Ten acres and a trailer.

I am soon to land feet down in ash and soot, after floating and free-falling for what seems a lost number of days. Not much needs to be said as the media has been pelting the airspace relentlessly since it all begun, and my perspective on the wildfire situation here in the blazing counties is only another shadowy narration of it.  It is immense and I am going to ignore it for now, and try my hardest to not look backwards.

Jeff, Emma and I are in a calm and safe place, and unharmed.  The future is all I can bear to ponder right now, perhaps a new routine living in a trailer  as we clean up the black coat which will be sticky and heart-wrenching, or simply sweeping up ashes… I do not yet know.   I dream now of freshness, of sun streaming in through windows on the mountain’s rugged landscape, and I am willing to accept whatever it looks like, as a loved one who has been injured, I will care for it tenderly, when the time comes soon that we will be allowed to revisit our property and see the aftermath.  I crave to thrive, and create, to tap into that effervescent well spring within myself. I want to be there now, I am ready, but I am having to be patient for the scale of the situation involves many thousands of folk just as I am, reluctantly separated and in limbo hoping for anything better than the worst.

For me that would be living in a trailer if I must, and once again walking in the wild places, along those trails that I share with the wildlife, and to scribble the day’s chores on my chalkboard and pace myself through them, never again begrudgingly!  ((Oh, and a belated happy birthday Michele, sending you a card was the one important thing I had written on my chalkboard as I left the house, and never got to it!))

Edit in: Friends , I am posting progress of the situation in comments below, where you can be informed of my personal fire news, until I post again. xxJen

A rustic place…

jenjoycedesign© Emma on trail 2

Emma and I are pushing ourselves to complete the knitting trail, and it will be indeed a rapturous and celebratory finish!

jenjoycedesign© Emma on trail 1

The equinox is in only two short days.

jenjoycedesign© trail work Emma 2

I’m sure we’ll make it,  we are already more than three-quarters the way done!

jenjoycedesign© bench

Big Leaf Maples and Black Oaks are beginning to shed their leaves, and the acorns and fir cones are dropping too.  In this rustic state of being the spicy Autumnal fragrance is faintly rising in the forest, and I am ready to crash into this season with transformative momentum, leaning into it with all of my weight, as I leave Summer’s oppressive heat,  lazy days and restless nights behind me.

jenjoycedesign© trail work

See you on the flipside!

Glimpses of Autumn

jenjoycedesign©acorns

A little pocketful of acorns I gathered on my walk this morning. The black ones are from the Canyon Live Oak, and the smaller light tan one is from the black oak. Anyway, the oak leaves from around here have hardly begun to change color & drop, and the Black Oaks won’t be completely bare until late December.

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Still a bit of an Indian Summer here, with very warm temperatures, and just waiting for that first rapturous rain, to herald in true Autumn.   More shots of  changing landscape in days forthcoming, perhaps of the oak trees their Autumn turning… but for now I’m becoming transfixed & transformed on my walks, kicking through the leaves and acorns, enjoying myself completely!

A Home Trail

jenjoycedesign©woods

In the woods, caught up in the days, and hypnotized by the pendulum of nature, I feel a swing of weeks upon weeks pushing through seasons, while the light changes angle and leaves come and go on the maples and the oaks, and lay papery on the forest floor.  While the chickadees keep time with their greeting in spring, linger through summer, then go elsewhere it seems, and yet the tiny black-headed junco stays.  Perhaps of all the seasonal signs, the pendulum moves most noticeably through the motionless drying landscape of August, the time when the grasses bleach to blonde and mosses turn almost brown, as it is the dry dormant time,  and all things wild wait desperately yet patiently for the first rains of Autumn. The pair of ravens living among the branches near, are talkative, loudly squawking and chortling,  perhaps expressing their impatience too. One never knows.

