtual Yarns Hebridean 2ply fanned out on the table.  I love this yarn, so now I’ve got all the colors, ordered over a couple of years , beginning back in 2009 when I fell in love with color work after buying Alice Starmore’s Book of Fair Isle Knitting.  I will replenish as used, so there will always be enough of any one color to snatch up in the throes of creative impulse. As you can see, some have already gotten knit up…

jenjoycedesign©Hebridean-2ply

The camera never can give a totally color neutral eye, it always seems to favor one tone over others, and the greens & neutrals to the left are not very vivid. You can certainly see better representations of the colors on the Hebridean 2ply yarns page of their website.

Virtual Yarns sources premium quality pure, new British wool, then it is dyed in the wool and combined into the unique blends inspired by the natural environment of the Hebrides. I love that !

jenjoycedesign©shades

Here is all the thirty-five colors , attached to their original labels, in one-yard lengths, optimal in versatility as far as shade card archives go.

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Note about the photo at the top of the page : It is the new table we just moved into the house from the workshop over the weekend! A project Jeff has been laboring over for months, the post & beam table, that which has made me seriously proud of him, he’s such an amazing artisan with wood!

((And yes, in case you’re wondering, that *is* Emma’s yellow football and  water dish.))

Blue

jenjoycedesign©blue-malabrigo

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 . . .

A Cheerful Teapot

jenjoycedesign©a-teapot (2)

Meet my new cheerful little teapot, nearly the color of golden honey, or milky tea, or marigolds.

This morning I was over at Morrie’s house. She has quite the collection of tea and teapots, the most adorable little ones too. We had an impromptu ‘tasting’ of three teas,  not because of any reason other than  I wanted to use all three of her littlest cuties that happened to be within arms reach, and because there were all these bags of tea everywhere, we pulled out of kitchen crevasses while looking for the Earl Grey.

Then  I spread out my latest knitteds on Morrie’s kitchen table, and we discussed sock formulas and then she showed me her latest black Shetland raw fleece and we buried our noses into it while both agreeing it was the finest and very sweet smelling! We flipped pages in knitting books, fondled yarnish things, and we infused each other with ideas as the tea infused in the pots. And so it is . After having come back from Black Sheep Gathering with fleeces to show me, she was a bit preoccupied about  ‘ observing process ‘ over ‘ processing observation ‘.  I can just hang with someone like that !

So anyway, I wanted to show you my teapot, my very first teapot ever I can remember having, strangely.  It is a three or four-cupper, and I got it for $2 down town at the thrift shop on the way home from Morrie’s,  and the loose tea stays nicely at the bottom while I pour the tea out ~~~  it just doesn’t get any better than that !  I’m having my first cup of tea (Irish Breakfast) from it right now.

I think I will make some shortbread to go with ! 

A Whisper In The Woods

jenjoycedesign©Madrone

In the woods, on the mountain where I live, in Northern California, we are sheltered by many species of trees. I suppose the Douglas Fir, and even some Coast Redwoods, are most obvious, towering a couple of hundred feet and create a distinct silhouette of the ridge line.  There are sturdy Black Oaks,  well they are likely the most nostalgic of trees to me, as they have live moss on them covering their trunks and lower branches , and so become vibrant with green in the rains,  then which browns in its dormant dry months. I love the moss, and so in my opinion, the oaks are absolutely essential to my happiness.

But I must say, the most cheery and unique of the trees, and possibly the most populated, is the Madrone.  A Madrone tree covers itself in a veneer of bark of deep terracotta clay color, most of the year, then it dries like parchment, and is shed this time of year as the tree grows, along with its leaves. Leaves like little parchment bits in varying tones of terracotta, from a pinkish color to a rich reddish brown. I do wish I could capture the color range of this with the camera, but I never have been able. I shall with yarn some day.  Bark peels like in the above photo, but usually much smaller, falling on to the forest floor with a faintest of rustling sounds as they land  on the forest floor.

Note: I once gathered bags of the bark, as it is such a beautiful color, to experiment with in dying wool, but I never quite got around to it.

The most amazing thing about the Madrone, is that when the skin of bark peels off , it reveals a very bright grass-green new layer beneath, and as the green quickly browns within days, a very interesting pattern occurs of green-to-brown on the tree’s voluptuous smooth body, as it continues to peel. The papery peels flutter and fall to the ground, painting it terra cotta tones for weeks, and the trees change from terracotta to fresh green. It is a cycle magical to see.

