John Muir High Country and Wild Wool (Part One)

I so admire the man who found personal transformation and a sense of home deep in the wilderness of the High Sierra Nevada mountains, and fought to bring his experience of the territory into the lives of the general masses … Continue reading

Camp Socks

jenjoycedesign©camp knitting
Its already been almost three weeks since we were at 9000 ft elevation and I was knitting-in-the-wild beneath a lovely brewing storm on a huge granite rock. I had so thoroughly enjoyed the quick packing trek to Granite Lake, the sitting cross-legged on the granite in complete stitching meditation, one with the darkening sky and gathering storm, the quiet of everything before the outbreak, even the fish hunkering down.  Yet I remember yet distinct intermittent sounds ~~  the wind whipping the tent about and water boiling to make trail coffee. And it just doesn’t get any better than that ( High Sierra trip posted here ).

So here my friends, are another pair of Penny Candy Socks. Just a simple, wild & maybe even frivolous (and very blue) pair of socks, made on that High Sierra excursion but I hadn’t gotten around to washing & blocking them until just now.

jenjoycedesign©camp socks finished !

jenjoycedesign©finished camp socks

And they are added to the slowly growing pile of knitted socks designated for xmas gifts….

jenjoycedesign©pile of socks

Gad… already LESS than only five months away!   Horror of the crafting gift-maker-and-giver is that xmas appears in a blink after sweltering heat of summer, when one couldn’t feel further away from the winter solstice and gift-giving frenzy. But I’m wise now, at my age, I’ve learned, and I am already stashing knitted gifts…

jenjoycedesign©box of sox

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I’ve already gotten about 12″ into one of two Autumn Sweaters 2014 , but no hints on that yet (top top secret!) .  In contrast to tiny stitches of fingering & fine fingering yarn for socks, gloves, hats….  I am knitting rounds and rounds of worsted-weight, and how refreshingly speedy I’m turning out the rounds for a change!

In the next few days my nieces will be visiting up here in the Hermitage again, for a visit in their last week of summer vacation, so we’ll be up to baking in the kitchen, in addition to just generally “chil-laxing” as they put it,  and not without their ECD’s ((electronic devices of choice ))~~ but no doubt the visit will be  punctuated with famously artistic and fun photo-shoot after digging through my cedar trunk now becoming quite full of knitteds.  Looking forward to that,  and we’ll see you on the flipside of the riotous occasion!

Note:  Oh! The hand-made wooden Shaker-style box, if not authentic Shaker box, was found last week at my favorite thrift shop for $4 ~ a bargain !  It is now a lovely knitting notions box & photo prop as well, and I’m super pleased with myself for finding it.

Back From The High Sierra.

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We three ~ Jeff, Emma, & me ~ went for a short & sweet trip to High Sierras over the weekend for our anniversary.  There was a little hiking, cooking, tea & coffee drinking, fishing & knitting, sniffing around….

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Restorative in many ways, as always, the alpine scenery soothed a yearning that only it can do. What is it about pitching a tent in the wilderness at high altitude to claim some spot in nature as our home for a few days?
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Something about the fragile alpine flowers …
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and gnarled trees.
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fast and furious rain storms …

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The granite everywhere and deep crystal clear blue lakes …

Granite Lake

wide horizon of jagged ridges and expressive skies.

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A storm is brewing!
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Windy thunder & rain storms which suddenly take hold for a couple of hours in the afternoon,

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sending us for cover in our cozy tent to wait it out.
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Granite Lake in Mokelumne Wilderness was just what I craved.  Bundled up quite puffy  in down and wool layers, knitting in the cold & windy pause between storms …

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Abandoned my knitting to go fire up the camp stove and make hot coffee!
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Jeff got to fish a couple of times, though he didn’t get even one bite, too stormy.

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Then it was time for trail coffee & tea !!!

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We found that Emma was perfectly able to handle carrying a doggie pack and hike as she did once before, and it was as if her little arthritic limp of late almost disappeared completely. 072007

She is in top form !

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Most importantly, this trip to the Sierras was to celebrate a very important mark in our partnership,

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We were so lucky to have Granite Lake all to ourselves, at near 9000′ elevation & less than three miles from the trail-head. It is my theory that the forecast dramatic thunderstorms cleared the lake for us. We were prepared to hike cross-country (off-trail) to another lake for privacy, but had no need, it was a total stroke of luck.

With only a little over 3 hour drive, we can be in the High Sierra, fishing & knitting at a granite bowl. It just doesn’t get any better than that ! Off we go back home, but we’ll be back . . .
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Off to the Sierras !

