yarn along

DSC_0006DSC_0008

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.
Amazon links are affiliate links.

pickles, flowers, birds, and a schoolroom update

DSC_0003

DSC_0007

DSC_0010

DSC_0014

DSC_0017

DSC_0018

DSC_0019

DSC_0020

DSC_0022

DSC_0024

DSC_0028

DSC_0029

DSC_0031

DSC_0033

DSC_0061

DSC_0068

DSC_0073

0-1

0-2

It never fails to surprise me how quickly the summer weeks go by.  It seems we barely have anything going on, this year especially, and yet somehow it feels full and busy.  Then all of a sudden it’s August and we are nearly ready to begin another school year.  It may have something to do with the fact that I put off a lot of bigger projects until the bigger breaks (Christmas and summer) and then suddenly I feel like I have a small window to get a lot of things done.  I want to clean and tidy and reorganize all the chaos that has spilled out over the last several months, but attempting to do so with four children underfoot is challenging and feels like an exercise in futility.  I realized this summer that since we will be adding another student this fall (yay, Philippa!) I need a bigger work space to gather children around and sit by them to assist.  I have been cramming myself into a kiddie chair at a very small kiddie table for the last year when I’ve worked with Noah and it finally dawned on me that this wasn’t going to work any longer.  Praise the Lord.  Environment does make such a difference.

So with some moving around of furniture that we already had and buying a few new items to spruce up our school room, we’ve slowly been making changes over the summer.  After three years of living in this house and the prior owners leaving the wood windows half painted in the schoolroom, we finally painted them and the laundry room door also.  It is amazing how something so small makes such a nice difference!  It just looks tidier.  We were given a couple of old hutches and I decided to use one in the school room as a homeschool cabinet.  I will probably paint it in the future, but I do like the original wood.  We’ve been filling the glass top part of it with nature finds that we’ve been saving.  The bottom part will hold puzzles, manipulatives, books, and whatever else we need to keep organized in there.  Brandon put better lighting in also (can lights) because this room is the darkest in the house and that doesn’t make for a great school space.  It has been fun to focus on just one room and make it suited to our needs.  It’s amazing how the kids are drawn more to this space now and I think it is going to work better for us this school year.  I used to spread out and do school at the kitchen table or in the living room, and we still do that for some subjects.  But it has made a big difference for us to work in a dedicated space and keep all of our supplies handy.  It makes it easier for me to grab what we need and helps everyone’s attention spans.

Meanwhile, the garden has been growing, growing.  I’ve neglected weeding it for the past couple of weeks with the high heat, humidity, and the more pressing projects in the house sorting curriculum, planning, and reorganizing.  It’s a bit wild out there now as one can only expect it to be come August.  Our cucumbers continue to abound so I made a batch of refrigerator pickles using this recipe.  (I didn’t use as much sugar and used more peppercorn and mustard seed.)  So good and easy.  We are able to share a lot of what we grow with others and that is always a joy.  I’m thankful for all the flowers, enjoying watching them bloom and cutting some to bring indoors.  Noah has been obsessed with drawing birds from this atlas, he has done at least twenty different drawings by now and they’re really good.  He told me tonight that he wants to set up a stand tomorrow by the road and sell them.

The kids seem relatively happy but I wonder how all of these changes in our world are affecting them.  Noah said at dinner tonight that he wondered when the virus would be over and all the stores could open up again.  I realize we forget to tell them some of the updates happening, that many places are open again but there are still restrictions in place.  Still, it doesn’t feel “normal” to them yet and it’s uncertain for all of us what normal will be from here on out.  Our homeschool co-op will begin in a few weeks, it is a very small group and we are able to continue meeting.  Hopefully that will restore a bit of normalcy for them, but who knows what this fall and winter season will hold?

Some “before” shots of our school room:

0-7

0-8

0-9

In progress:

0-6

0-40-5

Current iteration:

0-3

0-1

0-2

I will share a few more photos maybe as I finish up in there.  I am still organizing the shelves and my desk area.  Little bits of work in little chunks of time.  I hope in the next few weeks we are well prepared for a new and maybe altogether different school year.  I’m beginning to feel excited about it.