The forest tends to be super quiet where I live. That is, quiet with near constant interruption of raucous jays and ravens, softly screeching red-tail hawks, piercing ‘laughter’ of the variety of woodpeckers as they call,  oh and the grand pileated woodpecker steals the show when it goes to work on the dead trees !!  I suppose even the continual chortle of the chickadees and various finches stops on occasion for a moment.  And when one notices that truly quiet moment up here, it is marked by the fact that you can hear nothing but the Madrones shedding their bark and leaves, rather like the sound of stillness.  I know then how it is quiet.  I can hear the forest’s seasonal whisper!

Meanwhile, the morning light from inside my loft beckons whisperingly, as I am finished with a string of projects, looking ahead to what is next . . .

jenjoycedesign©door

The Personality of Linen

When I was visiting in Vancouver the other week,  Jeff’s sister just tossed a couple of her linen wardrobe items in my hands and asked me if I would like them (she does this often!). But of course ! And so fiendishly I stash them in my travel bag to take home. It wasn’t for a week after arriving home however, did I take this out and even try to wear it (truthfully, I almost declined it at first). I looked at it, thinking, wondering how does one wear a ‘short dress’… or is it a tunic? After putting it on over equally faded plum colored pants, I decided it is indeed what one refers to as a smock.

I’m triple smitten with this smock ! For one, it is Flax label, made of (mostly) linen, and I love, love, love linen ! I especially love linen’s personality when it is washed and dried on the line. It’s texture which speaks like no other cloth. To iron linen is to tape shut it’s mouth as it speaks it’s poetry ! Though I do love how immaculate and fresh that ironed linen is, too, though not quite as much. This particular smock, is not full-bred linen, but part cotton, thus lacks a little luster in the unpressed form.

Secondly, it has huge pockets which I discovered makes it a thoroughly ideal utilitarian thing to wear, as I found myself both gathering tomatoes and snipped parsley in the garden and stashing them in the voluminous caverns hidden inside the pleated ‘skirt’ of this thing. Having discovered how well the pockets had become useful servants to me, I wore this beauty out for a couple of knit-walks and didn’t even need to carry my yarn bags, just the pockets by themselves worked wonderfully. So the smock is ideal for holding yarn as well as it is garden produce !

Thirdly, it is a lovely shade of blue. I nearly titled this post ‘The personality of Blue’. Does one call that French Bleu? Perhaps it is the color of the flower of flax, from which linen is made? Folks, I’ve decided that after two-and-a-half decades of avoiding blue, I am totally and unexpectedly thirsting for it! This shade especially, this leaning toward indigo. I also am drawn to the deep azure tones of the sky at altitude, or blue faded to near white. Well, I’ll explore it with this linen smock for starters, the mood it imparts into my wardrobe.  (Note, these photos were taken in the first light of the morning the other day, and the camera rather fuzzed up the image, but the colors are spot on. )

I had been winding off two shades of blue recently, as I’m up to a little knitting something in two shades of blue.

Summer Solstice

jenjoycedesign©apricot-jam

I can’t think of a better  thing to post on the summer solstice than to show off the apricot jam I just made !  I beat the ravens & jays to this year’s crop of uncommonly tiny but plentiful fruits, and surprisingly I was able to make at least a few jars of apricot jam ( I did toss a few dried sour cherries in there too).

jenjoycedesign©apricots

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And now for my Fresh Apricot Torte recipe!

This is a perfect desert choice for fresh or frozen fresh fruit. Very rustic, and it’s fruit flavor equals that of any fresh fruit pie ~ without all the hassle of pastry ~ and it is made in minutes ! It’s relatively low in fat too. I’m taking this to a casual dinner party we’re going to this evening. Here’s how :

Beat briefly, two eggs. Add 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup milk, pinch of salt, beat together till blended. Fold in 1.5 cups flour. Gently fold in 1 to 2 pounds in-season fresh or frozen fruit (berries, cherries, apples, pears, apricots, peaches all do really well). Pour into one buttered and floured cake layer pan and bake at 375 or 400 until deep golden on top, anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on whether fruit is fresh or frozen.

Cool on rack, then turn upside down and let torte come out of pan, then place right-side-up on a pretty plate. Serve room temperature, or cold from the fridge.  A dessert of under-statement ~ surprisingly simple, and yet very elegant!

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Happy Summer Solstice everybody ! 

Capturing

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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.