Tags: country living, faith, family, home, inspiration, knitting, Life, love, marriage, personal, relationships, spirituality, Upstate New York, women
It has been falling steady all morning. I knit, and write, and I sip hot cocoa.
This kind of cozy, relaxing morning is fulfilling to the soul.
The world is very quiet on a snow day. Watching the steady flow of softly falling flakes can be mesmerizing, leading to deep thoughts and philosophical contemplations.
At least, that is how it is for me.
This morning the snow along with the and the contemplation that comes with knitting have worked together to lead my mind to you, dear reader.
I have known many of my readers for a little more than eight years now. It has been a long road, and there have been poignant joys so rich as to make my heart ache with the satisfaction of long-awaited happiness…joyful, magic moments many of which I have shared in this ethereal place known as my “blog”.
Side Bar: Blog is such an unattractive word. I wish a prettier word had been created for it.
There have been heart-wrenching losses also, along the way. Some have been shared, though most have been suffered through silently as far as the blog is concerned. Anguish is not what you come here looking for, so the moments in life of anguish are kept from public view and knowledge.
We all have them, our private trials and sufferings.
That is life. There are times of joy and happiness, of creation, and jubilant reflection. Oh, how those> moments glow.
And in contrast there are the … other things we must deal with and endure.
I started my blog in the summer of 2006, and from the very first time someone left me a comment and I knew people were actually “listening” I have carried you, my reader, in my heart. Sometimes there have been thousands in a day coming to this place, other times a few hundred come daily.
It is a unique friendship and relationship between writer and reader in this virtual world known as “the blogosphere”. I don’t know what it is like for other writers, I think I have a somewhat unique relationship with my readers in that I started writing shortly after my entire life turned upside down and began anew.
When I moved from Los Angeles to this farm in New York back in May of 2006 I had not heard of or read any “blogs”. I had much experience with computers and the Internet. I had been an Art Director and VP of Strategic Creative Services at an Internet start-up company and had quite a bit of experience with online marketing and consulting. Still, I was not familiar with blogs.
My then new life on a farm was destined to be more relaxed, less stressful, and certainly would involve zero traffic jams and so I looked around for something new to do with my Internet skills, something that would allow me to focus on my first love, which was writing.
My son suggested I get into writing a blog, and he said I should just pick a subject I knew something about and start writing about that. So I made a list of things I enjoyed and also knew something about, and knitting was one of those things. Earlier than that, when I was still living in Los Angeles, it was my son who also suggested that I turn my focus to writing rather than general Internet consulting. He helped me center my focus, and it was a key factor in what led me here … to my dear husband, to this farm, and to writing this blog.
Another Side Bar Item:I mention my son quite often on my blog and in my emails, even in some of my patterns. If it hadn’t been for him, I might never have come to be here writing this blog, designing knitting patterns, and sharing them with you. We all have a great deal to be thankful to him for. It is inevitable that he is therefore, an integral part of the adventure. So, I mention him, and I link to his online store where he sells prints of his designs including City Neighborhood Typography maps like this one of Los Angeles, vintage inspired Eye Charts, city minimalist posters, and subway signs and bus scrolls.
In August 2006 I posted my first entry. I look back now and see I made 21 posts that August.
My goodness, that was a long time ago.
At that time, my life had turned upside down, inside out, rolled over a few times and flipped up in the air at least five times. It was a dream come true to live on a farm. Each and every day held treasures of discovery in my new environment. I literally engaged in an entirely new and different life, begun right in the middle of my already well-established life.
What I am trying to say is this: I think it is a pretty big deal I started writing a blog not long after arriving in my new life and that so many readers have been a part of this adventure. You have read my words, enjoyed my photography, cheered my joys and victories, felt my pain, and even knitted a few of my designs.
I have carried you right along with me through many of the steps and turns and magical developments along the way. And it has been great. I have to say, I came to love you guys, my readers, and I still do. You are a part of my world and my universe, even if you don’t realize it.
But there is something I feel very bad about, and I want to say something here about that.
There have been times when some of you have left comments or sent me emails and I never got back to you. Not all of the time, but sometimes.
And, there have been long periods of absence on my part as time has gone by. I am sorry for that, I want you to know that I am. I honestly feel that because of the kind of blog I write–where I share both glory and pain in order to inspire others that life’s obstacles can be overcome and dreams can come true–that dropping off and not writing for long periods of time was injurious to the universe I had created as a writer.
That might sound weird, or you might say I shouldn’t carry such a burden but it is my honest feeling and I want to apologize to whoever might still be “listening”.
I had good reason, and I am going to say something very brief about that.
