Rain has soaked the earth in our neck of the woods since some time in mid October, so much rain in fact, that there were run-off streams rushing down the hill that I haven’t seen in a couple of years. The return of the rain season is at last on time, calming everybody’s nerves and we’re settling into a bit of a post fire season bliss. At present we’re having a spell of warm clear days after all that rain. So clear and mild out early this morning I was able to get out with my camera while Juno & Jeff went to dog class and I had a beautiful sunrise all to my self! Mid Autumn, and the golden oaks and maple trees are glowing, turning of the season in balance and everything in its place. What is new: a thing showed up at the very end of October, and if you’re wondering what that odd photo of a small bit of machinery is, its an Ashford electric spinner folks! I write with exclamation and excitement, but to be honest, I’m not sure I’m so crazy about it. I much prefer spinning on my Ashford Traditional spinning wheel any day, but in recent months I have been unable to sit at the treadle wheel without a bit of back pain, or sitting at all for too long. So I couldn’t resist the temptation to try one, as my newly chronic back situation caused a bit of a dilemma, the optimal plan in doing so is that I am able to spin and ply while standing! I must admit in its favor, that it is quite a thrill to ply off several hundred grams of singles bobbins at lightening speed, something that perhaps in time I will find a real benefit from. Until then, its in the closet while the beautiful Ashford Traditional is out of the closet. And Juno is eight months old this week ! Although her behavior is full tilt puppy still, and lots of misbehaving and testing her humans, she’s getting an adult coat of fur and looking quite beautiful . . .
We’ve spent two nights so far in the new house, so we’ve officially moved in, even though the construction mess is ongoing, we’re all just happy to be finally home. Now I’m busy cleaning out the tiny house to its former glory before two humans, a dog, and countless spiders inhabited it for seventeen months, while Jeff continues the finish building. I woke this morning early and watched the rose-gold sunrise, while Emma in her Help’emUp harness acclimates to the new front porch, as that was one of her favorite places before, where she use to spend hours napping in the early mornings.
This morning I went for a first walk from new home into the nearby vineyard. Its harvest in the California Highlands, and the grapes up on the mountain are ripening to perfection.
We are back home, it is Autumn, and life is good.
From this , to this…
Just before harvest, a few years ago, a regionally famous mountain vineyard ‘next door’ was sold. The bordering woods, meadows, and canyon cliffs, as well as bumpy old connecting roads between the quiet & quaint old vineyard clearings were my favorite places to walk with Emma, and we had to abandon it. I go into more detail in this post, but I am trying to focus on the new replanted growth now.
For an epic pause in the life of this mountain landscape there has been rattling machinery disking the earth, pounding great big steel things into the ground, deep trenching miles for drainage, electric conduit, irrigation, erecting a water tank the size of a house…. the usual sprawling construction project of a corporation taken over a couple of hundred acres with jeeps & four-wheelers buzzing about everywhere all of the time.
But now there is a calm.
Eventually, and ever so gradually, nature softens the work of men, and this mountain vineyard is whispering of spring growth again.
Since the original design “Vineyard Rows Tam” I have been off & on playing with a series of designs all conceived as tribute to the memory of the beautiful historic vines which were destroyed and the natural wildness of the place that I loved. Onward. Early this last winter I designed Winemakers Waistcoat, honoring the history of California’s industry in wine, but most recently I have felt a sort of turning about of attitudes; away from a yearning tribute to the past, toward a hope for the future in this place, and maybe even that I sense the presence of the wilderness returning. At least a little bit.
My most recent design, as yet only one mitt, and no pattern yet written, expresses this with motifs of trellises and budding vines eager to branch and fill the expanse. I am sharing with you my latest design a little prematurely, but what the heck…
The mitts design is an evolving prototype, but here it is nestled into an ensemble with the other two in my Vineyard Rows series.
Just waving hello to everybody with this one mitt, as I immerse myself in a hopeful spring, and lots of knit-trekking up the mountain (yes, past the vineyard) on the way to the peak…
I hope you are all enjoying this transformative season!
Winemaking 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”.
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…
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.
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.
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”…
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.
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!
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…
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.
Happy Autumn Equinox everyone! It is in recent years, my favorite day of the year. This morning the equinox occurred at 7:21 in the morning, and I planned to get to my secret knitting spot on one of my trails, overlooking a vineyard and hazy Mt Diablo in the distance, only about a ten-minute walk from my door at the most. Here are some more photos of our little early morning walk out to greet the new season…
Emma enjoyed the scent of the fresh wildlife tracks from the night, and I enjoyed the brilliant angled light fuzzing through the trees. We then reached our secret spot on time, about 7:20, here standing on the big stump of a very large fir, gives a wonderful vantage point of the area we live in.
The light at sunrise had an amber glow and the air is cool. I thoroughly love this little loop in the woods next to my house, at first light. Tomorrow and often in the days following, I think I will come here to greet the sunrise and feel Autumn’s transitory beauty. Perhaps a thermos of tea and sit on the stump here, knit, and thoroughly enjoy the season as the leaves slowly turn.
I also have a little new knitting going on, but I won’t give details for another week or so…
Enjoy your first-day-of-Autumn and happy knitting!
Early 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!
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?
This one is from yesterday morning, with the rather strikingly deco-esque water tank. . .
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.
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.
Hoping lots of merriment to you this coming Thanksgiving Holiday!
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 !!!
On through hilly & hollow lands we walk….
And just around this bend (from the opposite direction of last hike posted) we end up back home …
My latest design, another Vineyard Rows accessory . . .
the Vineyard Rows Toque,
which I made allusion to in my previous post All This Talk About Toque.
