Sunday, August 01, 2021


These little marvels captivate me. No finch, chickadee, or dove dares approach when I'm standing a few feet from the feeder, but these fearless birds dart right past me to sip their nectar. Hearts beating 1,000 times per minute, wings flapping 80 times per minute, and fiercely territorial -- they're magnificent tributes to God's creative genius. 

I didn't see many at the feeder early in the summer, much to my disappointment. But when I discovered that three cups of nectar had "vanished," I grew suspicious. Sure enough, as soon as I covered up the flower at the back of the feeder, we started seeing hummingbirds regularly! We've nicknamed them "Hummybees," and seeing one perched in our tree (or involved in stunning aerial combat) is always a delight.


Friday, July 30, 2021

Literary Knitting: Grey Havens Sweater

While I've never betrayed my aesthetic tastes merely because of a moniker, I have to admit that knitting patterns with literary connections tend to catch my eye! Agatha Christie and J.R.R. Tolkien are currently tied in my collection, with three sock patterns for the former and two sock patterns and a sweater pattern for the latter (my recent Elven Woods socks included -- if you're looking for "literary socks," I highly recommend This Handmade Life patterns). 

I've had Maria Olson's lovely Grey Havens sweater pattern in my queue for ages -- I even purchased Wool of the Andes in colorway "Sagebrush" back in August of 2019. Last December I finished up my Poolside sweater (which I still need to photograph, now that I've taken several inches off the bottom and it's actually wearable) and finally started on Grey Havens. 

It turned out to be quite the project! It took me several months of dedicated work to complete, and it was my companion as I grieved the loss of a baby and then lost another. Knitting is a sort of therapy, and the slowness of it means that stories are woven into each project. 

It wasn't a hard knit, but there were a lot of details and charts to keep track of. This particular pattern isn't the easiest to adjust, since the interlocking cables have to match up on the body and the sleeves -- but happily it fits fine (just a hair on the long side), and the yarn that seemed a bit stiff softened up nicely after blocking. 

As is usual for me, I didn't finish it in time to wear it before the weather warmed up! So even though I finished it in May and haven't worn it yet, I'm posting pictures now because we both know I'll never get around to it if I wait. *wink* 

I've just cast on a sweater for Rosa -- let's see if I can finish it for the fall...

Friday, July 16, 2021

Elven Woods Socks (and a Farewell to Ravelry)

I've finally finished up my Elven Woods Socks -- I have no idea why these took so long! I do love Olivia's sock patterns; this is my second finished pair, and I have several of her patterns that I'm eager to try. They're also very reasonable (and some were free on Ravelry).

I've been on a bit of Tolkien knitting kick lately, having just finished up my Grey Havens sweater (pictures forthcoming, but don't hold your breath -- it's too hot to take pictures just now).

I knit these with gifted yarn that happily matched up on both socks (except for a patch on the top of the feet, which perplexes me!). I had no idea how to ensure that the colors changed in the same place on each sock, but I ended up not needing to do anything. I just started the 2nd sock where I left off on the 1st!

Overall I'm quite pleased with these -- they're comfy and turned out rather well. But I do have some regrets! I opted to do the lace pattern 3 times instead of as written, and it ended up longer on the calf than I'd have liked. They have a tendency to sag a little, and the lace pattern doesn't really stand out as much as it would with a solid yarn. 

Also, I thought I'd be clever and add the little ribbing detail on the top of the foot. What I didn't realize was that the pattern included a pretty little mini-lace pattern near the toe. I wish I'd done that, instead! And to top it all off, the ribbing ended up being a royal pain on the 2nd sock because I forgot to start it in the right spot and had to do some strategic (read: time consuming and tedious) frogging to fix that.

I knit these with 2.0mm needles, which is standard for me -- I usually find women's medium-sized socks to be too large. I also made the feet a little longer than usual, because I've been finding that when I knit a Fish Lips Kiss heel there is a tendency for the heel to end up sliding down the foot. 

All in all, I now have a cozy pair of socks that were enjoyable to knit. Time to move on to the next project in my queue...

PS -- Sadly, I've decided it's time for me to leave Ravelry. I debated leaving last year during the whole political fiasco, but eventually decided to stay and just purchase the patterns I wanted from other websites whenever possible. But recently they posted Gay Pride artwork to their homepage that included sexually explicit (albeit cartoon) images. While I have never liked Ravelry's rather aggressive pro-homosexual and  liberal political stance (I don't see what on earth it has to do with knitting -- I think we can be kind to one another without pushing agendas), I absolutely draw the line at explicit material. It took a while, but I went through and tried to find all of the patterns I'd saved on other websites and have started using Pinterest to organize my favorite knitting patterns/designs. I still need to go through my saved projects and save any relevant info before I remove my account. I guess I'll be starting a knitting journal in earnest now! I'm so sad to lose Ravelry, which was hugely instrumental in my learning to knit in the first place and really has an excellent database -- but it's time. 