And here we are one week into September already, a blink away from Autumn! Emma and I are mellowing out waning ourselves into a bit of a stale state.  We are needing incentive to greet the forthcoming Autumn with some kind of significance.  For a long time I’ve pondered, and for a long time I’ve talked, about the big project of the Knitting Trail, while not really applying myself. (Knitting too much? Perhaps!) Taming the wild woods is a boatload of hard labor to put it simply.  Working a delicate maze of trail in and around the framework of the more established trees while trying to see through the forest of younger trees and shrubs is well, an exhausting event of instincts & decisions followed up by manual labor, as I very lightly etch into the forest a path,  inconspicuous as possible, in some places merely moving aside fallen branches or cutting back poison oak. We will have our home trail from where  we can walk through the seasons.

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Me with my trail-making gear consisting of long-handled pruners, a variety of bow saws, and a shovel, while Emma contributes her subtle but constant encouragement, and of course, her nose for a the traffic of the wildlife, which is very helpful.  In need of a really big goal, and I have thought this morning about how life should, oh but very well must, include a physical regimen of some sort, more than once, twice…or thrice out walking closer in to the house. We are going to craft our Daily Mile (or near mile) of walking trail from the bits of trails already in use that we began years back, and impulsively followed, some discarded, some maintained.  And I am going to share with you the whole process. The real challenge is to make this trail nearly entirely near our house’s door step, on ours and on the neighbor’s woods (a generous person granting permission to roam)… so roam we will.

I share this morning, a real determination to make this trail complete.  Beginning from the three-foot tall trail blaze outside of the front door , a stack of stones gathered from the trail head parking lots and roadside of the High Sierra . . .

we go forth !

Gone Wild

jenjoycedesign©peak

At the peak

It has been a lovely morning up here on the mountain. Fog at sunrise, cool, crisp, breathing freshness into an otherwise stagnant stillness of our drying Northern California landscape. I feel as if my life has evolved into a new level of wild, as the days are punctuated mostly by the wildlife, or occasional trips into town, and the coming and going of ‘the man’.  Summer brings chickadees and hornets and straggling tough kinds of wildflowers, but mostly a platinum landscape of dry grasses, and oppressive stickery burrs along the trails which are a true pain to have to endure picking off of one’s self, and one’s dog’s fur. No wonder we have been lazy lately.

The dog and I decided to adventure up & out this morning, and so after weeks upon weeks of very little walking, we made it to the top.  Once near the top on the sharp and narrow knife-edge, the actual geological ridge cresting at a width of barely six feet wide in sections, and  covered in young knobcone pines, makes a lovely path to follow….

jenjoycedesign©geographical-ridgeA cliff drop to the east is Napa Valley, and a rolling descent to the west is Sonoma Valley, and from up here one can nearly feel the mountain’s spirit, as if the rock is slowly cutting through centimeter by centimeter, not stagnant but alive, with an energy about it which is luring, beckoning one to get the reward of being at the top. It is a special place the peak, at 2600 feet, and it really is almost less than a half-hour walk from our house if we hoof it, so we vowed to each other to get our lazy selves up there a lot more than we have, Emma and me.

Back at home, deliciously overcast clouds, and a breeze kicking up. While Emma continues her napping, I’m at the drawing board again on a new design, its endless calculations, and with delicious cup of coffee.

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I’ll leave you with a little slideshow of nice shots from our walk, and wish you all well until next time…

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A Rustic Garden

jenjoycedesign©the woodsWe had a little bit of drizzly weather last week, hardly enough to call a rain, yet it was.  Now June, the steady lack of weather, and presence of increasing dry heat has moved in like a stereotypical mother-in-law with her oppressive loads of baggage, for a visit with indeterminable end. Who knows when we will have the rain come again, but it is typically not until the second half of Autumn. Having lived my whole life in Northern California, I see it as something of magical fairy dust when rain falls in summer months. Around here we hunker down and work on defensible space (for wild fire) and use as little water as we comfortably can, and try not to worry too much. Nature is at its most raw and extreme everywhere it seems these days,  and Napa Valley is no exception, behind the facade of succulent ripe grape clusters ready to transform into jewel-like world-class glasses of wine, the surface terrain is very soon to be harsh and unyielding. Except for the vines laden with wine grapes of course.

