day one: digging

Sept 28, 2018 1

2:30 pm, on day one of rebuild. Excavating really deep for footing (the county building codes are so over-kill now). The first time, in early summer of 2000, Jeff and I did this by ourselves, not even half this wide or deep; Jeff operating a simple little back hoe, I moved the dirt in his lumbering old Ford 420 bucket front-loader, and lots of using pick and shovels too, and it took us a long time. Three men digging and moving dirt, with foreman, Jeff, and five miniature Dachshunds standing by, the excavation will be finished today!

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Knitting on a bridge…

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Jeff has built a bridge from logs he salvaged from the loggers’ waste, and he hoisted them cross across the small gully which heads over to the garden in now what I am calling “the path of least resistance” with planks nailed to the top from old boards, it is an excellent & rustic installment to the woods and I am super pleased with it!    I helped only minimally, as I did the original “wedding bridge” which was burned in the wildfire.  A new bridge & my sooty knitting trail has of this morning been improved inexpressibly for the better!  Emma inspected & approved…

 

 

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There eventually will be builders at work making their presence felt in my quiet seclusion, and this lovely little bridge continues me my private trail out to the garden without having to walk up the road  to the house where the chaos will be going on, and down to the garden from there.  Planning ahead brilliantly!  A short-cut to the garden, a bridge to bliss, a bridge across difficult terrain, so metaphorical.  The garden is life, and inspires me in its quiet little way with bees bobbing about, fluttering butterflies, and small little birds bathing in various bowls and cups sitting about, as well as a fat wild dove flocks bombing about on occasion… tall seedy foxgloves still standing through the perpetual heat.  I chase away the drought with my series of old-timey sprinklers, sitting beside them in the mist as I soak in the moist air and knit. It is a very rustic & secluded spot of calm, where one is really fairly hidden away.

I am trying to settle into a productive life of a busy recluse, and I have been thinking about  things. Post trauma disorder has changed things a bit.  I will very likely never get over that day of wildfire, for at that time forward  is etched into the rhythm of how I experience life, and its injury as much a part of me now as anything could be.  That blink of time when I hurriedly drove off in my car with Emma,  my mandolin, recordings of my music compositions, a small box of photos, and a few clothes, my computer, and a tote full of my needles & favorite yarns to keep me busy in the days following — while instantly regretting other things which I forgot, so much from my life.  Those things which seemed to define me were suddenly gone, especially those rooms, spaces which were integral to my happiness.

But let me tell you how I’ve been thinking about things,  about feeling glad and comfortable with realizing that the only real thing I can ever own, and the only thing which defines me,  are my accomplishments. So that is why I strive to live the busy life of a hermit in newly built hermitage, and the rooms will be far less cluttered and intriguingly sparse, so that I can build on my accomplishments.  My family, and short list of close friends will allow me this reclusive life.     I would like to add that I appreciate all of my pen friends from around the globe with whom I have kept company and shared my days in a more secluded way, I am ever so immensely grateful to my knitting fraternity!

♥  ♥  ♥

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Geological 3

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photos in archives: Long Shadows Of January

Last and lightest color in my geological series is the ash layer from volcanic eruptions, and which show up a couple of feet down, seen mostly where there is water erosion in the ditches along side of some of the vineyard roads next door …
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It is a stripey design of very light grey  to medium grey, depending whether it is wet or dry,  so “Ash” perfectly names the light grey color in my Geological colorways.

jenjoycedesign© ash rolags

The bulk of the color is silver — natural grey and natural white fleece —  so the range from a warm silver to a cool medium grey is up to the mood, and a thing which invites a lot of personal touch.

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In my three geological colors of  dark Shale,  medium Sandstone, and now light Ash, either natural grey or natural brown can be blended with natural white for the rock tones, because the distinguishing difference is dark-to-light variation more than it is color hue.

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The other distinguishing feature of geological colors is that I’m using undyed natural colors for the all-over color, with a splash of the color-saturated neutral showing …

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…   which by the way,   the  “color saturated neutral” (primary and/or secondary triad mix)  is the unifying element of ALL of my tweedy colorways !

Next time I will use less ratio of the color-saturated neutral, because when one is blending a light wool , like paint, the proportion of pigment actually is very little.  Also next time I will use more white in the mix to make the all-over color a lighter silver (noted below).   But for the sake of documenting my experiment, here’s what I did…

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Techy stuff for Ash…

  • Began with Primary & Secondary Neutral recipe using approx 2.5g each of green, purple, and orange  AND  blue, red, and yellow, (or alternately 5g each of primary or secondary triad colors) blended thoroughly on blending board (see Blending For Tweed Simplified) , lift batt, set aside.
  • Layer 15g natural white with 15g natural grey,  lift batt. (Note: For lighter grey, blend more white, less grey)
  • Layer color-saturated neutral batt with white/grey batt alternately.
  • Lift batt, and for lighter grey layer again with 15g more white.
  • draw off rolags.
  • Colorway blend:  ” Ash” .
  • See ALL color blending experiments & recipes archived in Tweed Chronicles

 

Anniversary Socks

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March of this year Jeff and I have been married one year, and 21 years together, and I thought as an anniversary gift to Jeff, with whom I have backpacked the John Muir Trail many many miles, that I would design him trail socks !!  He seemed to be okay with the idea, however, he is very picky about scratchy woolly things and socks, and anything ‘gear’ related.  Made of super fine quality Merino-superwash & nylon sock yarn, in granite tones, the socks ended up very soft & completely not scratchy, and the nice cushioned heel, instep & toe are ultra comfortable in and outside of a boot.  Now  two & 1/2 months after our anniversary,  here is the final result ~~~ and he approves!

