One + One = Spun

jenjoycedesign© skein in new loft

I have spun my latest blending experiment .

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She’s a real pastel beauty,

spun on my Ashford Traditional Wheel,

which I am having a wonderful reunion with after being separated from for over a year.
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That about wraps up the first One + One blending recipe,  although I think I could have gone for even more white neutral — that would have been (1 + 1) + 1, which is blending again with more white after blending one + one,  or  1 + 2  which is blending one part dyed roving, and two parts white at the first weighing of portions.  I think I will refine this recipe a little more, but for now, its on to the Tweed Chronicles recipe I’ve been dreaming about doing,  as I’ve got in my pale primary & secondary colors finally … and well, you know where I’m going with this !

Tweed Chronicles: One + One

jenjoycedesign© dyed braid + white 1

How good it is to be back to my Tweed Chronicles!  I seriously have been yearning for this moment for what seems forever, thinking about wool blending in my sleep.  So having moved tools of the trade into the new loft room, it is with great celebration that I resume my blending experiments, just as I was doing two years ago.    I have been contemplating a pale palette over the last year, ” pastels ” just appeal to me these days, wanting to tame the intensity in life with soothing color I suppose.  I received so many gifts from the spinning community after the wildfire, not only a beautiful Ashford Traditional spinning wheel from “L” (thank you so much L , I am forever grateful, and the Ashford is working beautifully after being stored four seasons in a shed!)  but there were many gifts of spinning wool too (thank you & hugs to everyone who sent wool!).  So now having everything nicely within reach, I looked over it all and got an idea with a hand-dyed color braid I found, by Nest Fiber Club, called “Muse”. 

Wanting to lighten up the color a great deal, I added one part white. I went from these . . . 

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To these . . .

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to these . . .

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and finally to these . . .

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I reckon I will be spinning up these tasty wool sausages next and seeing how my hand at the wheel does after an unplanned hiatus.  This was the perfect re-entry into my blending experiments too, although I was a bit forgetful about the steps, it came out lovely. Now as I need some practice again with my recipe documentation, here’s how I did it . . .

♣     ♣     ♣

Techy stuff for One + One…

  • Recipe I am calling “One + One” is 1 part hand-dyed colored roving plus 1 part undyed roving in natural white, grey, brown, or black, etc. (in this case white).
  • I split a sliver off the “side” of the length of dyed roving, along the entire length so that it has the same colors in sequence as the hand-dyed roving. I then weighed, and it was 28g. I then matched the same weight in ultra fine white merino, totaling 56g.
  • Then divided the two rovings equally into  4 thinner slivers ( made into little rolls to photograph) to hold together while drawing onto the teeth of the blending board, until the teeth were moderately full ( which actually only took three times, and why you see my wool rolls count go from 4 to 3)
  • Using paintbrush tool to lift batts from board, (rolling up again to photograph 1st mix) I drew out each roll onto the board again as before, resulting in slightly finer mixing of color, for a second batt.
  • Repeated last step again, ending after a third time.
  • Drew off rolags.
  • See ALL color blending experiments & recipes archived in Tweed Chronicles

Click 1st image in mosaic and go to slideshow in sequence with commentary… 

new place

jenjoycedesign© New Loft 1
My friends, I feel nearly back home because I have moved all of my tools of the trade into the work space that I have been without for what seems an eternity, and it is ready as ever to begin productive times.   As  posted a few days ago  ,  I have been busy moving into the new loft space, things I acquired since the wildfire; furniture from odd thrift & antique shops, now all packed to the gills with needles & tools, as well as wonderful yarns & delectable fibers to blend and spin.  These things which had stored in places frustratingly inaccessible for over a year, now are all very very much in my reach. jenjoycedesign© New Loft 2
Waiting to get back on with Tweed Chronicles,  as my home-made custom blending board #2 is ready to resume blending experiments . . .
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And I do want to become better at photographing too. And oh look! It is the ledge of ledges, beneath the south skylight, is nearly as before . . .

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The place of hundreds of photographs of knitteds past . . . here my long missed endlessly artful friends Light & Shadow announce their official return!
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In the weeks and months ahead the house will slowly get finished, you will see it all happening in the backdrop of things as I post about this & that, then one day almost without notice, months down the line,  we will be moved from the tiny house up into the rebuilt house again, and life will be something like “before”.  I feel a deep gratitude to those of you who encouraged me along the way, through the worst in the wake of wildfire and beyond.

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Now I think it is time to resume the work that I love, and I am overjoyed knowing that the most important things are at long last, here. Everything in its purposeful place, and life is good.

Landed in the new loft…

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Hi everybody,  its me,  Abelene.

