Out Walking

jenjoycedesign© ridge-road

This morning we got out earlier than we have been.

jenjoycedesign© paws 2018

I am hiking solo now, but sometimes I’ll drive up the road a little ways and give Emma a ride, then she waits in the car in a nice shady spot.

jenjoycedesign© waiting in car

She still looks so healthy, but she does not like to walk very far.  Isn’t she just beautiful?

jenjoycedesignc2a9-emma-2.jpg

Today I had my Nikon and took some photos of regrowth in the landscape.  New shoots emerging prolifically from burned trees everywhere!

jenjoycedesign© black oak shoots

The wildfire burned so much foliage and shrubs on the ridge that I’ve been finding old dump sites and old roads long abandoned too, but mostly, trees are making a come-back , and the flowers bloomed as ever before…

jenjoycedesign©old dump

On the way back to our Tiny House, stopping where our house “was”.  Do you recognize the landscape beyond that I so often photographed from our deck?

jenjoycedesign© new ground

Many trees I am finding , are still alive with green crowns, so all is not lost. In fact, the big black oak which shaded our house and most of the deck in the heat of the summer afternoon, was so badly burned we thought no chance, but now it has green sprouting out of ash-grey trunk!  The wildfire brings so much perspective about potential of regeneration, that I must witness this as I walk through the seasons. I’ve put all my focus on the hill before me, and knitting as I go.

Life is good.

jenjoycedesign© solo walking

Knitting In The Wild

jenjoycedesign-emma-at-peak

We have been walking through the morning hours of Autumn.  Miles of yarn and prints of dog paws, and shoes, side by side. More chaotically spaced actually, mine straight forward, destination ahead, focused on the rounds of lace, of sleeves, of precious warm cardigans, and Emma’s  prints with her own agenda, as the wild life is speaking to her and new smells are exciting her in zig-zag directions and renewed vigor giving her incentive to come up to the peak with me these days.

jenjoycedesign© moi.JPG

Our walks journey through Autumn,  with the arrival of rain, we seem to be experiencing  a gradual awakening of our dormant selves,  as is with the succulent green mosses everywhere … our joy of joys.

jenjoycedesign-emma-in-mossy-tree

jenjoycedesign-moss-dive

To the peak we have walked a few times this Autumn already.  On the ridge right before the peak, like a comfortable old bed,  there is a soft pine needle layer from an eerie forest of stick-like old trees composting on the jutting toothy rock beneath … it is so dreamy to walk through, I just had to hang my knitting on it and be silly.

jenjoycedesign© knitting on tree.JPG

jenjoycedesign-knitting-lichen-rocky-crag-near-peak

Everything is in its place, and life is good.

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

Back From The High Sierra.

038

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….

012
065

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?
061

Something about the fragile alpine flowers …
042
and gnarled trees.
040

fast and furious rain storms …

047
The granite everywhere and deep crystal clear blue lakes …

Granite Lake

wide horizon of jagged ridges and expressive skies.

041

A storm is brewing!
044053

Windy thunder & rain storms which suddenly take hold for a couple of hours in the afternoon,

022

sending us for cover in our cozy tent to wait it out.
018

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 …

032

Abandoned my knitting to go fire up the camp stove and make hot coffee!
029
Jeff got to fish a couple of times, though he didn’t get even one bite, too stormy.

025
027

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

034

033

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 !

057
052

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

059

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 . . .
064

Off to the Sierras !

IMG_0046

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.
IMG_0065

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 . . .

IMG_0083

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.

Aches & Pains

jenjoycedesign©bandaged
I use my hands a lot.  A whole heck of a lot, and also I do a lot of knitting, every day.  I don’t knit particularly fast, but I do knit a lot.  It’s only expected sooner or later  something in the mechanism of movement would start hurting,  and my left thumb has been bothering me,  tendinitis from playing my mandolin & gigging quite a bit lately.

Although with knitting I figure I can teach my hands to move in different ways, at least temporarily.  My left thumb, that most useful thing, moves in continual little pressing motions, and while I move a stitch to ‘feed’ into the right hand’s fingers looping the yarn, and when I transfer the knitting to be held by the left hand while I reach for more yarn, the left thumb has a light clamping action. It all adds up.

So  just for a short time so I can figure out what I’m doing, I’m wearing an elastic ‘bandage’ which keeps my left thumb from moving about much, so I must figure out other ways of doing things. For one, learning how to not feed the stitches so much , trusting that the stitches will make it over to the right hand without my bending and scooting so much with my thumb , and  I’m learning to take up my knitting with my right hand while my left reaches for more yarn.

Either warning or fact :  knitting excessively , whether for a past-time or production, eventually will cause ligament & muscle problems. Have you suffered injury from knitting in the past or are you presently beginning to ?  Then my advise to you is to learn more ergonomic methods right away, and to not think it will just go away without diligent retraining of your movements.

