Wednesday, October 02, 2019

October Yarn Along: Hat-orama

October is here, accompanied by chilly mornings and frosty nights. The cold weather set in quite suddenly on a blustery day, and it seems it's here to stay (though highs will hit the low 80's later this week). In fact, we had an unexpected freeze last night (well, I didn't expect it because I don't pay attention...) and our garden is officially done. Oh well, it was a difficult year for gardening, and I'm almost relieved it's over.

I haven't done much reading this month, though I've been participating in the fall Bible Reading Challenge, mostly through audio Bible. I did receive Risen Motherhood in the mail, which I've been eagerly awaiting! I'm not far into it yet, but it's been such a blessing and a perfectly timed "re-calibration" on the motherhood front. It's so easy to get swept up in the immediate needs of running a household, and lose sight of the purpose of motherhood. I love how Emily and Laura point back to the Gospel in every area!

Things have been bright in the knitting realm. I finished up my "Birthday Sweater," finished up a pair of Rye Lights (intended for my oldest son, but ultimately mine because they were larger than anticipated), and started on a set of winter gear for my littles. First up were hats, all in different shades of Wool of the Andes worsted. Mittens and scarves will follow, and they're all in  my children's favorite colors -- well, Scout hasn't declared a favorite color yet, but since his older brothers have claimed red and green, I opted for blue.

Little Man has a Gingerbread Hat in colorway "Garnet Heather:"

Rosa has a January Hat in colorway "Blossom Heather:"

Laddie has a Slouchy Diamond Cap (with double "diamonds," since his hat is a bit plainer than the others) in colorway "Shire Heather:"

And Scout has an Owl Hat (in progress) in colorway "Icicle Heather:"

They've been flying off the needles (such a lovely feeling!), and I'm hoping to finish up the last hat tonight. I'll probably start mittens next, which should also be pretty quick -- I'll probably knit them two-at-a-time on DPNs.

I also have several sweaters I'd like to knit soon, so I doubt I'll be relaxing my knitting pace anytime soon! Fall is such a lovely time to be knitting, isn't it?

Linking up with Ginny's Yarn Along:

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

September Yarn Along: The Birthday Sweater

Despite my best intentions, I've not visited this little space since last month's Yarn Along! Since last month, I finished the Rye Light socks I was working on and cast on a new pair for my oldest son. I'm a bit uncertain about the KnitPicks Palette as sock yarn -- after a day's hiking in Yosemite, Rosa's socks appear to be felted in certain areas. I suppose this is why most people use superwash wool for socks! But I just can't reconcile myself to superwash wool (which typically uses harsh chemicals and removes wool's amazing natural properties). I did buy a skein of O-Wool's fingering weight yarn, which does not use harsh chemicals. I'm excited to try that, but it's not cheap (you get what you pay for!), so I'm not sure how feasible it is for children's socks. I'll definitely finish the Rye Lights I have on my needles now, and see how both pairs do over the coming winter. Rosa's were made with leftovers and Little Man's are using up stash yarn, so it will be an inexpensive experiment -- and I can't begrudge time spent practicing sock-making.

My current project is my "Birthday Sweater" from Maria Olson's August Sky pattern. This was a total birthday splurge, using Rosy Green Wool's Merino d'Arles. It's absolutely luscious! The squish factor is really quite absurd, and I'm loving every minute spent knitting with it. I picked the pattern without even paying attention to the name, but it was perfectly appropriate since my birthday is in August. It also uses less than 1,000 yards of yarn in my size, so it's a bit more economical than many patterns. I started this on August 20th, so I'm hoping I can finish it off in a month or less; I like (relatively) instant knitting gratification...

My reading this month has not been of the most page-turning kind -- a book on dog training (finished last night!), and still reading Gavin de Becker's excellent book, The Gift of Fear. I am just starting Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens. It's been years since I last read it, but after re-watching the film adaptation last month I had to pick it up again! Granted, I watched over half of the film on Amazon Prime before realizing that they had cut out a number of scenes -- including some that are essential to character development. Why?! So I got out the DVD and re-watched most of it. This particular volume is part of a set of Dickens' novels that I bought in Scotland over a decade ago. They were 1 pound apiece ($2 American at that time), and they are minute! The pages are as thin as Bible pages. 

Picture purposes only -- I really have only just started! But I do love this passage in the book:
"'I wish he was so very strange a man as to be a total stranger,' answered [Jenny Wren]."