We have landed!  Me, the Ashford wheel, and some dusty old baskets, up here in the new place, because Jen has decided to take claim and begin getting her tools of the trade into the far-from-finished loft, and months ahead of the house completion.  Jen spoke of a basket with a sock project in every room a while back in Never Far From A Prayer, and well, she ended up with quite a few (she says she’s embarrassed to admit just how many) vintage Longaberger baskets to load up with knitterly things. And spinnerly things too, and stash about places. She’s got plans for them all. The beautiful Ashford Traditional wheel is going to need some real polishing up, and the drive band got eaten by a mouse in the shed over the last year. Such is Life In A Shed.  Jen wants me to tell everybody how much she is looking forward to getting back to spinning and the Tweed Chronicles once her blending board #2 is all set up.

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Me, Ashford & The Longabergers, we love our new dwelling, and are snug as a bug in a rug!

Ta ta for now,
Abelene

Walking With Emma: A Pattern

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From The Archives:   January 2012 “Paws” 

On the eve of the Summer solstice I am celebrating fourteen years

of Walking With Emma.

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From The Archives: July 2018 “Out Walking”

And as Emma naps beside me at my feet,  I am enjoying coffee in the pause of a cool morning, putting finishing touches on the pattern pdf.  You see,  I have been knitting Ten At A Time socks with an impossible deadline to finish, and as the time for knitting lessens while the house rebuild work increases, I have jubilantly decided to put the pattern & photos together “as is”,  and get it submitted today.
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An ensemble I am naming “Walking With Emma”.

jenjoycedesign© WWE cabled variations

Eight socks, one pattern.

(( click image below for enlarged detail ))

Walking With Emma is a collection of classic cables & ribs.  If knit with a rustic wool they are the quintessence of country socks, and so befitting of wandering in the rural spaces, as I have with my dog Emma!   And if made with fine to very-fine yarn, these socks can be as elegant as any occasion could ask for.     Four classic cables in a progression of 1/1,  2/1,  and two variations of 2/2 cable cross, as well as four plain ribbed variations, making eight ways to knit a sock.  This is an epic sock pattern for me because not only do I give it four charts, but six sizes to fit men, women, teens & kids…. and…. the pattern includes a gauge substitution chart so that you can use several weights of your favorite yarns, from rustic hand-spun to fine fingering, and even lace weight!

Please go get the latest pattern and set yourself in motion walking (or sitting) while knitting one or two or three or more of this collection . . .

  pattern is live on Ravelry HERE.

In closing, I’d like to mention that Emma and I are still “walking together” as you can see posted over here,  and we will greet the Summer Solstice this way!  Please click through this epic slideshow and view some great photos I have taken over the years, out trail-making and walking with Emma in our mountain landscape …

 

Solstice Approaching

jenjoycedesign© garden 8 Its very near to the summer solstice here, and this time of year always tricks me.    I am out watering every morning, and need to be as though my life depends on it (and it does), just keeping those plants green and alive.  If I miss many days watering in the summer, then plants wilt irreversibly and the whole thing is a goner before  August gets underway, then I just give up. But lately I’ve felt that keeping a bit of this arid mountainside a green oasis, is not only for the plants, but for a kind of green fire barrier, should another wildfire blaze through.   That means from early June until the first rains in mid Autumn I must water every morning and “weed whack” as a preventative approach, for my own peace of mind if anything. Certainly, a garden which actually makes edible things is a wonderful thing too!
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The work up here seems overwhelming for me at this time, having been out of it for a couple of years nearly,  yet I suppose rebuilding our house is also about rebuilding my life. It is going to take a lot of effort clearly, if  we choose to continue living up here in the wild “fire safe”, so my life’s work for the next few months is in the garden and surrounding defensible space.  Already the grass is too high, and because of the rain in May, needs to be cut yet again!   Oh but I do feel proud because some of the perennial plants in the garden are already old-timers, knowing that everything I planted was either a cutting or a young plant from the nursery, and what is now many years old has grown to be test-proven in this harsh mountain climate.
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Rugged perennials have ~ finally ~ established to be the signature thrivers of this mountain garden, along with tools that have retired from use.
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Friday is the solstice, so wherever you are in the world, winter or summer, I hope you enjoy the turning of the Earth’s beautiful seasons.

(If you click 1st image , you will go to slideshow with commentary! )

 

six days . . .

jenjoycedesign© new walls finished I have disappeared for a few days from my usual talkative places, but have been working very hard finishing the walls of my loft room studio. After six days I have just the affect I wanted, a look of weathered exterior walls of an old building, which makes for a very interesting photo background, and begs to have some interesting old hooks mounted.
jenjoycedesign© rubbed sienna tone for ' old building ' affect
Since last Tuesday I have plastered with Emma’s fur, painted two coats of primer, two coats of base color (with a quick sanding between coats of color), then finally this morning rubbed a faux finish with a watery semi-gloss sienna tone.  Here is the base color, nearly salmon . . .
jenjoycedesign© base color coat
The end result is a bit different than before, but hopefully the same warm terracotta mood as before, however, I do think that I may put in some more ‘veins’ of sienna color in the big wall, after this all dries . . .
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Apparently after six days I am still not finished.  Of course, I refined my method as I went, so the first sections are a bust and must be painted over and refinished;  a bit disappointing, and definitely anticlimactic, but I can’t settle for ” almost right “,  its either right or its not right.    I just can’t wait to move my yarns and tools of the trade into this space, and yet I have to wait until the room has had the electrician finish so that I may begin to occupy, which is realistically in July. So still some weeks still.

