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

An Old Friend

And there I am, happily perched on the granite in the High Sierras, with my big North Face plastic camp mug (which my dear brother gave to me) full of delicious coffee (coffee made in the wilderness after one has set up camp, is as good as it gets).  I can’t remember the exact year or place this particular coffee moment was, as I’ve been to the High Sierras so many times, on so many packing trips,  but it would be over fifteen years ago.

Well, the thing about this photo that is of novel importance, is the fact that I am  wearing one of the first-ever things I knit for myself, my hat of many colors, likely made from some stash of my dear mom’s yarns in collaboration with my own.  I haven’t seen this hat since the winter following this photo, as it was then that I lost it.  One of those heart-that-sunk-into-my-feet moments.

I had knit a series of these pointy tassled hats and I gave them all to friends and family I fondly remember that time of knitting because  I didn’t care about gauge or even consistent fabric, was able to blissfully improvise  without a pattern… I would use different sized double-pointed needles throughout the shaping, not having a full set of one size, only random ones which were my mother’s, grabbing and using wooden skewers more than once, in the decreases towards the top.  (I figured as it’s getting smaller, to use smaller needles,to hold up the tassel better, was a good idea). Most of my domes turned out impressively, but admittedly, a few drooped and fit their heads horribly.I went on to knit about 15 or 20 of these hats in total, all given away.

The part I recall most fondly, was the magic and ease I felt while I just sort of ‘sketched’ with the yarn , as with imagination and paints,  making up color patterns as I went along, from This & That yarns of all blends and sizes, and decreased at random intervals to make changing improvised motif repeats fit as I knit up. I did not know of or use the two-handed Fair Isle stranding technique I now use,  and I remember using up to 4 colors in a row , with long floats on some, though usually 2 or 3 colors, and remember ‘inventing’ for myself out of necessity, a style of throwing two colors on a finger. I suppose at one point I got fairly good at it, likely throwing two on my index finger, and on occasion, one or even two more on my middle.

I  so loved this hat in the photo ! I had knit it just for me, and wore it for years. It was packed in my backpack every trip to the Sierras, for those very cold late afternoons when the sun has dropped enough to leave only shadow in the camp, and the chilly evenings and downright frigid mornings at altitude.   I parted with it ~ lost it ~ on a ski slope somewhere in the Sierra Nevadas, and can you imagine how sad I was?  But my attention notices All Things Yarny, just now discovered it here in this photo I scanned, from my box of photos,  and am elated to see it somehow brought back to life ! Ah, but to lose a hat on a mountain trail is a noble loss indeed. I am sure someone found it and took it home with them.

Well, anyway,  I have renewed my love for the mountains lately, walking every day, though maybe not quite as I once was. Here is *moi* on top of Mt Whitney in 2001.