Manzanita Blossom

photo from archives:  A Storm On The Way

The blossoms of the Arctostaphylos (manzanita) on the ridge trail of the mountain ~~ one with pink flowers, and one with white ~~ are the first blossoms arriving in winter!

pink blooming manzanita

pink blooming manzanita

Nestled side by side on the ridge, the two varieties are perfectly complimenting of each other, and as fragrant as they are breathtaking in beauty.

white blooming manzanita

white blooming manzanita

((You can read more about the manzanita in this post ))

Now looking at my latest tweed yarn colorway:  “manzanita blossom” …  it will be a pink, with a just a dusting of white.

jenjoycedesign© rolags

A blush of pink against rocky volcanic landscape is one of the most beautiful things in the mountain landscape, and I do think I found just the right shade ( although I wished I put a tiny bit more white in the last blending layer) …

jenjoycedesign© spun manzanita

A shy pink.

A pink which is the color of mid winter … pale and fresh.

jenjoycedesign© spun1

There in the pink is the saturated neutral too.

jenjoycedesign© spun

Now, let me show you how I do it…

♣     ♣     ♣

Techy stuff for Manzanita (pink)…

  •  Color Saturated Neutral recipe for approx 5g each of primary triad of blue, red, and yellow:  Blended thoroughly on blending board with 15g of white as many times as necessary to fully homogenize…

jenjoycedesign© primary neautral + white

  • With neutral-white mix, layer alternately with 5g each of Fuscia, Rose, and Flamingo Pinks, and 5-10g more white  (see Blending For Tweed Simplified)

jenjoycedesign© add pinks and white

  •  Lift batt, and layer again twice more.  (Note to improve: try last layering with another 5g white. to get more white ‘streaking’)
  • Draw off rolags.
  • Colorway blend:  “Manzanita blossom” .
  • See ALL color blending experiments & recipes archived in Tweed Chronicles

 

Clover

jenjoycedesign© wild-red-clover

photo in archives: A Walk Among Wildflowers

There is absolutely nothing that I can think of as red in the wild landscape as the crimson clover which grows abundant in the meadows nearby on the mountain, the meadows where Emma and I have walked countless times, and forefront of my mind when I think of a name for the colorway of red. Wild, herbaceous gobs of crimson, are the trifolium incarnatum  flowers.

jenjoycedesign© red clover rolags

Crimson is the color I am trying to grasp.

jenjoycedesign© red clover spinning

It needs a little improvement for next time (perhaps more red)

jenjoycedesign© red clover spun 2

But this is it ~~~  my crimson clover .

jenjoycedesign© red clover spun

I am looking forward to six months from now when the wildflowers will hopefully have returned from the burned topsoil, as the grass has already … shy little green sprouts everywhere !  Tomorrow morning is the winter solstice, and I am glad to see it finally come, and to see pass my huge disappointment of  once favored ( oh how fickle of a season) Autumn.    Winter come, o’ please be gentle, cast your sleepy spell on the landscape, and clean up the blackened death from the wildfire, soften it with rain and bring back the wildflowers and the moss, so that the landscape may wake anew with spring growth, restored and resilient and colorful.    Autumn,  to you I bid good bye.

♣     ♣     ♣

Techy stuff for Red Clover…

  • Lift neutral batt, layer alternately with 5g each of ruby red and rose pink.
  • Lift batt, layer alternately with 5g (or more) of red.
  • Draw off rolags.
  • Colorway blend:  “Red Clover” .
  • See ALL color blending experiments & recipes archived in Tweed Chronicles

 

the color of fog …

March's entrance

photo from archives: Shades Of Fog

Fog is a huge part of life on the mountain, for me, and I just love the fog show …

jenjoycedesign© fog Jan 2015

fog in January, 2015

I love to watch it pour over the ridge from the Pacific, fluid and volatile, and into the valley,  or splashing up from it.  I also love it just thickly hovering about …

jenjoycedesign©blue oaks in fog

photo from archives:  Foggy

So naturally, my next tweed endeavor must capture the color of fog !

jenjoycedesign© fog white

It is my basic white,  well,  a near white, where like fog, you see faint color of images behind …

 

Just a tiny bit of the color-saturated neutral to start, then blended several times with increasing amount of white wool, so you’ll see flecks of blue, red and yellow upon close inspection.

jenjoycedesign© 018

I really am enjoying developing a personal hand-spun color palette, and see no end to my combing wool in different combinations, racing obsessively from blending board to the spinning wheel, grabbing my camera to photograph, wash, dry, wind on swift, photogragh again …

jenjoycedesign© fog 5

… then on to the next !

