Hillwalker, and an anniversary.

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Introducing the Hillwalker sweater duo…

(and photographed with my walking stick!)

I have now finished both the pullover and the cardigan,

and that means Hillwalker is now two patterns for one download !

♣    ♣    ♣

Today is the one-year anniversary of the historic Northern California Firestorm  which burned through two counties and thousands of homes, including our own.  Such an anniversary of loss seems to be a time to test resilience, rising above hardship, and moving beyond the grief toward healing happier times. As I walk on the mountain,  I feel the loss, and regrowth in such an overwhelming way.

jenjoycedesign© October walk

There are so many dead trees, but surprisingly, there are many that are alive.

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A favorite Blue Oak, gone.

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Vineyards thriving.

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A favorite rocky meadow.

This Autumn comes as a relief, now I can focus on what is ahead, and what is new, fresh, and positive. Life is short, its over in a blink, and we have every ability to control our attitude.  I’ve learned one very important thing through the experience of this last year, and that is the only thing we can truly own is our attitude, and the accomplishments of  our mind.   The rest is just material & prone to ashes.

♣    ♣    ♣

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Northerly view over valley fog.

Waning Summer

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Its the last days of summer, finally.  I thought I’d never get through them.

The Autumn Equinox is near, and I thought I’d enjoy a nice afternoon walk up the ridge and take some photos of the landscape in the waning summer.

Wild peas  continuing to bloom unusually late…
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As I got higher up the ridge where the bad burn is,

I notice so many sprouted trees, as this baby knob cone pine, about 8 inches tall …

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Sprouted right beneath the scorched parent tree, full of pine cones….

jenjoycedesign© burned pine

In a blink it will be the Autumnal Equinox , only four days!  Knowing I am near to being in a far better place mentally with the anniversary of the wildfire so soon to pass, I am so very eager to be grateful again and excited about life’s good things.

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Knitting on a bridge…

jenjoycedesign© knitting on a bridge!

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

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

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

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

♥  ♥  ♥

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Out Walking

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This morning we got out earlier than we have been.

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

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

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

jenjoycedesign© black oak shoots

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

jenjoycedesign©old dump

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

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

Life is good.

jenjoycedesign© solo walking

Early Light

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Large patches of trees not burned in their crowns, giving a flooding sense of hope.

This morning as I was taking pen into hand to write my morning journal entry,  I noticed a warm orange glow cast from the sunrise, and giving an intense beauty into the forest. Early morning light sure does give me perspective, and so I grabbed my camera and just looked about.

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My life hasn’t felt very photogenic lately,  so capturing these images suddenly lifts me a little.  It seems always less the subject, and nearly all the light, which makes or breaks a photograph.   And as I have been feeling so overwhelmed with being uprooted during this crazy shuffling about, now seven & 1/2 months since the wildfire, this morning’s sunrise brings a delicate understanding of how both expectation & impatience are troubling me.

As I write this a very big and ominously black raven lands just outside the picture window, on the roof of the little shed next to Tiny House, and seems to be inspecting something. I love the ravens, I am so happy they weren’t away long. The wildlife is indeed more scarce since the fire, but seems to be slowly populating this lonely wood. I have felt thrown out of synchronization with the wild for what is half a year before we moved our Tiny House up here, and I realize this morning that I missed out on a full half rotation around the sun, from 10th of October last year to the 1st of May, being away from this place.  That is a long time for a hermit (merely a soft kind word for agoraphobic) .  I must just … b r e a t h e….. now back up on the mountain. Breathe it in!   This month of May has been such work learning to live and operate inside of a small space. A really small space, and still doing without so much that makes the experience more like camping … as though my ‘real life’ is still on hold.

But life is not on hold,  must forget how life once seemed, and open my eyes to the reality of being here, and now, and this could be as good as it gets.  Still , my knitting design which has been seriously ergonomically tampered with,  nothing in a neat orderly space, but in boxes, here and there, is going to hibernate a spell while we go through more harrowing experience with the demands of the county, which in the end may prove an ironic and impossible situation for rebuilding.

