Tuesday, September 12, 2017

It's a Wonderful Life

There's excitement whipping through the air in my small hometown as we've finally reached the evening before the Pumpkin Festival once again! I love sitting on my front porch, where, as you know, much of my knitting takes place, and watching the rides roll in. I live on Main Street just a stones throw away from the festival grounds.
This is the view from my porch swing of some of the rides now peeking over the top of a building across the street, just waiting for some screaming passengers to board tomorrow. One of my favorite things about the Pumpkin Festival is going to bed every night while it's in town and listening to the music and yelling and general buzz of activity coming from the crowd that's so close they seem to be in our driveway just outside our bedroom window. I love the great big festive feel it brings to this little corner of the world, if only for a few days. Mind you, I'm sadly unable to join in on those fabulous rides without tossing my cookies. I can ride the Ferris Wheel as I have no fear of heights. I do, however, suffer from serious motion sickness. 
So I enjoy watching grandkids on rides and taking part in the Craft Faire, which is this Friday and Saturday, where you'll find my cousin Kathy and me in Booth Number 62. We hope to see you there! I'm still finishing up a couple of last minute items. Every year I promise myself I will be completely ready by now and every year.... well....
I just got this shawl on the lace blocking wires this afternoon...
And... I'm still knitting my last pair of fingerless mitts. 
But they'll be finished in time. As of a few hours ago all of my items, except these final two, are tagged and ready to go. 
In my defense, we had a busy week around here last week. 
Not only was Scott on vacation all week but we celebrated his birthday along with our son-in-law Brandon's and our grandson Archers. 
Archer turned three years old on Sunday and we celebrated at a local park.
His Grandma Charmain took this darling picture of him coming down the slide in his Paw Patrol cape and mask {and Batman t-shirt!}. 
His cousin Parker, our grandson who turned three in May, was there to help him celebrate along with a few other little cousins and friends. It was a fun day!
The other thing that occupied two very full days earlier last week was that we painted the kitchen, along with the help of our nephew, Brendan. 
What a job!
We painted walls, cabinets, trim, a stairway down to the back steps,
kitchen chairs and table legs.
Everything got two coats.
PHEW!!!
Nothing like cramming a whole lot of work in just before Pumpkin Festival!
But I'm so happy it's done. And I love my new kitchen.
All of the paint came from our favorite paint store here in Morton:
The wall color is French Gray Linen and the trim is done in Silvery Moon.
Fresh paint always makes everything seem so clean.
It makes me happy.

I have one final thing to share with you that makes me very happy...
Today marks 6 years for this beloved husband of mine
in his freedom from his battle with pancreatic cancer
Thank You Jesus.
It truly is a Wonderful Life.

"Of course, of course I'm grateful.
How can I not be grateful?
I have been afforded such a wonderful life."
Katherine Heigl
{and Danette Bartelmay!}

Friday, September 1, 2017

Truth and Beauty

There's a Japanese Proverb that says...
"If man has no tea in him,
He is incapable of understanding truth and beauty."
I have to admit this hits home with me on so many levels.
For one thing, I have come to realize that a properly brewed pot of tea is as essential to my work day when I sit down to my knitting or crochet,
as are the tools of the trade such as needles, hooks, yarn and scissors.
I simply cannot concentrate on the texture of the fiber flowing through my fingers or the soothing flow of rhythm unless I have a steaming cup of tea within my reach.
When I think about it even further, I believe the tea helps my clarity of mind by relaxing me, therefore enhancing the overall experience of beauty,
both tactile and visual, that my fiber art provides for me. 
Yes...
Tea most definitely helps me to understand both truth and beauty.
"Our thirst for tea is never far from our craving for beauty."
James Norwood Pratt
Speaking of beauty, my granddaughter, Gabriella,
went on Pointe in ballet for the first time this week.
I have always loved ballet. Not only does it bring beauty into the life of the dancer but it has the potential to grab hold of every heart that experiences it and fill it with pure joy.
When I watch a ballet performance I am totally enraptured and lost to the world around me...
Lost in a magical fairyland where there is nothing but music, grace and beauty. We all need to be taken to a place like this once in awhile.
As we all know, it is inescapable that the world will always have its natural disasters, there will always be those who choose to tear down rather than build up; those who walk in the darkness instead of the light and do not know to seek truth and beauty. They don't even realize they exist. But they do.
Truth and Beauty are all around us at all times. They are in the things we do that give us great pleasure such as knit or dance or even enjoy that perfect cup of tea.
We also have only to look to the natural world
that God has so richly blessed us with.
Watching this dogwood tree change with the seasons gives me a deep sense of serenity. This photo has a somewhat overcast effect to it because it was raining when I took it but I like a good rainfall every now and then. We all need a cleansing rain to wash over us from time to time.
There are many kinds of beauty in nature.
I think God means for us to study nature and find the truth of ourselves within it. It is ever changing, bright with promise and constantly budding with possibility. This is the way He sees each of us I believe. Just as one who absorbs the beauty of a ballet from the audience, God not only has surrounded us in so much loveliness, He must be experiencing the same thrill the dancer gets from, not only His expression of beauty, but also our complete delight in it.
There will always be great sadness and suffering in the world. Please let me say here and now, in the face of so much that goes on, I am in no way ever turning a blind eye or deaf ear to any of it. Nor do I ever want to be perceived as doing so.
I take all of it to God in prayer...deep prayer.
What I am saying is this...
I believe that God wants us to always be seekers of His Truth and Beauty.
He wants us to have joy and peace in our hearts and our lives.
"A tranquil heart is life to the body..." Proverbs 14:30
In his book, The Greatest Thing in the World,
theologian Henry Drummond said this,
"No fever of unrest can disturb a soul which has
breathed the air or learned the ways of Christ."
When we do not seek truth and beauty
we are unable to walk in the light
and be the light that this world so desperately needs.
Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6
God has blessed us in so many ways. His fingerprints are absolutely everywhere.
Never stop looking, never stop seeking truth and beauty.
No matter how young, no matter how old...
We all have them within us and within our reach.
"The kingdom of God is within you..." {Luke 17:21}
All we need to do is open our eyes and our hearts.

