making by hand

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Last week we were having our AC unit replaced and while the guys were here working on it for the morning, I took the kids out for a bike/walk around the neighborhood.  I quickly realized something was going on as cars were buzzing in and out of our usually quiet streets, lining the roads all around our home.  People were walking to their cars carrying boxes, armfuls of wood, all manner of odds and ends.  I asked one guy what was going on and he said an estate sale was happening around the corner.  We decided to stop in the sale since it was on our usual walk route.  How strange to go inside a home that we have walked by hundreds of times, one of our neighbors that I don’t think we’ve ever met.  Strange, to wonder what has happened to them, to see everything in their home with a price tag on it, people hustling in and out of rooms hawking items.  All their precious things, their life held in the chipped and peeling walls.  How much you can uncover about a person by just entering their home, seeing what they’ve held onto, what mattered to them.  Walls and walls of old books, probably a treasure trove though I didn’t have time to hunt through them.  She had a craft room–bags of yarn, half-finished projects, piles of crocheted afghans.  Old dolls, an ancient sewing machine on a wooden table with patterns for dolls clothes and such stored in a tupperware nearby.  Shelves of crafting books.

All these things, her treasures, now priced and sorted through by strangers.  How odd really, that things come to us, we hold them, transform them maybe and then they slip through our fingers and go to someone else.

She was a maker and I wondered at how many other women in my little neighborhood spend their evenings like I do, with needles in hand or some other handmade project.  I don’t know why it struck me as profound, but it did.  All this work of our hands, and why does it matter?

I think because of my love for knitting, my children are “catching” the value of handmade things + craft.  At least, I hope they do.  I think the mindfulness and intentionality of it, the sense of accomplishment in finishing a project, the stimulus of creativity–all is good.  I recently ordered some little cotton muslin bags and a couple of pounds of dried organic lavender flowers to make my own little satchels for our closets.  On a rainy afternoon, it was a perfect activity.  Noah and Philippa filled up all the little bags with scoops between sips of warm tea, and then helped place the little bags in our closets and around my (small) yarn stash.  Lavender is a beneficial in so many ways, as most of us well know, in relaxation and helping to aid sleep.  It is also a pest/bug deterrent and helps keep woolens smelling good and unappealing to moths.  Every time I open our closets now, it makes me smile, the rush of the scent of lavender fields.

Phoebe also requested some new loops for her weaving loom, and she has been busy making beautiful, colorful little squares.

All these things, into our fingers, slipping through.

yarn along

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I finished sock no. 1 last night and cast on for the second sock.  I already love these so much.  They fit more snuggly than the last pair I knitted with the exact same “recipe” but maybe they will grow a bit with blocking.  If not, it’ll be just fine.  I think it must be a slightly finer weight sock yarn.  Even though I prefer the aesthetic of simple neutrals, I have sincerely enjoyed every single stitch of these socks.  The colors are simply gorgeous, especially the coppery flecks and golden yellow.  No second sock syndrome here.  Is it just because so many people are talking about school starting back this week or did I sense a tiny shift in the weather here?  I don’t tend to allow myself to think about fall until we are through with September because August and September seem to be North Carolina’s hottest months.  Even still, it seems the mornings have a different sort of chill to them this week and it makes me excited for cool fall mornings wrapped up in shawls next to a fire.

Still reading Devoted (affiliate link), and almost done with it.  I’ve finally gotten myself a book light (why did it take me so long?) so I can read in bed at night (when I seem to get the most reading done) without disturbing Wren or Brandon.  It’s been a game changer. 🙂  So yes, hopefully I will get a bit more reading accomplished!

Joining with Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.

growing up

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He’s long overdue for a “big boy” bike, my boy.  He had a little bit of birthday money that I set aside for a new bike, and Brandon looked for awhile online before settling on this one.  It was a real treat to watch him open that box and help daddy put the bike together.  When he realized it didn’t have training wheels (he’s just been riding a strider) he panicked a little bit and didn’t think he’d be able to do it.  It’s a bit big and heavy for him, so I was a little concerned, too, that it would be too hard.  Then, we had rain for days so he couldn’t take it outside to try it.  Finally, the sun came out and he tried it out on the grass.  He pretty quickly caught on to riding Phoebe’s (a bit smaller) bike without training wheels but didn’t feel comfortable with his bike.  By day two, he had it down.  He called me to come outside and see, and there he was pedaling it around with a big grin on his face.

