Recently I’ve not had any deadline knitting to do, and I happen to have a lot of alpaca yarn stashed so I managed to write a pattern for this old chullo I posted about originally almost six years ago in “Old Beloved Brown Thing” …

Although I was taking my time, planning on making a collection from this chullo, today I realized it is an actual anniversary, a decade since I started designing, so I decided to pull this first one together and submit my modest work this late afternoon, to celebrate. Truly it is modest. It is a tribute work, not so much about my designing, merely my version of a vintage original, shown knit up in aran and dk weights. Later I will add to the pattern, but it is to be found on Ravelry over here — and it is only my interpretation of the original. I’m naming it “Patamanta” as it means ” from the top ” in Quechua, the native language where it was very likely made, perfectly named I think.

drying . . .

A felted pompom, trimmed a little wild, like I like it.

And it’s perch, a brindle colored beret, dries flat, also ever-so-slightly felted.

Looking forward to soon bringing pom pom, beret and gloves all together in a fully finished ensemble!

Knitters From The World

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I love to see others’ artful interpretations of Calidez Vest,

and when it is with handspun, all the better!


From Tennessee, “Lioness Ramping” has knit Calidez Vest with some of her own gorgeous handspun, has done a color palette breakdown, and goes over the top with fabulous finish photos in a Bohemian style!  Even though somewhere in this talented spinner-knitter’s notes she says she hasn’t found buttons for it yet, all the same, she gives the pattern great praise ~~ thank you LionessRamping for your artful handspun excellent knitting, it is truly an asset to the design!  See her project on Ravelry HERE.  (All photos belong to LionessRamping)

See all posts Knitters From The World

Sun Into Libra

The sun has gone into Libra. I have attempted to replicate a photo I posted on the Autumn Equinox 2017, and about two weeks after that original photo was posted, our house had burned to ashes in the Nuns Wildfire.  In the many months following the fire, it was that very post that I gazed at with such a heavy heart of grief and longing.  But today is the day of days!  As I photograph  the same angle of the new rebuilt house, at same time of day,  on the same day of the year, I recapture  the warmth of that moment again, as the lazy equinox sun sinks low in the afternoon to the west.  I feel like I’ve come full circle,  having just posted it up to date, home again with everything in its place (sans ceiling fan and squiggly iron rail),  not quite finished but very cozy. I am kind of collapsing into a fuzzy warm celebratory mood, a bit weary of the long journey back to my House of Light & Shadow, although I am nothing but colossally grateful.  Happy Equinox everyone!

good-bye summer

jenjoycedesign© good-bye summer 5

Walking along my trails, going a little further up the ridge now,  making my way around, over and under  so many falling blackened trees, carrying the weight of that time almost three years ago, wishing to outgrow the sadness that lingers in the landscape,  however robust and magical is the resilience of nature!    Goodbye summer.

jenjoycedesign© good-bye summer 7

jenjoycedesign© good-bye summer 6

jenjoycedesign© good-bye summer 10

Tomorrow is the Autumnal equinox, and finally I will be walking into Autumn, a season which seems to be more forgiving of endings,  fresh and open for verdant return of moss, of life renewed from rain.  And on my bare feet I’ll be wearing the comfort of the season, new verdant green mossy boot socks, plush and double thick, two yarns held together merino socks that I cast on at the June Solstice, and knit slowly & purposefully all summer long, while oppressed by sweltering heat and choking smoke.  Soon the air will clear and crisp and be again glorious!

(Click 1st image below and see slideshow my walk from the afternoon. )


Fresh off the needles, a very simple boot sock, for hiking . . .

Pattern: Walking With Emma socks

Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll, charcoal and bamboo, held together throughout.

Project Details:  Solstice Socks  

humble new stitches

The last week of summer is upon us, and I am noticing the light relaxing into longer shadows at a slightly earlier time each day. I really feel that my beloved Autumn is near! There is the usual locomotive knitting going on, but in this last week of summer I am enjoying some humble little silly thing “on the needle”, something just to take my mind off of knitting for a little while, so that I can be rested creatively speaking. I started and quit several times in the last year, yet I could not quell an incessant nagging urge to make at least a good start at counted cross-stitch, but to do so I have first to get past the very uncomfortable sense of being a rank beginner, while I repeatedly wrestle an equal urge to give up. That itself is the real exercise here, to squeeze myself into that constricting humble place of being. This, I am convinced, should be good for me, although I really don’t have time or room in my life for another textile hobby. I’m fine with my wobbly mis-shapen X’s , its all good, its all stitching. Stitching of any kind is a mental health elixir I believe in.

I am really pleased my last days of summer have shifted into this peaceful mellowness, a fresh beginning, these first new humble stitches. Do enjoy your remaining days of summer !

Yarn Tasting: Simply Wool

jenjoycedesign© Simply Wool
Finally knitting my nieces Autumn sweaters, and so relieved too, as I deliberated endlessly over which yarn, and going in circles I finally decided to try “Simply Wool” ; 100% Eco Wool, by Knit Picks. This yarn is grown and milled in Peru,  eight shades of undyed natural fleece colors, and so utterly basic, the yarn is aptly named.  The colors are warm and visually appealing, no bleaches or chemicals of any kind, just the quiet sheepy tones, and is very soothing to knit,  as if to right all the wrongs in the world.

