yarn along

We are nearing the end of July and a very hot week is predicted for us next week. I’ve been knitting away all the same, knowing soon my knitting time will be overtaken with sweaters for the kids fall/winter birthdays. I had some birthday money and was able to purchase some yarn for a couple sweaters for myself. After finishing the Misurina tee recently as well as the Ginny cardigan (still working on the belt for it), it was time to cast on a new garment! The snowy forest sweater was one I’ve wanted to knit since the design was published. You know how a garment just makes your heart stop a bit when you see it, something about the design calling to you? Well, that’s how this was. It’s my first time knitting a sweater with mohair held together with the yarn and it really is quite extravagant and luxurious. I was a little intimidate by the cable yoke because I haven’t done a ton of work with cables. It is working up so quickly and is really so very easy! I cannot wait to have this one to wear, at the same time I’m enjoying the process so much I don’t want it to end.

Meanwhile I’ve got a lot of other little projects on my needles that I’m working on here and there. I finished the first brambleberry sock and still haven’t cast on the second, need to soon. I knit some premie sized socks for my brand new niece who I hope to share more about soon, when all the adoption details are finalized. I cast on a summer tank for myself to use some cotton yarn I won in a giveaway last year. Will it be finished in time to wear during this summer? I hope so!

I’ve still been reading At Home in Mitford (affiliate link), very much so enjoying it. It’s just a delight to finally get into this series and to escape to Mitford at day’s end.

We’ve been busy lately with family in town, but I do hope to share a regular old blog post soon. What have you been up to in July? Are you in a bit of a heat wave like us? Are you inspired to be creative or to knit, or does the heat put a damper on that for you? What good books are you reading? Share if you’d like!

Blessings!
Martha

yarn along

July has started off cooler than I remember in years past, which has been welcome. Yesterday was a typical hot July day, today the clouds hang low and threaten rain. The rainy days are always a treat both because the watering of the garden is done and because the rain invites more rest. Our sunroom has a metal roof and it is the coziest spot to be in a thunderstorm.

It is so nice in the summer season to have a bit more time for relaxing, reading, and knitting, though I admit I have a hard time giving myself permission to do so. There is so much to catch up on in the summer months and I know how busy and tiring the school year is and how little energy I have for extra projects once school is underway. Anyway, I am enjoying the extra knitting time and trying to crank out projects that have been waiting in my brain for months. I have two sweater projects on the needles that are very nearly done, just sleeves to finish up. And two pairs of socks that are also about to be done. I cast on these brambleberries socks, lacey shortie socks perfect for summer. I wanted to cast these on about a year about but I guess that’s how long it takes me to get to projects on my wish list these days! I don’t mind a bit though, knitting is a slow craft. These socks are already proving to be an enjoyable knit. I forgot how quickly shortie socks go as you finish the cuff and go directly into the knitting the heel flap. I expect these will be off my needles quickly!

I finished reading Stillmeadow Seasons, a sweet and seasonal journal of sorts from the author’s farm over the course of a year. It was a lovely bedtime read, just what I’ve been needing lately. I found At Home in Mitford at a thrift store recently and have never read the series (I know, I’m very late to the party). It seemed like the right time to start it! I’m just a couple of chapters in but I already look forward to picking it up in the evenings.

I hope your July has started off well, with summertime projects and books at the ready.

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summer is for

Summer is for breathing, for catchup up, for catching all the spinning plates that seem to have fallen in the busy crush of the year.

Summer is for stepping back, of evaluating, re-examining, re-connecting. Summer is for celebrating, for sucking the marrow out of the bones.

Summer is for abundant strawberries made into an old favorite dessert, Strawberry Oat bars. Summer is the time for my birthday and we celebrated by spending a day in the woods and river in nearby Montreat, NC, staying for a picnic afterwards. Brandon built me a beautiful cedar box for my birthday to store my hand knit socks. I love it! Summer is for washing and tucking away everyone’s hand knits and cleaning closets + pantries.

Summer is for taking stock of the past school year, ruminating on what worked and didn’t work well, adjusting and beginning to dream about the new school year ahead. It is important for me to step back and refresh my soul in the space.

Meanwhile, as the pressure of school and extracurricular activities lifts, tasks, projects, and plans surface that have been lying dormant. There is mental room and energy to tackle that closet that has been bursting at the seams with scattered shoes and coats.

I knit slippers for my dad that needed to be fixed (the original pattern turned out way too large and floppy) years ago. Here I am finally picking them up and mending them in hopes of having them ready for Father’s Day (success!).