Often this little man of mine balks at something new and I hear a lot of “I can’t”s from him before he’s really given it a try.  Our homeschool co-op starts up on Monday (in just a few days!) and as Noah thinks about school starting, he’s been panicking and saying “but I don’t know how to read or write!”  Oh, sweet boy, that’s the whole point, I say.  I keep reminding him about his bike, how he thought he couldn’t do it and that he’d HAVE to have training wheels.  And then by day two, he had it down and has been out riding it every day since.  I can’t believe this has been my last summer with this guy before he starts formal (home)schooling.  And I can’t wait to have time with him, to work with him on letters and sounds and seeing his little mind come alive with the joy of learning and realizing he can do it! He’s growing up!

yarn along

 

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I bought this crazy fun happy yarn over a year ago and tried to cast on for socks but was so sick in my pregnancy with wren that they idled for awhile before I ripped them out.  This yarn is so bright and different for me, I wasn’t much in the mood to work with it.  But lately I just craved wood dpns and the bliss of simple vanilla sock knitting and these socks are literally flying off my  needles.  I cast them on on Saturday and in three days I’m nearly onto the foot of the sock, which is pretty fast for me.  It’s hard to capture the color accurately because it’s so neon-y but this is fairly close.  The yarn is addicting to work with because of the constant variation in color.  I’m knitting these for myself, hoping to maybe attempt to make one pair of socks for myself each season of the year, so these will be summer socks since the color is summery to me (of course i’ll be wearing them in the winter).  I think they’ll be fun to have on dreary grey winter days.  Also, my girls are so terribly jealous and coveting my crazy yarn so maybe some more fun neon pink yarn will be in my future.  I don’t mind.

About half way through Devoted: Great Men and their Godly Moms (affiliate link) and loving it so far.  Highly recommend.  Short stories/biographies and so much encouragement for every sort of mom.

I’m joining up with Nicole’s Crafting On to share what I’m reading/working on this week.  As always, I’d love to hear what you’re making and reading too!

 

yarn along

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The skies are brooding, ready to open up any minute.  I am just sitting down with a cup of afternoon coffee, which I never ordinarily make, but after a busy morning running errands and sitting for 2.5 hrs (!!) in eye appointments for the children and then hurriedly mowing the lawn for the last couple of hours before we have a few days of heavy rain… I think I’ve earned it. 🙂

Yesterday I took the kids to the Greenville Zoo for a fun day trip before we picked up my parents from the airport in Greenville.  It was a super fun day but no naps were had by all and today the house is quiet and hopefully the younger babies sleep and we have a more peaceful afternoon.

I finished the test knit hat for Noah and you can see finished photos of it on instagram or ravelry.  I’m making more headway now on Wren’s like sleeves top, beginning on the front/bodice portion of it.  It is so lovely to knit with Cestari, even if it is primarily cotton.  This yarn is super soft and just so soothing moving through my fingers.

I just ordered the book Devoted by Tim Challies (affiliate link) with some birthday money and am excited to start it.  It’s a small book about the lives of the mothers of some of the most influential theologians and men of faith in history, and I’m curious and hungry for the mothering tune-up I so need.  I feel the need regularly to immerse myself in books that sharpen, encourage, and shape me as a mom since this is probably the most impactful and important work I will ever give myself to.  Still have a few other books on the go as well.

Anything good that you’re reading or working on lately?

Joining with Nicole’s weekly Crafting On and Ginny’s yarn along.

yarn along

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Still knitting on wren’s like sleeves top here and there between working on my campside shawl and a test knit hat for noah.  I’ve been having some pain in my wrist and elbow, so I’ve slowed a bit to rest and not overdo it.