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true,
whatever is noble, whatever is right,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable-
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-
think about such things."
Philippians 4:8

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Front Porch Knitting

There's a whole lot of Front Porch Knitting going on at my house these days as I work at breakneck speed in preparation for the upcoming Pumpkin Festival. We have just under 3 weeks left to finish up and then we will all be setting up our booths at the Craft Faire. I love the hodgepodge variety of all the vendors set up together. The buzz of energy as we all work individually, and yet collectively, is nearly palpable in its silent hum that constantly weaves throughout the entire event. Quite honestly, I believe it's one of the biggest and best reasons I return year after year for this wonderful event. I am truly delighted in, and totally energized by, the overall sense of belonging; sense of community the Pumpkin Festival bestows upon me. It is small town living at it's very finest.
And I am a small town Girl to the core.
   So I have been knitting a lot of pumpkins these days.
Some have been for custom orders, some fly out the door as people stop by and some will show up in my booth at the Festival.
Never fear...
If you arrive at my booth too late and I'm sold out...
I take custom orders and I work fast.
This photo was taken by a recent customer who sent it to me after she received the pumpkins as a surprise gift from her very sweet hubby.
Pictured here are three pumpkins in Natural and three in Blaze Orange.
All of my pumpkins are made using 100% Pure Wool double stranded and contain approximately 8 cups of fiber fill per pumpkin. 
By the way, this photo was used with the permission of the happy customer. :-)

I love to provide variety for people
so I knit pumpkins in different colors to suit various tastes.
Also, if you look closely, you will see just the top of some pumpkin dishcloths peeking out from underneath the stuffed pumpkins in the basket.
They are made from a wonderful fiber blend of cotton and linen
and I will have them along with me as well.
Then, of course, I will have some baby items for sale too...

But switching gears...
There will be items besides pumpkin themed knits in my booth as well, such as one of my all time favorite Fall Fashion accessories: Fingerless Mitts.
I always provide several styles and colors for those who like them.

So if you love warm hands and free fingers,
come and see me.
 I'll be in booth number
62
Front Porch Knits
September 15 & 16.
I sure hope to see you there!
And please do wander throughout the whole Craft Faire.
Each year brings with it a treasure trove of new delights.
I promise you will love it!

"There is immense power when a group of people 
with similar interests gets together
to work toward the same goals."
Idowu Koyenikan

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Sparkle

Hello Everybody!
I know I've been away for FOREVER it seems!
Actually, I've still been right here in the same old place,
doing the same old things and being the same old me
I've been living life on Main Street USA, minding doggies and grandchildren, sipping tea on the front porch with my knitting and enjoying as much of the summertime with my family and friends as I can squeeze in on the days
the heat and humidity don't choke us all nearly to death. 
Here's a sample of a few of the things I've been working on lately...
Baby socks in lovely Dusty Pink Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino.
I just love this yarn for baby items!
Some Knitted Rose Brooches using this gorgeous multicolored Gina Wool by Plymouth Yarn Company that I can't get enough of lately, I'm so in love with it!
And a Crocheted Shawl I made for myself to wear to a wedding that you'll see wrapped around me further down in the post. I used Happy Feet 100 Sock Weight Yarn by Plymouth Yarn Company in Color Number 206 {Orchid}, which comes in 100g hanks. I used exactly 157 grams to make this shawl.
The fiber content is a fabulously soft 90% merino wool and 10% nylon.
It blocked out beautifully.