This design may actually lead to mittens & gloves, pullover & cardigan eventually, but I can’t make any promises yet. I am working with a new yarn which is far easier to find This Side Of The Pond than the Jamiesons’ Spindrift Shetla:nd yarn.
Vineyard Rows Toque is designed with 100% Peruvian Highlands Wool :
Cascade 220 fingering, in Jet, Charcoal, Silver & Natural.
Back-story : Early last Autumn I was sad witness to destruction of a very old vineyard very close by, which was a rich and important part of our lives here on the mountain, and where Emma and I walked nearly every day. When I made this post Seasonal , I was so shaken seeing the old vines ripped right out of the soil, roots and all, and heaped in massive piles on top of plowed soil , never again to be pruned or picked. All the familiar faces of the friendly workers to whom I’d often wave ‘Hola!’ vanished, as there were no vines to be tended.
So I launched into my tribute to those vines, in my Vineyard Rows Collection. There will be many designs in this collection I can only hope , the first being Vineyard Rows Highland Bonnet in Jamieson’s Spindrift Shetland wool, and now there is Vineyard Rows Toque.
The next time you see this toque it will be the pattern debut, and I will have embroidered grapes in wine tones hanging from the grape vines, just as the Vineyard Rows Highland Bonnet has. But this is the unadorned version.
In the mean time you can peruse more posts about vineyards HERE.
Walking along the old mountain vineyards close by, I found inspiration for a design which I have named “Vineyard Rows”. A California Highlands Bonnet if there is to be one ! I chose four natural shades of Jamiesons Of Shetland Spindrift yarn, because I happen to love this black & white photo of the historic vineyard landscape I took a year ago. Near the highest vineyard knoll on the mountain perhaps, rows against an Autumn sky, leaves blowing off of the vines as a storm was brewing… it was a walk to remember ! So I came up with this . . .
Vines of grape leaves wind about the wheel, in borders and peeries, along with interruptions of bold checked dicing. To me this tam brings together California Wine Country with Scottish Highlands. Embroidered grape clusters adorn the rambling vines with French knots in wine tones, creating a spectacular and colorful needlework finish I think!
And on *moi*… straight up !
I really went wild with the notion of the toorie and decided that a tam must have accessory options ! Why not an accessory for the accessory ~~ why not tie one on for the mood you’re in ? Basic black, wine red, & marled toories !!!
But before I embroidered the grape clusters into the vines,
I took the hat Au Natural out into the woods…
Against the moss . . .
And lastly, against a blush of colorful Autumn leaves, showing how the tam’s outer most rim is traditionally useful in shading from the sun.
Well there you have it, my latest design of a tam named “Vineyard Rows”. I have created this tam for all the lovely walks I’ve enjoyed in the beautiful aesthetic of these old vines ~~ this tam is in tribute to them.
And folks …
Vineyard Rows pattern may be found here .
((as well as details on Ravelry here ))
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.
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! ”
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 !
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 . . .
“Vineyard Rows” Tam pattern is HERE
“Winemakers Waistcoat” vest pattern is HERE
All posts about vineyards (including this one) are HERE.
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.
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!
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 . . .
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.
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 !
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…
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….
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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?
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 . . .
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.
Meanwhile, Emma and I just in from our walk down to our own garden to harvest.
through the gate….
about to make another small batch of tomato sauce for freezer.
Kale surviving under daily watered sun bonnet !
Looking down into the garden in the bright afternoon.
Emma has found a bit of shade.
And she is my own design !
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
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 .
I have been knit-walking rather obsessively lately. Some days I go out twice, and I am elated to say that as a result I am both knitting and walking an incredible amount more than before. In fact, I just can’t ever see myself ever again idly walking the mornings away without my fingers making silly loops, one after another. I know, actually rather weird when you think of it. So here are some photos from this morning…Nearby, where Emma’s absolute favorite trail takes us, we greet the nearby mountain tops on the other side of a steep and narrow canyon …
We like to hop over to the canyon precipice to take a peek down into the abyss…
Right at the precipice. Lichen covered volcanic rock, and grass as dry as papyrus, until it rains, which it hasn’t yet. We’re having our Northern Californian Indian Summer, where typically in October just after you feel the cool of Autumn, we get visited by the hot clear days for another week or two.
My temporary knit-walking bag, an old rather small hip pack I dug up this morning from the ‘gear closet’. I have been experimenting with all kinds of methods to hold the ball of yarn while I knit and walk ~ from stuffing it into various pockets, or inside the front of my shirt, or under my arm, or in one of Emma’s treat pouches, to wearing one of my felted knitting bags slung over my shoulder. I have yet to design a ‘ hiking knitting bag ‘ but this seems to do fine for this morning.
Is that a tweed sleeve hanging on a Cabernet trellis ?
Two sleeves done & dusted, two more to go, for Two Michigan Winter sweaters. Then I can join them to the bodies and begin the Elizabeth Zimmerman seamless hybrid ‘shirt style’ yoke I’ve been so looking forward to settling into.
Red clover in full blossom, is just so beautiful!
Into the vineyard, and into the back meadow along the canyon edge, passing lovely lupine …
And lush yellow blossoms along meadow trail …
many random tiny flowers …
purple brodea …
The meadow filled with flowers !
Along the vineyard rows, poppies.
Top leaf is right on top of San Francisco in the distance.
Beautiful pink Indian Paint Brush flowers along the top row .
Now leaving the little field of many flowers …
… and back home.