♣     ♣     ♣

Techy stuff for Fog (white)…

  •  Color Saturated Neutral recipe for approx 10-15% base, primary triad of blue, red, and yellow:  Blended thoroughly on blending board.   Note: for a more dramatic tweed, with gobs of color splashing through, blend only once , then continue.
  • Starting with white, layer alternately with neutral (see Blending For Tweed Simplified)
  •  Lift batt, divide as needed and layer again and again with more white, repeatedly fully hemogenized, more or fewer times until white/neutral values balance as desired.
  • Draw off rolags.
  • Colorway blend:  “Fog” .
  • See ALL color blending experiments & recipes archived in Tweed Chronicles

Quercus

jenjoycedesign© quercus chrysolepis

Quercus Chrysolepis

I just got back from a rather short walk up the ridge, and the acorns are falling now. Black shiny nuggets with golden cups, are the ripe fruit of the Canyon Live Oak, native and prolific on this wild Northern California mountain landscape.  I find the young trees shrub-like with serrated leaves, and observe them transition into smoother edged leaves, sometimes having both leaf shapes on the same branch, but to eventually become the mature oak with mostly smooth foliage.  The photo shows both types from the same young tree, and how lucky was I to spot a fully developed acorn still attached to the limb!

What I love most about this oak is the black acorns that absolutely litter the pathway as I meander along the ridge, beckoning Autumn, and cooler temperatures, and rain. Sigh. Right now we’re having heat wave after heatwave , scorching temperatures so typical of Northern California.  One thing is for sure, there are only three more weeks of summer now before the Autumnal equinox, and my inner compass faces Autumn as my only vision, and to think of rain now is to think of a returning oasis, an all consuming and fervent wish.

Not only do the acorns fall, but I find my tears fall too, as Emma, who is now twelve, does not wish to walk with me up the ridge now, but to nap at home while I try to find the incentive to trek out on my own. Admittedly, it is not easy, nor is it very often, and I have found myself in dire need of a change of heart for this Autumn, this acorn fall, leaf fall, tear fall.

I must try to be unafraid of the elements out on my own, and capture the wildlife in spirit to bring back to my Emma.

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

November Chill

jenjoycedesign© Autum LandscapesEarly this morning I walked to my secret hidden knitting spot which from a neighboring high mountain vineyard overlooks a landscape of beautiful mountain ridges.  I caught the sun illuminating the gold on vines, and maple trees, a lovely sight which always takes my breath away.  Oh look!  Hot air balloons making their way from the valley floor up the side of the mountain!

jenjoycedesign© balloons

This morning, I managed to get a shrouded view of the majestic Mt Diablo in the background. Can you see it there, in the foggy atmosphere?

jenjoycedesign© November Landscape

This one is from yesterday morning, with the rather strikingly deco-esque water tank. . .

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The forested paths seem to sparkle now with golden leaves falling from the trees to the ground,  I just love to knit while wandering over these paths which meander through the rustic forest.

jenjoycedesign© November Landscape 5

jenjoycedesign© Autumn Landcape 2

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The chill of Autumn has begun to take hold. We’ve had some rain with more on the way, and the landscape is now turning shades of gold-to-crimson… and with shy sprouts of grasses coming up!  These weeks have been busy for me, as I’ve managed to make a string of six new patterns in a relatively short space~~  Altitude Cowls and Mitts (the last being the Twist Mitts)

Its time for walks shuffling through rustling leaves, fires in the wood-stove, and the kettle whistling as mugs are filled and sipped throughout the day ((my new favorite is fresh ginger tea!)) . . . and of course knitting till the cows come home for holiday gifts.  Being already past mid-November there are only a short five weeks left to this year, but I am working steady on the designing as well as keeping a firm hold on the homestead.

jenjoycedesign© November Landscape 6

Hoping lots of merriment to you this coming Thanksgiving Holiday!

 

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.

jenjoycedesign©acorns 2

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!