I've also added a pin to my knitting big, despite really having no more room -- but during our trip to Yosemite last week, I found a Steller's Jay pin at the Tuolomne Meadows visitor center. I've wanted to see one in person for quite some time, and fortunately they are plentiful in Yosemite!

I have plans for complete winter ensembles for all of the littles (hats, mittens, and scarfs), so I'm eager to finish up my August sky sweater and get to work! And I really should finish those socks...

Joining up with Ginny's Yarn Along:

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

August Yarn Along: Rhythms

The past few weeks have been all about finding some sort of rhythm in the chaos of life just now. It's been a turbulent summer, to say the least. My husband's schedule has been "predictably" unpredictable, including weeks of crazy late-night flights followed by travel. We had our summer break from school, and my plans to keep up some semblance of order came to naught (though I suspect doing "nothing" was what we needed, and we had a shorter than usual break, anyway). Now we are in our second week of homeschooling for the year, and I'm enjoying the more predictable cadence to the day, even if it means decreased "freedom."

I'm currently reading The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. This was a book my husband just finished and really wanted me to read. It's a bit disturbing by nature of what it discusses (violence), but it's also very enlightening. A snippet from the description sums it up nicely: "True fear is a gift. Unwarranted fear is a curse. Learn how to tell the difference." 

I'm also reading The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge, but I'm not very far into it yet. To be quite honest, I've been knitting more than reading this month! And both of my current books are on my tablet; I rather miss having a "real" book in my hands. I still have my Beatrix Potter book underway, but I don't think I've read any of it this month...  

I finished up my Ninni cardigan (which I have dubbed "Goldilocks"), and cast on a pair of Rye light socks for Rosa. I love this pattern so far (it really is excellent for teaching you how to make socks, and I rather wish I'd started my sock-making adventures with this!), and these are whipping up very quickly. The heel flaps are done -- why am I always terrible about keeping track of my heel flap rows? -- and it's time for short rows! I love that there's a bit of texture on the front of the sock, but it's still a very easy pattern to follow. I wasn't in the mood for anything too complicated.

My new stitch markers are shameless knock-offs of Pleximama's lovely markers (going back to that post, I realized she was working on a pair of broken seed stitch socks, which I'm also planning to start when these socks are done -- apparently I'm just a copycat!). I love my purple locking stitch markers from KnitPicks, but I couldn't get the thought of little toadstool markers out of my mind. I found the beads on Etsy, and turned them into markers with my limited jewelry supplies as soon as they arrived in the mail. And, of course, they needed a little coordinating pouch -- fortunately, they fit into the pouches I'd previously made for my stitch markers and point protectors, so I whipped up another in red leather:

And now I have a little set of three in my knitting bag!

Linking up with Ginny's Yarn Along:

Saturday, July 27, 2019

A Family History

We had the pleasure of seeing some "neighbors" of ours raise their little family, and I thought I'd share a glimpse:

We spotted this fellow on our fence pretty frequently for a while!

Day 1 (the previous day, there were only eggs)

A very indignant mother, who was not shy about showing how displeased she was with us. We only stopped by a few
times, but she would usually swoop down on us during our visits! Notice the hungry baby on the lower left...

Day 4 (all hatched, and just a hint of an eye!)

Day 12 (well, we missed a lot during our 8 day absence! We were trying to disturb them as little as possible.
That nest is getting pretty crowded...)

This was the last day we saw them -- we stopped by a few days later, and the
nest was empty! It's amazing how quickly they go from hairless hatchlings
to fledglings.

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?"

Matthew 6:25-27

Sunday, July 21, 2019

At the End of the Rainbow

Those of you who follow me on Instagram may already be aware that our family suffered another loss a few weeks ago. Ten weeks into my seventh pregnancy -- our "rainbow" baby after losing a son at 16 weeks back in December -- I was diagnosed with blighted ovum. What followed was a bit frightening, as I started losing a lot of blood very rapidly (by God's grace I was already at the ER; if I'd been at home we probably would have needed an ambulance, or I might not even be writing this post). My hemoglobin dropped from 14 to 7 in a few hours, and my blood pressure plummeted. I have honestly never felt so ill before, and I was given two units of blood before an emergency D&C. There is exactly one medical facility in our rural area, so there is not much choice for health care here. But the care I received was superb, and each nurse and doctor was kind and helpful. I am so grateful for that!

