Saturday, January 23, 2021

Tiny Stars

One of the most satisfying things in the world to me is to spend time knitting and crocheting baby items. They are so like the sweet little bundles they will eventually find themselves snuggled around: tiny, soft, warm, delicate, and beautiful. Making a special gift for a baby can be done fairly quickly and conveys love to the expectant parents. When invited to a baby shower or "sprinkle", I much prefer to give a handmade gift than something purchased. A handknit item can be passed down through the years and achieve heirloom status. This set pictured above is one of my favorite baby gifts. I've used various fibers over the years but have decided I prefer Knit Picks Andean Treasure above all else. It's soft, breathable, one hundred percent baby alpaca and is available in an array of beautiful colors. Pictured here are Cherry Blossom, Fog Heather, and Finnley Heather. The hat is "Baby's Cabled Milk-Silk Cap" designed by Susan Boye. The leg warmers are "Cashmere Baby Leg Warmers" designed by Patti Ghezzi. 

 The lovely golden hat pictured above is "Merino-Silk Cables for Baby" designed by Isela Phelps. The buttery soft and bouncy yarn used to make this cabled hat is Sirdar Sublime Baby Cashmere. If you love to knit tiny baby hats you will really love this hat! It is too precious and it's unisex. So it's a win-win pattern and gift! A mommy can pass it along from baby to baby, especially when it's knit in a neutral color. What's not to love?! The patterns for both hats and the leg warmers can be found and purchased in this book on Amazon.

My absolute favorite baby booties (shown at top in the pink set) "Cute Cables" are designed by Frederique Alexandre and can be found in the book featured below, which can also be purchased on Amazon. The somewhat squared toe and multitextured effect of these booties never fails to cause delight, not only in the recipient, but in me every single time I knit a pair. They simply make me happy. Also, once again, they are unisex, making them an absolutely perfect pattern to return to time and time again.

There truly is something special about a couple of stolen hours in an afternoon spent quietly knitting baby items that's different than doing anything else. The stitches hold a particular charm unknown to all other pursuits. One can almost smell that magical essence of baby as the needles glide along smoothly. Baby knitting takes therapeutic value to a whole new level of nirvana. It must be experienced rather than described. If you love it like I do, you understand; it's a feeling, not an action. 

Choice of color and adding embellishment (or not) makes this exquisite cabled earflap hat unisex also. For my favorite go-to crocheted rose and leaf pattern you can hop over to Attic 24 and whip up as many May Roses as you like.

Few things fill my heart with the same measure of joy as the sight of one so fresh from God nestled warmly in one of my handknit items. Babies are like tiny stars dropped down from heaven sent to add sparkle to all the dim corners of the world. They grow and shine their light into every crack and crevice, helping us to focus on the bright and beautiful things in life. For that we owe them a great deal.

  •                 “Like stars are to the sky, so are the children to our world. 
  •                                          They deserve to shine!”
  •                                           Chinonye J. Chidolue

Thursday, January 21, 2021

To Dwell In Possibilities

 There once was a girl of only sixteen who lay across her bed feeling ill. A young man, whom she already loved with her whole heart, quietly entered the room. In his hand was a small volume of poetry covered in blue velvet with silver lettering. The room was awash in the soft glow of late afternoon, which enhanced the golden aura the young man naturally exuded. 

Although he was only twenty at the time, he knew the secret way to her heart; the tender language of love. He sat quietly in the chair next to her bed, opened the book, and began to read aloud. His voice was melodic and gentle as it mingled with the words penned by Emily Dickinson from a time gone by; a time of once and future possibilities. 

Tiny dust motes shimmered in a beam of light from a window and danced as fairies in the fading sun. They were joyous because they knew, as the young man continued to read, the magic of possibilities swirled in the air. The young girl was soon soothed into a peaceful sleep. She awoke completely restored. The young man still sat by her bed in a room full of dusk with a book of poetry in his hand. 

Many years later, though the girl is not so young, she still loves that same man with her whole heart. A man who, when he was young, sat by her bed and read poetry to her. It was the beginning of possibilities. Possibilities to experience many times over. The reading of poetry, the carrying of one another through illness, the joy of togetherness, and the love and friendship that deepens over time.

What would life be if we did not dwell in possibilities; if we did not live on the edge of what if? There would be a myriad of things and people we would miss along the way. We never outgrow the ability to reach for and achieve new possibilities. Do you have a dream, a desire, a longing, a passion to be or do something? The time has come for you to dwell in possibilities. May you reach for the stars and on your way up enjoy the thrill of reaching. 

Though some of the pages are loose from nearly forty years of being read, the beloved blue velvet book of poetry is still one of my dearest treasures. It has been my constant reminder that life is full of possibilities. 