Knitting In Nature

019It rained again, and the moss is glowing !

We’ve continued our walks nearly everyday this Autumn.

020

Out in the freshly rained-on moss, and romping around and smelling things.

( Emma tends to like to stick her whole head into tree caves…)

023The really remarkable thing is, that while we were walking in the woods, I was knitting the very colors of the moss on oak bark, and it took me by surprise how much I reflect the colors of my surroundings.

Presently knitting the sweater for this hat , in the colorway ‘moss on oak’…jenjoycedesign©green&grey

Knitting in nature is one of the things I love to do most of all.

Walking in Autumn

jenjoycedesign©out in AutumFirst, a lovely shot from our Autumn walk the last weekend.

And now just back from a walk, out rather late we went up the ridge a little ways, by the high vineyard, (um… which is sorely lacking a vineyard for the present)…

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Then we turned around , and went into the woods. Here , knitting poised on a log, and with not much progress from the last photo of it….

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Then we decided to explore and left the trail, began crawling through and over all sorts of things, collecting all sorts of burrs and stuff in our hair, to scout out new places.

 Oh look! Another huge mushroom growing from a dead tree!

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 And then….

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… we ended up at a rather tall henge-like rock out-cropping I did not recognize.

(I’ll take another photo of this place another time soon, in the mist, for affect).

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Seriously though, with different angles to the familiar places, I thought there for a few minutes we were lost. (not really that would be rather impossible) A glance easterly and I see Mt Diablo in the distance, a good bearing.

011Then I knew where we were exactly and that there’d be close by the old dilapidated bench from one of the abandoned old shacks nearby….

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Sure enough, after scrambling through a few bushes, there it was !

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A great little secret picnic & knitting spot, wouldn’t you say?

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Have you been out on any walks this Autumn yet?

Each Day In Autumn

jenjoycedesign©vineyard after harvest

Emma and I have been out walking (and I knitting while walking) everyday this Autumn so far, and plan to walk everyday for the remainder of Autumn, bringing camera and sharing photos often here and celebrate the best time of year !  Harvest is in process, finished in this particular vineyard a stone’s throw from where we live. We passed it along our forest paths near by.  Then Emma spied a big yellow fungus !!!

jenjoycedesign©fungus

jenjoycedesign©fungus in woods

On through hilly & hollow lands we walk….

jenjoycedesign©Wandering

And with fragrances abound, Emma follows her nose rapturously…jenjoycedesign©wandering2

jenjoycedesign©wandering3

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And just around this bend (from the opposite direction of last hike posted) we end up back home …

jenjoycedesign©almost home

First Morning of Autumn

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knitting at the peak

I know two posts in one day. Its just that I wanted to share with you all my first walk of Autumn.  We were out in the early hourse on this first morning of Autumn, knitting while hiking about the woods a bit, then hauling on up the ridge to the peak of the mountain (at 2600′ elevation.) There were beautiful views of the distant ridges along the way up.  Mt. Diablo in the distance, rather southerly (to the right behind the trees)…
009Then higher up, looking more westerly, a grand shot of Mt. Tamalpais,  named by the indigenous Native Americans meaning “Sleeping Princess” (did you know Mt Tam is where mountain-biking was invented?) …
011Then at the peak, overlooking Napa Valley, easterly, and the sun was already high …
019We went down our favorite well-trodden paths on the way home…
026and our favorite short-cut deer trails…

028

035Then across the last oak wooded section before landing back home. It was a glorious walk this morning, and I have made progress on a little knitting too !

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 I hope your start of  Autumn (or Spring) is equally as happy as mine.

What are you up to?

Camp Socks

jenjoycedesign©camp knitting
Its already been almost three weeks since we were at 9000 ft elevation and I was knitting-in-the-wild beneath a lovely brewing storm on a huge granite rock. I had so thoroughly enjoyed the quick packing trek to Granite Lake, the sitting cross-legged on the granite in complete stitching meditation, one with the darkening sky and gathering storm, the quiet of everything before the outbreak, even the fish hunkering down.  Yet I remember yet distinct intermittent sounds ~~  the wind whipping the tent about and water boiling to make trail coffee. And it just doesn’t get any better than that ( High Sierra trip posted here ).