 

 

 

yarn along

DSC_0006

Another week gone by.  The crepe myrtle are in full bloom, the heat and humidity also.  How about where you are in the world?  I bound off the antarktis shawl that I’ve had on the needles for over a year!  It feels really good to finish it.  I’m also very nearly done with this tegna, a top I’m knitting as a commissioned project for my friend Jessica.  On Sunday I finished shaping the shoulders, seamed them together, picked up and knit the neckline, then cast on the first sleeve.  That was a lot for one day!  I am eager to work on my fleuriste cardigan but I’ve realized I’ve been knitting the wrong chart for the last 11 rows or so and I’ve got to figure out how to rip back and fix it.  I think I know what I’m going to do but it will require a good chunk of uninterrupted time to concentrate on it, and I just don’t have very much of that these days.  I’m eager to cast on another summery top i think for myself soon, and that may override my desire to fix my mistake on the fleuriste!  We shall see.

I’m still reading Home, though ever so slowly.  The children and I have been reading Tuck Everlasting after Ginny recommended it a little bit ago.  We are all really enjoying it.  The chapters are mercifully short which is good for the evenings when I don’t have much energy left for a read-aloud.  They always beg me to keep reading.

joining Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.
Amazon links are affiliate links.

yarn along

DSC_0094

One constant in these strange days has been knitting.  Of course there have been some days that I haven’t felt up to it, or that it’s required more brain energy than I have.  More often it is a comfort and a happy distraction at day’s end.  I always have a few projects in the works that I’m actively working on.  After a very long hiatus (nearly a year?) I’ve picked back up this Antarktis shawl to knit on and finish up.  It is nearly done, only needing the last lace section or so before binding off.  I made it larger than the pattern called for so I’m just improvising pattern repeats at this point and I like how it’s turning out.  This yarn is one of my very favorites to work with and this color is truly enchanting and lovely.  I can’t wait to see it when it’s done, it will be beautiful.  My plans and hopes for this shawl were to knit it to sell/raffle off to help raise money for my brother and sister-in-law’s adoption, and I still hope to do so!  I’ll share more about that soon.

I’ve been reading Home after finishing Gilead recently.  I’m just a few pages in, enjoying it as before bed reading.

I’m joining with Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.
Amazon links are affiliate links.

hello, again

DSC_0048DSC_0003DSC_0005DSC_0025DSC_0042DSC_0006DSC_0009DSC_0027DSC_0013DSC_0022DSC_0029DSC_0033DSC_0036DSC_0040DSC_0046DSC_0032DSC_0042

Hello, again, friends.  It has been a long time!  I’m so sorry for my absence here.  In some ways, it feels arbitrary — I’m not sure who even reads these posts, these snippets of words and photos strung together.  Blogging really can feel a bit like talking to oneself.  But if you are there reading along, hello!  How have you been?  I’d love to hear from you.

A good many things have happened in all of our lives since April.  It’s a comfort to know we share in a lot of it and we understand the strain, stresses, the collective grief we’ve carried.  We’ve been walking through some personal storms also, which have taken a toll.  I haven’t felt like writing, like sharing, even much like taking photos.  Days have slipped one into another, taken up with the necessary tasks.  Space to be quiet has felt appropriate, necessary for survival.  I’ve weighed whether or not to carry on with blogging, sifting my reasons for investing time and energy into it.  Maybe the season for it has come to a close, I don’t know.  Sometimes you carry on with the practice of a thing even though it doesn’t seem to have a great purpose or bear measurable fruit, and it feels hard to give it room in your life simply because you enjoy it.

Weeks have slipped by into months.  We’ve mostly stayed home and enjoyed the solace of escaping to the wilderness when we can.  Come spring we planted a garden, maybe all a bit too early in a bit of an anxious rush to get food growing.  Our spring was colder than normal and our garden took forever to take off.  It’s mid-July now and just this week our zucchinis, squash, and cucumber are harvestable.  I’m still waiting on tomatoes to ripen, it feels so late.  Summer is my least favorite season, though I don’t despise it.  I just feel more cooped up because of the heat, humidity, and bugs.  I feel less able to enjoy the outdoors and I think that’s why I dislike it.  Keeping a garden brings so much joy to me in part because it gives me a good reason to savor summer, to be outside and to see the benefits of all that humid heat in the swell of red tomato skin and crisp bite of cucumber.  Zinnias, calendula, cosmos, coneflower, and poppies are blooming and filling up the drab beds, a quilt of color.  These garden photos are from some weeks ago, now.  Before long the tidy rows will be an unruly jungle.