For a few years now I’ve been wanting to make a departure from superwash wool for my nieces’ sweaters, hoping eventually to win them over to the loft and resilience of natural wool, but I have been too worried anything other than the softest pure Merino will not be soft enough for them, but I cast on in good faith.   After knitting through part of the colorwork yoke I could feel the downy halo of the fibers bloom, unexpectedly,  so it was a green light for me, and full steam ahead.   Intrigued by the complexity of the tweedy heathers blended together to achieve the distinct shades of greys, browns, and natural whites, and being a fan of  undyed fleece colors, I am sure it will be one of my most used yarns in the future.  Besides, I am always keeping my eye out for a good base yarn to over-dye, um, I wonder, maybe this could be it?

jenjoycedesign© Sol Inca in Simply Wool

The pattern I am knitting,  Sol Inca, is designed in such a way that the increases happen gradually down the yoke, so I can begin knitting, unsure of what size I ultimately will make, being that once I get past the chart I will have enough knitted I can get an accurate gauge from it. If I need to stop increases, finish the yoke, and continue down the body portion, or if I need to, I can continue the increases and make the yoke the next size bigger (I talk a little bit about  it in this post).  I love this, a real hidden perk if I ever found one by accident in this pattern. I am really relaxing now, giving myself more than enough time for a middle to late November photo shoot.  My nieces are keen on continuing our tradition, and so I am better than fine!

artful patches 2

jenjoycedesign© patch 8

Its been a lovely relaxing couple of weeks since not allowing myself any serious knitting.  I have had a pile of  linen shirts & pants staring me down that have been needing patches, and in recent days I finally attended to the chore. Actually, its not a chore at all, mostly it is an opportunity to be creative. I am refining my patching technique to using the “pad stitch”, effectively stitching the layer with a hole against a patch layer, and learning that this pad stitching thing really strengthens the all over fabric from the back of the work, while keeping the little tacks of thread in front looking as artful as can be, nearly like sashiko. With a back stitch around the perimeter of the patch, so that in front it looks like little bead stitches, but again, it is all quite well fastened as it has a lot of thread running along the back. Ironing well between each step, I find the fabric grain stays straight much better too.  And while I only demonstrate an outside facing patch, it would of course be much more couture if a second patch were placed on the inside of the shirt, pad stitching through all three layers and sandwiching the actual shirt layer between so no raw edges of the hole ever would show on the inside,  but I’m just not that fussy.  If you click the 1st image in the mosaic, you will see the steps and stitching . . .

This is my first patch I’ve used linen thread on linen fabric, and I am smitten with the feel, and the look of it. It is a little thicker, but more pliable, and works fine with linen.  Oh, and I have a thing about linen going way back in archives, and so that most of my clothes I’m wearing are linen, and Irish linen is my favorite linen of all linens.  This is an Irish linen shirt .  . crisp and long wearing . . . just an old gardening & hiking shirt which has many patches all over it, but worth every one, some patches overlapping patches, because it is lasting me quite a long time. After the wildfire I ended up buying mostly used linen clothes on ebay, really affordable , but also the odd thing is I’m not really comfortable in new clothes anymore.   So the great thing is that I could say I’ve gotten a lot of practice developing my mending methods — I swear by pad stitching! — and going for the element of very functional as well as the artfulness of nice hand-stitching.

two ripe mangoes

jenjoycedesign© jens mango chutney 2

My latest tasty concoction, just made, still warm ~~ mango chutney in a mini avocado!  In these pandemic days I am broadening my kitchen skills impressively and chutney has been on my list of things to learn to make for over a decade.   Now its done and I wish I never waited.

jenjoycedesign© jens mango chutney

My very simple small batch ripe mango chutney:

two ripe mangoes, one small onion, spices (I used cumin seeds, cardamom seeds, garam masala, chile flakes)  fresh garlic,   fresh ginger,  dried dates,  and coconut oil.

Peel mangoes and cut the fruit off of the pit into large chunks  (do enjoy chewing the lovely impossible-to-cut-off fruit from the pits before proceeding!)  In mortar & pestle crush the spices. Add a small chunk of fresh ginger sliced, 1 garlic clove, and a few dried medjool dates, cut up into pieces, mash all together, and set aside.

Cut onion into small chunks. Heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil in medium saucepan or skillet, and saute onion. When nearly translucent, add mashed ingredients from mortar,  and saute a little bit in the onions and oil.  Add mango and stir until mango begins to break down. Add a little sugar, salt, and pepper to taste if you like.  As this is a very small batch, and made very quickly, canning is not necessary ~~ just enjoy!

Now you must see this seriously artful little film . . . it is what inspired me to go into my kitchen and make use of the two ripe mangoes!

Sol Inca: The Pattern

jenjoycedesign© Sol Inca folded -
It finally came.  The moment that happens when months of work completes after the last task.   Then one is merely finished!
jenjoycedesign© Sol Inca trio 2
In previous post   Sol Inca: The Inspiration  Rosanna models two cardigans, the size 3 and size 4, and even pours herself into the size 2 pullover. What I’m thinking is, there are 8 more sizes still yet to be knit, but I am too worn out. Was I really intending to knit them all?   I will leave it up to all of the knitters of the world who pass through to get them knit.

jenjoycedesign© Sol Inca detail 1

Sol Inca is a top-down knitted cardigan with an option to convert to a pullover!  I call it an After-thought Pullover.  So much energy, knitting, ripping out, and all the cleverness I could manage, went into the convertibility of Sol Inca,  and I must admit that I am quite pleased about it. However, presently I am having a bit of withdrawal in my brain for it really was a hard struggle involving lots of thinking!  Now I’ve got a mess of yarn bits, stitch markers, needles to put away in their drawers, and go for a walk, if I can manage without collapse.   I will close all of the recent series of posts, with a simple favor to ask , and that is to please go see the pattern live on Ravelry, with all the technical information ~~~ HERE.

jenjoycedesign© Sol Inca 11

Thank you, and I’ll see you on the flip-side! xx

Sol Inca: The Inspiration

jenjoycedesign© Sol Inca (in the road)

 Rosanna, our very own Camino Inca Princess, models “Sol Inca”.

Rosanna in Sol Inca detail 1

Jeff’s daughter Rosanna has been living in our Tiny House, five hundred feet away, weathering the pandemic up here in the woods.  And all the while I’ve have been designing and knitting a pile of yokes and three sweaters, and I feel so lucky she is here to unveil Sol Inca with me!