In spite of the pain and the confusion, one thing has been very clear to me -- God has sustained us through this difficult season. He does not ask us to walk the valley of the shadow of death alone. He is the Giver of all good gifts (James 1:17), the Binder of wounds (Psalm 147:3), the Sufficient One (2 Corinthians 12:9). He has surrounded us with friends, both local and distant, who have mourned with us and comforted us.

I'll be honest, it has been very difficult for me to come to terms with how my plan differs from God's plan. I think I'd unconsciously categorized my first two miscarriages as "off-script," even though I fully acknowledged them to be part of God's sovereign plan. But this third loss has led me to peel back layers of assumptions and expectations that I had built up over the years. I am leaning into God, hard, and asking Him to reshape my desires to fit His will (instead of trying to wrestle His will into my ideas of "good," which is both futile and unhealthy). Sometimes I wish I could go back to when babies seemed easy, when I trusted my body to nurture the lives God placed there, and when there were no clouds of grief to dim the horizon of our future. A little bit of heaven on earth, you know? Yet as wonderful as that idyllic picture sounds to my scarred heart, I know that would not be best. Of course I want the easy way, the way that doesn't involve pain or loss or heartache. But God is often closest to us in our grief, and He uses trials to shape us more to His image. It's part of the "beauty in the curse" -- pain and death are the result of sin, and yet God can use them for good in our lives. He gently picks up our broken pieces, and fashions us anew.

God only breaks us to remake us.

I hope one day we'll be blessed with another baby, but that is not my deepest hope. My true hope is in Jesus Christ, the sinless One who suffered and died and rose again so that death would not have the last say. He is the only true hope -- and I pray that He is your hope, too!

"I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that You have done;
I ponder the work of Your hands.
I stretch out my hands to You; my soul thirsts for You like a parched land. Selah

Answer me quickly, O Lord! My spirit fails!
Hide not Your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
Let me hear in the morning of Your steadfast love, for in You I trust.
Make me know the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul."

Psalm 143:5-8

Friday, July 05, 2019

July Yarn Along: Ends and Beginnings

Somehow the "new" year is already more  than half-way through, and I feel like I am in between ends and beginnings.

I finally finished my Balta top (hurray!), which I need to get photos of. But before that, I need to sew a camisole for it -- I knew I'd need a camisole, but thought my simple white tank top would do. Well, it doesn't "do." It looks quite odd, and I'm hoping that I can make something that will work -- the alternative would be to frog the armholes of my Balta and re-knit them with extra rows. Which does not sound appealing at all at this point! At any rate, it's good to have finished a project and cleared 4 skeins of yarn from my stash.

While I prefer to have two projects going at once, I'd been focusing exclusively on my Balta. Which meant that I was at a bit of a loss when I finally cast off the last stitch -- "between projects" is a limbo I do not enjoy. I decided to start my Ninni cardigan, which meant dealing with a dyeing issue I had with my KnitPicks Capra (a delicious blend of merino and cashmere!). So I started a pair of socks for Rosa, but I'm not sure if those will work out... Anyway, I think I have the dye issue worked out, but only have a few rows to show on my cardigan. I already love the feel of the wool, so I'm eager to see how it works up. Once again, I'm making my life more difficult by using the wrong yarn weight, the wrong size (partly to compensate for the former issue), and I'm altering the cardigan from crew to v-neck. Apparently I'm a glutton for anxiety?

Never fear, the pink yarn is just a provisional cast-on! 

I've also been "between books," but I've settled on to Beatrix Potter 1866-1943: The Artist and Her World, which I found last year at a local used bookstore. It's part biography, part artistic analysis, and all-around good reading. Beatrix was quite industrious, and I hadn't realized how much work she did even prior to having her books published. This book is rather thick and lavishly illustrated, much to my delight.

I'm also reading Kiss the Wave by Dave Furman -- not pictured, because I have it on Kindle and tablets don't photograph well. I've loved everything I've read by his wife, Gloria, and this book certainly does not disappoint. Dave's persistence in pointing to the Gospel as the source of hope is a very timely message, and has been such an encouragement to me. Though I suppose the cross of Christ is always a timely message!

Joining Ginny's Yarn Along:

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

May Assortment

The Great British Baking Show finally spurred me into action, and the littles
and I had our first attempt at macarons. I was shocked that they actually turned
out pretty well! I definitely piped them too big, but they were still a (delicious) 


Waiting is hard...

An American classic for Memorial Day. My pie crust game could use some work...

One of many house finches that frequent our feeder. I have to fill it at least twice a day --
it's been a bit more popular than I'd anticipated!