My dear, dear daughter was married to someone abusive and is physically disabled because of that. Then also, my granddaughter came into the picture. They have a right to privacy and safety, and the time I share with them I don’t share publicly via my blog.
This past year I have had more time to knit again, to design, write, and publish patterns and write some emails.
It is challenging to wear the various hats life has called on me to wear while also carving out a bit of quiet time alone time for writing, and so I disappear at times. It isn’t because I have stopped thinking of my readers or carrying you in my heart. You are still there for me, and I hope you can feel me there in your heart as well even when I am absent from this venue.
I shot this photograph at Genesee Country Village Museum this summer. This gentleman is a blacksmith re-enacter (he actually does real old-time blacksmithing work). He reminded me a bit of my dear father, so I shot this portrait of him. I won a blue ribbon for the photograph in their annual Agricultural Festival this fall. 🙂
I don’t think life ever turns out the way any of us thought it was going to. I know mine hasn’t turned out the way I thought it would when I was young and younger. The funny thing is, it has turned out to be a very good likeness of the various dreams I dreamt of when I was younger. It just doesn’t look or feel the way I had imagined, and so at times it is a challenge to recognize it as being the life I actually did intend to create–a version of it anyway.
That’s the way it is, life is, after all, life. I think of mine as a river … remember when I wrote about The River Me?
Over the past year I have designed and published fourteen new patterns for quite a few new items including a variety of shawls and cowls (see photos at the end of this post). In addition to individual knitting patterns, I have published several eBooks with collections of patterns (all are available in my Ravelry store, some are in my Etsy store). Currently I have a number of projects in the planning stages and in the works including children’s clothing, an awesome cardigan for men (I am knitting the sample for my son, naturally), a number of patterns for gloves, more cowls, and several shawls/wraps. I have started developing relationships with yarn artists and have the pleasure of developing some designs specifically featuring their beautiful yarns, and that is a pretty cool development.
In the coming year I will start using test and sample knitters (if you are interested, please let me know) and am looking to establish a good relationship with a skilled tech editor for my knitting patterns.
Realistically, I won’t be able to get back to writing weekly blogs for the time being. I will write when I can, which might only be a few times a year. If you would like to stay in closer touch with me and my life, Instagram is a great choice because I post there sometimes on a daily basis sharing both knitting related photography and photography from this beautiful world I live in.
Follow me on Instagram to see day-to-day photos of fiber related goodies and knitting projects, as well as beautiful scenes from our little piece of heaven. You can find me there as: JLFleckenstein. It would also be great if you would share photos of your WIP of my designs on FaceBook and Instagram using hashtag: #jlfleckenstein
If you leave a comment on my blog or send me an email, I will write back to you. If you don’t hear from me for several days it means life tapped me on the shoulder and kept me away from my computer, usually for a very good reason. But I always come back. I always do.
With so many things I have to be thankful for, I want to take this moment in time to wish my U.S. readers a Happy Thanksgiving holiday, and for my non-U.S. readers, I send you good tidings and best wishes for those things you have to be thankful for in your life.
Tags: daylily, flowers, gardening, knitting, lace shawl, vacation, women, women who blog
That line from the old song is very appropriate for the summer we have been having on our old farm in Upstate New York.
The weather has been amazing, the flower gardens have been resplendent, and the farms seem to be thriving.
Of course there is always much work to be done, both inside and out, but even with the normal day-to-day chores of living that must be attended to and the inevitable difficulties and problems life poses on a daily basis, we have managed to enjoy the past couple of months as if we were partially on vacation and that has been magical.
This spring and summer I have been enjoying two new love affairs … hold on now, it isn’t what it sounds like.
The first love affair is with designing and knitting lace shawls. I have created four designs over the summer, and am releasing the first pattern this week, “Rise Up Singing” (featured in today’s photos) is already available in both my Etsy and Ravelry stores for instant download.
I wrote text directions as well as charted diagrams; both styles are included in the one download so you can knit it either way. I specifically designed this piece to be easy and quick to knit, even if you use the text rather than charted directions.
I will start working right away on patterns for,the other three shawls and will share photos of them as I make the patterns available.
There is something about knitting and blocking a lace shawl that is a special kind of magic, and I hope with my patterns I will be able to help many others learn and experience that magic.
Speaking of magic, last summer we visited a nearby farm where a lady raises Daylilies. Until I moved to Upstate New York I had never heard of Daylilies. Perhaps they are grown in California, but if so I never heard them mentioned. Here they are grown and treasured by everyone it seems.
There is another daylily farm somewhat near our place that everyone refers to reverently as “the daylily place”. Oh my … it is the most magical, enchanting garden I have ever seen in my life. From the road you would never suspect that such a veritable Garden of Eden thrives just beyond the drive. Then, you walk in and … well, you just feel like fainting or something because of the sheer aesthetic magnificence you are suddenly surrounded by.