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I placed a chair in the road mid-way between our (rebuilt) house and (tiny) house, in the place she and I meet for short chats every once in a while, to catch up on news and exchange some jars of good home-made things to eat.

jenjoycedesign© Sol Inca 8

Do you see my sun motif around the yoke? The design is inspired by, and dedicated to, the living ancestors of the Inca, who live in the high mountain villages around Cusco, and tend their herds while spinning.   Herding while spinning the very yarns to weave and knit into amazing intricate indigenous artful things ~~ it all seems to me a very ascetic and poetic culture.

jenjoycedesign© Sol Inca 6

Sol Inca… the Inca Sun… the benevolent deity from the starry heaven who brought the Inca people their most prized furry treasures ~~ the llama, the alpaca, the vicuna, and later of course, the sheep ~~ and ever since, the herds and their people have lived in harmony together in the high plains of the Andes.

jenjoycedesign© Sol Inca 11

These photos represent a connection to the Peruvian Highlands in two ways, woolly and human. The sweaters designed with Wool Of The Andes yarn which was grown in the Peruvian Highlands, and Rosanna herself spent a week trekking the Camino Inca trail to Machu Picchu with her dad Jeff and her brother just three years ago.

jenjoycedesign© Sol Inca 14

Please see all posts Gifts From The Sun if you would like to see more of the inspiration behind the design.   If you see all posts  Peruvian , and scroll down quite a ways you’ll land back at Camino Inca  posts, three years ago when Jeff trekked the Inca trail to Machu Picchu with Rosanna and her brother.

Gifts From The Sun: part 7

If one is to have fur as an accessory, I think it is a lovely thing to have one that is alive, breathing, and very cuddly, and in Cusco, Peru it is apparent that the llamas have an overwhelming desire to accessorize with their brightly dressed humans too.  In Cusco, llama &  Peruvian indeed have a perfectly symbiotic fashion sense.

Never leave home without your llama!


Where to go from here?

Some moment in the next couple of days I will post, and you will see,

the new design unveiled!

Watch this space!

All posts in series Gifts From The Sun

Gifts From The Sun: part 6

As I’ve been researching Things Andean, particularly Peruvian, and can’t help but become most excited about the artful expressions of the high villages in and around Cusco, at the heart of Incas. I am opening my eyes, my ears, and my heart, indelibly imprinted by the culture cradled in the highlands of the Andes mountains, once so isolated, but now tentatively spreading its influence into the modern world.

In the Gifts From The Sun series, I am sharing my best finds with you,   and so another post in this series to fill out the anticipatory space while while I savor the finish work of three sweaters, then one last edit to the pattern. From here on I’ll be staying on topic with the upcoming Andean Thing, until soon  I’ll be done & dusted with this project that has been so long in-the-making.

In  closing, I am sharing some indigenous Andean music, which I’ve listened to incessantly for who knows how many days now, I’m not counting.   I think it is the alpacas, llamas & sheep and their spinning, knitting, weaving humans ~~ and their music ~~ that is the soul of the Andes!

All posts in series
Gifts From The Sun

A natural dye experiment: part 2

jenjoycedesign© dyed1I have been noticing how popular natural dying is at the moment.  I would even say it is undergoing yet another renaissance! So many craft podcasters and yarn dyer tutorials, its hard to resist trying it out.  Yet I have wanted to do this very thing with the indigenous madrone around our house long since before the new dying trend reminded me. In fact, I have wanted to make a colorway of yarn dyed from the materials I find nearby,  and had at one time entertained the dream of being a yarn-dyer on a slightly larger scale. But I realize very sanely that it is best in keeping things within my means, having a very quiet impact on my surroundings. Only so much madrone bark can be shed. It is plentiful outside presently, and being so happy with the results of this “quiet yarn” I am going to go out and collect enough for one more dye pot,  a little more generous amount, and strive for a slightly more saturated affect. I think that the madrone has created perhaps, my personal signature color . . .

jenjoycedesign© madrone dyed

♣  ♣  ♣

The Tech Stuff. . .

In Part-1   Out on a walk I notice the bark is shedding, and can’t help myself to collect some bark, fill the pot loosely a little over half, and set the series in motion.  This is Part 2, where I dye some sock yarn!  My natural dye experiment is all I could have expected or hoped for with the limitations of using only a splash of vinegar and water in a stainless steel stock pot. I am not worried in the least about contaminating my cookware because the abundant madrone peels of bark underfoot everywhere are not toxic or odorous in the least.

Here’s what I did: First I let a half-full pot of peels soak in water for one week, out in the hot summer sun. The water evaporated significantly, and I topped off with the hose when I filled the little bird bath. The color of the water was rich and deep orange-brown, and so very much like the actual bark.

After a week had gone by, I looked in my yarn drawers, and decided that the 100g skein of Knit Picks Felici (75% Superwash Merino, 25% nylon) sock yarn would be perfect. Then I merely lifted the peels of bark out, as I don’t have another large pot to pour into through a sieve, poured a splash of white vinegar in and pushed the skein in dry. The rest is up to temperature, so I simmered slowly for about 40 minutes, the dye exhausted in the water as much as it could, and into the yarn.

The camera never can describe a color as well as words: It is beautiful pale warm shade, just like the varied colors of terra cotta as the madrone leaves everywhere, which honestly has been a favorite nature shade of mine since I can remember. Wet, the color of brick fired clay.   Dry, it is nearly indescribable… a very light clay. Pinker than beige, or more orange. Oh well, the camera is going to have to do the job. Satisfied with the tone and hue of the yarn, I’ve decided to try another dye bath of this now, only foraging a full stock pot of madrone bark (and weighing the bark!) actually simmering it after it has steeped for a week in the sun, before dying, that might be Part 3 (Click first image and see slide show of the process) .