Black chinned humingbird at the feeder -- you can see his gorgeous purple throat. 

A resident of Little Man's "Beetle Sanctuary" -- a plastic box filled with gravel and rocks

Misty morning -- this is the view out our back yard (I only notice the chain link fence when I try to take a photo! Grr)

Laddie has his own Redwall book, which he "reads" regularly. We're working on his "sounds," as he calls his 100 Easy
Lessons reading book, but he has a long way to go before he can handle Lord Brocktree!

Quail are exotic birds to us suburbanites, so we're thrilled whenever they visit the bird feeder!

The Biker Gang -- Rosa and Laddie have been using a balance bike for the past few
weeks, and when we finally replaced the worn-out tires on their "big kid" bikes, they
were off! I'm a true fan of the balance bike now.

May is somehow over, and June has arrived with a burst of warmth and sunshine (though the morning are still chilly -- we had a few in the 40's recently). The high desert temperature swing still throws me for a loop. Forget April showers, May was the wettest month we've had here so far. We had several hailstorms, rain almost every afternoon (and sometimes all day), and chilly temperatures. I've never been so eager for summer before! But we've certainly enjoyed the resulting green all around.

Much of my sewing time last month (not that there was much!) was spent altering clothes -- pants to shorts, long sleeves to short sleeves. A little too soon, as it turned out! A warm spell early in May convinced me that summer was on its way, but no sooner had I adjusted wardrobes than the cold set in again. We made do with the few warm clothes I'd left out, and now I think we're in the clear.

I've decided to give Instagram a go, and so far I'm enjoying it immensely. There are so many little moments that I'd never take the time to blog and it's lovely to have a little space to document them. I don't use any other social media, so I'm also enjoying the opportunity to connect with friends (including some former bloggers that I used to follow, but had lost track of). You can find me here if you're on Instagram!

My creative juices haven't been flowing very steadily lately. The Balta is still underway, and I'm nearing the end of the back yoke. Then I have the front yoke and the edging to finish. I was able to kind of try it on, and I think it will work! But I'll be a little nervous until it's actually done. Anyway, I'm hoping my sewing motivation comes back soon, so I can work on my stash a bit more. I'll have more time once we finish up school in a few weeks -- the move West set us back about a month, so we'll finish up at the end of June. I think we're all looking forward to a bit of a break!

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

June Yarn Along: Knit, knit, knit

I feel like I'm holding my breath with my Balta top. I'm doing everything wrong with this pattern! I'm using the wrong weight yarn (which I also don't have enough of), I'm "shortening" the pattern because I don't want it quite that long (and again, not enough yarn!), and I don't think my gauge is even correct. I'm hoping that three (or four?) wrongs make a right, and that this top surpasses my wildest expectations. Well, fine, I'll be satisfied if it fits! The fabric seems to be quite stretchy, so hopefully it will be forgiving.

I'm knitting it in the round, which means less seaming at the end and few purl rows (my least favorite part of stockinette!). It's been nice to have something so mindless; all I have to do is keep track of rows so I know when to decrease. But it's also been a bit tedious to just knit, knit, knit, and I'm very happy to have started the armholes and (at last!) the twisted rib and lace sections. I'm trying to actually read the chart this time, rather than just writing it out. 

I purchased this KnitPicks Lindy Chain years ago for a cropped cardigan, but the project was a bit ambitious for my skill level, and by the time I could have tackled it the cardigan didn't seem as appealing. I just noticed while opening a new skein of yarn that the colorway is "Sagebrush" -- a plant totally unfamiliar to me when I bought this yarn, but which is now a definitive feature of my current landscape! It was a happy little discovery, and made me feel that the timing is just right.

My current reads are Return to Gone Away and Knights in Training. The former is the sequel to Gone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright, written in the late 50's. It's honestly one of the most delightful children's books I've ever read, and Return to Gone Away is just as good thus far. I bought the sequel for Little Man and Rosa because they enjoyed Gone Away Lake so much, and Rosa proceeded to finish the entire book in one afternoon. It's taking me considerably longer than that, so apparently my six-year-old can already out-read me! I'm just remembering that I first found out about Gone Away Lake through Ginny's blog, so it's appropriate that it features here for Yarn Along!

Knights in Training, by Heather Haupt, is a book that's interested me for quite a while. As the younger of two daughters, any help in the "raising boys" department is much appreciated!

Linking up with Ginny's Yarn Along: