Hillwalker, and an anniversary.

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Introducing the Hillwalker sweater duo…

(and photographed with my walking stick!)

I have now finished both the pullover and the cardigan,

and that means Hillwalker is now two patterns for one download !

♣    ♣    ♣

Today is the one-year anniversary of the historic Northern California Firestorm  which burned through two counties and thousands of homes, including our own.  Such an anniversary of loss seems to be a time to test resilience, rising above hardship, and moving beyond the grief toward healing happier times. As I walk on the mountain,  I feel the loss, and regrowth in such an overwhelming way.

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There are so many dead trees, but surprisingly, there are many that are alive.

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A favorite Blue Oak, gone.

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Vineyards thriving.

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A favorite rocky meadow.

This Autumn comes as a relief, now I can focus on what is ahead, and what is new, fresh, and positive. Life is short, its over in a blink, and we have every ability to control our attitude.  I’ve learned one very important thing through the experience of this last year, and that is the only thing we can truly own is our attitude, and the accomplishments of  our mind.   The rest is just material & prone to ashes.

♣    ♣    ♣

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Northerly view over valley fog.

Out Walking

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This morning we got out earlier than we have been.

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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.

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

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

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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…

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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?

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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

Tweed Chronicles: Geological 2

jenjoycedesign© paws at the peak
photo from archives: Paws

In previous geological post I created a woolly colorway of Sandstone.   Second in my geological series of the mountain, and underfoot quite a lot, is shale.   A refresher of a quote from a reliable local vintners’ source, they who take the geology of this appellation very seriously…

Mount Veeder is primarily an island of ancient seabed, pushed up in the mountain’s formation five million years ago.  This is the only Napa Valley appellation that can claim this unique geologic phenomenon. While the rest of Napa Valley was covered in volcanic ash 1 million years ago during the eruption of Mount Saint Helena to the north, Mount Veeder received just a sprinkling. Within the marine soils lies a complex tapestry of fractured shale, sandstone, volcanic (ash) dust, and other various constituents.  — From Mt Veeder Appellation

 

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This rock I have seen in some places mounded up into nearly hill-sized formations which I suspect to be left behind by an ancient volcanic upheaval.  Hard and a bit brittle, this broken shale is generally dark charcoal grey,  although sometimes a medium grey.

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To achieve this color I use colors from the color-saturated neutral, blended with undyed wool shades of  natural black and natural grey.

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And as natural black and brown fleeces are amazingly varied in breed and color, so can be this shale colorway, ranging from medium grey to almost black, just as the rock is.

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Stay tuned for geologcial 3,  which will be a woolly colorway of yet another geological composite.   Very pleased with the charcoal/black in my  tweedy palette, I give you the recipe I have written for “Shale” …

♣     ♣     ♣

Techy stuff for Shale…

  • 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 black with 15g natural grey,  lift batt.

Note: This blend is 50/50 black and grey. For darker color blend more black and less grey, and for lighter blend more grey, and less black.

  • Layer color-saturated neutral batt with black/grey batt alternately.
  • Lift batt, layer again.   Layer once more for a more homogenized result, or go on to next step.
  • draw off rolags.
  • Colorway blend:  ” Shale” .
  • See ALL color blending experiments & recipes archived in Tweed Chronicles

embellishments

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I have made many hats & many embellishments.  I’ve experimented for a while and learned some new techniques… and now just putting it all together. One of the signature ornaments for upcoming design is a well-groomed pompom attached to a nice plump i-cord.
jenjoycedesign© pompoms

With all of these pompoms on i-cord,

I am reminding myself a little of Horton Hears A Who…

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Anyway, I have decided the best way to make pompoms involves some felting, and a lot of trimming, and last a good brushing with a rigid brow or mustache comb, as I am doing for these braid tassels…


Jeff is now in Cusco, and I have the whole thing planned to run with legs when he, his son & daughter begin their trek to Machu Picchu, and all the while I am working at this frantically most all of everyday.

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Hermit-ing out in the mountains with Emma, the cool has receded and the sun has finally arrived.  Everything in its place, and life is good.

Knitting In The Wild

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Everything is in its place, and life is good.

Another really nice shirt.

