cafe knitting

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I’m feeling the magic of the holiday tickle softly,  like a snowflake flurrying down and landing on my nose.  The contemplative spirit of Winter Solstice coming soon is always a cheerful time for me.

jenjoycedesign© Oakville-grocery

After sending off the last of the Christmas packages in the tiny post office in the back, I spent a pleasant half hour at my favorite social spot, while the sky darkened and the rain began to fall. In my opinion this place really does have the best brew in the valley . . .

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In the warmth of a bustling cafe, watching through the window the door opening and closing and opening again while I knit several rounds of lace.  Then without so much as a blink I’ll be heading up the mountain homeward in low gear up the Oakville Grade.

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 I am just knitting through a flurry of last minute gifts . . .

what are you up to?

Highway 29 & Pattern !

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My latest design “Highway 29” is named after the  main road running through Napa Valley from Napa to Calistoga. This old highway is dotted with wineries and famous restaurants enough to make you dizzy, plus some added hot-spots where we locals trek to frequently, beginning in the north end of the town of Napa getting sweet around Yountville, then Oakville, Rutherford, St Helena, and continuing clear on up to Calistoga.  As a local, coming down off the mountain from Oakville Grade when I am going upvalley, I often stop at the very unique Oakville Grocery , founded in 1881, just an old rural ‘backroads’ grocers of a bygone era,  is now a highly trafficked stop-off for locals & tourists alike, with an exceptional coffee bar & deli for drinks, gifts & goodies-to-go.  Until recently it doubled as the local post office, now it offers…. um…. wine tasting

I believe my nieces and I were talking about Oakville Grocery & Post being the inspiration of forthcoming Autumn design, and second in the Napa Valley Collection.

After Oakville you pass a bunch of wineries, and then of course, St Helena where I often knit-in-public or meet friends at  Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company, as its the coffee shops I seem to be most familiar with, loving to knit and visit with friends.  After that it’s a stretch of countryside to Calistoga with places such as Bale Grist Mill, founded in 1846…

a working renovated grain mill which is popular for historic reenactment parties and has old-time live music often (one of the bands is my brother & sister-in-law, my nieces dad & mom) , offers tours & grinds corn to sell. It is in front of the entrance to the Bale Grist Mill where these photos were taken for Highway Halter, on the old wooden fence,

The favorite photo spot in recent couple of years for my nieces is Castello Di Amorosa, a medieval Tuscan castle transplanted stone-by-stone in recent decades…

Ah, but it is  here at ‘ The Castle ‘ where you’ll recognize the stone from merely the carriage house where we actually have many of our photo shoots…

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Right off of Hwy 29, this carriage house is at the entrance to the castle gate, erected more recently I think to use some left over stone & brick perhaps, and it houses the ground-keepers tools & provides a place for the chauffeurs to park, and I think some offices devoted to castle business. Here some shots from this spot…

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Passing more breathtaking scenery, one finally lands in Calistoga as if by accident.

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This is the town from which you may recognize many backdrops to my nieces & my photo shoots.  For example, the left on above photo is Brannans Restaurant,  and right across Lincoln Street is the mint-green bank building we have included many times…

But there are many photo memories of Calistoga and not enough room to post. Anyway, enough of all  of this Highway 29 – turned to- Memory Lane,  and all the treasures found along the way… and now it is time for Highway 29 Halter which I’ve just written a pattern for, and which my nieces do real justice to !     In previous post I talk about the significance of naming the latest design “Highway 29” ,   which really is a possibility to start a collection…. I mean, if I’m going to really go through with it… anyway, my nieces  seem to think we should.  If not the name-sake for the design will stand on its own. We will just have to see what comes.

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You can find the pattern for this design on Ravelry HERE .

… or click the Hwy 29 road sign to arrive at the pattern page.

California Highway 29 sign

California Highway 29 road sign in Napa Valley

Our Castle

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We discovered a castle !

That is, part of a castle, more the entrance of the castle.  A gothic brick & stone building at the gate of the Castello di Amorosa.

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Which was actually quite perfect, for nobody was about and we could just be creative with the knitwear. . .