Fun Fact: Did you know that in old days horse hair was put into plaster to reinforce the plaster? So Emma’s fur in this plaster (although in artful clumps) isn’t far from the old way of doing things.

 

Plastering dog fur !

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Our construction folk won’t be here this week so I’ve decided to plaster the loft room by myself, incorporating Emma’s fur into the mud.  The style is haphazard, but excellently artful and as this is my studio room as well as guest room, that suits everybody just fine.
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I will go over the surface with a damp sponge to knock off the sharp high spots, and then the many coats of paint will completely soften the rough surface, and be less “hairy”, and hopefully end up looking rather old-architectural style. Most importantly, part of Emma is now embedded in the walls of the room, and that means a lot to me.

Just for the sake of interest, the tree pictograph ” Po ” continues to be a photo opportunity, and in itself, a marvel!

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And with the rest of the week ahead all by myself, I’m going to see if I can get the room painted to my liking, as before; an undercoat of primer, then a couple of coats of the lightest tones in the fir (a peachy tan), with the deepest tones in the grain to be rubbed on for glaze (a sienna brown).

Po

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Knots and crevasses in the wood make mysterious pictures and words. Tree pictographs. What do you think this beam in the loft room is saying?  Wood speaks, sings, and I am sure this word is going to give meaning to something, on down the road.

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Look here, the loft room just waiting for me to move into it, it is beckoning me to come inside with all my newly collected tools of my trade.  About now I am ecstatic because things are really happening!  As I post this,  the plasterer is about finished with the taping, and tomorrow will be back to perform his artful texture.

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Now looking through the doorways into the loft room, I am so much more encouraged than I was back in February, with a Then & Now post.  These are rooms taking shape, rooms that have impacted my life, and will again, in a deeply profound way.   So many times I would photograph through the front doorway, and capture the bliss of the woods as if through a magic portal, and post here on my blog with a thought of the day.  And now we finally have a front door exactly as the former door was.

jenjoycedesign© front door

I do feel a great sense of release of the unbearable heaviness of loss and of waiting. It is such a tremendous gift that I am even here posting these progress photos with you, about something that feels so much like a death & rebirth in a span of a few years, but ripples out into my life in the furthest way, arousing a constant resonating gratitude.

♥     ♥     ♥

 ” Po ” . . .  to me,  in this moment,

translates to ” peaceful offerings ” from the mountain.

Stay tuned, so much is happening now, and I will no doubt be back very soon.

Our little spot.

jenjoycedesign© knitting lane 4
Introducing Emma’s and my walking lane, where we can still walk together.  It is only about a tenth of a mile long, and walking the length of it out and back five times it is a mile.
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It is our new private spot, where nobody is ever around but maybe occasional workers in the vineyard, and being so quiet it offers wonderful solitude, especially in the mornings.  It is a sort of base camp where I can park at one shady end, walk back and forth while working or knitting, and Emma can be with me, because since turning fourteen, she hangs out in the back of the car and watches.
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This little spot was a very over-grown access road for power lines which borders ours and a neighboring parcel, and is really quite secluded.  This is just one of those things I don’t know why I didn’t focus on earlier, but I’m glad I am now, for I can drive Emma down here every morning for our walk “together”  and afternoons too if its not too hot.
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While over the years Emma and I walked regularly up the ridge to the peak of the mountain and beyond, the wildfire destroyed so much that for sheer tree fall, walking up the ridge is impossible presently.  Also Jeff had recently got a heavy duty rechargeable battery operated dual line weed-whacker, and so now I can mow and maintain this little lane, and what is amazing is that on our property this is the only level spot.   Presently I am having to move quite a lot of rocks and battling wild black berries, but I’ll get there eventually.
jenjoycedesign© knitting lane 2I think I’ll officially name it Emma’s Lane. And here she this morning, hunkering down in her castle, watching me and keeping company while I work.
jenjoycedesign© knitting lane & Emma

Things going on . . .

