Highway 29 & Pattern !

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My latest design “Highway 29” is named after the  main road running through Napa Valley from Napa to Calistoga. This old highway is dotted with wineries and famous restaurants enough to make you dizzy, plus some added hot-spots where we locals trek to frequently, beginning in the north end of the town of Napa getting sweet around Yountville, then Oakville, Rutherford, St Helena, and continuing clear on up to Calistoga.  As a local, coming down off the mountain from Oakville Grade when I am going upvalley, I often stop at the very unique Oakville Grocery , founded in 1881, just an old rural ‘backroads’ grocers of a bygone era,  is now a highly trafficked stop-off for locals & tourists alike, with an exceptional coffee bar & deli for drinks, gifts & goodies-to-go.  Until recently it doubled as the local post office, now it offers…. um…. wine tasting

I believe my nieces and I were talking about Oakville Grocery & Post being the inspiration of forthcoming Autumn design, and second in the Napa Valley Collection.

After Oakville you pass a bunch of wineries, and then of course, St Helena where I often knit-in-public or meet friends at  Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company, as its the coffee shops I seem to be most familiar with, loving to knit and visit with friends.  After that it’s a stretch of countryside to Calistoga with places such as Bale Grist Mill, founded in 1846…

a working renovated grain mill which is popular for historic reenactment parties and has old-time live music often (one of the bands is my brother & sister-in-law, my nieces dad & mom) , offers tours & grinds corn to sell. It is in front of the entrance to the Bale Grist Mill where these photos were taken for Highway Halter, on the old wooden fence,

The favorite photo spot in recent couple of years for my nieces is Castello Di Amorosa, a medieval Tuscan castle transplanted stone-by-stone in recent decades…

Ah, but it is  here at ‘ The Castle ‘ where you’ll recognize the stone from merely the carriage house where we actually have many of our photo shoots…

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Right off of Hwy 29, this carriage house is at the entrance to the castle gate, erected more recently I think to use some left over stone & brick perhaps, and it houses the ground-keepers tools & provides a place for the chauffeurs to park, and I think some offices devoted to castle business. Here some shots from this spot…

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Passing more breathtaking scenery, one finally lands in Calistoga as if by accident.

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This is the town from which you may recognize many backdrops to my nieces & my photo shoots.  For example, the left on above photo is Brannans Restaurant,  and right across Lincoln Street is the mint-green bank building we have included many times…

But there are many photo memories of Calistoga and not enough room to post. Anyway, enough of all  of this Highway 29 – turned to- Memory Lane,  and all the treasures found along the way… and now it is time for Highway 29 Halter which I’ve just written a pattern for, and which my nieces do real justice to !     In previous post I talk about the significance of naming the latest design “Highway 29” ,   which really is a possibility to start a collection…. I mean, if I’m going to really go through with it… anyway, my nieces  seem to think we should.  If not the name-sake for the design will stand on its own. We will just have to see what comes.

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You can find the pattern for this design on Ravelry HERE .

… or click the Hwy 29 road sign to arrive at the pattern page.

California Highway 29 sign

California Highway 29 road sign in Napa Valley

Snowmelt Gaiters Sneak Preview

Candee Gaiters old poster advert

I found this advertisement when I was researching ‘gaiters’, used once upon a time in a street-smart fashion. Though the word ‘gaiters’ is only mentioned in Candee’s advert, it is the window display of shoes & gaiters which is telling. So commonplace once were gaiters, that the only thing better to improve upon them I guess, was complete rubbers to go over your shoes.

Historically gaiters were used for riding and street-wear, and yet we know them more modernly for alpine trail & snow use. This clever over-shoe accessory has kept ankles warm and shoes dry for centuries. Also known historically as Spatterdashes ( also ‘spats’) made of wool and buttoned up the side, either long knee-length or just above the ankles at the lower calf.  I have a treat for you, I just happen to have handy a real pair of antique gaiters or spats, which I found ages ago in a antiques barn sale, made with sturdy felted wool, complete with their celluloid buttons & fancy buttoning hook. I use to actually be able to wear these, and muddied them a few times. 

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So folks, what does all this have to do with knitting I bet you’re wondering?