Bandaged but not shackled… I knit on , with a little help from Tiger Balm. Oh, and glucosamine & chondroiton supplements daily.

Glimpses From The Knitting Trail

jenjoycedesign©trail-blaze

A big granite rock stack leads from our door out into the woods.

Recently Emma had a birthday ! She is nine.  Every year on her birthday I take her for a long walk and follow her wherever she wants to go.  There was a rather hesitant beginning as she contemplated what was down the road…

017

Emma’s 9th birthday walk.

Then after we walked all over the place, unexpected places she led me, and I followed without question.  As our walk ended she found herself mesmerized in the sun beams of the forest, a little spellbound perhaps. There’s lots to think about when one is Nine.

026

Emma in woods.

For those of you who have been visiting Yarnings for any length of time, know about my Knitting Trail, I talked about a while ago in this post.    I am gradually putting it all together, this spot and that, through forest and wood, through hilly and hollow lands.

Such a beautiful warm spring day!

Some silly photos as I try in vain to get a portrait selfie photo of Emma & me, but Emma was reluctant …

on the Fairy Trail

And  a little knitting happened too …

jenjoycedesign©knitting trail

One of several rough-cut benches along the Knitting Trail.

Vineyard Rows Toque !

jenjoycedesign© 016

My latest design, another Vineyard Rows accessory . . .

the Vineyard Rows Toque,

which I made allusion to in my previous post  All This Talk About Toque.

jenjoycedesign© 017 This design may actually lead to mittens & gloves, pullover  & cardigan eventually, but I can’t make any promises yet.   I am working with a new yarn  which is far easier to find This Side Of The Pond than the Jamiesons’ Spindrift Shetla:nd yarn. jenjoycedesign©Vineyard Rows Toque detail

Vineyard Rows  Toque is  designed with 100% Peruvian Highlands Wool :

Cascade 220 fingering, in Jet, Charcoal, Silver & Natural.

jenjoycedesign© 018

Back-story : Early last Autumn I was sad witness to  destruction of a very old vineyard very close by, which was a rich and important part of our lives here on the mountain,  and where Emma and I walked nearly every day.  When I made this post Seasonal ,  I was so shaken  seeing  the old vines  ripped right out of the soil, roots and all, and heaped in massive piles on top of plowed soil , never again to be pruned or picked.  All the familiar faces of the friendly workers to whom I’d often wave ‘Hola!’  vanished, as there were no vines to be tended.

jenjoycedesign©piles

So I launched into my tribute to those vines, in my Vineyard Rows Collection.  There will be many designs in this collection I can only hope , the first being Vineyard Rows Highland Bonnet in Jamieson’s Spindrift Shetland wool,  and now there is  Vineyard Rows Toque.

jenjoycedesign©Vineyard Rows Toque 3

The next time you see this toque it will be the pattern debut,  and  I will have  embroidered grapes in wine tones hanging from the grape vines,  just as the Vineyard Rows Highland Bonnet has. But this is the unadorned version.

jenjoycedesign©Vineyard Rows Toque

In the mean time  you can peruse more posts about vineyards  HERE.

jenjoycedesign©high mountain vineyard

 

This Corner

141229A002-Streetscape

Any of you who has visited this blog has seen a photo of this corner. It stands out in Calistoga , the angular & tall historic bank building from the old town, and where my nieces model their latest sweaters I’ve designed & knit for them on the Autumnal & Vernal Equinoxes for four years running.


The building is the most striking pale fresh minty green, and which is now Bella Tootsie Shoes, but right next door is the Upvalley Vintners where my duo-mate and I perform music frequently. You can see it, there on the left edge in the photo with my nieces above, and the mint green bank building is in the background of the photo below.

Upvalley Vintners

You can read up on us more on our website,  over here.

We had a gig in Calistoga last night at Upvalley Vintners (the place was hopping!) and let me tell you how surreal to be hauling sound gear past that very spot my nieces pose for the camera twice a year, and it got me thinking, how spring will be here in a blink! It is time for me to begin sketching ideas already.   I walked past this corner carrying mic stands and mandolin last night, wondering what the forthcoming Spring design will be. I tell you, it was a most evocative moment of my evening.

I am posting one of our most-played tunes, with the wildlife theme, because living in the woods on the mountain we see lots of foxes. Anyway, we felt this lively tune deserves a lively title, something with a driving pace to it.  Imagery comes to mind of fox hunts in British period films, with tall slender steeds and riders well-dressed,  and hoards of baying hounds on the chase !  Or,  maybe just our dogs Emma and (John’s dog) Badger in rapturous pursuit of anything that rustles in the leaves ~~~~ but the sly fox always gets away !!! It is a hopeful melody, of out-running those who oppress us, perhaps, or just a fun run through the beautiful woods.  We seriously enjoy playing this one , although in the recording there are a lot of rough edges…

Vineyard Rows Tam

jenjoycedesign©high-vineyard Walking along the old mountain vineyards close by, I found inspiration for a design which I have named “Vineyard Rows”. A California Highlands Bonnet if there is to be one ! I chose four natural shades of Jamiesons Of Shetland Spindrift yarn, because I happen to love this black & white photo of the historic vineyard landscape I took a year ago. Near the highest vineyard knoll on the mountain perhaps, rows against an Autumn sky,  leaves blowing off of the vines as a storm was brewing… it was a walk to remember !   So I came up with this . . .