 Please see my post

Tweed Chronicles : Madrone

A natural dye experiment . . . part 1

jenjoycedesign© madrone bark 2
The madrone trees are shedding again. It seems they do twice a year if my memory is correct, they burst out of their thin skin and deep russet peels land everywhere. Some are quite large scrolls!  I’ve been wanting to do this experiment for years upon years now, so finally I took a brief tour around the house with my stainless steel stock pot, collecting some, not sure how much.  I just filled the pot with cold water, and will just let the pot sit without lid out in the scorching hot sun of the deck, while I think about it and research how to properly dye with tree bark. Even only improperly , in case I am lacking anything for the dye bath. One thing for sure, it is not something I have to rush into in the next hour.  This is the post before I’ve dyed anything. I’m welcoming all kinds of advice from anybody who’s done natural dye from bark.  I don’t have any mordants, however I do have plenty of undyed yarn ready to dip!

jenjoycedesign© madrone bark 3

I made a post a while back on the madrone as a colorway in Tweed Chronicles, and featured it in a post many years back too, which both do go into a little more depth about this beautiful tree. The wildire had killed off so many that surrounded our house, but the trees have a hopeful future as many of the new shoots that grew out from the base of the burned trees are now up to nearly 15 feet high, and in last post July Days, you can see them again through the window, and making their way back to trees again on the side of the deck.

jenjoycedesign© madrone bark
Anyway, I should like to see a Part Two to this series, a future “after dying” post, but as things are now, this is undetermined. I am dreaming of a signature colorway from my own madrone woods, but not having too much expectation, I just hope this second attempt at dying with madrone bark works at all!

Edit in: Please see my post  Tweed Chronicles: Madrone

July Days

jenjoycedesign© July days 1

Savoring moments in my morning window space, knitting and enjoying a second beautiful cup of home-roasted coffee while mulling over the notes, the careful calculations, the charts drawn and redrawn a dozen or more times, sipping, sifting, filtering out the dregs of many half-starts, and deleting files. I am closer to the finish with the best work, in my opinion, of my designing ability.  Soldiering on through the pandemic days and the spring and summer months as the empty calendar pages flip, getting nearer to that time when it will simply be finished.  But I am taking my time. I am learning a lot about knitting sweater proportion, enjoying snatching up my calculator and changing up the numbers in a slight panic yet again, a thing which has become a little brain rush, but also am learning to keep the perspectives reasonable and stress minimal.   Its all a thing I love to do.

jenjoycedesign© July days 2

The volunteer vegetable garden is flourishing and I am stunned each and every day to see it, realizing that when the garden is least imposed upon it does its best magic! Volunteer squashes and tomatoes taking over , and watering with a sprinkler is attracting birds by the flocks!  So many robins, gold finches, and bluebirds have become like pets, more interested in bathing in the baths and foraging than to worry about me walking by too near ~~~  my little darlings!

jenjoycedesign© July days 3

The insects have dwindled as a result of having all these insect-munching birds around, and what garden pests? I don’t see a single one! Life among the birds and the happy garden, and because they are thriving, so am I thriving.  Not much is ripening yet, except the lettuce and leeks flowering , so of course, that explains the vase of flowering lettuces on table which I hope to save seed from.

My list of kitchen concoctions is growing in number, as I practice making with basic ingredients. The counter is sprawling with sprouting jars of alfalfa and winter wheat in various stages, soaking beans, yogurt setting up, and the oven is getting worked with all the loaves I am baking with hefty mix-ins of sprouted wheat grains. I got a hold of a five pound bag of raw organic peanuts and for the first time in my life am learning how to pan roast, and make peanut butter!  I often have for lunch some home-made hummus on home-made bread with a thick smear of home-made savory greek yogurt, and topped with a pile of home-grown alfalfa sprouts . . . paired with a tall glass of lemonade which is just a bunch of ever-so-thin lemon slices packed into the bottom of the glass, sweetened with a home-made ginger syrup I make from piloncillo and fresh root of ginger, a ton of ice, top off with water,  and voila! A lot of home-made.

I am going for walks more now, although short ones, as the trails are rather hemmed in by ever toppling  charcoal trees but I do get myself going up to witness the changing landscape.  Gone are the days when I could just walk up the ridge road to the peak and get in my three and a half steep miles. Those days will return, I just don’t know when, perhaps the next generation. So I walk a bit less, and work outside a lot more.  Walking barefoot all summer on sub-floors, not caring in the least that the finish floors are not done, just enjoying the house and the steady superb trim work that Jeff is doing, exactly as he had done on our original house. Oh! And that sprawling pile of building mess, lumber & tools which occupied the middle of the house and nearly hid the lower half of this post,  as of last week, is now gone! A massive aesthetic improvement to the house.

jenjoycedesign© July days 5

Lastly, I am finding that lots of little mini naps to defrag my brain is the best recipe for clear thinking, being endlessly enchanted by the calm space I’ve made in my loft just for naps, I find that it is improving my mental endurance in the day, especially getting up and out of bed at 5 o’clock every morning,  I think I’m about ready for one now.

jenjoycedesign© July days 6

Signing off with no complaints,  busy in the sheltering-in pandemic days, and life is good.

Knitters From The World

From Flanders,   Zonneke has done a stellar job of knitting Calidez Vest, and to her I am very grateful for letting me post here her artful photo. She has made Calidez Vest in the ever popular Alafosslopi yarn from Iceland ; a crisp, well-behaved  yarn,  heathered in so many gorgeous tweedy shades, softening beautifully with wear. Just a gorgeous yarn all around,  especially when knitted up so well as this!

I want to say how really delightful and wonderful I think it is that this design is my most popular of them all, but even more so that so many knitters who buy the pattern are making it for men! I think there are quite possibly more men out in the world wearing a hand-knitted Calidez Vest than there are women. This is great actually. Anyway, I am charmed off of my chair with your artful presentation Zonneke , and thank you for your excellent knitting!

Gifts From The Sun: part 4


Coricancha in Cusco, Peru

The beautiful people of the sun. Colossally inventive farmers, phenomenal textile artists of weaving and knitting using the wool from their llamas, alpacas, and sheep, and dyed from plants in the colors of nature. Stone masons like this world has never seen! Musicians of the most enchanting melodies, wooden flutes and simple stringed instruments, is all a part of their legacy which is so intrinsic of their small but mighty culture. Living so high up in the Andes, they are indeed touched by the sun, able to harness the magnificent from a harsh landscape, the Inca thrive with abundance in a sacred place, with their downy woolly four-legged companions.