Anyway, I feel like I’ve taken a good long break from everything of which previously I had been running an obsessive pitch. My blog, the knitting, pattern figuring & promoting all has gained distance from me while I’ve been doing who-knows-what else, and March through May have had distracting forces which have carried me along like a boat down the stream.  Last many weeks have been a blur of special (and not-so-special) occasions, of birthdays,  of spending time with new friends who have wandered into my life and also keeping cherished company with old friends, of making appearances to such things as a sixth-grade graduation, and then there has been the undeniable distraction of hard physical labor.

I find recently ‘who I am’ is a manual laborer for now. A Constant Gardener for the garden plot , the woods with its ever-growing thickets of trees and shrubs, and adjacent to that endeavor are my walking trails. Knit-walking has been replaced in recent months by trail maintenance, as the stickery weed burrs and poison oak this year are unbelievable, and full huge firs and oaks are falling across paths and the ridge road seemingly everywhere,  as if some sort of plague of drought, beetle & killer tree fungi all working together to reshape the landscape of the mountain.

But there is an oasis among us!  We’ve been working on a drip irrigation for our fenced-in ‘secret’ garden  this season, transforming the barely established perennials hanging on for dear life into happy productive fruit-bearing members of a garden.  Lastly I have plunged heart & soul into the work of never-ending woods work, primarily the defensible space woods work which involves a bit of hiking, strenuous brush cutting with a hand-held bow saw, hauling, stacking, and burning in the rain season, all of which is endless. I tell you, this sort of work makes one feel overwhelmed at best, facing acres upon acres of dense new growth of trees & shrubs , and I have recently begun to tell myself it is just like knitting ;  one stitch at a time which makes the Fair Isle sweater.

But blogging? Though I am settling more into a non-virtual routine, I realize this morning as I make this post, how since having quite a lengthy vacation from blogging and feverish knitting for a couple of months, I am beckoned back with an itch beneath my skin that there is work to be done but unsure of the next move creatively speaking. I have changed course many times in the recent weeks since Snowmelt tam about what is the Next Big Idea.  I am stale on the Snowmelt Gaiters for now, for writing about the steek is slightly out of my pattern-writing comfort zone, so I need to have a little more time on that, and will let it go to the wayside for the summer. I have been thinking about new ideas of cooling blue Aztec-looking motif, but still I feel like I just am spinning wheels, vulnerable still again to changing course. We all go there, arrive at the blasé place en route to enthusiasm. I live in the sun-dappled places of life, between shadow and light, where one gets caught in the dizzying moments of the ‘dappling’.

jenjoycedesign©rustic garden of potential

Here a photo I just took of the drenching light of early sunrise against the ridge beyond, making it’s way to our modest rustic garden of potential. There are actually things growing in there !  Tomato plants, ten of them, growing upwards greedily claiming their pathway to the sky, fat blueberries on several first-year plants which are my tasty reward for wandering down to the Secret Garden every morning to contemplate in my chair with pot of tea.  Trellised table-grape vines and blackberry vines, strawberries,  now drip-irrigated, are slowly re-establishing.  There is my new prized gardening accomplishment; a cotton sheet-covered and thrice-daily watered lettuce, spinach & kale bed which I have created to withstand drought and baking heat of the near perpendicular rays of the afternoon sun.  All in all, the garden, my Secret Garden I am enjoying immensely. More to come on this, as I have big dreams for this little garden plot !

So if you haven’t seen a lot of new things in the knitterly way, know that all is well, and growing and I am in full dialog with nature every single ( happy ) day.