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041jenjoycedesign©una cosettinaWe did actually drive up to the castle, but there were hundreds of people swarming about, and that was less than ideal for photographing. But we did get a shot of Miss Fifteen standing through the sky window of my car, with the castle in the background …
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It was a GREAT discovering this new favorite photo place, all three of us were very taken by the gothic feel of iron & brick & stone & arched windows, and all agreed it should be the new design image for us.  Modelled in photos are holiday & birthday presents from me; a pair of Una Cosettina mitts and accompanying infinity scarves “Una Cosettina Sciarpa Infinita”  which is all upcoming… we just had to give ‘er a test run here at the castle today !

Here are a few more of the shots…

 

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This Corner

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Any of you who has visited this blog has seen a photo of this corner. It stands out in Calistoga , the angular & tall historic bank building from the old town, and where my nieces model their latest sweaters I’ve designed & knit for them on the Autumnal & Vernal Equinoxes for four years running.

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The building is the most striking pale fresh minty green, and which is now Bella Tootsie Shoes, but right next door is the Upvalley Vintners where my duo-mate and I perform music frequently. You can see it, there on the left edge in the photo with my nieces above, and the mint green bank building is in the background of the photo below.
Upvalley Vintners
Well, we had a gig in Calistoga last night at Upvalley Vintners (the place was hopping!) and let me tell you how surreal to be hauling sound gear past that very spot my nieces pose for the camera twice a year, and it got me thinking, how spring will be here in a blink! It is time for me to begin sketching ideas already. I walked past this corner carrying mic stands and mandolin last night, wondering what the forthcoming Spring design will be. I tell you, it was a most evocative moment of my evening.

You can read up on us more on our website,  over here.

Vineyard Rows Tam

jenjoycedesign©high-vineyard 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 !

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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…

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Against the moss . . .

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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.

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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.

Autumn Scapes

If you haven’t yet read a post I made about Knitting & Wine , it is the prelude to this design, as well as other posts and photographs of nearby vineyards, you may peruse in all  vineyard posts .

And folks …

Vineyard Rows pattern may be found here .

((as well as details on Ravelry here ))

Fog & Moss

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Emma and I out exploring the mountain for a good long knit walk on Sunday morning . Observing moss dripping off of branches, devouring the old oaks.  So much fog and moisture from the coastal weather pounding this inland ridge which divides Sonoma and Napa counties, before sinking finally into the Napa valley.

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Close to the peak, we seek out our secret precipice . . .

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Emma scouts the ridge along the peak, for her usual treats . . .

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What is this bright blushing wooliness among the foggy forest  ?

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And the view , beyond the knitting, from the peak at 2600 feet !

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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 .

Sweater Success !


Sunday I met my nieces in Calistoga , beneath the snow-capped Mt.St Helena. Weather permitted, but just.  I photographed them modelling  their new sweaters  in and about the interesting nooks in Calistoga ~ our favorite being the mural of Old Town Calistoga ~ and among some colorful walls of the buildings.

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Then afterward, as is our tradition,

 icecream cones…

because modelling is hard work !

 

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Detailed in Ravelry here.

“Mostly Green” & “Mostly Blue” Pullovers


We met in Calistoga for Our Little Tradition of sweater gifting & photo shoot. This time a seriously awesome feature ~ right next to the Calistoga Coffee Roastery where we usually meet was this amazing alley way, with newly painted murals on each side ! Here my adorable, clever, and theatrical nieces seemed to step into a netherworld of characters and places of long ago. We then always always always get icecream, our tradition for four equinoxes running ! I hope you enjoy the little slideshow of them posing in front of the murals while wearing their sweaters for the first time, each very delighted.

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Fare thee well  sweaters,  I’m happy to give you to your new happy homes. You were fun to knit, we thought…

Treasures from The Basement

At first , there was a vest. That is to say, the vest was the absolute first thing I spun and knit, during the Autumn of 1987, and it was my first project in my Wednesday morning spinning class. But to start, a little backstory is needed.

