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jenjoycedesign© handspun mitt

I am knitting this last prototype of a pile of samples which are from my next pattern, and which will highlight this Autumn’s designs ~~ a set of mitts & hats! Just had to photograph a little teaser, because the sun was streaming in through the window and making my yarn glow, a bit of a yarn-henge moment!

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I do love this yarn, which is such a surprise, from wool I made on blending board and spun up  into this very tweedy yarn  last weekend. But by next week I will have this pattern up and running with legs, thanks to Wendy, Yvonne, Jane & Dawn for test-knitting!

jenjoycedesign© pattern writing

Shoal or School?

Clupea_harengus_Gervais.jpgA tasty bit o’ fish fact:  Schooling and shoaling are types of collective behavior of fish.  Any group of fish that stay together for social reasons is said to be shoaling, and if the shoal is swimming in the same direction together, it is schooling.  Herring spend most of their lives shoaling or schooling and become agitated if separated from the group, while others, such as Atlantic Cod school only some of the time. Salmon travel in large, loose schools, eventually migrating into upper reaches of rivers to spawn. Fish generally prefer larger shoals,  with shoalmates of their own species, similar in size and appearance to themselves. Any shoal member which stands out in appearance may be targeted by predators, explaining why fish prefer to shoal with individuals that resemble themselves.  This is called the oddity effect.  read more….

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Herring school or shoal?

Honestly, I always assumed the words ‘shoal’ and ‘school’ were the same meaning, but morphed into two words through cross language use.  I have learned something!  So now that we know about the difference between schools and shoals,  I’d like to share with you one of my favorite fishing songs “Shoals Of Herring”,  this version by the song writer himself, Ewan MacColl.

Words as sung by Ewan MacColl:

With our nets and gear we’re faring
On the wild and wasteful ocean.
Its there on the deep that we harvest and reap our bread
As we hunt the bonnie shoals of herring

O it was a fine and a pleasant day
Out of Yarmouth harbor I was faring
As a cabinboy on a sailing lugger
For to go and hunt the shoals of herring

O the work was hard and the hours were long
And the treatment, sure it took some bearing
There was little kindness and the kicks were many
As we hunted for the shoals of herring

O we fished the Swarth and the Broken Bank
I was cook and I’d a quarter sharing
And I used to sleep standing on my feet
And I’d dream about the shoals of herring

Well we left the homegrounds in the month of June
And to Canny Shiels we soon were bearing
With a hundred cran of the silver darlings
That we’d taken from the shoals of herring

Now you’re up on deck, you’re a fisherman
You can swear and show a manly bearing
Take your turn on watch with the other fellows
While you’re following the shoals of herring

In the stormy seas and the living gales
Just to earn your daily bread you’re daring
From the Dover Straits to the Faroe Islands
While you’re following the shoals of herring

Well I earned my keep and I paid my way
And I earned the gear that I was wearing
Sailed a million miles, caught ten million fishes
We were following the shoals of herring

I also found a lovely Gaelic version, sung by Scottish group The Lochies, from the Hebrides…

Two fun facts:   One, the singer in the group The Lochies, John MacMillan who formed the trio,  was a Harris Tweed weaver from the Hebridean Isle of Lewis in Scotland ~~ amazing!   And two, this song was one of my all-time favorites to play mandolin while backing up my duo mate John, back when we were gigging not so long ago, I’d always beg him to sing it before the gig was over.   

I’ll leave off with a peek of my most recent & last of the prototypes for forthcoming design, which I started only yesterday after ripping out another  in a different color, and which was several days worth of knitting.  This one is a keeper…

jenjoycedesign© sneak peek

Well, that about wraps up this sneak peek until next time, when I will post one more in the Fishy series before the final unveiling of new design!

Meet Abelene!

