a merry little christmas

jenjoycedesign© a tiny christmas tree

A tiny living Christmas  tree for a tiny house!

And on it I have hung two ornaments…

jenjoycedesign© tiny house ornament 2

A really tiny house, and well, that needs no explanation does it …  and an acorn,  a symbol of strength & potential.   This brave & fearless little tree has a big future to uphold!

jenjoycedesign© acorn ornament

 Merry Christmas everyone!

Tiny House Shortbread

jenjoycedesign© Tiny House Shortbread

This is a great little method of shortbread I have refined out of necessity, because of the challenges of Tiny House tiny oven that burns everything from the back way before done, and having hardly any counter space to work on anyway.   No complaints really, but only that I have had to abandon my usual ritual of making my own signature shortbread . . .  beginning with fresh grinding oats with a grain grinding attachment on my heavy duty  Kitchenaid mixer that swishes together three batches at once like stirring cream into your coffee, then a process of rolling out over a great sprawling counter space, between layers of waxed paper  with my maple wood rolling pin and lastly cutting then perforating each piece with three particular wooden chopsticks. Right, so my tried and true shortbread ritual with all of its specific paraphernalia has been abandoned while living in our Tiny House, but by abandoning it for a far easier & faster method,  I have actually made a discovery of shortbread with delightful and very unique texture!

And I have to make this small batch very often, because not only does Jeff really appreciate home-made shortbread in his working man’s lunch, but the carpenters building our house do as well, and I have been bringing this very shortbread up to the builders often, with pint jars of tea, coffee, or cocoa. They light up when they see me bring in the basket, thanking me again and again, and for me it is essential that our house is being built by happy & pampered  carpenters!   So,  I am the designated shortbread pro.  I was once employed at what is now a locally famous bakery cafe, and these are in fact, the same ingredients that bakery used, but put together in a very different way.  This is how I make one batch of my  no-burned-edges Tiny House Shortbread.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Ingredients : 1 cup fresh unbleached flour, 1/2 cup organic powdered sugar, 1/2 cup (1 cube) organic salted cold butter, cut into slices.  (I also put in the mix just a pinch of grey sea salt ground in mortar & pestle.)

My specific Tiny House instructions:

1. In small Cuisinart (should I say tiny food processor?)  blend flour & sugar, then add butter and pulse until all the butter has been finely chopped into the flour/sugar, and has become a lovely buttery shortbread ” powder “.   Do not over process into clumpy dough, stop mixing when it is still a powdery crumb, but integrated fully.

2. Dump mix into 8x8x2 inch square Pyrex glass baking dish, and very lightly distribute evenly with your hands or a spatula and lightly pat into a somewhat level even layer, but no pressing, it really will all melt, then crisp together in a beautiful way that these three magical ingredients do all by themselves.

3. Place in oven, right against the door and bake, turning a quarter turn every 5 minutes, so that shortbread is forced to bake more even.

4. When the edges begin to brown, around 15 minutes, lift out of oven and cut around perimeter of baking dish about 1/2 inch into the shortbread and lift out these bits on to the cooling rack (to eat in the mean time), before the edges scorch and are wasted, and the flavor of burn permeates the batch.

jenjoycedesign© trimmings

Honestly, omit the trimming edge step if you are using a conventional oven which heats evenly and doesn’t burn the edges of things, but if you want to do it for fun, and to have those little bits & cut-edge squares,  well then do it anyway!

5. Cut into 16 to 20 squares, and then carefully separate the squares a little in the dish, without lifting — but really, this is fiddly and not even necessary.

6. Back into the oven, turning dish every 5 minutes to get even baking.   When the shortbread looks golden and beautiful, remove from oven, and with spatula carefully lift squares onto cooling rack.  Voila!

jenjoycedesign© Tiny-House-Shortbread

Tiny House Shortbread stacked on a tiny plate!

Heavenly chocolate version: Make the exact same way but add into flour mix 1/4 cup best dutch-processed cocoa powder, and when adding the butter, also add 1/2 tsp of best quality vanilla extract.

Unspun

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A 100g ball of Studio Donegal “Soft Donegal” tweed left over from Hillwalker Cardigan.