Vines of grape leaves wind about the wheel, in borders and peeries, along with interruptions of bold checked dicing.  To me this tam brings together California Wine Country with Scottish Highlands.  Embroidered grape clusters adorn the rambling  vines with French knots in wine tones, creating a spectacular and colorful needlework finish I think!

And on *moi*… straight up !

Jenjoycedesign

I really went wild with the notion of the toorie and decided that a tam must have accessory options !  Why not an accessory for the accessory ~~ why not tie one on for the mood you’re in ?  Basic black, wine red, & marled toories !!!

But before I embroidered the grape clusters into the vines,

I took the hat out into the woods…

jenjoycedesign©tam in woods

Against the moss . . .

jenjoycedesign©me in tam 6 jenjoycedesign©me in tam 8

jenjoycedesign©me in tam 9

And lastly,  against a blush of colorful Autumn leaves, showing how the tam’s outer most rim is traditionally useful in shading from the sun.

jenjoycedesign©Vineyard Rows Tam 3

Well there you have it, my latest design of a tam named “Vineyard Rows”.  I have created this tam for all the lovely walks I’ve enjoyed in the beautiful aesthetic of these old vines ~~ this tam is in tribute to them.

Autumn Scapes

If you haven’t yet read a post I made about Knitting & Wine , it is the prelude to this design, as well as other posts and photographs of nearby vineyards, you may peruse in all  vineyard posts .

And folks …

Vineyard Rows pattern may be found here .

((as well as details on Ravelry here ))

Pretty Little Things

jenjoycedesign©Pretty-Little-Things-Socks

A nice pretty little pair of socks I’ve been working on here and there while knit-walking the mountain.  Pretty Little Things were so much fun to make !  I managed to make a knitted hemmed folded cuff, nearly three inches wide, lined, knitted back into the work, added a darling picot edge, and one tiny wee peerie to make it just pretty enough !

jenjoycedesign©PLT-foot

jenjoycedesign©detail

Did I say pretty?  I might add plain, basic, sturdy, utilitarian, old-fashioned looking, and as sleek as porpoises because there’s no ribbing.  Oh, and they are very, very warm !

jenjoycedesign©Pretty-Little-Things

The ‘legs’ are two layers thick of stockinette stitch, lined, so they actually hug my ankles snugly.

jenjoycedesign©PLT-feet3
My little feet feel so pretty and are very happy indeed to have their first socks knitted custom, just for them !

I used stash yarn of fine fingering 75% Superwash Merino/ 25% nylon sock yarn, with US#0 (2mm) needles, and the fabric is thick & dense, though very soft.  I am sure they will wear very well.  Anyway,  I think they are different, and I’m quite taken with them !

You can bet on a pattern for these popping up here sometime soon , so hang around !

Things In Trees and a new tune.

jenjoycedesign© nest
I was out walking this morning , with Emma, knitting as I go.  I nearly stepped on this perfect little nest which was upright, in the middle of the path !  It must have been a sad loss for the birds who inhabited it, probably due to a marauding jay or raven or a lashing wind, which brought it to fall from the branches.  It was so fragile and dear and perfect, I couldn’t just walk on by. I put my knitting in my shoulder bag, and picked it up examining it closely as walked a while, with it very carefully perched in my cupped hand. Soon after I found some newly fallen acorns too, how lovely, which I popped inside the nest, looking like tree eggs of a sort.  As I walked from the oaks through the firs,  I noticed then some freshly fallen fir cones too, and picked a few of them up and put in my knitting bag. I tell you, now I feel it, I just know it’s coming, my favorite season of all is knocking at Summer’s door ~~ because things are beginning to fall out of trees!

Yet still a long wait through the hot & dry months before the first rains come, usually in October. But for now, the nest, acorns, and cones are a festive little Autumnal adornment to my loft, reminding me that not long from now is the Autumnal equinox !

jenjoycedesign©Autumn-things

♦  ♦  ♦

Latest tune recorded over at John’s  . . .


