yarn along

Last week we went away to a lake house for a few days and it was so restful and nice. I cast on a dogstar sweater for Philippa while there, since her birthday is about a month away and I like to get a head start on birthday sweaters. I knitted both sleeves while there and got started on the body. It’s a bottom-up sweater, which isn’t my favorite construction, but it is nice to know the sleeves are done already. The yarn is a merino cashmere blend, very soft for my prickle-sensitive girl, and it has been quite nice to have in hand. Knitting the body is just mindless and easy, very soothing. I made simple modifications to the sweater, adding part of the colorwork motif to the bottom of both sleeves and also the bottom of the body, as Philippa requested. I hope she loves it, she is notoriously disdainful of the sweaters I knit for her, but also always requests one. ūüôā Handknit socks, however, are definitely her jam.

I planned to do a lot of reading during our time away but vacations with small children are never quite as restful as one imagines. ūüôā I have been reading Boundaries, and while it’s not really super “fun” reading, it has been interesting and helpful. It has sparked a lot of good conversation between Brandon and I. Be that as it may, I’m needing some kind of fiction read on the go soon.

I’d love to hear what you are making or reading lately, if you care to share!

a bit of this and that

Fall is in full swing and I’m so grateful. It is the best time of year, the very best weather with the happiest seasons ahead of harvest, Thanksgiving, a slew of children’s birthdays (in this house) and Christmas. This year I planted a few fall plants in the garden, but the energy and sense of urgency is so different for me in the fall. I’ve hardly tended to them and I’m not sure that they’ll do much. I planted a variety of greens (arugula, spinach, mustard greens, collards), some turnips, beets, and butternut squash. I planted more Bachelor’s buttons, too. I have some bulbs I need to get in the ground, snowdrop and crocus. I’m already looking forward to seeing them come up in early spring. The zinnias are on their last leg, but I’m still cutting blooms. The marigolds are finally really producing and I’ve been collecting and drying them, Philippa helping to string them into a garland (inspired by Ginny Sheller). I’m in the mood to dye some yarn but not sure that I’ll actually get around to it these busy days.

Our old oven died this summer. Thankfully, we have a home warranty to help replace appliances but it was quite a long time before we had a working oven again. If there was ever a good time for the oven to go out, it would be in the middle of summer but still it was a huge inconvenience for a family that eats pretty much 100% from home. I’m so happy with the one we chose and can’t believe the difference after working with a very, very old oven for so long. The kids were mostly excited about the box from the oven and it brought hours of play. A win for all, I suppose. Actually, once I was able to bake cookies, bread, and pizza again they were all very happy with the new appliance, too.

Rainy October afternoons have been filled with things like painting, reading books, playing lots of chess and checkers, making forts with all the pillows. While they’re busy making messes, I’m busy trying to bring some order to our days. Did you see those nice homeschool shelves neatly tidied? I’m too tired to hunt for a “before” picture, but I promise you it’s a great improvement. I’ve also managed to finally reorganize Phoebe and Philippa’s bedroom, tidying toys on shelves that Brandon built and condensing their two dressers down into one. Sometimes you have to shop your house and look for solutions to small space organizing, and in this case I think it worked out well. The girls now have my dresser and I have Phoebe’s. I plan to sell Philippa’s along with the crib that matches it (which Wren is more than ready to move out of). Noah and Wren’s room needs some de-cluttering next.

We’ve been really enjoying having my brother and his wife and son in town for a few weeks (staying with my parents nearby). We went last week to our favorite nursery with a real pumpkin patch to get some pumpkins. I wanted some fun pink, green, and white pumpkins to decorate our front porch. Of course the tractors were a big attraction for our crew. We went to this same patch last year but there seemed to be less pumpkins to cut in the patch this time. No matter, it’s just fun to let the kids run around and explore and hunt for one good pumpkin to carve. I love walking through the nursery, so we found what we needed there, and the kids did cut their own carving pumpkin from the patch. I’m settling into the season with all the beauty, crispness, and refreshing it seems to bring. Tomorrow we leave to go out of town for a few days and I’m so looking forward to enjoying the turning leaves and some quiet respite from our home and busy routines. I love this season of being home and busy raising these four little people, I love the rhythms and even the busy full days. But time away is so rare and so needed, this year more than ever.