I have gotten going after a little break, back to my Andean inspired design, narrowing the field, racing to the finish, again researching, and sharing my good finds here. Please enjoy this little documentary on The Sacred Valley of the Incas…

See all posts in series “Gifts From The Sun”.

Solstice Socks

jenjoycedesign© solstice 5

It is at last the Summer Solstice and I am so happy to be knitting in the wild again.  And what a better way than with a pair of socks, on this longest day of the year, when because the sun is blaringly bright and hot, and the shadows reluctant to be seen, I have waited until the hazy late hours of the afternoon. Chores are done; bread baked, coffee roasted, laundry on the line, dinner in the pot, and so I’m scampering along my little trail, navigating over, under, around still falling burned trees . . .

jenjoycedesign© solstice 2

jenjoycedesign© solstice 4

Rather hidden paths I have every intention to keep maintained by walking, but so much work to get them established, especially  through the now drying & stickery meadowy woods.

jenjoycedesign© solstice 3

I have wanted to try two fine fingering yarns held together in a sock, for a color rich tweedy affect and thick and downy merino soft too.  So I am knitting speedily along with only 50 stitches in a pair of Walking With Emma socks, in Chart B which has an easy 1×1 rib cuff flowing into a wider & longer rib. I’ll work rib then with an inch left to the leg, switch to stockinette for the rest of the sock. The counting of this particular rib is so natural for me, with odd numbers of knit & purl; (knit) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 — (purl) 1 — 1, 2, 3 — 1.  A sturdy snug little sock to slip into my garden sloggers to go down and water the garden, and this sock will be the “vanilla sock” I’ve been waiting to try, because sometimes the artful is in the plain & simple. I will talk more about the yarn later, but I’m loving this moss green and grey stone colorway by the way!  Oh, and I am knitting these on metal circulars, for although I fell in love late in life, with hardwood dpns (double pointed needles), the circulars allow me to just trip along on the trail without worrying about pulling a needle out or breaking or snagging my dpns in my knitting bag. And I really must confess, that I seriously need a break from the Pile O’ Yokes, which are now becoming yokes with bodies and sleeves. Anyway, its summer and I want to start knit-walking again, something it seems I’m always having to “start over” again, which is silly, but in order to pull myself away to get out on the trail and still get knitting done I really need a project I can not think about, something I can walk over logs, and under fallen trees, and not drop a stitch. Something that I can rattle off fast and furiously and shake off all that ails me!

Happy Summer Solstice!

jenjoycedesign© solstice 1

yokes 3

jenjoycedesign© yokes 3

I am in the middle of the seventh yoke, seven yokes of varying sizes, although one is not in the stack.   Pardon me for the blip the other day, I posted, then shortly after doing so I took out the post because frankly, I did not like the colorway of the prototype. Quickly I changed my mind, so fickle, and then on to a new colorway … for a new and hopefully final prototype official.  I had a dream this morning early before waking that I was unraveling all the yokes I’ve knit, and re-knitting them into bags to felt, as the colors changed in the yoke, so would the colors in the bag, all tied together ends as they happen, and yarns held two at a time. When I woke I thought what an interesting rework it will make when the pattern is done and there is a pile of yokes left to deal with.  Determined to see this design through, and not post too much unrelated material during the process, although I absolutely would love knitting a simple plain sock, I’ll keep this short and wave to All with assurance that knitting is happening here at a frantic pace, however generally slow and melted time feels during Pandemic Days, and that life continues to be good !

yokes 2

jenjoycedesign© abelene with yoke

Hi, its me Abelene.   It has been a long time since Jen has let me out of the closet.  Here I am out on the sunny stair landing to model some pretty neck wear thing with pins stuck in me ~~~  ouch!   Actually, it is not a neck piece, not really, for although it seems like it is, it is only the beginning of a top-down knit sweater, a little over half of the yoke to be precise.  (And actually, I can’t feel the pins either, I’m made of foam!)    Jen says this will be the kind of sweater that one cuts down the middle with a steek and picks up stitches for a button band later so it will become a cardigan.  At last Jen is satisfied she has got the best fit,  using a nothing but instinctive geometry, trial and error, and she insists she did horribly in math in school, but now is rather hooked on it. Rewrite the pattern again with new calculations?     Okay!!!    A day passes.   More knitting.   Groans of incessant worry that the thing is not right,    so more ripping out,  and more calculations,  and more days pass (see previous post).   This has been the thing, Jen is rather sucked into a math hole of some kind and I don’t know how to free her. Hopefully seeing the yoke pinned on me , with photos documenting, she will agree that its a fine fit for the human torso, and knit on now with confidence.  

So Jen has got this thing in her head,  she ponders a thing which is a yoke stash and the point of it all is so that she can just knit a yoke to pattern (forthcoming)  with no regard to the all-over color of the body or even size, transfer all the stitches on to a flexible holder, and just put it away into the Yoke Box, and start another.  Imagine that!   Jen says this is an excellent thing for many reasons, but one very good one is that one can get started on the complicated & fun part of the sweater with as little as one ball of three colors, or even just two colors, and decide later what color to commit to, or shop for, or otherwise do at a later time. Maybe knit in a nice neutral scale, and the sizing can be generalized, because from her most recent pattern calculations one can change the all over size of the sweater by just continuing the repeats with more rounds and increases, thereby elongating the radius. At some point when one wants to really rush a complex colorwork yoked sweater project, all they need is to just pick a yoke out of the yoke stash and away you go on a couple of sleeves, and a body ~~~ voila!

Jen has got a recent yoke-in-progress to test-fit on me here, and I must say that I am quite pleased that she feels it to be satisfactory, and I feel very glamorous knowing that it represents bucket load of work. Now Jen needs to  put me back into the closet and spend more time with her calculator, which I am worried she cares more about than me.
Ta ta for now,


jenjoycedesign© yokesI’ve been just rolling through the days, trying my hardest to not put pressure on myself when it comes to the designing, but to ease up and have a more relaxed pace, with perspective.  I leave the endless knitting, figuring, redrawing, recalculating to rest aside, and get the important things attended to, like life!  And I feel a dull panic as the world is socially merging again, perhaps haphazardly , and we’re only partway through this pandemic. I may be over-reacting but I do not want myself or those close to me to be a part of any statistic, so I am taking serious the sheltering at home, like I was born for it, doing my best work now.  New practices of “back to basics” of home-made wholesome goodness,  living the good life.  I am knee deep in sprouting wheat berries for a healthy rustic “California” loaf ,  perfecting my Italian focaccia, and with daily soakings & simmerings of garbanzo beans, my main staple suddenly. Also keeping up on my freezer supply of shortbread, and working on my own chocolate recipe; a barely sweet homemade concoction with coconut oil (recipe forthcoming)… etcetera.