First I’d like to mention that this tune, although recorded in this latest version on John’s birthday this week, was actually in a long gestation of development starting from the beginning of July. At first it was a fast paced polka , and we then changed it to a waltz, recorded it about five times, all differently, with different titles. Miraculously we landed on the prize, on John’s birthday, perhaps in a way, a celebration of his turning another year older, and another hair greyer. If you’re wondering what a cakewalk is, well, it’s an old-time sort of dance contest with roots in ragtime, whereby a couple wins a gigantic cake ! (We like to think a birthday cake, as I made John a mighty tasty one this year). Excuse where I , Jen, smashed it up by tripping into a couple of frightfully bad notes, while attempting to dive for the cake, but as is the way of our first recordings are brand new and like wobbly-kneed colts! Oh, and the photo is of a postcard entitled “lecon de cakewalk”. It means the cakewalk lesson. Happy Birthday John!

 

Azure


jenjoycedesign©Azure

Been knitting in a heat wave for a couple of weeks, thirsting for that which best expresses my summer blues, and so I’ve produced the latest . . . I call it simply  ” Azure “. It is a perky beret shape that is less voluminous than the recent one’s I’ve been knitting up,  narrower and vaguely muffin-shaped as are some of the Old World Scottish bonnets I’ve seen. Uh huh… (more photos upcoming).

But what I love most about this beret is the color-work in the band while the crown is a single complimenting color, don’t you?  I tell you, in this particular knitted beret, it is all about the subtle Fair Isle motif that one can barely see,  from the two shades of blue, one angle the motifs pop out, another they disappear into each other.  Can you see the design in there?  I have more photos where it stands out better, in different light, but will save them for Azure’s pattern debut, second in the series, which will be happening very soon !

With Dicey and Azure, I have learned how to make a lined band, concentric decreases, experimented with several shapes of varying lengths, and practicing my ‘new stitch’ , while also focusing the design into the band alone, in a Guarda Pampa sort of affect.  Oh, and I’ve also been toying with the adorable thing which is a toorie !

Azure & Dicey are knitted from Virtual Yarns Hebridean 2ply ,  a yarn with which I am totally smitten, but which substitutes excellently with renowned Shetland wool yarns of Jamieson & Smith, and Jamiesons of Shetland for those who prefer them.   Coming up soon is the pattern for Azure, yeah sure, but maybe I’ll round-up the tam-o-shanter inspired series for an e-book sort of thing. Everybody is doing e-books, why not run with the herd ???  I’ll be hunkered down with the last one in the days ahead. More wool bonnets mean still more wool bonnet knitting in the heat of Northern California summer ! Have I gone insane?

Well, there you have it, the blue has taken hold of me. This is the fifth post in a row about blue ….  and I have not even done this consciously !  Fortunately, as of this morning, there has been a significant drop on the thermometer, and I’m writing this while overlooking dense fog in the valley and 56 degrees Fahrenheit.  Going to cast-on this very minute for another !

Dicey

jenjoycedesign©Dicey!

” Dicey ” is a simple and fairly traditional Scottish style bonnet. It has a checked, or ‘diced’ band as it is called.  It has come to me in a sort of time capsule of  childhood memories of Peter Rabbit . . .

Benjamen Bunny Tam
as well as my present-day intrigue of a name by “Tam O’ Shanter” . . .

In a poem by Robert Burns  ‘Tam O’ Shanter’ tells a story of a farmer named Tam,  who  gets drunk with his friends in a public house and then rides home on his horse Meg, enduring a night of terror and misfortune. (click to go to resource)

The Scottish forename “Tam” (for Tom) followed by “mishanter” (misfortune, ill-luck, the devil) =  Tam of shanter .   Coincidental how the name for the style of Scottish bonnet which Tam wears is what we think today of the voluminous hat with a pom pom on top of it.  Its evident that the hat called a ‘tam’ came from Robert Burns’ character.

Oh, and check out this old tobacco label ! The dicing on the band is rather vaguely penned . . .

Tam O Shanter Pipe Tobacco - 1932

Actually, as far back as 1500’s the bonnet was a popular thing to wear throughout Europe, and the diced or checked band is a motif I find very timeless and yet fashionably dynamic !

* * *

Dicey is knitted with Virtual Yarns Hebridean 2ply  shown here in colors “Selkie, Red Deer, and Sun Dew” (with a few rounds of Jamieson’s Spindrift black).

jenjoycedesign©detail-band

A small semi-felted pom pom, or “toorie” which sits on top, makes Dicey just a little bit whimsical, with real ‘sassitude’ .

jenjoycedesign©Dicey-sassitude (2)

Dicey has a sort of horizontally ‘incorporated’ cord stitch ( i-cord) bordering the diced motif either side . . .

jenjoycedesign©Dicey-shapes

Dicey has a built in ‘cord’ stitch knitted right into the fold on the band, lined with more rounds of knitting, then the turned hem is knit into the fabric with no stitching afterward, very  neat and tidy !

jenjoycedesign©Dicey-inside

Dicey is very much the traditionally inspired bonnet I wanted it to be.

jenjoycedesign©Dicey-somewhat-flat

Dicey has been undergoing many designerly changes since its beginning in this post .  I feel I’ve finally arrived with the right motifs, the right techniques, the right yarn, the right gauge, the right shape  (with much feedback, knitting, and knitting over from Carol  I thank you !).  I am very pleased it is finished, and the pattern soon available !