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Okay, I’m on a roll, I fall asleep dreaming about taking scissors to over-sized and hardly worn shirts, and refashioning them into one-of-a-kind personalized shirts.   The original, a Talbots brand women’s tunic, in gorgeous jet black in lightweight Irish linen, found at a thrift shop somewhere for a few dollars.

jenjoycedesign© before Talbots Irish Linen Tunic

Refashioned into what is becoming my signature look, a boxy throw-over style inspired by my favorite brand FLAX,   with practical as well as flirty finishes…

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This style collar is hand-sewn inside of the edge of plain neckline hem, then folded over to make a very nice look.  However, after I added the decorative length to the bottom, I felt that the sleeves were too short and I wanted to use those rectangular pieces in the end for cuffs, so I undid the collar and reworked the pieces into wide faced cuffs able to be folded up, with a single wide  pleat into the sleeve.

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I had a lot of length to work with , cut it in half widthwise, and from those  I made;   1. the insert down the middle, having taken out the button placket,  and  2. with left over pieces I sewed together into one piece , then worked to fit shirt body  with narrow little pleats spaced out and pinned around 16 times around circumference (intentionally not too neat) to fit the bottom hem. Result is a slight charming skirty edging…I suppose this is officially called a ‘peplum’ finish.

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 Having decided not to cut off the existing narrow hem of the neckline, after cutting off the button bands, I just made a hemmed piece over the insert.

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A very funky little bit, but that sort of detail is what makes each shirt one-of-a-kind, in that I must improvise with what little sleeve and body length I cut off. You will find this to be true also,  when you begin to take scissors to old shirts to make new shirts.

More thoughts  on the collar…

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The really nifty thing is that collars are like shirt accessories, as are buttons, a separate collar piece hand-stitched to the inside makes a dashing old-fashioned finish, in white, blue plaid, or whatever, ( especially including some old lace ones I have ~~thanks Sorcha!) .  Just switch them out like they did in the bygone era, for both women’s dress and men’s shirt collars in those days were meant to be replaced per occasion or just when worn out. Collars and cuffs took the beating of the wear, and were often replaced (as I learned from Morrie ~ thanks!)


Anyway, there was no shaping involved in this type of collar, nor was there a collar stand, I just whip-stitched two rectangular pieces and they folded over making their own stand. (I actually moved them around, and tried on basted before stitching them on secure.

Its always a bit of a gamble and some shirts just are ruined, but after doing it a few times, you’ll be surprised to find how easy it is. Much easier than sewing a whole garment from cut yardage, and far less spendy in many cases.  By the way, if & when I make or find the perfect collar for this shirt, I will post it.   If you can find this book by Odhams Press (dated 1930’s)  there’s a chapter called ‘New Collars for Old Dresses’ and I highly recommend learning this old-fashioned skill of refashioning.

There was some discussion in the last post  about making big brother/sisters outgrown shirts into refashioned ones for little brother/sister. I don’t have any kids clothes around, but would love to hear from any of you out there who are keen to try.

That about wraps it up for refashioning of  Shirt Two, and now I ought to be knitting Autumn Sweaters.

See all posts New From Old , including my tips on what I have done ~~ HERE

 

A really nice shirt.

jenjoycedesign© a really nice shirt

I love making new from old.

Upcycling something  from a $2 mens thrift linen-cotton shirt… into mine.

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( I did get a little sloppy on the rolled hem at the neckline ~ I was rather in a hurry. )

I love simple utilitarian clothing, pleats, and especially lovely buttons. I have a jar of these natural shell buttons which have accumulated from years of thrift shop shirts, and I keep them just for this sort of occasion.

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Only a few simple steps to transform from men’s button-up shirt to a rather casual boxy throw-over shirt,  which I love in linen, because after several washings, the boxiness begins to drape and all the sloppy bits will blend in with the original shirt’s crinkled old hems.

This is how I do it:  First I cut off the neck under the collar stand, the cuffs, and button bands, and as much length as you don’t need. From the cut-off length in body and sleeves,  you can make middle insert in place of button band, cuffs, or other details such as a collar.  This time I cut down a little from the stand in front  so the neckline in front of the new shirt rests a little lower.

Note:  How many extra bits you are able to make all depends on how long the shirt is and how much you can cut off length in body and sleeves after trying on and marking the length you would like it to be, plus hem allowance.

 

My thing lately is to take a strip off  cut-off length (the length grain will have to be inserted cross-grain fashion, which is a nice contrast, and sew it on to cut front pieces raw edge, using French seams.

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I made a collar and lined with some other cotton/linen I had handy, but ended up hating it, so ripped it off.