So here my friends, are another pair of Penny Candy Socks. Just a simple, wild & maybe even frivolous (and very blue) pair of socks, made on that High Sierra excursion but I hadn’t gotten around to washing & blocking them until just now.

jenjoycedesign©camp socks finished !

 

jenjoycedesign©finished camp socks

And they are added to the slowly growing pile of knitted socks designated for xmas gifts….

jenjoycedesign©pile of socks

 

Gad… already LESS than only five months away!   Horror of the crafting gift-maker-and-giver is that xmas appears in a blink after sweltering heat of summer, when one couldn’t feel further away from the winter solstice and gift-giving frenzy. But I’m wise now, at my age, I’ve learned, and I am already stashing knitted gifts…

jenjoycedesign©box of sox

 *  *  *

I’ve already gotten about 12″ into one of two Autumn Sweaters 2014 , but no hints on that yet (top top secret!) .  In contrast to tiny stitches of fingering & fine fingering yarn for socks, gloves, hats….  I am knitting rounds and rounds of worsted-weight, and how refreshingly speedy I’m turning out the rounds for a change!

In the next few days my nieces will be visiting up here in the Hermitage again, for a visit in their last week of summer vacation, so we’ll be up to baking in the kitchen, in addition to just generally “chil-laxing” as they put it,  and not without their ECD’s ((electronic devices of choice ))~~ but no doubt the visit will be  punctuated with famously artistic and fun photo-shoot after digging through my cedar trunk now becoming quite full of knitteds.  Looking forward to that,  and we’ll see you on the flipside of the riotous occasion!

Note:  Oh! The hand-made wooden Shaker-style box, if not authentic Shaker box, was found last week at my favorite thrift shop for $4 ~ a bargain !  It is now a lovely knitting notions box & photo prop as well, and I’m super pleased with myself for finding it.

Chaltén

Mount Chaltén

Dear Jen,
when you asked me what is the paradigmatic mountain of Patagonia, I did not hesitate in giving you the answer: Chaltén, the blue smoking mountain. In the last trench of the Andes range, Chaltén raises like a magnificent tower transmitting majesty and ferociousness. It is the main summit of a range that has the shape of a croissant opening onto the East.
The mountain, also called Fitz Roy in memory of the British sailor that explored the Patagonian coast with Darwin, is one of the most challenging peaks in the world, with vertical slippery slabs constantly hit by the icy winds of the South Pacific Ocean. These winds bring about the rare aeolic phenomenon that makes its top always appear as it was surrounded by clouds, which give the mountain the smoking volcano look its name is derived from.
In the rare occasions of good weather, its massive granite structure turns rose hue at sunrise. During the day, if it is not hidden behind the clouds, its image reflects on the Lagoon of the Three. By nightfall, the clouds usually thin out and wisp around its peak.
Mount Chaltén is certainly one of the most emblematic places of Patagonia, for its magesty and its wilderness.
Alejandro

*  *  *

Since before the recent June Solstice (that’s winter solstice in Argentina) I’ve been working on designing a beret that I now present, and that I’m naming ” Chaltén “.  As my dear and wonderful Argentine friend, professor, and naturalist Alejandro has taught me so many things about Patagonia, from the spectacular Andes Mountains to the wildlife & botany of the place, to the history of the Welsh settlements in Chubut. ( I mustn’t forget that I’ve also learned much about the making & drinking of Yerbe Mate , having many different kinds in my cupboard, sent to me by Alejandro. ) It was in fact , a daunting etherial image of Chaltén which being etched in my mind from a dream,  which was the force of curiosity to bring us to meet (on an internet pen-pal site, nearly four years ago, as I wanted to meet a Patagonian to write to).

Thank you Alejandro ~~ this Chaltén Beret is dedicated to our many letters over the years, our story we are writing, your kindness, and all that you have taught me ! And thank you , thank you for the letter about Chaltén which I so wanted to have in this debut post.  xx Jen 

*  * *

Here is the pattern prototype, knit with Jamiesons Spindrift , and embellished with dos chuflines (two tassels) . . .