*  *  * *  *  *

jenjoycedesign©Dicey-Bonnet - Copy

 

Springing into Spring Sweaters !

jenjoycedesign©spring-colors

It is almost the end of February, and these weeks transitioning into March are the heralds of spring.  The fruit trees cover themselves in snowy white, and the daffodils pop up out of the ground everywhere (wild irises soon).  In the valley, fields explode in yellow mustard flowers ~~ the signature of Napa Valley Spring.  But for me , what is the mark of the season is on my knitting needles . . .

 my nieces’ Spring Sweater Tees !

jenjoycedesign©spring-tee

I am well on my way through thirteen-year-old nieces’ smokey grey & purple sweater tee, made from the left over yarn of two sock projects of last year, and the light blue & green yarn at the top of the post will be for my ten-year-old niece.  This year I’m going to be trying a lacy kind of edging !  I hope that it all works out, as I have never done any kind of lace, what-so-ever.  I’ve even done a provisional cast-on for this project so that I could think about it while I knit.  By the way, this project so far has been a knit-walking only project, but I am going to have to do some serious hunkering under my bright lamp while reading lace patterning instructions.  I’m figuring, again, raglan decreases like last year’s Spring Sweater Tees 2012

Well, anyway, my nieces were just visiting last weekend and we went for a hike on my trail in the woods.   I just love, love, love them.  They are My Nieces I Love To Pieces !

jenjoycedesignc2a9niecesme

Mini Mitts For Nora

jenjoycedesign©Mini-Mitts

Tiny and bright.  Too cute for words.

Miniature version of the Pin-Striped Fingerless Mitts

For Little Nora (who will soon be two!)

jenjoycedesign©contrast
I knit these little things pretty darned tight on the very skinny #0 needles… so there’s some ‘laddering’ going down the middle of the mitts. I love the affect of the variegated yarn too.

jenjoycedesign©Mini-Mitts2

Really Red Tam

jenjoycedesign©tam

I am very proud to finally show you the tam  I made !!!   It goes in a set with my  Really Red Cardigan.  I had knit the tam before the holiday gift-knitting crunch set in, then put it aside to be photographed after the new year.  New year … check.  Photographed…. check.

I am over the moon about having this particular cardigan & tam ensemble finished because only a couple of months ago ~ after having hibernated well over a year~ the cardigan was doomed to die a tragic death of getting unraveled out of existence !  After much persuasion from a friend,  I committed & cut the steek,  finished the cardigan, then surprisingly soon after, decided to knit up this tam to go with!   Maybe it was meant to have waited until now, as the rains of the season has made the moss so verdant ~~~ and just look at how well the moss sings praise to the red wool !

I improvised the cardigan yoke motifs into a simple 8-point tam, and being that it’s sport weight yarn and not fingering, it’s a slight bit larger and floppier in contrast to the ones I’ve knit up with finer gauge yarn.  I think  it’s ‘ Tam O’ Shanter-esque ‘ personality, with wider brim, is actually a look I really am drawn towards.  Very old-world Scottish in my thinking.  . . . as well as an applied cord edging (to snug up the band), raised double decreases , and a beret loop flourish.  I am pleased with its wider-brimmed shape and I feel it is pretty darned smart!

jenjoycedesign©tam-wheel
There is a bit of a coincidence, that the red in the colorway is called “garnet heather”

. . .well, because garnet is my birth-stone .

jenjoycedesign©red-tam-set
. . . and today is my birthday !

* *   * *   * *

Details found on Ravelry here.

Long Shadows of January

jenjoycedesign©long-shadows-of-january

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.
jenjoycedesign©long-shadows
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 . . .

jenjoycedesign©winding-road
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 !)

jenjoycedesign©look!
Other things we saw :

lots of ice on the ground . . .

jenjoycedesign©ice

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

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

jenjoycedesign©eroded-waterway
jenjoycedesign©eroded-layers-of-rock

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

releasing prayers to the wind . . .

jenjoycedesign©flags-in-morning-light

First blossoms of winter !

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

jenjoycedesign©manzanita-blossoms

A little bright wool resting on the grey bare vines !

jenjoycedesign©walking-project

This perhaps me knitting while hiking, satchels slung to each side, holding two colors being knit into another ( yes still another) pin-striped fingerless mitt. 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. Well, I’ve had lots of practice in recent months !

 

Happy New Year All !!!

Introducing Really Red !


At last “Really Red” is finished.

And she is my own design !