For those of you who don't follow my Instagram and Facebook,
you may not realize the reason for my long sabbatical on here...
On May 22nd, the same day my sweet little grandson Parker
became a BiG 3 year old,
Scott's stepfather, my father-in-law, for all intents and purposes, of 25 years, went home to be with the Lord at the age of 89. He and my dear Mother-in-law live next door to us, as I know I've mentioned before. So, it's been a summer full of a whole range of emotions while we rejoice in the little ones running around growing happier and healthier by the day... 
We are also helping our precious Mother cope with widowhood
for yet the second time in her life.
On Memorial Day, the day after she sat through another military burial for a husband, the first one Army, the second one Marines,
Scott and I took her to visit the grave of his father, as we always do.
Twice in her life now she has endured a Twenty-One Gun Salute,
the playing of Taps and been handed the American Flag
as a Thank You for the service her husband has given to this Great Nation.
And still, at the age of 91, she carries on... I ask you, who is the real soldier here?
Now I know it's all the circle of Life and we all have much to be thankful for.
It has just taken me a bit of down time to get through it all.

I am basically wired to be a happy person and I bounce back easily, so to speak, for the most part. Therefore, I am working on still getting my sparkle on as well as enjoying Life in the moment. There is so much Joy in living. All I have to do is look in the faces of my loved ones and there it is...

We have had two beautiful weddings of close friends
and have one more coming up in September.
All with the same group of these special lifelong friends.
All happy times to look forward to...
Memories in the making...
So as the Summer progresses,
I am working on getting my sparkle back...
So just bear with me...
I'm still here.
"At the end of the day,
your feet should be dirty,
your hair messy and
your eyes sparkling."
Shanti

Monday, May 1, 2017

Lacework in Full Bloom

April lived up to her longstanding reputation by immersing us in her signature early Spring rains. As May picks up where she left off, I feel drenched in the beauty that continues to bloom around me. Although it's still cool and the weather still drips from time to time, the Earth is budding and blossoming and singing her song of the centuries, never missing her cue.
That age old air of Spring Fever grabs hold of me, washing over me and running through my veins, and eventually causing crocheted items of lace and flowers to fall from my fingertips this time of year. Flowers, Petals, Blossoms and Blooms... My soul is drawn to them .... always.
I sprinkle them throughout the house in tiny vases and old bottles so I can see their happy faces smiling up at me and catch a hint
of their fragrance as I wander from room to room.
My heart must return to the gentle art of crochet each Springtime of its own accord because it is so alike this fresh season full of delicate tiny flowers in variegated colors and rich textures. It's as though the natural world and the created world are holding hands with one another when we recreate blossoms out of fiber. It just always somehow feels right to me,
especially in the newness of Spring.
 that's pictured above and below,
it's my newest delight on my Shop.
I loved making it so much that I have my hook into another one
in stunning shades of blue.
For details on purchasing this scarf you can click the link above or here.
The pattern for this scarf is by one of my all time favorite crochet designers,
Kristin Omdahl in her beautiful book
If you would like to make one for yourself,
I see the Barnes and Noble website has it at a discounted rate right now.
Just click on the book title I've listed and it will take you to the site.
I am also working on an Hourglass Stitch Baby Blanket
 by Selena Shepard of DankFiber.
For those of you who love to crochet baby blankets and would like something different to try, click on the link that takes you to her Etsy Shop.
Her patterns are very well written and she provides beautiful pictures.
The yarn I'm using for the blanket is Knit Picks Comfy Fingering in Lilac Mist.
Between the pattern and the fiber this baby blanket is coming along beautifully soft and delicate, if slowly. As I've said repeatedly, I am a loose crocheter, therefore I am using a size C aluminum hook to get the correct gauge rather than one of my preferred Laurel Hill Ebony hooks because they don't come in this smaller size. These small metal hooks cause a bit of pain in my hands due to my rheumatoid issues so I have assigned this to be an occasional weekend project. I think it will be well worth it in the end though, whenever that is. Patience, after all, is a Virtue {and goodness knows, I can always work at developing more}.
Sometimes I enjoy these slow creations and the journey of stitches it takes to get to the end result because in them I am reminded that Life is to be taken in small, exquisite moments that we relish in rather than always rushing ahead feverishly toward some self imposed goal. I appreciate things that cause me to take Life a bit slower and Myself a whole lot less seriously at times, like watching flowers dance in the breeze as I try to reproduce just a measure of their infinite beauty.
"Flowers could be described as bursts of color ,
pattern and infinite grace all governed by sacred geometry.
They are perfectly woven into the fabric of existence
to brighten up our world."
Cherie Roe Dirksen