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The High Sierras beckon us this year on our anniversary. Last time we went, Jeff, Emma & I had a great time , it was in the Inyo National Forest of the High Sierras, on the McGee Pass trail, hovering around 10,000 – 12,000′ elevation. This  (slightly blurry) photo was taken while walking along a meadow on the trail, and it was in fact the last backpack trip I was on. Emma was a two-year-old packing puppy and that was seven years ago. Ages !

I can’t believe how long it’s been, and astonished at the pace life just races by.  Here is Emma waiting for me as we climbed over the pass, the rock in the trail so sharp she had to wear her boots.
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And just beneath the pass, resting a poor exhausted puppy Emma in the snow with Jeff looking a little impatient . . .
Jeff and Emma in snow, beneath McGee Pass

That trip was a stunning one, a beauty for sure,  but I’m not feeling very confident in my packing abilities at all now.   Though Jeff has promised me that we will go slowly and not far, for if I am going to want to backpack regularly ~ again ~  it is important that Emma and I do not get whipped by the trek.  Emma is already a little bit limpy with onset arthritis, and I’m not much better, worried about carrying a pack for any distance.

But hey , the altitude & elements I can handle ! How can I not crave to sit and knit for hours with camp coffee by high mountain lakes such as these . . .

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Fact is, I can’t wait !!! But just to give perspective, here’s a photo of me taken around 1990, during very likely my first backpack trip, resting & reading in camp over a glacier-melt filled bowl far below in the backdrop ~ Lake Ana in Trinity Alps . . .
Trinity's 1990 Jennifer Lake Ana

So interesting that being in the really high mountains has been such a part of me for as long as I can remember.  Jeff and I are making a vow of sorts, to go regularly again, and this is a bit of a kick-start trek.  Well folks, its time for me to go pull out all of my packing gear and assemble things ~ knitting included ~ see you all on the flip-side. Sierra Nevada mountains, here we come.

An Old Friend


And there I am, happily perched on the granite in the High Sierras, with my big North Face plastic camp mug (which my dear brother gave to me) full of delicious coffee (coffee made in the wilderness after one has set up camp, is as good as it gets).  I can’t remember the exact year or place this particular coffee moment was, as I’ve been to the High Sierras so many times, on so many packing trips,  but it would be over fifteen years ago.

Well, the thing about this photo that is of novel importance, is the fact that I am  wearing one of the first-ever things I knit for myself, my hat of many colors, likely made from some stash of my dear mom’s yarns in collaboration with my own.  I haven’t seen this hat since the winter following this photo, as it was then that I lost it.  One of those heart-that-sunk-into-my-feet moments.

I had knit a series of these pointy tassled hats and I gave them all to friends and family I fondly remember that time of knitting because  I didn’t care about gauge or even consistent fabric, was able to blissfully improvise  without a pattern… I would use different sized double-pointed needles throughout the shaping, not having a full set of one size, only random ones which were my mother’s, grabbing and using wooden skewers more than once, in the decreases towards the top.  (I figured as it’s getting smaller, to use smaller needles,to hold up the tassel better, was a good idea). Most of my domes turned out impressively, but admittedly, a few drooped and fit their heads horribly.I went on to knit about 15 or 20 of these hats in total, all given away.

The part I recall most fondly, was the magic and ease I felt while I just sort of ‘sketched’ with the yarn , as with imagination and paints,  making up color patterns as I went along, from This & That yarns of all blends and sizes, and decreased at random intervals to make changing improvised motif repeats fit as I knit up. I did not know of or use the two-handed Fair Isle stranding technique I now use,  and I remember using up to 4 colors in a row , with long floats on some, though usually 2 or 3 colors, and remember ‘inventing’ for myself out of necessity, a style of throwing two colors on a finger. I suppose at one point I got fairly good at it, likely throwing two on my index finger, and on occasion, one or even two more on my middle.

I  so loved this hat in the photo ! I had knit it just for me, and wore it for years. It was packed in my backpack every trip to the Sierras, for those very cold late afternoons when the sun has dropped enough to leave only shadow in the camp, and the chilly evenings and downright frigid mornings at altitude.   I parted with it ~ lost it ~ on a ski slope somewhere in the Sierra Nevadas, and can you imagine how sad I was?  But my attention notices All Things Yarny, just now discovered it here in this photo I scanned, from my box of photos,  and am elated to see it somehow brought back to life ! Ah, but to lose a hat on a mountain trail is a noble loss indeed. I am sure someone found it and took it home with them.

Well, anyway,  I have renewed my love for the mountains lately, walking every day, though maybe not quite as I once was. Here is *moi* on top of Mt Whitney in 2001.