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I am lifting my June 1st deadline for new sock pattern. It was merely a fun self-imposed goal which is clearly unrealistic at this point. I am glad to report that all things going on are incredibly exciting, although labor intensive, only least which is knitting ten-at-a-time socks. There will be eight socks in my forthcoming ensemble, which I’ve decided can happen any time because socks are not a seasonal thing. There are no Spring Tees this year either, but no guilt on me as I am so near to being able to move my new collected Tools Of The Trade into the loft room (ahead of house completion) that I am beside myself, nearly frozen with anticipation.  I will be taking some time refurbishing some antiques I collected, and sewing some things on my January Acquisition — a 1947 Singer sewing machine — needing to make a couple of curtains for the new house, start a quilt,  and generally get to making things.  In summary, the sock pattern will be ready when it wants to be. I’m taking my time and enjoying, and have had to balance the two aspects of my productive self; part of which is a lumbering old ox, and the other a spirited thoroughbred colt that wants to run. All aspects of life must be allowed to just be. That said, as in recent mornings lately, now I am off with Emma in the caboose, to garden on latest project, which is reviving an archaeological find of an old road in the woods near by,  to be a short but secret walking lane!

New Loft (( progress ))

jenjoycedesign© loft room progress 2 I have just been up to the house and its a lovely morning to photograph the new loft room progress, after the sheetrock has started. I am so pleased about this beautiful space, and I think it may even be more lovely than before, as there are a couple improvements made.  I am completely obsessed about this room, and work space to be!   ((click 1st image to go to slideshow))

Do you recognize that ledge, on which I took so many photos of knitted things and yarns? I just wanted to post these photos, but its time to get back to my frantic sock knitting, but thanks everybody for your comments, and I promise to be talkative again on the flipside of my sock-knitting May-nia.

Ten at a time . . . gussets.

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Ten at a time gussets have been knit.

Here is the pile of ten unique socks,  ready to knit the foot sections next . . .
jenjoycedesign© ten gussets
The gusset of a sock is a really the most fun part in my opinion, where all the chaos of the heel flap, turn, and picking up selvedge stitches is finished, and it brings the stitch count back to original, ready for a straight run to the toe.

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And it could not be more apropos that there are ten days left to May, including today, and to finish my ten socks and submit forthcoming sock pattern extravaganza by June 1st is my goal.  I am committed to this sock knitting “May”nia, and won’t be able to do much of anything else but knit these little dears and polish up the pattern.  I’ll be making my last ten-at-a-time post when I am ready for the toes, in the last days of May ~~ see you then!

A day of days!

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I’m in a robust mood this morning early,   a beautiful golden sunrise through the glistening air of recent days of rain.   Right now the forest is alive with promise!
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Ignore the charred black trunks, because what is going on beneath the surface is nothing less than a miracle.    I want to emulate the forest, and allow myself to sprout renewed growth from such a vibrant place within, the place of true life .  
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In the mood to step outside with camera and capture the moment, vivid as it can be; the wildlife stirring,   Emma napping quite oblivious to it,   the knitting trail ready to be worked & walked .    What a day of days! 
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A couple cups of rich strong French Roast and I am ready for the day!

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If good moods are contagious, I hope everyone out there is feeling the day as wonderful as this.

Meet the Feet & Hands!

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These sock and mitts blockers are outstanding in quality and workmanship, they are made from a woodworker from Ukraine, and I recommend them one-hundred percent if you’re looking to get some. They can be found on Etsy at Alex Workshop Design.   As for the mitt blockers, so lovely, and just look at the way the thumbs tie on so that you can slide the mitten or glove over the palm & fingers with ease, then slip the thumb in last.

jenjoycedesign© hand

I am already envisioning my next glove design, and am pretty excited about my new blockers.  I felt purchasing some proper blockers to photograph my knitwear accessories was just bound to happen eventually.   Abelene is just over the moon about the new Feet & Hands by the way,  and just can’t wait until I dress them up with forthcoming socks, and future mitts & gloves!

♥    ♥    ♥

House Update Addendum

I am shifting gears for future Jenjoyce Design Studio Loft (a.k.a guest room, lol)  move-in date.  A lot of backstory, some of you have followed the details since the wildfire, but rather than get bogged down in that mire, I’d like to focus on the positives.  I long to be hyper productive as I remember I was two years ago at this time, with everything I needed at my fingertips, and know I will be again, as soon as I get my  crafty gear up to the house, even if it is woefully unfinished workspace, I know time flies and I can establish a new level of productivity.  Oh, the latest photos of  the loft . . .

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The subfloor still is not in place, but the roof is on and windows all in!  My old friends Light & Shadow are taking over the house already, playing their magic among the beams.

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As soon as the drywall for this room is finished, plastered & painted, I am moving my gear and the furniture I’ve collected for this space IN. Jeff agrees that is okay, so with fingers crossed that might be in June? Forget the final inspection sign-off and full move-in, as Jeff and I are left with a heap of work after our builders are finished with theirs, bumping the official house move-in until who knows when, as late as late Autumn. Jeff is so overwhelmed with his workload from his job and the house, so I really have to ease up on forecasting anything. All I can do is be positive about this one room, remain in good spirits and be ready to hit the ground running as they say.

Some photos from the archives of the original loft room . . .

