Monday, March 5, 2007

The Blossom Trail

The Central Valley of California is famous for what has become known as "The Blossom Trail". Each spring the orchards of Fresno County explode into beautiful colors and fragrance as the fruit trees blossom. California is the country's top producer of peaches and plums, along with almonds, citrus and other fruit. But before all this wonderful fruit ripens and ends up at the market, the orchards put on an annual display of spring blossoms that are just as much of a treat for the eyes and nose as their fruits are to the palate. Started in 1989, the Fresno County Blossom Trail highlights the plum, almond, citrus, peach, nectarine, apricot and apple orchards of the Central Valley. Depending on the temperature and precipitation, blossom season begins sometime between late February and mid-March. Adding to the beauty of the trees, the snow capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain range frame the edge of the eastern sky and form a backdrop for the thousands of blossoms.
Not all the blossoms are the same color. Almond, Apple, and Plum Blossoms have white petals. Apricot Blossoms have pink petals. Peach and Nectarine Blossoms feature pink to red petals and bloom at the same time. Citrus Blossoms are white with most aromatic fragrance.
In Fresno County, the orchards are so beautiful that the local visitors' bureau has organized a driving tour through the nearly one hundred miles of orchards and has called this scenic route The Fresno Blossom Trail. I particularly enjoy this time of year in the Central Valley of California as my California home is on the blossom trail and is surrounded on three sides by nearly 100 acres of orange trees. The nights are just now beginning to turn warm and the mosquitoes have not yet made their appearance. I like to sit on the porch wrapped in a cozy sweatshirt, breathe in the perfume of the blossoms, and knit.

Janna, a wonderful Dutch lady who runs our LYS, returned from "market" last month with a new yarn for all to try. It is a soft merino wool called "Sublime". A test swatch knit of 22 stitches by 28 rows on 4mm needles equaled a 4 inch square. The yarms come is a variety of rich colors, including grey, green, plum, blue and dark pink. It look similiar to Zara but feels slightly softer to the touch. The manufacturer also published several pattern books featuring sweaters, vests, and tops made from the yarn.

After paging through the manufacturer’s pattern books, I found a vest pattern in book 602 that would go well with my "court clothes". I chose a dark grey color, as grey is a color that easily goes with blacks, blues, reds, whites, and just about any other color I can think of. I started knitting the ribbing last night and have nearly completed the ribbing for the front. I like the look and feel of the knit fabric so far. I hope to actually start on the body of the vest and the cable pattern by Wednesday.

This may be a little optimistic, however. My husband and I are leaving for Washington State on the 16th and I have a lot of work to complete at my office before I can leave. But on the bright side, since we driving up, that is 16 hours of straight knitting time on the road.

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