Everything is fine.

jenjoycedesign©Emma on the porch

Hi everyone. A friend of mine who apparently checks into Yarnings frequently enough to notice I’ve been rather quiet here lately, wrote me personally to ask if everything is alright. I am fine. Everything is fine. I’ve been actually extremely busy with lots of things, and though I fully intended to post photos ((of the wedding bridge Jeff and I made, of all the prototypes of Snowmelt Tam & tutorials of techniques for Snowmelt, of the garden I’m transforming, of the trails I’m working on….)) the blogging about them just sort of slipped by.  But know that I’m fine… even better than fine!

I thought I’d post this sweet photo of Emma lounging on the front porch this morning. This time of year when it starts to warm up, but the mornings are clear and cool and just gorgeous, I often leave the door open for a few crisp morning hours.  I was walking by from my busy table spread out with knitting & tutorial photographing (( I am writing the Snowmelt pattern to submit soon)) across the door to the kitchen to brew a lovely cup of coffee,  and well, the cheerful glowingness of Emma & front porch was so deserving of a photo snapshot shared here.

So in a day or so, you’ll be seeing Snowmelt and all the related business to do with Snowmelt…. arrive here. Watch this space! 🙂

offerings

jenjoycedesign©offering basket
A give-away of another sort.  It is now the end of a knitting project and I a ritual of mine is to go around the house and pick up yarn littered about the floor, as there always is quite a lot, and it seems to just float about and mix in with dog hair . . .

jenjoycedesign©yarn bits

It is entirely too wasteful to throw away the little piles of wool.

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So I lately I’ve been thinking of ways to make use of these snippings of yarns, and can’t think of anything better than to entice the woodland birds of the forest to making use, perhaps to line their nests.

jenjoycedesign©offering

Times before I would scatter yarn trimmings on the ground, or leave in a basket hung from a handle off the brand of a tree, both cases there was very little taken of the scraps.  Determined, this time I have chosen a more open basket (one that I made a while back actually) and just placed it snugly in the crotch of a dead tree.

jenjoycedesign©yarn scraps

There’s something just so magical living in the woods and in and amongst the wildlife, I am hopeful this time my offerings will be snatched up and line the nests of the woodland birds ~ of robins, woodpeckers, ravens, jays, junkos, chickadees.  If I ever spot evidence of the yarn scraps being used by the wildlife I’ll be sure to tell you about it !

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Dicey Highland Cap !

jenjoycedesign©Dicey Cap

For some time I’ve been wanting to put together this third straight-sided shape to add to the bonnet & beret shapes of my Dicey Highland Hats pattern ~~ I’m calling it the  “Dicey Highland Cap”. Now have it done & dusted, and pattern is updated to include it !  All that is needed is a bit of fun with my nieces and a photo shoot for all three shapes, when they come this weekend to visit.

Speaking of Highlands, here, the California Highlands is having  a lovely slow turning of Autumn,  alternately misty & cool and bouncing back up to clear warm days.   Now we expect some rain and it will glue down all the lovely maple & oak leaves which have fluttered to the ground. I’m looking forward to some lashing blustering rain!!!  For now we’re still out walking every day, at least once !

Was just out on the trail knit-walking and  overlooking this …

jenjoycedesign©turning

Hey… it’s raining !

006Emma and I spent a few moments greeting the first wet morning of the season.

(it really is wet … just look at it !!!)

 The damp forest drinks in and the dust is washed off,

while whispering drops patter their way down from the trees to the ground.
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Then a brief break, and the fog pours in over the ridge from the ocean out west…
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Now as I’m uploading these photos to post, the rain is coming down again, off and on big fat drops on the roof…a sound that is pure poetry to the parched dry landscape of Northern California.  I’ve been posting a lot lately and I must say, it feels good after what seemed a long summer of practically nothing to comment about, bearing down and surviving the summer.  I really am thirsting for a good old-fashioned rainy Autumn, with lots of cooking & baking and squirreling away of knitted things for the holidays ahead.  It just doesn’t get any better than that. Well, lets hope the rain holds out !