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From the Archives: ” Objects de Arte

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From the Archives: ” My Knitting Companion

 My familiar old space back then, again soon to be, and I have decided it is good if I post often about the progress of The Loft, even if the rest of the house progress is going slow, so expect addendums to be more frequent.  I have far less stuff now, of course, and am visualizing the room to be kitted out with the essentials  only, and I’m so looking forward to seeing that develop minimally.

Signing off with a massive spring downpour of rain!

Ten at a time . . . heels.

jenjoycedesign© 10 at a time heels

Socks knit ten at a time is the thing !     But I am a little embarrassed to admit my  collecting so many dpns for the project is rather excessive, but I’m invested in this ten-at-a-time conceptual thing.  All craziness is good, one does what one must in order to live.  For me, obsessive tendencies like this are just the norm.   Ten at a time heels, done.   Ten at a time gussets just waiting for me to post this and get to the pile.

jenjoycedesign© 10 at a time heels(2)

Meanwhile, something hand-made has arrived in the mail all the way from Ukraine, and  will make an appearance soon, when these ten socks are finished and ready to show off.

Jelly rolls, fat quarters & charm packs.

jenjoycedesign© jelly roll quilt colors

This morning I got a bee in my bonnet! A little back-story is that I have been feeling down in the dumps lately, frozen in perpetual waiting for our house to be built, with the same old routine sitting a the table in front of the computer, plugged into Ravelry & podcasts galore, knitting in a frenzy, drinking coffee, drinking tea, eating who knows what, inside of a packed-to-the-gills tiny house. The tiny house is indeed packed but of really only normal things like a dish drainer of drying dishes, a few pair of shoes or pile of mail, or laundry basket, Emma’s things, not to mention all my knitting around. I have desperately needed something new going on to get me charged up about my life, and I realized that by the time we move into the rebuilt house it will be Autumn 2019.

Thinking about this now, it was Autumn 2009 that I got bit by the knitting bug in a serious way.   Just before that time I had gotten half way through making a king-size Amish style quilt, yet  shamefully only basted the layers together, never quilting it, and it got used that way on our bed until its demise in the wildfire, without ever sewing the binding on.  I guess I never finished it because I had gotten rather distracted with the new knitting thing that took over my life back then. Well it has been a full ten years coming up, that I’ve been knitting like mad. Sure,  I’ve sewn a few bits here and there and made some little things, but its been all-out knitting, day in and day out.  I am pretty confident that I will be knitting day in and day out for years to come, but I think its time I get involved in some new things too.  Deciding that I need to broaden my world, that new things will be good for me.

The second I made that decision I was off to Sonoma, to Broadway Quilts , determined to NOT come home indecisively empty-handed, choose an easy small quilt pattern, not in the least bit overwhelming,  and get kitted up with the fabrics called for, just something that I can piece together in tiny house.  Luckily everything seemed wonderfully appealing to me, and chose a simple throw size quilt pattern and a jelly roll packet of pretty soft solids in summery tones, with an off-white for background and sashing. If you want to know the truth, I learned a few more crafty words to add to my vocabulary; “jelly roll”, “charm pack”, and “fat quarter”.  Apparently before today I was not In The Know, but now I am ready to get involved.

And I hope that this is the beginning of a quest for new things!

A cause for celebration. . .

jenjoycedesign© roof.jpgA cause for celebration because the roof is finished!  Most of you out there have no idea what a difficult process it was to get to the point of being ready for the roofers to come, through the gusts of wind and rain,  all through winter and early spring, up here in the wild where everything is quite a bit more challenging.  But with a sigh in my heart I can now relax, and the next inspection can proceed with roof complete, ready for some serious action to begin in the weeks ahead ;  windows and sliding doors will all be in place, and the rooms will begin to take shape with drywall and upstairs subfloor too, covering the plumbing, electrical & mechanical chaos.  Soon the elements of the house’s layout & personality will be recaptured.

Meanwhile, it was utterly heartwarming to know that Emma is still a hit on my blog, and although she can’t walk very well, she is a stellar napper, and still keeps me company through the days. Thank you everybody who attended Emma’s little birthday celebratory post  last week, and for you who would like to take a peek in the archives, all posts Emma’s Birthday are here. 

Emma is Fourteen

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Emma is fourteen today!

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She is surprising us all how she is hanging in there . . .

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 . . . for another spring on the mountain . . .

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. . . for another May birthday . . .

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. . .  perhaps a few more months yet, to move into the new house with us . . .

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. . . she has lived beyond her breed’s life expectancy,  and our old girl is a real trooper!

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The three of us have lived in our shoebox  tiny  house for exactly a year now, although Emma has quite taken to wanting to be in ‘her car’ a lot of the time.  She being around has made it so much easier for us to get through this time.  I must accredit Emma’s incredible longevity to her extreme athletic youth, running all over the mountain chasing critters, in part to the wonderful veterinarians at Napa Small Animal , as well as the two raw eggs she gets every day,  a very good recipe for a healthy happy old dog.  Emma, we love you, and what a happy day it is indeed!

