Petra’s Tam

jenjoycedesign© StAndrews-Harbour-tam1

Pattern:  St Andrews Harbour (Petra’s Tam)

Yarn:  Alice Starmore’s Hebridean 3ply, in Golden Plover

Details on Ravelry: here

It was a lovely knit!   I do recommend the tam in this pattern “set”, for it is so fetching,  sporty, awesomely sea-worthy, and a totally essential accessory of one’s outdoor wardrobe.  This one is made from worsted weight yarn, and it is a bit fashionably floppy, however, knit with finer yarn such as sport weight, it would be just right. If done in Starmore yarn, I would do better to suggest  Starmore’s Hebridean 2ply.   I want to knit another one or two from my handspun yarn, talked about in Tweed Chronicles  which has so much meaning through a time of upheaval as was my obsession in the months right after the wildfire. So on to the next!

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Meanwhile, I’ve composed a little letter to all of you who follow Yarnings, a new category on Yarnings, entitled “Letter from the editor” ,  to let you know what is going on with us during this time of epic change.

Dear Everybody ~

On to new adventures, and news on every page!    First, our stay at our first holding place did not last long, the landlords want to move back in, and that’s fine, because I’ve longed with a great ache in my heart to live back up on the mountain in my charcoal forest.  Second, the county administration and engineers are making our getting a permit to (re)build hugely difficult and drawn out, adding insult to injury. I don’t really want to talk about details, but we have no real timeline as to when we will be rebuilding, or what we will be rebuilding,  or when we will be living up there in our rebuilt house.  So the original post I made right after the wildfire in October entitled  “Ten Acres ….”   written two days after evacuating our house, flames still smoldering, is now ringing in the rafters as we are in process of getting a Tiny House to park a few hundred yards away from the building site,   nestled right near the trail head to my knitting track in fact.    If I can try to be optimistic, I will tell you that this pleases me a lot, if choices are dreary and few right now, shifting around from city rentals, and not being able to walk in the woods properly has been detrimental to my attitude,  and mental as well as physical health.   Also Emma has been to the vet and back many times in the last months, her wound from her surgery last summer (posted here) never healed properly, and she is cheerily going day to day from stitches to staples, from cone to inflatable collar, but aside from all of that seems to be in good health.    Meanwhile  Jeff has suddenly been laid low from the stress of the whole ordeal of the county, the moving out (again) that he’s caught a bad bug and its developed into pneumonia, but worry not, he is of heroic constitution and never sick, and now on antibiotics will get well soon.    As for me, I’ve thrown my back out and hobbling around, on pain killers,  feeling taped together at best.  Oh, but finally I managed to get a hold of some 90tpi carding cloth, and finally made another jumbo carding & blending board to replace the original , left behind in the wildfire,  (colossal thanks to Adele for lending me your Ashford Blending board these past months! xoxo)  … and so I am ready to get back into tweed-making, visualizing a tiny space in the Tiny House to be my new creative “loft” space.  In fact, I plan on moving into the Tiny House with a good and positive attitude and stop feeling sorry for myself so much.    Years ago we stayed in a treehouse,  (posted here), and I enjoyed myself immensely tucked away up in a nest in the trees,  knitting the hours away, a knitting retreat of retreats! I want to make this new Tiny House feel like that retreat did, and I am visualizing constant knitting & walking, as well as constant gardening.  The garden was the one thing that (mostly) did not burn in the wildfire, so I want to be near it to nurture it and water, and make it an oasis where I can go be with living growing things, and to realize how great it is just to wake to another day.      Wish us luck, and I’ll keep you posted

~~ xxJen   ( aka ‘ the editor ‘ )

Manzanita Blossom

photo from archives:  A Storm On The Way

The blossoms of the Arctostaphylos (manzanita) on the ridge trail of the mountain ~~ one with pink flowers, and one with white ~~ are the first blossoms arriving in winter!

pink blooming manzanita

pink blooming manzanita

Nestled side by side on the ridge, the two varieties are perfectly complimenting of each other, and as fragrant as they are breathtaking in beauty.

white blooming manzanita

white blooming manzanita

((You can read more about the manzanita in this post ))

Now looking at my latest tweed yarn colorway:  “manzanita blossom” …  it will be a pink, with a just a dusting of white.

jenjoycedesign© rolags

A blush of pink against rocky volcanic landscape is one of the most beautiful things in the mountain landscape, and I do think I found just the right shade ( although I wished I put a tiny bit more white in the last blending layer) …

jenjoycedesign© spun manzanita

A shy pink.

A pink which is the color of mid winter … pale and fresh.

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There in the pink is the saturated neutral too.

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Now, let me show you how I do it…

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Techy stuff for Manzanita (pink)…

  •  Color Saturated Neutral recipe for approx 5g each of primary triad of blue, red, and yellow:  Blended thoroughly on blending board with 15g of white as many times as necessary to fully homogenize…

jenjoycedesign© primary neautral + white

  • With neutral-white mix, layer alternately with 5g each of Fuscia, Rose, and Flamingo Pinks, and 5-10g more white  (see Blending For Tweed Simplified)

jenjoycedesign© add pinks and white

  •  Lift batt, and layer again twice more.  (Note to improve: try last layering with another 5g white. to get more white ‘streaking’)
  • Draw off rolags.
  • Colorway blend:  “Manzanita blossom” .
  • See ALL color blending experiments & recipes archived in Tweed Chronicles

 

A rustic place…

jenjoycedesign© Emma on trail 2

Emma and I are pushing ourselves to complete the knitting trail, and it will be indeed a rapturous and celebratory finish!

jenjoycedesign© Emma on trail 1

The equinox is in only two short days.

