moody monday

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Emma and I are moody.

When feeling under the weather (on the eve of a birthday)…make candy!

Emma wants some …

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( See her nose? )

 Honestly, I have not gone on a candy-making jag in years.  I used no recipe, just tossed ingredients ( about a cup of org. sugar, a bit more than half cube of salted butter, a glob of corn syrup, and a dash of cream) in a small saucepan over a low flame while cold-water testing until it was right. Poored in a buttered pyrex dish over a bed of chopped toasted almonds, then sprinkled more on top.  I ate a ton of it, it shook off the blues, and then I felt better.

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Oh, and knit something really amazing !!!  Anyway, the rest of it is just cozy, dark drizzling dank gorgeous wintery day, while drinking coffee, munching butter toffee and knitting. I will be home in my hermitage for the week just working on forthcoming design. 🙂

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Knitting In The Wild

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We have been walking through the morning hours of Autumn.  Miles of yarn and prints of dog paws, and shoes, side by side. More chaotically spaced actually, mine straight forward, destination ahead, focused on the rounds of lace, of sleeves, of precious warm cardigans, and Emma’s  prints with her own agenda, as the wild life is speaking to her and new smells are exciting her in zig-zag directions and renewed vigor giving her incentive to come up to the peak with me these days.

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Our walks journey through Autumn,  with the arrival of rain, we seem to be experiencing  a gradual awakening of our dormant selves,  as is with the succulent green mosses everywhere … our joy of joys.

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To the peak we have walked a few times this Autumn already.  On the ridge right before the peak, like a comfortable old bed,  there is a soft pine needle layer from an eerie forest of stick-like old trees composting on the jutting toothy rock beneath … it is so dreamy to walk through, I just had to hang my knitting on it and be silly.

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Everything is in its place, and life is good.

mid-august

jenjoycedesign© August

August is such a stale time of the year. No cool breezes, no moisture, perpetual aqua blue skies, and a lot of anxiety about wildfire. The grasses stand crisp and golden, and so picturesque, but really it is just in suspended limbo until the rain comes, there in the bleaching hot sun day after day while even the moss in the forest turns brownish and, like the grasses, is frozen in lifelessness for months.

Mid August is even more stale than when the month arrived, and by the end of the month I am usually quite fried,  dreaming of verdant countrysides in far off lands.  I must snap out of these lazy wishful days of summer. I have been far too lazy and not working on my well-intention’d project of knitting trail.  A knitting trail?  What trail?  Right. My point exactly. I did take a shovel to a stretch of woodland over the last year, and even though it’s only been a little more than some sticks along the way and a narrow bumpy path, Emma and I have been walking it on occasion ~~ thus far we have named it ‘the knit track’ , and which is about a sixth of a mile circuit, not including the distance to and from the track, which makes it about a half mile, and if one goes around the ‘track’ many times, it adds up.   It is intended to be a mindless walk so I can  knit-while-meandering  and Emma can smell the wildlife in the quiet pause of the afternoons.

Although the knitting trail already has one or two benches, I’d like them to become delicious secret woodland  spots, where one might carry out a pot of tea and accomplish quite a bit of knitting.  That my friends, is what my vague design is.  So how to sharpen those vague lines, and get this thing going?   I have been taking pencil to paper and scribbling out ideas, and I really do want to make this thing happen, here & now, in the face of the suffocating Mid-August!

There are quite a lot of trees to limb up and brush to clear (trees keep falling too, this drought is wretched!)  and general hard sweaty work to do within in the few acres which is the trail site, but nothing a woman (and her dog) can’t accomplish. This is something I’ve wanted to do since we built our house here and moved in 2005.  So Emma will supervise, and I will work, and we will get this woodland Knitting Trail done & dusted.

But first I’d like to call upon you brilliant readers of this blog, and please don’t be shy, give me some ideas about what you think would make a Knitting Trail special. The sky is the limit… and plenty of space in the comment boxes too.

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!