((click 1st photo in mosaic to see slideshow))

 

Ten at a time.

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Knitting a literal pile of socks.  Nine legs in the pile so far, but one more is about to be cast on as soon as I figure out which yarn, making an even ten.  I’m working the legs of all ten “at a time”, then I will work the heels, then the feet, then the toes.  Eventually all of them will see their sock mate I am certain, and if you consider the second sock to all these, there are twenty socks underway.  I am testing my eight styles of my forthcoming sock ensemble, and at the same time trying out the size run. I am finding a balance in waiting out the weeks, floating through spring with plenty of yarn and birch dpns at the ready, trying NOT to get strung out over the details this time. 

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I just can’t see coming down for landing any time soon.  That’s me here, now, and in spite of the long wait in going home to our rebuilt house,  life is good.

A sandy beach, a beautiful girl, and a ukelele.

Got the beach.

Now the girl and the ukelele . . .

My younger niece here, whom so many of you recognize in a gazillion photo shoots on my blog, has learned to play her grandmother’s ukelele.  A Martin, which in its first life accompanied her grandmother Barbara to Carmel beach in Monterey California,  to sing and hang out with the teens til late, in the Beatnik era of the early fifties.  Barbara was also a stunningly beautiful girl, and a musician, and the resemblance is very surprising between the two! Just saying.   Now the ukelele belongs to Yours Truly, and she’s got it in her blood I think, and I just love it!

Out woolgathering . . .

Emmerson, Henry Hetherington, 1831-1895; Wool Gathering

Wool Gathering, 1883 by Henry Hetherington Emmerson

/ˈwo͝olˌɡaT͟H(ə)riNG/

 Indulgence in aimless thought or dreamy imagining; absentmindedness, daydreaming, reverie, musing, preoccupation, absorbed.

I have learned a new word and it rather defines me in my life as though I invented it. Meandering in thoughts, as if walking through hilly meadows collecting tufts of wool, I do ponder, always one thing or another.  I guess, it is ” woolgathering ” that I am up to; contemplating life-to-be when our house is finished being rebuilt.  I am embracing the woolgathering, and in more ways than one.

In the painting, there are three women stuffing found things (wool) from bushes, or the  ground,  into their bags.  One of them and her dog seems to have come upon and surprised a small group of sheep.

I am bemused by gathering actual wool too.   Knitting in a frenzy ten-at-a-time, on my new birch wood dpns, and writing and testing a new pattern, and collecting wool in yarn form (mostly sock yarn presently) and in dyed roving form (for blending on my remade blending board) and to spin on my wheel (a gift, which is destined to be freed from a tightly packed shed)  … to fulfill that quest which consumes me.   I gather wool, thoughts, ideas, and the tools of the trade for the work in the territory ahead.   Woolgathering is just what I do for now.

I am definitely a woolgatherer (noun), out woolgathering (verb).

What are you woolgathering about?

A house in progress.

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I thought I’d post a little about the progress of our house rebuilding!

The most exciting thing is that half of the openings in the roof for the sky lights have been rough cut and light is already pouring in and illuminating things in a most magical way.

Compare the original house skylights of Then …

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From the Archives: Sweater Descent

to the rough cut openings of skylights of  Now.

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Fantastic! I recognize my dearest of old friends Light &  Shadow, among the beams.

Oh how I have missed them!
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Its been a really late spring folks, with gobs of beautiful rain, and it is still a bit chilly & breezy, but now the perpetual deep blue skies & sunshine is on its way!  The foliage from the year-old shoots from burned trees are growing rapidly, and the flowers are bursting open everywhere . . .
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 Soon will be siding and roofing…

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And at the same time Jeff is now rebuilding the deck, with a little bit of my help.   Rebuilding  has been slow going all winter, and while our county beurocrats have not shown any effort to hasten things,  our dedicated few builders commuting from far away have stayed through the worst of storms, and have remained positive and encouraging, so now at last it looks like things will speeding up.
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I meditate everyday on being ‘back home’ in our rebuilt house, setting up my loft room and setting new lofty goals for myself ! It is so comforting and gratifying to see how much it looks and feels like our original house, after all it is the very same kit, and its easy to feel like its all just a dream, which I am soon to wake from.   I am amazed at some of the blog readers that have commented, apparently keeping track of me and the progress since the wildfire , and that is so heartwarming. I am getting a clearer vision now of the next equinox being a time when I will be a busy bee reacquainting myself with my old routine again.

But do tell me, how is the weather where you are?

All posts Rebuilding

Never far from a prayer.