yarn along

After finishing up my fleuriste cardigan this week (I still need to seam it together and sew on buttons), I cast on a stoker shawl with some simple woolly brown wool. It is going to be such a warm and basic wardrobe staple and I already can’t wait to wear it. I’m also working on the body of my pink velvet sweater and hope to have that one done soon. Warm weather doesn’t deter me from knitting, but the onset of chilly fall weather sure does make me want to cast on all the things! I have several projects that I’m itching to start and probably will cast on soon. A birthday sweater for Philippa needs to get started soon, and also I want to cast another sweater on for myself. However I am also wanting to clear my needles of projects that have been ongoing for some time (mainly these socks and these which are both so close to finishing).

I finished reading Giver of the Stars and really enjoyed it, now I’m figuring out what to pick up next. I’m reading Boundaries right now, which I began a long time ago and put down part way through. It’s helping me work through some things, but I already miss having a novel on the go. The children and I are still reading through Calico Captive, though we’ve been so busy lately we haven’t made much progress.

Joining with Nicole’s weekly Crafting On and Ginny’s monthly Yarn Along.

september orchards

It’s hard to believe I took these photos weeks ago now and have been meaning to share them here. Are our little days really so busy? But they are. Each new school year brings longer school days it seems, and more activities in the afternoons. Although I’m happy with the schedule and rhythm we have set up, it is a challenge making time to get on here and blog. Day’s end finds me exhausted as I crawl into bed, however a good and satisfied kind of tired it is.

Anyway, back to the belated photos. A few weeks ago Brandon’s parents came for the weekend to visit and we decided to take everyone to a local orchard. It was one of the first chilly days and we (happily!) pulled out our sweaters. We live in the heart of apple country with many orchards to choose from (though we wish there were more organic options). Hoping to avoid the crowds, we kept to the rows picking fruit rather than doing the other activities the orchard offers. It was a sweet time together, everyone becoming like children again hunting for apples without blemishes and filling up boxes and wagons with their finds. Walking amongst rows spiced with that particular sweet, musky scent of fallen and decomposing apple, everyone on a treasure hunt for hidden red and green baubles, one can’t help but feel rejuvenated and refreshed. We took home one small box and a few days later I washed and peeled them and made a delicious batch of applesauce, about the easiest thing you can do with fresh apples. Sweet memories were made and fall feelings began to warm our hearts . ‚̧

yarn along

Today is the first day of fall and it truly feels like it. The days grow darker sooner, the humidity has let up and the days are hemmed in with a chill. Soon birthday knitting for the children will be upon me, and I’m already starting to think about and plan their sweaters. I love knitting for them but I have a few sweaters for myself that I am planning to make and hoping to be able to wear and enjoy this season, so I’m knitting away furiously.

My fleuriste cardigan is nearly done. I finished the body of the sweater a little while ago and have been working on the first sleeve. It’s slower going because the lace panel trails up the sleeve, but I have so enjoyed working with this yarn and don’t terribly mind. I believe it’s my first time working with shetland wool but definitely not my last. I have a sweater’s quantity of this same yarn brand but in a deep green for a cabled sweater for myself (one of the aforementioned sweaters that I’m hoping to knit this winter season.) I am eager to finish up this sweater though and hoping the second sleeve goes a lot faster. Maybe it’s just boring gray to others but I love gray and I think this sweater will be a wardrobe staple.

When I need just plain stockinette knitting and don’t have the mental capacity for lace, I’ve been knitting on my pink velvet sweater. Having just separated for sleeves, it’s now plain stockinette for awhile which is so nice to have when I just need my hands to be busy and mind quiet.