I strive to be happy for what I have.   Namely, my charcoal forest, and sense of place…. the ones I love, and this Tiny House.    I guess I just need more time, figuring my way forward, thinking about what matters. Life is so short, and I feel each day which slips by that even the rhythm of work of my knitting design has become distortingly hazy.   I find I am caught in a sort of reflection of life up to the fire, and am wanting to set in motion the way forward, but frozen peering into that reflection.

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Early morning reflection from window of tiny house.

Life is difficult often, but good,  and everything in its place.

 

From within a garden gate…

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I am hopeful and ready to cultivate something verdant and lush,  a wonderful secret garden, a tonic for a feeling of well-being and happiness wherein the garden fence I can be a caretaker of living things and feel at home, a place out under the sky where the nameless meadowy wild flowers and grasses thrive along side vines of berries, succulent sedums, herbs, foxglove, sturdy fruit trees.  All together keeping time of the seasons together under the showers of the skies or sprinkler, and the comforting shade skips around in a merry frolic with the suns rays.     In wet months miners lettuce explodes in edible clusters,  and somewhere near,  maybe a lucky mushroom pops up…

“Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.”  A. A. Milne

Foraging about in a garden, a secret garden, the kind only a few people visit (namely myself) … with a lovely and nice gate to keep the world out and the magic in. Garden gates utterly fascinate me right now… check out this beauty…

garden gate

The garden is  like a favorite room in a house.  In mornings of April through October there’s me holding a watering hose in one hand and cup of coffee in the other, with knitting bag slung across my shoulders. I am dreaming a thriving green oasis from within my Charcoal Forest, and garden with walls of pink jasmine (just planted, six plants!) to vine and cover the lower fence, and shield from vision the blackest of burn,  and the apple trees trying to shake off the scorched leaves of last Autumn’s wildfire as their new leaves are determined to emerge soon,  very soon, they must, because I just see them in my mind!

“Flowers are restful to look at. They have neither emotions nor conflicts.” Sigmund Freud

A place to go, to work hard and get dirt beneath my nails, a  place where  the soul meets life, and the worries of the world are forgotten. My thoughts these days are of knitting, and of a garden with knitting trail made new.   

blue things

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

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

The Textiles of Cusco

What do you get when you bring together a remote and rugged high mountain range, herds of soft downy llamas, alpacas, sheep, and an indigenous people who’s thirst for artfulness is apparent in all they do?   You get beautiful textiles steeped in ancient traditional, as in the Cusco region of Peru!

I’ve been watching this video over and over, fascinated in the weavings of the Cusco region, and life’s work of Nilda Callañaup Alvarez ,  while I knit and think about All Things Peruvian.  So much that I’m feeling a deep inward shift in this direction. But that is all for now, more to come later, on Nilda and Traditional Textiles of Cusco!

Soon I will have to put everything down to make my brother a chullo, which I knit nearly every year around his birthday, and I am giddy because this year I will get to knit one from my own design.

♥    ♥    ♥

News: I am happy to say that we got the quote from the building contractors, and we’ll manage to build our house again!  We will have to do some of the finish work ourselves, like flooring, and who knows what else, but that is nothing like when we built the whole house before. The timeline of starting date is still unknown, as is an estimated time of finish,  and I suppose everything is getting queued up for a fast and furious build sometime this upcoming spring.  I find it so difficult to blindly wait without knowing when I will go back home.   Anyway, the  very best-case scenario, if everything goes well, and which I am visualizing for dear life,  is that we could very possibly be moving back into our rebuilt house this …  coming …  Autumn … ?

Finding

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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.

Into the mist …

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Went for a stroll out in the drizzling rain,  and took a few photos into the veil of mist.  jenjoycedesign© mist2

The mist softens the blackened soil, but the grass is growing up through it in the open spaces now, hovering over and caressing the wound of the wildfire.

I am feeling a nearly unperceivable whispering heartbeat of optimism …

jenjoycedesign© mist

… as if life might still be good after all, in spite of itself.

Madrone

(photo from archives Whisper In The Woods)

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

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

by the window

( photo from archives…  Gone Wild)

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

♣     ♣     ♣

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

Emma

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

♣     ♣     ♣

Techy stuff  for Madrone …

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

 

Spinning by a window …

jenjoycedesign© spinning by a window

Spinning by a window  …
jenjoycedesign© spinning Wild Flaxlight flooding in to  unwind my shadowy worries.