After The Rain

jenjoycedesign©forest-trail

It has rained for four days unending.

(A few glimpses from the knitting trail.)

I’m overjoyed because finally the moss on the mountain has drunk it’s fill.

jenjoycedesign©Emma-on-moss

Emma and I went out and soaked ourselves taking account of it all.

Now green can sprout from under last year’s brown . . .

jenjoycedesign©Emma-in-brown-grass

Beautiful morning after rain . . .

jenjoycedesign©facing-south-at-sunrise 
The creeks are gushing and riverlets going in all directions.

Life is good.

Approaching A New Year

jenjoycedesign©cool-blues

In case you didn’t notice, I’ve changed my banner. It was really difficult to do it, for I think I’m a little obsessive about Things being In Their Place… and well, I just figured today…so close to the new year, I’m ready for some changes.

Looking back to this post when it was so hot out that I was so drawn to blue, and had unknowingly posted five times in a row having blue as a main feature.  I was decorating Emma with yarn towers,  playing around with a camera and the cooling powers of blue, when it was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside . . .

jenjoycedesign©staying-cool

(As it is now just after the winter solstice, I think it is interesting this post was just after the summer solstice.)

I believe I’m going to have some fun with yarn this coming year, in more ways than I have been. There’s no denying, yarn has gotten tangled up in my life in a way which has changed me (hopefully for the better), and I’m not kidding when I tell you that I wake each day thinking about something that yarn has to do with.  Yarn is nothing less than a slow miracle for me.

I usually shirk new years resolutions, but this year I’m passionate about them!  I want to get beneath the soil of things, yes of course, tending my garden to thrive, but metaphorically so too, in creative process and endeavoring from it. I am tempering my patience and my self-confidence like two razor sharp edges of a sword, and I am bettering myself through knitting. I so want to round up what little experience and confidence I have with pattern writing & design and put jets on the whole thing.

This morning I’ll admit to myself that  I have come up with a few good ideas, and in less than a year have learned a lot.  Well, there’s more to learn, more to knit, more to ‘math out’ and more to write. I will slowly inch along, with all of your presences & encouragement that ever-so-much appreciate, I really could not have progressed, nor continue further, without you. Thank you everybody, and here’s looking to a great year ahead in 2014.

What are your hopes and plans for the new year?

Fourteen Days . . .

jenjoycedesign©ribbon-candy-scarf
I am sharing all that I am ‘making’ through the holidays (and other noteworthy things going on).  Fourteen days left, and three hand-made gifts finished, with several more to go. A scarf much like ‘ribbon candy’ in wintergreen and licorice, made from some old yarn I can’t even remember what it is.  The kitty, shown a few posts back.  And here, a quite large & roomy felted satchel made of stashed tweed wool o’ the Andes, and which has two thick 5-stitch icord straps. More to come… watch this space !

(( The very artful steel cut & welded ‘coat’ hanger my brother made. It is a daffodil bulb,  and is mounted right at the doorway))
jenjoycedesign©felted-bag

Now, the Lovers Of Wildlife out there , you absolutely *must* see this ~~~ the pair of ravens which perch often right near our house, these are photos taken from upstairs bedroom window, literally 30 feet away from where I stood in the house (I zoomed in).  First you see Mr. Raven lone on a branch surveying his domaine, then his mate busying herself ripping some dead bark off of a dead oak branch, then she flew to him and they cuddled a while while they prattled loudly to each other, it was amazing to see such big handsome birds be so affectionate.

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They didn’t seem to mind me at all standing there photographing & admiring them. I am so grateful & lucky to live here in these woods with the ravens!