I finished reading Home and did enjoy it, though there were some parts that seemed rather slow. It wasn’t a “I can’t put it down” kind of book, but a gentle read before bed that kept my interest. I will read Lila soon. Have you read it before? Is it better than Home or Gilead? (In linking the books on amazon, I saw that she’s publishing a fourth novel in the series titled Jack in just a week or so!) In the meantime, my sister-in-law recommended The Giver of Stars and it came in at the library after I put it on hold ages ago. It’s much more of the “can’t put it down” genre, I remember reading Me Before You a few years ago by the same author and it being a quick read. I’m starting to enjoy it I think, but I’ll keep you posted. ūüôā The children and I just finished A Lion to Guard Us and are still part way through Calico Captive, both very good!

Joining Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.

golden hour

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Rain is gently pattering on the metal roof on the sunroom adjacent to where I type and isn’t supposed to let up all day. ¬†One can hardly complain with the state of the west coast and how needed rain is there. ¬†Children are quietly (and not so quietly) working on the day’s schoolwork. ¬†Now they are off playing a game of hide and seek and screaming throughout the house. ¬†We are into our fifth week of school, hard to believe how quickly these first weeks have flown by. ¬†Overall it has gone very well so far, better than I expected. ¬†I began a more structured school day schedule for us last year and I’ve adapted it and solidified it more this year, and I think that’s really been essential for us. ¬†It’s good to be back in the flow. ¬†Be that as it may, there’s always a level of chaos amidst all the flurry of activity in the school room as I bounce between different children offering help. ¬†It does feel busier though with more on our plates, and even getting on the computer to share a blog post feels harder to do.

In the midst of all this constant rain, I’m looking back on the photos for this post. ¬†Labor day weekend we went for a picnic to Mt. Mitchell, which is relatively close to us and is the highest peak East of the Mississippi. ¬† I do so crave getting up high and seeing a beautiful view. ¬†We hiked the Deep Gap trailhead at Mt. Mitchell over to the first peak, Mount Craig, and enjoyed the stunning views from there. ¬†Wren would have hiked the whole way if we let her, such a little one but so strong and determined to keep up with everyone else. ¬†I think the last time I hiked to that peak was when Brandon and I went backpacking for a few days for our tenth anniversary. ¬†Then it was May: stormy, icy and with freezing wind. ¬†This time it was open, sunny, warm, and green. ¬†We were with my parents and brother’s family. ¬†After the brief hike we had our picnic dinner and watched the sunset. ¬†As you can see, the sunset and views and colors were just spectacular. ¬†Simple beauty, these old blue rolling mountains.

Then back home, back to the regular work of the week and of the season. ¬†The weather has cooled here ever so slightly, but I’m not sure the hot days are entirely behind us. ¬†I’m enjoying every bit of the cool weather that I can, however. ¬†Recently, I finished knitting a hansel hap with a kit of yarn Brandon and the kids gifted me for Mother’s Day last year. ¬†The yarn was Little Meadows yarn from Ginny Sheller + extra special and squishy. ¬†It was a relatively quick knit and so, so enjoyable. ¬†I modified the pattern just a bit, adding an extra repeat or so to make it bigger. ¬†I thought it may cause me to run out of yarn but I had plenty, and I’m so glad I did it as the size is perfect. ¬†I’ve already been reaching often for it on these early cool nearly-fall days.

Most days are just ordinary, mundane and full of the work that must be done. ¬†Then there are days where you escape to the mountain tops, picnic and spend time gathered with family. ¬†There are days when you harvest armfuls of zinnias and marvel that you grew these and then you trim them down to brighten up your September table. ¬†There are days you finish knitting a beautiful shawl with a bit of yarn you hoarded for as long as you could stand it. ¬†One foggy September morning you can finally wrap up in that cheerful woolly shawl. ¬†All so unexpected sometimes, the glory and the hardship, the peaks and the valleys, though they shouldn’t be. ¬†I’m grateful for the way the beautiful moments carry us through and feed our souls in a way, bright spots for bleaker days.

A Shawl for Adoption

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UPDATE:  Congratulations to Ginny Foreman for winning the raffle!

