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: art, country living, culture, faith, family, farm, farm life, friends, friendship, home, inspiration, knitting, Life, love, New York, personal, photography, Photos, relationships, spirituality, style, thoughts, travel, vintage
Happy New Year, dear reader. My year started out with both beauty and, unfortunately, a bit of pain. Somehow I managed to hurt my back or shoulder or something between Christmas and New Year’s. For about two weeks I have been in and out of some very unpleasant pain, unable to write … or knit … or paint. Sigh.
However, I am back now and feeling good again. We are enjoying a most lovely day of snow today, as are many people in the country. It started snowing late yesterday and has not stopped since. I was out early this morning with The Duke (my son’s English Bull Dog) and we both enjoyed the cold stinging snow blowing in our faces and the beautiful scene of snow blankets on everything in the outdoor world.
This photograph was actually shot on the weekend by my dear husband — so, please use your imagination to add in deeper snow on the ground, flamboyant drifts round the bottoms of the trees, and heavy, thick snow falling. Oh, and the snow is up higher than The Duke’s belly, and I have my Lavender Scarf wrapped round my Mad Bomber hat (I love my Mad Bomber hat), and very warm mittens on my hands. There, you see … you have a great imagination!
While I was still enjoying my back pain a couple of dear friends invited us to go with them to the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens for their annual poinsettia show.
The building that houses the gardens is a historical masterpiece and well worth reading up on. It was striking to see it in the snow, with a gray-sky backdrop, bedecked in huge evergreen wreaths for the holidays.
While the poinsettia display was lush and spectacular, I was even more impressed by their bountiful collection of orchids. I focused my camera lens on the orchids much more than on poinsettias, and will share a few of those shots today and more next time I blog.
In fact, I will be using some of these photographs for drawings and paintings in colored pencil, watercolor, and oils over time.
Equally impressive to me was the succulent collection … oh my goodness. There were a great many varieties of healthy, thriving, large and sometimes humorously shaped and named species. It reminded me of my many years living in the Southwest, traveling through the deserts of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada.
If you entered my great big, end of the year giveaway, the drawing was held on Friday, January 7, 2011 and the winners were all alerted via email. The winners were Rita T. (Grand Prize), Margaret F. (First Prize) Joan C. (Second Prize), Patti B. (Third Prize).
I had a wonderful time giving away patterns, prints, etc. this holiday season. I wish I could afford to give prizes away to each and every one of you, and make each reader a winner, because I know it makes the receiver of the winnings feel very special to be one of the lucky ones. With all of the goodies I sent to Wendy at WendyKnits for her giveaway, and the three giveaways I held on my blog this year I was at least able to add to the happiness of a good number of people.
For those of you who viewed my son’s new Etsy store last month and left comments, thank you so much. Your feedback was very encouraging to him and helpful as well. His first month in business has gone well, and he has already released quite a number of new posters and signs. If you aren’t familiar with him yet, his store is Flying Junction and he makes and sells subway signs and bus scrolls that he hand letters with meticulous detail and prints on archival paper and canvas in a variety of sizes.
This week he released a set of three vintage-look NY subway signs in the 11″ x 17″ size at an attractive package price. You can also order custom subway signs, bus scrolls and tram scrolls from a variety of cities in the U.S. and abroad. The largest size, I think, is 20″ x 60″ (on canvas). I love his custom destination posters because you can have him create a poster that represents the places you have been, or hope to go to one day. I’m planning on having him create one for me featuring the most meaningful places I have lived and worked, with our farm here as the “End of the Line”. Hopefully 60″ long will be tall enough!
It would also be a cool gift idea for someone you love who has plans to travel, especially a young person who has the world and their whole life ahead of them. Maybe someone just setting out for college or out into the work force, with dreams and goals, places to go and people to meet.
If you haven’t been to his Etsy shop yet, grab a cuppa something tasty and go have a look …
In knitting news, I have this little sample to show of a pair of two-toned fingerless gloves I am designing and knitting for someone very special in my life. Now that I am feeling better, I will be working on them again and finishing them up in the next few days.
For Christmas my daughter and I gave our two dear friends, Anita and Debbie T., each one of my Biscuit Blanket kits as well as a promise to spend two evenings in early winter knitting with them. Debbie has been wanting to expand her knitting skills and Anita has wanted to get together and knit for quite some time, we just haven’t ever made it happen until now. Tomorrow night will be our first knitting evening, and we are all looking forward to it so much.
Another friend of mine from church told me she received a pair of handknit socks from a cousin this Christmas, and as a result made a new year’s resolution to learn to knit this year. She said the most precious thing, that she treasures that pair of socks so much that she cannot bear to wear them. Instead, she carries them around in her purse showing them to everyone she knows.
When she was telling me about this, her eyes were aglow with admiration and joy and I just had to think about all of the knitters out there and the fact that generosity and giving is a hallmark of our craft.
Take a minute, if you are a knitter, and think about how many knitters there are around the world and then multiply that by some number that seems reasonable to predict how many hand knit gifts will be made this year, and then think about the people who receive those gifts and their happiness. It is a beautiful thought, isn’t it?
Here’s to a year of beautiful knitting that knocks the socks off of the recipients of the millions of hand knit gifts that will be presented throughout the world over the course of the next twelve months!
Have a beautiful day, wherever you are!
Tags: knitting, Life, personal, photography
Help me get my New York Hat and Scarf pattern on the front page at Etsy … visit this Treasury collection today!