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.

Walking With Wool

I walk in the wild places each day. I walk while I knit wool into things, and I walk while beguiled by the season. I walk into the places which pluck my thoughts from my mundane worries and meaningless schedule and bring them onto a grander stage, extending in all directions and arching from the present to a sort of gelid idea of my future.jenjoycedesign©out walking

I long for my Walk with Wool, as ever-faithful dog named Emma trots along beside me with nostrils flaring, her nose seems to float along in determination to uncover something magnificent. We make great hiking partners even though our agendas are a little different.  Step and stitch together bring me closer to landing grounded to life with a shape. My life which feels at most times so without shape, finds it’s shape this way, in the knitting, and in the walking.

Even at the times when stitches dropped, or yarn falls out of my knitting bag that is slung across my breasts shoulder-to-hip, and unknowingly dragged for a length behind while collecting decaying leaves and even stickery burrs, maybe even some twig-like things. But I feel humor in all of it, and these silly things as yarn tangling among the shrubs as Emma’s leash around things make my life feel rich as heathered colors in a strand of multi-fibered yarn, tweeded with specs of emotions and interrupted by occasional knots which are always discovered with nothing less than annoying inconvenience.

I love my yarns, as I love fresh baked bread, and coffee & chocolate, or a hand-written letter from an envelope. Their poetry is felt as I receive them from out of their bag brought home, and wound with delicious anticipation by hand off of the backs of two chairs or a swift. I love the process of tearing the label off of the skein and then encircling the expanding criss-crossing blades of wood from the swift and tied together until they open into the hoop of yarn. The swift, my new tool of trade, holds the yarn as I secure it, then admire it. Ties clipped, and the end found, gently brought out to meet my hands. To feel the swift move as my right takes the end and loosely winds it around index, middle & ring finger of my left  in a way that the fingers ‘taste’ the yarn as one sips the first cup of rich coffee or aromatic tea.

These feelings, these sensual inner rhythms,  are what a knitter like me feels about the things which make up my creative life. These paths that I wander along, seem to forgive that I am isolated from society but beckon me more passionately to come along and hunker down with nature, and so I am taking to pen so to speak. I am in the mood to begin my knitting-in-nature autobiographical ‘yarnings’ in earnest and at last, so I present to you a first glimpse of “Walking With Wool”. 

Glimpses From The Knitting Trail

jenjoycedesign©trail-blaze

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

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

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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 …

jenjoycedesign©knitting trail

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

Morning On The Knitting Trail

jenjoycedesign©morning-walk

Emma and I took off for a walk along the old road, and then on the knitting trail to visit the woods with the green moss which is now absolutely glowing from all the rain.

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I have to say, of the many oddities one can find in the woods, this was the most ! I intend to include it in a knitwear photo someday.
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Well, it’s back to my knitting loft, with a new design adventure and happy pots of tea, for the sky is greying and rain drops are already plopping down on the roof again.  Happiness is rain.  Lots and lots of rain.

((And tea with home-made shortbread.))

jenjoycedesign©tea&shortbread

Introducing Really Red !


At last “Really Red” is finished.

And she is my own design !


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

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

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

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

And in the very very near future . . .

leftover yarn means a matching tam !!!

(I’ve already cast on !)

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

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

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All posts about Really Red Cardigan ~~ here

Details on Ravelry ~~ here

Morning Walk & Knit


I’m going to go for a Walk & Knit , down this old logging road, as soon as I post this. Out my door, down this road, navigating over uneven rocky sections in road as I amble along,

… while  k n i t t i n g  ! ! !

Yes folks, this is my new habit that I am giddy about.  I’ve done it a few times already, and everytime out the door it seems I think ” I should have my knitting “.  Some habits take a while to form. So this morning is my official ritual beginning of a Morning Knit & Walk and I’ll post photos of the scenery occasionally here on Yarnings.   Odd? Well, not really, as I walk this road almost daily, as I do knit almost everyday too. I’m very excited to make something official of this, because it will not only ensure I walk more, longer even perhaps (in the case where I am anxious to get back home and do hand work ),   it will certainly help me accomplish more knitting, even if done at a slower pace  (but only slightly slower pace). Well, I am going to have to make myself a proper knitting pouch, something like an apron with a big double pocket (in case I am doing color work and I need to keep yarn balls separate) … perhaps I will zip together upon my return.

Actually, I noticed in my blog specs data, that it has been visited a couple of times on this post , and also noticed search terms ” knitting while walking ” and so I decided to investigate. I searched the same phrase, and I am surprised to find a many fellow Knitter Walkers out there in the world wide web, and also some material to be learned on the subject,  such as various  ‘knitting walking bags’ to be made or purchased !  I kid you not !!!  Is this nothing short of a revisitation to the old traditions of women like these, in this very popular photo of Shetland Peat Carriers of Olden Days ?

Hardy women knitting away while collecting peat for fuel , trying to eek out a living !

(I’ve wondered for some time, is that a big sheep ram off to the left, up the road???)  Well, I’ve got a tweed pullover I just cast on last night, so here I go, on with my hiking shoes, and one of my kitchen aprons will have to suffice for now !

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Upon my return :  I have gotten out the door and walked the back roads near my house without having to tie on my kitchen apron, because I found one of Emma’s old treat pouches which clip on served excellently to hold the yarn.  There are areas where Emma must be on leash,  and the yarn kept getting caught into the retractable leash line  … funny… so I devised a technique to pull out enough yarn for about a row, and wrap it around my arm a few times,  unwinding as I knit.  It worked fine, no mistakes,  I didn’t trip, and I worked up a sweat !