 

A Home Trail

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In the woods, caught up in the days, and hypnotized by the pendulum of nature, I feel a swing of weeks upon weeks pushing through seasons, while the light changes angle and leaves come and go on the maples and the oaks, and lay papery on the forest floor.  While the chickadees keep time with their greeting in spring, linger through summer, then go elsewhere it seems, and yet the tiny black-headed junco stays.  Perhaps of all the seasonal signs, the pendulum moves most noticeably through the motionless drying landscape of August, the time when the grasses bleach to blonde and mosses turn almost brown, as it is the dry dormant time,  and all things wild wait desperately yet patiently for the first rains of Autumn. The pair of ravens living among the branches near, are talkative, loudly squawking and chortling,  perhaps expressing their impatience too. One never knows.

And here we are one week into September already, a blink away from Autumn! Emma and I are mellowing out waning ourselves into a bit of a stale state.  We are needing incentive to greet the forthcoming Autumn with some kind of significance.  For a long time I’ve pondered, and for a long time I’ve talked, about the big project of the Knitting Trail, while not really applying myself. (Knitting too much? Perhaps!) Taming the wild woods is a boatload of hard labor to put it simply.  Working a delicate maze of trail in and around the framework of the more established trees while trying to see through the forest of younger trees and shrubs is well, an exhausting event of instincts & decisions followed up by manual labor, as I very lightly etch into the forest a path,  inconspicuous as possible, in some places merely moving aside fallen branches or cutting back poison oak. We will have our home trail from where  we can walk through the seasons.

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Me with my trail-making gear consisting of long-handled pruners, a variety of bow saws, and a shovel, while Emma contributes her subtle but constant encouragement, and of course, her nose for a the traffic of the wildlife, which is very helpful.  In need of a really big goal, and I have thought this morning about how life should, oh but very well must, include a physical regimen of some sort, more than once, twice…or thrice out walking closer in to the house. We are going to craft our Daily Mile (or near mile) of walking trail from the bits of trails already in use that we began years back, and impulsively followed, some discarded, some maintained.  And I am going to share with you the whole process. The real challenge is to make this trail nearly entirely near our house’s door step, on ours and on the neighbor’s woods (a generous person granting permission to roam)… so roam we will.

I share this morning, a real determination to make this trail complete.  Beginning from the three-foot tall trail blaze outside of the front door , a stack of stones gathered from the trail head parking lots and roadside of the High Sierra . . .

we go forth !

Gone Wild

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At the peak

It has been a lovely morning up here on the mountain. Fog at sunrise, cool, crisp, breathing freshness into an otherwise stagnant stillness of our drying Northern California landscape. I feel as if my life has evolved into a new level of wild, as the days are punctuated mostly by the wildlife, or occasional trips into town, and the coming and going of ‘the man’.  Summer brings chickadees and hornets and straggling tough kinds of wildflowers, but mostly a platinum landscape of dry grasses, and oppressive stickery burrs along the trails which are a true pain to have to endure picking off of one’s self, and one’s dog’s fur. No wonder we have been lazy lately.

The dog and I decided to adventure up & out this morning, and so after weeks upon weeks of very little walking, we made it to the top.  Once near the top on the sharp and narrow knife-edge, the actual geological ridge cresting at a width of barely six feet wide in sections, and  covered in young knobcone pines, makes a lovely path to follow….

jenjoycedesign©geographical-ridgeA cliff drop to the east is Napa Valley, and a rolling descent to the west is Sonoma Valley, and from up here one can nearly feel the mountain’s spirit, as if the rock is slowly cutting through centimeter by centimeter, not stagnant but alive, with an energy about it which is luring, beckoning one to get the reward of being at the top. It is a special place the peak, at 2600 feet, and it really is almost less than a half-hour walk from our house if we hoof it, so we vowed to each other to get our lazy selves up there a lot more than we have, Emma and me.

Back at home, deliciously overcast clouds, and a breeze kicking up. While Emma continues her napping, I’m at the drawing board again on a new design, its endless calculations, and with delicious cup of coffee.