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Finishes:  The neck was way too gaping as the front insert was rather wide, as were the sleeves, so I pleated those loose areas after it was all finished, and sewed shell buttons on purely for aesthetic, not really doing anything, as you can see also on front pocket.

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Over all it is a really fast way to upcycle and  make a really nice shirt for myself in less than an hour.  The best discovery I found in this make-over shirt is how buttons on pockets are really a lovely accent just sewn on, or to cover the opening of a pleat.   I just love shell buttons & linen!

Edit in, per request :   Link to all projects “New From Old”

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

Knitting Linen

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I woke this morning with a vivid realization that a new experience awaits,  blossomed from an epic love relationship of linen.  As I ponder this, it would just have to be, as my love of knitting, and the fact that living in a climate where dryness and heat are a way of life half of the year, and well, even when it is cool and damp, I love to wear linen.

Since posting about this yarn ages ago,  originally I was intending it to be a lace thing, but I let it hibernate so long that it now wants to be something else. I think. Maybe. I am ambivalently thinking about making it into an actual shirt. I really don’t want to call it a ‘sweater’ as that evokes cold weather & sheepy cozy wooliness, which this is most definitely not. It will be a highly breathy creature, billowing in the breeze hanging dry on the clothes line after being washed in the washer with a load of jeans . . . something one could not dream of doing to wool . . . something one could toss on and wear into the town on a balmy day.

Flower of flaxOh, but first, it is understood that knitted linen fabric is nothing like woven linen fabric, and as I am a knitter, and not a weaver, the obvious task at hand is to master the fiber with knitting needles, wrestling it into submission as the flax was to make the linen strands. Interestingly, linen made from flax, a vegan sustainable resource which is in itself a hardy most beautiful plant.   Just look at it’s pure light blue delicate flower !  How can something so delicate come from a plant that is so incredibly strong and tough and enduring?   I love the metaphor of the delicate and enduring hardiness all in one , I really identify.

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.

Una Cosettina Pattern Rewrite

jenjoycedesign©Una Cosettina Half Mitt‘Una Cosettina’ has had a bit of an overhaul in recent winter weeks.  I have knit up several more variations on the original design from nearly a year ago. Now pattern has options to work lace up the back of the hand, (I so wanted to do this , and now it is done and I’m satisfied!) . You can  create a full lace gauntlet , or a sporty shorty little wisp of a mitt,  or anything in between.  Options to omit i-cord cast-on & bind-off and/or eyelet round, and skip straight to the lacework. To me a bounty of choices makes a good pattern and as much fun to wear as it is to knit as it is to write!

But frankly folks, this pattern is all about using that one-of-a-kind skein or ball you have. Perfect for those lovely singles of your own spindle-spun yarn or that lovely skein of luxury yarn you couldn’t resist buying from that great yarn shop you just visited. Maybe you discovered a ball of vintage yarn in your grandmother’s attic which narrowly escaped a pair of argyle socks in the 50’s, or that novelty yarn you bought from the 13th-Century wool mill while visiting the town of Biella in Italy.

Una Cosettina meets One-Skein-Project-itis and makes a stunningly beautiful friendship.
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This pattern can be found on Yarnings HERE,  and detailed on Ravelry HERE.

Gift Making

jenjoycedesign©blue cowlAnother cowl of the design I am working on for gifts.  The cowl would normally get a steam press just to help open up all that lacework, but since the fuzzy mohair is knitted in I decided against it.

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There are three yarns held together for this blue cowl,  yarns from this post here.

I also am reworking these…

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Tartan & Tweed Mitts which I am busy making several different ones so that in the new year I will be updating the pattern to include more weights of yarn and size ranges. These are made from some Cascade Sport Superwash which was gift yarn from Carol (hello & thank you Carol… xx 🙂 )

Oh , the joys of hand-made gifts. I can never get over it… the high I feel when I am finished with yet another. The pile is growing quite a bit, and thankfully I still have 12 days to make. Everyone, how are you doing with your hand-made gifts?

itty bitty mitties

jenjoycedesign©mini T&T mittsYup folks, here they are, a tiny scale of a mitt from my Tartan & Tweed I’m redesigning & overhauling , and they’re made of Malabrigo Sock yarn. Great stash-bust project.  Aren’t they so cute?  (admittedly, they are a little bumpy and could use a steam pressing). This is also the kick-start of the Christmas gift-making, and so we’ve got one little item checked off the list. (( shhh…. no names will be mentioned, as these are all surprises.))