Well, I have designed a purely fashionable simple knitted ‘gaiter’, with Snowmelt flower garland motifs, perfectly accommodating of modern womens’ ankles… and so here I present what it is that I’ve been working away on.

jenjoycedesign©Snowmelt Gaiter

Snowmelt Gaiters are worked in-the-round,  colorwork stranded with spots of duplicate stitch, as is Snowmelt tam & toque, and a spray of smaller 1/2″ hand-made dorset style buttons & icord loops within the edgeing.  I think quite all-around dandy!

jenjoycedesign©Snowmelt gaiter, tam & toque

I’m just a few days away from submitting the pattern, and finishing another pair which is longer , higher up the calf,  and in a granite grey background color , more representing of John Muir country after the snow is melted, rather than the snowy natural white.

jenjoycedesign©Snowmelt Gaiters

Renaissance of Hand-Drawn in Digital Era of Knitting

I have been observing, watching, studying the migration behavior of modern knitting. Lately, I have been ecstatic to spot a new trend of the hand-drawn illustrations in a few popular indie designers’ patterns.  I usually don’t link to others’ blogs, but I really would like to bring forth one of my favorite indie designers’ recent post about illustrating knitting, and how this particular post really helps ‘open the door’  for a new trend in my thinking.

I am only too happy to see a renaissance in the hand-drawn illustrations.  Mother of Modern Knitting Elizabeth Zimmerman who published many books, and well before the age of digital and knitting programs, drew the most unassuming, endearing, and unsophisticated sketches for her tutorial illustrations and schematic diagrams.

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If EZ’s endorsement of hand-drawn is my reference point of A , and the popular indie designers whom I admire who’s more refined artwork of the hand-drawn schematics as a point B, then I most surely have room to discover how my own drawing ability can develop in my own pattern writing.   Grass Roots is making a come-back.  About time !

I’ll make this short and sweet, and just show you something I put together in a few minutes yesterday.  It has the unpolished & rustic affect I long for , using pen & pencil out of the pencil jar next to the phone ~~~ the whole point of it is to *not* look too symmetric.

jenjoycedesign©hand-drawn schematic

(Ofcourse, text for the references” A, B, & C ” will be included in the actual pattern)  It is a simple and purposefully ‘sketchy’ illustrated schematic of my Penny Candy Tee, which the pattern will in fact , be finished soon,  after photos taken of my nieces modelling in Calistoga.  Having for a time decided to be among the ranks of indie designers who go at it the old-fashioned way, I am so happy to have found my feet now, and to enjoy this renaissance of the hand-drawn illustrations,  now I feel I can really run with it!!!

Knitting While Walking


What do I have In Common With These Women?

I collect and carry peat ?  No.  I am able to knit while I walk ?  Yes !

I am proud to report that I now am in a similar league with these Shetland Knitting Peat Carriers of olden days. I must qualify : I am not merely strolling along a paved road at a liesurely pace while watching my knitting ~ nay ~ I am actually really hiking,  along trail and ridge road,  through weedy and rocky sections, and  up and along the mountainside , while watching the scenery and my feet, and while I happen to be knitting without looking at what I’m knitting, for the most part.  There is a difference.   (I say with a playful expression of mock pretentiousness) .

What began this new thing of mine is the awareness I am experiencing about a kind of physical atrophy which happens when one sits around too much knitting, and for too long.  I mean, as if blogging about knitting , and reading about knitting (while knitting) isn’t enough… to actually only knit while knitting is just too too much ( sitting ) LOL.   I figure I absolutely  must learn to double task this whole knitting jones or I’m going to get incredibly lazy.  I have been known on many occasions to knit in the wilderness while backpacking in the Sierra Nevadas, enjoying stunning scenery at great elevations with glaciers all around ~ but that is *destination-in-order-to-knit*  hiking, not knitting *while* hiking. This new thing is entirely different.

I am going to absolutely plunge into this today, and go out again in a couple of hours, to fetch the mail, and with my knitting ofcourse. I will borrow Emma’s treat pouch for the yarn, thinking it may just be the ideal yarn ball holder. Otherwise I will just be bunching the more weighty body of what I am knitting, under my elbow.  No doubt I will refine and share my successes.

My first knit-while-walking excursion this morning was a bit slower pace than my usual exercising pace, but I think over time I can improve on the pace.  For instance,  I took one of my 30 minute routes and it did in fact take 40 minutes, but that is also including stopping and letting Emma sniff or drink in a puddle, and once (I admit) I dropped the ball of yarn and kept walking , for about 30 feet… and had to rewind it while picking a few weeds out. My knitting was also a great deal slower, but that’s to be expected.