I’ve been catching up on children’s dental and annual doctor well-checks.  Noah and Phoebe did their annual academic testing (required by the state) and both did so well, I was immensely encouraged.  The last months of our school year were so difficult and distracted, we were all so burned out.  Yet I see their scores and I marvel at how well they are learning.  It’s all worth it to see the fruits of our labor on paper, to see that the sacrifices and inevitable exhaustion (for me) involved in homeschooling still outweigh the other educational options available to us.  A good break from our homeschool routine also gives much-needed perspective and refreshment, and already I can see that we’re getting hungry to return to our studies.

We’ve been keeping up with piano lessons and swimming lessons weekly.  I’m beginning to plan out our next school year, while still trying to tidy and put away work from the last.  I feel horrible in that area, but really when we wrap up our school year I’m ready to not look at curriculum and papers to file for quite some time.  I never can believe how fast these summer weeks fly by.  I’m also making some improvements to our little school room, always trying to find ways to better organize books and materials while also creating an inspiring space for learning.  Knitting and reading fills my evenings, bringing calm, a creative outlet, space for my mind to grow and wander as the day winds away and fireflies flicker like embers rising from grass, cicadas singing evening songs.

I hope you are well.  I hope you are savoring the summer abundance and rhythm.  I hope you are your loved ones are well.  I hope you are pursuing the things that are life-giving and refreshing to you amid the mundane.  I hope you sense God’s presence with you, His everlasting arms underneath, upholding, undergirding it all.

xo
Martha

p.s. I’m playing around with a new blog layout.  I hope you enjoy the freshening up and can be patient with me as I continue to tweak it!)

a different Easter

DSC_0084DSC_0045DSC_0047DSC_0048DSC_0044DSC_0050DSC_0052DSC_0053DSC_0056DSC_0061DSC_0065 (1)DSC_0070DSC_0074DSC_0075DSC_0078DSC_0079DSC_0080DSC_0083DSC_0089DSC_0091DSC_0092DSC_0093DSC_0095DSC_0096DSC_0100DSC_0103DSC_0112DSC_0117DSC_0118DSC_0123DSC_0125DSC_0128DSC_0074 (1)DSC_0077DSC_0079 (1)DSC_0081

Beautiful, sunny warm Saturday was filled with productivity and work.  Early morning grocery shopping, lawn care, cleaning floors and bathrooms, all the house work tended to so we could enjoy a restful Sunday.  We thought about doing an egg hunt on Saturday while it was sunny out, knowing Easter Sunday was slated to be rainy, but it just didn’t feel like Easter.  We finished that day with dinner outside under the budding Crepe Myrtle and with a large bonfire.  I made gluten-free cinnamon rolls that evening to bake on Easter morning.

I think we all fought some sorrow on Easter due to the fact that celebrations are overshadowed somewhat by the corona virus.  How we miss gathering!  But our hearts fought for joy, also.  We were thankful for the simple graces of family life: the warm smell of cinnamon rolls as children colored in early light.  Squeals of children’s laughter and screams of delight as they dodged raindrops and hunted for eggs in the yard.  Morning worship that was so very sweet with our church family via the internet.  Then a restful afternoon amidst pouring rain.  An Easter feast with lamb my parents had given to us, the scriptures read over us by Brandon.

We rejoice now more than ever in the hope we have in Jesus, the Savior who conquered death  and took away all need for fear.  Sending you lots of love in these sometimes dismal days, hoping you are all well, body and soul.

yarn along

0-1

I cast on this little Sunday Sweater for wren because her birthday sweater that I knitted for her in March was way too big and will need to be tucked away for another year.  She has outgrown most of her other hand knit sweaters, and though we don’t have many chilly days ahead, I still wanted her to have an option for when we do.  She loves when I make her anything because she happily tries it on anytime I ask her to and says “ooo, pwetty.”  She loves dress up and clothes, which I’m grateful for because Phoebe did also, but then Philippa has really never been into anything too girly.  I’ve missed having a dressing-up kind of little girl around.  Anyway, it has been so nice to work with Wisconsin Woolen Spun and makes me want to work on a larger project with it.