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I’m sure we’ll make it,  we are already more than three-quarters the way done!

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Big Leaf Maples and Black Oaks are beginning to shed their leaves, and the acorns and fir cones are dropping too.  In this rustic state of being the spicy Autumnal fragrance is faintly rising in the forest, and I am ready to crash into this season with transformative momentum, leaning into it with all of my weight, as I leave Summer’s oppressive heat,  lazy days and restless nights behind me.

jenjoycedesign© trail work

See you on the flipside!

Cooling

I am so looking forward to upcoming Autumn equinox, now only less than two weeks away! We survived an incredible record heat wave last weekend, and mid-week there started a cooling trend, when about Wednesday it actually rained!!!   Just a little drizzle, but it soaked into everything nearly lifeless and started a pulse to the landscape again, which I seem to be a barometer for.  I’m seeing that lovely fog in the valley below again, like a snowy lake, in the early mornings.

I am merrily going through my paces, and thrilled that Emma is perking up and wanted to go for a walk yesterday!  A couple of weeks ago her vet prescribed a half pill of meloxicam daily, and that is now beginning to take effect I think. She is all around moving as well as she was before her surgery early August — her sore hip seems better, with limp barely noticeable some days. ((Arthritis of hips & elbows is the bane of existence for older German Shepherd dogs in case you must be informed, although that is really difficult for me to refer to my Emma in this way, because ~~~ she is my fur child!  ))   Anyway, on our way back to the house from our short walk Emma grabbed a stick, her old game of ‘chase me’ which made me so happy, and away we went, for a faux chase! (right, not a fox chase, but a faux chase).

I’ve got so many things I have queued up for Autumn, but for now its just knitting my nieces’ sweaters, indeed very late this year, but they won’t be worn until probably late October anyway, so I’m aiming for an early October finish.  Also, I’ve begun trail-making in earnest again, determined to ‘walk me arse off’ and regain fitness I’ve lost over a very slothful spring and summer, moping around empathetically with Emma.  So knit-walking… here I go!

All is well, in this place, and for now.

 

Quercus

jenjoycedesign© quercus chrysolepis

Quercus Chrysolepis

I just got back from a rather short walk up the ridge, and the acorns are falling now. Black shiny nuggets with golden cups, are the ripe fruit of the Canyon Live Oak, native and prolific on this wild Northern California mountain landscape.  I find the young trees shrub-like with serrated leaves, and observe them transition into smoother edged leaves, sometimes having both leaf shapes on the same branch, but to eventually become the mature oak with mostly smooth foliage.  The photo shows both types from the same young tree, and how lucky was I to spot a fully developed acorn still attached to the limb!

What I love most about this oak is the black acorns that absolutely litter the pathway as I meander along the ridge, beckoning Autumn, and cooler temperatures, and rain. Sigh. Right now we’re having heat wave after heatwave , scorching temperatures so typical of Northern California.  One thing is for sure, there are only three more weeks of summer now before the Autumnal equinox, and my inner compass faces Autumn as my only vision, and to think of rain now is to think of a returning oasis, an all consuming and fervent wish.

Not only do the acorns fall, but I find my tears fall too, as Emma, who is now twelve, does not wish to walk with me up the ridge now, but to nap at home while I try to find the incentive to trek out on my own. Admittedly, it is not easy, nor is it very often, and I have found myself in dire need of a change of heart for this Autumn, this acorn fall, leaf fall, tear fall.

I must try to be unafraid of the elements out on my own, and capture the wildlife in spirit to bring back to my Emma.

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 have been thinking about my knitting trail, and ideas.  So far it’s just staked out and haven’t walked it very much, but I need a grand plan, and I need ideas. I was hoping for some from you readers.

Now I will make myself a fresh iced coffee and wait for a little conversation to begin…

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!

jenjoycedesign© balloons

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?

jenjoycedesign© November Landscape

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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jenjoycedesign© Autumn Landcape 2

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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.

jenjoycedesign© November Landscape 6

Hoping lots of merriment to you this coming Thanksgiving Holiday!

 

A Home Trail

jenjoycedesign©woods

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

jenjoycedesign©peak

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.

jenjoycedesign©pattern-writing

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.

jenjoycedesign©snowmelts

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)

jenjoycedesign©The Snowmelt profiles!

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…

jenjoycedesign©tartan & tweed mitten

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

jenjoycedesign©manzanita in bloom

Emma and I were out for our morning walk but it was different today, it was deliciously foggy.   To end a seven-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 and take some photos in 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.

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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, 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 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 !

Shades Of Fog

March's entrance

Knitting shades of fog, and of 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 showers mixed with rain and fog brings a fresh start for March !

jenjoycedesign©drizzle -&- fog

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.