Sometimes in spring, Oakland smells like the desert

What’s it been, six months? Then it’s about time for an update!

Still knitting, but not much of my own. I do have a dozen sketches for patterns inspired by my city, Oakland. I’m also in the extremely initial, awkward stages of sketching some designs based on Joshua Tree, California.

Well, sorta. See, it started out as “Oooh, designing from places is fun. I should pick more places! Where else do I love?” but after a week, when I should’ve been spilling over with ideas, all I had was a couple of doodles of the spiny ends of yucca plants, drawn from memory. I pored over photos on Flickr of the Mojave and faved some glorious sunrises, but still … eh. Nothin’. I summoned memories of sitting in a deck chair under a lavender sky listening to coyotes howl up the sun; swimming in the pool at the Joshua Tree Inn and poking at the empty airplane bottles of tequila on Gram Parson’s shrine; seeing bands play under the stars at Pappy and Harriet’s; the edges of a pond swarming with tiny frogs an inch long.

Aaaaand … more nothin’.

I tried to remember some of my own Joshua Tree photos, but all that jumped out at me was one of the Simi Dabah sculptures that line Highway 62:

This one's my favorite.

So I drew that.

And then I remembered the art of Noah Purifoy, who built bizarre castles out of cast-offs and plywood, and the way the white house paint fades in the unremitting desert sun, and the circles and circles and circles Purifoy built over and over again:

Tray star
Everything about this place is amazing.

I thought about how Purifoy might make a shawl, and I drew that.

So I guess I’m not drawing based on Joshua Tree, but the art and people of Joshua Tree. Which makes sense, since the last couple times I’ve been there, I haven’t made it into the park at all. I was too busy downing margaritas, seeing bands, getting stuffed French toast at the Crossroads Cafe, going to the swap meet and hanging out with my friends. And admiring the art that lines the walls of cafes, fills galleries, creeps up buildings, climbs straight up out of backyards and stretches out along sandy shoulders along Highway 62.

(If you’re interested in the idea of designing clothes and don’t know where to start, I recommend this book. It walks you through how to immerse yourself in a topic and come up with designs. I had grabbed an armload of books at the library to beef up my sketching skills, including this one, and spent the entire time I was reading this one impatiently nodding and muttering “I know, I know,” because it pretty much exactly described how I capture ideas and turn them into sketches.)