Chaltén’s  snowy white teeth seem to leap toward the sky, shrouded by mist and blueish atmosphere ~~ here is my knitted interpretation of Chaltén in a colorwork beret.  Colorwork motifs inspired by “Guarda Pampa” patterns, symbols of Patagonia, profiles of  peaks of the Andes Range and reflections of them in the mountain lakes. The Argentine gauchos (shepherds & cattlemen)  adopted some elements of the Mapuche design and incorporated them in their Ponchos and other fabric pieces, reinforcing regional identities of the provincial groups of Gauchos, almost along the lines of Tartans in Scotland.

guarda pampa

example of guarda pampa design

And a second, the first prototype, knit in Alice Starmore Hebridean 2ply I had in my stash … embellished with a single chuflín (tassel)

Chaltén beret features a unique two-inch-wide shaped colorwork faced band, comprising of two mirrored shaped stockinette layers, a crown of concentric decreases and second colorwork motif just above the rim.  Finished with Andean Folk style tassels known colloquially by Patagonians as chuflines ( much of yesterday was spent photographing for a tutorial on making these , which will debut with the pattern , a ‘chuflín-making’ tutorial on my Tips From The Table tutorial page.)  And here is my own very sketchy hand-drawn schematic .  Measurement A is diameter, measures 10-10.5 inches laying flat.  B is depth, measures 8 – 8.5 inches when folded into quarters.  C is circumference of band, measures 20 inches.

Chaltén schematic

click image to enlarge

Chau !  In the near future I will be augmenting “Chaltén  Beret” with a straight-sided ski hat version, the “Chaltén Skier” … it will be so re-loco … I am looking forward to designing it ! ((  Note: All who purchase the pattern will recieve updates  when the ski hat is augmented into the pattern. ))  I have decided to make the debut of Chaltén Beret in two installments, this first being more informative and about the inspiration behind the design, and the second, featuring my nieces modelling (which I’m going to do this afternoon !) .. and also presenting the pattern.  So watch this space, Chaltén Beret pattern arrives this week!

Edit in next day:  Introducing the pattern & photo shoot presentation of this design, you must see ! 🙂

jenjoycedesign©Chaltén Berets

Read about Mount Chaltén in Wikipedia 

Fitz Roy

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.
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.

A True Robin’s Egg Blue

jenjoycedesign©robin's egg
I just picked this up from the duff of the forest floor. I nearly stepped on it while knitting along my woods path. In the woods we have a lot of robins , year round, so occasionally one finds a little shell cast aside, just like this, a stark contrast of blue shade against brownish tones of the leaves on the ground. Had I a camera with me I would have done well to photograph it against its natural setting, but I didn’t, and so I collected my little prize into my knitting bag and brought it home to photograph on some white linen.

This color blue, a greenish blue, is such a beautiful color, and I have it now here as reference when examining hues, if I may be forgetting what it looks like. Let it etch into my color memory, for I want to find a way to knit this color!

Shades Of Fog

March's entrance

Knitting shades of fog, and of rain clouds, the colors reflecting this morning’s landscape, into a new project with the vernal influences taking hold for my nieces’ Spring Sweaters 2014.   Delightedly I get to report showers mixed with rain and fog brings a fresh start for March !

jenjoycedesign©drizzle -&- fog

We are on the tail end of winter friends, aren’t we?
Here on the mountain the misty clouds are speeding past us, hovering and temperamental.
In Northern California, we are finally having some much-missed moisture, and I’m just hoping for a continued rainy & foggy spring.

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.

Red Sky At Night

jenjoycedesign©sunset - Copy

Red sky at night; shepherds delight !

This photo was taken from the same spot as the photo in previous post ‘blue dawn’.  In one day, the sky went from an awe-inspiring blue dawn to a rather surreal orange-red & blue sunset, making it quite a lucky day with the camera !  Usually I’m not so lucky.  These clouds were like fresh blended fluffy bats of wool just off of the carder, hanging there for a long time into twilight.  So, what about a blue dawn and an orange-red dusk? I am finding that the very thing I’m knitting is expressed so well by an Autumn sky photographed a few days ago…

jenjoycedesign©malabrigo

Though the red is definitely subdued in the photo, it is at least suggestive of a ‘red sky at night ‘, knitted in Malabrigo sock yarn which I bought at my local yarn shop  Yarns On First  while browsing their beautiful yarns  recently,  in colors ” Botticelli Red ” and ” Impressionist Sky ” .  Wouldn’t you say the sky in above photo is perfect model for an impressionist painting?