The garden has been blessed by angels, if I can say so myself, as there not only have I a full lettuce crop now harvesting , from transplants a month ago of baby red leaf lettuces that popped up everywhere , there are also tomatoes and squashes of mysterious varieties popping up through last years’ plantings which had gone to seed. I realize the importance of at least letting the tail end of a seasonal bed go to seed without yanking it up out of the soil, for next spring surely there will be new plants.

So then, what about the knitting I guess. Above is a short stack of yokes, minus one which would be four but its a repeat of one of these, before I changed the colorwork chart, and these three are what I have to show for myself, as well as a pattern that is mostly written but in continual edit, but nearing completion! I am learning top-down sweater knitting, and what a better way to fully understand it than to design and work a bunch of sweaters for practice ~~ so that’s me, test knitting the size-run of yokes by myself, why not.  Crazy knitting.  Walks too.  A happy thought is that in pacing myself I feel a great deal on the way to being recovered from my two somewhat “catatonic” years of waiting, between wildfire Oct 2017 and moving back to a mostly rebuilt home in Oct 2019, but as I am finally feeling gradually more strength and stamina I am starting to sleuth out and groom up my lost woods trails in addition to the colossal amount of labor involved in the defensible space work. I am tired a lot of the time, but I allow myself a couple  recharging mini naps in a day, most days.

I couldn’t be happier, but even so I find myself caught up in a cry frequently.  I ponder this, and wonder how losses which seem to go beyond the obvious of profoundly grieving the loss of my Emma, into a realm of intangible feeling of tragedy. Just my usual existential angst I guess, but so many people are dying from this pandemic that I think its beginning to cause me great stress.  I worry a lot, and probably shouldn’t watch the numbers, but I do, and feel things going on are very important and I just can’t downplay. But, I know the best medicine for feeling sorrowful is hard work, so while bread is on the rise, I am off for a walk now, with umbrella, slogging along damp rained upon grasses which will surely put me in a good mood, while mingling with the wildlife.

When I return, I’ll be starting a new yoke, hmm, I think the next one in greens and greys.

Gifts From The Sun: part 2

Second in a little series I am posting while learning more about textile industry and culture of the Inca ancestors who live in the high plains of the Andes, and who are still herding, spinning, weaving, dying, and knitting with the fibers of their beloved llama, alpaca, guanaco, and vicuna. 

In this modern BBC documentary one can clearly see the contrast between the micro scale of the traditional highland farming family with their small herds, living on very little income, and the modern sophisticated macro business of alpaca and wool industry in Peru, but where both micro & macro industries are shown to depend upon the other.  Another must-see documentary!

See all posts in series “Gifts From The Sun”

Gifts From The Sun: part 1

The ancient Andean herdsmen interbred camelid ancestors to create an animal with endurance, dependability, intelligence and all around good nature ~~ it was the llama, the prize of the Inca Empire!  I am revisiting my interest in textile & culture of the people who live in the Andes mountains, where herders, spinners, weavers and knitters work their traditional crafts of livelihood today still.  In fact, I am posting a little series as I myself learn, and this one is a bit of a sleepy documentary from the early 90’s about the ancient relationship between the Andean people and their animals; the llama, alpaca, guanaco, and vicuna, on which they seem completely dependent. It is  called “Treasure of the Andes” and I do hope you enjoy!

See all posts in series “Gifts From The Sun”.

changing direction

jenjoycedesign© lace 2

I have come to a screeching halt with the Swedish Wool.  I started to cast on and the wool did not feel right for the design I’ve been working on… so… I put all the lovely yarn in a zippered tote and put in the closet to totally rethink it at a later date.  Mildly frustrating because I wanted to go forward with the Peruvian style design and I wanted the colors I had sketched out. So that is on hold for a while too, which is fine, but I felt immediately restless afterward, creatively pacing, going over forgotten unfinished hibernating projects. I remembered I had  a lace project  on the needles that I put away over a year ago, after having  cast on & worked a couple of repeats, I put it down for one forgotten reason or another.  Well, now back to a clean slate and defrag’ing.    This morning I see a dense fog in the valley, and the sun is making its way up into the sky along with crystal clear and glistening day.   Life is just charming sometimes, even if I have to disrupt things and keep changing direction, I must allow myself to do so occasionally.   So here is a Fishwives Stole since picking it up and knitting another repeat….

jenjoycedesign© lace 1

Why did I ever put this lace project down?  Last night I spent some time figuring out where I was on the chart so I could continue confidently,  and this morning I am now resuming a super fun knit, just what I am in the mood for.   Good knitting,  morning sun streaming in along with knitting podcasts, and fresh cups of coffee too, my kind of bliss.

jenjoycedesign© lace 5

Pattern:  Fishwives Shoal

Yarn: Sweet Georgia Merino Silk Lace in color ” slate “

yet another . . .

jenjoycedesign© felted basket bag with short handles

I’ve just finished yet another Maiya’ kma felted wool basket,  and with two short handles it is like a market bag.   I can’t believe how much fun they are to make and I can’t seem to stop myself.  It is truly amazing that such a stiff and rugged wool basket was transformed in two hot wash cycles from this . . .

jenjoycedesign© before felting

I really love this colorway by the way . . .

jenjoycedesign© felted basket bag detail

Here it is paired with the one in the previous post, and now they are a nesting pair!