Well over a year ago now, my brother Peter and his wife AllieMarie announced that they would be adopting a child to grow their family. ¬†We have been so excited to support them in the journey however we can! ¬†Immediately the idea came to mind to knit an item to donate. ¬†Knitting for someone is one way I pour love out on that person. ¬†It was really special to knit on this shawl and be mindful + prayerful the whole time of this baby that is being prepared for my brother’s family and for us all to love on. ¬†It was also special to knit on it and wonder who will be wrapped in the warmth of this gift. ¬†I hope many of you are excited for the opportunity to donate toward Peter + AllieMarie’s adoption and also possibly win a beautiful shawl!

Most people know it is a challenging and lengthy process to adopt, and cost is so prohibitive for many. ¬†However, Peter and AllieMarie’s plans have been interrupted by various hardships including the pandemic which has also caused a strain on their employment. ¬†The setbacks are discouraging and frustrating, and I would love to encourage them in this season with a reminder that there is a community of folks standing alongside them and behind them, cheering them on. ¬†You can read more about their heart for adoption on their GoFundMe page.

Now, let’s talk about the prize! ¬†This shawl is knit in one of my favorite yarns to work with. ¬†It is a special blend of merino wool, llama, silk and linen. ¬†The shawl is very soft and lightweight, and all the eyelets of the shawl make it breathable and light also, as well as lend an elegance to the piece. ¬†I have knitted this shawl once before for myself and it is a good layer for the in-between seasons of spring and shawl when a light accessory is needed. ¬†I like to wear mine draped over my shoulders in the mornings and evenings often to warm against the chill of the day, or wear it wrapped around my neck as a scarf when going out. ¬† The color of this yarn is called “lady slipper” and I think the soft mauve brown is one of my favorite colors lately. ¬†It is very wearable in my opinion and pairs well with many things!

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As for cost, I spent about $30 on the yarn alone and many hours knitting the shawl.  It is quite difficult to price a hand knitted item because the cost of good materials plus all the time involved knitting is hard to place a value on.  All of that to say, your donation will be well worth the cost of the item!

So here’s how you can enter for a chance to win the shawl:

  1. ¬†Donate at least $10 to Peter + AllieMarie’s GoFundMe. ¬†Make your donation HERE. ¬†Every $10 donated will be worth one entry toward winning the shawl. ¬†Once you donate you will be emailed with a receipt. ¬†Hang onto that email, ¬†because if you win I will need you to email that receipt to me as verification of your donation.
  2. Come back to the this page to¬†use the Rafflecopter link below,¬†enter the amount you donated to enter the raffle for the shawl. ¬†First you login with either your email address or your Facebook profile.¬† The options within the widget after you login are Donate $10 for one chance, Donate $20 for two chances, Donate $30 for three chances, Donate $40 for four chances, and Donate $50 for five chances.¬† You can select a combination of entry options if you need to.¬† So for instance if you were to donate $60, you would choose the ‚ÄúDonate $10‚ÄĚ option along with the ‚ÄúDonate $50‚ÄĚ option.¬† Each option can only be selected once per day, so if you donate more than the total options available ($150 per day), you will need to come back the following day(s) and select the options necessary to add up to your total donation. ¬†If you have any issues or questions please email me at marthahkimball(at)gmail(dot)com.

**Because of the current pandemic and subsequent strain on the postal service, the raffle is open to US + Canada only.

ACCESS THE RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY PAGE HERE.

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Please feel free to share this post to spread the word so we can raise as much as we can for the adoption. ¬†Also, feel free to visit Peter and AllieMarie’s adoption instagram account as well as their¬†GoFundMe.