A detail of her yoke’s beautiful colors of Autumn , from the back . . .

A detail of my moss stitch rib with vikkel braid, and vintage wooden buttons . . .

Red’s yoke sparkles with the very same red, gold, and brown tones of leaves turning in  Autumn on the grape vines near by, where we walk . . .

And in the greyish dark woods, she really pops out !

And in the very very near future . . .

leftover yarn means a matching tam !!!

(I’ve already cast on !)

*   *   *
In closing, a spectacular view of mist-covered mountains,

from yesterday’s Knit~Walk,  overlooking Autumn colors of what I like to the “North Bay Highlands” of California.

* * *
All posts about Really Red Cardigan ~~ here

Details on Ravelry ~~ here

Mountain Knitting


Making really good progress with the ‘his & hers’ tweed pullovers.

 I am calling them  ” Michigan Winter “.

How could I already be nearly finished with the main body of two full-sized sweaters in one week?  I’ll tell you how, because Emma and I have been doing a lot of  walking this week, being sure to get in at least one walk a day, short or long, and well, I’ve taken my knitting along each time, and I tell you folks,  it adds up !

 Just as I’m plowing through these young homesteaders’ pullovers,  I myself am getting fit as a farmer, and Emma is delighted about all these hikes too, as we go slower, further, longer, and linger at delicious smells in the forest duff.

Autumn in Northern California brings the leaves falling late,

but the Madrones are always first to drop theirs, beginning in July !

I love the terra cotta tones of the leaves as they turn on the ground, before the first rain comes.

As we meander up the ridge, my favorite once bloomed in purple wild sweet peas look so pretty,

even as dried as parchment paper.


I sometimes have to fix a dropped stitch or untangle the yarn,

and Emma waits patiently in the golden grasses.


Here  we are up into the steep section of the climb, and if it were a clear day without foggy haze in the distance,  you’d see SanFranciscoBay, and the GoldenGateBridge beyond the hills…

Emma always finds a stick to befriend…

Approaching the top of the ridge, SonomaCountyLeft and NapaCountyRight….

Finally at the precipice of the peak, overlooking the valley below.

If you could see Emma’s right ear,  it is about touching where we came from. . .

. . . and now it’s time to go back home Emma.  We’ll come again soon… probably tomorrow.

Woods Knitting

I took my knitting outside, one of the sleeves. I walked about, holding it up to the woods, against Madrone trees, against Bays, against the span of the woods, to see if it is indeed a woodsy colorway. I think that it most definitely is! So it is decided, this sweater will be named ‘Woodsy’.  The camera’s eye isn’t detecting the third color very well, there are three distinct colors here.

Woodsy on the bench…

Woodsy with Emma…

Woodsy down the road…

Catching up today with things In The Woods. I think I will be doing a knit-and-walk a little later (down that very road).  I am thinking it’s highly possible, that if I don’t put my knitting down for any significant time,  I could finish the nieces Autumn sweaters easily by the Autumnal Equinox. Easy peasy.

A blurry glimpse of my Emma & me (in the woods)…DSCN7209

Basic Black

Not but a week ago,  I talked about spinning up some raw black alpaca in this post ,

It is destined for Bariloche in Patagonia (the Andes Mountains).

It being a ski hat for my Argentine friend.

Well, here it is…

I really like the rib decreases I improvised, but the yarn is so dark and handspun ‘nubby’, one can barely see …

And meet Bica, the alpaca source from which Ale’s ski hat was made…

 ( photo courtesy of  Brookfarm Alpacas )
* * *

Shipped off to Argentina to be field-tested on the slopes,

and hopefully it will see the snow before it melts.

It will go well with these handspun alpaca gloves which I made for Alejandro last year !

 (( hint, this won’t be the last you’ll see of the ski hat, Ale promised a photo ))

Sherpa Nouveau

A remote little monastary tucked beneath peaks of Tawache, Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, Ama Dablam, and Thamserku, by the name of Tengboche.

Tengboche Village ~ built 1923

And perhaps the most significant sherpa in history, Tenzing Norgay, the fellow who assisted Edmund Hillary on his ascent of Mount Everest. Tenzing Norgay was born and brought up in Tengboche.

Tenzing Norgay ~ 1953

Now,  I will show you a design I have named “Tengboche”, inspired by the colors of the monastary and blues of high altitude sky.  The hat with an attitude, as well as altitude.  Versatile.  Confident. An overstatement anywhere below treeline.  My attempt to merge my love of knitting with my love of mountains, what emerges is a lined sherpa-worthy  chullo-esque hat, designed for comfort above all.  A favorite for those who’s skin is too sensitive to wool, it can be lined with cotton or silk layer (or some other soft barrier that is hardy for wear). Now the question might be stirring “What is going on here? “

Backstory :  My brother, a mountaineer in his youth, he loves his sherpa~chullo hats ! Loves the wool and homey-spun ethnic ones, but he wants some kind of cotton liner for them, he says. He looks at me as a young child looks at the mother, and with a hopefull expression which seems to ask ” … there must be a magic trick for this????