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I’ll leave you with a little slideshow of nice shots from our walk, and wish you all well until next time…

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Snowmelt Tam & Toque Pattern Arrives!

At last I say goodbye to the snow which is melting at a rapid pace in the mountains of California. At least in the lower places. In the high Sierra, hard iced patches of snow remain through late summer.  Wildflowers in bloom, the most fragile variety, alpine beauty along the John Muir trail, and elsewhere. This design “Snowmelt” is in tribute to my love of the Sierra Mountain Range of my home of California.

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Profiles of three I’ve been immersed in for the month of April, designing first the tam (center), and then a ski hat version of it, first of which was too tall and narrow (to left of center), the second was just right (at right of center)

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Two great things came out of my designing Snowmelt. One is that I learned the art of making Dorset Buttons, and came up with my own style for Snowmelt Tam ~ and you can view my button-making tutorial HERE .  Also I learned how to duplicate stitch ~ you’ll find a tutorial for duplicate stitching the flowers for Snowmelt HERE.

Admittedly I have quite fallen in love with this alpine classic theme, and can only be happy to begin casting on more stitches the moment I post this, for more Snowmelt variations… I won’t even skip a beat !

Pattern page on Yarnings  HERE

Pattern page on Ravelry HERE

February Spring

jenjoycedesign©fruit blossomsSpring has spring in winter’s second month. From hard wood emerges the most delicate of things!

And the meadows are bursting with wild mustard flowers…
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Lately even though it’s spring-like here I am in winter mind.

There has emerged a mitten version of Tartan & Tweed Mitts…

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This  means that there will be still another update made to the pattern while I’m in the throes of pattern redesign. I just never can tell if there is still more to come. Which there was.

Mittens & Fingerless Mitts to be photographed on my lovely nieces this coming weekend, so watch this space !

A Storm On The Way

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Emma and I were out for our morning walk but it was different today, it was deliciously foggy.  You see, to end a 7-week-long warm dry spell of this winter so far, we are due to get hammered with a big storm tonight.  A storm which is absolutely longed for.  So I figured we’d go out with the camera and take shots of the drizzling fog and cooling air.  On the way up the ridge there was a pleasant surprise ~~ all the manzanita is peaking in blossom !

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One of the attractions of this time of year in Northern California mountains is the precious heart-shaped and very fragrant blossoming Arctostaphylos, or as we know it, manzanita. There are mainly two indigenous species which thrive side-by-side up on this mountain, and the most distinct difference is seen this time of year, when they blossom. One has pink blossoms, and the other white.

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Otherwise their form is very similar, but their leaves are also quite distinctive also. I just love to bury my face into a cluster of these sweet blossoms and inhale their fragrance. . .

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At the top of the ridge, Emma sniffed and I knitted as we meandered along the knife-edge where to the north-east is Napa Valley, and to the south-west is Sonoma Valley.  Just sniffing, and knitting our way along. (I had been knitting a long 5-stitch i-cord for another knitting bag I’m making)

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And then finally we reach the summit, and breathe in the cloud .

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We’re out a lot these days hiking & knitting, as well as gardening, so we won’t mind staying indoors while enjoying the lashing rain forecast for the next few days.  I’ll be posting more as the tail end of winter bursts into action in the next weeks, on the mountain, in the garden,  and on my needles!

Taking It In

002 (3)I’ve been knitting an insane amount lately.  This is a big part of my life, who I am slowly becoming, and I love how I’m involved in it.  Just now I was feverishly working a swatch for a new idea,  and I looked out the window to my beloved mist pouring over the ridge from the Pacific, and remembered that I promised myself to disengage after my last pattern (Penny Candy Winter)… to calm down and enjoy what is left of Autumn, and walk in it every single day. Well, today was one of those rare days I didn’t .  Up here in the California Highlands we’re getting rain, oh yes…

California Highlands… and now two months into Autumn in the mountains and we’re saturated in the mist and rain and the moss is vibrant and I am happy. So happy!  One month left of delicious Autumn to wander and watch the turning of the trees.