Winding Up

jenjoycedesign©windingI’m winding off yarn, while winding up creatively, and gathering colorways of skinny yarn culled from my growing baskets & drawers, to knit ‘held together’ into fluffy cowls. Like this one in blue. Two shades of Malabrigo Sock and one skein of Shibui Silk Cloud…jenjoycedesign©blue comboMy official Rest From Knitting continues through the weekend as I am basically doing the prep work to the knitting, and cleaning and organizing my space(s) too, paying close attention to the somewhat random beginnings of the next process.

Stash

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The other day I made a great find at my favorite local thrift shop. Admittedly it needed work to up-cycle it into the long thought-about colorwork yarn stash cabinet I’d been dreaming of putting on the wall in front of my work table. Just something to show which colors I have on hand , rather than perpetually digging out bags and boxes and dumping about to sift through.   Well, this little cabinet is of very old redwood, and the 3/4″ boards which made up the back were recessed into the frame.

I wanted shelves, and I wanted extra width in the depth than it had ~~ enough for balls & skeins of yarn for colorwork.  So I needed to take that back off in order to get enough width, and to make shelves out of it, and that is exactly what I did (well, with the help mostly of Jeff too) . Here it is as I found it… very dark aged redwood cabinet thing, looking like it may have been a little workshop cabinet once, as it is not in the least bit refined cabinetry, but rough, as I like it.

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jenjoycedesign©removing back boards

I removed the back boards by cutting through the nails with a coping saw blade, gave it a light sanding, then created shelves with the 3/4″ boards that were on the back.  Voila, a framed shelf with glass door ~~ a colorwork stash cabinet made to order !

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My humble work space is now much improved with a glass encased colorwork stash to inspire !

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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.

Aches & Pains

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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

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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…

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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.

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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 …

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

Vineyard Rows Toque !

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A Humble Yarn

jenjoycedesign© Cascade-220-fingeringThis week, while at my LYS I fell in love with a new yarn.  As I held it I instantly knew  it’s potential. It comes in lovely 50g skeins, so I could really squish and caress, and yes, this stuff is amazing. Why didn’t I see it before? Because I was like a schoolgirl, with a schoolgirl crush on elite British wools, I guess that I had my eyes closed.

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Colors left to right : Natural, Doeskin, Charcoal, and Jet.

I bought four skeins for barely more than $20, and  brought them home in their cheery little orange paper bag.  It felt wonderful.  I showed it to Jeff , who is my scratchiness barometer (that is, he is an extreme case of  FOSW  ~~ fear of scratchy wool) and he was impressed with it !  So in recent days I have been thinking about my new find.   I have decided that as a developing designer, it is important that I am ‘yarn conscienscious’, yet not yarn elitist.  Well, in most cases.  That is, in most cases I will design something entirely for itself,  using a yarn that I feel compliments the design, and also that I feel is easily accessible, and easily affordable. ((Though , still,  there are those special design occasions to showcase beautiful specialty & heritage yarns, for which I am very happy to be elitist . . . lol )).

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Color : Natural

A challenge indeed. One of the reasons I have liked Jamiesons Of Shetland Spindrift, a  2ply fingering yarn, is because it is not expensive, but very affordable, considering it’s imported from the actual Shetland Isles.  However, I have learned by observation, that not everyone has easy access to this British wool , even though it is growing in popularity as the boundless community of the internet brings us knitters together globally.

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Color : Doeskin Heather

I am talking about a very popular yarn which I never noticed because I was maybe being a bit of a yarn snob. Yet at the same time, I developed this closet tendency to buy inexpensive yarn on-line. Strange indeed.  Though I adore the ease of my on-line purchases , I do happen to live up in the backwoods, and it’s not always cost-effective to drive to the next county to purchase exactly what I want.  I have had a yarn epiphany regarding this LYS exclusive . . .

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Color : Charcoal

I’m talking about Cascade 220 yarn folks, in fingering weight.  100% Peruvian Highland Wool.  50g skeins = 273 yards / 250 meters. 2 ply.  About $5 per skein.  What I have here is four neutral undyed colors in Jet, Charcoal, Doeskin, and Natural.

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Cascade 220 fingering : Jet

Striking resemblance to the yarns with which I created my Vineyard Rows Highland Bonnet .