"I dwell in Possibility - "
Emily Dickinson

Monday, January 4, 2021

The Spirit of Winter

Hush, hush, hush … Do you hear it?
Hush, hush, hush … If you listen very closely, with your heart wide open, you will know the silent, soft stillness of white. There is a magic that swirls in the air and settles into each tiny crystalized flake. As it dances round and round it captures the hopes and dreams of all humankind to sprinkle them in glistening purity throughout the land. 
Soon the treetops are reaching towards heaven under the collective, glorious weight of the promise of a land filled with people who continue to hope and dream through even the bleakest of days. Each delicate snowflake holds the secret of the ages; each unique crystal knows the magic is in the believing. They know, too, that as beautiful as they are individually, they have the ability to create great moments of awe when they stick together. 
When the things of the world strip us to our core, the trees don their winter finery to stand tall and regal before us in the hazy days. If we listen intently we will feel their message. We will hear the truth that can never be suppressed within them. The trees, no matter what, will always continue to sing for joy, and they invite us to rejoice with them in every single season. They want us to behold their remarkable, unchangeable, and beautiful resilience; to recognize that God has placed that age-old magic deep within our DNA as well. Our Creator equipped us to be overcomers and He uses the wonders of nature to bestow peace and instill new hope in us.  
As I enter this new year of 2021, with the world just beyond my window holding her cold, frosty breath, I, too, am holding my breath. I am holding it in anticipation of all the good things that lie ahead. Although I have one last week of being cocooned in warm, slow days of knitting, while the dogs lay curled up in beds nearby, I will lay down the needles and return to the clicking of keys again soon. The holiday break has held much joy and given me a needed rest, however, it is time to look to the future. After taking a six month sabbatical I will resume my education starting next Monday. I earned one degree last summer and it's time to work towards the next degree (and the next … ). As much as I have loved taking a step back from school and filling the spaces with more knitted stitches than I had accomplished since I began this journey, I am ready and excited to dive back in. Books, literature, and writing have always been my great pursuits in life. Therefore, earning a BA in English has been a lifelong dream for me. 
The following week I will resume work, which I am still doing remotely. There are not enough words in the world to express how much I love my job as a professional writing consultant. When we went into pandemic mode in March and I began to work from home I was uncertain at first about my capabilities to connect with the students. Before long my hour-long consultations were finding their new rhythm in a world that had suddenly gone somewhat sideways. Those lovely, wondrous students filled my home and shaped my days with their diverse views, insightful conversation, and eventual friendship as the months continued to stretch on and on. 
So, even though there were many challenges along the way last year, I have to say I am thankful for every one of them because they got me from there to here. And here is exactly the place I always want to be. Wherever here is I have learned to trust it is the place I am meant to be, which means all things will come together as they were intended to, usually better than if I had planned them on my own.

"Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let the trees of the forest sing for joy."

Psalm  96:12

"I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship." 

Louisa May Alcott 

Little Women 

Knitted dishcloth pattern "There's Snow Place Like Home"