I have for a while experimented with different methods to un-ply yarn and I think I have finally found the easiest method. Being a bit smitten lately with All Things Andean, and the drop spindle, it is no surprise that thinking like an Andean Spinner, and going back to my spinning roots I would find the method of methods…

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I slipped the ball onto spindle, hooked beneath whorl and secured with double half hitch at top. Twisted in reverse direction of plied twist.

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Then as the yarn untwisted, I wound two balls, one in each hand.  In the past I experimented doing this with a spinning wheel, a ball-winder, and a swift, juggling all of them at once and it was quite a complicated process!

I am so pleased to discover the simple way …

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Less is always more, every time.  I lost track of time but it took me less than two hours to separate the plies by reverse twisting, as I wound the singles into two 50g balls of fingering weight.  Far less time than it would have taken to spin two 50g balls, so if I consider I’m creating a yarn I want to use, from yarn that is not getting used ~~ I believe it to be a very economical process.

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No doubt the singles of the un-plied yarn will have plenty of untamed twist but I think dying them will relax them a lot.  In fact, I ordered some dyes finally, and am going back to over-dying yarn, after a long break of doubting whether I ever again would, so I will be having fun making use of a few balls left over from my most recent Hillwalker sweaters ~~ watch this space!

See all posts about Unspun !

ps. Adele, that is the spindle you sent to me, it is the only one I own presently and it works perfect for this!

Things going on…

Hunkering down here, as things are happening.   Here’s the news:

Miss Eighteen has left for college. Yup, finally flew the nest. She’ll be settling in with a load of classes and finding a job, and all of those events of college life. There’ll be fewer photo shoots with her, sadly, but when she comes home for holidays, we’ll be sure to get one in! Meanwhile I’ll be sending her knitteds in the mail, and hopefully Miss Fifteen will carry on modelling solo for as long as I can come up with something new.

We signed on officially with our construction company and met down at the county building department over a week ago, so the building plans are in process, rebuilding will start soon.  However, I can’t give you anything but a hopeful “soon”, the plans are not through the office. Maybe foundation will begin before the end of August?

Continue reading

Pour Yourself Into This!

jenjoycedesign© Lincoln Street by JJD

Hi everyone, its me Abelene!

I am giddy!   Since Jen has unpacked me she decided I get to model her newest & latest design, because it will be weeks away before she can photograph her nieces in them, and she wants to get the pattern out there while the Summer is still young so knitters can not only enjoy knitting one, but wearing one as well.   Backstory : Jen knitted a too-small Summer Thing  posted back here, and decided in the ridiculousness of the situation, to knit another much larger one for very tall Miss Fifteen.  Regardless, I have poured myself into that original “Lincoln Street”  ( a size 27″ — and I have a 36″ bust )   Jen says that’s eight inches negative ease. Whatever that means, but she nearly rolled her eyes worrying about how misrepresenting that may seem.   Jen says there’s an expression for such a fit, called ‘poured into’ , so I am poured into the pretty sleeveless summer thing, and I just feel grrrrreat in it!  ::squeal::    Um, but did you know I have a sort of … dream… that I was born as Audrey Hepburn instead of a dress form?  Yes, it is so.   I know, we ought to be grateful for what we have, but I just love her and the whole Paris thing.   And so here she is, my sweet demure fantasy human embodiment, and this is what Audrey has to say about this new design…

Audrey

Oh, but Jen also let me model the pink one , a much more acceptable fit of 32″, and that means, well, only four inches negative ease! Isn’t that something!

jenjoycedesign© Lincoln Street Sleeveless! 2

Let me move to the side a little bit so you can see the shaping of the armscye.    That is the ‘arms eye’  Jen told me, a really old-fashioned dress-maker’s way of saying it but you can also just say arm hole. Yes, the hole that my arms, if I had them,  would go through, and make a sweet flirty summer top, which is really just so nice!  Jen has also included an option for lower neck than shown here, which she thinks she will knit up next.

jenjoycedesign© Lincoln Street Sleeveless square

The back, which Jen tells me is the same as the front, only higher. All around, at any angle, this top just makes me feel like I should be having an iced cold pop-sickle while walking down Lincoln Street in Calistoga.  Go for the sizzle I say!

jenjoycedesign© Lincoln Street Sleeveless back

I feel that this top is the classic of classics   and it feels absolutely delicious, and I think that everyone should have one!

jenjoycedesign© Lincoln Street Sleeveless detail 5

Jen points out that the sizes go to infinity, so big burly men can wear them,  as well as little kids too ( but I think I’d rather like to imagine being Audrey wearing one).