I scribble down jobs around the house on paper for chore charts I printed off and laminated last fall. Now maybe I can implement this simple chore system and have the kids practicing a new routine well before school picks up in the fall and our busy days begin again. Hopefully by then what is now new will be routine.

Sometimes, oftentimes, perfection is the enemy of good, or good enough at least. I want it all to be running smoothly and organized. But projects nearly always take longer than I anticipate, and if I can just slow down and let be what is, not giving up entirely because it isn’t all achievable, and instead welcome slow and steady progress, then slow and steady progress can be made.

I paint the corner of wall in our kitchen that has been a light icky shade of green since we moved in. It takes a full day in between other demands to get this section painted, the trim and the door still need to be painted. Another day I work on painting the new peg rail and pegs, and finally it’s ready for Brandon to hang. Every little step takes time, and every little step brings more pleasure than I expected.

Brandon works on clearing a space for a fire pit so we can dismantle the junky cinderblock fire pit that has been in the middle of our yard since we moved in. We still need to work on the fire pit in the center but it is already such a huge improvement!

Slowly this little old house is coming to be what we imagined and what feels like more of an expression of who we are.

And in the process of all the life happening in the midst–all the “interruptions” to our plans–we are learning to slow down. To see this moment. It’ll never come again. Tomorrow I will be older than I am today. So will my children. A year passes in days. Today is the end of June, the sweet and gentle beginning of summer.

beach days (part 2)

It seems necessary when visiting the beach to have at least one cloudy chilly beach day, and we had a lovely one on our last full day. We drove to nearby Sunset Beach on the tip of North Carolina and we loved watching the deer wandering on the dunes, and the wild stretch of the nature preserve on Bird Island. Though the kiddos began with complaints and assured us they wouldn’t want to get in the water, before long the shirts came off and they couldn’t resist running through the waves with laughter.

You also can’t visit the beach without waking early to catch the sunrise, and staying late to see it set. Brandon’s parents kept the kids for us so we could sneak out early the last morning to do just that, and so that we could stay up late for a sunset walk. It does the soul a lot of good to slow down and pay attention to the sameness and yet miraculous reality of the sun rising and setting day after day. It is sure, steady, predictable, unchanging. Yet, the scriptures say the faithfulness of our God is more sure than even this. More dependable. More to be expected. His mercy and love for us as sure as the sunrise. It is good for us to stop and take notice and to remember. After the sun was up, we explored the beach since the tide was very low. We watched the egrets and sandpipers searching for their breakfast, and we gathered bits of shells and coral to take home and add to our nature cabinet.

The ocean always does its good work on my soul when we are there, and for that I’m grateful. It was refreshing to be there, tiring as these sorts of trips are for parents of little children. It was a good sort of “tired” from trying to squeeze a lot of fun into a few scant days. We can’t wait to go again when we can, and carry all these happy memories in our hearts until then. It was a wonderful way to kick off our summer!

beach days (part 1)

A couple of weeks ago on Memorial weekend, we took a long weekend to visit Brandon’s parents at the beach a few hours away. We haven’t been to visit them in quite some time, nor have we been to the ocean for a long while. It was so good to be away, to become acquainted with the ocean again and the wonders and wildlife that coastal ecosystems have to offer. Wren doesn’t have any memories of the ocean as far as I know, and she was very excited to go to the beach! We left on Thursday after Brandon came home from work and got there quite late that evening. Friday morning we had a relaxing start and then eagerly got ready for the beach. Wren was quite apprehensive about the water and it took her a couple of days to really warm up and feel brave to go in without holding someone’s hand. But by the end she was jumping and splashing in the waves laughing hysterically. The other kids took right to the water, playing on the boogie boards all day, building in the sand, or hunting for shells. Later, Brandon’s dad treated us to a ride on his sail boat. We motored in the intracoastal waterway to watch the sunset and it was both beautiful and peaceful. Bunny had to come along in a bag, just to make sure she didn’t get wet. I’ll share more photos from the rest of our time in the next blog post, there are just too many to share all at once! Suffice it to say, our time together there was relaxing and refreshing, and it did my heart a lot of good to see these kiddos laughing, exploring, playing nonstop, and being generally spoiled rotten by their grandparents. 🙂 What a gift.

yarn along

Welcome, June! Welcome, summer. I know, it’s technically not summer yet but it sure does feel like it. School is wrapped up for us, we went away for a long weekend to the beach, the heat and humidity have already increased dramatically, and our garden is starting to burst and produce. Does it feel like summer where you are?

I have been busy knitting on a few things but am trying to focus on my Kiiruna shawl since the knit-along I’m participating in with this is about to wrap up on the summer solstice. I’m just about done with the garter triangle of the shawl and ready to move onto the lace border. This yarn is so lovely! Even though warmer days are upon us, I plan to wrap up in this shawl in the early mornings in our sunroom where I read and start the day with candlelight and coffee.

I’ve been reading Stillmeadow Seasons upon recommendation of an instagram friend, Genialhearth. Over the years I have loved all the quotes she has shared from Gladys Taber and it is a quieting delight to settle into this book as I settle into bed at night.

What might you be reading and knitting or making lately?

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fifteen years

Weekend before last we stole away for a few days to our favorite little cabin high in the mountains for our fifteenth anniversary. We have come back to this spot together for a few anniversaries because it is quaint, quiet, and offers a sacred space for retreat, celebration, reflection, reconnection, and recreation. Brandon makes time and space to go fly fishing maybe once a year usually only when we come here, fishing all through the beautiful Watauga River valley. I make space to read, write, hike and knit. We always miss our kids intensely and want to bring them with us, but at the same time we recognize the value of time away alone together (thank you mom and dad for taking such good care of them!). In some of the photos below you’ll see pictured a park where Brandon fished for a bit and I took pictures to show the kids, planning to take them there for a day trip sometime this summer. Brandon spoiled me with a new robe and a ring made of wood + crystal. The 15th anniversary year is traditionally celebrated by either crystal or a watch, thus the crystal in the ring. I gifted him a new gadgety watch which he really liked.

This last year for us was the most challenging we’ve ever faced and this anniversary thus felt like a huge milestone. While I cannot speak to where we were this time last year, I can only say it is no longer where we are. The storm of what we have gone through is rumbling off on the horizon behind us now, still very much so in view, and we are still very much so drenched through from the downpour. But the ferocity of the worst of it seems to have passed over us now and we are moving on into a different place. We have been completely laid low and humbled, and one thing my therapist said early on in counseling has stuck with me continually all these months: help them to know, Lord, that they are weak. Help them to know they are dependent. Yes, I do believe more than anything else that is something we have learned: we are weak, we are daily dependent on Him. What we “knew” before, we now know in an experiential way. He is the God of the storm, the wind and the waves answer to Him, they rise and fall at His command, they cease at His mere whisper. Whether we like it or not, whether we will ever fully understand it, the storm serves His purpose and all praise to His glorious name He is sovereign over every bit of it, kindly and mercifully able to work all things for our good and His glory.

Now we walk gingerly, picking our way through, finding our footing again.

(Can you spot the fly fisherman in the first two photos below? Can you spot the knitter’s riverside knitting spot in the third picture below)

We did a fair bit of hiking to find fishing spots, and Brandon did many more hours of fishing than we have in the past, and it was really fun. My request was to explore hiking the ridge line of Grandfather’s Mountain, which I have only hiked around on from the state park access (which is pricey to enter and also usually busy with tourists). We found a trailhead for the Profile Trail and hiked that on our last morning after checking out from the cabin. A quick overview of the hike said it was 7 miles or so and would take 4-5 hours. What an incredible hike! The change in ecosystems while hiking is in itself quite remarkable, and there are many beautiful stopping points along the way. Toward the top is the lookout for Profile View, but we hiked on to Calloway Peak, which is accessed toward the end by ladders a bit precariously placed on rocky crags. It was truly stunning and otherworldly up there and I for sure want to hike it again. While the hike up was a good workout, I was concerned the whole time about the hike down. I have pretty bad knees which often easily dislocate and also I recently sprained my left ankle badly and after several weeks it is still quite swollen, tender and painful. The hike down was as brutal as I expected but my body did better hold up. It did cost me a couple big toenails but hey.. still worth it.