Designed by Rachel van Schie

Yarn is Dishie from Knit Picks

Colors: Blush, Dewdrop & Clarity 

Saturday, January 11, 2020

The Beauty of Being Lost

 These last few weeks have found me getting wondrously lost in my favorite wintery hygge pursuits. While being on break from my classes and work, I have enjoyed more time with family and friends. There was a week of vacation spent with my husband at Christmastime, as well as cozy evenings since then of long talks by candlelight. I've had lunch with my daughter, shopped with my mother and sister, and celebrated the birthday of a special friend in a favorite coffee shop. Too often I have treated myself to pastries and goodies I typically do not eat, but that's hygge after all, and I decided to relax into it, for awhile. 
 The house has been filled with the joyous sound of grandchildren laughing, running and living in the magical world of make believe. During the times the house has been quiet, with my only company being the dogs and an aged-calico cat curled up nearby, I have done what I always do on a cold-January day. I put the kettle on, turned on an audiobook and sat down to knit.
In preparation for these glorious days that I knew would come, I ordered a few different yarns from Knit Picks that I have never tried before. What better time to try a spattering of wools I've never used than during these snug, snowy days? January is always the time I think of variety when it comes to knitting. I think small in my knitting. As in small projects like mittens or fingerless mitts that are done fairly quickly. That way I can order several individual hanks of different wools. It's like opening a box of chocolates. Each one is a divine treat! 
The first one I have fallen madly and irrevocably in love with is Provincial Tweed. Because wool with delicious little blips of Donegal tweed will always have my heart, I ordered two hanks. The first must-have color shown here is grey with a faint lavender-blue undertone. The little tweed blips (or neps, as they call them) are plum and turmeric. The entire color combination is extremely pleasing. The fiber is soft, soft, soft. As you can see it gives perfect stitch definition to cabling, which is another major love of mine in the world of all things knit.
 I also browsed through Knit Picks selection of patterns for fingerless mitts. That's another annual tradition of mine. I look for new patterns for mitts and mittens I've never made before. If they have cables, lacework or colorwork, I'm all in. Winter is the ideal time, when evening darkness is stretched out, and the weather gets up to all manner of things, to settle in with something new on my needles. The pair of fingerless mitts pictured is the gorgeous Knit Picks pattern Trilsean. You'll notice that in the mitt on the right I have light orange waste yarn stitched in where the thumb will go. This may seem a bit wonky for those of us who love a beautifully knit thumb gusset. However, follow the directions exactly, which are not difficult, and you will find it quick and easy, both while knitting and when picking stitches back up to create the thumb. 
 Also, remember the cable is not meant to ramble down the center of the hand. It travels next to the thumb, below the index finger. This is what captured my attention while browsing through patterns. One fat cable; simple, yet different. I like it. As a matter of fact, I like it (them) so much that I used the second hank of Provincial Tweed, which I purchased in the color Cream, to make a second pair.
This colorway has a lovely creamy earthiness to it, while still being liberally sprinkled with that plum and turmeric blip-type stuff I love so much. And the really awesome thing about this yarn? The yardage. With 250 yards in each 100 gram hank, I can make two pairs of fingerless mitts per hank! What can I say Knit Picks? You will always be my first love for all things yarn-y. 
Another really cool thing about this pattern, you can turn the mitts inside out and put them on the opposite hands they were made for. Voila'! You're doing a new thing, Girl! I love it! So much!
As for the other wools and patterns I have up my sleeve, I'll get there soon. Not in this post because that would be spoiling all of my delightful Knit Picks knitting surprises I have in store for you. Until then, I hope you are all enjoying some snuggly winter delights of your own making. Remember, it's okay to be lost for awhile. Just relax into it and let it be.

"I am not lost, for I know where I am. 
But however, where I am may be lost."

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Next Year's Words

With each passing year I love the season of winter more and more. After giving this much thought, I've realized that I find comfort in the gaping bareness of the trees, as they twist and stretch themselves in bleak, cold skies. Rather than causing me to feel lonely or depressed, a briskly cold winter day, filled with misty grayness, clears my mind in a way that nothing else can do. Therefore, I have come to appreciate, and anticipate, this resting dormancy the earth goes through with a quiet gratitude. 
The wide-open spaces of the world around me work synergistically with the gradual decline of days, and I breathe deeply in preparation for the coming year. I enjoy reflecting on the many changes a single twelve-month span has brought into my life. Really it can be quite amazing from one year to the next just how many things, big and small, can change. One of my favorite treasures is always the people God brings into my life. Each individual is a shiny new gift. They add another layer of richness, along with those I have cherished and held in my heart for so long. The mingling of the old with the new is an exquisite thing; in it we are shown there is always more to come.
That's what I love so much about the first day of a new year, it holds out its hand, inviting us to step into 365 days of an unknown future. Some of those days will be challenging, some may be sad, and others could be complicated in ways we won't understand. However, so much of life is what we make it and the bulk of those days can be happy, joyous and extremely fulfilling. The decision lies within us. We must open ourselves to every opportunity of making the air around us alive with love, kindness and compassion for all who come in contact with us. Not only will there be a tangible difference in the atmosphere and the lives we encounter, but our own hearts will benefit greatly. 
If we want to shake off the old year and start afresh, we need to love with a love that knows no bounds. Selfless love always lifts up, supports and believes the best of and for the recipient. Over the last few weeks I've begun to dream occasionally that I am flying. Each dream is somewhat different, as I'm not always in the same place when I suddenly feel myself begin to rise up and float, gently at first. Then, as I begin to fly somewhat faster, the joy I feel is indescribable; it's like nothing I've ever known. A few nights ago Scott appeared in the dream for the first time. I was overjoyed that he finally caught me flying! I looked down and called out to him, "Scott! Look! I'm flying!!!" My dream self was expecting a huge reaction, possibly one of incredulity or fear. Instead my husband looked up at me and said, in his casual way, "I always knew you could fly."
 I hope that 2020 will be the year that finds you loving more deeply, reaching higher for your dreams and resting in personal contentment. I pray you know the love of God in your life and are able to see your fellowman through His eyes. I trust that you'll gain strength to endure the hardships, as you focus on the abundance of blessings in a single day. May it be the year that finds you flying because somebody, even if that somebody is yourself, always knew you could.
From my heart to yours...
I wish you a very
 Happy New Year.
"For last years words belong to last years language
and next year's words await another voice."
T.S. Elliot