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Sunstruck needles by Knitpicks

I have been going a little off the deep end hunting & sleuthing out the best finds on ebay of small vintage baskets, as well as made an order for a few more sets of Sunstruck dpns.  Add to that the sox box I found only weeks ago, and my recent filling it with half-ball cakes of sock yarn. Can you guess where this is going?  But first let me give you a little backstory;  I have for a long time, even years,  wanted to have a simple little knitting project in a small basket in every room of the house,  like socks, so I am never far from a prayer.  I suppose I aim to find peace in constant knitting.  I have only to wait until the house is complete of course, before I can fully actualize this notion, but I am intending to start as soon as my first little baskets show up,  filling them each with something simple like a sock project and setting them up everywhere about.  I don’t know what’s happened to me, but in these last few days knitting with the beautiful birch wood double-pointed needles is nothing less than a sock knitting epiphany. I have been feeling rather spiritually lifted from it all.  I know, strange how it is. So please hang around this space as I begin to transform and organize something deep within me which has been nothing short of lost, but now seems nearer to being found.

Yarn Tasting: Berroco Ultra Wool Fine

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In these glorious down-pouring rainy days of April I am knitting socks and trying out a new yarn that I’m really excited about, Berroco Ultra Wool Fine. 100% Superwash (Peruvian) wool, three somewhat lofty plies, with  400g – 366m per 100g ball, and made in Peru.  I’ve wound two colors into half-balls and got started . . .
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I love this yarn so much that I bought several balls of it, and planning on over-dying some of it too, and I have ambitions for a “rustic country cabled sock”.   I am not exactly sure what breed Peruvian wool is, but on one website I read that it is a cross between Merino & Corriedale sheep (can anybody out there add to this , or correct me?) , and seems to me to have a nice long staple length when I try to pull a ply apart it is very difficult, a long haired wool quality which I love.   Out of the socks I knit this last year my favorite yarns are the 100% Blue-Faced Leicester wool, or BFL, which by the way, presently is an extremely popular knitting wool, and um… good ol’ modest Kroy sock yarn.  Neither are Merino.

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Berroco Ultra Wool Fine is 400 yards per 100 grams and is ever-so-slightly thicker, or has more loft, than the finer fingering sock yarns I’m use to, such as Malabrigo Sock, Knit Picks Stroll, or Cascade Heritage, all which are around 440 yards or more per 100g.  These two starts of socks I am knitting with Ultra Wool Fine are giving me impressions of the lovely rustic kind of wool almost a homespun feel, that I have in mind, and which my often booted feet are hungry for.
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Also having a bit of a needle tasting too!  I am trying a set of dpns in a size smaller than I usually use for socks,  a set of US 1 – 2.50 mm wooden dpns, given to me from knitters’ donations after the wildfire, which I am now ever so thankful for. I went to the dpns because I didn’t have that size in the nickel plated circular needles I have been so use to using for sock knitting, and I must say knitting with wood traditional dpns is the most aesthetic of experiences, even if not the fastest (due to my clumsiness). These are Knit Picks Sunstruck, and the color and feel is warm, light, and masterful feeling.
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With these needles and this yarn I will knit some wonderful socks that will be a pleasure, and there is a very likely possibility that I will switch over, and a couple of pairs of socks will tell. A couple of posts ago I talked about my new Sox Box I picked up at a thrift shop, and my ambition is to fill all fifteen compartments of this box with knitted socks, and oh what gleeful anticipation of sock knitting is ahead!  My Sox Box is filled with good intentions for now, at the very least, but I am bracing myself for a colossal head-start on next winter’s gifts, perhaps out of it even a bit of a pattern to develop ( hint) but for now, I’m keeping you all in suspense.
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Franny & Zooey

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I have been thinking of names for our pair of lovebird ravens, predictably a famous couple, and  Franny & Zooey comes to mind.  A fictitious pair of genius siblings who are perfectly worthy of these smart trusting birds, and well, its just that I’m a fan of Salinger.    Here’s Zooey, on the wood pile, right next to our tiny house ….
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He is preening and watching over his shy lady Franny, who walks on the ground at a greater distance in the Charcoal Forest.
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But distance is relative, because I tell you folks, I was 20 feet away at the most, quietly inching forward ever so slowly before Zooey caught on to me, and took flight.

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Beautiful birds, I just can’t get over them.
They have so far snubbed my yarn offerings by the way!

Words from the woodland…

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I have been experimenting with another sock design. Knitting, ripping, knitting, ripping, and knitting again. But I think I’ve finally worked it out (um…hopefully.)   There’s my knitting for the next weeks, exhaustive exploration of the designs’ potential !

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But perhaps the most interesting of things happening right  now are the ravens yet again stealing away with my attention in their nest-making work!  Photographed (a blurry phone photo) through the window in our tiny house yesterday in the dimming evening light, are the male & female which share the wooded habitat “close in”  with us. They are busy tearing up fluff from the packing blanket covering  the bath tub   and apparently are making a nest!  They’ve been at this blanket for about a week now, and I don’t mind,  they can shred it up all they like, and in fact, I’ve just now put a pile of yarn scraps in the middle, as an offering to them. 