As it turns out there are something like 1,000 or 5,000 varieties of Daylilies (I can’t remember exactly because I was too delirious from beauty overload when they told us) and the couple who created the garden seem to have each variety in their collection along with myriad other luscious plants mixed amongst them. There are pathways to stroll along and benches placed here and there creating a welcoming atmosphere for visitors.
They even have a spectacular oversized cactus and succulent garden that surpasses any such garden I ever saw in Southern California. How, I ask you, did they manage that?
I was actually so overwhelmed by all of the floral eye candy that I didn’t shoot much photography while we were visiting, and the shots I did manage to click off didn’t even approach doing justice to what I had witnessed.
That was two or three years ago. Last summer we visited the other lady I mentioned above during a Garden Path Tour and she was selling some of her varieties at economical prices, so we bought nine varieties and planted our own little daylily garden right next to our pergola.
After nearly one year of waiting, they started blooming in early July and are still producing a few more flowers. Starting on the morning of the first blossom, I began each day visiting with “the ladies” as I came to think of my dear Daylilies and checking out their latest blossoms.
If you are unfamiliar with this species of flower, as the name infers, the blossoms last only one day. But of course each plant may have many blossoms, so as some fade away one morning, others are just opening up. Some of my plants have just bloomed profusely for about three weeks. They bloom in July and then you wait another eleven months before you get to see them again.
As I photographed them, I did what I love to do … zoomed right inside the flower as close as I could. And, I made a wonderful discovery about this special flower. The way they are constructed at the base allows light to come right in and light everything up inside. I shot some of the most beautiful floral photographs ever, and this one actually brought tears to my eyes because it was so extraordinary.
Another thing I about them is that some varieties have petals lined with incredible ruffles.
Well, the long and the short of it is that I fell in love with these flowers this summer, in my own little garden with only about nine varieties.
By the way, if you have not visited my son’s Etsy store lately, he has some very awesome neighborhood typography maps now as well as two,or three styles of vintage eye charts. That’s Flying Junction at Etsy or visit his company website.
There are so many more things I could write about from this sweet summer we are having, but now life is calling me again and I have to end off. It was quite nice visiting with you a bit, and I hope to see you here again very soon.
Tags: agriculture, art, culture, Cyber Monday, faith, family, friends, friendship, gardening, home, inspiration, photography, women
I have been away … at home. Enjoying life, working out of doors on flowers and vegetables; working in doors on many new things including books (writing, as well as making actual physical books), making pendant necklaces using prints from my photography and paintings, clearing out and rearranging various rooms in our home in search of a new studio space to create for my creative endeavors, cooking, baking, organizing and participating in our annual Art Trail Festival, resting, reading, studying, … living.
I received an email a while back from Martha Stewart with this as the subject line, “Are you a Maker?”
You know, there is a huge explosion of creativity going on across the globe and Makers of Things are finding themselves, finding each other, and finding a vast assortment of materials, techniques, and inspiration in their quests to make, create, design, build, and grow.
Sometimes I struggle with my intense desire to create because I can tend to over collect materials for so many different types of creativity that I become too over burdened with materials things that are difficult to keep organized. Over the past year I have been going through a process of choosing which avenues of creativity I will hold onto and build on and which I will let go of.
I am at heart, at the root of all things, a writer … a teller of tales and a creator of universes.
I am a painter of fine things, using oils, watercolors, colored pencils and oil pastels.
I am a photographer of life and experiences.
I am a fiber artist, with knitting being at the top of my list of fiber arts I am passionate about but needle felting is also included in there along with a bit of sewing and some crochet.
My fiber love extends also to the fibers used in making paper and books, and making paper and books ties back in with that which is at my core … writing.
This is my circle of creativity.
Simplifying down to this point has been an adventure all in itself but it has made it possible for me to simplify my materials and my studio space needs so that I can define and establish a new creative space to work in without our home that doesn't fill up too many spaces that I really need to share with others.
Well Martha … yes, I am a Maker.
And, speaking of making things … for the Art Festival I made some fine art photography print resin pendants/charms featuring tiny photographic prints of some of my fine art paintings as well as my fine art photography. They were quite popular, so I decided to add them to my Etsy shop. This one uses a portion of the photograph I shot back in 2006 when I was knitting on the Lavender Hat & Scarf, back when I was fairly new to blogging. It is the photograph I use as the header here (see top of page), and I think it makes a lovely pendant for a knitter.
I hope you had a beautiful summer, and that you have been having fun making many things of your own. With fall beginning and the holidays not so very far away we all move into that happiest, busiest time of creativity in the making of holiday gifts, decorations, and foods.