Winemakers Waistcoat

making-wine-circa-1920-californiaWinemaking in California began more than 240 years ago, when in 1779, Franciscan missionaries & Spanish Father Junípero Serra planted California’s first sustained vineyard at Mission San Diego de Alcalá, then continued on to found eight other California missions,  earning him the title of the “Father of California Wine”.

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During Prohibition in the United States, there was a loophole in the law allowing each home to “make 200 gallons of non-intoxicating cider and fruit juice per year,” thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens became home winemakers…

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Thus the Home Winemaker was born! Today winemaking has run up and down the state of California, as well as sideways, and the industry has transformed Napa Valley into a world renowned status of a wine & culinary mecca, although admittedly its beginning was somewhat rustic & countrified.

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The Italians came, the French came, and then the world followed, to settle their green thumbs into an enterprise which  since the 1970’s seems explosive and unending.

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So, have you noticed the vests worn by the winemakers in all of these old photos?

I have born a new collection in tribute to the history of the Califonia winemakers and their wines, in the region where I live, nestled in the fertile hills & dales of Napa Valley & Beyond, and I am aptly naming this kick-off design “Winemakers Waistcoat”…

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This my friends, is the end result of a heck of a lot of designing and intensive Fair Isle knitting !   As  I live in the west mountains of a famous Northern Californian  wine-making region, and here making wine is the thing to do... where practically everybody or their brother is a wine-maker at some level of existence. Lol.. thats no joke.

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So, if you are a wine-maker, or are  just keen on the novelty of wine & vineyards, here is a colorwork vest pattern for you to knit!

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This contemporary colorwork vest is knit in natural shades of Jamiesons of Shetland Spindrift . “Winemakers Waistcoat” uses my own original motifs in the traditional Fair Isle technique; motifs of a large border of splashy asymmetric grape vines, a border of more symmetric vines, a border of abstract trellised vines, and peeries of tiny leaves between trellis posts, make up vineyard rows of variety and interest, and motifs are mirror reversed from center back…

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Winemakers Waistcoat is kicking off a new collection of knitterly varietals, from vest to mitts, to hats~~ its all going to pour out from here, so grab a glass and cast on tonight!

You can find more details about this pattern over on Ravelry HERE

Those of you who have been following Yarnings for a long time may remember my “Vineyard Rows”  California Highlands Bonnet, which at the time was  a tribute to my beloved walking spaces in the high mountain vineyards of Napa Valley. You can see more posts about the creation of all things vineyards from around where I live, particularly this post Knitting & Wine.

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!

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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?

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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.

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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.

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Hoping lots of merriment to you this coming Thanksgiving Holiday!

 

New (Vineyard) Horizons

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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.

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 !

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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 . . .

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 “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 . . .

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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.

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Autumn Scapes

Well,  good news has given me a sigh of relief,  and things regarding life on my mountain are not as grim as I had imagined (I talk about in this post the other week) .  Not all the vineyards are uprooted, and this one, perhaps my most walked, seeming like a comfortable nest over-looking the valley, appears to remain, though its devastation is probably only postponed to next Spring.  Most all of the vineyards are going to be replanted with new vines.  This golden landscape photo was taken last year at this time, at end of October. I just love Autumn !

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On another thought, I wasn’t going to post again until I had finished submission of the pattern which I’ve been discussing for a few weeks.  All I can say is its nearly ready, just a last-minute bout of design-insecurity seems to be my biggest obstacle.    🙂

Now, if you’ll excuse us,  Emma and I are ready to walk out in this Autumnal Wonderland !

Seasonal

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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 !

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.

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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

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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 . . .

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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.

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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 !

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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 .