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Good luck and thank you so much! ¬†I’m so excited to send this shawl off to one of you lovely folks soon!

xo
Martha

pumpkins in august

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Well, hello there! ¬†It has been at least two weeks that I’ve been trying to publish this post! ¬†Its not for lack of trying, but there just hasn’t been a spare moment. ¬†It has been a few weeks ago now that we harvested our pumpkins. ¬†I haven’t grown them before so I don’t know if we planted them too soon, planting them way back in April when we planted everything else. ¬†However, the pumpkins seemed ready, the vine had completely taken over that corner of our back yard and I was ready to pull it out and clean up the garden a bit. ¬†Philippa had requested planting pumpkins in the kids little garden box and she tended them carefully over the summer. ¬†She was delighted to harvest them. ¬†As it turns out, she grew exactly six healthy pumpkins, one for each of us. ¬†It really still amazes me the volume of life, plant matter, and abundance that came from one little pumpkin seed. ¬†A little bit of investment, a whole lot of yield. ¬†It’s God’s way. ¬†We may not always see it this side of heaven, but I believe it is His way, and why He asks us to faithfully steward what He gives.

So there are pumpkins in August lined up on our porch and I don’t know what to do with them yet being it is only just barely beginning to feel like autumn. ¬†The sun and humidity still blaze hot. ¬†I guess it really is possible for me to decorate with pumpkins too early. ¬†Now I know. ūüôā ¬†But we are trying to enjoy them just the same, and the kids are hoping they last until carving time in October. ¬†Doubtful, I know.

Last week we began our fifth year of homeschooling. ¬†What a marvel. ¬†I never imagined myself doing this, investing my life in this way, yet here I am. ¬†I really do love it so much. That is not to say that it doesn’t exhaust me entirely, keep me up at nights with anxiety, questions, uncertainty, or that I don’t fail terribly at it many days. ¬†It does do all of those things and I do fail at it terribly and often wonder if it just too large for me. ¬†Maybe one day it will be, and it will be time to shift into something else. ¬†Yet the reality is, it is truly too large for me and it requires dependence on the Lord and a whole lot of grace and sanctification. ¬†I resist that. ¬†I imagine that if it is God’s will for us than maybe it should feel easier or more natural than it does. ¬†Yet I’ve learned that God equips whom He calls, and not the other way around. ¬†I’ve learned that that equipping sometimes comes slow and daily, humbling me more than I’d like.

With each passing year I feel more sure of our approach to homeschooling, I seem to find my way and my confidence a little more. ¬†I am learning what everyone has always said, how valuable the relationship and connection is over simply plowing through material at all costs. ¬†I am learning to laugh and relax more, to set aside a lesson when there are tears of frustration, to make more time for play, wonder, discovery. ¬†I’m seeing the fruits of our labors and it is encouraging! ¬†I really hope it is our best year yet. ¬†Philippa has begun her first year, what a special milestone. ¬†She was overjoyed when some of her new books arrived and she counted down the days until the first day of school last Monday. ¬†She could hardly sleep the night before. ¬†She asks me for extra work every day and she can’t learn to read fast enough. ¬†I hope her zeal never diminishes, what a joy to have an eager student!

I also began weaning Wren this week and it has made me so much more emotional than I anticipated. ¬†I cried late in bed last night, remembering how these last ten+ years of almost constant pregnancy or breastfeeding have been the very sweetest years of my life, the work I knew I would love yet never dreamed I could enjoy as much as I have. ¬†To wean the little one that will probably be my last, to see my children growing out of the baby years and into the big kid years — it is beautiful but also I don’t want to see this season go. ¬†I know so many mothers cannot wait to progress and get beyond these little years, and I can understand. ¬†They have certainly had their challenges and they’ve taken a toll on my body. ¬†Yet they have been so very, very sweet. ¬†And I for one don’t want to let them go.