Friday, December 20, 2019

Our Hearts at Christmas

Once again the season of Christmas is upon us, sprinkling the air with unseen particles of magic. The faces of people seem more open and cheerful this time of year. Though there is much to be done, with last-minute shopping and holiday baking, our hearts hold the wonder of all that is about to transpire. We know when the last ribbon's tied, making our final touches complete, those who are dearest will gather from near and far. The gifts they bring will be their joyous laughter and endless love. The spirit of Christmases past will soon entwine with this year's festivities, forming new memories and deeper bonds with all who are precious to us.
Invite them home in elegant style by sending a personalized card from Paperless Post. In just minutes your entire guest list will receive a lovely invitation via email with an option to respond, like the "Branches de Houx", with accompanying envelope, I chose for my Christmas Eve gathering. It saves you time, as well as money for cards and postage, and there's no extra running around in cold weather. There's also the added benefit of the paperless aspect being an environmentally conscious choice. Most of us love the ease of communicating through email and getting something festive is always fun. Also, this allows us to know immediately who is able to attend, as they send back their replies.
 Maybe you're like me and still need to send some Christmas cards. Paperless Post has literally hundreds of fabulous options to help you send your love and warmest wishes in mere moments. Let those who touch your life in so many ways know, during this season which reminds all souls what matters most, that you count them among your greatest blessings. 
Wherever this holiday season finds you, I hope you are wrapped in the warmth and happiness of those who hold you most dear. May you see out the final days of this year being the recipient of true joy and lovingkindness; so you can carry these gifts into the new year and pass them on to all you meet. If each one of us would keep a measure of what resides in our hearts at Christmastime, the world would be a kinder, gentler place the whole year round. 
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.

"Nearer and closer to our hearts be the Christmas spirit,
which is the spirit of active usefulness, perseverance, 
cheerful discharge of duty, kindness, and forbearance!"
Charles Dickens
"What Christmas Is, As We Grow Older"

                                    *This post is kindly sponsored by Paperless Post
                                     All sentiments and selections are my own.*

Sunday, October 27, 2019

The Quest for Inspiration

I went into this weekend knowing that I would spend Saturday morning working on finishing an essay that I needed to write for one of the classes I'm taking this semester. I had already chosen my topic, selected my sources, done the bulk of my research, and handwritten (something I don't typically do) a sketchy rough draft. So, I was prepared
Then Saturday morning arrived and it hit me. I had that deep-down feeling of being restless. I couldn't focus as I sat down shifting papers around and opening tabs on my laptop. I tried various things like moving around the house, letting dogs in and out, applying my make-up, and very nearly overdosing myself on caffeine. It finally occurred to me that I was suffering from that dreaded condition known as writer's block (eek!).
An interesting side note on this is that I worked with several students this past week who told me they were struggling with this same issue. They lacked inspiration, knew what they wanted to say but couldn't put it into words, and so on. I doled out all sorts of little tips and tricks that I use to get myself over the hump. I saw light bulbs come on in their eyes as they happily began jotting notes or rearranging sentences on the computer. All of that went right out the window the moment I sat staring at a blinking cursor on my own computer. 
Usually I press on. However, I decided to do things differently by taking a fresh approach on Saturday. I put that essay on the back burner and looked for something else to inspire my creativity. Snatching up my crochet hooks and a couple of different skeins of alpaca, I relaxed with some crocheting. At first it was difficult to force myself not to obsess over a writing deadline (blah, blah, blah...), and being conscientious about my time, but I began to realize that it was exactly what I needed. 
   Instead of going back to writing, I spent the entire day, which was a rainy one, trailing that crochet work everywhere I went. It traveled from room-to-room with me. When we went on a few errands in the afternoon I snatched it up and kept it running through my fingers, while riding in the passenger seat. As I enjoyed my day of working with luxurious fiber, my mind not only relaxed but it returned to its creative center. Aha! It was a day off and yet it wasn't.  
Today dawned bright, beautiful, clear, and fresh from all of yesterday's rain. My mind had also been cleared, put in order and once again inspired. I arose knowing what direction to take. Not only was I able to tackle that essay, finally wrapping it up, but I awoke to a finished crochet project and another one well on its way. Something valuable was learned yesterday; when my creativity hits a brick wall I need to shift my focus to other things that inspire me. It really is just that simple.
 These are just a few of the things that inspire me:
  • knitting
  • crocheting
  • love
  • family
  • reading
  • writing
  • observing nature
  • people
  • animals
What inspires you?
 What helps your creativity flow? 
What causes you to relax?
What keeps you in the pursuit of being you?
"Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard."
Anne Sexton