First Rain

jenjoycedesign©rain-kitchen-window

Finally we got some rain, making it a lovely break from the dryest Autumn in many years. Emma and I just got in from a little knit-walk as it drizzled, but I didn’t bring camera in case it started to downpour. So here I am, taking photos of the wetness from inside our house.  From the kitchen window above.   Just look at the moss, just drinking it in . . .
jenjoycedesign©moss

From where I sit & knit by the window,  and if you look closely  you’ll see some stones placed in a path. That is actually the path down to the garden, but also it is part of my knitting trail, which goes off into the woods from the garden in a northerly direction . . .

jenjoycedesign©knitting-trail

On the knitting front: I have been preoccupied with a new yarn ~ here winding off 440 yards of a  ‘Botticelli Red’, variegated, 3-plied, hand-dyed hank of finest sock yarn I’ve had the pleasure to knit with to date. I am smitten with Malabrigo sock yarn!

jenjoycedesign©winding-off-malabrigo

New (Vineyard) Horizons

jenjoycedesign©off-the-trail
I so wanted to show you this photo taken early today ! It was a windy and cold November morning as Emma and I walked over to our newest (hidden & secret) scenic location, which we discovered only last week from trail-blazing.  Here, this morning,  happy to greet the young vines, and a south-easterly horizon  with distant blue Mt Diablo’s double peak of 3,864 feet visible from where I stood — on a big tree stump, est. elevation of 2100 ft, on a slope facing  San Francisco Bay.   ( Note,  this is not the same vineyards wherein great devastation of historic vines is going on, but a different vineyard. )  By all means, click the photo, and see it full-sized !

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Ahem** I have nearly finished my fourth redesign of the project in natural shades of Jamiesons Spindrift. It is quite an embarrassment to think I was near done, over a week ago, then to have to start over, then over again, and well… it’s a sore subject… but a labor of love and true break-through for me in design, as well as expected set-backs. If I survive this week at all, I will have something to show for all of my determination. I am sure by now you’ve all guessed the theme to have something to do with vineyards.

A Knitting Trail

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Emma and I have  been working on our home trail in recent weeks.

 It is to be a knitting trail ! ! !

Our trail begins right next to Jeff’s workshop…

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And takes off into the woods, just follow Emma.

It goes upwards very quickly…

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It meanders along old deer-trodden paths ,

which Emma and I  have enhanced with our footsteps.

jenjoycedesign©knitting trail in woods

It passes by tall firs,

oaks & bays,

madrones & maples…

jenjoycedesign©knitting trail in the woods2
You will see my short rows of sticks on occasion,

they are trail markers in sections where the knitting trail goes one way,

while the deer may go another…

jenjoycedesign©trail-markers
Emma is charged with purpose as she surveys the forest, and the wildlife.

There is at least one mountain lion which lives in the area, sighted many times, and  I often wonder if it is the lion which she smells.  I think I would like to put some places to sit (and knit) along the way.  Just sit, knit,  and listen to the wildlife.

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Some small sections are getting the shovel treatment, like here at the trail-head.

 (Yes, that is our house, and my car, which I try to drive as little as possible)

jenjoycedesign©knitting trail!

So you see, I have been working like an ox lately, for this is the time of year I love most to be outside toiling away, among the falling leaves of Autumn. There’ll be more photos later, as the Knitting Trail is honed to perfection !

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But hey ! Its the last day of October today, and that means it is Halloween!   For the occasion I thought I’d post a photo of something remarkably ominous from the woods!   The raven’s cultural and somewhat spooky  symbolism  is not to be debated, however here they are just a cheerful and welcomed presence, and flock about year round. They make themselves very comfortable, eating the berries in the native trees, and fruit & veggies from our garden, and pick from our compost pile too.  I think they are fascinating birds,  possessing a truly amazing intrigue and even sense of humor (they like to tease Emma every chance they get), and they are the stewards of these woods all the same.  Here is a photo I took last week, zoomed into the branches of an oak while this fellow and his mate were making deep throaty chortling & clucking conversation…
jenjoycedesign©Raven

Happy Halloween everyone !