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I cast my mind to a warm landscape of wild flax …

 hoping to find the colors of the flowers in the wool blend …

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I have been doing a lot of fiber blending,  and a little spinning too, which is for now easing me slowly back into creative mood.

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( and am so grateful to “L” for the gift of a beautiful Ashford Traditional spinning wheel!)

♣     ♣     ♣

In closing,  FEMA clean-up crews have been working rapidly in Napa & Sonoma counties since the wildfire of October, and by the end of December, maybe a clean slate for us? Impossible to forecast the rebuilding ahead,  for now I find the cozy window here my joy of the afternoon.

♣     ♣     ♣

Techy stuff  for my Wild Flax Blue …

  •  2 g each of primary colors (6g tot) , for a base of color-saturated neutral ,  see this post; blend thoroughly on blending board 3 times Total 6g.    Note: for a more dramatic tweed, with gobs of color splashing through, blend only once , then continue.
  • 6g cornflower blue, layer very thinly one color at a time, with neutral base. Tot 12g.
  • Lift batt, layered again with 2g each of white, light green, teal. Tot 18g.

( I was trying to get more blended base, with a ‘dusting’ of brilliant blue on the last blend…)

  • Lift batt, and layered again with 2g  of cornflower blue. Tot 20g.
  • Drew off rolags.
  • Colorway of blend “Wild Flax Blue”
  • See ALL color blending experiments & recipes archived in Tweed Chronicles

Yarn Tasting: Miss Babs Northumbria

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Northumbria Fingering, 100% Bluefaced Leicester wool,  in the color ” Beachglass “.

How can one stray toward unhappiness with a beautiful hand-dyed wool on the needles like this?   Just my thoughts exactly.   I will be on the straight-and-narrow toward a hopeful horizon because I have this woolly lot given to me by a lovely little tadpole.  Something to cuddle and keep my hands busy & warm.

Soon I will cast on for an  Fishwives Lace Shoal  being that an engaging lace is just the tonic needed, because  I haven’t knit a stitch for two months, and I do believe knit-walking in particular has supernatural ability to fend off all that is unpleasant.   Just me and 100 grams /437 yards, and a good & kindly level path to meander on,  while contemplating the Territory Ahead.  Thank you tadpole!

♣     ♣     ♣

Its been a very difficult time for me in recent last month (already nearly two since the wildfire) as I grow out of shock, and face grief in its many facades.   There simply aren’t many things I can expect from myself for a while, but to survive this period of hard knocks, dealing with the insurance company and inevitable constrained possibilities of future rebuild  …  I am to say the least, just staying afloat with sails down, in a sea of uncertainty.  Spinning some, soon to be knitting again.

i heart tweed

jenjoycedesign© hearts3In this holding place where I have been living a short while, there has been left behind this little grouping of hearts in a line.    It makes me think about … (how could it not?) … what I love.

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 I love, love, love knitting  … oh yes!

And I love designing knitwear & writing patterns …

and stitching & spinning  …

jenjoycedesign© hearts1But I have come to see that I most definitely love right now, color blending of fiber !   Enough feeling sorry for myself while not doing the things I love.     Some good local people have given me for my own, a spinning wheel & loads of fiber.

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I have at loan until I can make my previous jumbo blending board to specs again, an Ashford blending board which is doing the trick for my setting everything into motion.  I have bought some colors, and am presently in a learning curve, how to do it on different equipment and a different creative space  …  and I’ve already gotten knee-deep into a new unpredictable tweedy blend to spin on my new wheel.

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Next will be a new post in Tweed Chronicles,  because I have decided that presently what I enjoy most of all is color blending with fiber ~~~ especially unpredictable color blends.

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I LOVE TWEED !!!

Intuitive

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Moon phase is Waning Crescent, and at 3.5 percent this very hour.  The Old Moon  quickly moves into the New Moon in less than twenty hours.   Symbolism attributed to this moon phase is a time of subconscious enlightenment giving way to conscious awakening of values.  Indeed, an event for me this morning, so ripe with meaning.  The waning crescent moon is about to seemingly disappear, when it is directly between the Earth and the Sun, hidden and obscured.