The kids and I watched the documentary on Tasha Tudor last week (thank you Ginny for the recommendation!) and they were absolutely enamored and transfixed.  Phoebe said that is exactly how she wants to live when she is grown up.  Noah asked if he could send her a letter telling her that he loves her and her drawings are so good.  This week Phoebe has read and re-read all of her chapter books and though I’ve had books on hold from the library, things are moving so slowly.  So, I ordered a few new books to delight these little bored scallywags and I thought they’d love to have a couple more Tasha Tudor books.  Pumpkin Moonshine I bought for Wren, and Around the Year I bought for Philippa.  Wren sat down to read hers with me right away, she is becoming quite the book lover already.  Philippa however declared that she didn’t like her book, in fact she “hates it” (though she hasn’t even cracked it open yet) and she wonders why didn’t I buy her something about dragons or a sticker book?  🙂  I love that she feels free to be honest and her “hate” for certain things is still cute at this point.  I suspect she’s just a bit grumpy and will come around, but next time I’ll bear in mind her suggestions.

I finished Adorning the Dark last night and really enjoyed it.  It was a bit of a lighter read than I expected, and focused more on songwriting than creative work in general, but I still recommend it and found it helpful and thought provoking.  I am missing the library so much right now… any one else?!  I’m not sure what I will read next.

Joining Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.
Amazon links are affiliate links.

yarn along

DSC_0034

This week we are taking a (spring!) break from usual school work except for a few commitments (tutoring, homeschool co-op, etc via zoom).  It is nice, but at the same time I feel like the week is flying by and it still feels quite busy and not terribly leisurely yet.  Oh well.  I’m trying to do one thing a day for the children that feels special.  Yesterday it was painting.  Today it was playing in the sprinkler.  I hope to work on sorting children’s clothes, tidying the school room, planting the garden, and otherwise just taking a mental break.

I’m making some progress on this beautiful Ara shawl for my friend.  I am so frustrated that I cannot capture the yarn color, it is more green teal than is shown above and it is simply stunning.  Every time I see the yarn when I walk into the room it is like a little pop of joy.  Maybe when it’s all done I’ll be able to get a more accurate picture of the color.  You’ll just have to take my word for it, it’s beautiful. 🙂

Also, I have made it about half way through Adorning the Dark and can say I’m really enjoying it.  It is encouraging me to think about writing again, which is a part of my heart that I’ve sort of closed up and put away somewhere.  I don’t know if I want the book to encourage me in that way, I guess I was approaching it just from a creative work standpoint in general.  Dreams are painful and hard to hold onto as you get older and face more and more disappointment, and also grow wiser and a better student of yourself.  I don’t mean to sound negative about it because it is a sweet and beautiful book, only that it is stirring things in my soul that I didn’t anticipate and am not sure what to do with quite yet.

Linking up with Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.
Amazon links are affiliate links.

 

yarn along

DSC_0011

The last few days I’ve been working again on this old cross stitch sampler that I started (4 or 5?) years ago when Philippa was a baby.  It’s for above her bed, much like the Alphabet sampler I cross stitched for Phoebe.  Philippa cannot wait to have it done and has been so thrilled to see me working on it again.  I’m stitching the little cottage right now and it feels appropriate as we are all stuck at home.  I have a couple more of Alicia Paulson’s cross stitch kits that I’m eager to get to, and I’m committed to working on a letter and a motif each day on this one until its done.  Once I sat back down and started on it again, I just loved it so.  I do love knitting more than cross stitch and that’s why I seem to devote any free crafting time I have to knitting.  However with the current stay-at-home orders and crafting being more important than ever as a pleasant distraction, I have especially wanted to finish off projects that have sat unfinished for a long time.  I have portraits to paint of Philippa and Wren for my bedroom, a silhouette of Wren to add to my living room wall, and I’ve even thought of finally getting to those baby books that desperately need work.  Maybe its the quarantine, maybe it’s the onset of spring and the desire to organize and tidy.