jenjoycedesign© Meet Abelene!
Hi, I’m Abelene. I am the newest personality here on Yarnings, and live a completely charmed life.    My name is Abelene because my parents were yuppies, and spelled it that way instead of “Abilene” or “Abeline”, the way the name is normally spelled, probably in attempt to be unique & exotic, but it only created a life-long task of my having to explain to “its spelled with three e’s and no i’s” and to give lesson of how to pronounce… “say it like ‘Abba’ … you know, the 70’s rock band from Sweden?… plus ‘lean’…you know, like skinny jeans.”
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Oh, I am a gorgeous 36-26-36, the figure every woman wants though few shall have, and I will not brag about it, but it is one of my very few attributes.  In fact, my figure and my chattiness are all there is to my whole existence.  However, Jen hopes for photogenic abilities too, and she assures me I show potential.  In fact, Jen hopes for a lot from me ~~ design success, fortune & fame~~ in exchange for a charmed life of glamour…. but she says I can’t even dream to compete with her nieces, who are real live models.
Jen debated for a long time about getting me, but recently grubbing around to find me was ‘a score’ as she puts it.  The trauma to clear a space in her ‘studio’ closet was difficult, to find other places for yarn that previously inhabited my new place (by the way, don’t tell anybody, but she calls my living space her Studio Loft , sounding so artsy professional, but really it is only just a guest room where her nieces sleep when they come to stay over).   The door into it is at my left.
Jen tells me that “having a big awkward useless trendy possession” (such as a dress form) is for her a very difficult thing to give in to (um, add a little peppering of guilt there why don’t you!) when in fact she wrestles in strained efforts with her sprawling collection of antique wooden hangers, you know, those ones with old cleaner advertisements?  ( You ought to witness her obsession with those)  Even she realizes her limitations before getting me, that she had a rough time of displaying something as lovely and draping as say… lace. 
(hint … hint)
In any case I think that she is very pleased with my snug dove-tail fitted legs of my solid maple stand, and solid maple finial (that is in place of my head) and is happier than can be with my stability. Things are going to work out she assures me, very well.
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 I am so giddy with pride that I may be having custom made new dress form coverings to wear, as Jen does know how to sew such things pretty well. She has promised me jacquard … linen …. tweed … buttons & bows, and I am very excited to make more appearances in my outfits in the future.  Forthcoming of Jens designs is one of her best achievements yet, a Big Lace Deal, and in more than one shape, so she is busy busy busy knitting lace for the months of May & June and even into July.  I am to be the teaser here, to get a feel of what modeling will be like; here you fine people,  is me in the new work-in-progress, careful to not show any detail prematurely ….
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Ta ta for now,
Abelene.

A Hopeful Spring

From  this , to this…

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Just before harvest, a few years ago, a regionally famous mountain vineyard ‘next door’ was sold. The bordering woods, meadows,  and canyon cliffs,  as well as bumpy old connecting roads between the quiet & quaint old vineyard clearings  were my favorite places to walk with Emma, and we had to abandon it.  I go into more detail in this post, but I am trying to focus on the new replanted growth now.

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For an epic pause in the life of this mountain landscape there has been rattling machinery disking the earth, pounding great big steel things into the ground, deep trenching miles for drainage, electric conduit, irrigation, erecting a water tank the size of a house…. the usual sprawling construction project of a corporation taken over a couple of hundred acres with jeeps & four-wheelers buzzing about everywhere all of the time.

But now there is a calm.

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Eventually, and ever so gradually, nature softens the work of men, and this mountain vineyard is whispering of spring growth again.

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Since the original design “Vineyard Rows Tam” I have been off & on playing with a series of designs all conceived as tribute to the memory of the beautiful historic vines which were destroyed and the natural wildness of the place that I loved.  Onward. Early this last winter I designed Winemakers Waistcoat, honoring the history of California’s industry in wine, but most recently I have felt a sort of turning about of attitudes; away from a yearning tribute to the past, toward a hope for the future in this place, and maybe even that I sense the presence of the wilderness returning. At least a little bit.

My most recent design, as yet only one mitt, and no pattern yet written, expresses this with motifs of trellises and budding vines eager to branch and fill the expanse.  I am sharing with you my latest design a little prematurely, but what the heck…

jenjoycedesign© Vineyard Rows 3

Trellis Mitts!

jenjoycedesign© Vineyard Rows

The mitts design is an evolving prototype, but here it is nestled into an ensemble with the other two in my Vineyard Rows series.

jenjoycedesign© Vineyard Rows2

Just waving hello to everybody with this one mitt, as I immerse myself in a hopeful spring, and lots of knit-trekking up the mountain (yes, past the vineyard) on the way to the peak…

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I hope you are all enjoying this transformative season!

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A Fresh Start For March

jenjoycedesign©drizzle -&- fog Knitting shades of fog & rain clouds, the colors reflecting this morning’s landscape, into a new project with the vernal influences taking hold for my nieces’ Spring Sweaters 2014.   Delightedly I get to report that the off-and-on showers-mixed-with-drizzle-and-fog brings a fresh start for March !

March's entrance

We are on the tail end of winter friends, aren’t we?
Here on the mountain the misty clouds are speeding past us, hovering and temperamental.
In Northern California, we are finally having some much-missed moisture, and I’m just hoping for a continued rainy & foggy spring.