They are ready for the post now for a birthday next week,  and I so do hope the postal service is on time!

jenjoycedesign© nesting baskets 10

Pattern:   Maiya’kma
Yarn:  Knit Picks Wool Of The Andes Worsted(two-held-together)
Details:  For larger here,  For smaller here.

And another.

jenjoycedesign© felted knitting bag 1

Second post of the day, I’m sheltering in and getting lots done.  Barely two days of knitting, and two hot wash cycles,  and I’ve got another perky little knitting bag!  Felted bags which I am in need of because I keep giving them away.  Crisp and damp just out of the spin cycle,  I’ve got nothing stuffed inside,  the stiffness of the thick fabric is holding its own because the two cycles of hot wash felting creates that much dense structure!   I love this chart in the pattern, and did two repeats.  Beautifully rich textured colors with two colors held together for background, as well as two for the motif, and the colors diffused into each other almost completely in the felting.

jenjoycedesign© felted knitting bag 4

Pattern:   Maiya’ kma  felted wool bag collection
Yarn: Knit Picks Wool Of The Andes Worsted

quiet bliss

jenjoycedesign© kitchen bliss

Sun streaming in, warming and brightening a corner where pizza dough rises every Friday  late afternoon, as always.  Trying to keeping the counters clean,  if in the very least to boost morale in these pandemic days,  and feeling a little more relaxed today while sheltering in and waiting for the next rain storm. Laundry flapping in the wind, inanimate and yet seeming alive…

Yesterday, apple butter . . .

jenjoycedesign© making apple jam 3

♥    ♥    ♥

My Apple Butter: 1 bag of dried apples, with just enough water to cover dried apples, and adding sugar & spices to taste. I use piloncillo I get at one of the local Mexican markets, or raw turbinado sugar, a little cinnamon & allspice, and cooked over a few hours adding water as it absorbs a lot, until the dried apples break down into little tasty clumps.

Make small batch and preserve in sterilized half-cup jars.


jenjoycedesign© weathering 4.28
4:28 pm.

Drama in the sky!

jenjoycedesign© weathering 4.38
4:38 pm.

Everything in the world is like the rolling churning weather,

clouds swiftly moving and reshaping.

jenjoycedesign© weathering 4.48
4:48 pm.

We’re “sheltering in” at the hermitage in a war against corona virus,

surreal times,   I don’t have words.

jenjoycedesign© weathering 4.58
4:58 pm.

I am worried for everybody, and feeling fidgety and nervous. Even knitting is difficult.  I had hoped to launch into something ultra designerly,  but instead I’ve spent two days patching threadbare clothes, hand-stitching, reinforcing shredded edges, and being ridiculously old-fashioned, and I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t.  This too shall pass.

♥    ♥    ♥

Thank you everybody who left comment in the previous post Emma Was,

it really held me through a rough patch ~~ xx


Emma was.


It takes every bit of bravery I can manage to post this, and take a break from tears. She seemed to want to live forever, and we were so ready to let her, but she died peacefully last weekend, her daddy and me with her.  For nearly fifteen years her fur has lined the nests of generations of birds in this part of the mountain, and her memory does not escape the places we walked, they are forever etched along the landscape. Forever.

You can see  All Posts Emma  archived from the beginning of this blog.


jenjoycedesign© after felting bag
I am quite pleased that I’ve updated the Maiya’kma pattern to include a nice conventional square shaped flap . Here shown is the largest sizes tested and with the shaped bottom, and two straps.
jenjoycedesign© bag detail 2
Before felting,  with a girth of 44″  and nearly 400 grams of wool, having no particular shape, transformed dramatically with two hot wash cycles from floppy into a compact, crisp, thick sturdy bag of 30″ around . . . and is a bit amazing !
jenjoycedesign© before felting bag
Edged in i-cord all around, and with the floats in back of the color-work adding to the thickness of the felted fabric, it has made quite a dandy satchel, and with a gorgeous tweedy affect resulting from two yarns of different shades held together.  I will go more in depth on this ” tweedy ” affect in another post.
jenjoycedesign© bag detail 1
Detail of the button holes which are made by the i-cord edging simply free & detached for a few stitches.  Nearly the whole collection; four sizes of bag, with two of the smallest size baskets . . .
jenjoycedesign© Maiya' kma collection
There’s a quite a hoard o’ wool still left;  a lot of blue, some reds, pinks, and greens left in my Wool Of The Andes  stash.  I’m thinking next will be a few bags for spring perhaps in the colors of native wildflowers.  Indian Paintbrush, Clover , Lupine, Brodea, the flowers that the native tribes of the mountain would have enjoyed every spring. ( Please see Genius Of The Place)

Maiya’ kma  pattern is available HERE


The Genius Of The Place.

800px-Nordamerikaabteilung_in_Ethnological_Museum_Berlin_52 (1)

A Pomo basket,  Wikipedia- Pomo

I have been trekking the mountain with knitting bag and baby steps (again).  There is no denying that to me the genius of the place is in the landscape’s past. A time not long ago which is so impressed by once indigenous people who lived here,  and who are so close in time relative to the existence of humans, that I nearly feel their presence like a faint breeze tickling the hairs on the back of my neck.


Wappo Woman,  Wikipedia -Wappo

Then let me be blown through with the breezes of the past, feeling the presence of those who’s arrowheads I have found several of, and I will find my way with wool instead of water plants of the banks of the tidal Napa River.

jenjoycedesign© Maiya' Kma bags 2

Wool to make a sturdy practical thing.   Inspired by the local tribes which wandered Northern California ~~ the Wappo, Pomo and Lake Miwok have walked over the very saddle of the ridge and rested quite possibly where our house now stands, in the shade among Redwoods, Douglas Firs, and many species of Oaks. Two of three arrowheads I have found, I have posted on two occasions here  and here.

jenjoycedesign© felted two

felted in two cycles of a hot wash in machine

It is said that the Mayacamas mountain range where I live was named by the Wappo tribe “Maiya’ kma” said to mean “howling mountain lion”.  I live close to the border on the map between the Southern Wappo and the Pomo, and near the Miwok too, where the black glass obsidian volcanic rock comes from to make the arrowheads.  As I walk the contours of the mountain over the years I have come to understand the paths a bit, how the animal traffic goes, where the old roads that have grown over are, how the watershed goes and up at the top how the rock cuts up through the soil like teeth. Up there you can look to the east and see Napa Valley or to the west and see Sonoma Valley.

tribes of Napa, Lake County & Sonoma

The wildfire that came through here two years ago has created a lot of mess with the trees, but in a blink it will again be as before. I must be patient through the seasons, and understand the mountain as these hunter-gatherer, epic trekkers,  & basket weavers did.  Anyway, I am happy to be finding my way through the new bag designs, and the pattern is written, so soon will I be finished!

jenjoycedesign© felted two 2

See all posts with new projects of Maiya’ kma bags & baskets HERE. 