I also want to mention the crazy coincidence in the fact that I needed to knit 4 rounds before changing color in my project, and I forgot to bring the other color yarn, but,  I managed to fit exactly 4 rounds (rows), walking in from the end of 40 minutes with about 7 stitches left before switching color !  Talk about perfect gauge ! Of course, I am implying gauge of numbers of stitches knitted over distanced walked, and not inches measured. 😉  I can’t wait to go out again.

It is my dream that one day I will walk and knit in the footprints of those hardy creel-laden women of the British Isles who walked the same path before me.

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Edited in 2 hours later: Well, I managed to walk for one and a quarter hours, all while knitting.  I am observing some things while knitting & walking: In total of two walks today that I was knitting/walking for over 2 hours. That is easily well over an hour I wouldn’t have normally hiked, and the same with knitting.  A win-win?  I think maybe my walking posture is only slightly compromised (though probably no different than walking with hands in pockets), while my knitting posture is greatly improved as I was standing up straight instead of spine curved , neck hunched over knitting while sitting in a chair.  I was aware of nature around me, even noticed a red-tailed hawk fly over (same area as last year I noticed a pair nesting) , and I even sweat !  It goes without saying that every walk won’t have knitting involved and visa versa, nor should I try. But I have found that knitting is a great distraction for walking for the sake of exercise ~  pure dogged daily walking (excuse the pun, but I do have to get Emma out for a run-around most days, if not myself.)  Notice the Peat Carriers making use of the knitting , perhaps for distraction from the work of hauling creels of peat fuel home to burn.

All in all, my mind was too busy watching where I was going, as well as scenery , as well as knitting… like full to max with work to do that the workout aspect of hiking uphill was hardly noticed … and I never dropped a stitch !

Tam O’ Shanter !

. . . This truth fand honest Tam o’ Shanter,
As he frae Ayr ae night did canter,
Auld Ayr, wham ne’er a town surpasses
For honest men and bonnie lasses. . . .

(excerpt from Robert Burns Poem ” Tam O’ Shanter “)

The ” Tam o’ Shanter ” is a name given for the traditional Scottish bonnet which was born  from a character in poet Robert Burns’ imagination,  and comes to life in his epic poem  Tam o’ Shanter.  Also called  a “Tam” or a “Tammy”, the hat is flat on top, usually made of wool , and has a pompom on top called a “toorie”, or pom pom,  even a tassel, but also they are made without any.  There is in fact, an actual arithmetic equation of the popular design, that the crown is  twice the diameter of the head , but I’ve noticed many of the  bonnets in different sizes  and shapes.  Originally, having only plant dyes available, the hat was made only in blue,  but they are now popular in many colors, as well as tartan plaids.   Tam o’ Shanters, the Balmoral bonnet, and the even the somewhat military Glengarry cap all are worn either formally or informally in Highland dress, as well as in uniforms of a number of military units.  (I personally suspect the Glengarry evolved from the Balmoral Bonnet, as a scrunched or folded version, the advantage being that it can be folded flat and tucked into the waist of the kilt).  These Scottish bonnets have been worn by men in a traditional sense ~ however,  it is quite obvious that the Tam is popularly worn by women in modern day, especially the knit versions, having endless designs and motifs.

The Scottish Bonnets I think are smartly fashionable, and though some styles have a bit of a regiment look, I think any excuse to wear one is acceptable !



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Originally a soft, knitted blue cap with a flat voluminous crown, it gave the Highlanders their nickname ‘Bluebonnets’. Here the Balmoral style of Scottish bonnets appears in a 16th century portrait …

The band was sometimes checked, or ‘diced’, and sometimes plain. A diced band, with a  feather placed into the band,  is shown in this illustration …

Now , in case you’re wondering about all this hullabaloo about bonnets, well, it is because I am going to make one !  Perhaps several. I am keen to also try sewing one from felted wool cloth, either or both solid and plaid, which I will no doubt over-dye for a signature color affect.  Of course I’ll include the grossgrain ribbons on the band,  and make a cockade  on which to fasten one of my lovely pins .  Whichever I decide to do, I’ll keep you posted !