A non-credit and free community college class , was the bright and lucky beginning of my love of spinning and of textile creations. On the brochure it was listed in its first semesters as just “Hand Spinning” , then later “Textile and Fiber Arts”, but the long-standing class which spanned two decades at the Goat Hill Farm was just one of those legacies which aren’t realized until they are gone. When one stepped into the class for the first time, it might be like falling into a dream, and stepping a hundred years back in time. I feel I was very lucky to be one of the people involved, even if mostly just in the first decade.

We gathered in the basement of Joanie’s Victorian house, there on the farm, a room she made incredibly charming for the classes and a delightful hybrid of yarn studio , livingroom, and country kitchen all in one. There were many places to sit in a circular fashion, of antique couches, loveseats, and chairs, with trunks and baskets of wool overflowing about the place, an electric drum carder, picker, carders and niddy noddys and impliments of spinning everywhere one looked. A section of the basement was partitioned into a kitchen with stove and sink whereby we dyed fleece, roving, and yarns , and there was usually a dyepot simmering . And if that wasn’t enough, there was always coffee, tea, and cakes or pies made gratis usually by Joanie, but also we ‘students’ would contribute, so there was always a bounty.

A photo clipped from a feature article I’ve saved, which ran December 2005 in the local newspaper about Joanie’s class during the height of it’s popularity, and just before it came to its end after 20 years.

I remember each Wednesday morning the basement room would crescendo into a loud cacophony of laughter, whirring spinning wheels, and gossip, and over those genuinely influencial classes, and fresh cakes, we more or less evolved into a bonded group of friends for a time. This group of spinners I met up with on and off for well over a decade.

Ahem …. back to the vest.

For this vest I spun some Lincoln-Corriedale wool fleece ‘locks’ I purchased from the stash of fleece for sale at the Goat Hill Farm, my first spinning project on my brand new Peacock Wheel (also purchased through Joanie) and I spun the lock-like fleece uncarded and unpicked ! I had dyed the locks in the group with RIT dyes of greens and burgundies and browns (I still have those notes !). I had worn it throughout several winters in a row, washing it only ever once. A moth got to it, twice, and I’ve had to darn those holes. All in all, it is my most treasured knitted thing I have ever knit to date, having my mother’s instruction to shape the flat-knitted sections, sew together, and knit on neck, arm, and button bands. Her instruction is etched into my memory forever with this vest.

Another rather remarkable thing associated with this vest , is recalling a bout of tonsilitis I had come down with as I had been bicycle commuting all winter and on antibiotics and off of work (working at a bakery at the time) , and luxuriated in bed for two weeks, long enough for to knit this from beginning to end, with the help of my mom. A third and perhaps most special thing about this vest, was that in the excitement and encouragement of my first handspun & handknit project, my friend and duo-mate John made for me a set of deer horn buttons, from an antler I brought to him.

I watched in amazement …

… as John cut squares off of the antler on his band saw, shaped them so nicely on his sander, drilled holes in them with his drill press, then torched the edges, then gave them some wax. They absolutely make the vest the most beautiful thing in my cedar chest, like something from a museum !

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Next…

This pullover is very dear to my heart, made in ’91. I carded a blend of fleeces from my own animals ! Among the fleeces used were ; a brown Lincoln- Corriedale fleece from my ewe named Hazel, mohair from my angora goat named “Nash” , dyed greens and turquoise and teals, and angora hair from two of my fawn colored angora rabbits, dyed old rose tones and maroons. The most memorable thing about this sweater is the fact that I had knit it three times !

I knit it first into a v-neck cardigan, shortishly cropped, which didn’t do, as the yarn was rather bulky and it looked very stiff and wrongly proportioned, and I had a ton of yarn left over. I then ripped that out and reknit into another v-neck cardigan style, longer(or maybe doubled the yarn?)… but didn’t do either, as I just looked and felt horrible in it. Finally ripped out and knit over into a pullover, tried hard to use up all the yarn I had spun, with the neckstyle crew and hemmed over. Not sure I like the neck, so I may still change the neck to a turtleneck, as I have still about a half ball left over and hiding in the cedar chest with it.