I was working in the garden the other day and thinking about how we don’t grow food as wisely as we could. ¬†We grow mainly for immediate use, we like to basically have our own little backyard grocery. ¬†We share the overabundance with others, I don’t preserve much of anything, really. ¬†Yet the wisdom in seasons is that one should grow in summer all that they will need in winter. ¬†Spring is for possibility, dreaming, beginning, preparing the soil and the elements for a yield. ¬†The summer time is the time for growing as much as possible for the winter months so that there will be food when the growing season is done. ¬†The winter is for enjoying the fruits of your summer work and resting from the weary toll of all the labor. ¬†The ground is iron, the cold makes most growing impossible. ¬†It is a metaphor for life and every year we are given a reminder in our seasons of what the trajectory of our life will be. ¬†Our youngest years, the preparing of the soil, the planting of the seeds. ¬†Our summer years — our middle years — are hopefully our most productive, our time to yield as much as possible and store up for the winter of our life. ¬†Winter will surely come, when our strength and resources wane. ¬†And these children are so precious, and I just want to give them everything I can, you know? ¬†All the summer yield to build them up, spur them out, shoot them out into the world to do mighty things. ¬†It’s all I want with my life, to be their biggest champion and advocate on this planet.

So the seasons shift again, ever so slightly. ¬†We ease slowly back into our structures, the anchors for our days rocking us back in their steady rhythm. ¬†We welcome pumpkins earlier than we’d like, we return to our homeschool co-op and savor gathering with friends to learn again, for however long we can. ¬†I end my days bone tired with a to-do list longer than I can ever conquer, work always brimming up and over, spilling into tomorrow. ¬†Such good, weary, long, hard, beautiful days.

Welcome with me our newest little 4th grader, 2nd grader, Kindergartener, and littlest mischief-maker sidekick.  If you have children in your life who are in the school years, I pray a special blessing over them right now.  May we do our best for our children this year and every year.

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yarn along

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Just popping in here briefly to share the progress on my hansel hap shawl! ¬†I flew through the colorful portion and am now working on the edging. ¬†It is much slower going but I have so, so loved working on this project! ¬†I don’t want to rush it but I also can already imagine wrapping up in it often as the weather cools. ¬†Oh, to think of that–the weather cooling. ¬†We’ve reached that time of year and heat when I can hardly imagine the need for bundling up and waking up to a chilly house and the need to light the fire.

I should mention the yarn was a kit for this shawl which Brandon gifted me for Mother’s Day 2019, purchased from Ginny’s etsy shop. ¬†Ginny’s yarn is something special! ¬†I was worried I would run out but even though I modified the pattern to extend the size, I still have had enough yarn so far.

Still reading Home, enjoying it a bit more as I get deeper into it.

Joining Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.

yarn along

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Slowly, slowly through the book Home. ¬†I can barely read a few pages after crawling into bed at night before my eyes are too heavy. ¬†Maybe I’ve been having a little trouble getting into it but I’m not far enough in yet and I bet that’s why. ¬†I’ve begun the practice of beginning my morning quiet time with the lighting of a candle as I read and pray. ¬†It has become a tangible reminder to me that I’m meeting with God of very God and it has been so sweet.

I finally cast on a Hansel hap (half version) with a shawl kit I purchased from Ginny over a year ago. ¬†I’ve been sort of saving the yarn and also trying to work through projects I needed to finish first. ¬†Now is the time to knit it! ¬†I am enjoying the yarn so very much already, rambouillet is one of my very favorite fibers to work with. ¬†It is so bouncy and soft! ¬†I am following another knitter’s notes for making the shawl a bit bigger and I’ve calculated and I should have *just* enough yarn to do so, but it will be cutting it really close.

Oh friends, these simple joys (knitting, reading) seem so small and insignificant in the face of so much pain, suffering, uncertainty, and need in the world at large and in our own homes today. ¬†Yet I hold firmly to the reality that the places where we can find and make beauty are places where light breaks in the dark, where we remember that all is well, all shall be well. ¬†We create in the image of our Creator God who also loves to make, who continues to make all things new. ¬†We read good stories and the ultimate Story to find our place in the world, to remember both our humanity and the fact that Jesus Christ came in human form, and continues to choose to work in cooperation with and through human kind. ¬†These simple good things can ground us, inspire us, encourage us, and bring a little joy along the way. ¬†I hope you make time for some creativity and for reading good, nourishing books. ¬†Share with me what you’re up to, if you want!

Joining with Ginny’s Yarn Along and Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.
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