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Today is the first day of fall and it truly feels like it. The days grow darker sooner, the humidity has let up and the days are hemmed in with a chill. Soon birthday knitting for the children will be upon me, and I’m already starting to think about and plan their sweaters. I love knitting for them but I have a few sweaters for myself that I am planning to make and hoping to be able to wear and enjoy this season, so I’m knitting away furiously.

My fleuriste cardigan is nearly done. I finished the body of the sweater a little while ago and have been working on the first sleeve. It’s slower going because the lace panel trails up the sleeve, but I have so enjoyed working with this yarn and don’t terribly mind. I believe it’s my first time working with shetland wool but definitely not my last. I have a sweater’s quantity of this same yarn brand but in a deep green for a cabled sweater for myself (one of the aforementioned sweaters that I’m hoping to knit this winter season.) I am eager to finish up this sweater though and hoping the second sleeve goes a lot faster. Maybe it’s just boring gray to others but I love gray and I think this sweater will be a wardrobe staple.

When I need just plain stockinette knitting and don’t have the mental capacity for lace, I’ve been knitting on my pink velvet sweater. Having just separated for sleeves, it’s now plain stockinette for awhile which is so nice to have when I just need my hands to be busy and mind quiet.

I finished reading Home and did enjoy it, though there were some parts that seemed rather slow. It wasn’t a “I can’t put it down” kind of book, but a gentle read before bed that kept my interest. I will read Lila soon. Have you read it before? Is it better than Home or Gilead? (In linking the books on amazon, I saw that she’s publishing a fourth novel in the series titled Jack in just a week or so!) In the meantime, my sister-in-law recommended The Giver of Stars and it came in at the library after I put it on hold ages ago. It’s much more of the “can’t put it down” genre, I remember reading Me Before You a few years ago by the same author and it being a quick read. I’m starting to enjoy it I think, but I’ll keep you posted. ūüôā The children and I just finished A Lion to Guard Us and are still part way through Calico Captive, both very good!

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Just popping in here briefly to share the progress on my hansel hap shawl! ¬†I flew through the colorful portion and am now working on the edging. ¬†It is much slower going but I have so, so loved working on this project! ¬†I don’t want to rush it but I also can already imagine wrapping up in it often as the weather cools. ¬†Oh, to think of that–the weather cooling. ¬†We’ve reached that time of year and heat when I can hardly imagine the need for bundling up and waking up to a chilly house and the need to light the fire.

I should mention the yarn was a kit for this shawl which Brandon gifted me for Mother’s Day 2019, purchased from Ginny’s etsy shop. ¬†Ginny’s yarn is something special! ¬†I was worried I would run out but even though I modified the pattern to extend the size, I still have had enough yarn so far.

Still reading Home, enjoying it a bit more as I get deeper into it.

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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 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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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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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? ¬†ūüôā ¬†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. ūüôā

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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