What pattern you see here actually, is Pretty Little Things gloves in the works, yes, sisters of  Pretty Little Things (PLT) socks . These little charmers are taking their sweet time,  and I’m giving them all the time they need, though I did want to show you what I’m working on at least.  Happy, fun, and challenging are gloves !

Blue Dawn

jenjoycedesign©dawn-blue

This morning early, as dawn approached, less than an hour ago, I was looking at shades of blue Malabrigo on their website, studying & sleuthing for that complete natural deep indigo blue, the color of a brewing storm.

I noticed as I looked up from the place I was sitting, in front of the wood stove, next to Emma snoozing in her chair, that the dawn sky with another rain storm on it’s way, showed me the very colors I am hunting for ! I kid you not.  At about 6:20 a.m. I grabbed the camera, and captured it ~~ only moments ago! Here it is folks, ‘Storm Mountain Dawn Sky’. Such a color ! Now that I’ve taken this photo, I can hopefully replicate the blue.

By the way, I am totally into blue lately, absolutely yearning for it, and the sea of unknown possibility is sure to cast me out to drift in it !

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

*  *  *

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?

 

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 . . .

jenjoycedesign©door

Summer Sky

jenjoycedesign©finished-un-sock

What a day it is today !

Actually, quite warm out, and the sun high in the sky, 1 o’clock p.m… perfect time to finish the first sock of two , and have it drying out on the line . . .

jenjoycedesign©sky-blue

The blue summer sky with whispy clouds (clouds not in this photo) .  Summer Sky socks for my sister-in-law (the one in Vancouver, who didn’t mention it , but I sensed a little bit of sock envy as I knit her father a pair the whole time I was there a couple of weeks ago ).  I hope to have these on her feet by the Summer Soltice coming up.

jenjoycedesign©striped-sock

Not just any sock, but once again, in my unrelenting quest for improvisation I went and striped everything, the heel flap , the everything ! And, did not follow a pattern folks . . .

I think I finally get sock knitting !

jenjoycedesign©striped-heel

Okay, I’ve cast on and have started the second sock, so I better get busy !

Lupinus Albifrons

jenjoycedesign©chullo-detail3
Lupinus Albifrons.  Known as  just ‘ lupine ‘, it is one of the more populated native wildflowers of Northern California, and in April fills the mountain meadows, between grape vines in the rows, and trail-sides with deep blue & purple variegation.  A small woody shrub when mature, however, where grass is mowed annually (as in the vineyard rows here on the mountain)  and where seed is planted from the wind, you’ll see it popping up everywhere as young single stemmed flowers . . .

jenjoycedesign©luipins-albafrons
I luckily had just the perfect yarn handy when I became inspired from my walk of last week.  I had a bunch of green which I over-dyed from grey wool which  perfectly illustrates the ‘silvery’ grey-green leaves of the plant. The rich deep blue and purple played illusive games however with the camera, which wasn’t able to distinguish the two, and both came out as blue tones in most of the photos. But here it is , un chullo, for my brother’s birthday tomorrow!

048

I absolutely go wild photographing still-life knitteds ~~ its just one of the things I love doing, in every light possible , which enables me to make an assemblage of photos that catches different tones and characteristics  of the yarns and knitted shapes . . .

jenjoycedesign©chullo1

The detail with which I experimented for the first time on this chullo hat, was to add a running crocheted chain just inside the typically chullo-esque double-crocheted edge, to neaten up the edge.

jenjoycedesign©crocheted-chain-inside-edge

I love to make my chullo hats a bit of a hybrid with gnome hats by decreasing into a point, then finishing with a braid extending off of the top . . .

jenjoycedesign©braid-yarn

They blossom into a hat with a lot of character and playful whimsy . . .

jenjoycedesign©chullo3

The crocheted edges  tame the curling tendency of the stockinette stitch. . .

jenjoycedesign©chullo2

Braid finishes being made on both ear flaps . . .

(the purple really pops in this photo below !)

jenjoycedesign©ear-flap-finish

jenjoycedesign©ear-flap-braid

Un chullo,  inspired from the lupine flowers  in the fields of Northern California.  To be given to my brother tomorrow, and there could be nobody more appreciative than he, who wears them everyday , and who is also a botanical wizard !

jenjoycedesign©finished !