I have taken it unto myself to be my brother’s Provider Of Knitted Hats, and to come up with a way to make them cottony on the inside and woolly on the outside. Sherpa Nouveau is my solution.  And now, for a fun little frolick  in the woods of my home…modelling a hat two sizes too big for me (I have a very small head, and my brother, for whom it was made, likewise) .

A hat with real personality , looking like a cross between a Tibeten headress and South American chullo . Soon I will assemble a pattern-instruction-tutorial sort of thing where I will show you how it is done. ( Sherpa Nouveau is the finished version of which got hang-dried  in this post)

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.

Wool for Walking

The trees are bare, and here in Northern California it is the tail end of winter, with many blustery days and lots of clear blue skies.  February on the mountain often sees a blanket of snow, but I’ve known even as late as March to get a light dusting, while the temperatures continue to chill, though in the mountains we don’t get the coldest freezes as in the valley.  I love to walk in the cold, and even in the rain, with an umbrella. Rainy season is yet to come around, it’s been a dry winter.  But these photos were taken last Autumn when…

…  I began in Wovember (I talk about Wovember in this post ) to take another look at the utilitarian aspect of wool.  I began to think of wool as practical and wholesome, taking it beyond a fuzzy arts & crafts medium for playing on the spinning wheel and knitting needles.   For me, this means in particular, my obsession of late…wool skirts. I LOVE WOOL SKIRTS ! The dye-saturation which is particular to wool, means that I love concocting a custom dye-bath each time I find a new wool skirt in a thrift shop.

Photo taken in the beginning of December starting out for a walk up the ridge, and I am wearing one of my several wool skirts.   I have in fact, worn two wool skirts , almost exclusively, all winter .  This green one for walking, and a deep maroon-brownish livery colored one for going down into town, (not counting dressier skirts for gigs), which leaves one or two which haven’t been altered and overdyed yet (I am very fussy about color).

Lately my hips have been a bit sore, and stiff constricting jeans just won’t do.  Winter weight fabric pants just make me feel so *not* in the mood to go for a walk. So I thought to just be the Old-Fashioned sort, and allow myself the distinguishable difference  and somewhat retro-feminist statement of hiking out while wearing a skirt. This one below I over-dyed mossy emerald tones on a light brown fabric, and it is 100 percent worsted wool weave, cut on bias which yields best to movement and makes for *very* comfortable walking !  I Love it !!!  (Little known fact about me: Throughout my 20’s I owned only a couple of pairs of pants ~ my wardrobe was almost entirely skirts and dresses. I even bike commuted in skirts! )

Needless to say, I feel at once back to my old self .  Here I am ,  up close with my  hill-walking companion Emma.

 

Deconstructing A Gentleman’s Tie

I have never taken a vintage tie apart, and it is like opening a very old book.  A dear friend of mine who has many ties to spare, gave me a few of his old silk ones.  I have plans for them, in two separate projects ~ but unfortunately, first I must gut the old geezers.

Some of the finer points of discovery~ all really old handwork.

I’ve set aside 8 inches of the widest front section of the tie  for another project (upcoming), but from what is left, this is what I’m up to …

… and voila ! Silk hair ribbon !

Such old-fashioned vanity, girls and hair ribbons.

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!

Beet & Neep Heid !

Here I am wearing Beet Heid on it’s maiden voyage down the mountain and into town.  This tam makes me feel my Scottish roots right there in the wee beet roots.

I love this pattern, and have made two of these tams so far!!!  It just knit so intricately, yet the pattern was so well written it just made it seem somehow easy.  I was really blown away at how it came together ~~ I made that ???

Shown above is the one made with mostly Virtual Yarns Hebridean 2ply , and also Elemntal Affects Shetland.  The pattern suggests for a red rooted version, this colorway is called ‘Beet Heid’ as as the neeps are more deep maroon or crimson. The red color for beets = Elemental Affects Shetland “deep garnet”, background = Virtual Yarns Hebridean 2ply “mountain hare”, and the greens are Virtual Yarns “bog bean and calluna”.

Another below, made of scrap fingering weight yarns I had on hand, just to sketch out another colorway (it ended up more a child size with the very fine yarn and needles I used).  I am somewhat of a gardener, and in a family of obsessive gardeners, so I very much connect with this clever designer from Edinburgh, named Kate Davies.  Well, here is my second Neep Heid, folded in quarters to see the full profile of the motif:

Below it is shown blocking out on my ironing board.  Oh, what is that cheerful flowery thing to the right? That little pin cushion is the embroidery sampler my grandmother taught me when I was 10 years old.   I found it in a box recently, of bits from my childhood, and decided to actually use it, to hold blocking pins, and not having tossed it in the years of my disregarding youth.