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Romantic Soul Shawl

There's just something about Springtime that beckons to my romantic nature, causing me to pick up my crochet hook and create something light, airy, lacy and feminine. This fresh time of year with all it's full flowers and blossoming romance is made for dreamers and lovers and beautiful things like lacework shawls.
So I set aside my knitting needles from time to time, even though they always have works in progress on them as well, and reach for a crochet hook so I can feel the slick glide of ebony wood and lace weight fiber gliding through my fingers to create delicate articles that will feed my old soul. After all, Crochet was my first love even before I held my first set of knitting needles.
I made the body of this shawl using hand painted merino wool in shades of blue with a touch of delicate green and used a very soft white lace weight wool for the edging. I must admit that I had a struggle with myself for a couple of days...
Every single stitch of this was pure bliss for me. It was therapy for my soul. At no time, however, did I have the thought of keeping it for myself. I am years past that battle. I've been selling my handwork far too long for that. Then I wrapped it around myself after it was blocked and my sister came to take the photos for me. Well.... blue is a good color for me... I never make anything for myself...
the voice of my sweet sister, "Danette, it really does look good on you"...
 maybe just this once...
My wayward heart nearly won out. But then I remembered, as I always do, I have the ability to make another one anytime I want to. So....
You can find this one on my Shop here 
If you're like me and the whisper of lace moving ever so gently against your skin sings a song your soul recognizes, then you understand that momentary pull on my heart towards keeping it for my very own. I have to say though, I am certain I created it for someone very special. Someone who will experience all the same beauty and magic I did the moment I settled it around myself. I get a feeling about particular pieces while I'm working on them and once they're completed. I know they are destined for a lifetime journey with a special heart and soul.
That's why, no matter how much I love them, I let them go. I wrap them with care and send them off with a prayer for the recipient and thankfulness in my heart to God that I am blessed by the pleasure it gives me to make the things I make and that others are, hopefully, blessed by the use of them. Then I pick up my hook and needles and create anew.

"April hath put a spirit of youth in everything."
William Shakespeare
Shakespeare's Sonnets


Saturday, April 15, 2017

With the Coming of Spring

I enjoy the gradual shift my knitting takes into softer work as Winter dies away once again and Springtime comes gently into bloom around us. While the air outside becomes warmer, the fiber I work with is lighter to keep pace. I love this time of year because it brings back to us bright blue skies streaked with white puffy clouds that float around on breezy days and all the earth returns to green with colorful flowers and trees full of white or pink blossoms.
One of my favorite things to do is walk around town
underneath the canopy of these trees as they sway back and forth,
sprinkling the sidewalks and lawns with a profusion of petals.
I wait for these moments
  and see them in my dreams all through the cold barren months.
When Spring finally appears, I rejoice in the fact I can gather my knitting and cup of tea and sit on my porch swing again to revel in this glorious time of rebirth.
It's funny how every single Spring is so fresh that it feels like it must be the very first Springtime ever.  I'm as happy as the birds singing in the trees and all the little creatures running merrily around the yards,
as I emerge from another long Winter of hibernation.
 I have always known this about myself:
when the days get warmer I feel more alive.
 I am also at my calmest with my knitting close by.
 During the Springtime my knitting needles are usually busy at work
on bunnies of some fashion.
These are a couple of Floppy Eared Bunny Hats
I recently made for a custom order using the same
Knit Picks Organic Cotton I used to make the Bunny Hat with the stand up ears.
The hats are worked in the round on circular needles but the moss stitch ears are done flat on straight needles. I love these needles! They are from Knit Picks also. They're the 10" Straight Sunstruck.
I love the whole Organic/Vintage vibe they have going on.
And as I've said before,
I can't get enough of the Organic Cotton,
especially this time of year.
I never get tired of working with it and it makes perfect baby items.
It's absolutely beautiful as it glides along those blonde knitting needles.
 There's just something about having a whole stack of soft cottony goodness
all piled up together straight off the needles too...
I always like to let it rest for a bit so I can stand back and admire
the entire heap before I construct it into the final project.
But then it's time to sew it all up and ship it off
because there's a customer waiting and more things to be made.
Sometimes more bunnies around the corner.
Miss Bunny was actually already on my Shop but I had a customer contact me last weekend and ask if I would change her eye color to match her nursery.
Her eyes were green before.
I said, "Yes, of course, I would be happy to do that for you!"
So I did and Miss Bunny found herself a new home early this week.

I pray this Easter weekend finds you all happy and healthy,
enjoying your loved ones and Praising God
for the many blessings of another new Spring
and the glorious work of our
Risen Savior.
"With the coming of Spring,
I am calm again."
Gustav Mahler
(1860-1911)