Meanwhile, I am still knitting, jumping between these Fir socks and a couple other projects (a Nurtured sweater for myself and an Ara shawl for a friend).  I really want to cast on something new (spring-y) but I’m trying to discipline myself to get a little farther on these projects before I do so.  I am knitting these socks on a 56-stitch count and I can BARELY get them on my foot.  Maybe that’s why I’m tempted to put them aside.  Once I do get them on my foot they fit ok.  I think this yarn has some cashmere content and it isn’t as stretchy or springy (not really my favorite, though I love the color). My plan is to finish this one since it’s so close to the toe, block it and see how it fits then.  If it’s still super hard to get on my foot, I may have to rip it out.  That just feels really defeating right now when it seems like I don’t much energy for much of anything.

I had to return Gilead to the library and have placed a hold and am waiting to pick it back up.  Our library is closed, but they will still do curbside “orders.”  I haven’t tried it yet.  Meanwhile, I finished off Little Women finally and I must say I’ve never read the book before and it really met and encouraged me each time I picked it up with things I’m facing in my own life.  Last night I began reading Adorning the Dark which I’ve been sort of hoarding.  It was a gift from my sister-in-law and I’ve been eager to get to it once other books were finished.

I am so grateful for books, yarn and thread to keep my company in these overwhelming and sometimes dismal days.  Also, that cute succulent in the hedgehog pot was a gift dropped on my doorstep by a dear friend and it brings a smile every time I see it.  I hope you are finding some small pleasant distractions in these uncertain days.  We are all living so much smaller and slower, aren’t we?  It really could be remarkable what we discover.

Praying and hoping you are well, discovering some good and remarkable things, finding time for pleasant distractions to anchor your days and keep hands busy.  I sure do appreciate your reading along here, your comments and contributions!  What have you been making or working on?  Are you finding energy to do so?  I know we are all doing our very best to keep spirits up and minds busy with something other than anxious thoughts.

Linking up with Ginny’s Yarn Along and Nicole’s weekly Crafting On
Amazon links are affiliate links.

beside still waters

DSC_0014DSC_0015DSC_0019DSC_0024DSC_0026DSC_0027DSC_0028DSC_0031DSC_0033DSC_0035DSC_0037DSC_0040DSC_0042DSC_0045DSC_0047DSC_0053DSC_0054DSC_0058DSC_0066DSC_0068DSC_0039DSC_0069DSC_0075

Hello friends.  How are you all doing?  I hope you’re ok, not just in body but also in mind and soul.  We’ve been ok.  We are all healthy and for that I’m grateful.  These are challenging times for us all, and I have felt quite overwhelmed.  All of our usual extra curricular activities have been cancelled and we have been home for many days.  I’m thankful for a big yard and sunny days when they come, it lifts the heaviness and helps us not to feel so cooped up.

However, in anticipation of a “shelter-in-place” ordinance, we decided to get out on the parkway this last weekend for a proper hike.  The more popular areas were packed with cars and we decided to avoid those. We found a trail we haven’t hiked before that ended up being so beautiful and peaceful, and we really only saw a handful of other hikers.   There are few things that are as restorative as the wilderness for us.

At the beginning of the “social distancing”, my pastor shared this quote from C. S. Lewis with us and it has stuck with me throughout these past two weeks.  Lewis was writing this as they lived under threat of the atomic bomb:

“This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”

C.S. Lewis, On Living in an Atomic Age

I admit that in these last many days, it has been challenging for me to keep to the basic activities of being human.  I’ve had to be intentional in still lighting the candles at dinner, snapping photos of sweet moments and pretty things, folding the laundry, scrubbing the bathrooms, reading good stories, setting out the next day’s schoolwork in the evenings.  Sometimes these things feel so meaningless when facing such imminent health and economic threat.  Yet I have also been anchored by these same human activities; kept from endless scrolling of headlines, worrying and fretting.  The activities of being human help me to continue on being human.  And it is essential in times like these that we don’t lose our humanity.

Being outside in the sun, having moments of stillness, carrying on with normal work as much as possible, knitting, music, connecting with friends virtually, reading scripture–these are some of the anchors.

Be well, friends.  It may be quieter here on the blog, it may not be, I’m not sure.  I hope you are well, I hope you are finding the things that anchor you, too.  A song we sing often at church is this one, and it feels more appropriate now than ever before.  Sending you warm hugs, friends.

xo
Martha