Light, shadow, and color.

jenjoycedesign© chullo 5

Just off the needles,  photographed in my favorite flooded light place  on the landing of the stairs, beneath the roof window facing to the southern sky.  Every half hour the sun progress across, the light and shadow changes dramatically, the angles creating dark against light and every grey in between. 

jenjoycedesign© chullo 4

I think of my brother, how he is always in need for a new chullo, and needing a fresh idea for yet another, it came into being, trying out light and shadow … with variegating color.

jenjoycedesign© chullo 6

Just a little knitted bit between bigger knitting bits.

A diversion of an idea . . .

jenjoycedesign© chullo 2And of course, tassels galore, the Peruvian way!

I made these with two-stitch i-cord and unravelled the yarn. I somehow really enjoyed the un-twisting and picking each strand-of-four out. Crazy , I know.

jenjoycedesign© chullo 7

I just get so excited about photographing the new knitted things, but I’m heading on down to Oakville Post to send this fun frolick off to my brother now, and upon my return it is time to get back to the forthcoming thing I’ve taken too long of a break from.
Yarn: Malabrigo Rios in colors Natural, Black, and Arco Iris
Pattern: chullo modification of Forthcoming

A hopeful garden.

Four months now in the new house , and I feel nearly back to my natural and normal lifestyle, and not near as much sitting at a table knitting & watching knitting podcasts as I did in the confines of a tiny house.  But now I’m experiencing a bit of an epiphany with productivity, as if to make up for lost time.  Hiking around and up the ridge does seem like essential energy spent,  but I am feeling a sense of mortality driven desperation to accomplish things. Things out of doors, but not on trail or road,  things that take a lot of physical work, and for which I am lamely unfit and feel snared in a trap of middle-age. But I am getting myself out, step one is behind already, (take an ipuprofen!) and another step ahead.  I am readying myself for the transformation.

Knitting & designing aside, presently my attention is on gardening, clearing, and making compost, and completely challenged by the lack of any level ground. I have tried to put into practice most of my life, a devotion to gardening, and yet, each spring that turns to summer with the hammer coming down of unrelenting heat and dryness has me always and every time wilting along with the zucchini plants. Last Spring  I posted about  wanting to hang in there with the garden into summer, not just the usual infatuation with the vigor of Springtime growing, but dedicate myself in the summer months.  For June is when the heat can get ahead of me, and by mid July when if a gardener is not equipped with resources, all is lost, rolling into August through September is one long heat wave and even tomatoes die. Oh, and October is the dryest of all. How does one truly garden year-round in this place? So here I am in February, after the first mild days came and I feared the blossoms would explode on the cherry tree I had bought last year and have still not planted, it being a gift for Franny & Zooey, the resident pair of ravens. Soon, in a week or two the vineyard rows will explode in mustard flowers yellow, white, even pink, and become a cacophony of color all up the Napa Valley. The sweet daffodils emerge from the sides of roads, from ghost gardens of houses which are no longer there, the acacia trees ooze pollen and the scent of Spring is intoxicating. Yes, it really does begin in February. That is not to say we won’t still have hail storms, even snow up on the mountain, but it all seems to balance and tip back and forth between frantic outside work and staying in, sheltering from the rain, hail, or snow. So much happens this month, and I am bracing myself for it.

I have a lot of burning to do; now this is work that requires first a call to check if it is a permissive burn day, a handy propane torch is nice to start, but the rest is just a lot of really hard sooty  work, all to reduce a lot of dead wood around, and because we live in a wildfire prone California, it is work that I have come to accept that is important work needing to be done. In fact, indigenous people of Napa Valley made a practice of purposeful burning to balance growth of food and attract animals to hunt , as well as prevent catastrophic wildfire.  I’ve got to get ahead of the learning curve, guess work, or maybe instinctive, tapping into the collective eternal experiential brain of human life — nurture the food producing  micro climate and inhibit the invasive tendency of wild to fight any attempt to control a space.

I hold on to a vision of a more limbed-up woodland space with streaming sun into the official garden plot like a meadow, thriving with tiny micro climates. I do think more about the indigenous people that lived here first, and wonder what this space on the mountain was like a hundred, two hundred, a thousand years ago. I ponder and although I try for elements of English Country Garden, I must get real.  April’s lush verdant water-beaded plants in a cottage garden style are completely lost by July in most certain and unstoppable arrival of aridity. I am still trying to learn about how to garden in this arid-in-summer & mossy wet-in-rain season place , where is the genius of it all , I can’t seem to grasp it.

Growing any food on a steep slope facing near direct West is a challenge. I think I need to plant more fruit trees for the hell of it, not caring what fruit mostly, but the most important crop is a bit of shade in the afternoon. So there’s me, heading off to the nursery this week on the look for another apple, or pear, things that grow well in the rocky volcanic soil of the Mayacamas mountain range. There’s me, shovelling into rocky soil a deep hole, wrestling with hardware cloth to line  and protect from the jurassic gophers lurking beneath. There’s me, against all odds, bubbling up for another hopeful spring, tempering myself into the intimidating summer, and lost to hopeless foolishness watering into the flames of October. I have to get on top of this gardening thing, I’ve got to think this out. I go deep within myself and play out all the sensitive nature against my analytical mind, and want to discover so much the genius of this place.


Our woodland gated garden in 2015