New Design in Process: Lush & Masumoto Peaches

I am currently working on a new design that will be going to the tech editor and test knitter soon, I am very excited about it. It was inspired by Peaches. The original inspiration came to me from a skein of Black Water Abbey yarn that made me think of a ripe summer peach at Stitches Midwest last year. In the meantime, I did a little research on Peaches and looked at different stitch patterns. I will talk more about the design later…

What I discovered when doing research for the design though was fascinating. Peaches came from Asia and have a long history, not only in Asian culture but here in the States as well including the reconstruction following the civil war. However, I did not want to focus on any of that stuff. I wanted more of an in that moment kind of story. So I thought about the last time I had a fresh peach. The last time I had a ripe summer peach was when I had one from the tree in Katherine Misegades back yard. Now, hers isn’t a Sun Crest or Elberta or one of those famous heirloom varieties, but it was a tasty little peach and I enjoyed it.

The imagery alone of a fat, round, juicy peach, sweet with the sunshine of summer and dripping off your chin when you bite into it on a lazy summer day, is worth sending any of us to the produce section summer after summer despite any disappointment at never finding the peach that lives up to that memory. Part of that memory is a collective consciousness I think, a yearning for a time when life was slower and we felt more connected. When you do bite into a particularly satisfying Peach, you share in that collective consciousness despite it being a very much in the moment experience.

I wanted my design to be all about that one split second where you bite into that peach and your mind is transported.

During my research I ran into a farm just southeast of Fresno in California (on the Internet, of course) that by happy coincidence is all about what I am trying to express in my design. So much so that I almost changed the name of the design to South of Fresno!

The Masumoto Family Farm is well known in culinary circles for their Sun Crest and Elberta peaches. David Mas Masumoto is both farmer and eloquent writer, and in his book Epitaph for a Peach, four seasons on my family farm he shares his passionate story about his journey to rescue a sweet and tasty fruit. Rather than take bulldozers to his orchards and plant more commercially acceptable varieties, he found a way to make his farm work with heirloom varieties that are just plain better, taste wise, than their more commercially viable counterparts. Rather than sacrifice quality, he found a way of life on his farm, which has been organic for the last 20 years and has been in his family for three generations, and his heirloom peaches and writings have raised an awareness of what Peaches are meant to be. That the memory of what they can be is really not just in our collective imagination.

One of the unique programs on this farm is their adopt a tree program. You can adopt an Elberta tree, and when it is time for the peaches on your tree to be harvested, then you have two Saturdays in a row to come harvest your succulent babies. 400 to 500 pounds per tree. Let me tell you, there is a waiting list. There are Chefs on this waiting list eagerly planning all kinds of things with peaches. There are a limited number of Elberta’s they do this with. Then of course there are the Sun Crests which are available, but those are not self harvested.

Mr. Masumoto has authored some 8 books, writes a column in The Fresno Bee, has contributed to USA Today and the Los Angeles Times. He is well known amongst culinary professionals and his peaches are treasured as gems. He has an impressive list of accomplishments, but what really drew me to his story was his picture and the words that spoke of his family, his ties to his land, and his spirit. His faith to slow down and offer not just something better, but the real thing.

That is what I want for you in that bite of your peach.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene Treace

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