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Shown are Wild Wool Trail Socks, designed for and dedicated to Jeff.

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This is actually the first real pair for Jeff that I’ve made since releasing the pattern,  delivered a little belatedly.

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Incidentally, the last time we were in the Sierras in July 2014, it was for our 20th anniversary of being a couple, and we backpacked to Granite Lake in John Muir country, where the inspiration came to me…

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Well, it may have taken me a year and a half to ruminate this design from inspiration to finished pattern, but perhaps for good reason, for the timing of events involve a spooky coincidence of anniversaries! To start, our 20th anniversary in 2014 was 100 years after Muir’s death in 1914, this year is the centennial anniversary of America’s National Parks established August 1916, and lastly, I just happened to have submitted (unknowingly) the pattern on  John Muir’s birthday April 21st.

In forthcoming posts, I may go on with presenting you finished projects, both of my own and of other knitters,  so that we can have a bit of an extended tribute to John Muir.

Sock details on Ravelry HERE.

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

Tartan & Tweed Redesigned !

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I am so glad to be finished with this redesign.  And so glad to introduce my new Tartan & Tweed Mitts!  One size adjustable with gauge to fit Men’s Large down to Kid Size. Here they are modeled by Jeff in Men’s Large…

… you can’t easily distinguish the colors, there’s grey, blue, and green. I very intentionally knit with colors of weathered Fraser tartan (um…they are Outlander mitts!), these in Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light (sport/DK) which this wool-fearing man seems to be quite okay with.

I’ve been feverishly knitting these mitts in several popular yarns, more Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light with a slightly tighter gauge to fit me, women’s small to medium,  in lovely greys…

I think the different tones of greys best shows the different contrasts in value, without the color distraction. Here is examples of the medium stripe (top), lightest stripe (middle) , and darkest stripe (bottom).

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But then when the colors play in, it’s magic !   These in Malabrigo Arroyo…

Some really interesting variations of chart are now included …

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And remember these?
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The ” itty bitty mitties ” are miniature Tartan & Tweeds in sock yarn knit up in tiny US 1 needles, made for Nora last Christmas, who is only three. Oh! I almost forgot to mention, I have condensed the original pattern , that was in Shetland fingering yarns and 4 sizes, and included it at the end of the ‘new’ pattern. So that should be fun, and you should have a full plate of knitting options !
So folks, I’m kicking off this redesign with a promotion….

Edit in February 5 : PROMOTION ENDED.

Camp Socks

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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….

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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…

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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.

Long Shadows of January

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Out walking in the new year.

Long shadows cast in the piercing late morning light, vines and deciduous trees bare, a lovely wintery landscape in the mountains of Northern California.
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Jeff , Emma & I are out greeting the new year with cheer,  walking up and down watery rocky roads of the back country.  Bare trees and fresh grass bursting out from last year’s growth, and water springing out of the ground . . .

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Here Jeff watches a huge flock of doves explode noisily  into the air. . .

(Seems to me dogs rarely look up into the sky, but always into the bush !)

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Other things we saw :

lots of ice on the ground . . .

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deeply grooved erosion from water, in the mossy banked soft rock along the country road.

( We’ve had torrential downpours in the last weeks.)

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Whipping in the breeze, the colorful flags still flying in the meadow along the canyon precipice,

releasing prayers to the wind . . .

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First blossoms of winter !

the manzanita’s pink heart-shaped buds . . .

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A little bright wool resting on the grey bare vines !

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Is this perhaps *moi* knitting while walking???   Two satchels slung to each side, holding two colors being knit into another ( yes still another) pin-striped fingerless mit. Even Jeff commented at the end of our hike how impressed he was that I was able to knit while walking over some of the terrain we just had . . .

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Well, I’ve had lots of practice in recent months !

Happy New Year All !!!

Snow Storm


Very recently it snowed! The biggest snow I have seen on the mountain since living up here. I find it fascinating the activity which is evident in the snow, which normally I would see no trace of, such as rabbit tracks….

This looks like turkey and fox walking together, but more likely fox is tracking the turkey.   Then the biggest tracks of all,  and Emma is following mountain lion tracks…

Mountain Lion paw print…

Finally, 2600 feet up, at the peak , so incredibly quiet.

 It was an awesome wintry day and one of the best hikes I can remember, from our own door …  a snowy & blissful winter wonderland!