My Vineyard Rows bonnet (tam) however, will remain a Jamiesons Spindrift novelty , as it is inspired so much by Scottish Highlands that I believe the Scottish wool is completely perfect, but I will list the Cascade 220 fingering as an alternate yarn on it’s pattern pages.

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You can guess that the next up & coming thing I am working on , will be a Vineyard Rows design, and in the yarn which is beautiful yet humble and very likely at your own LYS.  I still have a crush on Virtual Yarns Hebridean and Jamiesons Of Shetland, but perhaps I’ll broaden my more local horizons , this side of The Pond.  I tell you, Peru really has it going on these days when it comes to yarn !

Una Cosettina

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Una Cosettina, or ‘ A Little Something’ is the name of these half-mitts, designed especially for Oropa 1ply yarn, which is made with wool from sheep which have roamed the foothills of Alps of Northern Italy for perhaps a thousand years. Who knows for sure?  But, there is an age-old mill in Biella which uses much the same processing methods  as of long ago , and which make the wool from these Old-World sheep into yarn. Oropa 1ply is a rustic heritage yarn as rugged as the mountain terrain it comes from. Truly Oropa yarn is nothing less than a timeless treasure.

((Lots of information about The Wool Box  at bottom of page))

I talk a lot about the yarn, and Biella’s place in Italy’s wool industry in  Posted From Italy  ,  Yarn Whisperer  , and some about elements of design process in my previous post.

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We have a pattern friends !!!

The design incorporates my own edging  which I will simply call my ‘eyelet edging’, a cast-on and bind-off’ , having  elements of i-cord, rib, and lace all in one.

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Shown in Pearl Grey & Natural Oropa 1ply,  sturdy & feminine, these half-mitts will keep your hands toasty warm, while letting the spring breezes through from it’s open lace-work. A feminine take on riding gloves of olden days perhaps, slightly bell-shaped , stylish, and ready to make a spectacular conversation piece when people ask about them.

jenjoycedesign©Lacey Little Somethings half-mitts

Modeling both sizes ~ smaller size to left, larger size at top.
((I wear a women’s small, by the way))

The photos show both sizes, and two slightly different cast-on eyelet edgings at the beginning of cuff,  the end result in pattern, is slightly again different, combining both. (it was just a matter of changing one round of rib, into knit stitch).

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In the weeks ahead this very same pattern is undergoing translation into Italian, and it will then become available to purchase in kit form with the very same Oropa 1ply yarn as you see in photo.  As soon as I have any information to the kit being ready, I will post in celebration of a job well done collaboratively , having a sense of place from both Northern California, and Northern Italy.

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In photo, larger with optional extra lacework repeat to left, smaller without extra repeat on right.

Meanwhile I will have this pattern for sale along with my other designs, which you will find on Yarnings over it’s pattern page HERE

and on Ravelry HERE

*   *   *

 Thank you Bonnie, for asking me if I would like to design una cosettina (a little something) for The Wool Box, because I most certainly and thoroughly enjoyed it !  May only ever the warm & soft breezes of spring blow through your lace  ~~ Ciao.

*   *    *

Now, for a little more information about The Wool Box !

 You may read a little bit about  Some info on The Wool Box  and then check out the English translated websites that Volunteer English-speaking Ambassador to The Wool Box , Bonnie, as created on Ravelry HERE  and on Facebook HERE.

You can read more about “The New History of Italian Wool”  from Bonnie’s blog called “Wool In Italy” . . .  on her post HERE .

If you would like to contact The Wool Box directly (in Italy),  below are links Bonnie  has provided me:

The Wool Box Shop: www.thewoolbox.it
Informazioni: info@thewoolbox.it
Customer Service: customer-service@thewoolbox.com

Introducing “Pretty Little Things” (PLT) Gloves !

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At last !  After a mountain of reworking and writing and editing, I finally have the pattern ready for PLT gloves. I have been working like an ox (like a pair of oxen!) on these for longer than I care to remember (clear back into October perhaps???) and I collapse in front of you all, with one last utterance before I lose consciousness and that is . . .

” Please stop on over  on the pattern page  and see all the prettiness there is to be seen” !  Also you can visit the sisters of PLT gloves ~~~ Pretty Little Things Socks   and make a sock & glove matching set !

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This Corner

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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.

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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
Well, 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.

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

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 !