NOTE :  I have taken notes as I knit this one, so if anybody is interested, I could assemble a pattern of sorts from it.

Details on Ravelry HERE

Well, I’m off to walk the mountain with Emma, but I will leave you with a little slide show of the early morning walk of last weekend, from which this chullo’s lupine photos were taken . . .

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Lupine of Northern California

jenjoycedesign©lupine
The other day I took this photograph while knit-walking , the fields bursting with wildflowers, always the first being the blue-ish purple and green lupine.
So it inspired the colorway of this chullo hat (which I’m knitting for my brother’s birthday, as he is a chullo fiend) I am delighted how rich the tones are with my over-dyed green yarn from last autumn, and the blue & purple work together. . .

jenjoycedesign©chullo

Happy Easter holiday everyone !

jenjoycedesign©leaf-bud

Stormy

jenjoycedesign©cabled

Cables ! ! !

Twisted while walking over hill and dale . .

and counted so I could watch my surroundings.

K (1,2,3,4,5,6), P (7,8), K (9,10), P (11,12) . . . repeat,

 & twist cables every 13th row.

jenjoycedesign©cabled-hat

Knitted while walking in the last of the Autumnal color.

Environs greying more each day as the leaves fall to the ground and colors melt away.

Not the last, but another knitted gift for one soon to be Thirteen !!!

I have named it simply . . .

 ” Stormy “.

jenjoycedesign©stormy

 *   *   *

Details of this project found on Ravelry here

Turning

A high mountain vineyard.

Emma and I have been walking around this morning, for several hours. She was busy sniffing & tracking while I’ve been knitting. I have knit quite a lot while on the move this morning, I’m actually quite self-satisfied.  I had a bunch of photos, but this one, with the yellow leaves turning on the vines,  just seems to want to stand alone.

Other photos of this walk stashed  here .

Summer Breeze

It’s particularly quiet on the mountain this morning.

In the summer stillness of Northern California, there is usually no weather to report for months on end. Sometimes there is a breeze. Sometimes a little fog which swells up from the valley in the morning. Sometimes a relentless wind which cracks off dried branches from the trees in the forest and whips off tips of new growth, littering the country road.

The wind whistling through the tree tops is the most eerie up in the Rafters O’ Society, above the towns, overlooking ridges which  overlap , one behind another clear into the next county. Because in the breeze one hears a kind of silence which is felt in the restless sound of the trees quivering. The fact that one hears *only* the breeze, I guess is what makes it seem so quiet.

(Two pensive ravens perched in a dead fir tree, photographed with a zoom from my house, yesterday early evening.)

I do like rain, or even a lot of rain ~ in fact, I love rain.  But for now there’s blue sky. Lots and lots of clear, dry, and very blue sky.  This summer season makes me feel rather despondent, clear through September.  I must hunker down in the shadows.  It’s time to make a good strong pint of tea and stir things up.

In the dusty wild west, where things are a few degrees removed from finery, some of us pioneers, well, we devise our own way of doing things.  I do have a couple of small tea pots, but I have gotten into the habit over the years to brew loose-leaf tea in a canning jar,  sometimes a pint sized (to be pour’d into a pint glass) , but more times than not, I make up in a quart-sized jar.  What is left can easily be put into the fridge for cold tea later, which is a treat in the summer heat.

This really isn’t about tea, or the wind, or the ravens.  Its about my changing course,  about drinking in what nature brings to me, and waiting for the wind in my sails again.  Having  had a house full of family for an epic family reunion I am ready for something cheerfully  rejuvenating.   I am going to shake it loose and default to some good ol’ classic knitting ! So time to finish these…

I learn from my mistakes very clumsily,  like using a machete through the bush, I rip back and then knit forward, rip and knit, rip, knit.

Last night I had to rip back the mindless knitting I had apparently done while at a long break during a gig last weekend, I kept decreasing through the heel gussets (two at a time mistake) and ended up with far too few stitches. So, having fixed that, now I am merrily on my way again.

Windy

Went out after sundown to gather up the laundry and found the fabric and colors amazingly fresh whipping around in the wind.


Something about the sky-blue colors of cotton and linen, against the green leafy woods.

I feel inspired to sew a summer dress.