My Autumn project is to overhaul a few of my earlier patterns and so I feel at a restless in-between place presently. I’m finished with the last pattern overhaul & update of Dicey Highland Hats,  and now have a pause before starting the next big thing. I’m trying to be a good person and cook a nice quiche for dinner, while doing chores, and at the same time I just want to knit ! Knit!! Knit!!! But I must force myself to stop knitting, to quiet my mind and my racing ideas, and to look around me, because I find that the creative source does need to be rested and nurtured equally as much as it needs to be exercised and developed. Answers come in the void spaces most often, let the mist into the mind to obscure the sharpness, and to let my thoughts have a good rest.

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Hey… it’s raining !

006Emma and I spent a few moments greeting the first wet morning of the season.

(it really is wet … just look at it !!!)

 The damp forest drinks in and the dust is washed off,

while whispering drops patter their way down from the trees to the ground.
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Then a brief break, and the fog pours in over the ridge from the ocean out west…
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Now as I’m uploading these photos to post, the rain is coming down again, off and on big fat drops on the roof…a sound that is pure poetry to the parched dry landscape of Northern California.  I’ve been posting a lot lately and I must say, it feels good after what seemed a long summer of practically nothing to comment about, bearing down and surviving the summer.  I really am thirsting for a good old-fashioned rainy Autumn, with lots of cooking & baking and squirreling away of knitted things for the holidays ahead.  It just doesn’t get any better than that. Well, lets hope the rain holds out !

A Fresh Start For March

jenjoycedesign©drizzle -&- fog Knitting shades of fog & 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 that the off-and-on showers-mixed-with-drizzle-and-fog brings a fresh start for March !

March's entrance

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

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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.

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Emma and I went out and soaked ourselves taking account of it all.

Now green can sprout from under last year’s brown . . .

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Beautiful morning after rain . . .

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The creeks are gushing and riverlets going in all directions.

Life is good.

Blue Dawn

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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 !

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.

A Knitting Trail

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Emma and I have  been working on our home trail in recent weeks.

 It is to be a knitting trail ! ! !

Our trail begins right next to Jeff’s workshop…

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And takes off into the woods, just follow Emma.

It goes upwards very quickly…

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It meanders along old deer-trodden paths ,

which Emma and I  have enhanced with our footsteps.

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It passes by tall firs,

oaks & bays,

madrones & maples…

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You will see my short rows of sticks on occasion,

they are trail markers in sections where the knitting trail goes one way,

while the deer may go another…

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Emma is charged with purpose as she surveys the forest, and the wildlife.

There is at least one mountain lion which lives in the area, sighted many times, and  I often wonder if it is the lion which she smells.  I think I would like to put some places to sit (and knit) along the way.  Just sit, knit,  and listen to the wildlife.

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Some small sections are getting the shovel treatment, like here at the trail-head.

 (Yes, that is our house, and my car, which I try to drive as little as possible)

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So you see, I have been working like an ox lately, for this is the time of year I love most to be outside toiling away, among the falling leaves of Autumn. There’ll be more photos later, as the Knitting Trail is honed to perfection !

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But hey ! Its the last day of October today, and that means it is Halloween!   For the occasion I thought I’d post a photo of something remarkably ominous from the woods!   The raven’s cultural and somewhat spooky  symbolism  is not to be debated, however here they are just a cheerful and welcomed presence, and flock about year round. They make themselves very comfortable, eating the berries in the native trees, and fruit & veggies from our garden, and pick from our compost pile too.  I think they are fascinating birds,  possessing a truly amazing intrigue and even sense of humor (they like to tease Emma every chance they get), and they are the stewards of these woods all the same.  Here is a photo I took last week, zoomed into the branches of an oak while this fellow and his mate were making deep throaty chortling & clucking conversation…
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Happy Halloween everyone !

(( Note:  I am delayed with knitting projects due to interruptions life tends to cause. ))

Golden

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 !