Jen says very soon,  when she finishes (a larger) Miss Fifteen’s Lincoln Street,  she will photograph them on the actual Lincoln Street in Calistoga, with the Darling Duo, later in the summer.  Lincoln Street is all ready for you to make one while the summer is young, and the pattern is now submitted and LIVE on Ravelry.   Jen would appreciate it if you made one, or at least went and checked it out over on Ravelry HERE. 

Ta ta for now,

Abelene

jenjoycedesign© Lincoln Street

Posted from Hamburg…

jenjoycedesign© Petra's-Fishwives-Tee
Hi everybody,  its me Abelene.

Look here what  the post lady brought Jen!  All the way from Hamburg Germany to Napa California, in transit all the way through the summers solstice, and finally landed here just now.   Jen was SO EXCITED to get this parcel from Petra, she immediately ran into the shed where I’ve been held captive in my box,  up in the rafters,  since she moved up into her charcoal forest, and assembled me with a happy mood.   Now, I am just as excited as she is, because she is letting *moi* debut Petra’s gorgeous piece of work!

::claps wildly::

Where is Jen at this moment?

She is , of course, to tears with overwhelm, while making a grateful & delicious cup of coffee, (something she and Petra have a mutual fondness for & discuss often)  and Jen asked me to say something about remembering   Fishwives Lace Shoal ,  and say that  this cotton tee has been made into a most beautiful flattering tee modification of Fishwives lace motif as one could possibly design, and so Jen and I are totally & completely smitten with it!

Jen also wants me to say this:   Did you know that Petra is an outstanding designer?  Not just a little bit , but a lot bit, and a really talented expert knitter!!!    Petra is responsible for designing  St Andrews Tam  which Jen considers a generous collaboration of Petra’s,   for she is all around a generous, kind, and brilliantly talented woman whom Jen can never show enough gratitude for all she has test-knit and brought into existence exciting modifications of many of Jen’s patterns.

Oh, but how about some more details of Petra’s Fishwives Tee…

jenjoycedesign© Petra's Fishwives Tee detail2

A repeat on the sleeve, and tiny increases down the side

jenjoycedesign© Petra's Fishwives Tee detail4

The fish tails …  splashes …  and waves !

Petra has made this A-line tee in fine cotton yarn, with tiny needles, um, so a brain of a dress form like me can not even grasp how many stitches that would work out to be.  But every one of those tiny stitches delivers Petra’s gigantic spirit, strength, and warmth into Jen’s life.  A lot of stitches indeed.  Well,  nearly midnight in Germany, already Petra has long put down her school books and breaking from her study,  and is probably fast asleep, so I am going to say  ta ta for now, and let Jen send this post.

Many many many thanks Petra!!!

xx Abelene und Jen

A Summer Thing

jenjoycedesign© summer-thing-one

A little something for hot days, for summer is most definitely here, with spells of high heat and endless blue skies. I’ve decided to make as many of these test-knits of forthcoming pattern as I can before mid-July. The Summer Thing hanging on the bathroom door of the Tiny House is knitted in yarn talked about in a recent post, and now after finishing Summer Thing One, I must say that it has all the crisp freshness of pure linen, but enough cotton to soften before having to wash twenty times.   I’m already casting on for the second, in light blush…

jenjoycedesign© next-summer-thing

As these are such fast jobs of knitting, and now that I’ve got the pattern all worked out, there’ll possibly be a couple more… so watch this space!

♣     ♣     ♣

Meanwhile, I thought I’d take a little poll, and ask whether or not anybody noticed I changed the old blog name from “Yarnings” to ” Jenjoyce Design”.   I am not sure I like the change, as the old somewhat nonsense title became the mark of identity of my blog. Please tell me what you think in comments below, I would be grateful.