(( Note:  I am delayed with knitting projects due to interruptions life tends to cause. ))

Knitting… And Wine?

vintage Napa Valley travel poster

An ‘American Viticulture Area’ is a designated wine grape-growing region distinguishable by geographic features, and one of these areas exists right under my feet, as I live smack dab in the middle of an appellation which sits at the tail end of the Mayacamas Mountain Range, in Northern California. The boundaries of this appellation include twenty-five square miles, with a thousand acres, planted on thin volcanic soil, and on steep mountain faces, some as steep as thirty percent! The steepness of the angle gives the vineyards benefits of more direct sunlight and better drainage, and well, as you know, that steep and rugged terrain personally means nice walking for me. Knit-walking in particular.

The unique sense of place of the mountain appellation, with a contributing factor that some of the oldest mountain vineyards are dry-farmed (that means without irrigation, that the only water the vines receive in the dry season are by their deep roots) produces wines that are ‘typically powerful in structure’. For example, cabernet sauvignon grown on the mountain commonly shows “briary flavors, moderate to bold tannins and herbal, floral aromatics ” … which translates into laymen’s words as ” Brace yourself, but oh boy is it tasty! ”
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Near the Autumnal Equinox this year, at the beginning of chardonnay harvest, the mountain hosted its fourteenth annual Appellation Wine Tasting, and so it is, the grapes grown in this region are making wines that are gaining  world-wide recognition for their unique sense of terroir, and sought after for connoisseurs’ collections.  Might I add,  the vineyards nearby where for years I have enjoyed walking, their historic chardonnay & cabernet sauvignon vines had produced wines that placed in Paris blind tastings that along with other Napa Valley vintners, turned eyes of the world (you simply must see the film “Bottle Shock” to get this historic pivot point) .

In the more expansive Napa Valley, wine is exalted to levels beyond passion, thoroughly infused into the culture of the area, and lifestyles of our greater population. Here we are visited year-round by those who flock to immerse themselves in wine, and to pair it with five-star cuisine, simply put, this picturesque countryside of vines draws ’em in, and the wine has them spending money.

To drive Upvalley along Highway 29, and along many a back road of this county, one can’t throw a stone without hitting at least a couple of vintners’ mailboxes, and there are many to be passed along the drive of endless vine rows. One might see new & old stone wall facades along the roads to emulate old Italy & old France, but really, these California neighbors know their stuff !

In 1800’s vintners claimed stake of this fertile valley & volcanic mountains and never let go.  Why would they?  Just look at it !

appellation

Now, you might be wondering what all this about a mountainous grape-growing region has to do with knitting ?   Well, actually. . . I can’t wait to show you ! 

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 A California Highlands Bonnet if there were to be one . . .

jenjoycedesign©vineyard-rows-grapes

 “Vineyard Rows”  Tam pattern is  HERE

and,

all posts about vineyards (including this one) are  here.

Au Naturale

jenjoycedesign©Shetland-yarn-bag Last week I went to my LYS to buy some Jamieson’s Of Shetland Spindrift yarn , for I have been ruminating a sort of tribute design and I want this one to be made with exceptional palette of natural shades of yarn.  I came home with colors Shetland Black, Shaela, Mooskit, and Easit.

jenjoycedesign©Jamiesons-Shetland-Spindrift While we were out walking yesterday, from one of these massive sad piles (there are many, these are only two) I took one of the gnarled twisted  historic  vines destined to be burned,  and Emma helped me carry it home, gladly, for her it was just a big stick to play with!

jenjoycedesign©piles After a week of sketching ,

 I have got it ready to knit up. . .

and now I have cast on !

 It will have checked ‘dicing’ in the band and through the colorwork motifs . . .

jenjoycedesign©diced-band-on-vine

So folks, in the days ahead, I am letting needles fly, and my world has turned into shades of natural wools,  grey-black to grey-white, and I won’t emerge from my Autumnal Hermitage until it is complete, mark my word ! ((The pink strand will not be one of it’s attributes, that is merely part of the provisional cast-on.)) I’ll be seeing you on the flip-side.