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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 Au Natural out into the woods…

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Against the moss . . .

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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.

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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 In Blue

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I’ve been test-knitting a size run of my  Pretty Little Things , and writing up & refining the pattern as I go. Technical writing is a very interesting thing, and really I never thought it would appeal to me. Yet now that I’ve done a few relatively simple patterns and relaxed a little since the last one , and now that it’s already into Autumn, I’m beginning to ‘chill out’ as they say.   Its really not a very big deal if I decided to write my patterns my way.

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After all, I’m not competing with anybody but myself.   As thoughtfully and as precisely as possible, and in as  standardized words as necessary, I’ll convey the instruction, however, I will allow my own voice to speak through the technical.  I can’t even begin to know if an idea that came to me is completely original or even a little, or not at all.  Degrees of originality don’t factor in, nor can they be measured.

I must be simply be in my own skin, and focus on communicating my idea and not worry and fret how others have done it, or said it, or written it before. My only wish for myself is that I communicate well and  am artful.

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There is suddenly in this Age of Indie Knit Design, a refreshing lack hard-core rules and so a wonderful freedom abounds. Especially so  with indie design which bleeds over into creative writing.   Oh, yeah, and lately I’ve been enjoying the creative writing style of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee immensely, reading-while-knitting I might add !  Her comedic book “Knitting Rules” has given me so much more confidence within myself to soldier on, in my own style, knowing that its okay to be different. I will learn one fine day at a time, and one design at a time.

Okay folks,

here’s a second pair of “Pretty Little Things” socks !

 It’s almost ready to go, so  you can expect pattern to pop up in the days ahead!

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( Forgive me the unavoidable clinging dog hair in the photos, if you have noticed even at all.  We, and the yarn, and All Things Knitted,  share hermitage here with a German Shedder Dog, and the hair being all over the house, hiding in every shadow ready to ambush any and all dog-hair-magnets.  We have had to just surrender to it. )

Pretty Little Things

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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 !

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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 !

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

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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

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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 !

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A Whisper In The Woods

jenjoycedesign©Madrone

In the woods, on the mountain where I live, in Northern California, we are sheltered by many species of trees. I suppose the Douglas Fir, and even some Coast Redwoods, are most obvious, towering a couple of hundred feet and create a distinct silhouette of the ridge line.  There are sturdy Black Oaks,  well they are likely the most nostalgic of trees to me, as they have live moss on them covering their trunks and lower branches , and so become vibrant with green in the rains,  then which browns in its dormant dry months. I love the moss, and so in my opinion, the oaks are absolutely essential to my happiness.

But I must say, the most cheery and unique of the trees, and possibly the most populated, is the Madrone.  A Madrone tree covers itself in a veneer of bark of deep terracotta clay color, most of the year, then it dries like parchment, and is shed this time of year as the tree grows, along with its leaves. Leaves like little parchment bits in varying tones of terracotta, from a pinkish color to a rich reddish brown. I do wish I could capture the color range of this with the camera, but I never have been able. I shall with yarn some day.  Bark peels like in the above photo, but usually much smaller, falling on to the forest floor with a faintest of rustling sounds as they land  on the forest floor.

Note: I once gathered bags of the bark, as it is such a beautiful color, to experiment with in dying wool, but I never quite got around to it.

The most amazing thing about the Madrone, is that when the skin of bark peels off , it reveals a very bright grass-green new layer beneath, and as the green quickly browns within days, a very interesting pattern occurs of green-to-brown on the tree’s voluptuous smooth body, as it continues to peel. The papery peels flutter and fall to the ground, painting it terra cotta tones for weeks, and the trees change from terracotta to fresh green. It is a cycle magical to see.

The forest tends to be super quiet where I live. That is, quiet with near constant interruption of raucous jays and ravens, softly screeching red-tail hawks, piercing ‘laughter’ of the variety of woodpeckers as they call,  oh and the grand pileated woodpecker steals the show when it goes to work on the dead trees !!  I suppose even the continual chortle of the chickadees and various finches stops on occasion for a moment.  And when one notices that truly quiet moment up here, it is marked by the fact that you can hear nothing but the Madrones shedding their bark and leaves, rather like the sound of stillness.  I know then how it is quiet.  I can hear the forest’s seasonal whisper!

Meanwhile, the morning light from inside my loft beckons whisperingly, as I am finished with a string of projects, looking ahead to what is next . . .

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