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 also been reading It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way by Lysa TerKeurst which has been helpful to me as I walk through a dark valley.  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!

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pickles, flowers, birds, and a schoolroom update

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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:

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In progress:

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Current iteration:

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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

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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.

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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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yarn along

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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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