Seasonal

jenjoycedesign©golden

This knoll of Autumnal  vines above I photographed last year in late afternoon, as its leaves yellow’d and fell into the ground or floated in the gusty breezes.  Where I live , on a mountain ridge which borders Napa & Sonoma valleys, the seasons show not only in the trees, but strikingly so in these mountain vineyards.  But something very dismal has been taking place on the mountain very near by.

Change is difficult, but I suppose is necessary all the same, or we’d become rigid as logs in our outlook of the world. Well, one colossal change which has taken place in my life, is that the vineyard very close by, through which rows and roads Emma & I walked frequently for years (her whole life), acres of historic vines, has for the most part been ripped out of the ground, and are presently heaped in massive sad piles.  They are gone, and yet,at least I am grateful that I have these photos to remember them by.

These vines which were plucked out of the rocky soil of the mountain only weeks ago, once produced wines which won ribbons in blind tastings in France in their glorious past. They were beautiful and they were as jovial friends I’d pass by and wave to so often, as I would also the friendly workers who tended them.

When they were colorful and turning gold to crimson in my favorite months of October & November, they spoke of the cooling marine air pouring over the ridge, and they reminded me how happy I was that it is indeed Autumn… finally !

When they were bare as we walked along their long shadows in January, with uncut branches like tendrils, they spoke in words wintery and woody, and they spoke of the promise of a new year ahead.

As they became cropped & pruned it was is they were led to the starting gate at the race, building excitement from within, in February,  with thick grasses carpeting the earth.

Then to leap out at the blink of vernal influence, and their main branches sprouting new growth in March !

And in April & May, the poppies come…

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I have in recent weeks mourned their death. These old vines as I walked by them almost everyday while knitting, were very important to me, a part of me.  Ah but this life, death, and rebirth, and planting new is to be expected.  I wanted to make acknowledgement to the changes in this post, and my bereavements too, and even Emma’s as surely she notices, and misses her meadow walk along the canyon cliffs….

Meadow desktop

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But hey, let me cheer things up a bit I thought I’d mention a happy thing !  Kirra has won the giveaway from my book review & interview with Jean Moss, and I want to congratulate her !

((Kirra, I have sent your address to Taunton press , who have replied already that the book is on its way, and hopefully very soon the book will be in your mailbox, in time for you to make those great little gifts for your friends & family.))

Seasonal times indeed, with the gift-giving time of year nipping at crafters’ heels, time for us to leap for our needle cases and dig through our stashes and shop for more yarn as its officially 11 weeks until Christmas…yikes!!!

:: crack of whip echoes ::

Lets make tea and calmly collect our thoughts, shall we?

What gifts you planning to make this coming holiday season?

 

Harvest

jenjoycedesign©fog-over-ridge

Its harvest time on the mountain.  I think the sudden appearance of the fog in recent days has put a rush on things.  The last few sunsets has lured in delicious cooling fog from the coast, breaking the scorching hot dry spell.  Marine air from the ocean creeps along, rolling over the ridges and sinks into the inland spaces, this mountain range being one of the last hurdles before it pours hungrily north-easterly into Napa Valley . . .

jenjoycedesign©sunrise

Though the grapes love the fog, I believe when they are almost ready to pick, the flavor does not take kindly to the sudden cool moist air. So harvest bursts in to action up here !  If you look closely, you’ll see (camera zoomed in from our deck) the workers filling their bins in the this morning’s early light.  A merry chatter from the jovial pickers echoes from across the trees , along with morning song of birds.

jenjoycedesign©harvest

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Meanwhile, Emma and I just in from our walk along other (already picked) vineyard ways, during which I have finished one of another pair of these socks. Going to cut steeks on Niece’s Autumn Cardigans today !