Picked up a few books from the library, Homeschooling with the Brain in Mind and Play the Forest School Way.  You can tell what I have on my mind!  Play the Forest School Way is one I wanted to look through before I buy it and I do like what it offers.

Joining with Nicole for this week’s Crafting On.
Affiliate links included.

no big plans

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Quite a few people have asked me over the last few months if we have any big plans for summer.  I was sitting in a dentist’s chair last week and she asked me about summer plans, and when I said no, not really, she looked truly puzzled and like she maybe felt a little sorry for me.  Any big summer plans?  Fun trips scheduled?  I had hoped to make a checklist on our kitchen chalkboard for our summer goals, but really we don’t have much on the agenda and I think that’s the point.  I feel a bit small and a bit simple but these are our big summer plans: being home, watching things grow.  Having time together.  Swimming at my parent’s neighborhood pool or in a river nearby.  Hiking, camping.  Catching fireflies.  Trying out the pop-up camper in our backyard, then taking it out on the road.  Enjoying the afternoon storms.  Watching tomatoes ripen on the vine, swiss chard push up from seed.  Reading together.  Yarn, pulling through fingers.  Quieting.  Regrouping for a new school year.  Letting there be long stretches of unplanned day, enough time for some boredom even.  Don’t such fascinating discoveries and creativities come out of a little boredom?  Also, the not-as-fun essentials of some medical appointments for the kids, learning about some changes we will have to make in our schooling with phoebe, working on house projects that are neglected during the busyness of school.

A homeschooling family of six on one income makes for tight years (financially) especially with the special dietary and medical expenses we face.  Truth is, we are happy to make the sacrifice to be together and enjoy these little years and raise our brood.  It is the main reason I homeschool: time together.  It is costly in the sense that we do have great limitations, but I do so hope and believe we can still make great memories together with our family even with our simple summer of no plans.  (Of course, don’t misunderstand me.  We are so imperfect and the proximity can often cause us to grate on one another.)

Brandon is working some Saturdays to help pay for the new AC unit we will have to soon buy, so it was a bit glum this weekend without him.  Then he called on his way home Saturday and said he wanted to put up the pop-up camper and have the kids sleep in it for the first time.  It was stormy and cool and the perfect evening to do so, and the kids had such a blast.  I opted to sleep inside with baby wren which was a bit of a treat for me, too (a quiet house!)

I read the other day that the word Sabbath literally means “to stop,” and so we try to plan some time into our weekend where we cease.  Where the work sits untended, the laundry stays in the basket and wrinkles, and we allow ourselves to just be.  To rest and to even be a little bored and agitated with the slowness of the pace and “unproductivity” of the day.  It reveals to me how much I mix my sense of accomplishment with my sense of worth, how much I need to produce in order to feel worthwhile.  The permission to rest is so wise and kind of God, and I have to tell my soul and my God over and over in those moments of tension (when I fight rest) that He is our provider and the One who carries us, not our own work and effort.  When we “sabbath,” or cease from working, we fast from reliance on our own strength + work.  We remind our soul that we are dependent on a good and faithful Provider.  We say to the world that our confidence comes from whose we are, not the work of our own hands.  Maybe summer could be sort of like the sabbath of the seasons?

Anyway, I feel a bit ramble-y and scattered but hopefully you are encouraged, as I am, to rest a bit and enjoy the slow and even boring/mundane parts of summer instead of needing it to be big and flashy and busy.  May you find in your limitations a wise and kind boundary set by your God.  I have thought often of Psalm 16:6, which in my earlier meditations of it always seemed sweet to me when my boundaries/limits were easy.  But it is a hard thing to thank God for (limits/boundaries) when they are difficult and truly limiting.  It presses us to cast our eyes beyond what is temporal to the delightful inheritance that is being kept for us.

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord,
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Psalm 16:5-8 esv

Ps. Refrigerator pickles recipe pictured above from Allison Little on Instagram, and they are truly the best pickles I’ve ever had.