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 We watch them pull and tear, and fill their mouths with this fluff, then fly off together to some private place near by, and then they inevitably are back, usually to be found up in the limbs close by.   Five years ago, back  in this post,  I photographed and talked about what I assume to be this pair of ravens, and took some good photos of them in the oak trees next to our house.  Of course, the wildfire brought on huge concern for a while about what would happen to the wildlife, but as you can see, as we didn’t let the loggers go through our woods, we have many trees left to be the habitat left for the wildlife. Some are not the healthiest trees, but many larger ones managed to not get too injured in the wildfire, showing a number of decades left in them.  Did you know that ravens mate monogamously for life,  and can live to be over thirteen years?  I expect they will be around for years to come (… read more info on ravens.)  

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Other news is that we’ve had to cut down the Black Oak which use to shade our original house, and that has been a sad thing indeed. Our original deck was built around it somewhat, and it just seemed a part of the house.  DSC_0217.JPG
We didn’t want to do it, but three-quarters of the bark had been burned off, and was nearly entirely dead.  We should have cut it down before the house started to be rebuilt, but Jeff wanted to see if it might spring back to life, which it didn’t sadly.  Now that the deck is starting to get built, it had to come down ~~~ and it was a huge stress !

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In closing I would like to say that although the rain came late this season, and nearly April it is still raining gobs, and from a fire-ravaged California that desperately needs regrowth of the wild habitat, rain is the new gold.  I am very inspired to plant an undergrowth of woodland species, including more fruit trees in the gardens (to share with the ravens of course), and in general have been ready to focus on planting things as soon as the rain wanes off a bit.  Making lists and garden sketches in the morning light of the window, with delicious mugs of coffee, is my solid unwavering bliss. 

 

Sox Box

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On the vernal equinox I found myself running over to Lolo’s, a great little thrift shop in St Helena, and I found  this nifty wooden thing.   I thought it especially nifty because the compartments can be put to use in a very knitterly way, and so it is now my official Sox Box !

A single pair of sturdy hand-made socks fits nicely in each compartment . . .jenjoycedesign© sox box 2

This is in fact, my latest pair of St Andrews Harbour Socks, from the March Into Spring KAL  that I’ve been posting about. I worked chart C over 60 stitches, and simply worked stockinette instead of the moss stitch. To me they look so like the knee-high socks I wore as a school girl.

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I did knit an awful lot of socks last year when I was making samples for St Andrews, but gave most of them away for holiday gifts. However,  I did keep two extra pairs for myself, so adding the latest finished pair with Miss Babs Northumbria sock yarn, I am ahead filling the Sox Box by three pair!

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Three compartments filled, and a dozen to go.

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 Yarn: Miss Babs Northumbria Fingering, in color of “Adobe”.

Pattern: St Andrews Harbour

Project details on Ravelry  here.

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Aside from sock knitting, we’re having a lot of Spring rain here, and its forecast to continue probably through the remainder of March. The surplus of water is a gift from the planet in our drought prone area, so I’m feeling somewhat rain-restored. Life is good.

On the eve of the vernal equinox . . .

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 It is the eve of the vernal equinox, and so tomorrow is officially Spring !

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My niece, Miss Nineteen, is on break from college, and so we met at the Calistoga Roastery, then went of course, to the castle…
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I brought something along, the prototype of Golden Fields,  to have a little impromptu photo shoot,  as we always love to do!

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She pulled it off beautifully, as always!

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Golden Fields stole is a very personal creation from my own over-dyed  UnSpun, and of which I’m proud of the epic amount of work that went into it, and ….

the pattern is available here.

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So happy Spring everybody!

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t castle (3) Mar 19, 2019

(( you can see the entire photo slide show by clicking first image in mosaic ))

Posted to Pennsylvania

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Well folks, off goes another “pampas heather” ultra fine UnSpun 1100 in the mail, and this time to Pennsylvania. I have specifically made UnSpun yarns for some knitter friends of mine who have lavished their time knitting up tests of my patterns, time and time again. So thank you thank you thank you Virginia!

Technical stuff: 

I’m refining my technique for the UnSpun, especially with the very fine lace weight,  UnSpun 1100 , which is 550 yards per 50 grams.  After I separate the plies and splice them all together while winding on to the swift,  I then give the skein a careful hot wash to only slightly felt the strands, so that when they are dry and wound into a skein or cake, they are de-energized nearly completely.  Do you see how the dried washed skein below is ever so slightly ‘clumpy’ ? That is because its ever so slightly fused to itself — and I mean very barely — before winding back on to the swift or into a cake to release and smooth out.  One must really know the behavior of wool to try felting a yarn.  My thinking is,  if Rowan can do it , well then so can we. 🙂
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The slight felting process is essential, and when I’m winding it off from the swift to a cake the single strand of yarn slightly pulls away from the whole mass, creating actually a lovely halo of woolen fuzz.    Anyway, I think that the UnSpun 1100 really is a winner accomplishment for me, and I look forward to sharing more experiments!

All tutorial posts under the title of Unspun are HERE