Thursday, July 15, 2021


A morning spent at a new-found garden on a perfect spring day...

Multitudes of columbines, roses, and pollinators.

An unexpected piece of Blarney Castle (whose famous stone I failed to kiss, because you have to lay backwards over a hole and I was too frightened at age 4 to do so!). Four little hands with mine, all of us with a bit of Ireland in our blood, an Ebenezer. Till now the Lord has helped us.

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I'll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Cloth├Ęd then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

Come Thou Fount, written by Robert Robinson in 1758


Tuesday, July 13, 2021


Back in May, we took a whirlwind trip to Zion National Park. I've been eager to visit ever since we saw a video of a hike there, and we'll probably never live closer than we do right now! Adding new national parks to our "been there, done that" list has become a bit of a personal challenge.

Zion exceeded our expectations -- my husband declared it better than Yosemite, while I refuse to even compare the two because I don't want to pick a favorite. But we both want to go back at some point. I planned our trip carefully, knowing that we had significant time and energy limitations (some of our littles still have short legs and a tendency to get hangry!). But my plans were upended when poor internet reception foiled our attempt to purchase shuttle tickets. The shuttle is the only way to access the main canyon (and famous trails) at Zion, but the advance tickets sell out notoriously quickly. Despite my initial despair, we rearranged our schedule and managed to see all that we'd planned by waiting in line for afternoon tickets. Well, my husband and Scout did most of the waiting, while I waded in the Virgin River with Little Man, Rosa, and Laddie! 

I was astonished by the variety of wildflowers and greenery -- so many colors, shapes, and textures. Riverside Walk was one of my favorite trails (despite being rather crowded); not only does it wind along the beautiful Virgin River, but there were columbines growing on the red canyon walls that flank its path. Another highlight was exploring a dried-up creek bed -- most of Zion's waterways are seasonal, and it's prone to flash floods (in fact, there was a devastating flood just a few weeks ago). 

We surprised the littles with a stay at Zion Wildflower Resort, where we "glamped" in a Conestoga wagon fitted out with a king bed and two bunks. This was such a memorable visit, especially for Little-House-loving Rosa. It was remarkably comfortable, too! 

On our way out, we spent a few hours at Kolob Canyon on the northwest side of the park. This was really worth the trip all on its own, and it was far less crowded than the main park. We only did one trail (the Timber Creek Overlook), but it was a reasonable hike for our crew and offered unbelievably stunning views of the canyon. 

We ended our adventures with a stop in Nevada, at the Nevada Northern Railway Museum in Ely. As we drove north, the temperature dropped and we had some snow showers. At the end of May. We even called ahead, thinking they might cancel the historic steam train ride. But it was "full steam ahead" (sorry), so we pulled in to Ely wearing shorts and t-shirts. At least I'd packed some windbreakers in case it was chilly at Zion... We toured the museum, boarded the train, and enjoyed our "Polar Express" ride through a nearby canyon. This was another surprise for the littles, who have never ridden an actual train before. They were a bit chilly, but quite excited!

Of course, we ended up with an adventure we didn't bargain for when we found ourselves stranded on a mountain as we headed home (you can't go anywhere in Nevada without driving over a few mountain ranges!). At just over 8,000 feet elevation, the snow had accumulated on the road and we ended up stuck. We had already taken the chains out of our van, because it was LATE MAY. Just when we'd resigned ourselves to spending the night on the mountain, a semi passed us and my husband was able to make it down the mountain in the tracks it left behind. That was the worst of the snow, so we made it to our destination only a little later than planned. The town near that mountain got 8 inches of snow overnight -- we're so grateful we made it out! We certainly have a new respect for unpredictable mountain weather. 

It may have been brief, but our visit to Zion was a much-needed family getaway. What a delight to see God's creativity and splendor displayed in His creation! Even in a fallen world, He has given us so much beauty to explore and enjoy. 

A panorama of Kolob Canyon cobbled together from a series of photographs --
it was too vast to fit in one frame!


Checkerboard Mesa

Dusty Penstemon

Palmer's Penstemon



Kolob Canyon

Tidy Fleabane

Sego Lily

Nevada Northern Railway Museum