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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Blue crescents, creamy roses, swallows and amazons.

Has it really only been two weeks since I last wrote?  It feels much longer.  The whole world has changed since then.  My whole world has changed since then.  It’s difficult not to wonder if things will ever feel “normal” again.  It has been a tumultuous time for us all, that is for certain, and at times like this, maybe we question if there is any value in the smallest of things like yarn, knitting, books, flowers, blogging.  Maybe now more than ever it is important that we still make art, read good books, find beauty in the harsh landscape, tell stories.  These are among the things that remind us that we are human.  These are among the things that have helped me keep calm and feel normal from day to day.

A dear friend asked me to knit a shawl for her, and she chose this beautiful teal colored yarn for an Ara Shawl.  It is going to be beautiful.  I’m grateful for a simple and meditative pattern to work on.

Also, I’m reading Swallows and Amazons aloud to the kids in the evenings.  Only a couple of chapters in but we are already hooked.  We’ve neglected our family read-aloud time for a little bit and it feels good and important that we read good stories to our children in these days.

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I finished my koivua sweater a few days ago and it truly turned out JUST how I hoped.  How often does that happen?  Especially when you don’t carefully gauge swatch (guilty!).  I love it so much and we even had snow flurries the day that I finished it so I got to wear it in the chilly weather and enjoy it’s warmth.  I’ll try to take some photos of it soon.

I have so many projects that I can’t wait to cast on, but I’ve been forcing myself to go back and work on some languishing projects.  I am nearly done with the second sleeve on my featherweight cardigan.  The yarn is just so lovely to work with, and I adore the color.  After the sleeve, I just have to knit the collar and it will be done.  It’s so close to finishing, really.  In fact most of my other works-in-progress are close to finishing, so I’m hoping to clear at least a few of them off the decks before casting on something else.  I have two commissioned projects for a dear friend — a top and a shawl — both larger projects knit in fingering weight yarn, so before I start those I just feel the need to clear some head space.

I’m still reading Gilead, and I’m enjoying it but also not sure entirely that I love it.  I’m about half way through — does it get better, those of you who have read it before?

I hope you’ve been enjoying these early March days, staying healthy, and finding some time for making + reading.

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Our Bradford Pear tree is blossoming, bright chartreuse spots are appearing in the Forsythia against the neighbors old green shed.  It must be March, and spring is on the horizon.  I’m working on the last bit of color work at the end of both sleeves on my koivua.  I will finally have this sweater done when all the cold weather is behind us, won’t I?  Oh well, that’s how things go.

Still reading Gilead, though I haven’t made much progress.  Busy days.  What are you making or reading?

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I took a wee break from knitting on my koivua (so close to finishing! wahh!) when I realized I needed to get on knitting a birthday sweater for Wren pronto. I thought I’d be able to whip out a sweater for a 2 year-old in no time, but it’s taking longer than expected.  I decided to knit her another camilla babe sweater.  I knit this sweater for Wren when she was a newborn and loved it so much on her, found it to be a very wearable knit.  However, I forgot how much purling is involved in this sweater which just makes it go a little slower for me.  Then I realized I didn’t have the proper size DPNs and needed to purchase them so I could work on the sleeves.  Also, I’ve just not had a lot of knitting time lately, but I do think I’ll be able to have this done in time.  I really, really love this very squishy worsted weight wool that I dyed myself last year with marigolds from our garden.  I’ve been hoarding it, planning to make a pair of overalls for wren but felt it would make such a cheery birthday sweater for a March girl.  Also I’m happy to report that Phoebe and Philippa’s sweaters knit with my hand-dyed yarn have held up so beautifully and not faded at all.

Am I really reading another book?  Well, sort of.  This is what happens when I put multiple books on hold at the library and suddenly they all come in at once.  Gilead came in, so I started in on it.  I’ve heard so many recommendations for this series by Marilynne Robinson, but I do have a few other books on the go so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get through this one before I have to return it.  We shall see!  Can you believe we are in the last few days of February and with next month comes spring?  I cannot!  This winter felt so short, probably because of all the mild weather.  Or the fact that my head is always spinning juggling all that is on my plate.

Sending love and sunny weather wishes to you all!

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I am nearly done with the first sleeve on my koivua sweater and decided to put it on hold and go ahead and start the second sleeve so that I can try to manage the changing colors on the spincycle yarn to sort of match the first sleeve.  Meanwhile I realized yesterday that Wren’s birthday is in two weeks and I need to get her birthday sweater started!

I became a bit fascinated with the story behind barn quilts last spring when my husband and I were away celebrating our anniversary.  For a few years now we’ve gone to a little cabin in the mountains a couple of hours away and I took notice of all the beautiful old barns in that area.  I couldn’t help noticing the sweet barn quilts on almost all of them and have been wanting to read about it ever since.  I found this book at the library, Following the Barn Quilt Trail, the story of a woman and her husband following the trail of the barn quilts from state to state and sharing the history and stories behind them.  I just began it but I think it will be a good and relaxing read!

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Also, here are some photos I took of barn quilts last spring when I began to notice them in my area.

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It’s a chilly grey February day here.  We just wrapped up our school morning and soon I’ll get lunch on the table.  I meant to get this post up yesterday, but lately my days are so full I always feel a bit behind on everything.  Not that it matters much at all to be a bit late posting here. 🙂  I wonder how you are and how your February is going wherever you might be in the world as you read this.  I’ve been knitting away on my projects when I find time, usually in the evenings when all the work is done for the day.  Last night I bound off the body of my koivua sweater and am reading to start working on the sleeves.  A few days ago I cast on a simple ribbed hat for myself with this beautiful yarn by Colleen of Little Lionhead Knits in a color way called The Great Smoky Mountains.  I thought it would be tedious to do this much ribbing (because I want a folded brim hat), and the fiddly beginnings were tedious but I am actually really enjoying working on it here and there when I need something totally mindless.  The color is hard to capture.

I’m still reading Fierce Convictions. 🙂

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