I can’t help but think about the parallels. You can’t enjoy a view like that without all the work and commitment it takes to get there. It’s dang hard work, costly. Painful. But for the few who will endure and surrender to the process, there is a reward at the end. We spent five hours hiking, for only a few moments of an absolutely breathtaking view and a quick bite of lunch. Many wouldn’t consider it worthwhile, but I assure you it is. We have traveled a lot of trails together in our marriage, both literal and figurative. Some I wish had never come to us. Yet here, by the grace of God, we are. Held fast by Him and spurred onward toward Him and through Him. He is everything to us. That is the fruit of 15 years of marriage.

yarn along

Over the weekend we had a getaway for our anniversary and I wanted to cast on a few new things. I did make a lot of progress on my ranunculus, and am about to start the ribbing on the body. I just need to slip stitches to waste yarn so I can try it on and make sure I’m happy with the length before I do so. I really don’t know yet if I will like the finished product, but if not I know I can just rip out and use the yarn for something else. Since I did cast on a few things over the weekend my knitting has felt a little bit all over the place. It is really fun though to have a lot of different things on my needles to choose from!

I also finished reading Delighting in the Law of the Lord. It was good to the very end. I’m starting Home Education, planning to read it slowly with a couple friends and discuss it. I know I’ve read it partially before but it will be good to revisit it with a group.

How are you and what might you be up to this week? Are the flowers bursting where you are? My peonies are beginning to open and our garden is almost all planted, our poppies are bringing me joy every single day. I do so love May!

Happy reading and making.

xo
Martha

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yarn along

These beautiful socks are called the Beatrix socks and they are a test knit for Sabrina Justine. I’m knitting them with Garthenor’s Snowdonia sock yarn. Absolutely stunning rustic sock yarn for a gal who loves to work with wild and woolly wool. I have blocked the first sock and it fits beautifully and is very soft. I’m curious how the yarn will hold up!

I’m still reading Delighting in the Law of the Lord, only a few pages from finishing it. I would highly, highly recommend it. Even though it isn’t necessarily speaking to our times directly or intentionally since it was written some years ago, it is terribly relevant and oftentimes I felt so encouraged reading it and applying the truths and meditations therein to a lot of social and cultural issues of our day. It is one I will probably reread and definitely will refer back to often.

What are you reading and making lately?

xo
Martha

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spring projects

These pictures are from the past several weeks and it is amazing how much has changed in our garden and in the natural world around us in that matter of time. The early blooms of the willow and the bradford pear have given way to green leaves. The lilac is almost ready to bloom. Daffodils, snowdrops, and crocuses are on their way out. My beautiful tulips and are mostly done. The forsythia lining the neighbors shed, just beginning to be visible in these pictures, has long since brilliantly bloomed and greened out. Now the peonies are beginning to grow, the bachelor’s buttons, mustard greens, and one little beet plant are growing rapidly in the garden. We’ve weeded and prepared the soil, and last weekend I spent the better part of Saturday shoveling compost over the garden and the other beds around our home. Coneflowers and poppies are beginning to come back, the flag iris, and the strawberries. Asparagus have already been sending up their shoots. Such a lively and vibrant time it is. Soon we will plant in the garden vegetables and herbs, but we’re waiting a few more weeks.

Meanwhile, we’ve been carrying on with school. It’s the time of year when we are all feeling really weary and ready for a hard stop. I’m grateful for the garden season which gives us a sense of freshness and an eagerness to learn outside in the growing of things. Philippa and I enjoyed working on her bird puzzle and Noah worked eagerly on his ocean anatomy puzzle. Wren actually helped a lot of with Noah’s puzzle and did surprisingly well finding pieces and putting it together. We’ve pulled out the paints a number of times on rainy days or just for fun. I try to be willing to pull out the paints whenever the kids ask, even though sometimes I don’t feel I have the energy for it. They love it and honestly create such beautiful little works of art. Next week we plan to take a week off for a late spring break and then we really only have a few more weeks until our school year should be done. The end is in sight! Not that I don’t love and cherish these times of learning together. But it is a lot of work for all of us and it’s always so good to step away for a bit.

Another project we began back in the fall but finished up earlier this spring was a small facelift in our bathroom. I’ll share some before and after photos below.

We still plan to fully gut this bathroom at some point, but in the meantime I just wanted to make a few changes to make it more our style. The janky medicine cabinet mirror/light drove me crazy and buzzed loudly whenever it was on. I didn’t love the shoddy paint job the previous owners had done. We had a bit of this dark evergreen paint left from painting our front door and so we used it in the bathroom which I really love. Brandon built the vanity from a piece of live-edge slab that he had, and I picked out the vessel sink and faucet (sink, faucet, light fixture and mirror all from Wayfair). Down the road when we do a bigger renovation of the shower and floor these pieces will still work in the space hopefully. We’re really happy with it and I’m buzzing with all that spring energy, wanting to tackle a lot of other projects around the house.