And I have felt obscuring in my life, without routine and wandering without confidence.   Where is my mothers skirt to cling to as I did when a child of the world?  We are all thrown out into the water at least once in life to test our instincts, and to strengthen that innate mechanism of survival.  I’ve been thrown into the water, and I have been lashing about for weeks and weeks,  lacking trust of my buoyant  inner self.

I crave to feel the presence of my  strong intuition,  and let my life develop here forward in a more fluid state, stroking instead of splashing, trusting instead of panicking over what is perpetually lost.

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From here I stride away from the recent difficult experience …

and (hopefully) toward positiveness & creativity.

Artful

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There is a whole different gait about me in this holding place.

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Seeking out new photogenic sweet spots …

I look and look in this new place, and think there is nowhere artful …

jenjoycedesign© Autumn sweaters finished

 Then the sun only needs to fall a little and the angles of glowing light reveal it to me …

There are the same warm light and shadow like old friends …

Coming to visit for the afternoon.

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Come friends, and sit at the table, and I will make tea in my new teapot. I am so glad you are not lost, but found again and again …

and every day.

♣    ♣     ♣

Oh, and the Autumn sweaters are finally finished. The sweaters were one of the few things I took with me when the fire came.  (( Thank you so very much Wendy for the buttons! ))  I hope to get them to my nieces soon, and experience their beautiful form & faces, and  those familiar places of Calistoga  … soon.

Fresh

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Fresh. Clean. Beginnings.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A temporary place.

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We have found a place to rent and moved in our few things we took with us.  Life has a new routine now in a place that is merely transitory.  This is something I have to find the courage to live inside of ~~ a temporary place.

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Rafter beam with nails Jeff and I hammered in 2001

I long to be in our house. I break down frequently, and become hopelessly frustrated in doing the basic things, feeling like I am groping in the dark to find my way around, having to relearn every small movement through the disorder and difference.  But each day I am becoming a little more resigned to it.

007 jenjoycedesign© eerie fir needle snow

Dying fir needles from the unburned tree crowns fall like snow everywhere, an eerie beautiful gold in the woods

There are brief moments when I feel that metaphorical sun streaming through a window of my creativity, and I contemplate how I might continue to be artful in this transition. That itself is the key ~~ being creative without roots in a place.

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trail working tool remains

My trail-walking, even knitting, has been put away for a time. One of the things I took in my escape, was a tote full of yarn & mostly all my needles, knowing I might be displaced for a few weeks, and I could cheerfully keep on designing.

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trail work as last left on my Knitting  Trail, and Autumn leaves keep falling over the blackened earth

But the heaviness took hold and the cheerfulness did not last.  It was perhaps still numbness that day I cast on for something that is forthcoming, but only about half the stitches before putting it down, and soon after I learned our house burned to ashes.

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what is left of a carbon fiber and aluminum mountain bike

So I will not knit for a while. But I crave to blend fibers and spin, and there are a couple of very generous women locally who are setting me up with both a wheel and fiber ~~ bless them ~~ I should be spinning by this weekend.

087 jenjoycedesign© initials

wiped away charcoal sill plate where doorway was, to see Jeff’s & my initials written in the concrete, from when we finished foundation in the year 2000.

And thank you so very much dear friends on my knitting forum who have offered their time and welcoming warmth helping knitters with their questions.

015 jenjoycedesign© where a bench was

burned outline of a bench on my knitting trail.

Deep gratitude to All of You who have bought my patterns, it was quite an overwhelming response to my previous post , and I can not thank you enough.  The selling of my patterns to knitters of the world is enabling me make a priority to swiftly ‘set up shop’ , and in gratitude I am doing so, longing to refine & post in Tweed Chronicles again, as well as All Things Forthcoming with designing.

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I will be back soon, hopefully with something creative and artful of my temporary place, and find resilience through the kindness of my lovely friends local & global, and of beautiful generous strangers.  Thank you again & again,  xxJen