~ Here is Kate’s pattern for her  Neep Heid Tam.

Treasures from The Basement

At first , there was a vest. That is to say, the vest was the absolute first thing I spun and knit, during the Autumn of 1987, and it was my first project in my Wednesday morning spinning class. But to start, a little backstory is needed.   A non-credit and free community college class , was the bright and lucky beginning of my love of spinning and of textile creations. On the brochure it was listed in its first semesters as just “Hand Spinning” , then later “Textile and Fiber Arts”, but the long-standing class which spanned two decades at the Goat Hill Farm was just one of those legacies which aren’t realized until they are gone. When one stepped into the class for the first time, it might be like falling into a dream, and stepping a hundred years back in time. I feel I was very lucky to be one of the people involved, even if mostly just in the first decade.

We gathered in the basement of Joanie’s Victorian house, there on the farm, a room she made incredibly charming for the classes and a delightful hybrid of yarn studio , livingroom, and country kitchen all in one. There were many places to sit in a circular fashion, of antique couches, loveseats, and chairs, with trunks and baskets of wool overflowing about the place, an electric drum carder, picker, carders and niddy noddys and impliments of spinning everywhere one looked. A section of the basement was partitioned into a kitchen with stove and sink whereby we dyed fleece, roving, and yarns , and there was usually a dyepot simmering . And if that wasn’t enough, there was always coffee, tea, and cakes or pies made gratis usually by Joanie, but also we ‘students’ would contribute, so there was always a bounty.

A photo clipped from a feature article I’ve saved, which ran December 2005 in the local newspaper about Joanie’s class during the height of it’s popularity, and just before it came to its end after 20 years…

I remember each Wednesday morning the basement room would crescendo into a loud cacophony of laughter, whirring spinning wheels, and gossip, and over those genuinely influencial classes, and fresh cakes, we more or less evolved into a bonded group of friends for a time. This group of spinners I met up with on and off for well over a decade.

Way Gone Days: Here is me at the farm where we met on Wednesday mornings to spin and knit, and I’m wearing my first-ever handspun & knitted vest, I think this would have around 1989-1990.

me in 1987-8

Me about 1989

And admiring one of Joan’s baby goats, out in the barn, probably also 1987-8  . . .

me in '87-88

Ahem …. back to the vest.   For this vest I spun some Lincoln-Corriedale wool fleece ‘locks’ I purchased from the stash of fleece for sale at the Goat Hill Farm, my first spinning project on my brand new Peacock Wheel (also purchased through Joanie) and I spun the lock-like fleece uncarded and unpicked ! I had dyed the locks in the group with RIT dyes of greens and burgundies and browns (I still have those notes !). I had worn it throughout several winters in a row, washing it only ever once. A moth got to it, twice, and I’ve had to darn those holes. All in all, it is my most treasured knitted thing I have ever knit to date, having my mother’s instruction to shape the flat-knitted sections, sew together, and knit on neck, arm, and button bands. Her instruction is etched into my memory forever with this vest.

Another rather remarkable thing associated with this vest , is recalling a bout of tonsillitis I had come down with as I had been bicycle commuting all winter and on antibiotics and off of work (working at a bakery at the time) , and luxuriated in bed for two weeks, long enough for to knit this from beginning to end, with the help of my mom. A third and perhaps most special thing about this vest, was that in the excitement and encouragement of my first handspun & handknit project, my friend and duo-mate John made for me a set of deer horn buttons, from an antler I brought to him.

I watched in amazement …

… as John cut squares off of the antler on his band saw, shaped them so nicely on his sander, drilled holes in them with his drill press, then torched the edges, then gave them some wax. They absolutely make the vest the most beautiful thing in my cedar chest, like something from a museum !

* * * * *

Next…

This pullover is very dear to my heart, made in ’91. I carded a blend of fleeces from my own animals ! Among the fleeces used were ; a brown Lincoln- Corriedale fleece from my ewe named Hazel, mohair from my angora goat named “Nash” , dyed greens and turquoise and teals, and angora hair from two of my fawn colored angora rabbits, dyed old rose tones and maroons. The most memorable thing about this sweater is the fact that I had knit it three times !

I knit it first into a v-neck cardigan, shortishly cropped, which didn’t do, as the yarn was rather bulky and it looked very stiff and wrongly proportioned, and I had a ton of yarn left over. I then ripped that out and reknit into another v-neck cardigan style, longer(or maybe doubled the yarn?)… but didn’t do either, as I just looked and felt horrible in it. Finally ripped out and knit over into a pullover, tried hard to use up all the yarn I had spun, with the neckstyle crew and hemmed over. Not sure I like the neck, so I may still change the neck to a turtleneck, as I have still about a half ball left over and hiding in the cedar chest with it.